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Social Justice And Words, Words, Words

[Content note: hostility toward social justice, discussion of various prejudices]

“Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through. First from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do?” – Eliza Doolittle

I.

I recently learned there is a term for the thing social justice does. But first, a png from racism school dot tumblr dot com.

So, it turns out that privilege gets used perfectly reasonably. All it means is that you’re interjecting yourself into other people’s conversations and demanding their pain be about you. I think I speak for all straight white men when I say that sounds really bad and if I was doing it I’m sorry and will try to avoid ever doing it again. Problem solved, right? Can’t believe that took us however many centuries to sort out.

A sinking feeling tells me it probably isn’t that easy.

In the comments section of the last disaster of a social justice post on my blog, someone started talking about how much they hated the term “mansplaining”, and someone else popped in to – ironically – explain what “mansplaining” was and why it was a valuable concept that couldn’t be dismissed so easily. Their explanation was lucid and reasonable. At this point I jumped in and commented:

I feel like every single term in social justice terminology has a totally unobjectionable and obviously important meaning – and then is actually used a completely different way.

The closest analogy I can think of is those religious people who say “God is just another word for the order and beauty in the Universe” – and then later pray to God to smite their enemies. And if you criticize them for doing the latter, they say “But God just means there is order and beauty in the universe, surely you’re not objecting to that?”

The result is that people can accuse people of “privilege” or “mansplaining” no matter what they do, and then when people criticize the concept of “privilege” they retreat back to “but ‘privilege’ just means you’re interrupting women in a women-only safe space. Surely no one can object to criticizing people who do that?”

…even though I get accused of “privilege” for writing things on my blog, even though there’s no possible way that could be “interrupting” or “in a women only safe space”.

When you bring this up, people just deny they’re doing it and call you paranoid.

When you record examples of yourself and others getting accused of privilege or mansplaining, and show people the list, and point out that exactly zero percent of them are anything remotely related to “interrupting women in a women-only safe space” and one hundred percent are “making a correct argument that somebody wants to shut down”, then your interlocutor can just say “You’re deliberately only engaging with straw-man feminists who don’t represent the strongest part of the movement, you can’t hold me responsible for what they do” and continue to insist that anyone who is upset by the uses of the word “privilege” just doesn’t understand that it’s wrong to interrupt women in safe spaces.

I have yet to find a good way around this tactic.

My suspicion about the gif from racism school dot tumblr dot com is that the statements on the top show the ways the majority of people will encounter “privilege” actually being used, and the statements on the bottom show the uncontroversial truisms that people will defensively claim “privilege” means if anyone calls them on it or challenges them. As such it should be taken as a sort of weird Rosetta Stone of social justicing, and I can only hope that similarly illustrative explanations are made of other equally charged terms.

Does that sound kind of paranoid? I freely admit I am paranoid in this area. But let me flesh it out with one more example.

Everyone is a little bit racist. We know this because there is a song called “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” and it is very cute. Also because most people score poorly on implicit association tests, because a lot of white people will get anxious if they see a black man on a deserted street late at night, and because if you prime people with traditionally white versus traditionally black names they will answer questions differently in psychology experiments. It is no shame to be racist as long as you admit that you are racist and you try your best to resist your racism. Everyone knows this.

Donald Sterling is racist. We know this because he made a racist comment in the privacy of his own home. As a result, he was fined $2.5 million, banned for life from an industry he’s been in for thirty-five years, banned from ever going to basketball games, forced to sell his property against his will, publicly condmened by everyone from the President of the United States on down, denounced in every media outlet from the national news to the Podunk Herald-Tribune, and got people all over the Internet gloating about how pleased they are that he will die soon. We know he deserved this, because people who argue he didn’t deserve this were also fired from their jobs. He deserved it because he was racist. Everyone knows this.

So.

Everybody is racist.

And racist people deserve to lose everything they have and be hated by everyone.

This seems like it might present a problem. Unless of course you plan to be the person who gets to decide which racists lose everything and get hated by everyone, and which racists are okay for now as long as they never cross you in any way.

Sorry, there’s that paranoia again.

Someone will argue I am equivocating between two different uses of “racist”. To which I would respond that this is exactly the point. I don’t know if racism school dot tumblr dot com has a Rosetta Stone with Donald Sterling on the top and somebody taking the Implicit Association Test on the bottom. But I think there is a strain of the social justice movement which is very much about abusing this ability to tar people with extremely dangerous labels that they are not allowed to deny, in order to further their political goals.

II.

I started this post by saying I recently learned there is a term for the thing social justice does. A reader responding to my comment above pointed out that this tactic had been described before in a paper, under the name “motte-and-bailey doctrine”.

The paper was critiquing post-modernism, an area I don’t know enough about to determine whether or not their critique was fair. It complained that post-modernists sometimes say things like “reality is socially constructed”. There’s an uncontroversial meaning here – we don’t experience the world directly, but through the categories and prejudices implicit to our society. For example, I might view a certain shade of bluish-green as blue, and someone raised in a different culture might view it as green. Okay. Then post-modernists go on to say that if someone in a different culture thinks that the sun is light glinting off the horns of the Sky Ox, that’s just as real as our own culture’s theory that the sun is a mass of incandescent gas a great big nuclear furnace. If you challenge them, they’ll say that you’re denying reality is socially constructed, which means you’re clearly very naive and think you have perfect objectivity and the senses perceive reality directly.

The writers of the paper compare this to a form of medieval castle, where there would be a field of desirable and economically productive land called a bailey, and a big ugly tower in the middle called the motte. If you were a medieval lord, you would do most of your economic activity in the bailey and get rich. If an enemy approached, you would retreat to the motte and rain down arrows on the enemy until they gave up and went away. Then you would go back to the bailey, which is the place you wanted to be all along.

By this metaphor, statements like “God is an extremely powerful supernatural being who punishes my enemies” or “The Sky Ox theory and the nuclear furnace theory are equally legitimate” or “Men should not be allowed to participate in discussions about gender” are the bailey – not defensible at all, but if you can manage to hold them you’ve got it made.

Statements like “God is just the order and love in the universe” and “No one perceives reality perfectly directly” and “Men should not interject into safe spaces for women” are the motte – extremely defensible, but useless.

As long as nobody’s challenging you, you spend time in the bailey reaping the rewards of occupying such useful territory. As soon as someone challenges you, you retreat to the impregnable motte and glare at them until they get annoyed and go away. Then you go back to the bailey.

This is a metaphor that only historians of medieval warfare could love, so maybe we can just call the whole thing “strategic equivocation”, which is perfectly clear without the digression into feudal fortifications.

III.

I probably still sound paranoid. So let me point out something I think the standard theory fails to explain, but my theory explains pretty well.

Why can’t social justice terms apply to oppressed groups?

Like, even bringing this up freaks people out. There is no way to get a quicker reaction from someone in social justice than to apply a social justice term like “privilege” or “racist” to a group that isn’t straight/white/male. And this is surprising.

If “privilege” just means “interjecting yourself into other people’s conversations”, this seems like something that women could do as well as men. Like, let’s say that a feminist woman posts a thoughtful comment to this post, and I say “Thanks for your input, but I was actually just trying to explain things to my non-feminist male friends, I’d prefer you not interject here.” Isn’t it possible she might continue to argue, and so be interjecting herself into another person’s conversation?

Or suppose “privilege” instead just means a cute story about a dog and a lizard, in which different people have trouble understanding each other’s experiences and appreciating the amount of pain they can be causing. I know a lot of men who are scared of being Forever Alone but terrified to ask women out, and I feel their pain and most of my male friends feel their pain. Yet a lot of the feminists I talk to have this feeling that this is entirely about how they think they own women’s bodies and are entitled to sex, and from their experience as attractive women it’s easy to get dates and if you can’t it’s probably because you’re a creep or not trying hard enough. This seems to me to be something of a disconnect and an underappreciation of the pain of others, of exactly the dog-lizard variety.

There are as many totally innocuous and unobjectionable definitions of “privilege” as there are people in the social justice movement, but they generally share something in common – take them at face value, and the possibility of women sometimes showing privilege toward men is so obvious as to not be worth mentioning.

Yet if anyone mentions it in real life, they are likely to have earned themselves a link to an Explanatory Article. Maybe 18 Reasons Why The Concept Of Female Privilege Is Insane. Or An Open Letter To The Sexists Who Think Female Privilege Is A Thing. Or The Idea Of Female Privilege – It Isn’t Just Wrong, It’s Dangerous. Or the one on how there is no female privilege, just benevolent sexism. Or That Thing You Call Female Privilege Is Actually Just Whiny Male Syndrome. Or Female Privilege Is Victim Blaming, which helpfully points out that people who talk about female privilege “should die in a fire” and begins “we need to talk, and no, not just about the fact that you wear fedoras and have a neck beard.”

It almost seems like you have touched a nerve. But why should there be a nerve here?

As further confirmation that we are on to something surprising, note also the phenomenon of different social justice groups debating, with desperation in their eyes, which ones do or don’t have privilege over one another.

If you are the sort of person who likes throwing rocks at hornet nests, ask anyone in social justice whether trans men (or trans women) have male privilege. You end up in places like STFU TRANSMISOGYNIST TRANS FOLKS or Cis Privilege Is Just A Tenet Of Male Privilege or On Trans People And The Male Privilege Accusation or the womyn-born-womyn movement or Against The Cisgender Privilege List or How Misogyny Hurts Trans Men: We Do Sometimes Have Male Privilege But There Are More Important Things To Talk About Here.

As far as I can tell, the debate is about whether trans women are more privileged than cis women, because they have residual male privilege from the period when they presented as men, or less privileged than cis women, because they are transsexual – plus a more or less symmetrical debate on the trans man side. The important thing to notice is that every group considers it existentially important to prove that they are less privileged than the others, and they do it with arguments like (from last link) “all examples of cis privilege are really male privileges that are not afforded to women, or are instances of resistance to trans politics. I call it patriarchy privilege when something like an unwillingness to redefine one’s own sexuality to include males is seen is labeled as offensive.”

And the trans male privilege argument is one of about seven hundred different vicious disputes in which everyone is insisting other people have more privilege than they do, fighting as if their lives depended on it.

The question here: since privilege is just a ho-hum thing about how you shouldn’t interject yourself into other people’s conversations, or something nice about dogs and lizards – but definitely not anything you should be ashamed to have or anything which implies any guilt or burden whatsoever – why are all the minority groups who participate in communities that use the term so frantic to prove they don’t have it?

We find the same unexpected pattern with racism. We all know everyone is racist, because racism just means you have unconscious biases and expectations. Everyone is a little bit racist.

People of color seem to be part of “everyone”, and they seem likely to have the same sort of in-group identification as all other humans. But they are not racist. We know this because of articles that say things like “When white people complain about reverse racism, they are complaining about losing their PRIVILEGE” and admit that “the dictionary is wrong” on this matter. Or those saying whites calling people of color racist “comes from a lack of understanding of the term, through ignorance or willful ignorance and hatred”. Or those saying that “when white people complain about experiencing reverse racism, what they’re really complaining about is losing out on or being denied their already existing privileges.” Why Are Comments About White People Not Racist, Can Black People Be Racist Toward White People? (spoiler: no), Why You Can’t Be Racist To White People, et cetera et cetera.

All of these sources make the same argument: racism means structural oppression. If some black person beats up some white person just because she’s white, that might be unfortunate, it might even be “racially motivated”, but because they’re not acting within a social structure of oppression, it’s not racist. As one of the bloggers above puts it:

Inevitably, here comes a white person either claiming that they have a similar experience because they grew up in an all black neighborhood and got chased on the way home from school a few times and OMG THAT IS SO RACIST and it is the exact same thing, or some other such bullshittery, and they expect that ignorance to be suffered in silence and with respect. If you are that kid who got chased after school, that’s horrible, and I feel bad for you…But dudes, that shit is not racism.

I can’t argue with this. No, literally, I can’t argue with this. There’s no disputing the definitions of words. If you say that “racism” is a rare species of noctural bird native to New Guinea which feeds upon morning dew and the dreams of young children, then all I can do is point out that the dictionary and common usage both disagree with you. And the sources I cited above have already admitted that “the dictionary is wrong” and “no one uses the word racism correctly”.


Source: Somebody who probably doesn’t realize they’ve just committed themselves to linguistic prescriptivism

Actually, I suppose one could escape a hostile dictionary and public by appealing to the original intent of the person who invented the word, but the man who invented the word “racism” was an activist for the forced assimilation of Indians who was known to say things like “Some say that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” My guess is that this guy was not totally on board with dismantling structures of oppression.

So we have a case where original coinage, all major dictionaries, and the overwhelming majority of common usage all define “racism” one way, and social justice bloggers insist with astonishing fervor that way is totally wrong and it must be defined another. One cannot argue definitions, but one can analyze them, so you have to ask – whence the insistence that racism have the structural-oppression definition rather than the original and more commonly used one? Why couldn’t people who want to talk about structural oppression make up their own word, thus solving the confusion? Even if they insisted on the word “racism” for their new concept, why not describe the state of affairs as it is: “The word racism can mean many things to many people, and I suppose a group of black people chasing a white kid down the street waving knives and yelling ‘KILL WHITEY’ qualifies by most people’s definition, but I prefer to idiosyncratically define it my own way, so just remember that when you’re reading stuff I write”? Or why not admit that this entire dispute is pointless and you should try to avoid being mean to people no matter what word you call the meanness by?

And how come this happens with every social justice word? How come the intertubes are clogged with pages arguing that blacks cannot be racist, that women cannot have privilege, that there is no such thing as misandry, that you should be ashamed for even thinking the word cisphobia? Who the heck cares? This would never happen in any other field. No doctor ever feels the need to declare that if we talk about antibacterial drugs we should call bacterial toxins “antihumanial drugs”. And if one did, the other doctors wouldn’t say YOU TAKE THAT BACK YOU PIECE OF GARBAGE ONLY HUMANS CAN HAVE DRUGS THIS IS A FALSE EQUIVALENCE BECAUSE BACTERIA HAVE INFECTED HUMANS FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS BUT HUMANS CANNOT INFECT BACTERIA, they would just be mildly surprised at the nonstandard terminology and continue with their normal lives. The degree to which substantive arguments have been replaced by arguments over what words we are allowed to use against which people is, as far as I know, completely unique to social justice. Why?

IV.

And so we return to my claim from earlier:

I think there is a strain of the social justice movement which is entirely about abusing the ability to tar people with extremely dangerous labels that they are not allowed to deny, in order to further their political goals.

If racism school dot tumblr dot com and the rest of the social justice community are right, “racism” and “privilege” and all the others are innocent and totally non-insulting words that simply point out some things that many people are doing and should try to avoid.

If I am right, “racism” and “privilege” and all the others are exactly what everyone loudly insists they are not – weapons – and weapons all the more powerful for the fact that you are not allowed to describe them as such or try to defend against them. The social justice movement is the mad scientist sitting at the control panel ready to direct them at whomever she chooses. Get hit, and you are marked as a terrible person who has no right to have an opinion and who deserves the same utter ruin and universal scorn as Donald Sterling. Appease the mad scientist by doing everything she wants, and you will be passed over in favor of the poor shmuck to your right and live to see another day. Because the power of the social justice movement derives from their control over these weapons, their highest priority should be to protect them, refine them, and most of all prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

If racism school dot tumblr dot com is right, people’s response to words like “racism” and “privilege” should be accepting them as a useful part of communication that can if needed also be done with other words. No one need worry too much about their definitions except insofar as it is unclear what someone meant to say. No one need worry about whether the words are used to describe them personally, except insofar as their use reveals states of the world which are independent of the words used.

If I am right, then people’s response to these words should be a frantic game of hot potato where they attack like a cornered animal against anyone who tries to use the words on them, desperately try to throw them at somebody else instead, and dispute the definitions like their lives depend on it.

And I know that social justice people like to mock straight white men for behaving in exactly that way, but man, we’re just following your lead here.

Suppose the government puts a certain drug in the water supply, saying it makes people kinder and more aware of other people’s problems and has no detrimental effects whatsoever. A couple of conspiracy nuts say it makes your fingers fall off one by one, but the government says that’s ridiculous, it’s just about being more sensitive to other people’s problems which of course no one can object to. However, government employees are all observed drinking bottled water exclusively, and if anyone suggests that government employees might also want to take the completely innocuous drug and become kinder, they freak out and call you a terrorist and a shitlord and say they hope you die. If by chance you manage to slip a little bit of tap water into a government employee’s drink, and he finds out about it, he runs around shrieking like a banshee and occasionally yelling “AAAAAAH! MY FINGERS! MY PRECIOUS FINGERS!”

At some point you might start to wonder whether the government was being entirely honest with you.

This is the current state of my relationship with social justice.

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973 Responses to Social Justice And Words, Words, Words

  1. I’m not sure it’s exactly the same concept, but John Holbo termed this thing “the two-step of terrific triviality” here. I’m sure “motte-and-bailey doctrine” is a better term to promote for actual use, since it sounds serious and important, while it’s hard to say “the two-step of terrific triviality” with a straight face.

    (I have other thoughts about this but I’m a hurry right now . . . )

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  2. AJD says:

    “it turns out that privilege has a perfectly reasonable meaning. All it means is that you’re interjecting yourself into other people’s conversations and demanding their pain be about you.”

    This is, to coin a phrase, a straw motte. What you are responding to does not assert or imply that that’s what privilege means. It’s the pragmatic purpose of being reminded to check your privilege, not a description of what “privilege” denotes.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I accept that criticism as valid, and later I’ll see if I can rework the post around it or if that would be too complicated.

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      • Randy M says:

        I think they are saying maybe that the motte examples are rather than all of privilege or racism either symptoms or causes. So interrupting a woman is a sign of sexism which is likely to manifest more severe symptoms. Of course, that doesn’t explain why it can only go one way.

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      • Deiseach says:

        I am familiar with “social justice” only in the Catholic context and was very surprised to see the term being bandied about online.

        Better get the obligatory list of biases/warnings out of the way first: white cishet female here. So now you know (possibly) where my views may be consciously or unconsciously skewed.

        About the “interjecting yourself into the conversation” – until you’ve experienced this in action, it sounds like what Scott is gently mocking:

        I think I speak for all straight white men when I say that sounds really bad and if I was doing it I’m sorry and will try to avoid ever doing it again. Problem solved, right? Can’t believe that took us however many centuries to sort out.

        A sinking feeling tells me it probably isn’t that easy.

        I can only speak from personal experience of online discourse about six years back. Predominantly female group on a fandom plus whatever else popped into our heads site, discussion arose about FGM (female genital mutilation).

        Guy appears out of nowhere challenging us about male genital mutilation. Turns out he means infant circumcision as practiced in America as a routine medical operation(? I have no idea on this whether it is true or not).

        If we’re not prepared to immediately condemn this horrible practice that mutilates helpless little boys, then we are not sincere about anything and are all part of a Vast Feminist Conspiracy to degrade, mutilate and wipe out men.

        He managed to derail the entire discussion onto rape (men are raped too! Why don’t we talk about that?), domestic violence (men are increasingly victims of that! Why aren’t we condemning that?) and dragged everything back to his own hobbyhorses no matter how we tried to be reasonable, polite and give him the benefit of the doubt that he was in some way serious and not just a troll.

        That was just one guy, who was either a troll or a gibbering fruitcake (if not both).

        It does happen a lot: “Not all men!” is the way I’ve seen it referred to, as it often happens that (for instance) discussions about rape and/or sexual violence get someone (often several someones) chiming in with “Not all men are rapists” and wanting to make the conversation about how they feel threatened, insulted, hurt and unsafe by the assumption that they, as a man, are a potential rapist.

        That may be a valid point, but the middle of discussion with a rape survivor exploring her experience in what she (or he) feels is a safe, supportive space is not the place to raise it.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Speaking as a rape survivor: If your discussion about rape can be derailed by someone mentioning rape, you weren’t talking about rape.

          Also, there is virtually no difference between FGM and MGM in practical terms. One involves the excision of genital flesh from an unconsenting minor performed in some countries for religious and social reasons typically linked to control of sexuality, and the other is FGM.

          The fact that you consider domestic violence (roughly half of the victims are men), rape (anywhere between 20% and 50%+ of the victims are men, once you actually count women raping men as rape) and infant genital mutilation (routinely performed in the US on most boys) to be women’s issues that men are not allowed to comment on demonstrates the concept of “privilege” better than anything I could have possibly managed.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Gah. More aggressive than I’d intended. People gendering rape as a Woman’s Issue does that to me, for reasons which should probably be obvious.

          But here’s a suggestion. “Not all men!” is now near-triggering for some people, me included, because it’s indicative of being a Legitimate Target. I don’t care what the situation is, there is no context in which “all are ” where X is a non-selected universal like birth gender and Y is a Very Bad Thing is OK. Just none. Never. Don’t do it. It’s not OK.

          Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all black people are criminals. Not all gay people are paedophiles. Not all men are rapists. Live with it.

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        • ozymandias says:

          In my experience, whenever you talk about female circumcision someone will show up and be like WHAT ABOUT MALE CIRCUMCISION and whenever you talk about male circumcision someone will show up and be like WHAT ABOUT FEMALE CIRCUMCISION. I wish that everyone would collectively agree this is bad behavior, because both conversations are important and it is really hard to talk about both at once. (I also think it’s fairly uncontroversial that male circumcision is not as bad as most forms of female circumcision. Prepuce removal is basically equivalent; infibulation is not.)

          Whether half the victims of domestic violence are men depends heavily on how you define “domestic violence.” Short version: men tend to be more violent abusers, so if you require higher levels of violence before it qualifies as DV, you get a lower rate of male victims and female perps.

          In most cases where I’ve seen “not all men are rapists!” people were not making the claim that all men were rapists, but instead making different points such as “sometimes non-rapist men act in a way that increases the rape rate” or “women are distrustful of men and this is not entirely unjustified.” So that’s kind of silly. However, I’ve seen a lot of people pretend male rape survivors don’t exist and then pretend it’s derailing to point out this erasure, and I think that’s fucking bullshit.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I wish that everyone would collectively agree this is bad behavior, because both conversations are important and it is really hard to talk about both at once.

          There are meta-conversations that most people aren’t… intellectually developed? enough to recognize that they want to have, though.

          Oftentimes, th-

          pause: I must stop here to acknowledge a self-triggering, in case it infects the point I want to try to make. The last time I tried to make the point I’m about to try to make was on rpg.net, and it was part of the whole process that destroyed my reputation there. So, I might be experiencing some amount of anxiety trying to make this point. Thank you, we now resume your regularly scheduled rant.

          Oftentimes, the people that throw out “but what about male circumcision” during a female circumcision discussion, or “but what about male rape” during a rape discussion, really want to have a conversation about “what percentage of our collective social attention should be spent on *this* problem vs. *that* problem?”, aka “I’m not saying your problem is bad, or my problem is worse than yours, I’m just saying that the ratio of badness to attention seems off, and I’d like to negotiate for us to adjust that in my group’s favor.”

          The problem is that people usually perform that negotiation process without explicitly acknowledging it, because acknowledging it means putting down all the dirty tricks that Scott is talking about in the OP.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Ozy – I’d be interested in those statistics. The ones I’ve seen have men as fractionally more violent and women distinctly more likely to cause long-term injury, which seems more of a six-of-one-half-a-dozen-another situation to me.

          The “mutual violence” category is, of course, by FAR the largest demographic of domestic violence and has been near-verboten in discussion of DV for decades. I’d attribute that to feminist agitation; you may have a different suggestion, which as ever I’d be intrigued to hear.

          If we’re going to play the “whose genital mutilation is worse?” game, infibulation is certainly extremely severe mutilation, but it’s also an incredibly rare form of female circumcision, with labial docking vastly more common and even a tiny fast-healing ritualistic nick is a more common variant. Meanwhile more boys are mutilated in the US alone every year than girls on the entire planet.

          All that said – and I do have a LOT to say about that in particular – I completely agree that discussions about this are routinely derailed, but I would suggest that they should be derailed. Genital mutilation is not a gendered issue and should not be treated as one. If we’re against the genital mutilation of infants, we should be against all of it, and not just the bits that are unacceptable in our own cultures.

          As for the rest of it, I stand by what I said. Generalising non-selected group X with hyper-negative Y is never, ever OK. I don’t care if what they’re trying to say is “Women are distrustful of men.” There’s an easy way to say that without painting half of the human race as rapists; all you have to do is say “Women are distrustful of men.” That apparently that sentence is insufficient suggests to me that that is not the whole of what they mean.

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        • ozymandias says:

          But Zorgon a lot of people use “not all men are rapists!” as an argument against, say, this essay, which in spite of its manymany flaws is extremely clear that it is not saying that all men are rapists. In my experience, “you’re saying all men are rapists!” is usually a strawman used to derail a conversation.

          Gender parity in abuse and mutual abuse tend to be found by studies using the CTS methodology but not by studies using other methodologies. I think this is a pretty reasonable critique. Looking at, say, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf"NISVS, one finds gender parity for emotional abuse, a quarter of stalking victims are men, a quarter of rape victims were men (using a remotely sane definition of rape), and about a third of victims of severe physical violence were men.

          I have no interest in comparing which is most important. They are both important. However, I think that it is useful to discuss them separately in many cases, because the dynamics are different. To pick one example: male circumcision is something that happens in developed countries; female circumcision usually happens in developing countries. The appropriate kinds of activism are different, because developed-world people probably don’t know the cultural context and should be allies to developing-world activists, while we can organize against problems in our own backyard with less worry about imperialism. And it is extremely tiresome to have one’s discussion about appropriate tactics for developed-world anti-female-circumcision activists turned into “why aren’t you talking about male circumcision?”– just as it is tiresome to have someone respond to your awareness-raising “there is no reason to circumcise your male child, that is EXTREMELY WRONG, PLEASE DO NOT DO IT” post with “why aren’t you raising awareness of female circumcision?” …Because people who read my blog aren’t going to fucking circumcise their female children, ffs.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          But Zorgon a lot of people use “not all men are rapists!” as an argument against, say, this essay, which in spite of its manymany flaws is extremely clear that it is not saying that all men are rapists. In my experience, “you’re saying all men are rapists!” is usually a strawman used to derail a conversation.

          The article you linked to isn’t bad, but it’s on the edge of a slippery slope that ends with… well, one of the college videos I had to sit through was full of ridiculous scenarios, like (this was explicitly stated in exactly these words):

          “If you stop by the side of the road to help a woman change her tire, DON’T RAPE HER.”

          this persisted through several iterations of “If you are in perfectly-normal-situation, remember NOT TO RAPE THE WOMAN.”

          And it’s like, “yes, I AM insulted that I’m being portrayed this way. Do you seriously think that most men, if they see someone who needs help, are actively looking for an opportunity to turn that into a rape if that person happens to be female? Fuck you, buddy.”

          Because I will tell you – the kind of person who needs to be told not to rape in that situation is NOT the sort of person who would “stop by the side of the road to help a woman change her tire”; he’s the sort of person who would PRETEND to stop by the side of the road to help a woman change her tire, as a pretext for the rape he was ALREADY LOOKING TO COMMIT. And those people are pretty rare, and you’re right that we need to stop enabling them, but STOP TRYING TO CLAIM THAT I’M ONE OF THEM. Jesus.

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        • ozymandias says:

          I’ve seen things along those lines and I think it’s supposed to be a parody of victim-blaming messages like “don’t let strange men help you change your tire,” rather than actual advice for men. When I have seen it, the intended takeaway was “don’t victim-blame people”, not “men need to be condescendingly told how rape works.” (The “men need to be condescendingly told how rape works” is usually in the consent workshops and makes more of a gesture at being gender-neutral. :P)

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        • Deiseach says:

          No, I don’t consider these issues to be solely women’s issues and that men are not permitted to comment.

          I think men should be more involved in such discussions, because they are both victims and abusers. But that’s not the point I was making.

          The point was that a lot of energy and time was wasted addressing the points our troll raised – and it wasn’t merely “You’re forgetting that men are also victims of sexual abuse”, it was “MEN ARE BEING ABUSED AND RAPED AND YOU SAY NOTHING ABOUT IT YOU CONDONE IT BY YOUR SILENCE YOU SUPPORT IT BY YOUR IGNORANCE TALK ABOUT AND ONLY ABOUT MALE RAPE AND DOMESTIC ABUSE IN THE TERMS I SET AND AGREE COMPLETELY WITH ME OR ELSE YOU ARE CASTRATING FEMINISTS!!!!!”

          I don’t know if you consider that to be a fruitful conversation, but it turned out not to be, in the end.

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        • TGGP says:

          The Catholic connection to the term is the reason for Father Coughlin’s National Union for Social Justice.

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        • That may be a valid point, but the middle of discussion with a rape survivor exploring her experience

          “rape survivor”?

          Did the rape she survived consist of a rape that occurred during a home invasion robbery. Did someone break through her door and hold a knife to her throat? Or was she wandering around half drunk and sexily dressed looking for a dicking, and after sobering up decided that the dicking that she got was distressing and not at all what she was looking for and that she had never consented to that sort of rotten treatment?

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        • Zorgon says:

          Catching up after a very long sleep.

          Ozy – the problem with the Kate Harding article (at least, in the context of what we’re talking about here) is that she engages in deliberate conflation of women’s fear of men and the personal risk status of those men. In Harding’s world, all women are right to fear all men, because all men are potentially the man who is going to assault them.

          But even laying aside that this is not a reaction made to any other risk factor in society whatsoever and that it is considered utterly unacceptable to use distorted risk factors in other unselected contexts like race, it is NOT the case that any given man that Kate Harding encounters in the street is equally likely to be the one that assaults her. We already know that rapists have a habit of being repeat offenders. We already know that most rapes occur in the victim’s home and that a large proportion of rapes are committed by family members and partners. If anything, the random guy coming up to Kate at a party is probably the safest person she’s encountered in a while. And a woman walking down an alleyway late at night with a drunken man is statistically safer than he is; he’s far more likely to be assaulted before he gets home than she is.

          The simple truth is this: Not all men are potential rapists. The vast, overwhelming majority of men and women go through their lives without sexually assaulting anyone. A significant minority commit minor sexual assaults that would likely have been considered meaningless social interaction when they were being educated. A minority of that minority will then go on to assault people they know and a minority of that minority will sexually assault strangers. If you go around assuming that every man you meet is a member of that minority of a minority of a minority, then that isn’t “reasonable caution” as Harding wants to present it, it’s prejudice.

          Not least since the 2012 edition of those NISVS tell us that 80% of those 25% of victims that are men (using the lifetime results; there’s still no good explanation for the yearly 50:50) were attacked by women. Yet no-one considers every woman a potential rapist, because that’s not an *acceptable* prejudice.

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          • We already know that most rapes occur in the victim’s home and that a large proportion of rapes are committed family members and partners.

            This is, of course, a hateful lie.

            The crime victimization survey shows that the victimization rate among women living with their husband is indistinguishable from zero and that it is low among daughters of married couples.

            The greatest risk comes with living with a stepfather, the second greatest comes from being a single mom, or living with one’s single mother. In other words, most “rapes” occur from mom’s boyfriend or when a girl gets half drunk and cruises for a dicking.

            And my personal observation (doubtless statistically too small a sample) is that rapes by the stepfather or boyfriend are not exactly rapes either any more than rapes while cruising for a dicking are exactly rapes. The mother knows, and gives her daughter to the boyfriend to sweeten the deal, which while potentially unpleasant for the daughter is not the same thing as a man with knife breaking through the window.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Did the rape she survived consist of a rape that occurred during a home invasion robbery. Did someone break through her door and hold a knife to her throat? Or was she wandering around half drunk and sexily dressed looking for a dicking, and after sobering up decided that the dicking that she got was distressing and not at all what she was looking for and that she had never consented to that sort of rotten treatment?

          I feel like there are people who come to blogs like SSC to discuss things that no one else will allow them to discuss, and then there are people who come to blogs like SSC because “you can discuss things that no one else will allow you to discuss” can be hard to distinguish from “you can antagonize and troll people in ways that no one else will let you get away with”.

          The more you do the latter, the harder you make it for people to do the former. You realize that, right?

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          • Did the rape she survived consist of a rape that occurred during a home invasion robbery. Did someone break through her door and hold a knife to her throat? Or was she wandering around half drunk and sexily dressed looking for a dicking, and after sobering up decided that the dicking that she got was distressing

            and then there are people who come to blogs like SSC because “you can discuss things that no one else will allow you to discuss” looks an awful lot like “you can antagonize and troll people in ways that no one else will let you get away with”.

            If it is forbidden to make fun of “rape survivors”, if it is trolling, some men will be unjustly convicted of rape, and then, very likely, suffer actual rape.

            The title “rape survivor”should not be a coveted honor which all men should bow before. Rape really does not kill you, hence the title “survivor” exaggerates, which exaggeration becomes the more necessary the more trivial the supposed “rape”. That married women living with their husbands are very seldom raped (crime victimization survey) suggests that a great many rape victims, probably the great majority, really were looking for it.

            Whenever we hear that someone is a “rape survivor”, we should suspect that what she actually survived was regretting that she went looking for a dicking while half drunk, because if someone actually broke through her bedroom window and held a knife to her throat, no one would feel the need to boost her experience and pile honors upon her head by calling her a “survivor”. The exaggeration suggests that exaggeration is required, which suggests that the underlying event was less than traumatic.

            Non stranger rapes are necessarily ambiguous. The first few times I have sex with a woman I usually pick her up and toss her onto the bed, sometimes shove her face into the pillows or lightly smack her backside. Consent is usually non verbal and pre-rational. If we are going to assume the person facing jail time is innocent until proven guilty, we have to assume the accuser is guilty until proven innocent, which we are forbidden to assume.

            If anyone calls a rape victim a “survivor”, chances are that they do deserve to be laughed at. The coveted title of “survivor” is pre-emptive defense against the laughter.

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        • scansionbear says:

          Hi Zorgon,

          Genital mutilation is not a gendered issue and should not be treated as one.

          I find this a very oversimplistic point of view to take. “It happens to both men and women”, or even “…roughly equally”, is not the same as “it’s not a gendered issue”.

          I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that if you’re against MGM (or FGM), you’re probably against FGM (or MGM) too. In any broad and uninspiring conversation about how bad it all is, be my guest: the two are equivalent and you are welcome to jump in at the mention of one and mention the other. Fine.

          However, as soon as we decide that we actually want to do something about genital mutilation, we probably want to start thinking of how to combat it. Let’s start small and choose a particular geographical area, a society, a religion, a culture that practises genital mutilation to focus on. And we’ll find something interesting: that particular culture might only practise FGM, or only MGM. Or both, to the same extent or different extents. FGM might have all sorts of awful medical ramifications and be largely an ‘underground’ practice, whereas MGM might be mostly medically pretty safe and accepted (or vice-versa, of course). The sorts of people who perform MGM and the sorts of people who perform FGM might even simply be different people or doing it for different reasons, meaning that the ways in which we need to tackle the problem will be different, because it’s two problems. Two admittedly superficially similar problems, coming from different sources, being implemented for different reasons, with different effects. It’s obvious they need handling differently.

          And the interesting thing is that if we choose a different culture or religion, we’ll find that our answers to these questions change; but one thing is pretty consistent across cultures and religions: if different people are handled in different ways with respect to genital mutilation, then those people will typically be handled according to their gender, so we need to treat FGM and MGM differently in those cases. (There may also be cultures in which black people undergo genital mutilation and white people don’t, or undergo a different sort, or something; but I don’t know of any, and I can’t imagine why they would exist.)

          I think we need to know a little more than crude statistical statements of frequency to understand whether issues “are gendered” or not.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          This is, of course, a hateful lie.

          The crime victimization survey shows that the victimization rate among women living with their husband is indistinguishable from zero and that it is low among daughters of married couples.

          That doesn’t seem to match information I’ve read. I’m going to assume that this is due to looking at different statistics, and ask if you have a good heuristic for how to tell which studies are corrupted and which studies are honest?

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        • Andrew G. says:

          The last time Donald posted this ridiculous claim here I found two studies using the British Crime Survey data that suggest approximately 40% of male-on-female “partner” rapes in the sample were committed by the victim’s legally married spouse (though I’m not clear how separation was counted there).

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        • Andy says:

          The last time Donald posted this ridiculous claim here I found two studies using the British Crime Survey data that suggest approximately 40% of male-on-female “partner” rapes in the sample were committed by the victim’s legally married spouse (though I’m not clear how separation was counted there).

          I think the most charitable way to say what I want to say is “James has a tendency to let his rhetoric get far out ahead of his evidence.”

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        • Zorgon says:

          scansionbear –

          I’m against genital mutilation. I don’t distinguish in principle between types. Other people do distinguish in principle between types, and that is my problem.

          However, as soon as we decide that we actually want to do something about genital mutilation…

          See, I would agree with the generally utilitarian slant of your post in almost every single detail, because I passionately oppose genital mutilation and absolutely anything that reduces the incidence of that is like fecking ambrosia to me.

          BUT. I could count the number of times that has been the actual subject of discussion on one hand, and I’d still have enough fingers left to count up all the Back To The Future movies. (I suppose now we’re arguably on 3, so I might need to ignore the one with the train now.)

          I’m quite serious about this. Virtually no discussion of female genital mutilation EVER centers on what to do about the problem. Every single case except two that I’ve ever seen has been a scare-tale of Muslims Hiding Behind The Bed Mutilating Your Little Girls, or a moral fable about How This Is Clear Misogyny, or some other variant on how This Is A Woman’s Issue.

          (The two good ones? A report from the UN and an excellent blog post that unfortunately appears to have been lost to time but which mainly revolved around existing “underground railway” smugging efforts in cutting nations.)

          See, I’m fairly straightforward about this. If a discussion about genital mutilation cannot contain any mention at all of the millions of boys mutilated every year in the US, then it is not actually about infant genital mutilation at all. It’s about how women are victims and men are aggressors, and I’m against that particular bit of folk wisdom and I’d much rather focus on genital mutilation.

          And besides this, as long as all mainstream discussions of genital mutilation revolve around women in Africa and the Middle East, the millions of boys mutiliated every single year continues to be a subject that’s mostly swept under the carpet and kept as an awkward afterthought, to be mentioned in the odd press release by a medical board; a medical problem, not a cultural one. Never mind that it’s not medically necessary, was introduced for purely cultural purposes and results in thousands upon thousands of deaths every year.

          When people act in support of that perspective, I start to think of them and as the US as a faraway barbaric country filled with willing mutilating freaks, just as you lot think of the various Muslim countries that perform FGM.

          Know why? THEY think it’s an awkward cultural issue that they don’t much like to talk about, too. Hell, I’ve even seen letters from mutilated women talking about how happy they are that they had it done and how much they feel it helped their sex life. It’s flipping creepy just how close the parallels can be.

          So unless people are actually talking about ways to prevent genital mutilation, no, I’m not going to distinguish between FGM and MGM. Genital mutilation is fundamentally wrong and focusing on one is unacceptable. I will not relinquish that position.

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        • Matthew says:

          Also, there is virtually no difference between FGM and MGM in practical terms. One involves the excision of genital flesh from an unconsenting minor performed in some countries for religious and social reasons typically linked to control of sexuality, and the other is FGM.

          This is inaccurate. Male circumcision isn’t performed for reasons typically linked to control of sexuality.

          Although there is this hilarious medieval text, Jewish penis is better than Christian penis, which actually manages to get the typical effect of circumcision on ability to delay orgasm completely backwards.

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        • Zorgon says:

          It’s committed for culturally traditionalist reasons which are themselves connected to century-old attempts to control sexuality. It came into vogue in very specific circumstances. I’m pretty sure a lot of the Muslim families who get their daughters ritually “pricked” (the most common form of FGM) do it for much the same reason; cultural traditionalism.

          In both cases it does not control sexuality now, but it came into existence for sexuality-control reasons.

          (To be clear – I’m talking about American circumcision, not Jewish circumcision, the origins of which are unfortunately lost in history.)

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        • Harald K says:

          Well, your last paragraph applies to your interjector, too: in your polite and friendly mostly female discussion of FGM, odds are none of you were victims of it, and odds are you don’t know all that much about the cultures where it happens either. But the man who rudely inserted himself into your discussion probably was circumcised without consent as a child.

          I’ve run into such people. I agree they aren’t very productive and more likely to convince people they’re crazy… but in fact, they have a point. Two points, actually: one, that cutting male children for nonmedical purposes shouldn’t be OK, and two, that maybe you should care about the wrongs you tolerate and propagate in your own culture before what happens in distant and alien ones.

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    • Decius says:

      I have experienced “interjecting yourself into public internet conversations and expressing that you are pained” being strategically equivocated with “having privilege”.

      It would be a straw motte if it wasn’t actually being used in that way, but it is.

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  3. Stuart Armstrong says:

    On your “motte-and-bailey doctrine”, compare with the first piece of Schopenhauer’s “Art of Always Being Right” (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Being_Right#The_Extension) :

    >The Extension. – This consists in carrying your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; in giving it as general a signification and as wide a sense as possible, so as to exaggerate it; and, on the other hand, in giving your own proposition as restricted a sense and as narrow limits as you can, because the more general a statement becomes, the more numerous are the objections to which it is open. The defence [against extension] consists in an accurate statement of the point or essential question at issue.

