A Dialogue on Gender With Nancy Leong (Update)

There is a guy who walks around Tuesday evening Cruise Night handing out flyers for the car show he runs, Cruizin’ For A Cure.  I went to it the first year it was held, and it wasn’t for me.  Mostly American cars, where I’m a British car guy, and the judging of the foreign cars (one class for all) wasn’t very good. So I passed after that.

The problem was that the car show wasn’t just for the sake of having a car show, but as the name suggests, it was charity-focused: he was raising money for prostate cancer.  You see, he was a prostate cancer survivor, and wanted to do something to help. Great cause and I respect his efforts.  But when he asked me if I would come, I told him no. I explained why, but he got angry with me. Didn’t I realize how serious prostate cancer is? Didn’t I want to help with the cure?  Didn’t I appreciate his cause?

Well, in fact I did.  I had nothing against his cause at all. It just wasn’t my cause. I have a charity to which I provide a great deal of support. He doesn’t contribute to my cause, but I understand why. Yet, he couldn’t understand why I didn’t back his cause, because his was so worthy.

Lawprof Nancy Leong wrote about the cause of ending misogyny, following the #yesallwomen and #notallmen memes that were hot for a few days on Twitter.  Unlike many of the people who twit with this hashtag, Nancy’s post offers both deeper, and less antagonistic, thought on the role of males and empathy toward women’s concerns.

Men who speak out on these issues deserve credit for their willingness to stand up for something that they haven’t directly experienced and that doesn’t directly benefit them. (I say not directly because I believe that a society in which men and women are equal is a better society for everyone, but that benefit is not an immediate one.) My point isn’t that men deserve special praise for vocally supporting gender equality. Everyone should support gender equality as a matter of principle.

My point is a somewhat different one: that empathy is difficult no matter who you are and with whom you’re empathizing. It’s hard to understand what it’s like to be a woman if you’re not a woman. It’s hard to understand what it’s like to be gay if you’re not gay. It’s hard to understand what it’s like to have a particular disability if you don’t have that disability. Empathy is hard work, and men who undertake that work — and then undertake the further work of speaking out against sexism and misogyny — should be commended.

There is nothing to disagree with here, and yet I can’t climb aboard.  There are two primary reasons (plus some emanations and penumbras, but those are for another day): First, while I can understand why women, whether some, most or all, take this perspective, this isn’t at the top of my list of causes.  Heck, I want to know why all women aren’t using their every effort in the fight against overcriminalization and in favor of substantive due process, but my hashtag, #NotAllLaws, has yet to catch fire among feminists.

Second, while this has been framed as a dialogue, it seems to be anything but.  If words are used that are inconsistent with the approved feminist lexicon, the response is swift and brutal: you are a misogynist (or worse)!!!  It would appear that Ad Hominem Path is a one-way street, and any male who uses the language of the patriarchy is tarred as a rapist.  I’ve been there.

Then the rules of engagement, the terms and conditions of the dialogue, are dictated by one side of this dialogue, and it’s not mine.  When a guy doesn’t play by the feminist rules, it’s not because they have questions or issues, but attributed to hurt feelings, stupidity and mansplaining, and thus ridiculed and dismissed. This isn’t how I understand dialogue to work.  It sounds an awful lot to me like a lecture, at best, and a scolding, at worst.

My friend Nino tried to ask a question of a twitterer the other day, who was busy with some particularly harsh twits about males. He politely asked her a question and she responded by ripping him a new one for the audacity to expect her to waste her precious time catering to his fragile male ego. Nino remained civil. I would not have, but that’s me.  If these are the rules of engagement, then this isn’t a dialogue.

And finally, if there is to be a dialogue, then both sides have the right to disagree. But that’s not how this appears to be working.  Not only is disagreement cause to be branded a misogynist, but mere acquiescence is still deemed proof of demonstrable misogyny.

It had been my understanding that misogyny meant hatred of women, but that doesn’t seem to suffice as a definition anymore.  I don’t hate women. I rather like them, but just these words provide definitive proof in this dialogue of my misogyny. And by writing this, I exacerbate my crime by being unrepentant about it.  In the hole of neo-feminism, I’ve dug myself in so deep I can never come out.

Yet, I’m okay with this. I don’t seek anyone’s approval, and I’m not looking for feminist validation. I am who I am, and I’m good with that. Like the agnostic who behaves in the ways the Church would demand, but won’t take the Eucharist, I have no fear of going to hell. If there is a god, then he knows what I do. And if not, no harm done.

My time and effort are spent working on some causes I deem pretty damn worthy, and I have no regret about doing so.  They’re just not about feminism or supporting the end of misogyny, whatever that may be.  But I find it offensive, and more, that women get to attack me, and others who see things as I do, not because of anything we’ve done, but because we aren’t adherent to their religion.  And when their religion demands a blood sacrifice, I will fight it.

I have tried to discuss much of this, but haven’t had a great deal of success. Part of that may be because I won’t play by the rules.  But then, I fail to see how there can be any dialogue if it starts with me being the misogynist.  There’s just not much more to talk about after that.

