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New required reading: Confessions of a former misogynist

There are times when I read things that people have written on the internet, and I say “that’s wrong”. There are other, slightly rarer times when I read something and say “that’s right, but I could have said it better”. There are still other occasions where I read something and my reaction is “that’s exactly how I would have said it”.

But then there are those rare and happy occasions where I read something and say “fuck, I wish I had written that”. This piece is one of those:

I remember when I first heard the word misogynist. I was talking to a friend about a girl who’d dumped me, and my feelings about feminists creating a society where nice men couldn’t get girlfriends, and he described me as “quite a misogynist”. I asked him what he meant, and he said “it’s simply hatred of women.” I instantly loved the term. I didn’t consider myself a sexist – I thought of Benny Hill as sexist – sexism was just silly but this was serious.

I very seriously thought women were irrational, mad, over-emotional and pseudo-intellectual creatures who would do anything, via new feminism, to crush weak men who suffered from depression, and I hated them. These days, I see a lot of people saying “I’m not a misogynist, but…”, because they don’t want to be called a misogynist, but not me. It was the term I’d been looking for, and I was proud to call myself a misogynist.

This was before the age of social media, but I know what I’d be doing if it was available at the time. I’d be following feminists and strong women on Twitter, combing their tweets for any kind of slip-up that I could use to ‘expose’ them. If I saw a blog or comment by a feminist that challenged my world view, my anger button would be pressed and, rather than responding rationally, I’d lash out with gendered insults, all while completely failing to empathise with them.

The post, which is a lengthy but incredibly worthwhile read, is the story of a man who made a journey very similar to my own (except he had the added bonus of having to contend with clinical depression) from unthinking misogyny and entitlement toward a more egalitarian and healthy relationship with not only women, but with his own anger.

This is one to keep in the quiver for the next time someone decides to go on a rant about how femi-nazis are ruining the suchandsuch, or how feminism is discriminatory against men (or at least has nothing to offer men), or how it’s “just a joke” and that thicker skins are needed.

I particularly like the ending, although it does end on a slightly daunting note:

I haven’t written this to show off about how enlightened I am, to “save women” or to seek atonement for my former emotionally-abusive self, but to explain how my misogynist mindset worked and how I woke up to the real world. If you recognise any of the same behaviour in yourself, know that it’s possible to change, and that you’ll be a much better person for it. If you feel your irrational anger button being pushed, sit back a few days later and ask yourself why, and ask where your empathy lies. Write it down, think about it and be truthful.

You may not come to the same conclusions as me, and that’s fine – I always like to think that life is a learning experience, and I still get a lot wrong. But once you remove irrational anger from the equation and develop a sense of self-awareness and empathy, you can then start to really challenge yourself and open your eyes.

This process took decades with me, though. Debunking a feminist conspiracy in your head is a little bit like deprogramming yourself from a religion. It takes years of self-reflection and asking some really uncomfortable questions about yourself, but you do come out of it a better person.

It took him decades, which may be cause for a bit of despair, but we all get there eventually, and the more of us there are, the easier the process becomes. I also emphasized the comparison between misogyny and religion because it so exactly parallels how I feel about it, and precisely addresses why I (and so many others) spend so much time on ‘atheist blogs’ addressing misogyny, racism, and other similar processes – because they’re reflections of the same cognitive failures.

Anyway, read the thing.

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Comments

  1. Edward Gemmer says

    It’s pretty interesting, though in one respect it doesn’t go far enough. Irrational anger isn’t confined to one person or one race or one gender. Frustration, depression, and irrational anger are often linked, and one thing he says is absolutely right – developing a sense of empathy, responsibility, and self-awareness is a cure.

    Where I think this can be expanded is that it isn’t limited to feminism (or racism). Irrational anger towards a racist isn’t any better than irrational anger towards a woman. There was a story about kids in Waverly, Ohio doing a skit in blackface, and many were up in arms about how backwards and stupid and racist they were. But that area is mostly impoverished, and certainly pretty low on the political power scale. Isolating and marginalizing them isn’t morally better than doing it to anyone else, and doing it won’t make someone feel better about themselves.

    Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is cliche, but it works.

  2. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Edward Gemmer,

    How typical of you to jump in and try to change the subject from misogyny to the sins of anti-racists.

    Irrational anger towards a racist isn’t any better than irrational anger towards a woman.

    What a bizarre false equivalence. Being a racist – that is, someone who habitually behaves in a racist fashion – is not a biosocial condition you are born into, like being a woman, or being white. It is, specifically, about how the racist behaves. Of course one can feel irrational anger at a racist – you can convince yourself on no evidence that they stole your wallet, for example – but your example – no citation so we can look at the details for ourselves, I notice – even if a genuine example of over-reaction to what could be called a racism of ignorance, is far from typical of the cases in which people express anger at racists, as you must be well aware. It is also in no way comparable to the anger described in the OP and the linked article, which is anger about particular women failing to behave as the writer believed women should; the irrationality being that he was misrepresenting to himself, to prop up his self-image, both their behaviour and what he had a right to expect.

  3. says

    Irrational anger towards a racist isn’t any better than irrational anger towards a woman

    Hold up hold up hold up…

    You’re going to conflate the state of ‘being a woman’ with ‘dressing up in blackface’? You do realize that one of those things is a valid reason to criticize someone and the other isn’t, right? Like, you’re not actually asking me to take your hand and explain to you the difference between racism and ‘being a woman’, are you? Because if you are, then you’ll have to wait until my derisive, mocking laughter dies down, and you may not have that kind of time.

  4. hamstur says

    “you’ll have to wait until my derisive, mocking laughter dies down…”

    And… that’s my FB “out of context quote” for the day. I swear, if you wrote about your damn laundry, I’d still read it just to see you turn a phrase like this. Of course, if you were this passionate about laundry, it might a bit weird. But I’d still read it.

  5. says

    Crommunist: I apologize for the OT comment, but I’d like to know if you know anything about a guy named Kevin Annett. He’s with an organization called ITCCS, who claim there’s a warrant out for Pope Palpadict’s arrest. Annett has also been accused of pretending to find mass graves of indigenous people, and of being a bogus champion of indigenous people’s rights and interests.

    Your thoughts? Thanks in advance.

  6. Onamission5 says

    Edward Gemmer, you just compared *being a woman* with a decision to commit an action that is oppresssive on the face of it, as if *being a woman* is something which hurts, oppresses and offends a marginalised group of human beings and is an action I can cease if I wish to not offend people *with my very existence.*

    Do ‘splain. Or, you know, really, don’t. You could also apologize or just fuck right off. The choice is yours. You too have the power to choose to stop making ridiculous false analogies in which you conflate misogyny with anti-racism.

  7. Edward Gemmer says

    It is also in no way comparable to the anger described in the OP and the linked article, which is anger about particular women failing to behave as the writer believed women should; the irrationality being that he was misrepresenting to himself, to prop up his self-image, both their behaviour and what he had a right to expect.

    Well, why not? Forget about women – the main point of his article is that he was unhappy and depressed and for a long time he blamed a bunch of other people that weren’t him. It’s a woman’s fault because she dumped him. It’s a woman’s fault because she would choose to have a baby. He would act like a giant baby to manipulate others into doing what he wanted, and if they didn’t he blamed them. It is the very art of the professional victim – someone who takes zero responsibility for anything that they do and then blames others all their problems. The magic bullet here isn’t that he learned that women don’t exist to please him (though that’s a big part of it). He learned that he was frustrated and unhappy because he was being a huge douchebag, and the only person who can change that is him.

    So the comparison here is that irrational anger and blaming other people for problems they probably didn’t cause is something that can have poor consequences for us (and for them). IMO, you get caught up in the weeds in saying that it is solely about women (or immigrants, or poor people, etc.) However, once you let go of the irrational anger towards people and have true empathy, it is usually a lot easier to see where they are coming from and resolve things without throwing entire groups of people under the bus.

    Like, you’re not actually asking me to take your hand and explain to you the difference between racism and ‘being a woman’, are you?

    I’m not asking you to do any such thing and it has nothing to do with my point. Like I said, racism and sexism can get you caught in the weeds of hate – where it’s ok to hate and insult someone based on some other irrational reason. Clearly, being angry or derisive or whatever you like towards some poor kid in Waverly is irrational. That doesn’t mean you can’t criticize him, but actually being angry makes no sense, and insulting him into doing what you like is the height of manipulation.

    Or to put it a different way – the civil rights movement existed and still exists. To me, it stood for the idea that irrational rules about people based on very fuzzy lines like race and gender not right. However, “very fuzzy lines” is a pretty broad group. Irrational anger, rules, insults, and the like against other groups of people with very little uniting them doesn’t strike me as any more reasonable or effective.

  8. Edward Gemmer says

    Edward Gemmer, you just compared *being a woman* with a decision to commit an action that is oppresssive on the face of it, as if *being a woman* is something which hurts, oppresses and offends a marginalised group of human beings and is an action I can cease if I wish to not offend people *with my very existence.*

    No I didn’t.

  9. says

    No I didn’t.

    Yeah man, you totally did.

    However, once you let go of the irrational anger towards people and have true empathy, it is usually a lot easier to see where they are coming from and resolve things without throwing entire groups of people under the bus.

    Whose irrational anger are you talking about here? If your point is “don’t be irrationally angry at people for doing racist things” then yeah congratulations, you’ve managed to catch up to where the conversation has always been. Your ‘advice’ is a waste of the energy you’re putting into trying to scold people who don’t do what you’re complaining about.

  10. Onamission5 says

    Edward Gemmer, you made a statement that being hateful toward women is equal bad to getting angry about racism. Unpacking that in even the most simplistic sense, you just compared being a racist to being a woman. Think about it.

  11. Yoyo says

    Why whenever an interesting conversation about sexism, oppression of women and the need to change is raised does some (insert insult here) ALWAYS try and derail the conversation?

    Situation: let’s talk about lack of coverage of women’s sport.
    Troll: but what about the unborn babies? / state of the union address or any other damn thing except the topic at hand.

  12. Onamission5 says

    Ahem. Sorry. Back to the article at hand..

    This jumped out at me mid-read:
    “The girls I’d been out with hadn’t dumped me because I was ‘too nice’ or because I was depressed, but because I was an emotionally abusive arsehole.”

    Which is the sort of self-relevation that I’d love quite a few people I know to have. Along with, after a breakup, if you feel you have to list all the things you didn’t do wrong in order to justify why you are a Nice Guy, you probably were not actually being a nice guy.

    It was a good read. Interesting to read through someone’s internal process like that. A little triggery for me because whoa, but in the end he’s being explanatory, not justifying, so I can deal.

  13. Edward Gemmer says

    Yeah man, you totally did.

    Nope.

    Whose irrational anger are you talking about here? If your point is “don’t be irrationally angry at people for doing racist things” then yeah congratulations, you’ve managed to catch up to where the conversation has always been. Your ‘advice’ is a waste of the energy you’re putting into trying to scold people who don’t do what you’re complaining about.

    I’m not scolding anyone. I represent a lot of drug addicts and criminals and people who are bad at life. A common theme is their inability connect their actions with the things that happen to them. This guy learned that lesson, but the secret isn’t empathizing with women (because otherwise, what’s the key for women?). It’s empathizing with everyone around them. I disagree that it is the current state of thinking. People are dismissive – for example, American politics has seemed to devolve into more or less arguments as to why huge other groups of people are irrelevant or at least should be. It’s difficult to have empathy, especially for people with whom we most disagree. That doesn’t mean it is unwise.

    Edward Gemmer, you made a statement that being hateful toward women is equal bad to getting angry about racism. Unpacking that in even the most simplistic sense, you just compared being a racist to being a woman. Think about it.

    What I said is that irrational anger towards a racist isn’t somehow morally superior to being irrationally angry at a girl who dumped you or anything else. Irrational anger is the crux of the issue. Is it better to punch your girlfriend because she dumped a homeless guy who yells a racial slur at you? I guess the homeless guy, but it doesn’t make much sense to punch either of them.

    Why whenever an interesting conversation about sexism, oppression of women and the need to change is raised does some (insert insult here) ALWAYS try and derail the conversation?

    That’s skepticism for you. Always some asshole offering a different point of view.

  14. Yoyo says

    Hey my disingenuous friend ed g, that is not scepticism it’s boorish behaviour. I don’t jump on a thread about labour problems (for example) and demand that people talk about cats.
    There is a very common pattern on the interwebs of discussions about race and sexism being derailed by gnomes with alternate agendas. Whether this is deliberate or just “look at me” behaviour, I don’t know.
    Empathy is an important skill that should be strengthened at all times, this piece was primarily a discussion about why many men fall into the MRA /misogenist mindset, NOT about generalised lack of empathy.

    The author did not mention that he had problems empathising with other men, infact on the site this piece was first posted he talks about his confusion, lack of sex and hormones being major drivers of women hatred.

  15. Edward Gemmer says

    Hey my disingenuous friend ed g, that is not scepticism it’s boorish behaviour. I don’t jump on a thread about labour problems (for example) and demand that people talk about cats.

