I ran across a post in the men’s rights subreddit that is emblematic of a very common sly inversion: the assertion that women have to coddle men’s fragile egos. This was by way of saying how very weary this writer was of having to explain all this over and over again to bone-stupid men (the trite, old, worn-out Frazzled Adult “Because I’m the Mommy, That’s Why!” pose so familiar to anyone who has ever engaged with a high-minded gender equality warrior) who somehow did not immediately see and accept the absolute truth of the talking points she had memorized in her catechism.
Above all, I’m supposed to butter you up, you men, stroke your egos, tell you how very important you are in the fight for equality.
So she starts with a sly inversion. It’s men who have to walk on eggshells around women’s fragile egos—”Do these pants make me look fat?”—sucking up to them at bars to get them to talk to us, putting up with their shit-testing (this is how women do “negging”—remember all that PUAspeak?), and playing the whole “happy wife, happy life,” “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” diva bullshit.
But according to Princess Clueless, it’s women buttering men up. According to me, it’s snatching oppression from the jaws of privilege.
I am trying to think of all the ways women butter men up. Would it be the way women so often compliment men on how they look, and how loaded a question and fraught a situation it is when a man asks the woman in his life what she thinks of the shirt he’s wearing? Do these pants make his ass look fat? Would it be the way testosterone is reviled as some kind of poison in the standard expression “testosterone poisoning”? We can sit here and develop quite an extensive list of examples of how men’s egos are absolute fair game when it comes to women making cutting remarks, but I think the ubiquity of “what about the menz” both in actual discussions of men’s issues and as a general attitude in society pretty well puts the slam on the question.
And so she starts with a sly inversion and then it continues with another sly inversion:
… tell you how very important you are in the fight for equality.
Is Princess Clueless really so unaware of the actual history of the women’s movement in its whole arc across the decades that she truly believes what she is saying here? Does she really think that women had to fight for the vote the same way that working men had to fight for decent conditions and hours and for living wages? Really? How many suffragettes were shot down in the street and left to lie there? How many Pinkertons and other goon squads were sicced on women’s organizations in those days? The question answers itself.
Who does Princess Clueless think instituted the multitude of programs advantaging girls across academia and in government? Surely if the patriarchy is real and men hold all power in society … But the point is that this line of discussion is pointless with someone like her. Her positions are the effusions of pure id, unconstrained by any requirement to be consistent or coherent or even just not glaringly contradictory—because her position is that women are an oppressed victim class needing to struggle for equality but one that still somehow single-handedly has reversed its oppression in that struggle for equality against an overwhelming male supremacy. It’s self-contradictory in every way but one—it serves her self-congratulatory narrative. Because her fragile ego needs the validation.
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