Monday, May 02, 2005

The End of an Acrid Discussion

Editor's Note: This is probably the final response in a massive series of arguments regarding feminism, violence against women, pornography, and a myriad of other topics that erupted at in response to Lucinda Marshall's posts. Readers who wish to get an understanding of at least the tail end of the discussion should probably begin at about . Those with a more herculean appetite can read through all of Lucinda's blog comments.

I'm trying to prevent the feminist movement from adopting policies and frameworks that I view as insane, reactionary and contra-feminist. Just as anarcho-primitivists hurl abuse at folks like Albert for critiquing their particular clique, so too has there been quite a bit of sectarian back-and-forth, despite my claims to be a feminist and (far more importantly) my concrete advocacies that you don't even comment on.
Since this appears to be 'closing statements' time, let me say it again: I believe that our society is riddled with inequity, with at least four distinct forces of oppression each a powerful pillar in and of itself but that helps prop up an even worse house: economistic forms (capitalism, mostly), political forms (statism, mostly), cultural imperialism/racism, and gender/kinship norms. There are also issues that I don't think are sources of oppression but require unique attention anyways: The ecology, international relations (that is, IR is composed of states and of course will be oppressive, but it requires unique ways of thinking aside from simply anti-statism), etc. etc. Already that makes me more in line with feminists than most female Marxists you'll meet (and they're out there, trust me: I went to a meeting of the ISO and found about as many women as men). Each deserve special attention and institutional frameworks, making me think of myself as an anarchist, pareconist, radical democrat, green, feminist, multiculturalist, antiracist, GLBT rights advocate, etc. In feminism, I believe that there are gender norms that impact men and women, gays/lesbians/bisexual/transgender folks especially, and that these norms must be combatted both in their institutional/solid forms and their far more insiduous cultural/fluid forms. I think the international system has a repressed element of gender control (feminist IR), that the health care system and the way we think of “insanity” is riddled with patriarchal mindsets (feminist mental health care), and that the alternative to all of this is a society where people can define their sexual relations and their gender as they wish freely with no fear of retaliation as long as they do not coerce anyone, and that those decisions should not generate inequity from the polity, culture and economy but should in fact be recognized and encouraged by those institutions. I believe that the lack of such a society leads to suffering and misery in personal relations
And, even more importantly, I discuss strategies of self-defense not simply as martial arts, which both men and women learn in the same way, but ways to defend oneself from harassment and abuse that is far more prevalent, the 90% that occurs from people who the person knows. That requires strategies of verbal, spiritual and political resistance.
"Violence *is* men's problem. Men are by far more violent than women..."
I don't know, do we live in the same society? Perhaps, perhaps not, but this is something you'd need to establish with fairly ironclad evidence. People here have made some convincing arguments that female violence is common enough to warrant attention, not just an exception that proves the rule. Putting that aside, bwong's point isn't necessarily that more men aren't criminals, but that those men are defined NOT as men because most men aren't criminals but that those men are primarily criminals. While Tim Wise points out that 90% of serial murderers are whites, he never says "Serial murder is a white problem" or implies that white folks condone or excuse serial murder, but rather that there is a more base white sickness stemming from privilege. The distinction may seem minor, but it's the difference between blasting an entire group of people and making fair arguments that help provide reasons for people to hold responsibility.
"No further discussion is viable until you can take responsibility for your dishonesty. Since it is so ingrained in you to deny even when slam-dunked, all prior and future claims of yours are suspect."
And the same can easily be said of you, except you still haven't "slam dunked" me, because you've conceded the fundamental point of my original article and my other articles in the same vein. Pat yourself on the back all ya want, WR. I suppose it may make you feel good, but it doesn't prove to anybody else that I'm being dishonest, especially given your history of blatant misrepresentation and egregiously selective foci.
Further, given that you've paid near-zero attention to any of my arguments before this point, I don't think I'm too offbase in saying that it's highly probable that you're simply seeking for an excuse to justify your sectarian stubbornness.
Seriously, do you do this with everyone? "I think you conceded an 'slamdunk' [something I haven't heard since the most infantile high school debate rounds] argument of mine, so therefore I can't talk to you." I thought Graeme's (?) comment that you were arguing at a high school level was highly unfair. Now I think somewhat differently.

