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

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

Post by Mel on Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:01 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote: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.

Your making this argument here reinforces my feeling that you're not just sharing Ozy's article because you feel the points it makes are good ones, but trying to use it to add validity to your more general beliefs--which Ozy doesn't actually provide any support for that I can see. In fact, Ozy very specifically focuses her comments on being suicidal, wanting to castrate oneself, and how these are indicators of severe mental difficulties from a medical standpoint. To quote (bolding mine):

The thing about wanting to kill yourself is that… if you genuinely wish to be dead, you are, by the consensus of the psychiatric community, Not Sane. The DSM-V is less into generalized assessments of functioning but in the DSM-IV wanting to be dead is enough to catapult you into the functioning level of schizophrenics.

and in a later description of what she means by "clinical depression"/"being depressed":

they just hurt all the time and can’t get out of bed.

Ozy says nothing about a widespread, non-clinically severe dysfunctionality that feminists should be mindful of or that constitutes a major structural disadvantage. In fact, the advice Ozy gives to average non-sexist men who feel feminists are being unreasonable is this:

Non-sexist men: I would like to point out the possibility that feminists keep getting upset about men who aren’t you. That when feminists say “it is bad when men think less of women for having sex,” they are in fact referring to an actually existing group of people, which many women have interacted with and who cause them a great deal of distress, and of which you are not a member. Therefore, the fact that you wouldn’t do that does not mean that other men wouldn’t do that. Other men are assholes. I’m sorry.

So, basically, Ozy's message to a non-clinically depressed man is not, "I'm sorry feminists are speaking so harshly, you're right, they're putting you in a double bind;" it's, "hey, you really should listen to those feminists and trust what they're saying, because there's a real problem going on you're just not noticing."

Ozy is also makes a point of noting that while feminists dismissing someone's mental illness is not okay, that is only about the mental illness, not the factors that cause it (loneliness, etc.):

I think it’s necessary to take a nuanced approach. If you’re suicidally depressed because your mom died, you’re oppressed as a depressed person. You’re as likely to be legally kidnapped as anyone else. But this does not magically transmutate your mom dying into a form of oppression, as opposed to an ordinary form of suffering. Similarly, if Aaronson was depressed because he was lonely, that doesn’t mean his loneliness is a form of oppression.

I'm not sure how to read that in any way other than saying that men feeling lonely/frustrated/whatever because they're not sure how to ethically approach women is not a problem of structural oppression. Being diagnosably clinically depressed, yes; having a more "ordinary form of suffering," no. I find it hard to imagine how Ozy could say this and also believe that feminists are responsible for men simply feeling lonely/frustrated/whatever or should change the way they talk about women's issues to try to avoid making men feel lonely/frustrated/whatever.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:I read it all, but our reading differs significantly.

Well, if you care to point out any examples of things Ozy said that caused you to read things differently, you're welcome to. Otherwise I guess you're saying, "agree to disagree."
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Mel on Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:19 pm

username, to bring this back to where it tied into the topic, my original point was simply that I don't think it's feminists' responsibility to create some sort of a social/societal movement to improve men's self image around dating and sexual concerns, and that such a movement should be spearheaded by men. If you agree with that, then we agree, no further discussion necessary!
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:50 pm

(I think Ozy identifies as non-binary trans, and thus prefers "they/their" to "she/her", just for the record)

Mel, I agree with your interpretation over Sam's for the most part, but I do think Ozy was suggesting in part IV that feminists, particularly of the Marcotte type, at least reflect on the collateral damage their messages might cause (even if said damage is due to mental illness or irratonalities) rather than just acting like the other people are somehow objectively wrong or evil for feeling bad when reading the messages. Also Ozy seems to want them to own the collateral damage if, after the reflection, they don't change their messages.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:03 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
eselle28 wrote: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.

I may come back to other points later, but for now, I'll answer this for my own part... or, the answer is I'm not sure what I'd personally value, but if the question is what should limit what at the workplace, then I would value mine and others' ability too work higher.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Mel on Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:15 pm

The Wisp wrote:
Mel, I agree with your interpretation over Sam's for the most part, but I do think Ozy was suggesting in part IV that feminists, particularly of the Marcotte type, at least reflect on the collateral damage their messages might cause (even if said damage is due to mental illness or irratonalities) rather than just acting like the other people are somehow objectively wrong or evil for feeling bad when reading the messages. Also Ozy seems to want them to own the collateral damage if, after the reflection, they don't change their messages.

Yes, I see that and I thought I acknowledged it in my initial post on the article (re: mental health and not dismissing the way harsh feminist messages may exacerbate that condition). I just don't think the article suggests Ozy believes a mentally healthy person feeling bad after reading a feminist message, or a clinically depressed/anxious person feeling lonely/frustrated/whatever about their love lives in general, should be classified as said "collateral damage" of those messages or need feminists' acknowledgement. It seems to outright state the opposite of the latter.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:52 pm

I'm going to take what I suspect will be an unpopular point of view.

