Racism, misogyny, and those nasty Italian Fascists

A couple weeks before I made the switchover to Freethought Blogs, there was an internet dustup between Greta Christina and DJ Grothe (President of the James Randi Educational Foundation). I started a post series on it, then put the series on hold while the change over happened, and now the blog conversation has already shifted away from the specific DJ/Greta thing.

I only managed one post where I did much real commentary, titled “Yes, but sometimes it’s appropriate to say ‘yes but.’” Go read that for some background to this post (the other two posts I wrote were preliminaries where I didn’t say much of anything). Given that I’m at a new blog and the conversation has moved on, what I’m about to write doesn’t quite feel like a continuation of the series, but it’s on the same general topic. And with all that throat-clearing out of the way…

I would have thought it obvious that accusations of misogyny are not to be made lightly, and that making baseless accusations of misogyny is a fairly seriously bad thing to do. But lately, I’ve seen bloggers here at Freethought Blogs saying things that suggest they think accusations of misogyny aren’t a big deal. So I want to talk about that.

This has nothing to do with “tone” or anything like that. I have no trouble with anyone being harshly critical of anyone when they can back up their criticisms. The problem, rather, is with baseless attacks. The most basic reason I think baseless attacks are bad is because I’m generally pro-truth and pro-basing-your-beliefs-on-reason-and-evidence.

That’s not the full story on why baseless attacks are bad, though. In some contexts, polite lies in particular, you can plausibly argue that other things are more important than truth. Maybe that’s not right–Sam Harris’ Lying makes a surprisingly strong case that even most polite lies do more harm than good–but at least with polite lies, there’s a sliver lining to straying from the rigorously pro-truth position: helping people get along, protecting others’ self-esteem, etc.

With baseless attacks, however, there is no such silver lining. Their only side effects are to create ill-will, do unfair damage to someone’s reputation, and possibly discourage people from hearing out a valuable viewpoint. And the amount of harm done is going to be to some extent proportional to the seriousness of the accusation. In our society, misogyny is rightly regarded as a seriously bad thing, and this makes baseless accusations of misogyny at least somewhat seriously bad.

But maybe these sort of abstract arguments aren’t the right way to persuade people that they shouldn’t make accusations of misogyny lightly. Lucky for me, towards the end of last week, fate handed me a great example to make the point at a more gut-level way: an article by Be Scofield about how the Gnu Atheists are, in Ophelia Benson’s summary, “privileged homophobic racist imperialists”:

Be Scofield tweeted me about a new article of his at Tikkun, apparently hoping I would dislike it enough to give it publicity by saying why I dislike it. Ok, sure, why not. I do dislike it. Why do I dislike it? Well because it quite unbashfully calls “the New Atheists” racist.

Greta and PZ have joined Ophelia in expressing their exasperation about this article, and I’m totally with them. But I’d like to add that anyone who thinks accusations of misogyny are no big deal should take a look at Scofield’s piece, and Ophelia’s and Greta’s and PZ’s reactions to it, because when you toss around accusations of misogyny carelessly, you’ll often end up looking a lot like Be Scofield (at least to anyone who stops to ask whether the accusations are really justified.)

Ophelia indicates being called racist is enough for her to dislike the piece, and this is a perfectly reasonable reaction for her to have. After all, she’s knows she’s not racist. Similarly, when you toss around accusations of misogyny casually, you’re going to piss off a lot of people who think, “hey, I know I’m not a misogynist.”

At the beginning of this post I said I think some of the bloggers here don’t seem to think accusations of misogyny are much of a big deal. Now I’m going to give an example, from Jason Thibeault:

When pointed to behaviours that disadvantage women disproportionately, you don’t balk at the use of the word misogynist — that sort of objection ignores the grievous crime against women, acting as though the crime of poor language (if it is even poor language) supercedes or is more important than the misogynist behaviour at hand.

Uh, no. Disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something misogyny doesn’t mean ignoring misogyny, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual misogyny. Any more than disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something racist means ignoring racism, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual racism.

