Can we vote what Gilmour likes? Or: Another attempt at quotas and distorting Academia

On Twitter and other blogs, the digital lynch mob is currently targeting David Gilmour for some comments he made in an interview. His ‘crime’? He stated publicly that he teaches male writers because he understands them best and made some off-handed comments that other writers are down the hall. Combine this with the assertion that he only teaches the best (without qualifying it), and you got a social media shit storm.

The interesting issue about a shit storm is not only that it is raining shit — in buckets — but that it shows you how the wind is blowing and who is shitting you.

I see two main issues here.

The first one is the completely ludicrous attempt by people wanting to tell others what they should feel — or love. Comments like “I’ve got a dare for you, David Gilmour. I dare you – I fucking dare you […] try harder to love it.”

Wut?

No matter what David Gilmour said, it is nothing compared to this incredible arrogance to want to tell another person what he or she should love. Strange thing, it’s not that rare — I think it’s a common strategy to invalidate another person’s feelings and telling the other person he does not really feel what he or she ‘think s/he feels’. But it’s rare to see it like this.

To use an over-the-top analogy here, does that mean that feminists arguing Gilmour should ‘try harder to love it’ support the argument that women should try harder to love the guy they’ve just ‘friendzoned’? Personally, I think that it’s best simply to leave in such a situation, because interest in an intimate relationship vs. ‘friendship only’ is a recipe for disaster and exploitation, but hey, if the woman can ‘learn to love’, that might be a viable strategy.

No? Didn’t think so.

The other issue is the attempt to influence what is taught at an university level. People trying to tell him what he should teach, and that’s a ‘gender-balanced curriculum’. Why? It’s his course. He is apparently very good at it. Why does everything have to be balanced? Non-confrontational? Safe? Where is the climate to discuss new ideas and think differently?

But hey, does that mean that “Gender Studies” will include male perspectives in the future? Some writings by MHRA’s? Perhaps a few YouTube Videos by girlwriteswhat or a few podcasts by AVfM? With a balanced discussion and no disparaging remarks? I didn’t know feminists were that open minded …

No? Didn’t think so either.

I think the whole Twitter shit storm only shows the not-so-veiled attempts to change society into something few people — men and female — want to live in. A world where thought and emotions are regulated, controlled, sane.

Don’t get me wrong (fat chance), I’m all for settings limits — in behavior. Actions can be a crime, thoughts and emotions are not. And I’m all for equal opportunity. But this isn’t about equality (few things feminists do is), this is about creating a world where women have all the rights and privileges and none of the risks and burdens (most things feminists do is this).

Probably the worst comment in the discussion I have read so far is by Emer O’Toole in a piece in The Guardian:

“‘why do I have to like books by women?’
Answer: because [they are] half of the human race”

Really? That’s a reason? Since when are my preferences open for others to decide? I like what I like, I love what I love. Trying to tell me what I have to like simply based on a numbers’ game is ludicrous. The logical conclusion would be a world where everyone likes 1/x of everything there is. This brings the idea of a dystopian future to a completely new level.

Personally, I draw the line when it comes to trying to regulate my thought or my emotions. Some very vocal feminists have some really strange thoughts and emotions, and I refuse to let them determine my reality.

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The negative world-view of ‘every man might be a potential rapist’, or: Women, please don’t strangle your unwanted babies

One of the eye-opening moments I had this year was the realization of how unnecessarily defensive many men are. Perhaps you have encountered the situation: A public or personal plea that ‘only men can stop rape’, or ‘teach men not to rape’, or ‘don’t be that guy’.

I’m not talking about how stupid it is to give up personal agency here, Thunderf00t does this better than I could.

No, I’m talking about the unnecessarily defensive attitude of many men in these situations. They go “Oh, I’m different.” They uncritically accept the assertion and try to show that they are the exception.

No, you are really not. You are like most other guys — you would never commit rape.

Thing is, most men are basically honest and want to do the right thing. Once you see this you suddenly find it strange that you ever accepted the assertion that ‘every man is a potential rapist’. I know a lot of men, family members, friends, colleagues — the assumption that they all could be rapists is … ‘strange’ to say the least.

