Saturday, September 20, 2014

What Is Clean-Armpit Feminism?

"You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." - Male proverb

Clean-Armpit Feminism is what we get when we ask: what is the ideal state of female resistance under male supremacy from the perspective of men who, upon noticing that women have the capacity to substantially resist, are seeking to negotiate the best outcome for themselves? The quintessential Clean-Armpit Feminism is that which men refer to when we stress that "not all feminists are those bra-burning, armpit-hairy radicals from the 60s". Clean-Armpit Feminism does not exist in reality -- it is an ideal that men seek to lead women into, and the ideal is as varied as pandemic male violence in general. But as with male violence, I believe one can find common shared values among disparate Clean-Armpit Feminisms, including: the view of prostitution and pornography as neutral or positive phenomena, the view of femininity and heterosexuality as innately positive, the denial of gender socialization as a global phenomenon, the oppression of men, various ideas about "the purpose of feminism", the existence of women who are "too militant" in their reaction to male supremacy or otherwise unacceptably at some extreme, and, naturally, the right of men to exist in women's activism and theory.

Excerpt from a Clean-Armpit Feminism sermon
It is important to stress that Clean-Armpit Feminism, like femininity, is a theoretical existence, and doesn't actually have anything to do with women's resistance, given that it exists entirely in the minds of individual men. No woman could perfectly satisfy the expectations of this male "feminism", as it would usually require e.g. advocating for indefensible positions and completely rejecting basic human rights. And as the name implies, Clean-Armpit Feminism usually also includes the need to strive toward achieving femininity; any deviation from the ideal feminine body and mannerisms would be suspect of being a "rabid militant" feminist statement.

Men coerce women into conforming to a Clean-Armpit Feminism through dozens of discrete tactics (it's hard to know when to publish this post, because it will probably never be comprehensive). A lawyer could probably recognize more of these than I could, and word them better, but I will try to list the most obvious and common ones:

1. Threatening isolation - This sort of emotional manipulation attempts to impose on the woman's mind the scenario in which her fellow women will isolate her if she continues to deviate from the male's Clean-Armpit Feminism. If a woman is too "militant", other women won't join her cause, so she better tone it down. Obviously, it's a fact that if one woman can come to a conclusion about the needs of resistance, it is possible that other women can come to the same conclusion -- attempting to convince a woman otherwise is to engage in what could be categorized as gas-lighting. Is what she experienced really so extreme that it warrants the sorts of things she's doing? Is it really worth it?

2. Threatening conservatism - The specter of conservatism of is an extremely powerful tool of men who seek to impose their will on self-identified feminists, at least in the United States and Canada. Conservatism is the general category that, for many women, encapsulates systems of violence such as Christian purity culture, in which men are enabled to rape and terrorize women in their own family. To advocate views out of a "conservative" ideology is to be wrong by the very physics of human dignity. Naturally then, men with Clean-Armpit Feminisms to promote attempt to characterize every unsavory position that a woman takes as a "conservative" one. If women express concern over the safety of their prostituted fellow women, they are "prudes" who are no better than the "Puritans" who seek to "attack" prostitution and on the grounds that it is unholy/inappropriate and "attack sex workers" for their crimes. If women question if male viewing of heterosexual hardcore pornography from very young ages affects their view of women in a way that is not necessarily positive or neutral, they are no better than the Republicans who seek to deny the raped woman an abortion -- just as this woman's ability to choose must be a legal right, women must "respect" the "freedom" of the prostituted woman, they must "honor" of  the "choice" of the woman in pornography. To refuse to do so is to channel conservatism without even realizing it; such is the only explanation. Men heavily impose this strawman of disgusting and deliberate power to distract from the very real violence, coercion, and male socialization in the pornography and prostitution industries.

3. Threatening inhumanity - Many men's Clean-Armpit Feminisms include the notion that men are "oppressed too" (if they are willing to work with the notion that women are oppressed) or "suffer" comparatively to women (if they don't want to bother manipulating around silly words like "oppression" -- see "Threatening isolation"). This axiom is often meant as a stepping stone to other notions, such as how men "should be included in feminism" or "need feminism". If women do not acknowledge that men are "hurt by patriarchy" or are oppressed too, there is the risk of seeming indifferent to the many individual men who experience violence in ways that can be reasoned to be part of the system they are resisting; men who "are raped" in prison, for example, or men who "are told" they can't cry. This is emotional coercion, as evidenced by the complete obfuscation of who is responsible for all of this violence -- that is, other men. Other men rape men in prison, other men tell men to bottle their emotions. But this is usually not a very Clean-Armpit Feminist thing to notice.