I wish this discussion hadn't gone this direction. There was a lot of good back-and-forth, a number of good issues hashed out, but for whatever reason, emotions ran high and people became polarized. I don't think I've ever seen such an acrid and sectarian debate, and insofar as I'm responsible, I'm sincerely sorry.

[Editor's Note: Later, one will see WildRider's admittance that, yes, she does selectively ignore arguments.]

"I want to thank some of you (Frederic & Bwong in particular) for radicalizing me."
Translation: Polarizing you and causing you to agree with reactionary feminist elements. If that's what I did, then yes, I regret it, but for some reason I truly doubt that you really were so objective before you came here. You initial posts lined up rather well with WR; you may not have thought of yourself as a so-called 'radical feminist', but I think a fair look would show you had those ideas latent within you. Fair enough.

I don't mind people altering their perceptions, even going the other way. What I ask for is the respect that Michael Albert and Tim Wise gave to David Horowitz. Their debates with conservative luminaries were marked by incredible restraint, cordiality and focus on the issues. I have attended respectfully to every point that I've seen, and I continue to not think anything about WR or ShihTzu the persons because I don't know either of you. Yet you purport to have the psychic powers sufficient to determine what I think, what my activities and commitments are, what happened in obscure crime scenes that weren't present at given zero evidence, and what sources say and think without even having read or heard them. In short, the worst, most toxic sectarian politics.

"1. that the best way to stop groping and rape is to answer the attacker with violence – regardless of potential outcomes."
Actually, my argument (still conceded) is that martial arts training is an effective tactic and that such training offers the understanding that would allow one to determine the degree of danger one is in. I have cited feminist authorities and experts, you have cited nothing.

"2. that the incidence of female violence is much more serious than that of male violence."
I can't remember anybody saying this. People have just objected to saying that male violence is the ONLY problem and are asking for a different conception of gender, something in line with feminists. Oh, but wait, according to you, they must be apologists for rape. I won't stoop to your level and make the same claim about either of you.

"3. that violence is not specifically men’s problem. (one of my favourites to date)."
What does the converse even fuggin mean? That men who commit or acquiesce to violence should take responsibility? No shit, and I have been more forthright and productive in this area than you. But does this mean that the average guy is necessarily complicit with rape (not complicit with the structure that causes rape)?

"4. that pornography is fine because women make money."
If this is all that you took from the discussion, I direct you to my Blog Ladder post on the topic at, The Blog That Isn't A Blog. Even in that small section of the debate, there are numerous complex arguments given. And even the way that you characterize this one argument is a laughable misrepresentation.

Whatever it is, the forum or the aggressive debate or the irrationality of any of the speakers, neither of you are actually reading what people say.

"5. that so-called feminist men get to decide if we are arguing theories or facts and it is up to us ‘good little women’ to keep up."
No. If I pose an argument, you answer it in its character: fact, argument, etc. If you don't do so, then I can counter that your argument is a non sequitur. This is so basic I'm yet again amazed I'm even saying it. Nor did we deny the same right to you: When you cited facts (say, the smorgasbord of spam WR put up in lieu of argumentation), people would either cite relevant facts to give a different spin, agree to the fact and say nothing more, or agree with the fact but oppose a particular conclusion drawn. All very fair, and all things you two mostly failed to do (though again, I'm not going to fall to the childish level of saying that anyone here made "slamdunk" arguments but instead say pretty much everyone here made good points and generated valuable discussion, given that it has changed opinions here).

"6. that discussing violence against women is ok as long as we acknowlege that there is violence against men too – even within a feminist context..."
Actually, discussion of violence against women was prominent throughout: I must have cited dozens of articles precisely about violence against women. You then move on to say that "Never mind that most of this violence was perpetrated by men", but A) even this is a total non sequitur because the POINT of the man-on-man violence arguments was to change the way we were thinking of the faultline and B) this actually is a gigantic indication that you were paying almost zero attention, because various sources set female violence and abuse at either a substantial fraction of, equal to or higher than male violence.

