School shootings and the brutalisation of boys


A few years ago I wrote here about how school shooters and spree killers are made.

Much has been written and said about the role of masculine conditioning and patriarchal beliefs in cases like Eliott Rodger and the role misogyny plays in charging and inspiring their crimes.

The standard feminist theory (most popularly expressed by Michael Kimmel in books like Angry White Men) is that these young men – and they are almost if not quite always young men – are the extreme fringes of toxic masculinity and ‘aggrieved entitlement.’ Basically they are overcome by anger at not getting access to all the rewards, such as sex, respect and status, that they feel they deserve for their role as white men at the top of the social hierarchy. They then take that frustration out on their peers, on the world in a murderous explosion of rage.  

My position has always been that this is probably true to a point, but misses huge chunks of the jigsaw. In particular, in every case where there’s enough biographical background to know, a spree killer does indeed feel disgruntled at their place in the world, but that is at most half the story.

The other half is that these men – these kids –  have lived through either extensive emotional, physical or sexual abuse or (more commonly) through extensive and extreme bullying at school.

This is not, generally, a popular opinion. I’ve been attacked in the past for expressing it, because it might appear to suggest sympathy with the murderer, even look like a justification or a rationalisation. Cases like Eliott Rodger, I have been told, don’t need or deserve ‘nuance.’ Whether or not they have been bullied or abused is irrelevant.

But this is an issue where I think the academic theory is not just rarefied intellectual bubblegum. There is an urgent need to understand why these mass murders occur, and if it possible that real world policies and interventions could significantly reduce the risk of future massacres.

Last week academic newswires reported a fascinating new study which investigated the ‘shared characteristics’ of 31 boys who had been involved in mass shootings between 1995 and 2015. The press release (I haven’t yet been able to track down the full report, so I’m trusting the summary is accurate) is a striking – and in my opinion shocking – illustration of what is wrong with this debate.

The press release begins as follows:

Boys involved in school shootings often struggle to live up to what they perceive as their school’s ideals surrounding masculinity.

When socially shunned at school, they develop deep-set grudges against their classmates and teachers.

The shooters become increasingly angry, depressed, and more violent in their gendered practice.

A shooting rampage is their ultimate performance, says Kathryn Farr of Portland State University in the US.

So, from the outset, this is being described in terms of the boys’ personal shortcomings. They “often struggle to live up to what they perceive as their school’s ideals.”

Farr’s analysis suggests that boys’ social status in middle and high school is determined in great part by peers’ acceptance of them as “appropriately masculine.”

Their guidelines for gender appropriateness are found in a set of Adolescent Insider Masculinity norms that describe masculinity as the ideal that men are cool, heterosexual and tough, shy away from “sissy stuff” and embrace activities, behavior and mannerisms that are typical of “guys.” Falling short of this ideal sets some boys up for school-situated problems and reactions that are typical of adolescents.

“Falling short of this ideal sets the boys up for school-situated problems and reactions that are typical of adolescents” Again, the problem is with the individual. If only they had managed to live up to that ideal, everything would have been fine. And apparently the reactions of their peers are entirely understandable, because hey, that’s just what adolescents are like, am I right?

The report goes on:

“Ten of the 31 shooters had a history of serious psychiatric problems, while another ten grew up in extremely abusive households. The remaining eleven boys tended to react explosively and inappropriately to incidents that they perceived as unjustly discrediting them. Twenty-five boys were white and all but one identified as heterosexual.

“Many of the adolescent shooters had personal troubles that affected their ability to manage their social performances at school,” explains Farr. “Moreover, the potential rampage of a boy with severe mental illness and rampage-related risk factors could be especially injurious.”

Most were repeatedly and publicly tagged with homosexual and feminized epithets such as being a “homo,” a “cry baby” or a “fag.” All 31 shooters were made aware of their failings through their classmates’ emasculating bullying, rejection by girlfriends, and marginalization in general. Some reported being physically and sexually victimized by their male peers.

And here, finally, we get to the meat in this poisonous sandwich. “All 31 shooters were made aware of their failings…”

That sentence is appalling. Unforgivable. Shocking. It vividly describes a situation of classic, brutal bullying and four-square sides with the bullies. It implicitly accepts that being inadequately masculine is indeed a personal failing and accepts the inevitability, arguably even the acceptability, of bullying in response.

Farr continues to wave completely the wrong end of the stick all the way to her conclusions:

Farr believes that schools should teach their students about such shooting incidents, and the possible warning signs that need to be reported. In-school and referral services should be provided. School curriculums should also address adolescent masculinity issues and discussion-based forums about issues of gender should be instigated.

In other words she appears to be asking for schools to be on the lookout for inadequately masculine boys who are being viciously bullied by their peers – not because they are themselves in need of help but because they are at risk of going full Columbine any day now.

“How often are adolescent boys given the opportunity to talk with one another about masculinity norms and their challenges, including norms embracing violence or the effects of emasculating bullying?”

Or here’s a really radical solution – how about we refuse to tolerate the inevitability or social acceptability of ‘emasculating bullying’ in the first place?

Such classroom-based discussions could also help schools identify, provide and give value to activities that appeal to boys whose interests and skills lie outside the norms of insider masculinity,” Farr says.

She warned against unnecessary stigmatizing of troubled adolescents: “Although many boys display at-risk behaviors and attitudes, very few will actually become school shooters.”


Oh, righty-ho, thanks for that.

There has been so much said about school shootings as a social phenomenon in the US. The debate understandably focuses on gun control, not just the access to weaponry but also the culture that fetishizes guns and gun violence, in a society that was largely built on frontier cowboy mythology. Much has also been said about masculinity, toxic or otherwise, patriarchy and male entitlement. I’m more than happy to be actively involved in that conversation.

However there are a couple of other conversations that also need to be held and are not happening. The first is about the culture of bullying that seems (to this outsider at least) endemic in the lives of young Americans, from schoolyards to sports teams to fraternities, with their hazing rituals and all the rest. I find it staggering that a report like this one can be written and at no stage does the author suggest that reducing the amount of bullying might be a – or even the – solution.

The second is a more theoretical point about how we discuss masculinity and the policing and socialisation of male gender norms. It seems to me that the feminist mainstream is eager to condemn the brutality of masculinity and the violent excesses of men, but surprisingly reluctant to concern itself with the violent brutalisation of boys that instils that brutality in the first place.

If we genuinely want to challenge male violence, if we want to reduce male violence, if we want to dismantle the very foundations of patriarchy, it seems to me that is precisely where we need to begin.

Kathryn Farr’s research has unveiled a strong and terrible finding. Of 31 mass murderers, ten were survivors of severe and extreme child abuse; ten were identifiably mentally ill; all 31 had been bullied by their peers. Those boys and young men were responsible for the murderous acts they went on to commit, but not one of them was responsible for having been abused, for having been bullied. Responsibility for that lies with the rest of us.

Comments

  1. ArmouredApple says

    Thank you for this. I think you’re right to be angry but I also felt what Farr herself was saying was in line with what you are saying – I guess I interpreted some of her wording differently to you. In what ways do you think the corresponding solutions she mentions (inclusion of “adolescent masculinity issues” in the curriculum, “discussion-based forums about issues of gender”, which would apparently provide the “opportunity to talk with one another about masculinity norms and their challenges, including norms embracing violence or the effects of emasculating bullying?” and “help schools identify, provide and give value to activities that appeal to boys whose interests and skills lie outside the norms of insider masculinity”) need to be amended or built upon? Those seemed like positive steps to me, including at getting at the root causes of the bullying, but I can see that it might not be enough (e.g. she doesn’t refer to punishment of bullies).

    One thing I found interesting from my own experience of middle school in Canada and then secondary school here in the UK, was that PSE (or “guidance and health” as we called it) in Canada included a lot more material on self-esteem, respect in relationships, assertiveness, de-escalating conflict, resisting peer pressure, etc. It was also continuous throughout the four years of middle school, versus the two weeks on sex and drugs we got in year 10 here. We didn’t talk about masculinity per se, I should note. It’s hard for me to draw any causal conclusions because the wider features of the school were very different (e.g. much smaller, more gender-balanced – I also went to what I now realise was quite an odd school here in the UK), but it did feel like quite a different environment.

  2. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, the thing I find really frustrating about this is that in many ways I don’t think I am that far apart from Farr, it’s just I think she’s got her emphasis completely upside down and back to front.

    But it also cuts to a much deeper problem with a lot of this material, which is that it views gender-socialised behaviour as entirely the responsibility of the person exhibiting the behaviour, and doesn’t even attempt to ask questions as to how it got in there in the first place.

    In summary, I think she is coming from a very similar place to Michael Kimmel in that she feels that spree shooters are just the salient tip of a culture of entitled masculinity & if you want to prevent spree shootings you have to dismantle that culture of entitlement.

    I’m not disagreeing with that, especially, but I’m adding that spree shooters are the salient tip of a culture of brutalised masculinity & if you want to prevent spree shootings you have to dismantle that culture of brutalisation.

    I find it very frustrating that the Kimmelite tendency just can’t engage with that, because to do so requires us to see boys and young men as victims of patriarchal culture, not (just) pillars of it and the feminist mainstream refuses to engage with that properly.

  3. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    Regarding school shootings, have you read Columbine? As ever, an in-depth look really reveals quite a lot. These guys weren’t bullied, they were popular kids, one of them hugely so.

    I think a lot of school shooters are extreme narcissists, and view themselves as in the mould of Natural Born Killers. And I think that a lot of UK home-grown terrorism is carried out by males of the same mould.

    This is another perspective, and I’m not contradicting the findings of this report, though I share your exceptions with the recommendations.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, haven’t read that book but know the story. The Columbine pair are an unusual combination. As I recall, one of them pretty much did fit the profile of a school shooter (as above) to a T – including having been bullied, excluded etc. The other (Harris?) appears to have been a raging sadistic psychopath.

    That said, I’m not sure if anyone has ever got to the bottom of why he might have been a psychopath – there was a time when people thought psychopaths were “just born that way” but that view is becoming increasingly unpopular in psych circles, as I understand it, and I’ve never been convinced myself.

    There were also a lot of conflicting reports about them at the school, some people saying they had both been bullied a lot, others disagreeing.

    So yeah, I’d willingly agree that these things are never a straightforward equation A + B + C = XYZ & you’ll always find exceptions to any rule in behavioural sciences, but the raw findings of the 31 subjects in this study paint a pretty compelling picture.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    Oh, I’d add when we are talking about bullying etc, there are two confounding factors here which should be borne in mind.

    The first is that people who have committed terrible crimes – or their families & those close to them – will always look for excuses as to why it happened. It’s really easy to point to something like bullying at school & blame that, rather than the individual.

    On the other hand the second (which may be relevant to Columbine) is that those who perhaps were actively involved in bullying or otherwise persecuting someone who goes on to become a mass murderer have got a huge vested interest in saying (and believing) “No, no, no, he wasn’t bullied, he was actually really popular, we were all really nice to him…” etc.

    So we should always take individual cases and statements with a healthy dose of scepticism. At the same time, the findings about those 31 boys in the study above look strong enough that I think we can safely conclude something is going on there.

  6. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    Yes, there did seem to be some kind of toxic chemistry, with one of the boys in thrall to the other.

    I remember an interview with one of the lawyers for the boys who murdered Jamie Bulger – apparently, even at that young age, one was really quite dominant. If memory serves me correctly, the dominant one is the one who has never been heard of again.

  7. Marduk says

    I liked the Mark Ames book “Going postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond” (2005).

    He links it to the wider structure of capitalism and points out that while the FBI and CIA both concluded profiling shooters was impossible (apart from gender which leads to some simplistic arguments), its fairly easy to profile the workplaces and environments its found in, and he’d argue, produce it. Its just for some reason, you aren’t allowed to do this because its treated as shifting blame. While you might talk about the profile of a shooter, it generally ends up being a bit circular (someone who is ‘evil’ and ‘planed to do stuff’) which isn’t how they are supposed to work.

    He also, which caused him a lot of trouble at the time, pointed out that while the victims of psychopaths never express sympathy for the person who attacked them, survivors of shooting sprees often say later they feel sorry for the shooter and could suggest ways in which they they saw the shooter was driven to it. Ames suggests this is because in some ways, the spree killer is protesting or rebelling against something, normal murderers don’t have this element to their actions. This doesn’t make it noble or OK but it is quite a striking difference.

  8. ajay says

    Like all problems in real life there will be a range of causes and a combination of individuals and circumstances but I am sure bullying is a big part of it. When I lived in the US it seemed to me that the school culture especially those aspects related to school sports seemed to celerbrate rather than try to control or limit bullying. It was one reason to leave before my daughter reached school age.

    Gun culture in the US has to be mentioned as the major factor in the severity of incidents. I suspect it is also involved in the frequency as it is a culture in which guns/violence are seen as empowering and providing solutions.

    Blaming male gender (or any other) norms when analysing the perpetrators is pointless. The circumstances are common yet the incidents are very rare.

  9. smrnda says

    The idea of ‘look out for troubled kids’ because they might shoot up the school is similar to ways in which, after shootings, whether or not the shooter was mentally ill or not, mentally ill people are held up not as people to help for their own sake, but because they’re potential sources of danger to others.

    Marduk, that sounds like an interesting book. I read similar takes on ‘profiling’ earlier – many FBI agents pointed out that profiles generated did very little to narrow a field of subjects, or could fit so many people as to be totally useless.

    Ajay, I think you are totally onto something. Guns and redemptive violence are a big thing in the US.

  10. Callinectes says

    Apparently I fit the profile for an American school shooter.

    If 100% is the rate of being bullied by peers among school shooters, what’s the base rate? It’s probably high.