4. Threatening male isolation - Men will often stress the need for conformity to their Clean-Armpit Feminism with the implicit notion that women's resistance must be appealing to men. If a woman says the wrong things, or says the right things in the wrong way, it will just turn men off (that is, turn them off to "our movement"). Men will impose fantasies such as masses of our less enlightened male peers "joining the movement" and all slowly educating ourselves into not being rapists or pro-rape. To deviate from any part of the Clean-Armpit Feminism is to repel these men, and attracting men is necessary. Which leads us to:

5. Threatening violence - When part of a man's Clean-Armpit Feminism is questioned (and at some point it always happens), it is common that he will expose the conditional nature of his supposed solidarity and accuse the offending woman/women of lacking gratitude that he is "on women's side" to begin with. The implication is that if he can not impose his Clean-Armpit Feminism, and if women do not allow more men to do the same, the only place for him and the rest of the men to go is back into the explicitly woman-hating hoard. The implication is that to do anything that may repel men from "our movement" is to create abusers and rapists. The woman is ultimately to blame for insufficiently marketing her feminism.

6. Fallacy of gradualism - This is the simple fallacy that oppressed people in the past are always less intelligent and effective than those who are alive and active today -- that they have only improved on those who came before them in a gradual process of refinement. Despite being wrong, this rule is, to quote Marina S, part of the "progressive paradigm: that the world naturally tends towards more equal and just conditions on a liberal progression towards ultimate equality." Men will pejoratively associate deviations from their Clean-Armpit Feminism with "second-wave feminists" or other women who are no longer popular, but were more popular in the past. Because women's activism today is newer, anything resembling the older, obviously ineffective theory and practice can be automatically rejected. You are a dinosaur -- get with the times! There is also often an implicit threat of racism -- second-wave feminists were recorded as being mostly white women, and so to be channeling the "second-wavers" is to be associated with whiteness, despite how the Clean-Armpit Feminism violation in question never has anything to do with race. If it was popular with white women, how could it have any credibility?

7. Threatening misogyny - Usually appearing in concert with tactics like threatening conservatism, men charge women with hatred of their fellow women when they criticize things in which women take part and that the men wish to defend, prominent examples being the pornography and prostitution industries and BDSM communities. These charges are never honest; the mindset involved in their bringing is transparently that of taking advantage of a convenience. This convenience, specifically, is the power within charges of misogyny in settings of women's resistance, or in male liberal lefty circles. In the male "progressive" "movement", nobody wants to "be" any of the scary words; there are only a tiny amount of strikes (one? three?) between "being misogynist" and "being a misogynist". Male "progressivism" refuses to imagine events and ideas as anti-woman; there are only individuals, who can be roughly categorized as the misogynists, the non-misogynists (i.e. whichever man is the decider), and the being-misogynist-right-now-and-better-stop. On the other hand, a declaration that an idea or action is woman-hating exposes the opportunity to question why it is woman-hating. "She promotes anti-woman ideas" is less impressive and scary than "she is anti-woman". In a manner that reminds one of the Israeli government propaganda's perversion of the word "anti-Semitism," male charges of misogyny often take forms such as "anti-sex-worker". If a man coined the term "sex worker", it was likely so he could stick "anti-" in front of it.

8. Threatening fascism - In many male lefty circles, "fascist" is a pejorative for the people to which those men are supposedly being reactionary. Therefore, if you're really a Comrade, to resemble the Fascists at all is to go against what your community stands for. Many men, noticing this, will threaten non-conforming women with the charge of being "fascist" instead of (or in addition to) threatening with conservatism. Fascism, of course, is associated with people like Adolf Hitler. Do you want to be publicly accused of being Hitler-like? Didn't think so, now stop talking about porn.

