Sexism and incoherency

I recently came across a link on Facebook about women cutting their hair short. Apparently there’s a small fringe out there that particularly cares about this one way or another. That fringe, of course, is feminists. However, an even smaller fringe – the one the feminist in the forthcoming link attacks – also cares:

The ‘manosphere’ really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

The term “manosphere” is one of those “Shut up, I win!” buttons on the Internet, much like the word privilege or, in the non-virtual world of the early to mid-20th century, “uppity” in reference to black people. It more or less comes from Anita Sarkeesian, a non-gaming female who once played a few games casually as a kid. She believes the gaming world is part of this so-called “manosphere”, even though she has admitted that she doesn’t even play games (skip to 2:40). Indeed, she thinks first person shooters are “just gross”. One might plausibly presume that she hates all movies too because the Friday the 13th series is icky. But I digress.

Getting back on the original annoying horseshit, author Laurie Penny wrote an article describing her personal experience with a select group of people who care more about her hair than she does. For her, this is a devastating indictment of the White Male Privilege Machine:

[A man on the Internet] writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly…Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut — and is pleased with the changes in her reception — is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

The essential argument is: Men like long hair, and what sane woman would ever want to do anything that decreases her capacity to please men?

The advantage of articles like this, pantomimic though they be, is that they make misogyny legible. There was a time when feminists had to do that all by ourselves, but now we don’t have to point out the underlying assumptions of a lot of the bullshit we deal with every day, because there are people on the internet doing it for us.

Who gives a shit? Yes, there are people who are really vocal about their personal preferences. Some of them even have these preferences for dumb reasons. That isn’t an indictment of anything except the individual expressing his opinion.

I’ve experimented with growing the crop out twice, encouraged both times by men I was dating. It seemed like the thing to do to make myself more pleasing to potential boyfriends, potential bosses, and other people with potential power over my personal happiness. Both times, it looked awful. It took a lot of effort and a surprising amount of money to maintain, and it still looked awful, and I didn’t feel like myself. Growing it past my chin took determination, because every day I’d look in the mirror and want to take the razor to it right then and there.

And yet, the amount of male attention I got – from friendly flirting to unwanted hassle – increased enormously. Not because I looked better, but because I looked like I was trying to look more like a girl. Because I was performing femme. Every time I cut it off, I noticed immediately that the amount of street harassment I received, from cat-calls to whispered sexual slurs to gropes and grabs on public transport, dropped to a fraction of what it had been – apart from total strangers coming up to tell me how much prettier I’d be if I only grew it out.

In addition to being a social justice warrior extraordinaire, apparently Penny is also a psychic. Why, that flirting and hassle had nothing – nothing! – to do with her looking better. Clearly it was because she fit into the feminine mold society demands of women. Forget that she is merely begging the question since her entire premise is that society (aka the “I win” button of ‘The Patriarchy’) demands women fit into a particular mold – which, to spell it out – is also her supporting argument.

I responded to this on Facebook, taking care to note that I prefer longer hair on a woman. I also prefer the color green to the color purple. In both instances, my preference is attributable to me as an individual. I don’t prefer these things because I demand one thing or another from women – or even from the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The fact is, the consequence-oriented ‘philosophy’ of feminism has a tendency to ignore the individual in favor of sweeping generalizations. It’s offensive on a personal level – I needn’t be stereotyped because of my sex – and it’s offensive on a scientific level in this case: anecdotes do not a case make. Of course, in saying this I got some responses. Here’s one of the first ones from Adam Hirschfeld:

So, you found generalizations offensive on a personal level? hm.

So. Basically, every time someone says you don’t like, it’s offensive at a personal level. Should that be punishable?

The sheer dumbness of this comment should have told me to ignore it, but I didn’t. I responded that, yes, it’s offensive when a person makes a daft generalization about an entire group. Let me add here, I can’t fathom how someone wouldn’t understand how stereotypes offend individuals. As for the red herring about punishment or whatever the hell he was trying to bait me into, I ignored it and instead pointed out that in high school I had long hair. Many people told me to cut it, which I eventually did on my own accord. However, I never attributed the opinions of those people to whatever group to which they happened to belong. Their opinions were their own. Here’s the amazing response I got:

And apparently that just happened. You made a generalization about people who make generalizations.

You see, the problem is- making generalizations is a matter of communication. What you said is akin to a witch hunt. It’s just as dumb as the war on terrorism, or bullying. It does nothing to stop any of them- and ignores all of the actual causes.

If you wanted people to stop generalizing- you’d encourage people to be individuals, to be themselves, and it’s that simple. You don’t have to put a fuckin political action committee together. Yes, people wrongly generalize, yes, terrorists and bullies really do exist- there’s absolutely nothing you can do about that but be the individual you’d like others to be.

…wat

I pressed Hirschfeld to clarify just how I was generalizing. Specifically, I asked if I was generalizing about the author when I said she was generalizing (again…wat) or if I was generalizing when I said I experienced many individuals telling me to cut my hair. I also made the mistake, unfortunately, of noting the incoherency of the rest of his post. Here’s the response:

You mean- you simply don’t want to- or can’t address it. Okay. All you’re doing is redefining the word generalization. We can go down that road, I’m not sure you’re going to like where it leads.

