Speshul Snowflake Koan

S

Just dropping a quick line here after having read something rather amusing.

According to Yashar Ali, women are more empathetic to men then men are to women.

This is his exact quote:

Men aren’t here to save women from themselves, empathy is something that women practice with men everyday…

Here’s the thing, Yashar, I’m a woman who is attempting to develop a true understanding of men’s vulnerabilities and issues. By every definition I am a woman ‘practicing empathy towards men.’

And I’m mocked as a ‘speshul snowflake’ (along with my other sisters-in-empathy arms). Which is ironic in light of this article asserting that women, in general, practice empathy towards men every day.

How can I be special and just an average Jane at the same time? How does one reconcile a blanket generalization that ‘women are more empathetic’ and be part of a movement that shames women who are more empathetic by claiming those women do so to be all ‘unique’ and ‘different’?

If a hegemonic masculinity falls in the forest and no one is around to condemn it, did it really fall? What is the sound of one patriarchy clapping?

Also, shout out to LadyMRAs!

Alison Tieman
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Alison Tieman

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="2894 http://www.genderratic.com/?p=1665">32 comments</span>

  • That is because you are showing empathy thourd group of people,they don’t like.
    Group of people,who in the people eyes does not deserve even a drop of empathy.

  • Valkina is exactly right. She is referring to what we here call “empathy apartheid”.

    Mr. Yashar Ali is repeating a pattern we often see in men from similar cultural backgrounds – Hugo Schwyzer is lousy for this – celebrating (and pedestalizing ) women, because it makes them feel all Western and progressive.

    Of course spending some time on almost any feminist board will gve the lie to his assertion, with their Waht About The Menz and dismissals of men as privileged and therefore magically unable to be oppressed.

  • I think exhibit A in the case of Reality vs. Women Being Necessarily Empathetic Towards Men has to be CBS’s The Talk on Catherine Kieu Becker. The prosecution rests. The jury may now retire to consider their verdict.

    It’s just sugar and spice and puppy dog tails really. Yashar Ali is one of those male feminists who believes as an article of faith that women are automatically nicer people than men. A lot of us internalise that message growing up, and it’s a shock to discover it’s not actually true. My message to Mr Ali, if the Bad Dog Project would allow me to post, would be: men are human, and women are only human.

  • I like the implication that men who bend over backwards for women aren’t really helping or anything like that, they just have to do it in order to compensate for women’s naturally superior nurturing abilities. I guess that explains why men can do all the heavy lifting to pass laws which privilege women but when men who start a men’s movement ask for support from women on men’s issues, they’re told, “then start your own movement.”

  • Just to clarify. It’s not the fact that they’re shaming women who are empathetic towards men that I’m pointing out.

    It’s the fact they’re shaming using an insult predicated on the idea that being a woman who is empathetic to men is a way for a woman to be _different then other women_.

    If a woman empathetic towards men is rare enough to earn the title ‘speshul snowflake’ in their estimation, then they’re inadvertently revealing the fact that they believe _almost all women in society are not empathetic towards men_.

    Aren’t they supposed to be against the idea that men have problems? Because having the one gender expressing no empathy towards the other is a big fucking problem.

    They can’t even create insults that are logically consistent with their world view!

  • Sorry TyphonBlue, it just seems like 6 of one or half a dozen of the other. It’s just that there’s so much bullshit wrapped up in one article, it’s hard to focus on just one thing. For instance:

    Because as much as we live in a racist, homophobic culture, gender inequity is a great equalizer in a way—the hatred for women is universal and knows no race, sexual orientation…or sometimes gender.

    So here, the classic erasure and appropriation of gay rights as a women’s issue. Because as we all know, gay men are only discriminated against for having “female” qualities. And it’s never, ever the case that the pedestrianization of women which obliges men to act as their self-sacrificing benefactors has at least something to do with gay men not being seen as “real men” and therefore to be despised. The Redstockings have never felt that way, have they? Besides, not even gay men can understand those issues, of course, because, you know… ahem:

    I write about how men will never truly understand what it’s like to be a woman moving about in her day, but that we must make an effort to learn what it’s like in order to better understand what they face, in order to properly combat gender discrimination.

