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British Weight Lifter Delivers Epic Smack Down

Zoe Smith is a very strong woman, and not just physically. The 18 year old British weightlifter just broke her country’s record for the clean and jerk by lifting 121 kilos and took to her blog to clean the clocks of jerks who question her femininity in an epic fashion:

The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”. And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong. He came up with the original comeback that I should get back in the kitchen. I laughed.

As Hannah pointed out earlier, we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.

Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.

Game, set, match.

Comments

  1. MikeMa says

    Well placed smack indeed. I have read similar (why would I want someone like you) responses in the past but this one is top notch.

  2. raven says

    Frank Zappa said it long ago in a song called “What is the ugliest part of your body?”

    Answer. “I think it is your mind.”

    There are a lot of ugly minds out there. Needless to say, they aren’t the least bit attractive.

  3. Paulino says

    Like Physioproffe said the other day, it is good that humanity is leaving prejudices behind…

  4. D. C. Sessions says

    I frankly have no idea what she looks like, and don’t care.

    On the other hand, her attitude is beautiful.

  5. dingojack says

    Yeah – I hate it when people make disparaging, generalised remarks about a whole class of people.
    Usually those “that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them.”
    (And they have small dicks to boot – so there!)

    Nice to see you’re not stooping to their level. Well played. @@

    Dingo
    —–
    PS: just a tip for you – if you start a sentence admitting what you’re going to say sounds like bigotry stop, because it usually is.

  6. Pinky says

    Keep up the good work Zoe Smith. She epitomizes something I’ve been ranting about for years; girls/women should stop being cheerleaders for males and join in. Let our daughters know its not only OK, but good to spend as much time on physical fitness as males. Play basketball, wrestle, football, etc.

  7. tripencrypt says

    Game, set and match indeed! Well done Ms. Smith. Why do people think other people are supposed to meet their totally subjective ideas about femininity?

  8. smhll says

    @7

    Look at her longer quote:

    This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem…

    She said “most” and “seem” and acknowledged that she was generalizing. Of those three qualifiers, your quote omitted two parts and included only “seem”. I don’t think you are being fair in your comparison.

  9. slc1 says

    Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that he got out of the body building business when he got to his favorite gym and watched a woman named Bev Francis bench press 400 pounds.

  10. dingojack says

    smhll – Did you read the postscript? It’s merely a variant on the time-honoured: ‘I’m not a racist but…’.
    The fact she tried so hard to couch her terms to avoid setting off the alarms, simply draws more attention to fact she was generalising shamelessly.
    Dingo

  11. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    @dingo

    I can’t tell if your comment is sarcasm? It sounds like you’re accusing her of bigotry. She said:

    This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this [“how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”] seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them.

    That is a very specific class of people, and furthermore, I’d argue that that entire class of people is chauvinistic, whether male or female, although here she refers specifically to the male portion. Unless you have a better way to describe someone who makes a “get in the kitchen” comment than as a chauvinistic pighead?

  12. dingojack says

    HOw about simply responding: ‘I don’t do weightlifting for you approval or disapproval. Deal with it.’
    Too difficult?
    Dingo

  13. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Hey that works too, but I still don’t see why you’re objecting to her recognizing and pointing out the underlying sexism in these slurs against female weightlifters. I don’t think that calling the people who are saying those things chauvinistic and pigheaded is generalizing shamelessly. I mean it’s basically the same principle as in this post.

  14. says

    This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them.

    Zoe is correct. On multiple counts. (1)Yes, it’s a sweeping generalization. (2) Yes, they do seem like insecure chauvinists.

    Carping that she didn’t qualify her statement enough or used too many words is petty quibbling. If I were advising Zoe in an editorial capacity because she wanted to shorten her post, I’d tell her that she could safely omit “This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but.” On the evidence of the comments she saw, the remaining words seem perfectly accurate.

  15. shouldbeworking says

    She sounds like a winner in both fields: lifting large masses up and smacking down massive egos down.

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron.

    Sorry, but that’s an ad hominem fallacy. As a logic pedant i cannot approve.