I’m going to skip ahead at this point with a quick summary: After pointing out his inability to use en dashes in any way resembling what one might call “correct”, I said he introduced two random topics (bullying and terrorism) which are seemingly unrelated to the discussion. Apparently there’s some connection in his mind, but he’s assuming I share his views on those topics. Since he never bothered to explain his views, his comparison sucked big balls. His argument was worse than a junior high English paper that was missing an introduction paragraph. He didn’t understand any of this, so I explained it again. Then, instead of explaining how I generalized anything, I got this incoherent masterpiece:

My position is the obvious. Or rather, the obvious for anyone who’s spent two minutes actually thinking about them.

No one can save you from yourself. If you want someone else to keep you safe- let that be the government or some private contractor, they will try. As they fail, you will demand more of them, and they will respond in the only way they know how. They will spy on every thing you do, they will control everything they can and eventually you’ll find yourself in a prison you built yourself.

Because that’s the point of terrorism, it’s not about Islam or Christianity or Judaism, Liberalism, Conservatism, fuck all that. Bad people do bad things, and people go bad for lots of reasons. They enjoy making people suffer and most of the time the only thing you can do is kill them. There is no place you can hide. There’s no low you can sink to that will satisfy these people. No amount of airport scanners can stop this. No amount of roadside checkpoints. And well, if you’re going to kill them, that requires someone to do the killing. The thing they never tell you about war- nobody wins. It’s a blind jab, a last ditch effort. There is no “coming back” what’s done is done, there’s only moving forward.

It’s said that while hunting monsters you need take care you don’t become one yourself. And we have become monsters, or to a large degree anyway. And this type of thing manifests itself in our society in all sorts of nasty ways. One of the most prevalent is bullying. We’ve totally failed as a society to even acknowledge our peoples needs- which we have not been meeting for a very long time. The result is a decay. A societal decay of intellectual, moral, philosophical, educational, political, governmental and pretty much any other realm you can imagine. It seems to intensify as if reaching some kindof singularity- a black hole of stupidity. Where the educated are educated out of thinking, and the thinking aren’t thinkers without an education.

Our society is burning, and we are working very hard to ignore the ashes. So when Billy or Britney- who’s lives are being destroyed around them- takes that to school or wherever and takes it out on another person, we who also feel the same pressures and are adamant to acknowledge it, take it out on them- Someone who really is just another victim. Because to see them as anything but a villain would force us to question our own place in all of this, where we’re really coming from, what we’re really doing, where we’re going- because the answer, is horrible. And you all know it.

Unfortunately for all of us, the first step to solving any problem is acknowledging its existence. So when I make an analogy involving bullying or terrorism to articulate the level at which ordinary people have failed to not only understand a simple problem regarding generalizations but what a generalization even is- there are very few conclusions one can come to, the foremost being that they don’t *want* to know what the problem is.

While I can’t give you even my most basic view on what that is without going on much further, I think it should suffice to say- just start giving a shit, and stop letting other people tell you how and what to think. Your political parties, governments, companies, ideologies, religions, social groups- do not give a rats ass you even exist. They’re just people going along to get along. Making it up as they go along. I’d hold them responsible- but you’re the ones who elected them. So who’s to say who’s to blame? Because damn, it’s starting to look a lot like everyone is.

The way Adam Hirschfeld managed to get off on a tangent about two absolutely random issues while sounding so monumentally arrogant and stupid at the same time is amazing. None of what he said makes a bit of sense. None. What does make sense, though, is that some people like long hair on women. Some prefer short hair. Others don’t care. Just don’t be a douche and lump an entire group together because some of those people happen to be vocal about their personal, singular, individual, entirely-on-themselves preference.

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2 Responses

  1. I think it’s in some way sensible to say that if you grow up in a society where certain attributes, both physical and behavioral are identified with femininity that your preferences may be influenced by that. It doesn’t mean you are militant about it, but it could certainly impact your preferences such that you would not be as attracted to women with short hair. Psychologically we are all prone to identifying with a specific gender, and so whatever society feels are associated with that gender will be seen as the norm, and thus most will tend to have preferences that follow the norm. The real problem is if one gender is devalued compared to another. Women who cut the hair short, they may find that less men are physically attracted to them. That is their choice. Like it or not, physical attractiveness is part of who we are. Of course most men love who they love regardless of the length of their hair. Once you get to know someone the physical aspects become less important, but yes sometimes it might cause you to lose out in one man approaching you when there is a long haired woman of similar attractiveness nearby. I myself prefer women with long hair. Is that just a personal preference, or something that has been socialized into me. Likely the latter, but I am not so prejudice that I wouldn’t have sex with a short-haired Halle Berry instead of a long haired Halle Berry. lol

    And when it comes down to it, I actually thing men in general look better with longer hair. Actually, I decided to grow my hair out about 10 years ago because many women who cut their hair talked about how difficult it was to maintain as being the reason, so I thought you know what I don’t have a right to judge until I experience it myself. So I did it. I liked how I look. I liked it a lot. But it was difficult to maintain. But you know what else I found is that I also faced judgment for not having the short hair then men are expected to have. In fact in some ways it is worse for men. In a society where femininity is devalued and there is prejudice towards homosexuals or effeminate males, having long hair as a guy sometimes invites jeers about how “pretty” I look. I have the strength of character to laugh it off, but it demonstrates how both genders can receive labels and not fitting into those labels goes against peoples preferences. I don’t think this is ultimately avoidable.

  2. Nuts. Short-haired women are far better in bed–you don’t have to constantly worry about accidentally tugging on long hair or getting tangled up in it. (On the other hand, long-haired gals could wrap it up in a bun, but buns–of that variety–don’t do anything for me.)

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