  • FTR I understand what the author was trying to say – that even women, transsexuals, and gays can hate women. The whole thing is just a bunch of special pleading since men oppress men, gays oppress gays, etc., it’s not just women who are universally loathed, which is proof of absolutely nothing. But, and I may be mistaken, there’s something even more sinister to it. I may be over reacting, but I’ve seen feminists appropriate all manner of oppression as a women’s issue, including issues faced by gay men and lesbians. You’ll see feminists making claims that homophobia and femmephobia are practically one and the same, that blacks and lesbians who are discriminated against are a women’s issue even though feminists themselves are a source of the same said discrimination. At any rate, the whole damn thing is one big ball of appropriating shit.

  • “At any rate, the whole damn thing is one big ball of appropriating shit.”

    It’s colonization.

    When a less powerful group of people has something that a more powerful group of people can see will benefit them, they either take it or give the less powerful people a handful of glass beads as a ‘fair exchange’.

    Gynocentrists recognized the power wielded by the civil rights movements and they co-opted it. They co-opted it because powerful white men would rather benefit white women then anyone else(including other white men). Benevolent sexism, as they term it, was a force multiplier in this situation.

    Which is why women’s issues dominate the discourse on human rights today rather then the issues of statistically disenfranchised groups.

    Like any other colonizer, they take the power and give the natives some crumbs to ‘compensate’ them. ‘Support us and… we’ll help you out. Maybe.’

  • Can we please drop ’empathy’ from the language?

    Half the time it refers to concern for others.

    Half the time it refers to the ability to guess others’ emotional states from their ‘facial expressions,’ ‘body language,’ ‘aura,’ ‘energy,’ and whatever else. Face-blind people often have trouble with this. Autistic people often have trouble guessing about neurotypical people. Neurotypical people often have trouble guessing about autistic people. Unfortunately, neurotypical people often assume autistic people are untrustworthy, leading to exclusion, deprivation, and often violence against autistic and other non-neurotypical people.

    We would do better to use different words to describe different things – sympathy and compassion for the former; mind-reading for the latter.

  • @dungone
    \”it’s not just women who are universally loathed…\”

    that\’s not even the point. the point is that this lying whine of hers has nothing to do actual historical or social facts, it has to do with the consistency needs of the theory. And that theory proceeds from anddescribes the psychological reality for people who have a certain kind of dysfunctional life that they generalize as the social norm. People who believe in patriarchy theory have a real need for a daddy figure to grant them things – the supplicatory methods of both first and second wave feminism manifest this – ASKING for the vote, for God\’s sake – and then they have a vested interest in insisting this daddy figure actually exists. it reaches the height of absurdity when they then go on to proclaim themselves atheist.

    Justice claims are always supplicatory. If you want power you have to take it, not ask for it, and then justice claims become irrelevant. It\’s no good to say, well, we\’re part of society too, we have rights, because tyou still have to answer whow are you doing oyur share of all that, how are you guaranteeing other people\’s rights? Crickets chirping. Instead we hear that suppurating abomination of a spoiled white woman, Susan B. Anthony whining that black VETERANS were going to get the vote before a bunuch of perfumed social parasites.

    The need for victimhood as a cornerstone of their toxic femininty is what drives all these self-serving just-so stories of how men can by definition never be on the receiving end of sexism, for instance. It all comes out of this strategic need – calling themsleves a minority, a la \”women and minorities\”, or putting all the blame for war or colonialism on men, is all of a piece.

    @Marija,

    I understand your concerns about the word \’empathy\’ but it is not only a good and useful word, however much some illiterate trash misuse the word. Actually the first function you describe requires the second, as anyone knows who has to figure out what an infant\’s cry means – food, sleep or diaper change. concern without a little mind-reading is bound to fail.

    And besides – i expect empathy from people who request of of me.

  • \”Can we please drop ‘empathy’ from the language?\”

    Yes!!! I\’ve wondered about that too. We talk about it as an end all be all good, but at best, it is only a step towards helping others.

    And compassion, is a much better side for describing the mindset of someone who will or wants to help.