But isn’t it best to be save than sorry? Well, that depends. I’d refer to Thunderf00t‘s video here, but my personal take is that it is probably not beneficial for the relations between the gender if one side is asked to think of the other side in the worst possible terms. Yes, you should be careful in some situations, and you should avoid sending mixed messages, but assuming that every man is just a hair-trigger away from knocking you down is not a healthy attitude. And it’s pretty insulting.

But given the nature of the topic, perhaps an over-the-top comparison is required here. Suppose all that “better safe than sorry” or “don’t be that guy” crap would be about women and unwanted pregnancies. There are cases of women who get pregnant, do not realize it until it is too late, and keep the pregnancy secret. Once the child is born they panic and kill the child. It happens. Rarely, thankfully, but given the atrocious nature of the crime — killing a helpless baby — shouldn’t there be a public service announcement dealing with this issue? Something like:

DON’T BE THAT MOTHER

I know most women are basically good, and you would never do this. But let’s better be safe than sorry. Suppose you had a sexual relationship and you missed your period. You hoped that everything would turn out well, but it did not. Or perhaps you did not notice it because you found it normal to eat a little more and be sick after a breakup. Or you were so sure that the pill would prevent a pregnancy but you did not realize that the antibiotics interfered with it.

Whatever the reason, you found out that you are pregnant and it was too late for an abortion or too early in the century for your family to accept it.

No matter how well you managed to conceal it and the astonishing feat that you pulled off the birth on your own without a hitch, now that baby is in front of you, alive, crying, screaming for a life where it is heard.

Please don’t murder it.

Please don’t smash its tiny head in. Please don’t strangle it. Please don’t suffocate it in the bathtub or bury it alive.

Please don’t beTHAT mother.

I know, most women are basically good, but just to be on the safe side, just because you have the biological equipment to birth it and the hands to strangle it, I’m asking you: Don’t be THAT mother. You know, the kind of mother who strangles her child after birth.

How would women like such an ad campaign? And can we call them infanticide apologists if they are against it?

Don’t get me wrong (fat chance), rape is a terrible crime. So is infanticide. But suspecting that all who could possibly commit such a crime would commit such a crime does not help. With rape I agree with Thunderf00t — there are ways to reduce the risk. I also agree that rape can leave scars but that therapy can help to mitigate the damage.

And I strongly argue that most men are basically good and they should not be defensive when they hear about women’s fears. If a woman feels threatened by the mere presence of a man, it’s that’s woman’s problem, not the problem of the unfortunate male who is in her presence.

And personally, I refuse to feel responsible or — even worse — guilty about it.

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Feminism, Skeptics and Atheists – House Cleaning

The whole issue with some irrational feminists trying to change the discourse in the skeptic/atheist community reminds me of another society I am a member of.

The society is one the one hand very elitist, on the other hand very open to those who qualify. Members are usually a bit strange and socially awkward — well, there is a strong self-selection at work. There is an incredible amount of tolerance to other members idiosyncrasies. However, sometimes the society accepts social predators, who use the open climate to exploit other members for their personal gain. The uncritical acceptance can keep people in the society even if they severely damage it. It usually takes exceptional effort to kick them out.

I think things are similar in the skeptic/atheist community. It’s nice to have more members. It’s nice to have more female members. And it might even be nice to talk about women’s feelings and how they can be made to feel more comfortable. Perhaps, after a few decades of dismantling pseudoscience and religion, it’s a nice distraction to talk about those things.

But you risk inviting termites into your organization. And sure, termites can build very impressive things. But termites build things for … well, for termites. They build their own structures that do not necessarily benefit your goals. And in the case of feminism, they are diametrically opposed to the goals of skeptics and atheists.

After all, what use it is to replace one dogma with another one?

I think it’s time to stop the inquisition and instead do some house cleaning.

