Missing the Point

October 29, 2012

Oy. So many other things overdue at the moment (including an Ada Lovelace Day post), but I thought I’d follow up on this thread from FeministPhilosophers, if only because I made a point that someone (Not Bothered) wanted more detail on and the thread has been (quite sensibly, IMHO) closed to that part of the discussion. I think that Not Bothered has, afaict, been pretty reasonably answered, so I’m not really adding more here. Perhaps repetition will help…who knows.

So, I wrote that e.g., Not Bothered didn’t get Rebecca Watson’s original point about the elevator encounter. My understanding of Watson’s fundamental point:

A few days later, I was making a video about the trip and I decided to use that as an example of how not to behave at conferences if you want to make women feel safe and comfortable. After all, it seemed rather obvious to me that if your goal is to get sex or even just companionship, the very worst way to go about attaining that goal is to attend a conference, listen to a woman speak for 12 hours about how uncomfortable she is being sexualized at conferences, wait for her to express a desire to go to sleep, follow her into an isolated space, and then suggest she go back to your hotel room for “coffee,” which, by the way, is available at the hotel bar you just left. [emphasis added]

Note that this is a fairly minimal claim and one that seems pretty obviously true. In this piece, she points out that it is also likely to be highly counterproductive to the man’s goal (assuming that the goal was companionship and creating a hostile environment). So this is, to people of good will,  helpful advice. I would generalize it to “Don’t hit on people at conferences”. That’s not the point of the conference. I also strongly suggest not hitting on your students. Similarly, co-worker romance has pitfalls. One doesn’t have to have strict rules about it, but it’s not hard to recognize that treating venues which are not designed or intended for romantic pursuits as if they were is problematic. It shouldn’t be hard to see that infecting all situations with a dating (to be charitable) ethos can be rather disruptive, esp. to women, esp. since “being available” is something women have to struggle against in all sorts of contexts.

So, did Not Bothered miss this point? Let’s pick the first comment:

Briefly, I’m bothered by the kind of victimization Skepchick’s original response pins on women. It presents them as beleaguered by the evils of patriarchal society. ‘Oh noes, the menfolk are hittin’ on me.’

I’m not sure if this is missing the point or just “just” disagreeing. It certainly doesn’t seem to be very charitable.  Just consider the routine sexism Watson experienced:

But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

I don’t see how this isn’t worth calling out as wrong and I also don’t see how Not Bothered is going to not classify this as whiny victimisation. (Mostly because that seems to be the schtick in play.)

For he’s calling attention to how ludicrous it is to characterize this event as a case of anything other than an awkward social interaction. For Skepchick to feel as though she has some obvious entitlement to apology here strikes me, in this context, as false.

Did she ask for an apology? Not that I saw. (And why isn’t she deserving of an apology. If you come on to someone in an inappropriate way or situation, and apology seems the minimal thing to do.) The point isn’t to apologize to Watson, but that such actions collectively undermine the space and community for women. And really, if you can’t avoid being hit on after talking about the problems that people treating conferences as places to pick up women for hours, when can you avoid being hit on? The extra problems with the interactions (i.e., the cornering, isolation, overriding specific expressions of intent by Watson) are important, but not essential to the problem.

But Skepchick’s original characterization of the event makes it clear that, prior to the rash of ignorant abuses she’s received after her video, the only threats she faced were the ones in her head.

So, the description starts in her video at around 4:32. Here’s a transcript which I’ll excerpt:

 Um, just a word to the wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. Um, you know (laugh), uh, I don’t really know else to explain how this made me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country at four AM in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and I don’t wanna go back to your hotel room after I finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner. So, yeah, but everybody else seemed to really get it, and thank you for getting it.

Note that there is no explicit discussion of threat per se, though some subsequent commentary (esp. by Amanda Marcotte) emphasises the threat aspect. Even if Waston wasn’t frightened by the incident doesn’t mean that the threat was not there and the situation wasn’t problematic. Indeed, even if the threat was “in her head” that doesn’t mean that the problem was with her. (After all, she wasn’t attacked, so there was no materialised threat. But that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have to deal with it as if it were a threat. And note that the threat needn’t be of being attacked physically, but there’s also the possibility of the person pressing harder, of insulting her, etc. Given her experiences and the events leading up to that moment, it is quite rational for her to have such concerns. Given that she was exhausted as well, makes being extra creeped out even more understandable.)

Not bothered gets much worse:

Instead, she takes an awkward situation and makes it worse by posting an indignant video characterizing herself as a victim and he an aggressor. She had a late night with some friends, and one of them asked if she’d like to continue the conversation over coffee in his room. Heaven forfend! What a travesty of the patriarchy!

Watch the video…it doesn’t read as indignant to me but exasperated. It was exasperating. What does she have to do not to get hit on, explicitly say, “Ok, I’m heading off to bed. I don’t want to be hit on!”

Even as an isolated incident this would be wearing, esp. in the context. Did the guy listen to anything said? What was he doing hanging around if he didn’t understand the issue? However, as the Slate article adequately points out, this was part of a large pattern. And it seems very true: More women would feel more comfortable at such events if “romantic” moves were confined to appropriate times and places.

I won’t go any further into Not Bothered’s comments or even the rest of this one. It’s rather hostile and contemptuous in a way I find unappealing, unhelpful, and unlikely to result in any useful dialogue.

It is odd to have to be discussing the original incident in such detail, as Rebecca Kukla (and others) point out: The abuse afterwards (and, well, before!) are horrific. But I do think Watson had a point with the original issue. Of course, the skeptical community is going to seem even less inviting to women if they tolerate the huge level of abuse she’s received or subtly sanction it by focusing overmuch  on the original incident and compound it with the sort of stuff that Dawkins and Not Bothered push.

37 Responses to “Missing the Point”

  1. Not Bothered Says:

    Hi Bijan,

    Thank you for the chance to respond to your note. What you said I was missing was the range of “mechanisms” that were “enforcing” the “sexual/romantic/interpersonal availability” of women. that seems to be what’s underlying your post here as well.

    But of course I see that is your point. I just don’t agree with your view of the situation. For I’m denying the passivity and victimization it attributes to Skepchick. She wasn’t a victim. She was part of an awkward social interaction. The kind that lots of healthy, well-adjusted young adults deal with all the time.

    I invite anyone interested in getting a sense of my view to read what I wrote in context at the Feminist Philosophers blog.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      For I’m denying the passivity and victimization it attributes to Skepchick

      There’s no passivity or victimisation attributed to SkepChick and I’m puzzled why you continue to do so. On the contrary, SkepChick has been rather active in working agains the hostile and sexist skeptical community. Indeed, this was part of her activeness. The events leading up to the elevator incident were highly active, indeed, about as active as you can get. And very positive toward the skeptical community!

      The point wasn’t that this incident was particularly traumatic, but that even in the context of having spent a panel and most of the evening saying “don’t do that” someone did that. And that’s the norm.

      Her way of dealing with it was to say, “Everyone was really great except the guy who didn’t get it. Hey guys, try getting it”.

      She wasn’t a victim. She was part of an awkward social interaction.

      Of a particular, characteristic sort the prevalence of it and other acts on a continuum tend to make the skeptical community unwelcoming to women. Not all women and not all the time, but enough to be a problem.

      I find it interesting that you read so much weakness and overwroughtness into an incident that evidences strength, tolerance, and wanting to improve things on her part.

      So, yes, you still don’t get the point. I’m not clear that you read the linked too article, even.

  2. Not Bothered Says:

    Sorry Bijan, but I DO get your point. I’m just rejecting it. The mores of young adult interaction today are not fixed by feminist rhetoric, and no matter what sort of talk you adopt concerning the “mechanisms enforcing sexual availablility,” the fact is, Skepchick was not wronged. Nor was she subject to some Grand Patriarchal Conspiracy. She was just made to feel uncomfortable. But that’s life. Some folks may want to handle it by counseling victimization and a projection of “feeling” out onto the world as if our feelings were inerrant guides to truth. I’m counselling a different sort of response.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      Sorry Bijan, but I DO get your point. I’m just rejecting it.

      Sorry Not Bothered, but I reject your claim that you get the point.

      Indeed, this comment strongly evidences this. The problem is not the incident in isolation. Nor did she make a big deal of it.

      I strongly suggest reading the Slate article.

      I’m sorry that your prejudice against feminism prevents you from assessing the situation accurately, but that’s not really an excuse, is it?

