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 SomeSamSeaborn on Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:39 pm

Mel wrote: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.

Sure, individual women clearly aren't mind readers and it's entirely unreasonable to blame them for their preferences.
But you don't think it's fair to point out if (part of) that anxiety (a fear of hurting women), which is crippling for some with respect to success with women, is caused by a rethoric employed by those claiming to speak for the group, and you don't see how that's setting up the double bind I was talking about? I mean you're describing it yourself.

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

Post by JP McBride on Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:31 am

Mel wrote: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.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/mit-professor-explains-the-real-oppression-is-having-to-learn-to-talk-to-women/

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

Post by Mel on Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:41 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote: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.

1. I agree that when feminists see guys freaking out about approach anxiety, they are not always as kind as the example I gave. But I think that is because they are often responding to guys freaking out about approach anxiety in the context of a discussion about street harassment or rape or whathaveyou, who are hearing about women's concerns for their safety and well-being and immediately jumping to "but that makes me feel bad" with very little if any indication of sympathy or concern for the women affected, while often exaggerating what was actually said ("saying catcalling is bad means you're telling me I should never talk to any woman!") and often derailing said conversation from trying to fix the initial problem. I think it is perfectly fair to be less than totally kind to people who are making someone else's problem all about themselves and don't understand that a conversation about women being assaulted is not the place to be looking for reassurance that you're not being told to never talk to women ever. When guys are talking about social anxiety and fears about approaching without doing so as an implied complaint about people trying to prevent harm from being done to women, I have generally seen feminists respond with plenty of kindness and sympathy, as you see here.

2. Even when feminists are being less than kind when responding to guys derailing etc., I honestly have never seen a feminist actually say that accidentally creeping someone out is The Worst Pain People Can Ever Experience, or a horrible unforgivable thing, or any of the things you said in your reply to Hirundo are things feminists "literally say", like "Any wrong thing I could do is as bad as some worst wrong things I could do." (I have never seen a feminist suggest that, say, asking someone out in an elevator or making an inappropriate sexual joke is as bad as raping someone. You have literally seen many feminists say this?)

So it seems to me that the problem isn't men talking feminism "at face value" (as you also said to Hirundo) or "literally", the problem is men taking what feminists literally say and instead of taking it literally, they exaggerate it and then complain about the exaggeration. We see this all the time in the DNL blog comments--DNL mentions five places it's better not to cold approach women, and you get guys saying, "So you're saying I can never approach women ever!!!??" despite the fact that he only mentioned five places, and he has other articles often linked to in said article about places it is good to cold approach women and non-cold ways to approach women.

Maybe there are a whole bunch of feminists talking about how creeping someone out slightly is just as bad as raping them, and just as unforgivable, and I've somehow managed to miss that. But from what I've seen such messages are in the minority, and most feminists are more flexible than that. Take the Schrodinger's Rapist post so many guys like to point to as some unreasonable anti-male screed. It starts off by saying, "Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person," and goes on for two paragraphs assuring the male reader that the author believes in his good intentions and fully supports his desire to find romantic companionship; it repeatedly reaffirms that the male reader is a "good person", not a rapist himself, and offers its advice based on that premise; it notes that different women will have different risk tolerances (i.e., any given "threatening" behavior is not the worst behavior ever to every woman); it notes that if a woman indicates she doesn't want to talk to you it could be because you're creeping her out, or she's just busy or uninterested for some other reason (i.e., finding out you've given unwanted attention to a woman doesn't even mean she thinks you're a bad person, let alone the worst); it notes that women are judging not just whether a guy is a threat but "how much" and that some behaviors come across as more threatening than others; it even outright says that assaulting, groping, threatening violence, etc. are "less severe offenses" than rape; it then ends wishing the male reader romantic success and happiness.

This is one of the most pointed to and discussed public feminist texts on the internet. The only way someone could read it and say, "Feminists think men should never approach women they don't know," or "Feminists think creeping someone out is as bad as raping them, and just as unforgivable," is if they're totally ignoring what it literally says multiple times.

