Mammoth FAQ

A mammoth, hunted. By leocigale
A mammoth, hunted. By leocigale

We Hunted the Mammoth: The FAQ-ening

Q) A mammoth, huh? What’s this blog about?

A) Misogyny, not mammoths.

Specifically, this blog focuses on what I call the “New Misogyny,” an angry antifeminist backlash that has emerged like a boil on the ass of the internet over the last decade or so. These aren’t your traditional misogynists – the social conservatives and religious fundamentalists who make up much of the far right.

These are guys, mostly, who range in age from their teens to their fifties, who have embraced misogyny as an ideology, as a sort of symbolic solution to the frustrations in their lives – whether financial, social, or sexual.

Some of them identify as Men’s Rights Activists, trying to cast their peculiar struggle against what they see as the excess of feminism and the advantages of women as a civil rights issue of sorts. Alongside those who explicitly label themselves MRAs we find a great number of antifeminist and antiwomen activists we might call Men’s Rights-adjacent – like those in the Skeptic and Atheist subcultures who still haven’t gotten over an offhand remark Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson made about a dude in an elevator a couple of years ago.

Others proclaim themselves Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), declaring a sort of independence from women – while spending much of their time on message boards talking endlessly about them.

Still others see themselves as Pickup Artists (PUA), or masters of “Game,” espousing elaborate “scientific” theories of male superiority while trading tips on how best to pressure or manipulate drunk women into bed. This misogynistic wing of the PUA subculture has a considerable overlap with a subset of traditionalist and far-right blogs. Many of those in what has come to be called “the manosphere” — hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t come up with that name — don’t simply embrace misogyny; they also proudly embrace “scientific” racism and other bigotries.

Still, while some of the New Misogynists see themselves as conservatives, even “neo-reactionaries,” many identify themselves as libertarians or even as liberals. Theirs is a backlash that frames itself as a step forward.

That said, there are numerous posts here that don’t have anything to do with MRAs or MGTOWers or PUAs or any of their ilk. Sometimes I like to post cat pics.

Q) Ok, but you still haven’t explained the mammoth thing.

A) This is a reference to a quote I once posted from a dude who felt women weren’t sufficiently appreciative of what men had supposedly done for them over the ages. Here’s the quote, in all of its weird glory:

We men built a nice safe world for you all the the coal-mines of death, roads, railroads, bridges and tall office buildings. Its $1,000,000 spent per death of a man on a large dangerous project on average now you can just 9-5 it and call it a day in air-conditioned and heated safety. Forget about the wars we died in and the sacrifices made just ignore history or is it now hersorty? You are accruing the benefits without ever having to pay the price you still don’t have to sign up for the draft and who will protect you? The Sex and the City girls will fight off the North Koreans with their Manolo Blahniks?

Men gave you this modern world now you take it for granted we hunted the mammoth to feed you we died in burning buildings and were gassed in the trenches but that was just for fun right?

How quick and conveniently you forget who made this possible.

We gave you Leonardo da Vinci, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy not to mention countless others, Jonas Salk saved half the world from death and you just piss on it all.

This quote is such an amazing clusterfuck of misogyny, entitlement and unwarranted self-importance – not to mention historical ignorance – that the bit about mammoths became a catchphrase around here, neatly conveying pretty much everything this blog is against. And so I decided to make it the name of the blog.

Q) And who exactly are you?

A) David Futrelle. I’m a freelance writer and blogger living in Evanston, IL, and the guy behind the Confused Cats Against Feminism blog. For more on my illustrious career, see the David Futrelle FAQ.

Q) You’re against the Men’s Rights movement. Are you against men having rights?

A) Of course not. As hundreds of posts on this site show pretty clearly, the so-called Men’s Rights Movement is a hateful, reactionary movement driven largely by misogyny and hatred of feminism. It doesn’t help men. It encourages them to scapegoat women and stew in their own bitterness.

Q) Are you secretly funded by the international feminist conspiracy?

A) No. I’m not funded by any organization. Some readers have very kindly given me donations. You can too, if you wish.

Q) What’s with all the cat pictures?

A) I like cats.

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6 years ago

I found this nice overview on prosocial behavior really quickly on Google.

The notion that greed and antisocial behaviors are both a good thing and a biotruth is not actually supported by science. In fact, empathic arousal* occurs across all cultures and occurs in very young children. If anything, it’s empathy that’s a biotruth. Neuroscience is in its infancy still, but it appears that the prefrontal cortex is responsible for empathy. Meaning we evolved to care about others.