I think that in practice it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the suffering inherent in recognizing the injustice of the world we live in and this so-called collateral damage. I think more men need to experience the former kind of suffering. Doing the work of trying to live rightly in an unjust world - especially when you've been the beneficiary of said injustice - is painful. There's no way around it. Asking for the pain to go away is either selfish ("Hearing about injustice makes me uncomfortable, so shut up") or wildly optimistic about the process of moral growth. Can we better accommodate mental health issues in this process? Probably - but I'm not interested in centering that conversation around men.

I also think that feminists need to live up to their own beliefs when it comes to not body policing, not shaming people based on sexual history, etc. But notice I say "their own." I'm not going to conflate different feminists and expect every feminist to be responsible for anything any other person calling themselves feminist has ever said.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:18 pm

Mel wrote:So, basically, Ozy's message to a non-clinically depressed man is not, "I'm sorry feminists are speaking so harshly, you're right, they're putting you in a double bind;" it's, "hey, you really should listen to those feminists and trust what they're saying, because there's a real problem going on you're just not noticing."

To be honest, I find this exchange most interesting, because even after rereading the article slowly I think that's not what I think is the main message at all. But it is certainly also in there, and if you're looking for *that* you can also find it, as you did. Like you very likely think I cherrypicked arguments. Upon rereading the post slowly, I would say that it doesn't seem as much as "one piece" as I remembered it from the first time I read it.

Mel wrote:Well, if you care to point out any examples of things Ozy said that caused you to read things differently, you're welcome to. Otherwise I guess you're saying, "agree to disagree."

Well, I say that the actual mental illness part is mostly concentrated in the first couple of sections, after that, it seems only referenced occasionally, and less stringently diagnostically. As for the things I would mention that caused me to read things differently, I would point, in addition to section IV, part of which I initially quoted, mainly to section V which, I think, is mostly about the bell curve and double bind I mentioned, Section VIII that tries to explain the effects of feminist discourse to feminists while mentioning mental illness mostly as a metaphor, mental health issues is not the same as the strong diagnostic language she used to make the point about Aaaronson being severely mentally ill (This is the quote "And, in practice, non-nerd feminists have this disturbing tendency to go on about fat ugly autistic neckbeards who have mental health issues and live in their parents’ basement and act like Sheldon Cooper."), and also section XII, which, in a way, cuts both ways (your interpretation and mine) in potentially suggesting both: "it's not about you" and "you're hurting the wrong people".

Mel wrote:I find it hard to imagine how Ozy could say this and also believe that feminists are responsible for men simply feeling lonely/frustrated/whatever or should change the way they talk about women's issues to try to avoid making men feel lonely/frustrated/whatever.

To this I would second TheWhisp's point about reflection and owning.

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

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:32 pm

kleenestar wrote:I think that in practice it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the suffering inherent in recognizing the injustice of the world we live in and this so-called collateral damage. I think more men need to experience the former kind of suffering. Doing the work of trying to live rightly in an unjust world - especially when you've been the beneficiary of said injustice - is painful. There's no way around it. Asking for the pain to go away is either selfish ("Hearing about injustice makes me uncomfortable, so shut up") or wildly optimistic about the process of moral growth. Can we better accommodate mental health issues in this process? Probably - but I'm not interested in centering that conversation around men.

I actually think you can distinguish between the two. One side of the issue is just the initial feelings when you find out about injustices. That often involves denial that the injustices actually exist. The other side is due to a general lack of positive messages around male sexuality and men's relationships with women (that aren't horribly one-dimensional like you see in movies) plus low self-esteem, the general effects of living in a sex-negative culture, possible mental illness, and so on. I don't think people feeling the latter necessarily have to also be feeling the former emotions. They might, like Aaronson, but I don't think all do. I think there are lots of men who accept the injustices but still feel negative feelings around their sexuality that have a feminist tinge to them. I don't think it's feminists' fault, but rather the fault of the lack of positive spaces for men.

But that's just my 2 cents.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:56 pm

The Wisp wrote:
kleenestar wrote:I think that in practice it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the suffering inherent in recognizing the injustice of the world we live in and this so-called collateral damage. I think more men need to experience the former kind of suffering. Doing the work of trying to live rightly in an unjust world - especially when you've been the beneficiary of said injustice - is painful. There's no way around it. Asking for the pain to go away is either selfish ("Hearing about injustice makes me uncomfortable, so shut up") or wildly optimistic about the process of moral growth. Can we better accommodate mental health issues in this process? Probably - but I'm not interested in centering that conversation around men.

