>By now you have probably heard about the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers who threw himself off the George Washington bridge after his roommate broadcast live video of him having sex with another man on the Internet. It’s a terribly sad story in itself, and because, as L.M. Fenton points out on Salon’s Broadsheet blog, the suicide rate among LGBT youths is such an “an enormous, devastating problem.” In the past month four other gay teens have also killed themselves, two of them only 13 years old.
None of these other deaths caught the attention of Pierce Harlan, a prominent Men’s Rights blogger. But today on his False Rape Society blog, Harlan decided to write about Clementi — apparently because the case gave him the perfect excuse to rail against … feminists.
Why? Because the male roommate who broadcast the streaming video, and his female accomplice, weren’t, er, white. And one of them isn’t a man. “Gay tormentors who drove young man to suicide don’t fit the stereotype, do they?” the headline asks.
It’s a perplexing headline for a perplexing article. Neither of the accused are gay; I will charitably assume Harlan called them “Gay tormenters” because their actions caused harm to a gay man, not because Harlan has somehow convinced himself that they are themselves gay. Or has he? After briefly lamenting the tragedy, Harlan gets to his real agenda:
In the three remaining paragraphs Harlan manages to work in three more references to “white heterosexual males,” and one to “white male jocks,” sexual orientation unspecified. Huh? Neither of the accused are “white heterosexual males,” per se, but they’re both heterosexual, and Dharun Ravi, the one who allegedly set up the camera, put the video feed on the internet, and told other people to come and watch, is definitely male. But no matter. Harlan moves on to his main point:
Because feminists only discuss crimes when the perps are white men? Have you ever heard of OJ? And, actually, the case is being discussed widely by feminists online, on, among other places, explicitly feminist blogs like Feministing and Shakesville, on Salon’s Broadsheet blog and the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and in Reddit’s TwoXChromosomes subreddit, which is where I first heard about it. It’s also being discussed on numerous feminist-friendly LGBT blogs. Given that the victim in this case was male, wouldn’t it make sense that the case get some attention from MRAs? I haven’t seen it discussed on any Men’s Rights blogs other than Harlan’s. Apparently MRAs don’t care much about gay men, unless their deaths can be used to score a cheap political point.
Just a note: If your comments don’t appear immediately, it’s not because I have banned them. I haven’t banned any comments. It’s just Blogger’s oversensitive spam filter at work. I take the comments out of the spam filter as soon as I see them in it. If that takes a while, it’s because I’m not at my computer 24/7.
EDIT 10/1/10: I have been banning some idiot spam posts. I’m not banning anyone else, so if you’re not writing endless posts in which the word “poopy” is used more than any other word, you’re safe from the banhammer.
EDIT 10/5/10: I’ve deleted one non-spam comment. It was vile and hateful. Anything else that bad will be deleted as well.
There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can’t string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.
Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2.
As you may have already gathered, Elam’s flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they’re essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.
In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They’re both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn’t a Grand Kleagle. It’s a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.
So why am I picking on Elam’s writing style? Shouldn’t I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can’t separate the two. Elam’s style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.
Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain “staleness of imagery” and a “lack of precision.” His analysis fits Elam’s essays to a T:
And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer “a defence of the indefensible,” whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.
With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He’s not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn’t gussied them up with ponderously “fancy” prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam’s thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn’t recognize the word “misandry”:
Reduced to its essence, though, Elam’s claim here is simply absurd: Because “misandry” isn’t a common enough term to include in his computer’s dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.
Really, Paul? We’re “limited to talking around the subject?” I really haven’t noticed much of that. The term “man-hating” gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “feminazi.”
In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you’ve noticed it.
Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s true to your nature. You’re not a grand philosopher; you’re not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you’re a dick. So write like one.
Porky’s Place, meanwhile, has a special page devoted to “Women Behaving Badly,” (WBB) a category capacious enough not only to include stories about female perps — most recently, a woman who allegedly managed to taser both her brother and herself — but snide attacks on Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian for offending in various ways Porky’s apparently quite delicate sensibilities.
The Men’s Rights subreddit, on Reddit.com, meanwhile, so routinely features WBB posts that the moderator has written up a little FAQ in order to try to rebut those who regularly point out, quite rightly, that random stories about random women committing random crimes don’t really have anything to do with men’s rights. Not so, says the moderator:
What follows is a rambling collection of individual news items and dubious statistics that really prove nothing more than that the FAQ’s author has his own set of prejudices he’s trying to justify.
But the entire premise of his FAQ is a bit loopy. I haven’t met many people, male or female, who actually think that women are “more fragile, gentle, loving, caring, honest, and … morally superior to men.” I have met lots of people who think men, on average, are more violent than women, on average. They believe that because it’s true. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by men.
