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5 Arguments Least Likely To Convince A Young Woman That A Voice for Men Isn’t a Misogynistic Hate Site

Hi, girls! Dean Esmay reaches out to the youth of America

Hey ladies! Dean Esmay reaches out to the young women of America

Not that long ago, an 18-year-old student named Carly, appalled by the rampant misogyny on display at A Voice for Men, sent a critical but thoughtful email to a number of the men associated with the site challenging them to rise above their hatred of women.

AVFM “Managing Editor” Dean Esmay decided to take her email as an opportunity to reach out to all the Carlys out there in the world in an attempt to win them over to AVFM’s peculiar brand of “human rights activism,” penning what he called an

open letter … not just to you, but to any young woman who has an open mind and is willing to be challenged on her prejudices.

Naturally, given that Men’s Rights Activists are some of the most verbose douchebags in history, it was long as hell — some 3000 words. But Esmay’s diplomatically worded attempt at outreach didn’t go quite as well as he might have hoped. Carly responded with a note saying that his open letter had merely

reinforced everything I believe. It seems we are at a stalemate, you will never agree with me, and I will never agree with you.

So where might poor Dean Esmay might have gone wrong in his attempt to win Carly’s heart and mind?

Let’s start here, with 5 Arguments Least Likely To Convince A Young Woman That A Voice for Men Isn’t a Woman-Hating Piece of Shit Hate Site, in the form of direct quotes from The Esmay himself. Since Esmay is so long-winded, I’ve highlighted some of my favorite bits in bold.

1)“[Y]ou’re 18, and so, not to put too fine a point on it, you are still a young skull full of mush.

2)[M]en have few to no voices speaking about issues that are specific to men, or defending men as a group, in this society. Until very recently in history men never have had such a voice. Because pretty much all civilizations for the last few thousand years have prioritized the needs and desires of women over those of men. For hundreds, even thousands, of years.

3)If you believe men have silenced women for thousands of years … you believe something that just not true.Furthermore, if you believe that, what you have to believe is that Asian men have been oppressing Asian women for thousands of years, black men have been oppressing black women for thousands of years, European men, Australasian men, and so on, have all been oppressing their women for thousands of years. And those weak women could do nothing about it. So what you believe here isn’t just wrong, it’s racist.

4)For most of history, being female was a privilege. It carried certain special rights that only applied to women, and special responsibilities that only applied to women, and through most of history, being male was a burden, a burden which carried certain rights that only applied to men, and those rights were there mostly so they could discharge their duties to women properly.”

5) “[Y]ou may occasionally see angry remarks or articles on this site. What I would hope you would do with that, when you do see it, is contemplate that there is a difference between righteous anger at real injustice, and what you seem to have misinterpreted as hate.

The funniest thing about Esmay’s “open letter” is that this bizarre crackpottery, easily seen through by anyone with any knowledge of history or sociology or, hell, the real world,  is his attempt to sound as reasonable as possible. He’s reined in the wild conspiratorial ranting he often indulges in when arguing with ideological foes; he’s avoided the misogynistic slurs (cunt, bitch, whore) favored by other AVFMers like Paul Elam and Diana Davison. And this is the best he can manage.

The Men’s “Human Rights” Movement isn’t ready for its close-up. And I suspect that it never will be.

EDITED TO ADD: A commenter has pointed out another quote I should have included as well. So here is BONUS EXTRA LEAST CONVINCING DEAN ESMAY ARGUMENT NUMBER SIX:

6) “The truth is, the most privileged class of people in the whole wide world are young women living in places like the US, UK, Canada, etc.–and if you want to be treated like an equal, you should not flinch or cry like a little girl if someone tells you that.

How dare you accuse us of sexism, you spoiled little girl!

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Posted on February 22, 2014, in a voice for men, citation needed, Dean Esmay, evil women, grandiosity, gynocracy, imaginary backwards land, imaginary oppression, mansplaining, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, racism, that's completely wrong, the c-word, the sound of his own voice, whaaaaa? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 313 Comments.

  1. @LBT I wanna make sure I’m understanding. Are you saying that transmen are using power over/ privilege over transwomen? I’m a n00b in this area.

