The normally-discerning 3QD links to the latest from the ever-ridiculous Amanda Marcotte on the topic that even a hotline psychic could have accurately predicted she’d be writing about:
Well, I think I have a theory, and yes, it’s sexism.
Now, attentive readers — and you all are attentive, aren’t you? You’re not like the stupid readers that NPR pranked on April Fool’s Day who comment on articles they haven’t read, are you? — will have noticed that the above quotation is nowhere to be found in the linked article. Yes, I confess, I pulled the ol’ switcheroo on you. That’s actually from a post she wrote last winter where, once again, astonishing, I know, in the neverending Rorschach test that we call life, Amanda saw sexism where others only saw meaningless ink. Anyway, the point is, that blurb is pretty much the Platonic Ideal of her writing, the sine qua non, a journeyman free agent that could sign a contract to appear in just about any one of her posts and articles. She is to blogging what Clayton Homes is to housing construction — a supplier of easily-transported, quickly-assembled, prefabricated building templates whose slipshod construction doesn’t take long to reveal itself. I mean, she’s barely had time to cash the check for this job, but look at the drywall already cracking in this section:
But the internet and the PUA community have created a self-haven for young men engaged in this self-pitying discourse, encouraging them to cultivate that chip on their shoulders, wallowing in misogynist accusations that women en masse are failing them by not giving up the sex these ostensibly unappreciated men believe they deserve. With so many men spending so much time egging each other on, and trying to top each other when it comes to blaming women for their own pitiful lives—to the point of advocating for the denial of basic rights to women—it’s little surprise that one of them would finally work up the nerve to get his “revenge” for all these imagined slights.
When Dimebag Darrell was murdered on stage by a gunman a decade ago, an opportunistic hack could have similarly described it as an inevitable result of the nebulous “culture” of angst, aggression and macho violence that heavy metal is popularly associated with, or even singled out the unfortunate comments made by Philip Anselmo in particular shortly before the shooting. It’s “little surprise” that one of those moshing meatheads would finally decide to bring a gun into the pit, isn’t it? Likewise, we’re all familiar with earlier attempts to blame the suicides of depressed and/or drug-addled adolescents on particular songs by Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest. It’s “little surprise” that impressionable, disturbed youths would be pushed over the edge by an emotionally manipulative power ballad glorifying death or suicide, isn’t it? But the, uh, surprising fact remains that such extreme occurrences are exceedingly rare. Millions of fans manage to find healthy catharsis within the scene without taking things to their supposed logical conclusions, which should lead one to wonder if the logic isn’t missing something, perhaps.
No, of course that analogy is not to say that misogyny doesn’t exist, or that you can’t find valid examples of men saying awful, offensive things about women (especially if you seek them out). It’s simply a reminder that an unsympathetic outsider’s perspective can easily morph into a good old-fashioned moral panic, which is increasingly what all this hysterical focus on online misogyny is coming to resemble.
Marcotte would like to have it both ways — the rare example of an Elliot Rodger is proof of how inevitably dangerous her ideological opponents are and how we live in a culture that at least passively endorses misogynist ideals, but the fact that most maladjusted sexless adolescents will never be guilty of anything worse than stupidity or boorishness, or the fact that many men somehow manage to altogether resist the omnipresent siren song urging them to treat women as inferior objects will, of course, not count as disproof; the definition of misogyny will simply become more elastic in order to remain relevant. She’s a seasoned veteran at this sort of thing, though. Several years ago, if you remember, the progressive blogosphere was going apeshit over how the murder of Bill Sparkman, the Kentucky census worker found hanged with the word “Fed” written on his chest, was so obviously the inevitable result of violent, anti-government Teabagger rhetoric. When it turned out a couple months later that he had committed suicide while trying to make it look like a homicide, lesser mortals would have slunk away in shame to contemplate the perils of instapunditry, to think twice about publicly jumping to preordained conclusions based on incomplete breaking news reports. Not our heroine, though. No, in fact, it was still the Teabaggers’ fault for making us believe that they were even capable of such an act in the first place. If it should somehow turn out that there’s more to Elliot Rodger’s rampage than first met the eye, you can safely bet the house that misogyny will be to blame for that, too.
May 29, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
Hmmm…I can see some of what you are saying. Certainly, the misogyny used in such a way is worthless. Certainly, there is an "outrage industry". Certainly, people get tarred with terms like "misogynist" and "racist" for no good reason. So…we are in agreement there.
But isn't to a degree, pulling out examples like Marcotte sorta doing the same thing?…choosing the most inflammatory examples? There are real problems of langugage and behavior that do impact women, even if such impacts are of course far short of actual physical violence? There has to be a middle ground here, and you seem to be too willing to give the MRAs and PUAs too much credit.
Even if one dislikes the hysteria (is that a verbotem term now?) which as you (and Freddie) point out primarily useful for signalling and enforcing group think (and it certainly can be), one should not go to the other extreme and dismiss all such attempts to reduce certain attitudes. Even if these attempts are poorly structured and ineffective, I am not as willing to be sympathetic to the PUA movement or much of the MRA because there IS toxicity there in their language and even behavior.