    Well I’m not talking about quotes. Yes, I understand the author’s point that once he started empathizing with all the women he made miserable he started to understand why he was so unhappy. This is a wonderful thing. Women are really, really important to men, especially young men, and sometimes it seems they are the only group that really matters at all. What I am saying is that women aren’t the only group on the planet. Neither are men. Neither is any other group you can think of. Some men are depressed and think women are the cause. Some women are depressed and unhappy and think men are the cause. Some people blame immigrants. Some blame Jesus. Some blame the devil. Some blame racists. The common theme is that it is someone else’s fault, and learning to focus on your own actions and empathize with the actions of others is a wonderful skill that helps people. That doesn’t mean you excuse someone else’s actions, but understanding them can certainly help you.

    So point is, like I said in the first post, which is that this is interesting but could go even farther. I like his article, but focusing on empathy for women is, to me, missing a broader and more important point (even though I strongly agree that empathizing with women is a wonderful and important thing).

  16. rowanvt says

    Well, why not? Forget about women –

    Oh yes, let’s forget about those silly wimmins in an article about a formerly avowed misogynist coming to grips with how wrong his attitude was. Yes let’s forget about women when they are a major part of the story. Let’s just forget about women entirely, it’s so much easier that way…….

    So about that racism, eh?

  17. Edward Gemmer says

    Oh yes, let’s forget about those silly wimmins in an article about a formerly avowed misogynist coming to grips with how wrong his attitude was. Yes let’s forget about women when they are a major part of the story. Let’s just forget about women entirely, it’s so much easier that way…….

    Let’s not.

  18. rowanvt says

    But you said let’s forget about the women. Why are you backtracking now? I thought being nice to racists was what was important here?

  19. Edward Gemmer says

    But you said let’s forget about the women. Why are you backtracking now? I thought being nice to racists was what was important here?

    Try again.

  20. Yoyo says

    groWomen are really, really important to men, especially young men, and sometimes it seems they are the only group that really matters at all. What I am saying is that women aren’t the only group on the planet. Neither are men. Neither is any other group you can think of.

    This is not the issue. It is not about how important women are to men. And women are not here saying that they are the most important group to men or to any other “grouping”. The only issue is how one young man became aware that his own inadeqacies led to him HATING women. To the point that he supported a man who had killed his estranged partner. Infact all his empathy was to other hateful men. To continue to conflate this into a “but all groups are picked on” screed is to deliberately derail the important discussion.

  21. Edward Gemmer says

    This is not the issue. It is not about how important women are to men. And women are not here saying that they are the most important group to men or to any other “grouping”. The only issue is how one young man became aware that his own inadeqacies led to him HATING women. To the point that he supported a man who had killed his estranged partner. Infact all his empathy was to other hateful men. To continue to conflate this into a “but all groups are picked on” screed is to deliberately derail the important discussion.

    It’s not about the groups at all!! Women are very important to young men, so much that at times that it seems women are all they can think about. At least that’s the way it was for me and various times in my younger life. But clearly, women aren’t the only group in the word. You can slice and dice people into every conceivable group you can imagine, but however you slice them, they still contain a diverse group of individuals with various lives. Understanding this and empathizing with people, instead of treating them as a member of a group who is trying to make you unhappy, is probably a good path, IMO.

    That’s not to derail the conversation – it’s to expand it. It’s a difficult thing to empathize with people. Saying you empathize with say, Latino people while at the same time dismissing some other huge group isn’t to me, a sign of a progressive society,

  22. Edward Gemmer says

    Excuse the slightly botched quote, I’m not very familiar with HTML

    No problem. I can barely understand it either. I copy the text I want to reply to, then copy the blockquote cite=”” under the text box, which goes before it, then end it with a /blockquote. go around those.

  23. rowanvt says

    Here, I will attempt to explain this to you, Edward.

    Very frequently, when issues women face are brought up, people come into the threads and derail them to be about other things. It’s a form of silencing and while you may not be intending it that way, intent is not magic. It’s what you are effectively doing. “Oh, women have it hard? Well so do these other people so let’s talk about that, not about this specific situation this thread is about.”

    THIS THREAD is about a former misogynist. It’s about the irrational hatred of women, of 50% of the human population. It’s about a guy getting over this irrational hatred of women. And you want to make it about anything or even *everything* else. This is silencing us.

    You outright said “Forget about the women”. You clearly do not understand how painful and aggravating a thing that is to see. I’m often ignored, looked over, dismissed in every day life. This is not a once-off statement, this is the entire experience of my life.

    Forget about the women, they aren’t as important.

    Thank you for telling me I’m not as important as these other things. You may not have meant to, but that’s what you did.

  24. rowanvt says

    You said this earlier:

    one thing he says is absolutely right – developing a sense of empathy, responsibility, and self-awareness is a cure.

    So please do develop that sense of empathy and see how your statements look to someone who experiences discrimination based on sex. Take responsibility for you statements and what they are *actually* accomplishing instead of what you hoped they would. And please be self-aware of the fact that this whole planet is steeped in sexism and that we have all internalised a great deal of. And sometimes it leaks through.

  25. Yoyo says

    Thanks rowan, I find this soooo frustrating. I haven’t been to this site before although I often go to other sites at freethought. This problem is ubiquitous , Edward is polite in response but he’s also goddamn wrong. Almost all the debate has now become the rest of the commentators trying to educate/correct Edward. If you needed a stronger example of how women’s concerns become marginalised it would be hard to find.

    This debate is important. I recommend a site called manboobz which highlights the malevolence of the PUA and MRA point of view. PS It’s run by a man.

    Edward misogeny is different to getting annoyed with teenagers who wear blackface. If you cannot even parse that difference maybe you should read a bit wider before you comment.

  26. rowanvt says

    Thank you again for dismissing me. For telling that, because I’m a woman, things against me are not as important as the other -isms and -ists. You are proving your lack of empathy, personal responsibility and self-awareness with great depth and fervor.

    I absolutely don’t need you to tell me that I am *important*. But you do not get a free pass to tell me that issues I face due to being a woman are *less* important than these other things (reading comprehension) because then you are saying “Women are not important.”

    That you were unable to see past my use of the singular with myself to give you a ‘person’ to identify and empathize with specifically shows that all you posted is absolutely and utter fucking bullshit. You don’t give a shit.

  27. rowanvt says

    Apparently, you have a history of doing this Edward. Coming into a thread, entirely derailing it, and turning into “but what about X?????”

    You are dishonest.
    You know you are dishonest.

  28. kantalope says

    “I very seriously thought women were irrational, mad, over-emotional and pseudo-intellectual creatures…
    Holy Projection Batman!

  29. nualle says

    [Religion,] misogyny, racism, and other similar processes [...] they’re reflections of the same cognitive failures.

    This. Thanks, Crommunist, for the link to Ben’s post and for your summation.

  30. Brandon says

    It’s like nobody listens to me at all

    I’m usually a lurker, but for what it’s worth, the post on “a racist” was one of my favorites on the network and probably had more impact on how I think about these things that any other posts. I find it really valuable both in terms of thinking and in terms of communicating with others to thinking about behaviors as racist rather than people.

    That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to use, “a racist” as shorthand for “someone who regularly behaves in a racist fashion and defends those actions”.

  31. says

    I bet it took decades because he was doing it mostly on his own and without social media tools. We all have significant advantages now that didn’t exist decades ago, when feminism was reaching its height of extremely radical over-statements.

  32. says

    I like his article, but focusing on empathy for women is, to me, missing a broader and more important point (even though I strongly agree that empathizing with women is a wonderful and important thing).

    In other words, you know the article was right, but you still think your own desire to monopolize the conversation is more important than dealing with the substance of the article. Thanks for once again showing yourself to be a self-important one-track noncompoop.

  33. says

    P.S. I also wrote this entry some time ago while thinking about the many Dirtbags I’ve Dated (mostly cis men, but one cis woman too — take all the time you need to think about that).

    http://haifischgeweint.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/how-to-manufacture-masculinity/

    The way the guy wrote about himself and how his relationships progressed literally sounds exactly like dozens of people I’ve dated or maintained more enduring relationships with. It’s a wonder I didn’t off myself a long time ago, because the only thing that got me through all of it was actually my mental health problem (i.e., dissociative identity disorder). Take all the time you need to think about that, too.

  34. Yoyo says

    Hi haifisch, I’m not sure what you meant bywhen feminism was reaching its height of extremely radical over statements.

    To me, this sounds a lot like “when those feminists all went too far”.

    Can you please clarify, beca use I would hate to think that you also fell into those “feminists are now evil ” stereotypes.

  35. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    I was discussing toxic masculinity and how prevalent it was in previous decades with the youngest member of the household (nearly 19). Of course, we touched on racism too. Mostly, his reaction was one of disbelief; not that anyone could think like that – he has known people in his general age-group who think like that – but that it was ever prevalent and socially acceptable. Because, in the under-25’s at least, it isn’t acceptable any more. Not by a long chalk.

    People, like the man quoted in the OP, who blame a whole category of humanity for the behaviour of one person who reacted in a way they dislike after being mistreated by them, seem to me to be like the person who is dislikes all dogs because they were once bitten by one that they kicked, or all cats because one scratched them when they teased it.

    They are feeling entitled to have whatever they want and behave however they want because other people shouldn’t have any contrary feelings on the matter. They are like indulged toddlers who have never had to grow up.

    Like the perfect example of Edward Gemmer, who has shown in this thread alone that he is incapable of visualising any point of view not his own; worse than that, he is incapable of imagining that there might exist any such thing, let alone that it may take precedence.

    Try some humility. It’s not just for other people.

  36. Maggie H says

    Edward Gemmer,

    Women are really, really important to men, especially young men, and sometimes it seems they are the only group that really matters at all.

    and

    Women are very important to young men, so much that at times that it seems women are all they can think about. At least that’s the way it was for me and various times in my younger life.

    Yay, heteronormativity! Heterosexuality–it’s the only form of sexuality! Ugh…

    (Sorry everyone else, I know that’s not exactly on topic, but those statements were skeeving me out really badly. I sometimes have a visceral reaction to things like that, not sure why.)

  37. Edward Gemmer says

    Thanks rowan, I find this soooo frustrating. I haven’t been to this site before although I often go to other sites at freethought. This problem is ubiquitous , Edward is polite in response but he’s also goddamn wrong. Almost all the debate has now become the rest of the commentators trying to educate/correct Edward. If you needed a stronger example of how women’s concerns become marginalised it would be hard to find.

    This debate is important. I recommend a site called manboobz which highlights the malevolence of the PUA and MRA point of view. PS It’s run by a man.

    Edward misogeny is different to getting annoyed with teenagers who wear blackface. If you cannot even parse that difference maybe you should read a bit wider before you comment.

    But no one has any responsibility to “educate/correct” me. I feel I made cogent points that were on topic and fit with what the author was saying while also offering something slightly different. Hence, the discussion part of commenting on blogs. Eight comments that say “hey, that’s great” don’t really offer much in the way of interesting criticism. Critical thinking being the epicenter of skepticism, I think it’s worth thinking about.

    Though I agree, misogyny is different from racism or anti-racism or homophobia and many other things. Gender is something that I think brings forth some different emotional responses from other groups. Whereas most groups can be places into the “I’ll be suspicious of them because they are different,” sexism is different because we all grew up with people of other genders around us, and we have some emotional responses based purely on that. For this guy, realizing that his efforts to manipulate women weren’t very effective at making him happy in the long run helped him become a better human being.

    Does this derail the conversation? I don’t know. For one, how does it help depressed, unhappy women? There are certainly those women out there that find themselves in a pattern of poor or abusive relationships and constant frustration and depression. “Empathize with women” isn’t a message that helps them out, as far as I can tell. Be self-aware, responsible, and empathetic? Probably a stronger message for women. As a strong feminist, the best message we can teach our daughters is that they not only have the right to object to any kind of abuse or maltreatment they get, they should object to it. To spin it a different way, I would prefer this guys efforts at manipulating women by being a huge douchebag didn’t succeed in the first place.

  38. Maggie H says

    As a strong feminist, the best message we can teach our daughters is that they not only have the right to object to any kind of abuse or maltreatment they get, they should object to it . To spin it a different way, I would prefer this guys efforts at manipulating women by being a huge douchebag didn’t succeed in the first place .

    Wow. That is a really impressive amalgam of paternalism and victim-blaming. I didn’t know it could be done that way.

  39. Eric O says

    It’s always nice to read stories like this. While I can somewhat relate this to my own slow recognition of my privilege, I was never really in as deep as him. I never saw feminism as an evil conspiracy (my mother was a feminist activist in the ’60s and ’70s so I had a pretty decent understanding of the goals of second-wave feminism, and I generally supported it), but I did view any attempt to change cultural attitudes (eg. doing away with gendered slurs and sexual objectification) as being some sort of mush-brained post-modern ultra-PC sort of endeavor. I’m quite glad that I got over that attitude.