9. Threatening improper heterosexuality - Men will often respond to women who criticize any aspect of male sexual practices and institutions with accusations or innuendo of failure to achieve heterosexual success. These attacks range from the transparent charges of "needing to get laid," through more academically passable pejoratives like "sexless," all the way to the sly innuendo within references to "those separatist lesbian feminists". Women are coerced physically and emotionally to perform and conform to heterosexuality every day starting well before puberty; a man who finds that a woman is deviating from his Clean-Armpit Feminism can put his hands on these deeply rooted mechanisms of control and steer her toward him.

These tactics all work via common logical fallacies, but it is not so much the fallacies that are notable as it is the way each tactic takes advantage of a social context of fear: the fear of being a bad person, the fear of being irrelevant, the fear of not belonging, the fear of not surviving. These fears are justifiable and universal loopholes in the resolve of an honest human being, that men will take advantage of in response to feeling any degree of threat. In the male geometry of Clean-Armpit Feminism, these fears secure the faces of the polyhedron in which women's thoughts and acts must be confined. So what is the anti-fear? Is it love?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Will women ever be human?

1947 (emphasis added):
Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salva reverentia) as a virile member of society. If the centre of his dress-consciousness were his cod-piece, his education directed to making him a spirited lover and meek paterfamilias; his interests held to be natural only in so far as they were sexual. If from school and lecture-room, Press and pulpit, he heard the persistent outpouring of a shrill and scolding voice, bidding him remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with seduction, how to play bridge without incurring the suspicion of impotence. If, instead of allowing with a smile that “women prefer cavemen,” he felt the unrelenting pressure of a whole social structure forcing him to order all his goings in conformity with that pronouncement.  
He would hear (and would he like hearing?) the female counterpart of Dr. P*** informing him: “I am no supporter of the Horseback Hall doctrine of ‘gun-tail, plough-tail and stud’ as the only spheres for masculine action; but we do need a more definite conception of the nature and scope of man’s life.” In any book on sociology he would find, after the main portion dealing with human needs and rights, a supplementary chapter devoted to “The Position of the Male in the Perfect State.” His newspaper would assist him with a “Men’s Corner,” telling him how, by the expenditure of a good deal of money and a couple of hours a day, he could attract the girls and retain his wife’s affection; and when he had succeeded in capturing a mate, his name would be taken from him, and society would present him with a special title to proclaim his achievement. People would write books called, “History of the Male,” or “Males of the Bible,” or “The Psychology of the Male,” and he would be regaled daily with headlines, such as “Gentleman-Doctor’s Discovery,” “Male-Secretary Wins Calcutta Sweep,” “Men-Artists at the Academy.” If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: “Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.” [...] 
He would be edified by solemn discussions about “Should Men Serve in Drapery Establishments?” and acrimonious ones about “Tea-Drinking Men”; by cross-shots of public affairs “from the masculine angle,” and by irritable correspondence about men who expose their anatomy on beaches (so masculine of them), conceal it in dressing-gowns (too feminine of them), think about nothing but women, pretend an unnatural indifference to women, exploit their sex to get jobs, lower the tone of the office by their sexless appearance, and generally fail to please a public opinion which demands the incompatible. And at dinner-parties he would hear the wheedling, unctuous, predatory female voice demand: “And why should you trouble your handsome little head about politics?”  
If, after a few centuries of this kind of treatment, the male was a little self-conscious, a little on the defensive, and a little bewildered about what was required of him, I should not blame him. If he presented the world with a major social problem, I should scarcely be surprised. It would be more surprising if he retained any rag of sanity and self-respect. (from Dorothy L. Sayers' essay "The Human-Not-Quite-Human")

The Telegraph has been deemed sexist on social media, after a headline about Rona Fairhead being named as preferred candidate for the BBC trust chair role only referred to her as “mother of three”.
Running online with the positive title ‘Businesswoman Rona Fairhead the preferred choice for next BBC Trust chairman’ (although this should have read chairperson), the article went to print with the title ‘Mother of three poised to lead the BBC’. 
The article’s second paragraph stated that Fairhead was a ‘married mother of three’. (Ishbel Macleod, The Drum)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why is rape often called "non-consensual sex"? Part 2: CeeLo Edition

The musician/TV personality [CeeLo Green] has since deleted the tweets in which he implied that women can only be raped if they are conscious. He also compared rape to a home invasion. "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously! So WITH implies consent," Green wrote. "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!" he added.
Do this man's tweets not highlight the complications, as I wrote about last month, of mainstream culture defining rape as "sex, but without consent"? It seems to me that Green clearly operates on the widespread notion that both the rapist and the one being raped participates in the act. If rape were defined as what it is, i.e. the act of using another person for masturbation, could Green really assert that an unconscious woman can not be raped?