So, to come back to the part of your post I quoted, the difference is between "Ignore what your imagined exaggerations of what you think feminists' message is," and "Ignore what feminists' actual message," and in my experience, yes, that's a pretty big difference a lot of the time. I wish guys would take what feminists say at face value and literally more often, instead of extrapolating into these bizarre extreme scenarios where looking a woman wrong is grounds for arrest.  Razz

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
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.

Yeah, I still don't see that. Ozy doesn't say anything at all in that section about the effects of the discourse on anyone but theirself (Ozy is affected in that it makes them suspicious of these feminists' values and intentions), certainly not on men in general or in the specific. Ozy also isn't saying that it's the feminist part of the discourse that is bad (in fact, Ozy talks about agreeing with the feminist-focused remarks but feeling this suspicion despite that), but the anti-nerd parts.

I read that section as essentially saying, "Look, I acknowledge that there are problems of sexism among male nerds and those problems need to be pointed out, but when you non-nerd feminists are pointing out those true things, you tend to also sneak in some anti-nerd comments that suggest you outright dislike nerds, and I'm not okay with that." The feminist/anti-sexism comments/values and the anti-nerd comments/values are two separate things. If Ozy didn't think they were separate, there would have been no need to specify "non-nerd" feminists when describing the comments/values Ozy disagrees with, Ozy could have just said, "feminists" full stop. I mean, you're not really suggesting that Ozy thinks "nerds are fat ugly autistic neckbeards who have mental health issues and live in their parents’ basement and act like Sheldon Cooper" qualifies as a tenet of feminism, are you?

Not everything feminists say is part of "feminist discourse" just because the people saying it identify as feminist. And I don't think anyone here would argue with you that calling male nerds insulting names and using insulting stereotypes is harmful to them. What we disagree about is that talking about actual feminist concerns--stopping sexism, harassment, rape, etc.--is harmful, and that clearly isn't what Ozy is referring to.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Mel wrote: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.

Sure, individual women clearly aren't mind readers and it's entirely unreasonable to blame them for their preferences.
But you don't think it's fair to point out if (part of) that anxiety (a fear of hurting women), which is crippling for some with respect to success with women, is caused by a rethoric employed by those claiming to speak for the group, and you don't see how that's setting up the double bind I was talking about? I mean you're describing it yourself.

I'm not describing it myself, because I don't agree that the anxiety is caused by feminist rhetoric. I think you have people who are already prone to abnormal levels of anxiety and catastrophizing who read feminist discourse and exaggerate it as per above, and that feeds into their existing anxiety. I think it is those people's responsibility to recognize that they have this issue with anxiety, and to address it by seeking help/avoiding reading triggering material/etc. I think it is feminists' responsibility not to mock or belittle people with mental health issues, but it isn't their responsibility to somehow magically make their discourse never cause anyone anxiety, which is impossible anyway. Frankly, I suspect for most if not all of these people, if they hadn't encountered feminist discourse, would have found themselves "crippled" in their ability to approach women anyway because of different triggers.  It's not as if there's a shortage of anti-feminist women who are also scared of approaching women (see the MGTOW community, for example).

tl;dr, The base problem is the abnormal levels of anxiety, not the discourse.

JP McBride wrote:
Mel wrote: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.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/mit-professor-explains-the-real-oppression-is-having-to-learn-to-talk-to-women/

Fascinating.  I notice Marcotte does not ever say that Aaronson's loneliness makes him entitled. In fact, she only uses the word "entitlement" once, at the beginning, in reference to his comments as a whole. And given that those comments include the comparisons to other men's success etc. as I described, I don't think the piece can be said to be calling Aaronson entitled specifically because he was lonely or because he didn't approach women, rather than because of those other points.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by azazel on Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:49 pm

Mel wrote:
I'm not describing it myself, because I don't agree that the anxiety is caused by feminist rhetoric. I think you have people who are already prone to abnormal levels of anxiety and catastrophizing who read feminist discourse and exaggerate it as per above, and that feeds into their existing anxiety. I think it is those people's responsibility to recognize that they have this issue with anxiety, and to address it by seeking help/avoiding reading triggering material/etc. I think it is feminists' responsibility not to mock or belittle people with mental health issues, but it isn't their responsibility to somehow magically make their discourse never cause anyone anxiety, which is impossible anyway. Frankly, I suspect for most if not all of these people, if they hadn't encountered feminist discourse, would have found themselves "crippled" in their ability to approach women anyway because of different triggers.  It's not as if there's a shortage of anti-feminist women who are also scared of approaching women (see the MGTOW community, for example).

tl;dr, The base problem is the abnormal levels of anxiety, not the discourse.