"Nice try. Changing my singular to your plural won't work..."
But that's not the position he took, WR. His point is that it's possible for victims to take irrational positions, even though this obviously says nothing about the trauma that happened to them. After all, has ShihTzu so remarkably uttered a good time ago, Wendy's rape experience did not invalidate hers, yet she had no problem using hers to invalidate Wendy's, and she had no problem saying that a victim of a societal phenomenon by very virtue of that fact gets insight, even when that privilege did not accrue to people who disagreed with her. All interesting double standards, indeed.

"One man vs one woman is always at the bottom line."
When? When a woman victimizes a man by burning his house down? When men rape and kill other men? You make these oblique and almost meaningless comments that require ounces of decoding, decoding that you can then attack as an attack on feminism. (And before you spew more abuse: I argued, to resounding silence, that even when women offenders are found, their position as women makes their crimes seem laughable because the assumption is that women are weak. This argument is a "slamdunk" AGAINST the rightist men's movement because it precisely inverts their logic when they say "BUT WHAT OF FEMALE SEX OFFENDERS?!" I then offered the example of the teacher who, despite obviously being the subservient partner in the relationship as quietly conceded as the press, was presented as a sexual victimized and harlot, which shows that female sexual abuse does get plenty of media attention).

"7. that it is up to women to constantly guard against sexual assault but that when we do so we are paranoid."
If/then statements are clearly not your forte.

Violence against women is not as high as some feminists think. BUT, if one is concerned about one's own chances for victimization or making other women who, however irrational it may or may not be, are currently scared and want to be less scared, one OPTION is self-defense.
Indeed, my position is that rape is not at a one-in-four women level (a fact that your statistics and analysis thereof upon challenge quietly concedes) but is much less, but that this does not change the fact that rape is a serious problem (a position adopted also by serious people taking the one-in-four statistic as valid) and that one TACTIC, a movement tactic, for dealing with rape is self-defense. Apparently feminists have their shit down so well (but wait, why all the rape then?) that they can't use another tactic. Of course, when *I* make the argument that your "theory" isn't very useful for a woman who has been raped, WR objects to it prima facia, then turns around and uses the same arguments against bwong. I'd say I was speechless, but that'd clearly be wrong.

All movements have to deal with the fact that the societal oppression they live under is likely to hurt them at some point. It's the very meaning of revolution. It's what the Black Panthers and the PLO did. They weren't "accomodating defective [Israelis or whites]", they were dealing with REALITY, not a utopian feminist fantasy. And by "utopian", I don't mean that a world with far less rape and sexual abuse and with far better gender norms isn't possible; indeed, in my feminist work, I've tried to explore how to reach such a world and what it'd look like. I simply mean that offering that world as up as if it should exist simply by virtue of us saying it and that, dammit, the world should just catch up to us is a classic concept of privileged people who aren't used to the idea that there's bad shit in the world and sometimes we can't beat all of it in our lifetimes.

"8. that women are responsible to accomdate defective men. We can’t go to certain parties, walk in certain areas or dress a certain way."
Actually, my comment about self-defense was to offer the ALTERNATIVE to "not walk to certain areas", etc. You're also conceding:
A) That this alternative is in fact supported by you and WR's paranoiac view of the level and prevalence of rape (a view that has subconscious racial and class implications because it's riddled with ideas, despite the fact that both of you know otherwise, that 90% or so of rape victims know their attacker fairly well)
B) That "defective men" is an interesting and highly dehumanizing formulatioN
C) That these things constitute dual responsibility and that this idea that women shouldn't have to alter their behavior given crappy societal dynamics bespeaks a social privilege; that is conception, on one level, self-contradictory because both you and WR clearly ARE changing your behavior to "accomodate defective men" given that you spend time resisting their actions, and in the second place does not show up in practically any other liberation context

"9. that in some cultures sexual assault is just a way of life and we should not go there if we don’t want to be assaulted."
Bwong was simply tentatively stating, with reasons and examples to believe this was possible, that different societies have different ideas of and acceptance levels of groping. Hell, this is what WR was saying earlier: that there is gang rape of women in Pakistan and that there are molesters on trains in Japan (indeed, an entire bizarre fetish in the porn industry appeals to these morons). If Bwong made the implication that women are "asking" for it if they travel, that's ridiculous. Indeed, feminist should travel to fight alongside their sisters elsewhere and raise awareness.