  40. Edward Gemmer says

    Wow. That is a really impressive amalgam of paternalism and victim-blaming. I didn’t know it could be done that way.

    Victim blaming? I can’t imagine anything more condescending to women than to call them victims. Luckily, there is a movement that exists to promote women and believes they have the right to self-determination and not to be helpless objects with no control over their lives. It is called feminism, and I love it.

  41. says

    Edward Gemmer,

    Women are really, really important to men, especially young men, and sometimes it seems they are the only group that really matters at all.

    and

    Women are very important to young men, so much that at times that it seems women are all they can think about. At least that’s the way it was for me and various times in my younger life.

    Yay, heteronormativity! Heterosexuality–it’s the only form of sexuality! Ugh…

    (Sorry everyone else, I know that’s not exactly on topic, but those statements were skeeving me out really badly. I sometimes have a visceral reaction to things like that, not sure why.)

    Another thing to point out: Isn’t it nice how Edward talks only about women as how we appear to men? Not only men, to straight men? It’s almost as if straight men are people and everyone else are convenient props. Funny, that.

  42. A. Noyd says

    Women would get more succor from the prize in a box of knockoff Cracker Jacks than they would from Edward Gemmer’s equally tawdry notion of what feminism should be.

  43. Edward Gemmer says

    Women would get more succor from the prize in a box of knockoff Cracker Jacks than they would from Edward Gemmer’s equally tawdry notion of what feminism should be.

    Yeah, self-determination for women is a scary concept. We should be telling them to leave it to the men, right?

  44. Edward Gemmer says

    Oh, Eddie, darling. If only you understood what a total joke you are.

    Oh hey, mindlessly dismissing people because they are slightly different from you. That’s novel.

  45. A. Noyd says

    Slightly? You’d better never go to the Grand Canyon. You might try to step across it and end up—wait, what am I saying?

    Hey, Eddie, I hear the view at Lipan Point is just gorgeous this time of year.

  46. Maggie H says

    Edward Gemmer,
    When you say As a strong feminist, the best message we can teach our daughters is that they not only have the right to object to any kind of abuse or maltreatment they get, they should object to it, and that women should stop feeling manipulated in the first place, then yes, you are victim-blaming. It’s the same rhetoric as saying, “All women should learn self-defense to avoid being raped,” instead of saying, “Men should stop raping women.” While I do hope that all women can feel safe standing up for themselves some day, it is not women’s responsibility to stop men from manipulating us, especially when we are trained from birth to defer to men. (This happens regardless of our own families’ attitudes about gender roles because it pervades our entire society.) It is men’s responsibility to stop manipulating women. Teaching “our daughters” (paternalism much?) to stand up for themselves is all well and good, but to focus on that rather than the larger issue of changing men and boys’ attitudes/behavior toward girls and women is both sexist in itself and counterproductive to the cause.

    I can’t imagine anything more condescending to women than to call them victims. Luckily, there is a movement that exists to promote women and believes they have the right to self-determination and not to be helpless objects with no control over their lives. It is called feminism, and I love it.
    Wow, you just said that. Talk about condescending! Guess what? I’m a feminist myself, and I don’t enjoy your patronizing, “my-theoretical-understanding-of-sexism-and-feminism-is-more-valid-than-this-woman’s-lived-experiences-with-them” tone. Also, I’m used to seeing “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ?” responses to feminist blogs, but to see a “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE RACISTZ?” comment is just astounding.

  47. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    Dear Mr. Gemmer,

    The fact that some women have been victims of “any kind of abuse or maltreatment” doesn’t make that their fault, whereas your telling them they “should” object to it (as if that thought would never occur to them on their own without your helpful mansplaining) is a form of victim-blaming.

    Pointing out that you are victim-blaming is not claiming that women as a whole are helpless victims with no agency in their own lives; that you interpreted it that way shows just how far you have to go before you truly understand feminism.

    Women are people. Individuals. The differences between any two women are greater than any differences between women-as-a-group and men-as-a-group. Some women have been victims of abuse; that doesn’t make all women victims any more than it makes all men abusers. Because some men have been victims of abuse, too; and some women are abusers.

    And as for lots of comments agreeing with the blog post not being helpful – are you being contrary for the sake of it? Or are you going to make constructive and helpful critical comments? The subject is how heterosexual men can learn to feel empathy with, rather than lust and hatred for, the female half of the population.

    Have you anything to say on-topic?

  48. Yoyo says

    Ahh tigger, I don’t think Edward has any intention of understanding the point that it was so easy for the writer of this piece to blame women for all HIS problems. There is a total world .system for blaming women for men’s problems.

    Instead Edward keeps trying to bring it back to an individual lack of empathy. Meanwhile Edward shows a total lack of empathy for people who want to address the clear point of the piece.

  49. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    I don’t expect EG to understand. But the more of us there are pointing this out, the better, I think. Yes? =^_^=

  50. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Well I’m not talking about quotes. Yes, I understand the author’s point that once he started empathizing with all the women he made miserable he started to understand why he was so unhappy. This is a wonderful thing. Women are really, really important to men, especially young men, and sometimes it seems they are the only group that really matters at all.

    This statement bothers me immensely. Here we are, having just read a piece written by a man who was deeply and profoundly misogynistic, so much so that womankind only mattered to him based on their relationship to him and the degree that they served or did not serve his desires.

    And what do I find? This little nugget of joy wherein women are defined by their relative importance to men.

    Fuck.

    I can’t read Edward Gemmer’s mind. I can’t know what he was thinking when he wrote this. But I read this and I wanted to put my head on the table and just groan. No explanation, no justification, no rational, no clarification. Just that we’re really important to men . . . especially to the young men. Christ, it’s like we’re cars or something, and I don’t say this hypothetically. I’ve actually had people say things like this as a means of convincing women to simply accept a man’s interest in some stereotypically masculine sphere. “Cars are really, really important to men, especially young men, so don’t try to understand why he wants to spend so much time/money/whatever on cars.” Wah?

    And what is this especially young men specification about? What is that supposed to mean? Why would young men be more interested in women than any other group of men would be? Is this supposed to be some kind of comment about how women more important to men if the men want to fuck the women? I mean, is there some other reason that women would be especially important to young men and not, say, something like especially important to fathers? Is there some quality other than horniness that people ascribe to young men, expecting that it will fall off as the men get older, a quality that relates to women? Or we more of a fad that is temporarily popular for superficial reasons but will pass if given enough time?

    I just . . .

    *shakes her head, places it on the table, and groans*

  51. Edward Gemmer says

    and that women should stop feeling manipulated in the first place, then yes, you are victim-blaming

    The fact that some women have been victims of “any kind of abuse or maltreatment” doesn’t make that their fault, whereas your telling them they “should” object to it (as if that thought would never occur to them on their own without your helpful mansplaining) is a form of victim-blaming.

    Well, then call me a victim blamer. Actually, I hate the meme about victim blaming, because it is widely, widely misused. It starts with our criminal justice system, which probably got us into this mess in the first place. The victim/victim blaming stuff assumes that there are two classes of people, victims and offenders. Offenders are %100 responsible for everything that happens to the victim, and victims are 0% responsible for anything that happens to them. That way, we can feel good doing whatever we want to the offenders, and conversely blaming the victim should be avoided at all costs.

    I hate it. This is not reality. This is not the human experience. We go through our lives and things happen. some of them aren’t are fault at all and some of them are completely our fault, and most of the time there are various ranges of fault to attribute around. Battering women is a bad idea. Dating someone who is abusive and manipulative is also a bad idea. Is it victim blaming to say so and teach our daughters so? Maybe so, but it sure as hell is a good idea.

    And as for lots of comments agreeing with the blog post not being helpful – are you being contrary for the sake of it? Or are you going to make constructive and helpful critical comments? The subject is how heterosexual men can learn to feel empathy with, rather than lust and hatred for, the female half of the population.

    How do men learn to be empathetic? I don’t know, though it is a good question, and I think exploring it is worthwhile. Which leads me full circle towards the example in Waverly. Do you empathize with those kids? How about the alleged rapists in Steubenville? That isn’t meant to be cute (nor compare women to some other group), but a legitimate question. Feeling empathy for people you don’t like is hard! It seems worthwhile to figure out how we feel empathy for the people we don’t like before we would get too far teaching others how to feel empathy.

  52. Erista (aka Eris) says

    I can’t imagine anything more condescending to women than to call them victims. Luckily, there is a movement that exists to promote women and believes they have the right to self-determination and not to be helpless objects with no control over their lives. It is called feminism, and I love it.

    Side note: I am terribly, horribly angry at this deeply bizarre and profoundly disgusting idea women are either victims or people with the right to self-determination and not helpless objects with no control over their lives. God, it infuriates me beyond all speech. A woman, like a man, becomes a victim when he or she is harmed. For example, one might be a victim of an earthquake. But do people walk around insisting that one must not be a victim of an earthquake (?!) if one is to be an individual with the right to self-determination? That if a person is the victim of an earthquake, then said person is a helpless object with no control over their lives?

    I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and this does not make me a person without self-determination or a person who is a helpless object with no control over my life. I am a victim and I have self-determination. I am a victim and I am not a helpless object with no control over my life.

    It is mind boggling to say that when a rapists rapes someone, that the rapist has not only harmed the mind and body of a human being, but that the rapist has somehow managed to morph the victim of said crime into a helpless object without self-determination. Why do people want to peddle this shit? Why is it condescending to have something bad happen to you? I do not understand.

    Gah!

  53. Edward Gemmer says

    Cars are really, really important to men, especially young men, so don’t try to understand why he wants to spend so much time/money/whatever on cars.” Wah?

    Well, it’s no mystery. Cars are cool and fast and have the perception to impress other men and attract other women. And for young men, learning how to attract women is a big part of life. I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say that across all sexual species we happen to find, finding a mate is a big part of the plan. Men have the drive for it, young men have the unfortunate combination of having a huge drive for it and little idea on how to actually do it. I didn’t mean my example as some commentary on the sexes, however. I just meant that to this guy, women are the only other group he was really concerned about. Every gay person probably could have fallen off the face of the earth and he may not have noticed.

  54. Edward Gemmer says

    Why is it condescending to have something bad happen to you?

    It isn’t condescending to have something bad happen to you. It is condescending to think that learning how to avoid bad things is somehow a terrible idea that people can’t handle. People can handle a lot.

  55. A. Noyd says

    Eddie, honey, maybe as a Champion of the True Feminism, your time would be better spent by going door to door offering women free copies of your holy book, The Secret.

  56. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Well, it’s no mystery. Cars are cool and fast and have the perception to impress other men and attract other women. And for young men, learning how to attract women is a big part of life. I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say that across all sexual species we happen to find, finding a mate is a big part of the plan. Men have the drive for it, young men have the unfortunate combination of having a huge drive for it and little idea on how to actually do it. I didn’t mean my example as some commentary on the sexes, however. I just meant that to this guy, women are the only other group he was really concerned about. Every gay person probably could have fallen off the face of the earth and he may not have noticed.

    So . . . the answer is yes, the importance of women to men is a result of their availability and suitability as mates? Aiee. You know, I’d really like it if we could at least work towards a situation where my importance isn’t determined by how fuckable I am or how much those around me are interested in my fuckibility.

    And no, I don’t believe that men would be unconcerned if the non-women fell off the face of the earth. Just like women, men do seem to value those who are in other categories, such as the category of “friend.” If we want to be explicit, we need only refer to the whole “bros before hoes” mantra, which didn’t pop into being out of a void.

    Lastly, being fuckable is not the same as being a mate. A woman who a man wants to fuck is not automatically a woman that the man wants to treat well. If this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have men promising women relationships in exchange for sex and then reneging when he’s had the sex.

    It isn’t condescending to have something bad happen to you. It is condescending to think that learning how to avoid bad things is somehow a terrible idea that people can’t handle. People can handle a lot.

    You do realize, I hope, that no amount of learning can guarantee that a person isn’t or won’t become a victim? And that a lot of the “learning” that people want victims to do is contradictory, not helpful, and even harmful? For example, you said “As a strong feminist, the best message we can teach our daughters is that they not only have the right to object to any kind of abuse or maltreatment they get, they should object to it,” but the simple fact of the matter is that there are countless situations where objecting to mistreatment will get a woman killed. I say this as someone who worked in a domestic violence shelter for two years. Objecting to an abuser is fucking dangerous, and there are times to object and times to comply in the name of survival. Furthermore, this whole “you should have objected” commentary often only arises once something really bad happens. Before the big thing happens, the smaller things (that lead up to the big things) are no big deal that don’t deserve to be discussed. But after the really big thing happened, then the smaller things were clear warning signs that she should have seen a mile away.

  57. Edward Gemmer says

    I am a victim and I have self-determination.

    Absolutely! I love this statement. For one, it is absolutely true. Horrible, awful things happen. That doesn’t mean we still can’t be responsible, aware, empathetic people.

    For two, it taps into something I also like, which is the idea that several things can be going on at the same time, and they may or may not be in conflict. I think too often we define others as One Thing, and then try to turn everything they say or do as representative as that One Thing. It’s a lazy way to treat people.

