Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yes, All Women

I have sat thinking about this for a while now, but I can't remain on the sideline any longer. There are some who may see this as propaganda, but frankly, I've seen too much for it to be debatable. I am angry.

My normally fairly anti-feminist online buddy, River, just had his eyes opened regarding the recent Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen. He thought to himself, surely that's an exaggeration. Unfortunately, it's not; as he shares in the initial results of his poll.

Another Opportunity for Discussion

Elliot Rodger's particular brand of misogyny was brought on by deeper disturbances in his psyche. I hypothesize, based on what I have read, that the man was sociopathic, much like Eris Harris, one of the Columbine killers, superficially blaming others for rejection and bullying; when, in fact, they had only contempt for those around them. I also posit that perhaps Rodger didn't have "game" precisely because the women he approached romantically picked up on his explosive potential. But Rodger was encouraged by others (if unintentionally) who hold that women are prizes to be won, "targets," rather than individuals deserving of respect. Perhaps not all men are predators, but enough are that all women have encountered at least one, usually more.

That's not to say we should all be color/gender-blind robots. We all have preferences and orientations. Hell, I am about as interested in sex as it is possible to be, and fully aware of those around me that I find attractive. But just as homosexuals are generally smart enough not to proposition their hetero associates, heterosexuals need to be smart enough to know this: not everyone you are attracted to is attracted to you. And the ways they dress—or the activities they engage in—are no indication otherwise. Even if someone is attracted to you, for any number of reasons, that person may not want to have sex with you, nor welcome your sexual advances.

Sexism Stew

John Scalzi wrote a piece in April that came to my attention as a result of the hashtag, and I've been wading through the commentary. While his four levels of discrimination aren't perfect, I feel they are an excellent jumping-off point. I think the most instructive is the first level, Ambient. It's also the most contentious, given that Mr. Scalzi (accurately, IMHO) describes the cultural norms and memes (in the original sense as coined by Richard Dawkins) we all find ourselves stewing in. Since the higher levels of discrimination are fairly intentional, progressively fewer people engage in them. But recognizing our own complicity in ambient discrimination can be painful, and many resist the concept.

I have made mistakes of the sort Scalzi mentions myself. I am truly sorry to whomever I may have offended in this regard here or elsewhere online. Once, I was the center of a sexism controversy right here on this blog. It's still hard to see whether my words and attitude based on the cultural norms brought up in the commentary on that post were OK, or should be changed.

There are folks telling the people who want a more diverse set of heroes in Warlords of Draenor to go somewhere else if they don't like the "artistic choices" the guys at Blizzard are taking. While I agree that the devs are free to take the game whatever direction they want, the players are certainly free to call them out on perpetuating whatever social injustices in the game. Because then, when the expansion launches, they cannot claim ignorance on the issue. But some guys are tired of hearing about it.

How many times have I perpetuated some ambient discrimination? Or worse, one of the other more serious levels? The times I can think of, I deeply regret. But as I noted yesterday in sharing River's other post, sometimes we don't get to say I'm sorry. All we can do is try harder to be conscious of the things we do and say that make life more difficult for others.

We need to step up when we see problems, especially active harassment and discrimination. And we need to strive to reduce and even eliminate discrimination where it is within our power to do so, and exert influence if it is not. Because discrimination hurts all of us, even if we happen to be part of a privileged group.
That sexism is an injustice all women should be enough for us to act to change it. But the truth is sexism affects all of us. Let me appeal to the selfish men who see no need to act outside their own self-interest. Did your mother work? If you're in a hetero relationship; does your wife or girlfriend work? If so, your household was/is poorer than you would be if they were paid a fair, equal wage. If they were promoted fairly rather than passed over in favor of some man. Every male human who harasses or assaults a female human makes it harder for the rest of us to form relationships of trust with them. We're seen as a potential danger, regardless of whether we pose an actual threat. Again, none of that matters nearly as much as the fact that we should treat people with respect, regardless of their gender, orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.

More broadly speaking, prejudices and discrimination of any kind affect everyone, bringing down those on the outside and those on the inside. How many great minds have been lost to history because of the actions of oppressive regimes? How many people are unable to reach their full potential or contribute more fully to the progress of humankind—or provide for their families—because they are not allowed to serve in positions of research, or management, or government, because of the prejudices of others?

Rowan Smash!

