The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

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Post by Guest on Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:55 am

Jayce wrote:I once had a rant from a friend of mine who said he was annoyed by the Australian government's domestic violence against women is not okay ads, because they only raised awareness for women and not men. He said: would it be really that hard to change the word women to people?

He told me he felt that the government didn't really feel concerned about men when it comes to being sexually assaulted or domestically abused.

Contrastingly the Australian government also has a lot of ads about the dangers of drink driving, all of which are targeted towards men (there are only men in these ads). There never has been one about women drink driving.

I can at least say that, yeah, this is true me living in Australia and all. There's not much out there for men when it comes to DV. Well, shelter-like options anyway. Lots of hotlines, but I've never had to use them so I don't know about their actual effectiveness.

As for drink driving, yeah, drunk women don't exist apparently in the eyes of the government unless they are whinging about young people in general drinking to excess (which, hell, I agree they do given Australia's drinking culture but that's a different story).

Jayce wrote:This is going to sound toxic cause it is, but I think these issues are going to have to turn it up a couple of notches before people notice something needs to be addressed.
Sad but true, even if there's men out there suffering because of it. I know more than a few men who have been in abusive relationships and worse. The only help they had was, oh that's right, fuck all. I mean, and I can only talk for myself here, but I'm hardly going to run to a movement about women's lib and rights for help if I'm abused.

And if men need to make their own movement or take the initiative in stopping these issues, then the future looks bleak given the history of male movements.

But at the same time, I don't think this should feminism's problem. Nor something they should hold the reigns on. I can't imagine this going down well, but I don't really want a group about women's issue taking charge of an issue about men. And I don't like vice versa. Co-operation, yeah. But the whole 'feminism does it all' schtick doesn't help anyone. It wears feminism thin and dilutes it more than it already has been.

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Post by username_6916 on Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:53 pm

. I don't see people telling those who criticize feminists, "Hey, it's not okay for you to be angry," or "Your message is fine but your tone is offputting."
Really? Because I see this all the time. In fact, they often go one step further and say that your political views make you a bad person.


I haven't seen feminists asking men to promote positive femininity or creating a campaign for women's good self esteem or some such. Yes, I've seen feminists asking men to step up in helping stop bad behavior

What exactly is bad behavior? I mean, "bad behavior" is so broad as to be defined as talking to a woman in a hotel elevator, or making a joke with a friend at a convention about 'big dongles' or even taking a competitive approach to software development or speaking up in class while male. Or look at the complaints about "slut-shaming" and body shaming. After all, shame is just another hurt feeling. At that point, can we really draw a difference between 'hurt feelings' and 'harassment' or 'driving women away'?


I've never heard the "poised candles" thing.

The "10% of men are poisoned candies" thing was fairly common in the feminist blogosphere not so long ago.

One simply points out that men can play a role in preventing rape... which is true, because plenty of rapes involve men, plenty of men encounter situations where they could prevent a rape from happening. If it was "men can prevent all rapes", that would obviously be wrong, but surely you're not suggesting, "Men cannot prevent rape" is true or a good message?

Would you have an objection to "women can stop rape", then? Clearly, it's not saying that women can prevent all rapes, but there are situations where women can prevent rape and that's clearly a good thing, no?

And toxic masculinity isn't attacking men but the problematic cultural and societal expectations placed on men--addressing it is an attempt to help give men more options and avoid problems.
And again, would you object to someone complaining about "toxic femininity", pointing out women's stereotypical excessive concern with aesthetics over substance, or valuing conflict avoidance over justice? Because to me, that strikes me as rather sexist in and of itself.



But at the same time, I don't think this should feminism's problem. Nor something they should hold the reigns on. I can't imagine this going down well, but I don't really want a group about women's issue taking charge of an issue about men. And I don't like vice versa. Co-operation, yeah. But the whole 'feminism does it all' schtick doesn't help anyone. It wears feminism thin and dilutes it more than it already has been.

When it comes to liberal (as in promoting greater freedom and individual autonomy) or 'liberal' (as in social "justice") ideological movements regarding gender, feminism is about all we've got. And they often fight to retain this dominant position. They are the ones with power in this area.

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Post by Mel on Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:09 pm

username_6916 wrote:
. I don't see people telling those who criticize feminists, "Hey, it's not okay for you to be angry," or "Your message is fine but your tone is offputting."
Really? Because I see this all the time. In fact, they often go one step further and say that your political views make you a bad person.

Your second sentence basically proves my point. A person's political views are their message, not their tone. Telling someone you think their message is harmful is different from telling someone you think their tone is harmful but their message fine ("If you could just stop being so angry/harsh/mean about it...").

But if you see the latter directed at feminist critics all the time, presumably you can easily offer a couple of examples.

username_6916 wrote:

I haven't seen feminists asking men to promote positive femininity or creating a campaign for women's good self esteem or some such. Yes, I've seen feminists asking men to step up in helping stop bad behavior

What exactly is bad behavior?  I mean, "bad behavior" is so broad as to be defined as talking to a woman in a hotel elevator, or making a joke with a friend at a convention about 'big dongles' or even taking a competitive approach to software development or speaking up in class while male. Or look at the complaints about "slut-shaming" and body shaming. After all, shame is just another hurt feeling.  At that point, can we really draw a difference between 'hurt feelings' and 'harassment' or 'driving women away'?

I assume by the fact that you've moved the goal post (from whether feminists ask men to engage in efforts to build up women to whether their asking men not to engage in behavior that hurts women is overly broad) that you recognize that I was actually right about the former despite your earlier protest. Cool.