  58. Maggie H says

    Edward Gemmer,

    Well, then call me a victim blamer. Actually, I hate the meme about victim blaming, because it is widely, widely misused. It starts with our criminal justice system, which probably got us into this mess in the first place. The victim/victim blaming stuff assumes that there are two classes of people, victims and offenders. Offenders are %100 responsible for everything that happens to the victim, and victims are 0% responsible for anything that happens to them.

    Yes, that is absolutely correct. Offenders are 100% responsible for the crimes that they commit. Victims are never at fault for being abused. As appalling as it is, I’m glad you can at least admit that you’re victim blaming.

  59. Yoyo says

    Look Edward, you are now jumping round like a flea on a hot plate. I don’t care what other people think about the alleged rapists in Steubenville . I can feel some sadness that they have f..kd up their own and families futures, But my much stronger feelings are fury at the poor response of police and football coaches and horror for the young women. BUT SO WHAT? Who cares what my response is?

    Edward you can twist it however you want, you can change directions a million times but a) the young man in the story was able to feel validated in his blaming of young women by a societal belief that women are to blame for men’s problems , and b) your behaviour on this thread has been rude and trollish.

  60. Mclean says

    Edward:


    This is an excellent opportunity for you to engage in an empathy exercise (possible trigger warning):


    Pretend you don’t know who Edward Gemmer is. Instead:


    You are a bright and moderately successful, women. You are a little introverted. You’ve experienced mild sexism you’re whole life, nothing major though, but are somewhat familiar with feminism.
    Yes, you’ve been catcalled before, and are pretty sure you were followed around after dark by someone for about a week 2 years ago. It was very unnerving at the time, and you felt trapped in your own home, but nothing like that has happened recently.


    You have a good job, which you enjoy, and you really like your boss and coworkers, even though your boss is a bit egocentric. He’s said some sexist things in the past, but so have most of the men you’ve met.


    Today, you just had a business celebration. Everyone was drinking and having a good time. Then, suddenly, you were groped by your boss….


    It was unexpected and completely disgusting. A couple of your friends saw, but no one said anything and everyone else continued on as if nothing had happened. You also tried to pretend it didn’t happen, but although you didn’t say anything, you couldn’t ignore it.


    You come home feeling miserable. You don’t know what to do. Then, you read Ian’s post above and then the article it links too. You feel a little bit better, and are thinking of ways to share this blog post with some of your friends and coworkers. Then, you return to this page and read a post by someone posting under the name of Edward Gemmer.


    Now, your task is to re-read this entire comment section as if you were reading it for the first time through the eyes of this person. After you read each post, especially posts by someone named Edward, think about it for a bit, both emotionally and intellectually, in the light of the day you just had.


    Afterwards, when you become Edward again, let us know if you learned anything or would have still posted what you did if you had a chance to do it over again.

  61. smhll says

    Another thing to point out: Isn’t it nice how Edward talks only about women as how we appear to men?

    Yeah, that was super evident to me. He did it at least 4 times. And I worry (empathetically!) that he may be blind to the fact that he keeps centering everything on the man’s feelings and describing women only in terms of their utility in making a man happy. One should stop being a douchebag (as the blogger wrote about) because it is a morally desirable thing to do, because other people deserve fair treatment. Doing it just because it’s a more effective way to get laid is not the most moral reason to do it.

  62. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    I’m not at all surprised that EG was eventually goaded into revealing his real attitudes.

    What does it take to drum into the heads of some people that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to protect themselves in all situations once someone has decided to victimise them? Implying that the offender is anything less than 100% to blame for the decision to offend is victim-blaming. It is a big part of rape culture. There is no element of ‘fate’ or ‘luck’ or ‘poor decision-making on behalf of the victim’ in these situations. Just the decision of an offender to offend.

    Let’s stop telling women how to behave to reduce their chances of being a victim (what, so someone else will be the victim instead? Someone who is somehow less deserving of protection?) and tell offenders to stop attacking them instead!

    Put the blame where it lies in reality, not where it lies in the warped version that exists only in the heads of misogynists. 100% on those who make the decision to offend.

  63. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Let’s stop telling women how to behave to reduce their chances of being a victim (what, so someone else will be the victim instead? Someone who is somehow less deserving of protection?) and tell offenders to stop attacking them instead!

    ^This, oh this this this. I can’t stand it when I hear things like, “Don’t wear skirts; rapists target women in skirts!*” Even if I agreed that rape had anything to do with skirts (and I emphatically do not), these people have to know that if all women stopped wearing skirts, it isn’t like the rapists would disappear, too. After all, many of people who say these kinds of things are reluctant to out and out assert that skirts are some kind of causal factor in rape. But knowing that getting rid of skirts wouldn’t decrease the number of rapists or their inclination to rape means that “rapists target women who do X, so don’t do it” can’t be about stopping rape, but instead must be about shifting rape from the good girls who listen to authority and onto those bad girls who just aren’t willing to do as they’re told.

    This is why things like rape can never be just the acts of individual rapists; rape isn’t just an action done by a rapist who has set out to control and subjugate a victim, but instead is also an action by the patriarchy to subject and control women.

    And it isn’t like we receive consistent messages. Be passive. Be assertive. Fight back. Comply. We get told it all, and yet somehow we’re supposed to look into the eyes of our assailants and mystically know which action will achieve the desired results. But women aren’t psychic, so our decisions can’t possibly work that way. To blame us for it is absurd.

    Sometimes a man will pull a woman down to rape her and he’ll only let her live if she fights back and escapes. Sometimes he’ll only let her live if she complies. Sometimes he’ll kill her either way. But we can all be sure that whatever happens, people will be more than happy to rush in and spend an endless amount of time assuring us all that if she’s just done whatever it is that she hadn’t done, this terrible thing wouldn’t have happened to her.

    * I use skirts as an example only; other things could be used as well.

  64. Zhuge says

    Hmm, I can somewhat empathize with the author of the piece. I was never a mysogynist as he describes(and I was so afraid of anger in my past that I would never, ever, abuse women in the way he did, even if I were(and I well might have been for all I know) the most sexist fuck on the planet

    But what really stuck out to me was the particular line about the “power” it seemed women had, especially when I was younger. In the fairly sheltered environment I lived in, I rarely saw the worst parts of sexism myself( I thought catcalling only happened in television shows, it really threw me that it existed. I laughed the first time I saw it because it struck me as so weird, something I feel very bad about and have apologized for to the victim at least.) So in this sort of bubble world, where being a guy I never had to notice the very dark side of being a woman, it always seemed to me that women had it pretty good, and in fact had a certain “power” because they were somehow the “gatekeepers” of sex and seemed to be able to instill all sorts of strange feelings in me. Hearing that women were oppressed or discriminated against struck me as silly or anachronistic. I also vastly misunderstood what was meant by some of what I read of feminist writing, since it struck me as either way too teleological for my tastes, or comitted to a weird metaphysics(I thought that it was like patriarchy was a causal force in the world or something.)

    So I don’t think I had that same level of hatred, but I do know that some of what he felt, I also felt. (I had other sexist thoughts and patterns that I think were more unrelated to his observations, a lot of which was heavily tied up with childhood emotional abuse and my extreme passivity that developed as a response.)

    Strangely enough, I feel like the depression resulting from that actually helped me break through some of these thought patterns, mainly once I wound up looking up rape statistics. I feel like had I not been depressed, I might have been less willing to believe the world was really that awful, but as I had been, my worldview wasn’t so cheery so it didn’t jar me. A lot of discussions with people on these blogs and others helped me to change. (Also being an atheist for me was a huge catalyst to changing my views. Instead of just blindly believing that everyone was already equal and any complaining was just silly, I decided that if I could be suckered in by religion, what else might I have been suckered in by. Pluswhich if Republicans didn’t like feminism it probably had something going for it.

    Still, it is the scariest thought in the world, to me, how narrow the path was that led me to being a better person. I’d like to think no matter what I would have been the same, but honestly my path to atheism came about through a chance link to the richard dawkins forums, which convinced me of atheism, but were also awash in mysogyny. I feel like in a way eleveatorgate forced me to really choose a side, and it became rapidly clear that the feminists were 100% right, and I tried to study up some more and learn. But how easily none of that might have come to pass(and had I not started reading Crommunist, I feel like my racial knowledge would be nil. Not that I learn everything from here, of course, but rather I would never have even thought of it. ) That I could still have a lot of racist and sexist behaviours, and acting like an ass(I could see myself acting like Shermer or any of the other priviliged straight white intellectual assholes and complaining about affarmitive action and sexual harrassment policies if I hadn’t been lucky.)

    I find this terribly terrifying. I mean it’s easy to abstract and say “In the right cirumstances I might have become HItler”, but to see it so clearly in one’s own life is terrifying, like finding that you were only a step away from falling off a cliff. And I’d like to believe no matter what I’d be who I am, going door to door for progressive politicians and telling bigots off instead of trying to keep the peace with them, or even agreeing with them. But I feel like that would be an uncomfortable falsehood. So just as much as I at least some of what he means by how he became a mysogynist(It’s hard for me to explain, but that line about power really resonated with me. I felt like women were really on top) but I would also like to know if there is anything that can writ large get people to start being more empathetic.(I feel like my conversion into a feminist/anti-racist simply began when I put my baysian priors for the things minorities were saying at something like 50% instead of much lower, to my shame. Suddenly the world was a very different place.)

    I do think a sort of “Just World Effect” definitely played into all of this, but in the piece described it wasn’t clear that was the case. It is very terrifying to think that there is nothing I can do, at all, to prevent my female relatives, friends, etc. from sexual or domestic violence or any sort of discrimination. Similarly it saddens me that my non-white friends, regardless of who they are or what they do, will have to suffer discrimination, and somehow worse, discrimination from people not dissimilar from me. It’s terrifying to think that most of these people probably wouldn’t feel comfortable telling me about these things because of things like Schrodinger’s Racist/Sexist. Even knowing I am a progressive guy, there is still good reason to fear that my response to a relation of sexual abuse or racist abuse might not be sympathy or understanding but defensiveness or even blame. It would be much easier to believe that these things aren’t real, and people are just oversensative. Because then there is nothing to be afraid of. It would be a better world, by far. But it is not reality. I think this was a major reason why becoming an atheist helped me address these things, because it forced me to accept that what I want to be true(I will never die!) isn’t true, and the world can be a very horrid place.

    But I would like to know if there is something in general that can help priviliged dudes like me get past this in general. Being confronted by a partner seems to have been pivotal in his life, and I feel similarly about having researched rape as well as atheism and elevator-gate. But part of me worries that this isn’t really the case. I don’t trust the stories we tell about our own lives, I think psychology is weirder than that and people don’t generally act for the reasons we might tell ourselves we do. I mean obviously there are lots of different priviliged people who will respond in different ways. (As I suggested, anger really kept me away from feminism, because I was afraid of anger. I was a regular Fluttershy. But it seems that this is really what took the author to new hights.)

    This was a very interesting piece, and I feel like there is room for recovering sexists to share their stories like that in order to try and understand the phenomenon more clearly.

    (Sorry if this was a touch rambly, this piece just released a lot of things I was thinking about in general and I thought might be worth sharing. If it was silly or boring or derailing, I certainly apologize!
    .

  65. Yoyo says

    I’m sorry, I’m going to argue from the personal for a minute. When I was abused I was too young to know what sex was, I did not “empathise” with the abuser. It has taken many years to recreate my life. As part of the abuse I was asked to empathise with my abuser and empathise with other members of my family that would suffer if I “stood up for myself”.

    All this silenced me.

    So Edward, when a man has the sense to discover how far down the rabbit hole of women hate he has fallen, when that man writes a post to help others NOT damage women, when other readers start discussing the impact of this post and you deliberately disrail it – you are a total tool!

    I do not want to empathise with abusers, whether they are kids in blackface, or footballers or whoever. This tactic is used to shut us up! This tactic silences those hurt. This tactic, when used by those theoretically on our side, is foul and damaging.

    Edward I call you out.

  66. Yoyo says

    Thank you zhuge, this is what the thread should have been. I feel the same way about rascism, I grew up in a left wing family where no one would ever have used racial slurs (considered very low class) but it wasn’t til I had real life experience with the casual racism that is everywhere in our society that I started to see the implicit racism of my own family and education.

    It really was, “there for the grace of god go I”. And that’s for an aetheist. :-)

  67. Erista (aka Eris) says

    In regards to empathy and abusers:

    I don’t care if other people are empathetic to my abuser so long as that empathy doesn’t cause them to do anything stupid (like insist that he isn’t an abuser, that he doesn’t need to change, blah blah). If other people want to try to hold his hand and walk him into well being, whatever. I won’t stand in their way and I won’t condemn them. If they can help him because a better human being, more power to them. But I will not. I purged my life of him and I intend to keep it that way.