  17. Reginald Selkirk says

    slc1 @13: Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that he got out of the body building business when he got to his favorite gym and watched a woman named Bev Francis bench press 400 pounds.

    Uh, what? What does body building have to do with weight lifting?

  18. harold says

    I frankly have no idea what she looks like, and don’t care.

    My most immediate reaction to the article was to find out what she looks like. I make no apologies. I’m a compassionate progressive, but I’m not a politically correct compassionate progressive.

    As I suspected, she looks extremely physically fit, but also attractive and traditionally “feminine”.

    I suspected that for a variety of reasons. First of all, the whole situation of being hassled by intimidated sexists for being “masculine” suggests that the woman in question is likely to be attractive. If a less attractive woman succeeded in the same sport, sexists would merely sneer at her appearance rather than getting worked up.

    Second of all women’s weight lifting is pretty heavily drug tested, and although there probably are athletes who test the limits of that testing (as in any relatively major sport), quite bluntly, it would mainly be contenders for the gold from countries with major weight-lifting programs, a group which does not include the UK, who would be most likely to do that. Obviously, any woman has a perfect right to look any way she wants, but it isn’t even easy for most men to develop a bodybuilder type physique. Strength training alone doesn’t make women look “masculine”. The effect of O-lifting, without major use of steroids, on a woman, would typically be to make her look like a strong, fit woman, but not to make her look “masculine”.

    (There have been examples of woman Olympic athletes whose overall training seemed to have an androgenic effect. That was most, but not exclusively, associated with Soviet bloc countries during the 1970′s. It is generally believed that the androgenic effects were secondary to efforts to make full use of the anabolic effects of steroids. This was deservedly controversial, as many of the athletes were very young. It is my personal belief that anyone, man or woman, should have the right to use all the anabolic steroids they want (no, I don’t and have never used them), but only where they can give fully informed consent as adults.)

  19. Lyle says

    Not only can she deadlift twice my mass, but she can also write out a very well-executed verbal bitchslap on some dickheads that would see fit to dehumanize her simply for being supremely athletic. I like her.

  20. says

    Her generalization wasn’t sweeping enough– guys who bitch about female athletes not looking feminine enough because they look and act strong are chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated.

    Quit your bitching, Dingo. She said nothing about your penis size.

  21. D. C. Sessions says

    Quit your bitching, Dingo. She said nothing about your penis size.

    It’s not the size that matters, it’s whether it can lift (or even hold up) 121 kg ….

  22. brocasbrian says

    I went and looked her up and watched some video. My reaction was good for her and that she looks great. Don’t see why anyone would have a problem with what she does or how she looks.

  23. Fred Salvador - The Public Sucks; Fuck Hope says

    She can also snatch 108kgs. Which means she has a strong grip. Which means she could probably crush your larynx. Which means making that stupid “kitchen” crack to her face should really earn you an honourable mention at the Darwin awards. I commend the bravery of this chauvinist, but find myself forced to agree with Miss Smith’s assessment of him and his vitriol.

  24. julial says

    Reginald Selkirk @#21

    Sorry, but that’s an ad hominem fallacy. As a logic pedant i cannot approve.

    -I must differ: Only if the guy was not a moron would this be an ad hominem. And as the guy clearly was, saying his opinion is invalid is simply true. Much as saying the opinion of a deck chair is invalid, because the chair has similar intellectual capacity with her interlocutor.

    Got to love her power, and her power lifting too.

  25. Jordan Genso says

    @29

    I must differ with you. The guy’s opinion could still be valid even if he is a moron, just as the deck chair’s opinion could be valid.

    If a deck chair* somehow said that President Obama is a better President than Mitt Romney would be, does the fact that a deck chair made the statement mean the opinion is invalid, and anyone who shares that opinion must also then be wrong? Or do you feel the same exact opinion can be both right and wrong, depending on the source?

    An opinion/position/argument should be evaluated on its own merits. You can question the motives of the speaker and such, in an attempt to discredit their factual claims they’ve not proven, but to say that someone being a moron invalidates their opinion is the same tactic the one group used when they put up a billboard with the (was it the unabomber? I can’t remember) saying that he believes in global warming.