There are also a number of poor rationales for accusations of misogyny floating around. The “yes but” thing is one example, and there’s another one I want to talk about, also from Jason talking about Elevatorgate:

She [Stef McGraw] was using an argument used by real misogynists in the process — and in exactly the same way that misogynists use the argument. She did not say that Stef is herself misogynist or a bad feminist, only that she had used an argument that misogynists use. That Rebecca pointed out that a student leader and feminist could fall prey to the very arguments that anti-woman idiots use themselves is a painful lesson for Stef to learn in public (especially as an example of how student leaders should learn to be better leaders), but even if Rebecca had taken Stef aside privately and suggested she rethink her rebuttal, Rebecca would have been treated as every inch the bully as how she was treated for having done it the way she did.

Now, it’s not true that all Rebecca did was say Stef had used an argument that misogynists used. What Rebecca said was that Stef had engaged in “parroting of misogynistic thought.” (Transcript of the talk in question here.) This is a very important distinction. To illustrate why, I’m going to quote from a Harry Potter fanfic:

It was very hard for Harry to control his breathing. “Professor Quirrell, I said a good deal less than I wished to say, but I had to say something. Your proposals are extremely alarming to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with Muggle history over the last century. The Italian fascists, some very nasty people, got their name from the fasces, a bundle of rods bound together to symbolize the idea that unity is strength -”

“So the nasty Italian fascists believed that unity is stronger than division,” said Professor Quirrell. Sharpness was beginning to creep into his voice. “Perhaps they also believed that the sky is blue, and advocated a policy of not dropping rocks on your head.”

(The source, by the way, is Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, by Eliezer Yudkowsky of Less Wrong and Singularity Institute fame. Even if, like me, you don’t normally read fanfiction, the entire fic is strongly recommended for skeptics. Cf. Jen’s recommendation.)

The point is that not everything the fascists believed was false and evil. It would be hard to go through life only ever doing, saying, or believing false and evil things. Thus, not everthing the fascists believed was a fascist belief. Similarly, not everything thunk by misogynists is a misogynist thought, and not every argument used by misogynists is a misogynist argument.

Because of this, for Jason to suggest that “Stef used an argument that misogynists use” is, in itself, grounds for criticism is ridiculous. And as with the point about about baseless accusations and racism, this is a point that should be especially easy for atheists to grasp. Stalin was an atheist, but Stalin probably didn’t believe in fairies either. Don’t engage in the same kind of ridiculous rhetoric that atheists get on a regular basis from believers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601430147 timdiaz

    It’s hard to take a blog post that quotes a HP fanfic in any way seriously. Sort of killed all that careful setup you’d done.

    • Pteryxx

      Hey, not everything written in a fanfic is automatically trivial.

      >_>

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Yes, but HPMOR is special.

      I was considering linking to the Hitler Ate Sugar page on TVTropes instead, but it just didn’t have quite the same zing as Eliezer’s bit of dialog.

    • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

      Try reading the thing. If, after doing so, you still think your criticism is warranted, so be it. But there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t still agree with what you just wrote here.

    • P Smith

      The only difference between quoting a fanfic and quoting from Homer or Shakespeare is how many people revere and like it. If one quote is invalid because it comes from fiction, then they all are.

      Making a point through fiction is the same no matter who does it. The validity of the point is what matters.

      .

  • Kevin

    Well, I think the primary objection I have to your argument is that sometimes people claim to not be racist/misogynist/whateverist…and they’re wrong. (Not Ophelia, Greta or anyone else attacked by Scofield, of course.)

    Unconscious “ism” born of privilege is the most difficult to overcome…precisely because those people do not recognize their behavior and attitudes as being wrong.

    Now, I agree that not every use of the word “bitch” needs to be followed by a 111eleventy-post flame war about misogyny. But there is a certain amount of consciousness-raising that’s both appropriate and necessary.

    If I don’t realize my behavior is offensive, how can I change?

    And that is the crux of the entire “guys, don’t do that” kerfuffle. That guy probably didn’t know what he was doing was inappropriate. That doesn’t mark him as a bad person worthy of tar-and-feathering and permanent expulsion from all conferences where women are in attendance. It marks him as clueless and in need of education. Those defending his behavior were in effect saying “keep the poor schlub clueless — because I’m just as clueless as he is”.

    • Happiestsadist

      That’s kind of the thing. Misogyny, like racism, cissexism and heterocentrism is institutionalized. We all (yes, ALL) have some of this shit in our consciousness.

      So no, I’m really not seeing how some dude gets to say that accusations of misogyny are so frequently baseless when we live in cultures steeped in it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

        It’s a special case of the general principle that people are allowed to have opinions.