  11. mostlymarvelous says

    I’d also think there’d be value in looking at the similarities between school-age and adult mass shooters. One thing that’s becoming clear about adult males shooting several, or many, people in one event is that the great majority of them are also known as, or discovered to have been, violent or at least abusive or controlling in their domestic-personal-intimate relationships. One way of looking at workplace-based shootings is to see the violent behaviour as “spilling over” from the private to the more public arena. It might not pan out to anything useful, but it’s worth a serious think until it’s been properly looked at.

    As for school age shooters being bullied, I’d still look first at the home environment. If a student comes from a neglectful or chaotic or abusive or emotionally off-kilter household, they will often exhibit the kind of attitudes, postures or behaviours that bullies focus on when (mostly unconsciously) sizing up whether someone is already vulnerable and therefore an ideal target for a bully.

  12. That Guy says

    This is a difficult one. As said, any approach at nuance here can be perceived as trying to excuse or sympathise with the perpetrator. The Elliot Rodgers of this world are a particular sore spot not just because of their heinous crimes but also because they’re now beyond mortal justice, we can’t extract explanations or reparations from them.

    I think a little element of that feeds through into the style of writing of the report- IT’s impossible to see the shooter as a ‘victim’ because of what they later did, so it’s almost like the bullying is treated as justified because of the fact they were a shooter.

    That sentence “made aware of their failings” is a pretty disgusting euphemism though, and I’d be happy to never see it again in any bullying context.

    On a semi-related note, Ally, you mention there could be two halves here to what can be the cause of a school shooter. one is the culture of entitlement that is the result of patriarchy, and the other could be the product of abuse or bullying. Could it not be that the two feed and distort each other?

    We know that girls are often bullied at school, and this can result in a tragic suicide, so we know the bullying isn’t ‘not severe’ to girls, but there’s (I don’t think any?) female school shooters.

    In the case of a young white man, you have media telling him that he’s the best, he’s the hero, he should get the girl, he’s most important and should be having all the sex and making all the money.

    We all know that this isn’t realistic, and I’m sure some of us (men) have felt that it’s unfair that we aren’t in that situation, but big deal, you can recognise that everyone’s in the same boat, mostly, and you get over it. There’s nobody specific to blame, it’s a nebulous product of a marketing and consumerist society.

    Now, say for instance you’re still getting these messages, but you’re now in an abusive, isolated situation. You are now all alone, and everyone is being shit to you. Really shit. Now, instead of before where you can recognise that these messages are false, or at least everyone you meet is in that situation, it looks like your peers are actively preventing you from living the good life you deserve so not only is the bullying shitty because it’s a shitty thing to do to people, it frustrates that entitlement that you already have, and gives a perceived justification for action and a set of targets to work with.

    And of course, being the victim of abuse (with I’m guessing, little or no positive intervention from authority or role models) you know that the only way to ‘make things right’, or respond to these conflicts is with violence.

    I’d be interested to know if there’s any substance to the above, or its just baseless speculation.

  13. Ally Fogg says

    That makes loads of sense, That Guy.

    Yes, the ‘two halves’ was a clumsy metaphor because they are neither halves nor are they discretely separated.

    I think when we are talking behavioural psychology like this all the factors (those we have identified and doubtless many others) feed off each other and interact, they are not separate components so much as ingredients in a cooking pot.

  14. Carnation says

    Did anything catch this story?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/youtube-conspiracist-accused-killing-dad-calling-nazi-article-1.3589448

    I think there are parallels with Ally’s article – although in this case, it isn’t so much teenage male angst or entitlement, it’s a 30 something man being radicalised by mischievous and malevolent internet scum.

    For a lot of conspiracy theorists, it’s all for lolz – for guys like Lane Davis is a reason to live, and to kill.

  15. mostlymarvelous says

    Not so sure about that, Carnation. I suspect he was fruit ready for the picking. Being sacked by Milo frickin’ Yiannapoulos for inadequate work and then threatening him doesn’t sound too promising.

  16. Carnation says

    @ 16, 17

    For some reason, I always thought the “I Don’t Like Mondays” song was about Charles Whitman.

    Ah, Bob Geldof. One good song, Live Aid, and then he disgraces himself by associating with F4J.

    Tragic

  17. Marduk says

    The problem with the Kimmel thing is that its based on a rather odd a priori supposition, it does not emerge from analysis. I don’t really think “aggrieved entitlement” really exists because I don’t think most men do feel entitlement to anything at all. This is arguably more the problem. I do however think liberal men find being accused of entitlement particularly cutting, and it is correspondingly likely to score you a reasonable woke-quotient if you self diagnose and recant of it.

    Its just a strange thing to pick anyway. The legitimacy of entitlement also varies inversely with your privilege points. Its well established at this point that the hated white male has no entitlement to anyone’s body/space/time/concern/acknowledgement. Now tell a “fat acceptance” community they have no entitlements like that either and see what you get back. At the very least you’ll see these rules don’t apply to everyone all the time.

    It doesn’t sound like a serious attempt to analyse the problem, it sounds like a serious attempt to use the problem. I do think there is an area of investigation here around disentangling the causes from the uses of these incidents. My reading is that precisely because they are extremely rare and in truth really variable, it is seen as legitimate to hook up one’s hobbyhorse to the cart. I feel as if Farr is actually admitting this: ““Although many boys display at-risk behaviors and attitudes, very few will actually become school shooters.” What she really wants is to reduce attitudes and behaviors she doesn’t like, it has nothing to do with actually preventing school shooters which is only the cassus belli.

    I would instead suggest that a bit more focus could be put on the fact that spree killings are also usually suicides. Suicidal people are typically not given to emphasizing the scope of their entitlements, they are instead more likely to feel they have literally no other options and even waiting for another option isn’t possible. Again, nobody wants to think of it like that because it implies sympathy for the killer, but its a clear fact of the situation in a way that banging on about “aggrieved entitlement” certainly isn’t.

  18. That Guy says

    @Marduk:

    Out of all suicides, a vanishingly small amount result in attempted mass murder. I’d frame it more as a kamikaze attack or attempt at martyrdom in the cases that end in suicide, or ‘suicide by cop’ (extralegal execution, by any other name). It’s worth noting however, that the fraction of school shooters that survive the chaos created by their crimes is not insignificant.
    I’m not really sure what your point is, anyway, your claim is that school shooters feel incredible desperation at society? I don’t think anyone denies that.

    Is your claim that there’s some kind of feminist society to turn men into meek and weak-willed individuals? coz that’s what it sounds like. Which is nutty in itself, without being accessorised with your casual hatred of chubby people.

  19. Marduk says

    20.
    It doesn’t really matter how you characterise their actions. Point is “entitlement” is a very cruel way of characterising anomie if indeed that is what it is, and no sociologist can claim not to have better language available to them.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_(book)

    I also don’t have a ‘casual hatred of chubby people” either, I’ve just pointed out (and you have now clearly confirmed) that entitlement is a very loaded word and doesn’t really have a place in serious discussions of serious events. Its actually the language of the right in case you hadn’t realised, its a scolding and negating term. Nobody every discusses your sense of entitlement to be friendly or helpful.

  20. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Marduk

    “The problem with the Kimmel thing is that its based on a rather odd a priori supposition, it does not emerge from analysis. I don’t really think “aggrieved entitlement” really exists because I don’t think most men do feel entitlement to anything at all. This is arguably more the problem.”

    I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising. The masculine ideal is not, “I am a man, therefore other people owe me x”, but “I am a man, therefore through my own actions I should be able to obtain x,” whether x be respect, a woman, money, or whatever. You could make a much stronger case that this latter formulation explains much of the motive behind school shootings. The anger and despair comes not from being denied something which they felt they were entitled to, but their own inability to get it. This is played out in the most extreme way through shooting sprees. The most extreme possible form of action on the world and people around them, agency over the life and death of others, as a perverse way of conquering their impotence.

  21. squirrel says

    @H. E. Pennypacker

    I think your alternate formulation is pretty strongly discredited by the existence of incels (hate that word). These are men who expect women to have sex with them but take no action towards achieving it. In many cases they actively try to prevent it by insulting, disrespecting and harassing women.

  22. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    You do some terrible things to the english language in your comments. Please state clearly what your position is, as it is appearing pretty much at this moment that you are saying we should neuter our language when discussing spree killers to avoid hurting their feelings.

    Please confirm or deny.

  23. Ally Fogg says

    Interesting exchange.

    I think you are kind of on to something. I agree that the word ‘entitlement’ isn’t really correct, but I think Kimmel is describing something real (even if I think he over-plays the significance of it.)

    I think ‘entitlement’ is indeed the wrong word because it suggests an expectation that we WILL get all the sex & status & respect & other rewards that should be ours by right, and I really don’t think that accurately describes the mindset we’re talking about.

    I think the actual phenomenon under discussion is something more like “aggrieved disappointment.”

    So most of these men have long given up on their expectations. They’ve accepted that they will never get the sex, status, etc which (they believe they) need in order to be fulfilled & happy, that acceptance has warped into a bitter depression & anger & they decide that a spree shooting (or whatever) fulfills several functions:

    1. It will allow them to take out their anger at the world and humanity (sometimes specifically at the classmates & teachers who they believe have wronged them, more often just a generalised attack on humanity)
    2. It functions (usually) as a suicide when they are suicidal
    3. It offers them a shortcut to fame & status (of a sort) and a feeling of power that comes from terrorising others

    Now I think all those effects are real & I think that mindset is well worth considering in this context, but I am not sure “entitlement” is the correct noun to describe it. Unfortunately I am not sure the English language has a word that really captures it.

  24. Ally Fogg says

    squirrel [23]

    I’ll admit I’ve never been able to spend more than 5 minutes reading the ramblings of Incels, so I am no expert, but the impression I get is that they don’t expect women to have sex with them. They have long ago given up on the idea that any woman will ever want to have sex with them & so they have then wrapped up their misery & self-loathing into some kind of half-baked misogynistic philosophy.

  25. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @squirrel

    My understanding of incels is that they are people who have failed to win the affections of women and have decided that this must be because all women are terrible. Basically the same as what Ally said. I think your example of them being insulting and harassing is a far milder version of the same dynamic I suggested for school shooters. Harassing and insulting is a way of reclaiming agency over these women – even if the can’t make women like them, they can still act on women by making them hate them.

    Perhaps I should also emphasise that when I said “I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising,” I specifically was not talking about all feminist theorising. Feminist scholars have written endlessly (and often illuminatingly) about a gendered ideal that men should act on the world rather than be acted upon, and the links between this ideal and male violence. Indeed, such writings are how I first came to think about these things. My point is not that feminists have got it wrong, but that much of the more visible feminist writing of the last few years ignores this better and more nuanced thinking in favour of a formulation that is simplistic and, in my opinion, incorrect.

    @That Guy

    Can you genuinely not understand what Marduk is saying or are you intentionally trying to (mis)read it in the least generous way possible? He’s saying:

    1. ‘Entitlement’ does not accurately describe what is going on here.

    2. Extending out from spree shooters specifically, just as Ally does in the OP, to a subset which many of them come from (i.e. boys/men who are socially marginalised and struggling to live up to other people’s expectations of them), saying that their problem is their sense of entitlement is not only inaccurate but belittling and cruel.

  26. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    I largely agree with what you’re saying! Perhaps ‘Entitlement’ isn’t the best word to use, as it implies ‘getting something for nothing’, however, there’s a close relative to the concept, which I don’t have a word for, which is more like “expecting to get something for nominal effort”.

    What I mean by this, is that White, straight men, generally expect that as my ‘da’ would say, “if you work hard, you’ll get far in life” Which can be true… for white, straight men of a certain background. This notion is sharply disproven if you’re not white, and get racially abused in the street, or suspiciously all the jobs you apply for select another, less qualified candidate because ‘they’re a better fit for the team’. Similarly, if you’re a woman, then you can look forward to a life where the majority of high earning industries will treat you (at best) as fractionally lesser than an equivalent man, or (at worst) a disposable breathing sex aid.

    Maybe the word I’m looking for is something like a unawareness of how shit the world can be, that hard work doesn’t always get you there, and that this shock can hit hard, if you’ve never experienced it before, or there’s no clear reason. I’m not phrasing this correctly.

    In any respect, I would argue that I’ve never said that the problem is the group’s sense of entitlement, like it’s something they carry around, but rather it’s society as a whole’s fault for creating and instilling that expectation in a certain group. We as a society create an expectation, that cannot possibly be fulfilled for everyone, with dire consequences. I’d hardly think it’s cruel or inaccurate to say that, do you?

    What I would say is cruel and inaccurate is using these terrible tragedies to bounce gibberish right-wing screeds about how feminists are trying to secretly feminise boys and that white straight men are the real victims in all this. It would be nice, if I have to read this utter fantasy, if it was presented in a plain and clear manner so I could immediately ignore it, rather than having to search through drivel in the vain hope that there might be a sensible and empathetic point in there somewhere.

  27. squirrel says

    @H. E. Pennypacker

    okay, I think I can be on board with that definition.

    Just one thing, since we’re discussion language and nuance. To me, the claim “Harassing and insulting is a way of reclaiming agency over these women” sounds like it’s buying into the whole entitlement thing. I mean, you don’t reclaim something that isn’t yours.

  28. Marduk says

    24. It isn’t about spree killers, its about the rest of us. My problem is either we interpret extreme events as indicative of wider social phenomena (Durkheim showed how to do this), in which case we should be moderate in how we discuss ourselves. Or we treat them as special extreme events that have no connection with the rest of society and you can say what you like. Concluding that you That Guy, have an entitlement to other people’s sexual favors on the basis of the existence of Elliot Rodger is in my view unfair but that is the leap of reasoning, the logical fallacy, that this turns into.

    I raise other communities not out of hatred but because really, the reason you got annoyed about that, was that its easier to feel compassion for some groups than for others. But actually, if you stop and think about it, the grounds for that compassion should really be universal.