    With all that said, the moron’s opinion is obviously wrong, but it’s not because he’s a moron. He may have that opinion because he is a moron, but the opinion is wrong for other reasons.

    *Obviously, deck chairs can’t give opinions, but I just wanted to stick with your example.

  26. D. C. Sessions says

    Obviously, deck chairs can’t give opinions, but I just wanted to stick with your example.

    Billboards certainly do, as do bus stop benches. Your prejudice against furniture aside, I propose to you that there are quite a few voters who give no more thought to their stated opinions than a billboard does.

  27. F says

    ad hominem

    Although the sentence structure lends itself to this interpretation, given the context it is clearly a conclusion, and not an argument at all.

  28. slc1 says

    Re Reginald Selkirk @ #22

    Although Bev Francis competed in body building contests, she was primarily a weight lifter, so, in that regard, it is on topic to this discussion.

  29. daved says

    Many weight lifters are large people, so I looked her up to see whether she was, too. Not hardly — she’s just under five-foot-three and weighs 130 lbs. I spent some time looking at pictures of her, wondering how in the world this diminutive woman, who looks nice and fit but is very far from musclebound, could possibly lift twice her own body weight.

    I concluded that she is an attractive space alien. Well, either that, or she trains really hard. I suppose that could explain it.

  30. Amphiox says

    This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this [“how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”] seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them.

    Actually dingo, she’s being far more generous and diplomatic than she needs to be.

    Because, actually, this is not even a generalization. It is practically definitional.

    Thinking “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles” IS being chauvinistic and pigheaded.

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    julial @29: -I must differ: Only if the guy was not a moron would this be an ad hominem.

    NO, she clearly says he is wrong because he is a moron. That is an ad hominem combined with a genetic fallacy.

  32. says

    “I commend the bravery of this chauvinist, but find myself forced to agree with Miss Smith’s assessment of him and his vitriol.”

    I must disagree with this.

    Bravery is involved when one knows that what they’re doing is dangerous. I doubt that the asswipe in this instance gave it any thought whatsoever. Stupid, not brave.

  33. says

    One of the British cyclist who won a gold medal today (woohoo!) has severe alopecia areata–she barely has a hair left on her head–and has been that way since she was 10.

    No doubt she’s had to endure a lot of cruel remarks about her appearance while she was growing up, but today she proudly mounted the podium to accept her gold medal without resorting to a head covering of any kind. It couldn’t have been easy, but like Zoe, she’s now an inspiration to many others. Brought a tear to my eye.

  34. says

    I frankly have no idea what she looks like, and don’t care.

    I just googled images of her; she has a great big gorgeous smile. That’s what jumped out at me first and foremost.

  35. rapiddominance says

    I kinda want to talk shit to her so that she will smack me around.

    Not that I would want it to end with the smacking but that’s probably how it would end.

    Speaking of which, a FemDom encounter can be a lot like the Schrodinger Cat scenario–up until you know what’s coming out of it, the situation can be thought of as both good and bad.

    Anyway, “cheers!” to female empowerment.

  36. says

    far from musclebound, could possibly lift twice her own body weight

    Body building and weight lifting are very very different things. For some kinds of weight lifting, bulk is less important than being able to get all of the right muscles working at peak output at exactly the right time. For weight lifting, nowadays, it’s about having maximum definition while remaining symmetrical, which tends to involve deliberate dehydration. Some of the lifts are really tests of timing and transferring weight/energy more than they are about strength.

    (I spent a while hanging out with a nationally ranked champion female body-builder, and observing how she ate leading up to competition was mind-bending One of the things she told me, which is kind of cool, is that when you’re all pumped up, you’re usually so dehydrated and depleted of energy in your muscles, that you would have trouble lifting a phone-book over your head.)

  37. matthewhodson says

    @#3(Brett McCoy):

    Good for her! She definitely doesn’t look like a bloke, either.

    Not that their would be anything wrong with that.