I actually think you can distinguish between the two. One side of the issue is just the initial feelings when you find out about injustices. That often involves denial that the injustices actually exist. The other side is due to a general lack of positive messages around male sexuality and men's relationships with women (that aren't horribly one-dimensional like you see in movies) plus low self-esteem, the general effects of living in a sex-negative culture, possible mental illness, and so on. I don't think people feeling the latter necessarily have to also be feeling the former emotions. They might, like Aaronson, but I don't think all do. I think there are lots of men who accept the injustices but still feel negative feelings around their sexuality that have a feminist tinge to them. I don't think it's feminists' fault, but rather the fault of the lack of positive spaces for men.

But that's just my 2 cents.

Oh, that's very interesting. I wouldn't call that collateral damage of feminist discourse so much as "ways in which our society fails men," independent of feminism. Though that may be precisely the point of your last sentence. Smile
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by waxingjaney on Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:15 pm

kleenestar wrote:I'm going to take what I suspect will be an unpopular point of view.
It should be unpopular. Schadenfreude is not a good thing, regardless of its motivation.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by BasedBuzzed on Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:18 pm

Freude is taking pleasure in it. This is 'feeling indignation at the injustice in the world/discomfort as one's own position in it=good for inducing a sense of morality'.

Which is a shortcut, but not necessarily a good one, in my opinion. Does that indignation come from data and empathetic perspective, or from tripping up emotions?

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

Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:34 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:Freude is taking pleasure in it. This is 'feeling indignation at the injustice in the world/discomfort as one's own position in it=good for inducing a sense of morality'.

Thank you - that is wonderfully clear and concise! But to be fair, there is pleasure for me involved. I take great pleasure in seeing people grow and become better than they used to be, even when it's painful, and I honor and admire the pain of growth above all other pain.

(I also think the equation is slightly different - discomfort is both a symptom of morality and one possible cause. But that's probably a different conversation for another thread.)
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:09 pm

kleenestar wrote:
The Wisp wrote:
kleenestar wrote:I think that in practice it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the suffering inherent in recognizing the injustice of the world we live in and this so-called collateral damage. I think more men need to experience the former kind of suffering. Doing the work of trying to live rightly in an unjust world - especially when you've been the beneficiary of said injustice - is painful. There's no way around it. Asking for the pain to go away is either selfish ("Hearing about injustice makes me uncomfortable, so shut up") or wildly optimistic about the process of moral growth. Can we better accommodate mental health issues in this process? Probably - but I'm not interested in centering that conversation around men.

I actually think you can distinguish between the two. One side of the issue is just the initial feelings when you find out about injustices. That often involves denial that the injustices actually exist. The other side is due to a general lack of positive messages around male sexuality and men's relationships with women (that aren't horribly one-dimensional like you see in movies) plus low self-esteem, the general effects of living in a sex-negative culture, possible mental illness, and so on. I don't think people feeling the latter necessarily have to also be feeling the former emotions. They might, like Aaronson, but I don't think all do. I think there are lots of men who accept the injustices but still feel negative feelings around their sexuality that have a feminist tinge to them. I don't think it's feminists' fault, but rather the fault of the lack of positive spaces for men.

But that's just my 2 cents.

Oh, that's very interesting. I wouldn't call that collateral damage of feminist discourse so much as "ways in which our society fails men," independent of feminism. Though that may be precisely the point of your last sentence. Smile

Hm, maybe, then collateral damage is not the proper term? I guess we need a word for "contingent unintended negative side effect that is not one's responsibility to solve" Razz

Also, I think another aspect of the confusion and pain around feminist language for some men is the misappropriation of feminist terminology and concept towards non-(sex-positive)feminist ends, e.g anti-porn and anti-masturbation people using the language of objectification, even though what's really motivating them is internalized sex-negativity.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by username_6916 on Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:21 am

Mel wrote:username, to bring this back to where it tied into the topic, my original point was simply that I don't think it's feminists' responsibility to create some sort of a social/societal movement to improve men's self image around dating and sexual concerns, and that such a movement should be spearheaded by men. If you agree with that, then we agree, no further discussion necessary!

There are two issues I've got with this. The first is that we are using this reasoning to justify any hurtful action that feminists take against men in this area. The thought seems to be "Oh, our policies and proposals make dating/courtship/marriage impossible. Oh, well it's not our responsibility to worry about that. That's your responsibly.". Even if we accept this reasoning (I don't), you can't turn around and say that the proposals are not hurtful. It's not unreasonable to ask about the negative impacts of even well-meaning proposals.

The other is the double standard. I argued about this more broadly, but it applies even to dating and courtship. Look at all the voices saying that I'm a bigot and a terrible person if I don't want to date a transwoman, or a woman with a certain physical appearance, or a woman of a certain race, or if I want someone without a sexual history. Look at Hanna Rosin's complaint that the worst thing about the education gap is that women will have a harder time dating men that are more successful than they are. If the dating success of these women is supposed such a concern for men, why is it wrong to suggest the dating success of these men should be a concern of women?




