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Dear Internets,

Please do me a favor. If you ever find yourself speaking or typing words like the ones above? Shut up and walk away.

Cat Valente wrote a powerful post about Gender and the Fallout Over Christopher Priest, comparing the responses Priest received with the much more vicious, hateful threats and attacks women receive for similar posts.

Naturally, one of the commenters jumped in with, “I’ll probably get vilified for saying this, but I’m a guy…” Just in case you missed the point, he added, “Unfortunately, I’m a guy, and so far as I can tell, therefore I’m evil.”

I’ve seen this preemptive crap a lot lately. Look dude - it’s not that you’re a guy. It’s not that you’re white or straight or whatever. It’s that you’re being an dumbass and a coward.

A dumbass because nobody is saying anything about guys all being evil! Go read Valente’s post and show me where she says men are evil. Show me where anyone in the comments says it. Take your time, I’ve got all day. Nobody said it, nobody suggested it, and if you really believe that’s what’s going on, then I have very little hope for you, but I’d be happy to recommend some remedial reading courses.

A coward because in most cases, I suspect you know perfectly well that nobody’s saying that. You don’t actually believe Valente is suggesting all men are evil. You’re saying it to protect your ego. Because by preemptively writing crap like, “I know you’re all going to dogpile me for being male,” you’ve given yourself an excuse. Everyone who points out that your argument is full of crap isn’t doing it because you’re an ignorant, misinformed, condescending jackass. They’re just doing it because you’re a guy.


Let me break it down as simply as possible.

1) Blogger writes a post pointing out the inequality in how men and women are treated online. She gives multiple examples of women who receive threats of rape and death, where men receive far less viciousness.

2) Random dude reads this post and immediately feels defensive and attacked as a man.

Why is that, I wonder? Is it because harassing and abusing women is, in your opinion, part of being a man? Is it because you’ve personally done things like this and you dislike being called on it? What is it that makes you read this as a personal attack on your gender?

Because you know what? If you haven’t done these things, then it’s not about you! And if you have, then it’s not about you being a guy; it’s about you being an asshole.

Like I said, it’s not just one commenter. It’s one person after another pulling out this same rhetorical garbage, and it’s tiresome.

Enough from me. Go read Valente’s post, if you haven’t already. I’d also recommend Seanan McGuire’s follow-up thoughts about gender and literature.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



Apr. 7th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
I don't agree with your idea in the slightest, Jim. You seem very much to be saying that if anyone gets defensive about a comment that isn't meant for them, the defensive person I automatically an asshole. Sorry, but no. We are a naturally defensive and oversensitive species, we talking apes. Never mind that I bet a lot of perfectly reasonable people of either gender do feel targeted by angry statements that are not about them.

I admit that I'd need a postdoctoral program in psychiatry and a 10-year, 10,000 person sample to prove it, but I bet it's doable.

Just because you're tired of hearing a complaint doesn't delegitimize it, or make it fair for you to mischaracterize the complainants as having done something wrong at some point.

As for "Ms. Valente
Apr. 7th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Actually no, that's not what I'm saying.

I strongly suggest you not finish that last statement.
Apr. 7th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
Then I'd appreciate if you could clarify for me, since I seem to me misinterpreting, but nonetheless, I don't think it is helpful or fair to jump on people because you assume you know why they feel defensive.

And with respect, I have been given ample reason to actively dislike her. I will never apologize for that. Well, not never. If making peace with her were to somehow spare the planet imminent destruction at the hands of some alien life form, I'd do it sincerely and solemnly, but short of that, no.
Apr. 7th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
I laid it out as clearly as I could in the blog post, which most people seem to have understood. Maybe I failed as a writer, and could have made it clearer, but at this point I'm not sure how to help you understand.
Apr. 7th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Forgive me. I'm not trying to offend you here. But what you specifically said was,

1) Blogger writes a post pointing out the inequality in how men and women are treated online. She gives multiple examples of women who receive threats of rape and death, where men receive far less viciousness.

2) Random dude reads this post and immediately feels defensive and attacked as a man.

Why is that, I wonder? Is it because harassing and abusing women is, in your opinion, part of being a man? Is it because you’ve personally done things like this and you dislike being called on it? What is it that makes you read this as a personal attack on your gender?

Now, I'm not saying that the initial post the random dude is commenting on is invalid--far from it, especially in this day and age. I just think that your speculation on an admittedly oversensitive response is itself not particularly fair or helpful.

I sense what I have said already has upset you, and for that I apologize. It wasn't you communicating badly; it was me responding aggressively. However, as much as I disagree with the sentiment of responding to any post with "You're just going to dogpile me for [reasons x, y, and z]," (you'll notice I have not done it here, though I will confess I may have done so in the past, and for that too I am sorry) I don't feel that the way you're going after it is going to help eradicate it.