      (For example, the mores of any interaction are not fixed by you! A rather sensible way to view Watson’s point is empirical: Such behavior is not respectful of her expressed preferences in a way that many women find pervasive and annoying enough to cause many to limit their exposure to such. So, come on!)

  3. Not Bothered Says:

    Hi Bijan–a quick follow up (I hope).

    First, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk with you here. I think it is important for educated, well-meaning people to be able to come together and speak frankly about their views, their values, the sentiments underlying both, and the institutions we create and sustain in our lives with one another. That has been one of the themes I’ve hammered on over the last few days. As I see it, this tendency in certain academic circles to cultivate sentiments of offense at different sorts of things inhibits our ability to criticise and better self-constitute the values and practices that bridge our views with our sentiments.

    We’re never going to share sentiments completely. We probably won’t come anywhere near a Peircean point on our views anytime soon either. But when it comes to our values, and our ability to practically get along with one another, I am an unrepentant optimist. So thank you for the chance to take part in that project here, to whatever flawed and partial degree I shall.

    Feminism seems to me part of that trend toward cultivating sentiments of offense, and I see it in evidence in the sort of wing-clutching and hopping around that people have made about what I’ve said and how I say it–including your talk above of my being ‘hostile’ and ‘contemptuous.’ Lighten up man. We’re all in this together. Take offense if you like, but that’s not going to cut any ice with me. I do try to apologize or make amends if I believe I have done something wrong; but I do not lean very heavily on my sentiments when I try to decide whether I have wronged or been wronged. Others do, and I get that; but I think it’s a pathos, an indication of immaturity.

    Some background may help: I have been addressing myself to the passivity that feminism assumes of women in society, and the way in which its particular value-laden view encourages women to see themselves as constantly stuck in the “mechanisms” that “enforce” the “sexual availability” of women, as you put it. I claim that this view of the role of the woman in sexual interaction is nonsense, and it needs to be substantially revised if not outright rejected. And here’s where the stuff about sentiments and offense comes in.

    The problem is, the lopsided view of femininity that so-called feminism promulgates cannot be called out and challenged in feminist circles. For feminism has adopted a lens of victimization. That view—and the values that underpin it—inhibits criticism and debate. It does so in the very nature of the practices it habituates and the sentiments it encourages.

    For feminism has rhetorically positioned itself behind a slew of speech acts and specialized terminological devices whose function in practice is, in part, to silence objection and dissent. The primary speech acts are accusation, implicit accusation, and the indignant exhortation, and some of the terms in question are ‘mansplanation’ and ‘victim blaming.’ By judicious use of these terms in accusatory and exhortative speech acts, feminism has managed to silence much of the growing dissent about its ideology and methods over the last 30 years. To the extent that the feminists fail to bring these speech acts, their terms, and the contexts in which they are employed out into the open for criticism and revision, to that extent will feminism wither as a productive force for good in our society. The problem is, by defending themselves with these tools and the feelings of victimization they have cultivated, there is a powerful practical obstacle to that kind of development.

    Let me quote something you say to illustrate how these points come together. In your post above you write of what might have happened if she’d stayed in the elevator and offer “the possibility of the person pressing harder, of insulting her, etc.” Really? Somebody might get insulted?? Oh noes! Quick gyrll, get away from the scary menfolk! Now I know you were just listing some examples, and I think we can all agree that the real problem is violence or assault. But the fact that you listed “being insulted” as a reason to issue her exhortation is indicative of the view I’m talking about here. Most people are well-adjusted enough to stand on a principle without being worried about getting their feelings hurt.

    Feminism encourages women to adopt a view of themselves, and of their fellows, that is colored by a whole host of nonsense about what’s proper and to be expected as a young adult interacting with other young adults. For that reason alone it’s in need of serious house-cleaning. The fact that it shields itself within this position by various linguistic devices, while encouraging young women to see themselves as victims in a world surrounded by male aggression, only shows that the rot is deeper than ideology. It’s there in the practice as well. And that’s what really bothers me.

    But I don’t think the rot is unique to feminism; it’s source in dysfunctional practice is spread throughout society. We are moving away from a model on which the life of the academic is lived by devout pursuit of knowledge, contribution to society, and selfless work for the good, and away from a model of education on which the pupil is to be shaped into virtuous and vigorous adulthood. Instead, we are favoring specialized output driven by market forces and constrained by the lethargy of unchecked institutional bloat. Meanwhile, the energies of our virtue and vigor are being directed at self-centered satisfaction and the pursuit of whatever pleasure suits our fancy. We are fashioning bastions of insulation and retreat from the active duties of life, while teaching our youth that they are entitled to whatever they feel from anyone else, because a well-lived life is one of passionate affect rather than productive work.

  4. Bijan Parsia Says:

    I’m just going to cherry pick a few bits here as I don’t find this productive overall.

    Feminism seems to me part of that trend toward cultivating sentiments of offense, and I see it in evidence in the sort of wing-clutching and hopping around that people have made about what I’ve said and how I say it–including your talk above of my being ‘hostile’ and ‘contemptuous.’ Lighten up man.

    Are you not both hostile and contemptuous of feminism? I mean, this is just descriptive. You seem quite forthright in your hostility and contempt. Strange that you would want to disown it this way.

    We’re all in this together.

    I’m not sure how your comments give reasonable evidence of solidarity.

    Take offense if you like, but that’s not going to cut any ice with me.

    Your hostility and contempt are more evidence that it is highly unlikely that you will respond to evidence. That you aren’t responding to evidence is confirmation🙂

    Your hostility and contempt also put boundaries on how much conversation I’m willing to undergo with you. At some point, the unpleasantness and frustration outweigh any possible benefit. So then I’ll stop.

    I do try to apologize or make amends if I believe I have done something wrong; but I do not lean very heavily on my sentiments when I try to decide whether I have wronged or been wronged. Others do, and I get that; but I think it’s a pathos, an indication of immaturity.

    I understand you have contempt for all sorts of people. However, I still fail to see that you’ve evaluated Watson’s original point on any level other than your juvenile antipathy to feminism. Have you offered any other “argument” that identifying behavior as problematic and/or part of a social system is victimisation other than the brute assertion there of plus, perhaps, the brute assertion that the sketchy mores that you endorse are “adult”? I don’t see it.

    Consider your example:

    In your post above you write of what might have happened if she’d stayed in the elevator and offer “the possibility of the person pressing harder, of insulting her, etc.” Really? Somebody might get insulted?? Oh noes! Quick gyrll, get away from the scary menfolk!

    Yes, no contempt here. We’re clearly not in this together.

    Now I know you were just listing some examples, and I think we can all agree that the real problem is violence or assault.

    I agree that violence or assault are a real problem, but I do not agree with your frankly ridiculous dismissal of the range of agressive activity short of assault. “Insult” can range from mild, to agressive, to severe. In a context like that, it’s not neutral.

    I can’t believe you didn’t bother to think this through. Insults have effects on people. They can ruin our day. They can frighten us. They can wreck our mood. They can piss us off when we really just need to get some sleep. None of these are things that someone at a conference should have to routinely endure.

    “You cold-hearted, cock-teasing bitch! I hope you die as alone as you are ugly.” is not a threat. But it’s not an easy thing for many people to cope with at 4am in an elevator alone.

    But the fact that you listed “being insulted” as a reason to issue her exhortation is indicative of the view I’m talking about here.

    Your ridiculous, caricature? I don’t think so. But think what you like. I prefer to acknowledge the realities of psychology and social interaction.

    Most people are well-adjusted enough to stand on a principle without being worried about getting their feelings hurt.

    I would submit that very few people are entirely indifferent to insults and that, by and large, prefer not to experience them. In the best case, it requires some effort to brush them off.

    But we’re completely in ridiculous land here, and way far away from any reasonable point. I’m rather surprised that you’d push this line, but I see no reason to take it seriously.

    You might try re-reading the Slate article again and without your Lens of AntiFeminism. It’s getting in the way.

  5. Not Bothered Says:

    You can continue to petition to be recognized as having been insulted, but I’m not going to grant it to you. The fact is, I think adults ought to be able to talk frankly about their views without playing the pity card that feminism seems to ready to pull. If you want to beg yourself out of the conversation by playing that card, it’s your prerogative.

