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A quick factchecking of yet another list of “misandrist” quotes reveals the same old MRA sloppiness and dishonesty

He's making a list, but not checking it once.
He’s making a list, but not checking it once.

The MRAs have a new list! A list of evil, man-hating quotations, that is. This list, put together by A Voice for Male Students, has a rather pretentious title: “The language of misandry in academia: a collection of quotes by faculty members, students, and administrators.”

And it comes with a rather high-minded introduction by list-collator Jonathan Taylor, declaring that

misandry in academia is not merely a collection of infrequent and disassociated anomalies arising from individuals uninfluenced by supportive or acquiescent peer groups. On the contrary, it is culturally pervasive in academia in a way that cannot be reasonably characterized as incidental or coincidental.

Indeed, Taylor hopes that his list will be

a useful resource for those new to men’s issues in academia. It should also be useful to advocates as a “go-to” resource for identifying and referring others the kind of hostile learning environment that has become pervasive in certain academic circles.

Given all this, you might expect his list of quotes to be a little more carefully vetted than the typical cut-and-pasted lists of Terrible Feminist Quotes that are passed around on the internet by antifeminists. You may recall that when I and a few others fact-checked one of these lists a while back we discovered that many of the quotes were either taken out of context in a misleading way, or made up, or taken from fictional works. Or were from people no one had ever heard of an who might not have been feminists at all.

Even a quick glance at Taylor’s list reveals that it has a lot in common with these lists: alongside a number of quotations from well-known radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Mary Daly, he includes quotes from little-known academics and an assortment of random student activists, one of them identified only as “Ginny.” How typical are any of these views in academia? Taylor makes no attempt to find out.

The list doesn’t confine itself to feminists, quoting from one “traditionalist women’s college group” and even from Margaret Thatcher.

And many of the quotes are scanty — simple one liners — which leads me to wonder if there is anything in the context that makes these sometimes shocking quotations a bit less shocking.

Still others aren’t actually “misandrist” at all.

I don’t have the time or the energy to fact-check all of these quotes — nor do I have access to the academic journals many of them came from.

But several of them grabbed my attention, and I was able to track down the original quotes in context — only to discover that Taylor’s abridged quotes completely distort their original meanings.

Let’s start with this truncated quote from Marilyn French:

“As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women…he can sexually molest his daughters… THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE.”

– Dr. Marilyn French, The War Against Women, p. 182, her emphasis.

This seems shocking: Is French really suggesting that the vast majority of men either beat, rape, or kill women and/or molest their own daughters?

Actually, no. Those little ellipses in the quote are a clue that there’s more to the story here. When you look at what French actually wrote, you can see that her claims are not actually shocking at all. Here’s the original quote, which you can find for yourself by looking up the book on Amazon and going to page 182 of the preview available on the site.

As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not.  The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women.  Beyond that, it is not necessary to beat up a woman to beat her down.  A man can simply refuse to hire women in well-paid jobs, extract as much or more work from women than men but pay them less, or treat women disrespectfully at work or at home.  He can fail to support a child he has engendered, demand the woman he lives with wait on him like a servant.  He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love, he can rape women, whether mate, acquaintance, or stranger; he can rape or sexually molest his daughters, nieces, stepchildren, or the children of a woman he claims to love.  The vast majority of men in the world do one or more of the above

As you can see, French’s argument is completely different from what the truncated quote would suggest. But quoting a feminist suggesting that the majority of men might “treat women disrespectfully” isn’t very exciting, is it? Let’s pretend she said something hair-raising instead!

It’s clear that Taylor didn’t get the quote from French’s book directly; when I searched for the quote online, I found the exact same truncated version, with the same ellipses and the same CAPITAL LETTERS on an assortment of right-wing and antifeminist sites, in one case attributed to the wrong book by French. Clearly he got the quote from one of these sites — Conservapedia, perhaps? — and didn’t bother to spend five minutes trying to fact-check it as I did. It’s also pretty clear that whoever edited the original quote down did so in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what French said.

The next bit of fact-checking was a bit more straightforward, because this time Taylor provided a clickable link to the source on Google Books. Here’s the quote:

“Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”

– Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 82.

Curious about the context, I clicked on the link and saw that she was defining rape in this way as a sort of thought experiment rather than as a legal category:

mackinnon

While this is not quite as dramatic a misrepresentation as the chopped-up French quote, the context here changes the meaning of the quote quite dramatically.

One more quote in the list caught my eye:

Consent as ideology cannot be distinguished from habitual acquiescence, assent, silent dissent, submission, or even enforced submission. Unless refusal or consent or withdrawal of consent are real possibilities, we can no longer speak of ‘consent’ in any genuine sense.

