When you present it as an “indisputably true context,” how can it be disputed?
It’s not that Eric Schneiderman (the now-former New York attorney general accused of abuse by multiple women) pushed me over the edge. My edge has been crossed for a long time, before President Trump, before Harvey Weinstein, before “mansplaining” and “incels.” Before live-streaming sexual assaults and red pill men’s groups and rape camps as a tool of war and the deadening banality of male prerogative.
If that fails to be either indisputable or contextual, then the only possible answer is you just don’t get it and you are the guy whom Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, loves to hate.
Walter’s paean to rad fem hatred received a good deal of negative reaction from those who were able to stop laughing long enough to react. The Chronicle of Higher Ed gave this “scholar” a platform to respond to the near-universal criticism.
“So men,” she writes, “if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you.”
What turns this irrational polemic into something remotely resembling scholarly thought?
To ask the obvious question that you’ve probably heard a thousand times this week, I’m a man — do you hate me?
No, my dear. I certainly do not hate you. But it’s so funny that that’s the question.
Assuming that Walters and the ironically-named interviewer, Alexander Kafka, aren’t romantically involved, her “No, my dear,” might be intended as a condescending, passive-aggressive swipe of the sort that unpleasant feminists employ. But Walters has a point, that it’s so funny that that’s the question. Why, oh why, would anyone Kafka included, give a damn if Walters hates them?
The question and answer reflect a fascinating concern that “scholars” such as Walters find so truthy that it’s beyond doubt: don’t men want, no, need, her approval? How could men possibly not want someone like Walters to like them, maybe even love them, and certainly not hate them? How can they not “lean out,” “step away from power” so women can float in and fill their void?
But isn’t this a gross generalization, to blame an entire gender* (even if it’s impossible to objectively define gender anymore since women have penises and men have vaginas, except when they don’t)?
I’m guessing that you disliked Trump’s generalization about Mexico sending “their rapists.” Yet aren’t you generalizing about all men? Is it wrong to criticize Mexican men but OK to criticize all men?
I have to say, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. In fact, Trump was completely wrong — I mean, just empirically inaccurate. That’s not who’s coming over the border. There’s no overrepresentation among Mexican-Americans in rape statistics. What I am saying about male violence and male prerogative is empirically accurate. When you’re generalizing with accuracy, that’s what we call sociology. So I have to say that is a completely false comparison.
Some have attacked stereotypes as a reflection of bias, but who knew that calling one’s bias “empirically accurate” was good enough to turn it into that magic of academia, sociology? So does this mean that sociology entitles one to indulge in misandry?
Do you believe it’s possible to be sexist against men?
No, I really don’t. Sexism is about the institutionalized and interpersonal treatment of women and people perceived to be women. Again, look at the world. Where is discrimination? Where are men being excluded? Where are men being abused? Oh, come on.
It’s hard to counter an argument like “Oh, come on.” But is Suzanna Danuta Walters wrong? No, of course not. This is America, and people are absolutely entitled to hate anyone they want, individually or collectively. Her reasoning may fall a bit short of persuasive, bordering on the downhill side of batshit crazy, but that too is her right. Hate all you want. We’ll make more.
What is disturbing, on the other hand, is that this is what passes for a scholar in higher education.
I’m making an argument with material and data. It is not hate speech. I am not calling, obviously, for people to be hurt, to be demeaned, to be killed. Women, in general, do not do that. As you know, almost all acts of gun violence against children in our schools are done by young white men. That, to me, is weaponized hate speech. So to talk about a feminist author who writes an op-ed with data that is indisputable and says, We have a right to anger — to say that that is hate speech is absolutely ludicrous.
But then, to question whether this reflects deep intellectual thought might be considered “mansplaining,” and Walters might hate me for doing it. I don’t know whether I could bear her disapproval.
*In yet another bit of irony, this was directly asked of Walters:
Is gender, to your mind, a completely social construct?
In a word, yes. Look, I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a gender-studies professor if I didn’t say that, and I believe it.
It’s an occupational hazard, apparently.