How many people have to suffer from the same anxiety for it to count as anything other than abnormal, and not be dismissed as "oh it's your own problem you're taking the wrong messages from this"?

Thought experiment (picked from a reddit thread): A guy and a girl end up in a bathroom. One of them suddenly strips and starts to take a shower without explanation. If we wonder what goes through the others (who keep on their clothes) head, we have a few options:

1) OMG I hope they don't think I'm a pervert I can't look I can't look my god this is awkward I should leave
2) Holy shit what a freak I'm out of here.
3) Something else

Do you really think it's that rare for a man to think option 1 (where the person who is forced into the weird situation feels they are the problem making the situation weird, as opposed to option 2 where it's correctly identified that the person stripping is the problem)? Do you think it's common for a woman to think option 1?

Boys are trained to hate themselves and their sexuality. It frustrates me that you can't see how common this is, but I guess you'll find out, sooner or later.

Your MGTOW example is a bad one, IMO, since being anti-feminist doesn't exclude being exposed to feminist messages on a young age.

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

Post by Mel on Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:09 pm

azazel wrote:
How many people have to suffer from the same anxiety for it to count as anything other than abnormal, and not be dismissed as "oh it's your own problem you're taking the wrong messages from this"?

We're talking about the sort of anxiety that makes it impossible for the person in question to approach women romantically/sexually. Given that the vast majority of men do still manage to enter relationships of some sort during their lives, I'm going to answer this question with, a lot more than are currently suffering from this anxiety.

azazel wrote:Boys are trained to hate themselves and their sexuality. It frustrates me that you can't see how common this is, but I guess you'll find out, sooner or later.

I'm not sure what you mean by that last bit. And it frustrates me that you're blaming this problem on feminism. Guess what! People of both genders are trained to hate themselves and their sexuality. We live in a society that's generally sex negative. It was sex negative before feminism was even a thing. That's what we need to fix--we need more positive messages about sexuality in general from society in general.

(The woman in your example? I would say is at least as likely to be thinking, "Oh no, did I give him the wrong idea, how can I let him know I'm not into naked activities right now without hurting his feelings?" as "what a freak!")

azazel wrote:Your MGTOW example is a bad one, IMO, since being anti-feminist doesn't exclude being exposed to feminist messages on a young age.

I don't think that's what Sam has been talking about, but fine. So your position is that prior to the creation of the feminist movement, there were no guys who were anxious about women's reactions to them? No men being worried about harming women with their "urges" or whathaveyou? Have you read anything written prior to the 20th century?
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by JP McBride on Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:48 pm

Mel wrote:Fascinating.  I notice Marcotte does not ever say that Aaronson's loneliness makes him entitled. In fact, she only uses the word "entitlement" once, at the beginning, in reference to his comments as a whole. And given that those comments include the comparisons to other men's success etc. as I described, I don't think the piece can be said to be calling Aaronson entitled specifically because he was lonely or because he didn't approach women, rather than because of those other points.

She made it pretty obvious that she holds him in utter contempt for how he described his suicidal depression growing up.

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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 Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:09 pm

I'll get back to the discussion later with a longer reply Sam, but Azazel mentioned something I'd like to expand on more briefly...

azazel wrote:
How many people have to suffer from the same anxiety for it to count as anything other than abnormal, and not be dismissed as "oh it's your own problem you're taking the wrong messages from this"?

... because there are at least two alternatives between "feminist messages cause paralyzing fears" and dismissing those paralyzing fears as "your own problem, deal with it".

1) The problem can be external, but it has other things than feminism as its sources

2) The problem can be part internal, but people can get help and support with it without any feminist messages being changed

And of these four messages, none are necessarily mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are probably all true to some smaller or larger extent.



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

Post by StrangePanda on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:10 pm

azazel wrote:

Boys are trained to hate themselves and their sexuality. It frustrates me that you can't see how common this is, but I guess you'll find out, sooner or later.