        • Happiestsadist

          Of course you have your opinion, don’t try to pretend I’m some straw-fascist.

          BUT, would it perhaps make some sense that as a guy in a really, really, really misogynist (no, I don’t believe calling something what it is should be reserved as the nuclear option) culture, you might be somewhat less keenly aware of what is misogynist than perhaps someone who is more directly affected by it?

          • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

            Oh please. Your original comment clearly implied I don’t “get to” state my opinion because I’m a “dude.”

            EDIT: I’m willing to allow that your second comment better reflects what you really meant, but if so, think a bit more about how you phrase things.

          • http://themidwestatheist.blogspot.com Leo Buzalsky

            I’m going to have to agree with Stacy who suggested Chris has difficulties with reading comprehension.

            No, Chris, I disagree that Happiestsadist meant “gets to” as in “is allowed to.” I read it as meaning “is justified.” In which case, it had nothing to do with you being allowed to express your opinion, but was instead a way to object to your opinion under the idea that you are likely not recognizing misogyny due to overexposure to misogyny. (Which they cleared up in their second comment.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

            @Leo: in which case HS would be basically saying “How could your opinion possibly be justified? You’re a dude.”

      • twooffour

        “That’s kind of the thing. Misogyny, like racism, cissexism and heterocentrism is institutionalized. We all (yes, ALL) have some of this shit in our consciousness.

        So no, I’m really not seeing how some dude gets to say that accusations of misogyny are so frequently baseless when we live in cultures steeped in it.”

        And you know what’s the consequence of “our culture being steeped in it”, and lots of people being aware of that?
        THAT PEOPLE WILL SEE IS WHERE IT ISN’T THERE.

        How can they “frequently” be baseless? Because LOTS OF MEN AREN’T MISOGYNISTIC. And because people out to get misogynistic thought can often find false positives, or sometimes just aren’t very smart.
        For example, if a man criticizes a woman’s arguments, and someone leaps on him for being “misogynistic” – that’s the type of thing I’m talking about.

        So yes, he gets to say it. Many misogyny accusations ARE baseless. Use your rational mind to distinguish between criticisms of false accusations, and attempts to “cover up” misogyny, not some one-size-fits-em-all “dood, you should shut it” handwave.

        “you might be somewhat less keenly aware of what is misogynist than perhaps someone who is more directly affected by it?”

        Of course. But a man is less aware of what a woman actually experiences.
        If a statement or action that most definitely isn’t misogynistic is called misogynistic due to a misconception or fallacy, a guy can spot that. Maybe he’ll be wrong due to some form of ignorance (or cognitive failure), but it’s the beginning of discourse.

        And just to have it said, I have no clue what happened there at that conference; this is a general comment, for all I care, “Chris” could be completely wrong about his evaluation of that situation.

      • twooffour

        “That’s kind of the thing. Misogyny, like racism, cissexism and heterocentrism is institutionalized. We all (yes, ALL) have some of this shit in our consciousness.

        So no, I’m really not seeing how some dude gets to say that accusations of misogyny are so frequently baseless when we live in cultures steeped in it.”

        By analogy – you agree that misandry exists, too, right? Maybe even to the same extent among women (that doesn’t negate the male-favoring power disbalance).
        After all, the “male privilege”, “patriarchy”, the prominence and statistics of male-on-female abuse, all contribute to misandry and prejudices against men, too, right?

        And it’s all “permeated” in society and culture, right? So, would you say that there are no invalid accusations of misandry? Or that women have no right to say that they aren’t being sexist when accused of sexism?
        Feminism gets accused of misandry a lot, would you say feminists can’t defend themselves?

        Thought so.
        When someone tells about their negative experiences, always listen; never divert.
        But with given information, there’s no reason to be afraid to point out fallacies, especially in public discussion (compare to personal conversation).

        There’s no Cartesian Demon of misogyny controlling all of our minds, rendering out views invalid no matter how much we may think we could back them up.

  • abear

    Chris; Excellent post.

  • Pteryxx

    Similarly, not everything thunk by misogynists is a misogynist thought, and not every argument used by misogynists is a misogynist argument.

    But the misogynist thoughts and arguments, are. Even if the person’s just parroting something they heard and assumed to be true without realizing how wrong it was. Propagating a misogynist fallacy is still propagating the fallacy, and all the cognitive errors that result from it.