My mom travelled to South America and was ogled by men and nearly raped because she was a beautiful gringo. She recognizes, despite being one of the most feminist women I know (indeed, agreeing with radical porn critiques), that she was young and vulnerable and that she was putting herself into a position of danger. She doesn't EXCUSE what those guys did, but she recognized that, as a REALISTIC MATTER OF FACT (not an ideal statement of right or justice), she was an easy victim.

Why not be proactive rather than reactive about this? Let's say that women do have to take as part of the experience of travelling some groping and even worse (and believe me, this fact pisses me off like none other, not least because my mom was nearly raped by virtue of this fact). The way my mom and every sensibly feminist I've seen spins it is, "Look, travel all you want, but know these are the risks. Further, here are ways we can go A) teach women techniques to avoid victimization and B) go abroad to fight patriarchy so future women don't have to deal with these things".

The only possible way that describing that X behavior, no matter how sad this fact is, makes one more likely to be a victim is apologizing for rape is if someone offers one of two implications:

A) We really shouldn't be concerned about rape then, because the only people who are victims are dumb. But that's inhuman and silly, and no one here has said it. (This is the active apologist for crimes; this mode isn't unique, mind you).

B) Well, that sucks, but we can't do anything to change it, so all we can do is tolerate it. But not only has no one here made that argument, everyone here (as far as I can see) assumes the OPPOSITE is true.

These are such basic truisms, truisms that one would know if one was really involved with a variety of progressive causes (funny that you two stopped claiming that awhile back), that it makes me wonder just how deep the rot of this particular feminist school of thought goes.

"10. that many of the reasons for violence against women is economic and if we could just change the economy it would be fine."
Oh, no! An actual argument that would have to be responded to! If this wasn't simply a chest-beating match but was a real discussion where we set aside our parochialisms (and I'm afraid, truly afraid, I'm just as guilty as everyone else), then you'd be interested in this fact as it means that your tactics may be flawed and may need to incorporate other outlooks.

After all, the "third wave", as WR continually reminds us, wishes to add gender thought to the economic, political and racial thought of the left too, and wants to argue that to confront these things gender analysis is needed. Again, apparently it's fine for feminists to make this argument but not fine, indeed not even possible and tolerable, for other leftists to make similarly plausible responses. The double-standards just keep piling up.

“13. that handing out some flyers and trying to be empathetic to women is enough to make you a feminist man and you have done your penance.”
If that was the extent of the people who were disagreeing with you's commitments, that'd be true. But, as you've conceded, not only is this the worst of ad hominem arguments because it's not just fallacious it's also grounded in ABSOLUTELY ZERO EVIDENCE since you do not personally know me or Kyle, it's also wrong in that numerous feminist authorities who have done as much or more work as you have disagree with you too, so it just can't be that you're perfect and an untouchable expert.

So many analogies spring to mind. Marxists think that any attempt to move past silly economism and structure-superstructure analysis is apologizing for capitalism. Anarchists think any attempt to move past just understanding the state and “power” is apologetics for those things. The most conservative of professors endlessly parrot their credentials as if that meant jack in determining their arguments.

I also like the implication of this: That what defines me as a feminist is not my positive activities, but my particular ideological commitment; indeed, as we've seen, a very selective feminist viewpoint, but if even if that was not the case, the implication is as fascist as I've seen.

“11. that if the so-called feminist men cite empirical ‘proof’ it is to be accepted as fact. But if feminist women cite proof it is biased and not accurate. And don’t forget number 5 above – we best not be presenting proof if we are talking about theories. “
Theories are made to account for empirical evidence. If our theories explain more of the facts better, it's a “slamdunk”.
I never ask for anyone to accept everything I said as fact; hell, I cited MULTIPLE CONTRADICTORY statistics in some posts to point up the difficulties of good sourcing and to add other voices. But I would like for someone, if they're actually talking to me and not some chauvinist straw man they wish to smack upside the head, to not just assume out of hand my facts must be wrong but find proof.
Even WR's “slamdunk” is highly illustrative: She didn't even know the text of the original article well enough for her to discover that I had made a parenthetical comment at the end of it.