    On a more general point… You seem to bring up social justice stuff a lot. Not to me to argue with that, but I certainly get the subjective impression that your personal experiences might have coloured your focus. Would it be possible to run some sort of objective argument that social justice is more diseased, in a more dangerous way, than any generic field/group/ideology?

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      Unlikely to be more diseased than other fields, but I think it has one of the higher diseasedness:number-of-smart-people-I-know-who-strongly-endorse-it ratios of any ideology I have to deal with, except maybe neoreaction. And I spend a lot of time arguing against that too.

      I won’t claim that fact that I and people I care for have been harmed by it doesn’t color my judgment. But anything I do with my time other than work overtime to earn money I can donate to the most effective charity is nonoptimal, so I feel like I’m allowed to devote blogging space to Not The Most Important Thing if I feel like it, as long as I’m not unfair or dishonest in my critcism.

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      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        By ‘ratio’ do you mean something more like ‘product’?

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      • Anonymous says:

        My impression is that social justice is the most harmful recent or contemporary intellectual movement (and I think there are some pretty harmful intellectual movements in economics, so I’m basically saying that feminists are worse than sub-prime lenders). As a result, as an intellectual, I’m prone to be very bothered by social justice. However, in practice, I think it’s very small-fry compared to anti-intellectual movements. I just don’t tend to interact much with anti-intellectual movements.

        To a significant extent, the insane rancor of social justice types can be understood if one recognizes that anti-intellectual movements (such as the Patriarchy which they so hate) even exist. To an intellectual, they can be almost invisible because they don’t engage in discourse, but they do have almost all the power in the world.

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        • Paul Crowley says:

          Also there’s not much point writing a closely argued blog post against anti-intellectualism.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          I suspect that the more insane intellectual movements gain currency, the more that feeds into anti-intellectualism. If the intellectuals can’t keep from being devoured by the Social Justice Blight, perhaps the anti-intellectuals have a point.

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        • Deiseach says:

          I find this conversation interesting because, although I’ve seen a lot of social justice/feminist/trans and other identity postings on Tumblr, I wouldn’t have considered myself in sympathy with a lot of what they were saying.

          On the other hand, I’d be interested to hear an explanation as to why, in my current workplace, where 64% of the staff are women and 36% are men, as soon as you hit the higher grades (Da Bosses, in other words) – boom! Male, male, male!

          Women aren’t interested in promotion? Well, why not? Are you saying women aren’t ambitious?

          Women aren’t willing to put in the work necessary for their career? Immediate supervisor (who is a woman) is doing three separate jobs associated with the work carried out by our organisation at the moment. This means that, when she finishes her normal work day in the office, she spends additional hours every evening doing the extra work for one of the other jobs. She spent all Saturday and Sunday this week in the office catching up on that work.

          Boss of whole department, on the other hand (male) is “not interested” in, and “can’t be bothered with” that work, so he doesn’t do it.

          She’s not the only woman double- and triple-jobbing in our section (we’ve just had a Grand Reorganisation, which resulted in utter chaos).

          Women are more interested in their family life? Well, many of the women are married and have kids, yet are doing the work outside and the majority of the work inside the home as well.

          Women don’t spend as long on their careers? Again, many of the women have twenty and even thirty years racked up working for this place.

          So why, when we hit the Really Important Jobs, is it “Man, Man, Man”? Explain that to me, and why feminism shouldn’t have made me notice this, and why I should just have gone on accepting it as the Natural Order of Things.

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        • Armstrong For President 2020 says:

          Standard deviation in IQ + Testosterone + Height.

          Assuming ‘bosses’ are high level corporate types, you’re looking at only slightly lower IQs than doctors and scientists. Not Gifted exactly but mid 120’s, which is high enough to put a dent in the number of eligible women.

          Testosterone is generally a pretty strong predictor of ‘leader-y’ traits, aggressiveness included, and is for fairly obvious reasons much higher in men. If you want someone aware of and capable of climbing hierarchies, chances are they will be in the deep end of the Test pool.

          Height is obvious albeit a little silly; you look up to tall people, thus they tend to be the ones we look up to. To steelman our instinctual preference, height is highly polygenic so higher-end-of-normal height implies relatively low genetic load.

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        • nydwracu says:

          I don’t think it’s small fry compared to anti-intellectual movements.

          Who’s in the anti-intellectual movements? Who’s in the social justice movements? It doesn’t matter if half the country is in an anti-intellectual movement; social change is about quality more than quantity. If there’s only 1% of the population in a social justice movement, but those three million are all in positions of power — making policy, controlling the political loading of media reports, educating the people who will be in positions of power in twenty years, etc. — then that makes it a lot more dangerous than a movement of the powerless half of the country. That’s not just because they’re the ones writing the rules, but also because they’re upstream from the powerless people, who will, in time, go along with what the powerful people tell them to go along with.

          If there are no toxic waste-dumping factories along 99% of the bank of a river, but the other 1% is right at its source, the entire river will be filled with toxic waste. Numbers aren’t important here.

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        • I’d be interested in a detailed look at anti-intellectualism, with a history and typology, not to mention suggestions for how intellectuals can deal with anti- and un- intellectuals.

          Michael Vassar’s done some interesting analysis of the approximate way most people use language.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Deiseach:

          See, that there? That’s the kind of feminism I’m interested in. However, it’s the kind of feminism that’s mostly missing from public discussion right now in favour of campaigns against Robin Thicke lyrics and the word “bossy”.

          I have an explanation for this, but it’s an unpopular one. I would suggest that the public face of the movement has been overrun by comfortable middle- or upper-middle-class twentysomething writers and “online activists” for whom issues of economic fairness seem more like a route to pitchforks and torches at their door than a source of liberation.

          But then I’m an Old Lefty, so I would say that 🙂

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        • Patrick Robotham says:

          Anonymous:

          Do you think it’s harmful because it advocates any false propositions or any screwy morality, or simply because of the number of jerks associated with the movement?

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        • The Anonymouse says:

          >>I would suggest that the public face of the movement has been overrun by comfortable middle- or upper-middle-class twentysomething writers and “online activists” for whom issues of economic fairness seem more like a route to pitchforks and torches at their door than a source of liberation.>>

          Unpopular, perhaps, but as we’ve been told, no one likes to be called out on their privilege.

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        • Mary says:

          Zorgon:

          You should also consider the possibility that they don’t want to put themselves out of a job by actually solving problems. What does a grievance monger do when she can’t manufacture more grievances? Get a life?

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’ll just add, for your own data, that the ONLY time I’ve ever encountered the phrase ‘Social Justice Movement’ or variations thereon is on this site. I remember you once listed (something like) all of the times the social justice movement came up on your internet in one day, and you seemed to think it was somewhat typical. Perhaps consider this to be a case for optimism, that the totally horrible and evil memeplex doesn’t reach as far as you think. 🙂

        Btw, I do enjoy the posts criticising it still. Critiquing how specific internet commenters make mistakes is a very generalisable skill.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Oh, it definitely depends where you hang out. Twitter and Tumblr seem to be the primary vectors, although in the last year or two it seems to have been picked up by the Gawker-style clickbait sites; I’ve noticed a few references in mainstream media, but for anything right of the SF Chronicle it still seems to be cast in Look At These Crazy People terms.

          And the Chron’s basically clickbait anyway, these days.

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        • Matthew says:

          I’ve seen it invade boardgamegeek.com before. See here and here for example.

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    • Would it be possible to run some sort of objective argument that social justice is more diseased, in a more dangerous way, than any generic field/group/ideology?

      Donald Sterling

      Compare the brown scare with the McCarthy red scare.

      Report comment

      • richard says:

        Bollocks. The NBA jumped at the chance to get rid of an owner everyone hated.

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        • Imperfect Humanoid says:

          ‘Bollocks. The NBA jumped at the chance to get rid of an owner everyone hated.’

          Oh, well that makes it all OK then. Racism is just an excuse people use to ‘get rid of’ other people they don’t like. Nothing to worry about. (moron)

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  4. Chris Billington says:

    That debate about postmodernism — I’ve had that EXACT debate.

    Me: Whether or not the Higgs boson exists is an objective fact.

    Him: No it isn’t, everything is subjective, because people might perceive colours differently, and you would never know!

    Me: Please define subjective.

    Him: You can’t know what other people are thinking, blah blah blah, so everything is subjective.

    Me: I agree with you in that sense, but that has nothing to do with whether reality has an objective existence.

    Him: But you just agreed everything is subjective!

    It’s making me furious just thinking about it.

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    • Samuel Skinner says:

      Ask him for money and inform him its loss is just “subjective”. People get rational extremely fast when they can see it costs them cash.

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      • karmakaiser says:

        Oh come on, even economists regard fiat currency as a social fiction used to mediate exchange. Even metal currency has only reality insofar as people agree to use it as a medium of exchange per Searle.

        If everyone agrees we don’t exchange dollars then dollars aren’t money.

        Cutting off his limbs is a better example because limbs would exist even if everyone agreed it didn’t.

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        • Kaminiwa says:

          It’s not about the money being subjective, it’s about the theft itself being subjective. To my mind, I didn’t steal your wallet, to your mind you did. With no objective reality I guess we will both just have to accept that we have different subjective experiences and move on, neh.

          Mine will just happen to be a little more pleasant due to my ENTIRELY subjective belief that there is an additional wallet with me 🙂

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        • Anonymous says:

          Fiat money is considered to be money because if you don’t pay your taxes with it the government will put you in jail. It may be a social fiction but when the cops kick your door down, shit will get real all of a sudden. Trust me, I’m an economist.

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    • karmakaiser says:

      like an ideal postmodernist would be all like‏ “look we have to play by different rules once we’re dealing with sub atomic particles because of the design of instruments and the problems of maps and territories”‏ whether the higgs exists is indeed a matter of objective fact, but whether our instruments indicating it exists is actually reason to believe in its objective existence is another matter‏. given my feyabrendian view of science‏ this is more that we have cause to treat the universe as-if it exists‏

      A good post modernist would be all instrumentalist all over you.

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    • Troy says:

      Alan Olding summarizes this argument as “We have eyes, therefore we cannot see.”

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  5. Sarah says:

    This is spot on.

    One point that you didn’t make explicit is that if everyone is “guilty”, no one is.

    If everyone, or almost everyone, is a little bit rapey (a claim I’ve heard made!) then it becomes very hard to make distinctions between your slightly insensitive ex and a violent offender who should be in jail. If everyone is guilty, then it’s not possible to punish everyone. And you wind up *not* punishing the real bad guys; you punish whoever you’re upset at right now, and let genuine villains go free.

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    • Error says:

      Sounds like sin in new clothing to me. “We are all sinners to some degree…(but some of us more so than others).”

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    • coffeespoons says:

      From doing a bit of reading about this and talking to people I think that often the most dangerous sexual predators in communities are high status men, who are often attractive and have lots of friends. Now, it’s very difficult to deal with these people as no one wants to believe the victims (even in social justicy communities). However, if we want to “do something about rape” attacking low status men (creep shaming?) who seem a bit “creepy” because they gave me a hug that lasted a bit too long is very easy.

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      • von Kalifornen says:

        Actually, I’d note that what is actually happening is that people who are high status within an enclave but low status in broader society are being attacked. Often correctly. This is part of what the fedora-neckbeard thing is about.

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        • Scott F says:

          Fedoras and neckbeards were never high-status within any enclave. Not within atheism, not within certain imageboard communities, pretty much nowhere.

          (Unless you want to consider “a collection of people who think fedoras are cool and neckbeards are acceptable, who have banded together because everyone keeps telling them fedoras aren’t cool and neckbeard aren’t acceptable” an enclave, but now every low-status person is a high-status person inside their own enclave of one.)

          The broader society attacking fedora-neckbeard people as low status was directly imported from enclaves that those fedora-neckbeard people are part of, enclaves that attacked them as low status.

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        • von Kalifornen says:

          Well, maybe not high status. But my perception was that in the past nobody cared and that the stereotype is only about three or four years old (the perjorative term “neckbeard” seems to be much older but previously referred to fairly apolitical basement-dwelling troglodytes.) Also, a *lot* of people attacked for fedora-neckbeard-ness don’t match the stereotype at all and aren’t low status as matching it would imply.

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        • Matthew says:

          I had never heard of the “neckbeard” stereotype before encountering it on this blog; I’m fairly suspicious of the claim that it’s more than a few years old.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          You are simply wrong as a matter of fact; this is a known bias you may wish to correct for in the future. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recency_illusion

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        • Nornagest says:

          @Matthew: You’re right, it’s only a few years old, at least as far as Internet presence goes. “Fedora” is even younger, albeit untrendable because it postdates fedoras in fashion.

          The exact stereotypes aren’t all that important, though; they’re merely the latest incarnations of the much older stereotype of the badly dressed, unhygenic, unattractive nerd. “Misogynistic” is a relatively new wrinkle, but mainly by way of interpretation; most of the things the fedora-wearing neckbearded nerd of 2014 is considered creepy/misogynistic for could as fairly be laid at the feet of the trenchcoated nerd of 1998 (he whose classmates are more worried he’s going to shoot up the school), or the suspenders-and-pocket-protector nerd of 1980.

          (The latter nerds probably don’t watch My Little Pony, but the brony stigma among SJWs is faintly bizarre to me anyway.)

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        • suntzuanime says:

          Nornagest, you are also wrong. Feminist co-option gave it a signal boost, but they were co-opting a previously existing stereotype.

          EDIT: Your link seems to show that it was popular enough to start showing up in websearches as of seven years ago; this does not seem to support your claim that it is only a few years old.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Not saying you’re wrong, but can you elaborate? Five minutes of Google turn up no references older than 2002, and that was referring to the facial hair rather than the attendant stereotype. The Google Trends data up there looks like a strong argument for 2007.

          (I don’t remember seeing in feminist circles earlier than a couple of years ago, though, so they may have co-opted it about then.)

          EDIT: Ah. Seven years is “a few” to me. If it’s not to you, then we’re probably violently agreeing.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          2007 was 7 years ago, which is already really pushing it in terms of “a few years”. And consider that in order to become a “trend” it has to have already existed long enough for people to pick up on it.

          I personally remember seeing it around a decade ago, but I do not have a citation I can provide.

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        • zbeeblebrox says:

          You wouldn’t be able to post a primary citation anyway, since the term “neckbeard” first showed up on the Somethingawful forums, probably around 2005 or so? The SA forums are notorious for locking archives behind a paywall since before the word “paywall” existed.

          From what I remember, it was originally intended as an intentionally superficial pejorative they could use against any unsuspecting internet user they were trolling at a given moment, later with accompanying pictures of guys at computers with terrible hygiene/literal neckbeards, just to drive the point home. So it’s never been a positive (or even self-deprecating) identifier, but even still it was co-opted by outsiders and eventually social justice groups, all with their own agendas.

          Co-opting words is a common tactic for pushing an agenda or manipulating a cause. But it helps when they start with negative connotations in the first place.

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        • nydwracu says:

          even still it was co-opted by outsiders and eventually social justice groups, all with their own agendas.

          SA is one of the major sources of the social justice memeplex, so it’s unsurprising that they would pick it up.

          (Gawker and Buzzfeed, to an extent, are downstream from SA. Yes, it’s that bad.)

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    • Athrelon says:

      In many ways explicit “privileges and duties” norms, as practiced in many traditional cultures including some strains of Christianity, can be seen a progressive tax on social status. Obviously it’s still better to be charismatic than otherwise in those systems, but when rules are explicitly spelled out, rather than being a matter of ad-hoc consensus, it’s a little bit harder for a charismatic defector to totally evade censure. Moving to a “state of nature” where more things are up for grabs for talented politickers increases this particular form of inequality, and also causes you to lose certain kinds of coordination technology.

      The opportunity cost of social justicey norms supplanting older defection-punishing norms is in some cases significant. Informal social coordination using a SJ moral vocabulary is good at solving some problems, but is inefficient at others – and punishing charismatic defectors is not one of them. Of course, the question then becomes whether the benefits of getting rid of old, unequal norms are greater than these costs.

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      • Mark says:

        The opportunity cost of social justicey norms supplanting older defection-punishing norms is in some cases significant. Informal social coordination using a SJ moral vocabulary is good at solving some problems, but is inefficient at others – and punishing charismatic defectors is not one of them.

        Could you be more specific or provide more concrete examples here? This sounds like a really interesting point.

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        • Athrelon says:

          Disclaimer: I generally dislike moving meta level discussion to object level, because the debate immediately shifts to quibbling over the object level example. An additional pitfall when talking reactionary-SJ stuff is that part of the process of value change includes adding moral loadings to a bunch of factors that make it difficult to discuss sanely (we’ll see an example in the following paragraphs, which hopefully I’ve meta-d up enough to avoid it spoiling this entire exercise.) When I have time to write carefully and with foresight, I can usually come up with examples safely in the past so that we can have some sane discourse. But I’m going to ad-lib it here:

          Since we started talking about sex, we might as well continue. Let’s talk about social attitudes towards seduction, where I’ll use the term here as deliberate seduction with the goal of a transaction that will likely leave the other person worse off (rather than having it just mean “generally being attractive.”) If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice [WARNING: 200 YEAR OLD SPOILERS], you’ll remember the subplot where Wickham, the charismatic militia officer, ends up seducing Lydia, the headstrong and flirtatious youngest sister. What happens next? Everyone immediately recognizes this as a breach of conduct, lowers the status of both Wickham and Lydia*, and when the couple are found, they are cocerced into formally marrying to mitigate the social damage. The notion of a “shotgun wedding” is a colorfully American version of the same notion – that premarital sex is bad and if it somehow happens, the less-bad outcome is to formalize it into marriage**.

          Contrast that to today. We no longer think premarital sex bad; in fact insisting on it seems weird. The whole pairing-off process is also more informal – there’s no chaparones and relatively few formal mixers with adult supervision (like balls).

          Okay, so how does this new culture deal with seduction? Well, you can go on PUA sites and see that lots of men believe that it would be awesome and personally beneficial to seduce lots of women with relatively low commitment. Evolutionary theory being what it is, a lot of women see aspects of these tactics as giving them a raw deal, even though they don’t come close to falling under formal rape laws. Well, they can’t use the shotgun-wedding precommittment anymore, and we recognize that. As a society, we obviously don’t want women to be defenseless against rakes. So we ratify their use of their next best option: being very savvy and perceptive about preemptively picking up untrustworthy men, and having the social power to strongly castigate them…

          …except of course monkeybrains being what they are, not only does the “creepy” detector tend to be oversensitive towards low-status men and undersensitive towards high status ones, even if a woman correctly perceives that a high-status man is giving women a raw deal, it’s harder and more socially risky to try to to socially bring him down than, compared to if you doing the same thing with a low-status man. Also, unscrupulous women can use their new power to call inconvenient low-status men “creepy” and watch them socially disappear, and unscrupulous high-status men (but not low-status ones) can use the superweapon currently being constructed in the Top-Secret MRA Labs(TM), “she’s just claiming regret, it’s not rape,” and get away with predatory behavior.

          So, instead of having a norm that fairly cleanly targets seducers and seductresses who prey on the opposite sex, we now have this massive informal monkey-political mess. We expend a lot more effort, cause a lot more collateral damage (low-status men and low-status women both lose) and don’t get anywhere near the level of actual seduction-prevention. This is “doing less with more” – the very definition of a loss of technology.

          Reactionaries may notice the parallel to the concept of “anarcho-tyranny” here.

          My point is not that all men were perfect Darcys in the glory days of our ancestors, and now all we’ve got are degenerate Roissys. There were rakes back then the same as we had PUAs now. The point was that the culture had a much more effective way of containing the damage that rakes did, and that that was a side effect of making courtship a more free-form, informal affair governed mostly by monkey politics. Now, obviously some people benefited a lot from these changes, and, having won, we now see elements of the sexual revolution as wonderful ends in themselves (“dismantling a patriarchal system,” “sexual freedom,” “my body is none of your business” etc.) But there were some pretty big opportunity costs, of which this is one.

          ————————————-

          *Here’s the dissonance I promised – part of the sexual revolution changed norms such that while Austen saw the whole thing as an unobjectionable moral fable, it seems weird to modern eyes to hear her implicitly criticizing Lydia for her personality and sexual choices, and to slap her, as well as Wickham, with consequences for her actions. (“Guess you’re stuck with the handsome but dissolute guy now, and for the rest of your life!”) I too am a creature of modernity, and even I admit to a residual shudder despite seeing the logic and the benefits of this arrangement to actual women.

          **For the rakes out there, of course, this was also a reasonably good deterrent from indiscriminately seducing people.

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        • drethelin says:

          So I like that you wrote this but it seems to miss a rather big part of why people wanted the norms to change in the first place: Yes we’ve made punishing “rakes” more expensive but we’ve made getting into a relationship WAY cheaper. If more people having more sex is a good, the changes from then to now have enabled a lot of good, especially for women.

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        • Athrelon says:

          Drethelin: it’s possible that “moar sex” is a product of the sexual revolution and should be noted in the plus column. A quick Googling didn’t reveal any great stats; I’d be interested if you could find better ones.

          There’s a few non-obvious things that complicate the obvious intuition that sex became more frequent after it was less restricted. Yes there was no sanctioned sex before marriage back then – however, the age of marriage was much lower than today. Elizabeth was 20 in the novel, and England was itself kind of a weird outlier in having late marriage. Outside Hajnal Europe her age would have been even lower at marriage. Contrast with this fun Wellesley survey breaking down virginity (at age 18-22) by major. A lot of what’s now premarital sex would have been marital sex in traditional societies.

          Most sex almost certainly still takes place within marriage. How has marital sex been doing? Given Scott’s data on traditionalist marriages being happier and more stable (EDIT: also sexier), it’s not inconceivable that traditionalist societies may have had happier marriages, which is highly correlated with sexual frequency. But again, couldn’t find hard data; would be interested if you dug any up.

          So I honestly don’t know. I’d be pretty confident that that pre-marital sex has increased significantly, as well as sexual partner count, and under some worldviews that by itself is a definite plus. Uncertain about the sign and magnitude of delta total lifetime sex. The case that the sexual revolution brought us “moar sex” that can be chalked up under “benefits” is not as obvious and as large a win as the naive view suggests.

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  6. Typhon says:

    I am reminded of this.

    So many words end up being used as labels meaning “this person is not our ‘our side’ and therefore evil by definition”.

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  7. J. Quinton says:

    It seems to me that words like “racist” or “privilege” have the same sociological function that “blasphemer” or “heretic” had about 1,000 years ago. Not saying that SJ is like religion, but that it looks like they suffer from a lot of the same in-group/out-group dynamics.

    Though I have to admit, reading Tertullian talking about (the heretic) Marcion is a lot like reading the snark on a lot of Jezebel articles.

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    • Salem says:

      Not saying that SJ is like religion

      To be clear, I am saying that SJ is just like religion.

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    • Athrelon says:

      Note also that debates within a religion tend to be “limited warfare” and take place within an accepted framework. You might accuse your enemies of being blasphemers, but you wouldn’t say they’re dumb and materialism is clearly a better framework, nor would you coordinate with a secular King of Italy and help him annex the Papal States. This means that the kernel of the religion is in some sense still operative; at minimum you must say that it constrains the debates somewhat, restricting it from being a total free-for-all random walk. (At maximum, there’s this fascinating article claiming that God uses intra-Church political struggles to deliver more bits of theological information to mankind.)

      Similarly, the vicious court politics between women and trans-folk still take place within a particular meme called “social justice,” and that meme has a particular logic that drives the movement – it’s not all random noise. It’s overly dismissive to downplay SJW shenanigans as merely playing directionless monkey politics, even if the actual humans are just executing their “monkey politics” algorithms.

      The logic of social justice – the deep logic, not the surface rationalizations, has its own ideas about the kinds of group-coordination and status dynamics that it wants to reinforce. And if the examples of the Catholic Church and Communism tell us anything, it’s that ideologies can make pretty big dents in the world even if their constituent humans are a bunch of bickering politickers.

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      • Athrelon says:

        “Similarly, the vicious court politics between women and trans-folk”

        By the way, as an aficionado of Chinese history, you have no idea how hard it was for me to stop my reflex to type “court politics between concubines and eunuchs.”

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        • Multiheaded says:

          You are out of line. Protip: mentioning something about the historical high status of said groups will make it worse.

          (Good point in the parent, though!)

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        • Athrelon says:

          I disagree with shifting commenting norms in that direction. I have, however, clarified the quip to emphasize the historical side, to make it extra-hard to interpret it in an offensive way.

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        • bad at pseudonyms sorry says:

          You are in line. Please fill your comments with Chinese history analogies. There’s probably other aficionados, and I know our host has read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is getting there.

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        • lmm says:

          I played Koihime Musou which is basically the same as reading romance of the three kingdoms, right?

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    • AspiringRationalist says:

      See also What You Can’t Say, an excellent essay about how these terms get abused in this way.

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      • Typhon says:

        Yes, a truly wonderful text. I hesitated to mention it in my other comment and I thought that most people here already know about it, but in case someone hasn’t, it’s a must-read (as are many of Paul Graham’s essays).

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  8. Anonymous52 says:

    When the Social Justice people accuse rationalists of “Inserting themselves into conversations where they shouldn’t be”, I think what is happening is that we are using the word “conversation” differently.

    To a social justice person, any discussion about race is part of “the conversation”, and that conversation belongs to them and them alone.

    For rationalists, a conversation is an attempt to exchange information, share likelihood ratios and evaluate arguments to make each participant’s map correspond better to the territory.

    By having a discussion about race or gender on LessWrong or SlateStarCodex, we are in no sense intruding in anybody else’s conversation in the rationalist sense of the word. We are however intruding in the conversation in the first sense of the word. The social justice movement are attempting to shame us into silence, as evidenced by Apophemi and Arthur Chu.

    By insisting that the “conversation” belongs to the social justice movement, and making it impossible to discuss these issues honestly even in the privacy of our own corner of the blogosphere, the social justice movement has the effect of making it shameful to even attempt to increase the map-territory correspondence. Obviously, any group of people whose fundamental values are summed up by the Litany of Tarski is going to find that offensive.

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    • James James says:

      Interesting idea!

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    • von Kalifornen says:

      I’d agree with this. It’s a bit worse because in general, only the SJ movement and those such as Mr. Alexander who take inspiration from them have an accurate view of gender politics or power relations — stepping outside the box is an eternal cringe. And yet, they have so many problems.

      The lowest depth is the postcolonialist queer who imagines their knowledge of themself to be perfect (correct) and their knowledge of Miss Traditionalist Straight to also be perfect (so, so wrong, though they often know things that she does not.) The otherness with which the likes of the great Ozy Frantz refer to us sons of heteronormativity is refreshing.

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      • bad at pseudonyms sorry says:

        Ozy was the only intellectually honest gender-issues blogger I’m aware of, and I hope they stopped freely rather than being browbeaten into it.

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        • von Kalifornen says:

          I’m afraid I must inform you that hope is an empty dream. Ozy still blogs, but in a personal way, having largely fled from feminist discourse.

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        • Zorgon says:

          This is very sad news indeed. Zhe’s been my favourite writer on the subject for quite some time and getting to interact with hir on here* is one of the things I most like about SSC alongside SA’s clarity.

          *pun not intentional

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    • Drake. says:

      i’m not sure whether i agree to this or not, but – regardless of its accuracy – it could have been phrased in a less polarizing way. i don’t think any sj-inclined person here would consciously endorse the first definition, nor buy into a collective trying to ‘shame us into silence’. the pro-ingroup language was a little jarring as well, and i’d imagine it’d be even more so to an outgroup reader.

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  9. J Arcane says:

    Hrm.

    I feel like I agree and disagree with this, and I’m having difficulty pinning down exactly where.

    In one sense, I absolutely agree that you are correct about the use of these as weapons. I’d even tentatively agree that it may even be a majority.

    On the other hand, there’s a part of this that smells a little funny to me. Part of this is just that I don’t know that Sterling was the most sympathetic example you could have used, but also because it smells almost a little bit like the ‘worst argument in the world.’ (incidentally the article that made me a regular reader here.) I will attempt to explain why.

    There is an actual, original definition of privilege as a sociological concept (soft ‘sciences’ I know, but…) And it is, I think, a useful one, and whose presence doesn’t make it a good fit for an analogy to racism. ‘Privilege’ as a concept merely denotes those aspects of life that are inherently advantaged because of that privilege, and which may go unconsidered because they are often largely invisible to those within it. The example that brought the concept to clarity in my personal experiences was seeing the difference between my wife going into a tabletop hobby store, and me going in with her at the same time. She will experience hassles in that environment that I never even considered, simply because I’m male, so I never had to deal with them.

    So whereas the case of racism does seem like a clear case of deliberate and convenient reclassification, so does privilege, but in a very different way. And I feel like consigning it to suspicion solely because of the rampant abuse of it is, if anything, giving those abusers of language exactly the weapon they want. It’s granting them their erroneous definition as read.

    It starts reading like the ‘these people used X, and they did awful horrible things, so how can you dare use X!’ Which perhaps may not have been your intention, but it did come across a bit that way.

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    • Randy M says:

      If you go to a busy playground alone, you are likely to experience hassles as well. Is this due to the advantages society confers upon mothers?

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      • J Arcane says:

        Yes.

        Or at least, due to structural and societal expectations that produce that advantage.

        ‘Everyone’s a little bit privileged’ works just as well as a phrase, because it is true, at least for most anyone in Western first-world society (I struggle to imagine what social privilege is afforded being a starving African child, for instance).

        Though, as a male who has literally never once experienced that supposed effect, I confess to finding it a bit hard to swallow as anything more than ‘straw oppression’.

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        • Zorgon says:

          Speaking as the father of a young girl, I can say this: If that’s “straw oppression”, straw has got a whole lot harder lately.

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          • J Arcane says:

            Fair enough. I would never presume to dismiss your experiences, and besides which, bickering about the frequency of such experiences is besides the point.

            The key thing about ‘everyone’s a little bit privileged’, and indeed the concept of privilege, is that they are independent variables.

            Think of them in terms of economic advantages. I might have some. You might have some. They remain independent factors, except in so far as I might have more of them than you, or vice versa. My having Advantage A has no bearing on the reality of your Advantage B, and there is also an onus to be careful when comparing advantages that they are actually equivalent.

            What I *think* erroneous examples like the one in the image that commences this post are trying to get at is addressing the ‘but you also Y!’ type arguments preemptively.

            You probably know the form: Person A says ‘you did X!’ Person B is angry, and their defense, retorts with, ‘But you did Y!’ regardless of whether Y is even applicable. But by drawing that equivalence, in suggesting an imagined injustice or hypocrisy on the part of Person A, the fight is now about that, and Person B, if successful, gets to pretend X never happened.

            Only privilege doesn’t work that way, anymore than my factory only being able to produce 20 shoes an hour is somehow disregarded by your factory paying $0.30 less an hour for your workers. It’s apples and oranges, but if you shout it right when you’re both angry in a boardroom somewhere, it *sounds* valid at the time, and shuts down the conversation either through back and forth bickering or straight diversion.

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        • Randy M says:

          >I struggle to imagine what social privilege is afforded being a starving African child, for instance

          Very little, I assume, but I also assume the social challenges are not of their immediate concern.

          >Though, as a male who has literally never once experienced that supposed effect, I confess to finding it a bit hard to swallow as anything more than ‘straw oppression’.

          As opposed to a bit of unwanted leering in a game store? I think its comprable.

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        • Randy M, you don’t know what J Arcane’s wife was putting up with at the game store. It might have been “a bit of unwanted leering”. It might have been being ignored. It might have been being automatically guided toward games she wasn’t interested in.

          J Arcane, if you don’t mind, what actually happened?

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        • Randy M says:

          Well, true, I was going off of my wife’s experiences going to a game store alone, which were not close to innuedos of being a pedophile kidnapper.

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        • Kaminiwa says:

          I’ve had someone scream that I was a pedophile for talking to their kid. It was blatantly obvious that he had a grudge against mom and didn’t like that I was helping watch her kid.

          But, even dismissing 100% the chance he really did think I was a pedophile it still remains that:

          (a) it worked and I got right the fuck out of THAT situation

          and (b) he’d been culturally primed to EXPECT it to work

          (because, by and large, people do not make bizarre, ineffective threats – no one has ever threatened to report me to the CDC, or accused me of having a British accent)

          So, at least on the west coast of the United States, it seems sufficiently culturally entrenched as to be a readily available weapon.

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        • MugaSofer says:

          @J Arcane:

          “Think of them in terms of economic advantages. I might have some. You might have some. They remain independent factors, except in so far as I might have more of them than you, or vice versa. My having Advantage A has no bearing on the reality of your Advantage B, and there is also an onus to be careful when comparing advantages that they are actually equivalent.

          That would be the motte. It is true, and a valuable concept. It is also a trick.

          Read some of the links Scott posted above, if you can’t be bothered to use Google.

          There are several lengthy tracts helpfully explaining why anyone who implies someone not straight/white/cismale might have some is evil, and possibly mentally ill.

          They do so by pointing out excellent examples of straight/white/cismale “privilege”, by your definition. They then declare that this proves no-one else can have any. Because there can only be one “privileged” group on any axis.

          Assuming your definition, as you point out, this is utter gibberish. Steelmanning it, they are referring to a separate concept- “the bad guy”, basically. But that concept does not seem very … useful … to be discussing. It seems kind of underhanded, even.

          And why exactly do they equivocate between the two, instead of speaking clearly?

          Because “this group are the bad guy who is oppressing us” is the bailey. And your definition is the motte.

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    • “There is an actual, original definition of privilege as a sociological concept (soft ‘sciences’ I know, but…) And it is, I think, a useful one, and whose presence doesn’t make it a good fit for an analogy to racism. ‘Privilege’ as a concept merely denotes those aspects of life that are inherently advantaged because of that privilege, and which may go unconsidered because they are often largely invisible to those within it.”

      What makes something “advantaged”. Who decides? Do we take genetic differences and other differences between people into account when considering outcomes? More importantly even if we can agree on some definition of advantage how do we find and weigh all of these “advantages” to know if one person is more advantaged overall? (Hint: we can’t, they’re not quantifiable so the concept of overall “privilege” used in sociology is useless) Sociology isn’t usually soft science, it’s just nonsense.

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      • anon says:

        Not quantifiable, therefore useless. That’s a terrible way to think. Quantifying is nice, but can only be done within a preexisting framework of general reason.

        Additionally, if you can’t quantify something that has real effects, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Perfect quantification is impossible in any field, and estimates in sociology will be worse than in other fields, but truth can still be approached through broad strokes.

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      • Kaminiwa says:

        Quality of life scores would be the most obvious way to quantify it. If all, or even most, minorities demonstrate lower quality of life, it suggests there’s probably merit to the idea of privilege.

        Obviously these observations are still only useful to the sample considered, but it’d still be rather interesting to study 🙂

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        • xachariah says:

          This is treating “privilege” rather monolythically, which is not the most useful way of viewing the concept. When people use the term “xxx privilege”, they’re referring to a very complex web of different forms of advantage, where that advantage is generally invisible to the person being advantaged. These privileges occur in many different domains, and those who are advantaged in one domain may find themselves disadvantaged in another. It’s not a linear roadmap.

          Thus, it’s probably better to quantify it in specific domains rather than attempting to look at total life outcomes. Many instances of privilege are not fuzzy at all and we have solid statistics on them, whether that’s in terms of wealth accumulation, job prospects, education prospects, (sexual) assault risk, conviction rates, arrest rates, housing discrimination. Most specific forms of privilege have been studied and quantified, often repeatedly and in various contexts. Some of those statistics are subject to disagreement, as is any area of study. But the fact that social justice takes on many of the trappings of a lot of ‘soft science’ doesn’t mean that there’s no hard(er) science there.

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        • Kaminiwa says:

          @xachariah

          My point was that if their actual “Quality of Life” hasn’t declined, then either the privileges are rather trivial to the bigger picture, or are being balanced out. Just because two groups have different privileges doesn’t mean one is better off.

          I fully expect you’d find that minorities tend to do worse, of course. I think there’s a lot of important privileges, and that the balance favors the rich-white-male stereotype.

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      • David Moss says:

        Who said that the point was to decide which individuals are advantaged simpliciter or the most advantaged?

        The context where “advantage” would be fruitfully employed is in saying that some group (those with characteristic x) are advantaged in some respect to some other group (those without characteristic x or with characteristic y). So we can easily identify (and to some extent quantify) the disadvantage of black job-seekers, where we find that fake CVs sent out with stereotypical black-sounding name receive fewer responses than identical CVs with white names, or if we find that expert evaluators evaluate the same piece of music much more negatively if they are told that it is played by a female musician than a man and so on.

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      • adsd says:

        anything that is not quantifiable is nonsense?

        Scientismist fool!

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  10. Dave says:

    For what it’s worth, I agree completely that this “motte-and-bailey doctrine,” or “strategic equivocation,” or however we want to label it, is something common in social justice subcultures. Also, as you suggest, in religious subcultures.

    I would add that it’s also common among liberals, conservatives, progressives, reactionaries, communists, libertarians, Jews, Christians, atheists…

    Hm. Actually, it might be easier to list groups who _don’t_ engage in this practice.

    Of course, intensity varies.

    And I agree with you that in the social justice case the “motte” in question is the social power that accrues from being able to identify certain individuals and actions as racist, sexist, etc. (we can label this activity “calling out oppression” or “attacking white men” depending on which tribe we want to piss off.)

    Other groups have other mottes.

    I’m not entirely sure what follows from this.

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    • Armstrong For President 2020 says:

      Key phrase here: “intensity varies”

      Saying ‘both groups do it!’ without looking at the ‘intensity’ or centrality of the practise is to practice equivocation. It obscures a useful comparison with a useless trusim.

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      • Dave says:

        I acknowledge that you consider it obscurantist, and I appreciate why, though I don’t agree.

        If the entire discussion were about how universal this kind of “motte-and-bailey doctrine” was and how there’s no distinction to be made between different groups that engage in it, I might feel compelled to stress that while yes it’s universal (which is is), actually intensity varies and that matters (which it does).

        In the actual case, where the entire discussion is about how the social justice movement engages in it and what that implies about the social justice movement, I instead felt compelled to stress that while yes intensity varies (which it does), actually this is pretty universal and that matters (which it is and does).

        Edit: Oh, and I’m not sure who you consider “both groups” here. SJ activists are one group, I assume. Is the other group “everyone else”? “Rationalists”? “Sensible people”? Did you not really mean “both” but rather “all”?

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        • Armstrong For President 2020 says:

          I probably should have said all, just that it’s hard to imagine non-SJ/Intersectional people who both know about them and aren’t opposed to them.

          Not that their ideas are too crazy, after all much smarter people have believed much stupider things, just that they are so hostile to everyone outside of their clique it’s hard to see anyone putting up with them.

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    • James says:

      The problems with the social justice movement are the problems with humans in general.

      Report comment

  11. Hrothgar says:

    Scott, this post is great. Thank you.

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  12. Hainish says:

    To be fair, the people who use the teal-blue-circle definition of racism do have other words they use to describe what other folks use the red-circle definition for (namely, bigotry and prejudice). What annoys me is that when an outsider uses the red-circle definition, the conversation becomes all about the fact that they defined racism incorrectly.

    (Also, I’m not sure that linguistic prescriptivism is really all that terrible.)

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    • Dave says:

      Yes.

      That said, I have at times in my life tried to nip the labeling argument in the bud by gently suggesting that while yes, OK, the original commenter had perhaps used “racism” to refer to what is more precisely described as “bigotry” or “prejudice,” could we maybe devote some bandwidth to the actual claim being made about the referent, and not just the label being used?

      I don’t do that much anymore.

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      • Zorgon says:

        As Scott mentions above, virtually no SJ community will permit any discussion which presents their own “oppressed” group as being in any way bigoted or prejudiced. Hence rapid derailment of discussions of black-on-white prejudice (even violent incidents) into definitional arguments; the alternative is admitting that black people do bad things to white people, and that’s unacceptable. It’s not an accident, it’s an in-group defence mechanism.

        (By the tone of your post I suspect you already knew this, but I figure it bears stating outright.)

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        • Mark says:

          As Scott mentions above, virtually no SJ community will permit any discussion which presents their own “oppressed” group as being in any way bigoted or prejudiced.

          That’s not true at all. Many if not most SJW’s I’ve seen typically bend over backwards to point out how oppressive their oppressed minorities are to other, even more oppressed minorities – see feminists excoriating Sheryl Sandberg for her “white feminism” or Suey Park and co. constantly accusing Asians of throwing black people under the bus in order to maintain “model minority” status. The cynic inside me would say, in fact, that complaining loudly about your own group’s lack of intersectionality is an important way to build SJW cred, especially if you fall into one of the relatively more privileged buckets.

          They just won’t permit discussion that suggests they’re unfairly bigoted against less oppressed groups. And if you’re complaining about X’s oppression of Y, you’d better be at least as oppressed as X. (So no white men criticizing Asians for being racist against black people or conservative Muslims cultures for being misogynistic.)

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        • Zorgon says:

          Good point Mark, I’d forgotten about that particular bit of virtue signalling. It is, indeed, always about the gradient, rather than the boundary.

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        • Randy M says:

          >see feminists excoriating Sheryl Sandberg for her “white feminism” or Suey Park and co. constantly accusing Asians of throwing black people under the bus in order to maintain “model minority” status.