Ironically, these efforts to raise consciousness seem to have driven the wedge deeper between genders, forcing those men and women (#yesallwomen do not want to be part of this cause) farther away with their overt hostility, pervasive victimhood, grand hyperbole and fortune cookie arguments.

That’s why I asked Nancy if she was interested in a dialogue, and why I begin here. There is plenty to discuss, but the first question is whether there can be a dialogue at all. If anyone can engage in a dialogue, I’m betting it’s Nancy. Am I right?

Update:  6/3/14. I am sorry to inform you that the dialogue with Nancy Leong has been called on account of delay of dialogue.  Three days in internet time is an eternity.

I asked Nancy today what happened to our dialogue. She responded:

I said in my comment on your blog that I would write a post this week & I will. Remember we are being leisurely.

It’s unclear where the “we” came from, but engaging in a dialogue where days, maybe more, elapse doesn’t strike me as a useful dialogue. My idea is more the ordinary back and forth. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and even if Nancy does write something eventually, a lot of water will have flowed under the bridge.

To say I’m deeply disappointed is an understatement. I hoped this dialogue would happen, be substantive and be productive.  That was a couple of days ago. I held my breath until now.  It’s time for me to exhale.


43 thoughts on “A Dialogue on Gender With Nancy Leong (Update)

  1. John Burgess

    Welcome to the religious wars of the 21st C. That which does not support the orthodoxy is heresy. Heresy must be quashed. And if one was caught by surprise at this Inquisition, one simply wasn’t paying attention.

    1. SHG Post author

      While that seems to be a fair characterization of the tenor of gender “discussion” up to now, including revenge porn, my hope is that Nancy and I can do better. I don’t think Nancy is a slave to the orthodoxy, and will be substantive rather than vitriolic.

        1. SHG Post author

          Sadly, it’s not. It can get way beyond crazy.

          One of the core problems is that many of the words used, particularly those that carry the most baggage, have been untethered from their definitions. Rape is one of them, so by calling something (an act, an idea, an expression) rape makes it so. Because rape is whatever anyone says rape is.

  2. John Neff

    I support rational discourse. But the problem is there is not much rational discourse to support. Don’t give up something good may result.

  3. Rick

    I appreciate her much more charitable view, but for three things:

    1) She (along with many feminists) seems to overestimate how much men witness sexist behavior by other men. I think maybe twice in my life have I seen friends catcall, and on two other occasions have I seen people endorse it in conversations with other men. On all occasions I had something to say. But this works out, in my adult life, to a single “incident” every three years. I’m pretty skeptical that my running my mouth every now and then is going to win the war against street harassment.

    2) When it comes to being the brave one who speaks up against leering strangers, why is that moral burden on non-offending men, but not on women? Chivalry?

    3) As Santa Barbara reminds us (as if homicide rates, incarceration rates, and recent studies showing the surprising prevalence of female violence against men weren’t enough), men bear a significant cost in these incidents. And I have to say that I find it foolish practically and questionable morally to simply toss aside the deaths or abuse of men as a “separate” question which is “derailing” to discuss. It’s only derailing in that it represents an empirical challenge to the pristine theory of men oppressing women. (Hence all the eye-popping claims about how violence against men is evidence that men are also victims of misogyny.)

    1. Nancy Leong

      Rick, a few quick thoughts, and then I should run.

      (1) Do you think it is possible that you would observe more street harassment if you make it a point to look for it all the time? (Sincere question, not question of implication.) I ask because think it’s normal human tendency to focus on issues that concern us most, and for many men, that doesn’t include street harassment. For instance, my husband has told me that he started noticing street harassment much more frequently after he and I started having conversations about it.

      (2) I don’t think men have more of a burden to speak up than women. Everyone should share that burden. My point is that women are already (involuntarily) bearing a lot of the burden and men should help spread the burden around.

      (3) I understand your point here and I think it’s a problem with a lot of conversations about complex issues: you just can’t talk about everything at once. For example, with respect to Isla Vista, I really wish we were talking about the racial dynamics more. Elliot Rodger killed two blonde women and four men of color, and his manifesto is full of racial animus. But if some people want to have a conversation specifically about misogyny, I think it would be unhelpful for me to jump in and insist they talk about race too. Also, I don’t pretend to speak for All Feminists Everywhere, but my perception is that most if not all feminists are extremely concerned about everyone who was killed. I think what many would argue is that misogyny was a core motivation for the killing spree. So it’s important to talk about misogyny because if Elliot Rodger had not held misogynistic views that manifested themselves in violence, then no one would have died — no men, no women.

      1. Rick

        Hi Nancy.

        1. Sure, it’s possible. I don’t walk the streets with the thought that I’m out on patrol. I keep an eye out mainly for my safety and that of my group. But I’m pretty alert, and the threatening nature of street harassment was something that I was taught when I was quite young. I didn’t “get it” till I was older, but even before I understood why so many women didn’t like something I’ve found flattering, I knew they didn’t. The more I think about it as I’ve written this, the more confident I’ve become that I it’s generally not happening around me.