I recognize that my own thoughts on the definition are vague and such a definition could have consequences I'm not considering. I don't know of any feminists who have advanced the claim that rape is masturbation as a response to the "non-consensual sex" meme, but I'm not very well-read either.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is Robert Jensen wrong about men critiquing feminist women?

After watching Robert Jensen's talk on his book Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity I looked for more recent material from him. Below is his interview from June on The Bridgehead Radio:

There's unfortunately no transcript, so I'll have to type out the exchange occurring within the first several minutes of the interview myself (rough transcription):

Host: There seems then to be a bit of a split because, for example here in Canada, there's a prominent feminist who supports the legalization of prostitution as well as pornography, supporting the use of pornography as sexual liberation... what would your response to that be, then?
Jensen: Well that split within feminism has been there almost from the beginning. It's not surprising, in a complex world there are differences of opinions within any political movement and feminism is no different. I, like anyone, have to make commitments to what I believe is the best way to understand the world, and so as a man, I'm always a little hesitant to critique women in feminism. For me it seems more important to make clear what I feel is the best analysis and then speak to other men about this. And that's how I've always seen my own role in a feminist anti-pornography movement, which was to speak to men about how the culture does present us with a certain set of rewards, that are mostly short term and very material -- that is, if you accept your role as a man in patriarchy, you'll get things, you'll get certain advantages, and one of those advantages is a certain kind of access to women. But for me the challenge to men, originally the challenge to myself, and then as I became part of the movement, a broader challenge, was "Is that who we want to be? Is that consistent to our own moral principles, political principles," and even at a more basic level "Does that kind of arrangement even make us happy? Do we feel fulfilled?" 
Right. So, to the trailblazers of the growing body of men positioning themselves as charged with the duty to critique, correct, put in their place feminists who are not as pro-woman as their male selves, I ask: is Jensen's hesitation merely a matter of taste? Or perhaps, is he too soft on those sex-posi women, while wasting his time with pornsick men, when he could he helping you radicalize the movement?

Why is rape often called "non-consensual sex"?

I have for some time wondered why the phrase "non-consensual sex" is used as a stand-in for the word "rape". At first, it struck me as aesthetically incorrect. Rape being phrased as a "type of sex" just seems wrong in some way. But how else can we give a definition of rape in a sentence or phrase? Thinking about it for a while, I realized the issue:

"Sex" has always referred to an act in which more than one person (usually two people) participates. Rape only requires one participant, the rapist. One would not say that an unconscious woman who was raped "participated" in her rape. A "sexual" act involving only one person, on the other hand, is called masturbation. Rape is a form of masturbation -- to be "raped" is not to "have sex, but without consent"; it is to be used for masturbation.

This may seem like useless semantics, but does the reframing of rape as a masturbatory act not clarify its intent? The rapist does not see the victim as a human. The victim is a substitute for what the rapist would otherwise use to pleasure themselves.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What percent tolerance for allied male woman-hatred?

Fellow men like Francois Tremblay, who repeatedly use violent and/or paternalistic language in response to women disagreeing with them (see the gallery at the end of this post), bring up a question I want to discuss: what level of tolerance should there be for expressions of hatred from self-styled "male allies" against women who they believe are falsely claiming to be feminists (or are "pro-BDSM, pro-porn or pro-prostitution," or the like)? Zero tolerance, full tolerance, or somewhere in between? It seems Tremblay grapples with with edges of this question in his one of his recent posts.

What argument is there for anything but zero tolerance? If you can "talk back" to (as in, slur, hate on, violently address) women who are not radical enough for your anti-gender-male sensibilities, what stops a self-identified "sex-positive feminist" man (I talked to one of those today, it was awful) from watching you and thinking "if it's men's place to insult and swear at women who are doing feminism wrong, that means I can harass the SWERFs and TERFs at will!"?

