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Feb 20 2013

Jeez, all he said was

Yikes, Ben Radford has yet another meta-post saying how everyone was wrong about his first post, yet again drastically misrepresenting his own post in the process. This is getting beyond embarrassing – meta-embarrassing.

Last week I wrote what I thought was a fairly straightforward piece titled “Over It.” It was an introduction to a poem, and then a poem. It was short, in three parts, and about an anti-rape poem by Eve Ensler, and her One Billion Rising campaign to encourage women to dance as a way to end rape.

Dude. That’s not true. That’s not all it was about. That’s far from all it was about.

Second para.

In the first part I explicitly stated that I agreed with Ensler’s goals (“I support her goals of reducing rape and other forms of violence against women”), but that I had reservations about Ensler’s use of statistics, and whether or not
encouraging people to dance would actually do any good. In the second part I wrote a poem, using the same title, the same structure, and some of the same lines-echoing, expanding on, and supporting many of Ensler’s sentiments. The poem was clearly supporting and agreeing with Ensler on many topics, and I added other topics which I felt had been largely left out in the discussion (such as the issue of male rape, and the epidemic of sexual assault in Native American communities).

That’s a little closer, but very little. The “added other topics” made a big chunk of the post, and they weren’t just added as having been left out; several of them were flailing attacks on a mythical feminism that doesn’t exist, such as the one that says “all men are rapists.” That was the part of the post that I criticized, for example, and it’s dishonest of Radford to pretend he simply added a few neglected topics.

So why the anger and venom? Why would anyone get enraged and morally indignant because I think women dancing is a waste of time and not actually helping decrease the incidence of physical and sexual assault?

Dude. That is not what happened.

Is it possible to somehow interpret this as supporting rape in some way? I didn’t think so, yet over the past week I have been criticized and vilified, painted as a misogynist, “rape apologist” and even “anti-feminist” by a few people who either didn’t read my piece, or didn’t understand it.

I read it. Did Radford read it?

I am over the myth of “the passivity of good men,” suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

I am over the male bashing often inherent in feminist writings and slogans; “All men are rapists” is neither true nor fair nor helpful.

I am over the wanton slinging of labels like “misogynist” and “sexist” and “sister hater” and “gender traitor” and “rape apologist” to people who dare criticize feminists. Plenty of feminists disagree with each other.

I am over social activists, including those whose causes I support, who value emotion and anecdote over truth, facts, and critical thinking.

I am over thin-skinned “feminists” who blithely and intentionally confuse legitimate questions and criticism of their facts or claims with misogyny and sexism; it is insulting to real victims of misogyny and sexism.

I am over blaming TV, movies, magazines, and video games for real-life violence-including violence against women. Just as sexy clothes do not cause rape, violent and sexual images do not cause rape; rapists cause rape.

I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

Rush Limbaugh could cheerfully sign off on that passage. If Radford didn’t intend that passage to be anti-feminist, he’s one hell of a clumsy writer.

 

21 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    If Radford didn’t intend that passage to be anti-feminist, he’s one hell of a clumsy writer.

    It also begs the question of who (Radford thinks) is doing these things that he’s over. Okay, so none of these ‘over’ statements were about feminists. Tell us then, Mr. Radford, who were they about?

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    Tell us then, Mr. Radford, who were they about?

    Over there – hiding behind that pile of straw. Oh, no, wait, it is the straw!

  3. 3
    skmc

    Radford wants a “charitable” reading? How about this: I charitably assume that he is intelligent enough to understand the criticisms leveled at the obvious straw-feminists he put in his poem, and is being deliberately dishonest rather than stupid. There. I did my part.

  4. 4
    eric

    Over there – hiding behind that pile of straw. Oh, no, wait, it is the straw!

    Funny how that is about the least offensive answer he could actually come up with. General rule of thumb: when “I was merely tilting at windmills” is the best way to interpret some argument you’ve made, that argument is probably no good.