        2. Perhaps. I just find that a lot of women are extraordinarily resistant to the notion that they, too, perpetuate rape culture: every rapist has a mother who birthed him, after all, and I suspect the majority have a mother who raised them. Even setting aside lousy (or earnest yet unsuccessful) parenting, lots of women participate enthusiastically in slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and the like. I’ve had to explain to untraumatized women that trauma doesn’t always manifest itself in clear, rational behavior like yelling at or ignoring the rapist, calling the police, looking appropriately upset but not too upset, etc. In a (female) friend’s irritation at her employee’s somewhat erratic behavior, I had to point out the obvious markers of sexual trauma and the employee’s clear perceptions of power dynamics which were invisible to my friend. I’m not interested in shifting the burden back, here; I just think that a lot of women are pretty oblivious to the many ways that women perpetuate rape culture. (A lot of the ways are the same ways that men do.)

        3. “if [name redacted] had not held misogynistic views that manifested themselves in violence, then no one would have died” That’s a strong empirical claim and I’m not convinced it’s true. He might have thought very highly of women, and blamed other men entirely for women’s disinterest in him. Being frustrated at a lack of sexual or romantic success is not a misogynistic position. This particular scumbag blamed women for it, but he could easily have blamed other men for it. (In fact, he partially blames other men for it.)

    2. SHG Post author

      Your first point takes for granted the “sexist behavior” of other men. I’m not at all clear what makes behavior sexist. Because it’s not the way feminists prefer men to behave? If so, then I call baloney. I am not ashamed of being a man, and have no desire to conduct my life in whatever way it is that will get me feminists approval. Why would I want to? Why would I care? I will not limit my lexicon to meet their approval. I will not think only thoughts approved by the orthodoxy. I will not hang my head in shame for wanting to do things men want to do. Is that what they’re talking about?

      I’ve tried to get a definitions of “rape culture,” and all I get are anecdotes. Before there can be a discussion, we have to know what we’re discussing. We don’t.

      1. John Neff

        It is possible that they use “rape culture” without defining it because we have to guess what it means and if we guess wrong we are clueless dolts and they win.

      2. Rick

        My point 1 may have done so inadvertently, but it was only intended to take for granted the notion that some men, or many men, behave in a sexist fashion (at some times). And you may be fortunate enough that you simply never see this. But I’ve definitely had men argue with me (and argue with women) that there was nothing problematic at all about street harassment. No matter how many women try to say that it’s irritating and insulting to constantly have their appearance commented on at every turn, I know men who insist that anyone who complains about this is just being whiny, because “it’s a compliment!” Even having women tell them, directly, that it’s irritating at best and frightening at worst doesn’t even lead to a grumbling agreement to change behavior.

        To pull out the principle: I’d say that, generally speaking, behavior is sexist if it involves a disregard for the feelings or opinions of someone due to their sex, where a relevant issue is the experience of people of that sex. (Yes, I think that plenty of feminists behave in a sexist way toward men.)

        As for rape culture, it seems pretty straightforward: a culture in which “prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape”.

        1. SHG Post author

          The language is still vague and loaded. It’s “sexist” when a woman doesn’t care for it. When she does, it’s a compliment. I grant you that some construction workers cat-calling is pretty obviously sexist, but is that all this is about? If so, then this is a monumental waste of time and the complaint of fear are nonsensical. So if we assume better faith than that, it’s got to be about more. But then, what is it?

          As for rape culture, it seems pretty straightforward: a culture in which “prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape”.

          If so, then what the hell are they talking about? Is there anybody who seriously suggests society “condones” rape? Rapists aren’t even tolerated in prison culture, no less anywhere else. Then problem solved.

          1. Rick

            Well, the definition of “sexist” scales up to more serious things (e.g. the #yesallwomen woman who has apparently been fingered by random strangers in bars, or any of the other really shocking stories). Now, there might be a woman somewhere who would enjoy that (probabilities and all), but unless said fingerer had a really good reason to believe that, he was clearly acting in a fashion which disregarded the feelings of the fingeree. It also scales down: the dude who poo-poos a woman asking not to hear more compliments about her looks is being sexist, as is the dude who thinks it doesn’t matter that most women generally prefer not to hear about their hotness from most men. The feeling of being threatened, I think, comes from the unpredictable ways some men will respond to being challenged or ignored: “oh crap, I’m telling this guy I’m not interested and he’s still arguing with me and ignoring my attempts to move away”; “oh crap, I told those catcalling guys to eff off and now they’re following in a van and screaming at me”; etc.

            I won’t deny that there’s vagueness and subjectivity and that, sometimes, feminists are wont to confuse “asshole” and “misogynist”. Clearly the accusation of sexism is sometimes used to silence dissent. But the ridiculous hair trigger on some of these people doesn’t invalidate the reasonable concern.