    I mean, look at the discussion we’re having just above. We’ve agreed “Incels” need to STFU and get over it because they behave badly (it would be better and more compassionate to tell them to behave better but thats not what has just happened). Would we tell other communities who feel a similar lack of compassion and human contact to shut-up? Would we even “police their tone”? I think not. Whats the difference (and lets accept we’re going to do some wriggling at this point trying to avoid saying words like “earn” and “deserve” in reference to universal human needs).

    A lot of this isn’t to do with the underlying situation, its once again to rhetoric and often very unfair rhetoric. He wants to get his end away, he’s entitled, she wants intimacy, she’s a human being who wants to be accepted. This actually links back to the prior thread on depression. One of the reasons we don’t want to recognise it in boys is because the ways they express it aren’t photogenic, sympathetic or basically in any way, especially nice. They are still depressed though, same as other depressed people.

    I understand angry young men’s sexual proclivities aren’t exactly something even other young men can bear to think about. There was a very funny peak Guardian piece back in the day by someone who wanted to know what there are no arty “sexual awakening” films about straight men, the answer BTL was exactly what you’d imagine, “who wants to see someone jerking off into a sock accompanied by sweeping strings”. But maybe they want to be loved and maybe that isn’t actually ridiculous, worthy of mockery, wrong or a lesser feeling because of their gender.

    Again, we had a thread recently about how hard it is to discuss emotions in men, and here we are, sighing with relief because ‘bad men’ don’t count. Well I think they do.

  29. H. E. Pennypacker says

    Another thought on incels. There are probably few things less likely to push a socially awkward young man towards this questionable internet subculture than when, on expressing his pain at his lack of success with the opposite sex and saying “I’m a nice guy, surely I deserve love too,” he is met with, “stop being so entitled you disgusting, fedora-wearing, neck-beard!”

  30. Sans-sanity says

    @Ally 25.
    “Unfortunately I am not sure the English language has a word that really captures it.”
    Maybe ‘Resentment’ ?

  31. pocketjacks says

    @H. E. Pennypacker,

    “2. Extending out from spree shooters specifically, just as Ally does in the OP, to a subset which many of them come from (i.e. boys/men who are socially marginalised and struggling to live up to other people’s expectations of them), saying that their problem is their sense of entitlement is not only inaccurate but belittling and cruel.”

    @Marduk,

    “It isn’t about spree killers, its about the rest of us.”

    I agree with both of you.

    Perhaps one could make the argument that spree shooters specifically are entitled – that deciding for yourself the right to decide who should live and who should die is the ultimate expression of entitlement, or whatever, so anyone who kills is by definition entitled. There is some merit to that, I suppose.

    So killers have personality disorders of which entitlement could be one. Is anyone disputing that? We could pick out the worst-acting members of any other group who’ve self-selected themselves by committing a selfish, savage act and make the same conclusion. The real question is how that applies to, as Marduk said, the rest. Those who suffer from loneliness, isolation, and alienation, who aren’t killers, but are at risk for antisocial tendencies brought on by the very same alienation.

    An undercurrent within the OP and what Marduk has reinforced, is that men who have cripplingly low self-image, low self regard, suicidal thoughts, a feeling that everyone else thinks lowly of them, a feeling that they don’t measure up to others, having numerous experiences that back up these unfortunate prejudices in their mind – are among the least entitled of their kind. By the definition of entitlement. That even if we were to accept the contemporary progressive cant that members of a certain of a demographic group (white, male, straight, etc.) are by definition the most entitled, those among them who fall into these categories are among the least entitled within them. I believe that this

    The inability of too many progressives to appreciate this axis within men is the problem, and the reason behind the type of attitudes highlighted by the OP. Based on my experience with “progressives” like this, I think that Parr would claim, if she were here to defend herself, that she does believe that “[refusing] to tolerate the inevitability or social acceptability of ‘emasculating bullying’ in the first place” is something we in fact should do, but that the “context” of the report was that such a discussion was beyond its scope and that that was a discussion for another time, another place. I also think that she would claim that she wasn’t approving of the notion, that she was merely neutrally describing the context, and that she was in fact being somewhat ironic, when claiming that these boys were “made aware of their failings”.

    I believe that she believes that. I also think she wouldn’t dare segregate the “scope” of the discussion as so, nor be similarly “ironic”, were we dealing with any other group of at-risk, beleaguered youth who were facing cripplingly low self image, were crying out for help, and were at risk for suicide.

    People like this, they honestly don’t see what they’re doing or saying anything wrong. That is my experience. That is both an indictment and an exoneration of sorts, in the sense that I don’t think they are actively malicious. The sublimation of men and boys of low peer-social status is so ingrained, so ubiquitous, that we may as well castigate goldfish for not noticing water. If a boy or a man was ostracized and mocked for years for being too passive and the bullied type, they will write up a paper saying that the problem is the “conflict between his inward expectations of masculine rewards and his lived experience” or whatever, and that we should work towards a society where such conflicts don’t exist, or somesuch. They will honestly think that that constitutes compassion, and not see anything victim-blaming about such utterances. At worst, there will be no hint whatsoever that he shouldn’t be ostracized or mocked in the first place, no indication of moral condemnation of those who are either inflicting this or standing by and watching and thereby reinforcing. That the problem is not with his inward expectations but that other people need to treat him better. That he is not seeking “rewards” but is just asking to be treated like a freaking human being, and not among the 5% bottom dregs of humanity that it is okay to openly mistreat in public. That that 5% shouldn’t exist in the first place and should be 0%. At best, such sentiments will poke through like a caged animal trying to break free, but by no means will be the main focus of their screeds.

    The difference is that goldfish must live in water, whereas our society does not need to be configured the way it is now, with the hierarchies and bullying we enforce. So as hard as it may seem, we should press on, and I commend Ally Fogg for his tireless efforts in doing so.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk, have to pick you up on this:

    I mean, look at the discussion we’re having just above. We’ve agreed “Incels” need to STFU and get over it because they behave badly (it would be better and more compassionate to tell them to behave better but thats not what has just happened). Would we tell other communities who feel a similar lack of compassion and human contact to shut-up? Would we even “police their tone”? I think not. Whats the difference (and lets accept we’re going to do some wriggling at this point trying to avoid saying words like “earn” and “deserve” in reference to universal human needs).

    As far as I can see, no one has been telling ‘Incels’ to STFU and get over it. No one is criticising incels for experiencing ‘a lack of compassion and human contact.’

    People (speaking very generally) tend to criticise incels and other MRAs for saying and occasionally doing really, really, really terrible things. They criticise incels for advocating and expressing repulsive attitudes to women. They criticise incels for telling other men (particularly younger & more vulnerable men) poisonous lies which will be extremely harmful for their mental health & wellbeing. They criticise incels for perpetuating ideas which put women at greater risk of sexual assault.

    In that sense, incels are in a very similar boat to, say, white supremacists, who might very often be poor, working class, economically vulnerable etc. But they are not criticised for being poor, working class or economically vulnerable. They are criticised for propagating ideas which are extremely harmful to society and to people of colour in particular, they are criticised for telling poisonous, bitter lies, they are criticised for advocating really horrible, terrible politics.

    Or if you want a really direct comparison, people tend to be very, very critical & unkind about extreme rad-fem lesbian separatists, many of whom have doubtless had really terrible life experiences, whether male violence or whatever else, but people do not criticise them for being survivors of sexual violence. They do criticise them for perpetuating really ugly, corrosive politics which actively harm everyone from trans people to sex workers to male survivors.

    It’s a snide trick to try to conflate incels, as a self-identifying political and ideological movement, with single and lonely men, the vast majority of whom are not incels and would be horrified if you accused them of being so. People have no problem whatsoever (and may have all the sympathy in the world) with a man who is single, lonely, possibly depressed etc, but will lose that sympathy when he starts to blame other (entirely innocent) people for his situation & responds to his own self-hatred by turning it outwards into hatred for others.

  33. That Guy says

    @ Marduk, Do you have a deficiency that compels you to be as obtuse as possible? Nobody will be impressed with you writing ten times more than you need to to get your point across, it does not communicate an air of intelligence.

    At any rate, Nobody’s getting on at incels for being single, lonely, and depressed- they’re getting on at incels for having terrible ideas about women, and society at large. These ideas are circulated, amplified and have a corrosive effect on all they contact. I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the internet birthing pools where incels are made, and the frequency of posts or threads that are of the jist “I used to be like you, here’s some helpful advice, here’s how to improve your live, see a doctor, take care of yourself, get a hobby, etc etc” All well meaning advice that could be issued to anyone suffering from depression, is extremely high. The problem is that ‘incels’ are so far gone that they are at the point of consciously rejecting society, they no longer consider women as full humans. They revel in their status. Sympathy towards them is rejected.

    It seems that you all have a bee in your bonnets about the word ‘entitlement’ in particular, like this is somehow a value judgement against a certain demographic. As far as I can see, a lot of the kickback here is similar to the kickback against the word privilege. Here’s the rub. It’s not a value judgement. It’s a statement of fact, using the most accurate language at my disposal. It is not cruel to say so. Observe this case in point.

    on expressing his pain at his lack of success with the opposite sex and saying “I’m a nice guy, surely I deserve love too,”

    Emphasis mine. Here’s the thing, being a baseline decent human being is not enough to earn someone’s devotion to you. To think that being generally OK entitles you to someone’s love is absolutely entitlement. It’s a harsh truth, but it needs to be heard. Is it the fault of the said ‘nice guy’ for holding this opinion? I’d say only partly. We are bombarded with media that re-enforces the myth that everyone ‘deserves’ someone to love them (usually a woman, who will devote herself entirely to said man without question) provided they’re not terrible people.

    What’s the solution? We need to extensively de-program this persistent myth, because at it’s heart is that other people (usually women) are a commodity who owe you love. The reality is that every romantic partner you interact with is a full fledged human with their own hopes, desires, motivations, fears and fetishes. Sometimes, the stars will align and you’ll meet someone ‘just right’ and you’ll get on like a house on fire, other times, you’re not the perfect person for your perfect partner, and they’re just not interested. That’s life, unfortunately.

    I’ll repeat my earlier comments in short form- myths like this, reflect a culture of entitlement. The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement. The best thing for those people that they can do for themselves, is to recognise that sense of entitlement and begin a life with their expectations better adjusted. The best thing we as a society can do for those people, is stop breeding that entitlement, stop creating impossible standards that not everyone can live up to and create a society that doesn’t glorify power and the abuse thereof. Is it cruel to say this? No, rather it’s essential it be said.

  34. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Right, now imagine a woman in a “fat acceptance community” detailing her heart-breaking history of trouble finding romance ending with “I’m a nice woman, surely I deserve love too.” I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?

    As Marduk points out, this is the language of the right. “The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement,” would sound natural coming from the mouth of a particularly heartless Tory. Would you respond to a homeless person saying “surely everyone deserves a roof over their heads” by telling them society had sold them a myth that other people owed them a house and the real solution was to get over their sense of entitlement? Now, of course this example is slightly different because we can give the homeless person a house but we can’t just give the lonely man or woman a partner. People are different to houses. The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are. This is largely what incels are selling them, acceptance and sympathy, except it comes with a huge side-order of misogyny.

  35. Carnation says

    @ H. E. Pennypacker

    The glaring difference though, H. E. Pennypacker , which you must be an exceptional dullard not to see, is that the Fat Acceptance Community doesn’t foster extreme hatred of an entire class of people.

    “I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?”

    The term “incel” has nothing to do with love, does it? But that’s a side issue. Anyone who wants to be loved should first love themselves. Incels, by their words, beliefs and (mercifully limited) actions understand that they belong where they are; the lunatic fringe of the internet and a stunted, bitter component of the stunted, bitter, solipsistic manosphere.

    The manosphere is many things, but one thing it is not is a place where anyone, save perhaps for the leaders making a paltry living off of it, is a place where people heal, improve or find any happiness. They find degraded people and degrade themselves in a community of degradation, one those lashes out on occasion to try and feel power.

  36. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    Are you two people? You accuse me of being a heartless tory because I don’t think it’s right that people expect that they are entitled to someone’s love ‘just because’.

    Now, of course this example is slightly different because we can give the homeless person a house but we can’t just give the lonely man or woman a partner. People are different to houses. The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are.

    But then you answer your own question? Maybe you need to take a step back and read what I’m saying with a cooler head later, and you’ll see that we’re proposing the same thing. I absolutely sympathise with the pain of loneliness, and I would never endorse yelling at someone because of it. Can you tell me where I yelled?

    My solution is that we re-engineer society to dispel the *requirement* that people need to have a significant other to feel worthwhile. Why is that remarkable?

  37. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You seem to be having some problems with reading comprehension.

    @That Guy

    I don’t understand why you think I might be two people, or why you think that I’m angry or upset, perhaps you could explain?

    Anyway, this is actually the more pertinent part of my post:

    “Right, now imagine a woman in a “fat acceptance community” detailing her heart-breaking history of trouble finding romance ending with “I’m a nice woman, surely I deserve love too.” I’m assuming you would not feel the need to start telling her that her pain was caused by the fact she’s so entitled and she needed to get over the myth that anyone owed her love just because she’s a decent human being. Or perhaps you would?”

    I assume you wouldn’t think this woman was saying that she was entitled to someone’s love just because. I expect, like me, you’d understand her, not to be saying “this person owes me love”, but to be expressing the general sense that she is worthy of finding love somewhere, that not meeting some particular beauty standard shouldn’t mean she didn’t deserve to find happiness with someone.

    If you respond to one thing in this post, respond to this:

    Do you disagree with me on this? Do you think it would be helpful to tell her to stop feeling so entitled, or write articles about “fat female entitlement”?