I think that in practice it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the suffering inherent in recognizing the injustice of the world we live in and this so-called collateral damage.

Just because you mean to alleviate injustice doesn't mean that you are incapable of perpetrating injustice.

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

Post by reboot on Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:43 am

Feminists and feminism have enough on their plate, what with family planning access, employment discrimination, maternity leave only being available to 50% of workers (and unpaid), explotation of immigrant women workers etc. that dating concerns of men are not on the agenda. One day, maybe, it will be something they can address, but for now it is not a priority. There are too many more important issues that women face and those are the primary concerns of feminism.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by kleenestar on Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:46 am

The Wisp wrote:
Hm, maybe, then collateral damage is not the proper term? I guess we need a word for "contingent unintended negative side effect that is not one's responsibility to solve" Razz

I wonder whether the concept of triggering would be useful here. I need to think about this some more, but thank you - this is a new angle for me.

The Wisp wrote:
Also, I think another aspect of the confusion and pain around feminist language for some men is the misappropriation of feminist terminology and concept towards non-(sex-positive)feminist ends, e.g anti-porn and anti-masturbation people using the language of objectification, even though what's really motivating them is internalized sex-negativity.

If it helps, I find many of those people fucking infuriating. What's especially frustrating to me is that I have no standing to say "misappropriating." I think they're wrong, and in some cases pretty vile, but from their point of view I'm the one misappropriating feminism. But that's also probably a topic for another thread.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by The Wisp on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:00 am

kleenestar wrote:
If it helps, I find many of those people fucking infuriating. What's especially frustrating to me is that I have no standing to say "misappropriating." I think they're wrong, and in some cases pretty vile, but from their point of view I'm the one misappropriating feminism. But that's also probably a topic for another thread.

I assume you're referring to the radfems, and yeah, they're some of the people I had in mind. But additionally I'm talking about people beyond them. I've occasionally read or heard about people who don't even claim to be feminists using the language to build credibility, like savvy social conservatives, or some "nofap" people, or people who believe porn addiction is real and highly prevalent (without acknowledging the controversy about the concept itself within psychology). I think you can have standing to say that those people are misappropriating the language.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by eselle28 on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:23 am

username_6916 wrote:
There are two issues I've got with this. The first is that we are using this reasoning to justify any hurtful action that feminists take against men in this area. The thought seems to be "Oh, our policies and proposals make dating/courtship/marriage impossible. Oh, well it's not our responsibility to worry about that. That's your responsibly.". Even if we accept this reasoning (I don't), you can't turn around and say that the proposals are not hurtful. It's not unreasonable to ask about the negative impacts of even well-meaning proposals.

If people wish to ask, then people wish to ask. I've pretty much already given my answer on these issues. Other women will have other ones. I'll note that for heterosexual people, this cuts both ways. If men aren't finding wives and girlfriends, then women aren't finding husbands and boyfriends. I think it says something that almost all of the complaints I've seen about the intersection between harassment and trouble finding dates are from men, while women seem more accepting of the trade off.

The other is the double standard. I argued about this more broadly, but it applies even to dating and courtship. Look at all the voices saying that I'm a bigot and a terrible person if I don't want to date a transwoman, or a woman with a certain physical appearance, or a woman of a certain race, or if I want someone without a sexual history. Look at Hanna Rosin's complaint that the worst thing about the education gap is that women will have a harder time dating men that are more successful than they are. If the dating success of these women is supposed such a concern for men, why is it wrong to suggest the dating success of these men should be a concern of women?

As long as a man admits the ways that his expectations for a partner interact with any difficulty finding one and as long as he doesn't attempt to shame women for not making choices that would make her a more desirable partner for him, he can want whatever kind of partner he wants in my book. I don't think he's permitted to do things to make women's lives more difficult if he's struggling to find that partner, but the wanting isn't something I have an objection to. There are some voices in the feminist movement that pay a lot of attention to this sort of thing, but I disagree with them, and I don't particularly think they're in the majority.

But in terms of double standards, I would ask whether the men who are asking feminists to work to make dating easier for them have actually done anything to comply with those voices. Are they working to make dating easier for women? Are they even working to further more standard feminist goals? I'm rather inclined to think that women and men do best tending to their own social justice goals, but whenever that comes up, all that's mentioned is how men aren't good at these things. Which, fine, it's hard to get a movement off the ground. But I find it rather difficult to accept the claim that women must do something to make dating easier for men merely because men have heard women complain about their difficulties dating and then dismissed those complaints as incompatible with their attractions or values.