    But in doing so you prove my point. The speech acts that this community endorses, and the terminology it deploys in those speech acts, has the function of stifling conversation by portraying its members as victims. But I don’t see you as a victim Bijan. Nor do I see Skepchick in that elevator as a victim. Instead, I see you as adults who have habituated yourselves into these attitudes, ones that are neither representative of the attitudes of well-adjusted professionals, nor particularly helpful in interacting with others. We ought to face the difficulties that come with living with others who don’t share our views, instead of characterizing every slight as an aggression while portraying ourselves as victims of abuse.

    If one is intererested in engaging with others who do not share one’s views, rather than dismissing them as offensive, one must learn to separate one’s habituated sentiments from the judgments one makes about the actions of others. Our feelings are not constitutive of what we have owed to us.

  6. Not Bothered Says:

    Maybe it helps to look at it this way Bijan. You’ve said I’m hostile and contemptuous. I’m not wedded to the words, but I’ll cop to that if it makes you feel better (ha!). What’s important is that I am a well-meaning person who dislikes aspects of feminist rhetoric, practice, and the ideology that motivates it. Nevertheless, I am someone who believes there are problems with the treatment of women in contemporary society, and who takes these problems seriously. It’s just that I think feminism and its rhetorical practices are part of the problem.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      Maybe it helps to look at it this way Bijan. You’ve said I’m hostile and contemptuous.

      ?

      Aren't you? I mean, seriously? (To feminism?)

      I'm unclear why you find this hard to acknowledge. I didn't say you had to apologize for it or anything.

      I’m not wedded to the words, but I’ll cop to that if it makes you feel better (ha!).

      Wedded?

      It has no affect on my emotional state. I do think it’s true though and it explains a lot of your errors. We’ve got the first step, perhaps we can go on to the next ones.

      What’s important is that I am a well-meaning person

      Assumes facts not in evidence and is irrelevant to the debate. I don’t hugely care whether you mean well (I mean, it’s nice, and if I believe you it makes me cut you some slack, though if you are well-meaning-but-endlessly-clueless that slack will run out).

      who dislikes aspects of feminist rhetoric, practice, and the ideology that motivates it

      I.e., are hostile to it? Is hostile too harsh a word? Help me respect your feelings appropriately!

      I fundamentally disagree with your analysis of all that. Your hilariously inapt application of that analysis to me (Ohh! Bijan is a feminist. Bijan said that I’m hostile! Ergo Bijan is claiming to be a victim! BIJAN IS TRYING TO SLIENCE ME WITH HIS WORDS!!!!) should give you some pause as to the correctness and utility of that analysis.

      Nevertheless, I am someone who believes there are problems with the treatment of women in contemporary society, and who takes these problems seriously.

      I haven’t seen that yet. I sorta presume that.

      It’s just that I think feminism and its rhetorical practices are part of the problem.

      Prima facie wrong.

      It’s weird how powerful feminist rhetorical practices are and yet insults mean nothing. Try for a little consistency.

      (I mean, come on! Your whole line on insults is clearly bonkers. How blinkered do you have to be to ignore fundamental facts of human psychology?)

  7. Bijan Parsia Says:

    You can continue to petition to be recognized as having been insulted, but I’m not going to grant it to you.

    Where did I do that? I don’t see that you’ve insulting me, nor would I care if you did, nor would I need you to acknowledge what you’ve done to (correctly) assess what you’ve done, nor would I “petition” you for anything (odd turn of phrase).

    You have a severe analytical failure here.

    The fact is, I think adults ought to be able to talk frankly about their views without playing the pity card that feminism seems to ready to pull.

    I’m the only feminist in this thread. I’m pulling no pity card.

    I find it very amusing that you would refuse to acknowledge your hostility to and contempt for feminism while manifestly exhibiting that hostility and contempt. What are you afraid of?

    If you want to beg yourself out of the conversation by playing that card, it’s your prerogative.

    I’m playing the pity card, the victim card, or just “you are a waste of time” card?

    Expressing your contempt again doesn’t inform me further. I get it. You think Feminisms is the Badz and that Criticism of Certain Kinds is Silencing. But this isn’t argument.

    (See, I can do the condescending mockery too!)

    But in doing so you prove my point. The speech acts that this community endorses, and the terminology it deploys in those speech acts, has the function of stifling conversation by portraying its members as victims.

    Yes yes, every time someone points out that you aren’t worth talking too they are Claiming the Victimhood.

    I’m not a victim in any way here. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to engage with you endlessly. My attention is a privilege not a right. It is a privilege I fairly generously extend, but not infinitely.

    If I point out that you’re boring I’m not claiming victimhood, I’m pointing out that you’re boring. If I say that I’m going to stop talking with you if you don’t stop being so boring, I’m also not claiming victimhood or playing the pity card. I’m explaining why you aren’t worth my time.

    Your hostility and contempt are annoying. They are also evidence that you aren’t interested in engagement. That they distort your discussion to the point of hilarity is the topping on the cake. No victimhood.

    But in doing so you prove my point. The speech acts that this community endorses, and the terminology it deploys in those speech acts, has the function of stifling conversation by portraying its members as victims.

    How silly. Your claim that my straightforward observations of your contempt and setting boundaries of how much of your contemptuous driven nonsense (and I’ve pointed OUT how it’s nonsense…which you don’t engage with, I notice) I will put up with are “claiming victimhood” are nothing but a transparent ploy to silence me. They aren’t arguments. They aren’t even true!

    You are not remotely trying to constructively engage. That’s not a wrong you do me but that’s a reason for me to stop engaging. I haven’t yet, obviously, but I offer it as a courtesy.

    If one is intererested in engaging with others who do not share one’s views, rather than dismissing them as offensive

    Of course, you could put “dismissing them as silencing acts of victim claiming/pity carding” in there and you have the modus tollens which shows you aren’t interesting in engaging.

    And I doubt you will emerge from your delusions.

  8. Bijan Parsia Says:

    FWIW, I should say that you do seem to be trying at some level and at some points to engage. Not brilliantly (as your weird “Oh I’ll admit I’m hostile to feminism if it makes you feel better” line shows). So I’m continuing a bit. But you might try putting aside your anti-feminist frame and just consider the entirety of the Slate article, the whole course of Watson’s experience, and the actual content of the video.

    If you watch it, you’ll see that there is no claiming victimhood. The complaint about the guy not getting it is embedded in a recounting of her experiences. They were mostly good experiences. There was one unpleasant experience that really illustrated her point so she recounted it. That incident by itself wasn’t a major problem and she coped with it just fine. It’s weird you don’t see that.

  9. Not Bothered Says:

    I’m not evincing hostility here; I’m having a grown-up conversation with someone whose views I do not agree with. And I have not personally insulted you. But if one looks over your last few posts one sees them peppered with denigrating assertions about my intentions, my intelligence, and my moral character.

    It’s telling that you think feminism is a victim of hostility when it’s subject to the sort of criticism I’ve been levelling against it. It tells us that, again, there’s a victim mentality lurking at the core of feminism. And what I’m contemptuous of is the practice of feminism as I’m discussing it here; the institution itself has its virtues, and most of the feminists I know I respect greatly.

    So let’s try this again.

    From the beginning you and the folks at FP have tried to characterize Skepchick’s episode in the elevator as part of the Grand Patriarchal Conspiracy that manifests itself in, as you put it “mechanisms to enforce the sexual availability of women.”

    The problem is, I (and lots of folks untouched by feminist rhetoric) do not share your view of these issues. Nor do we share your desire to pussy-foot around what’s going on. Skepchick’s encounter in the elevator did not make her a victim.

    But by accusing me of being hostile you try to put yourself into a position where you can presume to dismiss me. This is part of the pathos of feminism.

    Now I’m sure you feel like there’s some hostility directed toward feminism or feminists. But it is a gross mistake about the nature of the relationship between our moral sentiments and our power of judgment to assume that, simply because one feels like a victim of hostility, one is in fact a victim of hostility. That as well is part of the pathos of feminism.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      Oh joy! A flood of comments with no improvement in content. Sigh.

      I’m not evincing hostility here;

      I’ll accept that your phenomenological experience is not that of hostility (I notice you aren’t, here, disputing the contempt). I dispute that your writing does not contain standard markers and, indeed, explicite statements of hostility. From your very first comment:

      Briefly, I’m bothered by the kind of victimization Skepchick’s original response pins on women. It presents them as beleaguered by the evils of patriarchal society. ‘Oh noes, the menfolk are hittin’ on me.’