    I’m not accusing you of being a Tory, I’m saying that you’re using the language of the right, a language that is specifically utilised to deny sympathy. I should have been clearer with the yelling part, I wasn’t actually accusing you, just referring to a tendency on some parts of the feminist internet to rage about or mock men who express sadness at their lack of luck in love and the fact that this reaction to these men finds legitimacy in the fact that these men are entitled. As I’ve pointed out, this is not only cruel but will push some people (not all obviously) towards misogynist ideologues.

  38. Marduk says

    35. Well see, post 36. But I’m not conflating anything, I’m arguing against conflation. Its possible to separate causes, claims and behaviours and feel compassion for people even if they behave appallingly. The problem, as I see it, is a logical fallacy that because people behave appallingly, now their claims are believed to be false and any discussion of wider causes ended. And furthermore, those claims and causes are now not legitimate even for people who behave absolutely decently.

    It does seem to me that men do have to “earn and deserve” things in a way that other groups in society don’t and that is little examined because its obscured by the unequal use of rhetoric and the confusion of universal human needs with privilege and anti-privilege arguments. Consider for example Ms. Valenti. She doesn’t owe you the right of recognition in a public space, you are a bad person for making her invisible however. And thus having excluded half the human race from society itself, she complains they aren’t pro-social enough. Which brings me onto the topic of…

    36. I can’t take that seriously when you are inventing your own quotes (your emphasis) and going full bore with the rhetoric. “Devotion”, you mean like a dog to its master? Sounds terrible, who’d want that, not that anyone except you has used the word. What about a retired old lady, alone and housebound with a disability. Is it reasonable for her to want some human contact? Is it reasonable for her to feel bitter about not getting it? I feel you wouldn’t say the same thing to her and would probably complain about someone quoting your words “policing” her feelings.

    Incidentally, the problem with your “nice guy” is that he thinks he can earn things that can’t be earned. The feminist-approved distaff version of this incidentally can be found in complaints that professional women find putative partners of the same professional class to be ‘intimidated’ and thus the awful insecure child-man seems to prefer waitresses and secretaries to his equals, possibly out of a need to dominate etc etc. Its the same problem, they think their professional credentials should qualify them for something, but they don’t. Its a category error in both cases. But you won’t argue someone out of that mindset by telling they’ve disqualified themselves from the competition they think they have entered. Its more cruel that way which seems to be the aim, but you’re just making it even more real for them.

  39. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    I strongly feel that you’re projecting the persona of a straw feminist onto me. I can assure you, I’ve never dyed my hair, I’ve never been harassed on t’internet about my opinions on video games, I haven’t got a blog and I’m nowhere near hip nor on trend enough to fit that category. So, for additional clarity, what I’m *not* doing, is this-

    I should have been clearer with the yelling part, I wasn’t actually accusing you, just referring to a tendency on some parts of the feminist internet to rage about or mock men who express sadness at their lack of luck in love and the fact that this reaction to these men finds legitimacy in the fact that these men are entitled. As I’ve pointed out, this is not only cruel but will push some people (not all obviously) towards misogynist ideologues.

    You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more sympathetic to the plight of the adolescent awkward male trying to navigate the confining landscape of masculinity.

    ASIDE

    Have you heard of ‘Nice Guy’ syndrome? It’s the behaviour particularly common amongst young men of a certain social standing- the behaviour has sprouted from the seed that “people are often friends before romantic partners”, but has become warped that some young men think that if they’re sufficiently ‘nice’ to a girl, for a sufficient length of time, that they’ll eventually become romantically involved. Now, because love, lust and sex isn’t so simple a social transaction, this doesn’t pan out as they would expect, and confessions of romantic feelings to the subject of ‘nice’ behaviour is often met with the gentle put down of “You’re such a Nice Guy, but you’re not for me…” or some variant. This behaviour is a form of entitlement, in which ‘niceness’ is given on the implicit understanding that they’ll be rewarded with sex later. Which, makes it not very nice?

    This phenomenon is well documented, googling ‘nice guy’ will get you a tonne of posts and stories, but IF you want confirmation from the class of people responsible of this behaviour that this is a real thing that happens, you can find endless material in the toxic manosphere under terms like ‘beta orbiter’ and ’emotional tampon’.

    /ASIDE

    ANYWAY, you were polite enough to ask me a direct question, (albeit with a faulty premise) so I’ll answer you as clearly and directly as we can.

    I assume you wouldn’t think this woman was saying that she was entitled to someone’s love just because. I expect, like me, you’d understand her, not to be saying “this person owes me love”, but to be expressing the general sense that she is worthy of finding love somewhere, that not meeting some particular beauty standard shouldn’t mean she didn’t deserve to find happiness with someone.
    If you respond to one thing in this post, respond to this:
    Do you disagree with me on this? Do you think it would be helpful to tell her to stop feeling so entitled, or write articles about “fat female entitlement”?

    So Two things- I don’t tell single men to feel so entitled, and I don’t write articles about male entitlement. No hairdye, no snark, no body of straw, remember?

    Second thing- I’d say the most helpful thing, is rather than saying that everybody deserves to find happiness with someone, which conditions her worth as a person on the entirely unreliable and unpredictable whims of people over which she has no control, it’d be better and more helpful to say that finding a way to be happy on their own terms will make them happier in the long term. Find a hobby, learn a language, do things for the fun of it rather than getting hung up on doing things to find a partner. It means that that person has worth and happiness that’s not conditional on external factors, and into the bargain, people who are happy with themselves are generally considered to be more attractive, so she might find that once she’s found a way to love herself, and be happy for who she is, that she finds a partner ‘by accident’.

    For the record, this is the exact same advice I’d give to every single young nerdy boy who has bad skin, stutters around girls and spends all his money on warhammer.

    Implicitly, this advice is about letting go of that notion that you ‘deserve’ or ‘need’ a boyfriend/girlfirend to be happy, and hence about losing that sense of entitlement.

    It’s also what I’ve said several times above, but since I’ve addressed it to a hypothetical unlucky in love fat person/adolescent male directly, maybe it seems more compassionate.

  40. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    Please learn to read. Then after that, learn to reason in good faith. Then we can have a conversation about real people and making a better society for them to live in. Otherwise, please proceed in your confusing vendetta against any woman that writes for the guardian.

  41. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    I specifically said I wasn’t accusing you of doing those things. My point is that those things draw their legitimacy from the idea that these men are entitled. But you can strongly feel I’m projecting some straw feminist persona onto you if it makes you feel better.

    They also draw there legitimacy from the whole idea of Nice Guy syndrome. Now, I’m sure there are some young men who do view this as a “social transaction”, but I suspect there are a lot who don’t give ‘niceness’ only because they assume it will be rewarded with sex. They like someone and so they are nice to them, and they hope that such feelings will be reciprocated. This doesn’t need to follow the logic of “I was nice to her, therefore she owes me sex”, and I would imagine this logic is fairly rare among those labelled “nice guys” (of course, those calling it a syndrome always specify that these men are actually only after sex, never affection or intimacy). But even in situations where your model is correct, we’re not talking about entitlement. Your straw Nice Guy believes he has to earn sex through niceness, not that he is entitled to it. You’re twisting yourself in knots to hold onto this word.

    Anyway, it feels like you are rather attached to the idea that men who are struggling and unhappy with their situation feel entitled. As you say, to you it’s an objective fact rather than a value judgement, so I assume we’re not really going to get anywhere with this debate.

  42. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    It’s frustrating because I feel like we share a lot of common ground but you’re automatically discounting what I say on the basis that some other people somewhere have been cruel because of similar reasons. Other people’s behaviour, bad or otherwise does not impact the truth of my assertions.

    What explicitly, clearly, is the issue with what I’m saying? Do you think that my assertion is that this entitlement is the fault of only the men who are unhappy? Do you think that I’m saying they *deserve* to be unhappy? because I have emphatically and repeatedly denied this.

    Quick example. We now live in a world where Unicorns are hot shit. Every sunday the radio plays songs about people who are happy because they have a unicorn, or people who are devastated because their unicorn left them or is playing with someone else. Every film has got a unicorn sub-plot where the protagonist, finds a unicorn, and feels fulfilled. Entire genres of fiction are written about unicorns and how people are happy once they have a unicorn. Unicorn hunting apps are a billion dollar industry, the rich and famous own ranches of unicorns.

    Now, some people have got unicorns, but some people, no matter how hard they try, just can’t find a unicorn. Maybe there’s no unicorns where they live, or maybe none of the unicorns they meet want to play with them for whatever reason.

    These people are deeply sad, because they’re immersed in a culture that says to be worthwhile you need to have a unicorn. If you don’t have a unicorn, something must be wrong with you, you fucking weirdo.

    Now, In this example, do I think that the despair, sadness and confusion of the people who don’t have a unicorn is less real, because they don’t actually need a unicorn to be happy? No. Absolutely not. Do I feel that they’re responsible for wanting a unicorn so bad? Not really, because they’re immersed in a culture that makes the process of finding unicorns seem both compulsory and laughably easy, when in reality it’s optional and much, much harder.
    Do I think, that their unhappiness seems to hinge on their unicorn desire, perhaps unicorn entitlement? Yes.
    Do I think they are pieces of shit or bad people for feeling this way? No. Do I think that they don’t deserve happy, fulfilled lives? Absolutely not.

    Is this any clearer?

    My solution, is not to continue the myth that everyone deserves a unicorn, they’ll find one eventually, because that’s a platitude that doesn’t in any way rectify the problem. People are still genuinely upset because they don’t have a unicorn, and if they don’t find one, they’ll feel that they’re dysfunctional in some way. You continue to create an atmosphere of unicorn entitlement where people’s happiness and self worth is based on this entirely unpredictable quantity.
    Rather, I’d put pressure on society, to recognise that unicorns aren’t the only path to happiness, and some people who have unicorns are deeply unhappy anyway. This doesn’t mean shouting at people who are sad they don’t have a unicorn, but it does mean trying to influence society to stop putting so much pressure on everyone to have a unicorn, stop showing unrealistic portals of unicorn in media, and stop showing “unicorn Actually” on the telly every fucking Christmas.

    Anyway- HEre’s my last statement- I’m going to ask you a direct solution.

    We’ve discussed the problem at length- that there’s a group of people, including young men, who are unhappy because they feel romantically excluded. My solution is described above, in several different ways. It involves getting society to present more realistic portrayals of relationships, and the treatment of women in films, music videos etc as full fledged beings, rather than a goal to be attained that guarantees happiness.

    what is your solution?

    Please tell me, directly and plainly, if you had infinite power what you would do to alleviate the problem of people feeling desperately sad because they cannot find a suitable significant other.

    Your solution can be as outlandish as you like, it can involve free sex bots, the government becoming the romantic partner of last resort issuing lobotomised homeless people as state girlfriends/boyfriends, government arranged partnerships, or any other bonkers and/or horrific solution.

    The only rules are as follows

    1) It must be actionable. No matter how weird and wonderful it is, it must be something that can be realistically considered. That is, it must have steps that are achievable and explicit.

    2) You must treat people as they currently are. That is, you have to understand that the people in your solution are humans with their own free will and thoughts and feelings. No magic mind control powers.

    I’m looking forward to your answer, We are both talking about the same problem, and we are both empathetic towards the people suffering as a result, but only I’ve given a realistic solution. What’s yours?

  43. Marduk says

    43. I’ve explained to you why your use of rhetoric and choice of examples makes it difficult for you to make a fair argument that convinces me. I have also been specific about why. You however have now claimed I can’t read, I can’t write, I’m filled with hate and am perusing a vendetta. If this is your idea of arguing in good faith I’d like to see what you’d consider bad faith.

  44. That Guy says

    @ Marduk,

    I’m sorry that the conclusions I have drawn from your poorly written and misogynistic fantasies upset you.

  45. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    I don’t believe top down solutions from an individual wielding infinite political power is a good way to solve problems. I think the problem we are discussing now is particularly ill-suited to being alleviated by such solutions.The fact you seem to believe the opposite once again points to the fact that there may not be enough common ground for us to get anywhere.

    “What explicitly, clearly, is the issue with what I’m saying?”

    My problem is you treating groups of people who have some similarity in their situation as relatively homogeneous and then ascribe beliefs/intentions to them based on this using language which contains a negative value judgement. You then proceed to confuse your judgement with the objective nature of reality.

    So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled. A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    “Entitlement” and “Nice Guy Syndrome” by their very nature are judgements rather than objective facts. They are a way of framing and categorising people involved in actual, real objective processes. In some cases they may be fairly accurate and useful, in many they are not. These abstractions are often used to legitimate mocking, bullying behaviour towards the people they are ascribed to. If you believe they are statements of objective fact about the world, then clearly you are not using them critically and contribute to a culture of unthinkingly applying them in situations when they are not useful but damaging.

  46. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    Here’s the thing- I’ll ask my question again- what can people do to make society better for people

    We’ve described the problem numerous times, what is the solution? What do you want to happen?

    The point of this conversation to me is to figure out what is the best way to prevent the creation of deeply unhappy individuals who may end up resentful and having corrosive effects on society. What is the point of the conversation to you? Is it just to chastise me for using the closest available word in the english language to describe a phenomena? If so, I can give you a list of much better reasons to be mad at me over the internet, and that would avoid confusion at least.

    So, if you don’t like the word entitled, then what word would you have me use, if you think it carries too much baggage?

    You haven’t denied that people are unhappy, in particular, young men, because the media and culture around us gives the impression that happiness can be achieved though the attainment of sexy ladies, whom are also often shown in this culture of having no agency of their own. You haven’t denied that this is an impossible standard to set, that can only have negative outcomes.

    Do you believe the above is true? If so, do you believe the notion that romance or sexual conquest is a requirement to have a fulfilled life is a healthy one? If not, what word would you have me use to describe the collection of feelings, despair, sadness and longing for the realistically unattainable?

