Steven Pinker rushed to defend an overpaid Eton school teacher who had been fired for making a video called “The Patriarchy Paradox”. You can watch it if you must, but it’s incredibly bad — he seems obsessed with movie portrayals of men as being an accurate representation of True Masculinity. His first examples are of Marvel superheroes:
The Marvel movies showed that in popular culture, masculine archetypes, such as Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, described by the philosopher Edward Feser as a patriotic soldier, the son of a heavenly father come to Earth, and a strutting capitalist alpha male, retain their appeal. The whole thing sounds like that. He relies mainly on fictional sources, bad statistics, and biased presentation of data to make a case for the intrinsic superiority of men, therefore justifying patriarchy. I mean, really, how can anyone be persuaded by this bullshit?
He then uses a clip from Goodfellas of Henry Hill beating up his neighbour for molesting his girlfriend as evidence that ‘male aggression is a biological fact… whether we like it or not’ (25:42). He also seems to agree with Scarface’s Tony Montana’s observation that ‘first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women’ (29:12), as if psychotic, murderous, cokehead gangsters are a valid voice of reason.
It is notable that many of Knowland’s arguments would not look out of place on an incel Reddit forum. Knowland repeatedly says that women use their sexuality to their advantage, stating that they can ‘exploit their power of sexual choice to get males to compete to do things for them’ (22:32). This is classic incel rhetoric: believing that women use their sexual appeal to manipulate and control men, and that if men can’t get sex, it’s because of women withholding it from them. This is a terrible message to teach teenage boys. The problem is not a discussion of such claims, the problem is with Knowland’s presentation; his lack of analysis, his failure to question the assertions made in his video. If this incident raises questions of free debate, then where’s the debate?
If you’re so deluded that you can’t tell that Henry Hill and Tony Montana are psychopathic monsters and the villains of those movies, you aren’t fit to be a teacher.
But, surprise surprise surprise, Steven Pinker was among the very first well-known academics to try and defend this guy and make ludicrous claims of protecting academic freedom, and even bigger surprise, he now admits to never having even seen the video!
Not gonna lie; it doesn't surprise me that Pinker leapt to the defence of an anti-feminist without knowing who or what he was defending. I mean, he participated in the legal defence of Jeffrey Epstein – apparently also unwittingly 🤷🏻♀️ https://t.co/PjkEq3L4lH
— Cathryn Townsend, PhD. (@CathrynTownsend) December 8, 2020
Keep this in mind if ever you have to evaluate Pinker’s opinion on anything.
I heard about this case last week as I was deep in the throes of grading, and the first thing I did before judging this Knowland guy was to check out his video, and then I judged the hell out of him.
By the way, that video has 5.7K upvotes and only 524 downvotes. YouTube remains a cesspool of misogyny.