I don't see how the latter is relevant. I said that I have no problem with men asking feminists (or women in general) not to do things they feel are harmful to men. There is no double standard. Anyone's feelings about whether any particular behavior is truly harmful, or harmful enough for them to bother stopping it, is a completely different discussion.

username_6916 wrote:

I've never heard the "poised candles" thing.

The "10% of men are poisoned candies" thing was fairly common in the feminist blogosphere not so long ago.

Ah. I tracked down that idea. It was a tweet in the #YesAllWomen twitter discussion (""UNFAIR! NOT ALL MEN!" Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison."). It isn't saying that 10% of men are toxic as some kind of fact. It was drawing an analogy for men who say it's not fair for women to be cautious when not all men do bad things, similar to the Schrodinger's Rapist analogy. The point isn't "10% of men are bad!"; the point is that if you know some percentage of a group is bad, and you can't tell which ones just by looking at them, of course you're going to be cautious before trusting.*

username_6916 wrote:
One simply points out that men can play a role in preventing rape... which is true, because plenty of rapes involve men, plenty of men encounter situations where they could prevent a rape from happening. If it was "men can prevent all rapes", that would obviously be wrong, but surely you're not suggesting, "Men cannot prevent rape" is true or a good message?

Would you have an objection to "women can stop rape", then? Clearly, it's not saying that women can prevent all rapes, but there are situations where women can prevent rape and that's clearly a good thing, no?

Um... Side-eye You are aware that women have been getting the message that they can stop rape for many many decades now, right? In fact, the "men can stop rape" campaigns were created because so much emphasis has been put on women being responsible for stopping rape (for themselves and the women around them), to try to balance out the responsibility. "Carry your keys in your hand when you're walking to your car/house alone at night." "Never let your drink out of your sight." "Never leave a friend on her own if she's drunk at a party or bar." "Always meet a guy from a dating site in a public place." "Take a basic self defense class so you know you can escape an attacker." etc. etc. etc.

If you ever see a woman getting upset at someone saying a way women can prevent rape, it's not because they don't think women should be told they can stop rape, it's because we've already been told that a gazillion times since before we even hit puberty and don't really need yet another reminder.

username_6916 wrote:
And toxic masculinity isn't attacking men but the problematic cultural and societal expectations placed on men--addressing it is an attempt to help give men more options and avoid problems.
And again, would you object to someone complaining about "toxic femininity", pointing out women's stereotypical excessive concern with aesthetics over substance, or valuing conflict avoidance over justice? Because to me, that strikes me as rather sexist in and of itself.

And again, you seem to be unaware of reality. There are tons of people--many of them feminists!--who have criticized and continue to criticize the problematic ways femininity is portrayed and encouraged in the media and popular culture. Criticizing societal expectations and stereotypes is not criticizing a person's gender.

*The thing that bothers me the most about men protesting this idea is that men do it too. Please, show me a man who doesn't do a risk analysis when a person he doesn't know walks up to him and starts talking to him. It's normal human behavior to evaluate a stranger's demeanor and words before deciding whether to trust them. The only reason women bring it up specifically in regards to men is as a response to men getting upset that random women they approach don't automatically trust them. I don't generally see men getting upset that random men they might want to talk to don't always want to talk, or women getting upset that random people they might want to talk to don't always want to talk, or else we'd see the same message for those scenarios too.
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Post by Conreezy on Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:59 pm

And again, would you object to someone complaining about "toxic femininity", pointing out women's stereotypical excessive concern with aesthetics over substance, or valuing conflict avoidance over justice? Because to me, that strikes me as rather sexist in and of itself.

Pretty sure that's very much in feminism's wheelhouse.

If you ever see a woman getting upset at someone saying a way women can prevent rape, it's not because they don't think women should be told they can stop rape, it's because we've already been told that a gazillion times since before we even hit puberty and don't really need yet another reminder.

I think he was trying to say that women aren't told that they can prevent rape by not being the perpetrators of rape.

I haven't seen feminists asking men to promote positive femininity or creating a campaign for women's good self esteem or some such.

Is it not feminism's aim to (at some point) have men participate in the creation of better, more positive social roles for women and girls? Just seems to me that asking for better portrayals of women in media, for example, is asking men to promote positive womanhood (since men generally hold the power in those sorts of institutions) with the goal of reducing/eliminating harassment and other negative, sexist things.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:02 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:
3) to persist with unwanted behavior after being asked not to, or defend that behavior, or the culture that promotes it, is a wholly different kind of problematic (and that's where the matter of entitlement comes in)

I don't think that's not really what usually happens though. I'd say what really happens is that there is a feeling among those affected by this rethoric that women, assumed to be spoken for by those who apply the rethoric arguing for 1) and 2), and often including those arguing for 1) and 2) applying the rethoric, are at the same time asking for (and are rewarding through mate choice) male behavior that is (not rarely) incompatible with (partly) 1) and (definitely) 2). Which creates a double bind, as Ozy pointed out in her quote -

Ozy wrote:And then, when you’ve just about resigned yourself to eternal loneliness with your feminist halo, Marcotte comes along and says that that’s not good enough and you have to follow all those vaguely defined, mutually contradictory rules and still ask people out. If you don’t, you are Male Entitled Expects Women To Fall Into His Lap. Don’t think you can escape your evil just by being celibate, men!

This is also why some people say things like "feminism is a shit test to weed out the non-dominant beta-males who give a shit." For the record *I don't say that*. And why people instantly understand what classic skits like the SNL "Sexual harrassment in the workplace and you" are about. Double binds, and double standards, that are created and/or reinforced by standards demanded by the generalized feminist discourse.