    So, in the following,

    So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled.

    Please replace the word in bold with a word that describes what I described above.

    As for this,

    A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    Allow me to amend, perhaps I wasn’t clear

    A man who is nice to a woman for no other reason that she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.

    this Is an example of a pervasive behaviour that follows from the above statements wrt. culture and “””entitlement”””. This is a thing that happens with surprising frequency, and I’ve given you the search terms to find people saying that this was done to them, but also, incels and similar people saying they have done this, for these reasons. So yeah, you can be nice to someone without the secret motive of penising them, but if that’s your only motive for being nice, then its an example of that behaviour above.

    Also this:

    These abstractions are often used to legitimate mocking, bullying behaviour towards the people they are ascribed to.

    Is bizarre. Does that mean if I send rape and death threats to flat-earthers nobody can claim that the earth has curvature, because it legitimises my behaviour? If so, I will enjoy using my newfound powers to fuck with society large-scale.

    Tl:dr, don’t dodge the question this time, what is your solution or process to improve the lives of young men who are lonely, depressed and at risk of acting out? Do you have one, or do you just want to be mad at me over the internet for reasons?

  47. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    “So anyone who is lonely and unhappy about that loneliness is entitled.”

    No. People who discriminate against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced. Sad, pathetic and quite possibly entitled, but mostly prejudiced and stupid.

    “A man who is nice to a woman and hopes she will be interested in him romantically has “Nice Guy Syndrome” and believes if he’s nice to people then they owe him sex.”

    No. People who discriminate against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced. Sad, pathetic and quite possibly entitled, but mostly prejudiced and stupid.

    You are a classic example of manosphere victimhood. You are quite simply a fool who has fallen for some of the crudest and most ridiculous conspiracy theorising on the internet.

    Well done, and keep Redditing.

  48. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    And as I’ve said I don’t think it’s a problem amenable to simple solutions and I don’t claim to have such solutions. As for your use of the word “entitlement”, you can keep using it if you want, but you seem to have come to a rather idiosyncratic version of it that differs markedly both from how it is used on the feminist internet and from how it is used in everyday speech. There are other words that would be a better fit, you yourself mention some of them and I think disappointment and resentment were suggested upthread. Also don’t think that you need one word which can accurately capture or explain all the people who roughly fit this phenomenons feeling about it.

    This brings us back to nice guy syndrome. Are you claiming that all guys who get labelled as having nice guy syndrome are only nice to women because they believe then women will be obligated to have sex with them? I’m not claiming that nobody has ever done this, but I am highly sceptical that most people labelled Nice Guys think and act in this way. I’ve seen plenty of feminist blogs where it is deduced from a very small quantity of completely ambiguous evidence that a guy wasn’t just nice, he had Nice Guy Syndrome. This is my problem with your uncritical use of these models. Once you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Once you have a theory or a model, it is very easy to interpret a situation with reference to your model; you will notice the ways in which it fits the model and discount other interpretations. So when a Nice Guy ™ has his advances rebuffed and responds with “but I’ve been so nice” it seems like rock solid evidence that he has the syndrome and the whole time he was being nice it was just a scheme that he thought it would get him sex. But in reality it’s more likely to be one last, ham-fisted attempt to convince her to like him or a spur of the moment reaction in the grips of emotion. And sure, for some Nice Guys maybe there’s some element of transactional logic in there too but that doesn’t mean their niceness was all just an act that they thought would help them get laid.

  49. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You’re going to have to explain what on earth you’re on about. You seem to be extremely confused and your confusion is confusing me.

    Are you actually claiming that anyone who is lonely and said about it is, “discriminat[ing] against an entire class of people because of their own feelings of inadequacy are prejudiced [sic]”? It seems like quite an incredible claim. Most of the lonely people I’ve met don’t seem to discriminate against anyone as far as I can tell.

    “You are a classic example of manosphere victimhood.”

    Manosphere? Victimhood? What?

    “You are quite simply a fool who has fallen for some of the crudest and most ridiculous conspiracy theorising on the internet.”

    What conspiracy theorising? What conspiracy have I alleged, and where or by whom was I tricked into believing it?

    “Well done, and keep Redditing.”

    What does reddit have to do with anything?

  50. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    You are conflating “incels” with lonely men.

    You are conflating decent men approaching women with “incels.”

    I am pointing out that you are doing this and that, in doing so, are attempting to promote idiotic manosphere myths.

    “Incels”, like “MGTOWs” and indeed “MRAS” are statistically invisible. In the case of “MGTOWs” I don’t believe they exist.

    Men who hate women because they are scared of them have existed for millennia. The internet hasn’t. That’s the only reason this trash collective get any attention. That and because people like you, for whatever reason, try to promote and defend them as something they aren’t.

  51. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    “You are conflating “incels” with lonely men.”

    Where have I done this?

    “You are conflating decent men approaching women with “incels.””

    Where have I done this?

    “you, for whatever reason, try to promote and defend them as something they aren’t.”

    Where have I done this?

  52. That Guy says

    @ H.E.

    So, for clarity, you’re not all that interested in combatting the systematic inequalities, the confining straitjacket of masculinity, the fetishisation of power and abuse thereof and the militarisation and stoic mask that men have to wear in order to survive in this current society, and is the cause of the vast majority of male-specific hardships that exists, but you really really want to talk about what some undefined feminist said on the internet about some hypothetical ‘nice guy’ and how that will just not stand.

    You really don’t want to have a conversation that is rarely had and massively beneficial about how we as a culture abuse and hijack the concept of masculinity, with harmful effects for everyone, and how best to increase net happiness for everyone, including ‘nice guys’ of the world it seems. Instead you would much rather defend the hypothetical actions of a person who may or may not exist, who literally says , I quote

    So when a Nice Guy ™ has his advances rebuffed and responds with “but I’ve been so nice”

    That he feels entitled to intimacy and a relationship with someone on the basis that he’s adhered to baseline human behaviour, because he might be ‘awkward’ or ‘ham fisted’. For added fun, this guy who may or may not exist, you are determined to shield them from the effects of niche feminist bloggers who also, may or may not exist.

    Your priorities are all fucked, and it seems I was wasting my time trying to gain something by talking with you.

  53. Carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    In your post, earlier. Twice. Once with your foul “fat acceptance” analogy, and then further down.

    I can’t be bothered looking into this any further, That Guy has slaughtered you and I think you’re a fairly typical manosphere troll, probably getting off on the attention you’re receiving here.

  54. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Maybe you need to take a step back and read what I’m saying with a cooler head later.

  55. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    You clearly lack the most basic skills of reading comprehension. Most of this conversation has not been about incels, I know very little about them, but I did make it clear that I understand them to be misogynists. If you did look back further you would see that my initial disagreement with the overuse of “entitlement” was that feminists have already developed much sharper analytical tools than this. You seem to think anybody who deviates from your position to be part of this “manosphere” you’re so paranoid about. If you can conduct yourself more civilly, you might get another response, but if you continue with your ludicrous, poorly-constructed rants, I’m going to ignore you.

  56. Carnation says

    @ H. E Pennypacker

    “If you can conduct yourself more civilly, you might get another response, but if you continue with your ludicrous, poorly-constructed rants, I’m going to ignore you.”

    As they say in Glasgow; gonnaue taking a runnin’ fuck tae yerself?

  57. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    “So, for clarity, you’re not all that interested in combatting the systematic inequalities, the confining straitjacket of masculinity, the fetishisation of power and abuse thereof and the militarisation and stoic mask that men have to wear in order to survive in this current society, and is the cause of the vast majority of male-specific hardships that exists,”

    When did I say that?

    “you really really want to talk about what some undefined feminist said on the internet about some hypothetical ‘nice guy’ and how that will just not stand.

    Well actually, my initial point was that the concept of entitlement is a poor tool for understanding the violence of marginalised men. You seem to think I have some kind of bee in my bonnet about feminism just because I criticise some aspects of some feminist thought. I originally said:

    “Perhaps I should also emphasise that when I said “I think this really is a blind-spot in a lot of feminist theorising,” I specifically was not talking about all feminist theorising. Feminist scholars have written endlessly (and often illuminatingly) about a gendered ideal that men should act on the world rather than be acted upon, and the links between this ideal and male violence. Indeed, such writings are how I first came to think about these things. My point is not that feminists have got it wrong, but that much of the more visible feminist writing of the last few years ignores this better and more nuanced thinking in favour of a formulation that is simplistic and, in my opinion, incorrect.”

    It was you who deviated from entitlement and violence and bright up Nice Guys, but I played along because it’s related to the idea of entitlement. Then you wanted me to play your game of imagining to be an omnipotent dictator and decreeing a solution to loneliness which seems like a completely pointless exercise to me so I decline. Your reaction to this goes back to my point about mental models. You have a model of “guy who hates feminism and feigns concerns for men’s issues as an excuse to criticise feminism”. You’ve interpreted everything I’ve said through this model come to the conclusion that I don’t care about inequalities, or the pitfalls of certain types of masculinity and that I hate feminism. This is not true, at all. I do care about those things and I’m a big fan of feminism; I learnt most of what I know about gender from the analytical side of it, and the side of it that’s a social movement has improved the lives of people around me as well as my own. It’s rather ironic that earlier you were accusing me of imputing views to you because I thought you were a straw feminist.

  58. That Guy says

    I’m not really interested in talking to someone who prioritises getting upset at feminists over proactive (or even abstract) discussion about helping the most isolated men in society. You’ve made it abundantly clear which is more important to you, and it’s not the one that’ll leave society in a better state than you left it.

  59. H. E. Pennypacker says

    Yeah, it’s abundantly clear you’re not arguing in good faith at this point. You stick to saving the world by playing your “If I were dictator…” games, I’ll stick to calling out unhelpful language.

  60. H. E. Pennypacker says

    You’re just embarrassing yourself now. I’m going to stop because I suspect Ally doesn’t particularly want this cluttering up his comment section.

  61. That Guy says

    “H.E. Pennypacker’s eyes bulged.
    ‘MOOOOM! MOM GET UP HERE YOU LAZY BITCH’
    The sheer audacity of that internet commenter, responding with an ad hominem of all things!
    H.E. Pennypacker adjusted his enormous bulk on his ikea office chair. The heat of the argument had raised his blood pressure to an uncomfortable level and he could feel the telltale moist pulsing between his two sets of man-breasts.
    There was a gentle knock at the door, it eased ajar, sending a blade of unwelcome sunlight scything through the gloom of the upstairs bedroom.
    ‘yes dear?’ H.E. Pennypacker’s Mother was a frail woman, long broken and worn caring for the leviathan man child affixed to her home.
    ‘MOOM he’s used a FUCKING AD HOMINEM! Doesn’t he understand that assaults on my personal character don’t change the substance of my argument?’
    ‘Honeybunches, you shouldn’t get so excited- remember what Dr Malone said…’
    ‘HE’S THE SHITTEST AT ARGUING MOM! HE’S NOT ARGUING IN GOOD FAITH!’
    H.E. Pennypacker’s vigorous shrieking set his jowls undulating- the waves of rippling flesh dislodged a shower of dandruff from his matted neck-bristles. A number of nits, rudely awakened by this activity, scuttled for refuge in the dank warm area between his chins.
    ‘MmAybe you should take a break from the internet sweet-pea.. maybe play one of your games for a bit?’
    ‘THIS ISNT A FUCKING GAME MOM! HE’S EMBARRASSING HIMSELF! God I’m so ANGRY!’
    H.E. Pennypacker slapped a meaty fist on his desk, toppling a collection of lewd anime figures onto the floor. Thankfully their fall was broken by the layer of crusty crumpled cleenex that carpeted the room.
    ‘If I wasn’t such a good feminist MOM, I swear I’d fucking threaten to RAPE HIM DEAD”
    “that’s.. that’s not very nice dear..’
    H.E. Pennypacker’s Mother fought to keep the quaver out of her voice, last time her son suffered a rage like this, it all ended up with two teams of paramedics lifting him into a special oversized ambulance for emergency heart surgery.
    “MOM, Mom, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you like that, it’s just, these people make me so MAD”
    The purplish tinge began to fade from the flabby flesh of our hero, he was suddenly aware of the sweat rapidly cooling on his forehead and amongst his flaps. The moist feelings caused him to accidentally release a little urine.
    “It’s just, .. If only Stacey had dated ME instead of that loser, I mean, she said I was such a nice guy! the frigid bitch, and after all the times I drove her to restaurants, and did her homework, and bought her nice things…
    I’m a nice guy? Aren’t I Mom?”
    “Yes son, you’re … a nice guy”
    H.E. Pennypacker’s eyes misted over- “Just like Elliott Rodger, He was such a gentleman, if only, if only he’d gotten the love he deserved”

    Later that night, the entire neighbourhood was awakened by a noise that at first blush, sounded like the distressed wailings of a dying sperm whale.
    “MOOOOOOOM! HE’S WRITTEN A STORY ABOUT ME CALLING ME FAT!”

  62. mostlymarvelous says

    The solution is much more difficult, but it might start with accepting and sympathising with their pain rather than yelling at them about how entitled they are. This is largely what incels are selling them, acceptance and sympathy, except it comes with a huge side-order of misogyny.

    But they _don’t_ offer acceptance or sympathy. They offer reinforcement of ridiculous and often pernicious ideas.

    Firstly about women. If you read a bit of their stuff, you’ll find their “standards” for women are startlingly high and largely unrealistic. They have to be young, slim, good-looking, well-groomed – without looking as though they’ve spent any time, effort or money on getting that way. And they should or, for far too many of these clowns, must be a virgin. They should also have no achievements or ambitions of their own apart from wanting to please these never-satisfied men. (The one thing that women find most amazing of all, is that they seem to believe that any and every woman can find a sexual partner any time at all. Apparently there are no lonely, sexually frustrated women in the world – ever.)