May 29, 2014 @ 10:26 pm
As for black metal…I would argue that in many respects it is not that healthy. (I would also make the same claim about the horrors of orthodox Christianity, but….) Nor is the scene all that healthy.
It's probably not healthy for me, LOL. But then I am not a good example, so….
But sure, one can enjoy the aesthetics of the music without buying into ALL of the ideologically suspect trappings. And, a lot of it is indeed, poserism anyway. But…I am not sure it is a good example because I would admit that it is not healthy, anyway.
May 29, 2014 @ 9:08 pm
I'm not sure this analysis is fair, Damian. I really think you are reaching in the same way Marcotte may be reaching.
In discussing "causality", nobody is claiming a toxic factor is going to cause all people to act out violently. Heck, some people smoke like chimneys for 50 years without getting lung cancer, but that does not mean that tobacco consumption is good for you…or not toxic.
May 29, 2014 @ 10:09 pm
I'm saying that Marcotte is purposely painting PUAs in the absolute worst possible light in order to imply that people like Rodger are the inevitable outcome. Are we in agreement on that?
I'm saying that this is in keeping with much of the similar inflammatory rhetoric we've heard for a couple of years now regarding feminism and online misogyny. Are we in agreement on that?
I am then saying that the purpose of such rhetoric is not to clarify or enlighten, but rather to create the atmosphere of a moral panic (and I insist you read the wiki link if you haven't already). "Misogyny" is used vaguely and indiscriminately to explain everything from offensive language to actual mass murder. If you don't agree that certain words and concepts are inherently harmful to women in general, you're a misogynist. If you think that Rebecca Watson and Anita Sarkeesian are grifters who have cynically exploited an opportunity to milk social media outrage for profit, you're a misogynist. If you think postmodern academic theories of feminism and gender are obfuscatory bullshit, you're a misogynist. If you actually, literally murder women for not sleeping with you, you're a misogynist. And if you point out that Rodger actually killed more men than women, you're told that misogyny hurts everyone, including men. The word means everything and nothing simultaneously, and like all such all-encompassing terms, it is worthless for explanatory purposes.
I am then saying that this is a feature, not a bug. The purpose is to create an intellectual climate in which people are afraid to publicly question anything presented under the banner of being pro-feminist, anti-misogynist for fear of being "linked", however vaguely, with people like Rodger. The purpose is to obscure, not clarify, any obvious distinctions between insulting a woman with foul language and shooting her dead in the street. It's all a manifestation of this shapeshifting fog called "misogyny" that permeates all of society. Once there is no meaningful, essential distinction any more, it's all just one teflon-coated slippery slope between the word "bitch" and mass murder.
May 29, 2014 @ 10:21 pm
Put it this way: I could write an article about Scandinavian black metal using the exact same rhetorical framework as Marcotte. I could list all the lurid details about the well-known incidents of neo-Nazism, church-burning terrorism, and murder. I could selectively quote the most shocking lyrics in order to create an image of mindless fans being inculcated with messages glorifying nihilistic oblivion. I could imply that fans of the scene (not to name any names), are vaguely guilty by association for patronizing any of the artists with their money and support. Would you consider that fair and accurate?
May 30, 2014 @ 2:42 am
As a black metal fan, would that really be punishment? 🙂
"If you spend time checking them out for yourself, you may consider some of those factions more or less significant. As always, there is never a substitution for doing your own homework. If you're only relying on what other people tell you, you're never getting a complete picture."
But as you youreself repeatedly say, there is only so much time in the day and we must choose what we want to focus on. I am not in the "market" that the MRAs addresses (and I'm sorry, the whole concept behind Pick Up Artists is creepy to me), so…
I will read and listen to your defenses of them, and I don't want to defend Marcotte in any way (I agree she is a partisan hack), but that is about it. Maybe I am trolling? Sorry, if so.
Hell, my opinions actually have evolved to be more sympathetic to those of you (and Freddie) While I'm not too interested in the "woe is me" side of the MRAs, I don't read or post at Ophelia or PZ any more either.
May 29, 2014 @ 11:53 pm
But isn't to a degree, pulling out examples like Marcotte sorta doing the same thing?…choosing the most inflammatory examples?
Marcotte is an A-list blogger, formerly part of a Democratic presidential candidate's social media team, who regularly writes for newspapers like the Guardian, and whose current article appeared in another prominent publication, where it was linked to by another highly-respected website like 3 Quarks Daily. I'm pretty sure no actual MRA is going to be given a similar platform or positive exposure. I've always thought she's a dishonest, partisan hack and a sloppy, shitty writer and thinker, but for some reason, she's widely respected and popular. So she's unfortunately not just some random nut from the bowels of the Internet.
Any honest attempt to understand this particular event would have, one, waited more than a fucking day or two to rush in with a preordained conclusion. And two, it would have also emphasized other equally important factors, such as his youth and his history of mental illness. But we already know, of course, that for this crowd, casting aspersions on "neurodiversity", even when justified, is politically off-limits, so misogyny it is as the sole important factor. The fact that Marcotte is like the living embodiment of that Mindhacks article I linked to, where she already had the article written before the event even happened, says to me that she only saw this as a golden opportunity to advance an agenda she's always had.