It’s also fairly well known that violent criminals and psychopaths have different brain scans from controls. Of course, the mass media dramatizes and exaggerates those studies quite a bit, but still, the lack of ability and desire to behave prosocially is neither typical or advantageous. Unless you’re also privileged, intelligent and ambitious enough to harness that lack of empathy and use it in capitalist endeavors. Then it can be personally advantageous, but not advantageous to communities/countries/the global economy.

Also, does anyone else think its funny that troll is using China as a success story when their economy is slowing down and they’re in the midst of a bursting stock market bubble?

* Since troll only has his psych degree from the university of assfax and Wikipedia, I feel compelled to point out that in a psychological context, arousal does not necessarily refer to sexual arousal.

6 years ago

In any case, if whatever wins is right, and overturning such things is also right, then you’ve got yourself an amoral morality. You’ve lost the ability to talk about right and wrong because there is no wrong to point to; whatever is is morally right, and what isn’t is morally right if it ever becomes reality.

I guarantee that you wouldn’t be satisfied being part of a system that treats you unfairly, and I am 100% certain that you have the capacity to recognize unfairness. At least, when you are on the bad end. In that situation, I doubt you would be saying “whatever wins is right,” because your mind will jump straight to “if I can change the system to make it less unfair to me, that would also be right.” When that happens, then congratulations! You’ve just graduated from no morality to the lowest tier of moral development; self-interest.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

I’ve only ever heard the term “adversarial system” used in the context of jurisprudence. Common law jurisdictions use the adversarial system (general, there are a few exceptions) and Civil law jurisdictions use the inquisitorial system.

I wonder if this is one of those “Let’s apply some terminology from one field to a completely unrelated field” things*. It’ll be quantum mechanics next.

[* Although my essay on how leases were 4 dimensional shapes in space-time once got a few people nods of approval]

6 years ago

Therein is the fundamental truth of an adversarial system, though. If something has less merit than another, it loses. Thus why in nature when two animal populations come into contact and one rapidly loses population and territory, I don’t believe the argument is ever to look into, ethically, why one is less successful than the other. Its just to see why, and if a desire is expressed to preserve a population, then how.

The reason people don’t apply moral reasoning to animal populations is because we don’t believe those animals are acting out of a sense of morality. They are amoral, without higher reasoning. You get into deep, deep shit when you try to ascribe morality to natural systems that act without morality.

Everything must be Godwinned, evidently, so: if the Nazis had won WW2, they would have been right, of course. Victors write history and all those platitudes. Mao Zedong once wrote “all law comes from the barrel of a gun.”

This is not a statement of morality, it’s an observation about practicality. It highlights morality needs power behind it to enforce it, not to make it correct. “Victors write history” means that history is not unbiased; the things that survive are the things that the victors have approved of. It’s not about the moral correctness of the victor’s power. Quite the contrary, it highlights the problem of using historical records to determine who was morally in the right.

This is fundamentally true. Legitimacy is a function of how accepted it is, not of anything else(although getting accepted requires some interesting consequences). The Silician Mafia, for example, is perceived as very legitimate in certain parts of Italy and there are easily worse examples of oppression out there.

Legitimacy is a function of winning. Winning is a function of “merit.” The Nazis didn’t lose because they were evil; they lost because they had 55 million people and lacked internal sources of oil.

This might convince a paladin in a fantasy story to turn evil, but it doesn’t work on real-life people. This argument relies on the idea that “right makes might,” which is also fundamentally untrue. Winning is not a function of “merit” alone, and even you believe this with your second paragraph talking about lacking fundamentally uncontrollable resources. You try to assign morality to the Nazis without addressing their beliefs at all; how could that possibly be the correct way to do it? One would think that to ascribe a value to something you would need to take into account that something’s content.

A lot of “evil” policies are inefficient and weaken the society they are in. Consequentially this impacts their ability to both project, and protect themselves.

So you say, and yet a couple paragraphs before you mention the Mafia and other oppressive systems that have maintained power despite being “evil.” This paragraph is what you’d write if you were trying to reassure someone that “evil” is self-defeating and so it’s ok to say that the victors are always morally correct, but such the attempt not only fails immediately, but is contrary to your assertion that those who win are morally right, rather than tend to be.