    Anyone who tells me that I need to empathize with my abuser has earned a summary kick to the head. I am not indebted to him because he abused me. Abusing someone doesn’t give them an obligation to you. I owe him less than I owe some random person across the country whom I don’t know. I don’t spend time trying to empathize with any given John Smith in New York, and I see no reason to grant my abuser more than I would grant John Smith. John Smith, at least, didn’t abuse me. He deserves more from me than my abuser.

    Demanding empathy from an abused person is wielding a weapon against them. It is denying them their agency and indeed their own mind. It is turning the attention off the crimes of the abuser and instead turning the focus on making the victim into the wrongdoer. It is terrible, and it is abusive. Victims of abuse should be allowed to focus on themselves and their own well being. They should not be forced to take their time and energy away from their own healing to subjugate themselves to their abuser.

    So, to anyone who is interested in the empathy they feel my abuser deserves: You go empathize with him. You go engage in some masturbatory exercise where you feel all warm and fuzzy and compassionate towards him while never having to see him, suffer through his actions, or otherwise deal with the actual fallout of who and what he is. You go imagine how great you think it would be to suffer through intense violation and then receive imaginary* accolades for your great compassion. You go pull this all this shit if that’s what you really want, but kindly grant me empathy and leaving me the fuck out of it.

    *I say imaginary because you don’t actually receive accolades. At best, you receive a cessation of the attacks by people who are convinced that it is desperately important that they manipulate you into having what they feel is an appropriate emotional reaction to a situation they’ve never been in. People are wiling to accept your abuse . . . so long as it isn’t inconvenient to them. No tears, no anger, no mental or physical disabilities or limitations, no needing anyone to deal with or upset the abuser . . . when you do that, maybe they’ll become neutral towards you. Maybe.

    @zhuge

    I find this terribly terrifying. I mean it’s easy to abstract and say “In the right cirumstances I might have become HItler”, but to see it so clearly in one’s own life is terrifying, like finding that you were only a step away from falling off a cliff. And I’d like to believe no matter what I’d be who I am, going door to door for progressive politicians and telling bigots off instead of trying to keep the peace with them, or even agreeing with them. But I feel like that would be an uncomfortable falsehood.

    Can I give you a long distance e-hug? Because, god*, I wish more people could come to this kind of realization. I’m so very, very tired of people who insist that they couldn’t possibly do anything really bad no matter what situation they were in or what their background was, and by god I’d better not even consider that they might do such a thing, even if I don’t know them at all. It’s so nice to hear someone acknowledge that, yes, wrongdoing isn’t some kind of inherent seed that lurks within the heart of some men but not in others, and as such evil can only come from truly evil men and not from men who are neutral, average, or moderately good. So thank you so, so much.

    *I want a better expletive to use than “god,” but I can’t think of one with the kind of connotations I want. Anyone have any advice?

  68. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    Hear, hear Erista! *Applauds*

    EG, the reason that the person quoted in the OP needed to learn empathy towards women was because they had done nothing wrong.

    Of course, if he really had been the victim of a global conspiracy of women maltreating him, that would have been different. But he wasn’t. It was all in his imagination and he was hurting real women because of the faults of his imaginary ones.

    No one owes their abusers a damn thing.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thank you Zhuge! That was a brilliant post.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    When my sons were little, there was a woman in their lives who was all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing: me, their mother. Of course, it suited me for a while that they thought I had a direct line to their minds, because it helped control their naughtier urges! =^_^=

    But, as they grew, I gradually handed over responsibility for their behaviour to them and also let them learn that I couldn’t actually read their thoughts; it was all a bluff based on observing their behaviour (often when they thought they weren’t being observed!) and exchanging information with the other adults in their lives (who hasn’t, as a parent, used the phrase “A little bird told me”?).

    I think a lot of people never (a) let go of their infantile mindset that other people are mind-readers or (b) accept total responsibility for their own emotions and reactions. Instead, they keep their infantile awe of their parents and magical thinking about the abilities of others to manipulate their feelings.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Another reason why religion is poisonous; it deliberately encourages people to continue to think that way long after they should realise that there aren’t any mind-readers and we are responsible for our own reactions to our physiological responses to outside stimuli; if I see someone and that sight makes me feel “Phwoar!” I don’t have to say “Phwoar!” and they didn’t MAKE me feel it in the first place!

  69. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist, with a perchant for pachyderm punditry) says

    While I do hope that Edward is off doing the homework laid upon him by Mclean at #67 that seems pretty unlikely.

    So, I’ll try and spell it out for Eddy:

    Without an abuser there can be no victim.

    Do you grok that Edster?

    Everything a victim does, or does not do, is completely irrelevant as to blame because:

    Without an abuser there can be no victim.

    You know EddyMcSteady, you’ve shown a remarkable lack of willingness to think about the points being made to you so perhaps I should expand on my point.

    Everything that one might blame the victim with: where she was walking, the time of day she was walking, what she was wearing, how much she had to drink, or most importantly and realistically, who she chose to trust that wasn’t worthy of it does not matter as to blame because:

    Without an abuser there can be no victim.

    Even you PatientZEd, blinded as you might be with your incredible compassion, should still be able to see that if the abuser does not exist or chooses not to abuse then any and every action taken by the victim does not result in abuse. Why it’s almost like abuse is 100% the fault of the abuser because, because, er. because….what was it again….? Oh yeah:

    Without an abuser there can be no victim.

  70. A. Noyd says

    Also, society trains us to automatically empathize with those who have more privilege—the white, the male, the straight, etc. Those are the people whose feelings and thoughts are most sympathetically and accurately captured in all of our media, who we’re told to look up to and aspire to become. We come to empathize with such people at our own expense and have to deprogram ourselves away from that instinct in order to value ourselves and treat ourselves fairly. Learning to be empathetic down a privilege gradient requires deliberate flouting of custom. This is not aided by the less-privileged concentrating on having more empathy for those up the gradient.

    And when the situation is a privileged person harming a less-privileged person, then the demand for the latter (or those who share that person’s lack of privilege) to empathize with the former is beyond absurd.

  71. says

    So, Edward Gemmer thinks it’s patronizing to call people–sorry, not people, women–“victims” when they have, in fact, been harmed by some person or force outside their control. Why does he think it’s patronizing? Because he thinks that people can handle being told how to avoid being victimized.

    Edward Gemmer, such a dramatic disjoin in your cognitive processes is a good indication that you’re not arguing a rational premise here.

  72. Yoyo says

    The saddest flaw in Edwards “arguments”, is that the young women in question, those damaged by the writer did try to empathise with him. Like many women in bad relationships they tried to understand and communicate what was poisonous. However, because of male privilege he had a ready way to deflect any critism. It wasn’t him, it was those awful feminazis who make women uppity.

    It’s very hard to recognise that your own behaviour is hurting other people, especially those you are supposed to be closest to. (Particularly when you have societal support for being a douche).

    I know within my own family, it took time to teach my daughters that fat shaming was appalling because the media, their social group and even the health department seemed to make it ok. Yet according to Edward it was the responsibility of the girls who were fat shamed to empathise with the rest of the community.

    Bah humbug!

  73. Duke Eligor says

    Very interesting read. I’ve suspected for a long time that this is the typical mindset of your average misogynist, a combination of man-box thinking (i.e. girlfriends as existing to establish man-cred, women as objects of men, etc.) and complete lack of self-awareness. And of course, the misery they spread is usually a reflection of the misery they feel themselves. Deep down, there’s some quite pitiable and pathetic stuff going on inside their heads.

    I also liked that he talked about how his sense of empathy was skewed. That’s a good word for it, skewed, but I have a better one: egocentric. That’s really the crux of the issue: the inability to see the world (or the self) from an independent perspective, a world where everything revolves around the “me.” I’d wager you’d find the same basic egocentrism operating underneath racism, homophobia, etc. as well, but that’s another topic. This kind of thinking needs to be eradicated in order to have healthy relationships, let alone a psychologically fulfilling life. Empathy alone won’t suffice, because as the author pointed out, it just becomes skewed (i.e. towards the self or people/things as they relate to the self). Sounds like this guy has started down the road of breaking his egocentrism, and is the better for it. That’s highly commendable.

  74. says

    I’d wager you’d find the same basic egocentrism operating underneath racism, homophobia, etc. as well, but that’s another topic.

    You’d win that wager, and there’s a great psych study that I want to blog about as soon as I get clear of a bunch of other things that are before it in the priority list.

  75. thetalkingstove says

    The “calling women victims is insulting!” argument seems to be quite common to slyme pit/MRA types. It’s completely disingenuous; they don’t care whether or not women are insulted, they just don’t want to have to talk or think about the reality of what women suffer at the hands of men. Just another way of switching off.

    Anyway – really interesting article. I never went in for a feminist conspiracy – never really considered feminism at all – but I can recognise some of the thought processes in the me of about 10 years ago, unfortunately.

  76. hoary puccoon says

    About victim-blaming–

    Of course I lock the doors of my house and my car. I have the car keys in my hand before I walk across a dark parking lot. I’m aware of other pedestrians when I walk down the street. I’m glad my younger daughter and her daughter have taken karate.
    When I worked in a building where another woman employee had been raped in the elevator and her assailant was still at large, you can bet I took the stairs a lot.

    But here’s the thing–
    All women take precautions. All women watch their backs. All women, every single day, already take measures to minimize their risks.

    And a lot of women still get raped. Virtually all women still experience sexual harassment. The “helpful” advice women get from men like Eddie G is either so self-evident it’s insulting– “make sure you lock your door”– completely useless– “don’t wear revealing clothing.” Or, worst, the most vicious kind of victim-blaming. A woman I knew who was raped at gunpoint in the shrubbery of her apartment building when she arrived home from work was actually told, “you should have known it was only a .22!”

    The fact is, there is no low-hanging fruit left, in teaching women how not to be victims. The only way to lower rates of sexual assault is to go after the assailants. When it’s not okay to joke about rape– when it’s not okay to brag about getting a woman too drunk to resist– rates of sexual assault will drop. Don’t Be That Guy works. Don’t Go Out After Dark, Girls (In Chicago, in December, where it’s full dark before close-of-business) only perpetuates the problem.

  77. Edward Gemmer says

    Hey there, sorry I had to drop off for a couple days, but I like all the good thoughts presented. I took the kids to an indoor waterpark in Indianapolis. It only took five hours to get checked in, apparently computers are a new thing for Indiana.

    Edward you can twist it however you want, you can change directions a million times but a) the young man in the story was able to feel validated in his blaming of young women by a societal belief that women are to blame for men’s problems , and b) your behaviour on this thread has been rude and trollish.

    Well, I’m not trying to be rude, and I’m definitely not trying to be trollish. These are tough issues that can inspire a lot of different thoughts and emotions. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try and explore them. As for the first part, yes I totally agree with that part of it. My only point there is that the qualities he talks about can be applied to all groups and individuals everywhere. For him, a heterosexual young man, young women are pretty much the only group he thinks about, which is why is why treating them as actual people instead of objects for his desires helped him. But this same concept can be applied to all people – becoming a self-aware, responsible, and and empathetic person doesn’t just mean you are empathetic towards women.

    Now, your task is to re-read this entire comment section as if you were reading it for the first time through the eyes of this person. After you read each post, especially posts by someone named Edward, think about it for a bit, both emotionally and intellectually, in the light of the day you just had.

    Read this thread as if I was I was a woman who just got groped by my boss? Role-playing is always fun. I would read Edward Gemmer’s post and think, yes, it is a great idea to share this story anonymously. I’m not sure what to do because there are a lot conflicting things going on. I have a job I like and I don’t want to screw that up. But my boss may be a perv who shouldn’t be managing women and the world doesn’t revolve around me. But do I even want this job if I have to work with that guy? I need to develop this further. Let’s talk about it on the internet.

    Yeah, that was super evident to me. He did it at least 4 times. And I worry (empathetically!) that he may be blind to the fact that he keeps centering everything on the man’s feelings and describing women only in terms of their utility in making a man happy.

    I don’t think this is fair criticism. The article in question is about a man and how he related to women and how they in turn treated him, so talking about it would necessarily involve that. Further, my entire point is that one shouldn’t limit their approach to just trying to get laid more, because that is really ignoring all swathes of the population that don’t impact that.

  78. notsont says

    I don’t really want to pile on, but I actually have a separate issue with what you said Ed. Its something I see a lot from people making certain types of arguments. When you brought up irrational anger against racists in the contexts of this thread. To me at least, it seemed like you were suggesting people who have been on the receiving end of misogynistic attacks have been irrational in their responses. Instead of making a specific claim you put out this shotgun blast of an accusation that hits almost everyone who might say anything.

    Also I kinda agree you were derailing the thread and succeeded at it.

  79. Edward Gemmer says

    What does it take to drum into the heads of some people that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to protect themselves in all situations once someone has decided to victimise them?

    I don’t know, because it isn’t true. There are things you can do to prevent being victimized, even if someone has decided to victimize you. Is there anything foolproof? Of course not. We could all be victims of an asteroid strike tomorrow and there is nothing any of us can do about it. But in most situations, there are things you can do to avoid it. It is kind of like driving – you can do everything right and still get killed, but that doesn’t mean becoming a good driver is a worthless value. However, that is getting away from the bigger issue:

    Implying that the offender is anything less than 100% to blame for the decision to offend is victim-blaming.