      From this we can conclude that you are at least bothered (as you explicitly state) and rather contemptuous (as the mockery suggests).

      Heaven forfend! What a travesty of the patriarchy!

      More mockery. Note that even if your extremely silly theory of feminist auto-victimisation were correct, there are non-contemptuous ways to regard the situation. After all, a consequence of her video, Waston endured a torrent of extreme verbal abuse. Oh, right, they are just insults! And, by your account, the well adjusted person shouldn’t even notice!

      What irks some people about those who identify as feminists is the tendency to adopt victimized lenses when characterizing things.

      And you, clearly, are one of those people. So you are irked by feminists and feminism. Normally, people are hostile to things which irk them.

      So, you just are wrong that you don’t evidence hostility. One doesn’t have to get subtle or systematic to find such evidence, though there is plenty of that as well.

      I’m having a grown-up conversation with someone whose views I do not agree with.

      I don’t think so. I’m not particular caring about the “grown upitude” of the conversation, but by most measures your discussion is not grown up: 1) you make use of (not clever) mockery extensively, 2) your “arguments” are nonexistent (really, “I think feminism is bad because it does X, you speak like a feminist, ergo you are doing X”; there’s a hole in this argument, dude), 3) you don’t acknowledge the massive problems with your own position, and 4) you continually try to enforce conversational conditions you don’t particularly adhere to or facilitate.

      The worst part is the crappiness of the content of your discussion.

      But if it makes you feel better to say you’re all grown up (while your interlocutors are infantile) knock yourself out!

      And I have not personally insulted you.

      I’ve not said you have. But, really. You’ve come pretty close🙂 Plus, I’m not bothered so much by insults as by how poorly you read and reconstruct what I (and others) write. Including your own comments!

      But if one looks over your last few posts one sees them peppered with denigrating assertions about my intentions, my intelligence, and my moral character.

      Awwww…didums widdle fweelings get hurt?

      You have no standing to complain about insults given your views! But let’s be explicit:

      1) I’ve no idea what your intentions are, but if your intention is to have an interesting, constructive, intelligent conversation then you are failing your intensions miserably. And from your very first post I’m pretty sure you were aware that you weren’t going about it the best way even if you had reasonable content. Which you don’t.

      2) I have no idea at all about your intelligence per se. Perhaps you are a math genius. Perhaps you are a metaphysical wunderkind! But the lines you’ve been advance here are exceedingly stupid and driven by a theory that is both outright laughable and involves a significant degree of projection (language is powerful except when it’s the sort of language feminists complain about). You’ve not made me think, “Oh, this is someone articulating an interesting anti-feminist line.” In the least.

      3) Re: your moral character, I’ve little idea. Re your character I have reason to believe that you are rather a jackass, at least in this context.

      I’m happy to say that at this point I’m pretty hostile to your comments and contemptuous of the content. Seriously dude. Just look at your commentary on “insult”.

      I’ve a residual belief that it’s possible you might come around, take off your blinkers, revisit the Slate article and see how you’ve dramatically missed the point. Which keeps me in the game. I’m not super sanguine about that both because your starting position is quite bad and now you have quite a lot of silliness to disavow (which is typically hard).

      It’s telling that you think feminism is a victim of hostility when it’s subject to the sort of criticism I’ve been levelling against it.

      Actually, it’s not telling because I don’t think this.

      I don’t think you have any criticism since I don’t recognize your analysis as correct.

      I think you’re hostile because of things above as well as that your theory of feminism is not remotely accurate much less charitable.

      It tells us that, again, there’s a victim mentality lurking at the core of feminism.

      It tells us that you are so wedded to this view that you interpret everything in that light.

      One key reason the discussion isn’t effective.

      From the beginning you and the folks at FP have tried to characterize Skepchick’s episode in the elevator as part of the Grand Patriarchal Conspiracy

      Really not. Reread e.g., the post or this comment. No conspiracy, just regularities.

      Please look at her article. Look what led her to be on the panel in the first place.

      But by accusing me of being hostile you try to put yourself into a position where you can presume to dismiss me.

      I don’t “presume” to dismiss you, I just dismiss you because 1) you’re rather a jackass and 2) because your content is stupid.

      Frankly, until you acknowledge the ridiculousness of your analysis of “insult”, I don’t see any reason to treat you with any seriousness at all.

      BTW, this sort of behavior is something you fully endorse:

      For he’s calling attention to how ludicrous it is to characterize this event as a case of anything other than an awkward social interaction.

      Yes, what you wrote is ludicrous. Fix it.

      Now I’m sure you feel like there’s some hostility directed toward feminism or feminists. But it is a gross mistake about the nature of the relationship between our moral sentiments and our power of judgment to assume that, simply because one feels like a victim of hostility, one is in fact a victim of hostility.

      Hahahhah.

      I didn’t infer from “feeling like a victim of hostility” that you were hostile, I inferred your hostility from your words.

      You aren’t a victim of being interpreted negatively by a poor auto-victimizing feminist. You are just whining for being called out on what you explicitly said and implicitly evidenced.

      • Not Bothered Says:

        Lighten up man! You’re bending over backward trying to read hostility into what I say. Can you put aside your rhetorical frame for a moment and appreciate that not every off-hand caricature is hostility?

        And I’ll leave for posterity to decide to what extent we were each of us interested in having a genuine conversation and exchange of ideas, and to what extent we were responding to knee-jerk habituation.

      • Bijan Parsia Says:

        You’re bending over backward trying to read hostility into what I say.

        I do have this nasty habit of reading what you wrote and even citing it specifically to support my claim. It’s almost like I’m doing….philosophy!!! Which I’m sure you’ve encountered professionally!

        Can you put aside your rhetorical frame for a moment and appreciate that not every off-hand caricature is hostility?

        Speaks the One For Whom Every Accusatory Speech Act Is An Expression of Victimization and a Pernicious Attack on Those Who Would Conduct Adult Pointed Criticism But Are Not Bothered By Being Called Hostile So STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!.

        See, it’s funny because I use your words and tropes against you!

        There is no need for me to think that every off hand caricature is hostility to point out that your initial comment was peppered (love it!) with explicit and implicit statements of hostility and expression of contempt. You knew this, of course, which is why you tried to inoculate yourself from criticism with the disclaimer.

        Now, of course, I don’t know what’s going on inside your head. Nor do I particularly care. However, you’ve expressed the desire to engage in this discussion in a hostile manner but you don’t want to be called on that. I see no need to indulge you on this. Nor do I see any reason to refrain from behaving similarly to you.

        If you don’t want me to think you’re a jackass, don’t act like a jackass. Simple!

        But, frankly, I’d work on pulling back from the array of ridiculous claims first and try to either put together a cogent point, or back away from the lunacy, if not gracefully, then quickly.

        But this is just some friendly advice.

        I’m comfortable with the judgement of posterity. So comfortable, in fact, I’m happy to 1) participate under my own name and 2) leave this discussion up (even though I could easily delete it).

        (You’re not winning here! :))

      • Not Bothered Says:

        I understand that you think you are entitled to behave with hostility toward me because you think I’ve been hostile in turn. But please try to understand, I’m not warranting your claim that I have, in fact, been hostile in conversation.

        Do you recognize that well-intentioned people can disagree over whether some act is, in fact, hostile? it seems to me that a recognition of that possibility is just part of what it is to be epistemically humble. Caricature can be a way of expressing one’s view about how another view looks. If that’s read as hostility, one prevents oneself frome engaging in the act of endeavoring to understand another person’s perspective.

        I’ve been arguing that this willigness to read hostility into social interactions is a hallmark of the pathos that I’m pointing to in feminism. Now I don’t expect you to share my sentiments with regard to whether a caricature is hostile. Still, I’m hoping you can come to understand that others will not share your sentiments as well. And that’s okay. We don’t need to agree with each other on every issue of value and sentimentality. The question is, can we engage with each other over our differences so as to find a way to respect one another despite those differences.

        So please, drop the line that I’m being hostile. My whole point here has been to argue against the victim-mentality that sees hostility around every corner.

      • Not Bothered Says:

        I tell you what, why don’t we confine ourselves to the main line of discussion and close off this side conversation? I don’t see that it’s getting us anywhere.

        And FYI, finishing this post with a claim that I’m not “winning” is just the kind of thing I meant when I said it looks like you’re trying to score points. You might want to give some more thought about who it is that’s getting in the way of honest engagement and conversation here.

