How some feminist shaming tactics discredit feminist theory

Note: This article is also available in Portuguese.
I recently got an idea remembering an upload of an interview I recently put up and something I said in part of it–that some of the shaming tactics that feminists use actually discredit their theories and their ideology. So, without further ado, let us tackle the first one:
According to feminists, our society has a big problem with systemic misogyny. In fact, all societies are bogged down in pervasive social and institutional misogyny. In patriarchal societies, this misogyny is not only normalized, it is often invisible to non-feminist plebes like me, because we’re so used to it, we just don’t see it. We’ve internalized the idea that it’s okay to hate women.
Yet, for decades, perhaps longer, one of the most reliable shaming tactics feminists and other women’s advocates have used to bully or silence men (and some women), is the accusation of misogyny. Say something a feminist doesn’t like? You’ll get called a misogynist. Criticize feminism’s theories or actions? Misogynist. Disagree with feminism’s analysis of a problem, or object to their proposed solution? You filthy misogynist. You’re only saying that because you hate women. Even if you’re a woman, you don’t get let off the hook–nope, you suffer from internalized misogyny, dontcha know? And oddly enough, up until not that long ago, this shaming tactic was really effective–especially against men.
It’s only been since Jezebel-style feminists started seriously overusing this shaming tactic that regular folk began to develop a resistance to it. Some men are starting to NOT shut up the moment a feminist pulls the “M” card. Granted, most of these shame-resistant men are speaking with a layer of protection between the accusation and their everyday lives–in the relative anonymity of the internet. We’re not at the point yet where dropping the misogyny bomb on a man can’t seriously damage his life, his career or his social standing. But we’re getting there.
But it would behoove us to consider how it is even possible that an accusation of misogyny wields any power at all in a culture where misogyny is supposedly normalized and pervasive. Remember, our society hates women. According to US tech journalist Quinn Norton, apparently hacker culture’s answer to Anita Sarkeesian, men in this society are raised to hate women. Her proof? Trolls who attack women online (and who, we must then assume, never attack men).
So there you go–according to her, the problem is not a relatively small handful of complete assholes emboldened by the anonymity of the internet to attack anyone and everyone who crosses their paths, for reasons known only to them, and who tailor their insults and trolling to the target audience (rape threats for women, death threats and accusations of faggotry for men)… Nope, it’s that men (not some, not many, not a few, just men) are raised to hate women.
Misogyny is not the attitude of an individual–it’s a key cultural value of our society, a value men (again, no qualifier, so in general) are raised to internalize. And yet most men accused of misogyny feel shame. Enough shame to either shut up or desperately try to explain that they are not really misogynists. Why would they do this if they’ve been raised to hate women in a culture where misogyny is a normalized cultural value?
The accusation could only have the power to shame and silence someone if society was not pervasively misogynistic. The power of an insult is the power to bring to bear the weight of society’s disapproval. It requires the culture in general to disapprove of the behavior, attitude, or attribute targeted by the insult. The fact that an accusation of misogyny can work as a shaming tactic at all to silence and bully people, or to damage their lives and social status, would actually reflect that our society is not pervasively misogynistic–at least, not in the dictionary sense that misogyny is an attitude of hatred or dislike of women. The fact that this accusation seems particularly effective when leveled against men also demonstrates that Quinn Norton is kinda full of shit. If hating women were a value normalized by the culture, and if men were raised to hate women, then calling a man a misogynist would have as much power as shouting “nigger-hater” at a Klansman in 1920.
So in that sense, this standard feminist shaming tactic actually discredits feminist ideology.
But it goes further than that.
Now let’s look at the reverse. Misandrist. Call someone a misandrist, and if they actually know what it means, you’ll get not shame or adjustment of behavior, but a shrug and a “yeah, whatever” from most people. From others, you’ll get a perplexed look, and from still others, you’ll get hoots of laughter, references to “beard tears” and “manfeelz” and the blithe reply that “misandry don’t real.” Some more polite feminists will tell you that misandry is really just secondary misogyny–that misogyny is the root cause of all sexism, and misandry is just an unfortunate side effect that would not exist without misogyny. This implies that misandry will, as if by magic, disappear once we’ve exposed and rooted out all the misogyny in society and properly cleansed our filthy sexist souls of it.
More than this, social media companies like Twitter and Facebook are actively working, with the help of feminist “training”, to eradicate misogynistic content from their sites. Fairly benign T-shirts have been pulled from store shelves after outraged people objected to the message that “a girl might be too pretty to do homework, so she makes her brother do it for her.” What a terrible, insidiously harmful message to spread about women and girls!
On the other hand, hashtags, memes and facebook groups abound, proudly proclaiming things like “men are pigs” or “kill all men”. There’s even a website called that boasts a quarter of a million users. There’s also a series of children’s books, with related merchandise, called “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.” International radfem conferences named after the SCUM manifesto attract feminists from all over the world, some of whom hold teaching positions in major universities.
In a culture where the contempt for men and boys is this pervasive and permissible, it’s no wonder most people can’t or won’t be shamed into silence or into altering their behavior simply because they’ve been accused of misandry. While many people accuse feminists of misandry, or accuse feminists of hating men, the accusation just doesn’t have the power to silence them or make them stop what they’re doing. This is because society’s values are such that even if hating men is not exactly considered “great,” there’s no real harm in it, especially if the hater is a woman.
So if misogyny is at the root of all sexism, and misandry is just an unfortunate side effect of it–you know, secondary misogyny or “patriarchy hurts men too”, then why is it so much more socially acceptable to express hatred and contempt for men than women? And how on Earth does the accusation of misogyny actually result in someone shutting up and going away?
Now let’s move along to another:
According to feminists, we live in a rape culture. This rape culture can be described as follows. Here’s en excerpt from the book “Transforming a Rape Culture“:

A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

Hmmm… given that definition, and given the “fact” that for many feminists this definition describes our society, one would expect that an accusation of “rape apologia” would have no real power to shame and silence anyone. After all, he’s just fitting in. He’s normal. His behavior is condoned by the culture.
Not just that! There would be little to no public discussion or censure of trolls who dish out rape threats against women on the internet. Anita Sarkeesian would never have been able to rake in almost 27 times as much money as she’d requested in her kickstarter, or get a plethora of all-expenses paid speaking engagements as far away as Sweden, if society condoned sexual violence and emotional terrorism against women. While the trolls who have targeted Sarkeesian and other (mainly feminist) women with threats of rape and sexual slurs may think that kind of behavior is okay–heck, even fun–internet trolls are a mere subset of a culture, not the entirety of it. The greater part of mainstream culture has strongly condemned this behavior, and is actively attempting to eradicate it.
Oddly enough, a recent survey of Swedish journalists found that though women were more likely to get threats of specifically rape and sexual violence than men were, men reported receiving more threats overall than women did. The same was true for abusive feedback. For women, that abuse was more likely to have a sexual context, but men received more abuse overall. Again, this is trolls–a small subset of people who delight in upsetting their targets–tailoring their abuse to extract maximum effect. For a man, that might be a threat to kill his family. For a woman, especially a feminist–well, we all know what typically upsets them, right? Hint: it starts with an R.
Yet the main thrust of the cultural discussion we are currently having over mean people on the internet is about threats of sexual violence, abusive comments and sexual slurs against women. Such threats and abuse have been described by feminists as an attempt to “silence half the population” (that would be the half with vaginas), while the heavier proportion of threats and abuse received by male journalists doesn’t even seem worth talking about.
Sure sounds like we live in a culture that condones sexual violence and emotional terrorism against women, huh? Where women are terrorized and abused into silence, while men are somehow free to express their opinions any way they wish, without any blowback at all.
Oh wait. It actually looks like we don’t live in a rape culture, at least not one that can be described as targeting women specifically, or even predominantly. This is precisely why an accusation of rape apology (in the context of female victims), particularly against a man, is enough to bring the weight of mainstream social disapproval down on the heads of anyone so accused.
Now, if you want a REAL example of rape apology, I’d suggest you read what feminist Mary Koss, consultant for the US Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey‘s definitions, and originator of the infamous 1 in 4 college rape statistic, has to say about male victims of female rapists:

“We acknowledge the inappropriateness of female verbal coercion and the legitimacy of male perceptions that they have had unwanted sex. Although men may sometimes sexually penetrate women when ambivalent about their own desires, these acts fail to meet legal definitions of rape that are based on penetration of the body of the victim.”