          Saying a white woman is racist may answer Zorgon’s point, but I don’t think it is particularly relevant, as it is still compatible with the implied premises that only and all white people can be racist. Similarly, you can perhaps find examples of feminists calling out black men for sexism, because that supports the “all men are sexist” meme. Find examples of feminists calling out women for anti-male bigotry, or social justice groups pointing out blacks can be bigoted against whites.

          Basically, racisms and sexism and other isms are defined by social status and hierarchy such as to make upwards directed oppression impossible, as the SJ-ers tell it. And other uses are confusing these terms with bigotry that is non-directional. Fine, if you want to have a conversation on those terms, so be it, but you haven’t proven that you (not anyone in particular) will even admit that up-status bigotry exists or can be a problem.

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        • Mark says:

          I didn’t bring up Sandberg as an anomalous example of a feminist who just happens to be racist (according to SJW’s, anyway). I brought her up because she was help up as representative of much broader phenomenon dubbed “white feminism.” According to the feminists who criticized Sandberg, there’s an entire class of women feminists who are absolutely racist to the core, and whose bigotry is foundational to their entire feminist ideology and praxis. Very similar to the consensus on trans-exclusionary radical feminism. I don’t think anyone on the left says anything comparable about black men vis-a-vis misogyny.

          But I already stated that there’s a hierarchy of who is allowed to criticize whom for bigotry. SJW’s are happy to allow people to “punch up” but not “punch down,” to borrow some of their favored terminology from another context. And what counts as “down” vs. “up” depends entirely on your identity.

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    • Nornagest says:

      I would be more impressed with this line of thought if I’d ever seen an attack on bigotry and prejudice coming from the proponents of blue-circle racism, or an analysis of how they work, or an attribution to them of any social ills that might otherwise be attributed to racism.

      Which, needless to say, I haven’t.

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      • xachariah says:

        Part of the reason for that is that it lies outside of their interests. Because they’re talking about blue-circle racism, prejudice and bigotry are so mundane/everpresent that talking about them distracts from blue-circle racism. Note that this isn’t just a case of selective anger. You don’t see blue-circle people ganging up on nazis or Klansmen either because, well, it’s just not interesting. “Prejudice bad”, well sure. The point where it gets interesting for social justice is well beyond “prejudice”, though.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “social ills that might otherwise be attributed to racism”. Once prejudice reaches a point where it is (or causes) a social ill, social justice theory will generally start including it as part of an -ism. This has happened with many “men’s rights” issues, which are within social justice seen as genuine problems caused by the same structural sexism/privilege/gender roles that limit women.

        Can you name a specific example of an area you think social justice should address but doesn’t because it doesn’t fall under blue-circle racism?

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    • Anonymous5 says:

      I don’t really get why Scott hasn’t explored the following since he understands the reasoning behind it and has put it well elsewhere.

      Part of the problem is that people using what you call “red-circle” definition aren’t using it the way Scott wants them to either, per this blog post.

      Racism in that definition is what Scott calls the “worst argument in the world” applied to race.

      The red-circle definition of racism is not just “subconscious biases” or something similar. That’s also not a great definition because it leaves an awful lot out. Scott understands what he calls the “worst argument in the world” and racism is a poster example of that, so as far as definitions go that is really worth including.

      In this whole analogy, just to be clear, the teal-blue circle definition as a reference point is still the “structural oppression” definition.

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  13. Adam says:

    But the sun ISN’T a mass of incandescent gas!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLkGSV9WDMA&feature=kp

    Clearly the postmodernists were right.

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  14. Patrick Robotham says:

    Ah! That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been motte-and-baileying the term “Social Justice”. The motte is, to borrow a phrase from Moldbug, ‘Universalism”. The bailey is all the paranoia and hostility and Arthur Chu-ishness that Scott’s been criticizing.

    As for touching nerves, this seems a corollary of the fact that historically-oppressed-groups jealously guard their status. This is because previous lowerings of status, aka “othering”, led to Bad Things happening.

    Words like “racism”, “privilege”, etc. are “boo words”. They have huge negative connotations (though they can be used with care to denote things.) Calling you a racist is an attack on your status, and historically othered groups are more sensitive about their group status than historically “normal” groups.

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    • Katie says:

      This makes a lot of sense from a social-survival perspective. If you are high status, taking the hit from being called racist or the like is something you can usually afford. Low status individuals (which here means members of an oppressed group) don’t have as far down to fall, and not as many resources to fall back on if they are cast out of their in group, and thus must more viciously defend against the claims that would lower them further. Of course, it’s not a good thing, but it adds some explanatory (and predictive) power based on this being a naive strong defense instead of calculated strong offense (eg weapons).

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  15. kappa says:

    We find the same unexpected pattern with racism. We all know everyone is racist, because racism just means you have unconscious biases and expectations. Everyone is a little bit racist.

    People of color seem to be part of “everyone”, and they seem likely to have the same sort of in-group identification as all other humans.

    As far as I remember – I don’t have a cite on hand – the studies showing white people react in subconsciously racist ways wrt non-white people have not shown the reverse, and may even have indicated that non-white people also react in subconsciously racist ways wrt non-white people, although possibly not to the same extent – my memory isn’t clear on the details.

    If that’s the case, then of the people you quoted in the ensuing paragraph, those who are more or less saying “the things people call ‘reverse racism’ and ‘racism against white people’ are fundamentally different and less dangerous/pervasive phenomena than the rest of the things we call ‘racism’, to an extent that merits our habitual exclusion of them from the term” seem to be pretty well supported against your criticism. (And even if it isn’t, I think the exclusion has other merits, but those depend on things I am having trouble remembering and expressing in detail right now.)

    Anybody know where to find the science?

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    • Martin says:

      Well, there’s the doll experiments, for one:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark#Doll_experiments

      The child was then asked questions inquiring as to which one is the doll they would play with, which one is the nice doll, which one looks bad, which one has the nicer color, etc. The experiment showed a clear preference for the white doll among all children in the study. These findings exposed internalized racism in African-American children, self-hatred that was more acute among children attending segregated schools.

      In 2006 filmmaker Kiri Davis recreated the doll study (…) When Davis repeated the experiment 15 out of 21 children also choose the white dolls over the black, giving similar reasons as the original subjects, associating white with being “pretty” or “good” and black with “ugly” or “bad”.

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      • That’s because the ‘structural advantage’ of whiteness is essential and not constructed. Vonnegut only missed the ‘handicap’ of universal blackface.

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      • George says:

        The doll experiments are bunk. The white dolls were nice, store-bought toys, and the black ones were handmade.

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        • Were nice mass-produced black dolls available?

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        • Martin says:

          What’s your basis for claiming that? I’m looking at pictures from the original doll test and video from two later doll tests. As far as I can tell, there’s no relevant difference between any of the dolls except the color.

          Here’s a screen grab, judge for yourself:
          http://i.imgur.com/KI26EMk.png

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        • nydwracu says:

          That would present its own problems if white and black babies tend to look different. If you took a picture of a white guy and photoshopped it to make him look black, or vice versa, it would probably look weird, since different population groups have different facial structures.

          Even if there’s no difference, there’s a somewhat stylized white-baby archetype that that doll looks like, so it could be that people are reacting the way they would if they were shown a picture of Rudolph with a green nose.

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    • Multiheaded says:

      This was the first thing that jumped out at me while reading this post, and it seems very important, because it cleaves right to the core of vulgar sjw-ism. I still maintain that, while Scott exposes various abuses of language and social influence, he doesn’t successfully grapple with sjw-ism’s key articles (“it’s evil and bad-faith to attempt impartiality when everything is skewed according to predictable laws”). There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence for those.

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      • von Kalifornen says:

        I agree with that statement, though I cannot say whether I agree with what you actually mean. (This is a substantial part of what I mean by the claim that only SJ people understand power relations).

        I do think that letting everybody have a ‘home field’ would be beneficial.

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      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        This is too interesting a lead to let sit; I vote for an expanded presentation of the argument, either here or in a link.

        Does he at least kinda grapple with what you’re talking about in http://squid314.livejournal.com/354385.html, particularly under ‘The Obvious Liberal and Conservative Responses’?

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      • suntzuanime says:

        The way to deal with predictable skewing is to take your impartiality up a meta-level, not give up on the idea.

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        • anon says:

          This. I’ve heard lots of people claim that fairness is a concept intrinsically rooted in white privilege. While I don’t think fairness is important or an objective concept, the idea that we should destroy everything associated with past white supremacy is ridiculous and terrifying. Yet that’s exactly what pessimists/radicals like Wilderson assert must happen.

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        • von Kalifornen says:

          How does fairness have anything to do with race at all? That sounds like the people who assume that straight white men must be wicked to each other. Is it just anarchy?

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        • anon says:

          The idea is that if you try to be fair, but you’re within a society that skews everything towards white males, then your attempt at fairness will miss and deepen oppression. And fairness/justice is an ideology invented by white men who owned slaves, therefore blah blah blah.

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    • Armstrong For President 2020 says:

      This seems to be conflating two different phenomenon.

      The first is that members of all races generally prefer to associate with other members of their own race. This is pretty well studied; even infants prefer members of their own race and have difficulty differentiating between individuals of other races. Less well established but still convincing is the evidence that greater racial diversity reduces trust and increases stress within a social group. This would be the “everyone is a little bit racist” segment and the likely source of most so-called micro-aggressions.

      The second is that members of all races generally have poor opinions of american blacks (in europe replace with gypsies). This is less well studied, or at least studied more poorly, but still very likely to be true. This would be the “learned prejudice” segment, although personally I would dispute that from a bayesian perspective it is a fairly rational prior.

      You could probably eliminate most of the confusion with the term racism by just separating out natural distaste for outsiders and learned prejudice, but then again that would mean neutering most of the SJ arsenal so it’s unlikely to catch on.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      On some psychological effects, blacks show pro-black bias; on others they show pro-white bias or are neutral.

      For examples of the former, blacks more likely to use self-serving attributions to explains behaviors of black vs. white people, on explicit measure of ethnic preference, blacks explicitly report much stronger liking of blacks than whites, blacks with high ethnic identity primed with ingroup prime quicker to respond to positive traits than those primed with outgroup prime (1), blacks have an easier time distinguishing members of their own race from members of other races (2), blacks more likely to convict whites and acquit blacks in controlled mock trials, (3), blacks more likely to show neural response to pain of other blacks rather than whites (4), blacks more likely to believe blacks than whites are smiling (5), blacks more likely to prefer reading stories about other blacks or stories that portray whites negatively (6), as blacks’ ethnic identity increases they are more likely to buy products advertised by blacks rather than whites (7) et cetera.

      It is true that implicit association tests and some other experiments find blacks showing no or inconsistent bias. One common explanation for this that I find reasonable is that blacks have a pro-white bias instilled by society versus a pro-black bias instilled by the in-group effect, which usually cancel out.

      (I also note how complicated it is to attribute IATs to a “pro-white bias” in the way people are likely to think. Suppose you’re more likely to associate the word “joy” or “love” with white people and “angry” or “bad” with black people. This could be because you hate black people. Or it could be because black people are associated with lots of negative-valence stuff – poverty, racism, prison, et cetera – in your mind, which naturally predisposes you to sad thoughts. The idea “black people are unfortunate and unhappy” is more than enough to get you your IAT results. But this is something black people should think as often or more often than white people do.)

      I suspect the same combination of social effect and in-group effect is true of gender, but I have a hard time finding it from the research. What we actually get is the so-called Women Are Wonderful Effect (real scientific name!): “Both male and female participants tend to assign exceptionally positive traits to the female gender with female participants showing a far more pronounced bias.” See also here: “women’s automatic ingroup preference for women is remarkably stronger than men’s preference for men.”

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      • suntzuanime says:

        So men are oppressed in roughly the same way as blacks, you’re saying?

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        • Mark James says:

          No, it’s not what he is saying at all. Also, this is exactly the type of deliberately dishonest exaggeration of someone else’s argument that Scott mentioned in his original post.

          Why don’t you try reading and understanding the whole of what Scott posted, and responding to that instead of simplifying it down to a dumb, clearly flawed cliche?

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        • suntzuanime says:

          Accidentally dishonest if at all. The “women are wonderful” effect sounds a lot to me like the famous test where you give children a black doll and a white doll and even the black children have nicer things to say about the white doll.

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        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Comparing those two effects is a reasonable observation, but comparing the overall oppressions does not follow and is a predictably inflammatory statement (easily predictable to me, anyway).

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        • xachariah says:

          The presence of a “women are wonderful” effect is not the same as oppression, and doesn’t even imply oppression. It merely says something about the way society views one gender versus the other in specific circumstances. But the “women are wonderful” effect does not imply that those feelings are acted upon, nor that if they were acted upon they’d constitute oppression, nor that if it would constitute oppression, that that would dominate other forms of gender oppression.

          To be fair, the other studies involving race don’t imply those things, either. But all of these studies are merely examples of some cognitive effects of the way we’ve structured our society. They are not complete or even semi-complete theories of oppression.

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      • Anonymous5 says:

        There’s also the problem that it’s most likely implicit association tests outright don’t work. They’re all random noise, with small sample sizes or p-value hacking doing the lifting.

        Old people have too slow of reaction times to test in a mathematically reliable way at all, and young people can often fake iats to get whatever outcomes they want.

        It’s frustrating to see you criticize horrible pseudoscience in various other blog posts and then not critically examine other things in questionable fields like psychology.

        That goes for a lot of things in social priming research (see Rolf Zwaan’s blog or anything similar) as well.

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        • I’ve wondered whether or how much IATs correlate with behavior.

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        • Army1987 says:

          I dunno, when I took a bunch of IATs I could *feel* that “good or elderly” vs “bad or young” felt less natural than “good or young” vs “bad or elderly”. In most cases after I finished the test I could guess its result to within one or two points on the seven-point scale.

          (FWIW, I was in my late teens or early twenties when I took them.)

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        • Harald K says:

          Like IQ tests, IA tests measure something, but it’s not entirely clear what they’re actually measuring – or that it is what they explicitly or implicitly claim to be measuring.

          The explicit claims seem to be the motte and the implicit ones the bailey. As it is with IQ tests too.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          Harald, what are the unsupported implicit claims about IQ tests? Have you actually tried looking to see if they have been tested?

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    • MugaSofer says:

      Wait, yeah. I remember that too.

      The same holds for unconscious sexism and e.g. treating the same resumes with female names attached as worse. (I think.)

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  16. Corey says:

    the sun is a mass of incandescent gas

    I think you mean the sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma.

    Report comment

  17. Charlie says:

    Allow me to demonstrate a new and unusual form of privilege:

    I have only one friend who’s really into this SJ stuff, is on tumbler alla time, et c. And we can still hang out, and we pretty much just don’t talk about it anymore. The only even slightly social justice related thing on my facebook feed for the last week is this article about prison conditions.

    On the one had, white male privilege is the privilege to not have to worry about this stuff. On the other hand, I have basically the same facebook group as my housemate – what makes her and I similar and you different is not race or gender but social group and possibly facebook-usage habits.

    I agree that you have it worse than me, not just because of random variation but because of structural factors set in motion long ago. But from my position of privilege, it seems like you’re also seeking this stuff out.

    A statistical argument: if you’re on the right end of some social-justice-people-exposure bell curve, then the most likely cause is that you’re slightly to the right on multiple independent causes of social-justice-person-exposure.

    If this is trivializing your pain, I’m sorry, and will try not to do it again.

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    • Anon says:

      Can’t speak for Scott hear, but for my own part, I do seek it out, because, for all that the movement is diseased, I do care about its nominal goals. It matters to me on a deep and fundamental level that, eg, women are actively discouraged from going into technology, etc. I’m not going to stay away from feminism just because a lot of people doing it are a little bit evil.

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      • Viliam Búr says:

        Yeah, there are good parts and bad parts. I support equality, and oppose domestic violence and genital mutilation. So why shouldn’t I be interested in a movement which already did some work and started a social debate about this all? Many people with similar values are already there. Should I reinvent the wheel?

        But then we have these crazy ideas that we shouldn’t speak about male victims of domestic violence or rape or genital mutilation, because that somehow detracts from the suffering of female victims; that hating other people because of their gender or race is bad, but only when white men do it; and that internet bullying or spreading false statistics is the most compassionate and enlightened form of human communication.

        So, could we (the wide public, not readers of this blog) somehow avoid the package-deal fallacy, keep the good parts and throw away the bad parts? Because the good parts are worth preserving, but on the internet the bad parts seem to thrive better.

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      • nydwracu says:

        It matters to me on a deep and fundamental level that, eg, women are actively discouraged from going into technology, etc.

        Why?

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        • Scott F says:

          Apart from all of the “I still care about the original meaning of equality” responses, there are plenty of good reasons to still care.

          One interesting one is a kind of aesthetic appreciation of “the realisation of potential”. You see someone like Turing and all his achievements, and you wonder if he could have reached even greater heights had he not been persecuted for his sexuality. Similar for women in tech: I see someone like Marissa Mayer and all she has achieved as spokeswoman for Google and CEO of Yahoo, and I wonder what she could have achieved if she faced the same obstacles that Larry Page, Sergey Brin, or Paul Graham faced, rather than a comparatively greater set of obstacles because of sexism in tech.

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        • Anon says:

          Because during my time as a computer science TA at a top-ten university, precisely 0 of the men in the top decile of students switched majors, and over half of the top decile women did.

          And because I care about my sister, and the only reason she’s doing her doctorate in chemistry instead of computer science is because she was repeatedly and actively discouraged from doing so.

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        • Devin F says:

          Anon-

          Why did the women switch out of computer science? Did they state any reasons?

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      • It matters to me on a deep and fundamental level that, eg, women are actively discouraged from going into technology, etc.

        I see a lot of women affirmative actioned into technology who really should not be there. Notoriously, first year computer science is full of women who are just not smart enough, and leave over the course of the year because they just cannot do the work.

        Is this not active encouragement of women to go into technology?

        Any activity that selects for smart people is going to under represent women, because not that many women will be able to do it. The only way to fix the problem is to do what Google and our leading universities have wound up doing, and stop selecting for smarts.

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        • dublin says:

          This doesn’t just crowd out capable men – it also means that the men who remain have to deal with a curriculum that’s dumbed down in a desperate attempt not to weed out the women. It doesn’t usually work, but they tend to take that as just a sign that they need to try harder.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I see a lot of women affirmative actioned into technology who really should not be there. Notoriously, first year computer science is full of women who are just not smart enough, and leave over the course of the year because they just cannot do the work.

          It would be interesting to see whether female CompSci undergrads really do have a different major-change rate than their male peers. Because I’m an ex-Compsci major, and I’ve run into a couple other ex-Compsci majors at my school who went into other fields because it wasn’t for them, and the math was too abstract. I do love the irony that I ended up in GIS, which involves some more compsci concepts and programming languages. Many of the best people at geospatial programming I know are women, including several of my professors.
          You bring up first-year college students, but I feel this is an invalid example because a lot of students change their majors to begin with! How are we going to find the women who are good at computer science? By putting a lot of them through first-year computer science and seeing which ones have the knack and the passion.
          Edit: Andy here again. Sorry.

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        • Alrenous says:

          Are Gawker and its ilk genuinely interested in bringing women into technology? Do they genuinely like either (a) (other) women, or (b) technology? Because it would sure seem, to the uneducated observer, that the actual effect of their actual actions is to scare women away from programming careers – on the grounds that, if they so much as master MySQL, they will be instantly raped by a pack of Satan-worshipping “brogrammers.”

          Do you know what women who actually want to help other women learn programming look like? They look like this. Sexist, check. Probably illegal, check. Recognizing that women are different from men in more areas than the chest compartment, check.

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        • Anon says:

          >I see a lot of women affirmative actioned into technology who really should not be there. Notoriously, first year computer science is full of women who are just not smart enough, and leave over the course of the year because they just cannot do the work.

          As a TA, so did I! Perhaps even disproportionately more so than men.

          > Is this not active encouragement of women to go into technology?

          Of a sort. Althoug I’m more concerned about it at age 10 – the age at which all of the competent men in my classes started learning – than at age 20.

          > Any activity that selects for smart people is going to under represent women, because not that many women will be able to do it. The only way to fix the problem is to do what Google and our leading universities have wound up doing, and stop selecting for smarts.

          I don’t think that this adequately accounts for the current state of affairs.

          As to the question of whether or not women are discouraged from entering technology, I can only say that the experience of those close to me (I tend to think specifically of my sister here, with whom I’ve always been quite close and who is at least as smart as I am) does not seem to agree with your experience.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      “But from my position of privilege, it seems like you’re also seeking this stuff out.”

      Well, just to give an example, I ran into that racism school png on the top of this post on Ozy’s Tumblr.

      I agree that hanging out with Ozy and reading Tumblr are, like, risk factors, but ze’s my girlfriend and so really hard to avoid!

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      • lmm says:

        I am all for calling people whatever they prefer, but surely a “girlfriend” is a “she” because, like, that’s what the grammar means. It makes the sentence hard to parse otherwise.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Do you really think Scott has not thought about this? Maybe harassment will change his general usage, but when his usage about his girlfriend deviates from his general usage, do you really think it’s up for grabs?

          FWIW

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        • lmm says:

          I figure he’s writing to communicate and would want to know when he’s confusing his readers. And yeah, I’ve certainly changed which words I use to describe my girlfriend because of context / audience / what people understand by the words.

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        • Scott has previously pointed out that Ozy likes girlfriend, but is still zie. Why not honor zir preference? It seems like a small enough cost.

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        • lmm says:

          The cost felt high; I had to reread the sentence a few times. (You may say I should lose my sensitivity to grammar, but I don’t want to; I edit as a fairly serious hobby and I need it for that. Maybe I should ask for a bad^Wnonstandard grammar trigger warning). Honouring a simple preference is one thing, but a preference that requires us to write inconsistent sentences (yes, I know English has no rules and is defined by usage) feels like the wrong side of the Schnelling line.

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        • Creutzer says:

          English doesn’t have grammatical gender, and so I don’t see what’s inconsistent about the sentence.

          It’s easy enough to edit your mental lexical entry for “girlfriend” to “partner of female gender, or partner of non-masculine gender who likes to be referred to as ‘girlfriend'”. If you’ve managed the feat of acquiring a whole new pronoun, which is much trickier than editing lexical entries for common nouns, this can’t be much of a hurdle. 😉

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        • MugaSofer says:

          Ozy is a ze – insofar as you can apply “is” to a deliberately meaningless word like “ze” – and *hates* being called “she”. However, they quite like being called “girlfriend”, and both Ozy and Scott have mentioned they deliberately make an exception there.

          As you, apparently, know? I’m not sure what the trouble is. Heck, IIRC Scott has other girlfriends, so the contradiction should help *clarify* things if anything.

          If you’re having trouble picturing Ozy, I suppose you could always track down their camgirl-ing … place. Whatever you call that.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Nope! Linguistics is one of the first vectors of social control, so it makes perfect sense for people who disapprove of the current social model to try to take control of language. Also, it’s a very effective costly signal that you’re willing to negotiate with them on their terms – it takes conscious effort to modulate your language to their preferences, without actually imparting any harm other than the effort. This is an excellent signal for “I am willing to expend effort to accomodate you”, because you’re already doing it.

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  18. aretae says:

    The easiest response to much of this is to formally come out against linguistic prescriptivism and in favor of natural usage…and not cede words to folks trying to twist normal usage. “That isn’t how people use the word.”, “You’re mistaken about how language works”.

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    • anon says:

      Even easier is to say “I agree with [X definition that blah blah blah] but see that as distinct from [Y definition that blah blah blah] which I disagree with for reasons 1 2 and 3”. Directly calling someone wrong is a mistake. And getting into a debate with a non-rationalist about the way words do or should work is a giant time investment.

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    • So, the question is, empirically, how does language work. We did not have a word for racism until recently, bigot did not mean what it now means.

      Prejudice used to mean the opposite of what now means. It used to mean literally pre-judging, refusal to believe one’s lying eyes. Now it means willingness to believe one’s lying eyes, for example generalizing about blacks on the basis of one’s actual experience of blacks.

      Pretty clearly, when a gang of black men attack a white boy and beat him to death because he is white, they are not being racist. They are being anti racist.

      Few people called Martin Trayvon a racist because he turned around and went back from his father’s house to get that “creepy cracker”, and those that did showed awareness that they were not likely to be understood, and awareness that they were trying to give the word a meaning contrary to normal usage.

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  19. falenas108 says:

    There’s a difference between the “everyone’s a little bit racist” of implicit biases and feeling slightly uncomfortable, and saying “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people”, and, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want”, but “the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games.”

    I don’t think you can say that Sterling wasn’t being any more racist than everyone else, as you imply in your article.

    Furthermore, it wasn’t just a comment in the privacy of his home. He was trying to control someone else’s actions about how they associated with black people.

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    • Quixote says:

      Yeah that’s an important point. Additionally he was trying to control someone else’s actions with the specific and deliberate aim of preventing black people from being seen in high status positions (owners box, front row seats, etc). His intention was aimed at third party externalities.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If you listen to the tapes, you will learn his intention.

        Report comment

      • As I understand it, the black people in question were generally high-status basketball players, so that argument seems weak. Another way of looking at this is that he was arguing with a romantic partner and romantic partners often try to control each other’s actions.

        But crucially, this is a question of the private vs the public sphere. When the NSA spies on everyone it has a chilling effect on what people will be willing to discuss in the private sphere. To a lesser degree, so does the Sterling scandal. A private sphere is probably very important for working out sensitive positions.

        Another question is: when does racism cause harm? Certainly a deliberately racist public statement is hurtful. Of course denying housing based on race as Sterling was accused of doing was hurtful. Denying jobs based on race, etc.

        The argument against racist comments in private is much weaker though. On the one hand, it could serve to propagate a malicious meme. On the other hand, it gives others a chance to help disassemble hurtful ideas. Can racism really be eliminated if no one is permitted to admit to racism even to their loved ones? How are they supposed to talk it through?

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    • Anon says:

      What? The implication was not at all that Sterling is no more racist as everyone else. The explicit statement was that Sterling-esque racism and the little-bit of racist that everyone is are not the same thing in any reasonable conversation, but rather that they get motte-and-bailey’d.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree that there’s a difference. I feel like I made this very clear in the article:

      “Someone will argue I am equivocating between two different uses of ‘racist’. To which I would respond that this is exactly the point.”

      As long as these are called by the same word, they allow that word to be dangerous.

      If I started calling people who liked little kids and got along with them well “pedophiles”, then even thought this is appropriate Greek derivation, the people whom I called pedophiles might reasonably ask me to stop, especially if I kept doing it publicly. “I promise I’m keeping the two definitions straight in my head” isn’t much consolation if somebody overhears me using it. And if I refuse to stop, you’re reasonable to wonder whether I have some ulterior motive.

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  20. James says:

    Nails a pattern which I’d vaguely sensed before but had until now been unable to articulate. Nice.

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  21. Ialdabaoth says:

    I’m just going to repeat my last public thoughts on the subject, in the hopes that saying them here will lead to more discussion and less hostility.

    So, here’s some of the common critiques of the so-called “Nice Guy” and the “Creep”.

    You never let us know you’re interested, and then you complain when we keep you as a friend.

    No, we let you know explicitly and in direct words that we’re interested, usually using phrases like “I would like to date you” or “I find you quite attractive, would you like to go out sometime?”. But we’ve discovered that when we do that, we’re labeled “Creeps” and “too forward”.

    You jump right into asking us out without getting to know us as a friend first.

    No, we absolutely get to know you, find some common interests, and discover that we like you a lot – and that you seem to find us fun/useful to have around – before asking you out. But we’ve discovered that when we do that, we’re labeled “Nice Guys” who were “just pretending to be friends so we could date you”.

    Do you see the double-bind yet? I’ll keep going.

    You spend all this time acting like our friend, but then when we say we’re not interested in fucking you, you move on. It makes it obvious that you just wanted sex in the first place.
    No, we move on after the failed attempt to date you starts making things incredibly awkward, and constantly grinds on our dignity and self-esteem. We move on when we discover that we can’t maintain the friendship because seeing something we want but can’t have is actively painful, and we can no longer simply be happy for you in your relationships when we desperately want to have one.

    You don’t want me, you just want a girl.

    Guilty as charged. Loneliness is crippling. Being with someone who is low-status is cringeworthy – you know it’s true, it’s why you aren’t attracted to us. “Settling” for someone you don’t really want just to stave off loneliness is a recipe for a disaster, right? Right?

    So we get down to the real problem: we’re just too low-status.

    So instead of calling us “Creeps” or “Nice Guys”, why not just cop to it? Why not just say “look, I don’t date neckbeards.” Or “look, I don’t date fatties.” Or “Sorry, no fuglies.”

    You’ve established quite strongly that fat-shaming, slut-shaming, etc. are off limits for us. But we don’t have enough power to make them off-limits for YOU. Granted, men higher up on the totem pole do, but you don’t attack them, because (thanks to Patriarchy) that would actually be dangerous.

    I’m not being facetious here. “Patriarchy affects men too” isn’t just a marketing meme for feminism, it’s real. And this is a big part of it. You make weak men – men who are already suffering the most under Patriarchal influences – your targets, because you’re afraid to go after the people who are actually benefitting from it.

    I’m not saying the alternative is to date someone you aren’t into. That would be gross. I’m saying that, when you decline to date someone, and it turns into a regrettable but predictable drama-filled weekend, maybe have some compassion, and realize that they’re struggling under the same bullshit expectations and double-binds that you are. Maybe stop coming up with stupid cliches and stereotypes to lump all these people into, and invalidate their struggles and experiences.

    Maybe except that sometimes, “But what about the menz!?” is actually a valid question. Because it actually fucking hurts over here, too.

    But those misogynistic frat-boys and creepy stalkers? I’m right there with you: FUCK those guys. Just remember that some of us try really hard not to be like that, but we’re caught in a double-bind and it would be nice if your attempts to teach them a lesson in common courtesy didn’t keep spilling over onto us, because we’re doing all we can to not become THEIR targets for bullying and shaming and mockery. And it would be nice if we could say “I am actively trying not to be like that, I’m sorry if I’m failing but it’s somewhat hard right now, if you tell me something specific that I’m doing wrong I’ll try to do less of it” without immediately hearing “Oooooh of COURSE you’re TRYING not to be like that, YOU’RE different, YOU’RE a Nice Guy(tm)! Fuck off, Nice Guy(tm)!”.

    Because it makes it REALLY hard to stay on your side if you keep shooting at me like I’m the enemy every time I try to break away from Team Douchebag. I’m going to keep trying, though, because I really do think your side is right.

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    • Andy says:

      Because it makes it REALLY hard to stay on your side if you keep shooting at me like I’m the enemy every time I try to break away from Team Douchebag. I’m going to keep trying, though, because I really do think your side is right.

      This has been my experience fighting against the Patriarchy and the disdain for low-status males, while trying to get a date. My semi-perpetual neckbeard didn’t help.
      In general, I found that I got yelled at a lot less when I appended “,but if you don’t want to, I totally understand/it’s totally okay” to my “I like you, I’d like to date you” spiel. This signals an appreciation for their autonomy and feelings.
      “You don’t want me, you just want a girl” is harder to fight against, but I didn’t get it as often. Separating between the general, long-term desire for a relationship and the specific desire for a relationship with that person helped a few times. “Well, it wouldn’t be moral to try to coerce you into changing your mind, so wouldn’t it be more moral to keep trying to establish a relationship with different people? Am I supposed to not have desires?”

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      • Phil Goetz says:

        In general, I found that I got yelled at a lot less when I appended “,but if you don’t want to, I totally understand/it’s totally okay” to my “I like you, I’d like to date you” spiel.

        Whoa.
        A. You’ve actually been yelled at by women for asking them out?
        B. You actually say “but if you don’t want to, I totally understand” to a woman when asking her out? That… sounds so low-status. I would never do that. What success rate do you have with that?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          A. You’ve actually been yelled at by women for asking them out?

          Dunno about Andy, but I sure as hell have.

          B. You actually say “but if you don’t want to, I totally understand” to a woman when asking her out? That… sounds so low-status.

          That’s because it is.

          I would never do that.

          That’s because you aren’t.

          Listen.

          Being low-status is not caused by your actions. Your actions are constrained by your status. You would never say something like that, because you would never get maced for failing to say something like that.

          In other circles, that “not getting maced” ability would be called a “privilege“.

          What success rate do you have with that?

          In my experience, little-to-none if by success you mean “got a date”, but pretty high if by success you mean “did not get maced and/or arrested”.

          <sarcasm>Check your privilege, motherfucker.</sarcasm>

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        • von Kalifornen says:

          Is this for real? The arranged marriages I have seen are far from your informal dating, but everything I have seen points to you having to do something very, very wrong to actually get people angry.

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        • Zorgon says:

          I’m gonna back Ialdabaoth up on this one because I’m in a fairly unusual position which has given me a front-row view of this sort of thing over the years.

          I spend most of my time in low-mainstream-status subcultures. I’m a tech geek, a coder, a gamer, a metalhead and a rationalist, and I’m educated-poor. I live in a low-status intersection and as a general rule the more any given person intersects with me, the lower status they are.

          As a result, I’ve spent a LOT of my adult life watching low-status guys get treated absolutely incredibly horribly by pretty much anyone they’re interested in. Reactions to being asked out that I’ve been aware of have ranged from being punched in the face, kicked in the balls, had things thrown at them, and on one occasion someone was severely beaten. This in a relatively calm town, too.

          At the same time, I’ve been sufficiently lucky in the genetic lottery to have ended up with some combination of factors which have caused this to be absolutely no problem for me whatsoever, to the extent that with maybe two exceptions (both of which were successful), I’ve never once actually asked anyone out, but have generally been approached by interested parties.

          The difference has never escaped me. People have historically asked me what my “secret” is and I have nothing to tell them. I don’t have “game”, I have no special techniques, I’m not rich or even especially well-groomed. I’m just lucky, and therefore high-status-for-the-purposes-of-sex. There is no other difference at all.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Is this for real?

          Yes. (My kingdom for the social power to say “QUESTIONING MY EXPERIENCE IS OPPRESSING ME!”. Ugh, on second thought, no – that would turn anyone evil.)

          The arranged marriages I have seen are far from your informal dating, but everything I have seen points to you having to do something very, very wrong to actually get people angry.

          Would you say that a dalit trying to request intimacy and respect from a brahmin would be doing something ‘very wrong’?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Is this for real? The arranged marriages I have seen are far from your informal dating, but everything I have seen points to you having to do something very, very wrong to actually get people angry.

          This assumption is used as a weapon. In fact, it’s one of the core tricks of actual privilege of all forms.

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        • Andy says:

          You’ve actually been yelled at by women for asking them out?

          Yep. Being a mumbling, neckbearded awkward person who can’t make eye contact for very long (and compensates for it by looking at a person’s center-of-mass) will do that. Coming out of high school, I had nearly no social skills. Really, I’m glad I found feminism before I found the manosphere, or I honestly probably would have gone Elliot Rodger-level crazy.

          You actually say “but if you don’t want to, I totally understand” to a woman when asking her out? That… sounds so low-status. I would never do that. What success rate do you have with that?

          Not good, generally, but understand, it’s not funging failure for success, it’s funging better-failure for worse failure. I assume that someone who is going to say “no” to an overture is not going to say “yes” no matter what I say.
          Not counting online dating, where I didn’t use that append, I got generally 50% in getting a first date for that overture, but usually I didn’t unless I’d spent a while with the person (I used this on both men and women) to establish they were interested in men, single, and had some common interests. But that’s not the success rate I am concerned with – my goal was to maintain a happy friendship with people whether or not they chose to date me. For not having drama wither they said yes or no, it was around 90%.
          And I didn’t need a good “success rate” – I just needed one person, not a bunch of notches in my bedpost. I’m coming up on one year with my lady now, and I’m quite happy with that. We’re spending a week together for a professional conference next week. So looked at that way, it was 100% successful.

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        • ozymandias says:

          I usually append “but if you don’t want to it’s fine” to the end of my asking people out and my success rate is very very good, but then I am in a rather different social position than many people in this conversation, because I’m read as female and I’m trying to date the low-status neckbeards.

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        • Randy M says:

          Implying to a highly sought after woman that you think she is in your league (when you are low status) may be considered by some as very wrong.

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        • Nick T says:

          Ialdabaoth, Zorgon, Andy, thank you for sharing your experiences. (I haven’t experienced anything similar, but I care about low-status-man-bashing and I appreciate anecdotes demonstrating its existence.)

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        • von Kalifornen says:

          Good lord. I have significantly updated my concern on how big the worry of seeming like a creep is for many people. I had previously been quite unconvinced.

          I still do wonder whether you are with the wrong crowd though.

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        • nydwracu says:

          Being low-status is not caused by your actions. Your actions are constrained by your status.

          Cf. eight-circuit: status is imprinted early in life and is very difficult to change without methods that our wonderful and benevolent government made illegal and killed research into almost as soon as they were discovered.

          (It follows from this that children should not be raised in environments where they’re generally considered elthedish. This follows even if status is zero-sum, since it distances second-circuit imprinting from ability. In an environment where 90% of people are in thede A, 10% of people are in thede B, thede B has little ability to insulate themselves from thede A, and the two thedes hate each other, a very smart and generally potentially-capable person from thede B will end up imprinting lower status than a hopeless case from thede A.)

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          status is imprinted early in life and is very difficult to change without methods that our wonderful and benevolent government made illegal and killed research into almost as soon as they were discovered.

          That is a more accurate set of statements, yes, but I do not have the status necessary to muster the courage to speak them myself.

          Which hurts.

          A whole lot.

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        • Matthew says:

          Cf. eight-circuit: status is imprinted early in life and is very difficult to change without methods that our wonderful and benevolent government made illegal and killed research into almost as soon as they were discovered.

          Unlike most of the insinuations I see on this blog, I genuinely have no idea what the referent of this is. I would like a hint, if you can safely offer one.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Unlike most of the insinuations I see on this blog, I genuinely have no idea what the referent of this is. I would like a hint, if you can safely offer one.

          Search for “eight-circuit model of consciousness. A theory of the mind conceived by Timothy Leary, which reeks of LSD. Not sure if it’s backed up by any neurological evidence.
          [b]edit:[/b] this is Andy, not sure what went wrong.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Unlike most of the insinuations I see on this blog, I genuinely have no idea what the referent of this is. I would like a hint, if you can safely offer one.

          More specifically, he’s talking about Leary’s LSD research in the 50’s, which discovered that a good deal of criminal behavior could be turned around VERY QUICKLY with some LSD and guided therapy – primarily because it broke people of their ‘loser’ scripts.

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        • Does anyone have long enough experience to say whether women have become more violent if they’re given an unwelcome request for a date?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I’ve had about… 20 years in the dating scene, and in my experience, women haven’t become more violent. They have, however, shifted the method of their violence.

          In the 90’s, the primary trend was “become annoyed that Ialdabaoth is flirting with me, go flirt with large man, tell him to beat up Ialdabaoth, watch and laugh.”

          In the 2000’s, the primary trend was “become annoyed that Ialdabaoth is flirting with me, tell the nearest authority figure, watch and laugh.”

          In the 2010’s, the primary trend is “become annoyed that Ialdabaoth is flirting with me, pull out mace, use mace, watch and laugh.”

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Jesus H. Christ, Ialdabaoth… I think the problem might have less to do with you or with society and more with the possibility that you might be trying to date horrible, awful women! Even if you’re unknowingly doing something wrong and repulsive, this kind of thing just can’t be appropriate. What the fuck is wrong with them?

          blinks in horror

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        • Matthew says:

          I agree with Multiheaded. While I think an overwhelming majority of women will be bothered and possibly offended by a really low status man hitting on them, I emphatically do not think most of that overwhelming majority are actually sadists who would be amused at the low status man being beaten. You’re hitting on the wrong people.

          Edit: I vaguely remember you mentioning in another thread a preference for considerably younger women. This is… probably not helping you. Though I’m being totally hypocritical by advising that.

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        • Nick T says:

          Ialdabaoth: Do you have citations about Leary that focus on criminal treatment and “breaking people of their ‘loser’ scripts”?

          Also, sorry to hear you’re apparently surrounded by such terrible people 🙁

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Also, sorry to hear you’re apparently surrounded by such terrible people

          Look. If you never grasp anything else I say ever again, please listen to this:

          THESE ARE NOT TERRIBLE PEOPLE.

          They are normal people. Everyone tries to say “those are not normal people” to distance themselves from this behavior, but this is how most people react, when given the chance.

          You are not terrible. You are just running on corrupted hardware. And when you see the chance to punish the powerless, you will, and you will find a way to justify it that makes it feel like they deserved it.

          You will continue to do this until you learn to recognize yourself doing it.

          So please, stop calling these people ‘terrible’.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I am incredulous that the primary response is trending toward ‘pull out mace, use mace.’ Is this metaphorical?
          For starters, after being maced once I wouldn’t have thought you wouldve tried talking to another woman again which doesnt give you time to observe a trend.
          Secondly, from what I understand of mace, it would be difficult to avoid hitting oneself with some of the mace in the process of using it, making it a weapon of last resort against a clear and unexpected threat rather than a first resort against a weak and self-flagellating proposal of courtship.
          Further, I don’t actually know anyone who carries mace in social settings. Where are you approaching these people? What are you saying to them?
          I submit that violence against an unwanted advance is not the norm. I have no personal experience with normal people but I do take in media where violence in response to an unwanted advance is played for laughs because it is incongruous not because it is normal.