There has to be a middle ground here, and you seem to be too willing to give the MRAs and PUAs too much credit.
My god, man, I've been trying to tell you for two years that there very much is a middle ground! The problem is, the people occupying it have also been tarred with accusations of being misogynist fellow-travelers and reactionary dudebros for even mildly dissenting from the SJW party line, and people like you have been too scared to question it! Holy shit, seriously, you have no idea how many of the people you probably think are right-wing rape apologists are actually liberals, leftists and even self-identified feminists! Gaaaahhhh……
May 29, 2014 @ 11:53 pm
Okay. Anyway. Zenlike calm returning. As for language, you may notice that I don't personally call people like Marcotte a bitch or a cunt. At the same time, I'm not willing to see it as an absolute dealbreaker when other people do it, and I refuse to respect the social pressure to shun anyone who does. It depends on the particular context as to how significant I find it.
I don't actually give those groups credit for anything, unless you count it as "credit" that I point out that much of the hysteria (yes, that is a misogynist word according to the SJWs, welcome to the club, dudebro) surrounding them is disproportionate to whatever threat they supposedly pose.
My personal opinion, based on actually reading what MRAs themselves have to say, not on random pullquotes chosen by their enemies, is that they, like many groups, are a mixed bag. There are certainly some whackjobs, idiots, and attention whores. There are also some activists who are trying to change what they see as severely unfair divorce laws for ex-husbands and fathers. There are some guys who need a place to vent and find sympathy after having been used and abused by manipulative, cold-hearted women, who actually do exist in the real world — they are not just a rhetorical invention by the patriarchy to oppress women. And some of those guys have become severely embittered and angry from the experience, possibly permanently. I honestly don't give two shits or a half-fuck about them. I'm only interested in the fact that they've become an all-purpose boogeyman for the SJW crowd. So, I don't know what else to tell you. If you spend time checking them out for yourself, you may consider some of those factions more or less significant. As always, there is never a substitution for doing your own homework. If you're only relying on what other people tell you, you're never getting a complete picture.
May 30, 2014 @ 12:02 am
P.S. If you respond with "Fair enough, Damian," only to bring up the exact same points again several months from now, I will literally hunt you down and sacrifice you to Satan.
May 30, 2014 @ 10:33 am
No, that's fine, you're right, we all have to budget our time and energy, and there are probably healthier and more rewarding hobbies than following this particular section of the web. I only suggest reading up on the topic more carefully because you seem to be honestly concerned about it beyond mere idle curiosity, and in this hyper-politically charged environment, it's easy to be misinformed by people trying to sell you a particular narrative.
Ha, while reading that Pandagon post on Sparkman, I was almost impressed by the sheer chutzpah of it. I mean, if she were a conservative, you'd have had people like, say, Roy Edroso or Sadly, No! linking to that logical abortion with snarky dismissals like "Shorter Amanda Marcotte: Even when I'm wrong, I'm wrong for the right reasons, which essentially means I'm not really wrong at all when you think about it. Q to tha E to tha muthafuckin' D. Now look! Over there! A sexist!" But she's a tribal ally, so the rules of the coffee klatsch mean you have to politely ignore it, even though she's just as full of shit as any of the wingnuts you spend your time seeking out. That sort of forced ideological conformity infuriates me. Call bullshit by its name wherever you happen to find it, and fuck all this ass-kissing and back-patting.
May 30, 2014 @ 9:27 pm
Meta-comment: A discussion about disagreements on the internet devolving into rancor and name-calling, involving some amount of disagreement, occurred on the Internet, without devolving into rancor and name-calling.
May 31, 2014 @ 12:11 am
Again, I credit the fact that with only a few of us here, we can have some sense of each other as individuals, and attempt to persuade rather than merely react. If you had ten other people on each side of the argument jumping in to take shots at Brian and I while adding their own non-sequiturs and squabbling with each other, it would quickly turn into every other comment thread you've ever seen.
June 2, 2014 @ 3:40 pm
And yet, Noel….our host potentially condemned me to an eternity of gruesome torture merely for the possibility of using one of my favorite non-responses. I am shocked, shocked I tell you!
As an aside, am I getting more blind, or is Captcha getting weirder and harder to parse?
June 9, 2014 @ 6:08 pm
Hey, Damian. Have I ever brought your attention to the inimitable Thunderfoot? He does these amazing, if pompous videos on the ridiculousness of creationists and now, he has declared war on the Social Justice Warriors. 🙂
June 10, 2014 @ 12:12 am
Hasn't he been warring with them for a while? I was still reading Pharyngula when he joined FTB for a week or however long it was, so I saw all that drama in real time. I've seen him stop in at the Pit every so often too. At any rate, I'm one of those people who thinks nothing of reading a several-thousand-word article, but can't be arsed to watch a ten-minute YouTube video. I dunno what it is, but I just loathe being forced to sit still and listen to someone talk. I'd rather read the text.