    \”So here, the classic erasure and appropriation of gay rights as a women’s issue. Because as we all know, gay men are only discriminated against for having “female” qualities. And it’s never, ever the case that the pedestrianization of women which obliges men to act as their self-sacrificing benefactors has at least something to do with gay men not being seen as “real men” and therefore to be despised.\”

    The social theories we have are usually about motivation, right? We either see women as weak, or useless men as vermons…

    You can guess the motivation behind homophobia by looking at the dating world. Based on one study, women are more likely to dumb a cheater if he cheated with another guy. The same isn\’t true for men, ie they didn\’t date in a homophobic way. Of course, this will put a great deal of pressure on men to act homophobic themselves. In other works, act super straight or you won\’t get pussy.

    Collectively, women are using their sexual power to gain more sexual power.

  • I agree that “empathy” is an overrated virtue. It only means the ability to read others’ emotions. It doesn’t mean you care about them – that’s sympathy, or compassion. The flip side is that cruelty – treating others in a way you know will cause them maximum pain – depends as much on empathy as compassion does.

  • Any self-described feminist who spouts this kind of traditionalist, unsubstantiated nonsense, supports it, or is at all okay with it, is a creepy, self-contradictory hypocrite. People who don\’t call themselves feminists and believe this are still assholes, but they are not necessarily hypocritical. It\’s pathetic to see someone trying to push this shit forward as progressive or unique. It would take 1.21 Jiggawatts to get this person back to a time period when their views would significant, and event then they would be overshadowed by the romantics who could actually write.

    Besides that, people convinced of their own empathy, goodness or understanding are extremely dangerous. They should be avoided in person and in print and kept out of power at all costs.

    I do think \’empathy\’, as it is commonly used, is overrated. I can\’t read facial expressions very well. Sometimes I can\’t even tell if someone is laughing or crying. I don\’t have the innate ability to know what other people are thinking and feeling or what they will think or feel, but I think about it, and I ask them about it. I try to understand their reactions and modify my own actions accordingly. According to a lot of people, that\’s not \”real\”, and I\’m sick of hearing that all of that work doesn\’t matter.

    It looks like this is another writer I will be ignoring, as part of my new plan for dealing with people who write about gender (as well all the other \”social justice\” types). I\’ve decided to start valuing my time and attention more and deny them to people who have nothing of value to say or come off as bigoted, hostile, or otherwise threatening. A soapbox preacher needs an audience, and I think denying them that is usually a more effective response than arguing with them.

  • Also, that is not how”speshul snowflake” is supposes to be used.

    TB, you are arguing with people who don’t even understand how to use schoolyard taunts properly. They also apparently think that spelling things incorrectly makes them more meaningful in some way.

    I still can’t find the proper words to express all the ways in which the piece you are responding to disgusts me. “Disgust” is definitely the right word, though. It doesn’t make me feel angry or threatened or indignant, it makes me feel the way I do when I have to clean the congealed slime out of a drain. It’s far too trite and empty to provoke a real emotional response, but I still dislike it intensely.

  • Any self-described feminist who spouts this kind of traditionalist, unsubstantiated nonsense, supports it, or is at all okay with it, is a creepy, self-contradictory hypocrite.

    Hah! Well that narrows it down…

    According to a lot of people, that\’s not \”real\”, and I\’m sick of hearing that all of that work doesn\’t matter.

    Agreed. I have long gotten the sense that people who vaguely say they’re looking for someone “real” or “authentic” are probably spouting a bunch of intellectually lazy ableist nonsense that obliges others to be expert cold readers. I don’t think any of this “realness” really exists, anyway, apart from both parties helping themselves to a great deal of confirmation bias in a carefully choreographed dance.

    People who believe in patriarchy theory have a real need for a daddy figure to grant them things

    @Gingko, yes it’s quite funny how often that turns out to be the case. It’s Catch-22 and a self fulfilling prophecy at that.

    Instead we hear that suppurating abomination of a spoiled white woman, Susan B. Anthony whining that black VETERANS were going to get the vote before a bunuch of perfumed social parasites.