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        • Matthew says:

          Ialdabaoth — I think your experiences are such an extreme outlier (I’m not questioning that they are true, just that they are far from typical) that you should probably lower your confidence about any judgments you want to make about human nature/human behavior in general based on personal experience.

          I mean, I agree with the corrupted hardware point in general, but I disagree that it’s anything remotely like a human universal that people will always be looking for someone defenseless to take out their frustrations on, particularly in such an extreme way.

          On a more general note: some people in the “already late” condition still stop to help the confederate in the hallway, and some people in the “no rush” condition still ignore the distressed confederate. Individual variation in, for lack of a better term, baseline benevolence, clearly exists just as much as individual differences in intelligence or strength do.

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        • a person says:

          I’m not a super low status male and have never experienced or even seen a woman (literally) violently reject a man, but I found Ialdabaoth’s rant in the OP very relateable and I think I agree with everything he’s saying about human nature.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I am incredulous that the primary response is trending toward ‘pull out mace, use mace.’ Is this metaphorical?

          No.

          For starters, after being maced once I wouldn’t have thought you wouldve tried talking to another woman again which doesnt give you time to observe a trend.

          First, I don’t give up easily. I tend to get terrified, spend some time pushing through that terror, then move on.

          Second, I’m 39 years old. I’m giving the ‘hilight reel’ of 20+ years’ worth of experience.

          Secondly, from what I understand of mace, it would be difficult to avoid hitting oneself with some of the mace in the process of using it, making it a weapon of last resort against a clear and unexpected threat rather than a first resort against a weak and self-flagellating proposal of courtship.

          It depends on the delivery system. Most of the little keychain mace cans, for example, aren’t even really pressurized, and are more of a ‘stream’ than a ‘spray’ (go for the eyes, boo!).

          Further, I don’t actually know anyone who carries mace in social settings. Where are you approaching these people? What are you saying to them?

          The mace situation itself was in a nightclub. And mace is reasonably commonly carried in purses and on keychains, given the Schroedinger’s Rapist assumption.

          I submit that violence against an unwanted advance is not the norm. I have no personal experience with normal people but I do take in media where violence in response to an unwanted advance is played for laughs because it is incongruous not because it is normal.

          It ISN’T the norm, but for some people it’s not too much of an outlier, either. (“get nearest cute boy to harrass me” was far more the norm back when I was in my 20’s, for example).

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        • Anonymous says:

          I wonder whether it would help to present it as a Rejection Therapy exercise. “Hey, I’d like you to go out with me, but if you say no, then that will be my Rejection Therapy for today”. Of course, then you’d have to explain Rejection Therapy.

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        • Extremely low-status neckbeard type here (low-income, very nerdy, and conventionally unattractive), to throw in yet another anecdotal data point.

          I have been yelled at once in my life, when I was 14 or 15, by a girl I was flirting with. And without getting into details, in hindsight I think she was right – my flirting at the time was intrusive and gave her no graceful way to get away from me.

          Other than that once, I’ve never been yelled at for flirting or for hitting on someone, let alone maced (!). I’ve never even heard of such a thing before – and virtually ALL my friends are low-income nerds.

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        • anon says:

          No way they’ve been maced more than once for asking a woman out. Ialdabaoth has got to be lying, and I won’t believe much of what they claim about their experiences in the future.

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        • Scott Alexander says:

          @Barry: I’m not really sure what to do with anecdotal evidence like this.

          I have seen some women in tech say they face constant life-ruining harassment. And I have seen other women in tech say none of the men they have met have ever given them the slightest trouble and the myth of women being harassed in tech is clearly some kind of weird feminist con.

          (and likewise for other combinations of $GROUP and $SITUATION)

          At this point, I just accept that people will have very unpredictably different experiences based on the very particular community they are in, personal qualities like attractiveness and wealth and status, their own personal style of interaction, and the thickness of their skin .

          (I suspect people are not personally able to measure the thickness of their own skin very well. They might think “I have never been insulted” rather than “Every insult I received was so dumb it didn’t even register as worth thinking about”. Their cognitive tradeoff between paranoia and gullibility in terms of distinguishing obviously-in-good-fun-jokes from serious insults might be calibrated way to one side or the other. Or they might be the sort of person finely attuned to what one might politely call microaggressions)

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        • Matthew says:

          I guess this is a skin-thickening life-hack, although I developed it spontaneously rather than purposefully:

          I have an unbounded mental bingo card of insults, so whenever someone insults me in a novel way, I have a moment of excitement: “Woot! There’s another square checked off,” that substitutes for the immediate moment of status-defense rage.

          Admittedly, that doesn’t apply to a very select set of people I’m actually close to who can hurt me deeply with a word, but making it into that group generally means they won’t often be choosing to insult me anyway.

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        • Scott wrote:

          At this point, I just accept that people will have very unpredictably different experiences based on the very particular community they are in, personal qualities like attractiveness and wealth and status, their own personal style of interaction, and the thickness of their skin.

          I very much agree with this.

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      • Zorgon says:

        Only about 15 years in my case, and I’ve observed a decrease rather than an increase. One thing that’s become notably less common is demands of retribution from other nearby men; the last couple of incidents were direct.

        (edit: Intended as a reply to Nancy. Screwed up the reply chain…)

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Well, to be fair:

        1. All three tend to be somewhat uncommon reactions
        2. I tend to only be attracted to exceptionally high-status and attractive women.

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        • I’m going to take the liberty of suggesting that you may be attracted, not just to high status attractive women, but to high status attractive women with a mean streak.

          Any specific advice is outside my competence, but would anyone who’s found that they’ve switched to being attracted to more benign people care to weigh in on what changed?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Actually, the ‘mean streak’ is merely symptomatic; the causative factor that I’m attracted to is unattainability.

          Report comment

        • In the SSRI thread, you mentioned having a narcissistic mother, and I’m going to try the typical mind strategy– I’m going to talk about the effects of my mother, and see if any of it’s relevant.

          When I was a kid, it seemed as though I didn’t exactly have a relationship with my mother– instead, there was people as she imagined them (and she believed she was absolutely right about the world), and she was primarily afraid that I’d get things wrong dealing with them. She expected me to be disliked.

          Thinking about it now, there was some evidence that she didn’t like me, and she was projecting that out on to people in general, but the relevant point is that she raised me to believe I was socially and emotionally incompetent. (Now that I think about it, generally incompetent.)

          What I’m thinking is that your preference for unattainable women is a major trained-in problem, and solving that might be possible. I suspect you’ve got a similar script about getting mutual loyalty from other relationships.

          I’m going to offer tentative advice. I think you’ve been trying to solve a problem without finding out what’s happening at the moment-by-moment level, and I suggest going somewhere where there are women, and just observing your reactions. If there are women of similar attractiveness, how do you conclude that some of them are more attainable than others? What happens if you spend a little longer observing your reactions to the more and less attainable women?

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        • Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre has a lot about specific behaviors which indicate high and low status– the idea is that status an ongoing interaction between people.

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Nancy Lebovitz,

          Nitpick: seems to me everyone is absolutely certain they understand the world. Indeed so certain it’s easier to change one’s model of the world to make it an understanding rather than to change the certainty to match the model.

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      • Rationalist says:

        @Ialdabaoth: Very interesting thread here.

        Ialdabaoth: “I’m going to keep trying, though, because I really do think your side is right.”

        – around the time I was about 18 I held a similar opinion, i.e. that if I could just be nice and respectful enough, women would start liking me.

        I then found Tyler Durden’s (the “Game” guru) early material (which is almost impossible to find now) where he basically said:

        “look, be a bit empirical about this: if women hate you when you try to be nice but then go and date jerky men, maybe you should pay attention to what they do rather than what they say”

        Since I accepted the possibility of being empirical about what works and what doesn’t work in the dating world, I have not had problems getting girlfriends.

        The tone of this comment snippet: (“I’m going to keep trying, though, because I really do think your side is right.”) suggests that Ialdabaoth has not come round to the idea of empiricism, and is still trying to fit the epicycles of feminism and social justice bullshit onto his real life experiences, rather than using those experiences to falsify said bullshit and try a different theory out.

        It makes me sad when I read stuff like this because it reminds me of the years I spent trapped in that same mindset.

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        • By “empirically,” you mean anecdotal observations from your own life, it would seem.

          For me, virtually all my male friends are feminists and lefties, and almost all of the straight ones have girlfriends and/or wives. (As do most of my lesbian friends, come to think of it). Some of them are poly and have multiple girlfriends and/or wives. But there are also a few who rarely seem to be in a relationship, even though they’d like to.

          So as far as I can tell from my own anecdotal observations, being a feminist/lefty is no barrier to winding up with a girlfriend and/or wife, or if it is a barrier is a trivial enough one to be overcome without noticing.

          The serious barriers appear to be being conventionally unattractive, and being shy around women. And when those things come together, they can form a feedback look, which can make things even worse. There’s not a 100% correlation, but there’s a strong correlation.

          It’s plausible that a lot of this varies based on the social community you’re in.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          around the time I was about 18 I held a similar opinion, i.e. that if I could just be nice and respectful enough, women would start liking me.

          WTF does any of this have to do with women LIKING me? I said their side was right – i.e., human beings should be treated as morally equal, coercion and force should be off the table as mating strategies unless explicitly negotiated in advance from a position of equal power, potential does get wasted when we force people to conform to stereotype.

          I don’t see how that has anything to do with my likability.

          Also: this is not ‘beta bux’ talking; I am not and never will be beta. I’m omega. I lose regardless.

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        • Alrenous says:

          At or near Barry;

          That is a fascinating thing. PUA obviously gets PUAs the pussy they crave. Simultaneously, reams of openly feminist men are married, and I would stake money they have lower divorce rates.

          That said, only 27% of women are openly feminist. Presumably true feminist men are even rarer, so I need to correct for selection effects. For example if they all have IQs north of 105, then the data’s confounded.

          Either way, I’ve become fond of saying that between traditionalists, feminists and PUAs, we can understand maybe 30% of intersexual relations. Half might be reasonable, one day!

          @Ialdabaoth

          At least some women don’t genuinely think of themselves as morally equal. (Enough to keep PUAs in steady lays.) If you say you do and your body language backs it up, they take you for a sucker. One possible reaction is to then metaphorically sucker punch you for shits and giggles.

          Even many women who do feel themselves morally equal on average want a morally superior man who will treat them as the inferior they are, due to hypergamy.

          Barry, can I get you to ask some of these couples how they initiated their first date-equivalent? And tell us? (That seems unclear, let me try a couple more times.) If they were traditional marriages, I would ask about how the dude asked the chick out the first time. But also possible are; the chick asked the dude out, or it just happened, or something I failed to imagine.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          At least some women don’t genuinely think of themselves as morally equal. (Enough to keep PUAs in steady lays.) If you say you do and your body language backs it up, they take you for a sucker. One possible reaction is to then metaphorically sucker punch you for shits and giggles.

          Absolutely, and here is the dilemma of the omega:

          If I attempt to treat ANY women as morally inferior, even after explicit negotiation, other women who believe that all women should be treated as morally equal will attack me.

          If I attempt to treat all women as morally equal, the ones who believe they should be treated as morally inferior will attack me.

          NEITHER party would ever attack an actual alpha, because they correctly recognize that anyone with that much power will harm them. But both sides know that I’m harmless, so they can inflict upon me all the misery they wish they could inflict on their oppressors.

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        • nydwracu says:

          For me, virtually all my male friends are feminists and lefties, and almost all of the straight ones have girlfriends and/or wives.

          There’s a difference between claiming to be feminist and actually living in accordance with feminism.

          Game principles don’t directly predict that men who claim to be feminist are less likely to get laid; they predict that men who actually live in accordance with feminism are less likely to get laid.

          Men who claim to be feminist but don’t live in accordance with it could do better than men who neither claim to be feminist nor live in accordance with it, if a sufficient percentage of highly promiscuous women are drawn to feminism and therefore made more available to men who claim to be feminist for networking reasons, made to feel disgusted and threatened by men who don’t claim to be feminist, or something along those lines.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          So as far as I can tell from my own anecdotal observations, being a feminist/lefty is no barrier to winding up with a girlfriend and/or wife […] The serious barriers appear to be being conventionally unattractive, and being shy around women.

          These don’t really seem to be independent from one another. Like, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m going to assume that by “shy around women” you don’t literally mean being shy around women (which is a problem that feminism should actually help with, I would think), but rather being afraid of anything mating-related, especially initiating such. And the whole point other people are making is that this, or its amplification, is often an effect of feminism. (Do I have to post the same links as always? 😛 ) Or do you have some information that it is in this case unrelated to that?

          Barry, can I get you to ask some of these couples how they initiated their first date-equivalent?

          This is a key question.

          Game principles don’t directly predict that men who claim to be feminist are less likely to get laid; they predict that men who actually live in accordance with feminism are less likely to get laid.

          And when what feminism says is unclear, and you can’t ask as anyone who finds it unclear must be evil, and you have to err on the side of safety, and you have to listen to all feminists, and everything is simultaneously forbidden and required…

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        • nydwracu says:

          And when what feminism says is unclear, and you can’t ask as anyone who finds it unclear must be evil, and you have to err on the side of safety, and you have to listen to all feminists, and everything is simultaneously forbidden and required…

          …and if you have a problem with this then you lack the self-confidence or the social skills to pick it up on your own, and if it causes problems for you then your status was low before and even lower now, so you’re an acceptable target.

          It’s a brilliant strategy for progressivism, if you assume that progressivism is the tool of a cabal of abusive personalities who want nothing more than the ability to curbstomp low-status people. Or if you assume that progressivism is formulated by morally impeccable consequentialists who have come to the conclusion that the best way to gain enough power to make the world a better place is to shift societal status mechanisms in a direction that allows and incentivizes them or their followers to curbstomp people who disagree with what is clearly morally right.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          It’s a brilliant strategy for progressivism, if you assume that progressivism is the tool of a cabal of abusive personalities who want nothing more than the ability to curbstomp low-status people. Or if you assume that progressivism is formulated by morally impeccable consequentialists who have come to the conclusion that the best way to gain enough power to make the world a better place is to shift societal status mechanisms in a direction that allows and incentivizes them or their followers to curbstomp people who disagree with what is clearly morally right.

          From under the boot, though, I’m not sure how to tell the difference.

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        • ozymandias says:

          I’m not sure what “live in accordance with the principles of feminism” means. Like… if you define it as “tries to obey every mutually contradictory piece of advice someone on Tumblr says,” then of course that doesn’t help you get laid, just as it would probably interfere with a bunch of other routine life tasks. If you define it as, say, “I call out my friends when they say something sexist, have occasionally done bystander intervention at social events, and used to volunteer as a clinic escort,” then I am not particularly sure why it would affect it one way or the other, except maybe that it would signal in-group membership to other feminists. Yes, feminist dating advice is crazymaking, but most of the men who it scares are men who were already terrified of asking women out; IME, men who aren’t scared just shrug that sort of thing off.

          I also feel like this conversation is framing feminism/progressivism as somehow unique in its tendency to provide moral injunctions about sex and love that are unclear, present anyone who thinks it’s unclear is evil, and make everything either forbidden or required. I think that’s actually a pretty common failure mode of ideologies about sex: at least, that description was also true of the abstinence movement when I encountered it.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Ialdabaoth:

          You just need to stop caring about what women want or think and treat them like black box functions which output “consensual sex” for certain inputs. The reason I say this is that what women actually want in “near mode” and what they say they want in “far mode” are almost complete opposites.

          Stop reading anything on the internet to do with feminism and go read some books and blogs on game. I would recommend the DVD/video series called “The Blueprint” by Tyler from Real Social Dynamics. You can easily torrent it.

          Also get in slightly better shape – go to the gym, buy some cool clothes (not “nerd cool” but mainstream cool) and buy some men’s cologne. You’ll feel good about yourself, which will boost your confidence (and confidence is what women actually want). Find your local pick up community.

          If you are nervous about talking to women you can borrow a little trick from me – take some tylenol or aspirin before you go out to meet women.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          hrm. I think that may be one of the problems, here:

          “consensual sex” is like, five entries down on my priority list.

          What I *want* are respect, emotional validation, companionship, and non-violent physical contact.

          (This is one of my bigger frustrations with the Social Justice movement, incidentally – when presented with a man whose needs are primarily emotional rather than sexual, people who normally spend the majority of their time railing against the masculine ‘fuck-em-and-leave-em’ stereotype respond with revulsion rather than respect. What’s up with that?)

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Ialdabaoth “who normally spend the majority of their time railing against the masculine ‘fuck-em-and-leave-em’ stereotype respond with revulsion rather than respect. What’s up with that?”

          BECAUSE IN NEAR MODE MOST WOMEN ACTUALLY WANT A MASCULINE ‘FUCK-EM-AND-LEAVE-EM’ MAN

          … and when you present them, in near mode, with what they asked for in far mode, they won’t like it!

          Is Robin Hanson’s far mode/near mode distinction not common knowledge here?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          It absolutely is. I guess I need to make the next meta-level explicit:

          SOCIAL JUSTICE IS EXPLICITLY ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD ACT IN FAR-MODE BECAUSE NEAR-MODE IS SHITTY.

          Racism? Classism? Patriarchy? These are all explicit near-mode preferences that we agree suck in far-mode.

          Social Justice is about explicitly precommitting to NOT ACTING IN NEAR MODE when near mode has obvious prejudices.

          So typical Hansonian hypocrisy kicks in – which Social Justice has explicitly precommitted to rooting out.

          Thus, my objection to Social Justice, which I have been holding myself up as example this whole thread, is “Remove the plank from your own eye before reaching for the speck in mine” – i.e., I WANT YOU GUYS TO WIN; I want you guys to fight oppression and prejudice and unfairness, but right now the low-hanging fruit is in your OWN DAMN CAMP, so get to it and leave us poor neckbeards alone.

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        • Nornagest says:

          when presented with a man whose needs are primarily emotional rather than sexual, people who normally spend the majority of their time railing against the masculine ‘fuck-em-and-leave-em’ stereotype respond with revulsion rather than respect. What’s up with that?

          To a first approximation, everything everyone says about relationships is meant to prop up a desired self-image or pander to their friends’ insane norms. That’s not to say that it’s disingenuous, or even necessarily wrong; just that it’s more about identity than behavior. Treat it as such.

          (The same is true for a number of other things, like nutrition and the relative merits of programming languages.)

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        • Multiheaded says:

          I feel sad for y’all people afraid of women or treating them as MMO mobs (not NPCs, there are occasionally consequences to hurting NPCs).

          Personally, being genderqueer, I feel like I see a little bit of both sides, and I’d say: weak boundaries are always unattractive but draw in narcissists. This isn’t even inherently a sexual or gendered thing, except the dynamics of male narcissists (PUA shitstains) vs. female narcissists (the horrible evil women Ialdabaoth has been around) prey on the weak boundaries in a different way. Nydwracu, this relates to what you said too! Feminism clearly isn’t unattractive in men, but the “feminism” that some neurotic men display and some toxic women cultivate is – and, as tragic for Ialdabaoth it is, it might be hard to isolate as a flaw, and most feminists are unhelpful here. And of course PUA gets results for weak men; it sets up fake boundaries, projects a fake A.T. field if you would, with none of the emotional labour! (This is one side; the non-gendered mechanism of intermittent reinforcement is another, even worse one.)

          @Rationalist:

          The combination of your handle and your message helps solidify the impression that Decent People have been forming about the LW-sphere for a while now. If you care about the LW-sphere, maybe don’t wrap your awfulness in it? (And no, saying that women desire confidence and traditional masculinity isn’t what’s awful about you, and would be rather inoffensive in itself.)

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        • ozymandias says:

          Shockingly, when you are prioritizing finding women who put out, you end up finding a lot of women who are into casual sex and don’t want you to stick around afterward. Wow, women are so mysterious, I don’t know how anyone could understand them.

          But this doesn’t change the fact that becoming a fuck-em-and-leave-em guy will not solve Ialdaboath’s problem, because his problem is (as he has explicitly stated) not the absence of sex. (I mean, gosh, if that was his problem it would be much easier to buy a plane ticket to Michigan and fuck me than to learn game.) In my observations, foreveralone people are often pretty happy if they have respect, emotional validation, companionship, and regular physical contact; after all, you can masturbate. But there’s no masturbation for loneliness.

          Also Multi’s analysis is p excellent I think.

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        • Rationalist says:

          “Social Justice is about explicitly precommitting to NOT ACTING IN NEAR MODE when near mode has obvious prejudices.”

          So the idea is that men should commit to being beta nice-guys, and women will in return commit to only sexing the beta nice guys and all the alpha badboys will be left sad and lonely?

          And you have tried this strategy, played the “cooperate” card by always being beta and nice, and you feel that the other side is defecting against you…

          … and your reaction to this is to try to talk them into cooperating in blog comments. But what you haven’t quite realized is that their form of defection is bolstered by actually believing that they are not defecting. Girls fuck alpha badboys one night and in the morning they will post comments on social media about how there aren’t any nice men left. Again, read Hanson about how humans are great at self delusion for precisely this reason.

          Though I really should disclaim that I don’t totally agree with the premise that “bad boys” and “alphas” are defecting by acting as they do. They provide meaningful, intense positive emotions that women really enjoy. Yes they are also assholes a lot of the time, but I think overall the impact is positive. Alpha badboys are fulfilling a need the same way chocolate bars do – in far mode you would rather have celery, but if we all had to eat celery every day life would be distinctly worse.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Feminism clearly isn’t unattractive in men, but the “feminism” that some neurotic men display and some toxic women cultivate is – and, as tragic for Ialdabaoth it is, it might be hard to isolate as a flaw, and most feminists are unhelpful here.

          Well, and the largest tragedy is that it’s a positive feedback loop: desperation causes a weakening of boundaries.

          This is why the fantasy of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is so appealing – most Forever Alone guys understand painfully well that the more desperate they get, the more unattractive they are, and the more unattractive they are, the more desperate they get, and realize that it will take an external rescuer to break that cycle.

          Which, of course, is why the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is now a weaponized meme to use against us.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Multiheaded: “If you care about the LW-sphere, maybe don’t wrap your awfulness in it?”

          You do not own or speak for LW, and LW doesn’t own the word “rationalist”.

          If you want to disagree with me in a rational way by setting out the case against what I say, then be my guest. So far you have ad hominem’d me (“your awfulness”) and implied that I should shut up to avoid bad appearances in the eyes of “Decent People”.

          Why don’t you take a leaf out of the rationality book and steel-man my position? Or even just outline what you think our disagreements are and whether they concern denotations or connotations?

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        • ozymandias says:

          I mean, and also because girls who have been expected to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (I put myself in this category, tho I am not a girl) are legitimately screwed over. The MPDG has no desires of her own, no boundaries, nothing but a constant flow of unconditional positive regard. But human beings can’t actually do that, and trying to hurts. Other people can’t save you; you have to save yourself; but that is impossible advice to take when you’re already drowning.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Also:

          You just need to stop caring about what women want or think and treat them like black box functions which output “consensual sex” for certain inputs.

          That’s also related to the problem of feminism vs. “feminism”. @Rationalist: you think you ever cared about what women want or think before you’ve been Redpilled by /r/TheRedPill? NO, YOU DID NOT. You had some shreds of Sklavenmoral. Always looking over your shoulder for what society would prescribe for a Nice Guy. Then you clearly decided to prey on the vulnerable. You have never actually undergone any transformation, just as Ialdabaoth here would seriously rather die than manipulate a woman in this way. It is likely that you were never a decent person, your claws were just weak.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Why don’t you take a leaf out of the rationality book and steel-man my position?

          I would, but I honestly don’t have the stomach for it. Let Ozy do it, zie’s a hardened veteran.

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        • ozymandias says:

          I don’t know how to steelman. I can do Principle of Charity, or I can do stealing the shiny bits of your ideas and carrying them off to my idea magpie nest, but my brain does not come in steelman form. I think that Jim’s critiques of steelmanning might be somewhat on, tbh.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Multiheaded: “I would, but I honestly don’t have the stomach for it. Let Ozy do it, zie’s a hardened veteran.”

          stomach for ad hom/insults/pronouncing final moral judgement upon the entire life of someone you have just met on the internet, yet no stomach for engaging rationally, attempting to understand things from the other person’s point of view, drawing clear separations between denotations and connotations or any of those other good rationalist habits we learned on LW. To be fair, the latter are harder work than the former.

          Conditional on you being right and me being wrong, you are making it maximally hard for me to change my mind.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I mean, and also because girls who have been expected to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (I put myself in this category, tho I am not a girl) are legitimately screwed over.

          Very, very much so.

          The MPDG has no desires of her own, no boundaries, nothing but a constant flow of unconditional positive regard. But human beings can’t actually do that, and trying to hurts.

          Indeed. And worse, society still conditions girls to do this. I’m going to describe the next example selfishly, but please understand that I’m only doing so for credibility; I fully empathize with every side of this:

          The last relationship I was in started with a girl desperately wanting to be my Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I spent two years holding her at arms length, convincing her to date other people, generally making sure that she was seeking out more healthy alternatives, because I did NOT want to set her up to discover how impossible those roles are to fulfill until she had gained enough maturity to not try to fulfill them.

          After two years of desperation on my part and romantic moping on hers, I relented.

          The relationship lasted three and a half years, and ended when she came to the stark realization that she couldn’t be ‘on’ all the time for me, that I was just too dark and too broken.

          <selfish_mode>WHICH I TRIED TO EXPLAIN FROM THE BEGINNING, BECAUSE I LIKED HER AND WANTED TO HAVE A MATURE AND LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIP WITH HER.</selfish_mode> And so did she. We both wanted this thing to last, but because the relationship was built on a foundation of ‘I need a MPDG’ / ‘I need to be someone’s MPDG’, it was doomed to failure. And I knew this.

          But I did it anyway, because after two years of her offering, I was weak. (To this day, she still doesn’t blame me for accepting the relationship; she blames me for waiting two years to start it.)

          Other people can’t save you; you have to save yourself; but that is impossible advice to take when you’re already drowning.

          Oh yes. And sometimes you just can’t be saved, but you can’t help thrashing and screaming anyway. And you become a moral hazard on other people’s journeys. 🙁

          That said, it wasn’t all bad – her other boyfriends were pretty much the only loyal friends I had, and now she’s finally able to move on from me enough to start looking for more fulfilling options.

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        • Nornagest says:

          @Rationalist and Multiheaded: Okay, I get it. You hate each other. In the context of this discussion, though, I’m pretty sure what you’re saying is neither kind nor necessary, so can you please cut it out?

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        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          (Edit: made a casual observation about MPDG before reading Ialdabaoth’s latest post, seems silly now)

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        • Troy says:

          What I *want* are respect, emotional validation, companionship, and non-violent physical contact.

          I’m not sure how this advice will go over here, but have you considered joining a church?

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        • Troy says:

          Unitarians are fairly inclusive– they welcome atheists.

          Yes, although both secularists and more conservativ religious believers like myself like to make fun of unitarians, from the unitarians I’ve known you would probably find a welcoming community there — and you probably won’t have to sign on to beliefs you disagree with.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          I’m not sure what “live in accordance with the principles of feminism” means.

          Yes, that is the problem, isn’t it! The fact that feminists have failed to make it clear that we don’t need to listen to everything feminists say in order to overcome our sexist common sense in order to be good people is a large part of the problem.

          (Note that, as I’ve said elsewhere, we don’t need to round off to Tumblr here; there’s enough to do plenty damage without going all the way to Tumblr. My own formative experience with this stuff was largely in the comments section on Slacktivist; this was before it moved to Patheos.)

          I mean, as I understand it, Ialdabaoth is essentially correct in saying “social justice is explicitly about how we should act in far-mode because near-mode is shitty”. And my reaction to that is, yeah, near-mode is shitty and prejudiced! Let’s act in a moral, principled manner instead! But the problem is that feminists in general have kind of required us to open our brain to whatever principles other feminists want to stuff in there if we want to not get shouted at. They haven’t given us any way we can say “Hey, this feminist principle is actually bad” and not have to consider ourselves terrible people.

          Yes, feminist dating advice is crazymaking, but most of the men who it scares are men who were already terrified of asking women out; IME, men who aren’t scared just shrug that sort of thing off.

          Hm. Quite possible. That said, I don’t think this is an argument that the problem can be disregarded — just that it’s different in nature from what others are suggesting.

          I also feel like this conversation is framing feminism/progressivism as somehow unique in its tendency to provide moral injunctions about sex and love that are unclear, present anyone who thinks it’s unclear is evil, and make everything either forbidden or required.

          Hey, if everything were merely forbidden or required, at least I’d have a guidebook! 😛 Quite possibly a harmful one, but…

          (OK, OK, I’m being a little unfair here. Sometimes they do essentially present something like a guidebook, just not a realistic one.)

          I think that’s actually a pretty common failure mode of ideologies about sex: at least, that description was also true of the abstinence movement when I encountered it.

          I’m going to say here what I said earlier when people were pointing out that feminism isn’t unique in terms of bad statistics: Sure, very possibly it isn’t. But that’s not what’s relevant. What’s uniquely awful about feminism (and SJ more generally, but to a lesser extent) is the combination of the tactics it uses together with who it’s able to influence.

          Basically, it’s the walled garden again. What’s awful about feminism is the way it’s able to import barbaric extra-garden tactics into the garden. Sure, other groups use equally destructive tactics, but we recognize those groups as barbaric and put up walls to keep them out! Whereas feminism routes around or subverts the usual defenses, or even perverts them to its own ends.

          (Which again doesn’t mean that the feminists are in general *wrong*, and I agree with them on a lot and in other contexts will say I am one. But this is truly awful stuff.)

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Actually, hold on. I wonder how much of this is about levels of certainty.

          Like, “actually living in accordance with feminism” is an unclear target — it’s a region, but you can’t directly know whether you’re in it or not. Let’s suppose that it is possible to be actually living in accordance with feminism and not be completely paralyzed mating-wise. Like, there are spots in the region that allow this.

          But then the question becomes — how certain are you that you’re living in accordance with feminism? You can’t actually know whether you are or not. You can be living in accordance with feminism and not be paralyzed… but if you want to be, say, 80% certain? 90% certain? 99% certain?

          That is to say, it’s not living in accordance with feminism that causes the problem, but attempting to do so at a reasonable level of certainty. (Not whether or not you are actually in the region — which you can’t know — but rather your strategy for staying in the region.)

          …of course, this then comes back to, why do some people feel they have to be so certain, and the answer is, because ethics is the most important thing, and sexism is an especially terrible evil. Which then leaves the question of why some men who call themselves feminist don’t feel they need to be so certain, and I have no answer to that — are they just OK with being terrible people or something? 😛

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        • blacktrance says:

          “But then the question becomes — how certain are you that you’re living in accordance with feminism? You can’t actually know whether you are or not.”

          You look at whatever kind of feminism you find plausible, check whether you’re acting in accordance with its principles, and then you know. I don’t understand the problem – this seems like asking “How certain are you that you’re not stealing?” – if you accept the principles and internalize them, it’s hard not to act in accordance with them. This kind of doubt suggests that the person simultaneously thinks he should be a feminist and doesn’t know what feminism requires, which is an odd state because if he doesn’t know what feminism requires and why it requires those things, why does he want to be a feminist? Why does he think feminism is correct if he doesn’t understand it?

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        • Ragnhild says:

          … if he doesn’t know what feminism requires and why it requires those things, why does he want to be a feminist?

          Presumably because they have internalized that nonfeminists are evil (“feminism is the radical idea that women are human” sexism, patriarchy, mansplaining etc). Such things usually aren’t accepted based on understanding the content of the nonevil thede, but simply by not wanting to ignore or confront somebody who strongly believes in it.

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        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          SOCIAL JUSTICE IS EXPLICITLY ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD ACT IN FAR-MODE BECAUSE NEAR-MODE IS SHITTY. Racism? Classism? Patriarchy? These are all explicit near-mode preferences that we agree suck in far-mode. Social Justice is about explicitly precommitting to NOT ACTING IN NEAR MODE when near mode has obvious prejudices.

          Deciding that a facet of human nature sucks does not magically change human nature. The failure of Communism should have made that clear, and the failure of Social Justice advocates to follow their supposed ideals simply piles on the evidence. How much more do you need to see before you update on the fact either the goal is impossible, or else everyone else is defecting away from the commitment? What point is there in unilateral martyrdom?

          Ironically, it is patriarchal social technology which has been most successful in making people’s near-mode behavior correspond to their far-mode ideals. A life-long monogamous marriage may not be the enlightened sexual utopia social justice advocates would like, but it is a far kinder, happier, and more functional state of affairs than the natural human mating equilibrium which used to exist in our hunter-gatherer days, and to which we are returning as our civilization collapses.

          It is fashionable for neoreactionaries to invoke the name of Gnon, but for my own part, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Rudyard Kipling’s old poem.

          We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn,/That water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:/But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision, and Breadth of Mind,/So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

          With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch./They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch./They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings./So we worshiped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

          On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life/(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)/Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,/And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Blacktrance:

          [Argh, I’m having to retype this comment from memory; the original seems to have vanished into the ether. I think I remember the general outline, though I may be missing a paragraph or two, and I think the original was better-written. Hence the apparently-late reply. Anyway, possible you may not see this, but, hey, next time this comes up, I can link to it…]

          So, you’ve said this sort of thing before and there are several things wrong with it. Some are quite general, others are more particular to feminism and/or SJ. Ragnhild has already given a partial answer, I’d like to say more.

          First off, people are not logically omniscient. Like, I’m guessing you’d probably agree that the Peano axioms are true statements about the natural numbers. Basic mathematical principles, most anyone would agree with them. So: Is the Ramsey number R(5,5) even or odd? I mean, should be pretty simple to tell; it’s one or the other, and only one of the two possible answers is in accordance with those basic mathematical principles! If you don’t know what they entail, why would you accept them?

          I think you get the idea. Understanding a set of statements doesn’t necessarily mean understanding everything they entail. (Otherwise mathematics would be trivial.) And in many cases it can be impossible to determine the relevant facts in any reasonable time. It’s hardly unreasonable, then, to turn to apparent authorities and experts who have already worked out such things for you. Understand the basic principles of feminism, but can’t figure out how they apply in a particular situation? Listen to what feminists have to say on the matter! It’s certainly not obvious in advance just how disastrously this can go.

          This, really, is the fundamental feminist equivocation. Feminists like to claim that feminism is just common sense — and much of it is! But other, less trivial, more objectionable parts, don’t follow from the “common sense” part at all. But they pretend it does follow and bundle it all up into “feminism”. So of course you’re going to accept the more objectionable parts then — you have it on good authority they follow from basic principles that you’d agree with, even if you can’t entirely follow the argument; and you’re not a misogynist, are you?

          So now imagine that our hard-to-quickly-decide question is an ethical one. And not one you’re being asked to state an answer to, but one you are actually facing, with action required. If you can’t figure it out quickly from your basic principles — and you don’t have an expert on hand to tell you the answer — what are you going to do? Err on the side of safety, of course. We’re talking ethics, after all. It’s the most important thing there is. And of course in the case of feminism this is made worse by the fact that, y’know, stealing is wrong, but sexism is inexcusable.

          Isn’t this kind of incompatible with the idea that we’re all a bit sexist and have to do our best anyway? Probably, yeah. I’m not claiming to describe a consistent frame of mind here. Even if this sort of problem can only afflict the inconsistent, I don’t think that really makes it substantially less of a problem.

          (You know what I really want to see, whenever I post something like this? An acknowledgement that the problem exists. Yet few feminists seem to be willing to do even that.)

          (Note by the way that contrary to what you claim, it isn’t always clear if you’re stealing. To take an example that actually came up the other day — if I take a soccer ball that was abandoned in the woods, on someone else’s property that I’m exploring (i.e. trespassing on), is that wrong? Maybe it’s obvious to you, I don’t know. Nonetheless, I don’t think this should be counted as trivially obvious from basic principles.)

          And when we get to SJ let’s not forget that one of the principles is that we can’t understand. This is the doctrine of lived experience. Us privileged sorts are not expected to understand because we are not able to, lacking the lived experience of the oppressed. We just have to take their word on what is bad and what is not without understanding.

          And no you cannot rely on us to have common sense to keep out the awful stuff, because, as Ialdabaoth has pointed out, to a large extent feminism (and similar) is about — not necessarily wrongly! — ignoring your biased or self-serving common sense in favor of principle. The problem isn’t the reliance on principle, of course, it’s that feminists will then try to stuff all sorts of awful principles that they haven’t really tested and do not themselves follow (regardless of what they say), all the while claiming that this all just follows from basic principles that you already accept so now you have to accept this as well.

          And let’s not forget that in real life we are typically, however unfortunate it may be, not just trying to answer the ethical question iin a way that’s accurate (or, failing that, safe) — we’re also trying to preserve our self-image as good people, as well as our image to other people as good people. And when you’ve been through all this it’s easy to conclude that non-feminists are evil (and you’re not an evil person so you must be a feminist), and if you contradict feminism in any way then all decent people will ostracize you.

          So, to answer your questions:

          […] if he doesn’t know what feminism requires and why it requires those things, why does he want to be a feminist? Why does he think feminism is correct if he doesn’t understand it?

          Among other things: Because he believes these requirements follow from principles he does understand; because he listened to self-proclaimed experts who barely checked what they were saying; because he believes he does not have the lived experience to make a judgment by himself; because he’s afraid doing otherwise will get him ostracised by all decent people.

          Does that answer your questions?

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        • blacktrance says:

          “of course you’re going to accept the more objectionable parts then – you have it on good authority they follow from basic principles that you’d agree with, even if you can’t entirely follow the argument”

          The solution here is to say, “No, as long as I don’t understand the argument, I’m not going to accept the implications that you think it has. Either guide me through it or let me figure it out on my own.”

          Also, ethics is much simpler than mathematics. The problem is usually in determining the magnitude of the empirical costs and benefits, but determining what’s a cost and what’s a benefit is relatively simple. So if your hard-to-solve question is an ethical one, it’s because you don’t know enough about the real-world effects of your action (in an empirical value-free sense), not that you’re confused about right and wrong. So when acting, you err on the side of what you believe to be safety (based on the ethical principles you accept), which may not be the same thing as what the SJW thinks is safety.

          As for the doctrine of lived experience, it’s really similar to the doctrine of Original Sin. If I walk up to you, hold out my hand, and say that there’s a hundred-dollar bill in it, and you don’t see one and say that there isn’t one, and then I say that you’re evil for not being able to see it, you could safely ignore me. The doctrine of lived experience makes some sense when they say something like, “You don’t know that X happens because it wouldn’t happen to you” – it’s a problem of local knowledge. But when they say “You don’t know that X is evil”, it’s a matter of ethical principles, and lived experiences have nothing to do with it.

          But your answer does clarify some things for me. Thank you.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Oh, yay, glad to hear I’m making some sense! Meanwhile, you make some good points, so let me take a moment to respond to them.

          The solution here is to say, “No, as long as I don’t understand the argument, I’m not going to accept the implications that you think it has. Either guide me through it or let me figure it out on my own.”

          I don’t think this is a full solution. Let’s suppose you partly understand the argument, but aren’t convinced and are still working through it. What are you going to do in the meantime? Well, you’re uncertain, so you’re going to err on the side of safety. Which takes us back to the problem.

          I mean, maybe the solution is to recognize that a movement that responds to requests for clarification by accusing you of being evil is not one that you should listen to! But that took me quite a while, and, perhaps more to the point, their arguments do make a substantial amount of sense. Not enough that I’m convinced, but enough that I’m uncertain. And seeing as I don’t yet have a viable alternative, well, I think you can see why I say I’m still in the feminist trap despite no longer listening to them.

          Also, ethics is much simpler than mathematics. The problem is usually in determining the magnitude of the empirical costs and benefits, but determining what’s a cost and what’s a benefit is relatively simple. So if your hard-to-solve question is an ethical one, it’s because you don’t know enough about the real-world effects of your action (in an empirical value-free sense), not that you’re confused about right and wrong.

          Well, this assumes that you’re a consequentialist! And if there’s a reason I’m not willing to be a consequentialist about such things, it’s precisely because that would require violating feminist rules I’m not comfortable violating! But that’s not exactly rational, so perhaps we should ignore that.

          I’m uncertain as to whether the problem survives if you take a consequentialist point of view. It’s possible that it does, because the feminists seem to be pushing really exaggerated versions of how much harm is caused by various things, as justifications for their rules. But other parts don’t.

          Let me recount an argument I once had with someone who did not understand feminist paralysis; they tried to take the consequentialist point of view and say that, OK, you’re considering the harm of creeping someone out, but you also have to consider the harm of disappointing them. But I was taking a more standard feminist point of view, according to which, I do have an obligation not to creep someone out, but I have absolutely no obligation to not disappoint someone mating-wise, because the idea that I do is pretty rapey! Clearly that argument doesn’t survive once you switch from talking about obligations to talking about consequences, but how much they’ve exaggerated the harm of being creeped out does. And now I have no realistic estimate. (Meanwhile, in the actual argument, I was pretty annoyed at the person I was arguing with, as the whole problem is that I’m laboring under contradictory obligations, and they to me seemed to be attempting to put even more obligations on me rather than free me from incorrect ones. Not really a correct description of what they were doing, but…)

          (To be clear, I wasn’t arguing that position because I exactly agreed with it anymore, but because I was hoping they would knock it down and replace it with something better. But instead they basically failed to engage with it.)