  5. 5
    thetalkingstove

    So Radford is another skeptic who applies skepticism to everything but the possibility of himself being even mildly wrong. Great. Keep on beating up Yeti, Ben.

  6. 6
    Bernard Bumner

    So Radford’s excuse amounts to a claim that he deliberately placed mild critique of Ensler’s use of statistics and the worth of her activism next to vitriolic ranting about man-hating feminists and liars, and in the same piece, but that they weren’t meant to read as a whole?

    Even if true, then that represents a quite spectacular level of incompetence. It is difficult to accept as true.

    He still needs to explain the botched attribution of PZ’s blog post in his earlier follow-up.

    And what is this? -

    What I actually wrote (check it yourself) was that “one-third of women [have been victims of] homicide, intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, stranger rape and economic abuse.” (One in three women is not the same as one billion if you do the math, though perhaps that’s just my hyperskepticism.)

    Furthermore Myers apparently didn’t read the list very carefully, or he might have noticed that many of these “specific words” (as the phrase he uses) aren’t really comparable to being “raped, beaten, or violated.”

    Which ones “aren’t really comparable”?

    Where is that ranking list of abuses for reference?

  7. 7
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    I can’t decide if he is that deluded or if he’s just a fucking liar.

  8. 8
    notsont

    I can’t decide if he is that deluded or if he’s just a fucking liar.

    He’s a liar, I don’t mind rational disagreements there are plenty of real criticisms of some feminists but instead of going after what would in the end amount to mild disagreements over a little too much hyperbole or misreading of what people are saying, they go after things that were never said by anyone anywhere. When they are called on it instead of admitting they made a mistake(lied) they double down and try to convince people that what they said isn’t actually what they said.

    Honestly my head is going to explode.

  9. 9
    michaeld

    Bernard Bumner had this quote from Radford.

    Radford : “One in three women is not the same as one billion if you do the math, though perhaps that’s just my hyperskepticism.”

    I don’t know if it’s hyperskepticism or just bad math skills but, as I pointed out in the comments over there* if you do the math 1/3 of women on earth is about 1 billion women. Given the rough numbers of 7 billion people on earth, 1/2 of which are women, 1/3 of which have faced the hardships listed.

    Thus 7 billion/(2*3) = 1.16 billion or rounded 1 billion women. So saying 1/3 of women is in fact about 1 billion women. No one has taken the time to offer a different calculation.

    *so far no reply from Radford though he has responded to others and no change to the post

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    I saw that comment, Michaeld. Impressive that there’s no reply. [sigh]

  11. 11
    Laurence

    His response to my comment was bizarre, and I’m still not sure if I understand it. It seemed to me that he was saying that it was okay for him to be less charitable towards feminists because he was doing it in a poem. Or something like that. I’m all about being a charitable as possible, but I don’t think it’s legitimate to complain about lack of charity when you are clearly showing lack of charity. It’s pretty silly in my opinion.

  12. 12
    michaeld

    @Laurence

    I think what he meant was charity only matters if there’s a person to go with the argument. If he just paints groups with a broad brush without naming names he doesn’t have to be charitable cause there’s no one in particular he’s having a discussion with. Thus he’d have to be charitable to Ophelia say but doesn’t have to be charitable to the idea that people think “all men are rapists” cause he hasn’t actually picked anyone making that argument out. Actually the argument can uncharitably be rephrased as “I have to be charitable to people not strawmen”

    in general
    Neither Radford nor Hall seem able to engage in a conversation of their ideas. They get very defensive and try to justify themselves reflexively without listening to the criticisms being made of them. Their leap on the idea of charity* is just another aspect of this defensiveness. Taking anything that can shield them from admitting they’re wrong or examining what they say and think.