– Dr. Carol Pateman, “Women and Consent,” Political Theory, vol. 8, p. 149.

I’m not going to bother to fact-check this one, because, well, this argument is completely reasonable: if a person cannot say “no,” or cannot withdraw consent, then we really aren’t talking about genuine consent at all, are we?

Taylor claims to be fighting “misandry” in the academy. It looks to me — in these examples, at least — like he’s fighting against straw feminists and a meaningful notion of consent.

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CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

The problematic stuff from the Second Wave basically boils down to “culture socializes men to do bad things”, whereas the MRA stuff basically boils down to “women do bad things because they are naturally bad”.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

To be fair, there is some weird gender essentialist stuff from that period, but the weirdness is aimed at both women and men.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

I can see why second wave feminists weren’t interested in being nice or fair in context.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

There’s also the fact that a lot of the stuff written then doesn’t resonate now because those women changed the culture they were writing about, and those of us who’re younger didn’t have to grow up in quite the same the world that they described.

( I get cranky when people talk about how a lot of stuff written then doesn’t seem relevant now without acknowledging that some of that stuff is no longer relevant because the Second Wave succeeded in bringing about some fairly significant cultural change.)

Quackers
Quackers
8 years ago

@CassandraSays

Exactly. I don’t know about you but I’d rather hear that I am unfairly privileged by society rather than hear how I am naturally inferior or devious. It’s like that shit I heard TyphonBlue say the other day about how women are more predatory because they hide it well, then try to backpedal by saying she just meant predatory women.

the MRAs that believe women are naturally bad or devious also tend to hang out on youtube…surprise surprise. I do see that on r/MR sometimes, but to give them a sliver of credit, they at least try to keep some of the more blatant misogyny out of there (though it’s most likely for PR purposes rather than them actually giving a shit about misogyny)

I did once see a commenter in r/MR say fat women have ugly faces and skinny women have pretty ones in order to prove that fat women aren’t called ugly because of their bodies. It was a perfect example of someone trying to fit their preconceived views in accordance to a study that said men look at women’s faces more. Such a great example of LOGICZ there >_>

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Also, framing things as “culture and socialization created this problem” leaves the possibility for change open. If you frame things as “this entire gender is evil”, then where do you go from there? If it’s inherent then it can’t be changed and you’ve hit a dead end.

(Which was part of the problem with gender essentialism.)

Quackers
Quackers
8 years ago

There’s also the fact that a lot of the stuff written then doesn’t resonate now because those women changed the culture they were writing about, and those of us who’re younger didn’t have to grow up in quite the same the world that they described.

This is true too. I “came of age” in the 90s and there was a lot of positivity towards girls back then and more of a girl power vibe. Sometimes I feel like it was actually better for women and girls back then. Even women singers weren’t as sexualized. Right now there is such a backlash towards women’s rights and feminism and I wonder if it’s because feminists aren’t as united or something. I dunno.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Ironically, I am reading Backlash (by Susan Faludi) right now.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

There’s no question that there’s been a backlash (did you ever read the book Backlash btw? it’s pretty interesting), and in some areas we’ve regressed. Which is part of why it worries me when I see younger women talking about a post-feminist society and not seeming to understand the context in which the Second Wave stuff was written. If you grow up taking certain rights for granted it’s easy not to realize that we didn’t have them not that long ago, and that they could be taken away again if we’re not willing to fight for them.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

And cloudiah jinxed me.

Quackers
Quackers
8 years ago

@cloudiah

I have that book too! I started reading it but have to finish, I’m terrible with books. I’ve started about 20 different books/comics and have yet to finish. The internet and life are horrible distractions D:

thebewilderness
thebewilderness
8 years ago

Fibinachi, the purpose of doing it the way they did is so most peeps will not check.
It creates the illusion of verisimilitude. Have you every checked those scripture reference notes in a Jehovas Witness Watchtower? Eventually you just give it up because the text bears no relationship whatsoever with the scripture being referenced. It is there for verisimilitude. To give the impression of truth while being dishonest.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I just finished Girls of Atomic City too, which isn’t explicitly feminist but does at least TRY to be intersectional. (In that the author is at least aware that the Oak Ridge experience was much less positive and exciting for POC there, but still focuses on the white women and their love lives more than I would have liked.)

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

An an example, I came of age in the late 80s, and teenage me couldn’t have imagined that by the time I was 40 abortion would no longer be an option in some parts of America. Things can backslide fast.

Quackers
Quackers
8 years ago

It’s very worrying. Also is it just me or are things really backsliding regarding race issues too? I remember an explicitly anti-racist message growing up and now I hear all these white people complaining about “reverse racism” and wearing blackface for halloween…..what is going on? Do things really have to get worse before they get better or is that just a tired cliche?

The average Stoic Sophist of today
The average Stoic Sophist of today
8 years ago

I was just arguing with someone on /r/MensRights about that truncated Marilyn French quote a couple days ago. They refused to understand how a quote accusing most men of being rapists or murderers was any worse than a quote accusing men of engaging in a range of behaviors as mild as “treat[ing] women disrespectfully at work or at home”.

Some men, you just can’t reach.

drst
drst
8 years ago

This seems a lot more problematic (and history proves it) that when one group is painted as naturally inferior or bad, then the other group must subjugate them in order to gain control so the “bad” group doesn’t get out of line.

And this has basically been the rationale of misogyny in Western culture for thousands of years. Which is why it kills me when MRAs act like they’re doing something revolutionary. No, you’re standing in solidarity with the assholes who burned midwives at the stake as witches, loser.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

We’re definitely backsliding on race too. The only relative improvement in attitudes that I can see is on gay issues, where every time they survey young people they turn out to be far more reasonable than their parents or grandparents.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

In terms of why, honestly? I think it may be an extinction burst. The group that thought it would always be in power realizing that that’s not actually the case and trying to fight it. I feel like a lot of the backlash in terms of racism may have to do with the emergence of China as a major world power, and the knowledge that India is going to get there too eventually.

I really hope that I’m right about the first part.

thebewilderness
thebewilderness
8 years ago

When I read Caliban and the Witch, it may very well have been some confirmation bias, but it was very much YES I see it. That right there is the process of demonization that is applied to every single group who seeks justice and liberation. That is the process of demonization used to justify horrific brutality, repressive laws, and cultural hatred and every kind of abuse. I looked back over the years of my life and said yes, I see it there, and also there, and here it is again.

Fibinachi
Fibinachi
8 years ago

@thebewilderness:

I’ve seen a few copies of the Watchtower, and had a few talks with the people handing them out at the time. “Why yes, I’d love to talk a moment, but I can’t stay long, I have to go meet my gay wiccan roommate and his satanist boyfriend.” type things.

I guess the difference is I… expect Jehova’s Witnesses to twist things slightly, and not be entirely forthcoming with information outside their religious framework, but someone who goes on about “fairness” and “justice” and “equality” and “wanting to fight against stereotypes” and then linking to stuff that disproves the quotes they’re using to talk about how oppressed they are just seems so farcical.

Jehova’s Witnesses tells you that they’d love for you to join their organization, and that they’re on a divine quest (at least, the ones I’ve talked to). MRA’s go on and on about how they’re not misogynists regressives lashing out at the world, and just want justice. At least the former is honest about their intentions.

Why bother? Why not just write: “The idea that consent can be a questionable topic with interpretations beyond a binary “yes-no” terrifies me, and I’d love to make it not be so, because then I know the moment someone says: “yes” to sleeping with me, I can stake an instant claim to their netherparts forever! Women suck!”? There’s no overarching political, religious or social framework to support with all this elaborate, futile source-turbating, they don’t actually have any goals beyond “Screw women, right lads”, but just bloody saying so is too much effort, apparently.

ARGH.

Thank you, yeah. You’re utterly right. And reminded me how to spell verisimilitude, for which I am thankful!

kittehserf
8 years ago

One thing I notice though is the things I’ve read from second wave feminists don’t imply that rape and violence is something that is natural in men.

Apart from MRAs’ crap about women being naturally this or that, the irony is that they do talk about men as natrual rapists. Any suggestion that men not foist their attentions where they’re not wanted is called an attack on male sexuality. Everything they demand the right to do to women boils down to sexual assault of a greater or lesser degree, however much they then squeal about how cruel it is to depict all men as rapists.

MRAs (or too many of them) want to rape, all right: they just don’t want the word used, they want it to have such a vanishingly narrow meaning that their own crimes are never called that – at least by anyone else.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Now now, kittehs, be fair. They want the right to beat the shit out of women in a non-sexual way too.

Athywren
Athywren
8 years ago

“So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything. So if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances out.”

– Oberlin sophomore Emily Lloyd, after Feminist students were criticized for placing posters around campus that bore the title “Rapist of the Month,” and below that heading a name of a freshman male drawn randomly from the campus registry. Source: the Toledo Blade.

This one’s interesting. The quote implies that false accusations are a good thing, because they serve to balance the pain that rape survivors feel. That’s not how the full thing came across to me.
So a guy’s name is put up on a poster, identifying him as “Rapist of the Month.” Apparently it’s a false accusation – he hasn’t dated, doesn’t drink or do drugs, which apparently means he couldn’t have raped someone… not sure I see the connection there, but ok. Accusation rhetorically accepted as false. Supposedly it’s a case of mistaken identity – right first name, wrong last name.
There’s discussion of the matter – it’s ruined the guy’s life, he won’t be able to date without the person he’s dating wondering if he’s a rapist, tensions are high. And here’s where the quote comes in:

Nearby, sophomore Emily Lloyd says men are missing the point.
“So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything. So if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances it.”
The man next to her, a long haired freshman in glasses disagrees.
“All I can think is what would I do if my name was up there on that sign?” he says. “What would I do?”
Ms. Lloyd shoots back: “Do you know what you’d do if you were raped?”
There is a tense silence as the freshman studies the grass in front of him. Finally, he looks up.
“Well. I know one thing,” he says, “I wouldn’t put up a sign.”

So… the feeling I get is this: You guys are outraged that this person was falsely accused. I get that, his life is ruined, it’s awful. Where’s your outrage when people are raped?
I don’t think this counts as misandry,* I don’t think it counts as false rape accusation apologetics, or whatever that would be called either. It’s calling bullshit on caring about falsely accused men when you don’t care when people are raped.

*Certainly not misandry in academia – the opinions of a student, even the vocal opinions don’t count as academia. Nor do the opinions of professors and university administrators for that matter. Academia is the part where studying happens. The research, the investigation. Not the private opinions of some of the researchers and their students.

“There is no clear distinction between consensual sex and rape, but a continuum of pressure, threat, coercion and force. The concept of a continuum validates the sense of abuse women feel when they do not freely consent to sex.”

– Dr. Liz Kelly, The Hidden Gender of Law, p. 350.

I… don’t get what’s misandrist about this?
Oh, right, “there’s no way to distinguish between consensual sex and rape,” therefore, “all sex is rape.” Gotcha. (Ok, maybe that’s a strawman, maybe, but it’s the only path I could make to misandry.)
Except… there’s no clear distinction between black and white in this picture… yet I can quite clearly see that one side is bright white, while the other is pitch black. It’s almost as if Dr Kelly is simply pointing out the fact that the borders between consensual sex and rape are blurred by societal attitudes. Essentially, she’s saying that rape can be subtle and manipulative, as well as brutal and forceful… which is true. Are statements of truth misandry now? Hmm…

“Rape is perhaps the foremost male fantasy in our society.”

– Dr. Andra Medea and Kathleen Thompson, Against Rape, p. 14

*cough*

Outside the groves of academe, however, the subject of rape is everywhere. Comedians love it. “It is impossible to rape a woman. Any woman with her skirt up can run faster than a man with his pants down.” Novelists, especially “frank, realistic” novelists thrive on it. It is almost impossible to pick up a pornographic book without encountering at least one rape scene; it combines the magic elements, sex and violence. Moreover, pornography is a record of male fantasies, and rape is perhaps the foremost male fantasy in our society. In one form or another, explicitly or more subtly, this fantasy permeates most of what is written, filmed, and sun about love and sex between men and women.
A simple – though, if you think about it, striking – example of how the rape fantasy appears in its more subtle form is the scene straight out of every old movie you’ve seen. The same scene appears in soap operas on television, in serious drama and films, even in Shakespeare, with only slight variations. A man and a woman are having an argument. The woman is beautiful and strong-willed; the man can be almost anyone. As the argument progresses, the woman becomes angrier. The man wavers between anger and amusement. At last she turns to walk away. The man reaches out, pulls her around and back to him. He kisses her until she stops struggling and puts her arms around his neck.
Although this is nothing more than a kiss, the pattern is there. The man subdues the woman by forcing her to submit to him sexually, and she loves it. This is the appeal of the rape fantasy. As Ruth Hershberger pointed out in a penetrating essay entitled “Is Rape a Myth?”: When the man turns to the sensational image of rape, he learns of a sex act which, if effected with any unwilling woman, can force her to enter into a sexual relationship with him. She can be forced into a psychological intimacy with him, as his wife stubbornly is not. Thus in the dream world of gross aggression, the husband finds the same unwilling woman of his marriage situation. But in the rape victim the unwilling woman magically becomes willing, her sensory nerves respond gratefully, stubborn reflexes react obediently, and the beautiful stranger willy-nilly enters into a state of sexual intimacy with her aggressor.

…I’ll stop there, but that’s quite the quotemine.
Finally found this @”$£(*&”£$!!! book here. Only took half an hour! Why do people have to quotemine from books that hide in the depths of google?

I wonder if there’s one quote that actually represents real misandry on that page? I’ll let one of you find it, because I’m drained and sleepy now.

kittehserf
8 years ago

Now now, kittehs, be fair. They want the right to beat the shit out of women in a non-sexual way too.

I can’t help being unfair to teh menz, it’s the misandrist in me.

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