  38. daved says

    Body building and weight lifting are very very different things. For some kinds of weight lifting, bulk is less important than being able to get all of the right muscles working at peak output at exactly the right time.

    Oh, yes, I realize that there is no inherent reason that a weightlifter has to be bulky, that’s just the stereotype (and there are plenty of competitors, male and female, who do fit it). This woman, just from looking at her, you’d never guess how strong she is. Quite amazing.

  39. says

    Oh hai Dingojack–

    If you’re mistaking Zoe’s comment for bigotry, that means you think that her slam against misogynists includes all men, which means that you think ALL men are misogynists, which makes YOU the one who is bigoted against men.

    Checkmate.

  40. dingojack says

    SallyStrange – your ‘argument’ is simply a string of non-sequiturs. Come back when you have an actual argument. Discovered Check.

    What if Zoe Smith had made disparaging, generalised statements about black people (say) because they disapproved of her choice of sport, would that be OK?

    It works both ways. If you think that it’s not OK to make generalised sweeping statements against a person (or group) you support*, then equally it’s not OK against a person (or group) you deplore.

    The fact she couched her terms so carefully, and so early shows that she consciously knew what she was doing was not OK, then she simply brushed aside an argument using an ad hominem.
    Not really a praiseworthy effort IMHO.

    Dingo
    —–
    * actually, I don’t see how one’s femininity (or masculinity) is affected by the activities one chooses to do

  41. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Wait, black people and people who think weightlifting women aren’t feminine enough are equal as far as criticism is concerned?

  42. Stacy says

    What if Zoe Smith had made disparaging, generalised statements about black people (say) because they disapproved of her choice of sport, would that be OK?

    Wut?

    Zoe Smith disparaged men who disparaged her for not looking “feminine.”

    Not only do you seem to think men who think that way don’t deserve to be called chauvinists–you think they comprise some sort of class analogous to people of African descent.

    Can’t think what class you imagine that to be other than “men [or at least hetero men] in general.” I think you’ve just proved SallyStrange’s point.

  43. dingojack says

    what did she actually say?

    “This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron”.

    ‘This might sound like a sweeping generalisation…’
    Well if that’s case, stop – it probably is.

    ‘… most of the people that do think this way seem to be…’
    Classing most of your detractors in a broad, dismissible class is a great way to counter their broadly classing all female weightlifters to dismiss them.
    If you’ve got a problem with their ‘arguments’, fine, argue that. It would be a stronger response than tu quoque.

    ‘… to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron’.
    The very definition of an ad hominem argument.

    Dingo

  44. dingojack says

    The argument should stand (or fall) on its content, not on whether we agree or disagree with who is making it.

    Dingo

  45. Stacy says

    Jesus Fucking Christ on a prancing pony.

    If you’ve got a problem with their ‘arguments’, fine, argue that.

    Their “argument” is that women shouldn’t be strong and shouldn’t look unfeminine.

    That is sexism.

    ‘… to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron’.
    The very definition of an ad hominem argument

    Yeah, dingo, you got her there. I guess Zoe was making a point rather than a technically sound and valid argument. Ya think?

  46. dingojack says

    Still missing the point.
    The point isn’t that her detractors arguments were strong or even vaguely defensible; the point is her argument was weak for the reasons pointed out above, and not so praiseworthy (IMHO) as Ed et al. seem to think.

    As for your ‘zinger’: re-read mine #50.

    Dingo

  47. donalbain says

    These people who act in a chauvinistic way tend to be chauvinists.

    Waaaah. She is being mean to chauvinists!

  48. Forbidden Snowflake says

    What if Zoe Smith had made disparaging, generalised statements about black people (say) because they disapproved of her choice of sport, would that be OK?

    The only way this analogy would make sense is if ALL black people, from Frederick Sparks to Caster Semenya, and ONLY black people disapproved of her choice of sport, and did so for stupid reasons.

    What you are doing is the equivalent of whining that people who vote for GOP are unfairly stereotyped as being Republicans.

  49. Fred Salvador - The Public Sucks; Fuck Hope says

    What if Zoe Smith had made disparaging, generalised statements about black people (say) because they disapproved of her choice of sport, would that be OK?