    Natalie Reed just posted about the same phenomenon:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/01/30/passability-and-the-toupee-fallacy/

    This is one of the reasons why skepticism plays a very important role in social justice and human rights issues. “Simple” fallacies can quickly blossom into very dangerous, snowballing chain-reactions of ideas, beliefs, conceptions, preconceptions. It’s also interesting how even an entire culture’s superficial conception of one of its component sub-groups can be so starkly defined by a fallacy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      I read Natalie’s post this afternoon and liked it. I don’t see how it makes the things Jason wrote any more defensible.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    It is not true that Jason said that was “all” Rebecca did. Frankly, if you read that transcript, you can note that Rebecca also pointed out why this argument was wrong, how it hurt female atheists specifically, and–by extension–why it constituted misogyny.

    In other words, nobody was using the word “misogyny” carelessly or incorrectly. Did you mean to write that we should be terribly careful in using the word “parroting”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

    (1) Sure, Jason didn’t use the word “all.” He used the word “only.”

    (2) Being wrong doesn’t entail being misogyny.

    (3) Rebecca’s explanation of how Stef’s comments allegedly hurt women were based on the ridiculously unfair and insulting summary of Stef’s views as believing that “that a woman’s reasonable expectation to feel safe from sexual objectification and assault at skeptic and atheist events is outweighed by a man’s right to sexually objectify her.” That’s not even an attempt at a decent justification for her description.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    Not even an attempt? Are you reading minds now, Chris? Or does the impetus toward caution and fairness only apply one-sidedly?

    Not only is it an attempt, it’s an answer. “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her.” That’s a quote from Stef. Stef objected to Rebecca objecting to being hit on when she didn’t want to be and had made that abundantly clear. You know, “Don’t do that.” Is Rebecca allowed to say that in Stef’s book? No, she’s not, because it “demoniz[es] men for being sexual beings.” Also a quote from Stef.

    So Rebecca may not make a general statement telling guys not to objectify her at conferences and put her in situations in which she has a reasonable fear of sexual assault (based on her desires already being ignored) because it is more important not to “demonize” the man objectifying her for being a sexual being. In other words, what Rebecca said. And what Stef said. They are the same thing.

    • Stacy

      One would almost think Mr. Hallquist has difficulty reading for comprehension.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

    The “misogynist argument” in question is the primacy of a man’s right to flirt without repercussions. Rebecca said “don’t do that”. Stef McGraw said “how dare you tell men to not be sexual creatures”. The “parroting” comes from — whether by accident or because she’s been infected by the meme that men have the right to flirt without repercussions — the fact that the identical argument is used in different circumstances, to argue that a man has a certain privilege to flirt regardless of the repercussions for that woman, because nobody seems to realize that flirting with someone has repercussions for the target as well as for the person doing the flirting.

    If I link you to another post of mine arguing that universal statements are not always actually universal, would you drop this linguistic prescriptivism and understand that maybe, just maybe, doing things that are expressly misogynistic is slightly more reprehensible than using a word that you happen to disagree with?

    You might also want to read Vilifying dissent, including all the comments, and understand that I am, in fact, arguing that one can damn people for exactly what they are and still use words differently from one another. If someone acts misanthropically, for instance, one can be called a misanthrope even if they do not hate or distrust all humans. Through that thread, I learned that “misogynist” does not mean “actively hates all women” but, rather, means what it does in the link in the first blockquote you pulled from one of mine, where I pointed to Stephanie’s explanation of misogyny.

    • twooffour

      “to argue that a man has a certain privilege to flirt regardless of the repercussions for that woman, because nobody seems to realize that flirting with someone has repercussions for the target as well as for the person doing the flirting.”

      I absolutely agree with that. After a “no”, flirting is an absolute no-go, and doing it in a “lonely location” (unless you’re friends or whatever) is generally a very bad idea.
      Some environments like workplaces can be sometimes inappropriate, although people can disagree on that – the main point there is that the woman is fully respected as a person and a worker. As soon as the sex drive gets in the way of that, it’s out of place.

      It’s interesting, however, how this applies the other way round.
      Like, would anyone say that a woman has “the privilege” to flirt with men at any point?
      And if yes, would anyone say it’s a bad thing, or as bad as male-on-female? You know… like “sometimes it can be annoying, but mostly just that”.

