Punching Down, Feminism, Men and Reinforcing Masculine Gender Norms

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Post by celette482 on Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:45 am

The Wisp wrote:

Celette, I have mixed feelings about what you say about therapy. On the one hand, yes it's not necessarily dismissive to tell somebody to seek therapy, and yes it's not other's job to be your therapist. I will especially agree in the case of your husband reacting to what you told him by ETA: NOT pouring his feelings out to you was absolutely the right move. On the other hand, I do feel like sometimes it's just a lesser form of mental health stigma from some people, i.e. "Your feelings are legitimate, but go talk about them with a therapist, and never bring them up again outside a therapist's office. This is so that we can all pretend you're a normal person and I nor anybody else has to acknowledge, reckon with, and put any effort into sympathizing with or helping you out with what you're experiencing". What is stigma but talking about a subject frankly being looked down upon by others? Therapists are great, but they can't provide certain kinds of support that others can.

It's a question of audience and venue. Are you (generalized) bringing up feelings at the right time with the right people? A man might feel that his ex-girlfriend is marrying the wrong person, he may still wish he was with her, and that is not a pathological problem- lots of people have exes they wish weren't exes and lots of people get a pit in their stomach any time an ex is romantically successful. It is NOT okay to run down the aisle at her wedding yelling "I OBJECT!!!!!" (if only because no one says "If anyone knows why these two should not be wed... etc."- dramatic timing, people.)

It is not okay to walk onto a discussion of street harassment and say "You know, this makes me feel shitty that I can't talk to women in public."

The romantic relationship (or any relationship) example is flawed in that both persons ostensibly feel a loyalty to the other's emotional well-being. Internet women don't really owe you (generalized) that loyalty. Around here, they offer you support, but they don't owe it. And they can decide that this isn't a mutually supportive relationship and insist that you (generalized) take your feelings about their issues elsewhere. And if seeing women talk about how men's behavior hurts them is hurtful to you (generalized) and perhaps it is on you (generalized) to seek out other areas. You (generalized) would not walk into a random funeral and go up to the grieving family and say "BLAH BLAH BLAH WE'VE ALL FELT LOSS!!! WHAT ABOUT MY PAIN!?" Those feelings are better processed a where-that-is-other-than-a-stranger's-funeral.

If you (generalized) think that being validated means you (generalized) can bring up your feelings at any time, in any situation, and with any people and those people, no matter what they are going through or what their relationship with you is, then you (generalized) have major entitlement issues. But, Wisp, I know you don't think these things. I'm just asking you to consider that "We've all experienced loss" at a funeral is in the same logical vein as "I am insisting that you handle this feeling for me and will take offense at being told to go to a therapist"

ALSO: challenging you on the therapy thing

You're damn right it's about "So we can pretend you're a healthy human being." "Pretending" to be healthy is the end goal of all medical and psychological interventions. People go to the medical doctors to get treatments that allow them to "pretend" to be healthy. You aren't actually healthy, you've just got enough pain medicine that you can function. You're artificially demarcating "Healthy" from "Not." All humans have damage and issues. We as a society expect a certain level of "pretending" on those issues. If you started sobbing at the check-out person at the grocery store that you were soooo lonely, you'd probably be a skit from 30Rock (doesn't she do that at some point?) When someone says "go to therapy on this" what they mean is "This is above my paygrade." Because when it comes up, it's because you're trying to use them as a therapist. And see above, sometimes they're not the right person to be your therapist. Maybe they just don't see your relationship That Way. Maybe they think you have issues that medicine could really help with and well, they confiscated my forged prescription pad. Maybe, and this is the most significant to the discussion, maybe your issues trigger their issues and listening to you talk about them is sending them into a spiral of traumatic flashbacks and they'll be on the phone with their therapist as soon as you go away.

Therapists can take it. They can take whatever you throw at them. They have ways of protecting themselves and you that us civvies don't have access to. Random internet woman doesn't. And when she says "Your feelings are not my problem" she means it.