          Anyway, yeah, I’m unclear on the matter. It seems to be lessened but maybe not eliminated.

          So when acting, you err on the side of what you believe to be safety (based on the ethical principles you accept), which may not be the same thing as what the SJW thinks is safety.

          I think these pretty well are the same in this case; I’m not clear on why they would differ. I mean, obviously not everyone will have the same idea of what is the safe direction to err in all in all cases, but in this particular case it’s not clear to me why any other direction would be perceived as safety.

          As for the doctrine of lived experience, it’s really similar to the doctrine of Original Sin.

          Heh, usually it’s the notion of privilege that I’ve heard compared to original sin. 🙂 (I have no substantial comment on this.)

          The doctrine of lived experience makes some sense when they say something like, “You don’t know that X happens because it wouldn’t happen to you” – it’s a problem of local knowledge. But when they say “You don’t know that X is evil”, it’s a matter of ethical principles, and lived experiences have nothing to do with it.

          Sure, but as I’ve said above, they used “lived experience” not just to directly claim that various things are evil, but also to claim that various things are extremely harmful to them as justifications for their rules. The problem isn’t just overbroad, untested proscriptions that they don’t actually live by, but overbroad, untested, and evidently inaccurate descriptions of what causes harm.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “Let’s suppose you partly understand the argument, but aren’t convinced and are still working through it. What are you going to do in the meantime? Well, you’re uncertain, so you’re going to err on the side of safety.”

          In the meantime I’m going to act based on what I believe, even when that doesn’t agree with what the feminist wants me to believe. I’m not going to err on the side of safety because I don’t believe I have any reason to err on the side of safety. I’ll listen to what they have to say, but I won’t start acting based on it unless I’m convinced that it’s correct.

          “they tried to take the consequentialist point of view and say that, OK, you’re considering the harm of creeping someone out, but you also have to consider the harm of disappointing them. But I was taking a more standard feminist point of view, according to which, I do have an obligation not to creep someone out, but I have absolutely no obligation to not disappoint someone mating-wise, because the idea that I do is pretty rapey!”

          These don’t strike me as mutually exclusive arguments. If you take a rule consequentialist approach, it’s quite likely that a world in which people err on the side of not creeping people out is better than a world in which people try to go for some kind of even balance of creeping people out and disappointing them, both because people are more likely to be creeped out than disappointed, and because if you don’t know someone well, the magnitude of being creeped out is likely worse than the magnitude of being disappointed. There’s probably a better way of making this argument, but that’s what comes to mind right now – I’m fairly certain that adopting a “first, do no harm”-style rule of thumb of not creeping people out is best from a consequentialist standpoint.

          “The problem isn’t just overbroad, untested proscriptions that they don’t actually live by, but overbroad, untested, and evidently inaccurate descriptions of what causes harm.”

          If they give inaccurate descriptions of what causes harm, you can say something like, “I believe that you’re accurately describing the events that happened to you, and I believe that they harmed you, but I think you’re mistaken about why the harm is harmful or about why the thing that hurt you happened. You’re correctly identifying a symptom, but you’re misdiagnosing the disease.”

          As I understand what you’re describing, the general problem is that people “deep into feminism” are more concerned with being feminist than with being right. Would that be an accurate summary?

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          I’ll listen to what they have to say, but I won’t start acting based on it unless I’m convinced that it’s correct.

          That seems oddly all-or-nothing? But then, perhaps so does my own “erring on the side of safety”! Meanwhile, my own experience is that if you go to a decently feminist place and try to get them to make decently watertight arguments things will quickly get hostile, so… :-/

          I’m fairly certain that adopting a “first, do no harm”-style rule of thumb of not creeping people out is best from a consequentialist standpoint.

          OK, but then where does one begin to find a solution to the problem of feminist guilty/paranoid paralysis?

          If they give inaccurate descriptions of what causes harm, you can say something like, “I believe that you’re accurately describing the events that happened to you, and I believe that they harmed you, but I think you’re mistaken about why the harm is harmful or about why the thing that hurt you happened. You’re correctly identifying a symptom, but you’re misdiagnosing the disease.”

          Or as I like to say, being a the scene of the crime makes you a witness, not an expert. 🙂

          Problem is, going by my own experience, what will happen is that your attempt to break down exactly which parts are harmful and which parts are not will get you accused of nitpicking, sophistry, and missing the point — as well as contradicting people’s lived experiences despite the disclaimer.

          Of course, the particular charge of “nitpicking” will be right, because nitpicking is exactly what’s necessary to develop a substantial understanding! But try explaining that…

          As I understand what you’re describing, the general problem is that people “deep into feminism” are more concerned with being feminist than with being right. Would that be an accurate summary?

          Well, that’s part of the problem, certainly, but it’s not all of it. And anyway, that’s just ordinary partisan politics, so A. it’s not interesting and B. it’s a known trap that people fall into, so the sort of people who care about being right will already be trying to avoid being too biased by it.

          As for what the problem is… well, if you give me a few months, maybe I’ll eventually write something on the matter! I’ve been planning to for a while. But if I had to provide a quick summary, here are the points that come to mind:

          0. Garden subversion; I’ve already mentioned this upthread. Being convinced that dirty tactics aren’t dirty if it’s for feminism. This one is maybe not that interesting though, and again maybe not that relevant for what we’re talking about here, so let’s ignore it for now.

          1. Patternmatching. Thinking they already know all the sorts of people who disagree with them, and rounding anything you say off to something awful they’ve heard before and know how to refute, rather than actually engaging. This one is a bit more relevant for what we’re talking about. But I think the most important one right now is:

          2. Common-sense goggles! An inability to see past “common sense” and see what their principles really imply. This leaves them unable to properly test their own principles, as they never actually apply their own principles; they apply their principles moderated by such heavy doses of their common sense as to be barely recognizable by someone not possessing said common sense. (They identify these moderated versions with the principles themselves; when you try to actually apply the principles as stated, you’re told you’re taking them too far, you’re deliberately misunderstanding what they said, you’re strawmanning.) They don’t recognize that this common sense is not possessed by everyone, or that people might assume that, y’know, the point of having principles is to overrule common sense. When they do illustrate with examples, the examples are extreme and thus obvious and unhelpful. Where are the minimal contrasting pairs? (OK, this isn’t always possible due to the fact that such things aren’t always definite. Still, I maintain that one could come substantially closer than they have.)

          (As I’ve said elsewhere — if you’ll permit the generalization, if you’re a woman, you assume the point of feminism is to help you, so if feminists say to do something stupid and harmful, you ignore it, and possibly dismiss it as unrepresentative of feminism. If you’re a man, you assume the point of feminism is to restrain you from doing evil, so if feminists say to do something stupid and harmful, you hop to it before your not doing so causes any more harm.)

          Basically, they’re running straight up against Moravec’s Paradox and failing to acknowledge the fact. I mean, men aren’t computers, but the fact is that serious detail is necessary if you’re going to communicate constructively with people who don’t share your common sense, which may be a substantial number of people. (And the shutting down of actual discussion in favor of guilting us into agreement makes us a bit more like computers than would otherwise be the case.)

          Of course, real life and human interaction are complicated, and you won’t be able to specify every detail — at some point you are going to say “You’re just going to have to judge this by experience” or “Use your common sense” or similar. I’m just saying they are placing that point way too early. Maybe it’s more just “illusion of transparency” rather than “Moravec’s Paradox”, but — well, I think I’ve made my point. If you constantly make a big deal of not creeping people out, and are then surprised when there are a number of scrupulous feminist guys that will never initiate, well, I really don’t want you programming a seed AI, y’know?

          Edit: Before I go to bed, let me also add one more, which is also just a subcategory of illusion of transparency and failure to recognize that they’re failing to communicate constructively, but which I think is worth calling out explicitly:
          3. Failure to calibrate fuzzy abstractions against real-world examples. (Or at least not helpful examples, see above.) I could probably expand on this, but, I need to sleep.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “That seems oddly all-or-nothing?”

          If you want to say that applying the principles you believe to be correct is all-or-nothing, then this is all-or-nothing, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this context. You have principles that you believe to be correct, and someone is trying to convince you of something – in such a situation, it makes sense to act based on what you believe to be correct, rather than taking some average between what you believe and what they believe.

          “OK, but then where does one begin to find a solution to the problem of feminist guilty/paranoid paralysis?”

          I doubt that this problem is relevant to feminism – certainly there are men who are paranoid about being rejected in ways that would hurt them (sometimes rightly so), but I don’t think that has anything to do with feminism, that’s just how these guys’ personality is. Sometimes I see self-confidence and respect for others’ boundaries being presented as some kind of trade-off – “Some guys need to hear that they should be more respectful and not impose themselves on women, while other guys need to hear that they should go for it, and the wrong guys hearing the wrong thing is bad” – but the two have little to do with each other. At worst, hearing the message intended for the other guys is neutral. You can be confident and assertive while respecting people’s boundaries and not imposing on others, and if you’ve have a good understanding of “respecting people’s boundaries”, increasing your confidence doesn’t mean respecting other people’s boundaries less.

          “Problem is, going by my own experience, what will happen is that your attempt to break down exactly which parts are harmful and which parts are not will get you accused of nitpicking, sophistry, and missing the point – as well as contradicting people’s lived experiences despite the disclaimer.”

          Not All Feminists Are Like That. A lot (perhaps even over half) of them are like that, but that’s no reason to reject feminism altogether. As I wrote elsewhere, Sturgeon’s Law applies to most sufficiently large groups, and you have to take that into account when dealing with them – feminists can be horribly mind-killed while still having some correct ideas. It may take a more rational and analytical feminist to be actually persuasive. Most movements are based around more than one idea, and it’s important to remember that you can agree with them on a great number of issues without subscribing to their ideology as a whole. Besides, feminism has a lot of factions that have huge disagreements with each other, and as long as you agree with one of them, you can reasonably call yourself a feminist. For example, I’m an individualist/libertarian feminist, and most feminists have no great love for libertarians, but that doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.

          (This reminds me of a joke sometimes told in libertarian circles: “You know you’re a real libertarian when someone’s written an article claiming you’re not a real libertarian.”)

          “This leaves them unable to properly test their own principles, as they never actually apply their own principles; they apply their principles moderated by such heavy doses of their common sense as to be barely recognizable by someone not possessing said common sense.”

          Do you have an example of this?

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          If you want to say that applying the principles you believe to be correct is all-or-nothing, then this is all-or-nothing, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this context. You have principles that you believe to be correct, and someone is trying to convince you of something – in such a situation, it makes sense to act based on what you believe to be correct, rather than taking some average between what you believe and what they believe.

          Well, taking an average in the space of belief “basis states” doesn’t make sense, but a (formal) probabilistic mixture does. Or no?

          Anyway, this is of little help to me, whose naïve pre-scary-feminist thoughts on such matters were many years ago and probably not very coherent in the first place!

          Not All Feminists Are Like That. A lot (perhaps even over half) of them are like that, but that’s no reason to reject feminism altogether.

          And indeed I don’t! In other contexts I’ll call myself a feminist; I’ll gladly support the feminists over the old-school sexists. But right now I’m focusing on ways in which feminism is terrible, so for the purposes of this particular discussion, I’m not one. My position doesn’t seem to play well with the categories people have, but, y’know, categories aren’t necessarily that meaningful. You’d probably count me as a feminist based on your statement

          Besides, feminism has a lot of factions that have huge disagreements with each other, and as long as you agree with one of them, you can reasonably call yourself a feminist. For example, I’m an individualist/libertarian feminist, and most feminists have no great love for libertarians, but that doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.

          but, well, who cares? That’s just a category-membership statement.

          Anyway — I really probably should be more cautious with my statements. My intent is not to say “All feminists do such and such…” but rather “The net effect of feminism has included such and such…”. Such things can of course be influenced by a small number of people with extreme positions! As such to speak as generally as I have is really unfair. Certainly I cannot accuse all feminists of anything, and I don’t think I would attribute shutting down discussion or pattern-matching or constantly accusing questioners of being evil to anything like a vast majority of feminists, even if it’s enough to cause a problem.

          But there are particular problems I would — based just on my own experience mind you, I have no statistics here — attribute to almost all non-silent feminists. Direction-pushing rather than target-hitting would be one of them. (This is pretty easy to fall into accidentally.) And if we restrict further to those saying anything about creepiness issues etc., common-sense goggles / illusion of transparency would be another.

          Like, many feminists (not almost all) seem to fall into this pattern where, firstly, they frequently claim there’s us reasonable feminists and then there’s the crazy extreme ones. But then they don’t provide any principled way of distinguishing! You’re just expected to use your common sense or something.

          And then they go and they make statements, and these statements, taken seriously, take you to the “crazy” extreme positions. They’re not hitting a target — they’re pushing in a direction, and relying on you to have “common sense” like they do to not go too far in that direction. Or, really, they think they’re describing a target, because common-sense goggles; anyone who takes it to mean something further is told they’re deliberately misconstruing it.

          (And to the extent they do complain about the extreme ones, it seems to mostly be about object-level positions. I don’t have a problem with reasonably discussing “extreme” object-level positions! The terribleness that the feminist movement has created is largely at the meta-level, in how much it has screwed up norms of discourse. It doesn’t matter how “extreme” their object level position is, they would not have been able to do so much damage without their screwed-up norms of discourse! But I see few reasonable feminists bothering to defend reasonable norms of discourse.)

          So, again, I wouldn’t say “almost all” feminists fall into the above pattern, but I would say that it seems to me that almost all non-silent feminists are pretty much direction-pushing rather than target-hitting, and that a really large fraction of those are doing so due to illusion of transparency, and this has nasty effects. My message to the feminists isn’t “You’re all terrible people”; it’s “Look at what your carelessness has wrought.” (And also, “No, we cannot easily distinguish you from the ones you think we shouldn’t be listening to, they are a real threat and you should be doing more to limit how much damage they can do rather than just laughing at them as if they were harmless.”)

          …OK, I’ll respond to other parts later, as those seem largely unrelated.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          “This leaves them unable to properly test their own principles, as they never actually apply their own principles; they apply their principles moderated by such heavy doses of their common sense as to be barely recognizable by someone not possessing said common sense.”

          Do you have an example of this?

          OK, “barely recognizable” was an overstatement. As for an example… well, it should become clear shortly.

          I doubt that this problem is relevant to feminism – certainly there are men who are paranoid about being rejected in ways that would hurt them (sometimes rightly so), but I don’t think that has anything to do with feminism, that’s just how these guys’ personality is. Sometimes I see self-confidence and respect for others’ boundaries being presented as some kind of trade-off – “Some guys need to hear that they should be more respectful and not impose themselves on women, while other guys need to hear that they should go for it, and the wrong guys hearing the wrong thing is bad” – but the two have little to do with each other. At worst, hearing the message intended for the other guys is neutral. You can be confident and assertive while respecting people’s boundaries and not imposing on others, and if you’ve have a good understanding of “respecting people’s boundaries”, increasing your confidence doesn’t mean respecting other people’s boundaries less.

          OK, this is going to be a bit of a rant, so let me begin with:

          argggh no no no you clearly still do not get it

          OK. One thing at a time.

          I doubt that this problem is relevant to feminism – certainly there are men who are paranoid about being rejected in ways that would hurt them (sometimes rightly so), but I don’t think that has anything to do with feminism, that’s just how these guys’ personality is.

          To be clear — you’ve read Scott’s “Meditations” series, right? Have you also read this post of Hugh Ristik’s? I really recommend it, I think it sums things up pretty well. (Obviously there are still some things it misses, but yeah.)

          So, firstly: I’m glad to see you acknowledge this is not about paranoia over just “being rejected”, but “being rejected in ways that would hurt them”, although I would call that something of an understatement when we’re talking about “ways that will hurt them” translates to “everyone will know I’m a bad person and all decent people will ostracize me.”

          But this isn’t just about paranoia but also guilt, the fear that anything you can think other than inaction is seriously harmful and you would actually be a bad person for doing it. If you get ostracized for it, you’ll know you deserved it; if nothing bad happens to you, you’ll have to wonder whether maybe you just did something horrible and got away with it. (And oftentimes inaction is deemed harmful as well, completing the bind!)

          I mean, I’m not really sure how you can say that this isn’t about feminism, considering the men who explicitly say they are afraid to do anything because of feminist concerns.

          Now, upthread, Ozy suggests the hypothesis that this sort of thing is only able to affect men who already have a problem with this sort of thing. Plausible! (Certainly I already did.) And I’m certainly not going to claim that feminists have any sort of responsibility to help fix these people’s pre-existing problems. (Although if they’re writing on the subject anyway and making a serious attempt to be accurate, that might well go a long way towards that without explicitly trying!) But that doesn’t mean taking these problems and amplifying them to such a ridiculous extent should be considered OK.

          At worst, hearing the message intended for the other guys is neutral.

          Empirically false! Like, I’m not sure how else to even respond to that, other than to suggest you read Scott’s Meditations again, and “When You Have Feminist Guilt You Don’t Need Catholic Guilt” again, and… like, do you want more links? I’d agree with the other links progressively less, but I have them stockpiled for when I eventually sit down to write a whole thing about this.

          You can be confident and assertive while respecting people’s boundaries and not imposing on others, and if you’ve have a good understanding of “respecting people’s boundaries”, increasing your confidence doesn’t mean respecting other people’s boundaries less.

          But a huge chunk of the problem is that you cannot assume people have a remotely reasonable understanding of “respecting people’s boundaries”! Because the people caught in the trap clearly do not! This is something that requires explicit explanation! This is what I’m talking about when I talk about common-sense goggles!

          Like if we take seriously the idea that “Asking repeatedly is creepy, because why didn’t you get the message the first time?” (along with various other common feminist ideas I won’t bother to list) we naturally get out the conclusion that asking (once) for confirmation (as in, “Ah, damn. You sure?”) is evil. Does this require completely disregarding common sense, and having no idea what actually constitutes a boundary violation? Yes! Will people reach this conclusion anyway? Well, I sure did!

          (Similarly, if we take seriously the idea of “Asking repeatedly is creepy because you can’t make someone attracted to you,” we get the conclusion that asking a second time after a long time has passed and the context is entirely different is evil. And no, neither of those conclusions were ones I’d reached on my own before being exposed to the sort of feminism I’m complaining about here; those weren’t part of the pre-existing problem.)

          This is the sort of thing I’m talking about when I talk about feminists not having any idea what the actual implications of their principles are, and only endorsing them because they are implicitly thinking of common-sense-moderated versions of those principles. When I talk about fuzzy abstractions that need to be calibrated against examples — helpful, realistic, two-sided, ideally close-together examples — I mean things like what constitutes “pressuring” someone. Because otherwise you end up with people who think that any realistic way of asking at all is pressuring.

          (Alternatively, none of this would probably be necessary if we didn’t have the idea that violations of feminist principles are inexcusable and cause extreme harm. That wouldn’t in any way help those with pre-existing problems, of course, but feminists are in no way obligated to help them! It would just mean that it wouldn’t make their pre-existing problems substantially worse.)

          Whew. OK. End rant. Hoping that clarifies the problem a little.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “Well, taking an average in the space of belief ‘basis states’ doesn’t make sense, but a (formal) probabilistic mixture does. Or no?”

          Taking some kind of probabilistic mixture makes sense if you’re talking about something empirical, but I don’t think it applies when you’re purely in the realm of ethics.

          “but, well, who cares? That’s just a category-membership statement.”

          Presumably, the person who’s being accused of not being a feminist. When the more SJW-ish feminists say something like “How can you not be a feminist?! Don’t you support This Thing That Decent People Believe? And if so, you should also support This Thing That We Claim Follows From The First Thing”, you can respond with something like “Actually, here are some people who are definitely feminists and accept the thing that decent people believe, but they don’t at all accept the thing you claim follows from it. Besides, I have belief X, which only feminists have, right? You wouldn’t say that someone with belief X isn’t a feminist, would you?…”

          “It doesn’t matter how ‘extreme’ their object level position is, they would not have been able to do so much damage without their screwed-up norms of discourse!”

          Norms of discourse are screwed-up by default. Welcome to politics, or maybe, welcome to humanity. 🙂 I don’t think it’s accurate to particularly blame feminists for it, when most people do it when they get a chance. It takes rationality and a commitment to good discourse to not have screwed-up discourse norms, and most people don’t have enough of those things. Most groups are full of mind-killed people more interested in pushing their agenda than seeking truth. If you condemn feminists for this, you might as well condemn most social movements and organizations that have ever existed. The only thing to do is to separate the ideas from the people who hold them, and in this case not let the flaws of most feminists poison one’s perception of good feminist ideas.

          As for your other post –
          Some people have difficulty understanding what people’s boundaries are, but in my experience feminists spend plenty of time talking about what people’s boundaries are. If some people misunderstand and naturally feel guilty and therefore have an exaggerated view of where boundaries are, that is in no way the fault of feminists. You say that feminists moderate their principles with common sense, but it seems more like feminists adhere to principles A, B, and C, and these guilt-ridden people have somehow only accepted principles A and B and are making up their own substitute for principle C – one that’s biased against them, because they feel guilty and lack confidence.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Taking some kind of probabilistic mixture makes sense if you’re talking about something empirical, but I don’t think it applies when you’re purely in the realm of ethics.

          I’m confused here. While certainly it’s important to distinguish the empirical from the ethical, I don’t think that distinction affects this particular point. That is to say, if we allow uncertainty over ethics, then the same justifications that motivate handling uncertainty with probability in the one case also apply to the other. Am I missing something?

          Presumably, the person who’s being accused of not being a feminist. When the more SJW-ish feminists say something like “How can you not be a feminist?! Don’t you support This Thing That Decent People Believe? And if so, you should also support This Thing That We Claim Follows From The First Thing”, you can respond with something like “Actually, here are some people who are definitely feminists and accept the thing that decent people believe, but they don’t at all accept the thing you claim follows from it. Besides, I have belief X, which only feminists have, right? You wouldn’t say that someone with belief X isn’t a feminist, would you?…”

          Possible. It also might just get you all called not real feminists. Let’s not forget the opposite strategy: “Sure, I’m anti-feminist. Now can you tell me what, concretely, is wrong with what I’m saying?” Personally, I’m fine with whatever works here, but I prefer the second because it defies the usual scripts — the first one is likely to get bogged down in further category-membership arguments; the second, well, if you’re lucky, you get a “Well at least you’re honest” and a real substantial argument, and if you’re unlucky, they just don’t know how to handle it, and you’ve exposed their inability to do anything but name-call. (I guess there are worse possible outcomes, like nobody getting the point, but then you presumably know to stay away from there.)

          So, I mean, let’s suppose I support basic feminist principles, but am opposed to the monstrosity the feminist movement has become. What can I do? I can do as you suggest, and try to change things from inside. But that will most likely just get me kicked-out; I think you’d have to have a lot of established credibility before that could go anywhere. Or I can call myself not-a-feminist while highlighting our points of agreement; ideally, the latter gets me past the “don’t deal with misogynists” filter, and the former gets me past the “root out concern trolls” filter. I become sufficiently unusual — an apparently reasonable opposition member! — that people will pay attention to me out of curiosity if nothing else. (And, seriously, the feminist movement needs to learn that there can be such a thing as reasonable opposition.)

          …mind you, I’m not exactly carrying out this strategy seriously, because this isn’t a particular focus of mine; but other people such as Hugh Ristik and our present host seem to be beginning to maybe get somewhere with it.

          Norms of discourse are screwed-up by default. Welcome to politics, or maybe, welcome to humanity. 🙂 I don’t think it’s accurate to particularly blame feminists for it, when most people do it when they get a chance. It takes rationality and a commitment to good discourse to not have screwed-up discourse norms, and most people don’t have enough of those things.

          Certainly! But this brings us back to the garden-subversion complaint again: The problem isn’t that feminists have more screwed-up norms of discourse than the general population, any more than that they have worse statistics; the problem is that they’ve been able to import those screwed-up norms of discourse to the places meant to protect against such things.

          Some people have difficulty understanding what people’s boundaries are, but in my experience feminists spend plenty of time talking about what people’s boundaries are.

          I’ll agree they talk about it, just not in a way that’s helpful for the unclued! And, of course, almost always in a way that says “You need to take even more care not to violate people’s boundaries”; other than Ozy, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen [people speaking as [unambiguous]] feminists say “Actually, here are things you might think are boundary violations, but are actually OK.” Oh! Wait, once in some random blog post that Scott linked to, by nobody I’ve ever heard of elsewhere. (And I guess maybe once or twice in private conversations, but that’s hardly helpful to most people. And those would not have happened had I remained the frightened feminist.) I’m having serious difficulty recalling anything else.

          …well, OK, no, the above isn’t quite true: I guess [people speaking as [unambiguous]] feminists do say to go ahead and do things; the problem is, they don’t explicitly contradict the people putting on restrictions, so this just leaves people like me looking for a way to reconcile the results. If you’re told P and Q, and you can deduce that P => ~Q, then — well, if you’re doing mathematics, hopefully you can notice the contradiction, and conclude that one of the statements you were told must be wrong. Real life is less clear; it’s much harder to notice your confusion, and it’s easy to get stuck going down the path of searching for ways to make P and Q true simultaneously and ending up in a double-bind. You often have to explicitly tell people ~Q if you want them to stop believing Q!

          Like, these things are confusing; and when you recognize that you’re talking about something confusing, it’s good practice to think about how people might misread you and explicitly ward off those possibilities. If [people speaking as] feminists did that more routinely, we might not have such problems. (Not that they never do, obviously. But mostly the misinterpretations I’ve seen them bother to ward off are ones that are already blatantly ridiculous, like “Feminists hate men”, rather than the more subtle ones that cause problems.)

          You say that feminists moderate their principles with common sense, but it seems more like feminists adhere to principles A, B, and C, and these guilt-ridden people have somehow only accepted principles A and B and are making up their own substitute for principle C – one that’s biased against them, because they feel guilty and lack confidence.

          I think we’re just going to have to disagree here, because I don’t think there’s any way we can resolve this short of gathering lots of evidence that will not be easy to gather.

          That said, from my point of view, the problem is feminists simultaneously A. speaking carelessly and B. having assumed moral authority — and perhaps more to the point, having assumed it for all feminists (or all “real” feminists), not just those who want it and can handle the responsibility. (And sometimes ascribing moral authority to women in general, e.g. “Shut up and listen”.) Their speaking carelessly wouldn’t cause so much problems for those of us who take everything they say as a dictate to be obeyed, if, well, there weren’t so many of us taking everything they said as a dictate to be obeyed!

          And I mean — of course people are going to speak carelessly; it’s hardly reasonable to expect otherwise. But you need to avoid that when you’re a moral authority. So I think the really reasonable solution would be for them to somehow give up that — like, big-name feminists making big things saying “Feminists are not moral authorities, you are not obligated to agree with us, please consider our ideas on the merits; and if feminists attempt to guilt you or silence you instead of arguing, they are not people you should be listening to.”

          Meanwhile, from your point of view, the problem is people with feminist guilt. But why do people have such feminist guilt in the first place? Well… I think you can see the point of agreement I am suggesting. 🙂

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          • Steve Johnson says:

            So I think the really reasonable solution would be for them to somehow give up that — like, big-name feminists making big things saying “Feminists are not moral authorities, you are not obligated to agree with us, please consider our ideas on the merits; and if feminists attempt to guilt you or silence you instead of arguing, they are not people you should be listening to.”

            Progressives do not take evolution seriously.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “if we allow uncertainty over ethics, then the same justifications that motivate handling uncertainty with probability in the one case also apply to the other.”

          You act based on what you believe to be right, which is derived from the ethical premises you believe. Someone who suggests an object-level applied-ethics change in your behavior isn’t changing your premises, so your behavior shouldn’t change either.

          “It also might just get you all called not real feminists. Let’s not forget the opposite strategy: ‘Sure, I’m anti-feminist. Now can you tell me what, concretely, is wrong with what I’m saying?'”

          FWIW, in my experience the “I’m a feminist too” strategy works better, both because you can point them to people who agree with you whose feminism is difficult to deny, and because if you say that you’re an anti-feminist, you’re likely to be dismissed as evil and not engaged in an honest, truth-seeking way. If you’re a heretic, true believers will engage you, but if you’re a heathen, they’ll dismiss your beliefs altogether.

          “The problem isn’t that feminists have more screwed-up norms of discourse than the general population, any more than that they have worse statistics; the problem is that they’ve been able to import those screwed-up norms of discourse to the places meant to protect against such things.”

          Have they? I suppose it depends on your social circle and its commitment to good discourse. While I’ve certainly seen plenty of SJW feminists who are terrible at discourse, but that would never fly in my social circles despite them being full of feminists. Perhaps I’ve been lucky.

          Regarding feminism and boundary violations, there are several important points. First, it’s better to think you’d violate a boundary when you really wouldn’t than to make the opposite mistake, because having your boundaries violated is worse than being disappointed. Second, people not respecting boundaries is much more common than the opposite problem, and since it’s both more of a problem and a worse problem, it makes sense that it’s what feminists talk about primarily, e.g. if you’re getting harassed, that’s more of a problem than some unconfident guy not approaching you. Third, different people have different boundaries, so even if someone wanted to say something like “Here are things you might think are boundary violations, but are actually OK”, it’s hard to say that authoritatively because it’s likely that those things really are boundary violations for some people.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          if we allow uncertainty over ethics, then the same justifications that motivate handling uncertainty with probability in the one case also apply to the other.

          You act based on what you believe to be right, which is derived from the ethical premises you believe. Someone who suggests an object-level applied-ethics change in your behavior isn’t changing your premises, so your behavior shouldn’t change either.

          You seem to be assuming logical omniscience here?

          FWIW, in my experience the “I’m a feminist too” strategy works better, both because you can point them to people who agree with you whose feminism is difficult to deny, and because if you say that you’re an anti-feminist, you’re likely to be dismissed as evil and not engaged in an honest, truth-seeking way. If you’re a heretic, true believers will engage you, but if you’re a heathen, they’ll dismiss your beliefs altogether.

          I think our experiences just differ here. I expect it has a lot to do with how much on-alert for “concern trolls” the people you encounter are.

          Regarding feminism and boundary violations, there are several important points. First, it’s better to think you’d violate a boundary when you really wouldn’t than to make the opposite mistake, because having your boundaries violated is worse than being disappointed. Second, people not respecting boundaries is much more common than the opposite problem, and since it’s both more of a problem and a worse problem, it makes sense that it’s what feminists talk about primarily, e.g. if you’re getting harassed, that’s more of a problem than some unconfident guy not approaching you. Third, different people have different boundaries, so even if someone wanted to say something like “Here are things you might think are boundary violations, but are actually OK”, it’s hard to say that authoritatively because it’s likely that those things really are boundary violations for some people.

          So offhand I want to agree with all of those! But that seems like I would be endorsing the trap. So let me take a moment to examine this more closely.

          I notice first of all that these all seem to be explanations of “how we got here”, not “why things have to be this way”. It’s easy to slide between these so I want to make this distinction. Because these all seem to work pretty well as the former, but (possibly excepting #1) I want to object to them as the latter.

          Let’s now take them one by one.

          #1: OK, this is just a statement I agree with. Maybe I want to disagree with the connotations, but, this is just a statement I agree with.
          #2: Let me address #3 and then return to this.
          #3: Certainly, but (unlike #1 and #2) this statement is symmetric. At some point you have to hand things over to people’s own judgment (and give them heuristics to help judge the situation) rather than giving them rules to follow; that’s symmetric.

          (Let me go on a ranty tangent for a bit and say how annoying it is that (in my experience) feminists, when asked for advice on what to do in such situations, will generally respond with something to the effect of “Women aren’t all the same!” or “Women aren’t robots!”; but have no trouble issuing blanket prohibitions as if women are, well, identical robots. I mean, OK, some of these blanket prohibitions are correct, and expected utility considerations do make the situation asymmetric, but it would be nice to just see them acknowledge the [at least apparent] irony.)

          Now let’s return to #2, which is I think where a lot of the problem lies. Because, well, what you’re saying makes sense if we ignore some important context, but once we factor that context in it causes a problem.

          That context is the way that the feminist movement has essentially assumed sole responsibility for all things gender-related. See, it would be OK if the feminist movement only focused on one side of the problem, as long as they allowed other groups to handle the other side; or, conversely, it would be OK if they took it on themselves to do it all themselves and get it right.

          But instead, the feminist movement has essentially assumed sole responsibility for all things gender-related, and then abused it, using their power in a straightforwardly partial manner. If you go to them and say “You are ignoring this side of the problem,” then — well, if you’re unlucky, you’ll get a “No we’re not”, but if you’re luckier, maybe you’ll get a “Well, we’re the feminists; we’re here to handle women’s problems. If you want to handle the other side of things, form your own group.” But if you do that, then they’ll attack you and deligitimize you! You’re not allowed to address the problem except through them, and they won’t address it.

          This is why it always annoys me when I hear the old “Patriarchy hurts men too” — because taken by itself it’s straightforwardly a true statement; but what’s meant by it is “Patriarchy hurts men too, so you have to go along with our particular way of fighting it, in which we almost always only directly address women’s problems.” Instead of “Patriarchy hurts men too”, they may as well say, “Embrace and extinguish.” (There’s not really any “extend” step.)

          So just as above the problem was the combination of carelessness and moral authority, here the problem is the combination of partiality and sole responsibility. So what can we do? I think going the “care and impartiality” route is basically impossible, as it would require the movement to be far more organized than it is. So once again, I’m suggesting that the feminist movement make an effort to jettison moral authority and sole responsibility.

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          • I accept that’s how it looks from your perspective.

            From my perspective, however, it looks like people approaching feminists and saying “listen up, you lying malicious worthless demon manginas/hags!” and then being shocked, shocked when that approach doesn’t cause feminists to immediately drop everything we’ve ever worked for so we can work on what they believe to be more urgent issues.

            I doubt that’s what you mean. But what presents as overwhelming contempt for feminists and feminism is obvious in what you write, and I suspect that comes through when you talk to feminists, very likely causing them to respond less-than-well to you.

            Then you say that men’s rights folks can’t form their own groups because if they do, “then they’ll attack you and deligitimize you!” If by “attack” you mean feminists will go after you with guns and shoot you dead, then you have my sympathy, although I will expect some supporting evidence for this claim. But more likely, by “attack” you mean feminists will criticize you.

            But what makes you think you should be above criticism?

            Feminism has been the subject of prolonged and vicious criticism for as long as it’s existed, yet this hasn’t prevented feminists from organizing and working for the world we want. Why should it prevent you from doing the same?

            The fact that people will criticize men’s rights and/or anti-feminists groups has not, in fact, prevented such groups from being formed. It is not what is preventing men’s rights groups from forming partnerships with feminist groups. And it is not the reason men’s rights groups have gotten so little accomplished.

            You blame everything on the eeevvviiiillll demon feminists. If MRAs don’t form their own groups, that’s not the fault of the MRAs; it’s FEMINISM’S fault for criticizing! If a guy isn’t as successful at getting laid as he’d prefer, it’s not to do with him, it’s FEMINISM’S fault!

            This is why it always annoys me when I hear the old “Patriarchy hurts men too” — because taken by itself it’s straightforwardly a true statement; but what’s meant by it is “Patriarchy hurts men too, so you have to go along with our particular way of fighting it, in which we almost always only directly address women’s problems.

            That’s not what I mean when I say it. Can you please link to a feminist who actually said that statement?

            Oh, wait, you weren’t claiming that any feminist HAD actually said that, were you? You were just saying “what’s meant by it,” based on… what? Your completely objective and unbiased intuitions for what feminists are secretly thinking?

            If you haven’t been successful at having good-faith discussions with feminists, maybe the fault isn’t 100% with the feminists.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “That context is the way that the feminist movement has essentially assumed sole responsibility for all things gender-related. See, it would be OK if the feminist movement only focused on one side of the problem, as long as they allowed other groups to handle the other side; or, conversely, it would be OK if they took it on themselves to do it all themselves and get it right.”

          In my experience, feminists are perfectly willing to let you do this and are sympathetic when you do, as long as you don’t come off as an MRA and/or blame feminism for men’s problems. I think the latter of these is a common problem – men talk about legitimate problems they face, and then they blame them on feminism. Naturally, feminists don’t like it. It’s unfortunate that “patriarchy” has become the term that’s used for sexist gender norms, because it leads to easy misunderstandings.

          As for moral authority, I don’t think jettisoning it is an option. If someone doesn’t consider themselves to have moral authority, they’re not going to have the conviction necessary to be involved in any kind of movement (except perhaps at its periphery). Any movement, whether SJW, reactionary, libertarian, etc, has to have a core of people who are convinced that they’re right, which doesn’t mean that they have to be dogmatic, but it does mean that they have to have enough confidence and conviction to put themselves “out there” and tell people what to do and not do. Anyone who believes that people aren’t obligated to agree with them is doomed to failure.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          In my experience, feminists are perfectly willing to let you do this and are sympathetic when you do, as long as you don’t come off as an MRA and/or blame feminism for men’s problems. I think the latter of these is a common problem – men talk about legitimate problems they face, and then they blame them on feminism. Naturally, feminists don’t like it. It’s unfortunate that “patriarchy” has become the term that’s used for sexist gender norms, because it leads to easy misunderstandings.

          Hm; this might be so. I guess I haven’t seen too many instances of that. On the other hand:

          1. What, now we’re OK with just tossing the MRAs out as unreasonable? 😛 (I mean, they largely are. But I’ve also made some reasonable and yet straightforwardly MRA points in my post above, I think.)

          2. Partial counterexample: When the problem of forced paternity comes up, I have generally seen feminists insist this is either not worth addressing or is not an actual problem, even without anyone blaming it on them. (You can say that in this cases the people talking about it are coming across as MRAs, but in this context, what’s wrong with that?) I say “partial” counterexample because while I certainly cannot agree that this is not a problem, this is one where I have to agree with the feminists that it’s not worth addressing before the women’s side (availability of contraceptives and abortion) is addressed.

          3. What, then, am I to do when I want to make the claim — as I am doing here — that something is honestly [largely] the fault of the feminist movement? I mean, at least an “Oops, I guess we kind of screwed that one up” would be nice, but apparently that’s too much to ask for!

          Edit 3: I mean, I guess we have the option of waiting for one of them (e.g. Ozy) to come up with the “we screwed this up” hypothesis on their own, but that’s a bit limiting, don’t you think?

          I am not claiming men’s problems in general, or even any of them other than this particular one, is due to the feminist movement. But this particular one I claim [largely] is. (Parts of it at least are due to a combination of feminist and pre-feminist notions; this is the P, Q, Q=>~P problem I described above. They don’t have to fix those parts by retracting Q; they could potentially also fix those parts by explicitly asserting ~P.)

          Perhaps this claim is incorrect, but to dismiss it out of hand is certainly incorrect.

          As for moral authority, I don’t think jettisoning it is an option. If someone doesn’t consider themselves to have moral authority, they’re not going to have the conviction necessary to be involved in any kind of movement (except perhaps at its periphery). Any movement, whether SJW, reactionary, libertarian, etc, has to have a core of people who are convinced that they’re right, which doesn’t mean that they have to be dogmatic, but it does mean that they have to have enough confidence and conviction to put themselves “out there” and tell people what to do and not do. Anyone who believes that people aren’t obligated to agree with them is doomed to failure.

          Maybe you are using “moral authority” in a weaker sense than I am? I mean the sort of thing that obligates you to speak carefully. If you don’t think they have [claimed] that sort of moral authority, then maybe we don’t have the point of agreement I suggested earlier after all.

          Edit: To be clear, obviously I don’t think they have claimed an obligation to speak carefully; I just think they have claimed a form of moral authority that obligates them to speak carefully.

          Edit 2: Also, like, I’m pretty sure I’m right (about the particular things I’ve been claiming here, not on gender issues in general, where I remain mostly very confused), which is why I make a point of not claiming any sort of authority and instead taking the high road. Which I guess suggests once again that when you say “moral authority is necessary”, you mean something much weaker by “moral authority” than I do.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “What, now we’re OK with just tossing the MRAs out as unreasonable?”

          MRAs are largely unreasonable. But feminists are largely unreasonable too. The difference between them is that with feminism, there’s a core of good beliefs, despite how mind-killed many of them are, whereas with MRAs (even though they take the correct position on some issues) it seems to mostly be bitterness, misunderstanding feminism and blaming it for their problems, etc. There could be a male equivalent of feminism (in terms of having similar core ideas), but MRA isn’t it.

          “When the problem of forced paternity comes up, I have generally seen feminists insist this is either not worth addressing or is not an actual problem, even without anyone blaming it on them.”

          A good proportion of the feminists I’ve seen are in favor of letting men have a “financial abortion” and surrender all parental rights in return for being free of parental responsibilities. I don’t think there’s one solid feminist position on this. And if feminists largely don’t take a stand on this issue, that only means they’re neutral, and still opposed to sexist social norms in general.

          “What, then, am I to do when I want to make the claim – as I am doing here – that something is honestly [largely] the fault of the feminist movement?”