      Would men react as negatively to being approached by women (let’s just say size and strength are equal, or in the woman’s favor) just “anywhere”, or even after “they said no”?
      Have the women be a little persistent? Would the men feel threatened or “really objectified and uncomfortable”, or merely just “annoyed and unnerved”?

      As far as I know, there’s no standard in society that “women should not just flirt with men”. Not even as an aspect of the misogynistic “woman should stay in her place” mentality in whatever instance is shows up.
      Some single douchebag men may feel that way, but is it, like, widespread?

      So, do men complain? Does anyone on this site write posts about how women should respect men’s private space?

      Is this maybe a bit of “justified inequality”, or am I seeing things wrong?
      Like, when I see a man annoying a woman I immediately get this sick feeling in my mouth – but I’ve got no such problem with the reverse situation (in general, obviously), and a man getting annoyed and rude as a reaction to that would still come off as a douchebag.

      Seems just “right” to me, but it appears almost illogical (“almost” because the sexual assault statistics are still tilted against men).

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

    Jason,

    I had read the post of Stephanie’s prior to writing my own, and I think the accusations of misogyny I’ve seen tossed around here are inaccurate even under her definition.

    Saying this isn’t advocating “linguistic prescriptivism,” it’s just being pro-accuracy.

    I agree that “doing things that are expressly misogynistic is slightly more reprehensible than using a word that you happen to disagree with.” The fact that you would imply otherwise disturbs me, and makes me wonder if it’s at all worth trying to engage with you here. I think I was pretty clear about that when I said:

    Disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something misogyny doesn’t mean ignoring misogyny, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual misogyny. Any more than disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something racist means ignoring racism, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual racism.

    What was unclear about that paragraph?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

      Which specific accusations are inaccurate under Stephanie’s definition, Chris? And how are they inaccurate?

      The part that was unclear about that paragraph was the part in a different paragraph where you said what I said was indefensible because it disagrees with your understanding of the word misogyny, which also disagrees with Stephanie’s definition.

      I’d strongly encourage you to read Villifying Dissent, including all the comments. In the case of this post, exactly as with where I went wrong with Villifying Dissent, the difference is in how quick we can recognize and correctly damn someone for what they’re doing. It’s pattern recognition. I agree that there might be some small percentage in pointing out that people are doing misogynist things, instead of accusing them of “being misogynists”, but when the same person does the same misogynist things over and over again, sometimes things that quack like ducks are in fact ducks.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

        I keep re-reading Stephanie’s post, and I don’t see the big deal. She seems to think the definition of misogyny should include not just “hatred” but also “dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt.” Okay. What have I said that’s incompatible with that definition of misogyny?

        The only way I could see that you think we have a different understanding of “misogyny” is if you think misogyny isn’t analogous to racism. If so, I’d like to hear why, but that isn’t at all clear from Stephanie’s post.

        And no, I’m not reading a 100+ comment thread, not unless you give me a much better reason to. Try giving me your position in a few paragraphs.

  • Stacy

    Ophelia indicates being called racist is enough for her to dislike the piece, and this is a perfectly reasonable reaction for her to have. After all, she’s knows she’s not racist

    Your summary here is inexact. You make it sound as if Ophelia’s dislike was based on her personal feelings. What Ophelia said was

    Why do I dislike it? Well because it quite unbashfully calls “the New Atheists” racist.

    New Atheists are a group of people, and there are problems with assigning racism to a group based on the absurd criteria Scofield used in his piece. But if you read the comments to Ophelia’s post, you’ll see people there agreeing that there is in fact racism within New Atheism. It would be mighty remarkable if there weren’t, since New Atheism is made up of a bunch of people, some of whom are racist, and most of whom have no doubt internalized racist at least some attitudes. Speaking of the racism charge, Ophelia herself says in a comment

    Agreed, he does have a grain of a point, and even more than a grain

    So you’ve misrepresented Ophelia’s words and Ophelia’s argument in order to prop up your own argument.

    • Stacy

      Should read, “most of whom have no doubt internalized at least some racist attitudes.”

  • http://themidwestatheist.blogspot.com Leo Buzalsky

    Now, it’s not true that all Rebecca did was say Stef had used an argument that misogynists used. What Rebecca said was that Stef had engaged in “parroting of misogynistic thought.”…This is a very important distinction.