    How do you know the men and women who made these comments to her weren’t black? You don’t, because she never made reference to the race of her detractors, merely the character of the comments they’re making (which were idiotic and chauvinist). That’s absolutely fine by me, no matter what colour these people happened to be.

    I suppose you could be playing the odds; she’s a British woman who lives in Britain, which is a majority-white nation. Except she’s a mixed race British woman who hails from a mixed race area of Britain and is currently situated in London, which is anything but racially homogenous. This isn’t to suggest that the people making the comments WEREN’T white, merely that the likelihood of them being white is statistically less than it would be if she were a White British girl competing in an event on Merseyside (which is almost totally racially homogenous).

    So, to answer your question, making disparaging, generalised statements about black people is perfectly acceptable if there is a strain of pig-headed chauvinism motivating them to make pig-headed, chauvinist comments; on the condition that you’re not making undue reference to their race – which, as we all know, has little effect on a person’s propensity for chauvinism.

    ‘This might sound like a sweeping generalisation…’
    Well if that’s case, stop – it probably is.

    Her quote in full:

    “This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that.”

    So it IS a sweeping generalisation! Ohnoes, call the Morality Police!

    But wait… no, because I’m fairly sure that a scientific sociological study would bear out her conclusion. Most of the men I’ve met who hold this opinion of female weightlifters – and female athletes in general – are what I’d describe as pigheaded and chauvinistic; that’s a sample size of 2 people so it’s not large enough to extrapolate conclusions, nor is “pigheaded” a scientific term, but you get the idea. What other reason could a man have for holding such opinions of female weightlifters? Even supposing a legitimate reason existed for opposing females lifting weights (PROTIP: it doesn’t), how else would you describe the character of the comments made to Zoe Smith?

    She also criticises girls who hold these opinions of female weightlifters too. Not as pigheaded chauvinists, more as lamentably unambitious and judgemental, but it’s still a sweeping generalisation. I don’t see anyone pulling her up for that; and if anyone is tempted to, bear in mind the old gender binary which demands women conform to a female “gender role”, a role which does not include “weightlifting”. I’d be hard-pressed not to describe women who base their opinion of others on this patriarchal bullshit as lamentably unambitious.

    ‘… to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron’.
    The very definition of an ad hominem argument.

    True; but remember, this is an 18 year old kid we’re talking about. An 18 year old kid who has just broken a national record in her chosen sport, yet has to listen to useless, pigheaded chauvinists who can’t match her strength and must therefore find some other facet of her to criticise in order to make themselves feel better about not being able to match her physical prowess.

    So they go for her gender. Not only that, but they do it in an exceptionally insidious way, by summoning up the old patriarchal nonsense that a woman’s worth is judged on her physical desirability, and that simply by taking part in a sport she loves and is good at, she is forsaking the only facet of her being that matters.

    I don’t blame her for making ad hom attacks. I think I would too, except if I were to do it I’d expect much less leeway than an 18 year old kid who has to listen to disparaging bullshit aimed at her purely because she is female.

    So, yeah. Once you start deconstructing it, it all starts making sense on a deeper level.

  50. dingojack says

    Congrats – two examples of reading comprension failure. Go back and re-read carefully #49, #50 & #52.
    Dingo

  51. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Your comments were still wrong the second time I read them. Disparaging people who make sexist comments as sexist is not “a sweeping generalization”; it is a perfectly reasonable inference. Your analogy is invalid, as I’ve explained; mine, which you failed to address, is valid.

  52. dingojack says

    Forbidden Snowflake – I didn’t answer your question because it’s not really relevant to the actual argument (see mine #56).
    Dingo

  53. Forbidden Snowflake says

    FFS, you are directing me to a comment in which you direct the reader to you other comments, which I have already said I read? And my question is very relevant to your ridiculous claim regarding “sweeping generalizations”. Characterizing people’s beliefs according to their actions is nothing like “disparaging all black people blah blah blah”.

