>By now you have probably heard about the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers who threw himself off the George Washington bridge after his roommate broadcast live video of him having sex with another man on the Internet. It’s a terribly sad story in itself, and because, as L.M. Fenton points out on Salon’s Broadsheet blog, the suicide rate among LGBT youths is such an “an enormous, devastating problem.” In the past month four other gay teens have also killed themselves, two of them only 13 years old.
None of these other deaths caught the attention of Pierce Harlan, a prominent Men’s Rights blogger. But today on his False Rape Society blog, Harlan decided to write about Clementi — apparently because the case gave him the perfect excuse to rail against … feminists.
Why? Because the male roommate who broadcast the streaming video, and his female accomplice, weren’t, er, white. And one of them isn’t a man. “Gay tormentors who drove young man to suicide don’t fit the stereotype, do they?” the headline asks.
It’s a perplexing headline for a perplexing article. Neither of the accused are gay; I will charitably assume Harlan called them “Gay tormenters” because their actions caused harm to a gay man, not because Harlan has somehow convinced himself that they are themselves gay. Or has he? After briefly lamenting the tragedy, Harlan gets to his real agenda:
In the three remaining paragraphs Harlan manages to work in three more references to “white heterosexual males,” and one to “white male jocks,” sexual orientation unspecified. Huh? Neither of the accused are “white heterosexual males,” per se, but they’re both heterosexual, and Dharun Ravi, the one who allegedly set up the camera, put the video feed on the internet, and told other people to come and watch, is definitely male. But no matter. Harlan moves on to his main point:
Because feminists only discuss crimes when the perps are white men? Have you ever heard of OJ? And, actually, the case is being discussed widely by feminists online, on, among other places, explicitly feminist blogs like Feministing and Shakesville, on Salon’s Broadsheet blog and the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and in Reddit’s TwoXChromosomes subreddit, which is where I first heard about it. It’s also being discussed on numerous feminist-friendly LGBT blogs. Given that the victim in this case was male, wouldn’t it make sense that the case get some attention from MRAs? I haven’t seen it discussed on any Men’s Rights blogs other than Harlan’s. Apparently MRAs don’t care much about gay men, unless their deaths can be used to score a cheap political point.
The MRA who posted it, who quite conveniently goes by the name of MRA, is basing his highly scientific conclusion on a weird study from a number of years back which found that women who had unprotected spermy sex with men were happier than women whose partners used condoms; apparently semen is a kind of magic happy juice. Never mind that according to his logic, men who wear condoms should also be considered “sad, pathetic imitators of the real thing” as well.
It’s a commonplace fantasy amongst a certain kind of American man: to abandon a world filled with “picky,” “demanding,” “angry” women, infected with feminism and a sense of entitlement, to find paradise in the arms of a nubile, pliable, and above all grateful woman from an exotic place like Thailand, the Philippines, or Eastern Europe.
Not surprisingly, many Men’s Rights websites and forums are filled with angry rants about American (or more broadly, Western) women. “Western men have now had plenty of evidence over recent years of what western wimmin have become as a result of feminist indoctrination and media propaganda,” writes Ledburian, a regular on the AntiMisandry.com message boards. “I reckon it would be a good idea for all western wimmin to be forced to carry tattoos on their foreheads warning all men that they can be a serious threat to male wealth and well being.”
Meanwhile, the “fun bachelor” behind foreignwomenonly.blogspot.com, a site whose URL conveniently encapsulates its message, assures his anxious readers that paradise is within reach of any Western man with a passport: “Date Foreign Women Only, and be treated like a king.”
The reality, of course, is far more sordid and depressing than the fantasy: The reason that some Eastern women are more agreeable to Western men has less to do with culture than it does with economics. Women in the west have more options, and so are less willing to put up with crap from Western men; women in countries where many if not most people are living in abject poverty may decide that putting up with disagreeable Western men is slightly less of a bad bargain than working a poverty-wage job and living in a shithole.