    I had such a huge argument about this on an atheist blog last summer! You couldn’t have said it any better, unless you could somehow add anti-sex religious conservative social parasites. Their participation as white women in the Abolitionist movement was the ethical equivalent of an “I’m with stupid –>” t-shirt. At every step of the way they would disrupt Abolitionist meetings, stage walk outs and boycotts (kind of what Skepchicks has been doing to the atheist movement recently). Not only did they try to institute Biblical law in the US, not only was their movement responsible for the practice of circumcising American baby boys, but even the WKKK was a direct outcropping of the Women’s Temperance Union. So then when we have speeches by Susan B Anthony where she literally bitches about black men getting the right to vote before she did and people still can’t grasp the idea that her shit didn’t smell. Fuck, for what it’s worth women did get the right to vote before black veterans did, or any other veteran, for that matter.

  • IMO \”empathy\” is something you feel while \”sympathy\” is something you express. I, for example, am very empathetic (even to bugs and weeds) but I rarely express sympathy towards others. For me, sympathy comes across as false and/or fake. Also,m while I\’m here talking about this I consider empathy to be a learned skill. I can recall from my own past exact moments where certain things \’clicked\’ for me. For example, once I was riding my bike in the street and a car honked at me. \”yeah yeah yeah, whatever!\”, I thought. But several years later I was riding in the car with my mom and a bicyclists came darting out and my mom honked at him. It was at that moment were I felt (in retrospect) empathy towards the driver that honked at me. \”So that\’s how that driver felt when I darted out in front of them\”.

    btw, I\’m still reading just not posting much. Thanks for the great site to help keep me sane. Also, btw, VIP atheist Thundefoot has weighed in on the sexism in the skeptic movement thing. Seems like his opinions and thoughts got him banned from (the poorly named) Freethought Blogs.

  • “Agreed. I have long gotten the sense that people who vaguely say they’re looking for someone “real” or “authentic” are probably spouting a bunch of intellectually lazy ableist nonsense that obliges others to be expert cold readers. I don’t think any of this “realness” really exists, anyway, apart from both parties helping themselves to a great deal of confirmation bias in a carefully choreographed dance.”

    I’m looking to be real and authentic and to be with real and authentic people. By this I mean genuine people who don’t hide behind social memes, trying to project some image, while being a totally different person in private. That’s a total turn off to me.

    Don’t pretend you like beers, cars, and playing pool just because “its manly”. Don’t pretend you like shopping, and dream about shoes, just because “its girly”.

  • “I’m looking to be real and authentic and to be with real and authentic people. By this I mean genuine people who don’t hide behind social memes, trying to project some image, while being a totally different person in private. That’s a total turn off to me.”

    I see that there’s probably many contexts in which the word “real” can be used. I was talking about the “real connection” usage, where people make assumptions about one another from body language and demeanor (perceived confidence, perceived happiness) to make claims such as that their meeting was “meant to be” or that they had “good vibes” or that they found “love at first sight” or any other such vague and wholly unsubstantiated claims. It’s a really huge problem for passive women, though. They especially want to be around someone who reacts in a desirable manner to what they’re feeling, whether it be through reading of facial expression or just sheer over-confidence.

    Usually a woman will look approvingly at a guy’s height, or a man will look approvingly at a woman’s breasts, and whatever their actual behavior is gets ignored by both in favor of assumptions that fit a certain preconceived notion. Then, over time they learn about who the other person really is and start feeling betrayed. So this is what I see happening all too often when I hear people who claim to want someone “real.” They want who they want, and they’ll know it when they see it, and they want to be able to make unthinking assumptions that are nevertheless correct without having to bother actually getting to know themselves or the other person.

  • You know, I loved The Good Men Project back when all those gynocentric feminist contributors left and it finally became a place to go where examinations of being a man wasn’t followed by feminist theory provisions.

    Now, with Noah as head editor and Hugo Schwartzer of all people contrbuting articles again, it’s gone to hell. You can’t even discuss being a man without getting “Men need feminism” shoved down your throat.

    While Joanna, HeatherM, and Julia still prove to be egilatarian, they continue to spout obvious gynocentric drivel (like the highest postions in government are filled by men or some nonsense) and in spite of telling them over and over that just because men make up the top positions doesn’t mean they have the interest of ALL MEN at heart, they continue to do it.

    At least Tom was the only reasonable one and they dog-piled him.

  • This business of reading people in the way we are using it here puts me in mind of gaydar. And one thing you find out about gaydar sooner or later is that it is very heavily culture-dependant. Beyond the most basic facial expressions that are common across the species, specific variations on them are learned behavior, on the order of the various voice qualities that go with regions of the world.