    Dworkin I find easy to understand because well, I love her writing style. It’s in your face. I also think she gives great insight to rape victims since she was one herself I believe. I think her understanding of women’s bodies and the placement of female bodies in our culture is so important.

  2. grumpycatisagirl

    And I LOVE the shocked kitty, omg.

  3. RE: cassandrakitty

    No worries. Yeah, gender studies in particular seems to bring down the Jargon Hammer. I don’t know WHY people seem to be so devoted to making this shit as confusing as possible, but I really wish they’d knock it off. It’s confusing enough already.

    Bell Hooks, on the other hand, I adore because she’s so readable.

    medievalpoc actually has some really interesting and scathing things to say on the subject.

  4. LBT – how’s this for a better description of Esmay and all the MRAs: willful stupidity with malice aforethought. Emphasis on the malice.

  5. grumpycat – I love that shocked kitty too, though zie looks like zie started to yawn and forgot to finish it! :D

  6. @ LBT

    Yeah, Butler is easier to read than Daly, but she still has a serious case of “you’re phrasing it that way just to show off about how clever you are, aren’t you?”. I really wish people would stop doing that.

  7. RE: House Mouse Queen (if you’re married, do I get to call you a House Mouse Spouse?)

    Are you saying that transmen are using power over/ privilege over transwomen? I’m a n00b in this area.

    Often times… yes. There’s this really weird binary when it comes to how trans guys are viewed, and lately it seems more in vogue that we’re some magical unicorn hybrid boy, all the masculinity but none of the privilege, which is kinda hilariously untrue. We’re also sometimes seen as innately more radical than trans women, which seeing history is also laughably false.

    Basically, there are some really gross politics and devaluing of women and femininity involved.

  8. RE: Kittehs

    Perfect!

    RE: Cassandrakitty

    Yeah, Butler is easier to read than Daly, but she still has a serious case of “you’re phrasing it that way just to show off about how clever you are, aren’t you?”

    Don’t get me wrong, I still read some of those awful jargony scholarly articles sometimes. I see it as important to my continued existence to keep a finger on the pulse of theory regarding multi and shit, just so I know what to argue and how to back it up if I end up on the wrong side of the mental health industry.

    The thing is, though, it takes EFFORT. My brain is a wheezy sick brain with a very tight energy budget, and I just don’t want to spend energy reading shit that SHOULD be accessible to everyone. How can you have a grassroots movement if it doesn’t speak to people on the ground? Why should I listen to someone who seems more interested in stroking the egos of academics than giving me any useful down-to-earth advice?

    (This is also quite relevant to my mental health shit, since psychology lit is also rife with this shit.)

  9. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to phrase this, but basically writing that’s deliberately difficult to read feels very exclusionary to me. As in, who does this person think they’re writing for? It’s obvious that they’re not intending their ideas to be consumed and interacted with by a general audience, or by anyone without a university education, because if that was their intention they’d write differently. Jargon can be hard to avoid because sometimes there really is no non-jargony alternative without writing an entire paragraph to replace a single term, but with some writers it feels like that’s not what’s going on, it’s more that they have no intention of addressing anyone who’s not part of a very narrow and privileged slice of the population.

  10. I think you phrased it very clearly. That’s pretty much the feeling I get with a lot of this stuff. I’ve read books on historical finance that were clearer and had more appeal …

  11. basically writing that’s deliberately difficult to read feels very exclusionary to me

    It’s meant to. (I mean, I know you know that, I’m just amplifyin’.)

  12. Putting aside her terrible writing, Judith Butler’s work really isn’t worth reading for the most part. Her theory of gender performativity has always been really off the mark in my view. There are far better post-structuralists than Butler.

  13. It was quite the mindfuck going from the classes in which we were discussing Daly to lectures about socialism directly afterwards. I started feeling like the universe must have a sense of humor.

  14. It’s one of the reasons I SO appreciate the really good writers of history-meant-for-somewhat-popular-consumption. Like Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. It’s HARD to write history that’s accessible without really dumbing things down, and while there were places in that book where she could have used a better copy editor, she mostly succeeded.

    I tried my hand at it myself when working on my thesis (which is frankly no great piece of work), and so I have nothing but admiration at people who can write clearly and accessibly about complicated topics.