        If you look at the posts I’ve made in the last 24 hours, they’re mostly variations on the themes “well, how about looking at it this way” and “hey, did you notice this? what’s up with that?” You, by contrast, have admitted that you have adopted, and think yourself entitled to adopt, hostility. Before that annoys you into more hostility, please take a step back and ask yourself how this looks from my end.

        Notice I didn’t have to use any capital letters or “mockery” to say any of this. I hope you appreciate sincerity when you see it.

      • Bijan Parsia Says:

        I understand that you think you are entitled to behave with hostility toward me because you think I’ve been hostile in turn.

        But, according to you, what I’m doing isn’t hostile! I’m just a free spirit expressing myself! WHY DO YOU WANT TO SILENCE MY POINT OF VIEW!??!!?

        And I don’t feel “entitled” to make fun of you because you’re hostile to feminism, I’m making fun of you because 1) you clearly believe, by example, that mockery is acceptable form (for you) and I am both good at and enjoy mocking people worth mocking, 2) you don’t pay any attention to my substantive points or even seem to grasp that they are there, and 3) you still haven’t acknowledged how silly you were about insults so, assuming your sincerity, I’m free to insult you as I like since a) it won’t bother you and b) it won’t interfere with your discussion. Oh, and let’s not forget that your “caricature” is kosher but assessing and communicating aspects of your tone that I know will lead to a poor exchange is an Accusatory Speech Act which Perniciously Silences You Though You Aren’t Bothered. See, because I’m a VICTIM (in my own mind). Or something!

        Frankly, in general, I’m not fond of tit for tat, but as it’s both fun and clearly working, I’ll keep it up.

        I told you that I found your tone and style annoying and likely to be unproductive. You didn’t take that information and use it. Your problem.

        I do adore that you are so laser like focused on policing my tone instead of engaging the substantial points. It’s bad for you, though.

        But please try to understand, I’m not warranting your claim that I have, in fact, been hostile in conversation.

        But it’s SOOOOOO HARRRD to TRYYY to UNDERSTAND because the feminist victimization mentality makes me all in the control of my feeeeelings.

        Please try to understand: you continue to talk down to me and I’ll continue to mock it.

        Do you recognize that well-intentioned people can disagree over whether some act is, in fact, hostile?

        Since I expressly said so, then yeah. If you wanted to know that, you could have read what I wrote before, silly.

        And well-intentioned people can be wrong. I assert that you are wrong about your acts. I’ve no idea about your intentions.

        it seems to me that a recognition of that possibility is just part of what it is to be epistemically humble.

        Then you don’t understand what it is to be epistemically humble. Typically, epistemic humility is the acknowledgement that you might be wrong. I, of course, could be wrong about all sorts of things. I try to limit my claims though. But again, it’s symmetric. You Might Be Wrong (gasp!). It seems pretty likely too (internal incoherence will do that to you!).

        BTW, hostile:

        2. Feeling or showing enmity or ill will; antagonistic: 1. antagonistic; opposed, 3. unfriendly

        You might be interested to learn, as well, that “hostility” (esp. in philosophical circles) is often opposed to “charity” of interpretation. So an “hostile” interpretation is one that applies some degree of anti-charity.

        Now also TRY to UNDERSTAND that even with good intention you can something which is hostile, nasty, rude, unpleasant, offensive (not just “taken as offensive”), etc.

        Or not!

        Caricature can be a way of expressing one’s view about how another view looks.

        Yes, but condescending, contemptuous “caricature” (“caricature”? oh please) is typically not expressing respect, seriousness, or nuanced reading but, SHOCKINGLY, it expresses contempt.

        If that’s read as hostility, one prevents oneself frome engaging in the act of endeavoring to understand another person’s perspective.

        Dude, your perspective isn’t some deep, wonderful mystery. You’ve laid it out pretty clearly. And why should I care to understand how you FEEL about the view you’re critiquing? By your own lights it’s irrelevant.

        And what about you understanding how I see YOUR views?!?!? I MOCK YOU SOME MORE SO YOU MAY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO UNDERSTAND HOW SILLY I FIND YOUR VIEWS!!!!

        I’ve been arguing that this willigness to read hostility into social interactions is a hallmark of the pathos that I’m pointing to in feminism.

        You keep saying this but you don’t argue it.

        One thing that’s clear is that you think that either there is less hostility than e.g., I think generally exists or we should act as if there’s less hostility than there is. (Well, at least, you need to think one of these to be remotely coherent.) These are not inherently unreasonable views. However, these are things you need to establish, not merely assert. And you need to establish, for example, (if you establish 1) that “feminism” leads to more judgements of hostility that are correct and that that has problematic results.

        Then to make your case in about Watson, you have to show that her particular example was a case of reading something as hostile in a problematic way.

        Non-trivial. Impossible, since the last is false🙂

        Still, I’m hoping you can come to understand that others will not share your sentiments as well.

        If I try MIGHTILY…ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Wow! I DID IT!!!! From the fact that you and I don’t share an ASSESSMENT about your comment, I infer that it’s possible that OTHER PEOPLE will not share my sentiments. Ad esse, ad posse est. I am truly enlightened.

        This is a perfect example of you being a jackass. Do you really think I don’t understand that people might have differential response to the same stimuli or come to different judgments from the same evidence? Come on!

        I disagree with your assessment of your comment. I provided evidence for why your assessment is wrong. Disagree with that or not, but you aren’t going to get far if when someone disagrees with you you impute a lack of understanding of the possibility of disagreement.

        The question is, can we engage with each other over our differences so as to find a way to respect one another despite those differences.

        This sentiment would ring a lot less hollow if 1) you bothered to attend and respect my clearly expressed preferences for interlocutor behavior or 2) you weren’t dying hard on content.

        So please, drop the line that I’m being hostile.

        I stand by my assessment.

        My whole point here has been to argue against the victim-mentality that sees hostility around every corner.

        I don’t assess your comments as hostile because I have a victim-mentality, but because they express contempt (among other things). I also believe you have an extremely hostile (i.e., uncharitable) “reading” (if we can call it that) of feminism that is also so bonkers as to lead you immediately in to all sorts of absurdities. Which is fun on one level but boring on another.

        But I’m SO GLAD that my hostility assessments don’t bother you in spite of being ACCUSATORY PERNICIOUS SPEECH ACTS OF DOOM!

      • Bijan Parsia Says:

        We’re cross posting and the threading sucks. I’ll start a new post

      • Not Bothered Says:

        Oh for crying out loud Bijan. You’re acting like a 14 year old. “You hit me first!” For god’s sake man, if you don’t have anything to say, just don’t say anything at all.

        You’re not displaying yourself very well here at all. By your own admission you’ve adopted a tactic of hostility and mockery. I, on the other hand, am willing to stand behind everything I’ve said.

      • Bijan Parsia Says:

        Oh, you were almost doing somewhat well! Couldn’t wait for the post, could you?

        Oh for crying out loud Bijan. You’re acting like a 14 year old.

        Not the worst strategy for dealing with 14 year olds.

        “You hit me first!”

        It’s not the only reason, but tit for tat can be an effective strategy, as your comment demonstrates.

        Alas, you miss the key point again.

        For god’s sake man, if you don’t have anything to say, just don’t say anything at all.

        I’ve plenty to say and have said plenty, much that is useful if you could just bring yourself to engage instead of getting all whiny about my caricatures of you.

        You’re not displaying yourself very well here at all.

        You still aren’t winning🙂 You have to actually do something to win, my friend!

        By your own admission you’ve adopted a tactic of hostility and mockery.

        And I stand by it in this context.

        I, on the other hand, am willing to stand behind everything I’ve said.

        Dude, you can’t say “by your own admission” and then say that in contrast you stand by what you’ve said. I equally stand by what I’ve written. I’ve explained extensively why it’s appropriate here and appropriate by your own lights. I’ve been consistent (since I think your tropes are hostile, to use them, I acknowledge, perforce, that I’m being hostile; but so? You said you were resilient to all that so I’m free to have some fun while waiting for you to get the point.)

        And technically, I’m still more willing to stand by what I say. See my name? It’s up there. I can’t stand by what I’ve written much more than this.

        (No need to expose your real name. But you can’t simultaneously conceal your identity and then claim that you’re proudly owning what you wrote!🙂 At least, not in contrast with my ownership of what I wrote.)