EDIT TO ADD: My husband has actual depression, complete with meds. And I can't treat that for him. In fact, I can barely handle to listen to his blame spirals that he gets into when he is in a depressive cycle. They create this incredible verbal catch-22 where I can't say the right thing without it sending him off. So when he wasn't in a blame spiral, we worked out a phrase for me to use that signals to him that I think he needs to make a therapy appointment. We are married, for pete's sake, and I'm still not Magic Husband Feeling Remover and I'm still not Magic Husband Feeling Absorber and I never did get the Badge That Allows Me to Absorb All Negative Feelings Spoken At Me (never trust the back of a catalog.) If I, as Wife, cannot be this for Mr. Celette, Random Internet Woman cannot for all comers.
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Post by username_6916 on Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:32 pm


Therapists can take it. They can take whatever you throw at them. They have ways of protecting themselves and you that us civvies don't have access to. Random internet woman doesn't. And when she says "Your feelings are not my problem" she means it.

Then why doesn't it work the other way? Why can't I say "your feelings aren't my problem" when it comes to women complaining about how they feel hurt by the fact that reasonable people disagree with them? Why am I told to have empathy for those who clearly have none for me?

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Post by Werel on Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:50 pm

username_6916 wrote:Why can't I say "your feelings aren't my problem" when it comes to women complaining about how they feel hurt by the fact that reasonable people disagree with them?

I think it's perfectly okay to say (hopefully a kinder version of) "your feelings aren't my problem" anytime someone's trying to get you to be their therapist*. Have you been told otherwise on this forum, or are you referring to experiences you've had elsewhere?

*Not to be confused with carte blanche to be all IDGAF when someone's saying your behavior is hurting them, rather than your thoughts or opinions.

username_6916 wrote:Why am I told to have empathy for those who clearly have none for me?
Well, it's a good exercise in basic humanity, but nobody's making you do it. Razz
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Post by celette482 on Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:07 pm

username_6916 wrote:

Therapists can take it. They can take whatever you throw at them. They have ways of protecting themselves and you that us civvies don't have access to. Random internet woman doesn't. And when she says "Your feelings are not my problem" she means it.

Then why doesn't it work the other way? Why can't I say "your feelings aren't my problem" when it comes to women complaining about how they feel hurt by the fact that reasonable people disagree with them? Why am I told to have empathy for those who clearly have none for me?

I'm with Werel. If another person is trying to make you therapy them, it's totally reasonable thing to say "I can't do that." Where is this happening? Or is it perhaps that there is less disagreement and more dismissal? Less reasonableness and more "I'm siding with the bad actors on this one"?

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Post by username_6916 on Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:00 am

Werel wrote:
username_6916 wrote:Why can't I say "your feelings aren't my problem" when it comes to women complaining about how they feel hurt by the fact that reasonable people disagree with them?

I think it's perfectly okay to say (hopefully a kinder version of) "your feelings aren't my problem" anytime someone's trying to get you to be their therapist*. Have you been told otherwise on this forum, or are you referring to experiences you've had elsewhere?

*Not to be confused with carte blanche to be all IDGAF when someone's saying your behavior is hurting them, rather than your thoughts or opinions.

On some level, this distinction between behavior and thought is a distinction without a difference online, and sometimes even in meatspace. All it takes to be qualified as a bad actor is expressing your thoughts on some meatter, be it how we handle courtship or the wage gap or your viewpoint on abotion policicy. Both around here, and elsewhere, I'm told again and again how men expressing their viewpoints on these issues is very hurtful towards women's feelings, and therefore they should stop doing it.

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Post by Hirundo Bos on Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:27 am

username_6916 wrote:
Why am I told to have empathy for those who clearly have none for me?

Said in reply to you, but is probably relevant for everybody:
Why is the question about what you are told to do, rather than what standards you ought to set for yourself?
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Post by Mel on Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:57 am

username_6916 wrote:
On some level, this distinction between behavior and thought is a distinction without a difference online, and sometimes even in meatspace. All it takes to be qualified as a bad actor is expressing your thoughts on some meatter, be it how we handle courtship or the wage gap or your viewpoint on abotion policicy. Both around here, and elsewhere, I'm told again and again how men expressing their viewpoints on these issues is very hurtful towards women's feelings, and therefore they should stop doing it.