  15. I try to be clear and accessible when I do my comics, precisely because of crap like this. And one of my research sources was a thesis on Latino shadow medicine of Milwaukee (don’t ask) and it was incredibly readable, despite having chunks of Spanish, which I don’t speak! It was gloriously refreshing to read something that was so… enjoyable! Usually it feels like such a slog.

  16. LBT, I don’t think you are fully capable of apprehending the discursive ramifications of your post-modern dialectical analysis of the political power-knowledge technology of the bodies within an economy of power relations.

  17. Yeah, gender studies in particular seems to bring down the Jargon Hammer. I don’t know WHY people seem to be so devoted to making this shit as confusing as possible, but I really wish they’d knock it off. It’s confusing enough already.

    As someone who has done a lot of reading and produced some papers in that field, I will say that there is an argument about difficulty and theory that says we need to be careful about too much smoothing out of challenging ideas. I know I read an essay which made the argument really well, but I’m not recalling which one at the moment. The argument boils down to the fact that some things can’t be simplified without doing some amount of ‘violence’ to them and that they are worth struggling with just as, for example, climbing a hill is difficult but the view from the top is worth it.

    Of course there is such a thing as taking it too far. The key is not to make things easier than they should be but not to make things difficult for the sake of it. It’s why I have patience and a willingness to work with Foucault, Butler, Deleuze and some others, but no patience whatsoever with Spivak.

  18. RE: Ally

    LBT, I don’t think you are fully capable of apprehending the discursive ramifications of your post-modern dialectical analysis of the political power-knowledge technology of the bodies within an economy of power relations.

    You are a cruel, cruel woman, you know that?

    RE: gillyrosebee

    As someone who has done a lot of reading and produced some papers in that field, I will say that there is an argument about difficulty and theory that says we need to be careful about too much smoothing out of challenging ideas.

    If that’s the case, then why are these ideas apparently so challenging you require a college education to understand them, when I’ve been able to have these ideas explained to me in everyday language by other people who experience it? I understand that sometimes jargon is unavoidable (good luck explaining phonetics without IPA) but I find the lack of critical analysis of the use of it really irritating, and tends to take these topics, which are SUPPOSED to help the vulnerable, and turn them into something only people at the top can understand.

  19. …why are these ideas apparently so challenging you require a college education to understand them, when I’ve been able to have these ideas explained to me in everyday language by other people…

    Well, please note that I wrote nothing about education. Educated =/= perceptive or thoughtful. Not necessarily, anyway. I’ve known some spectacularly dense people with supposedly first rate educations. I’m also pretty certain that while the ability to deal with complex ideas is within reach of any reasonably thoughtful person, many people have been completely ‘educated’ out of their ability to do so.

    And I didn’t really say anything about ideas not being explicable either, but there is a difference between explaining something so that you can get the gist of it and doing the work of grappling with the consequences and implications of an idea, wrestling with its meaning, its history and it’s role in contemporary thought. Some of that has to do with the use of terminology, yes (though jargon is always IMHO indicative of a failure to communicate) but mostly it has to do with being willing to move slowly and carefully with an idea and try to think about it with precision.

    But I stand by the contention that there are ideas which are inherently complex, and are worth struggling with, and that an attempt to simplify them too much will do damage to our ability to think about them clearly and use them effectively.

  20. @LBT
    I only recently became a house mouse queen. I met a house mouse in my apt. and decided to get close to her and take my crown! :). I eventually had her coming to me like a dog when I called her and feeding her from my hand. Her name was Little Girl. She had a boyfriend, this beautiful big silver-grey buck (Greybeard) who visited too. There were a few more too. I had ‘Biter’ who was a large female who was so nervous when I fed her that she’d accidentally bite hard (not break my skin tho) and then there was my beloved Peanut. A young male who trusted me the most.

    I don’t kill house mice. I care for them. They’re trying to survive the winter. House mice, contrary to popular opinion, do not carry all kinds of diseases. They are just a wild version of mice you get in a pet store. They are very social and Little Girl would sit next to me or try to climb closer to me while I was typing on the computer.

