A Voice for Male Students: Misquotation, Schmishquotation!
Posted by David Futrelle
Is there something about Men’s Rights Activists that renders them utterly incapable of admitting a mistake? The other day, I performed a bit of rudimentary factchecking on a collection of allegedly “misandrist” quotes assembled by Jonathan Taylor of A Voice for Male Students.
Among other things. I pointed out that the drastically truncated version of a Marilyn French quote he posted completely misrepresented the actual meaning of what she had said, making it appear that she was charging the majority of men with killing, or beating, or raping women and/or molesting their own daughters:
“As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women…he can sexually molest his daughters…THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE.”
– Dr. Marilyn French, The War Against Women, p. 182, her emphasis.
In fact, she had said something rather different, as I pointed out by quoting the original passage straight from her book:
It wasn’t clear to me if Taylor had been aware that he had drastically misrepresented French, as it appeared that he had simply cut and pasted the quote from another site without actually checking French’s book to see if it was accurate. So it appeared to be sloppiness on his part rather than deliberate deception.
Taylor has now responded to my post with a long and bizarre rant titled “Futrelle & Co. all in a tizzy as AVFMS exposes misandry in academia. AVFMS dissects their “counterarguments.”
He starts off by freely admitting that he misquoted French, but claiming that it doesn’t count as misrepresentation because it didn’t really change the meaning of the quote at all.
That’s right. Instead of acknowledging the misrepresentation, he’s doubling down — even though his explanation is in direct conflict with the evidence that I posted and that he reposts on his own site. He simply redefines reality until the misrepresentation mysteriously vanishes. Here’s his, er, argument:
I copied/pasted the quote from Antimisandry, although I had to find the source page for the book independently. I’ll admit: on this one I didn’t get the full quote and simply took Antimisandry’s reproduction of it. I am happy to amend it (which I have done in the original post).
David Futrelle, editor of the blog Manboobz, thinks this is a gamechanger, that it renders the meaning “completely different.” Not so fast.
He then pastes in my screenshot of the original quote, and my comments pointing out that the longer quote has a completely different meaning than the shorter one.
Then he tries to wave away his mistake with this ingenious bit of sleight-of-hand:
Actually Futrelle, according to Feminist ideology everything Marilyn French listed was a form of violence. Need I remind you what all constitutes “violence” according to Feminist ideology nowadays?
Pay no attention to my giant mistake behind the curtain! Look at THIS instead!
“THIS” being, in this case, a random feminist paper titled Intersecting Inequalities: A Review of Feminist Theories and Debates on Violence against Women and Poverty in Latin America, which suggests at once point that “[e]conomic violence against women occurs when they are denied access to or control over resources, or the right to work and earn income.”
Now, none of this has any relevance whatsoever to the question of whether or not Taylor has misquoted French — which he has — or indeed to what French’s statement actually means. There’s no evidence that French was in any way influenced by the paper Taylor quotes — which would have been a tad difficult, given that it was published 18 years after she wrote The War Against Women.
Apparently Taylor thinks that feminism is some sort of Borglike hive-mind that transcends time and space.
And he apparently thinks that when a famous feminist says that the vast majority of men have probably at least “treat[ed] women disrespectfully” in some way it is the same as if she had accused the vast majority of men of being murderers, rapists, woman-beaters and/or child abusers.
Taylor then takes issue with her references to men “beating down” and “subjugating” women, and indignantly insists that while
I know this may sound like heresy to Feminist and pro-Feminist ears, but the vast majority of men do not abuse women, let alone to an extent that they “subjugate” them.
Taylor has completely misunderstood the basic argument of French’s passage, which is that the majority of men do not have to physically abuse women in order to gain a certain advantage from the fact that other men do. You may disagree with that, but, again, she is not saying that the vast majority of men abuse women; quite the opposite.
Taylor then asserts that the really important thing is that what she’s saying still counts as “misandry.”
So apparently if someone is an evil misandrist, in Taylor’s eyes, you can misquote them all you want, and it doesn’t really matter, because … MISANDRY
Taylor continues on with his fulminations for some time after this, focusing mainly on “rebutting” comments from Man Boobz commenters. He posts an appalling photo of a crowd of white men posing proudly in front of several black men they have lynched, with the caption: “The powerlessness of women: point a finger and kill someone.”
I honestly don’t have the energy or the patience to deal with any more of his sophistry today. I’m not even going to read the whole thing. You can have a go at it if you want, dear readers. Let me know if there’s anything else in it that I need to address.
My plan today, after the nastiness in the post yesterday, was to post a bunch of pictures of my kitties. So, dammit, that’s what I’m going to do. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll put them up in another post.
About David FutrelleI run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.
Posted on November 5, 2013, in a voice for men, antifeminism, domestic violence, doubling down, drama, gaslighting, gross incompetence, lying liars, misandry, misogyny, MRA, straw feminists, that's completely wrong and tagged a voice for men, anti-feminism, antifeminism, disinformation, marilyn french, misandry, misogyny, MRA. Bookmark the permalink. 157 Comments.