“But what about teh menz??”


From the MRA Marmoset.

The mechanisms of control I’ve described on this blog so far have been attempts to address dissent head-on (e.g. invalidation, blame) or by making dissent more difficult (e.g. thought-stopping, competition). I have not yet addressed misdirection. Magicians, and rogues in fantasy movies, know that the best way to keep someone from realizing something is by misdirecting their attention.

Mainstream media, serving the interests of the power elite in constantly setting the margins of discourse, diverting our attention, and omitting important facts, is the quintessential example of this. Noam Chomsky calls it the manufacture of consent; I would go further than that and call it the manufacture of entire worldviews. After all, television, movies, books and other narratives inform the vast majority of what we believe about other people and other times.

Misdirection also takes place at the personal level. The use of coded rhetoric, as politicians’ speeches are stereotyped, is one of them. Another is “what about teh menz??”. This is the name radfems have given to men who barge into feminist discussions demanding that men’s interests be made the center of discussion. This is especially egregious when men not only demand that they be made the center of discussion, but insist that they are the “real victims.”

As one person described it:

In any discussion focusing on women’s issues, the probability that someone will come around and say “men are [fill the blank], too!” approaches 1 the longer the discussion gets.

The “what about teh menz” argument does not only apply to radfem. One can easily observe it within pretty much any ideology. “What about the menz” complains run the gamut from the factually reasonable (“men get raped too”) to the extraordinarily bigoted (“but look at how many American soldiers have died from this war”) to the sublimely ridiculous (“Christians are the ones who are persecuted, because we’re not allowed to express our hatred of homosexuals”).

It’s obvious that part of this tactic is based on the “virtue of victimhood.” Based on the profound moral intuition, persecutors are always evil and victims are always good, members of a persecuting group will use any reasoning they can, no matter how absurd, to portray themselves as the “real victims.” The reason why this gets so absurd is because it implies that the victims are actually the persecutors. So neo-nazis fall back on Holocaust revisionism and anti-semitism, conservatives posit that “illegal immigrants” are ruining the economy, the police state portrays pot users and anarchists as dangerous criminals, and so on. This contributes to the marginalization of the real victims.

There is also a strong part of entitlement in this. The privileged feel that they are entitled to be seen as the “good guys” by virtue of being part of a privileged group. They also feel that they are entitled to the attention of the marginalized, that their issues are the only important issues. As Derailing for Dummies points out:

Privileged People® are accustomed, after all, to it being “all about them”. Not used to simply sitting back and listening to othered people‘s issues, Privileged People® like to be the centre of attention at all times. It reminds them that they are important. By doing this, you will feel good about yourself and send a crucial message to the Marginalised Person™ (yes you really can diminish their experience by making it all about you, all the time!).

Also related to trying to divert the topic is the attempt to have spaces reserved for the privileged. For instance, some men establish “men’s rights” groups, even though all rights are already men’s rights. Others want a White History Month, even though history is already about white people. This is merely a more elaborate and structured form of the same kind of misdirection. The ultimate result of such initiatives is to obscure the fact that the privileged are privileged.

They can also be based on voluntaryist analysis, which omits the context or history behind existing institutions and judges them purely on the basis of their present, isolated actions. This means that patterns of inequality are ignored. This can lead to a “you want to complain, then I get to complain too, so it’s fair” mindset. The problem is that this concept of fairness relies on a perspective completely divorced from reality. Fairness means to treat each other as equals, not to turn a blind eye to exploitation and deal with people as if every action exists independently of any other.

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5 thoughts on ““But what about teh menz??”

  1. Peter Cowen December 16 2012 at 22:46 Reply

    Francois you seem to be developing more rapid changes of bees to your bonnet. I loved atheism, happy with anarchism and took the switch to leftism with good graces as someone with such erudition is a great educational tool. I have become greatly intrigued with Kropotkin as a result amongst others. The rapid switch and MASSIVE focus to antinatalism and now to feminism seems slightly odd though. Not because you are incorrect just in terms of the amount of focus. Don’t get me wrong, your blog and I can fully expect the largest “fuck off” you can muster to my enquiry as hey, who the fuck cares what I think. But ultimately I guess I just wondered if you could tell me what drives these changes in focus? I nearly said rapid, they aren’t rapid in the conventional sense but given the depth of your thoughts such changes are rapid for you I’d say.

    Anywho if it wasn’t already obvious I’ve followed for years from GYOTG’s and beyond so I hope you don’t mind me shamelessly linking this

    http://eco-arc.com/?p=85

    Blog I’m slowly developing.

    • Francois Tremblay December 16 2012 at 22:57 Reply

      There is some level of lag here… to me it’s old hat, since I’ve written these entries months ago. But I can understand why you’d see a sudden change. Let me be honest, I still care and talk about atheism and anarchism, but atheism to me is pretty much played out. I think New Atheism agrees with me, as it’s doing everything it can to branch out. Nowadays most atheists talk about everything BUT atheism.

      Antinatalism, on the other hand, is still a new discipline and there’s a lot to talk about and hash out. Radical feminism is not new but is mostly ignored, and so there’s a lot of criticism that can be leveled against the feminist mainstream.

      Insofar as anarchism, I am mostly reading about historical revolutions- a lot to read but not much to talk about from a theoretical perspective. We already have a pretty good idea of what kind of society we want, it’s just a matter of patience in getting there.

      In the future months you will observe another shift from antinatalism and radfem specifically to a more broad radicalist perspective, which includes antitheism and anarchism as well.

  2. Bedelia Bloodyknuckle December 17 2012 at 16:53 Reply

    “Mainstream media, serving the interests of the power elite in constantly setting the margins of discourse, diverting our attention, and omitting important facts, is the quintessential example of this. Noam Chomsky calls it the manufacture of consent; I would go further than that and call it the manufacture of entire worldviews. After all, television, movies, books and other narratives inform the vast majority of what we believe about other people and other times.”

    Yes! This! people always forget this! I keep thinking of books like The Monk or 50 Shades of Grey whenever I have a discussion with anyone about media’s influence on people. People just seem to have NO media literacy skills whatsoever.

    “They can also be based on voluntaryist analysis, which omits the context or history behind existing institutions and judges them purely on the basis of their present, isolated actions. This means that patterns of inequality are ignored. This can lead to a “you want to complain, then I get to complain too, so it’s fair” mindset. The problem is that this concept of fairness relies on a perspective completely divorced from reality. Fairness means to treat each other as equals, not to turn a blind eye to exploitation and deal with people as if every action exists independently of any other.”

    I see this type of entitlement all the time. I had an argument with an Autistic male about a topic and I brought up the fact that scientists have used science to abuse disabled people and I also brought up my experiences of dealing with Autism. He decided to flash the “But i’m autistic toooooo” card at me and demanded an apology because I hurt his precious feelings…….Obvious entitled white male.

    • Francois Tremblay December 18 2012 at 1:26 Reply

      And it is such an important point. People never question HOW they acquire their knowledge and beliefs. That is such an incredible source of power in our democratic societies.

  3. […] have broached the topic of self-victimization in a few previous entries, especially in reference to “but what about teh menz” rhetoric, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in […]

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