The thing that makes you say “a lot of” rather than “all” is the very thing that contradicts your assertion of equivalence between victory and justice.

Victory justifies itself. Its an essential truth.

Says the person never faced with the prospect of defeat.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
6 years ago

Hmmm. 2 million stuck in my mind, but I can’t find a source. I’ll check my old astro textbooks when I get home but I probably just misremembered. Thanks for calling me on that, M and Danny.

It won’t take as long for the earth to die as for the sun, though: the sun only has to expand very slightly for the average temperature of the atmosphere to go above the boiling point of water and then all non-microbial life will cease. While this will have the silver lining of wiping out reddit, it will also be a pronounced sadface for those of us who like living.

On that topic:

I hope he doesn’t detour into quantum mechanics. It’s been like ten years since university and I sucked at quantum anyway. Su(3) was what convinced me to go into astro instead.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
6 years ago

To be honest, I’m not sure what trollboy’s argument has morphed into. He shows remarkably little interest in straightforward communication and has no regard for consistency. Wherever possible he’s being deliberately amorphous, almost to the point of being coy, presumably because he’s been taught that it’s an optimal strategy in a debate (which to be fair, in a debate focused on winning rather than on finding the truth, it is.)

Since trollboy is a marketeer by trade, I’m not in the least surprised at any of this. Marketing is not labour for honest folk.

6 years ago

Therein is the fundamental truth of an adversarial system, though. If something has less merit than another, it loses. Thus why in nature when two animal populations come into contact and one rapidly loses population and territory, I don’t believe the argument is ever to look into, ethically, why one is less successful than the other. Its just to see why, and if a desire is expressed to preserve a population, then how.

The reason people don’t apply moral reasoning to animal populations is because we don’t believe those animals are acting out of a sense of morality. They are amoral, without higher reasoning. You get into deep, deep shit when you try to ascribe morality to natural systems that act without morality.

Plus, territorial behavior actually reduces fighting. Non human animals use scent markers and aggressive posturing to warn other animals away. Not because they think fighting is immoral, but because fighting is too risky to be advantageous.

Contemporary humans mark territory with property deeds and leases. We recognize borders that are agreed upon internationally. When humans don’t respect these territorial markers, we get crime. We get war. Neither of which are good things.

Using territorialism in animals as an example of might makes right, even if the mighty are raping and killing, is just bizarre. He clearly doesn’t understand the function of territorial behavior.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Contemporary humans mark territory with property deeds and leases

There’s a suggestion that humans are inherently respectful of boundaries anyway. Here’s a nice experiment you can try your self.

Next time you’re on the beach draw a circle in the sand around where you’re sitting. You can go to quite a wide radius. Now no matter how crowded the beach gets, see how many people step inside the circle and the contortions they will undertake to avoid doing so.

Danny Chameleon
Danny Chameleon
6 years ago

I live a few blocks from a beach now! I’m a soooooooo going to try this!

6 years ago


Meanwhile, when human populations “come into contact and one rapidly loses population and territory,” we do indeed look at that ethically. Not with the question of “why was one less successful than another,” because that’s just explaining what happened. Instead, it’s with the question of whether the act itself was ethical.

Nearly always, the answer is “no,” because genocide is not morally right. Arkenshonpan disagrees.

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

EJ (The Other One) | June 29, 2015 at 6:41 am
There needs to be a word for “a longing for a past that probably never happened”, because it’s a fantastically relevant concept. I suggest “notstalgia.”

After I got over my deja vu about this same situation, I did some Googling and discovered the word “Saudae“, but it doesn’t quite fit. Saudae is a Portuguese word that has no English equivalent, and it means a longing for someone or something that has gone and might not ever return.

On the topic, we’re not the only ones who have discussed the idea:
A StackExchange thread on the subject.
A wordreference forum post.

The wordreference forum in particular seems to lean toward the phrase “false nostalgia” or “romantic nostalgia”. (But they ran into a snag that one cannot possibly have nostalgia for something they did not experience by definition.) A user eventually pointed out that it was more of a “desire” than an actual feeling of nostalgia, and someone said that you could always invent a word, and helpfully offered the word “Yester-yearning”.

I found a few other articles as well, but they were all talking about people who think that modern medicine caused way more diseases than it’s curing, meaning they don’t see a connection between research of diseases and the treatments being used to cure them. : /

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
6 years ago

The video game Victoria told me that “nostalgic romanticism” was a real thing in the nineteenth century. It also told me that it was an artistic and political movement which was heavily associated with people who tried to hold back voting rights and educational rights from women and the poor; so, you know, fuck nostalgic romanticism.

I like the word saudae; and while I have ex-girlfriends and ex-cats I feel that way about, I don’t think it’s quite right here. Saudae is a very Tolkienesque feeling that the elder days have passed and beauty is leaving the world. We’re looking for a term that contains a little more hope that the past can return, but also a little more fictionalisation of it.

Maybe the word doesn’t exist? What’s the word for a yearning for a word which may never have existed? Romantic thesaurism?

6 years ago


Putting on glasses automatically turns one into an academic. And a lab coat, gotta have that lab coat. XD

To add to the discussion, in terms of survival, emotions and irrationality are an evolutionary advantage.

Let’s say we live in a time after raising animals was discovered but before there were any laws or cities.

Let’s say I have a goat. Let’s say you wanted to steal that goat.

If you succeeded, the most rational thing to do would be for me to go raise another goat and not waste time trying to recover a resource that is (at this point) long gone.

But that’s not how people work, because people are not rational. Specifically, if you were to steal my goat, I would fucking hunt you down and not sleep or eat until I slap your shit and take my fucking goat back. This is a purely irrational and emotion based. There is no logical reason for this recourse but this is exactly what keeps people from stealing: The cost is disproportionately high.

A species that relied purely on logic would go extinct pretty damn fast. And it should be obvious to everyone that having both emotions in tandem with logic is the best course of action; it’s kind of something we humans are really fucking good at.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
6 years ago

We’ve had the discussion about nostalgia before. “False nostalgia” was determined to mean those who had romanticized a past they never experienced.

We can call it Fauxstaligia, because I like portmanteaus.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
6 years ago

We do need a word for that feeling that things aren’t as good now as they never were. Something vaguely grumpy. Curmaudlin? (curmudgeon + maudlin)

Victory justifies itself. Its an essential truth.

To tag on to what EJ said earlier, humans are just a blip on the vast timeline of the Earth. We’ve barely been here for one tick of the cosmological clock. Within that tiny blip are even tinier blips of empires and civilizations and belief systems that come and go with astounding speed. The current longevity record is a couple of tens of millennia (held by a few hunter-gatherer tribes). That’s not even an eyeblink. What does “victory” even mean on that scale?

Also, your definition of victory as self-justifying is painfully tautological. Group A triumped over Group B because…they were winners. Oh, now Group B took over? Well, they were superior. Oops, here comes Group C to challenge B. Oh well, they lost because they were losers. And so on. Post hoc rationalization is a crutch for people who always need to be right, even at the cost of seeing the world accurately.

Understanding what other people are thinking or how they react to things can be very useful sometimes; and at other times, hilariously pointless.

Why is it “hilariously pointless” to understand what someone else is thinking?

6 years ago

Moocow: But isn’t that rational behavior in the long-term sense? If you don’t do anything to the goat thief, you’ll get a reputation as someone easy to steal from, and more people will steal your goats. It’s rational to put in twice as much effort recovering the original goat as it would take to just get a new goat if it keeps another person from stealing your goat later.

6 years ago


Ok, that is true, there is a rational amount of time to spend on the search for the goat thief. I would still assert that (due to emotions) most people would go waaaaaaaaaay past that point even when it has clearly become detrimental from a cost/benefits perspective. Kind of like Javert.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
6 years ago

Katz makes a solid point. My housemate John used to refer to it as the “don’t fuck with me, I’m loco” factor. If you develop a reputation of punishing transgressions in a thoroughly above and beyond manner, then nobody is going to fuck with you because the costs of doing so outweigh the benefits. It works well in a small tribal situation. However, it fails if one of the following two is true:

a) Society is large enough that people are anonymous and don’t have reputations.

b) Two people with that attitude go head to head.

The problem is that we learn this behaviour when we’re small, and then when we take it to adult society we run into the above two situations, and then bad things happen.

6 years ago

Rationality is pretty contextual. It depends on the factors you choose to include. That’s an issue I have with other discussions about vulcan-style logic, whether in the context of portraying it as blind and immoral or as the ultimate in thought.

I would continue contributing, but now moocow’s got my head full of Les Mis songs and rewriting them about goats.

Once a thief, forever a thief
When you want a goat, you always steal

At last, Valjean, we see each other plain!
Petit Betsy, you wear a different chain.

There, out in the darkness,
A fugitive running, lugging a goat…
Lugging his fate.

It warns you are a dangerous man.

I stole a measly goat!
I saved my nephew with its milk,
You can have it —

It’s already back! But you must learn the meaning of the law.

Kinda makes the parody a little difficult when Valjean is already a thief. They don’t exactly sing much about the bread.

Aunt Edna
Aunt Edna
6 years ago

Y’all, Arkenstone, Shonpan, and Kevin are the same entity, aren’t they (or isn’t it).

EJ (The Other One), notstalgia is just brilliant.

6 years ago

“You know nothing of Javert,
I was born inside a farm,
I was born with scum like you,
I am from the goatherds too!”

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Nostalgia was better in the old days.

6 years ago

How hilarious would it be if, for Valjean’s whole life, he just keeps getting put into positions where it looks like he’s stolen goats?


Constables: He had the nerve to say you gave him this.

Priest: That is right! But my friend, you left so early!
Surely something slipped your mind…
You forgot, I gave this also,
Would you leave a beast behind?

Goat: *meehhh*

Valjean: Umm, I’m truly sorry, you are most generous, but I really… really don’t want a goat.

Goat: *meehhh*

Priest: So Messieurs you may release him
For this man has spoken true
I commend you for your duty
May God’s blessing go with you.

Valjean: No really, you don’t understand, I have a thing w—

Priest: And remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this baby goatling
To become an honest man

Valjean: If you’d just listen…

Priest: By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!

Valjean: Fine! Fine! Ok, Jesus. Talk about a guilt trip.”

Goat: *meehhh*


Fantine: My Cosette…

Valjean: Shall live in my protection

Fantine: take her now
Valjean: Your kid will want for nothing

Fantine: Good M’sieur, you come from God in Heaven.

Valjean: And none will ever harm Cosette
As long as I am living.

Fantine: Take my hand,
The night grows ever colder.

Valjean: Then I will keep you warm.

Fantine: Take my goat, I give her to your keeping.

Valjean: Take shelter from the wait what?

Fantine: For God’s sake, please stay till I am sleeping
And tell Cosette I love her
And I’ll see her when I will (she dies)

Valjean: … DAMMIT!


Valjean: It’s you, Javert
I knew you wouldn’t wait too long
The faithful servant at his post once more!
I swear this is not what it looks like
I just need a vetrinar–

Javert: I warned you I would not give in
I won’t be swayed

Valjean: Another hour yet
And then I’m yours
And all our debts are paid.

Javert: The shameless goat thief
Steals again
And talks of justice

Valjean: No, I am not a thief!
I just… gave my word and that I shall keep
Look down, Javert
It’s baaing in its grave
Give way, Javert
There is a life to save

Goat: *beehhh*

Javert: … Take it Valjean,
Before I change my mind
And ask you about your obsession with goats

Valjean: No! I —

Javert: I will be waiting

Valjean: *sigh*

6 years ago

Valjean: On this page, I write my last confession
Read it well, when I at last am sleeping
It’s the story of one who promised too much,
One saddled with a herd of goats
For stealing one long ago…

Fantine (as a goat): Come with me
Where leads will never bind you

Valjean: Oh, oh no.

Fantine (goat): All your grief, at last at last behind you

Valjean: Lord no, it was over!

Fantine (goat): Goat in heaven, look down on him in mercy
As he looked down on all of us
And tended us so kindly.

Valjean: It can’t be, I won’t believe it!

Eponine & Fantine (goats): Take my lead, and bring me to salvation
Take my love, for love is everlasting

Eponine & Fantine & Valjean: And remember the truth that once was spoken
Valjean: Don’t ever help out anyone, it leads only to pain!

Chorus: Do you hear the Goatlings bleat? Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the sound of beasts that found their shepherd, guided toward the light!
For the lost and lonely herd, there is a hope that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end and Valjean will rise!

Valjean: Please, can we talk about this? It was nothing, really nothing. I don’t need —

Chorus: They will munch again in freedom on the green and grassy plain
They will sleep and call and gallop; they will shelter from the rain
The wolves will be driven away at the sound of His name!

Valjean: *sigh* I… I guess if you need me that badly…

Chorus: Baaaahhhh!

Valjean: Goats. Why did it have to be goats?

epitome of incomprehensibility

@kirbywarp, that was awesome. 🙂

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