And what if you're wrong? Imagine for a moment that you are not the Obelisk of Objectivity and that the basic principle of skepticism does in fact imply the possibility that the feminists you agree with (in Tremblay's case, self-identified radical feminists) could be wrong about whatever it is you believe the other women are wrong about. Then, I want to ask, what are you doing? You are using violent attacks to support a campaign for the relief of human suffering that does not even concern your own suffering, much less would actually address the suffering of the people in question.

But let's make believe the above concerns are moot. What level of tolerance should we allow? 100%? Can I just go ham on any woman I see who I myself determine, let's say, to quote Tremblay, "promotes genderism, the Patriarchy or the oppression of women", calling them self-hating women and that their violent ideology makes them utter fucking idiots who should get therapy for having the sufficient mental imbalance to call themselves feminists? Obviously I can't just treat a woman who I disagree with as if they were just like men who e.g. think rape should be legal. So where do you draw the line, and why? What say you, radical-"allied" men?

We shouldn't even need to employ hypotheticals for this case. If you really believe that there are women, in this male supremacist world, who are promoting ideas of male supremacy, what rational implication is there besides thinking of these women as victims of that male supremacy who you, as a man, should leave alone? Why not let women talk to, convince, educate, and even fight other women? Why do we need another man going off on women? If you're a man, why not show respect to all women?

Further, why not focus on men? If you have energy to tweet and comment about how those "fuck[ing] liberal" women should "die in a fire", you have energy to confront Charlie Glickman, Charles Clymer and all the other "feminist" men who promote the ideology you enjoy deriding women for buying into. You have finite time and resources in your life, and if you actually care about women, rather than your own ego and feel-good masculine posturing and "reputation", what is your excuse?

Gallery - Francois Tremblay and other men hate (on some) women

Yes, fuck those women. Only certain women are cool and not fuck-you-worthy.
Said in response to a "woman". Y'know,  like the class of people in Papua New Guinea who are burned as witches
Those self-hating lesbians sure are garbage, aren't they, my fellow straight man?

Not Tremblay, but the resemblance of paternalism is striking

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Debunking liberal male gender politics

I usually prefer to take a bird's eye view of things, by which I mean, trying to describe the central ideology of male "feminists" and "liberal"/"progressive" men, from which all the little lies and myths arise. But the ranks of these men are quickly filling, so I feel the need to keep a list of common claims and statements that shouldn't have to be responded to over and over. In a more honest and intellectual reality, there would be infinite variation in what people would say when they oppose something; you would never hear the same "argument" twice. This would be, to put it one way, discourse with 100% productivity. On the other hand male liberal gender politics is usually entirely unproductive, employing strawmen and association fallacy, as such tricks are usually brought out when it is necessary to defend one's power.

1. "Prostitution and human dignity are not incompatible"
This says nothing about the reality of the prostitution industry today. George Washington and Barack Obama are "not incompatible" as friends, in an imaginary world; but we live in the real world.
2. "If a woman can give something [i.e. "sex"] away for free, she should be able to charge for it as well" in response to people criticizing prostitution and the men who use it
Whether the other person/people actually support penalizing women for being in the industry is assumed. Being opposed to an industry does not imply wanting to legally punish the people who work in it.
3. "Don't judge sex workers" in response to people criticizing prostitution and the men who use it
Whether the other person/people actually condemn the women in the industry is assumed. Being opposed to an industry does not imply wanting to morally condemn the people who work in it.
4. "Porn is one of the few industries that women outearn men in, there are other industries"
This one made my head spin. The implication is that women earning more money than men on average in an industry is more important than whatever other gendered issues there might for that industry. There is more to sex-based oppression than pay inequality.
5. "Part of validating a woman's right to make her own decisions and a woman's right to express her own sexuality is that it means women should be free to choose to do porn if they so desire"
This construction ignores the feminists who assert that free choice does not exist, particularly in the case of "sex work".
6. "You know who else says that porn is icky and the people who do it are bad people? The patriarchy."
You know who else liked dogs? Hitler. Association fallacies are anti-intellectual and lazy, in addition to being, you know, fallacies.

(Quotes mean actual things men have said.)


I dedicate this work (“Debunking liberal male gender politics”) to the public domain using the Creative Commons 0 declaration.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Are You Peak Male Feminist Yet?