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Post by Mel on Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:14 pm

Conreezy wrote:I think he was trying to say that women aren't told that they can prevent rape by not being the perpetrators of rape.  

I don't think so, given the way he phrased it, but he's welcome to clarify. In any case, many of the "men can stop rape" campaigns I've seen focus not on "don't rape people!" but "here are some ways you can watch out for your friends/discourage rape culture/etc."--ways male bystanders who wouldn't rape themselves can help stop rapes from happening.

Conreezy wrote:
I haven't seen feminists asking men to promote positive femininity or creating a campaign for women's good self esteem or some such.

Is it not feminism's aim to (at some point) have men participate in the creation of better, more positive social roles for women and girls?  Just seems to me that asking for better portrayals of women in media, for example, is asking men to promote positive womanhood (since men generally hold the power in those sorts of institutions) with the goal of reducing/eliminating harassment and other negative, sexist things.

I don't think that's quite the same thing. The initial point was that there should be some sort of movement promoting men's self esteem etc. Such a movement could certainly campaign both men and women to change how they portray men in the media. But the impetus and the promotion of the idea that this is necessary is coming from the movement. In your example, feminism as a movement is campaigning at the people who make choices for media. They're not asking the media makers to start their own campaign, only to take feminist concerns into account while doing the jobs they're doing anyway.
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Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:51 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Hirundo Bos wrote:
3) to persist with unwanted behavior after being asked not to, or defend that behavior, or the culture that promotes it, is a wholly different kind of problematic (and that's where the matter of entitlement comes in)

I don't think that's not really what usually happens though. I'd say what really happens is that there is a feeling among those affected by this rethoric that women, assumed to be spoken for by those who apply the rethoric arguing for 1) and 2), and often including those arguing for 1) and 2) applying the rethoric, are at the same time asking for (and are rewarding through mate choice) male behavior that is (not rarely) incompatible with (partly) 1) and (definitely) 2). Which creates a double bind, as Ozy pointed out in her quote

I think that double bind certainly exists, and I do wish the men as pursuers dynamic would subside. That said,I don't think most feminists would say that the male behavior that is (currently) expected by many women necessarily conflicts with (1) and (2). Sure, there are some strident feminists who would say that, but I doubt most would. I think there are a few reasons the double bind exists: there is a lack of positive narratives around male sexuality that aren't about notches in the bedpost and pressuring/"winning over" women to have sex which leaves a lot of young men with no where to turn to to get validation of their sexuality; a lack of nuance on the messages presented to young men about these issues (which are often crafted to avoid lawsuits or bad publicity rather than for purer motives); and young men thinking they have to be more aggressive to get dates and sex than they actually have to be (especially if they're not socially experienced and well calibrated).
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Post by BiSian on Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:42 pm


To start with, I think a policy forbidding someone from asking out a coworker is absurd and paternalistic. And possibly illegal in California ('legal activities that happen outside of working hours and away from employer premises').

And to that end, I do think a good policy should mention things that definitively are not sexual harassment. And it should mention that in order to be considered harassment, some comment needs to be repeated in spite of someone's objections.

I'm all for sexual harassment being described as gender neutral. I'm all for training discussing what is and is not harassment, and how to recognize if something you say/do is workplace appropriate or not. I'm not sure it's appropriate to list what is not harassment in an official policy (union steward, lots of exp with HR speaking) however. Also, it is very problematic to say that a person must have objected to the behavior in order for it to be defined as harassment. Though there are many many HR departments who react to disclosures of harassment or inappropriate conduct with "Well you didn't tell them you disliked it so you must have been okay with it" This is shitty and creates a culture of "cover the company's ass and don't care about the employees"

I think that a workplace can and should DISCOURAGE interoffice dating. You are there to work, not to find a partner.
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Post by The Wisp on Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:09 pm

BiSian wrote:I think that a workplace can and should DISCOURAGE interoffice dating. You are there to work, not to find a partner.

How do you square this with the fact that a great many people meet their partners at work? I guess maybe this hinges on what you mean by "interoffice" dating. Does that mean just within a team? A department? A whole employer? A whole discipline? The former seems reasonable, but the latter ones seem unreasonable to me.

ETA: I'm all for the anti-harassment stuff in this context, by the way, but this is a step further.
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Post by eselle28 on Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:01 pm

The Wisp wrote:
BiSian wrote:I think that a workplace can and should DISCOURAGE interoffice dating. You are there to work, not to find a partner.

How do you square this with the fact that a great many people meet their partners at work? I guess maybe this hinges on what you mean by "interoffice" dating. Does that mean just within a team? A department? A whole employer? A whole discipline? The former seems reasonable, but the latter ones seem unreasonable to me.

ETA: I'm all for the anti-harassment stuff in this context, by the way, but this is a step further.

There's some ground between discouraging employees from dating each other and having a strictly enforced policy against it. Some of the better work environments I've been in have had a policy against supervisors dating subordinates and have discouraged office dating generally. That didn't mean it didn't happen, just that people tended to be cautious and thoughtful when deciding whether to act on an attraction. A couple who quietly dated for awhile before making their relationship known to their coworkers was accepted, while someone who asked out a series of coworkers or went to the holiday party looking to hook up or who had a breakup that affected their working relationships would be viewed as a disruption.