            Society certainly tolerates, even condones, prison rape. But note also that the language in that line sets “condone” up as the extreme. Practices which normalize or excuse rape in various ways — victim-blaming, slut-shaming, light prison sentences or no prison sentences, etc. — are also part of rape culture. So the mother raising her son with contempt for promiscuous women (but not necessarily promiscuous people) is contributing, as he will see such women as less than him, of deserving punishment, etc. If you ask her whether it’s OK to rape promiscuous women, mama may insist that it’s not. But she’s acted to make it seem not that bad.

            1. SHG Post author

              If one was to read your comment without the special blinders that exempts neo-feminist dogma from the same scrutiny that is otherwise applied to all of humanity, this is what the takeaway is:

              Women are incapable, incompetent, irresponsible, irrational and uniquely vulnerable, and are therefore not subject to any of the same rules that apply to everyone everywhere with regard to the harms, whether horrible or petty, suffered.

              I believe in equality. I therefore cannot accept that premise about women. Equality carries both the good and the bad, and women are neither more nor less capable, competent, responsible, rational or vulnerable, than anyone else. Everyone suffers harm, from crime victims to having one’s feelings hurt to being fearful of someone or something. The “privilege” argument is a nonsensical construct; when someone puts a gun in your face, male/white privilege does not stop the bullet.

              The unpleasant way of expressing this is that women are special snowflakes who need special snowflake treatment, and any man who doesn’t provide this, and inherently appreciate this, is a misogynist and rape culture enabler because women are special snowflakes.

              The overt sexism of this completely missed. Equality is dead. Long live the special snowflake, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate it (and adore it) is a rapist. I cannot buy into this. Not at all.

  4. John Barleycorn

    You do know that the NSA has the transcripts of a few billion private conversations that could shed some light on this conversation but they aren’t sharing.

    In the meantime esteemed one
    I will leave you with some Charlotte Brontë, before you forehead begins to bleed.

    ~~~If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.~~~

    May I also make a humble suggestion? Sometimes the best “dialogue” is imaginative.
    Besides, you need to start using live bait if you truly want to start up a “conversation”. “These” fish aren’t just going to jump in your boat.

    Write a short story set in modern times highlighting a fictional character who shares your angst on this topic without allowing the characters in your story to discuss it overtly. Go heavy and fanciful on the spoken and unspoken dialogue and keep shifting whose perspective voice it is written in.

    Then write two scrips for a commercial selling a snake oil dietary supplement. One targeted to women the other towards men. Your task is to tell your respective target audiences the lies you think they will believe.

    Then write a 40 panel cartoon about a heterosexual sexual encounter that doesn’t result in sex even though both individuals were game and receptive.

    Then, of course, publish them here at SJ under the banner of: My Hairy Big Toe Inserts Itself Into Bette Davis’ Lukewarm Bacon Grease.

  5. Nancy Leong

    Hi Scott — I appreciate you reading and linking to my blog, particularly since I’ve only been blogging regularly for six months or so. And if this blog post is any indication, then yes, I certainly do think we can have a helpful dialogue and I would like to do that.

    Originally, I thought we could have a back-and-forth here in the comments, but now that I’ve read your post I think instead I’ll write a post of my own later this week. The reason I’d like to do that is that your post touches on several things that I’ve been thinking about a lot. I’m interested in the “not my cause” issue, as well as the broader issue of how to have productive conversations when people disagree (in my view the latter goes way beyond feminism, but I think we can use feminism as an example). So I’ll post, and then we can go from there. As you said on Twitter, it will be a downright leisurely exchange.

    For now, I thought I’d throw out a couple of initial thoughts, and while I’m more or less tied up with personal stuff today, I’ll circle back here before I write my post to see whether you or your readers have reactions.

    First, I think that one problem with discourse (about feminism; about many other things too) is that people tend to make assumptions about other people’s viewpoints and then to view their responses through that lens. For example, consider a conversation between a feminist woman and a man who doesn’t oppose feminism but doesn’t consider it his cause. (Just to be clear, this is a hypothetical conversation, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular.) If he goes into the conversation thinking that she’s a “typical angry feminist,” then he may wrongly interpret her response as angrier or more aggressive than it actually is. Likewise, if she goes into the conversation thinking of him as an “typical entitled man,” then she may wrongly interpret good-faith inquiries as thinly-veiled insults.

    Second, you raise the point that while you don’t disagree with many of the goals that feminists tend to support, you don’t consider those issues your top priority. I’m not arguing that those issues have to be your number one cause. (Nobody has the time to call out every single sexist remark they see on the Internet.) But I do think it’s important to realize that women don’t have a choice about being involved with many of the issues I mentioned in my original post, and to act accordingly in at least some situations. For example, almost every woman I know has a story about being grabbed or groped in a public place where there were other men around who pretended nothing was happening. Unlike the woman in this situation, men do have a choice about being involved, and they can say something, or they can ignore what’s going on. The guy ignoring the groping isn’t as bad as the groper, but he’s not helping — and it’s this lack of a sense of obligation to help that I’d like to change.

    More later. I look forward to the discussion.