        You know, these connections and observations are not particularly tricky to make!

      • Not Bothered Says:

        Wait–there is an argument here! Alright! You write:

        “One thing that’s clear is that you think that either there is less hostility than e.g., I think generally exists or we should act as if there’s less hostility than there is. (Well, at least, you need to think one of these to be remotely coherent.) These are not inherently unreasonable views. However, these are things you need to establish, not merely assert. And you need to establish, for example, (if you establish 1) that “feminism” leads to more judgements of hostility that are correct and that that has problematic results.

        Then to make your case in about Watson, you have to show that her particular example was a case of reading something as hostile in a problematic way.

        Non-trivial. Impossible, since the last is false ”

        Finally! This is the first time I find you to say anything close to coherent by way of presenting a view.

        There seem to be two issues here: one concerning the prevelance of hostility in society, the other whether Skepchick was subject to a hostile situation.

        As to the first: yes, I think that there is far less hostilty in society than people like you seem to imagine. I prefer to think in terms of offence (you’ll recall that’s how I opened the conversation). My evidence for the falsity of the ‘hostility’ view is my experience outside cloistered academic circles and my time with ordinary people. Most of them just don’t get bothered by the kinds of things that bother feminists.

        I think that the tendency to see hostility and feel offended at every perceived slight is problematic as a result. It’s problematic precisely because it habituates people who have been educated into that frame to feel offense and perceive hostility in places they ought not see it. (Careful, I feel a caricture coming on) “Oh noes! Honda made a car for womyns! I’m gonna go barf.”

        And please Bijan, try to get over your sense that I’m being hostile. It’s not helping you communicate, and I think it should be obvious, given how much effort I’m puttting into this, that I’m trying to communicate with you.

        Finally, I also hold that Skepchick was faced with no hostility in that elevator. Nor does her being uncomfortable with someone awkwardly propositioning her at the end of an evening make it wrong that she was propositioned. Even if she’s a feminist at a feminist conference. That’s just not how the sexual relations of healthy young adults work out.

      • Not Bothered Says:

        Come on Bijan–I’m being consistent in a way you are not. You cannot get around that. But the more you garb yourself in the trappings of sophistry, the worse you make your case for having anything of worth to say.

        So please try a little harder with the dialectic. Knee-jerk response is not your strongest suit.

  10. Not Bothered Says:

    Honestly Bijan, when I look over what I’ve written I see no hostility, and the only contempt in view is contempt for the results of the practices I’m criticising. In the circles I move in, this kind of expression of oneself is not read as offensive. My advice to you is to do what your parents did; lighten up sir. (Hope you’re a fan of the Big Lebowski.)

    One of the Great Evils of contemporary Western culture is our tendency to confuse the experience of some habituated sentiment with a judgment as to what is going on. That feminism is particularly susceptible to that, as I have been trying to point out, makes it hard to have this conversation with you. Please try to understand, the “impressions” you’re getting, whether about hostility, contempt, or “enforced sexual availability,” may not be what others perceive. And no one has a right to claim inerrant vision about these things.

    But that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t argue about them, and it’s essential for realizing whatever prospect we have of getting along that we be willing to engage in that argument. Even with people who really don’t share our views or our values. I suspect that if we really put ourselves to the task of trying to get along, our views and our values would have some hope for converging. For that hope to have a chance of realization, however, we cannot simply cut off the conversation because of the irritation we feel at our sentiments.

  11. Not Bothered Says:

    You know Bijan, your post at 9:29 is only two minutes after my comment at 9:27 And in your post at 9:29 you give two different multi-paragraph responses to the same quoted passage. You also a lot of point-by-point commentary.

    Taken together, this sort of looks like you’re just trying to find ways to respond to what I’m saying instead of actually thinking about it as a unit. I write and think in units, and I try to be careful about what I write. So it would be nice if you’d read the whole thing and give it a bit of thought before you hammer away another response. Just an observation; of course I’m not sure that you’re writing this way, but that’s just how it looks from my end.

  12. Not Bothered Says:

    Maybe this will help Bijan. I appreciate that you don’t think of yourself as characterizing Skepchic as a victim, because you think what she did shows empowerment. And I think that’s right; her video *was* an expression of empowerment.

    But that response is founded on whatever sort of ‘uncomfortableness’ she felt because a guy she’d spent the evening with had asked her, awkwardly, to share some coffee with him over conversation in her room at the end of the night. After having given a talk about feminist issues earlier in the day. Oh the horror!

    Her feeling that sentiment is a function of her own peculiar habits and dispositions. Feminists don’t seem to get this, preferring to interpret the Bad Thing in terms, as you put it, of “mechanisms enforcing sexual availability.” That’s to portray women as passive participants in these male-driven quests for “sexual availability.” And that’s a victim-mentality.

    Perhaps you’ll recall something I wrote on the Feminist Philosophers Blog:

    21. Not Bothered Says:
    October 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    Just a quick concession–in post 12 I did say the following:

    “If someone feels uncomfortable in a situation like that, leave or say something. But they don’t get to put on a show of having been accosted.”

    And that might look like I’m calling for silence, so let me clarify. She is of course entitled to post a video complaining about the event; she’s even entitled to issue the exhortation. And anyone else is entitled to share in her sentiment of disgust. But no one is entitled to be recognized as having been wronged by what’s happened, nor is anyone else obliged never to ask a woman up to their room for coffee after an evening out with friends as a result of the exhortation. Even if she’s a feminist at a feminist conference. The wheres and whyfores of young adult sexual tension are more nuanced than that.

  13. Bijan Parsia Says:

    BTW, I’m pretty much done unless you can come up with some better line. I’m not going to respond to everything, but I did want to call out the “oh you must read what I write as a UNIT”.

    I read the whole thing and then start my critique. There’s no aspect whole that makes the “local” silliness unsilly. Your “unit” is equi-silly.

    Seriously, you come in with a ridiculous theory of feminism, attribute it to e.g., me, then attribute things contrary to what I actually say on the basis of that theory. This theory leads you to ignore important points and misinterpret events (e.g., by ignoring context). Etc.

    (Really! This made me laugh. “If you would just get the BIG PICTURE that FEMINISM IS MENTAL SLAVERY then all the stuff I write which, I grant, is hilariously silly starts to MAKE SENSE!!!” :))

    I see you claimed to be a professional philosopher. You aren’t doing credit to the profession here.

    BTW, if you want to do better, just start doing better. I’ll try not to hold your prior silliness against you.

  14. Not Bothered Says:

    Oh come on Bijan. I didn’t say feminism was mental slavery. I said that the willingness to see women as victims of “mechanisms that enforce sexual availability” just isn’t a view that’s shared by everyone, and to those of us who don’t share it this kind of rhetorical frame paints women as passive victims in ways that, as a matter of fact, they aren’t.

    If you’re unwilling to consider separating your sentiments from your view, that’s your baggage, not mine. Just remember, you’ll have to deal with people like me in the profession. And the fact that we are willing to forcefully disagree with you does not mean we are “hostile” to you, to feminism, or to women.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      Oh come on Bijan. I didn’t say feminism was mental slavery.

      Yes, the content of sarcastic exaggeration needs to be strictly accurate! I’ve clearly offended against the adult conversation!

      But it’s not all that exaggerated either:

      I have been addressing myself to the passivity that feminism assumes of women in society, and the way in which its particular value-laden view encourages women to see themselves as constantly stuck in the “mechanisms” that “enforce” the “sexual availability” of women, as you put it….
      The problem is, the lopsided view of femininity that so-called feminism promulgates cannot be called out and challenged in feminist circles. For feminism has adopted a lens of victimization. That view—and the values that underpin it—inhibits criticism and debate. It does so in the very nature of the practices it habituates and the sentiments it encourages.

      For feminism has rhetorically positioned itself behind a slew of speech acts and specialized terminological devices whose function in practice is, in part, to silence objection and dissent. The primary speech acts are accusation, implicit accusation, and the indignant exhortation, and some of the terms in question are ‘mansplanation’ and ‘victim blaming.’ By judicious use of these terms in accusatory and exhortative speech acts, feminism has managed to silence much of the growing dissent about its ideology and methods over the last 30 years.The problem is, by defending themselves with these tools and the feelings of victimization they have cultivated, there is a powerful practical obstacle to that kind of development.

      Close enough for government work.

      The great feminist conspiracy may not silence you but it does keep you from being taken seriously by all those it holds under its sway.