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Feminism, Skeptics and Atheists – Applying Skeptical Thinking to Feminism

If I see one positive aspect of the current involvement of feminism in the skeptic/atheist community (e.g., Atheism+), it’s that those feminists might bite off more than they can chew.

There are some skeptics who think that skepticism is limited to religion and pseudosciences. I completely disagree. I think that skeptical (and critical) thinking can be applied to any topic. Yes, even to the question whether hand-stitched cricket balls are better than machine sewed ones. It might not be a sexy topic that draws the crowds, but it is a valid topic. And who know, presented in the right way, it might even be interesting.

I also think that the current version of feminism — entitlement without responsibility or accountability — is a good target for skeptical thinking. It is a religion is disguise that claims to be for equality, but is not willing to accept the responsibilities that come with the rights. They see the ‘privilege’ and benefits men have, but not their own. They are for themselves, and only for themselves.

Analyzing feminist “theory” and their worldview — and having a close look at the studies they promote and their limitations — it would tear feminism to shreds (for the argumentation style, “A Voice for Men” has some nice infos, including links to “The Feminist’s Guide To Debate Tactics” and “The Catalogue of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics“). It would also allow skeptics to come out of the defensive they are currently engaged in.

Instead of trying to proof that (male) skeptics/atheists are nice men, they could question the need to prove that they are ‘good’. After all, what would constitute as evidence in this case? After all, you could always do something in the next moment that negates it. So instead of trying to defend themselves against the accusation that “they have blasphemed” they could question the worldview and the issue of “original sin” itself.

A much, much more effective way to deal with feminism.

Of course, the problem is that you are dealing with an ideology here and would have to use logic in conversations with hardcore feminists who do not believe in logic. Instead, these feminists follow their feelings and think that what they feel is the truth.

But given their experience with religious types the skeptic/atheistic community is very well suited for this endeavor. 🙂

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Feminism, Skeptics and Atheists – Defining Rape

The current discussion of anonymous rape accusations in the atheism/skeptic community highlights an ugly aspect of the current brand of feminism. It shows what happens when you expand the definition of rape to include “he gave me alcohol, I knew it was alcohol, I drank it, we had sex”.

For some hardcore feminists this constitutes as rape — even when no force was involved, just because a man gave a woman alcohol. I mean, sure, when the aim is to intoxicate a person to force her to sex, then, yes, it should count as rape. BTW, it should count as rape no matter whether the victim is female or male. But as part of a normal interaction? Alcohol has its function as a social lubricant, not to mention that it is polite to make sure that your conversation partner has enough to drink. It is one thing to regret a one-night stand that you had when you were drunk, but quite another to be forced against your will. The first one is a mistake you can learn from, the second is a crime that should have serious consequences for the rapist.

I think the different definition of what constitutes “rape” is the main problem of the whole rape accusation issue. In the beginning of every discussion you have first to define your terms, otherwise you risk false dis-/agreement.

And I suppose that if the discussion starts with a definition of the terms first it would become clear that some feminists have expanded the term “rape” beyond the scope of instances it should cover. It would also show that feminism has become a religion that follows a dogma and not empirical data.

The discussion would also show that feminism promotes a world-view which makes the world an ugly place. Because let’s face it, the aim of these anonymous accusations is not to make the community a safer place. The aim is to change the interaction. To introduce insecurity, self-censorship and inhibition. To make (some) women the sole arbiter of what is acceptable or not in social interactions. And the equivocality and arbitrariness removes any dependability for men when it comes to social interactions. It keeps men in the defensive, always on their toes whether what they do is right or wrong.

I can see the power in it, I can see that it might be fun in some contexts, but it is not a form of interaction I would consent to in a normal public setting.

And after all, rape and other forms of violence are serious issues. Rapists — men and women — should be punished for it. Anonymous accusations and diluting what counts as rape does not help the victims of actual rape. On the contrary, I think the whole discussion makes it harder for victims of actual rape to come forward, because the discussion is not about preventing crimes, it’s about power and political gains.