    To summarize: yes, the thing about “argument invalid because he is a moron” is an ad-hom, not that the guy said anything that merited an intelligent answer. However, her generalization, if it can even be called that, was absolutely reasonable, and your outrage over it is absurd.
    Be sure to let me know when you are ready to actually address anything anyone has said.

  54. dingojack says

    The question was phrased as a hypothetical -
    IF Ms Smith had made (say) racist generalizations how would we regard her comments?
    a) more positively
    b) more negatively?

    Are some generalizations, then, are superior to others? If so, which and why?

    Is it reasonable to use a tu quoque fallacy to counteract a sexist generalisation?

    What if her detractors had then used the same kind of fallacy against her?

    Should we use one set of standards for someone whose ideas we like and another for those whose ideas we abhor?*

    Should skeptics use a rational basis to judge the quality of an argument, or should we let our feelings about the person making the argument, tell us if the argument is correct or not?

    None of this reflects on Ms Smith personally (I certainly don’t know her, and I guessing you don’t either), rather it reflects on the quality of her argument (in this particular case).

    I’d contend it is not very strong, nor is it a praiseworthy as Ed (and others, yourself included) seem to think.

    You are (of course) perfectly entitled to have your opinion, but I’d like to understand the rationale behind that opinion.

    Dingo
    —–
    * just to muddy the waters a little, it’s kind of like a ‘free speech’ argument. It should apply equally whether we approve or disapprove the message being conveyed.

  55. julial says

    WHEEEEE!! Please, please, can I play too?
    In keeping with the trivially pedantic sophistry of this site:

    Premise 1) Every statement by a moron is invalid.
    Premise 2) Zoe Smith’s opposite is a moron.
    Therefore his statement is invalid.

    To be an invalid argument by either genetic or ad hom fallacies the point about the person has to be irrelevant to the point being made.

    The nice thing about the bars in my neighborhood is that arguments like this don’t drag out for hundreds of retorts. They end quickly and definitively.
    The internet sucks.

  56. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Oooh, finally some substance! Let’s talk.

    IF Ms Smith had made (say) racist generalizations how would we regard her comments?
    a) more positively
    b) more negatively?

    More negatively. However, that is irrelevant, as I contend that she didn’t make any kind of generalization.
    Saying “Italians love pizza” is an example of a generalization. However, saying “People who have Italian citizenship are Italians” is NOT a generalization, because the trait I am appealing to in the second example is one that defines people as Italians. Likewise, people who think a woman must be physically weak to be attractive, that attractiveness is the most important thing about a woman and that it is appropriate for men to hassle strange women with unasked for comments about their looks, thereby define themselves as sexists. The additional inference that they feel emasculated by strong women is reasonable for people who believe that physical strength is for men.
    Smith prefaced her statement with “This may sound like a generalization…”, in what seems to be a facetious manner, which unfortunately sent you into a hyper-literal frenzy, but her statement was not, in fact, a generalization.

    Are some generalizations, then, are superior to others? If so, which and why?

    Generalizations that are better descriptive of reality are superior to generalizations that are less descriptive of reality. In addition, generalizations can be socially destructive to differing degrees.
    The generalization “peaches are sweet” is better than the generalization “peaches are bitter”, and neither of these is as destructive as generalizations that are sexist or racist stereotypes.

    Is it reasonable to use a tu quoque fallacy to counteract a sexist generalisation?

    I suspect that you don’t know what a tu quoque fallacy is. It means deflecting an accusation against yourself by accusing the accuser with the same crime, and thus with hypocrisy. A tu quoque fallacy to a man accusing them that “[they're] probably all lesbians and look like blokes” would be something like “well, you probably carry a purse and love the cock, so nyah”. Replying that people who think this way are sexist blockheads is, in fact, nothing like tu quoque.

    What if her detractors had then used the same kind of fallacy against her?

    Then they would look even stupider than they have managed to look beforehand.

    Should we use one set of standards for someone whose ideas we like and another for those whose ideas we abhor?*

    Nobody is doing that. Your argument is a false equivalence.