    1. SHG Post author

      Thank you for stopping by, Nancy. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to discuss. I agree with you about entering into discourse with negative assumptions. In this particular instance, relating to the #notallmen and #yesallwomen memes, their origin was born of hostility, and having watched a great deal of it happen in the twitters, it seems to me that it’s accusatory by definition. It’s kinda hard not to view it as the manifestation of anger.

      As for not viewing many feminist goals as my top priority, I may have been unclear. I find some of the claims disingenuous, contrary to the second wave feminist goal of equality, far too burdened with undue victimhood and in many instances contrary to other goals that I think are more important. For example, the untethering of rape and sexual assault from sound legal definitions, or the elevation of the need to stop revenge porn from the collateral damage to innocents and chilling free speech.

      Like Rick, I’ve managed to live a pretty long time without having seen much of the things being complained about. Maybe I hang with a better crowd, or maybe I’m just dense. But either way, everyone goes through life suffering indignities, some more serious than others. By no means do I discount rape, but to compare it to some jerk pick-up artist in a bar trying to hit on a gal, thus giving rise to her “fear he’s a rapist,” doesn’t fly with me. Much of this is shrugged off with a thicker skin and a sense of humor.

      Having asked a few women this past week whether they go through life fearful of rape, sexual abuse or men in general, I was roundly told that’s just nuts. Maybe the women I asked aren’t representative of the gender. Then again, maybe the women twitting that all women live in constant fear of rape aren’t representative either, and don’t speak for all women though they assume the mantle. But there is a great deal of anger and hyperbole here, and it seems inherent in these memes.

      Is there a less than angry and hostile way to interpret the #notallmen and #yesallwomen memes? If so, I don’t see it.

      1. Robert David Graham

        I would suggest that those like Nancy Leong read your previous post on Gideon. You don’t use “undue victimhood” to argue why the indigent need public defenders there, either.

        The point is that we can nominally agree on a thing (public defenders, anti-misogyny), and yet still be on an opposing side (i.e. against the bleeding heart liberals who turn everything in to victimhood).

  6. JP

    It’s easy to have a “thicker skin” when sitting in a position of racial and gender power. To paraphrase one of the seers of our time (Louis C.K.), if you’re a white man –which I am – you can’t even hurt my feelings. People have said mean things about me, both on-line and off-line, but no one can tell me I don’t belong. I mean, what would they say? People that look like me have dominated our society for centuries. I appreciate the fact that it’s harder to shrug off such attacks when society already communicates to you that you don’t really belong, or perhaps have only conditional belonging. As for the representativeness of the women you talked to, I obviously can’t say for sure. In my experience, women who have suffered rape or attempted rape tend to be (quite understandably) more fearful than those that have not. Several of my family members have suffered these crimes and those that have suffer serious anxiety in circumstances that scan to them as potentially dangerous.

    As for your hash tag question, I don’t see either hashtag as “angry and hostile,” although some of the tweets are both. The #yesallwomen tweets that I’ve read are largely women recounting personal stories about abuse by men. Those stories make me angry because they are often shameful stories about our society, but sharing them doesn’t strike me as inherently angry or hostile – rather, it involves people seeking to contribute their personal experiences to the public square, which is First Amendment protected speech at its best. I can’t say the phraseology of the tag works perfectly for me, since it seems to imply that all women have a monolithic experience, which isn’t true. But hashtags are invariably poorly written. As for the #notallmen tag, I’ve seen it used as a way of poking fun at the predictability of the response of some men to discussion about cultural gender dynamics that harm women. I guess that’s a bit hostile. But pretty tame when it comes to the internet (at least, if you have sufficient thick skin . . . which is intended as a joke rather than a jab).

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s easy to have a “thicker skin” when sitting in a position of racial and gender power.

      Life sucks. Either whine about it, deal with it or get over it. No matter who you are, there is always someone in a position of greater power than you. Your boss. Your parents. The first chair violin. The judge. Grow up and deal with it. Assertions like this are facile and meaningless, the perfect excuse for empty victimhood. And if you want to compare, race has gender beat by miles as far as oppression.

      …women who have suffered rape or attempted rape tend to be (quite understandably) more fearful than those that have not.

      What type of rape. Forcible? Unconscious? Or one of the new definitions? Even so, what does this have to do with all the women who have never been raped, yet wear their fear of rape as an entitlement? A woman who has been raped has damn good reason to be fearful. So does a man who has been beaten by police. So does a child who has been molested. So do a great many other people who have suffered harm at the hands of others. Yet, there is no concern for the others at all. Why is it that one is so overwhelmingly special and you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the others?

      The #yesallwomen tweets that I’ve read are largely women recounting personal stories about abuse by men.

      Then you haven’t been paying attention. This has been all about how all women have suffered horribly at the hands of rapist men and rape culture. Yes, all women suffer terrible indignities because of evil men. That’s the point of the hashtag.

      As for the #notallmen tag, I’ve seen it used as a way of poking fun at the predictability of the response of some men to discussion about cultural gender dynamics that harm women.