    Secondly about themselves. If you see any photographs of any of these blokes, you’ll see that they’re not repulsively ugly, nor weedy, nor grossly fat or unusual in any particular way. By and large they’re, like most of us, smack in the middle of the very wide range of ordinarily attractive people – though smiling would help a great deal. When you read their comments, however, you find obsessive focus on how unattractive or weak or too short or somehow inadequate they look.

    You get the impression they’ve never walked down the street nor gone to the movies or a pub and seen couples, happily together, where neither party is remarkably good-looking or stunningly well-muscled or tall (or dainty) or otherwise stands out from the crowd by their appearance. Having realistic views about themselves and other people would be a big improvement. Having activities and ambitions apart from getting laid would also improve their lives, their personalities and their limited conversation topics immensely.

  63. Eric L says

    “As Marduk points out, this is the language of the right. “The people who feel entitled are a product of a society that nurses and nurtures that entitlement,” would sound natural coming from the mouth of a particularly heartless Tory.”

    I do agree with this part. For an example of the concept of entitlement in its native habitat, see former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

    “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    I mean, this is what the word is *for*. It is for opposing egalitarianism and supporting hierarchical outcomes by suggesting it is a moral failing of the have nots to believe they should be closer to the haves. And you can think the universe owes you whatever so long as it’s something you have and take for granted; to use the love example, surely the ranks of people with love lives they are satisfied with are full of people with the same beliefs about deserving love and it being vital to happiness, but in what situation would they ever be called entitled?

    This doesn’t necessarily mean the concept of entitlement doesn’t belong here; there are good reasons to prefer a libertarian approach to love and sex rather than an egalitarian one, but the use of the concept in an otherwise egalitarian ideology comes across as very adorable hoc to me whereas the notion is very much at the core of the conservative worldview. (And, to the subject of the OP, I’m horrified at the description of anyone as “entitled” for believing they shouldn’t be bullied our that society owes them better than watching and laughing.)

    @That Guy
    I’m surprised to hear anyone thinks the word doesn’t carry a value judgement about the person being called “entitled”. Maybe we’ve just heard the word used differently, but it’s quite commonly used to state a value judgement and you shouldn’t be surprised to find people take it that way. If that isn’t your intent then I would just describe what you’re describing as “unrealistic expectations”.

  64. That Guy says

    @ Eric L

    entitled
    ɪnˈtʌɪt(ə)ld/Submit
    adjective
    believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

    In this specific instance, the special treatment we are referring to is someone else’s love. Love is not so simple a quantity it can be treated as a fungible asset in a capitalist society. It inherently requires the active participation and attention of another person, unlike housing or food for example. Additionally, romantic relationships are not required to have a fulfilling life.

    Mitt Rommney’s said a lot of things, so I don’t consider him an arbiter of what words are verboten.

    (And, to the subject of the OP, I’m horrified at the description of anyone as “entitled” for believing they shouldn’t be bullied our that society owes them better than watching and laughing.)

    I have literally never said or implied this. I think there’s a middle ground where everyone is treated decently, fairly and deserves happiness, but not so far as they deserve someone else’s love. If you read what I’ve said above, you’ll see that I’m big on the former, but not so much on the latter. You’ll also see that my opinion is the unrealistic expectation of the latter can amplify and enhance the justified resentment from being denied the essential former.

  65. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @mostlymarvelous

    “But they _don’t_ offer acceptance or sympathy. They offer reinforcement of ridiculous and often pernicious ideas.”

    Well, I could be wrong, but from what I know the acceptance is bound up with the pernicious ideas. When I said they’re “selling” these things I didn’t mean they’re all lovely, accepting, sympathetic guys, but some sort of acceptance and sympathy seems to be part of the selling point of their toxic views. The logic of their appeal to prospective members seems to be:

    Your bitterness and pain are perfectly valid, we understand you, it’s not your fault (acceptance and sympathy), it’s the fault of those evil women for being such sluts/bitches (huge side-order of misogyny).

    Maybe it would have been better phrased if I’d put the misogyny as the main course rather than the side-order.

    @Eric L

    “For an example of the concept of entitlement in its native habitat, see former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney”

    It always makes me think of Thatcher: “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

    “This doesn’t necessarily mean the concept of entitlement doesn’t belong here; there are good reasons to prefer a libertarian approach to love and sex rather than an egalitarian one,”

    I agree that it’s complicated. The problem definitely isn’t easily solved by top-down solutions; we can’t nationalise boyfriends/girlfriends or tax love/sex/intimacy and redistribute them. I just think “entitlement” is the wrong way to frame the problem.

  66. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Can you not see that you’re trying to shame me for having emotional problems, being overweight, lonely, economically unsuccessful? Presumably you feel justified doing so because in your mind I’m entitled/a Nice Guy ™ /a neckbeard. Do you not agree that if we want to create a better world, a good start would be to not shame people for being fat or lonely?

  67. That Guy says

    “That night, the room was otherwise silent, save for the slurping, sucking of laboured lungs, fighting desperately to force oxygen through airways clogged with adipose tissue.
    “I can’t believe this!” H.E. Pennypacker thought.
    The phosphorescent glow from his screen illuminated his frown with a ghoulish light
    “He’s trying… to SHAME ME. Just because I’m a gross caricature of an internet addicted malcontent doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings!”

    H.E. Pennypacker’s left hand wandered idly to a old cardboard takeaway container, he absentmindedly peeled a rubbery layer of cheese residue from the base of the box, and slowly sucked it down his throat.
    The cold, days old treat slithered slug like down his gullet, calling to mind soothing memories of breakfast (a double meat pizza from Sam Sam’s washed down with a small bottle of diet pepsi).
    The thoughts of greasy food products soothed his troubled mind
    “Perhaps if I appeal to his better nature, he’ll stop this ridiculous nonsense..”
    Piggy eyes gazed up to his bookshelf, settling on a tatty ring-bound notebook. He’d already exerted himself this morning with a particularly stubborn bowel movement (It’d taken Mom a full box of ‘special stingy wipes’ to fully remove the residue) so he wasn’t up to the mammoth task of standing up and getting the book down by hand.
    He was a smart boy, however, (mommy told him so) and he had other ways.
    A few minutes later, he had the book in hand. He took this moment to bask in his own glory. Slapping his ham hands against the wall a few times had dislodged the notebook, causing it to fall into his belly-cleft. Granted, he’d also knocked down a few old issues of Nuts, Loaded, and Reader’s Wives he’d stashed up there from a time long ago, when he could stand without elevating his heart rate.

    H.E. Pennypacker opened the book in his hands. The cover was now blank, but long ago, bright, friendly sticker lettering had adorned the front. “Feminist heroes”, it had read. Inside, the yellowed pages were filled with scraps and photographs, great women, well-behaved women, to whom H.E. Pennypacker looked up to. In trying times like these, with his very dignity under assault by an anonymous internet user, he craved their guidance. He ran a sausage-finger down the pages, one by one, reading their faces like braille.
    “Ayn Rand- would you have stood for this? Lady Thatcher, you’ve sunk him like the Belgrano, but I need your compassion today, not your wrath…”
    “Love, Honey? Are you OK?”
    Trance rudely interrupted! H.E. Pennypacker fumbled his book, and it flopped to the floor, lying open at his Ruth Davidson collage (The Caption, ‘Best Banter??!’ had been affectionately picked out with glitter pen).
    “FUCKING HELL MOM! YOU NEARLY GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK”
    He knew that’d cut deep, she’d felt guilty ever since the last time he’d tried to climb down the stairs and needed to be resuscitated
    “Sorry love! I…I just wanted to make sure you’re OK!”
    His ingenious method of dislodging his book must have woken her, he realised- but still, he couldn’t allow this transgression to pass without punishment.
    “MOM fuck IM OK! JESUS I could’ve been JERKIN’ IT MOM! GOD I’m not your BABY ANYOMORE, MOM! I HAVE NEEDS!”
    He yelled,
    “Honey!”
    He could hear her voice beginning to crack-
    “MOM! YOU KNOW I need to JERKIT! It’s coz you WONT GET ME A GIRLFRIEND MOM! Don’t I DESERVE LOVE MOM? AREN’T I A NICE BOY MOM?”
    There was no answer, save for a muted whimpering. H.E. Pennypacker sometimes felt guilty about times like this, but he just needed to keep her in line. With any luck, she’d cry herself to sleep. He didn’t even need to threaten to move in with Dad this time.

    His shouting match had sent the blood racing round his body, his transplanted cow’s heart working hard to cope with his excitement. Tucking a hand into his shitted boxers, he idly fondled his semi, trying to remember what it was he was doing before.
    Aha! That was it! appealing to his better nature! He’d shame him for shaming him! That’d learn him!
    His sweaty flab curtains released their stock of trapped air, whistling like a deflating pool-ring as he hunched over his bashed keyboard. With surprising speed, his cumberland fingers rattled out a retort.

    Do you not agree that if we want to create a better world, a good start would be to not shame people for being fat or lonely?

    Leaning back, satisfied in his work, he shook out his multiple chins in order to work his mouth into the correct expression of smugness. That’ll nail the bastard! who can argue with making the world a better place?

    With that task crossed off his mental to-do list, he moved onto the next item, namely, how to best go about mailing a huge sack of dog turds to one Laurie Penny.

  68. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @That Guy

    Actually my only feminist hero is Donna Haraway. In fact, my first forays into the comments on this article were prompted by a passage I’d highlighted on the relationship between acting on the world through violence and the attainment of manhood in an article of hers on the Natural History Museum in New York that I happened to be re-reading at the time:

    ‘Finally, in the atrium also are the life-size bronze sculptures by Carl Akeley of the Nandi spearmen of East Africa on a lion hunt. These African men and the lion they kill symbolize for Akeley the essence of the hunt, of what would later be named “man the hunter.” In discussing the lion spearers, Akeley always referred to them as men. In every other circumstance he referred to adult male Africans as boys. Roosevelt, the modern sportsman, and the “primitive” Nandi share in the spiritual truth of manhood.’

    I bring this up because your stories also remind me of the way the the African men are referred to as boys. Your stories revolve around mocking your protagonist through denying his manhood by casting him as a boy and combining this with misogynist stereotypes (the typical sexist conflation of femininity with infant-hood). His inability to find a woman is combined with his inability to achieve full adult status – full manhood – by attaining financial independence demonstrated by his inability to leave the natal home, a fact that clearly marks him as a boy who cannot share in the spiritual truth of manhood. He is stuck as a mere child because he is neither able to find love nor leave the nest.

    That he is not able to become a real man is reinforced by playing on sexist tropes. He is not a man because he cannot control his emotions; he is not masculine and stoic but feminine and temperamental. His fatness also denies his manliness and equates him with the feminine (see e.g. https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/10/fat-men-feminist-issue/) and while you avoid the idea of castration through fatness, the association with the feminine comes out particularly clearly in the gratuitous descriptions of his soft flesh, the way it forms “flaps” and a “cleft”.

  69. That Guy says

    H.E. Pennypacker attempted his best frown. His matted monobrow formed a frightening sine wave, his oversize cheeks dangling from his face like ox’s testicles. He just couldn’t get it! Why was he persisting in this nonsense? What point was he trying to make? He’d puzzled, and scratched his oily scalp, he’d pinched the bridge of his nose and rested one of his chins on a lumpen fist. He’d contemplated pacing, but it seemed a disproportionate effort for an essentially symbolic gesture.

    He’d masturbated twice, to try and clear his mind, but the processing power he’d freed from carnal urges wasn’t helping to solve this puzzle.

    Obviously these screeds were an assault on his impeccable character, and obviously since he was always right, (Mommy’s smart boy was never wrong) the only conclusion was that the persistent fantasies he was reading were wrong somehow.

    He reflected on his many virtues- his feminist credentials chief amongst them. A red flush crept up his neck area. Still, those ungrateful cunts wouldn’t entertain a relationship with him, even though he was so respectful- Then it clicked!

    Not his spine, it’d clicked a long time ago under his gargantuan bulk. the clicking days of most of his bones were long behind him, a combination of early onset arthritis and gout had seen to that.

    No, his brain clicked- clearly, these comments were a criticism of magnanimous feminism! Ergo, hence, therefore! These attacks on him, were an attack on women!

    It all made perfect sense- and in hindsight, was so obvious- only a raging misogynist could possibly disagree, or do whatever was being done, to him. H.E. Pennypacker chuckled, setting in motion a series of longitudinal waves down his meat-slinky of a body.

    “Checkmate Motherfucker” he rumbled to himself before setting to work.

    Some time later, his pudgy finger jabbed his mouse, the cursor on his screen depressing the ‘submit’ button. It was done- He’d wheeled out his most intelligent-sounding language, and trawled notes from a half-completed correspondence sociology course and tied the whole thing together, conflating himself with womankind as a whole.

    It was hard- he’d had to call Mom up for a sponge-bath to clean away his thinking-sweats- but he was committed. He’d only been momentarily distracted by the arousing thought of himself as a woman, (A woman, who’d be grateful to receive the affections of an educated, nice guy like himself) and resolved to tug himself to climax after posting.

    Surely, surely, that’d put an end to this meta commentary, he thought- the absurdity responding to a critique of a facile creative writing exercise pretending to be mockery of a person who doesn’t want to have a serious discussion would be enough to collapse the universe. That random internet commenter couldn’t be that side of insane, surely?

  70. Marduk says

    77.
    I believe Nietsche said something about this. Alas, someone has gazed too long into the abyss and become the very monster they most feared, tormented by cruel imagined demons. It certainly seems a nightmarish world and this descent seems very regrettable.