    Should skeptics use a rational basis to judge the quality of an argument, or should we let our feelings about the person making the argument, tell us if the argument is correct or not?

    We did use a rational basis to judge the quality of an argument. Most of us probably knew nothing about Smith and her interlocutor before coming across this story, and thus did not have preconceived opinions of them and were free to judge both people by their arguments. The guy’s argument was crap, and Smith’s reply was better than he deserved.

  57. dingojack says

    I suspect that ou don’t know what a ‘tu quoque’ is* because you applied to the wrong part of her argument.

    Making a sweeping generalization is wrong; people who make such generalisations are like X. Tu quoque. (Your argument that it is a definition of such a group is undermined by the fact that is a definition (supposedly) of most of the group. ‘Most white men can’t Watusi’ isn’t much of a definition is it?).

    “… purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron”. Ad hominem. [Emphasis mine].

    If we criticise some people for having a poor standard of argument and reasoning, we should hold all people to the same standard, agree or disagree. If we don’t it’s a kind of hypocrisy.

    Ed stated that this was a ‘epic smackdown’, but I think her reasoning is poor and not as praiseworthy as others think for the reasons explained in the posts above.

    Dingo
    —–
    * Like the irony? Read on…

  58. Forbidden Snowflake says

    (Your argument that it is a definition of such a group is undermined by the fact that is a definition (supposedly) of most of the group. ‘Most white men can’t Watusi’ isn’t much of a definition is it?)

    Wait… She said “most” rather than “all”, and this somehow supports the claim that she made a sweeping generalization?
    Bullshit. You completely failed to address my argument, and went on to quibble about semantics instead. Quibbling about word usage is justified if the meaning is genuinely ambiguous, but it can also be a means of obfuscation when the meaning of the text is clear.
    If she said “most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes” in order to, for instance, avoid denying the existence of women who think the same way, that does not change the fact that men who think this way define themselves as pigheaded chauvinists, and that calling a spade a spade is not a generalization against spades.

  59. Forbidden Snowflake says

    I suspect that ou don’t know what a ‘tu quoque’ is* because you applied to the wrong part of her argument.

    Making a sweeping generalization is wrong; people who make such generalisations are like X. Tu quoque.

    No, making the same error one accuses others of is not tu quoque. If that was true, striking back at someone who hits you would have been a tu quoque.
    Tu quoque means deflecting accusation with counter-accusation instead of addressing it. If the guy replied to her the same way you did, retorting to her accusation of sexism by accusing her of making generalizations that are just like racism, that would have been a tu quoque.
    Here’s the Wikipedia article for Tu Quoque. Please read it, including the examples, before you say any more wrong things about this straightforward concept.

  60. dingojack says

    OK I’ll conceed that.
    However it certainly makes little sense to say ‘I dislike mostly being classified like X. Those that do mostly are claasified as Y’.
    It still seems to be an informal tu quoque to me.

    Dingo
    —–
    I’m sorry to leave, but I need to sleep.

  61. Forbidden Snowflake says

    However it certainly makes little sense to say ‘I dislike mostly being classified like X. Those that do mostly are claasified as Y’.

    I dislike it when people assume I must be greedy and racist against Arabs. People who assume this tend to be antisemitic.

    Oooh, now I’m as bad as antisemites!

  62. says

    This may seem like a sweeping generalization, but people who ignore the powerful content of an anti-sexist statement from a talented, athletic teenage girl in favor of lobbing pedantic critiques based on nit-picking analyses of formal logical fallacies tend to be douchebags who don’t care much about women’s equality.

  63. KG says

    Still missing the point. – dingojack

    Yes, we’ve noticed. Have you reached the Mohorovičić discontinuity yet?

  64. jameshanley says

    Jesus, Dingo, is the Australian winter getting to you or something? I agree with the commenter who said it’s definitional. Anyone who objects to women weightlifters is sexist. No sweeping generalization actually there, despite Smith’s words. In my years of reading this blog, I can’t say that I’ve ever thought you were absolutely fundamentally dead wrong on an issue before. But you are here.