I don't think the fact that many people meet partners at work has much to do with what an employer's view of the practice should be, either. Most employers frown on employees using their internet for personal purposes, even though many people who work in offices do that at least sometimes.
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Post by username_6916 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 12:58 am



What exactly is bad behavior? I mean, "bad behavior" is so broad as to be defined as talking to a woman in a hotel elevator, or making a joke with a friend at a convention about 'big dongles' or even taking a competitive approach to software development or speaking up in class while male. Or look at the complaints about "slut-shaming" and body shaming. After all, shame is just another hurt feeling. At that point, can we really draw a difference between 'hurt feelings' and 'harassment' or 'driving women away'?
I assume by the fact that you've moved the goal post (from whether feminists ask men to engage in efforts to build up women to whether their asking men not to engage in behavior that hurts women is overly broad) that you recognize that I was actually right about the former despite your earlier protest. Cool.

The point is that bad behavior is defined as a failure to "engage in efforts to build up women" to many if not most feminists.


I don't see how the latter is relevant. I said that I have no problem with men asking feminists (or women in general) not to do things they feel are harmful to men. There is no double standard. Anyone's feelings about whether any particular behavior is truly harmful, or harmful enough for them to bother stopping it, is a completely different discussion.
And I think it's the very crux of the discussion. I think the feminists are wrong and that their ideas and policy proposals (to include 'magically change the culture') in this area promote bigotry, hurt men and hurt society as a whole. I think this is very real harm to very real individuals.

I think he was trying to say that women aren't told that they can prevent rape by not being the perpetrators of rape.

I don't think so, given the way he phrased it, but he's welcome to clarify. In any case, many of the "men can stop rape" campaigns I've seen focus not on "don't rape people!" but "here are some ways you can watch out for your friends/discourage rape culture/etc."--ways male bystanders who wouldn't rape themselves can help stop rapes from happening.

The ambiguity is intentional here.

Yes, one of the meanings I intended was to point to all those feminist voices that say "teach men not to rape". At best "we've already been told that a gazillion times since before we even hit puberty and don't really need yet another reminder.". At worst, it is saying that all men are (potential) rapists.




And again, would you object to someone complaining about "toxic femininity", pointing out women's stereotypical excessive concern with aesthetics over substance, or valuing conflict avoidance over justice? Because to me, that strikes me as rather sexist in and of itself.

Pretty sure that's very much in feminism's wheelhouse.
And just how often to we see feminists criticizing cases of 'toxic femininity' that benefit women and hurt men and boys?





I think that a workplace can and should DISCOURAGE interoffice dating. You are there to work, not to find a partner.
Fair enough. So, can we cancel the holiday party, the 'all hands meeting', the corporate teambuilding, the "put a slogan on a coffee mug" presentations, the off-sites and so on, too?

Also, it is very problematic to say that a person must have objected to the behavior in order for it to be defined as harassment. Though there are many many HR departments who react to disclosures of harassment or inappropriate conduct with "Well you didn't tell them you disliked it so you must have been okay with it" This is shitty and creates a culture of "cover the company's ass and don't care about the employees"
So, then can we write a policy that enumerates all possible forms of harassment and accept any act that's not on the list? The way I see it, those are the only two real choices here, otherwise you can create a situation where someone can commit wrongdoing despite their best efforts not to. Policy should be written so that someone reading can tell if their actions are in violation of the rules. That's a basic tenant of justice.



I don't think the fact that many people meet partners at work has much to do with what an employer's view of the practice should be, either. Most employers frown on employees using their internet for personal purposes, even though many people who work in offices do that at least sometimes.
Most employers object to their employees having any activities or interests outside of work. Most employers would object to an employee raising a safety concern with OSHA, or a grievance with the state labor board. Many employers would have an objection to their employees voting for certain political parties, or expressing certain ideas (as private citizens) to the government. We don't just accept the employer's view as the one that is best for society without question in these instances. Often we pass laws to limit these practices.

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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:17 am

username_6916 wrote:
I don't think the fact that many people meet partners at work has much to do with what an employer's view of the practice should be, either. Most employers frown on employees using their internet for personal purposes, even though many people who work in offices do that at least sometimes.
Most employers object to their employees having any activities or interests outside of work. Most employers would object to an employee raising a safety concern with OSHA, or a grievance with the state labor board. Many employers would have an objection to their employees voting for certain political parties, or expressing certain ideas (as private citizens) to the government. We don't just accept the employer's view as the one that is best for society without question in these instances. Often we pass laws to limit these practices.

Certainly. I'm merely saying that the fact that behavior is common should be a neutral factor in assessing whether a workplace should prohibit or discourage it. There are many common behaviors an employer will want to and should, or is at least reasonable in wanting to, regulate. There are many others that an employer will want to regulate and should not be allowed to interfere in.

In this case, I think limiting dating in the workplace is good policy, as unwanted sexual advances in the workplace are unpleasant for employees as well as owners and managers and because it still very much does intersect with gender discrimination. Harassment laws and policies should protect everyone, but this isn't one of those issues where everyone suffers equally from harassment. There are still more men in positions of power in the workplace than there are women, men in our culture tend to be the initiators, and people who are interested in people of the same gender tend to be be more careful about approaching. There are more cases of harassment that involve straight men harassing women than there are other sorts. This harassment has limited women's employment opportunities in the very recent past, and in some industries still does in the present. I tend to weigh the ability to work much more highly than the ability to date, so this is an easy one for me.
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Post by Mel on Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:21 am

username_6916 wrote:The point is that bad behavior is defined as a failure to "engage in efforts to build up women" to many if not most feminists.

You have given no examples of that. Asking people not to slut shame or body shame is asking them not to tear women down. Avoiding tearing someone down is not the same as building them up. If a guy says nothing about my sexual behavior or my body, he is not tearing me down, and he's also not building me up. This is pretty simple stuff.