    It is?

    parrot: To repeat or imitate, especially without understanding

    Yeah, I’m not really seeing a big difference here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Because not all arguments used by misogynists are “misogynistic thoughts.” That’s the distinction.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

        Not all of them need to be for your accusations to be inaccurate. Just the one example you’re talking about. You’ve had it explained to you how this is misogynistic.

        If you’ve got more examples, feel free to put them out there. We may agree with you. We may tell you what you’re missing about them, as I did with this one.

        That’s the point of Jason suggesting you read that comment thread, by the way. Jason made a similar suggestion that “misogyny” was being overused, but under further scrutiny, his examples didn’t support the idea. Along the way, he had it pointed out to him that people who spend a lot of time dealing with misogyny in a hands-on way learn to recognize certain patterns and dogwhistles. That can make them hypersensitive, but it also gives them a certain expertise that frequently makes it wise to ask when you’re not seeing the same things they are.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

          In point of fact, one of the two examples I used of people “overstating their case”, KvdH, turned out to be this guy. That makes my not recognizing a misogynist an epic fail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

    @Jason: I broke down and read the entire “Vilifying Dissent” thread, and now I’m even more baffled. The OP struck me as basically sensible, if a bit muddled, and a lot of the comments attacking you were just plain dumb, in some of the same ways that other things I’ve heard people say . I have no idea how any of that persuaded you to change your position.

    In particular, I’m now even more surprised that you insinuated I think that using a word I disagree with is worse than express misogyny, since you had to deal with a similar ridiculous accusation from Josh, which you rightly objected to.

    @Both of you: I’ve been avoiding re-hashing the original Elevatorgate because I thought it was obvious that people should be able to have disagreements like the Stef/Rebecca disagreement without accusations of misogyny flying. Apparently not. I may or may not do a post on it in the future. *shrugs*

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    Chris, your argument revolves around that disagreement, because it’s the only example you gave of what you’re considering unacceptable behavior. If you’d like to make the argument that “Someone who is crossing boundaries you’ve repeatedly set is just being a sexual being, and you can’t object to that” is somehow not misogynistic on its very face, feel free. Otherwise, your argument is dead where it stands.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

    Stephanie, this was never about “unacceptable behavior.” My original points were about bad arguments Jason had made, and a re-hashing of Rebecca vs. Stef isn’t really relevant to that.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    Yes, Chris, this is about unacceptable behavior–the behavior of using language you personally don’t think is appropriate. When your example is “You shouldn’t say someone used language misogynists use because not all language associated with misogyny is misogynistic”, you want to pick an example that is not misogynistic. You didn’t do that. You picked an example that is, in itself, a misogynistic argument, for reasons given upthread. If anything, Jason’s statement about it should have been stronger and more direct.

    So, is your objection that Jason should have stated more straightforwardly that the language was misogynistic instead of using the wording he did? If that’s the case, you’re picking nits, and I don’t see why it’s worthy of a blog post. Or do you still think the word “misogyny” shouldn’t be used at all in this context? If that’s the case, I’d like you to explain why, given that both Rebecca and I went to the trouble to explain why it was.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

    I am… amazed, Chris. If that is the nub of your complaint, there’s something very wrong here. I was, in fact, being extraordinarily generous in calling the misogynist argument (an argument that expressly undermines women) an argument that misogynists use. I was, in fact, being generous to Stef McGraw, understanding that she is not misogynist herself, by calling her argument something that misogynists use to undermine women, rather than saying her argument was misogynistic. Your entire blog post makes the mistake of arguing that I am, in fact, arguing that this is wrong because misogynists argue it, when I am actually saying that it is an argument that misogynists use and it is wrong because it is misogynistic. The fact that misogynists use it in all seriousness means the argument deserves further scrutiny, and people who do not wish to act misogynistically should be careful not to use misogynist arguments — which are misogynist arguments because they hurt women, not because misogynists use it.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/ Jason Thibeault

    What Steph said. Essentially what I just tried to say, but far more comprehensible in that it doesn’t use the word “misogynist” a billion times.

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  • Sam Rosen

    “Uh, no. Disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something misogyny doesn’t mean ignoring misogyny, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual misogyny. Any more than disagreeing about the accuracy of labeling something racist means ignoring racism, or thinking that the crime of a baseless accusation is worse than actual racism.”

    This paragraph was brilliant Chris. Keep writing good stuff.


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