Finally, A Listicle That Truly Gets My Pain

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, January 4, 2013 13:30 EDT
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Natalie Reilly is my new hero. She has carefully catalogued the fourteen kinds of sexist commenters you get whenever you write about anything about women that doesn’t start from the assumption that women are crap. I highly recommend reading the whole list, but some added thoughts to a few of them.

1. The commenter who believes that there are more important things in this world to focus on and women should stop winging. And yet they’ve still taken the time to not only read but write several paragraphs in response to the article.

Obviously, these guys do think it’s a big deal and are incredibly defensive of the gender status quo, but they’re too cowardly to admit it. (A common theme amongst sexists.) So they think the best way to argue is to start with the assumption that women are so lowly, so unworthy of care or concern, that it’s a waste of precious pixels to write about their problems, when you could be writing about far-more-important-than-half-the-population’s-rights issues such as comparing various brands of ballpoint pens to each other or writing about how cute your dog is. Starting with the assumption that women are too lowly for even a moment’s concern is not a good way to convince people you’re not a misogynist.

3.The commenter who tells us ‘women  -you’re all your own worst enemies’ even though we’re a women’s website that has just published the article.

These guys always say this in a pompous tone where you can tell they’re just chuckling at how stupid bitches are. They almost never actually pay attention to what an article actually says. They just get an idea of the topic and immediately go forth with how men, being total angels, never intend to oppress women and it’s actually something women do to themselves. This is an especially popular tactic if a woman is writing about beauty and body image. According to these commenters, men would be perfectly happy if all women were hugely fat, never shaved, and walked around with frizzy hair while clad in potato sacks. It’s only women who hold each other to these silly beauty standards. Said men then go on to other forums to claim that all feminists are ugly, hairy beasts that no man would deign to touch, which is why they’re so bitter.

4. The commenter who likes to hold up the article as a shining example of ‘crap journalism’ before going on to misspell several words, you know, to back up their case.

Women get this no matter what they write about. There’s just a group of dudes that make it their life’s duty to tell all women all the time they’re not good enough. It’s hard not to feel sorry for them, since they’re all dumb as sticks and clinging to the illusion that their penises make them smarter than half the human race to avoid accepting their intellectual inferiority.

8. The commenter who runs his own Men’s Group in which men recover their masculinity by hunting and lighting fires. This commenter has never picked up a book on anything approaching feminist theory and wants to know when we’ll start doing pieces on ‘misandry’ – the hatred of men.

Sadly, we’re infested here. As you all know, the “argument” behind the concept of “misandry” starts with the assumption that all men, by virtue of being men, sexually harass and abuse women, and thus if you hate sexual harassers and abusers, you hate “men”. Feminists disagree that all men are terrible, and say it’s possible to like men while disliking the minority that are assholes. Here’s a recent example of this thinking, collected by Man Boobz, where the anti-feminist begins his argument with the incorrect assumption that there’s nothing you can do to discourage men from raping. This is part of a larger strategy on part of these men to claim all men are terrible people, thus hating terrible people means being a “man-hater”. All typical stuff we’re all sadly familiar with.

But a good chance to link Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about why the concept of “reverse racism” makes no kind of sense:

Django aside, we don’t really have many avenging angels. Reviewing the primary documents of the time, I don’t even detect much taste for mass vengeance. There’s often a taste for particular vengeance on particular people, but more than anything there’s a strong desire to be left the fuck alone. Actions, like absconding with oneself, are usually set in motion by the threat of sale and the disruption of family ties. At first I was surprised by the lack of race hatred. But when I thought about it, it makes sense.

Race hatred among whites was not irrational devolution. On the contrary it served an actual political purpose–defining the borders of citizenship, manhood and the broadest aristocracy ever created. Race hatred among blacks is just vengeance. It doesn’t really go anywhere. It doesn’t offer access to anything you didn’t have before. Even if you look at the actual ideology of black nationalists what you will find more than “Kill Whitey” is “Leave us the fuck alone.” Whereas integrationists wanted to be left alone here as Americans, separatists wanted to be left alone elsewhere. But both wanted to left alone.

You definitely see the same thing with feminism. Misogyny is a functional emotion; as with race hatred of black people, it exists to rationalize the privilege of the privileged class. But for people seeking autonomy and equality, hating the privileged class doesn’t really make a lot of sense. You’re not out to get them. You just want them to be fair to you.  The only way feminism feels like “hating” men is if you feel men are entitled to women’s subservience, and thus believe women are stealing something if they refuse to give it. In contrast, misogyny makes perfect sense for men seeking a reason why they “deserve” a privileged place over women.

9.The commenter who has read the title of the article and feels like that’s enough information to go on to formulate an argument about how stupid the writer is.

Same thing as #4; there are just some dudes out there who just have a knee-jerk threatened reaction to the very idea of a woman having something smart to say. Their entire self-image is built on the belief that men are smarter than women. It’s a way of thinking that’s alien to me, and yet there it is.

13. The commenter who has talked to the women he knows and none of them have been raped so he fails to understand why we need to even publish these sort of silly articles.

Invariably, I imagine how this conversation went down: He came up from the basement to eat the sandwich his mother made for him, and during this lunch break, she didn’t mention any rape in her past. Thus, women make it up, since all the women he knows don’t talk about it. Also, why don’t women date a nice guy like him, instead of dating all those assholes that he just knows their boyfriends must be?

14. The commenter who wants to know how it is that these women call themselves feminists but still wear lipstick and buy fashionable clothes.

There are so many variations on this one. My favorite is accusing feminists of “hypocrisy” if they both enjoy being raunchy and also speak out against non-consensual forms of sexual interaction, from harassment to rape. This is a favorite tactic of the morons who are always after Rebecca Watson and other feminist skeptics. Feminist skeptics say that it’s not cool to corner women, badger them, or otherwise sexually harass them. Their critics find evidence that said feminist skeptics have, in the past, enjoyed consensual flirting and consensual sexual humor. They then yell FACE, and gloat. Because they can’t imagine interacting with a person sexually after obtaining consent, they assume no one else can, I guess.

I call this tactic the “strawfeminist”. Decide that say, feminist opposition to sexual harassment is about the sex part and not the harassment part, and then attack feminists for not being against sex. The only purpose of this strategy is to sow confusion and hope everyone just gets frustrated and goes home, so you can resume being a dick without having to face social consequences.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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