Are you a man unsatisfied with the inadequate extent to which you've colonized women's activism and theory? Do you find yourself wishing you could wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say confidently: "I've successfully co-opted a movement meant to address the violence and hatred from which I directly benefit"?

You've come to the right place. In this post I'm going to describe three simple practices you can start integrating into your life today to exponentially improve the degree to which you obfuscate the reality of the violent oppressive system of patriarchy, for thousands of women at a time. But first, I want to show you a man who is clearly following my three steps, without having even heard them before. As is the case wherever else there's a cent to be made, the right technique comes naturally to the pros. It may be instructive to read his tweet and try to guess at my three practices yourself -- I wholeheartedly believe that my system is not special and that anybody could discover my simple formula for success on their own:

ABC: Always Be Clyming

As the keen reader will observe, this one tweet represents a synergy of elements, some or all of which can found in most examples of effective liberal male hijacking and gaslighting. Without further ado, I will present my three principles and deconstruct how Charles' tweet is a quintessential example of each:

1. Prioritize Male Suffering (or, PMS) - A frequent mistake we men make when attempting to abuse our platforms for personal gain is to focus too much attention on women's issues. When we make "our feminism" mainly about women, we pass up a crucial opportunity to capitalize on a reality that many men miss. The key first step to understanding this wisdom is: don't get too focused on feminists and women themselves - rather, look at the reputation that feminism has in the general public. Like Charles, you will find that people (and women, which is an important point for reasons I reveal below) generally feel that "feminists don't care about men".

Why does this matter? Because, as you may have guessed, it's an opening for you. The more you fill the air with complaints and announcements about men's suffering, the more it will seem like you are doing something to help the feminist movement, and the less air there is for the pesky discussion of "women's oppression" that tends to plague feminist spaces when we aren't around. The most effective male feminists have co-opted this sort of women's language, crafting decisive slogans and non-sequiturs such as "men are oppressed too," "sexism hurts men and boys as much as women and girls" -- I'll go more into the importance of attention to feminist words and phrases in another post.

Many men have come to me flabbergasted at how effective this simple mindset has been in enhancing their campaigns of invasion into women's spaces and resistance. Why does such a small change make such a giant difference? The secret is this: women's interest in feminism stems from the violence they notice visited upon all women, and this minority group of women are desperate for other women to join them in reacting to our violence, rather than submitting. But the men before us have already cleverly convinced everybody that the general lack of feminist interest is women's own fault; so when you appease the popular notion that feminism should not be so harsh on men, and should acknowledge our suffering, you inspire a spark of hope in your marks that a few more women may become interested in feminism. In reality it is just appeasement and hijacking -- indeed, with an easy maneuver, you've made the women want what you want. This is a practically ancient principle of social engineering.

2. Inject Subtle Essentialism - Have you found the woman-hating part of Charles' tweet yet? Even myself, a seasoned expert on the strategic derailing of feminist discourse, had to reread the tweet once or twice to notice it. Here it is: "[I]t's fine to be like girls and women".

For decades, well-paid academics have pored over experimental data, trying to find the perfect way to maximize the feminist appeal of all different breeds of woman-hatred. This man was able to do it right in a single tweet, proving you don't need ivory-tower academia to poison women's organizing (though a degree always helps). The woman-hating is so straightforward, yet so brilliantly executed, that I cold devote an entire new tutorial to its details. For now I will stick to the basics, and explain how you can apply this technique more generally.

Men who are new to the business of passing misogyny off as women's liberation tend to balk at the seemingly incredible difficultly of their task. How do you even begin to dilute the established activism and theory in this new environment, where women are consciously on guard against woman-hating? As on the previous point, such men ignore the important work of the infiltrators before us. They have in fact been duped -- it is an understandable and easily fixed mistake! -- into believing in the extinction of the useful notion that femininity is natural to women, when we are actually in a whole new age of stereotype legitimization. Charles here has gauged the scene with an experienced eye; no one will question what women and girls "are like" because he and other male feminists have already done the labor of naturalizing submission and painting it as a choice. (Also notice that the phrase is at the end of a sentence: the perfect place to hide your misogyny. This general practice is a common way of drawing attention away from a part of your sentence, as a few women have unfortunately begun to realize.)

When you find yourself stuck on your gaslighting article for The Guardian, or your poorly-drawn Tumblr comic, think: am I taking full advantage of all of the new forms of femininity-essentialism on the market right now?