And you think women are not being given the idea that their sexuality is wrong? Where do you think the words "slut" and "whore" come from? When women want sex, we're "dirty" and "not respecting ourselves". And the stupid analogy of the lock and the key? And the praising of a man who seduces and sleeps with a woman and is called successful and the hating of a woman who does the exact same thing because she is "easy" and a "slut"?

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

Post by Mel on Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:14 pm

JP McBride wrote:
She made it pretty obvious that she holds him in utter contempt for how he described his suicidal depression growing up.

The comment I made that you replied to was addressing the idea that feminists believe a man not to approaching women and thus ending up alone is in itself an act of entitlement. Marcotte does not appear to say that. If there's some other relevant point you were trying to make by posting that link, you're welcome to explain.

(I've stated multiple times that I don't think dismissing someone's mental health issues is okay, by the way; if it needs to be said again, I don't support Marcotte doing that.)
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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 Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:52 pm

StrangePanda wrote:
azazel wrote:

Boys are trained to hate themselves and their sexuality. It frustrates me that you can't see how common this is, but I guess you'll find out, sooner or later.


And you think women are not being given the idea that their sexuality is wrong? Where do you think the words "slut" and "whore" come from? When women want sex, we're "dirty" and "not respecting ourselves". And the stupid analogy of the lock and the  key? And the praising of a man who seduces and sleeps with a woman and is called successful and the hating of a woman who does the exact same thing because she is "easy" and a "slut"?

Well, I don't know about Azazel, but I totally recognize the negative messages women receive and it sucks. I do think sometimes people, even some sexually liberal people, don't realize that there are a lot of negative messages around male sexuality, too. But, that doesn't negate or diminish the awfulness of sex-negative messages that women receive. I hate that women are criticized for having sex. I hate it and I'm really sorry that you had to grow up with those messages Sad

I do want to complicate the idea that men receive praise for sleeping with women. Yes, we do. But, there are also messages making us feel shame for wanting to have sex with women. I can't tell you how often I heard language to the effect of "if you sleep with a woman without committing to her, you're using her" despite the fact that I live and grew up in a liberal area of the country. Or how about the fact that nobody in my life actually told me to take pleasure in my sexuality and how it can bring pleasure to some future women, but a lot of people told me how to control my brutish and dangerous sexuality (I'm fine with teaching young men to not be aggressive with their sexuality, but this went beyond that into essentialism). See the small but growing secular and pseudoscientific anti-porn and anti-masturbation movements among young men online.

The only positive messages about male sexuality are gross (and generally only involve really successful and thus "deserving" men getting to have sex ethically, e.g. the hero is portrayed as childish or gross until he saves the world/wins the tournament/whatever), especially for a certain kind of young man (like myself). I was left with very few positive messages about my sexuality out there. There's a big movement to raise the sexual self-esteem and positivity towards their sexuality for young women, which is great I hope it is successful. I think young men need something for them, too.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Guest on Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:20 pm

The Wisp wrote:The only positive messages about male sexuality are gross (and generally only involve really successful and thus "deserving" men getting to have sex ethically, e.g. the hero is portrayed as childish or gross until he saves the world/wins the tournament/whatever), especially for a certain kind of young man (like myself). I was left with very few positive messages about my sexuality out there. There's a big movement to raise the sexual self-esteem and positivity towards their sexuality for young women, which is great I hope it is successful. I think young men need something for them, too.

To get particular for a second, I think the current messages men get need to be properly challenged more than an outright positivity movement right now.

That's just my take from the perspective of preferring to remove demonisation over actual celebration.

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

Post by kleenestar on Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:37 pm

azazel, I don't discount that there is a problem with how our society treats male sexuality, and that many men experience anxiety or hurt because of it. What I disagree with is that a) feminism has caused it and b) that feminists being "nicer" would fix it.

MapWater, I am totally on board with challenging these messages. It's especially nice because that's something that people can do one-on-one or in small groups; you don't necessarily need to start a movement to do it, though obviously a movement would help.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Enail on Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:47 pm

TheWisp and Mapwater, I think that makes a lot of sense.  And adding on to what Kleenestar says, I think a lot of movements actually start out that way, with people doing things within their small groups and gradually snowballing together into making more movement-y plans.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by JP McBride on Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:13 pm

Mel wrote:
JP McBride wrote:
She made it pretty obvious that she holds him in utter contempt for how he described his suicidal depression growing up.