Recently, I watched a sad, powerful short documentary called Bangkok Girl (also known as Falang: Behind Bangkok’s Smile), a portrait of a bar girl in a city overrun with sex tourists from all over the developed world. The whole thing is worth watching — it’s available for instant watching on Netflix and on YouTube — but one scene stood out in particular for me: a street inverview with a drunken British expat who puts his arms around Pla, the girl at the center of the documentary, and declares to the camera that she’s his “girlfriend.” (She’s not.)
It’s immediately and abundantly clear that she wants nothing to do with the creepy lout — but he’s a regular at the bar and she’ll lose her job if she rebuffs him. He’s either completely oblivious to her obvious discomfort, or he simply doesn’t give a shit. This is what “paradise” really looks like, to anyone really paying attention. Watch the scene here.
I can’t help it. This is the image that pops into my head when I read a lot of the comments from MRAs on this blog. So much anger, so little sense, so much … well, so much weird, and sometimes bizarrely specific, sexual imagery. Eww. Double eww.
Just a note: If your comments don’t appear immediately, it’s not because I have banned them. I haven’t banned any comments. It’s just Blogger’s oversensitive spam filter at work. I take the comments out of the spam filter as soon as I see them in it. If that takes a while, it’s because I’m not at my computer 24/7.
EDIT 10/1/10: I have been banning some idiot spam posts. I’m not banning anyone else, so if you’re not writing endless posts in which the word “poopy” is used more than any other word, you’re safe from the banhammer.
EDIT 10/5/10: I’ve deleted one non-spam comment. It was vile and hateful. Anything else that bad will be deleted as well.
There’s something inherently ridiculous about being lambasted for using “shaming tactics” — by someone who has just called you a “mangina.”
A few posts back, as you may recall, I took on an odd little rant on The Spearhead which seemed to suggest that Tea Party nutbag Christine O’Donnell’s 14-year-old comments about the evils of masturbation offered proof of sorts that an evil “pussy cartel” was trying to keep American men from taking matters into their own hands, so to speak. The biggest threat to this diabolical female conspiracy, the author wrote, was “men realizing that their hand will do more for them than a woman will.”
The problem, of course, is that this is completely ridiculous. I myself have had sex on a number of occasions over the years — I mean, with other people — and I have to say that my hand, despite its obvious convenience and considerable dexterity, really cannot compete with, you know, an actual naked lady.
And so I suggested that any man who thought so little of women might have a hard time getting a date. This evidently sent the author of the piece, the man behind the Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Technology blog, into such a tailspin of shame that he wrote not one but two blog posts about me. In the first, after calling me a mangina, he insisted that he did in fact have a girlfriend. In a comment, I told him I felt sorry for her. And I do. What kind of woman would want to date a man who prefers the company of Susie Palmer and her five friends? So he wrote yet another post, this one spelling out in detail the evil forms of “shaming language” I had used.
Men’s Rights Activists are obsessed with so-called “shaming language.” Or at least they have been since a document called The Catalogue of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics started making its way around the manosphere; it’s been linked to or posted on virtually every MRA blog or forum at least once.
The Catalogue is basically a list of allegedly unfair debating tactics used by those who think that MRAs are full of shit:
The list spells out 16 different types of “shaming tactics,” from the “Charge of Irascibility” (“You’re bitter!”), to the “Charge of Fanaticism” and the “Charge of Misogyny.”
And it’s true. People do charge MRAs with all of these things. And a lot of the time, they’re guilty as charged. Some MRAs are bitter. Some MRAs arefanatics. Some MRAs are misogynists.
My most grievous crime? I had used the “Threat of Withheld Affection … The Pink Whip,” in which “the target is admonished that his viewpoints or behavior will cause women to reject him as a mate.” I’ll have to plead guilty on that one, since that’s exactly what I did.