  65. michaelcrichton says

    Dingo: I’m sorry to leave, but I need to sleep.

    Hopefully, some rest will give you time to admit that you made a hasty snap-judgement based on an incomplete reading and have been scrambling to justify it ever since. Seriously, you’re usually much better than this.

  66. Olav says

    She is just 18, and as such not a trained and experienced philosopher and/or debater. She should be allowed to make some logical and rethorical mistakes. Even if she did commit an “ad hominem”, we should not hold it against her too much because the larger point that she is making is certainly valid.

    But here is the thing: she did NOT commit an ad hominem by stating “[..] his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron.

    Because what she actually said was “[..] his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong.

    And she goes on to explain exactly why the moron was wrong. And a moron. She does it with intelligence, clarity, humour beyond her years. Her literary skill is fantastic.

    To isolate just one little citation out of her post and criticise her for it is just dishonest.

  67. dingojack says

    OK having completely reviewed the issue with a more dispassionate eye, I still think that sweeping your detractors into a dismissible class in order to show that sweeping people into dismissible classes is wrong still strikes me as dodgy. And I still think dismissing some-one’s argument primarily because they’re a moron is ad hom.
    It still weakens the argument, and so doesn’t get a gold, but definitely a silver.
    Dingo
    —-
    PS: We still should hold the feet of our heroes and villains to the same fire.

  68. Forbidden Snowflake says

    dingojack, your weasel words just keep on getting weaselier. And you appear to believe that if you phrase your already debunked complaint slightly differently you get to ignore all of the counterarguments that were made to you.

    sweeping your detractors into a dismissible class

    Do you think that sexists are being unfairly dismissed? Do you think that Zoe Smith, or anyone, for that matter, should pay a more pensive analysis to sexist comments from random strangers?
    Serious question, BTW. If you think Zoe Smith was being unfair, you should be able to say exactly to whom she was being unfair. Who was wronged by her?

    And I still think dismissing some-one’s argument primarily because they’re a moron is ad hom.

    This has been addressed by Olav, whom you ignored. You are behaving dishonestly now, dingojack.

    PS: We still should hold the feet of our heroes and villains to the same fire.

    It’s cute how you believe yourself to be a brave sole voice of opposition against hypocrisy. We all think we’re Henry Fonda when we find ourselves in the minority position, eh?

  69. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Can I just, like, high five Forbidden Snowflake?

    I think if you juxtapose this:

    This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this [“how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”] seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them.

    and FS @68:

    I dislike it when people assume I must be greedy and racist against Arabs. People who assume this tend to be antisemitic.

    Oooh, now I’m as bad as antisemites!

    It’s pretty obvious who is full of win here. (Hint: Forbidden Snowflake is, Dingo is not)

  70. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    smhll – Did you read the postscript? It’s merely a variant on the time-honoured: ‘I’m not a racist but…’.
    The fact she tried so hard to couch her terms to avoid setting off the alarms, simply draws more attention to fact she was generalising shamelessly.
    Dingo

    Why would she be ashamed of a generalization that’s correct?

  71. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    HOw about simply responding: ‘I don’t do weightlifting for you approval or disapproval. Deal with it.’
    Too difficult?

    Why should people fighting back against bigotry be limited to short, neutral, filtered, toothless, defensive…

    …oh, of course.

  72. says

    What if Zoe Smith had made disparaging, generalised statements about black people (say) because they disapproved of her choice of sport, would that be OK?

    You’re actually saying her comments are comparable to racism? Really?

    Here’s an important little thing to remember, something that is, in fact, bloody obvious: Zoe was not generalizing about all men, or any ethnic group; she was generalizing about people who had acted a certain way. All generalizatins are dangerous, but this is one of the less dangerous generalizations.

    And if you want to complain about ad-hominem attacks, remember that certain guys had already revealed themselves to be of piss-poor character, so it’s perfectly appropriate for Zoe to respond by attacking their character. This wasn’t a policy debate, it was a response to a lot of stupid insults.

    I can’t believe anyone here would try to lecture Zoe Smith about how she is “allowed” to respond to personal insults.

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