Similarly, I don't see how asking people not to make sexualized jokes in professional contexts or ask women out in enclosed spaces is saying "build women up." It's pointing out things not to do.

I notice you skipped over my previous request to give examples of the supposedly so common tactic of feminists disagreeing with their critics based on tone. I don't suppose you'd care to provide actual evidence of these "many if not most" feminists who are supposedly getting angry at men for outright not building women up?


And I think it's the very crux of the discussion. I think the feminists are wrong and that their ideas and policy proposals (to include 'magically change the culture') in this area promote bigotry, hurt men and hurt society as a whole. I think this is very real harm to very real individuals.

Well, I'm glad you clarified that, because now I can say this:

<mod>username, please refer to basic guideline #5 in the Forum Guidelines. Specifically, "this site is not the battleground for whether sexism exists or whether feminism as a whole is a good or bad thing." Please respect the rule or desist from posting.</mod>
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Post by Mel on Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:27 am

This is going to get long, because it was a long article. Fair warning.

Sam, I've now read the entire article. I misspoke when talking about it earlier because I missed your use of "her" when referring to Ozy and assumed based on the passage you quoted that she was a guy who felt he was following all the rules and just couldn't win etc. (given the "don't pretend you aren't hurting us" which seemed to group her with Aaronson in that way). I apologize for the oversight. But now having read it, I don't think the author actually agrees with your premise.

1. When Ozy talks about the impact of feminist rhetoric on people like Aaronson, it's very clear from the material preceding the bit you quoted that she isn't referring to the way feminist rhetoric would impact the average person, but the way it would impact someone who, as she puts it, is "not totally and 100% neurotypical." When she groups herself with him as an "us," she's referring to the fact that they both suffer from mental illness. The main thing she's upset about is not that feminists put men in some sort of double bind, but that some feminists are dismissing mental health issues as not resulting in structural oppression even though there is obvious privilege in not being clinically depressed, suicidal, etc. She addresses this very specifically in her part II and the first four paragraphs of part IV.

At the same time, she acknowledges that feeling guilty as a result of this sort of rhetoric is "excessive" (Part IV, paragraph 2) and is a result of having "personal mental health problems" and not being "sane" (Part IV, paragraph 4). Which means…

She is saying that feeling so guilty or anxious about feminist rhetoric that you want to chemically castrate yourself or commit suicide is an abnormal and irrational response that comes about because of a mental condition that already existed in the person hearing the rhetoric before they heard it. In other words, feminist rhetoric isn't causing the problems, it's interacting with existing problems in a way that exacerbates them. What she's asking is not that feminists consider toning down their rhetoric overall or recognize that their rhetoric is going to push mentally healthy people over the line into suicidal thinking, but that feminists recognize that mental illness is just as valid an issue of privilege and oppression as sexism, and not to dismiss it when they encounter people suffering from it.

2. This becomes even more obvious when you get to part XI, in which she says, "what makes you think this is a shy nerdy male problem?"  And goes on to point out the male nerds may have often "crushingly rejected" women they were into.  (i.e., Women are not benefiting from the social messages around dating either.)

And also part XII, where she calls out people (presumably thinking of Aaronson) for trying to defend sexual harassers as maybe people who were just confused about social rules.

And also part XIII, where she directly calls out Aaronson for trying to redefine "shy nerdy male" so that it means such people cannot sexually harass others. She not only emphasizes that men can be shy nerds and also "harass people, or abuse them, or rape them," but points out that "nerd sexism mostly affects female nerds":

And… remember how I said that nerd sexism mostly affects female nerds? If you don’t understand social rules, it’s also hard to set boundaries. If you’re terrified of people, it’s scary to tell someone to stop, especially if they have power over you. It’s easy to just shut up and take it and hurt, especially when the person hurting you is shy and awkward and doesn’t understand, and you’re also shy and awkward and don’t understand, and you think about all those rules that are so confusing and contradictory and you don’t want to punish someone like you for not understanding them, and…

Our problems are the same problems, inflected differently.

When eselle pointed out to you that people like Aaronson complaining that saying negative things about/toward men harms men can have corresponding harmful consequences for women, you said, "I don't know what exactly in what they say could have those consequences." But, Sam, right there in the article you linked to the author lays out how men going on about how shy and awkward they are and how unfair it is for people to "punish" them for not understanding and how maybe the guy who seemed to be harassing you didn't really mean to can hurt woman.

3. Ultimately, in fact, Ozy seems mainly to be upset at guys like Aaronson and society for trying to downplay how harmful nerdy male behavior can be. See the concluding section of her post, in which she says:

In middle school they used to grope me. It was a joke. The punchline was that no one would really be attracted to someone as ugly as me.

When I got my nerves together to tell an adult (not about the groping– I couldn’t, it was too embarrassing– but about some of the harassment), they said that boys in the smart-kid classes don’t know how to relate to girls, because they were shy. They probably had a crush on me and didn’t know how to show it.

and

I have to hit on people first because being hit on makes me have panic attacks

and

it was only recently that I realized, really, that that was something bad that happened to me, that that is something I could be angry about, if I wanted to.

Did you even read the whole article, or just stop after you'd gotten the material you felt you needed to prop up your cause?

4. I'm guessing it's the latter, because, well, you might want to take note of this particular bit from part X (edited a couple examples out for brevity, bolding mine):

I have also, over the course of my life, interacted with a fair number of men who, out of moral luck, have happened not to have absorbed many sexist ideas… <snip> it would not occur to those men to sexually harass women, or pressure women into wearing lipstick and then think they’re shallow when they do, or think less of a woman for having sex. 