Seriously, I wonder what the reason for that expansion of rape to include “he gave me alcohol” is? Do they want to create more instances of “rape” that do not really qualify, but help them gain support for their worldview that men are evil and they should be in charge? Do some feminists want to claim that they were ‘raped’ without really experiencing a rape? Hell, how can anyone think of politicizing violence and rape?

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Feminism, Skeptics and Atheists – Skeptics, really?

So, there is a discussion about the role of feminism in atheism and the skeptics community in general. For an intro, I highly recommend the series by Thunderf00t or by noelplum99. Looking at it — at “Elevator Gate”, Atheism+ and all that crud … damn. Aren’t you supposed to be skeptics? How can they be so completely blindsided?

I think is reinforces the old saying that nobody is as stupid as an expert who talks about an area which s/he is not an expert in.

Skeptics and Atheists are extremely skeptical — about religion and pseudoscience that is, but not when today’s brand of feminism with its rape accusations barges in.

I mean, really?

What about:

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Carl Sagan

or even

“You don’t seem to give much thought to the matter in hand,” I said at last, interrupting Holmes’ musical disquisition. “No data yet,” he answered. “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”
“A Study in Scarlet” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It’s easy to act rational if you have no emotional connection to the subject. For someone who is not religious taking apart religion is easy, because you “know” that religion is not true. You are just applying methods when you already “know” the outcome. Easy, no emotional discomfort here. Perhaps even a little bit of fire from the anger that they trick people this way.

But as soon as you move to another area, you lose your habits and expertise. You no longer know what is true. There is no clear right or wrong, no clear “god does not exist” and “homeopathy is ludicrous”.

And then suddenly it becomes all emotional reasoning and speculation that would make a cultist envious. It becomes a defensive stance against accusations that are not supported by evidence.

It would be laughable if it were not so soul-crushing.

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Friendships – Help and Support

One issue that still sticks out from the last friendship I ended is the kind of help you can expect in a good friendship.

For me, helping a friend when s/he is in trouble is something that I do automatically. I do not wait for an invitation, nor would I expect one. I think this is one of the defining characteristics of a good friendship — if something is wrong you keep in close contact and make sure that the friend gets better — and intervene if necessary.

To put it differently, when you see someone drowning and going under, you have to show initiative and enter the water to help the person out. Telling the person “call me if I can help you” and then walk away — that reaction would not be tolerated if it came from a bystander, much less from a friend.

BTW, it has nothing to do with mind-reading, but with interest, being able to listen, empathy and perspective taking. After all, if the person is your friend you know enough of the person to gauge how this person thinks and feels — and what you can do to help this person. In this regard I strongly agree with the following quotation:

When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.
Edgar Watson Howe

And if your friends are not willing to do this for you — and they don’t react well to feedback regarding this behavior — then they have failed the parachute test of friendship. And then it’s time for better friends. Friends who watch your back when you need them.

Because one day you will need them.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #7 – The road not taken

Looking back at the last dysfunctional friendship — and the previous postings — I think I understand better now how that friendship developed and why I ended it. And that the dysfunctional behavior was on both sides — she used me and felt entitled to my friendship, but I also used her. I cannot simply see her at fault and say:

My plan is to forgive and forget.
Forgive myself for being stupid,
and forget you ever existed.
Unknown

The friendship is over and that is a good thing. It ended because I voluntarily took an inferior position. Sure, without thinking it through, but still.

The question is — could I have acted differently?

In the beginning, sure, and I am not sure whether that friendship would have developed then in the first place. I assume that she was looking for a person like me. If I had known what I know now and it had ended right at the start … that would have probably a good thing.

At the time when I reached my limit regarding the imbalance … I don’t know. I think the main problem would have been that trying to change the friendship, the way it functions — that is not only extremely hard but it takes the effort of both parties. If the habits are that entrenched, it takes continuous conscious effort to change it.

And I doubt that she would have 1. seen the need to change it, and 2. contribute to it. It would have been far more likely that she would have felt insulted by the assertion that the friendship was off-balance. After all, at the end she said she did not want to lose me — but although she would vehemently deny it, I think she feared less losing me but more losing my support.

