Code words

Mike over at The A-Unicornist has an excellent post about Feminism, the Patriarchy, PZ Myers, and other trigger words that I want to briefly mention. Here’s an excerpt:

The thing is, we don’t all agree on the severity or relevance of this sort of thing. We don’t all agree that there actually is a “patriarchy” in modern America. We don’t all agree whether ads featuring scantily-clad men or women, in an attempt to appeal to our biology to drive the free market, are indicative of any kind of broad social problem. We don’t all agree that, at least in modern America, the areas where women still experience inequality deserve more attention than the areas where men experience inequality – areas such as life expectancy, medical research funding, homelessness, widespread acceptance of male genital mutilation, suicide rates, victims of violence, workplace deaths, domestic violence and family court biases. Some of us have a hard time caring when the Rebecca Watsons of the world complain about sexy women in commercials and being awkwardly invited on a date when in other countries, women are treated like cattle (some of us like, I dunno, Richard Dawkins).

The problem is, though, that in the mind of PZ Myers, Watson, and the those of that ilk, there is no room for measures of disagreement. If you’re not totally on board their train, then you are the enemy. You are, as PZ describes it, an “anti-feminist”. No – you are not allowed to broadly support women’s legal equality and support their right to accept or reject certain normative gender roles while disagreeing about the extent and/or severity of these issues in modern Western civilization. You either swallow the whole doctrine, or you are part of the problem.

This is one of the factors that drove me away from PZ’s site and the group-think cohort that is Freethought Blogs. It’s a pure George Bush mentality of, ‘If you aren’t with us, you’re against us’. It’s a very black and white, immature view of the world – one which more often than not results in ‘reverse’-sexism that is roundly ignored. (In fact, people who dare mention the existence of double-standards tends to be denigrated horribly.)

I try not to write on the subject of Internet/caricature feminism much any more because, aside from often being so mountain-out-of-a-mole-hill boring, it isn’t even a philosophy. Indeed, it’s little more than an extremist reaction to conservatism. Ironically, though, its consequence-only outlook holds much in common with libertarianism (which is the philosophy that says, “I got mine, so screw you”). It’s like these people have never even heard of Kant.

Another reason I tend to avoid this subject, however, is because it’s virtually nothing but a minefield of code words. Whenever I see “patriarchy”, I know the person has already shut down the conversation and is merely waiting for me to apologize for being a white man. And to make things worse, we have terms like “rape culture” that are thrown around entirely carelessly, minimizing how horrible the actual act of rape is. (People like Steven Olsen, owner of the useless and unfunny site Carl Sagan’s Dance Party Humor, or csdphumor.com, is guilty of this and should apologize not merely to women, but to common fucking sense.)

I know these non-serious thinkers will continue on regardless of what I say, but I deem all these science-second, atheism-third people to be complete jokes that belong in the dustbin of the Internet. They haven’t added anything useful to the conversation; if anything, they’ve invented a cloud of fear for women who want to attend conventions and other events, likely encouraging actual assholes to make life worse for innocent people. Fuck these people.

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18 Responses

  1. Rape culture causes rape. Challenging rape culture reduces rape. It does not trivialize rape at all to use the term.

  2. Where is this rape culture? The last time I checked, virtually every single person in this country thinks rape is bad. I believe that’s why we have all those laws.

  3. Would you care to review the fraternity that spent their free time chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” on a college campus? Sure, virtually every single person in this country…

  4. “I got mine, so screw you”

    That’s so crude as to be dishonest. It would be much more accurate to say that libertarian philosophy says, “I got mine and you are free to get yours if you so choose” or “what you choose to do is your business, if your behavior doesn’t impact me, I have no business interfering”. That cuts right to the heart of the matter, that people should be free to do as they choose without coercion on the part of the state.

    I know that isn’t the point of your post, but still, it’s a matter of personal freedom, not a free for all, absolutely anything goes sort of thing. A libertarian government is miles away from anarchy such as we find in failed states.

  5. Danielle – Bad, juvenile humor does not equal support for rape, no more than those stupid dead baby jokes mean people actually think dead babies are funny.

  6. It wasn’t bad, juvenile humor. The fraternity in question was actually notorious for committing date rapes. The campus had actually pretty well taken to warning everyone coming in about going to any parties at that particular fraternity. This is not juvenile humor, it is blatent bragging about what they were doing….and actual support of rape.

  7. And I bet people in our culture were outraged at these monstrous outliers.

  8. “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1” Statistics courtesy of RAINN. They speak quite clearly for themselves…sure, monstrous outliers, not a cultural norm at all…keep telling yourself that, then ask around any female that has ridden the NYsubway system, college counselors, and your local DFS…

  9. First, these stats, while always indicating an awful outlook on society, are all over the place. The CDC, for example, includes in the definition of rape “attempted forced penetration” and “alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration”. The latter is rape, but the former is not. That doesn’t mean it’s somehow okay, but it isn’t rape. Second, I still maintain that the overwhelming majority of people in America are not pro-rape or neutral on rape. Virtually everyone is against it, even if a small segment of the population does awful things.

    Implying our entire culture is pro-rape is not only factually incorrect, it’s irresponsible. Within Internet feminism, this phrase encompasses all bad things done to women, including some things, such as risque photoshoots, which are willingly choices. It’s a terrible word that reflects an agenda and, sometimes, a lie. I fully reject, if not merely on the grounds of facts, then because it undermines how horrible rape really is.