      And you blew that too. The #notallmen was created by women to ridicule men who would respond to their complaints with “but not all men do that,” because they were derailing the women’s issues, making it all about their hurt male feelings over being included in the group of bad men.

      If you want to add to the conversation, then don’t make up facile crap or fall back on empty ideology. This is drivel.

  7. JP

    Accusing someone of “making facile crap up” is not my idea of having a conversation. I could do the same. Let’s take your responses: “Life sucks,” “[e]ither whine about it, deal with it or get over it”? Talk about facile crap. Those statements are both meaningless and entirely ignore the fact that it turns out that life doesn’t suck nearly as much for everyone, something you appear to concede outside the context of sex. Your rhetorical pivot to pointing out that others suffer too is also trite. I certainly agree that people of color face substantial oppression. And victims of police brutality and child molestation experience understandable fear, and their experiences are important ones with which we as a society need to grapple. Whose saying that those experiences aren’t important? Wasn’t one of the points of your original post that taking action on one cause doesn’t imply that others are unimportant? That’s a point I agree with, but I’m having trouble reconciling it with your other comments.

    Groups of people—be they women, racial minorities, or victims of childhood sexual abuse—who share experiences of harm find strength and solace in sharing their stories with each other and with the public. And there are broadly shared (if rarely universal) experiences that are worthy of sharing and that those outside those groups should consider. I do try to remain cognizant of the experiences of others–like those beaten by the police–particularly because I have had the great fortune of not having those experiences myself. That was my point about #yesallwomen. It created an outlet, albeit on Twitter so it’s not much of an outlet and the expressions were often simplistic due to the constraints of the format. As for the #notallmen, ironically, I think we agree about what the tag means, I simply don’t share your emotional response to it. You express frustration at triteness, but the notion that “not all men” do something is itself trite in the vast majority of circumstances. Creating a hashtag to represent that triteness may itself be a bit simplistic, but it hardly seems worthy of outrage.

    As for your insinuations that the experience of my family members may be fake or overblown, one was dragged into the woods at knife point. Is that “forcible” enough for you?

    1. SHG Post author

      …one was dragged into the woods at knife point. Is that “forcible” enough for you?

      Yes, it is. And do you see what the untethering of rape from its definition compels me to do? That’s rape. And spare me your perception of my “insinuations.” I insinuated nothing. I asked because I have no clue what you’re talking about, because of the untethered definitions. Don’t impute motives to people you don’t know.

      As for

      Let’s take your responses: “Life sucks,” “[e]ither whine about it, deal with it or get over it”? Talk about facile crap.

      Facile, but a truism. We all deal with it. Sorry, as hard as you may try to blame the patriarchy, everyone has problems. Women are not special. And as for the “sharing, finding strength and support,” if that was all it was, no one would care. And finally, you attribute “outrage” to the hashtag. Nobody said they were outraged here.

      I hoped to have a dialogue with Nancy because I do not share the implicit assumptions. You’ve given me the party line, which is unhelpful. If there can be no dialogue unless I accept your assumptions of victimhood, etc., then that’s my answer.

  8. Sgt. Schultz

    SHG is trying to have a nice, substantive dialogue with Nancy, so you feel compelled to fuck it up with the standard bullshit. Well, aren’t you special?

    1. SHG Post author

      As much as this was exactly what I was trying to avoid, I appreciate he’s sincere, despite his inability to understand how deeply indoctrinated he is and how it’s blinded to him to his underlying assumptions. But that’s why you can’t argue religion.


    I agree pretty much 100% with everything you’ve said here, Scott, but I also forward to Nancy Leong’s considered response. Her comments above justify some optimism, I think.

    On the rape issue, it’s interesting, is it not, that this is still “owned” by the distaff side, notwithstanding the statistics which, I understand , show that there are now more male rape victims than female ?

    1. SHG Post author

      I too look forward to Nancy’s response. I had come up with the idea for this a few days ago, and asked Nancy if she wanted to do this (as I didn’t want to force her if she wasn’t inclined), and she told me she did, but wouldn’t have time until Sunday. But apparently, Sunday ended up too busy for her as well. But I’m still hopeful that we can have some real discussion, without immediate resort to the empty rhetoric.

      As for the rape issue, I’m not sure what to make of it. I’m hoping to learn, or at least understand.

  10. John Barleycorn

    Your estimated profit lifts another worthy if not expected intro esteemed one.

    Keep fishing with live bait.

    Congratulations. Do follow through.

    Eat him Nancy but don’t forget to chew him either. Don’t give him any undue credit either. He is comfortable behind his keyboard. If you are near take the opportunity to have a few cocktails with his editor.

    His underbelly and scrotum are evolving. Open his eyes.


  11. Turk


    You wrote two things that seem to be pretty contradictory. You wrote this, which I think most folks would agree with:

    First, I think that one problem with discourse (about feminism; about many other things too) is that people tend to make assumptions about other people’s viewpoints and then to view their responses through that lens.