“12. that so-called feminist men don’t actually have to read theories they can just spew back some other man’s interpretation thereof. “
Or a woman's, as you concede again and again. But that's interesting, because I've read numerous feminist theories, fairly radical ones, that I agree with wholeheartedly, yet another matter that has attracted zero attention. I'm also aware of other criticisms that I find insane: Say, the feminist critique of privacy rights. (I'll discuss this if there's any interest). It's also interesting in that, when you cited theories, I think a fair reading will show that people here (Graeme, Tiana, joeblogs, Big J Max, me, Kyle, etc.) attended to your every argument with substance.

“Frederic, your assumption that I was weak when I didn't answer was highly revealing. I was introducing topics I wanted to cover in my articles and ignored all the rest. “
Ah, you FINALLY answer this. Incredible. And your answer indicates that you have zero respect for the people you're talking to. Especially since you responded to arguments with criticism that my arguments, TAKEN IN CONTEXT, preempted fairly well, so even if you can be excused for just not caring about other feminists' opinions, you sure as heck can't be excused for horrendously abusive argumentation.

“When I introduced the Kama Sutra and the belief in the divine importance of sexuality,”
How funny, I also introduced the Kama Sutra as a defense of pornography. Apparently your blinders of ignorance are incredible. A fascinating career as a pseudo-feminist arguing the most reactionary positions of the mainstream awaits.

“The only patterns of sexuality that produced any interest was 1) the objectification inherent in the pieces and parts of women's body used in porn”
Objectification that is
a) an overwhelmingly economistic problem because it is impossible to sell sex if the very nature of selling, especially of alienated labor, is changed
b) not necessarily bad, just as the objectivization that women perform by reading romance novels or watching gay porn or fantasizing about hunky actors like Mel Gibson isn't necessarily bad
c) also inherent to, and in fact worse, in the treatment of males in porn

" 2) a defense of violent porn as mere "sex fantasy" with no effect on real sexual violence despite links to actual sexual predators telling how they used porn before"

And, as WR conceded over and over, these actual sexual predators had eyes and hearts too, but no one argued that having eyes caused their crimes. There would have to be a causative influence, but not only did WR never make such a claim, she also conceded that violent pornography and violent media in general has a cathartic effect.

"3) the defending of violence against women and sexual assault, like groping, like making women responsible for rape, like anger at naming men as the responsible parties, etc."

Of course. To say that someone could reduce their chances of being mugged by carrying less cash is contradictory with the idea that mugging should be dealt with as an independent social phenomenon and as an individual choice.

"The most interesting was the constant invocation that women are responsible for their own victimization because they don’t fight back (and blaming of feminists for making them “weak”)"

Again: To say one could defend themselves against someone's depredations does not ipso facto mean they are responsible for said depredations. This is unbelievably simple.

And doesn't your dismissive formulation beg the question? If feminists of a certain ilk (not feminists per se, but some feminists) construct a victimization dynamic that may generate fear, paranoia and an impression of weakness among women, isn't this something to confront, not dismiss?

As you say, 'very telling indeed'.

I'm also glad you're going to write about our positions. It'll be great when people get referred to us, see what we actually said (not your feverish delusion of what was said) and stop believing you. Maybe then you'll learn basic honesty.

“Greame: You were the only one who could admit when they were wrong. For that, a tip of the hat. I enjoyed your posts.”
Actually, WR, when I found out that the woman was acquitted by the grand jury, I said it before you did. And when others made arguments that I misunderstood, I corrected myself. Ask anybody who actually knows me: I can be fairly stubborn and argumentative, but I'm also highly easy to convince if my initial argument was just flatly non-responsive.
To convince me, WR, would require the respect that you admitted you don't have. If people admit they're wrong with your underwhelming responses (and this isn't to say that, looking back over things, there were some things I wished I had approached differently: the shoe case, while I'm not going to admit you had a “slamdunk”, developed in a way I would have preferred to not have and this was partially my fault), then I wouldn't credit that decision as one made rationally.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I think you're wrong actually.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, he is wrong.

12:02 AM  

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