For one thing, and I really should have brought this up sooner, straight white guys have become the last acceptable target in pop culture. And it's the actions of one or two jerks of that phenotype way up at the top of the financial and political food chain who have brought it on the rest of us. To be fair, that tiny slight is nowhere near as bad as what has happened to women or people of color (or especially both) or the LGBT community over the millennia--but it is everywhere, and it is, to some of us, really frustrating. Just because it's a smaller (much smaller) wrong doesn't make it right. We get stereotyped and vilified too, and it makes some of us likely to protest even when we shouldn't. Sure, it's unhelpful. But being easily upset is part of human nature.
Apr. 7th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
"And it's the actions of one or two jerks of that phenotype way up at the top of the financial and political food chain who have brought it on the rest of us."

I think this is the crux of our disagreement.
Apr. 8th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC)
Quite possibly. In my defense, our sociopolitical and ecumenical leaders in various nations and churches spanning the globe started teaching gender/ethnic/religious equality all the way back in the mid-20th Century, which hasn't exactly erased almost 6,000 recorded years of doing exactly the opposite. Now, I'm not saying that the men below the top who then went out and hurt people because of those teachings are at all blameless; after all; they were responsible for their actions. But I think it's more than fair to say that our kings, queens, emperors, presidents (especially our presidents-for-life), priests, monks, caliphs, rabbis (though perhaps to me less so), and other various politicos and religious figures had a hand in the inequalities many suffered over the millennia. Even now, some profit from dividing socioethnic and ecumenical groups and pitting them against each other--mostly defense contractors.

But we as a species are slow on the uptake, even though the oppressed knew it was BS all along. We are products by and large of our environment. I grew up in a world where I personally was taught to value all people equally, and did my best (with some minor slip-ups here and there, mostly before I got out of first grade) to do so. However, I also grew up in a world where I observed people getting away with undervaluing people based on gender, ethnicity, religion, economics, and pretty much any other difference under the sun. Fortunately, it all came to an end back in the...oh, wait, it hasn't yet, not at all. That's where my guilt comes from, as far as I can tell, and why I feel defensive. There's a part of me that recognizes that not everyone is being treated fairly, and that feels (sometimes rightly) that I'm not doing enough.

The rational side of me knows that the people expressing their frustrations over being dumped on aren't pointing at me, or even at guys like me. And it knows I can't do everything (sometimes not even anything) to just fix it. But I'm not ruled by my rational side 100 percent of the time. None of us are. That's my real point.
Apr. 7th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
No, seriously, that's not what he's saying.

"You're just going to pillory me because I'm a white man and therefore evil" attributes motivation to someone else ... who didn't say anything that implied white man automatically = evil.

It's not even logical. It's setting up a straw-(wo)man. It's disingenuous.
Apr. 7th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
Ah. My whole point is that upset people don't behave logically.
Apr. 7th, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
If they're upset that someone is pointing out that men are treated differently on the internet than women, which is a fact, not an opinion--ask any female (especially liberal) blogger how many rape threats they get in their inboxes every day*--then the problem is with them, not with the writer.

*Here is a link to Feministe's Next Top Troll (season 8... yes, this happens enough to be an annual event for EIGHT YEARS). The second comment in that post does exactly what Jim points out in this post.
Apr. 7th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
And I agree that that's wrong. That guy IS a jerk. But not everyone who uses the "Look, I know you're all going to dogpile me" canard is that bad. That's my point.

I can probably find examples where men making perfectly legitimate comments on a variety of issues are shouted down by women specifically because they are male (the phrase my wife uses to sum up the phenomenon is "The you-have-a-penis-therefore-you-have-no-right-to-an-opinion" issue). If you would like me to do so, I'll see what I can do.

And sometimes, that's how some guys feel--rightly or wrongly--even when that's not what's being said.

That's all I'm saying.
Apr. 8th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, please, point to more than three instances of women shouting down men simply because they're male (*cough* not all men have penises), not because they're making an ass of their privileged selves and explaining to the poor little miss something she clearly can't understand, or telling her she couldn't really have experienced what she experienced or that even if she did, she shouldn't have reacted that way.

(I've given you six reference links, at least one for each specific behavior I mentioned. Try for parity.)

When women (or minorities or other oppressed groups) respond to someone displaying their privilege for all the world to see, as if it were some elaborate plumage used in a mating ritual, they're not responding negatively simply because they're male (or white or straight or able-bodied or or or). They're responding negatively because the person is displaying the same behavior that hundreds or thousands of privileged jerks have displayed before him.

After all, if it were a matter of simply being male, I'd be sitting here raging at Jim for being a privileged jerk. But Jim displays behavior that makes him a decent human being who realizes that he has privilege and that he can use that for both good and for ill, and he tries to use it for good.