    But the problem lies in what you wrote previously, where it was you who made assumptions about someone else — in this case, the rantings of Elliot Rodger:

    So it’s important to talk about misogyny because if Elliot Rodger had not held misogynistic views that manifested themselves in violence, then no one would have died — no men, no women.

    Are you really trying to say that misogyny that caused violent mental illness? Which was the cause and which was the symptom?

    As SHG pointed out in another post, Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz killed because a dog told him to. Unhinged people have committed violent acts on innocents since long before we walked the earth.

    You seem to have made a pretty big assumption about someone else’s viewpoint — in this case the viewpoint of someone mentally ill. Now the medical profession has been trying for a few centuries to figure out why mentally ill people do what they do, as their conduct encompasses a pretty wide swath of potential behavior. Some of them are treatable with various medications, and some are not, but medicine may not be that much further along then we were hundreds of years ago in trying to figure why it happens.

    Your decision to make an assumption — from someone mentally ill, no less — seems pretty seriously misplaced and contradictory to what you have argued otherwise.

    Not I am not smart enough to say you are absolutely wrong in your assumption that misogyny caused violent mental illness. But it seems like an assumption without foundation — the fact that he ranted on the subject doesn’t tell us anything about why he was unhinged to start.

    Taking the comments of someone that howls at the moon at face value doesn’t seem like a wise move.

    1. SHG Post author

      In light of the article in today’s Times, that Rodger was troubled since age 8, it seems remarkably unlikely that the cause of his mental illness had anything to do with women.

  12. EH

    Why is it that [rape] is so overwhelmingly special and you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the other [stuff]?

    Speaking for myself:
    With respect to the people who I know/knew personally and care(d) about deeply, they are not “national average.” They’re mostly white; highly educated and trained; working in respected professions; of reasonable means; with good familial and institutional support. My friends and family members might possibly be shot, jailed, convicted without counsel, or otherwise targeted by the gov’mint–but it hasn’t happened yet.

    However, things are different with respect to rape and violence. Of the women I place in that category–which is only a bit less than 50% of the group–the percentage of them who have been abused, raped, beaten, or similarly assaulted is surprisingly, depressingly, high. About two thirds of them have encountered something which was illegal (even though some would be unprovable.) In comparison, if the men in that category, the percentage of them who have been abused, raped, beaten, or similarly assaulted is very low.

    My experience is, as far as I can tell, relatively common. And with respect to my limited subgroup it’s accurate. The chances that my daughter will be shot by a cop are very small; the chances that she’ll be assaulted in an unprovable fashion by a man are, in comparison, enormous.

    I care about what happens to the public, and I address it in my work and where my charity goes. But I care more about the people who are really close to me than I do about general principles, and I’m not embarrassed to say so. I don’t support many of these anti-rape suggestions that liberal feminists are making (I have children of both sexes) but I am not ashamed that I am focusing on the people I love.

    1. SHG Post author

      I had a hard time deciding whether to post this comment or trash it. You make some good points (“I am not ashamed that I am focusing on the people I love.”), but also either wildly unclear or baseless allegations (“Of the women I place in that category–which is only a bit less than 50% of the group–the percentage of them who have been abused, raped, beaten, or similarly assaulted is surprisingly, depressingly, high.”).

      As for focusing on self-interest, that’s normal. As for making up your own statistics, that’s not. Unless what you mean is that “a bit less than 50%” of the women you personally know have all been beaten. If so, that’s bizarre.

  13. EH

    Unless what you mean is that “a bit less than 50%” of the women you personally know have all been beaten. If so, that’s bizarre.

    No, it’s accurate.

    Of the people who I am close to (which is to say, the people who might actually be inclined to tell me these things, which includes, at this count, 22 women) the percentage who have been abused, raped, beaten, or similarly assaulted is in fact a bit less than 50%–to be precise, 9 or 10 depending on how you count it.

    But more to the point: From a different perspective IT’S NOT BIZARRE AT ALL.

    In fact, that is the entire concept of the (horribly implemented) “yes all women” hashtag. The number of women who ARE abused, raped, beaten, or similarly assaulted is far, far, FAR greater than I realized–or, apparently, than you do. I doubt it’s 50% for most groups, but I am virtually certain that it is higher than most people admit.

    Whatever your %age is–and it’s none of my business–do you think it’s accurate? Do you think all the “non-reporters” were not assaulted? Or perhaps some of them were, but are deterred because they’re ashamed. I note that I didn’t find out about a lot of this stuff until I was much older, because–to use a specific example–apparently when a frail elderly relative is raped and beaten at knife point in her apartment and dies as a result, it is embarrassing. Or, if someone is raped when they’re a teenager, they might not tell you about it until they’re 45. And so on.

    1. SHG Post author

      This is where you go into that narcissistic batshit crazy thing you do. I know a great many women. I know of one who was raped, though she has a tendency to be a bit self-serving in her description of events, but I accept her claim as true. So that makes it, say 1%.

      Does that mean I would run around claiming it’s now conclusively 1%. It would be absurd, just as your claim is absurd. The different is I realize this. You do not. Worse yet, you expect me (and anyone else who reads your comments) to accept this not only as true in itself, but as reality for all women. That’s totally fucking nuts.