          You’d have to convincingly demonstrate that something is actually the fault of the feminist movement, and not unconfident guys’ issues manifesting in a particular way because of feminism. And even if these issues only exist because of feminism, it doesn’t mean that feminists are in the wrong. For example, if you tell me that me painting my house purple will lower your house’s value, and I go ahead and paint it purple, your house indeed has a lower value because of something I did – but that doesn’t mean that I did anything wrong. Similarly, it’s possible that some guys may be reluctant to approach women because of some things feminists have said, but that doesn’t mean that feminists were wrong to say those things.

          “Maybe you are using ‘moral authority’ in a weaker sense than I am? I mean the sort of thing that obligates you to speak carefully.”

          By “moral authority” I mean something like “Believing yourself to be correct to the extent that you’re willing to enact policies and/or social norms based on what you believe and engage in persuasion premised primarily on the idea that you’re right and those who disagree with you are wrong”. It would be nice if those who claim moral authority would speak carefully, but that’s an unenforceable obligation.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          A good proportion of the feminists I’ve seen are in favor of letting men have a “financial abortion” and surrender all parental rights in return for being free of parental responsibilities. I don’t think there’s one solid feminist position on this. And if feminists largely don’t take a stand on this issue, that only means they’re neutral, and still opposed to sexist social norms in general.

          Well, I guess I’m glad there are more reasonable feminist communities out there than the ones I’m familiar with! I’m used to them being actively against the idea, generally with reasoning something like “comparing it to abortion is ridiculous, so it shouldn’t be allowed”.

          You’d have to convincingly demonstrate that something is actually the fault of the feminist movement, and not unconfident guys’ issues manifesting in a particular way because of feminism.

          I think it’s worth stating again here that I think feminism is to blame for so compounding the severity of the problem, and for making it much harder to fix (especially the latter). That’s not just an issue of in what way it manifests.

          Similarly, it’s possible that some guys may be reluctant to approach women because of some things feminists have said, but that doesn’t mean that feminists were wrong to say those things.

          If you restrict your options to “say it or don’t”, sure. But there are any number of other options! (Like, take the time to clarify and iteratively refine your ideas, rather than accusing people of willfully misreading when they get it wrong.) They’d take more effort, certainly, but I’m suggesting that it would be worth it. We don’t even need a lot of people doing this, but I think we need more than there are currently.

          Edit: Actually, I should really say here — there is of course a possibility that I’m wrong, that it wouldn’t be worth it at all, that people like me and Scott and all the others are just “necessary casualties”. But in that case it would be nice to see some acknowledgement of that fact, rather than denial of the problem and being pattern-matched to creeps, which is what we get currently.

          By “moral authority” I mean something like “Believing yourself to be correct to the extent that you’re willing to enact policies and/or social norms based on what you believe and engage in persuasion premised primarily on the idea that you’re right and those who disagree with you are wrong”. It would be nice if those who claim moral authority would speak carefully, but that’s an unenforceable obligation.

          Yes, that’s much weaker than what I mean. I mean, you are using the word in a sense such that basically everyone on every side is claiming it. I mean something more like “If this person makes a moral claim, you are obligated to accept it.”

          Now, obviously such a claim is always ridiculous, and I am absolutely not accusing most feminists of claiming moral authority for themselves! I absolutely do not think that the generic feminist is as anywhere near as unreasonable as that. Rather I am accusing a small but significant number of feminists of claiming moral authority for feminists and/or women in general — not a very nice burden to drop on these people, who weren’t necessarily expecting to be taken as authorities!

          And yes of course such an obligation is unenforceable; I’m just pointing out what happens when moral authorities speak carelessly — people listen to them and do stupid things as a result! Perhaps it’s just an obligation in the sense that I’m going to hold them responsible. 🙂

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Barry:

          Are you trying to start a flamewar? Well — I guess I’d best answer you anyway.

          From my perspective, however, it looks like people approaching feminists and saying “listen up, you lying malicious worthless demon manginas/hags!” and then being shocked, shocked when that approach doesn’t cause feminists to immediately drop everything we’ve ever worked for so we can work on what they believe to be more urgent issues.

          I doubt that’s what you mean. But what presents as overwhelming contempt for feminists and feminism is obvious in what you write, and I suspect that comes through when you talk to feminists, very likely causing them to respond less-than-well to you.

          I seriously don’t think I’ve been anywhere near that unreasonable here; I would certainly never say anything like that “Listen up…” line or call anyone a “mangina” (!) or a “hag”. I accept many basic feminist principles (which is why we have a problem in the first place — the argument is in some sense over the implications of those principles), I agree with the feminists on many points and in other contexts, where it needs defending, I will gladly call myself one. (Seriously — you think I would call someone a “mangina”??) But on this particular point I think they’ve screwed up badly. I do not accuse feminists of lying; I accuse them of being blinded by their own common sense like a novice programmer (or perhaps more like a novice philosopher, or maybe a novice psychologist). I do not ask that feminists drop what they are working on; in the one case where I posit that what they are working on is causing harm, I am just asking them to go about it with more concern for accuracy, detail, and clarity to the unclued. I do not ask that feminists prioritize others’ concerns; I just ask that they not set out to stop others from addressing those concerns. Hell, as I mentioned above, in the case of “financial abortion”, I completely agree that this is a concern not worth addressing presently!

          The actual fact of the matter is that outside of right here, Slate Star Codex, I (with very few exceptions) simply don’t argue about such things, because I don’t want to deal with the hostility. When I talk about what feminists generally do in my experience, I’m mostly talking about how they react to other people I’ve observed, not me.

          If you want to claim that this is how most other people with similar complaints act, fine. But I don’t appreciate having it attributed to me.

          Then you say that men’s rights folks can’t form their own groups because if they do, “then they’ll attack you and deligitimize you!” If by “attack” you mean feminists will go after you with guns and shoot you dead, then you have my sympathy, although I will expect some supporting evidence for this claim. But more likely, by “attack” you mean feminists will criticize you.

          Well, no. Certainly I do not mean they will physically attack me or anyone. But neither do I simply mean they will criticize, at least if by “criticize” you mean “argue reasonably”. There was a reason I used the word “delegitimize”. When I spoke of “attacking”, I meant the terrible patterns of argument I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this thread — patternmatching; accusing you of being evil when you ask for clarification (if you weren’t evil you wouldn’t need to ask!) or insisting you must be willfully misreading when you try to press them on a point; employing the fundamental feminist equivocation; basically, anything other than honest argument on the substance, with the goal of not proving you wrong, but marking you as illegitimate, evil, unfit to speak on the matter — getting you kicked out of the garden. That’s the sort of thing I mean when I speak of “attacking”. So yes, I believe I should be immune to that sort of attack, because everybody should be; that sort of thing simply has no place in reasonable discussion.

          You blame everything on the eeevvviiiillll demon feminists.

          Again, I blame a few particular things on the foolish incautious feminists.

          If a guy isn’t as successful at getting laid as he’d prefer, it’s not to do with him, it’s FEMINISM’S fault!

          You are exaggerating my position to a point that is plainly ridiculous; my actual assertions are milder. I’m going to suggest perhaps that you should reread my comments.

          I’d also like to remind you that this is not merely about “getting laid”, nor about it simply being “less often than one would prefer”. This is about being completely locked out of anything “mating-related” — sex, dating, whatever — or anything that appears like it could be “mating-related” — out of guilt and paranoia. Perhaps I should indeed repost the standard links for you. Here’s a good essay of Hugh Ristik’s on the matter. And let’s not forget Scott’s “Meditations” series on his old blog (though I’m afraid you’ll need to use the Wayback Machine if you want to read the crucial Fourth one; I’m avoiding posting an actual link for now as I don’t know how OK with that Scott is). (I can provide more if you’d like, though I’d agree with it less.) So yes, I continue to claim that much of the problem is feminism’s fault, because I believe that I have good reason to do so.

          On that note, I can’t help but notice that you’ve made no attempt to answer the questions addressed to you upthread. Not that you’re in any way obligated to, of course, but if you’re not going to do so it would be nice, now that you’re reappeared, to explicitly tell us that you have no intention of doing so.

          (Let me also repeat here — although I hadn’t yet said it when you first posted your comment, so I guess it’s not exactly “repetition” to you — that if the feminist movement could at least acknowledge the problem and say “While we’re sorry for the trouble we’ve caused you, we truly believe this is the best way, and we don’t intend on doing anything different, you’re necessary casualties”, rather than denying it exists, that would be at least satisfactory as a starting point for honest argument.)

          Oh, wait, you weren’t claiming that any feminist HAD actually said that, were you? You were just saying “what’s meant by it,” based on… what? Your completely objective and unbiased intuitions for what feminists are secretly thinking?

          No, inference from context. But I suppose it’s been quite a while and I could be misremembering; the example I thought I had turned out not to be one. I’ll just cede you this point for now rather than go to such an effort.

          I think your most spot-on criticism of me is the fact that MRA groups do, in fact, exist. I’m not much of a fan of them. And perhaps more to the point, they don’t have much of an influence among reasonable people, as they probably shouldn’t. I’m sorry to say, I’m not much of a “boots on the ground” kind of guy — call me privileged all you want, because I am, but really I’m largely concerned with what reasonable people think; when I talk about people “addressing” concerns, I largely just mean reasonable people talking about it. Hence all my complaints about “garden subversion” above. If I had to pick just one complaint about the feminist movement? It would be that one. If to you that means I am focusing on things that are basically irrelevant compared to what’s going on in the outside world, well then… feel free to ignore me, I guess? Sorry for wasting your time, maybe? Personally I don’t think that solving one set of problems should be incompatible with solving the other.

          Hope that clears some things up.

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          • Sniffnoy, I honestly didn’t mean to suggest or even imply that you, yourself, would ever use the term “magina” or similar, and I apologize that I gave you that impression. I was just trying to give you an idea of my context. I’m not sure that anyone who hasn’t been a prominent online feminist (as I was once, years ago – no longer, thank goodness!) can appreciate just how relentless and extreme the hostility we receive from anti-feminists is.

            However, I do think many of your comments here do come across as if written by someone with a great deal of hostility towards feminists. If that’s not what you intend to convey, then it might be of interest and concern to you that it is what you’re conveying. (Or maybe not.)

            Although you’ve walked it back a bit in your response to me, your comments on this thread have been full of sweeping negative generalizations about feminists, as well as frequent attacks on strawmen and attribution of over-the-top evil thoughts to feminists (what you call “inference from context”). For example, I strongly suggest that “if you weren’t evil you wouldn’t need to ask” is a strawman, or perhaps treating a fringe example as if it were the center.

            (By the way, I’d say this sort of behavior, as well as “inference from context” – which has the effect of attributing fictionalized evil thoughts to an entire class of people whom you disagree with – is a clear example of an “other than honest argument on the substance, with the goal of not proving you wrong, but marking you as illegitimate, evil, unfit to speak on the matter.” I agree that feminists shouldn’t use such arguments and, alas, we sometimes do; but I think that you demonstrate that such behavior isn’t particular to feminism.)

            So yes, I believe I should be immune to that sort of attack, because everybody should be; that sort of thing simply has no place in reasonable discussion.

            I agree, but since less-than-ideal-argumentation is, I’m sorry to say, the norm in very nearly all of our society, it seems very strange to complain that feminism in particular is the problem here, or that such attacks drives opposing views out of visible existence. Alas, no one is immune to that sort of attack. Yet somehow opposing views still exist.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but the specific argument of yours I was responding to – that feminists somehow prevent others from taking up issues because of the dreaded feminist “attack” and “delegitimization” – now seems to lie in shreds. As you conceded (and thanks, I appreciate you being reasonable), MRAs and anti-feminists are capable of forming organizations despite such feminist attacks. And now you’ve clarified that by “attack,” you mean unfair arguments – something that virtually all political advocacy organizations deal with on a daily basis.

            It seems to me that you no longer have a case that feminism, through “attacks,” unfairly maintains a monopoly on gender issues. And since a significant portion of your argument against feminism relied on that false premise, I think you should reconsider your views. What’s wrong with feminists saying “if you want to handle the other side of things, form your own group”? (Consider also that most feminist activists I know already feel overwhelmed by their existing commitments).

            This is about being completely locked out of anything “mating-related” — sex, dating, whatever — or anything that appears like it could be “mating-related” — out of guilt and paranoia. Perhaps I should indeed repost the standard links for you. Here’s a good essay of Hugh Ristik’s on the matter.

            Are you aware that Hugh’s essay was part of an ongoing discussion he was having with me and some other folks at my blog? So yes, I’m aware of his perspective, and I don’t think you’re accurately summing it up; his case was actually considerably broader than what you describe here. (Incidentally, I miss Hugh’s work, although I seldom agreed with him).

            As I said to Hugh back then, feminism is not an all-powerful god, with limitless resources, perfect foreknowledge, and responsibility for all outcomes. Relationships are confusing and so are boundaries; it is not within feminism’s ability to define those boundaries in a way that avoids all subjectivity and confusion in all circumstances. Nor is there any imaginable system that would never leave anyone feeling hurt.

            Feminism isn’t to blame for the problems of “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” men (the quoted phrase is Hugh’s). I think those men, due to being shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed, naturally find and cling to excuses to not put themselves (ourselves) forward and to not take risks. If the shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed man in question is a feminist (or was raised by feminists), maybe he’ll think “I can’t say ‘may I kiss you?‘ because that would be harassment”; but if that same man was a Christian, he’d be thinking “I can’t say ‘may I kiss you?’ because Jesus wouldn’t want me to.”

            The scapegoat is not the causal agent.

            So yes, I continue to claim that much of the problem is feminism’s fault, because I believe that I have good reason to do so.

            If you could show me strong empirical evidence demonstrating that the incidence of men being “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” has increased in lockstep with feminism, I’d find that interesting, although we’d still have to figure out a way to distinguish causation from correlation, of course.

            But, lacking such evidence, your argument just isn’t persuasive. Men who can’t find love because they (we) are “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” are hardly a new phenomenon; think of movies like “Marty,” or think of Charlie Brown and the red-headed girl. Heck, think of Christian in the 1898 play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” who despite his great beauty was crippled by shyness when speaking to a woman he was attracted to. This problem was around before feminism and was common enough to be a recognizable stock character in literature. If there’s any “good reason” to think feminism has made it worse, I haven’t seen it.

            On that note, I can’t help but notice that you’ve made no attempt to answer the questions addressed to you upthread.

            The ones asking me to survey my friends about the nitty gritty details of how they met their sweeties, and report back the details to y’all? Yeah, I’m not gonna do that.

            if the feminist movement could at least acknowledge the problem and say “While we’re sorry for the trouble we’ve caused you, we truly believe this is the best way, and we don’t intend on doing anything different, you’re necessary casualties”, rather than denying it exists, that would be at least satisfactory as a starting point for honest argument.

            I have been honest with you. The demand that I should concede a point that I don’t believe you’ve established doesn’t seem to me to be reasonable as a condition for “honest argument.”

            The most I can honestly say is that it’s probably true that some men, at the margins, have had their already existing “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” tendencies made more difficult for them to deal with because they’ve had bad interactions with feminism. However, I’m also certain that some such men have had their problems made easier by feminism. I don’t see any way to objectively determine that one is larger than the other.

            Personally I don’t think that solving one set of problems should be incompatible with solving the other.

            Agreed.

            Regarding “garden subversion,” I’m actually not sure what you mean by that, although I did follow the link to Scott’s argument with Arthur.

            Finally, regarding “paper abortions,” I’m against the idea for a few reasons, but the major one is that I don’t think increasing child poverty is a reasonable price to pay. If we were in a socialist society that had successfully eradicated poverty and economic insecurity, I might favor the “paper abortion” idea.

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        • blacktrance says:

          “If you restrict your options to ‘say it or don’t’, sure. But there are any number of other options!”

          If you can think of any, I’d like to hear them. To me, it seems that if you say “It’s vitally important to respect people’s boundaries”, that necessarily means that people who listen to the message and are unsure where the boundaries are will be more cautious. A more fine-grained message would require information about where people’s boundaries are, but because that’s different for different people, a message about it is almost certain to simultaneously be too restrictive for some people and too lax for others. If there’s a better alternative to saying it bluntly and not saying it at all, I’d like to hear it.

          “I mean something more like ‘If this person makes a moral claim, you are obligated to accept it.'”

          Such a claim is so plainly ridiculous that it’s easy to reject if you haven’t accepted it already. They may not put it in such easily identifiable terms, so figuring out that they’re doing that may not be easy, but once you do figure it out, their incorrectness is obvious.

          I think I probably agree with you on the other points.

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Barry: Ugh, sorry, let me make one correction to my comment above: Where I say “in the one case where I posit that what they are working on is causing harm”, that should say “in the one object-level case where…”. Obviously I believe that a number of their meta-level projects are causing harm, and in those cases the problem is not insufficient accuracy, but that they’re doing it at all. (And really those are the fundamental problem; if we solved those, we wouldn’t have the object-level problem.)

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        • Army1987 says:

          However, I’m also certain that some such men have had their problems made easier by feminism.

          e.g. myself. (When I stumbled upon the Schrödinger’s Rapist article, I finally realized why I seemed to scare women away, which previously made almost no sense to me, and stopped taking it personally, which made it much less emotionally painful to me.)

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        • Andy says:

          You just need to stop caring about what women want or think and treat them like black box functions which output “consensual sex” for certain inputs. The reason I say this is that what women actually want in “near mode” and what they say they want in “far mode” are almost complete opposites.

          Funny, it was only when I stopped doing this and started talking to women as people that I actually was able to get what I wanted – a stable, emotionally fulfilling relationship.

          By “talking to women as people,” I mean seeing them as not a single unitary class, and respectfully trying over and over until I found someone I could be compatible with. Treating women as sex-dispensing machines that respond to the proper inputs didn’t get me what I wanted, because I didn’t just want sex. And of the men and women I approached and dated before entering my current LTR, I wouldn’t say that any of them acted in a a single way. It was almost like they were different people instead of person-shaped black-boxes!

          what women actually want in “near mode” and what they say they want in “far mode” are almost complete opposites.

          In other words, women are lying, you can’t trust what they say, and just “fuck ’em and leave em, that’s what they want anyway.”
          I do not doubt that some women want precisely this. I don’t even doubt that some women lie and say they want a long-term relationship when they want a quick fuck. So what? I know men who say they want a long-term relationship, are eternally questing for the “right lady,” but in reality they’ll screw anything that shows them a bit of nipple. Some people lie, some people tell the truth, and it’s damn hard to tell the difference.

          If you are nervous about talking to women you can borrow a little trick from me – take some tylenol or aspirin before you go out to meet women.

          Exactly how is this supposed to help? Placebo effect?

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        • Andy says:

          e.g. myself. (When I stumbled upon the Schrödinger’s Rapist article, I finally realized why I seemed to scare women away, which previously made almost no sense to me, and stopped taking it personally, which made it much less emotionally painful to me.)

          Seconded, this was a great help to me as well.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Andy: “In other words, women are lying, you can’t trust what they say, and just “fuck ‘em and leave em, that’s what they want anyway.””

          That is a pretty severe strawman of what I said, you should be ashamed of yourself. I expect better than this on a rationality-related blog.

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        • Andy says:

          @Andy: “In other words, women are lying, you can’t trust what they say, and just “fuck ‘em and leave em, that’s what they want anyway.””

          That is a pretty severe strawman of what I said, you should be ashamed of yourself.

          Nope, I stand by what I said.
          Let’s take a look at what you said:

          what women actually want in “near mode” and what they say they want in “far mode” are almost complete opposites.

          Either women – most or all women, since you didn’t bother to append a “some” to give even a suggestion of nuance to the thing – are either being dishonest or too stupid/irrational to know their own preferences. I felt that “women are lying when they say they want a nice guy, they want an alpha asshole, now go out and be the alpha asshole they want!” was the more charitable of those two interpretations.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Andy:

          As I have said several times, it is a near/far mode thing. When people are in far mode, they genuinely think they want far mode things. When they are in near mode, they want near mode things.

          So yes, like MOST PEOPLE ON THE PLANET, women(qualifiers apply: of dating age, western culture, not 99% outliers in personality) do not know their own preferences very well and do in fact deviate significantly from the model of a unified agent with consistent preferences. That is the whole point of the near mode/far mode distinction.

          It takes a great deal of rationality and insight to really understand how one’s preferences change with context and time, so let me disclaim immediately that I am not trying to denigrate women(qualifiers as above) compared to any other group. See the literature on hyperbolic discounting, prospect theory, etc.

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        • Oligopsony says:

          @Rationalist,

          So you would recommend, then, not just that

          You just need to stop caring about what women want or think and treat them like black box functions which output “consensual sex” for certain inputs.

          but that

          You just need to stop caring about what people want or think and treat them like black box functions which output “[desideratum]” for certain inputs.

          correct? Happy to be corrected if I’m misapprehending you.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @OLIGOPSONY: “correct? Happy to be corrected if I’m misapprehending you”

          No, I wouldn’t say that works as a total generalization for all situations, but for situations that are relevantly similar (far mode request strongly contradicts near mode behavior) it does work.

          For example, if you sell and stock vending machines and customers fill out surveys asking for the machines to be filled with celery instead of chocolate bars, I think you could apply the “black box” principle pretty successfully.

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          • Steve Johnson says:

            When dealing with species that has evolved social intelligence and concealed ovulation the default assumption should be that everything the females of that species say about their mating preferences is a lie. Also, as a general principle, lies are more effective when the teller doesn’t know that he’s lying – this is also a relevant fact.

            Want to know what women actually desire? Ask men who sleep with lots of women or read what they write. Why not just observe? Because deception about when and where mating takes place is part and parcel of concealed ovulation.

            Anyone who takes feminism the least bit seriously does not take evolution seriously.

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          • Rationalist says:

            @Steve Johnson “everything the females of that species say about their mating preferences is a lie”

            “lies are more effective when the teller doesn’t know that she’s lying”

            If you don’t know that you’re lying, then you’re not lying… see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie .

            Women rarely lie about what kind of guy they like, at least as far as I can tell. They sincerely believe falsehoods. The reason I didn’t bring this up is that I don’t want to have to defend evo psych in an already long and rambling discussion, it is enough for me that there *is* a contradiction between near mode behavior and far mode claims, it doesn’t really matter what causes that difference.

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        • Rationalist says:

          @Steve Johnson “Anyone who takes feminism the least bit seriously does not take evolution seriously.”

          Also I would like to explicitly distance myself from this sweeping generalization – I think that feminism should be taken seriously and that there are elements of feminism that are perfectly sensible and in no way contradict known facts. PLEASE DO NOT ASSUME I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING STEVE SAYS JUST BECAUSE I AGREED WITH SOMETHING HE SAID

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        • Taradino C. says:

          @Rationalist: “If you don’t know that you’re lying, then you’re not lying”

          George Costanza said it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn_PSJsl0LQ

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          If there’s a better alternative to saying it bluntly and not saying it at all, I’d like to hear it.

          Honestly? I’m a bit uncertain, and I’m thinking now I might just be going after the wrong thing here. I mean I think it is possible to be more fine-grained by considering people’s reactions. And perhaps importantly to just give a standard “be aware of variation, don’t be afraid to use common sense, etc.” But, I don’t know, maybe I was just wrong there.

          Like, all this is a lot of responsibility to impose on these people, a lot of whom are just making offhanded comments, you know? I think the right solution is to un-screw-up the meta-level and dispel the air of moral authority.

          Such a claim is so plainly ridiculous that it’s easy to reject if you haven’t accepted it already. They may not put it in such easily identifiable terms, so figuring out that they’re doing that may not be easy, but once you do figure it out, their incorrectness is obvious.

          Yes, the hard part is noticing that there’s a problem once you’ve already swallowed it all!

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        • Sniffnoy says:

          Barry:

          However, I do think many of your comments here do come across as if written by someone with a great deal of hostility towards feminists. If that’s not what you intend to convey, then it might be of interest and concern to you that it is what you’re conveying. (Or maybe not.)

          Well, I think it’s entirely fair to say that I have quite a bit of hostility towards generic feminists in these particular contexts. 🙂

          For example, I strongly suggest that “if you weren’t evil you wouldn’t need to ask” is a strawman, or perhaps treating a fringe example as if it were the center.

          You’re absolutely right, I’ve been using over-the-top summaries. I honestly didn’t think about how that would come across. Sorry about that. I’ll try to be more careful about that. I just assumed people would know what I was talking about instead of taking it literally — the exact mistake I’m criticizing the feminists for. (Of course, I don’t have any moral authority! 😛 )

          For now, for “If you weren’t evil, you wouldn’t need to ask”, you can read, “Feminists frequently claim or imply — via the fundamental feminist equivocation — that the correct feminist response to a given situation is obvious. This strongly discourages asking about non-obvious cases, as if you expose yourself as finding it non-obvious, you will be (via the fundamental equivocation) non-feminist and thus evil.” They don’t actually make the claim that if you were a good person you wouldn’t need to ask, because that would be plainly unreasonable. I really shouldn’t have said that they do. Sorry about that.

          I agree, but since less-than-ideal-argumentation is, I’m sorry to say, the norm in very nearly all of our society, it seems very strange to complain that feminism in particular is the problem here, or that such attacks drives opposing views out of visible existence. Alas, no one is immune to that sort of attack. Yet somehow opposing views still exist.

          This seems to be the point that these things always get stuck on (recall the old argument about feminist statistics). But as I said above: The problem isn’t that the feminist movement has worse norms of argument or worse statistics than whatever other group you care to name. The problem that is particular to the feminist movement is that they are able to screw up the norms of discourse even in places that are full of reasonable people who are supposed to know better. This is what I mean when I talk about “garden subversion”. Perhaps this claim is incorrect, but I don’t think it’s a claim you’ve addressed, instead just talking about whether or not its arguments are worse on the whole.

          It seems to me that you no longer have a case that feminism, through “attacks,” unfairly maintains a monopoly on gender issues.

          Again, I think we’re looking at different arenas here. Among the general population, absolutely it doesn’t have a monopoly. There are plenty of old-school sexists out there causing problems and the feminist movement is doing good work in fighting them. Here on SSC, where you have neoreactionaries, it certainly doesn’t have a monopoly! My claim is that it has an unfair monopoly (or almost-monopoly) among the population I am used to thinking of as “reasonable people”. I realize that’s a pretty fuzzy demarcation, but, to my mind it’s important and this is a real problem. (Here, Hugh Ristik summed it up as “white middle/upper class educated liberals”, which I think is a bit restrictive — why only white? Was he just hedging, or was there some reason for that I don’t know about? — but hopefully you are getting an idea of the cluster of people I’m pointing out.

          Like, you keep talking about activists and political advocacy; I’m talking about people holding discussions ostensibly trying to get at the truth! 🙂 If to your mind that makes what I’m discussing irrelevant, then, as I said, feel free to ignore me!

          What’s wrong with feminists saying “if you want to handle the other side of things, form your own group”?

          By itself, absolutely nothing. I’m just saying it’s inconsistent to both say that others should form their own groups, and demand that those other groups do things the feminists’ way! (Of course, you would say that they don’t do the latter, and I don’t really want to argue about this right now.)

          Are you aware that Hugh’s essay was part of an ongoing discussion he was having with me and some other folks at my blog?

          Ha, yes, I’d forgotten that!

          As I said to Hugh back then, feminism is not an all-powerful god, with limitless resources, perfect foreknowledge, and responsibility for all outcomes. Relationships are confusing and so are boundaries; it is not within feminism’s ability to define those boundaries in a way that avoids all subjectivity and confusion in all circumstances.

          As I’ve said elsewhere: You’re absolutely right that it can’t do that, and as such it shouldn’t have responsibility for all outcomes, but with its unfair monopoly, responsibility naturally attaches to it.

          Feminism isn’t to blame for the problems of “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” men (the quoted phrase is Hugh’s). I think those men, due to being shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed, naturally find and cling to excuses to not put themselves (ourselves) forward and to not take risks. If the shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed man in question is a feminist (or was raised by feminists), maybe he’ll think “I can’t say ‘may I kiss you?‘ because that would be harassment”; but if that same man was a Christian, he’d be thinking “I can’t say ‘may I kiss you?’ because Jesus wouldn’t want me to.”

          OK, so you’ve found a third option! Honestly arguing that there is in fact not a problem, rather than dismissing the possibility out of hand.

          If you could show me strong empirical evidence demonstrating that the incidence of men being “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” has increased in lockstep with feminism, I’d find that interesting, although we’d still have to figure out a way to distinguish causation from correlation, of course.

          Inside view vs. outside view, eh? I really do not have the time to go searching for such evidence, and have to wonder whether it presently exists, so I think we’re both just going to walk away unconvinced here.

          But, lacking such evidence, your argument just isn’t persuasive. Men who can’t find love because they (we) are “shy, anxious, introverted, unassertive, and sexually repressed” are hardly a new phenomenon; think of movies like “Marty,” or think of Charlie Brown and the red-headed girl. Heck, think of Christian in the 1898 play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” who despite his great beauty was crippled by shyness when speaking to a woman he was attracted to. This problem was around before feminism and was common enough to be a recognizable stock character in literature. If there’s any “good reason” to think feminism has made it worse, I haven’t seen it.

          Well, if you can argue by example, so can I! How about Scott’s 3rd meditation? 🙂 Where he explicitly says he was getting better until he encountered feminist discussion on the subject? (I’d use my own example, but that’s less clear-cut, I suppose.)

          Edit: OK, on rereading, you weren’t really arguing by example. Oops. Regardless, just as you’d want to see outside-view evidence that it has made things worse, I’d want to see outside-view evidence that it hasn’t, because there seems to me to be a pretty clear qualitative difference between simple shyness and the guilt and paranoia-filled double-binds that feminism presents. But like I said, I think we’re just both going to walk away unconvinced here. Now, I think I could make a better case that feminism has made the problem harder to fix, but this is long enough already, I’ll do that perhaps later in a separate comment.

          The ones asking me to survey my friends about the nitty gritty details of how they met their sweeties, and report back the details to y’all? Yeah, I’m not gonna do that.

          OK. No problem.

          However, I’m also certain that some such men have had their problems made easier by feminism. I don’t see any way to objectively determine that one is larger than the other.

          If our only options were “feminism or no feminism”, you’d have a good point! But, like, why can’t we modify feminism so as to get the good parts and shed the bad parts? I’d like to see a better feminism, one I can once again proudly (rather than heavily conditionally) endorse!

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    • anon says:

      I’ve begun to feel sorry for frat boys in the abstract, though not for any of them I’ve actually encountered. They have a terrible reputation, and get stereotyped. While stereotypes are often broadly true, it’s still important to mention occasionally that they’re exaggerations and not universally true, otherwise a conceptual superweapon will be formed. But for the frat boys, it may be too late.

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      • a person says:

        I’m a frat boy and this stereotype doesn’t really affect me in real life. It seems mainly to exist on the internet among liberal intellectual types. There’s a bit of a stigma, but it definitely elevates my status much more than it lowers it.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I’m a frat boy and this stereotype doesn’t really affect me in real life. It seems mainly to exist on the internet among liberal intellectual types. There’s a bit of a stigma, but it definitely elevates my status much more than it lowers it.

          I will attest to this.

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        • Matthew says:

          The stereotypical frat boy is definitely not reading this blog.

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    • Alrenous says:

      The absence of anti-nerdism makes it impossible for me to take anti-racism seriously. Obviously it’s about gaining status and power for the agitator. Indeed we, all of us, were fools to ever think it might have been otherwise. Again, assumption of innocence is for murder trials, and the generalized principle is assumption of inaction.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The absence of anti-nerdism

        Actually, this is all nerds ever talk about. I can’t think of a single other group that is so relentlessly self-pitying. (It also has more or less obvious political manifestations.)

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        • Alrenous says:

          Man, anti-racism is all those black slaves talk about. They’re relentlessly self-pitying. Get back to work!

          Not even slightly obvious. Is that really your best argument?

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        • Oligopsony says:

          You’ll note that that’s an entirely different question. Blacks being concerned about racism would indeed refute a claim about anti-racism not existing, regardless of whether the tone of the refutation expresses contempt, admiration, or indifference towards blacks.

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        • Alrenous says:

          Uncharitable reading, Oligopsony. Can you really not think of what I might have meant instead, that would make sense?

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        • MugaSofer says:

          I don’t know about Oligopsony, but I certainly can’t.

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        • Alrenous says:

          Okay.

          The absence of anti-nerdism in the anti-racist makes it impossible for me to take anti-racism seriously.

          “I don’t like status being granted based on morally irrelevant details.”
          vs.
          “I say certain details are socio-morally irrelevant when it’s politically useful to say so.”

          Certainly my sentence was ambiguous. But it’s suspicious when the overly-general interpretation outcompetes the less-general one, especially as the next sentence provides specificity context. ‘Agitator’, not ‘movement’ or ‘philosophy’.

          Oh, and then they say skin colour is morally relevant if we’re talking about whites. It’s the perfect storm of self-refutation.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Presuming that “anti-nerdism” means “opposition to prejudice toward nerds” and not “opposition to nerds”, I see that in nerds but very rarely in anti-racists.

          I don’t think this is valid grounds for criticizing anti-racist culture, though. For one thing, nerds are a subculture: one that smart and socially awkward people are often pushed toward, at least in the US, but one that they in principle have chosen to adopt. For another, I think there are some very good reasons to criticize that subculture (though not usually the same reasons that SJ types like to present).

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Nornagest

          Something like 50% of nerds have Asperger’s. That’s not a choice. Nerds do not choose to be socially awkward, especially not in high school. They would choose to be left alone but aren’t allowed to choose that. Nerds don’t aggressively try to convert non-nerds to social awkwardness.

          For another, I think there are some very good reasons to criticize that [race]

          Higher crime rates for example. By which I mean your analogy appears self-defeating.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Something like 50% of nerds have Asperger’s. That’s not a choice. Nerds do not choose to be socially awkward, especially not in high school. They would choose to be left alone but aren’t allowed to choose that. Nerds don’t aggressively try to convert non-nerds to social awkwardness.

          But who are the non-nerds supposed to punish? the school system? The government? The easiest people to punish to get the nerds to go away are the nerds themselves. And it’s hard to punish someone when it’s not their fault; therefore, it’s their fault.

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        • Alrenous says:

          But who are the [whites] supposed to punish? the school system? The government? The easiest people to punish to get the [blacks] to go away are the [blacks] themselves. And it’s hard to punish someone when it’s not their fault; therefore, it’s their fault.

          So I’ve done this substitution three times now, and it gets more amusing every time. You realize the only reason nerdism seems different from racism is because Authority has told you they’re different…right?

          Nerds go away on their own, you don’t need to punish them. You seem to be infected with creepy collectivism.

          One of the times Authority and Respectability are wrong is when they say segregation is evil. Different thedes auto-segregate, you don’t even need laws. Let them do so, and most of problem evaporates.

          Indeed the opposite is true: NORPs need to be punished so they’ll leave Nerds alone. Or rather, the Nerd’s right to self-defence needs to be respected, instead of school and State reinforcing NORP predation.

          I know nobody cares and this won’t happen. That’s not my point.

          That’s precisely why anti-racism is farcical: it’s obvious that nobody cares about that either, except maybe in far mode. If Lincoln couldn’t have used slavery as an excuse to conquer the south, he wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass. How do we know this? Because a quarter of slaves died after being ‘freed,’ and we saw neither shame nor remorse nor reparations. Did you read that right? Yes: a full quarter. Think about how many suffered but didn’t quite die. Because they weren’t ‘freed,’ they were forced off plantations. Nobody ever asked what the slaves wanted. Sure, many of them would have wanted off, but we have first-hand accounts that not all of them did.

          (When a company hears a complaint, they know 100 or so wanted to complain but couldn’t be arsed to make the call. There’s between 10-100 lurkers in Twitch channels for every person in chat. For every account of a former slave that regretted Emancipation, we know many, many more regretted it but didn’t bother to write down how much.)

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        • Nornagest says:

          Nerds do not choose to be socially awkward, especially not in high school. They would choose to be left alone but aren’t allowed to choose that. Nerds don’t aggressively try to convert non-nerds to social awkwardness.

          For clarity, I’m not using “nerd” to mean “socially awkward person” here. I’m using it to mean “one who identifies as a nerd, a geek, or a member of one of several closely affiliated subcultures”. Not everyone that gets called a nerd in high school is going to be a nerd in this sense, any more than everyone that gets called a retard is actually mentally handicapped — but the referent of “nerd” is the culture, just as the referent of “retard” is the handicap.

          Higher crime rates for example. By which I mean your analogy appears self-defeating.

          What analogy? I’m talking about attitudes toward nerds here, not race. Though for the record, the main thing that keeps me from being very critical of the inner-city cultures responsible for higher crime rates etc. (provided you’re not a biodeterminist, which I’m not) is precisely the fact that it’s almost always dog-whistle for class or race. Well, that and the fact that I don’t know much about them. I know a lot about nerd culture.

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          Nerds don’t aggressively try to convert non-nerds to social awkwardness.

          Funny how many SJW / progressive initiatives look exactly like trying to convert people to social awkwardness.

          Don’t talk to women in public places (be socially avoidant).

          Ask for specific verbal consent when sexually escalating (someone upthread accused James Donald of rape because he described having sex with women for the first time as mostly a matter of throwing them on a bed and with some ass slapping – that’s normal behavior and some lunatic describes that as an extremely serious crime because the thought of normal people behaving normally makes her uncomfortable).

          Have a preferred pronoun.

          Never refer to someone with a pronoun without asking that person what his preferred pronoun is (imagine how insanely awkward that sounds to normal people – basically you’re going around insulting people by implying that they’re not manly enough to be clearly male / feminine enough to be clearly female).

          Insane sensitivity around race. Example – someone recognized Suey Park of #cancelcolbert fame and asked her if she was Suey Park. Her response? “Just because I’m Asian you think I’m Suey Park?” That’s both insanely socially awkward behavior and an attempt to force other people to behave socially awkwardly by breaking out a giant rhetorical weapon over literally nothing. Think about what goes through the mind of the person who approached Suey the next time that person goes to approach someone to start a conversation. Think that person will be more or less socially awkward?

          People like to be around and talk to confident people (salesmen make a living from this fact). SJW / progressivism undermines this as much as possible.

          Sure looks to me like trying to convert people to social awkwardness.

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          Example – someone recognized Suey Park of #cancelcolbert fame and asked her if she was Suey Park. Her response? “Just because I’m Asian you think I’m Suey Park?”

          Ahaha, what the fuck? Got a link?

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        • Nornagest says:

          someone upthread accused James Donald of rape because he described having sex with women for the first time as mostly a matter of throwing them on a bed and with some ass slapping

          As uncomfortable as it makes me to touch this subject with a ten-foot pole, I got the impression that the objection wasn’t to rough sex per se but rather to the sentence “consent [is] nonverbal and pre-rational”. Nonverbal, fine, that’s normal. Pre-rational? That could mean all sorts of shit in this context. As much as I dislike Jim’s attitude I think we ought to at least give him the benefit of the doubt where major felonies are concerned, so I think it’s probably meant to be relatively benign, but I can see how someone primed to think otherwise might do so.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          So I’ve done this substitution three times now, and it gets more amusing every time. You realize the only reason nerdism seems different from racism is because Authority has told you they’re different…right?

          LOL way to miss subtext.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          That’s precisely why anti-racism is farcical: it’s obvious that nobody cares about that either, except maybe in far mode. If Lincoln couldn’t have used slavery as an excuse to conquer the south, he wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass. How do we know this? Because a quarter of slaves died after being ‘freed,’ and we saw neither shame nor remorse nor reparations. Did you read that right? Yes: a full quarter. Think about how many suffered but didn’t quite die. Because they weren’t ‘freed,’ they were forced off plantations. Nobody ever asked what the slaves wanted. Sure, many of them would have wanted off, but we have first-hand accounts that not all of them did.

          If Stevens and Douglass ran things in the occupied South, it wouldn’t have come to that. (Yes, Stevens did wield power post-war, but obviously not enough to defend the Reconstruction.) Really, that’s clearly the problem with the South: it wasn’t treated like occupied Germany or Japan.

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        • Matthew says:

          Something like 50% of nerds have Asperger’s.

          Citation needed!!!

          I was a nerd in high school and college (meaning I enjoyed learning for its own sake; I also incidentally was fond of sci-fi, RPGS, etc). My friends were all nerds too. I am absolutely confident that none of them had Aspergers. In my entire high school class (of about 250 people) I can only think of one who might have been Aspergers in retrospect. The 50% figure does not event remotely accord with my own experiences.

          I had previously assumed that the increase in autism diagnoses was a diagnostic issue, not a change in prevalence. But if your figure is even close to correct, perhaps I was wrong. (I went to high school in the 90s).

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Ialdabaoth

          Oh yeah? I’m still missing it. And will 99.etc% likely miss it again in the future.

          @ Matthew

          Pure guess. I just want to say it’s way, way higher than the general prevalence. As in, almost all Asberger’s cases are nerds.

          It would seem you can get the actual numbers here if you want.

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        • Anonymous says:

          @Alrenous, Steve Johnson

          That tweet reads to me like a joke she made (possibly self-deprecatingly?), the way she starts out with OMG. Obviously, it is hard to tell in text form and with knowing nothing about SP except the cancelcolbert kerfuffle. Possibly I’m being too charitable, but I was all ready to believe she was seriously that hostile and then reading the actual tweet made me think otherwise.

