“Feminist outbursts are driving even the most genuine of men away from us.
nicole maron

How, practically, is this happening? I hear this a lot, usually from men, but it poses more questions than answers:

So the fact that you hear it from women should tell you it isn’t a “male thing”. I’d suggest genuinely asking rather than making up your answer.

Now as to your questions…

That they were about to start being more fair, take women more seriously, then dropped it because a feminist said something hurt their feelings?

This is a strawman. You made up an argument nobody is making, then set a torch to it. Congrats. Indeed, you actually normalize the behavior in your strawman by claiming it. You ask how alienation happens then make these statements:

They are SO much more awful to us!
… because a feminist said something hurt their feelings?
…on some invisible schedule they(men) can handle…
…manage male fragility…

Try changing the sex in those comments, and ask yourself if you think those speak well of women.

They are SO much more awful to us!
… because a man said something hurt their feelings?
…on some invisible schedule they(women) can handle…
…manage female fragility…

Do you still like those comments? If you think that the first batch is OK but the second is bad, you aren’t pursuing equality but merely switching who the bully is. Would you like to associate with men who spoke that way about women? I doubt it, and in my view you’d be right to avoid them. I wouldn’t associate with someone who made those statements regarding men or women. So if you speak like that, you are alienating those who do not.

Indeed, it used to be, decades ago, that those things were generally accepted of women (again, by both sexes). When those comments are made regarding women today you’ll find broad condemnation of them from men and women. You don’t achieve progress by repeating what was done in the past — and it isn’t ok regardless of your group. This is an all too common sequence that has been formally recognized and documented for over a century:

  1. Group A is “in power”
  2. Group B is oppressed (either in perception or reality)
  3. Group B comes to power proclaiming to end the oppression
  4. Group B then becomes oppressive to Group A, using exactly the same mechanisms and methods that was used on them, and they call it “justice”.
  5. Repeat

Either it rotates between two large groups, or it “makes the rounds” among larger collections of smaller groups (in proportion to the overall population). But either way, it is the pattern humanity has seen for centuries. How about we not perpetuate it?

But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Women can wear boots, too.

And that is just your comments here. When you’ve got “leaders” (ie. the exceedingly vocal minority) in the diversity/feminism movement making statement that “all men are rapists” or “all men are sexists”, when male agency is taken away by claiming they are all part of, or slaves to, a “patriarchal system of keeping women down”, it is pretty damned alienating. It is explicitly alienating because it a) nullifies the individual and b) normalizes the negative behavior.

Those of us who have studied how these things happen can see the clear repeat of history using different actors. We are the ones who can make the rational arguments to those who haven’t grasped them (and could get them), but if we are lumped in with the riff-raff and are looking up at a the bottom of a boot we aren’t likely to do it effectively, if at all.

Men and women are not all sexist, nor are we inherently so. Most people know this. So there is a massive disconnect between such blanket statements and reality. But tell a lie like that loud enough and long enough, and normalize it, and either it will become true or the alienated (women and men) will rise up, and it is unlikely to be pretty or tame.

Literally every single source for how to be an ally says…

Well then literally every single one you’ve read (lets be honest, you haven’t literally read them all) falls quite short. There is a chasm between the things presented in such glad-handing pieces and the actual neuropsychology of individuals and groups. Such pieces are essentially supplanting one individually oppressive group-centric view for another, and while that may sound good to those seeking “the power”, it isn’t effective in the long term and merely normalizes group-centric domination.

…but you must realize that what you say will be used to support those biases, right?

First, so what? Speaking truth is not contingent on someone else not misusing your words. Second, no they won’t. By definition you can’t quote someone to support a bias you don’t have awareness of — only ones you consciously hold. It is more likely someone will quote you to “demonstrate” that “women pushing diversity” are doing it because they think they are superior to men, that all men are sexist, and so on. But they’ll be doing it from a conscious bias.

I too call for personal reflection and action

Well you’ve certainly got an opportunity to do some of that. Perhaps some consideration and reflection about why your response was to denigrate men as a group to justify a straw man while dismissing their alienation, and even to normalize that behavior. You might find that all of us, regardless of our bodies, beliefs, or ideologies, are entirely capable of committing, or going along with, great evil — even you. I certainly am. I spent the time, years ago, to throughly imagine myself committing heinous acts and it scared the hell out of me.

That realization can really cause a shift in how you approach life. For everyone I know who has done that, it shook them for years, and in some cases still does. It causes tremendous, intense self-investigation. I liken it to vary narrowly escaping a horrifying accident with a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. For the next few days or even weeks or months, you will be acutely aware of every yellow slug bug on the road. Incidentally, German schoolchildren are exposed to the atrocities of the Nazis and mostly taught to picture themselves doing that or not standing up. It is a powerful lesson.

Until you recognize and accept your own capacity for evil, you are blind to your own (or groups you consider yourself to be a part of) small steps in that direction. We are not angels, we are far from perfect, and we are all capable of pure evil. The kicker is that evil people think they are doing good and can’t see the evil because they don’t think they are capable of being the evil they seek to fight. The evil is always at the tip of the sword, in the sights of the gun, or targeted in the legislation. Racists didn’t wake up and say “I’m going to be evil, /rolls dice, racist it is!”. They believe they are doing good. Sexists don’t oppress women to be evil, but because they believe they are doing good. It is inconceivable to them that they can be that evil.

Indeed, you might even find reading the actual documents of pro-slavery southerners from the time up to the Civil War rather enlightening on how that all plays out. While we like to think it was malicious, because it avoids the acknowledgement of our inherent ability to be/do evil, when you read them you realize they actually believed they were making life better for the slaves. You can read further back in history that common theme, even when the slaves were of the same race as the slaver. By attributing such activities and discrimination to malice is to miss, entirely, how it actually occurs. Which means you can not effectively fight it.

If there is any movement away from such things to be had by such people it is not possible by calling them evil. It is not possible to start a fruitful discussion with insults, or by labelling and attacking someone based on the label. Even worse, that same effect applies to anyone — so people who are not sexist but might be doing things inadvertently, get set off the same way. This is a result of how the human brain is wired, and is not sex oriented.

It isn’t playing to a mythological “male fragility” to recognize that fruitful discussions don’t start with insults. A woman who’s husband forgot to take out the trash last night gets nowhere good by going up to him and saying “You’re so stupid. You forgot to take the trash out”. Reverse the sex and it changes nothing. (No, this isn’t a personal anecdote, we have the kids take responsibility for taking the trash out. ;) )

In my estimation that tendency to separate from the capacity to do evil and the predilection to insult and denigrate “the other” is no small part of this growing autocratic demonization of groups who have “members” who commit atrocities and their subsequent dehumanization. But that is a different discussion.

So how about you at least stop denigrating men as a group if you want actual progress and discussion? No more comments about “male fragility” — unless you’re referring to very young age boys who do actually have a chromosomal specific fragility to them. Because in the meantime, we already have a society that is also downright shitty to boys and men, and denigration and dismissal of “the other sex” isn’t going to work. We can play change-the-bully, or we can work on the common problems. We can’t do both.

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