“Ambivalent about their own desires”? I suppose that comes across as more scholarly than saying, “Dude, what’s wrong with you, you know you wanted it. You should be stoked that you got laid! High five!”
And this is not just a radfem attitude–if it was, it wouldn’t have found its way into one of the US’s largest surveys of intimate partner and sexual violence. This is a core, mainstream cultural value–that men are or should be incapable of not consenting to sex. It’s not even victim-blaming–you need an acknowledged victim to engage in victim-blaming.
That is institutional, systemic rape apology, not just informing the attitudes of a few people within a culture, but informing research, policy and law. The very fact that this attitude exists, while any questioning of a woman’s personal responsibility to keep herself safe from violence (of any kind) is considered rape apology, and can be used as a shaming and silencing tactic, neatly discredits feminist descriptions of rape culture.
Feel like doing one more?
According to many feminists, gender violence against women is systemic and pervasive–a global epidemic. Eve Ensler’s V-Day event, A Billion Women Rising, was billed as a worldwide demonstration to draw attention to the “1 in 3 women globally who will be victims of rape or violence in their lifetimes.” Most recently, the 1 in 3 has morphed into 1 in 2 in some circles. And according to many feminists, this gender violence against women is an intrinsic part of The Patriarchy. It has a purpose, and that purpose is to keep men dominant and women terrorized and subjugated to them.
Just as internet trolls are portrayed as specifically attempting to silence the half of the population with vaginas, gender violence against women supposedly exists to keep women in their place. This is simply how Patriarchy maintains the subordination of women and the supremacy of men–by raping and beating up the ladies so they are kept in a state of fear and helplessness, either by their own victimization, or their awareness of the victimization of other women and the understanding that they could be next. As Marilyn French wrote in her book, “The War Against Women“,

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.

Now, I’m not even going to get into the credibility of these stats–the 1 in 3s and the 1 in 2s–because the accuracy of their claims is irrelevant. It is sufficient to understand that to many (perhaps most, maybe even all mainstream feminists) these stats are considered credible, and that violence by men against women is particularly egregious–more egregious than that of men against men, or women against men, or even women against women–because of the patriarchal context.
Remember, kids, intention is everything. When a woman hits her husband (which practically really almost never ever happens at ALL, right?), she is frustrated, or lost her temper, or is trying to get out from under his boot heel, or is feeling unheard. When a man hits his wife, he is asserting his patriarchal dominance, keeping her in her place, reinforcing his proper status as The Man in the relationship. And remember, in a patriarchal society like ours, this type of violence is not only “common,” it is normalized, expected, endorsed, condoned and excused, and the attitudes that lead to it saturate the culture so pervasively that we don’t even notice them–just like when you live in a pulp mill town, after a while you just don’t smell the sulfur anymore.
So how is it that an accusation that a man–not even an MRA, just a man–who has an unpopular opinion “scares women,” is dangerous to women, wants to harm women, or has even offended women, is such an effective shaming tactic? Why is it that if said accusation sticks, it can mean social death for said man? Why is it that men who’ve been so accused have been forced to step down from a prominent position–Larry Summers and Justin Vacula come to mind.
More than that, why is it that there is currently a man on criminal trial in Toronto because tweeting politely at three women that he disapproved of their actions left them allegedly in fear for their safety? Why, when the actions he was disapproving of were a concerted smear campaign targeting a game developer, an attempted blacklisting of him among employers, and a poster campaign naming and shaming him in his community, because something he did offended them?
I mean, we live in a patriarchy, right? Patriarchies utilize violence or the threat of violence against women to “keep women in their place.” It’s normal. It’s condoned. It’s expected. It’s just what men do. As such, a woman accusing a man of scaring her with his words, or having ideas dangerous to women, or wanting to harm women, or of hurting the feelings of women, would be essentially shooting blanks. In fact, if we lived in a society where gender violence against women was normalized and excused, and where men were privileged and dominant, it might be the three women on trial in Toronto, for conspiring to undermine or destroy a man’s social status and livelihood when all he did to deserve it was conform to society’s values and expectations.
Such a shaming tactic can only work if society on the whole disapproves of violence against women–particularly male violence against women–and endorses the use of threats, hostility, and social annihilation by women to keep men in their place. The very fact that said social annihilation derives from social values condemning violence against women completely discredits the idea that gender violence is a female-targeted phenomenon, and that it is systemic or institutional function of society’s norms.
Meanwhile, the ladies of SCUM and radical hub, with their contemplation of male-targeting infanticide and mass chemical castration, continue to hold their international conferences, female audiences continue to roar with laughter anytime a man gets his dick cut off, men continue to be the majority of victims of nearly all forms of violence and death, and male victims of female violence continue to be largely ignored, when it isn’t lauded as an expression of Girl Power.
And the fact that feminists use the above tactics, to either shame a man into shutting up or changing his behavior, or to recruit the efforts of white knights, the legal system, corporations, and the weight of public censure to do so on her behalf, kinda has to mean that they know it works. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it, would they? And if they know it works, they must have some inkling as to why. Which must mean that they are either suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance, or they’re well aware that aspects of their theories are questionable, if not highly suspect.

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