    An offender is responsible for their actions, and so is everyone else. That’s the thing that offends me most about “victim-blaming.” It assumes that all “victims” are all on the same level of responsibility, which is none. Some have none or close to none. Some don’t. They are not equal, and “blaming the victim” has a different meaning in different connotations. There is research that shows that counseling for the victim in domestic violence situations actually helps reduce victimization. This is not favored politically in many situations, because “blaming the victim” is not a good way to get votes. So domestic violence is not reduced, solely because we don’t want to do anything to make sure victims know how to avoid the situations they have been in. To me, it’s inexcusable.

    I do not want to empathise with abusers, whether they are kids in blackface, or footballers or whoever. This tactic is used to shut us up! This tactic silences those hurt. This tactic, when used by those theoretically on our side, is foul and damaging.

    Then don’t! Look, you have had horrible things happen to you, and you aren’t the only one. Horrible things happen. The point of this man’s article, however, was that he was a miserable unhappy person until he learned to be a responsible, self-aware, empathetic adult. Treatment for addicts, criminals, rapists, abusers, and the depressed all have a common thread – learn to be responsible, self-aware, and empathetic. Having these skills can be important for becoming a happy and satisfied person. However, it’s not a demand or requirement, but simply a good suggestion for those of us who have a lot of problems.

    Further, there is one thing I disagree with you on. Empathy is not excusing someone or being silent on what they do. Empathy is understanding the feelings and actions of others. You can completely understand why someone feels and acts the way they do and yet still think they are miserable pond scum.

  80. Edward Gemmer says

    Why does he think it’s patronizing? Because he thinks that people can handle being told how to avoid being victimized.

    I think it’s patronizing because it assumes in every action a woman is a victim. For example, in the article, the author recounts his efforts to control and manipulate women by being a whiny, verbally abusive douchebag. He does this to try and control his potential girlfriends. It isn’t clear to me he was violent towards these women. He just played on their insecurities to get what he wanted. I think it is reasonable to say that, hey, we should help people feel more confident in rejecting these types of actions. Someone else said this was a form of victim-blaming. Well, I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but I do know doing nothing of value because we don’t want to blame a victim is a bad idea. Women (and men) are more than capable of learning what to look for and avoid in girlfriends and boyfriends. This guy acted like a douchebag because that’s what works. Telling people to not be douchebags will only have a very limited effect if acting like a douchebag gets them what they want.

    You’d win that wager, and there’s a great psych study that I want to blog about as soon as I get clear of a bunch of other things that are before it in the priority list.

    I look forward to it. This thread has made me think about it more – there would seem to be a response based on survival, which would impact the emotions someone has about race, perhaps sexuality, and most likely many, many other differences v. the response someone has based on reproduction, which would affect sexism the most.

    The “helpful” advice women get from men like Eddie G is either so self-evident it’s insulting– “make sure you lock your door”– completely useless– “don’t wear revealing clothing.”

    I’m not talking about a laundry list of things that prevent crime. I’m talking about a way of thinking that doesn’t include yourself as the center of the universe and doesn’t categorize people into “good” or “bad” groups and puts all of the fault on the bad groups.

    When you brought up irrational anger against racists in the contexts of this thread. To me at least, it seemed like you were suggesting people who have been on the receiving end of misogynistic attacks have been irrational in their responses.

    Anger is an emotion, probably evolved to give us an impulse in response to various things. When we talk about things on the internet, many of us become angry. Much of this anger is very irrational. For example, go to a sports team message board and look how the fans of other sports teams are treated. Typically, it involves a lot of insults and anger. Should anyone be angry because they encounter a fan of another sports team? No, this is perhaps the perfect example of irrational anger.

    However, we all sorts of examples of this across the internet. People become angry over something someone they don’t know says. I know I’ve become angry over various things. These things aren’t threats or really impactful on my life in any meaningful way, so the anger would seem to be quite irrational. My thought is that being angry over something that someone says on the internet is probably irrational, and definitely deserves more thought before we start attacking people over it.

  81. Yoyo says

    There is research that shows that counseling for the victim in domestic violence situations actually helps reduce victimization. This is not favored politically in many situations, because “blaming the victim” is not a good way to get votes. So domestic violence is not reduced, solely because we don’t want to do anything to make sure victims know how to avoid the situations they have been in. To me, it’s inexcusable.

    Citation please! Of course counselling in refuges helps women , frequently it gives them tools they may need, legal info, emotional support etc to get away from their abuser. BUT to claim that there is political value in not providing counselling is crap, it doesn’t even make sense. Do you really think Edward that there is a fund of votes to be had from victims of domestic violence but only if there is no preventative work? That is beyond bizarre.

    As someone who has working in refuges both youth and domestic violence I really cannot understand how you would think useful utilitarian counselling is somehow conflate blue with victim blaming in any bodies mind. I think what you imagine is happening in refuge counselling is somehow “a stay out of rough areas, keep away from bad men” type lecture. It’s not and it never will be because these things doesn’t work.

  82. Yoyo says

    Sorry, auto correct hates me. Should be … As someone who has worked…
    Conflate blue should be conflatable.

    Apols

  83. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    What does it take to drum into the heads of some people that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to protect themselves in all situations once someone has decided to victimise them?

    I don’t know, because it isn’t true. There are things you can do to prevent being victimized, even if someone has decided to victimize you.

    Wrong. Wrongity wrong wrong wrong. That there is classic victim-blaming. The only way to stop someone being vicimised is to stop the perpetrator committing the crime against them. Focus on the criminals, not the victims. Focusing on the victim doesn’t reduce crime, it adds to their distress.

    Is there anything foolproof? Of course not. We could all be victims of an asteroid strike tomorrow and there is nothing any of us can do about it. But in most situations, there are things you can do to avoid it. It is kind of like driving – you can do everything right and still get killed, but that doesn’t mean becoming a good driver is a worthless value.

    This is trolling.
    Stop using examples of accidents to detract from the actions of criminals. Yes, improving your driving skills reduces your chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident; but how does it help you avoid the angry drunk who decides to run you off the road? Answer – it doesn’t.

    However, that is getting away from the bigger issue:

    Implying that the offender is anything less than 100% to blame for the decision to offend is victim-blaming.

    An offender is responsible for their actions, and so is everyone else.

    But what you are refusing to see is that the actions of the victim are innocent and irrelevent to the crime. The victim, whatever they do, is not responsible for someone deciding to assault them. Anything else is victim blaming! Why can you not get this?!

    That’s the thing that offends me most about “victim-blaming.” It assumes that all “victims” are all on the same level of responsibility, which is none. Some have none or close to none. Some don’t. They are not equal, and “blaming the victim” has a different meaning in different connotations.

    You are offended? You are offended?!!! What about the actual victims reading this, for whom your mental masturbation is more than mere wankery? For whom your refusal to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the criminal has terrible repercussions? How dare you think that your feeling ‘offended’ is anything other than an appalling lack of empathy and sensitivity?

    There is research that shows that counseling for the victim in domestic violence situations actually helps reduce victimization.

    This is because offenders aren’t being held responsible for their crimes. Therefore they are still out there. Therefore victims need counselling to help them cope, and to possibly recognise another person who might abuse them, thus avoiding that person. That certainly doesn’t imply that they were in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and it doesn’t stop the abusers targetting someone else. To stop domestic abuse, it has to be taken seriously; stop blaming the victims and start putting 100% of the blame on the perpetrators. Then, perhaps, there will be more convictions and these horrible behaviours will disappear.

    This is not favored politically in many situations, because “blaming the victim” is not a good way to get votes.

    Garbage. It is exactly the way society actually works at the moment. It is how nearly everyone operates. You are a classic case of a victim-blamer.

    So domestic violence is not reduced, solely because we don’t want to do anything to make sure victims know how to avoid the situations they have been in. To me, it’s inexcusable.

    It is not reduced, because the courts blame the victim for at least a portion of the abuse (as you are doing here) and the perpetrator is freed to strike again. Get it yet?

    I do not want to empathise with abusers, whether they are kids in blackface, or footballers or whoever. This tactic is used to shut us up! This tactic silences those hurt. This tactic, when used by those theoretically on our side, is foul and damaging.

    Then don’t! Look, you have had horrible things happen to you, and you aren’t the only one. Horrible things happen. The point of this man’s article, however, was that he was a miserable unhappy person until he learned to be a responsible, self-aware, empathetic adult. Treatment for addicts, criminals, rapists, abusers, and the depressed all have a common thread – learn to be responsible, self-aware, and empathetic. Having these skills can be important for becoming a happy and satisfied person. However, it’s not a demand or requirement, but simply a good suggestion for those of us who have a lot of problems.

    See, you have entirely missed the point of the OP. It wasn’t merely that he was a “miserable unhappy person until he learned to be a responsible, self-aware, empathetic adult.” It was that he was blaming his misery on his victims and only stopped victim-blaming when “he learned to be a responsible, self-aware, empathetic adult.”

    Further, there is one thing I disagree with you on. Empathy is not excusing someone or being silent on what they do. Empathy is understanding the feelings and actions of others. You can completely understand why someone feels and acts the way they do and yet still think they are miserable pond scum.

    See, this again is why you aren’t getting it. Victims aren’t lacking empathy. Victims know only too well why the abusers do what they do. And victims know only too well that their abusers aren’t “miserable pond scum” but thinking, feeling human beings. It is the abusers who are lacking empathy. They are the ones failing to see things from the point of view of other people and/or deciding that their own point of view takes precedence.

    That is why victim-blaming doesn’t work to reduce crime. Only putting 100% of the responsibility on the perpetrators reduces crime. Stopping a potential abuser from thinking that the potential victim somehow is deserving or contributing to their own assault is the first step to making them realise that the potential victim should not be assaulted. As long as abusers can rely on ordinary decent folk being on their side on the “who is to blame?” question, they’ll carry on doing what they do to the detriment of their victims and society at large.

  84. notsont says

    I’m not talking about a laundry list of things that prevent crime. I’m talking about a way of thinking that doesn’t include yourself as the center of the universe and doesn’t categorize people into “good” or “bad” groups and puts all of the fault on the bad groups

    You do realize that some groups are in fact “bad” right? I mean lets take rapists as a whole I’m really totally OK with labeling rapists as “bad”, pretty much ANY rapist, even Thomas Covenant. Yeah, anyone in the rapist group, bad. Now I will agree that not everyone in the not-a-rapist group is good but that’s neither here nor there. Try as I might I can not think of a single way in which someone might be even partially responsible for their own rape.

  85. Yoyo says

    The other problem notsont, with Edwards approach is that it sets up a hierarchy of pain.
    Eg: I’ll give a violent rape of an old lady. I’ll raise you with an institutional rape of a disabled child”

    It’s a foul and pointless process.

    As you, Edward have been told over and over here, it’s not about preventative this or empathetic that. It’s about real human beings taking responsibility for poor behaviour and not letting societal misogeny give them a get out of jail free card.

  86. Erista (aka Eris) says

    I’m not sure that I’m going to manage to express this the way I want to, but I’ll try.

    I do think that there is a place for providing help to people who want to learn to defend themselves in ways that they are comfortable with, but it is ridiculously common for people to step over the line from helping people to blaming them. I’m going to use my own situation to try to illustrate what I mean.

    As I said before, I was sexually abused as a child. While I was being sexually abused, I acquired a great many skills that allowed me to navigate and survive being sexually abused. One of the skills that I learned was to freeze when someone touched me in a way that that was unexpected and/or unwanted. I don’t say no, I don’t back off physical, I just stop doing anything.

    This is not a good reflex to have. While it served me well while I was growing up, it is now dangerous and maladapted. I very much need to learn to assert my physical boundaries. When someone touches me and I don’t want it, I need to learn to say no in some fashion.

    Unfortunately, it’s really hard to talk about this in ways that aren’t victim blaming. For example, if someone said something along the lines of, “Eristae needs to learn to assert her physical boundaries because to do otherwise is to stand in a place that she knows an asteroid is going to hit,” then we’re removing the blame from the criminal and placing it on me. No one condemns the asteroid for whacking on me, and I am condemned in its place. The clear implication is that I caused my own harm and so the blame should be focused on me. The criminal is treated as an object without volition and thus without responsibility to not hurt me.

    But that’s unjust. If I freeze and someone uses this reaction to assault me, it is not my fault. The person who assaulted me is still 100% responsible for the assault and I am still 0% responsible for it. And if I am assaulted and people start telling me that the whole thing wouldn’t have happened if I had just learned to not freeze, that’s victim blaming.

    This is something that a lot of people have trouble wrapping their head around. How can my two positions be consistent? How can I talk about learning how not to freeze but then say that telling me I wouldn’t have been assaulted if I hadn’t froze is victim blaming?