    Moving on, I think the problem is really that this doesn’t have solution. We do have a range of social and emotional needs that are dependent on others to be met. It seems that many find this very uncomfortable, because it suggests otherwise deeply unpleasant people face real plight and more existentially, its unpleasant to look the human condition directly in the face. So you get the usual bargaining going on. It isn’t really a need. The need can be taken away. You should be able to meet the need, and its your fault if you can’t. You aren’t qualified to have that need met, not that you ever could be because it cannot be earned anyway. Anything to get rid of the problem or push it into a place from which it can be discounted. Its a very frightening thought that some of the most important things in life are in the gift of another and you get no say at all.

    Many have of course wrestled with this. Artistole most famously decided that dependency, echoing your observation of the discourse, is weakness. Therefore having a need that depends on another is unmanly. His eventual rather tortured conclusion was that this legitimised slavery. If there is an “ethics of bad behaviour” in this area, Aristotle probably generated it here. Unfortunately even on his own terms it doesn’t work, Aristotle neglected to notice that, even if we don’t care about other people, dependence on a slave is an even lower condition than he started off with. Which just goes to show that this kind of thing makes monkeys of even the sharpest minds.

    I suggest a good start is facing facts and being able to discuss them without mockery and derision, half of which is just whistling by the graveyard anyway I reckon. The trick would be to find ways of living with suffering that don’t involve taking it out on other people. This is the core of the issue but for whatever reason, that seems just too stark to contemplate.

  71. Paul says

    Carnation

    I don’t think it’s fair linking to someone who’s banned from here given he can’t reply.

  72. Ally Fogg says

    For the record Adiabat is not banned. He was just told to fuck off for being a cunt and verily, off he did fuck.

  73. Ally Fogg says

    Although that said, you ‘re right Paul, I’m not particularly enthused by linking to people’s Twitter purely to pick a fight with them. He fucked off because I wanted him to fuck off. If anyone wants an argument with him, I’d prefer you didn’t bring him back here to do it.

  74. pocketjacks says

    On the loneliness and isolation, I’d broadly categorize the following forms of loneliness, which go from most to least severe, but all of which society would be better off with less of:

    1. Isolation in its purest form. Lack of social contact from any and all human beings. Disproportionately affects men, the elderly, and especially elderly men. Becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, leads to men not even seeing doctors and social workers and such and thus dying preventable deaths.

    2. Social isolation from peers.

    3. Peer segregation. To the extent that a given lonely person doesn’t suffer from #1 and #2, it’s because all the barely-above-#2 have clumped together. Better than the alternative, I suppose, but a much better solution would be social integration, whereby people are socially connected with different kinds of peers.

    This is also the breeding ground for much of the social isolation that can turn destructive, especially when a socially-adroit, sociopathic leader gets in control of them for their own purposes.

    4. Romantic loneliness.

    The necesssary battle as I see it is over #2 and #3.

    Loneliness really is a poverty of the spirit. It deserves to be talked about in many of the same ways we talk about poverty and economic issues. No one may die because of loneliness per se, but by that same token, only absolute poverty below a certain point kills; not relative poverty, not underrepresentation, not performance gaps, and not “economic issues” in general. (Yes, the latter may have deleterious health effects at a population level. So does loneliness – some really vicious ones, in fact.) I reject any segregation of empathy whereby the plight of the cripplingly lonely is a sad fact of life we must accept, but We Cannot Rest as a Society unless the latter are largely erased. I would much rather be a middle-income person who for demographic reasons may never reach an executive position, but with flourishing and rewarding relationships with the people in my community, an abundant social life, and many romantic prospects, than an upper-income person with none of these things. I suspect I’m not the only one. I think most people, when you get down to it, are the same way.

    It seems to be taken for granted that we all have sympathy for lonely people, and lonely men specifically as per the concerns of this thread. Amidst all this so-called sympathy, there is a distinct lack of any sentiment that overall loneliness levels in society must come down, or that the lonely be made fewer. It mirrors the distinct lack of any sentiment by Parr as quoted in the OP that bullying must come down.

    It’s also odd in the way we talk about loneliness, in that it’s apparently a problem without villains. Is this some triumph of nuance and rational thinking? Unlikely; the same people resistant to real help toward the lonely have no problem designating the most simplistic of villains elsewhere. Every social problem has some group of people that needs to change, because that’s how it got to be a problem in the first place. One gets the feeling that an inability to see any antagonists here who need to change their behavior, or more likely have it changed through outside social forces, is at best due to indifference, at worst due to sympathy with the antagonists.

    Being selectively cold to anyone who comes into our lives without an already apparent high degree of prior peer status is wrong. It’s this sort of attitude that makes loneliness a self-reinforcing cycle. Treating people better or worse based on where they stand with respect to a peer hierarchy is wrong. We all do these to some extent. I notice it in myself, because I am only human, though I am rightfully ashamed at the more egregious instances of my doing so and make efforts to correct them. But some people are noticeably worse about it than others. Those people should be shamed when they do so. This entire prejudice should have a name, and be mentioned whenever we see, for instance, a piece of media indulging in it. There is, unfortunately, a human tendency to want to create or maintain hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion that put other people at the bottom in order to feel better about oneself. With so few socially acceptable hierarchies remaining, a lot of it gets dumped into this area.

    Loneliness and isolation are growing problems (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the-loneliness-epidemic-more-connected-than-ever-but-feeling-more-alone-10143206.html) and other social concerns that stem from them will also get worse unless we tackle them – which may entail abandoning certain shibboleths. This is a gendered problem; both genders report loneliness at about the same levels, but the underlying numbers being worse for men is a consistent finding in this area. Certainly, loneliness in both genders deserves to be addressed, as well as the unique ways the problem can manifest in women, but it is important that there also be avenues to discuss it in gendered terms from within the male perspective. Existing models fail to adequately address this problem. Let’s roughly divide one’s social universe into close confidantes, friends, warm contacts (people who you hang out with once every few months, or those you are really close with at work but never see outside of work), and contacts (people in your life, for the most part around your age, who are potential warm contacts). For most people, having healthy social connections with the world means a concentric enlargening of all these circles. But most articles written on this subject focus exclusively on close confidantes. Why is this? A big part of the reason, I’d argue, is a social prejudice that trying to increase the numbers of the others for its own sake is shallow. No; what’s shallow is rejecting people because they score low on such scales and they have low current social value. Wanting a healthy and varied social life is normal and to be encouraged.

  75. 123454321 says

    Nice guys are entitled now are they?HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Brilliant, just fucking brilliant. That’s set me up for Christmas. You learn something new every day – in this case what an abhorrently twisted and deceitful man-hating misandrist That Guy is. Oops, sorry, already new that! Bye!

  76. Marduk says

    84. I think that is a very good post. This is a silly aside but I know what you mean about being cold to people. It seems to me that there is a problem in acknowledging problems that don’t have a policy solution. There is an obvious villain of course, modern capitalism, which having encouraged us to turn away from extended family to the nuclear family, now really seems to push us away from even that.

    Daft aside, but when it was popular I could never get into, well, “Friends” because while some people saw it as a great statement about the ‘new family’ urban professionals were supposed to adopt, all I saw was how horrible they were to everyone else. “Friends” literally weren’t allowed any other friends. Probably a great part of this was the concept and mechanics of a sitcom, the guest stars had to go away and not come back, but after a while it became quite repulsive and weird once you start noticing it. What is more striking is why more people weren’t repulsed by it.

  77. Carnation says

    @ Paul, Ally

    Point taken.

    Onto a more interesting subject, the latest massacre in Texas was carried out by a military man known to be a domestic abuser. The link between mass-killing and domestic abuse seems to be established.

    I was wondering, and this is probably the place to find out, whether a credible profile of a domestic abuser has ever been carried out? Any constant themes?

  78. Carnation says

    @ Ally

    I liked your comment about Toxic Patriarchy vs Toxic Masculinity, and think it’s possibly more apt than Patriarchal Misandry.

    Will a blog post follow, perhaps?

    And will the Friday open threads be resurrected?

  79. WineEM says

    I’m kind of interested to what extent the media in the United States exerts the same kind of pressures on young men as it does here in the UK. I think there may be some differences, although I can see some strong similarities, too. Certainly if you look at the media over here, you would be pretty damn crazy to find any sort of consolation in any quarter: the solutions and ideas offered by the right are plainly wacko, but then you would have to be quite insane, as a young guy in our society, to try and find any kind of empowerment in the culture and ethos pushed by the Guardian/SJW side as well.

    I suppose also that the USA is a bigger country, with a media which is less centrally concentrated, so perhaps there’s more of a chance to escape it; though I suspect the partisan culture wars being pushed over there – on both sides – are still pretty dangerous (and perhaps not entirely dissimilar in nature).

    But beauty of democracy, I guess, is that people can set out their stall, and you can decide, in theory, to what extent you’re going to trust them, or follow what they say or not (but being wary of extreme ideologues from every side is probably a good idea, all in all.)

  80. 123454321 says

    Carnation #87

    There are probably millions of cases of domestic abuse across the globe but comparitavely very few cases of massacre shootings. Current social indoctrination means that when someone raises the issue of domestic abuse, an image of a male perpetrator is always conjured up, mainly due to social conditioning. Of course we know now that the picture is clearing and in fact many women are also perpetrators. Lone shootings, however, are predominantly carried out by men, I agree. But any suggestion that the link between mass killings and domestic abuse is an established one has as much credibility as suggesting there is a link between mass killers and male genital mutilation. If you require a credible profile of a domestic abuser in order to satisfy your thirst for labelling male domestic abusers as potential mass killers then it merely demonstrates your endeavour to cast men in a bad light rather than actually derive anything intellectually robust. You’re not doing that, are you? I am certain that some mass killers will be perpetrators of domestic abuse and I’m certain that some of them will also be victims of MGM. Do you propose profiling a victim of MGM too, dude? Everyone loves a story about a male domestic abuser – more so than a female domestic abuser it seems. Not many people give a shit about the story of an MGM victim so perhaps we can draw some innovative conclusions. Anyway, you are now presented with another ‘constant theme’ factor (MGM) so how do you propose to take it forward? Or would you rather drop that one from your memory and continue with the domestic abuser agenda?
    Also, Carny, I haven’t spoken to you for a while. What have you achieved this year on behalf of men and boys? A lot of talking, I’m sure, but what are the tangible, positive outputs? I too would love to discuss them in an open thread as I’m sure it would be packed full of juicy Christmas goodies to celebrate your 2017 successes. Bye bye, sweetness.

  81. Marduk says

    Given the low profile the Graun has given to the case, its worth noting that before he was maimed to the point of electing euthanasia in a country more civilised than our own, Mark von Dongen repeatedly begged the police for help and they did absolutely nothing.

    Two CIF articles have addressed the situation. The first did the usual trick of only mentioning von Dongen to conclude the crime is “overwhelmingly committed by men”. I find drawing parallels between a victim and generalized perpetrator profile very disrespectful. The latter simply stated that von Dongen “wasn’t a typical victim, globally” and discussed the role of “patriarchal society” in acid attacks. Presumably the writer’s sympathies are with the police then, who they definitely haven’t bothered to hold to account. Maybe von Dogen will be recorded as a victim of VAW.

  82. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    The first 13 lines of what you’ve written is a testament to your political and sociological illiteracy. It reads like a parody piece. Responding to you in a sincere fashion is impossible, as you’ve demonstrated a complete inability to grasp even the most basic understanding of research and conclusion and I am left bemused by you.

    Get off the blogs, son, and read something use. Try The Basics of Social Research, by Earl Babbie. I had a look, and, sadly, there are no “Idiot’s guides” – but I have identified a gap in the market thanks to your ineptitude.

    I will, however, in the spirit of brotherly love, respond to one of your questions;

    “Also, Carny, I haven’t spoken to you for a while. What have you achieved this year on behalf of men and boys?”

    I have done far, far more than the entire “men’s rights” and “father’s rights” movements has in the previous ten years.

  83. Marduk says

    Noting an interesting disconnect on these OMG Russian hackers and ‘troll factory’ pieces. Point being the media thinks this is shocking and important, as do politicians. The public think this sounds a lot like stuff they ignore because they’ve already learned to ignore what the media and politicians say, they don’t see much difference.

    Yet the media carries adverts and “sponsored content”, the UK funds the World Service still through the Foreign Office, the US still funds the Voice of America, its fairly easy to also spot sponsored spooky content (if you want to see a classic, look at the Vice Guide to Syria which is the strangest piece of writing you’ll ever see on the topic). Its fanciful to think that they aren’t also at this game more covertly online. Indeed, the Clinton campaign had plenty of paid shills (ShareBlue), Valenti writing attack pieces on Bernie Sanders under orders, big data strategies etc., because of course its unlikely the Democrats would go up against the Republicans with all that money behind both lacking the same tools and weapons.

    Unless they can start defining proper and improper influence (and I’d suggest the media probably wouldn’t want to do this for obvious reasons) I’m unsure how they are going to get traction on this in terms of public opinion. We’ve moved on from the “Red Menace” where its just bad if people we don’t like do it. Its news that increasingly only gets welcomed by extremists – witness the excitement amongst the hard-core Remoaner fringe when it was mooted that perhaps Russia had caused Brexit. Its deeply silly and everyone, of course, ignores that as well.

  84. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “Valenti writing attack pieces on Bernie Sanders under orders”

    Whose orders?

    “witness the excitement amongst the hard-core Remoaner fringe when it was mooted that perhaps Russia had caused Brexit”

    What exactly are you talking about? Who is the “hard-core Remoaner fringe”? Where are they represented? Is this story *not* being welcomed and reported in the hard-right Brexit press?

  85. Marduk says

    94.
    Lauren Collins Peterson, Hilary Clinton’s speechwriter.
    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/18566

    I was referring to this from May, events got ahead of me it seems:
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy?