3. Extol Femininity - This trick both follows from and reinforces the previous two methods, which were heretofore unrelated. Fittingly, this technique is most strongly realized in the "kicker" of Charles' tweet; it is truly the most potent of the male feminist trinity.

You may wonder how this method exactly integrates the previous two. Are you taking notes? Ok, here's the rub: by first switching the focus to men's suffering upon performance of femininity, and then naturalizing it for women, you have already set up the perfect conditions to completely reverse any consciousness of patriarchal reality for any woman who is listening (in Charles' case, thousands). Charles, being the master he is, automatically flows into this conclusion; with practice, you can in a short time approach his level of intuition for abusive rhetoric.

"Femininity is not bad" -- Clymer has clearly taken cues, as any pro does, from the propagandists of history. The best male feminists deeply understand that from every woman's birth, us men have successfully imposed femininity upon her; and throughout her life we have blackmailed and terrorized her into adhering to femininity's (read: our) demands. But until recently, we have found it difficult to explicitly sell femininity to women, which, if perfected, would constitute a total revolution in the art and science of subordination. Charles is a pioneer of this new practice, which comes at a time when the meager feminist critiques of femininity are almost totally wiped from history and silenced in the present day, thanks to the wonders of modern pseudoscience.

Study this tweet well and you will soon find yourself working the sale of femininity, the centering of male experience, and the sly stereotyping of women into your daily male feminist routine, opening up countless doors to new opportunities. Tell me your success story in the comments section below.


I dedicate this work (“Are You Peak Male Feminist Yet?”) to the public domain using the Creative Commons 0 declaration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why won't Charlie Glickman listen to feminists?

Charlie Glickman is a "sexuality educator" and author with a blog, where, among other things, he pleads for prostitution abolitionists to "listen to sex workers". While this request* is within the context of a narrative that I'll leave to another post, it has some objective merit on its own: it is important to listen to the members of marginalized groups of people of which you are not a part, to learn about realities that you will never be faced with. Right? Isn't this where Glickman is coming from? If it is, does Glickman apply this principle consistently?

In January, several months prior to his post on prostitution abolition, Glickman was given the perfect opportunity to showcase the extent to which he actually holds this value: Melissa McEwan, a woman and a feminist, wrote an entry called "I Have a Suggestion" at the feminist blog Shakesville in which she criticizes the straight male narrative of "creepiness" as a quality of individual men who are attracted to and approach women (rather than, you know, disrespect for boundaries and tendency to harass), and straightforwardly asks men not to write articles through this narrative:
If you want to have a serious talk with men about their interactions with women, you can't use language that very few of the men who need to take this lesson believe applies to them.
She then advises these men to "invite a woman to write a piece about consent from her perspective, then leverage your male privilege to endorse and champion it." It is a bit unclear whether or not McEwan would approve of men writing material that is explicitly not written through the "how not to be creepy" narrative but instead focuses on the mindsets of men who engage in patterns of "harassment, hostility to consent, [and] sexual assault" -- she is speaking to the men who are intent on talking through the narrative she describes. McEwan wants men to realize how their choice of language ends up having them "write about 'other guys,' as far as lots and lots of dudes are concerned". 

How does Glickman respond to such requests from a feminist woman, a member of a marginalized group within a marginalized group? He publishes a post called "Why Men Need to Learn How to Not Be “That Guy”". The title of the post itself already betrays a blatant disregard for the clear demands of a feminist. "That guy" has the very same rhetorical dynamic as "creepy": if I already know in my heart that I'm not "that guy", I don't need to read Glickman's article, do I? Which is just as well, since the article itself is not actually about men respecting women's boundaries, but is rather about all the ways in which McEwan is "misses some key points" in her piece. One wonders if the title of the article, being so unrelated to the purpose of its contents, is the product of subconscious spite on the part of Glickman's upon being told how to write by a feminist -- he has, after all, written an article called "Five Things Men Can Do To Not Be Creepy" in 2012 and has an entire "creeps" tag on his blog (next to an ad for his book). 