Homicide? Men are responsible for almost ten times as many murders as women, according to figures from the Department of Justice. They are also killed more often than women, but almost always by other men. What about those evil wives and girlfriends who are killing men in their sleep? An MRA boogey-woman. As the DOJ notes, only “about 3% of male murder victims were killed by an intimate.”
How about the particularly awful crime of child murder? Looking at all children under the age of five who were murdered from 1976-2005, we discover that 54% were killed by fathers or male acquaintances, and 29% by mothers. (Most of the rest were also killed by men.)
Rape? Again according to DOJ figures, nearly 98% of rapists and attempted rapists are men. MRAs suggest that rape by women is vastly underreported, which is no doubt true, but rapes of women by men are also vastly underreported as well; we don’t really know by how much, in either case. Men make up 10% of all rape victims, true, but their rapists are almost always other men. No matter how you crunch the numbers, no matter how you spin the results, the overwhelming majority of rapists are male.
Domestic violence? It’s a little more complicated — and I will deal with it in more detail in a future post — but, again, the vast majority of serious abusers are men. “Women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be injured in acts of intimate violence than are men,” notes one researcher. “Husbands have higher rates of the most dangerous and injurious forms of violence, their violent acts are repeated more often, they are less likely to fear for their own safety, and women are financially and socially locked into marriage to a much greater extent than men.”
All this is not to say that women aren’t capable of horrific crimes. Of course they are. But the notion that men commit far more violent crimes than women isn’t a prejudice, it’s a fact. That, and not some sentimental notion that women are as pure as the driven snow, is the reason that most crime stories in the papers have men in the starring role as villains.
The effect of all this selective reporting on the part of MRA sites, which trumpet every grisly story of women-gone-bad and completely ignore the much larger number of stories about evil men, is to further an atmosphere of hysterical lady-phobia amongst their readers. It’s no wonder that so many MRAs have started talking about “marriage strikes” and “Men Going Their Own Way.”
And so, as a kind of corrective to all of these Women Behaving Badly posts, I am launching a new feature, called Men Behaving Worse.
This week, CANNIBALS, a whole rogues gallery of them. Let’s meet them all, shall we:
There’s an interesting post by Joanne McNeil on the Tomorrow Museum blog, suggesting that a lot of stuff that looks like sexism could simply be an example of good old-fashioned stupidity. Some of her examples:
“This journalist has read so few books, he listed the top 25 novels of the decade and there are no women on it.” …
“This conference organizer is so stupid, he couldn’t find a woman to speak for any of the seven days of panels.” …
“The CEO is such an airhead, he held the office holiday party at a strip club.”
As her triumphant final example, she cites the glass staircases in the Apple stores. “A unique and eye-catching feature of Apple’s high-profile stores,” notes ifoAppleStore.com, the staircases “are engineering and architectural marvels, and made possibly by recent advances in glass technology that allows its use in more demanding applications.”
There’s just one little problem with these postmodern wonders: If a women walks up one of them wearing a skirt, people can, like, totally see her underpants. McNeil again:
Now, if I were commissioning the interior of any kind of store and someone brought me blueprints including glass staircases, I’d tell him to take a hike. I wouldn’t give him a second shot. If he’s not intuitive enough to grasp that women in skirts will be uncomfortable walking upstairs, clouded glass or not, then what other errors has he made in his design?
But it turns out that she’s overlooked something as well — the men. Specifically, the men in kilts.
Just imagine. You show up at the opening of a new Apple store, dressed festively in a nice demure kilt and matching tam o’shanter, happily playing a lively tune on your bagpipe, and then you see it: THE DREADED GLASS STAIRS!
You freeze. If you walk up said stairs, everyone will be able to see your hairy, dangling balls! That’s a problem.
Oh, wait, did I say problem? I meant, opportunity.
>I’ve been watching the Men’s Rights movement, such as it is, for some time, with a mixture of amusement, horror and disgust. It’s a movement that’s bad for everyone — for men, for women, for children, and probably even for my cat, though I haven’t yet quite worked out how. The best thing you can say about the Men’s Rights Movement is that it doesn’t, and hopefully never will, have anything near the impact on the world that feminism has had over the years. And this blog, in its own little way, hopes to help keep that way.
So in this blog I hope to take on the assorted myths promulgated by the Men’s Rights Movement, to dismantle their rickety logic and their dubious statistics. I’ll round up assorted examples of misogyny, mendacity and just plain stupidity from MRA’s online and off. And I’ll highlight some of the best anti-MRA arguments I can find.
As for the boobz in the title, I do not refer to those rounded lumps of flesh and fat on the chests of women and some men. I refer to the classic definition of boob as “a stupid or foolish person; a dolt.” Too many MRA’s, alas, fit this definition to a T.
Oh, and the Z on the end of “boobz?” Someone else already took the “manboobs” URL. So I improvised. I’m crafty.