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  22. James James says:

    “…even though I get accused of ‘privilege’ for writing things on my blog, even though there’s no possible way that could be ‘interrupting’ or ‘in a women only safe space’.”

    Can you give an example to back this up? In the original context (http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/06/14/living-by-the-sword/) you appear to equivocate between “privilege” and “mansplaining”.

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  23. Phil Goetz says:

    “Words no good.” — Ezra Pound

    Scott, I don’t understand how you have time to go to medical school, write one giant post every other day, *and* surf madness on the internet. Just *reading* your stuff takes up a lot of my time. I love the motte-and-bailey analogy.

    Not to detract from your point, but I’d like to back up to the original tumblr gif’s definition of “check your privilege”. I’ve heard most of those objections made about things I wrote. Here’s what they mean in practice:

    “You are inserting yourself into a conversation where you shouldn’t be. Acknowledge what you are doing, apologize and stop it.” – You are representing the viewpoint of whites / males in a conversation about race / gender. Apologize and stop it.

    “You are belittling my pain.” – You are saying that (men / whites) also have pain.

    “You are making my fears concerns and troubles less important than your annoyance about me talking about my experience.” – You are pointing out the errors and inconsistencies in what I just said.

    I got sucked into blogs about rape because I wrote a story that subtly implied that one of the characters had been raped, and a reader questioned why I would write about such a painful experience. (The short answer is that writing is always about painful experiences.) I found bloggers arguing with each other about the ground rules for talking about rape, trying to ban speech that they consider politically disadvantageous. The main factors in determining the ground rules seem (my subjective impression) not to be facts about rape, but the political circumstances (which groups they can receive support from and hence must not alienate).

    It was not remarkable that it’s not allowed to mention that women who can be proven to have made false rape accusations are often not prosecuted. But it was remarkable that discussing how to reduce rape is banned. Any discussion of correlates of rape, or steps that could reduce rape, is banned. Even mentioning statistics showing that legalizing prostitution reduces rape, or interventions or behavioral therapy that could reduce recidivism in rapists, is banned. The suggestion that rape has any structural causes other than the inherent malignant nature of males is banned.

    I concluded that most of the people speaking out against rape are no more against rape than Karl Rove is against abortion. They like rape. Rape is useful to them. It’s a source of moral high ground and political power. Anything that might decrease real rape in the real world is a threat to them, and they attack it. They throw the resulting rape victims under the rapist bus, for the sake of political power.

    So the simple story, that there are people on two sides of an issue, and the side that has historically been the victim group is trying to turn the tables, may be too simple. There may be organizations that consciously exploit historically oppressed groups for political gain, with no intent of ever improving their situation. (The only part of that sentence I’m skeptical of is the “conscious” part.)

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    • falenas108 says:

      That is NOT what is meant by that. I’m sure there exist people who use things that way, but in my experience that is not typical.

      “You are inserting yourself into a conversation where you shouldn’t be. Acknowledge what you are doing, apologize and stop it.” – You are representing the viewpoint of whites or males in a conversation about race or gender. Apologize and stop it.”
      In a conversation about what systematic oppressive racism, the standard views of white, male, ect should probably not be represented. Because that’s not what the conversation is about.

      “You are belittling my pain.” – You are saying that (men / whites) also have pain.”
      Now, this obviously depends on the context. An example from my own life: In a conversation about street harassment, I could bring up the fact that as a cis male, I was once told by a stranger that I should smile more while walking down the street, and it didn’t feel bad. If I did that, I *should* be told to check my privilege because there is a massive difference between having that happen once, and done many times going in public.

      It could also be applied if I took the above example, even if it was hurtful, and saying that this lets me emphasize with women who have this problem. Because there’s a difference between feeling uncomfortable once, and being afraid of harassment every time I decide to walk more than a couple blocks. It’s saying “The pain you experience is not nearly as extreme as what I have experienced as a _____, and equivocating the two is belittling my own.”

      “You are making my fears concerns and troubles less important than your annoyance about me talking about my experience.” – You are pointing out the errors and inconsistencies in what I just said.”

      This sounds like your response was something to the effect of “Oh, what you experience isn’t that bad because _____” To which the person is saying, because you haven’t experienced this, you do not understand that this is seriously hurtful.

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      • James James says:

        “In a conversation about what systematic oppressive racism, the standard views of white, male, ect should probably not be represented. Because that’s not what the conversation is about.”

        However, this argument is also used when the conversation was not originally about systematic oppression.

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        • Jaskologist says:

          Note that word “conversation” is itself being strategically equivocated. In a real conversation, at least 2 sides are allowed to speak. What is being described here is at best a lecture, and at worst a harangue.

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      • Phil Goetz says:

        That is NOT what is meant by that. I’m sure there exist people who use things that way, but in my experience that is not typical.

        “You are inserting yourself into a conversation where you shouldn’t be. Acknowledge what you are doing, apologize and stop it.” – You are representing the viewpoint of whites or males in a conversation about race or gender. Apologize and stop it.”
        In a conversation about what systematic oppressive racism, the standard views of white, male, ect should probably not be represented. Because that’s not what the conversation is about.

        Make your mind up. First you say it doesn’t mean what I said; then you say it does.

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      • Phil Goetz says:

        This sounds like your response was something to the effect of “Oh, what you experience isn’t that bad because _____”

        No, it doesn’t. That would not be pointing out errors or inconsistencies.

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      • Mary says:

        “That is NOT what is meant by that. I’m sure there exist people who use things that way, but in my experience that is not typical.”

        Ah, but is your experience typical?

        And if it is, does it negate the experience of those who habitually face the atypical variety?

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      • Anonymous says:

        “In a conversation about what systematic oppressive racism, the standard views of white, male, ect should probably not be represented. Because that’s not what the conversation is about.”

        That makes no sense. If the conversation is about racism, that a white person’s viewpoint on racism in completely on point. Dismissing a viewpoint merely because of the race of its holder is an ad hominem attack. And racist.

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        • Nornagest says:

          I don’t necessarily find the argument compelling, but it makes more sense if you read “a conversation about racism” as “a conversation about its participants’ experiences with systemic oppression vis-a-vis race”.

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        • Mary says:

          So what? “Jabberwocky” would make more sense if you read more standard words into the place of the nonsense ones.

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    • Zorgon says:

      “Any discussion of rape outside of the academically-agreed explanation of rape isn’t allowed” doesn’t automatically mean that “Rape is politically convenient and a good thing for Us.”

      Yes, it could certainly be argued that the SJ movements gain significant political benefit from gendering rape and they’ve certainly been deliberately doing so for decades, BUT the academic framework (erroneously) supporting that view predates that slow campaign.

      In short, you’re projecting malice where straightforward belief would suffice. I think you may have lost sight of the Principle of Charity here.

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      • In short, you’re projecting malice where straightforward belief would suffice. I think you may have lost sight of the Principle of Charity here.

        Prison rape, which is typically of males, is treated as a joke. On the other hand, if a women gets half drunk and goes looking for a dicking, and when she sobers up regrets the dicking, she is a “rape survivor”. Absolutely no one is allowed to laugh at her.

        Seems malicious to me.

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        • Zorgon says:

          To reiterate – the former is a traditionalist viewpoint which does not contradict the feminists’ gendered model of rape. The latter is the result of decades of gendered rape victim advocacy along with prejudices stemming from traditionalism.

          Neither of these contradicts the model I gave above. For this situation to occur, there only needs to be simple belief in a wholly gendered model of rape. Malice is not required.

          Hell, the model I’m presenting is even compatible with neoreaction. (Might need to go shower now.)

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          • To reiterate – the former is a traditionalist viewpoint which does not contradict the feminists’ gendered model of rape. The latter is the result of decades of gendered rape victim advocacy along with prejudices stemming from traditionalism.

            By “traditionalist”you refer to the view that women are naturally pure and chaste, except that evil males impose upon them, which still survives as the view that children are naturally pure and chaste (even when well past andrenarche) except that evil adults impose upon them, so the high school football star who nails his hot teacher is also a rape survivor. (Unlike the man who gets raped in prison)

            This was the view of the Victorian left, and was used as a hammer to destroy marriage. Since women were naturally pure and chaste, there was supposedly no need to enforce the marriage contract against women, only against men, and enforcing it on women was what we would now call misogyny.

            Whenever a left wing program produces total disaster, you guys move further left, and attribute your old program and its disastrous consequences to being insufficiently left.

            The traditional view (eighteenth century, early ninenteenth, politically incorrect äfter 1820 or so) was that women were lecherous animals who, given half a chance, would crawl one hundred miles over broken glass to fuck some guy who half plausibly pretended to be high status. Hence the urgent necessity of not giving them half a chance.

            In the latter part of the nineteenth century, we had a hundred programs to “rescue fallen women”- by removing all adverse consequences of falling. When these programs had the entirely predictable result, then you guys deemed the view that women were naturally chaste “traditional”, and shifted the grounds for your attack on marriage and the family to the doctrine that women have an absolute right to sexual autonomy – even when exercising that supposed right is contrary to promises and formal contract, and even when it is apt to have extremely bad consequences for their children, themselves, and their husbands.

            Report comment

        • Zorgon says:

          Going to Manboobz for opinions on MRAs is roughly analogous to going to Stormfront for opinions on Jews.

          Report comment

        • Anonymous says:

          @Hainish
          Funny how for the SLPC, you link to them, but for “MRA”, you link to someone talking about them.

          David calls the comments here “mostly ignorant”. I don’t see how any but the second to last can be so called. What is his definition of “MRA”, that he was unable to fin any other reference to prison rape? I was quickly able to find this:

          http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/the-rape-of-mankind/

          Report comment

    • anon says:

      Did you know that Karl Rove also hates Italians?

      Report comment

  24. James James says:

    “I feel like every single term in social justice terminology has a totally unobjectionable and obviously important meaning – and then is actually used a completely different way.”

    Have you read the Radish Magazine article about doing this with “feminism”?
    http://radishmag.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/fair-sex/
    Points out that the way the word is used in practice is different from the commonly-given definition.

    I have seen this done before. Someone raised some objections to feminism, and someone else replied something like, “How could you oppose feminism? It just means equality for women”, ignoring the objections that had just been raised.

    Yudkowsky espouses the “equality” definition of feminism, but luckily he actually uses the word that way too.

    Report comment

    • Taradino C. says:

      Scott made the same point back on LiveJournal: “… opponents of feminism use straw men to make feminism look wrong beyond any possibility of controversy. Proponents of feminism use straw men to make feminists look right beyond any possibility of controversy. But they’re both straw-manning the other side and in reality feminism is controversial – hence the obvious controversy around it.”

      Report comment

    • Sarah says:

      Standard conversation:

      Me: “I don’t consider myself a feminist.”
      Friend: “Oh no! But everybody who believes that women are people is a feminist!”
      Me: “Well, sure, I believe women are people. But I also believe X. Do you think one can be a feminist and believe X?”
      Friend: “Oh ew no. X is gross. Feminists don’t believe X.”
      Me: “Ok then, I’m not a feminist.”
      Friend: “Noooo! Feminism is for everybody!”
      Me: “Well, I believe X. Am I allowed to count as a feminist or not? I’m ok either way, but make up your mind!”

      [You could resolve this issue by admitting that there are feminists you think are wrong. Or by admitting that some non-feminists are reasonable people worth talking to. And some self-described feminists do pick one of those tactics. But I’ve encountered several who don’t.]

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      • Mary says:

        I have with my own eyes seen feminists have vapors at the idea that anyone could know what feminism was — when they talk, write, publish, etc about incessantly.

        Report comment

  25. James James says:

    Steve Sailer has been covering the Donald Sterling affair. He thinks Sterling was set up by a consortium who wanted to buy his team, and that his mistress was hired to trick him into saying racist things.

    Report comment

    • Randy M says:

      Yes, the Magic Johnson connection he points out is interesting, and belies the notion upthread that his complaint was about having blacks be seen as high status by shring the owners box with his Mistress.

      Report comment

      • James James says:

        If true, the funny thing is (a) that Magic Johnson and co. were outbid by Steve Ballmer, and (b) Sterling is gonna get $2bn for the Clippers. So he won’t do badly in the end. (He’s 80 though, so it doesn’t make much difference whether he gets $1bn or $2bn. What’s he gonna do with the money?)

        Report comment

        • Randy M says:

          a) Just because you orchestrate a coup, doesn’t mean you wind up on the throne (paging Jaime Lanister).

          b) True, I do find it hard to find sympathy for him personally (wow, only a billion dollars to compensate?) which is probably why he makes a good target for the mob.

          Report comment

    • Scott Alexander says:

      This would actually be a comforting thought. It would mean the whole thing happened for a good reason and made sense.

      On the other hand, exactly how much Machiavelli does it require before a really old white guy who’s said racist things before says racist things again?

      Report comment

      • nydwracu says:

        How much Machiavelli does it require before a really old white guy who’s said racist things before says racist things again on a tape that gets leaked?

        Report comment

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Would it be comforting?

        It would mean that people have consciously chosen to use weaponized social justice to rob someone.

        Report comment

        • lmm says:

          It would mean that he was targeted by someone who wanted his wealth rather than at random. To someone not so wealthy that’s comforting.

          Report comment

        • Steve Johnson says:

          I guess if you don’t own anything that other people might want, you’re safe – from thieves anyway.

          Of course then there are the people who engage in these witch hunts just for the monkey thrill of destroying one of the enemy. Better not have anything to be safe from them – not a job or a home or friends.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Of course then there are the people who engage in these witch hunts just for the monkey thrill of destroying one of the enemy. Better not have anything to be safe from them – not a job or a home or friends.

          That doesn’t help. In order to be safe from those people, you have to not have positive feelings for them to take away.

          (Note: this explains much of my personality; I spent most of my childhood learning to be Dementor-proof.)

          Report comment

        • MugaSofer says:

          >Would it be comforting?

          Well, I would rather the superweapon we constructed was in the hands of humans than firing randomly.

          Humans, at least, are predictable. They even sometimes have ethical pretensions that can modify their behavior.

          Report comment

      • xachariah says:

        Donald Sterling didn’t just get trolled into saying racist things, though. He has actively and harmfully discriminated, because he actively engaged in housing discrimination.

        Granted, his losing the team was because he got caught saying racist things. But the fact that society got a lot more upset about that than about his much more harmful housing discrimination is troubling.

        Report comment

        • nydwracu says:

          Talk about strange. A man notoriously concerned with profit maximization refuses to take money from those willing to shell it out to live in the most overrated, overpriced neighborhood in Southern California? That same man, who gives black men tens of millions of dollars every year, refuses to take a few thousand a month from folks who would like to crash in one of his buildings for a while? You gotta love racism, the only force in the world powerful enough to interfere with money-making.

          journalists dot t x t

          Report comment

        • Steve Johnson says:

          Hey nydwracu, the whole progressive enterprise works much better if you have an unrebuttable presumption that there are no group differences and therefore and different treatment is solely the result of internalized oppression or evil racism depending on who is meting out the treatment so stop pointing out how silly it is!

          [Looping back to the original post] – that makes us in the SJ movement angry and if we get angry enough we’ll get triggered and cry AND BLAME YOU FOR IT! [Ok, we won’t actually get “triggered” (after all, we’re not combat veterans with PTSD, we’re people who have chosen to read some words on the internet) but that doesn’t matter – we’ll pretend to be really angry and try to get you fired!]

          Report comment

        • James James says:

          “his much more harmful housing discrimination”

          I think you mean his profitable and good-for-society housing discrimination.

          Report comment

        • >You gotta love racism, the only force in the world powerful enough to interfere with money-making.

          Try modelling prejudice as one of the luxuries you buy with money and status.

          And I don’t think racism is the only thing that interferes with money-making– akrasia (including the too-busy-to-think variety) is a much larger force.

          Report comment

        • nydwracu says:

          Try modelling prejudice as one of the luxuries you buy with money and status.

          The excerpt is totally ridiculous, and this is basically true in that people prefer to maximize the number of people of their own thede who they live around but government policies have made this substantially more difficult in such a way that it now costs much more to do so than it did before, but those two things aren’t related.

          What Sterling did was own a place called Koreatown and refuse to rent to non-Koreans, which usually meant blacks. In other words, he noticed that there was a potential market and moved into it. Moving into that market is, of course, illegal, but he managed to get away with it for a while.

          The thing that the journalists don’t notice, far beyond the usual patterns of desired association stuff, is that the LA riots happened. “LA riots” is a euphemism: it was a race war. The LAPD didn’t bother trying to protect the Koreans from the blacks — they had to take matters into their own hands.

          Sterling was found guilty of heresy over Koreatown, and he was fined a few million dollars. Even if Sterling personally didn’t like blacks or whatever, the point remains that he moved into a market that’s only illegal because this country’s government doesn’t like it when one race isn’t allowed to have their own building to live in that excludes the race that tried to ethnically cleanse the city of them only a few years before.

          Now, what’s really interesting is that I’ve heard rumors of whites being driven out of Chinatowns. I don’t expect that anything will ever be done about that — whites aren’t blacks.

          Report comment

  26. falenas108 says:

    The racism school gif misses an important point. Being told to check your privilege means “Due to your _____, you don’t have this experience that these other people do.”

    I think this would cover a lot of the other cases, though obviously not all.

    At the same time, this provides more evidence in support of your theory Scott, because that’s also a perfectly reasonable term that should be applied to minorities/oppressed folks when it fits.

    Report comment

    • Kaminiwa says:

      Men can get raped. Quite a few women go through life without being raped. I don’t see non-raped-women being excluded from discussions on rape, or being told that not-being-raped is a privilege they need to be aware of.

      I doooo see men who have been raped dismissed as one-offs and otherwise irrelevant or “derailing” the conversation, though.

      So… Motte and Bailey again: some people might actually use it that way, but that doesn’t mean there’s not also a weaponized strain out there. And I see the weaponized strain a lot more often out in the wild.

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      • falenas108 says:

        Yeah, that’s what I meant when I said “At the same time, this provides more evidence in support of your theory Scott, because that’s also a perfectly reasonable term that should be applied to minorities/oppressed folks when it fits.”

        Report comment

    • I think it’s plausible that men and women have different social problems around getting raped– women are defined as the sort of people who are naturally subject to rape, while men (if not prisoners) are defined as the sort of people who are supposed to be rape-proof.

      This is not a reason for the possibility and reality of men being raped to be erased from the discussion.

      Report comment

      • women are defined as the sort of people who are naturally subject to rape, while men (if not prisoners) are defined as the sort of people who are supposed to be rape-proof.

        Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape, hence ridiculing males who get raped is reasonable. He probably was asking for it. Ridiculing male prisoners who get raped is unreasonable. He probably did not fight back hard enough because he feared for his life.

        Ridiculing drunken sluts who get raped while cruising for a dicking is also reasonable, but forbidden.

        Trouble is that if forbidden to laugh at drunken sluts getting “raped’, men will be charged with ”rape” because they had a one night stand and in the morning she looked at him without beer goggles.

        If it is forbidden to make unkind remarks that some “rapes” are likely to be considerably less traumatic than other rapes, if such remarks are offensive, if such remarks are trolling, then grave injustices will be done to some men.

        Report comment

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape, hence ridiculing males who get raped is reasonable. He probably was asking for it.

          Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

          Fuck you.

          Report comment

        • Multiheaded says:

          SCOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! Misander this fucking animal and keep it far away from us for half a year or so, will you?

          Report comment

        • Andy says:

          Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

          Fuck you.

          The “Report” button is probably better than swearing at him. Swearing at him lowers you – not quite to his level, but below the level of discourse that you’re worthy of.
          Going off and watching a bunch of funny cat videos helped the urge to tell James exactly what I thought he should do with his convictions.

          SCOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! Misander this fucking animal and keep it far away from us for half a year or so, will you?

          While I don’t agree with Multi’s language, I agree with his sentiment – James might not belong here. He says interesting things, but no less than other NRx commenters, and his contributions can become flat-out toxic. I think it’s clear his two previous bans haven’t changed his toxic behavior, and it’s time to show him the door.
          However, if you disagree, such is life.

          Report comment

        • Matthew says:

          [I believe the following passes both the TRUE and NECESSARY gates]

          To Scott:

          James A. Donald is a far more pernicious influence on the comments section of this blog than any of the other neoreactionaries, including the ones you’ve already banned permanently, by an order of magnitude. You would be doing your blog and everyone else who participates here a service by banning him permanently. Please.

          Report comment

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Going off and watching a bunch of funny cat videos helped the urge to tell James exactly what I thought he should do with his convictions.

          Sorry, I know that was uncalled for. But as one of the people he’s explicitly talking about, who’s heard exactly the claim he’s making far, far more times than I can handle, my initial reaction was not fully mediated by my prefrontal cortex.

          Report comment

        • Andy says:

          But as one of the people he’s explicitly talking about, who’s heard exactly the claim he’s making far, far more times than I can handle, my initial reaction was not fully mediated by my prefrontal cortex.

          Oh, I did not realize. Yeah, I’ve been there, not in your specific situation, but the “initial reaction was not fully mediated” place, I have been.
          Whatever it is worth, you have my sympathy.

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        • Elissa says:

          Guys I think we need to recruit a SJW to say something bannable so Scott can feel ok about symmetrically banning this feller

          (Edit: I really didn’t expect anyone to take that as a serious suggestion rather than a wiseass reference to Scott’s history of politically symmetric bans, but if Andy’s is a representative reaction then I have committed a bannable offense and will take my lumps, please note for the purposes of this blog I am sympathetic to SJ)

          Report comment

        • Zorgon says:

          So. Since I already completely lost my damn rag in this thread, I’m going to attempt to keep it this time in the face of extreme provocation.

          Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape, hence ridiculing males who get raped is reasonable. He probably was asking for it.

          You’re factually incorrect, James. Erections are not consent, men are not universally stronger than all women, and alcohol, drugs and coercion are all things that exist.

          Report comment

        • Andy says:

          Guys I think we need to recruit a SJW to say something bannable so Scott can feel ok about symmetrically banning this feller

          As a card-carrying SJW, get away from me. Give Scott time to respond, the man’s a medical doctor for Pete’s sake.
          If James is worthy of banning, and I believe he is, Scott will either say so and do so, or will strongly caution him. It is, however, possible that what James has said is controversial but within the bounds of civility, in which case, we hit James’ arguments.
          Recruiting a SJW to tactically get someone we disagree with banned is burning down the walled garden to get a cockroach. Not worth the damage it will do to the environment of respect and civility we have.
          get thee behind me, heretic.

          edit:

          I really didn’t expect anyone to take that as a serious suggestion rather than a wiseass reference to Scott’s history of politically symmetric bans, but if Andy’s is a representative reaction then I have committed a bannable offense and will take my lumps

          Apologies, I am bad at detecting wiseassery over the Internet.

          You’re factually incorrect, James. Erections are not consent, men are not universally stronger than all women, and alcohol, drugs and coercion are all things that exist.

          Drugs, alcohol, and coercion exist between men, and I know men who have been sexually assaulted and raped by other men in a non-prison environment where consent was unclear or ambiguous. I would not be surprised if there are women who were sexually assaulted or coerced by other women in a non-prison setting, as well.

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        • Nick T says:

          +1 on banning James, I’ve thought this for a while.

          It seems obvious to me that Elissa was joking.

          Report comment

        • Multiheaded says:

          @Elissa

          I’m an SJW, and Scott once banned me symmetrically with him, but that was for personal attacks on individual racists and misogynists here, not for some kind of broad morally significant pronouncement. I’m not sure what I’d have to come up with; I’ve already supported political violence both generally and in particular cases, insulted the tech culture, said that my views on society involve “killing other people and taking their stuff”… I don’t actually want to defend Pol Pot or something like it (although I might, say, link to a not-so-edgy Maoist view of him).

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        • Zathille says:

          Backseat modding is not a very good practice, I’d say, for the same reason that upvoting and downvoting systems may calcify status and engender rigidity in the ‘walled garden’. The report button should be used exactly so these kinds of comments become unnecessary and the thread is not derailed and emptied of substance as seems to be happening now.

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        • Scott Alexander says:

          Yeah, okay, banned indefinitely.

          Report comment

        • Armstrong For President 2020 says:

          It’s kind of interesting that Jim’s flame about rape has gotten this immediate intense response, and yet at most we get tut-tutting when one of our resident communists recommends democide along class/racial lines and even directly threaten other posters with death or torture for ideological nonconformity.

          Is rape really so much worse than murder that we should have this reaction?

          Report comment

        • Zorgon says:

          As far as I’m aware, none of the commenters in this thread have ever been tortured or murdered, while as far as I can tell at least two of us are men who have been raped.

          Report comment

        • suntzuanime says:

          I report any call for or defense of mass murder that seems reasonably serious; if there is a difference in treatment I suspect it arises because the fans of mass murder tend to be more polite about it.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          AFP: there is the important distinction that most people (thankfully!) share the idea of rape being apriori unjustifiable with no need to consider the circumstances, while there’s a million good justifications for murder, and everyone has a dozen of, to them, particularly compelling ones.

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        • Andy says:

          It’s kind of interesting that Jim’s flame about rape has gotten this immediate intense response, and yet at most we get tut-tutting when one of our resident communists recommends democide along class/racial lines and even directly threaten other posters with death or torture for ideological nonconformity.

          If recommending democide bothers you that much, I will recommend that said communist be banned each time I see them advocating for extermination, death, or torture, and aggressively report their comments that contain such, and since I am more-or-less on their side (which you can’t say about me and James.)
          However, since the communist I think you are referring to has been banned once, while this is James’ third banning, advocating for a three-week ban would be more in line with stated policy.

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        • Mary says:

          “Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape, hence ridiculing males who get raped is reasonable.”

          So, how do you stop a woman with a gun from raping you — so easily that anyone who doesn’t is ridiculous?

          Report comment

        • Steve Johnson says:

          Mary says:
          July 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm

          “Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape, hence ridiculing males who get raped is reasonable.”

          So, how do you stop a woman with a gun from raping you — so easily that anyone who doesn’t is ridiculous?

          Has this ever happened or are we just playing more progressive / SJW “all groups are the same and I refuse to notice the differences and will get angry if you do and point them out” games?

          Men are stronger than women. Men who are weaker than women will get mocked for this*. Women are also really rarely attracted to men who are so unmasculine that they can be physically overpowered her (shockingly, men are attracted to femininity and women are attracted to masculinity). Men don’t take unwanted sexual attention from women as a serious threat while women do – both because of the SJW approved reason that men are dangerous to women (being physically stronger and more aggressive) and for the invisible, never to be spoken reason that, since women generally select from men who approach them rather than approaching (normal range of testosterone from nih.gov * Male: 300 -1,000 ng/dL, Female: 15 – 70 ng/dL), they only know their true level of attractiveness based on the quality of men who approach them and that a low quality man approaching her is dangerous to her self image and her social image far more than he is dangerous to her physically. Since men do the approaching they are keenly aware of their own rank – they get polite “nos” and “maybes” and occasional “yeses” from women in their league and hostile “nos” from women out of their league.

          Women’s brains are shaped by the fact that mating often leads to pregnancy and that a large portion of her life and resources are tied up in every one of her children. Men do not have that expectation (to the same degree).

          The upshot of all of this is that the idea of a woman forcibly coercing a man into intercourse is rare and comic. It means the guy is insanely high status to get a woman to act that way (the highest status men you see in real life normally lead to women aggressively advertising their availability – women screaming and fainting at the sight of the Beatles – not trying to rush the stage and ravish the band – in contrast when attractive women perform for men physical security of the women is of the highest priority). It means he’s also quite weak. The combination of an extremely physically weak high status man experiencing something he sees as a misfortune (but most men would be quite happy to experience(aggressive physical pursuit by a woman)) is comedic.

          “Ridiculing drunken sluts who get raped while cruising for a dicking is also reasonable, but forbidden.”

          Going to defend this one too. Ridicule serves a valuable social purpose – it lets people learn from other people’s mistakes. It sucks for the object of ridicule though – but that’s part of the cost. If ridicule didn’t hurt then no one would fear it. People generally believe they’re invincible (young women in our culture even more so**). Yeah, the guy who raped the woman is guilty of a crime but at the same time the woman is the one who got raped. Learn from that and don’t do the same things because rape isn’t going away.

          Of course, the fact that rape fantasies are the single most common fantasy reported in women, that women frequently orgasm when being raped and are actually more likely to conceive when being raped point to another reason why emotions get so heated when discussing rape. Biologically speaking, rape is a mating market strategy for men but it’s also one for women. Women act as if they value the genes of successful rapists. Of course, part of that value comes from the fact that they have to make it difficult for him to succeed – otherwise he could just be a mediocre rapist and hence have bad genes that will produce sons who will get killed by the men of the tribe. The woman’s regular mate wouldn’t be happy about that, of course, so she has to get very angry and upset to show that it wasn’t her idea. It’s easier to convince others you’re angry and upset if sincerely do get angry and upset at the thought. That explains the anger quite well while being in line with what we know about human biology (also it means that the ridicule is there to increase the cost of faking anger and upset after inviting rape).

          People are far more rational than rationalists imagine.

          * On my high school golf team if you shanked a drive and failed to out hit the women’s tees there was always some form of hazing punishment – and this was the golf team – not exactly the football team.

          **Quick example – young women walk around the streets in NY paying zero attention to their surroundings just staring at their phones – I’m a larger than average, stronger than average guy whose hobbies are lifting weights and brazilian jiu jitsu and I don’t do this and looking around I never see men doing this

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        • Bish says:

          Steve, I agree with you that sex differences in desire and psychology, but that doesn’t mean that men being raped by women is a strange scenario.

          You are correct that the average woman is probably very unlikely to rape the average man, given what we know about sexual psychology. But female rapists are not the average woman!

          If you take women who are more aggressive and less scrupulous than average, and pair them with men who are less aggressive (or passed out), then it really shouldn’t be hard to imagine female-on-male sexual violence occurring. Some people use violence or threats to get what they want, and this includes women.

          You point out that women generally go for high-status men. Yes, they do. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t reasonably common situations where a woman views a man as attractive, but he doesn’t reciprocate, or he is in a relationship with someone else (or he is passed out). Yes, initiating at all is unusual for the average woman, but we are not talking about the average woman here. I think you underestimate what women with sufficiently nasty personal traits are capable of.

          You are skeptical that a woman could rape a man unless he is physically weak. But I think you should consider scenarios other than a woman physically overpowering a man:

          – Weapons (probably rare)
          – Alcohol incapacitation (probably very common)
          – Threats
          – Social power (because it’s socially dangerous for men to fight back)

          In modern societies, force is not always the deciding factor in conflict. In Western societies, men are trained to refrain from violence towards women (e.g. don’t hit a girl), but women aren’t given the same training about violence towards men.

          Let’s say a woman wants to have sex with a man who doesn’t want. He says “no” but she gets on top of him (let’s say he is already lying down because of being intoxicated, or just watching a movie). What is he supposed to do if she doesn’t respond to “no”? Push her off?

          Well, that implies some of a struggle. What if he doesn’t want to use violence to stop her? What if he pushes her off, and she gets a bruise, then tells the police and/or their entire community that he tried to rape her? Who are people most likely to believe? Not him. (This scenario isn’t hypothetical; it comes from James Landrith’s story.)

          The social situation can be quite complicated even if he is physically stronger and more aggressive. This doesn’t mean that he is “weak.”

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          Women are also really rarely attracted to men who are so unmasculine that they can be physically overpowered her (shockingly, men are attracted to femininity and women are attracted to masculinity).

          Counterpoint: Many female sex offenders are pedophiles who target children below the age of six. It is difficult to argue that this is in any way an evolutionary adaptation or based on normal female sexuality. I hardly think a toddler is exactly an optimal mating partner for a woman, yet that’s a fairly common demographic for female childfuckers to target. If you can have women with sexualities so distorted they think banging three-year-olds is a good idea, why shouldn’t there be ones who choose instead to prey on unmasculine men?

          There’s also a similar case for inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in women’s prisons, which is actually higher than inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in men’s prisons. Again, difficult to find any plausible reproductive explanation there, and again it flies in the face of the “women would never rape somebody who’s unmasculine.”

          Here are a couple studies which use the CTS2 which includes separate physically forced sex numbers (they both only take men and women who were in heterosexual relationships in the past 12 months, and ask specifically about those relationships):

          Childhood and Adolescent Victimization and Sexual Coercion and Assault by Male and Female University Students

          Physically forcing sex was reported by 2.4% of the male students and 1.8% of the female students [χ2 (1) = 4.83; p<.05]. Rates for the specific items were: 1.3% of males and 1.0% of females reported using force on the partner to have sex [χ2 (1) = 1.67; p=.19], and 1.6% of the males and 1.0% of the females reported using force to have oral or anal sex [χ2 (1) = 7.35; p<.01]. Thus, as in other studies which compared sexual coercion by men and women in the same study, both men and women engaged in sexually coercive behavior, but men predominate.

          Predictors of Sexual Coercion Against Women and Men

          Table 1 presents descriptive information concerning the percentage of men who sustained force sex, verbal sexual coercion, and a history of CSA. Almost 3% of men [note: table states 2.8%] reported forced sex and 22% reported verbal coercion. For the forced sex items (analyses not shown), 2.4% reported forced oral or anal sex, and 2.1% reported forced vaginal sex.

          […] [female results follow for comparison]

          Descriptive information concerning the victimization from forced sex, verbal sexual coercion, and CSA for women is presented in Table 2. As shown, 2.3% of the sample overall reported sustaining forced sex from their current or most recent romantic partner, and close to 25% of the female sample sustained verbal sexual coercion. For the forced sex items (analyses not shown), 1.6% reported that their partners forced them into oral or anal sex, and 1.6% reported that their partners forced them into vaginal sex

          Getting late here, so I’m gonna cut off at this point. I hope that I have at least offered some plausible evidence to the effect that, yeah, that kind of thing does happen. I couldn’t quickly find a study which looked at, specifically, the subset of the adult male population that was physically forced to have heterosexual sex of one kind or another during their adult life, but that’s because a large portion of studies don’t bother even glancing sideways at male victims (especially not male victims of women, and especially not adult male victims of women), much less breaking it down in such detail.

          [Women] are actually more likely to conceive when being raped[.]

          I think this is wrong, actually, and would like a cite. IIRC this is based on one half-assed study.

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        • I was wondering if I should come up with a somewhat neutral replay to this– James’ empathy for imprisoned men was so much less malicious than his usual that I was wondering if I should encourage it. However, he’s been banned, so I’m off the hook.

          I find it fascinating that no one seems to have commented that he seems to have admitted to committing rape here.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I find it fascinating that no one seems to have commented that he seems to have admitted to committing rape here.

          Honestly, I read that as more of the in-your-face posturing that he enjoys.

          Also, “consent is non-verbal and pre-rational” is… *sigh*

          A lot of people DO want precisely that. And a lot of people know how to give it to them. The trick is to be high-status enough, relative to the person you’re dominating, to get away with it.

          So yeah – talking about that little snippet opens up a whole can of worms that might best be served elsewhere.

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        • Mary says:

          “Men are stronger than women. ”

          Women have ways of counterbalancing this, even without guns. For instance, a girl with a fake id can commit rape by deception to get a guy to sleep with her, and then forcible rape by threatening to report him to the police — that is, by threatening him with third party violence. Or an underage girl getting into the apartment of her dream guy and threatening to claim he tried to seduce her — which is also rape.

          “Men who are weaker than women will get mocked for this*. ”

          Notice that this offers “is” as evidence for “ought” which ought to be mocked by all right-thinking souls as it is a non-sequitur and bad logic.

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          • Oddly enough, the socially normal marriage– man older than woman– has a high probability of him being less physically capable than she is for some years at the end. I’m not saying her raping him is the major risk, but other sorts of abuse are feasible.

            Also, as someone pointed out in this discussion, differences in aggressiveness can swamp out differences in strength.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Sigh.

          Play it again, Scott.

          I can’t even make le funny misandry jokes in the face of, y’know, actual misandry. Not zombie Valerie Solanas, just something a dude would casually tell other dudes. Steve says that the sky is green, the grass is pink, men who get raped are subhuman, and I’m not even going to talk about the woman bit (other than say that men can get aroused during rape by any gender, men often have submissive fantasies, men can somehow orgasm from anal sex, and, crucially, men are vulnerable to abuse/capture-bonding through intermittent reinforcement, which appears to be the main psychological mechanism at play with battered women.) His narrative is anti-knowledge in the service of brutality and oppression.

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        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          So, how do you stop a woman with a gun from raping you — so easily that anyone who doesn’t is ridiculous?

          The same way you stop a female mass murderer from shooting you — by realizing that the proposed scenario has such a tiny prior that you might as well treat it as non-existent and get on with your life. Hell, at least there has been one famous case of a female mass murderer… does this mythical gun-wielding female rapist exist anywhere outside the ream of hypotheticals?

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        • Andy says:

          The upshot of all of this is that the idea of a woman forcibly coercing a man into intercourse is rare and comic.

          Steve, I’mma say a thing, and if it sounds condescending and rude, that’s because it’s meant in exactly that way. However, if it is unkind, I believe it is both completely, uncontroversially true, and totally necessary.
          OUTLIERS EXIST. Not everyone is typical, and especially not everyone is your evolutionary-psychology “normal” which seems more like a cover for the patriarchal ideal than the way actual people are.
          There are women and men who are completely round-the-bend nuts, and sometimes these people want sex from a given male, and are prepared to do extremely unethical things to get it. I have seen this happen to a friend of mine, who was pursued aggressively by a woman who had some kind of mental illness – at the very least, she would lie, constantly and pathologically, attempt to threaten and harrass him into giving her attention, to the point where he categorically refused to be alone with her under any circumstances.
          And your evolutionary-psychology handwaving does nothing about that very real set of circumstances.

          It means the guy is insanely high status to get a woman to act that way (the highest status men you see in real life normally lead to women aggressively advertising their availability – women screaming and fainting at the sight of the Beatles – not trying to rush the stage and ravish the band – in contrast when attractive women perform for men physical security of the women is of the highest priority).

          Go to a Justin Bieber concert, and you will not see light security, you will see big heavy guys physically restraining the mostly-female crowd from breaking onto the stage. Men are stalked and killed by their female admirers, not on the same frequency as happens to women, but it does happen, and you completely deny its existence.

          It means he’s also quite weak. The combination of an extremely physically weak high status man experiencing something he sees as a misfortune (but most men would be quite happy to experience(aggressive physical pursuit by a woman)) is comedic.

          It’s traumatic to him, but because it’s something “most men would be quite happy to experience,” he should just lay back and enjoy his body being used as a plaything, lest he become an object of ridicule?
          No no no no no no, and this is a totally immoral thing to say. A men should “Enjoy” a traumatic experience so that you don’t have to reconsider your cobbled-together “Scientific” disguise for the same old fucking patriarchy that oppresses any man who doesn’t measure up to the old masculine ideal, or has the misfortune to attract someone who operates outside the normal bounds of behavior.

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        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          It’s traumatic to him, but because it’s something “most men would be quite happy to experience,” he should just lay back and enjoy his body being used as a plaything, lest he become an object of ridicule?

          I don’t think the point is that he “should” enjoy it, but that since most men would enjoy it, that makes cases like this even more rare; you have to multiply the probability that a woman would be willing and able to do something recognizable as rape with the probability that a man would even be all that unwilling to give the woman a damn quickie. And if you optimize social norms based on ridiculously unlikely scenarios like these, rather than the scenarios that actually happen the vast majority of the time… well, we have all read LessWrong, right? I am sure you can see how that would be a problem.

          A men should “Enjoy” a traumatic experience so that you don’t have to reconsider your cobbled-together “Scientific” disguise for the same old fucking patriarchy that oppresses any man who doesn’t measure up to the old masculine ideal, or has the misfortune to attract someone who operates outside the normal bounds of behavior.

          Do you think men who advocate patriarchal social norms are evil mutants who want to harm extremely rare outliers? It’s more charitable to view them as men who accept extremely rare outilers as the necessary casualties of maintaining a functioning society.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Edit: Andy here, I cleared cookies and forgot to fill in the forms.

          I don’t think the point is that he “should” enjoy it, but that since most men would enjoy it, that makes cases like this even more rare; you have to multiply the probability that a woman would be willing and able to do something recognizable as rape with the probability that a man would even be all that unwilling to give the woman a damn quickie.

          I do not think the pain of a victim is reduced by the low likelihood of their scenario. Do those struck by lightning not get medical attention because being struck by lightning is statistically rare?
          There are conditions that make any part of this chain not just possible but likely. Like:
          a woman being dangerous-crazy,
          the man being in a monogamous relationship, having taken some oath of celibacy, fearful of disease, being asexual, or otherwise not interested in sex with women-as-a-generalized-class.
          I am also offended by the notion that a man should just “throw the woman a damn quickie.” I believe that men and women are both better served by being able to choose who to share their sexuality with. IE, if I have promised my lover that I will only have sexual relations with her, it does real harm to my happiness if I am coerced into “just throwing a quickie” to someone I am not attracted to or afraid of.

          And if you optimize social norms based on ridiculously unlikely scenarios like these, rather than the scenarios that actually happen the vast majority of the time… well, we have all read LessWrong, right? I am sure you can see how that would be a problem.