Glickman approximates that McEwan is "wrong about how “virtually all of the men” think about themselves" and proceeds to talk about himself and his "struggle" of having to "learn through trial and error (and unfortunately, far more error than I wish)" about how not to harass and assault. Did he listen to McEwan when she asks, "how do you know" anything about how many men are clueless and how many are malicious? Clearly not: he employs a vague anecdote of his own experiences (and those of "many of the men who come to [his sex] workshops" -- what's sampling bias?) to make her question go away. He chalks up his past violations of boundaries -- sorry, "errors" -- to how he "didn't have a single role model to point the way," with the implication that he needed a male role model to stop him from harassment.

He then tells the feminist how her opinions on how "gender equality" should be achieved is "troubling" to him:
And I find it troubling that anyone who wants to create a world of gender equality would advocate for men not stepping up and taking that on.
This is at best a misinterpretation of McEwan's point; her piece is about how she has a problem with how some men (like Glickman) go about educating other men about respecting women, not with the act itself of men trying to educate other men. A complete misreading is certainly something that could drive Glickman to repeatedly ask:
So unless someone offers them useful tools for how ["not to be creepy"] and helps them see how we need to resist the patterns of sexism, sexual intrusion, and gender roles, how does Ms McEwan think that will happen? [...] How, precisely, are men supposed to learn these things if we don’t ever talk [amongst ourselves] about how to do it? [...] Unless there are books, workshops, or websites to learn from, how can that possibly happen? 
Stumbling around on this new, unknown landscape of McEwan's feminism in which his voice and "usefulness" is not necessarily prioritized, asking himself "But if men like me can't do it, who will?", Glickman seems so deep in his professional narcissism that he can't imagine that a woman could do what he does. He simply can't picture feminist books, workshops, and websites created by women instructing men to stop harassing women. Instead of dealing with this conundrum in his mind, he would "rather create a call to action for the guys who get it" as if there's some sort of certification body to separate the "guys who get it" from the "guys who don't". I am left wondering how many people thought that Hugo Schwyzer "got it" before he was exposed as a serially abusive man.

I'd like to pause the analysis for a moment and offer my own experience, since Glickman seems to recognize individual men's anecdotes, stories, and feelings as intellectual currency. Dear Charlie Glickman: I'm a straight man and I don't need your workshops and books to learn how to not harass and assault women, and neither do any of the men I've come in contact with who actually listen to feminists.

Glickman frames McEwan's ideas as "not making room for men" as if feminists have cornered the market on "room" while men such as him are just starving for platforms. Unsatisfied with this already-ridiculous level of reality distortion, he then charges that women like McEwan "have no idea what it’s like to live as a cisgender man, to grow up being shamed into masculinity" -- 

Ah, yes, how I look back with visceral horror on all those years of my straight male youth when I was "shamed" into masculinity. Masculinity, rather than a strategy for resource extraction bestowed upon men through the system of gender, as the feminists would have it, is merely a sad curse! How I am indeed oppressed by my position as the oppressor; look with respectful pity upon my inability to cry!

He caps off his post with advertisements for his professional "sex coach services" and a workshop costing $27USD per individual. This may be the real motive for the title: his lament of McEwan's lack of deference to his "usefulness" is just sales patter. Thanks, Charlie!

The truth seems to be that Glickman is uninterested in listening to feminists. Even such a tame suggestion as McEwan's for men to give more platforms to women sends him into a whirlwind of deep concern for the loss of "room" for himself. If he really listened to feminists, like Karen Ingala Smith, glosswitch, or Meghan Murphy, he would at least be able to engage with the notion of men knowing their place without practicing exactly the obfuscation of the oppression of women that these feminists are trying to stop. If Glickman actually listened to all of the voices, stories, and perspectives of feminists, he might find it difficult to continue prioritizing his own voice and business. But given how invested he is in his "how not to be creepy" narrative, both personally and professionally, I’d expect he'd resist letting go of his male privilege. (That's odd, I feel like I've heard this sort of thing before...)


* If we can ultimately call it that, rather than a rhetorical soundbyte

I dedicate this work (“Why won't Charlie Glickman listen to feminists?”) to the public domain using the Creative Commons 0 declaration.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's wrong with this picture?

I had to read it twice to notice, but maybe only because it was 4am. [I might eventually write a longer post -- inevitably called "What is 'being like girls and women'?" -- about male feminism's embrace of femininity but the image should speak for itself.]

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A young man