As for me, continuing the friendship and trying to change it — it would have been hard to impossible for me not to fall into the old habits.

The old habits are just so comfortable — for both parties.

So, yes, it was a cowardly as asshole move to end the friendship this way. And I think the problem was getting in such a situation in the first place.

In this sense the goal is not to forgive and forget, but to analyze and apply — in future, better friendships.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #6 – Balance and Book-Keeping

One issue in the previous postings was balance — and the internal book keeping that seems to be necessary to achieve it.

But in writing these postings I began to see balance and book-keeping different  than before.

On the one hand, book-keeping might seem petty, after all it’s a friendship. It should work without it. On the other hand, because it’s a friendship, it should be balanced. And don’t you need to know how much you give out and receive to know whether the relationship is in balance or not?

Nope.

I think book-keeping signals a fundamental lack of understanding what a friendship is about. Not because balance and equality — or rather reciprocity — is not important or that it is not helpful to evaluate a friendship — after it is over to find out what went wrong.

But trying to maintain a friendship via book-keeping comes too late — too late in the friendship and too late in the interaction.

You do something, they do something, and then you compare scores. What did I give, what did she give? You can build a feedback loop this way and even use game theory strategies like the prisoners dilemma. Here the best strategy would be to cooperate first (e.g., do something for the other person) and then mimic the actions they do. If they do something for you, you do something for them. If they don’t, you don’t either.

But while it works (in these settings), it’s hardly a way to build or keep a friendship. Friendship requires trust and book-keeping is the anathema of trust.

“Speak up for yourself while you’re here, ok?”
Jadzia Dax in Star Trek DS9: “Playing God”

I think the best strategy is to be open about the interaction from the beginning. Looking back at the three friendships I ended deliberately and (for the other persons) surprisingly, the imbalance was a symptom, but not the cause. The real problem was that accepted an interaction that was not equal. That I did not intervene when something was bothering me. That I let things slide. That I did not speak up when I thought that some behavior was thoughtless and hurtful. That I did not establish clear limits.

In my attempts to protect a friendship I wanted to build and keep, I weakened and poisoned it. Instead, I should have kept the interaction fair and equal from the beginning. That should have kept the balance automatically — without any need for book-keeping.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #5 – Hurt and Nostalgia

It’s been more than a month now that I ended the last friendship I had. And I still think that it was a good decision. Probably the best decision I have made this year — unless I quit my job, but that’s another story. It’s up there with other decisions like switching from a PC to a Mac, or leaving the Catholic Church.

But at times, I miss that ‘friendship’.

Looking back, it was not much — and how it developed and ended … much of it was my fault and responsibility. But still, it was something — in the sense that a few crumbs can be a feast when you are starving.

And then I remind myself that ending the friendship was in my best (long-term) interest. That I need to build a new social life with people who are good for me. And that ending the friendship this way was the only way to get out of it. Otherwise I would have slipped back into the dysfunctional friendship and would not have looked around for new friends. Would have avoided the social interaction with all it’s little cuts and bruises, comfortable, but I would have died alone in the long run.

I think back at the friendship and still see the cheese, but now I also see clearly that it was only a few crumbs of cheese — and there is a steel trap around it.

I think that a dysfunctional friendship (or any relationship) has its attraction because when people are in a bad place — emotionally, mentally, financially, or even regarding their career — many people prefer the known bad situation to the unknown dangers and hurt that could happen to them when they leave the situation. Aptly put by the idiom ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t‘. However, this assumes that the alternative is always worse, and I don’t believe in that anymore.

“You know what’s sad about people like you, Lilah? It all comes down to fear.”
“Fascinating. Now that we’ve got that settled …”
“You’re too scared to believe in anything because you’re too scared to hope. You won’t even open your eyes to the possibility.”
Cordelia and Lilah in Angel: “Calvary”

There is always the hope that things can get better. Especially if you find out what brought you in that dysfunctional situation in the first place, remind yourself of it again and again, and work hard to change your cognition and your behavior.

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