      If you’re unwilling to consider separating your sentiments from your view,

      You keep saying that, but it’s just not true. I’m not judging you as hostile or contemptuous because I feel a certain way, but because you said certain things. I quoted them above. If you can’t respond to the actual use of your own words then you really need to get some training. Take a philosophy class or two, it might help.

      Just remember, you’ll have to deal with people like me in the profession.

      Actually I don’t! I work in computer science. Where I do have to deal with similarly silly people, but at least not you🙂

      And the fact that we are willing to forcefully disagree

      There’s no force to your disagreement in the sense of producing cogent, tricky disagreements. There’s just loudness and this is a key problem.

      And the fact that we are willing to forcefully disagree with you does not mean we are “hostile” to you, to feminism, or to women.

      And if that were the grounds of my judgement I might be in some trouble! Fortunately, it’s not, so I am untouched by your whining.

      BTW, I’d love to read some of your actual philosophy to see if the crappiness of your intellectual endeavor is systematic or anti-feminist specific (assuming it’s on a topic I either have some familiarity with or can reasonably pick up). Feel free to send me a copy. If you are concerned about me outing you, I hereby promise not to.

      Cause I have to tell you, this stuff you’re pushing now is a mess. I wish instead desperately trying to defend yourself of the Dread Charges of being Hostile! Contemptuous! Insulting! etc. you would work on the serious issues of saying remarkably foolish things. As I know you love the “What you wrote is PROOF OF WHAT I’M SAYING!!!” line, let me just point out how much time you’ve spend complaining about insults and defending yourself (“Whaa! I’m not HOSTILE!!! I’m just FORCEFUL!!!”) from mild stylistic criticism. Is it even criticism? It’s just a fairly banal observation backed up by your text.

  15. Not Bothered Says:

    I’m sorry, is talk of ‘hostility’ supposed to be mild stylistic criticism? Because it comes off as, again, an accusatory speech act. That’s okay, I’m not bothered by it. But it is one of those speech acts that has the function, in practice, of stifling discussion simply for the reason that someone has been so accused. That’s a pernicious way of talking. And given the direct insults to my intelligence that you have repeatedly made over the last couple of days, I find it rather ironic that you’re so hung up on calling me hostile. You’ll notice, for instance, that in all the passages you highlight as evidence of my ‘hostility,’ I do not pick anyone out and insult them.

    And really man, when I read over the passages you’ve put in bold above, they do not strike me as hostile at all. Well-meaning adults engage in this sort of pointed criticism all the time without being made to feel like there’s hostility in play.

    Please try to understand that what you find hostile is not so perceived by everyone. And that applies to girls propositioned in elevators at the end of an evening no less than to the manner in which I’m carrying on this conversation with you.

    • Bijan Parsia Says:

      I’m sorry, is talk of ‘hostility’ supposed to be mild stylistic criticism?

      Isn’t it? Remember my initial point:

      It’s rather hostile and contemptuous in a way I find unappealing, unhelpful, and unlikely to result in any useful dialogue.

      This has two parts: 1) I find it unappealing (am I not allowed to find your tone unappealing? I’m not a victim!) and 2) I believe it is predictive of likely outcomes.

      Because it comes off as, again, an accusatory speech act.

      Just because you feel like a victim of an accusatory speech act doesn’t mean that I made an accusatory speech act!

      This is part of the very amusing irony of your whole discourse.

      That’s okay, I’m not bothered by it.

      So not bothered that you go on and on about it right after saying you aren’t bothered by it.

      But it is one of those speech acts that has the function, in practice, of stifling discussion simply for the reason that someone has been so accused. That’s a pernicious way of talking.

      OH NOES!!! POOR PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHER (PPP) HAS BEEN STIFLED BY THE MERE ACCUSATION OF HOSTILITY!!! HOW WILL PPP SURVIVE!!!!!

      (Dude, this is your style, so I’m unclear why it’s not available to me as well.)

      And I’m so stifling of your discussion that I only provided a platform for it and considerable energy in participating on it. But all this material support PALES against the MIGHTY POWER OF MY ACCUSATORY SPEECH ACTS!!! which, nevertheless, don’t bother you at all since they are just projections of my sentiments.

      Do you even think before you write?

      And given the direct insults to my intelligence that you have repeatedly made over the last couple of days, I find it rather ironic that you’re so hung up on calling me hostile.

      Technically, you are hung up on defending yourself from the claim (in increasingly desperate and amusing ways). I see no reason to let you off the hook.

      You’ll notice, for instance, that in all the passages you highlight as evidence of my ‘hostility,’ I do not pick anyone out and insult them.

      Insulting people is the only way of being hostile? You’ll note in my analysis of your passages, I don’t appeal to your picking anyone out and insulting as the evidence. Read what I wrote. And acquire a dictionary🙂

      And really man, when I read over the passages you’ve put in bold above, they do not strike me as hostile at all.

      (Try to understand that just because you don’t find something hostile doesn’t mean that it isn’t or that everyone will perceive it the same way as you do. (Those are different claims, btw!))

      I didn’t cite them for hostility which you could easily discern by reading for comprehension. They are bolded as evidence that my exaggeration of your view of feminism as “MENTAL SLAVERY” (in part) is on target. Your view is that via the vast power of rhetoric, feminism instills a victimisation mentality in its adherents and SILENCES those who valiantly try to critique it. First, that’s hilarious! Please please please write a paper about it. Second, “MENTAL SLAVERY” is a pretty good description. Oh, we can quibble about whether it’s slavery or mere oppression. I grant that it’s not mental slavery of the noble critics since they can still THINK their criticisms, they just can’t SAY them.

      Well-meaning adults engage in this sort of pointed criticism all the time without being made to feel like there’s hostility in play.

      You mean like:

      ‘Oh noes, the menfolk are hittin’ on me.’

      I feel the pointedness!

      That’s just mockery. And I have no problem in engaging with mockery. Among friends, it can be ok (though there is this notion of “taking it too far” you might read up about). In a professional context or amongst strangers, it’s much more risky.

      You led with it.

      I wish I could study at your feet!

      Please try to understand that what you find hostile is not so perceived by everyone.

      I’m not sure why you think I don’t understand this. Perhaps it was a difficult concept for you to grasp, but, I assure you, I am quite familiar with the idea.

      However, just because you do not perceive something as hostile doesn’t mean that it isn’t hostile. The epistemic problem is symmetric, in so far as brute reactions go. Perhaps you are just oblivious. Perhaps you don’t realize how you come across. Perhaps you don’t realize your antagonism.

      This is why I don’t just rely on my reaction, but look for further evidence. In this case, it’s primarily textual and the case is pretty good.

      For what it’s worth, I’m mildly hostile to the overwhelming stupidity of your comments here (I’m a bit torn, really; on the one hand, they really are tediously dumb, on the other hand, they are so dumb I’m finding them pretty funny and fun to mock; all things being equal, I’d rather you started saying something sensible and intrinsically interesting or at least learning something, but absent those, I’m happy to be entertained by your flailing). I’m also contemptuous of them. (How could I not be Oh Ye Who Is Silenced By Accusatory Speech Acts Which Do Not Bother But…?).

      OH NOES!!! I’VE SILENCED MYSELF!!!!

      (FWIW, if you stop with the junky stuff and with the very mock worthy defensiveness and condescending stuff, I will respond likewise.)

      (Indeed, the offer to read one of your papers stands!)

  16. Not Bothered Says:

    Honestly Bijan, you write as if you’re looking to score points, not have a conversation. My line in this is really pretty simple.

    I did not miss your point in the FP thread. You think talk of “mechanisms that enforce sexual availability” is apt in Skepchick’s case. I do not.

    The reason I do not think that talk is apt because it portrays women as passive victims in a world of male aggression. That’s just a fact about what terms like “mechanisms that enforce sexual availability” mean. As I have said, this view of the role of women in young adult sexual interaction is distorting and unhealthy. Additionally, it ignores the wide range of healthy sexual tension that lots of young adults enjoy. Surprise! Even in a professional environment.

    You find my caricaturing of the view hostile, and for that reason you think you can yourself adopt a tone that you admit is hostile. This despite the fact that I’ve endeavored to express good intentions, and to lay out my aim to see that, even given our differences, we find some common ground.