When I was a kid, I was the victim of bullying on many occasions. Eventually, I grew large enough to defend myself, and defend myself I did. Currently, I am over six feet tall and within spitting distance of three hundred pounds. While not as fit as some of my fellow gamers and bloggers, I can assure you there is plenty of muscle under this chub.
Lilik Yanuar Pribadi
As Scooter can attest, I have two characteristics that arise from my experiences as a child: an overactive sense of justice, and a tendency to become very angry when I perceive an injustice is being perpetrated. I like to think I am normally reasonably cuddly. But I am also a big, scary bear who does not suffer bullies of any stripe. Perhaps, like Stubborn, this has caused me trouble in the past. It has definitely caused trouble for others. I may have lost friends as result, but I have gained far more.

I am probably preaching to the choir. Most of the people who follow this blog probably are not the sort of people that would sexually harass someone at a convention, for instance. We may never meet in person. But if we do meet, and it's because I saw you acting the fool with some poor cosplayer or geek girl—or whoever doesn't fit your perception of what a gamer should be—I can assure you, you won't like me when I am angry.
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  1. What's the point of being over six feet and almost 300 pounds when a skinny little fuck like Elliot Rodgers can kill six people and injure many more with handguns? You reckon you can take on someone with a handgun with just an overactive sense of justice? Or perhaps you are implying that handguns aside, you will beat up misogynists and the like in the cause of justice and equality? Why else would you bring up your size and physique, if not to emphasise how you can dominate others physically?

    I believe in the same cause as you do, but once you start threatening violence, implicitly or otherwise, by virtue of your physical stature, then you start skirting into the territory of the people who batter their wives and beat up their children. Not saying you are one of those people, but the methodology is the same. "I am stronger physically and therefore I will impose my world view upon you."

    In my former line of work I was struck by how often my police colleagues began to resemble the people that we were pursuing. It's not uncommon for task force members to become as hardened and calloused as the crims and the perps, and the justification for any bad behaviour on our part was that we were on the side of the angels.

    I found your post really interesting, as well as the links you included. You lost me when you started threatening to Hulk up, however, because i) given your audience all you're succeeding in doing is indulging in a bit of chest-puffing; and ii) the implied threat of physical violence can lead to some dark, dark places, no matter how righteous it feels.

    1. You are entirely correct. As a former soldier, and being aware of current events, I am perfectly aware that muscles do little to stop bullets. However, you're conflating two situations, one involving a madman with a handgun, and another involving the inappropriate behavior of a punk at a night club or convention.

      I live close to Fort Hood, Texas, where in recent years not one, but two different men decided that using a gun against their fellow soldiers was the "right thing to do." Thankfully, both were stopped by police officers willing to step into harm's way with more than muscles. It's sad that so many people were injured or killed before the gunmen were stopped.

      Thank you for your comments and your service.

  2. Hey mate,

    I have to apologize for my initial post. After reading it today I realised how much I insulted you and it was totally uncalled for, especially when all you were doing was just expressing your indignation and calling for increased advocacy. I hate being preached to, and to find myself doing exactly the same thing fills me with chagrin. You're right - I did conflate the two situations and misrepresented your argument. I'm an arsehole. Sorry.

    Furthermore, I'm not a cop so you don't have to hold back your opinion of what I said. I belong to that despised and maligned profession known as lawyers, or solicitors, as they are called in my native Australia. Before I was a criminal solicitor, however, I worked as an analyst in my state's crime commission, hence my comment about working with police officers. Apologies for misleading, but now at least you can give me both barrels (pun intended) without holding back.

    I think the biggest enemy of feminism is systemic rot. Random dipshits aren't the problem - if you cut them out of positions of power they are more or less neutralised, and they can be dealt with by existing state apparatus. Systemic rot, on the other hand, where misogyny is built into the system, is a more pervasive problem, because it creates misogynists. Dismantling these systems are no easy task either, because they’ll fight back. Back in the days when I was in the task force the c-word was thrown around an awful lot, and it became part of my vocabulary for a good many years. The addition of female detectives ameliorated the situation somewhat, but while I ultimately believe that the NSW police force will eventually become a place where gender becomes a non-issue, it still has quite a ways to go.

    Apologies again for my initial post.

    1. Oh man, a slimy lawyer! :-P

      I agree. It is a ultimately a systemic problem we are trying to combat, and change happens very slowly. Any current progressive policies will be seen by future eyes as barbaric. But we do what we must to advocate the treatment of all people as individuals not as categories.

      I did imply a threat of violence though, didn't I? I was angry after reading a lot of back and forth over semantics and half defenses of Rodger's statements. Which frankly, are like defending the Unabomber or any other sick murderer who can write. But I was honestly thinking more like stepping in the moment to stop misogyny, not beating someone up. Considering how few bars I have been in in my life, you might be surprised how many fights I've prevented just by puffing up menacingly. But as I said, I am mostly a cheerful guy.