    I’m going to steal something Tigger_the_Wing wrote to use as an example. If an angry drunk decides to run me off the road, there may (or may not) be things that I can do to prevent him from succeeding, things that we might even talk about if it happens enough. But if I fail to keep an angry drunk from running me off the road, the appropriate response is not, “Well, you should have done X to keep from being run off the road.” That is stupid. We can’t possibly know that doing x would have saved me, I surely did the best that I could in the incredibly limited timeframe that I had, and what would truly have kept me from being run off the road is if the angry drunk hadn’t decided to run me off the road. Both the drunk and I are responsible for our actions, but I am not responsible for being unable to prevent the drunk’s actions from causing me harm.

    One of the things that I think people have the hardest time managing to accept ion in all this is that one of the key variables is where the desire for protective measures is coming from. For example, did a victim of a crime tell you that they want to learn strategies to help them protect themselves from being re-victimized? Did someone who isn’t a victim tell you that they want to learn strategies to keep themselves from becoming a victim? Or did you walk up to one of these two groups and start telling them what they need to do? Of the three, it is the last situation that I most often see going terribly, terribly wrong. This is especially the case when “you” are a person with no actual training or experience in things that genuinely help with the above mentioned situations. It is one thing for me to decide I want to learn not to freeze, and it is quite another for someone to start demanding that I learn not to freeze.

    In closing, I’ll bring it back to my own experiences. I have been trying for a good many years (Seven? Eight?) to learn to assert myself when someone touches me unexpectedly and unwantedly. However, these efforts have only been marginally effective. My automatic, unthinking, reflexive reaction is still to freeze. This is not shocking, as I spent about 16 years being taught to do it, and those 16 years were the years in which the foundation for my self were laid. I am not responsible for having responses that were pounded into me as a child. It would not be helpful, empathetic, constructive, or kind for someone to start insisting that I need to get rid of this reflex. I, like all victims of abuse, am doing the best that I can to deal with my abuse.

    Anyway, I’m hoping that what I just wrote will be taken the way I intended it and not as an excuse to blame victims. Every time I encounter this situation, I experience a great deal of nervousness about whether saying anything will be helpful or simply be morphed into a weapon to be used against me and other survivors of abuse. I’m not even sure I should post this because of this fear, but I suppose I will anyway. We’ll see how it goes. And holy crap is this post longer than I intended.

  87. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Excellently said, Erista

    I’m going to steal something Tigger_the_Wing wrote to use as an example. If an angry drunk decides to run me off the road, there may (or may not) be things that I can do to prevent him from succeeding, things that we might even talk about if it happens enough. But if I fail to keep an angry drunk from running me off the road, the appropriate response is not, “Well, you should have done X to keep from being run off the road.” That is stupid.

    And that’s exactly the point. Rape and domestic abuse and other forms of intimate partner violence are the only crimes where this kind of “why didn’t you” after the fact gets repeated up institutionally, even up to court level and ultimately affects whether it is even investigated by police. That’s real, direct, measurable harm. That’s one of the reasons why the shit Ed’s shoveling is a problem.

  88. Melhopkins says

    Victim-blaming must be vigorously opposed, not just because it is hurtful and insulting to the victims 9which it is,) but also because it is how patriarchy is constructed, piece by piece.

    Suppose men tend to rape/harass/demean women who wear mini-skirts and all women respond by wearing longer skirts. Then the men who feel the need to rape/harass/demean switch to women who wear tight skirts and so How long before we are at the situation described in ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ where a male Iranian student says to a female student, who is wearing a burka, “I can see a square inch of the skin at your throat and it is sexually arousing me. You need to stop doing that.”

    When there are predators out there it is an effective strategy for each individual little fish to try to be at the centre of the shoal, but this is the very thing that creates the bait ball that so many predator strategies rely on.

  89. PatrickG says

    It is kind of like driving – you can do everything right and still get killed, but that doesn’t mean becoming a good driver is a worthless value.

    It’s probably been brought up, but this just brought me up short. There is so much fail and bad thinking in this analogy that I decided to just respond immediately.

    Edward Gemmer: You know what most people call collisions on the road? ACCIDENTS.

    People do not accidentally rape. People do not accidentally harass. People do not accidentally stalk, commit arson, try to control the behavior of others through emotional manipulation, etc. You know, the incidents the guy in the linked piece relates doing, seeing, or hearing about.

    Do you sort of get why this is just about the worst analogy ever? “Hey, I was just driving walking down the street, wasn’t paying attention, and I accidentally hit that car person. If only they’d been more careful!”. And while I’m sure you’re just going to protest “totally an analogy”, you’ve now added comparing vehicular collisions to violent harm against women to your repertoire of “but being mean to racists* is just as irrational as being mean to women”.

    Moreover, people do not accidentally dismiss multiple people on a thread telling them they’re committing grievous fallacies and minimizing real harm, without making any attempt at reflection. So I’m going to conclude that you’re intentionally trolling, unless you are exactly the kind of self-absorbed and non-reflective person described in the linked piece that is the actual topic of this article.

    Hrmm, wait. Perhaps Edward is meta-on topic?

    Try some empathy, Edward Gemmer. Or at least stop trying to paint your critics as irrationally angry, since it seems designed only to provoke quite rational irritation and bemusement at the spectacle of such epic failure.

    * Apologies to Crommunist. That really should be “people engaged in racist speech/behavior”, but it just felt too cumbersome in context.

  90. Edward Gemmer says

    Citation please!

    Yes ma’am, though you have to bear with me because I’m not sure how to links here and I’m going off the internet and don’t have access to all articles referenced.

    http://www.melissainstitute.org/documents/treating_perpetrators.pdf

    That would be more of a presentation than a research paper, but it does do a good job listing the various ways people are treated, the limitations that treatment of batterers provides, with references to research.

    http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1084&context=psychfacpub

    Another analysis of the literature on domestic violence. Look to the middle of page 435, where it starts with “working with victims.”

    As a whole, victims of repeated domestic violence tend to show more issues with mental health and substance abuse than is typical, which is certainly something that suggests the need for treatment. One issue with our justice system is that the hypersensitivity towards punishing offenders is that all the treatment options and money is spent on them, leaving little for the victims (nor is there a particularly good way to process the victims into the system). Part of this is the way that the system is set up, and part of it is based on the attitude that nothing should be asked of victims. While that can be a debate that takes up several gigabytes worth of arguing, it is worth considering that men and women in violent relationships often stay together. While certainly abusers are responsible for their own actions, I think it is a disservice to victims that they aren’t armed with the treatment and education that could help them do what it is they want, which is stay in the relationship and have it be safe.

    Focus on the criminals, not the victims. Focusing on the victim doesn’t reduce crime, it adds to their distress.

    Look, I disagree. Especially when it comes to sexual and domestic violence. Now, I’m not advocating for the type of victim blaming that is actual victim blaming – i.e. “oh, he hit you you, well do what says next time.” What I’m saying is that I feel strongly we don’t empower our young women (or men for that matter) for the life they are actually going to have. While we spend billions on teaching writing and math, we spend next to nothing on, say, helping people understand sexual relationships. As one example, in the first link above verbal and emotional abuse (i.e. namecalling, shaming), has a high predictive value for future violence. But we seem to rarely stress not allowing potential partners to “call you out of your name,” and even when we do, we don’t do a good job of explaining why.

    What about the actual victims reading this, for whom your mental masturbation is more than mere wankery?

    Because “victims” aren’t (or at least shouldn’t be, an entire class of people. We have more than likely all been victims of something and victimized someone else, though degrees of this will vary widely. To say that “victims” can’t handle intelligent discussion of ways to prevent future victimization is, to me, condescending and untrue. There have been studies that show the victims of some of the worst offenses (awful childhood trauma, horrible violence and rape, etc.) tend to go on to lead productive lives. I’m a firm believer that people can handle a lot. That doesn’t absolve criminals of responsibility, but does realize that punishing criminals tends to do little for their victims. It also ignores that criminals overwhelmingly have been the victim of some sort of abuse or neglect at some point in their lives.

    You do realize that some groups are in fact “bad” right? I mean lets take rapists as a whole I’m really totally OK with labeling rapists as “bad”, pretty much ANY rapist, even Thomas Covenant. Yeah, anyone in the rapist group, bad.

    In Ohio, a 13 year old boy that has “consensual” sex with a 12 year old is a rapist. What is the shelf life for being bad? He is bad forever? For five years? Three days?

    I’m not sure that I’m going to manage to express this the way I want to, but I’ll try.

    I like pretty much everything about your post and I think you explained yourself very well and better than me. I especially agree with the idea that life isn’t a zero-sum game here. Thinking about ways to help victims become happier, safer people is not taking away responsibility from an offender.

    Rape and domestic abuse and other forms of intimate partner violence are the only crimes where this kind of “why didn’t you” after the fact gets repeated up institutionally, even up to court level and ultimately affects whether it is even investigated by police.

    This is categorically untrue. What is the most common defense in a murder case? Self-defense, where the offender claims the victim motivated his own death by their own actions. Robberies often look at the actions of the victim, especially if the victim is a drug dealer, which is often the case. In any case anywhere that involves a victim, one avenue for a defense attorney will be to see what the victim was doing to see if it provides a full or partial defense or mitigation.

    One difference with sexual violence, and one that makes it difficult to prosecute, is that it involves an act that pretty much everyone does (sex). Therefore, the entire case often rides on consent, which can be difficult to figure out after the fact. In any event, given the difficulty, it is to me only doubly important that we look at ways to reduce sexual violence that don’t involve the criminal justice system.

  91. smhll says

    I will retract this statement, as reading today in a calmer frame of mind I do not see the statements (that I thought I saw before) that lend support to my claim. I didn’t find any, much less four.

    Yeah, that was super evident to me. He did it at least 4 times. And I worry (empathetically!) that he may be blind to the fact that he keeps centering everything on the man’s feelings and describing women only in terms of their utility in making a man happy.

  92. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    You do realize that some groups are in fact “bad” right? I mean lets take rapists as a whole I’m really totally OK with labeling rapists as “bad”, pretty much ANY rapist, even Thomas Covenant. Yeah, anyone in the rapist group, bad.

    In Ohio, a 13 year old boy that has “consensual” sex with a 12 year old is a rapist. What is the shelf life for being bad? He is bad forever? For five years? Three days?

    So far, this conversation has been about adult criminals. There is a reason that civilised countries do not treat child offenders the same way that they treat adult offenders. Can you think what it might be? You do realise that the vast majority of people charged with rape aren’t children experimenting with one another, right? Trying to get adult predators off the hook by comparing them to children is particularly low.

    You also missed out the rest of notsont’s paragraph:

    Now I will agree that not everyone in the not-a-rapist group is good but that’s neither here nor there. Try as I might I can not think of a single way in which someone might be even partially responsible for their own rape.

    So, in what way(s) do you think that “someone might be even partially responsible for their own rape”? Because that is the direct consequence of victim-blaming. You are saying that someone could be even partially responsible for their own rape! Are you incapable of seeing how cruel and insensitive repeating this utter lie is?!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    EG, your examples in your last paragraph aren’t counter-examples to the paragraph of Gen’s that you quote.

    In murder, the victim isn’t in court to be cross-examined and blamed.

    Robberies often look at the actions of the victim[Citation needed], especially if the victim is a drug dealer, which is often the case[Citation needed]. In any case anywhere that involves a victim, one avenue for a defense attorney will be to see what the victim was doing to see if it provides a full or partial defense or mitigation[Citation needed].

    Don’t pull stuff out of your imagination. Try finding out whether it is true before presenting it here as fact. The only articles which Google comes up with when I ask it to search for ‘robbery victim blaming’ are those comparing and contrasting the difference in treatment, by authorities and wider society, of victims of sexual violence (often blamed, at least in part) and victims of robbery (never, or almost never, regarded as being to blame. Guess which victims of robbery are at risk of being held at least partially to blame?).

    One difference with sexual violence, and one that makes it difficult to prosecute, is that it involves an act that pretty much everyone does (sex). Therefore, the entire case often rides on consent, which can be difficult to figure out after the fact.

    And you know why consent is “difficult to figure out after the fact”? Because of victim-blaming culture, which says that victims aren’t reliable witnesses and cannot be trusted to tell the truth because they are hiding something that they did which means that the perpetrator isn’t wholly to blame.

    In any event, given the difficulty, it is to me only doubly important that we look at ways to reduce sexual violence that don’t involve the criminal justice system.

    Why? Because it would be too difficult to reform societies’ attitudes (and thus those of their justice systems) towards victims? Or because you have bought into the current victim-blaming culture and think that perpetrators somehow aren’t totally responsible for their actions, but victims are?

    Yes, it is important that victims have access to all the counselling and support systems that they want to access. It is even more important that none of these are predicated on apportioning any blame whatsoever to the victims of crime.

    What is even more important, though, is dismantling the cultural narratives that give criminals a way of excusing their actions or blaming them in any way on the actions of their victims.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Telling victims how they ‘should’ have behaved doesn’t help reduce assaults; telling potential assailants how they should behave, on the other hand, works (see the campaign “Don’t be that guy”).