    For I maintain that your perception in this is off. And I’ve tried to show you that by maintaining this view, you adopt a pernicious attitude toward those you interact with. I think that’s well enough in evidence by the way you’re behaving.

    And please understand, when I point something like that out, it doesn’t mean I’m bothered by it or getting hung up on it. Instead, my hope is that you’ll come to see that this is how you’re coming across, with the result being that you can put that recognition to use when deciding how to act in the future.

    Now I would be happy to drop the caricaturing if I thought that would help you get over your sentiments. And if you’d like, you can consider them retracted. But your tendency to read hostility into what I say led you also to write “normally people are hostile to things that irk them.” And that’s just flat false. “Irk” is synonymous with “annoyance,” and no healthy individual is hostile to everything they’re annoyed at. But if we think through the implication of what you’ve said here, we can see how it exhibits the kind of victim-mentality I’m suggesting is unhealthy.

    Given how often we get annoyed at what others do, if hostility was in play with every annoyance we’d live in a terribly hostile society. But we don’t. When we’re annoyed, if we’re healthy adults, we either let it slide or we address our annoyance to those who annoy us. That’s just part of what it is to be a conscientious member of a community.

    Can’t you see why this view looks to foster a sense of victimization, finding hostility with every annoyance? I’m annoyed with how you’re handling yourself in this conversation. But I’m not being hostile as a result. In fact, if you look over this thread, I think it’s pretty clear where the hostility lies. Just something to consider.

  17. Not Bothered Says:

    You write:

    “Now, of course, I don’t know what’s going on inside your head. Nor do I particularly care. However, you’ve expressed the desire to engage in this discussion in a hostile manner but you don’t want to be called on that. I see no need to indulge you on this. Nor do I see any reason to refrain from behaving similarly to you.”

    Where did I express a desire to engage in this discussion in a hostile manner? If part of the reason that you think I’m being hostile is consequent on the fact that you think I *want* to be hostile, let me correct that impression. I’m certainly not trying to be hostile; instead, I contend that I’m actually *not* being hostile. But well-intentioned people can disagree on that.

    The question is, can we come to understand one another despite our disagreements? I think we can, but we have to be able to respect each other. I don’t think caricature is disrespectful, and if you’re light-hearted enough a good solid caricature can be a kind of art. But I know some people are easily offended, and on balance I think I’ve been pretty respectful here, even though I disagree with your view. Wouldn’t you say that’s true?

    Finally, I understand that, because you think I’m being hostile, you don’t “see any reason to refrain from behaving similarly.” But that’s not yet to give you a reason to do so. Do you have a reason? If so, can you share it with me? I’m really curious, actually, what your reason for adopting a hostile attitude would be.


  18. […] « Missing the Point […]

  19. Not Bothered Says:

    From the beginning I’ve had a pretty straightfoward position in this, and I’ve argued for my view on the basis of my perception of certain social interactions. I’ve endeavored to communicate that perception to you, not to convince you I was right, but so that you could see where I am coming from. But I’ve found that goal frustrated. I maintain that the frustration is substantially on your end, but you of course have found me hostile.

    The problem is, that charge of hostility reinforces the very sorts of criticism I’ve been making of feminist tactics. It seems as though feminists are unable or unwilling to separate criticism of certain of their practices with personal attacks and hostility. That’s problematic for two reasons. First, because the things they see as hostile are not always hostile; and two, because the rhetorical practices of feminism have developed over the last 30 years in such a way that they have all sorts of devices for stifling voices of dissent.

    Now I know that this last point is one you’ve mocked, but it does well to bear in mind how that works. Mockery judiciously used has a place in making a point–but you’ve devolved, as you yourself admit, to mockery for its own sake. And, evidently, because you think you’re making a point (though the point you’re making is probably not the one you’re aware of).

    I maintain that your sense of hostility was not founded on reason, but was a sentiment you were and have been expressing and reinforcing with your behavior. Notice that your purported evidence of my hostility consists of two cases of mockery and the use of the terms ‘bothersome’ and ‘irked.’

    Now if I had written with the kind of mockery you yourself are displaying, you might have some ground to stand on. But I haven’t. Instead, I’ve tried to use it judiciously. And if you think ‘bothersome’ and ‘irked’ are terms that mark hostility, then you shouldn’t be so surprised that I characterize the problem here as one of a victim mentality. ‘Bothersome’ and ‘irked’ are about the least offensive words one could use to express the sort of substantial disagreement between people that is in play here.

  20. Not Bothered Says:

    Here’s a variation on the theme of ‘victim mentality’ that I’ve been arguing feminist thought cultivates. At the Feminist Philosophers blog there’s a discussion of a comment that Joe Biden made regarding transgender discrimination as “the civil rights issue of our time.” In the discussion a person name ‘A’ writes:

    A Says:
    November 1, 2012 at 12:31 am
    Yes, it’s not marriage equality or still-persistent racism or the war on drugs or the war on the poor or the war on women. It’s definitely this.

    To which someone name “Jarrod” responds:

    13. Jarrod Says:
    November 1, 2012 at 2:13 am
    @A

    Word of advice: if you absolutely feel that it is necessary to judge and compare the relative merits of various GLBTQQI(ETC) activisms, please refrain from being stupid enough to compare murder to “marriage equality” AND THEN JUDGE MARRIAGE EQUALITY TO BE THE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE. It is embarrassing enough that activism in the USA is completely centered around same-sex marriage (for middle-class people) without pointing out that this narrative completely erases those PEOPLE WHO ARE MURDERED for being gay, trans* or intersexed without you coming around and explicitly stating that you prefer this state of affairs.

    Now the charge of stupidity is bad enough. But pay particular attention to what Jarrod says A “explicitly prefers.” If you’re not in favor of A’s pet cause, you’re ignoring it; and if you’re not in favor of Jarrod’s pet cause, you “explicitly prefer” the alternative.

    It’s as though feminists aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about (cf. the various posts on “oh look, they’re making a pen/car/laptop for women; I’m gonna go barf”).

    Really Bijan, for those of us who don’t share feminist lenses it’s not hard at all to see that it fosters a victim mentality.

  21. Not Bothered Says:

    Hi Bijan,

    I guess you’ve opted out of the conversation, but I hope you looked over the discussion surrounding ‘Mountain Feminist’ at the end of this post:

    http://philosophysmoker.blogspot.com/2012/10/bad-letters.html

    She’s a textbook case of the mentality that feminism sometimes fosters: an unjust sense of what she’s entitled to simply because she’s a woman; accusation that those criticizing her are ‘attacking’ her, subjecting her to ‘harrassment’ and ‘hostility’; and trying to suppress that criticism by making it out that she’s been ‘hurt.’ Seriously, she says all these things (see her call to kick men’s heads in at her entrance into that discussion). Then she compares women in philosophy to Jews in Nazi Germany.

    I’ve come to find it not uncommon to see this sort of behavior implicitly reinforced by feminist philosophers. The blog of that name, in fact, regularly engages in stifling discussion anytime it veers into territory where feminist method and ideology is up for critique. This is commonly done by either accusations of ‘trolling’ or kvetching that the discussion is moving away from the OP. Sometimes it’s said people aren’t being nice enough to each other. There are times when these rules should be invoked, but often they are invoked just at the start of the very sorts of substantive discussions that, if had, would help separate some of the chaff from feminism.

    And so, in practice, Feminist Philosophers tends to suppress critical discussion, in public spaces, by fostering its own little brand of intellectualy orthodoxy. It’s a shame to see that sort of thing happening in an intellectual community (and one that prides itself on being a philosophical community at that!); but to see how this mentality influences young people is just appalling.

    There are genuine problems that subsist because of deep injustices concerning gender relations, particularly in the U.S. Addressing those problems requires intelligent, reflective, open discussion and consideration of a range of issues. We cannot suppress that discussion because some of us are inclined to build cocoons of comfort for a particular ideological stance.

    I’ll close with something I said in our earlier conversation. It could be a leitmotif for the view I’ve been articulating (thank you, again, for giving me the opportunity to do so here):

    Feminism encourages women to adopt a view of themselves, and of their fellows, that is colored by a whole host of nonsense about what’s proper and to be expected as a young adult interacting with other young adults. For that reason alone it’s in need of serious house-cleaning. The fact that it shields itself within this position by various linguistic devices, while encouraging young women to see themselves as victims in a world surrounded by male aggression, only shows that the rot is deeper than ideology. It’s there in the practice as well. And that’s what really bothers me.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: