Dominatrix Margaret Corvid in the New Statesman: If we liberate men’s sexuality, the war against women can end

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:52 pm

Sadly, I don't think she's really figured out how the different patterns of (physical heterosexual) desire can become more compatible, but I really liked this article.
Maybe you will, too.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/01/if-we-liberate-men-s-sexuality-war-against-women-can-end

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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:26 pm

Um.... can't say that I did enjoy it. The biggest take away I got from it was "If you're a hammer, everything's a nail." (Get it? Get it?)

I mean, yeah, I certainly can get behind the idea that a lot of messages society puts out about masculinity is toxic, and that coding certain behaviors as feminine and thus less respectable is messed up.

But there have been lots and lots of societies throughout history that placated male sexuality, even deviant male sexuality, and they were at times even less egalitarian towards women than ours. Feudal Japan, for example, springs to mind; there weren't many restrictions on male sexuality (homosexuality was seen as fine, there were social structures that allowed/embraced what could be considered inappropriate age-gap sexual relationships, prostitution was fine, etc.) and yet things still really sucked for women there.

Given that historic context, I just can't buy that all of this anger towards women/minorities is the result of pent-up sexual expression. I also can't say I fully buy her description of what is expected to be "a man" in today's world. For example: "He is expected to be entirely heterosexual, and entirely monogamous."

Uh, since when? Maybe the heterosexual part, but the entirely monogamous? Not really; the messages I received most strongly as a young woman in this society is that it's far more expected for guys to sleep around, and want to keep sleeping around. That if he "slips up", oh well, he's a man, what can you expect, men are visual!, men need variety, etc. Society does occasionally hold male cheaters accountable, but only if the wife is performing absolutely all of her duties. I mean, take a glance at the first paragraph of this article; she's condoning adultery (men lying to their presumably monogamous wives) because the wives "can't or won't" fulfill their husband's sexual desires that she might not even know he has. There is no freaking way you'd ever see a wife going to a male prostitute explained with that same level of understanding.

There's also something just... a little gross to me, suggesting that men shooting women is the result of their sexuality not being fulfilling enough. Like I said, I absolutely agree that modern masculinity can be toxic, but sticking the responsibility in the laps of feminism is pushing it a bridge too far.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:47 pm

I agree with much of what RBS is saying. I also think I might want to hire someone like Corvid some time.

Her description of her work makes it sound like a kind of Inara-like fantasy. I would pay her to convince me that she wants me (instead of the other way around, which is how metaculture says it's "supposed to" play out), and somehow she would succeed. I would lay down hella dollars for such a service, sex not required. I think this is a point she almost makes, but falls just short of as she begins to focus more on men's unfulfilled sexual "needs", lusts, the works. As RBS rightly points out, women have certainly found themselves plenty oppressed in cultures where men do have more freedom to explore some of the facets of their sexuality Corvid mentions.

And yeah, I think what seems to be the overall argument regarding the actual consequences of the "problem", as well as the nature of the problem itself and the responsibility for it, is misplaced.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:13 pm

To be honest, the fist good bit of it reads more like an advertisement than an analysis. I generally agree with the idea that men would have an easier time if their sexual desires, even their non-mainstream ones, were more openly accepted. Then again, I'd say that's true of everyone. I'm sure Ms. Corvid has many supportive friends who know what she does. Then again, I have people who think its really cool that I'm going to take a belly dance class. These are not the mainstream and not the peer group of her clients. It would certainly be nice for everyone if it were. . .except Ms. Corvid, who would lose a lot of clients.

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Post by Conreezy on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:26 pm

Maybe the heterosexual part, but the entirely monogamous?

I read this as a one-sided description of the idea that everyone is supposed to get all their sexual jollies out of one person, forever and ever, or somehow internally deal with the fact that you can't.  But, since most of us are not well equipped or trained by culture to deal with sexual things, it's a bit of a tough job to do.  (Obviously, this is for men and women.)

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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:32 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:To be honest, the fist good bit of it reads more like an advertisement than an analysis. I generally agree with the idea that men would have an easier time if their sexual desires, even their non-mainstream ones, were more openly accepted. Then again, I'd say that's true of everyone. I'm sure Ms. Corvid has many supportive friends who know what she does. Then again, I have people who think its really cool that I'm going to take a belly dance class. These are not the mainstream and not the peer group of her clients. It would certainly be nice for everyone if it were. . .except Ms. Corvid, who would lose a lot of clients.

The thing is, I don't know that she would. Because there's a pretty vast difference between "I accept that men have this sexual preference" and "I want to participate in this sexual preference." Like I can acknowledge and accept someone else's desire to be poly easily; doesn't mean I want to be involved in it.

Perhaps this is off-topic, but that's one my bigger struggles with folks like Dan Savage, and why I don't read him anymore. I frequently saw myself/people like me being called a prude, sex-negative, judgmental, etc. because I myself might draw a line at participating in a particular fetish or lifestyle choice. Furthermore, while I might accept that hey, someone else has a thing that floats their boat, awesome, doesn't mean I want to know or hear about it. The article, to me, read as if she thinks men should be able to stroll into any conversation and casually drop that they love being penetrated. I'd feel deeply uncomfortable in that conversation; not because I think their desire is wrong, but because um, I don't really need to know that. There are some things that should stop at the doorway, ya know?
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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:35 pm

Conreezy wrote:
Maybe the heterosexual part, but the entirely monogamous?

I read this as a one-sided description of the idea that everyone is supposed to get all their sexual jollies out of one person, forever and ever, or somehow internally deal with the fact that you can't.  But, since most of us are not well equipped or trained by culture to deal with sexual things, it's a bit of a tough job to do.  (Obviously, this is for men and women.)

I guess, but again, I haven't personally seen a lot of messages to men that suggest that? It's probably my limited experience (never lived as a man!), but the messages I seem to see in society are that men get to be mostly monogamous, but are allowed occasional "slip ups." And that this "occasional" monogamy takes place after a period of having numerous partners (where we get our toxic ideas about male virginity.)
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Post by The Wisp on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:39 pm

Maybe the heterosexual part, but the entirely monogamous?

Society expects men to want to sleep around, but it disapproves of it at the same time, viewing it as a necessary evil at best and something they should grow out of. The playboy is always at least one of unintelligent, immature, emotionally damaged, or abusive.
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Post by Guest on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:45 pm

Found it interesting at the very least, even if it did turn into a 'feminism is the saviour of everyone' thing by the end. Which is naive and ultimately not really in feminism's favour, in my opinion.

I think the main thing I took away from this is reinforcement I don't really want to part of any of the groups described. Laughing

But no amount of 'sexual healing' will fix masculinity as far as I''m concerned.

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Post by The Wisp on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:53 pm

On the article: I think it falls into some obvious traps.

Corvid sympathizes with and even agrees with MRAs and PUAs that men are right to be angry about their sexual frustration. But then she says men shouldn't criticize women for their behavior that limits their ability to get their sexual needs met. I feel a tension there. If, as Corvid says, men are right to be angry about sexual frustration, and they're sexually frustrated because no women they want to have sex with reciprocates that, then surely these men are right to be angry at women, right?

The other trap is the one Mapwater identified. It's the old "feminism will fix everything!" trope. Sorry, but eliminating rape culture may help men get laid in the future, but that is a generational project and thus one I will not see the benefits of. I still feel an obligation not to support, but that's because I feel it is the right thing to do. It's a very misleading argument to make, in my view.
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Post by Conreezy on Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:57 pm

Stop me if this is a derailment:

I guess, but again, I haven't personally seen a lot of messages to men that suggest that? It's probably my limited experience (never lived as a man!), but the messages I seem to see in society are that men get to be mostly monogamous, but are allowed occasional "slip ups." And that this "occasional" monogamy takes place after a period of having numerous partners (where we get our toxic ideas about male virginity.)

I never got that message.  I know what one mistake would do to my marriage.  I'm okay with that, because it goes both ways, but I don't like the feeling that I'm "expected" to be the cheating party.

(And I feel that expectation, boy howdy.  My wife's first fiance cheated on her, and I still deal with that baggage.  I've been dealing with some anxiety issues of my own lately, and when my wife brought it up to my mom, her first thought was, "Do you think he's guilty because he cheated?")

Cheating once ended my parents' marriage, and while my Dad has not been ostracized from either side of the family, no one has advocated that my mother take him back.  (We could debate if or why that would happen if my mother had cheated, but I'm pretty sure that would be a derailment.)

As for messages, it seems to me that men who cheat for sexual reasons are not given free passes.  Maybe they would be for more emotional, justifiable reasons?  Off the top of my head, though, I can't think of too many instances of men cheating for any other reason but "gettin' some ass."

Society expects men to want to sleep around, but it disapproves of it at the same time, viewing it as a necessary evil at best and something they should grow out of. The playboy is always at least one of unintelligent, immature, emotionally damaged, or abusive.

This is less clear cut, and because of that, more of what I've noticed: men are innately amoral sexual animals who need to use their willpower to keep that in check and live honorably, but not too much, because then you ain't no man.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:19 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
The thing is, I don't know that she would. Because there's a pretty vast difference between "I accept that men have this sexual preference" and "I want to participate in this sexual preference." Like I can acknowledge and accept someone else's desire to be poly easily; doesn't mean I want to be involved in it.
 

True but I think there's an unspoken corollary there. Because its not like women can be any more open than men about their desire to participate in. . .let's call it non-mainstream. . . sexual activities. Like I said, her friends might be supportive but the teahcers' union (to take the most stereotypical group I can think of) might be less accepting of a woman with a strap-on collection. That's where I'm going, not that everyone would want to participate but that they'd (the hypothetical mand and woman both) be in a better position to look for someone with matching interests.

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Post by azazel on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:27 am

Conreezy wrote:
Society expects men to want to sleep around, but it disapproves of it at the same time, viewing it as a necessary evil at best and something they should grow out of. The playboy is always at least one of unintelligent, immature, emotionally damaged, or abusive.

This is less clear cut, and because of that, more of what I've noticed: men are innately amoral sexual animals who need to use their willpower to keep that in check and live honorably, but not too much, because then you ain't no man.

I think this causes some disconnect for people who only see half the message. Because male sexual desire is so tangled up with immaturity and amorality, you're only allowed to sleep around if you submit to the idea you're an oafish brute. If you don't want that, though luck kiddo.

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Post by fakely mctest on Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:56 am

The Wisp wrote:
Maybe the heterosexual part, but the entirely monogamous?

Society expects men to want to sleep around, but it disapproves of it at the same time, viewing it as a necessary evil at best and something they should grow out of. The playboy is always at least one of unintelligent, immature, emotionally damaged, or abusive.

While the playboy is one of the general types that might be "expected" to play around, I think the more pernicious trope is the one that you find in Updike and Murakami and "The Babysitter" by Robert Coover, whose Platonic form is more or less Lester Burnham from American Beauty: the (often suburban) guy who's been married for a while, slowly ossifying, dissatisfied, whose attempts (successful or not) at changing his own situation either involve, or are limited to, stepping out on his wife.

It's all in the execution though, because obvious midlife crisis guy is tolerated by people who may be smiling behind their hands at his antics, while low-key midlife crisis guy is often presented in a more philosophical way.

Now, there's also a difference between the stories that are out there in a society and the reality. I suspect that male infidelities are tolerated/expected more if the man in question is wealthy, which brings class issues in as well as gender stuff.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:56 pm

The Wisp wrote:If, as Corvid says, men are right to be angry about sexual frustration, and they're sexually frustrated because no women they want to have sex with reciprocates that, then surely these men are right to be angry at women, right?

I think that's depends and is partly the answer to your question in the other thread as to why there is so much opposition to see male suffering in this respect as structural, and why so many guys want their suffering to be considered as structural. If it's only an individual problem it's not justified to be strcuturally angry (at women as a group), if it were a structural problem that may be different.

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Post by azazel on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:12 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
The Wisp wrote:If, as Corvid says, men are right to be angry about sexual frustration, and they're sexually frustrated because no women they want to have sex with reciprocates that, then surely these men are right to be angry at women, right?

I think that's depends and is partly the answer to your question in the other thread as to why there is so much opposition to see male suffering in this respect as structural, and why so many guys want their suffering to be considered as structural. If it's only an individual problem it's not justified to be strcuturally angry (at women as a group), if it were a structural problem that may be different.

I strongly disagree.
Since I want free will and not be forced to fuck people I don't find attractive, I have no right to be angry about other people exercising their free will.
I can be sad that people always like me as a friend but never more than that, but I can hardly be angry at them.

I can be angry at politics if they barred me from obtaining sexual release by paying for it tho, since it would be a transaction between consenting adults.
Luckily prostitution is legal here! Yay!

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:28 pm

azazel wrote:
I strongly disagree.
Since I want free will and not be forced to fuck people I don't find attractive, I have no right to be angry about other people exercising their free will.
I can be sad that people always like me as a friend but never more than that, but I can hardly be angry at them.

Well, assuming that behavior of women as a group towards men as a group was structurally influenced (ie: socialized gendered behavior) and if that behavior structurally disadvantaged someone, that someone may be justifiedly structurally angry towards women as a group, without denying their right to exercise their free will. If problems are merely personal, that's impossible.

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Post by Mel on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:34 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
The Wisp wrote:If, as Corvid says, men are right to be angry about sexual frustration, and they're sexually frustrated because no women they want to have sex with reciprocates that, then surely these men are right to be angry at women, right?

I think that's depends and is partly the answer to your question in the other thread as to why there is so much opposition to see male suffering in this respect as structural, and why so many guys want their suffering to be considered as structural. If it's only an individual problem it's not justified to be strcuturally angry (at women as a group), if it were a structural problem that may be different.

I don't think the problem being structural would justify being angry at women the way this is playing out in reality. Especially since there are two different levels to this.

The level on which it could possibly make sense is if we're talking about men being angry with women as a group only when venting about "women" in general discourse, and not directing that anger at individual women who haven't individually done anything wrong. And there it would only make sense if women were the primary group enforcing that structure. But I really don't think that women as a general group have more control over dating/sexual structures than men do (in fact I believe they have significantly less), and I find it hard to believe anyone could justifiably believe they do if they actually examined the structure instead of having what is really an individual kneejerk response. So if a man's sexual frustration is focused on structural issues about how dating/sex happens in our society, then he should be aiming at very least as much "structural" (rather than, say, jealous) anger at men as a group as at women, if not more. If he isn't doing so, and I haven't seen the sort of men we're discussing here doing so, then it's not justified, because he's not distributing his anger in a just way based on the actual structure he's upset about; he's unjustly directing it all at one party.

The level on which I don't think it would ever make sense is if we're talking about men being angry about women as a group and also directing that anger at individual women, which again, seems to happen quite often with these sort of "angry" guys. And I don't think that's ever okay. I don't think it's okay for women to get angry at random guys who've done nothing wrong just because men as a general group help support structures that make things difficult for women either, and I don't think a woman who started attacking some guy simply for declining to go on a date with her or not realizing she was friends with him because she also wanted to date him or because he didn't want to talk to her in a bar or whatever would seen as justified by just about anyone, the majority of feminists included.

So, yeah, not really seeing any way men being angry at women specifically because of their sexual frustration would be justified in the normal meaning of the word. Being angry at society in general, I could see that.
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Post by fakely mctest on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:41 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Well, assuming that behavior of women as a group towards men as a group was structurally influenced (ie: socialized gendered behavior) and if that behavior structurally disadvantaged someone, that someone may be justifiedly structurally angry towards women as a group, without denying their right to exercise their free will. If problems are merely personal, that's impossible.

That's operating under the assumption that such a structure is robust or pervasive enough to create a certain level of harm in a significant number of people. When people talk about structural harm, they're talking about something that's much deeper and more entrenched AND more societally supported. Structures of racism or sexism or homophobia are supported and often tacitly encouraged by the way society is formed both politically and culturally, as in: they are part of the form. Socialized behavior is the product of that form. Overall, the goal should be fundamental structural change (and people will quibble about how to achieve that), the stopgap is modifying standards of behavior in a way that lessens harm to historically vulnerable groups.

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Post by eselle28 on Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:39 pm

This is a tough article for me, because I agree with a reasonable number of her points, some with tweaks, but her framing of the article and its first few paragraphs make me feel jealous and exhausted and annoyed and a bit angry.

There's a reason this experience she highlights is one seen from the perspective of a sex worker. It's because creating the kind of experience where someone else can share exactly as much of themselves and their secrets as they want to, while making them feel completely safe and desired and valuable leaves essentially no room for your own sexuality and is an incredible amount of effort beyond that. Even a lot of sex workers don't like to provide that level of service. As someone who's attempted to do some kinky things with guys accustomed to going to pros, I can say that it...well...made me rethink the many wonderful traits of vanilla men.

So, it's hard for me to feel very excited about a picture of men that paints them as needing so very much from women to be in a place where they can relate healthily to us. Oh, and also jealous and annoyed and a bit angry. Because there's nowhere I could ever get such an experience myself, not even illegally. The absolute best I can hope for is someone who is willing to do a bit of give and take, and who will let me share and be vulnerable and make me feel valued if I do the same for him. What I'm more frequently told to expect is to play the sex worker role, with my compensation being a relationship. The suggestion that things should tilt more in that direction isn't encouraging, to say the least.
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Post by LadyLuck on Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:44 am

I think what Sam meant with his thing about the "structural" deal is that some individuals have mistakenly perceived structural issues/suffering/etc. to be "more valid" or "more real" or "more important". They see the very visible work that activists do, and conclude that other people will only put in large, concerted efforts into solving your problems if said problems are "structural". There's also a perception that being "oppressed" absolves responsibility, and that's what I think Sam was getting at. The theory is basically "Well, if women really are oppressing me, then it IS morally ok to rage at women as a group!". I mean, granted, its all based on logic that's faulty as hell (as Mel has outlined), but I can kind of see the thinking that produces it.

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Post by reboundstudent on Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:01 pm

eselle28 wrote:This is a tough article for me, because I agree with a reasonable number of her points, some with tweaks, but her framing of the article and its first few paragraphs make me feel jealous and exhausted and annoyed and a bit angry.

There's a reason this experience she highlights is one seen from the perspective of a sex worker. It's because creating the kind of experience where someone else can share exactly as much of themselves and their secrets as they want to, while making them feel completely safe and desired and valuable leaves essentially no room for your own sexuality and is an incredible amount of effort beyond that. Even a lot of sex workers don't like to provide that level of service. As someone who's attempted to do some kinky things with guys accustomed to going to pros, I can say that it...well...made me rethink the many wonderful traits of vanilla men.

So, it's hard for me to feel very excited about a picture of men that paints them as needing so very much from women to be in a place where they can relate healthily to us. Oh, and also jealous and annoyed and a bit angry. Because there's nowhere I could ever get such an experience myself, not even illegally. The absolute best I can hope for is someone who is willing to do a bit of give and take, and who will let me share and be vulnerable and make me feel valued if I do the same for him. What I'm more frequently told to expect is to play the sex worker role, with my compensation being a relationship. The suggestion that things should tilt more in that direction isn't encouraging, to say the least.

Nailed it as usual, Eselle. I had a very similar feeling. It also reminds me of the "lady pickup" article we got, which seemed to stress that not only did women need to reach high standards of physical attractiveness, but then in addition act as a guy's therapist/total emotional sponge. I am expected, as a lady, to not take my problems with social structure (uneven physical standards, uneven household chores, etc.) out on an individual partner, or assume that all men are wired to play these expectations completely straight.... so how does it make sense when flipping the genders?
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:40 pm

esselle28 wrote:So, it's hard for me to feel very excited about a picture of men that paints them as needing so very much from women to be in a place where they can relate healthily to us.

Yes, I agree, that's rather dystopian. It equally sucks to be the guy in that picture, because you're always in a position of taking, unable to give something, yourself that would be similarly desired. Question is: does this dystopia describe heterosexual gender relations better than the feminist utopia?

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:45 pm

Mel wrote:But I really don't think that women as a general group have more control over dating/sexual structures than men do (in fact I believe they have significantly less), and I find it hard to believe anyone could justifiably believe they do if they actually examined the structure instead of having what is really an individual kneejerk response. So if a man's sexual frustration is focused on structural issues about how dating/sex happens in our society, then he should be aiming at very least as much "structural" (rather than, say, jealous) anger at men as a group as at women, if not more. If he isn't doing so, and I haven't seen the sort of men we're discussing here doing so, then it's not justified, because he's not distributing his anger in a just way based on the actual structure he's upset about; he's unjustly directing it all at one party.

Unjustly directing at only one party, yes. Still, the party that acts as systemic messenger to heterosexual guys, so that's where that comes from. Also, to the extent that feminism is responsible for the harmful socialized behavior, women would actually be the group most responsible for the consequences this has on dating structures.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:53 pm

reboundstudent wrote:Nailed it as usual, Eselle. I had a very similar feeling. It also reminds me of the "lady pickup" article we got, which seemed to stress that not only did women need to reach high standards of physical attractiveness, but then in addition act as a guy's therapist/total emotional sponge. I am expected, as a lady, to not take my problems with social structure (uneven physical standards, uneven household chores, etc.) out on an individual partner, or assume that all men are wired to play these expectations completely straight.... so how does it make sense when flipping the genders?

It doesn't, but I have a couple of guesses as to how we got there. I hope I'm not going too far out of line.

It seems to me that making a strong identification with a group part of one's identity comes with some side-effects. You feel a sense of belonging to the group, and a sense of responsibility to and for the group, but you also begin to think of the group as an extension of yourself—you are like them, so they must be like you—even in ways that do not necessarily have anything to do with your membership in the group. You saw it with me for a while when I was new to the idea of asexuality (and it still pops up occasionally) : someone pops in with a question or remark on asexuality, or something aimed at another user who may be asexual, and I just have to butt in with whatever opinions and thoughts are currently surfacing. I see it when I read the phrase, "as a woman, __," and wonder why the person writing that thinks whatever idea or experience they're describing is something that uniquely occurs to women. We see it in the things people say that make us doubt whether we count as a "real" woman or man. We see it in #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen. It sits at the heart of the No True Scotsman fallacy, among others.

Corvid and Arden are both women, and both identify as feminist. And so they have mentally transmogrified "I feel responsible for this issue and want to use what I know to fix it" into "I want to encourage my entire gender to feel responsible for this issue and fix it the way I would". Mix in a little of the "my profession can save the world!" megalomania that a lot of us humans have at least a little of, and...well.
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