      You can manufacture stories to justify how others, me included, may not know what horrible things happen to women, and they may be perfectly reasonable stories, but they do not, under any circumstances, mean you are allowed to extrapolate from your extremely bizarre circumstances that everyone else must be just like you, that all women experience what your women experience, or else not realize they’re just like you, because you are the center of the universe and your experience must therefore be universal.

      No, your experience is not everyone’s experience. No, you are not the measure of normal. No, not all women are beaten, raped, etc. No, they’re not.

  14. EH

    Of course not all women are raped. Not even “most” women are raped.

    That said, although you didn’t flag this when you started comparing statistics, of course we’re now only talking about rape which is a SUBSET of “illegal shit some men do to some women, including but not limited to rape.” Right? And that is, itself, a relatively small subset of “really bad shit men do to women, which isn’t illegal but which is, nonetheless, really bad*.”

    But the larger point is this: Your dispute seem to be based on the assumption that all those women who say “bad shit happens to me and almost all the women I know” are essentially lies, and that all of the people who happen to believe them are essentially deluded, or–in my case–narcissistic.

    Your views on rape are sort of like my views on police abuse would be, if I only listened to my friends and not to the people who were actually getting abused.

    This is… odd. Now, i can see how you might apply it to someone who couples the claim with “…therefore we should castrate all boys,” because those people are crazy in their own right. But most of the people talking about their experiences are not in that category. instead, they’re just trying to counter… well, people like you.

    I mean, 1% is low. Below national averages. Why is that, do you think? I wonder if your public views on the matter might affect it? Perhaps–just maybe–people are less inclined to confide their secrets in the hope that you might, grudgingly, agree that they are “eligible” to call themselves victims of rape/abuse/violence/harassment/etc., provided of course that they suffered an approved minimus of harm and made an approved response*. And besides, if you decide it wasn’t rape/abuse/violence/harassment/etc., you’d be doing them a favor by letting them know, right?

    On one side you have a ton of women, who are saying one thing. You have a small but growing group of men, who have done a lot of digging and have gained trust. Those men, too, are starting to say “yup, those things are generally true.” Most of the people absent a few rabid leaders are asking “now what?”

    On the opposing side you have a much larger group of people, mostly men–including you, it seems–who have no personal experience, and, in all likelihood, comparatively small contact knowledge. You also have a much smaller group of women.

    I don’t personally give a shit if you change your mind. But I am astounded that you can simultaneously do good analysis in some cases (e.g. when it benefits criminal defendants) and still be so obdurate about this one. Your stance on this seems eerily familiar to the stance of people who you like to mock.

    *I mean, technically my friend “agreed” to give someone oral sex, which is to say that no physical force was used. Of course, at the time she was in a car about two miles from anything, and she was freaked out to all hell, and scared of what would happen if she tried to get out of the car, and she had already said “no, I want to go home” multiple times. But since she didn’t actually get out of the car, or punch him, or test whether the scared feeling was real… well, by the third or fourth time he “asked” then she “consented,” and, no surprise, good luck proving that one in court. Even if you forget the proof issue, depending on the statute it might not be criminal at all every if the facts could be objectively proven.

    That defendant, if he had decent counsel, would be damn hard to convict beyond a reasonable doubt (unless she was white and he was black, that is…) But I still classify that as a rape. Do you?

    1. SHG Post author

      Sorry, I stopped after the second paragraph, as that wasn’t what I said or meant.

      I cannot, and I will not, have a discussion that’s premised upon your experiences and your extrapolation that they are universally applicable.

  15. EH

    “You can manufacture stories”

    Missed this, but it deserves its own special response:

    FUCK YOU. And the horse you rode in on.

    I would never do that, and frankly you’re a slimy asshole for implying otherwise. To even suggest such a thing in the context of claiming an “honest” conversation is a dick move.

    1. SHG Post author

      The “stories” I referred to were your rationalizations about why someone like me wouldn’t learn or be told of rape and sexual abuse, not your assertions about the women you know and what they told you about their experiences. That’s my fault for being unclear.

      1. Turk

        That testy little exchange is a pretty good example of what Nancy wrote:

        First, I think that one problem with discourse (about feminism; about many other things too) is that people tend to make assumptions about other people’s viewpoints and then to view their responses through that lens.

        That problem is as old as written communications, where it is easy to make assumptions about what others think since the non-verbal cues of face-to-face communications are absent. In the absence of those cues we tend to believe to push our own mindset onto the words of others.

        1. SHG Post author

          To the extent EH may have been confused by what I was referring to, then it’s an example. But the problem with feminism is the use of language which presupposed acceptance of a concept (male privilege, rape culture, that all men want to be validated by feminists) as a foundation to build on for discussion.

          While I thought I was clear, I obviously wasn’t clear enough. But if I used shorthand and assumed he believed in my assumptions, it wouldn’t be a language based misunderstanding, but a ideologically based error.

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