    Being able to read faces is pretty important for humans, but so is color perception – not everyone is typical. But that deosn’t mena it is a real ability that others do have. They have even found that dogs can read human expressions tolerably well, better than chimps can. Co-evolution over 30,000 years, perhaps.

    Patrick is right on the difference between empathy and sympathy. I remember when empathy” came inot fashion as a word. It had the irrestible attraction f few people actually knowing what it menat, so that gave it a glamor. Everyone wanted to be “empathetic”. Also, the word “sympathy'” had been mocked to dersision with expressions like “tea and sympathy (but no actuall effectual help)” and the fact that the old word “simp” was stil floating around in the langauge with a lot of negative connotations didn’t help it.

    DB71, welcome back! Did you just have some horrible drama blow up in your life?

  • No drama, just summer and the kids are all home. Also, I\’ve noticed (and his is just my noticing, not a statement about general facts) that there are more people getting involved in talking about the negatives of feminism. I really enjoy, for example, reading some half brained \”parenting\” article and the comments call the writer\’s feminist biases out. Or when I read some goofy liberal article about sexism there are enough comments pointing out how things are as the feminists claim they are. I\’ve been here (a place where my \’pet issues\’ are becoming popularized) before in regards to atheism. Atheism is now \’mainstream\’ (at least compared to how it was say, 10 years ago). I hope anti-feminism or non-feminism or simple gender egalitarianism will be \’mainstream\’ too. \”Mainstream\” in quotes because I can only speak for my local (local, as in what I perceive in my everyday dealings with people in RL and online) perception of things. What\’s \”mainstream\” in South Carolina churches is different than what\’s \”mainstream\” in New York and on what\’s going on in the culture of the internet forums I visit.

  • TB: “They co-opted it because powerful white men would rather benefit white women then anyone else(including other white men). Benevolent sexism, as they term it, was a force multiplier in this situation.”

    God damn you, Typhon.

    Once again, you have thrown the world into clarity and I am slamming my fists against my temples for not seeing it earlier.

    When will the death squads get you?

  • I would like to add one more observation on the subject of the original linked article:

    One of the biggest reasons I came looking for places like this in the first place was that the images and information I was getting about my gender from traditional gender studies and the world at large were entirely alien to me and failed to accurately describe my lived experiences or personal desires. These images were foisted upon me almost exclusively by women. If that doesn’t bespeak a lack of empathy in any sense of the term (and remember, we’re talking about women who are supposed to be experts on this subject, not just ordinary folk going about their daily business), then I don’t know what to call it.

    Additionally, I have a feeling that if women were so good at understanding men, there would be far fewer trashy magazines making a fortune off claims to tell them what men like or want and that the claims made in those magazines would be considerably less absurd and out of touch.

  • I tried posting a comment earlier this morning, but I was repeatedly rebuffed after offering the anti-spam code.

    Everything okay?

  • Aych, there\\’s a problem, but not with you. I keep getting the same thing and I think it was Schala who compalined of it too. I will get Xakudo to look into it.

  • Debaser,
    “No drama, just summer and the kids are all home.”
    Thank God. Someone posting as db71 over at Voice for Men had his wife accusing him of child abuse and siappearing with the kids. That was in Houston, and I seem to remember you are in the NYC area, but I worried.

    “Or when I read some goofy liberal article about sexism there are enough comments pointing out how things are as the feminists claim they are…..I hope anti-feminism or non-feminism or simple gender egalitarianism will be \’mainstream\’ too. \”Mainstream\” in ….”

    The common thread in all that is scepticism. All the old comfortable dogmas are coming in for increased scrutiny, and it is causing a lot of believers a lot of pain. they can cry me a river, because they have inflicted a lot of pain.

    It is very gratifying to see those people getting called out on their feminist verities and dogmas, and I see it all over now. It’s a big change from only four or five years ago. People are just not extending the old indulgences anymore, on all fronts. Even the religious right is experiencing a tectonic generational shift. The young Fundies are asking why there is so much emphasis on gays and guns and so little on helping the poor, all that boring old core of the Scriptures. That cuts the guts out of the drama-driven RR. So it’s a broad sea change across society.