    I gave her part of my dinner every night. I would make late night omelettes and she LOVED warm egg with a bit of cheese. She would give me an appreciative low squeak and run off with it, hopping.

    If you want to read about them I keep a blog diary of their antics. http://housemousequeen.wordpress.com

    Thanks for the warm welcome. It’s good to come back here.

  21. @David Futrelle

    Thank you for your understanding and insight. I saw your comments in regards what I said about Dean and the hateful reaction to some of the users around here towards me.

    Though I hesitated to come back here to see the follow-up I would get, yet I wanted to see what you had to say about it all — if anything. I’m glad you see things as they are, not as others want to see it.

    I won’t comment to those 3 users anymore. It’s obvious to me that they want to take much of what I say and twist it to suit their narrative. Now they’re labelling me as some kind of self-righteous feminist who is trying to help everyone. Yet everyone who knows me knows that’s not the case. There are those I just criticize because I know they’re beyond repair or just enjoy their misogyny too much.

    Though I’m glad you allow the community here to be themselves, with fewer restrictions than other sites. Yet I was surprised that my ‘cat’ joke got the negative attention that it did. Looking back on it, I wonder now if such users were more offended by the possibility that I was some MRA troll, rather than what I said. Having read what others said and hearing how you had to ban repeated offenders, I sometimes forget how sites such as this often get infiltrated by anti-fem/anti-women cockroaches. And so people can be sensitive about such things, quick to judge. But that wasn’t the first time I commented here. I thought the community here knew me well enough, understood my sense of humor, that they wouldn’t take what I said out of context. Yet as it turned out, they did.

    But that’s all I’ll say about that. I know you want to bury this, but I just had to clear up some things. I won’t bring this up again.

    (Also, you may notice my email address here is different. It’s because I lost the password/security info, hence created this new one just recently).

  22. @House Mouse Queen

    Yes, Sael. This is me, Felisha1717 (from youtube). I would’ve responded to you on my YT channel to confirm that, but google closed out my Inbox. It’s part of the punishment for not integrating to their g+, lol.

    Though I’ll leave confirmation on my YT channel homepage as proof :)

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Felisha1717/feed?filter=2

  23. gillyrosebee – I agree with LBT’s comments here. Why should complex ideas require being described in impenetrable jargon? That does exclude people who haven’t had a university education in that field. Nothing to do with the intelligence of the reader, either, any more than someone is less intelligent if they’ve never learned a foreign language. It’s one thing if it’s a textbook only aimed at that small academic group, but if the writer has the slightest notion of talking to a wider audience – like LBT said, the ones affected by these issues – then they have an obligation to actually communicate.

  24. cassandrakitty

    Well, to be fair, some books actually aren’t aimed at anyone outside academia. It’s when a. they are aimed a more general audience and they’re still jargon fests or b. there really is a more straightforward way to say the things that are being said and the person has chosen not to do things that way that I get irritable.

  25. Yeah, that was my point, cassandra. Fine if academia’s their audience, but anything more general – not.

  26. I hesitated to post this, but it just further goes to show how deranged Dean is getting. I hope he has a good reason to mock Naomi Wolf like this. At the moment, I can’t think of any. Though I figure Dean did this to uplift Karen for making a fool of herself during the interview.

  27. Naomi Wolf is more of a conspiracy theorist than a feminist these days, but, frankly, having read the transcript of her encounter with GWW, every single one of her reactions there was perfectly justified. Those are just the reactions of a person living in the real world when confronted by someone like GWW babbling reactionary nonsense. Having never encountered her before, it just took Wolf a little while to realize how completely delusional GWW really is. .

  28. No! The MRA two-period ellipses!

  29. @David. Is the transcript online?

  30. Crap, I don’t remember where it was. I THINK it was in the againstmensrights subreddit.

  31. It makes me sad that Naomi Wolfe’s work has gone downhill lately. It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Beauty Myth changed my life. It’s what got me to (mostly) get over my EDs.

  32. Well I don’t know what Naomi is doing to suspect conspiracy theorists. She has mention how America is turning into a police state, and given her experience protesting they do seem legit. Paranoia has gripped our gov since 911 and it seems it’s more their problem than it is a civilian issue.

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