Last edited by eselle28 on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Guest on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:24 am

The Wisp wrote:Hm, maybe, then collateral damage is not the proper term? I guess we need a word for "contingent unintended negative side effect that is not one's responsibility to solve" Razz

Honestly, it depends completely on who we are lumbering with the responsibility to actually give out these messages. I wouldn't call that a feminist prerogative or job, personally. An individual feminist, sure if they feel so inclined, but not a core goal of the movement by any means.

If it was, for whatever reason, the responsibility of feminism to propagate those messages and they weren't, then it's closer to collateral damage. But that's not the case.

Men have to do it. I just have no faith in men to be able to do it.

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

Post by Mel on Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:15 am

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Mel wrote:So, basically, Ozy's message to a non-clinically depressed man is not, "I'm sorry feminists are speaking so harshly, you're right, they're putting you in a double bind;" it's, "hey, you really should listen to those feminists and trust what they're saying, because there's a real problem going on you're just not noticing."

To be honest, I find this exchange most interesting, because even after rereading the article slowly I think that's not what I think is the main message at all.

I wasn't saying that was the main message of the entire article, I was paraphrasing the one paragraph that Ozy addresses directly, clearly, and specifically to "non-sexist men" (and I'm assuming Ozy means the non-sexist men who aren't clinically depressed, because of the earlier comments).

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Well, I say that the actual mental illness part is mostly concentrated in the first couple of sections, after that, it seems only referenced occasionally, and less stringently diagnostically. As for the things I would mention that caused me to read things differently, I would point, in addition to section IV, part of which I initially quoted,

I don't see how section IV would make you read the point as extending beyond mentally ill men/people, considering that the part you initially quoted follows four paragraphs that are all about "excessive" (to the point of being compared to anxiety disorder) and "not sane" mental states. In those paragraphs, Ozy identifies both Aaronson and theirself as falling into this category. So clearly when Ozy immediately follows that with comments about (bolding mine) "the suffering of me and Scott Aaronson" and "hurting us" and causing people to be "suicidal" (which Ozy already in part II pointed out puts one on the same level as someone with schizophrenia), this is clearly referring to people who are mentally ill, not average guys. I mean, Ozy is not even a guy.   Side-eye  Ignoring the context set up in the beginning of the section and deciding that "us" must mean some broader thing than what was established there is not a fair way to read someone's words.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:mainly to section V which, I think, is mostly about the bell curve and double bind I mentioned,

This is where I think we're reading things from different perspectives. Section V reads to me as exactly the sort of thing I and other women here have said many times to guys freaking out about approach anxiety. When I say it, I mean, "Hey, you're making this into a bigger deal than the majority of feminists/women are actually saying it is. We aren't actually saying that accidentally creeping someone out is "The Worst Pain People Can Ever Experience." We just want you to be trying."  In other words, I see it as telling the guys, "you're over-reacting," not criticizing feminism.

You're apparently reading it as saying, "Hey, you don't have to listen to all those feminists who are saying creeping someone out is "The Worst Pain People Can Ever Experience". Ignore them, because they're being unreasonable."

I don't think there's a definitive way to say which is Ozy's meaning. Possibly it's meant both ways. In any case, it's one paragraph in an article that's some fifty paragraphs long, and it doesn't call out feminists as being unreasonable in any direct way, so at very least I think it would be unfair to say this is a key point for Ozy or that it proves they're trying to say feminist discourse is inherently unreasonable.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Section VIII that tries to explain the effects of feminist discourse to feminists while mentioning mental illness mostly as a metaphor, mental health issues is not the same as the strong diagnostic language she used to make the point about Aaaronson being severely mentally ill (This is the quote "And, in practice, non-nerd feminists have this disturbing tendency to go on about fat ugly autistic neckbeards who have mental health issues and live in their parents’ basement and act like Sheldon Cooper."),

Um, no, section VIII is not "trying to explain the effects of feminist discourse to feminists." Section VIII is about trying to explain why Ozy thinks nerd sexism should be policed by nerd feminists, not by feminists who aren't nerds who often have anti-nerd biases coming into play. I mean, seriously, the section starts with the line, "Nevertheless, I am somewhat skeptical when non-nerd feminists start going on about how sexist nerds are." (the fact that this immediately follows a section in which Ozy has described how sexist nerd culture can be makes it even more obvious that the "non-nerd" part is the problem, not the "how sexist nerds are"). "Non-nerd feminists" are referred to as the specific problem repeatedly throughout the section, with the primary analogy being a similar insider-outsider dichotomy of feminists vs. anti-feminists, and it refers to "female nerds" being the primary victims of "nerd sexism" before ending with an appeal to "let us deal with our own shit".

I have no idea how you could read that and get, "Feminists in general, calling out men in general on sexism is harmful to them" or even "Feminists in general, nerd men are really not that sexist and so it's hurtful to them to suggest they are." The only feminist discourse it's taking issue with is discourse from non-nerd feminists that's directed specifically at nerds. Not with nerd feminist discourse toward nerds (which Ozy theirself engages in throughout this piece), not with non-nerd feminist discourse toward men in general or other groups of men. The problem described is nerd vs. non-nerd, not the negative impact of being called out on sexism.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:and also section XII, which, in a way, cuts both ways (your interpretation and mine) in potentially suggesting both: "it's not about you" and "you're hurting the wrong people".