<snip>

So those non-sexist men’s instant reaction is to conclude that feminists are looking for sexism where none exists, or to round feminists’ complaint to the nearest thing they would do and then say “wow! These feminists think it is sexual harassment just to ask a girl out!”

There is a cost to pointing this out, which is that a bunch of sexist men will conclude they are actually super awesome high-level not sexist, because sexists are not generally known for their self-awareness w.r.t. sexism. Suffice it to say that if you’ve ever opined that a fat woman is just not taking care of herself you are not in the category which I am discussing, and that if you are contemplating linking this post to explain to someone that your anti-feminism is the result of super awesome high-level not-sexism then you are definitely not in the category which I am discussing.

I… kind of feel like you're doing the bolded thing here, Sam. You not only contemplated linking to Ozy's post, you actually did link to it here. For the purpose of showing us that your ideas about the negative impact of feminism are not actually sexist, because look, here's a woman who's a feminist who's saying things that (it seemed, see above) align with your thinking, no?

I'm going to suggest now that you contemplate what it means that a) you did an exact thing that the article writer you say you feel is one of the most insightful authors on gender relations suggests would indicate that you are not actually one of the non-sexist men, and b) you didn't even read her article closely enough beyond the bits you felt related to your arguments to notice that you were about to do this (or else maybe you did and you decided it didn't apply to you for some reason… See her point about self awareness).

And even if you conclude that you are definitely one of those non-sexist men and that her caveat didn't apply to you for whatever reason, you can't deny that right there she's pointed out another cost that occurs when people like you are "pointing out" that supposedly "feminists think it is sexual harassment just to ask a girl out!", which is that by making it sound as if feminists are being unreasonable when they speak out against harassment and so on, you are helping actually sexist men feel they're not sexist.

Thoughts?
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:55 pm

Hey Mel,

Mel wrote:1. When Ozy talks about the impact of feminist rhetoric on people like Aaronson, it's very clear from the material preceding the bit you quoted that she isn't referring to the way feminist rhetoric would impact the average person, but the way it would impact someone who, as she puts it, is "not totally and 100% neurotypical." When she groups herself with him as an "us," she's referring to the fact that they both suffer from mental illness. The main thing she's upset about is not that feminists put men in some sort of double bind, but that some feminists are dismissing mental health issues as not resulting in structural oppression even though there is obvious privilege in not being clinically depressed, suicidal, etc. She addresses this very specifically in her part II and the first four paragraphs of part IV."
...
She is saying that feeling so guilty or anxious about feminist rhetoric that you want to chemically castrate yourself or commit suicide is an abnormal and irrational response that comes about because of a mental condition that already existed in the person hearing the rhetoric before they heard it. In other words, feminist rhetoric isn't causing the problems, it's interacting with existing problems in a way that exacerbates them. (BOLDED BY SAM] What she's asking is not that feminists consider toning down their rhetoric overall or recognize that their rhetoric is going to push mentally healthy people over the line into suicidal thinking, but that feminists recognize that mental illness is just as valid an issue of privilege and oppression as sexism, and not to dismiss it when they encounter people suffering from it."

I thought it was clear from the reference to Aaronson that this is not a problem that affects everyone in the same way. But, yes, if you didn't think so, this is a helpful clarification. So, yes, I'm by and large fine with "feminist rethoric exacerbates the problems". Although my reading wrt the double bind is different, I think that is very apparent in the text, certainly to me. While agreeing with the premise that not everyone is equally affected, I would suggest that the prevalence is much higher, although there certainly also is bell curve with respect to the consequences experienced by those affected. Becoming suicidal or wanting to castrate oneself is certainly an extreme case, less severe dysfunctionality is more usual.

Mel wrote:When eselle pointed out to you that people like Aaronson complaining that saying negative things about/toward men harms men can have corresponding harmful consequences for women, you said, "I don't know what exactly in what they say could have those consequences." But, Sam, right there in the article you linked to the author lays out how men going on about how shy and awkward they are and how unfair it is for people to "punish" them for not understanding and how many the guy who seemed to be harassing you didn't really mean to can hurt woman.

That is fair, I guess. I read this differently, thinking not about discourse but individual actions, but yes, it is certainly possibly to also see this as a discourse.


Mel wrote:3. Ultimately, in fact, Ozy seems mainly to be upset at guys like Aaronson and society for trying to downplay how harmful nerdy male behavior can be. ...
Did you even read the whole article, or just stop after you'd gotten the material you felt you needed to prop up your cause?

I read it all, but our reading differs significantly.

Mel wrote:4. I'm guessing it's the latter, because, well, you might want to take note of this particular bit from part X (edited a couple examples out for brevity, bolding mine):

...

I… kind of feel like you're doing the bolded thing here, Sam. You not only contemplated linking to Ozy's post, you actually did link to it here. For the purpose of showing us that your ideas about the negative impact of feminism are not actually sexist, because look, here's a woman who's a feminist who's saying things that (it seemed, see above) align with your thinking, no?

I'm going to suggest now that you contemplate what it means that a) you did an exact thing that the article writer you say you feel is one of the most insightful authors on gender relations suggests would indicate that you are not actually one of the non-sexist men, and b) you didn't even read her article closely enough beyond the bits you felt related to your arguments to notice that you were about to do this (or else maybe you did and you decided it didn't apply to you for some reason… See her point about self awareness).

No, actually, I read that, and linked to it fully aware of what the mere linking could imply to those who want to read it into that. I didn't link to her because "a feminist allegedly thinks what I think", but because she wrote something powerful that I consider relevant in a context I find important and not given its appropriate weight in the gender discourse.

Mel wrote:And even if you conclude that you are definitely one of those non-sexist men and that her caveat didn't apply to you for whatever reason, you can't deny that right there she's pointed out another cost that occurs when people like you "pointing out" that supposedly "feminists think it is sexual harassment just to ask a girl out!", which is that by making it sound as if feminists are being unreasonable when they speak out against harassment and so on, you are helping actually sexist men feel they're not sexist.

That *is* another cost, no doubt, although it's not exactly what I'm arguing. And it's not "making it sound as if", it's pointing out things that do have, to the people mentioned in your 1), very real consequences. Again, if pointing that out has, in turn, costs, that is something to consider. For the moment, I'd say that the harm imposed by those speaking up for themselves about things that hurt them in this specific regard seems very limited, though it certainly exists.

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Post by Caffeinated on Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:32 pm

eselle28 wrote:In this case, I think limiting dating in the workplace is good policy, as unwanted sexual advances in the workplace are unpleasant for employees as well as owners and managers and because it still very much does intersect with gender discrimination. Harassment laws and policies should protect everyone, but this isn't one of those issues where everyone suffers equally from harassment. There are still more men in positions of power in the workplace than there are women, men in our culture tend to be the initiators, and people who are interested in people of the same gender tend to be be more careful about approaching. There are more cases of harassment that involve straight men harassing women than there are other sorts. This harassment has limited women's employment opportunities in the very recent past, and in some industries still does in the present. I tend to weigh the ability to work much more highly than the ability to date, so this is an easy one for me.

This stood out to me as a possible point of difference between various commenters here, that last sentence (the one I bolded) in particular. It made me stop and wonder if everyone in this discussion would agree with the notion of weighing the ability to work much more highly than the ability to date. I think an argument could be made for valuing either one more highly than the other, and if we're talking as though everyone shares the same view when perhaps everyone doesn't, it leads to extra confusion.


On another note, Ozy, the author of the originally linked and quoted article, uses gender neutral pronouns, "they" in particular that I've seen.
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:06 pm

Caffeinated wrote:I think an argument could be made for valuing either one more highly than the other, and if we're talking as though everyone shares the same view when perhaps everyone doesn't, it leads to extra confusion.

Yes, I think that is an important point. I think most feminists would consider it a privilege to be able to consider dating more important than work, but whether that's the case or whether it's maybe the other way around probably depends on people's specific positions as well as their specific interpretations of, say, the Maslow hierarchy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

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Post by Conreezy on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:21 pm

And just how often to we see feminists criticizing cases of 'toxic femininity' that benefit women and hurt men and boys?

The only things about toxic femininity I found seemed to come from anti-feminists, so I'm not sure how a feminist would respond to that term.  

If you mean benevolent sexism, it seems pretty logical that stamping out sexism would stamp that out too.  Many feminists would advocate being nice or just to people of any gender.  They call it "politeness" and "equality."

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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:25 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:I think an argument could be made for valuing either one more highly than the other, and if we're talking as though everyone shares the same view when perhaps everyone doesn't, it leads to extra confusion.

Yes, I think that is an important point. I think most feminists would consider it a privilege to be able to consider dating more important than work, but whether that's the case or whether it's maybe the other way around probably depends on people's specific positions as well as their specific interpretations of, say, the Maslow hierarchy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

Perhaps, but I would say that at least for women, "dating" in any sense we understand it today is fundamentally linked to the ability to work. Absent the ability to sell other kinds of labor, women have historically had to sell some combination of domestic and sexual services as servants, wives, and sex workers, and the need to sell those services has often interfered with women's ability to choose romantic relationships they want, to leave or abstain from romantic relationships they find undesirable, and to make choices that they find personally fulfilling but that might make them less desirable on the marriage market.

I would say that men's ability to work tends to affect their ability to date as well, insofar as unemployed men tend to struggle in the dating market, but I suspect that a person whose picture of the not working scenario includes being a less attractive partner but doesn't include relying on sexual and domestic services to support themselves might end up weighing the alternatives differently.
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Post by Enail on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:50 pm

<mod>Just want to add a reminder for everyone to please keep in mind the specific focus of this topic and basic rule #5 of the http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t5-forum-guidelines; this is not an open thread to debate feminism or the idea of messages against harassment overall.  

Whether or not you believe that feminism and/or messages against harassment have value, please treat those as basics for this conversation and approach the topic of this thread with the assumption that there may be aspects to those messages that should not be lost.  Thanks, all! </mod>
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Post by username_6916 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:54 pm


Well, I'm glad you clarified that, because now I can say this:

<mod>username, please refer to basic guideline #5 in the Forum Guidelines. Specifically, "this site is not the battleground for whether sexism exists or whether feminism as a whole is a good or bad thing." Please respect the rule or desist from posting.</mod>

If feminism (or any other ideological label) is above criticism, what is the point of this entire discussion? Would it be acceptable to criticize certain patterns of behavior commonly used by feminists instead of feminism?



You have given no examples of that. Asking people not to slut shame or body shame is asking them not to tear women down. Avoiding tearing someone down is not the same as building them up. If a guy says nothing about my sexual behavior or my body, he is not tearing me down, and he's also not building me up. This is pretty simple stuff.

Similarly, I don't see how asking people not to make sexualized jokes in professional contexts or ask women out in enclosed spaces is saying "build women up." It's pointing out things not to do.