In his second blog post, Pro-Male/Anti-Fem added two more counts to the charges against me: that I had accused him of “Preying On Weak/Damaged/Insecure Women” and “Non-Specific ‘Shameful Behavior.'” I’ll plead guilty on the first count, Your Honor, but innocent on the second: I was pretty specific about what I saw as shameful — his idiotic ideas about the “pussy cartel” and the whole hand-better-than-woman nonsense.
The funny thing about the Catalogue is how deadly seriously so many MRAs take it, and how angry they get whenever one of their opponents, tired of fighting a battle of wits against half-wits, pulls one of the “shaming tactics” out of her or his bag in an effort to bring the fruitless discussion to a close.
The irony, of course (and please forgive me if I shout), is that MRAs USE SHAMING TACTICS THEMSELVES ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Just look at the comments on the post of mine that started this whole kerfuffle, posted, presumably, by MRAs who followed the link from Pro-Male/Anti-Fem’s first post. The bravely anonymous first poster starts off the insult parade by saying “just because you’ve let them cut YOUR dick off doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ours.” (This is a classic example of what the Catalogue calls the “Charge of Invirility.”) After a few more insult-laden comments, we come to this, from another brave Mr. Anonymous:
Yep, the Charge of Invirility again. But even better, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to shout again: HE USES SHAMING LANGUAGE AGAINST ME IN THE VERY SAME SENTENCE IN WHICH HE COMPLAINS ABOUT SHAMING LANGUAGE.
Sadly, our anonymous friend is hardly the first MRA to do exactly this. Take a look at this fine fellow over at (irony alert!) Antimisandry.com:
In all my travels around the angry-manosphere — Charge of Irascibility FTW! — I have run across exactly one intelligent response to the Catalogue from an actual MRA: an essay on The Spearhead by the mysterious Zed, a sort of MRM elder statesman. Rather than simply lament the use of shaming language by the evil fems, Zed urges men to respond in kind, and not just with the standard anti-woman cliches.
I recently found this helpful diagram on MRA crackpot extraordinaire Peter Zohrab’s web site, which is even more ugly and confusingly organized than the diagram itself, if you can believe it. “Indoctucation” is Zohrab’s own word, a bit like George W. Bush’s “misunderstimate” or Sarah Palin’s “refudiation.”
Can anyone explain to me why “Public Opinion & Voting Behavior” has to share a rectangle with “Politicians’ Beliefs & Assumptions,” while “Court Decisions” gets an oval all to itself? Why are these things the only things allowed in “The World,” while everything Feminist only gets to point at the world with giant arrows? Why does “Feminist Training of Lawyers and Judges” point at Public Opinion and Politicians instead of at “Court Decisions,” which would seem to make about a zillion times more sense? Did Zohrab make the diagram, look at it and realize the mistake, and say to himself, like Ed Wood, “Fuck it! Diagram making is not about the little details. It’s all about the big picture!”
And, finally, can I get this on a t-shirt?
Stay tuned for a longer post or two on Mr. Zohrab, the first in what will be a series on Famous Men’s Rights Crackpots. It’s good to know your history..
There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can’t string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.
Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2.
As you may have already gathered, Elam’s flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they’re essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.
In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They’re both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn’t a Grand Kleagle. It’s a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.
So why am I picking on Elam’s writing style? Shouldn’t I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can’t separate the two. Elam’s style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.
Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain “staleness of imagery” and a “lack of precision.” His analysis fits Elam’s essays to a T:
And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer “a defence of the indefensible,” whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.
With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He’s not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn’t gussied them up with ponderously “fancy” prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam’s thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn’t recognize the word “misandry”:
Reduced to its essence, though, Elam’s claim here is simply absurd: Because “misandry” isn’t a common enough term to include in his computer’s dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.
Really, Paul? We’re “limited to talking around the subject?” I really haven’t noticed much of that. The term “man-hating” gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “feminazi.”
In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you’ve noticed it.
Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s true to your nature. You’re not a grand philosopher; you’re not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you’re a dick. So write like one.