I agree that it's difficult to interpret this section. I interpret it as being mainly directed at men who are trying to explain away or justify sexual harassment because I've seen lots of men raise concerns when another man is accused of harassment that maybe he didn't mean to and just didn't realize what he was doing was bad, and because this is in the context of Aaronson's comments, which included him saying that he wanted the university to explain exactly what the other professor did that was considered harassment so he could understand what harassment is. Whereas I've honestly never seen a feminist suggest that maybe men who sexually harass do so because they just don't understand social rules; the usual explanation for the need for sexual harassment education is to make it clear to potential harassers that this particular place will not tolerate said behavior and there will be consequences for it (which there aren't always and didn't use to be) and to make it clear to potential victims that they have a right not to be harassed and can seek help if they are.

I accept that maybe Ozy has seen feminists suggesting that nerd men need to be educated about sexual harassment because otherwise they might accidentally do so without realizing they are. Without their pointing to any specific incidence of that, I can't conclude that's the case for sure.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Mel wrote:I find it hard to imagine how Ozy could say this and also believe that feminists are responsible for men simply feeling lonely/frustrated/whatever or should change the way they talk about women's issues to try to avoid making men feel lonely/frustrated/whatever.

To this I would second TheWhisp's point about reflection and owning.

I already responded to Wisp's point; I would say the same to you as I did to him. You might also refer to my notes above about how Ozy's comments about owning the harm that is caused to "us" were made specifically in the context of "us" being people with mental illnesses, not men.

username_6916 wrote:
Mel wrote:username, to bring this back to where it tied into the topic, my original point was simply that I don't think it's feminists' responsibility to create some sort of a social/societal movement to improve men's self image around dating and sexual concerns, and that such a movement should be spearheaded by men. If you agree with that, then we agree, no further discussion necessary!

There are two issues I've got with this. The first is that we are using this reasoning to justify any hurtful action that feminists take against men in this area. The thought seems to be "Oh, our policies and proposals make dating/courtship/marriage impossible. Oh, well it's not our responsibility to worry about that. That's your responsibly.". Even if we accept this reasoning (I don't), you can't turn around and say that the proposals are not hurtful. It's not unreasonable to ask about the negative impacts of even well-meaning proposals.

Um, who is "we" here? Because I have not been using this reasoning to justify harmful action against men. I've repeatedly said that I think men should point out actions they feel are harmful, and feminists should consider their concerns.

You're basically using a slippery slope argument where you're saying, "Well, if I acknowledge that Unreasonable Thing is unreasonable, then people will decide all these Reasonable Things are unreasonable too, so I refuse to acknowledge that Unreasonable Thing is unreasonable." Which doesn't really make much sense, especially when the people you're actually having this discussion with have been going out of their way to say they thing the Reasonable Things are in fact reasonable. I'm pretty sure that you conceding this point to me here is not going to impact the broader feminist movement in some catastrophic way.  Razz

username_6916 wrote:The other is the double standard. I argued about this more broadly, but it applies even to dating and courtship. Look at all the voices saying that I'm a bigot and a terrible person if I don't want to date a transwoman, or a woman with a certain physical appearance, or a woman of a certain race, or if I want someone without a sexual history. Look at Hanna Rosin's complaint that the worst thing about the education gap is that women will have a harder time dating men that are more successful than they are. If the dating success of these women is supposed such a concern for men, why is it wrong to suggest the dating success of these men should be a concern of women?

I want you to look at the exact wording which I carefully chose. "I don't think it's feminists' responsibility to create some sort of a social/societal movement to improve men's self image around dating and sexual concerns."  Surely you can agree that "creating a social movement" is an immensely larger scale endeavor than simply "being concerned" about an issue?  Surely you can agree that saying people shouldn't be responsible for creating an entire social movement on men's behalf does not therefore mean they shouldn't care at all what happens to men?  You are arguing against an extreme that is not what I said.

I also never said that men should be responsible for creating a social movement on women's behalf. You're talking to me, not to Hanna Rosin or some other person. It's not a double standard if I say something different from what some other person says. With you being a libertarian, I would have expected you to be able to recognize that I am an independent being with separate free will from all other individual human beings.

I'm trying to find a common ground here where we can agree, from which to work from, and you don't seem interested in doing the same. If all you want to do is rant about things I haven't said, then I will leave you to it, since you're ignoring my input anyway.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Hirundo Bos on Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:20 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:
1) Unwanted sexual attention is problematic
2) so is a culture that promotes such models of interaction
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)

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
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!