I notice you skipped over my previous request to give examples of the supposedly so common tactic of feminists disagreeing with their critics based on tone. I don't suppose you'd care to provide actual evidence of these "many if not most" feminists who are supposedly getting angry at men for outright not building women up? [/quote]

Remember the last thread on DNL prime where Johnny threatened to ban me for sharing my own woes about how the education system treats young boys? There were a bunch of posters there who were going on about how they were not encouraged to go into science or engineering and how this was evidence of sexism. I've seen absurd arguments of this sort regarding women's participation in FLOSS software communities where some argue that we need to pay women more (and pay more women) to participate than men. More broadly, the reaction to anyone who rejects affirmative action or anything of the sort isn't exactly a friendly one.

I'd also put most things that are labeled as 'body shaming' or 'slut shaming' as a matter of tone. If we accept them as a matter of substance, than we have to accept criticism of those who trot out the whole 'virgin neckbeard looser' style of personal attack as being one of substance too.




This stood out to me as a possible point of difference between various commenters here, that last sentence (the one I bolded) in particular. It made me stop and wonder if everyone in this discussion would agree with the notion of weighing the ability to work much more highly than the ability to date. I think an argument could be made for valuing either one more highly than the other, and if we're talking as though everyone shares the same view when perhaps everyone doesn't, it leads to extra confusion.

I'm definitely on the other side of this. The only reason I have a career so that I can be a good husband someday.



And just how often to we see feminists criticizing cases of 'toxic femininity' that benefit women and hurt men and boys?


The only things about toxic femininity I found seemed to come from anti-feminists, so I'm not sure how a feminist would respond to that term.
I think this proves my point. Such a label is seen as anti-woman. So, why is it so surprising to see 'toxic masculinity' as anti-man?


If you mean benevolent sexism, it seems pretty logical that stamping out sexism would stamp that out too. Many feminists would advocate being nice or just to people of any gender. They call it "politeness" and "equality."
I don't think that follows at all. Regardless of your own gender, it's perfectly possible to advocate for the kinds of sexism that benefit you, while advocating against the kinds of sexism that hurt you. Just because you put a bunch of actions in the bucket of 'sexism' and say you're against all of the things in that bucket doesn't mean that taking action against one thing in this bucket is changing anything about any of the other things in that bucket.


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Post by Enail on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:02 pm

username_6916 wrote:

Well, I'm glad you clarified that, because now I can say this:

<mod>username, please refer to basic guideline #5 in the Forum Guidelines. Specifically, "this site is not the battleground for whether sexism exists or whether feminism as a whole is a good or bad thing." Please respect the rule or desist from posting.</mod>

If feminism (or any other ideological label) is above criticism, what is the point of this entire discussion? Would it be acceptable to criticize certain patterns of behavior commonly used by feminists instead of feminism?

<mod>
There is a difference between debating whether there's a problem with a specific aspect of something that you agree has some amount of value, and debating whether the entire thing has any value. The latter is both off-topic for this particular thread and not something we're interested in doing on this forum (see basic guideline #5, as Mel requested).  If you cannot distinguish between the two forms of critique, please stay out of this thread. This will be your only warning.</mod>
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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:21 pm

Remember the last thread on DNL prime where Johnny threatened to ban me for sharing my own woes about how the education system treats young boys? There were a bunch of posters there who were going on about how they were not encouraged to go into science or engineering and how this was evidence of sexism.

I seem to also remember that they specifically pointed out that lots of boys got lots of said encouragement, whilst not clearly having more merit or doing anything different aside from being male. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the presence or absence of this encouragement/attention/mentorship often plays a big part in a person's career success regardless of gender. Taking a useful and desired resource (a teacher's attention/mentorship) and consistently doling it out only to one gender and not the other, without some accompanying explanation to justify it, seems like textbook sexism to me.

To relate it back to the "building up" and not "tearing down" - I think what the posters were objecting to is that the building up in question was 1. Being given to men over women, with apparent lack of regard towards the merits/actions of each and 2. Necessary for their career progression. I think the request isn't really "Give me attention!" or "Build up my career!", its "Stop using gender as a basis for doling out mentorship/attention" or "Stop simply letting your subconscious biases (which can include gender) decide who gets mentorship/attention". Which seems like a pretty reasonable idea to me.

But yes, will result in us ladies getting more attention, because *some of us do in fact deserve more then we're currently getting*. And because teacher attention/mentorship is a fixed resource, yes, some boys will get less of it, because *they didn't deserve to get it over a more competent woman in the first place*. This can make it look like they're asking to be given something as opposed to being "left alone". But what they're actually asking is "Don't be discriminatory in who gets an opportunity to be 'built up' ".

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Post by username_6916 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:25 pm

But yes, will result in us ladies getting more attention, because *some of us do in fact deserve more then we're currently getting*. And because teacher attention/mentorship is a fixed resource, yes, some boys will get less of it, because *they didn't deserve to get it over a more competent woman in the first place*. This can make it look like they're asking to be given something as opposed to being "left alone". But what they're actually asking is "Don't be discriminatory in who gets an opportunity to be 'built up' ".
I see that you didn't address my mention of 'affirmative action', or the idea that women need more attention to their cause in these fields on account of their gender. This steps far beyond "don't discriminate". It is saying "help us because of our gender and some assumed past disadvantage". Heck, there folks who have gone so far as to say that we should exclude boys from classes in computing and engineering so as to 'correct' the gender imbalance in these areas.

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Post by Enail on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:26 pm

<mod> Folks, please stick to the particular focus of this thread and leave off discussing feminism at large, even when responding to comments by someone else. Thanks!

ETA: Username, did you miss mod tags in my comment to you? I'm giving you this one because it was responding to someone else's comment, but that's it. Any further attempts to use this thread to discuss broader topics of feminism, whether or not it's in response to someone else, and you will be suspended.
</mod>
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