Sunday, July 1, 2012
How to cultivate indifference and contempt
Every day or two, I'll stumble across an anecdotal story, or piece of writing by a female writer, talking about some aspect of sexism from a female perspective. Usually, while the stories show a legitimate cause for the type of low level venting these stories present, there is another element present as well. There is almost always a degree of assumed contempt towards average men. Examples include referring to online gamers as “neckbeardy type guys”, or referring to ownership of an expensive car as small-penis compensation, or as kindness as creepiness. There are many more examples, and they are almost always a very minor descriptive element in whatever issue is being related.
However, In something I read online today, there was an addendum to the female-authored posting which, although it acknowledged the issue in the original posting, seemed also to miss the point.
The addendum was :
ALRIGHT I GIVE UP I'VE NERD-SHAMED. FORGIVE ME, [...] I'LL REPENT I'LL REPENT.
While this isn't an apology as much as it is a demand for forgiveness - that is not the main point the author missed. She does not need to apologize to the “neckbeards” referred to in her original posting, because she has not done them any harm. Men within their own communities – of which online gaming is one, are not hurt by the belittling commentary of outsiders or women. The culture of easy, casual insult by women against average men, creeps, neckbeards, mother's-basement-dweller and so on, has a effect which might not be recognized by women. Guys generally don't need to be told they're held in contempt as a group, our wider culture makes this sparklingly clear. However, individual instances of circumstantial ad-hom have the very real effect of making men not care about women's opinions.
In the original posting which prompted me to write this, I stopped reading in the first sentence, on seeing the phrase neckbeardy guys. Whatever else was said, I don't know, because that phrase erased my interest in whatever the original author was saying. Her opinion became irrelevant, and she became irrelevant as a person. I copy-pasted the pseudo -apology at the end, because it stood out, being written in all caps, but wherever else was written, I'll never see. Am I a neck-beard? No, I'm clean shaven, Im not an online gamer, I have a girlfriend, a career, I dress well et-cetera. But whenever I see some casual, throw away comment like creeper, neck-beard or other minor belittling insult used to describe average men, ‡‡ it cements my not giving a shit about the opinions offered.
This should not be misunderstood, I don't hate women, I don't believe in any “back to the kitchen” nonsense, or any other female-targeted belittlement. What I'm talking about is my personal attitude towards women's opinions, their utterances, their writing, their thoughts, their contribution to society. If you are a woman reading this, that means your thoughts, ideas, speech, writing and so on.
The woman whose post motivated me to write this might have had something deep to say, I'll never know, because she erased my interest in her opinion. I was not hurt by it, nor insulted, nor was my mood changed, I simply stopped caring at all about whatever she had to say. That is why her pseudo-apology was misguided.
I see minor, pointless throw-away comments like “neckbeardy guys” all the time. I understand that they have a purpose for those who use them. Degrading others is one of the ways for insecure individuals to feel better about themselves, and honestly, our culture of media absolutely cultivates a climate of low-level contempt towards male identity. But I am confident that my reaction to it is common and for me, it cultivates indifference to female opinion.
Obviously, I cared enough to write this, so maybe everything I've said can be ignored, right? Maybe. However, I wrote this because I'm rationally aware of that cultivated indifference. I know that if its widely shared by other men, it will elevate the degree of disfunction in the culture of which I am a part. So for the original author of the throw-away remark which motivated this response, and for every other woman who might criticize perceived sexism against themselves. If you really want men to totally disregard your opinion, and to grow even more disinterested and contemptuous of your writing, commentary, your opinion and so on, keep doing it.
Now, I'll go grow myself a beard.
‡‡ Quote-mining alert: Items within the body of the article denoted by the double-dagger symbol present an opportunity for the dishonest to take content out of it's original context and re-frame the intention of the statement. All such individuals, even those building accusations around the re-contextualized statements should expect to be treated with maximum scorn and contempt.
Posted by John theOther at 12:02 PM