The double bind, if I understand it correctly, is the feeling that the people in question are told that it's wrong to give someone unwanted sexual attention, but also wrong to give no one any sexual attention at all? And I see how that can be stressful, but not quite how it results from the messages of 1) or 2). The problem is in the interaction between these messages and something else, and examples of something else can be


  • Any sexual attention from people like me is unwanted.
  • Any sexual attention from me in particular is unwanted.
  • Any wrong thing I could do is as bad as some worst wrong things I could do. (Which would remove the difference between 3) and the the other two messages above.)

and those are the factors I don't see particularly coming from feminism. Or the feminism I'm aquainted with at least. The feminists on these forums,and in this thread, frequently encourage people to show interest (but in appropriate contexts, which I suppose for many can be the hard part), they try to assure posters that there is nothing inherently undesirable with them, they make it clear that you can't expect to avoid any mistake at all, and that some mistakes are more forgivable than others – that last bit in itself ought to make the bind less... binding.

When it comes to the other side of the bind, I do disagree with the message that not making any moves is necessarily an expression of entitlement. Even outside the domain of clinical anxiety or depression, it can also be expressions of self-loathing or fear, or both. And there certainly are cultural messages that says men ought to be the pursuer. And some messages that say they shouldn't be sensitive about it. I disagree with those messages. (I have the impression that most people at least on this site disagree as well.)

I am, actually, myself a man affected by the rhetoric against unwanted sexual attention. But the effect on me has been the opposite. My social calibration has been improved, my confidence has improved, my emotional management skills have improved, my cognitive empathy (ability to understand someone's feelings) have improved a lot... from learning the reasons of people that are vocal against unwanted attention. I think it's a very interesting question (maybe or maybe not for this thread) how the same message can affect people in so different ways... what are the factors that have made them so helpful to me.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Mel on Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:32 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:
When it comes to the other side of the bind, I do disagree with the message that not making any moves is necessarily an expression of entitlement. Even outside the domain of clinical anxiety or depression, it can also be expressions of self-loathing or fear, or both. And there certainly are cultural messages that says men ought to be the pursuer. And some messages that say they shouldn't be sensitive about it. I disagree with those messages. (I have the impression that most people at least on this site disagree as well.)

Great post--I just wanted to address this point. I don't know what exactly Marcotte meant when she called Aaronson's comments about his loneliness entitled because I haven't read her post for context. But I would guess based on similar complaints I've seen that it's not a man not making any moves that's seen as entitled, but a man avoiding women and then complaining that he hasn't had as much romantic success as men who do put an effort into engaging with women (which if I recall correctly could be an interpretation of things Aaronson said?). Implying that you deserve to have had romantic success because you did X, Y, or Z, or that you deserve romantic success more than some other person, pretty much always comes off as entitlement.

e.g.,

I am completely sympathetic to anyone who says, "It's not fair that I have more anxiety than other people and this makes it harder for me to be successful with women."

I am not so sympathetic to anyone who says, "It's not fair that my anxiety caused me to avoid women out of fear of hurting them, and then the guys who didn't avoid women had more success than I did." or "and then women didn't realize I was being considerate and contrive to allow me to be successful with them despite that."

The anxiety isn't fair. Other people making decisions based on a person's behavior because they are not mind readers is totally fair.

Make sense?
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Hirundo Bos on Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:24 pm

Mel wrote:
Great post--I just wanted to address this point. I don't know what exactly Marcotte meant when she called Aaronson's comments about his loneliness entitled because I haven't read her post for context. But I would guess based on similar complaints I've seen that it's not a man not making any moves that's seen as entitled, but a man avoiding women and then complaining that he hasn't had as much romantic success as men who do put an effort into engaging with women (which if I recall correctly could be an interpretation of things Aaronson said?). Implying that you deserve to have had romantic success because you did X, Y, or Z, or that you deserve romantic success more than some other person, pretty much always comes off as entitlement.

e.g.,

I am completely sympathetic to anyone who says, "It's not fair that I have more anxiety than other people and this makes it harder for me to be successful with women."

I am not so sympathetic to anyone who says, "It's not fair that my anxiety caused me to avoid women out of fear of hurting them, and then the guys who didn't avoid women had more success than I did." or "and then women didn't realize I was being considerate and contrive to allow me to be successful with them despite that."

The anxiety isn't fair. Other people making decisions based on a person's behavior because they are not mind readers is totally fair.

Make sense?

It makes a lot of sense, to me at least.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:55 pm

Mel wrote:Ignoring the context set up in the beginning of the section and deciding that "us" must mean some broader thing than what was established there is not a fair way to read someone's words.

I actually agree with your representation of section IV. As I mentioned yesterday, I thought it was implied that those most hurt are those with atypical psychologies. But that's *most* hurt, and with section V right after IV I don't think my bell curve suggestion is any stretch of imagination or an unfair reading in any way.