  10. a)”attempted forcible penetration” just means the jackass got caught before they completed the act, not that the effects on the survivor are any different, which is why our government is quite okay with defining it that way b) I think the events of Steubenville, the ludicrous rates of rapes in our military and educational systems, and the fact that our bodies are constantly being treated like the possessions of others in our legislature are reason enough to say that our culture, if not a majority of individuals within it, supports a viewpoint that facilitates rape.

    I do not find it irresponsible or diminishing of the crime in any way to say so. In fact, I find it a very responsible act to point out that a woman cannot walk the street in America for a week without getting cat called, assaulted, or made to feel like a sexual object. If we continue to just let these things slide, they will continue to worsen. Do you think the events in Dehli are happening in a vaccuum? Read up on the accounts of Indian women, the statements of the lawyers, and of the leaders about the events of the past weeks…we sit on our high horses and pretend that things are perfect here. They’re not. They’re nowhere near as bad as the state of India, but if we continue to let these things happen, they will get there. This culture needs a wake up call and it needs a turn around. There was an 11 year old girl gangraped by something like 20 men in the past two years, and the defense lawyer here in these United States actually went with the “she asked for it” line…how is that not a manifestation of a culture that enables and colludes with the offender?

    While I agree that not everything everywhere is indicative of rape culture, you cannot take one or two or ten people’s definition of a term and twist it to suit your argument. The world is not so black and white as that…

  11. a)”attempted forcible penetration” just means the jackass got caught before they completed the act, not that the effects on the survivor are any different, which is why our government is quite okay with defining it that way

    Actually, the government recently widened its definition of rape. Where it used to define it simply as forcible vaginal penetration, it now includes oral and anal. (https://forthesakeofscience.com/2012/01/07/government-widens-definition-of-rape/.) It says nothing about attempted rape, just as it doesn’t define attempted murder as murder.

    b) I think the events of Steubenville, the ludicrous rates of rapes in our military and educational systems, and the fact that our bodies are constantly being treated like the possessions of others in our legislature are reason enough to say that our culture, if not a majority of individuals within it, supports a viewpoint that facilitates rape.

    If you want to use the harmful term “rape culture”, then use it. Don’t move the goalposts and start talking about facilitating rape.

    In fact, I find it a very responsible act to point out that a woman cannot walk the street in America for a week without getting cat called, assaulted, or made to feel like a sexual object.

    We agree that this is responsible. We disagree, however, that people who make crude calls towards women are rape happy. They’re doing a shitty thing. You’re doing nearly as a shitty a thing but creating a false equivalence between those people and rapists.

    Do you think the events in Dehli are happening in a vaccuum?

    I was recently out of the country and, for the most part, Internet contact over the past few weeks, but I saw a headline where people were rioting in the street over some rapists in India. I recall specifically thinking how anti-rape that culture clearly is.

    and the defense lawyer here in these United States actually went with the “she asked for it” line…how is that not a manifestation of a culture that enables and colludes with the offender?

    Defense lawyers also defend murderers and try to blame the victims of those crimes. Are we a pro-murder culture too?

  12. Do you seriously NOT think that anal SHOULD be included as rape? Have you never had something forcibly shoved in your ass? Do you seriously think how anti-rape Indian culture is? Yeah, argument done, you are a waste of breath.

  13. “This is now included in the definition” does not somehow mean ” I disagree with this inclusion.”

  14. If a high crime rate is proof of a crime-encouraging society, why don’t we also hear about burglary culture, school-shooting culture, and drunk-driving culture?

    Answer: because those terms don’t serve to exaggerate and draw focus to a feminist priority. Feminists claim that the existence of rape is proof that our society ‘favors and promotes’ it, which is obviously false. But it lets them pretend that the problem THEY care about is much worse than all the others.

  15. What I found ironic was that the lady in the “Richard Dawkins” link complained about being sexualised by a guy (quite politely really) chatting her up, by equating this by some kind of attempted rape scenario, was plainly sexualising a situation that could have been perfectly well defused with “No, thank you” or even “Piss off, it’s 4 am you randy tosser” and no more said. As it was, she rebuffed him (as was her undeniable right), and the guy walked away. But then she had to turn it into a 3-act play of some kind of proto-rape drama,

    No matter how it was spun, it wasn’t exactly, “Hey, chick, front and centre. You and me are going to rattle the springs for a few hours!”

    Or even, “Me Ug. You hot. We rattle rocks.”

  16. If I recall correctly, all Rebecca Watson suggested is that she felt that it was inappropriate to approach a lone female in an enclosed space and make what could easily be take as a sexual advance.

    And also, when Jesus farted, did it stink like our farts, or did it have it’s on unique “Son of God” smell ?

  17. Damn! I hate misspelling.

    There should be no apostrophe in the above “its” and I meant to write “own” unique smell.

    But still, don’t you wonder?

  18. Nate –

    That’s so crude as to be dishonest. It would be much more accurate to say that libertarian philosophy says, “I got mine and you are free to get yours if you so choose” or “what you choose to do is your business, if your behavior doesn’t impact me, I have no business interfering”. That cuts right to the heart of the matter, that people should be free to do as they choose without coercion on the part of the state.

    I have to wonder why, if you don’t like crude interpretations of philosophies, that you didn’t object to Michael Hartwell’s awful post about utilitarianism.

    At any rate, libertarianism is about consequences as they occur to the individual; its ultimate concern is not with the quality or well-being of society.

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