The comment I made that you replied to was addressing the idea that feminists believe a man not to approaching women and thus ending up alone is in itself an act of entitlement. Marcotte does not appear to say that. If there's some other relevant point you were trying to make by posting that link, you're welcome to explain.

(I've stated multiple times that I don't think dismissing someone's mental health issues is okay, by the way; if it needs to be said again, I don't support Marcotte doing that.)

I think it's fair to ask how much of the reaction to Aaronson has been driven by his privilege and how much has been driven by the stigma around mental illness. Marcotte, in my opinion, goes beyond dismissing mental illness to outright attacking him for it.

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

Post by eselle28 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:43 pm

<mod>Okay, guys, this post obviously brings up some heated issues. I'd ask that everyone try to keep the sarcasm levels down and the disagreement polite.

Additionally, while discussions of mental health and comparisons to women's sexuality are relevant in the context of looking at the effects of feminism versus other cultural factors on men's sexuality, I'd ask that people please be careful to keep them related to the thread topic rather than getting into discussing them in their own right. If there's a digression that anyone feels is particularly interesting, I think it would be best for it to be its own thread topic rather than adding to this one.</mod>
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by StrangePanda on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:05 pm

The Wisp wrote:

I do want to complicate the idea that men receive praise for sleeping with women. Yes, we do. But, there are also messages making us feel shame for wanting to have sex with women. I can't tell you how often I heard language to the effect of "if you sleep with a woman without committing to her, you're using her" despite the fact that I live and grew up in a liberal area of the country. Or how about the fact that nobody in my life actually told me to take pleasure in my sexuality and how it can bring pleasure to some future women, but a lot of people told me how to control my brutish and dangerous sexuality (I'm fine with teaching young men to not be aggressive with their sexuality, but this went beyond that into essentialism). See the small but growing secular and pseudoscientific anti-porn and anti-masturbation movements among young men online.

Wisp, I agree with what you're saying!  Smile  My point is that it's not exclusively men who get shame about their sexuality, it's everybody and that feminists are very aware of slut-shaming, they try to fight it, so it's unlikely to me  that a feminist would shame somebody on their sexuality because that's literally the thing they fight against! Anyway, to me it does not make sense that a feminist would do it. I'm sorry if you (the general you) ever got the message from a person who claimed to be a feminist that it's what feminists do to men.

Eselle, I am very sorry if it was not related to the topic and if you perceived my message as a  sarcasm Embarassed  Please forgive me for not specifying what I meant.

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

Post by eselle28 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:07 pm

StrangePanda wrote:
Eselle, I am very sorry if it was not related to the topic and if you perceived my message as a  sarcasm Embarassed  Please forgive me for not specifying what I meant.

No problems, StrangePanda, it was a general mod comment in response to some overall tendencies in the thread rather than to specific comments.
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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 Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:23 pm

StrangePanda wrote:
Wisp, I agree with what you're saying!  Smile  My point is that it's not exclusively men who get shame about their sexuality, it's everybody and that feminists are very aware of slut-shaming, they try to fight it, so it's unlikely to me  that a feminist would shame somebody on their sexuality because that's literally the thing they fight against! Anyway, to me it does not make sense that a feminist would do it. I'm sorry if you (the general you) ever got the message from a person who claimed to be a feminist that it's what feminists do to men.

I figured as much! Smile

Well, I think that most feminists don't say anything about male sexuality that shames us. For the most part they don't talk about it much except in how it affects women. I just think the lack of positive messages combined with the negative messages makes it easy for the feminist discussions of how men's sexuality interacts with women's to hit men with lower sexual self-esteem hard, even though they shouldn't. If that makes sense. Note, most of the socially liberal people who sent these negative messages may have called themselves feminists if you pushed them, but wouldn't self-ID as feminists in normal circumstances. I do think there are a few high-profile bad eggs in the feminist movement on this issue, but what movement doesn't have a few bad eggs?