    Hiding,
    “Additionally, I have a feeling that if women were so good at understanding men, …..”

    ….we wouldn’t be so able to control and oppress them. It’s that simple. As much as they claim to understand us through and through they should be getting the drop on us all the time.

    They don’t have to be coherent because they don’t take themselves seriously. They just say whatever flatters their egos most in whatever situation. That seems to be their only principle really.

  • There is a difference between the empathy Typhonblue provides and the one of a \\”feminist woman\\”. Typhonblue shows confidence and strengths in her texts, she seems to think, she is at least as strong as the men in her world. The \\”feminist woman\\” on the other hand is weak and oppressed, she needs empathy to survive in a world ruled by aggressive, dominant and dangerous men.

  • @Aych

    Here’s a good example of benevolent sexism for you.

    I dropped out of college to join the military (saw the Towers fall, stayed in until Bin Laden was dead.). When I tried to reapply, I was told that it was too late to apply for the Fall semester. Now, I will have to travel 2 hours a day to go to a different school.

    At the same time, a woman with a baby was sitting
    across from me in the office. She explained that she dropped out of school to deliver her OOW child. Her counselor told her that the time requirements could be waived due to her set of circumstances.

    Yay, patriarchy? No, I’m confused. Is this how a patriarchy is supposed to work?

  • MaMu1977: Oh, you\’re comparing apples and oranges. She\’s come a long way, baby, so she needs extra special rules to glorify her glorious having-come-a-long-way-baby-ness.

    Get with the program!

    And by the way? That wasn’t a “child” she’d given birth to, you jerk. It was a lifeless clump of cells, no different from a booger, except the patriarchy fooled you (and her) into thinking it was a child. And, furthermore, the patriarchy brainwashed that poor victim into giving birth to it as well, so she needs whatever meager benefits she’s entitled to. Like getting her own seat on the bus which you are not allowed to sit in.

    If we lived in a real non-patriarchy, she’d have flushed it– for free– and become a go-getter career woman. And she would have been able to flush it thanks to a court decision which was, oddly enough, made by a bunch of patriarchal men in black robes. Who, doubtlessly, oppressed women with every breath they took.

  • @MaMu1977, I dropped out of college to join the Marines, but I called in my classes over a sat phone from Iraq and got registered before anyone else at my school. I got home 2 weeks after the semester started and everything was fine. Some schools have someone looking out for veterans, some don’t. What I will say is that a lot of veterans don’t realize that they’ve got to work the system just like anybody else, all the stuff they’ve been told about America owing them something is just some bullshit. Every school has got someone bending over backwards to attract more women. They feel a need to do it and advertise that they did to keep feminists off their back.

  • The comment I wished to type earlier (and gave up trying to post) had to do with Typhon\’s observation that the \’speshul snowflake\’ insult is at odds with the rest of their worldview.

    Well, I often find it striking how many of the preferred feminist tactics are at odds with their worldview as well.

    To wit: Their worldview has it that nearly all of the \”institutions\” (they enjoy using the word “institution” for some reason) are basically corrupt machines for gender-based patronage, perhaps in the style of Tammany Hall, where men run them like a spoils system. And men participate in this system automatically, without apparently heeding any kind of moral compass or sense of justice, because their intense need for \”power\” (however defined) overrides every other consideration… and, furthermore, they do it even if it dysfunctional to the \”institutions\” and to everybody else on the planet. With the threat of violence against women always lurking in the background as a threat held in reserve.

    Well, okay. Let’s say that’s true. Given the fact that men lack a sense of fairness (which is what you\’re arguing when you charge that every institution on the planet is a corrupt patronage machine which favors men) why do feminists resort to shaming language? Damselling? Or trying to make appeals to men\’s sense of fairness?

    These tactics would be guaranteed to fail and are, therefore, difficult to square with their worldview. Not unless you believe that feminists are incisively razor-sharp at ascertaining how the world functions according to remorseless and violent male whim, yet be moronically naive and ineffectual in agitating against it.

    It is as if I were a self-styled expert in the Sicilian mafia, claiming to know the complete ins and outs of their operations and culture. Okay, so would I choose to fight against the mafia by writing polite, yet strongly-worded letters to the don asking him to reconsider his policy of slitting his enemies throats?

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