    Drunk driving used to be socially acceptable; many, many people were killed and injured by the actions of drunk drivers. Telling people how to spot and avoid drunk drivers didn’t work; making drunk driving socially unacceptable did.

    It has (finally!) worked with the child rapists of the RCC. Now, at last, people are believing the victims instead of the perpetrators and things are moving towards justice. What made the difference? Providing counselling for the victims? No. Although that no doubt helped at least some of the victims to come to terms which what was done to them, what worked was giving weight to their testimony equal to that of the narrative coming out of the church. The church was saying that the victims weren’t victims at all, but evil blackmailers trying to besmirch the good name of holy people just trying to do their best in the face of ingratitude. This was a terrible lie, but a lie which was believed for centuries because of the relative social standing of the perpetrators and their victims. Once weight was given to the testimony of victims, the cracks appeared in the narrative of the church.

    No amount of counselling of survivors is going to make a dent in the population of entitled douchebags who think (with pretty good justification, given the attitude of people like EG) that they can get away with assaulting people because their victims almost certainly won’t be believed. We, as a society, have to stop treating some people as only worth 3/5 of other people. We have to stop thinking that the testimonies of certain classes of people (old, white, cis, straight men for example) are inherently more plausible than those of others (POC, women, LGBTQI). We have to stop thinking that certain classes of people (e.g. victims of sexual assaults) are more likely to be lying and/or have contributed in some way to or provoked the crime against them compared to others (e.g. victims of robbery). We have to call out people who make ‘jokes’ making light of sexual assault. We have to call out people who comment about someone rather the worse for wear from drink or drugs as ‘an opportunity’.

    And we have to continue to pile on the comments in blogs which try to perpetuate the old stereotypes which cause so much harm.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    We have to remember the following:

    Victims are never to blame, in any way, for the crimes committed against them.

    Decent people, when they see someone at risk of being assaulted in any way, take steps to ensure the safety of said person and to ensure they do not become victimised by anyone.

    Decent people do not take advantage of any power they may have in a situation to put their own feelings above those of people who are vulnerable.

    Decent people do not ever tell a victim “You should have done this…”

    Decent people do not think that the word ‘victim’ says anything about the person to whom it is applied other than the fact that at some time they were the target of a crime. It is only applied in conjunction with discussion of that crime. The word ‘victim’ isn’t a moral judgement. It doesn’t mean that the person who has been the victim of a crime in the past is somehow weaker or more at fault than someone who has been fortunate enough never to have been targetted (yet).

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Edward Gemmer, I challenge you to take steps to become a decent person.

  93. Zhuge says

    @ Eristra 74

    Thanks for the E-hug :)

    I often interject with something akin to “motherfucker” but that’s probably sexist and perhaps a touch crude. “Republicans” maybe? They are about as detestable as whatever that “god” character is, and they exist!

  94. Edward Gemmer says

    You do realise that the vast majority of people charged with rape aren’t children experimenting with one another, right?

    I do, but I think the comment made was that “all rapists are bad” or something to that effect. This category includes 13 year olds who have sex with 12 year olds, as they are in rapists. Rape is not an offense that can be sealed or expunged; the 13 year old is legally a rapist for the rest of his/her life. So I think it’s a legitimate point if we are talking about all rapists.

    Why? Because it would be too difficult to reform societies’ attitudes (and thus those of their justice systems) towards victims? Or because you have bought into the current victim-blaming culture and think that perpetrators somehow aren’t totally responsible for their actions, but victims are?

    No, because trying to prevent crime by addressing after the fact is an inefficient way to address it. I think I have made it pretty clear that I’m looking at ways to prevent crime, not ways to punish victims for it. The victim has already been punished, because the crime happened. We failed. The criminal justice system is more or less trying to clean up a mess, but I think we would all agree that avoiding the mess in the first place is the goal. In the context of the article above, I think it makes sense to educate men and women about what is acceptable conduct in a relationship. Is that “victim-blaming”? Maybe, but it is still a smart thing to do.

  95. says

    To say that “victims” can’t handle intelligent discussion of ways to prevent future victimization is, to me, condescending and untrue.

    More lies.

    The point, Gemmer was that you’re an idiot because you first said that it’s “condescending” to call people who’ve been subjected to violent crimes “victims.”

    Why is it condescending to call the victims of violent crimes “victims”? According to you, it’s because they are able to “handle” talking about how to avoid being victimized.

    You didn’t notice the horrible logical disjunction there? Just more proof that you’re not arguing a rational premise. Whether a person can “handle” talking about how to avoid victimization is irrelevant. If a person has been assaulted or raped or robbed, they are, in fact, “victims” of a crime. It’s not condescending to label them thus. And asserting that it’s condescending because they should (according to you) be able to handle discussions about how to avoid being victimized is stupid, because it’s too late for them. They are already victims. Some victims may be interested in talking about how to avoid being victimized again, and some may not. The point is that your reasoning about why it’s condescending to call victims “victims” was stupid in the extreme. Even on your own terms.

    I will try to tie this back to the original post: clearly your empathy is skewed towards yourself. Also, you’re not arguing rational points. The points you are making are blatantly illogical. It’s not even subtle. You display all the signs of being like the dude in the OP, only BEFORE he started exercising his capacity for self-awareness.

    You failure in empathy and reason is further demonstrated by your inability to grasp the simple concept that teaching potential victims to avoid their would-be assailants is a strategy that does not reduce the incidence of crime, but merely directs it towards classes of victims that are more vulnerable, less educated, and less able to defend themselves. “Avoid the rapist” is just “Let the rapist rape somebody else–someone less able-bodied, more prone to substance abuse, someone younger, someone older, someone less likely to believed by the police.” In other words, treat the rapists as immutable, unchangeable forces of nature, and just try to direct them towards sub-populations which you feel hold less value for some reason.

    That’s what “rape avoidance” is all about.

    Get some self-awareness, Gemmer, and stop lying and allow your brain to function properly.

  96. Edward Gemmer says

    Edward Gemmer is a lying liar who lies.

    Someone sounds like they watch too much O’Reilly Factor.

    The point is that your reasoning about why it’s condescending to call victims “victims” was stupid in the extreme. Even on your own terms.

    My point was that it is not victim blaming to prevent crime by educating people about how to spot and avoid it. Calling it victim blaming is calling everyone a victim, which is condescending and offensive to me. You may love it. I don’t know, I’m not you.

    You failure in empathy and reason is further demonstrated by your inability to grasp the simple concept that teaching potential victims to avoid their would-be assailants is a strategy that does not reduce the incidence of crime, but merely directs it towards classes of victims that are more vulnerable, less educated, and less able to defend themselves.

    It’s an interesting thought, one certainly shown by life. Certainly, being lower class and male is correlated with being an offender and victim of crime. Getting a college degree reduces the chance of committing and being a victim of crime. Perhaps we should end college grants because it is a form of victim blaming? Or increase them because it reduces the number of criminals? It boggles the mind.

  97. says

    It’s an interesting thought, one certainly shown by life. Certainly, being lower class and male is correlated with being an offender and victim of crime. Getting a college degree reduces the chance of committing and being a victim of crime. Perhaps we should end college grants because it is a form of victim blaming? Or increase them because it reduces the number of criminals? It boggles the mind.

    This paragraph is notable for its dishonesty.

  98. Tigger_the_Wing, Ranged Throngs Termed A Nerd With Boltcutters says

    It’s an interesting thought, one certainly shown by life. Certainly, being lower class and male is correlated with being an offender and victim of crime. Getting a college degree reduces the chance of committing and being a victim of crime. Perhaps we should end college grants because it is a form of victim blaming? Or increase them because it reduces the number of criminals? It boggles the mind.

    This paragraph is notable for its dishonesty.

    QFT.

    Unfortunately, there have been an inordinate number of dishonest paragraphs from Mr. Gemmer. And unevidenced assertions. And a stunning lack of empathy.

    Why, EG, do you ignore all the evidence provided in this very thread that your approach is utterly wrong, and keep on pushing it?

    *Headdesk*

  99. Edward Gemmer says

    Why, EG, do you ignore all the evidence provided in this very thread that your approach is utterly wrong, and keep on pushing it?

    Because there hasn’t been any to ignore. We look at the same statistics and arrive at different conclusions.

  100. says

    Irrational anger towards a racist isn’t any better than irrational anger towards a woman.

    That sentence — in Gemmer’s FIRST comment here — is the kind of pure bullshit that falls squarely into the “not even wrong” category. It’s based on so many unstated false premises that it’s not even worth debunking in any detail. Is Gemmer actually comparing women to racists? That’s the only way his sentence can have even a scrap of plausibility.

    Gemmer has proven himself — literally from the beginning — to be so deeply stupid and dishonest that arguing with him is a waste of time. He’s not just wrong on a few points, or even a decent liar; he’s just a relentlessly self-centered idiot cloaking his prejudices in a flood of pompous threadjacking bullshit.

  101. Edward Gemmer says

    Is Gemmer actually comparing women to racists?

    Nope. I’m comparing irrational anger to irrational anger. On can be rationally angry at something. Being angry at a racist you who is say, a local judge, makes a lot of sense. He can influence people’s lives. Being angry at Hobo Joe who yells racial epithets at the sky makes no sense, and being angry at him probably doesn’t help you, or him, or anyone else. When one is irrationally angry, then by definition the anger makes no damned sense. I tend to think being angry for no good reason is a useless and self-defeating feeling.

  102. Edward Gemmer says

    And lying by saying that it’s irrational to be angry at racists.

    Do you write for Conservative Crusader? I see a lot of similarities.

  103. says

    Gemmer, you can say “nope” or “nuh-uh” all you fucking want, but the fact remains that you’re making absolutely ridiculous and dishonest comparisons, and then trying to pretend you didn’t really say what you clearly said. You are, at best, an extremely clumsy writer who can’t do analogy and can’t get his point across without putting his foot in his mouth; and even if we accept that charitable judgement, it’s still pretty obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about, and most of your comments have been nothing but defensive, diversionary bullshit.

    And the fact that you tried to hijack a post about hatred of women, and started bitching about something else entirely, indicates yoiu’re more than just clueless — you have your own bigotry, and you’re trying to distract attention away from it, and pretend your detractors are “irrational” and “emotional,” therefore they’re just as bad as misogynists.

  104. Edward Gemmer says

    And this is relevant to the OP…how?

    It’s pretty clear that the original article was about someone who felt a lot of irrational anger and didn’t start growing as a person until he started to understand and let go of it.

  105. Edward Gemmer says

    A lot clearer and more intelligent than your comments, get the hint?

    No, I’m an unintelligent toad who lives under a soundproof wall of entitlement, so I don’t get hints very well.

  106. says

    No, I’m an unintelligent toad who lives under a soundproof wall of entitlement, so I don’t get hints very well.

    The fact that you’re saying that sarcastically doesn’t actually make it untrue.

  107. loofasword says

    Role-playing is always fun. I would read Edward Gemmer’s post and think, yes, it is a great idea to share this story anonymously. I’m not sure what to do because there are a lot conflicting things going on. I have a job I like and I don’t want to screw that up. But my boss may be a perv who shouldn’t be managing women and the world doesn’t revolve around me. But do I even want this job if I have to work with that guy? I need to develop this further. Let’s talk about it on the internet.

    I’d rather laugh than cry about this. When challenged to show some empathy, Gemmer casts himself in the role and proceeds to play it as himself, like one of those film actors who is exactly the same character in every movie he’s in.

  108. Mclean says

    loofasword:


    Role-playing is always fun. I would read Edward Gemmer’s post and think, yes, it is a great idea to share this story anonymously. I’m not sure what to do because there are a lot conflicting things going on. I have a job I like and I don’t want to screw that up. But my boss may be a perv who shouldn’t be managing women and the world doesn’t revolve around me. But do I even want this job if I have to work with that guy? I need to develop this further. Let’s talk about it on the internet.

    I’d rather laugh than cry about this. When challenged to show some empathy, Gemmer casts himself in the role and proceeds to play it as himself, like one of those film actors who is exactly the same character in every movie he’s in.

    I’m a bit late checking back on this, and it is indeed disappointing. The phrase ‘put yourself in another’s shoes’ does not mean to cosplay, and empathy exercises are not like controlling someone’s life as if they were a video game character. I really wonder if he has ever been empathetic to anyone other than himself.

    In case Edward is reading this, or for anyone that does not take issue, I state here plainly the point of an empathy exercise:

    The story is there for framing only, to help you think in different terms, not of your own. The background is not there as a problem to solve or a story to finish, but as a frame of reference to approach an intellectual and/or emotional argument from a different perspective. It requires time and patience to pull off, with ample time for reflection and care to remove one’s own biases, and a careful re-reading of one’s arguments at many levels of depth from alien eyes. Done well, it takes longer to do this than to form one’s initial philosophy on the subject. Indeed, it was a lot to ask in time and dedication, and I would understand if this task were politely declined on this concern.

    However, for this person to glibly continue to fly off a response as soon as his hands met his keyboard was rather churlish.

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