Last edited by The Wisp on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:01 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 Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:50 pm

On challenging messages, well, I think that's easier than building up positive ones?

It's always easier to ask why something is the way it is and challenge others than it is to build up an idea that will be challenged. Challenging negative messages about male sexuality can be as simple as questioning the status quo and discussing that with others.

Like I said, I would personally rather be free of demonisation than have male sexuality actively celebrated. Partly because I don't think anyway likes being demonised and partly because it's going to take me a long time to see myself as a sexual being without feeling guilty. So, celebrating it now isn't going to help me in any case.

Anyway, feminism's scope, in general, is a broad one. It's going to leave a lot of details behind that it may or may not, ultimately, care about. Some people are going to either be hurt or feel hurt because of it. Whether or not you think that's good enough is a different matter altogether, but it's the way it is.

[Insert Metallica's Sad But True here]

...Man, that sounds cold.

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

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:06 am

Hey Mel,

Mel wrote:"Any wrong thing I could do is as bad as some worst wrong things I could do." ... Maybe there are a whole bunch of feminists talking about how creeping someone out slightly is just as bad as raping them, and just as unforgivable, and I've somehow managed to miss that. But from what I've seen such messages are in the minority, and most feminists are more flexible than that.

I'm sure they can be. Thing is, isn't *this* what the term and concept of a rape culture is for? To implicate "any (potentially wrong) thing" in the worst possible thing?

Mel wrote:So it seems to me that the problem isn't men talking feminism "at face value" (as you also said to Hirundo) or "literally", the problem is men taking what feminists literally say and instead of taking it literally, they exaggerate it and then complain about the exaggeration.

I think you're partly right here. My using "literally" doesn't really describe what's happening either. I wouldn't use the term "exaggerate", but, yes, view from a different angle that also isn't literal but based on assumptions about what is said and who is saying it.

So, Schrödinger's rapist again. I preface what I say by saying that I like Schrödinger's rapist because I know that this one is well intentioned, but badly written (in terms of assumed audience perception, if the audience were indeed supposed to be guys, which I still doubt.) So, the first line you quote actually shows why my "literal" point wasn't so good - you're right: it literally says what it says: "Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person." While the takeaway, of course, will be the opposite, and for good reason - it's like setting up a disclaimer statement for the "but" that is about to come ("So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?") Under that headline, it really seems like it's saying the opposite (and I think it does, which is the point of the Schrödinger's point - that "understanding you are a good guy is irrelevant") of what it literally says. So, yes, you're right, and I'm wrong about the "literal" point - I assume when I used the term I referred to "intuitive interpretation of what's written from my point of view", and from getting there to any other point of view feels like stopping to take things "literally".

So, anyway, I've tried to rewrite Schrödinger's Rapist in a way I think would be more appealing to guys, first rough draft.

Guys, approaching women, especially cold-approaching women is hard. Women know that, and, by and large, they won't be bitches if you're doing it right. Part of doing it right is to put yourself in their shoes for a moment before actually approaching them.

We've all grown up with specific ideas about how to be women and how to be men in this world. And we all know that women and men tend to see things a little differently, sometimes even when they're looking at the same thing. With respect to approaching, for guys, it mostly sucks because it means putting yourself out there with the very real risk of being rejected. And that sucks, particularly because you know you have to do it, because if you don't, you're gonna end up lonely and alone. And because women expect that of you. They want you to approach them, they love stories about being romantically approached - did you mention how many dating profiles explicitly mention being willing to lie about "how we met"?

So, yes, women don't have to bear as much of that risk, but the grass on their side doesn't seem greener at all: not only will they be approached more often, usually by guys they're not interested in in situations when they don't want to be approached, which will make them annoyed and, as a consequence less receptive and less polite with the next guy who tries his luck, but there's something even more important many guys don't really have to think about as much as women when it comes to meeting new people: safety first. Why? Outside of prison, women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than guys, and while most of them aren't constantly shivering with fear, "is that guy an axe murderer or rapist" is probably one of the first thoughts that will cross their minds when they meet a new guy, and rightly so, it's really nothing personal at that point. She doesn't know you yet, after all, all she's potentially aware of is the vibe you're giving off. Sure, axe murderers and rapists will probably not usually look like axe murderers and rapists, but if that's all someone has to judge you instantly, giving off the axe murderer and rapist vibe doesn't sound like a particularly clever thing to do, don't you think?