    Malign influence over elections in foreign countries, especially using massed individual communications is of course utterly reprehensible, except when it isn’t.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1474828/Guardian-calls-it-quits-in-Clark-County-fiasco.html

    Comedy aside, if you search “big data” and “algorithm” what you find up until the day she lost was that Clinton was investing heavily in this stuff and Trump, that idiot, wasn’t. Now we’re supposed to believe that Clinton didn’t use any of that and Trump did.

    As I say earlier, its not about who is good and who is bad, its that everyone is doing the same things. If we’re to be made to care about this, they can’t keep pretending that Putin is an evil mastermind because Russia Today exists.

  86. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    With all due respect, and I mean this sincerely as you have made some interesting points, you do yourself no justice with the theatrical flourishes that you introduce items of interest.

    Valenti, as far as I can see, wasn’t under “orders”, most likely there was an alignment of interests. This isn’t unusual or controversial.

    You still haven’t justified the tabloidesque (and basically nonsensical) term “hard-core Remoaner fringe” – as far as I can see, people are bored of the “Russia connection.”

    What’s far more insidious and dangerous, and pertinent to this blog, is the weaponisation of people’s anger and discontent. The Katie Hopkins, Milo’s, PJW et al of this world who get themselves attention, and sometimes a little bit of cash, by scapegoating and other-ing certain people and peoples. Is Russia pulling the strings? No, I don’t think so. Things are often a bit more organic than that.

    What baffles me is that all the anger and bitterness isn’t making people happy. Hopkins/Milo/PJW et al are chronically miserable people and their fan bases are chronically miserable. If there was a clear benefit for even a substantial minority of people as a result of their media antics, I could make some sort of sense out of it, but it just seems like unhappy guttural trash dragging everyone into their miserable, narrow, stunted little cesspit.

  87. Marduk says

    96.
    I understand lobby briefing but this is a bit different, look at the context of the rest of the email and the language Peterson uses, “hits”, “can’t be traced to us” etc. I don’t like it. While Valenti is in her rights to talk with who she wants, I don’t feel the Guardian should allow itself to be found “working with” a foreign politician to place specific themed messaging about her political rivals (especially Bernie Sanders who is arguably someone the paper would more naturally back, at least historically). Everyone will try of course, its their job to stop it from happening. Its also worth noting that Bernie Sanders isn’t actually racist, sexist or against abortion anyway, this was always fake news anyway.

    I don’t know what PJW is, but again, everyone uses anger and frustration. People like it because it makes their frustrations feel righteous in a complex world where the reality is you never quite know whats going on.

  88. Ally Fogg says

    Don’t have time to deep into this argument, but can’t resist a fly-by.

    Marduk, that stuff about Valenti writing Sanders attack pieces “under orders” really is the most silly nonsense you have ever come out with. It’s utterly bizarre & I don’t know why you keep returning to it.

    And I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with the Russia stuff.

    The problem is not Russia Today (which is a direct equivalent of BBCWS or Iran’s Press TV or countless others.) It is what it is and people can take it or leave it.

    And the problem is not with a revolving door between political commentators like Valenti & political campaigns such as Clinton’s. That is absolutely identical to, say, Owen Jones commenting on Labour internal politics while being heavily involved with & friendly with the leadership. Or Sarah Vine commenting on the Conservative Party while being married to Michael Gove. This stuff happens all over, at all levels, and I have no idea why you keep picking out Valenti as if she’s some exception to the rules, when she’s absolutely par for the course.

    The problem is with what Russia appears to be doing is that it appears to be paying people to surreptitiously influence democracy in rival nations, not by putting a pro-Russian spin on relevant issues (which is what spookish propaganda machines have always done) but by attempting to destroy any remaining faith the voting public have in their own media reporting, by surrounding it with entirely invented, fake news and by astroturfing social media and Web 2.0 by extensive use of fake accounts which exist only to sow discord & poison democracy & free media.

    There is also the massive issue of whether Russian money is bankrolling democratic elections, whether the US Presidential or the Brexit referendum. That is entirely illegal in every country, & the fact that the CIA & KGB have done (or tried) similar things in many client states over the years doesn’t make it any less worrying that (or if) Putin is doing it now.

    I genuinely don’t understand how you seem to have got this so entirely upside down and back to front

  89. Marduk says

    98. The only reason I tie this to politics is really that I never thought anyone genuinely believed this obvious horseshit. Putin is not a nice man but he isn’t actually the Joker from Batman. Its ridiculous, it makes utterly no sense at all that he would even want to do it and all the evidence is duff whether its Crowdstrike giving stuff random Russian names (if I call you Ally Bear that makes you a Russian spy apparently) etc. The real surprise is how little they have been able to find.

    This is my latest favourite just now. Are they really this stupid, is there anyone who doesn’t know just at a glance what the money was for?
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/secret-finding-60-russian-payments-to-finance-election?utm_term=.rvod6XNmD#.coe8eYn9w
    http://thehill.com/policy/international/360314-fbi-scrutinizing-russian-payments-to-embassies-to-finance-election

    Here are your Russian Twitter accounts:
    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/terror-cranks-sold-america-russia-panic
    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/clint-watts-fake-russia-expert

    And finally, RT exists, its a fact. That is actually all anyone can prove, I don’t care what else they are “saying”.
    https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

  90. Marduk says

    101.
    I don’t like it but at least that is a journalist following editorial instructions rather than those of a foreign politician’s digital strategy team. Just to be clear, I only ‘pick on’ JV because there is proof for once, and it was manifestly a garbage attack on a decent man on the behalf of a member of the Clinton family. Moreover, this really isn’t the same thing as if she was a friendly journalist getting a cosy briefing from Huma Abedin on the campaign bus and I don’t understand why people are pretending it is.

    My comment on Russia specifically is awaiting FBI moderation but what I really wanted to post was the HuffPo piece by Joe Luria that calmly went through it all and pointed out it was utter nonsense. Turns out it was deleted, nobody knows why.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-07/huffpo-yanks-article-russiagate-hysteria-award-winning-journalist-joe-lauria-%E2%80%93-so-he

    Its very disappointing to see the left getting swept up into a McCarthyite frothing over this. It beats me how people who lived through the 2nd Iraq war could be so gullible.

  91. H. E. Pennypacker says

    The problem is with what Russia appears to be doing is that it appears to be paying people to surreptitiously influence democracy in rival nations, not by putting a pro-Russian spin on relevant issues (which is what spookish propaganda machines have always done) but by attempting to destroy any remaining faith the voting public have in their own media reporting, by surrounding it with entirely invented, fake news and by astroturfing social media and Web 2.0 by extensive use of fake accounts which exist only to sow discord & poison democracy & free media.

    Question: how many of our free media’s reports on Russian troll factories or twitter influence mention the fact that we do exactly the same thing? Even when the Guardian recently wrote about the fact that this is going on in other countries they didn’t bring up our online meddling. Of course, when this was a less politically sensitive issue they, along with other media outlets did. And our spooks goal was not to benignly put a pro-UK spin on things, it was to “discredit, disrupt, delay, deny, degrade, and deter,” which led to our media dubbing them the “deception unit”. Fast-forward to the present day and it seems every journalist in the country has, simultaneously and extraordinarily conveniently, forgotten about the unit’s existence. People’s lack of faith in our media might have more to do with the fact it so transparently functions to uphold establishment narratives than with the witterings of a few Russian online influencers.

    What does more to undermine democracy and sow discord – a few people in St. Petersburg posing as Americans and posting divisive messages, or the media pushing largely baseless fantasies that Putin can swing the outcome of any election and the president of the US might be in bed with Russia? Are a few twitter bots worse than claiming anyone who disagrees with you is a Kremlin agent? Is our democracy and free media more undermined by having a few extra fake news stories floating around or by shady, secretive think-tanks trying to tar any opinion that dissents from the mainstream, on the left or right, as Russian propaganda? Many left-wing news sites have had a massive decrease in traffic coming from google since they changed their algorithms to combat “fake news”. We have Helen Lewis heavily implying that the popularisation of the term TERF amongst intersectional feminists is largely a Russian conspiracy; Louise Mensch pushing the idea that not only is Trump a Russian agent, even Bernie’s on the list. This whole episode has me concerned for our democracy and media, but the Russians are far from my biggest worry.

    One of the really sad and harmful effects this is having is to completely discredit and demoralise the liberal opposition within Russia who for years have been arguing that one of the benefits of becoming more like the UK and the USA would be having an objective and fair media who don’t push absurd narratives. The they see that the Guardian had a front-page scoop about the Kremlin’s nefarious influence over facebook and twitter, which it turns out amounts to “a Russian tech investor instead in some tech companies with loans from Russian banks.” Even to the vast majority of Putin’s internal critics, the idea that the investor Yuri Milner is an agent of the Kremlin is completely preposterous. This is Alex-Jones-level conspiracy-theorising. I really can’t stress enough how much the tin-foil-hat approach that’s been adopted serves to empower Putin domestically.

  92. Paul says

    Hopefully the government is about to introduce penalties for those divorcing/separating parents who use the considerable power and influence they have to turn their children against the other parent.Something parents of both sexes are capable of doing but given mothers are the primary carers in most cases and are usually awarded primary custody of their children it’s largely something that mothers do to fathers.And at present fathers are generally powerless to do anything about it.

    I think think this is relevant to the subject being discussed on this thread given that boys who enjoy a reasonable relationship with their fathers are significantly less likely to go off the rails than those who’ve been either abandoned and/or abused by them.And whilst it won’t provide a panacea preventing the brutalisation of boys it might be a step in the right direction for at least some who may well go completely off the rails after their parents split up if they subsequently lose contact with their fathers.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/17/parental-alienation-divorce-custody-crackdown-cafcass

  93. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, I think progress on parental alienation is long overdue, but I worry that legislative or policy changes are never the answer in these cases.

    We’re always going to crash into rocks marked ‘best interest of the child’ which will never be a straightforward judgement & one side or the other will always consider themselves grievously wronged.

    I also guarantee you that within months of a change to the rules, there will be a case where a mother had been keeping the children away from the dad against a court order, is forced to grant access and then something terrible happens and a child is hurt and it will be all over the front pages that Cafcass Killed My Baby or whatever.

    But yeah, it is important progress.

  94. Paul says

    but I worry that legislative or policy changes are never the answer in these cases.

    That’s a bit defeatist .For whilst it may not be be the answer in every case i thing it’s important that the law is quite clear where it stands vis-a vis parental alienation.And parents understand the possible consequences if found guilty of it.

    I also guarantee you that within months of a change to the rules, there will be a case where a mother had been keeping the children away from the dad against a court order, is forced to grant access and then something terrible happens and a child is hurt and it will be all over the front pages that Cafcass Killed My Baby or whatever.

    Sadly you may be right on that.But even so parents who aren’t the primary custodians of their children still have rights .And the overwhelming majority won’t harm their children.And the fact there’s a small risk a child could be killed in the circumstances you describe shouldn’t be used as an excuse to deny parents access to their children unless there’s proof they pose a threat to them..

  95. That Guy says

    With regard to Cafcass, and other similar legislations, I’m always brought to think of the following case-

    https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=822331a7-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7

    the tl:dr, is a mother abducts her child and flees her home country with the express goal of preventing the father of the child having any contact. Her methods are odious, and reprehensible, but she succeeds in dodging discovery for 5 years.

    She’s tracked down by the authorities, and the father petitions the court to have the child (now ten) returned to his care.
    Of course, 5 years in another country is a long time, the child has no relationship with her father to speak of, and doesn’t even speak the language of her native country.

    So, unfair as it seems, the best interests of the child dictate that she stays with her mother in her new home.

    The reason I think of this case is that it couldn’t be more clear cut that what happened is absolutely wrong, and that jailing the mother, placing the child into the care of the father, or any other punitive actions would do nothing but cause distress, and pain to the child who has done nothing wrong. What do you do in these sort of situations? I’m not sure that legislation or application of legal threats will really help in these cases.

    Rather than empowering parents, I have a feeling it’d be used as another lever to exert power over the carer of one parents child. i.e., the people most likely to need cafcass, are least likely to benefit from it. For every case like that above, you’ll have a gentleman like the one below trying to game the new system.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkuWrmxN7hg?rel=0&showinfo=0&w=560&h=315%5D

  96. Marduk says

    103.
    At least its a statement of intent and values, even if it doesn’t really have teeth. I can get behind it on that level.
    A lot of people don’t really think parental alienation is wrong, they’ve normally told themselves a story about how “he cheated on the children as well” and suchlike.

  97. Paul says

    103.
    At least its a statement of intent and values, even if it doesn’t really have teeth. I can get behind it on that level.
    A lot of people don’t really think parental alienation is wrong, they’ve normally told themselves a story about how “he cheated on the children as well” and suchlike.

    Absolutely right because it sets in stone a further tool for those parents currently powerless to do anything about parental alienation.And i’d also like to see the right to shared, parenting provided certain conditions are met, set in stone as well.

    As far as i know women are involved in the majority of child deaths as a result of domestic domestic violence.Women are as guilty as men of the non-sexual abuse of children.And the most dangerous family type for a child is one headed by a biological mother and a cohabiting stepfather.I’ve therefore often wondered why we hear a lot about mothers claiming the violence of the fathers as an excuse for not allowing them to see their children whilst we never hear about non custodial fathers citing the violence of the mothers and their new partners as a reason why they should have custody of the children.

    It concerns me that the decent majority of non custodial fathers still feel the system is stacked in favour of mothers.And that unless the mother can be proven to be either mad or bad the fathers are reluctant to challenge them because of that.And it’s not helped when even now most of the public rhetoric about family abuse is primarily concerned with abusive fathers .

    We still have a long way to go before fathers have equal rights with mothers in the private domain .And whilst i accept what’s best for the child should be the top priority i still wonder to what extent what’s best for mothers as primary carers is actually what takes priority.

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