I can't speak to every site on the internet, but that is not something I've seen here or on DNL Prime. What I have seen, and perhaps you are confusing for being told to stop talking because it's hurting feelings:

1. People telling someone whose opinions they find harmful that they believe those opinions are harmful and why, and that because if this they think the person should reconsider their opinions. This is not saying "You should stop expressing yourself" any more than you saying you support aspects of GamerGate is you saying "People who disagree with GamerGate should stop expressing themselves." Part of freedom of speech is that other people are allowed to tell you, at length and in great detail if they wish, that they disagree with you and what they think is correct instead, just as you are allowed to do the same with them.

2. People telling someone that a particular place or context is not appropriate for expressing their opinions. For example, people asking guys not to bring up their concerns about finding dates in a thread about sexual assault. Or people saying Aaronson should not have brought up his anxieties as a spinning off point from talking about a colleague having harassed students. This is a) not saying those people shouldn't express themselves at all, only that they need to find a different approach/venue, plenty of which exist, and b) not saying this in consideration of someone else's feelings, but in consideration of actual behavior that is harmful and that people are trying to discuss solutions for.

If you mean something other than these two scenarios, and you feel it's happened here, you're welcome to point to an example and I'll take a look at it.
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Post by celette482 on Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:16 pm

Like I said, it's all about audience and venue.

My friend's post that she's gotten engaged is not the appropriate time for me to complain about chronic singleness. Just like it's commonly accepted that a wedding is not the right place to announce your engagement or pregnancy (even though... man, people do this).
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Post by kath on Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:40 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
But I also have known conscientious liberal-minded people who said or did things I perceived as racist or culturally-insensitive without realizing it. Some of those people even start and lead their own conversations about cultural sensitivity. Which is to say it's entirely possible for a person to honestly believe themselves to be inoffensive, to be actively consciously trying to be inoffensive, and still occasionally do something outrageously offensive.

I think this is analysis paralysis, with a side of the perfect being the enemy of the good. And there's no way to get out of analysis paralysis other than knowing you will make mistakes and being willing to deal with that in good faith when it happens. And being introspective and flagging the things you do where you're like "hmm, maybe this could be [non-ideal]? Not sure!" and keep an eye on situations where you are doing those things and see if you can get more info. But the idea that making a mistake will be the end of the world is also the height of hubris, especially when in many situations people do really awful things that are cut and dried horrendous and don't get experience the lion's share of the consequences of their actions. If you're acting in good faith and trying not to be harmful and respond appropriate when questioned or called out, there's no reason to capitulate to the analysis paralysis.

nearly_takuan wrote:
I don't start conversations in elevators. But I do ask women out. And I never get to know for sure if a particular woman feels as trapped by the surrounding strangers in a bookstore as another might by the walls of an elevator, or as I do by the presence of my own friends or classmates.
Again, you can not be reasonably asked to read minds. Maybe don't ask someone out where the crush of strangers is such that they can't physically move away, but if the person is pretty clearly not in a confined space, and you don't push it when you get a negative response, even if she doesn't particularly like being asked out in that context, you are not putting her in a difficult position. Also, if you're feeling trapped by the presence of your friends and classmates in the situation, sure, don't ask another person out in that situation. But that's also something that seems to be an issue for you, as opposed to a structural fact of the space you're in and (in the elevator example) the societal power dynamics (though of course you're going to be dealing with power dynamics of differing types and degrees with your friends and classmates, it's not quite the same as the gender power dynamics). So while she very well may also deal with those same struggles with other people, and may feel trapped by her surroundings in contexts that aren't structurally a problem for most women, if you ask her out in that situation and she says no or seems super uncomfortable ... just walk away and you will quickly stop any harm you may or may not be causing.

Given that there is no way to read other people's minds, everyone has to choose how to reconcile those things. Some people certainly find that task easier or harder based on their personal brain chemistry, and that's not particularly fair, but unfortunately it doesn't change the task. I think sensitizing yourself to taking those social risks slowly is the best way forward, but there is no way forward that does not involve risks. Particularly since not making those connections by not acting is a risk itself.

That analysis paralysis and particular individual's trouble with reconciling these issues, however, isn't inherently linked to whether people should talk about them. I would say that not demonizing people who feel unsure is good behavior on the part of people discussing them, but I actually do not see that happening a lot.