(Definition: privilege: a set of unearned advantages conferred on someone by society as a whole because of an accident of their birth, ie white race, male gender, straight orientation, high socioeconomic class, among others.)
Apr. 8th, 2012 10:16 pm (UTC)
As far as the "not all men have penises" remark, you have a point, which you have expressed in an interestingly passionate fashion. However, the examples you provided above were not what I was talking about, and I'm not sure that there's a converse example out there. What I have been saying is that there are some people who don't accept that it's not unreasonable to disagree with a viewpoint even if one is not of the same gender/religion/ethnicity/combination of the above. So here goes: A commenter at says, "If you are a man, your opinions on abortion or women’s contraceptives are not valid because these are women’s health issues which are none of their business. Once they start popping out babies, having menstrual cycles, PMS, etc. they you can state you opinion and I might listen. Until then…STFU." I say that any person is the ultimate arbiter of his or her body, but if you're in a relationship with someone, they're at least allowed an opinion. And the Hell of it is that I agree that the anti-abortion law in question completely violates women's rights! Here's one where the mere fact of being a gay man apparently disqualifies someone from commenting on female beauty. I respectfully disagree. Here's one where the commenter specifically tells another commenter "You’d combat misogyny if you “had the opportunity”? You do. Just stop posting. And the next time you feel the need to say something stupid, don’t. Your opinions, those of the Straight White Male, are not as important as you think." The original commenter's offense? Being perhaps more than a little defensive when defending another commenter who people are vehemently disagreeing with. The woman in this comment disagrees with women who say, "You're just a man, so how could you understand?" Not really an example, since she's not citing a specific instance, but I thought I'd point out that there are in fact women who have seen others do it. I'll move on. Boston University's "Culture Shock" discussion of how men can talk about women's issues actually says flat out:
To all the men who see the obstacles women face and want to take action: You will never fully understand[...] You may say that you feel fear when walking down a dark alley at night or when being pressured sexually, but the truth is that the situations are different.
It does go on to say that we can try to understand, but I don't see how just because we encounter people whose lives are turning out differently from our own makes us somehow unable to understand, forever. That's disappointingly divisive. I'm also going to cite every time any person has ever said, "It's a [black, white, woman, man, small fuzzy creature from Alpha Centauri] thing. You wouldn't understand." (Thanks for giving others the benefit of the doubt.) Here is an article citing 10 ads that bash men strictly based on gender. Add to that that if there's a dad in a sitcom, he's likely to be the dumb one. And yes, it's easy to criticize advertising and sitcoms as largely crap, because they are crap by any reasonable person's standpoint. But they do still sell. People still watch them. And while those people are still responsible for their own actions, there is an influence. Talking monkey see, talking monkey do. I remain resolved that while it is never acceptable to devalue someone or their opinion strictly based on gender, ethnicity, or religion, it happens to everyone. It doesn't happen to everyone with the same frequency, but it does happen, and it's wrong every time.
Apr. 8th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
I think your comment got dropped into spam because of all the links. This might, too.
I'm rather passionate about trans* rights, yes. Two of my closest friends are trans* (one trans, the other genderqueer).

So, the first one you link I actually agree with. Men as a whole don't get a say in what women do with their bodies. Individual men, the one the pregnant woman is sleeping with, get to have an opinion about the specific instance, but not the final say. (This is called personal autonomy. If one believes that women are people, women must be conferred all the rights of people, including personal autonomy.) The issue is that people who don't know a blessed thing about an individual circumstance and who can't even get pregnant (like, say, a group of CELIBATE MEN) are bloviating about what every woman every where should do with her body. That, as they say, is just not on. So no, Mr Random Stranger On The Internet, or Mr Congressman Who's Not Even From My State, or Mr Rush Limbaugh, you DON'T get a say in what I do with my body, or what Cat Valente does with HER body.

The idea that a gay man can't arbitrate beauty is pretty ridiculous. They've been bombarded with the same ridiculous societal nonsense as the rest of us. But there's a known thread of misogyny in the gay male community, and it wouldn't surprise me if the original comment that the nth reply was to involved "That girl is a hot mess, what an ugly dog." Sorry if I don't feel like going back through a random forum. (Also? Forums are well known as the armpit of the internet. Video game forums are horrid.)

That Skepchick thread is telling a man who is defending some serious misogyny (rape "jokes") to ... stop making comments defending misogyny. There's not a whole lot wrong with that.

No. (cis) Men will really truly never understand what it's like to be smaller and less able to defend themselves against an attacker bent on raping them. Men will really truly never understand what it's like to be bombarded with messages that if she had just not worn that dress/not worn those jeans/not walked across the quad by herself after dark/not had anything to drink at that party/not been alone in the room with him she would have been safe because that dirty slag brought that rape on herself. Men will never experience what it's like to be a woman in the context you quoted.

Were you raised in the culture of fear that women were? Were you taught as a teenager to always carry your keys in your hand with the metal sticking out in case someone jumped out at you? Were you taught to always park under a streetlight? Were you taught to always be aware of all your surroundings just in case? Or any other of the 189 things women do every day to prevent rape? Likely not.

THAT'S the point Cat was making, you see. There are things, emotional, gut-level things, lizard-brain things, that women experience that (cis) men can't. There are gut-level things that black people experience that white people can't.

Are you familiar with CJ Cherryh's Foreigner universe? The aliens, the atevi, aren't wired for friendship or love; they have man'chi, which is a sort of respect or loyalty owed to someone higher. Humans can't feel man'chi at the gut level. Atevi can't feel friendship at the gut level.

This is the same thing.

(edited to fix html)

Edited at 2012-04-08 11:10 pm (UTC)


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