So basically - when you're approaching a woman, try to put yourself in her shoes for a moment, and look at yourself through her eyes. If you feel safe and like what you see, good luck, happy approaching. If you're unsure about what women may think in that situation, why not ask a female friend and try to getter a better grip at what women think of you.

Of course, being the projected safest guy in the world will not guarantee you dating success, because, you know, tons of individual reasons, that people have for reacting to people approaching them in their own way. And just like you have the right to say hi, they have the right to shoot you down for doing so based on their very own criteria that's the cost of doing business, plain and simple. It's a risk you're going to have to accept.

On the other hand, if you're trying to put yourself in her shoes before approaching there's really no reason to feel bad about yourself when it doesn't work out, and even if she gets unfairly loud and insulting and shoots you down because you're giving off the axe murderer and rapist vibe. Chances of that happening are slim, but even if it happens, remember it's not about who you are, but about what she has, in that moment, seen in you, potentially for her very own reasons. And yes, some women may just be unfair in dealing with you. But if you let that affect the way you think about why women are and have to be more careful when it comes to meeting strangers, then you're not trying hard enough to put yourself in their shoes, in which case: read again.

Mel wrote:I think you have people who are already prone to abnormal levels of anxiety and catastrophizing who read feminist discourse and exaggerate it as per above, and that feeds into their existing anxiety. ... I think it is feminists' responsibility not to mock or belittle people with mental health issues, but it isn't their responsibility to somehow magically make their discourse never cause anyone anxiety, which is impossible anyway.

I agree, again, that it likely often has to do with other issues as well. But I'm glad you're accepting that the discourse can sometimes cause and increase anxiety levels. As for responsibility, different story, but awareness of the effect is already something.

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

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:35 am

<modhat>Sam, "bitches" is not an appropriate way to refer to women, even in an imaginary dialogue - perhaps especially in an imaginary dialogue. Your hypothetical dialogue also takes broad assumptions about what women want from men and what men need to do to find women to be partners and states them as fact. That's in violation of forum guidelines.

Framing these words and opinions in a hypothetical dialogue does not exempt them from forum guidelines. I don't want to see anything more along either of these roads from you.</modhat>
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:52 am

eselle28 wrote:Your hypothetical dialogue also takes broad assumptions about what women want from men and what men need to do to find women to be partners and states them as fact. That's in violation of forum guidelines.

I'm sorry about the "bitches", if that offended you or anyone in the context, I merely tried to add a little color to the text that I think helps explain the position of the author as being sympathetic to the suggested audience, which is my main point of criticism about Schrödinger's rapist: It doesn't speak the suggested audience's language one bit (which is why I think it was mainly written for a (female) feminist audience).

But the "broad assumptions"? That men are usually required to be the approaching party? That women by and large want men to be the approaching party? It is my understanding that that's basically something everyone agrees with as a social fact, whether they like it or not. And sure, as in most cases when someone in these discussions uses gendered generalizations, that also includes an implicit disclaimer that there are behavioral distributions and exceptions from the generalized behavior: Some women do approach and some women don't expect men to approach.

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

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:00 am

<mod>Sam, arguing with moderation isn't okay here. Drop it. Now. Last chance. And take it as a formal warning that you are not to talk about approaching as a universal gender preference without qualifiers such as "many" or "usually" or "sometimes" again.</mod>
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Enail on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:22 pm

Sam, your rewrite seems to have just put what you believe women want and what concerns you have in the mouth of someone else, while affirming that it's common for women to "unfairly" become loud and insulting when a man is "giving off the axe murderer rapist vibe," which you present as being entirely unrelated to his behavior. In fact, you've eliminated all of the guidelines about what behaviors men should avoid if they don't want to signal danger.

The only suggestions you give are that the guy should try to look at the situation through the eyes of the woman, an incredibly vague suggestion which prioritizes men's assumptions about what women think over such tips as "pay attention to women's communication." I'm rather confused why that particular suggestion is overly burdensome or harmful, such that you chose to eliminate it from your version. And, as long as he tries to think of her perspective, you assure him that he should in no way consider that anything he does might be a problem, no matter how the woman reacts. Your message seems to be "women are afraid of rapists. You're not one, so don't worry if women are randomly mean to you."