Mel wrote:This is where I think we're reading things from different perspectives. Section V reads to me as exactly the sort of thing I and other women here have said many times to guys freaking out about approach anxiety. When I say it, I mean, "Hey, you're making this into a bigger deal than the majority of feminists/women are actually saying it is. We aren't actually saying that accidentally creeping someone out is "The Worst Pain People Can Ever Experience." We just want you to be trying."  In other words, I see it as telling the guys, "you're over-reacting," not criticizing feminism.

You're apparently reading it as saying, "Hey, you don't have to listen to all those feminists who are saying creeping someone out is "The Worst Pain People Can Ever Experience". Ignore them, because they're being unreasonable."

I suppose this is, at least for me, where I think the most progress on the language front could be made, because I, for one, don't consider those two perspectives to be entirely incompatible. I mean, it is a fine line between saying "you're making this into a bigger deal than it is" and "Ignore them" (the message that you think is a big deal). That said - I don't think that what feminists say in this respect is *usually* as fair as what you say you suggest to guys freaking out about approach anxiety. So that's where the bell curve/double bind thing comes back into play. But again, I don't think there's much of a difference between these two readings, and if what you say would be what feminists generally said in that respect, I'd be much happier about their narrative. Alas, it's not how I perceive it.

Mel wrote:I don't think there's a definitive way to say which is Ozy's meaning. Possibly it's meant both ways. In any case, it's one paragraph in an article that's some fifty paragraphs long, and it doesn't call out feminists as being unreasonable in any direct way, so at very least I think it would be unfair to say this is a key point for Ozy or that it proves they're trying to say feminist discourse is inherently unreasonable.

I don't think that's what she said either. Nor is it what *I* think about feminist discourse - I do not think it is *inherently* unreasonable. I  just that it's not quite clear at which point not necessary to take feminist points literally where they aren't meant t taken literally.

Mel wrote:Section VIII is about trying to explain why Ozy thinks nerd sexism should be policed by nerd feminists, not by feminists who aren't nerds who often have anti-nerd biases coming into play.

Yes, specifically, but in doing so, it is trying to explain the effects of feminist discourse to feminists. I think that's quite apparent, and I don't see anything that limits the argument to the nerd-feminist/feminist problems. Same problem, different inflection.

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

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:32 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:The double bind, if I understand it correctly, is the feeling that the people in question are told that it's wrong to give someone unwanted sexual attention, but also wrong to give no one any sexual attention at all?

That's a double bind, too, but not the one I was referring to specifically. Or that one is a more specific version of the more general double bind I'm referring to. The problem in describing it, is, of course, terminology like "unwanted sexual attention", because who could argue for unwanted? And yet the behavior often described - certainly perceived as being described in those descriptions as unwanted - is not rarely part of the behavior that is considered attractive by the people - women as a collective assumed to be spoken for by feminism as well as, not rarely, feminists themselves - arguing against such behavor on the grounds described by you. My reply to Mel in the post above wrt to section V of Ozy's post seems also relevant in this specific context: overreacting vs. making points in a way that are distorted by taking them at face value.

Of course, how those messages will be perceived will differ greatly, and will be influenced by a lot of intervening factors, a couple of which you mention.


  • Any sexual attention from people like me is unwanted.
  • Any sexual attention from me in particular is unwanted.
  • Any wrong thing I could do is as bad as some worst wrong things I could do. (Which would remove the difference between 3) and the the other two messages above.)


Hirundo Bos wrote:and those are the factors I don't see particularly coming from feminism.

Interestingly, particularly the third point I see almost *only* made by feminism. But again, this is probably again a matter of "how literal to take feminist arguments?"

Hirundo Bos wrote:they make it clear that you can't expect to avoid any mistake at all, and that some mistakes are more forgivable than others – that last bit in itself ought to make the bind less... binding.

Definitely, it *would*. And *that* is really mostly what I think would change the narrative. It's just *not* that I can see that being any significant part of the "online feminist discourse" on this matter. Yes, I suppose some of the women commenting here can say that for themselves, at least to a degree, but beyond that? No, not my impression at all (individual exceptions of course proving the rule, as usual), in private conversations, yes, but in public? No. I don't see that.

Hirundo Bos wrote:And there certainly are cultural messages that says men ought to be the pursuer. And some messages that say they shouldn't be sensitive about it. I disagree with those messages. (I have the impression that most people at least on this site disagree as well.)

Yes, probably, but that doesn't change the narrative as such.

Hirundo Bos wrote:I think it's a very interesting question (maybe or maybe not for this thread) how the same message can affect people in so different ways... what are the factors that have made them so helpful to me.

That is very true, and also something I would like to explore. My guess is that *this* has also to do with the personal intervening factors you mentioned above.

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