Wisp and Nearly, I would say thinking that the world will fall in on your ears if you said something wrong and got called on it is also indicative of a certain level of hubris. All of these problems are about bad things other people would think. And no, you wouldn't "deserve" to be unjustly attacked for your views under any circumstances, though bad actors may do it. But since it's a hole you guys see that I, for example, am extremely badly equipped (ba dum bum) to fulfill, and you can only find out if it will really resonate with people

The fear of it being actually not a real issue or that you are not actually evaluating the world correctly seems like a pretty small risk, compared to the benefit from putting your ideas out there to other people who might feel the same way ... the possible bad outcomes seem to seriously outweigh the good you could do (even if you did so anonymously, relinquishing the potential for it to provide income to a large degree, but quite possibly protecting from the job-related concerns, and even if you only did it for a little while before you stopped having time to continue).

I'm not saying you're obligated to do it, I'm just saying that weighing how you guys seem to feel about not having people doing what you're talking about against the cons you've identified, the potential for good seems to be considerable greater than the potential for harm (especially mitigating the fears around exposing your identity). And if that's wrong, you can always stop when you figure that out.  And having to think about what people might ask you really doesn't seem like a "con" to me - it seems like it is actually a benefit of sharing your thoughts with people that they will help refine and challenge them. It is scary, it's putting yourself in a vulnerable position, but whether or not they agree with you, it provides benefit to your thoughts and to what you are writing, which therefore benefits others. Again, it's the perfect being the enemy of the good. Also if you write something that is wrong, it is pointed out to you, and you agree and change your original stance, you can update the original post to indicate that you were actually wrong, which will probably be a net benefit to everyone (except possibly people who read the incorrect post, and not the updated one).

Though posting on here is certainly good practice.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:06 pm

Hubris, or just plain ol' selfishness? Razz

Because I agree the potential good to the world (some) outweighs the risk to the world (near zero), but I think just like anyone else I get to set my own arbitrary conversion function when I'm weighing cost/benefit to me against cost/benefit to the world. This I think you also agree with because you did say you don't think we are obligated. Just wanted to lay it out a little more explicitly. If I give three hundred dollars a month to charity, that does some good. I could do the same amount of good again if I gave six, and again if I gave nine, but at some point that starts to cut into my entertainment-and-nice-food budget, and I decide I "can't afford" to do what is still certainly more good for each of twenty or so people than the harm to myself.

I am always amazed and impressed when someone does choose to take that sort of risk.
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Post by kath on Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:35 pm

Yes, you're right - I certainly think you get to make the decision about whether you do it. I just found that the lists of reasons seemed to reinforce the idea that those were specific, concrete realities that were immutable - by listing them that way, it seemed like the attempt was to lay those out as external factors. But I think really, what's going to make the decision is basically how you feel about potentially saying something other people vehemently disagree with and which they will want to fight you on.

That's a totally reasonable thing to be uncomfortable about ... but it seems like it's really the potential discomfort which is the reason you don't want to do it and what makes it really scary (especially if one mitigates identity-revealing). That's an OK reason not to do it, and it is a scary thing, but it seems more productive and reasonable to identify that as the reason as such. Not because you should ignore it, or whatever, but because if you decide you're willing to deal with that discomfort, or want to try tackling it by starting a blog to talk about those issues, or your thoughts on how much of a big deal it is to have people think you're spouting nonsense, or your personal evaluation of the way those scales balance out changes, or whatever, you might decide to do it -- even if you haven't actually become more right / thoughtful / thicker skinned or whatever.

Presenting them as The Facts of The Matter makes it seem like unless all those things change, it wouldn't make sense to try it, and that's not the case. It's either those things change, or how you feel about them change, but either way it would make more sense to try it.

I certainly find it way easier to do things I'm scared to do or scared of screwing up if I take some time to retrain how I think about them as me being scared of the feelings I will have about screwing up versus the true facts of the situation or consequences of screwing up - especially if that is primarily what I am, in fact, afraid of. But sometimes also when actually screwing up would be really really bad, like learning to drive. For that one I also use "a whole lot of people who seem to not be particularly magical humans also have this skill ..." which could potentially also be applied to blogging Wink.
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