I think this rewrite demonstrates perfectly why I feel that your idea of anti-harassment/assault messages that are not harmful to men are no longer functional anti-harassment/assault messages. Rather, they would discourage well-meaning men from recognizing and altering unintentional danger signals they are sending, and encourage less well-meaning men to feel that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.  

While I agree that it may be possible (and would be desirable) to craft messages against harassment and assault that continue to send clear, useful messages against both gendered and non-gendered harassment and assault, while doing less harm to those men who are currently reading harmful messages about male sexuality from them - I don't think that there is any common ground whatsoever between you and me about what that message would entail.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:50 pm

Enail,

I prefaced the rewrite with "first rough draft", I also considerably shortened it, thereby leaving out some of the more specific notions as you noted.

Enail wrote:while affirming that it's common for women to "unfairly" become loud and insulting when a man is "giving off the axe murderer rapist vibe," which you present as being entirely unrelated to his behavior.

I assume you're referring to this part -

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:On the other hand, if you're trying to put yourself in her shoes before approaching there's really no reason to feel bad about yourself when it doesn't work out, and even if she gets unfairly loud and insulting and shoots you down because you're giving off the axe murderer and rapist vibe. Chances of that happening are slim, but even if it happens, remember it's not about who you are, but about what she has, in that moment, seen in you, potentially for her very own reasons. And yes, some women may just be unfair in dealing with you. But if you let that affect the way you think about why women are and have to be more careful when it comes to meeting strangers, then you're not trying hard enough to put yourself in their shoes, in which case: read again.

I don't suggest that it is common that women react that way if it's unjustified at all - "chances of that happening are slim", but yes, it can happen, and even if it happens subjectively unfairly, (not because of what you *are*, but because of what she sees and feeld subjectively atm), you should accept that and not let that subjective unfairness inform the way you look at the reason why women are doing so.

Maybe the two conflicting realities (*subjectively*) can be made clearer, as you seem to have read the "unfair" as a statement of fact rather than the approacher's subjective reality. I thought about including something like a "reasonable person" check, but the point was to accept her subjective reality as baseline even if it doesn't appear explicable in his subjective reality. Of course, her reaction will have subjectively be caused by his behavior, what else.

Enail wrote:The only suggestions you give are that the guy should try to look at the situation through the eyes of the woman, an incredibly vague suggestion which prioritizes men's assumptions about what women think over such tips as "pay attention to women's communication." I'm rather confused why that particular suggestion is overly burdensome or harmful, such that you chose to eliminate it from your version.

I have no issue with that, it was not a conscious decision to leave that out. Again, first rough draft.

Enail wrote:And, as long as he tries to think of her perspective, you assure him that he should in no way consider that anything he does might be a problem, no matter how the woman reacts"

No, I said that her reaction is no based on *who he is* since she doesn't know him, but on what he presents to her atm. So, if he considered her pov, *and acted accordingly* (say, by dressing well, and only approaching the daughter of his mother's best friend after an introduction at a Church function under the eyes of 20 people), and she still reacted that way, he should accept it as her reality, but also understand that it is *her* reality, which only reflects how she saw that situation, not his true inner self: so don't take it personally.

Enail wrote:I think this rewrite demonstrates perfectly why I feel that your idea of anti-harassment/assault messages that are not harmful to men are no longer functional anti-harassment/assault messages. Rather, they would discourage well-meaning men from recognizing and altering unintentional danger signals they are sending, and encourage less well-meaning men to feel that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.
 

Well, I think, that is more likely to happen by creating an antagonizing audience mismatch with essays like Schrödinger's rapist.

Enail wrote:While I agree that it may be possible (and would be desirable) to craft messages against harassment and assault that continue to send clear, useful messages against both gendered and non-gendered harassment and assault, while doing less harm to those men who are currently reading harmful messages about male sexuality from them - I don't think that there is any common ground whatsoever between you and me about what that message would entail.

Maybe. But if you want to give it try, I'm up for it.

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