    *something which I’ll admit is important thoughI don’t think either have shown much charity themselves

  13. 13
    Laurence

    @michaeld,

    I think you’re right. I still think that’s wrong headed (and I’m not saying that you are) because it seems to me that you can totally be uncharitable to arguments, ideas, and so on. As someone who is involved in philosophy, I can be more or less charitable to entire philosophical movements when I talk about them or write about them. I don’t even have to be talking about a particular philosopher’s idea to be uncharitable. So, his answer translated by you seems even more bogus.

  14. 14
    Anthony K

    I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

    Really? The non-simplistic idea is the manichean dichotomy between criminals and law-abiding citizens? The simplistic one is that there exists a multitude of reinforcing factors that influence people’s behaviours, including rape, and those factors themselves may be influenced?

  15. 15
    Zhuge

    Wow I totally missed that Anthony, good point.

  16. 16
    Argle Bargle

    I am over the myth of “the passivity of good men,” suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

    There is more involved in rape culture than being a rapist. When you hear a rape joke, do you laugh, remain silent or tell the jokester “that joke supports the rape culture”? The first two choices are outright or tacit support of the rape culture.

    I am over the male bashing often inherent in feminist writings and slogans; “All men are rapists” is neither true nor fair nor helpful.

    You’re right, it isn’t true. It’s so untrue that the only time it’s been said was in a novel.

    I am over the wanton slinging of labels like “misogynist” and “sexist” and “sister hater” and “gender traitor” and “rape apologist” to people who dare criticize feminists. Plenty of feminists disagree with each other.

    There’s a difference between criticizing feminism and attacking feminism with fallacies and lies. Claiming a common feminist trope is “all men are rapists” is far beyond mere criticism.

    I am over social activists, including those whose causes I support, who value emotion and anecdote over truth, facts, and critical thinking.

    It would be nice if Radford used more facts and critical thinking when writing about feminism. At least emotions and anecdotes are closer to truth than what Radford is throwing around.

    I am over thin-skinned “feminists” who blithely and intentionally confuse legitimate questions and criticism of their facts or claims with misogyny and sexism; it is insulting to real victims of misogyny and sexism.

    Claiming feminists say “all men are rapists” is not a legitimate criticism.

    I am over blaming TV, movies, magazines, and video games for real-life violence-including violence against women. Just as sexy clothes do not cause rape, violent and sexual images do not cause rape; rapists cause rape.

    TV, movies, etc. do not cause rape. However many of them support and even promote the rape culture. Radford does not understand the difference between rape and the rape culture. Perhaps if he used critical thinking he could see what that difference is.

    I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

    Just one more bit of evidence about Radford’s lack of understanding about the rape culture. I’m tempted to say he doesn’t want to understand the difference but, unlike him, I do not toss unevidenced accusations around.

  17. 17
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    So Ensler could have escaped Radford’s criticism if her campaign had been called, “One Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Thirty-Two Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-One Rising* *Based on a meta-analysis of the most current research data as of January 13th, 2013, but subject to change at any moment.”?

    But that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well.
    (And hard to fit on a banner.)

  18. 18
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I am over the myth of “the passivity of good men,” suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

    Wow. This guy is a 20 mega ton douchebomb. EVERYONE is complicit. We’re ALL raised in a sick twisted rape culture. That means we’re all responsible for fighting it – if you’re a decent person and if you’re actually against rape. It’s not about blaming men for it, you ridiculous, clueless asswipe. SILENCE IS COMPLICITY.

    ANYONE’s silence.

    Fuck what an asshole. And I’m supposed to believe he’s NOT a rape apologist, after such an incredibly oblivious, disconnected from reality statement?

    Is this asshat one of those “privilege doesn’t exist” dipshits too?

  19. 19
    Amphigorey

    Well, according to one of his loyal commenters, feminists have privilege because we argue with people who say stupid things like “feminists say all men are rapists.” Or something – I’m not really clear on how that’s supposed to work.

  20. 20
    'dirigible

    No true rapist?

  21. 21
    ewanmacdonald

    Benny boy should stick to bigfoot. He’s hopelessly out of his depth in the real world.

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