A while back on tumbler I believe there was a young woman who talked about an unpleasant experience she’d had on the subway. A male cyclist hit on her and when she rejected his advance went a little, shall we say, sideways. This all happened in the relative anonymity of an empty subway car.
What followed was an outpouring of sympathy for her. Many men said, “his behaviour makes me ashamed to be male!” Much was made of men’s “privilege” to respond like a sociopathic asshat to being rejected.
Let’s compare that situation to one recently posted in a comment thread here.
This is an extreme example and obviously not representative of the typical argument, but it’s still an example. One of my first encounters with that type of argument was back in 1998, at a local gaming store where a bunch of friends and I used to host game nights. A particularly fiery and antagonistic girl was berating the hell out of this boy who had beaten her at a game of Magic. I forget the entire context of the game, but she was really upset at having lost and was pelting him with insults and trying to pick a fight (including calling him a pussy and grabbing his shirt). He let it go on for a long time (and admittedly, so did we, and as hosts should have stopped it much earlier – as soon as her voice escalated, though I’m not sure that would have helped what followed), trying to talk to her, even apologizing for having won(!!), but he eventually, loudly, called her a bitch.
And she it. She immediately started crying, which embarrassed the guy, who was obviously already close to tears himself, further, and came to us to demand, through her dramatically wracking sobs, that he be removed from the premise for being sexist and because she felt threatened by his anger. We told her that we would not, obviously, because we had witnessed what was going on, that she was provoking him, and thus had her removed instead. We ended up talking to the guy, too, telling him that, even if someone else was getting way out of hand, it would have been better to let us know so we could have dealt with it.
Well, that wasn’t the end of the kerfuffle. She decided that we were so wrong in not punishing him and instead removing her that she contacted the owner of the gaming store (who we were good friends with, and thus why we were allowed to hold gaming nights there without a fee) and the women’s resource center at the nearby college, which I assume she went to; she also threatened to call report the incident to the police, but we never ended up hearing from them. The store owner essentially told her to screw off, but the women’s resource center actually staged some small pickets in front of the store holding signs that said things like “unsafe for women” and “Welcome back to the ’50s. Men Only!” (despite having a significant number of women who came to every session).
We had several encounters with the group for a couple of weeks (it blew over relatively quickly, thankfully), and when we tried to explain what happened, we got many of the above arguments. To them, she should never have had to fear a man calling her a bitch, even if she antagonized and provoked him using gendered insults and was physically attacking him. It was also, apparently, the responsibility of the men present to have shut him down the moment he did anything as a response to her, and she would only have gotten so mad if he had done something to deserve it (which was apparently fine. To them, it was cool for her to rage all she wanted if she felt justified, but not for him to do the same).
I was frustrated by that to no end. It took me a while to separate the actions of that group with the actions of less radical and ridiculous feminists. But it still seems like that kind of sentiment is out there in a big way, even if it’s just a little more subtle.
To bring the example back in circle to the original quote there, no amount of reasonable, intelligent discussion would have solved that. There was no way, at least that I could determine, to convince that group that she was in the wrong at all. We couldn’t offer advice, such as, you know, not starting fights, because then we were blaming her for having a part in what happened. Anything less than declaring the guy a monster and prostrating ourselves before them wouldn’t have done anything (and I’m not even sure that would have satisfied them).
So yeah, rather extreme example, I know, but I still. Somehow that same sentiment gets applied to so many things.
So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, first of all, assholishness knows no gender.
But there’s something deeper and more sinister here. Let’s re-imagine the situation with the young woman on the subway with the cyclist but replace the rules she lives by with the rules our young male gamer lives by.
She rejects the male cyclist.
He goes on emotional tirade in full view of an audience including several conductors. They don’t intervene on her behalf.
He escalates this into a physical confrontation in full view of an audience including several conductors. They don’t intervene on her behalf.
After she’s had enough weathering his emotional and physical assault she says, “prick!”
The man turns it around on her and demands she be removed from the subway car for being sexist.
Finally a conductor intervenes to tell her, “you should have told someone you were having difficulties.”
The man is finally evicted from the subway and leaves. Only to return later with a group of people from the “Men’s Centre” that pickets the subway system for being hostile to men.
It must be pretty menacing to be part of a group of people who, when subject to the violent anger of another group of people, is expected to weather it without complaint and that expectation will be enforced by everyone else in the vicinity.
And if it isn’t, a watchdog group will come around and attempt to fuck your shit up.
Finally, if you’re a woman reading this, you should feel deeply ashamed for your gender, after all your gender is responsible for rape, domestic violence, war and all human evil.
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