          I’m not talking about optimizing the entire social normset, I’m talking about making a small change to the social norm of “do not acknowledge male rape victims except as objects of ridicule.” But while were at it, maybe we CAN acknowledge that men aren’t always and don’t have to be stronger than the average woman to have worth, that men can rape other men, that people can be raped by romantic partners… I am arguing that the “ignore or ridicule men who are victims of rape” is actively harmful as a norm and should be changed.
          I think this is actually a way where a social norm turns people into moral mutants who laugh at the traumatic pain of someone who was victimized and likely couldn’t do anything to prevent it.

          tldr: fuck the patriarchy.

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        • Nornagest says:

          does this mythical gun-wielding female rapist exist anywhere outside the ream of hypotheticals?

          I’m at work and don’t want to leave anything arguably sketchy on my machine or I’d just search court records, but I’m very close to 100% sure that the answer is “yes”. I’ve had a woman pull a knife on me, and I’ve had women that I wasn’t interested in aggressively try to get into my pants. I haven’t had both happen at once, but it stands to reason that it happens occasionally.

          (Other forms of coercion are probably a lot more common, though. Indeed, I’d expect them to be more common with the genders swapped, too, but to risk overgeneralization, women are socialized into exerting social over physical power more than men are.)

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        • Mary says:

          “does this mythical gun-wielding female rapist exist anywhere outside the ream of hypotheticals?”

          Would you know it if she did? Would anyone except her victims, who know what you and many others would do if they went to the cops?

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        • nydwracu says:

          You don’t need guns in order to manipulate people: there’s blackmail, and there’s situations where, if the sexes were reversed, it would be held that the woman was in no position to meaningfully consent. Or she could steal something, demand sex in exchange for the stolen property, and set things up with the relevant higher powers (campus safety, for example, is trivial to manipulate if you know what you’re doing) to guarantee that they’d side with her over him. Then there’s emotional manipulation; I’m not sure if that’s technically considered rape, but it’s a definite possibility.

          There are plenty of methods that don’t require direct physical force, and there are plenty of people in the world who would use them if they could figure them out and who can figure them out.

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        • Well-Manicured-Bug says:

          Donald’s banned? Showing the oppressive side of progressivism, aren’t we?

          I’m opposed to giving neoreactionaries free publicity by writing articles about them, but to ban them from this blog for simply stating their opinion in a fairly respectful manner, WTF?

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        • Oligopsony says:

          Unmolting bug, mourn not the banned
          Whom Scott hath scoured from our land
          For voicing thoughts from his diverging
          (Rightly said, or hatred-earning)
          This is his garden; Jim hath his own
          His exit rights are not unthroned
          As he elsewhere has rightly spied
          “Progressivism’s oppressive side”
          Away from his garden (or festering moor)
          Out in the misgoverned great outdoors
          Of nattering wives their throats unchoked
          Of natural slaves their necks unyoked
          Of owéd labors unrightly shirked
          Of Donald’s rights, by beasts usurped
          And driving him to call the Father:
          “Am I not a god, and your brother?”
          Only silence comes; the patriarchs
          Are gone from heaven as from hearths
          And none do bow to good masterly will:
          Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.

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        • AJD says:

          If you think “drunken sluts who get raped while cruising for a dicking” is “respectful”, I don’t know what to tell you.

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        • Well-Manicured-Bug says:

          @AJD

          That’s ridiculous. As long as that comment was not directed at others who are commenting here, he was indeed being respectful.

          Do you also want to ban people who say stuff like “Pol Pot was a fucking asshole. I hope he sucks dick in hell”?

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        • Anonymous says:

          >That’s ridiculous. As long as that comment was not directed at others who are commenting here, he was indeed being respectful.
          Many of Donald’s insults have been directed at such broad groups of people that it is likely that some commenters have been among them

          >Do you also want to ban people who say stuff like “Pol Pot was a fucking asshole. I hope he sucks dick in hell”?

          I’d certainly much rather ban both those and Donald’s statements than neither.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          @Oligopsony:

          Dude! That’s Stalin Prize material right there! Was it perchance inspired by Von Kalifornen on the Ozy drama?

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        • a person says:

          @Well Manicured Bug

          If you actually read the comments policy, it’s obvious why he was banned. Almost every single one of James’ top-level comments violated all three rules (controversial, phrased in the nastiest possible way, and tangentially related to the subject at hand).

          Not only that, but Scott is constantly complaining about his comment section devolving into fruitless debates on race and gender, and James makes that happen every time he shows up.

          And not only that, but while it isn’t stated anywhere, it seems to me that on a rationalist website people only people who are willing to debate rationally belong here – i.e., people who can look at the debate from both their side and their opponent’s side and try to reach some sort of consensus. James is pretty much the opposite of this ideal, he consistently refuses to concede even the tiniest point.

          If you ask me, his ban was a long time coming, and he only survived until now because Scott favored him for some reason.

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          a person –

          And not only that, but while it isn’t stated anywhere, it seems to me that on a rationalist website people only people who are willing to debate rationally belong here – i.e., people who can look at the debate from both their side and their opponent’s side and try to reach some sort of consensus.

          Rationalism has nothing to do with consensus. Rationalism is using the means you have available to reach the most correct conclusions possible.

          James is the rationalist here.

          Of course you actually mean something different by using the word “rationalist” – which is actually “agrees with my group of self-identified rationalists”.

          This is pretty much what you can expect from a “rationalist” movement that lives in group homes.

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          a person –

          Not only that, but Scott is constantly complaining about his comment section devolving into fruitless debates on race and gender, and James makes that happen every time he shows up.

          Actually Scott makes that happen by writing posts that are perfectly “rational” as long as you assume all the premises of progressivism are true. James comes along and punctures that assumption quite effectively – and the progressive side knows it’s effective because they (predictably) call for his ban.

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        • Andy says:

          Do you also want to ban people who say stuff like “Pol Pot was a fucking asshole. I hope he sucks dick in hell”?

          Yes, I would support a 3-day ban for such a comment by a commenter with no previous records of banning, while agreeing completely with the sentiment, because a less crass way of making the point exists.

          Actually Scott makes that happen by writing posts that are perfectly “rational” as long as you assume all the premises of progressivism are true. James comes along and punctures that assumption quite effectively – and the progressive side knows it’s effective because they (predictably) call for his ban.

          Notice that nydwracu, Mai le Dreapta (sp?) and other commenters are able to make comments arguing Reactionary positions without the levels of bile that James threw. Looking at the register of bans over time, I’d argue that progressive viewpoints have gotten banned roughly equally with conservative viewpoints.

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        • a person says:

          Rationalism has nothing to do with consensus. Rationalism is using the means you have available to reach the most correct conclusions possible.

          James is the rationalist here.

          Of course the technical definition of rationality is something else, but in practice rational debate usually looks like “okay, I see where you’re coming from, but have you considered this?” and irrational debate usually looks like “I am right, you are wrong, stupid, and evil”. If you read Eliezer’s sequences probably the thing he emphasizes the most is realizing when you’re wrong and changing your mind, which James never ever does.

          But okay, whatever, throw out that point of my original post, it’s the weakest anyway. The first two still stand. James undeniably broke the explicit rules of this site, many people saw him as a nuisance, and there are plenty of people voicing similar beliefs as him who remain. I really don’t see how Scott’s choice here could ever be seen as unreasonable.

          Of course you actually mean something different by using the word “rationalist” – which is actually “agrees with my group of self-identified rationalists”.

          How are you not doing precisely what you accuse me of when you say “James is the rationalist here”?

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        • a person says:

          Do you also want to ban people who say stuff like “Pol Pot was a fucking asshole. I hope he sucks dick in hell”?

          I would say no, the comments policy (which is imo a good one) says that you have to be polite if you’re saying something controversial, and Pol Pot being a reprehensible person is not really controversial, as far as I know.

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          If you read Eliezer’s sequences probably the thing he emphasizes the most is realizing when you’re wrong and changing your mind, which James never ever does.

          Yeah, the first thing the cult leader does is try to make sure that the followers will all change their minds [to the beliefs that benefit him]. The next thing, of course, is an instruction to ignore history – specifically around sexual matters – that way the cult leader can continue to run his “offer your girlfriends to me to fuck” scam. The next thing after that is to convince the chumps that this is a signal that the chump is enlightened:

          (Before anyone asks, yes, we’re polyamorous – I am in long-term relationships with three women, all of whom are involved with more than one guy. Apologies in advance to any 19th-century old fogies who are offended by our more advanced culture.

          [ http://hpmor.com/author/yudkowsky/page/7/ ]

          Right on schedule!

          Someone who’s rational (as opposed to a “rationalist”) doesn’t let a guy running a cult with the purpose of fucking lots of other guy’s girlfriends re-order his thinking – there just might be a hidden trap in there (might, ha!).

          There are loads of things where the rational thing is to never change your mind and in fact to realize that if your reasoning leads you to changing your mind about them then rethinking your reasoning is the more rational thing to do. Jim points out a bunch of them and people here get hysterical.

          But okay, whatever, throw out that point of my original post, it’s the weakest anyway. The first two still stand. James undeniably broke the explicit rules of this site, many people saw him as a nuisance, and there are plenty of people voicing similar beliefs as him who remain.

          Inoculation effect that you frequently see from progressives (because progressivism professes to be a non-contradictory rational belief system) – they’ll ban the most effective non-progressives and let the less effective ones continue to post.

          What I read upthread wasn’t people outraged over tone or offensiveness.

          It was a hysterical reaction to a few statements that are plainly true and clearly enough stated so that people can’t go back into their cognitive bubbles and think “well, we need a few more studies”. All of human history gives lie to progressive assumptions about sex and male female relations. All of human history gives lie to progressive assumptions about racial equality / sameness. Jim states this extremely clearly and that’s what the progressives here recoil from.

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        • Oligopsony says:

          Being impolite and uncontroversial is licit iff apposite, as I understand it. Like if Scott posts about political correctness gone mad or something and I make response that’s like “hello fine fellows! Allow me to present the statistical case for Ankharism…” that would be cool because I’m being polite and backing my shit up with evidence, and then you could say “fuck you apologist, I hope you boil in satan’s gangrenous cumfarts for aeons,” because I had brought up the topic, but otherwise you’d have to say “that Pol Pot chap, not the best person, was he? At least that’s my personal opinion.”

          I think.

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        • a person says:

          @Steve Johnson.

          Oh my god, now I understand. Either you are Jim under a sockpuppet, or you have the exact same argument style as him. You refuse to concede a single point or question whether or not my arguments may have a tiny bit of merit even when you have been proven wrong (JAMES BROKE THE RULES OF THIS WEBSITE, THEREFORE IT IS NOT UNREASONABLE FOR SCOTT TO BAN HIM), and instead latch onto tiny details of what I write and go on a whole other tangentially related nasty, vicious polemic. I hope you can understand that Jim being banned means that the presence of people like you on the blog is not desired, and take the courtesy of excusing yourself.

          Don’t bother replying, I will not respond, because I know the argument will never end and I have other things to do.

          @Oligospony

          I don’t really understand what you’re saying here. The way I see it is that you’re allowed to say something mean if it’s non-controversial (true) and on topic (necessary).

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          Oh my god, now I understand. Either you are Jim under a sockpuppet, or you have the exact same argument style as him. You refuse to concede a single point or question whether or not my arguments may have a tiny bit of merit even when you have been proven wrong

          Without (of course) actually bothering to bother with the whole “proven wrong” thing.

          This is the comment policy:

          If you make a comment here, it had better be either true and necessary, true and kind, or kind and necessary.

          Obviously what Jim is saying here is true – no one actually argues the substance (or if they do it’s so that people can get into “angels on the head of a pin” disputes about what it means for “men to be stronger than women” – where some moron says “outliers exist!” as if that alters the truth of the matter in any way).

          What Jim says here is necessary. The “rationalist” community needs to hear certain truths that they’ve insulated themselves from very effectively.

          As far as being a sock puppet of Jim, nope – try again. Guess what – there are people out there smarter than you who disagree with your worldview. It’s not just one lone guy.

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          Obviously what Jim is saying here is true – no one actually argues the substance (or if they do it’s so that people can get into “angels on the head of a pin” disputes about what it means for “men to be stronger than women” – where some moron says “outliers exist!” as if that alters the truth of the matter in any way).

          James isn’t correct.

          James backed up his “Men, if not prisoners, are pretty difficult to rape” with… nothing. Just empty bluster. Because that’s all it is: empty bluster. Without content. A belief which is held solely on its aesthetics, not its truth value.

          I went in detail on the exact points of how frequently men are raped by force (because reactionaries do not consider rape by intoxication to be a crime of similar quality) by women, in as much detail as I could obtain, earlier in this thread. The answer is: quite a bit. Curiously, despite the fact that I was responding to you, I never received a reply.

          There is also the point that Jim’s post does not even say that the perpetrator must be a woman for the guy to deserve mockery. Plenty of men are raped by force outside of prison by other men. According to the NISVS, an estimated 970,000 men have been forcibly raped (by penetration; no exact numbers for forcible rape by envelopment) in their lives. Were they “asking for it” too? Was this fellow?

          does this mythical gun-wielding female rapist exist anywhere outside the ream of hypotheticals?

          Here’s one. Well, technically, she raped her victim at knife point rather than gun point, but I think you’ll agree that that’s a pretty pedantic distinction.

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          Fuckup with cookie-setting/NISVS link, here it is again:

          http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/2010_report.html

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        • Well-Manicured-Bug says:

          @Crimson Wool

          I don’t think that proves your case though. It’s not a man she raped, but a 14 year old boy, and as the county prosecutor says in the video, this is extremely rare and he hadn’t seen anything like it before. To the extent that we are talking about men and women, and not about minors, I think this is irrelevant.

          I’m curious however how many men here actually go about their daily lives thinking about the possibility of getting raped by a woman. How many men here have ever thought “I shouldn’t drink too much tonight, because some pervert woman might rape me”, and actually stopped drinking. It’s hard for me to imagine, unless you have already experienced something traumatic, that this is actually a thing that bothers people in real life. Personally the only thing that I’m worried about in these situations is the possibility of getting robbed, and getting raped by a woman wouldn’t ever cross my mind.

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        • Crimson Wool says:

          It’s not a man she raped, but a 14 year old boy, and as the county prosecutor says in the video, this is extremely rare and he hadn’t seen anything like it before. To the extent that we are talking about men and women, and not about minors, I think this is irrelevant.

          Why is it irrelevant? What happens when a guy turns 18 that makes it so he can’t get stabbed by a woman with a knife? It’s not like we’re talking about a 6 year old, here; the average 14 year old American boy is about as tall as the average American woman.

          Re: Extreme rarity. Yes, I agree, generally women do not rape people at gunpoint or knifepoint. This is a reactionary shell game, though. First, they (you?) define “real rape” as the kind of rape that pretty much only men do (physical violence against strangers), then trumpet how it is almost never done by women.

          Women do use physical force to coerce people into sex, but this is more beating the shit out of her boyfriend/husband when he won’t fuck her until he will (could the man fight back? Sure, if he would like a DV conviction). They also have clearly nonconsensual sex with people who are more-or-less strangers, but this is generally because aforementioned strangers are heavily intoxicated and unable to fight back/unaware of what’s going on.

          I’m curious however how many men here actually go about their daily lives thinking about the possibility of getting raped by a woman. How many men here have ever thought “I shouldn’t drink too much tonight, because some pervert woman might rape me”, and actually stopped drinking.

          I’d probably be a lot better for these arguments if I actually drank, and thus could say, “yo, me.” But I don’t, and it’d be dishonest to pretend that the reason is fear of sexual violence.

          In any case, it hardly proves anything. Men are more likely to be robbed when just walking around, but it’s women who clutch their purses whenever a black guy steps onto the elevator. Jaws made everybody avoid the beaches for a while, even though shark attacks are actually extremely uncommon and Jaws is a work of fiction. Perception of risk and actual risk are not that well correlated.

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        • Men are more likely to be robbed when just walking around, but it’s women who clutch their purses whenever a black guy steps onto the elevator.

          I agree with your general point that perception of danger doesn’t equal actual danger, but I think this is a pretty bad example. For one thing, the obvious reason men don’t clutch their purses is most men don’t carry purses.

          More generally, it’s true that women take more precautions against stranger attack than men – making sure not to walk alone at night, making sure to park in places that will be well-lit once the sun goes down, etc – while men tend not to think about it. And it’s true that men are over twice as likely to be robbed by strangers (source). But that might not be a case of women overestimating their risk; it’s possible that women get robbed less is because women take more precautions. (Or maybe getting robbed less is an unintended side effect of trying to avoid rape and sexual harassment by strangers.)

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        • Nornagest says:

          And it’s true that men are over twice as likely to be robbed by strangers (source). But that might not be a case of women overestimating their risk; it’s possible that women get robbed less is because women take more precautions.

          I’d expect the effects of “taking precautions” to be complex.

          On the one hand, going out in groups and avoiding isolated areas probably does reduce muggings. But on the other, there’s a great deal of superstition and bullshit floating around regarding urban self-defense (sticking your keys between your fingers, for example, is worse than useless), so I’d expect some naive countermeasures to mugging to be useless or counterproductive.

          Maybe more importantly, I’d also expect muggers to pick up on defensive behavior and use it as a cue. All else equal, who are you going to mug — the person strolling down the street like they own the place, or the one clutching their bag and looking around nervously?

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        • Well-Manicured-Bug says:

          >Why is it irrelevant? What happens when a guy turns 18 that makes it so he can’t get stabbed by a woman with a knife? It’s not like we’re talking about a 6 year old, here; the average 14 year old American boy is about as tall as the average American woman.

          Which means that they don’t actually have the physical advantage over women that adult men have. A boy grows taller and heavier until they are in their early twenties, which is why a twenty year old can beat up a fourteen year old most of the time. It also explain why a lot of fourteen years old boys are not playing in NFL. It’s also about mental maturity I think. At fourteen people respond to situations differently than they do when they are in their twenties, I’d assume.

          >, they (you?) define “real rape” as the kind of rape that pretty much only men do (physical violence against strangers), then trumpet how it is almost never done by women.

          Weren’t we talking about “gun-wielding female rapists”? Yes, such gun-wielding female rapists are extremely rare that I don’t know how sensible it is to consider it a societal problem. Taking your own example, it’s like considering shark attacks a major existential risk to the human kind. Domestic violence cases on the other hand are pretty common, and indeed women use violence against men, and indeed due to cultural biases people incorrectly conclude that it’s not a big problem if a woman throws something heavy at her husband. This is a big issue, and one that r/mensrights complain about a lot. But even there I don’t think I’ve ever read someone say that they were forced to have sex with a woman after being physically overpowered.

          Not at all saying that women don’t rape men. Emotional and physical abuse, and mental manipulation are real things. I don’t know about ‘real rape’. As far as I know, if you are made to have sex when you don’t really want to, or not old enough to want to, it is indeed rape. But you can’t use it to justify the “gun-wielding female rapists” claim.
          *

          Going by your examples, it seems the tendency is to overestimate the risk, not underestimate it. That doesn’t prove anything of course. But if men are underestimating risk of getting raped by women, that just shows how much of a big problem it seems to them.

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      • Ialdabaoth says:

        His narrative is anti-knowledge in the service of brutality and oppression.

        Yay! I’m in my element!

        The scary thing is, I agree with about 90% of what Steve says; I just find it horrific instead of amusing.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          The scary thing is, I agree with about 90% of what Steve says; I just find it horrific instead of amusing.

          Ok, listen to me now; I used to think similarly, and it does get better. For instance, I only recently, after carefully examining the facts, concluded that the similarities between genders re: traumatic bonding and abuse-via-intermittent-reinforcement are actually bigger and more interesting than the oh-so-edgy idea that women evolved to capitulate to an extortionate strategy. It also fits into the larger picture of human neural uniformity and flexible response to circumstances that leftists typically back. So yeah, some of the Sinister Dark Facts about How You Need To Suffer Gratefully can be dispelled by ordinary sunlight.

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          • Thank you for the point about similarities about men and women. I’ve long suspected that women (especially young women) liking dangerous men isn’t wildly different from men liking motorcycles.

            Also, you can’t get a complete understanding of people from looking at their fantasies– there are a lot more men who like war fiction and weapon nerdery than want to be on battlefields.

            A book called Crazy Love might be of interest– a women is in a marriage which gradually becomes dangerously abusive (important note: abuse tends to ramp up slowly, which suggests that being abused isn’t a fundamental desire). Part of her prying herself loose is realizing that she isn’t a good woman loving and helping a man who’s got problems, she’s being hurt and doesn’t deserve it.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Sure, but as long as society continues to promote the same scripts, and as long as I am too low-status to gain the ‘right’ within those scripts to challenge those scripts, what does it *matter*? The world MAY AS WELL BE the way he describes it, and “it gets better” is dangerous-to-the-point-of-lethal for someone like me.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Clearly you’re in a horrible place now, anyone could see that, and it sounds like 90% of places and people might be very hurtful for you… so why not strive to find/head towards the bearable 10%? People who are simultaneously worse and less attractive and more insecure than you are still able to get warmth and companionship, often notoriously so – and it’s not like they have an IQ above room temperature, it’s not like they’re particularly lucky either – you just have horrible shit luck and somehow find yourself in a seemingly very unfitting environment. So protect yourself and take care of yourself and keep looking for a way out, and remember how strangers on the internet instantly feel really nice about you. :hug:

          P.S.: do you have some health issues that interfere with recreational drug use, or am I imagining it? I don’t find it shameful to say that it played a large part in keeping me going during the worst of my suicidal depression.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          P.S.: do you have some health issues that interfere with recreational drug use, or am I imagining it? I don’t find it shameful to say that it played a large part in keeping me going during the worst of my suicidal depression.

          No health issues, but I am a cop magnet.

          Also:

          Clearly you’re in a horrible place now, anyone could see that, and it sounds like 90% of places and people might be very hurtful for you… so why not strive to find/head towards the bearable 10%?

          Because if you’re deathly allergic to peanuts, and someone tells you “I think there might be some edible food in sealed containers at the bottom of this mountain of peanuts and peanut-dust”, how much time can you afford to dig through that mountain without an epi-pen?

          People who are simultaneously worse and less attractive and more insecure than you are still able to get warmth and companionship, often notoriously so – and it’s not like they have an IQ above room temperature, it’s not like they’re particularly lucky either

          I am INTENSELY, painfully aware of this fact. One of my larger mantras is (partially):

          I’m a rather good writer, but I’ll never be Stephanie Meyer.
          I’m a rather good artist, but I’ll never be Rob Liefield.
          I’m rather a good friend, but I’ll never be Paris Hilton.
          I’m a rather good leader, but I’ll never be Donald Trump.
          I’m a rather good game programmer, but I’ll never be John Romero.

          – you just have horrible shit luck and somehow find yourself in a seemingly very unfitting environment. So protect yourself and take care of yourself and keep looking for a way out, and remember how strangers on the internet instantly feel really nice about you.

          Eh, mostly because on the internet, you aren’t physically surrounded by a crowd of people that can turn into a mob when the more sociopathic and socially sensitive members smell weakness.

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        • Mary says:

          “(important note: abuse tends to ramp up slowly, which suggests that being abused isn’t a fundamental desire).”

          Remember there’s a lot of variety in battered women. Theodore Dalrymple, dealing with the underclass, was consulted by a battered woman on average once a day for his professional life. His work is valuable for anyone wanting insight into one situation:

          “At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked how they think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful.”

          Full text here:
          http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_1_oh_to_be.html
          But that’s only one essay. He has much more.

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      • MugaSofer says:

        I think it’s plausible that men and women have different social problems around getting raped– women are defined as the sort of people who are naturally subject to rape, while men (if not prisoners) are defined as the sort of people who are supposed to be rape-proof.

        “This is not a reason for the possibility and reality of men being raped to be erased from the discussion.

        Ah! That’s a great way of putting it, and crystallizes some of my thoughts on the topic. Thank you.

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      • Matthew says:

        they’ll ban the most effective non-progressives and let the less effective ones continue to post.

        Wow. Unintentional hilarity. I originally thought JAD might be a lefty agent-provocateur because his general unpleasantness is so anti-persuasive. I don’t often agree with, say, nydwracu, but he is good at making one pause and consider one’s assumptions. JAD, by contrast, is good at derailing discussions but a total failure at persuading anyone who hadn’t already drunk his cool-aid.

        (Why this comment ended up misthreaded, I have no idea. It was in reply to Steve Johnson above.)

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      • Alrenous says:

        I’ve changed JAD’s mind before. Not a lot, but enough to know how it’s done.

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        • Would you care to expand on that?

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        • Alrenous says:

          I argued in my usual fashion.

          Most recently about the hard limits of semiconductor lithograthy. Below 160 nm, the photons can’t be reasonably lensed because they’re more like soft X-rays.

          Notably, JAD looked up that number for me, I didn’t know it exactly.

          (I haven’t bothered to investigate whether lithography can be economically advanced, because JAD’s general case – that the lack of advancement is being covered up – is obviously true.)

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  27. Mark says:

    SJW-types are confronted with the dictionary definition of “racism” a lot. I’ve always seen them react the same way: the dictionary was written by white men. It’s a pretty cryptic response and they just leave it at that, but the only interpretation on which it makes any dialectical sense is “lexicographers are publishing word meanings they manufactured out of whole cloth in order to advance their anti-minority political agenda.” This still doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, because even an entirely manufactured meaning is a valid entry if it sees enough colloquial adoption. And of course it’s just absurdly conspiratorial/obviously factually incorrect.

    Maybe they have a slightly better defense available: your concept of the non-central fallacy. The prototypal examples of racism we all think of have certain features that make them feel extraordinarily horrific, whereas prejudicial harms against white people, while perhaps technically “racism,” lack these characteristics. Therefore, calling them “racist” is just a way of unfairly sneaking in hidden connotations that don’t really apply. But it’s too much work to explain at length how this works to the masses, so let’s just go with the useful approximation “racism against white people doesn’t exist.” In much the same way that we’ll go around public discussions saying that taxation isn’t really theft, even though it technically is (just *good* theft).

    I still don’t find this steelman convincing, nor do I expect anyone commenting here to do so, either, but it seems like it’s nevertheless a way to move discussion forward if you’re otherwise truly at a loss for things to say.

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    • falenas108 says:

      This is not what SJW people would agree with. It would be more, the old white dude who wrote the dictionary doesn’t have an understanding of systematic oppression against groups of people, so of course the dictionary definition wouldn’t include that.

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      • Mark says:

        That would be an appropriate explanation for why the “racism = institutional power + racial prejudice” definition doesn’t occur as another entry in the dictionary, not for why the “racism = racial prejudice” definition does occur in the dictionary.

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        • falenas108 says:

          Because racism=racial prejudice is used by basically everyone who doesn’t understand the institutional power part.

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        • Mark says:

          They’re not just saying that the “power + prejudice” definition is valid, they’re saying the plain “prejudice” definition is invalid. The only way for a dictionary definition to be invalid, rather than valid but omitted, is if the lexicographers are just making things up or are seriously misled about the word’s actual common usages.

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        • Zorgon says:

          There is an irony in this – the ability to prescribe the meanings of words and expect those meanings to be believed and accepted is a clear and obvious expression of power.

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        • tiny nerd says:

          (note: first time commenter, dangerous tumblr sj and trans here)
          I think 99% of the people earnestly discussing SJ really agree with your “steelman”. When you ignore people Getting Mad and look at discussions rather than flame wars the consensus is, yeah, the dictionary definition of racism is misleading because it specifies only the most visible forms of racism, whereas a lot of other forms of race-based exertion of social power do exist that inconvenience or harm people, and it would be wrong to give that a pass. (The same applies to any other -ism you care to name).
          Where I think you’ve missed the point is that nobody using the “the dictionary was written by white people” argument /wants/ to have an honest discussion. They’re looking to silence tiresome pedants on purpose (and honestly, I pride myself on valuing debate and whatnot but when someone decides to resort to the dictionary to attack the given definitions of words rather than an argument it’s often a sign that they’re a disingenuous jerk and it’s time to go home) and pull out that argument as a defense mechanism. SJ is really… tiresome to deal with because so many “arguments” are this type of pithy meme that’s actually meaningless, and just meant as an “I-don’t-want-to-engage-with-this” signal. Being really defensive makes a certain amount of sense when you always feel threatened, but this leads to the SJ “attitude” covering up all their ideas in sarcasm/in-crowd stuff, venting, and defensive reactions to any threat against safe spaces in a very self-sabotaging way.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Being really defensive makes a certain amount of sense when you always feel threatened, but this leads to the SJ “attitude” covering up all their ideas in sarcasm/in-crowd stuff, venting, and defensive reactions to any threat against safe spaces in a very self-sabotaging way.

          Incidentally, this is not unlike how some conservatives on Less Wrong have previously described their view of their own little club. Probably minus the (obvious) self-sabotaging, but with a whole lot of obscurantism and thick ink clouds whenever pursued.

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    • I’m pretty sure I’ve seen claims that prejudice by lighter-skinned people of color against darker-skinned people of color isn’t racism because it’s really white people’s fault.

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      • Nornagest says:

        Funny. I actually think that’s one of the cases where a systemic/sociological approach to racism is better justified, since that sort of prejudice clearly has a racial character, at least if you’re talking about African-Americans rather than, say, Chinese people, and yet racial background per se is presumably not being attacked.

        (I suppose you could argue that presumed degree of European admixture is the basis for comparison, but there’s too much chaos in human skin-color genetics for that to work very well. Not, I suppose, that rigor is called for here.)

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        • I’ve seen it called colorism, and that might be a sociological analysis, but I assume it can’t be called racism because that’s a special sort of badness which is unique to white people.

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        • Mary says:

          Probably class-based.

          It can be seriously tiresome to point out, when discussing European fairy tales, that the “fair”=”pale” and “dark”=”ugly” has nothing to do with race, that the people telling these tales had never seen anyone black, and that pale was beautiful because it was rich.

          Of course, in the pale-skinned black, the racial dilution did indeed help with the class status.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Yeah, when that’s historically come up it’s almost always been a class thing — hence the aside about the Chinese, although it would have been just as true in 1700s France or modern India. I don’t think that line of thinking makes as much sense in the modern US, though — a tan might not be as much of a class marker as it was twenty years ago, but the lack of one isn’t plausible as a class marker either. Too many of us work indoors.

          (There does still seem to be some stigma against having a farmer tan, though. Or maybe that’s just a rural thing? I don’t remember it ever having come up since I moved to the city.)

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      • AJD says:

        The reason it’s not called racism is because it’s about discrimination based on a feature other than race.

        Report comment

    • Andrew says:

      Tangent:

      Taxation isn’t theft. Or is debt collection also theft? No, of course not. Theft is not merely the moving of property between parties by force. It is a violation of property norms, and taxation isn’t a violation of property norms.

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      • Andrew says:

        My comment above was correct but failed to address the core matter (of the tangent!), so I will add:

        To call taxation theft you must assume that there is some “one true” property norm against which theft is a violation, rather than the realist position that property norms are simply whatever a society normalizes. But “one true property” is untenable. The fact that property norms factually differ between societies shows this. In most societies, “stealing wives” is an informal kind of property violation, but only in a few is it an actual legal violation. In modern societies, illicit copying is practically a property violation, but that was not always so. To cure yourself of this disease, research trespass law, right of way, water extraction rights, and the SCOTUS case putting the airspace into the commons. You can’t come out of all that thinking that there is one true property.

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      • Alrenous says:

        To call taxation theft you must assume that there is some “one true” property norm against which theft is a violation, rather than the realist position that property norms are simply whatever a society normalizes.

        Quite.

        It’s not difficult. It’s this: if I buy a loan, I agree to collection. I never agreed to be taxed. Is the moral difference not obvious?

        Imagine a state said at your 18th birthday, “Congratulations on your majority! Now please sign this contract stating you’ll pay taxes in perpetuity, at whatever rate we see fit!

        In return, we’ll give you a pension and pay for your medicine. Or not! Whatever we feel like! If we abrogate our half, you still have to uphold your half, or we’ll shoot you!”

        Nobody would sign this contract. Nobody would sign this contract because they can impose it on you without your agreement; there is no incentive to remain virtuous, so they become corrupt. (The [goodness-of-our-hearts] principle clearly doesn’t work.)

        How about this one:

        “Hey there store-opening entrepreneur. We’ll protect your store against vandalism and shoplifting, in exchange for 7% of your sales revenue.” Honestly that’s a expensive deal, but it might be worth it.

        It’s not worth it, because it’s not an agreement. States, in fact, don’t protect stores against shoplifting and vandalism. Stores have to that themselves anyway.

        If taxation was not theft, states could offer voluntary taxation schemes, and citizens would actually sign on. That the taxation is not voluntary is by itself sufficient proof that it cannot be for the benefit of citizens.

        Or: imagine a civil right was a real right – a property right. Imagine when the police fail to protect you from crime or fail to recover your stuff, you could sue the state for damages. Imagine that Britons under the NIH could sue if a relative died while on a waiting list. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They claim they’re claiming responsibility, but they’re only claiming your money. Fraud is another fitting term.

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        • Andrew says:

          You seem to be under the mistaken impression that debts cannot be imposed except by contract.

          E.g., if I sue you and I win a judgment court, you owe me money, and I get to collect on it by force. You never agreed to that, but it’s still not theft.

          Taxation is necessary for the legitimacy of the property rights that underpin contracts. It’s a social quid pro quo. Without the taxation, nobody would put up with your property rights (which, recall, they never agreed to, in exactly the same sense that you never agreed to taxation).

          You want to throw out the half of the social contract that benefits the people who own the least, while keeping the half that benefits the people who own the most. Well, I’ll avoid getting into that political conflict here. But it’s a bit of sophistry to pretend that one half is more voluntary than the other, or to condemn the liabilities created by one half on the basis of the assets created by the other half. It’s a bundle deal. You don’t get to create a social concept of “theft” until you agree that your property rights are absolute. That is, if you want to renegotiate the entire social contract, you have to throw out the whole thing first, not use half of it to condemn the other. Those two halves are in contradiction for a reason: they balance each other out.

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        • Andrew says:

          Of course, that sentence should read:

          You don’t get to create a social concept of “theft” until you agree that your property rights are not absolute.

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        • Mary says:

          Except, Andrew, you seem to think that the state has automatically won a judgment against people and does not even have to take them to court — and for what tort? Existing?

          Bad analogy.

          You need to say that taxes are not theft because they are taxes and defend it accordingly.

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        • Alrenous says:

          You seem to be under the mistaken impression that debts can be imposed by coercion.

          I notice you don’t address my point that if states provided an actual good that was more than their cost, citizens would sign up voluntarily. I must therefore conclude you concede that states in general cost more than they serve.

          In a healthy society, one signs up with a court for protection, meaning I agree to be sued if I perform certain torts. Or, we can say I choose to coerce, which inherently makes me liable for torts.
          Either way, I’m never liable for standing around minding my own business.

          Short history of English courts: they were not only private but delegated enforcement to the victim. This still worked because violence is that expensive; the defendant preferred to keep the neutral third party as an option by accepting the ruling, even if they clearly would have won the fight.

          Taxation undermines property rights. Indeed property rights do not exist to the extent taxation does.

          There is only one coherent definition of property, which is reasonable expectation of control.

          At 100%, it means nobody can expect to control any of their property. They will therefore not try to obtain any wealth, which means total tax receipts will be zero.

          At 50%, it mean nobody can expect to control some property, which means they won’t try to obtain it, which means the taxman doesn’t either.

          If we extrapolate down to 0%, then we get huge wealth for everybody, except the taxman.

          This is exactly the same relationship as with thieves. If thieves can steal everything, nobody acquires anything to steal. If it’s just pickpockets, nobody gets wallets and they still can’t steal anything. If it’s dollars, or say, drachma, then trade breaks down and you get feudalism.

          Which segues nicely into the next topic. Property rights are real because the negation of property is self-refuting. If property rights were not real, there would be no property to argue about.

          Property exists without agreement. Specifically, security provides reasonable expectation of control. If I lock and chain my wallet to a boulder, it’s going to be there when I go back for it, regardless of how many pickpockets are around.

          As it happens, agreements with courts are a better kind of security, but unnecessary and orthogonal to anyone taxing me.

          You want to throw out the half of the social contract that benefits the people who own the least, while keeping the half that benefits the people who own the most.

          Libel.

          But it’s a bit of sophistry

          I take extreme exception to such slander.

          It seems to me, sir, that you are a victim of sophistry. Your predictable, formulaic rebuttals are indefensible, indeed in all cases the exact opposite of true. Why would you believe I wouldn’t have counters to all of them? Do you suppose I think as little about my convictions as you do?

          If this is really the best defence of the State, then the State condemns itself unequivocally.

          Those two halves are in contradiction for a reason: they balance each other out.

          Raw insanity. “I believe a contradiction. It’s true, though.”

          I will not tolerate such rudeness a second time.

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        • Nornagest says:

          If it’s dollars, or say, drachma, then trade breaks down and you get feudalism.

          This is a bit of an aside, but whoever wrote that article doesn’t understand how feudalism (or, more precisely, manorialism) worked.

          Yes, goods were the usual medium of exchange. But that’s mostly thanks to the difficulties of getting coinage into a system where almost everything’s produced locally (also shortages and various forms of chaos in the coinage), and agricultural produce was more fungible in practice than you might expect. In some places (feudal Japan, for example) the coinage was backed in grain, making the lines between barter and hard currency very blurry indeed.

          Instead, the essential feature of the manorial system is patronage: if you’re a serf, you support yourself by working the land owned by your lord, and in exchange you’re supposed to provide him with some proportion of its produce (essentially rent) and also with the labor necessary to work the land the lord holds directly (which doesn’t have any modern equivalent). You may recognize this as almost the opposite of what’s going on in the Greece article.

          Free peasants (i.e. not serfs) might instead hold land in a way that’s more familar to us, paying rent (again, usually in goods) to their lord but not being obligated to work his land. Lords themselves would have held their fiefs in somebody else’s name, and would have owed tribute and other duties (usually military service) up the chain.

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Nornagest

          Off topic means new thread.

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        • Desertopa says:

          “I notice you don’t address my point that if states provided an actual good that was more than their cost, citizens would sign up voluntarily.”

          Participants in fisheries exhausted by tragedies of the commons would be better off if they voluntarily signed up for group restraint agreements. They don’t.

          The government provides countless services where it’s *more* in individuals’ interests to be free riders supported by everyone else’s contributions while not paying themselves. You’re better off using roads that someone else paid for than paying for the construction of roads.

          Lots of situations dealing with communities of rational self interested actors devolve into disaster due to coordination problems unless you actually have a central authority ensuring that individuals cooperate when it benefits society in general even when they’re better off if they (and nobody else) defect.

          The government we’ve got might do far from the best possible job with people’s resources, but unenforced prosocial structure does not have a good track record.

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        • Alrenous says:

          @ Desertopa

          Participants in fisheries exhausted by tragedies of the commons would be better off if they voluntarily signed up for group restraint agreements. They don’t.

          This is true.
          I think this is because it would be illegal to enforce. Iceland privatized their fisheries. (Or the Netherlands? Both?) That worked out great. But you have to be willing and able to shoot people off your seabed, which e.g. Canada would object to. It would be considered seizure of crown aquitory or something.

          The government provides countless services where it’s *more* in individuals’ interests to be free riders supported by everyone else’s contributions while not paying themselves.

          The free rider problem has been vastly overstated. [ http://www.twitch.tv ] Free-to-play anything. It’s not even difficult to route around.
          Further, with the advent of transponders, toll roads are super easy.*

          Lots of situations dealing with communities of rational self interested actors devolve into disaster due to coordination problems unless you actually have a central authority ensuring that individuals cooperate when it benefits society in general even when they’re better off if they (and nobody else) defect.

          Game theory and property: if defection is a serious problem, nobody attempts to secure that resource in the first place. Eventually someone invents a method to incentivize not-defecting, and thus a voluntary collective is formed.

          For example, if toll roads were really that bad, (they work fine in Somalia, tolls were a 3% tax or so) nobody would build roads and they wouldn’t exist. Given that dire apes want roads, someone would come up with a road guild, which heavily patrols all the roads (the guild builds them) and boots off trespassers, funding themselves by selling road licenses.

          Any potential commons problem can be solved by, essentially, a private, voluntary mini-government.

          Except possibly national defence. If you want to ruin an ancap’s day, argue about national defence. The free rider problem probably isn’t really a problem? But there’s also coordination issues between city-states? There’s no good, satisfying argument, at least not yet. Unless nukes really do work as perfect deterrence because they can kill Generals, not just soldiers.*

          Also difficult is dealing with the age of majority. Emancipation is easy. But discipline obtains to the extent Exit obtains, which means the kid needs a decent alternative to signing on with their local city. (Wow! An actual use for BATNAs and euvoluntarism.) Like, being an outlaw is a solution, but it’s pretty bad.

          *(Transponders and nukes suggest ancap might be a strictly high-tech kind of society, useless for low-tech regions.)

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      • Andrew says:

        Mary,

        I did not say that taxation was analogous to a tort. I gave a tort as an example of the fact that theft is not merely acquisition by force; it has the element of being socially unsanctioned acquisition. That is the argument which I already presented, explaining why taxation is not theft. The social sanction attached to taxation is not attached to the action of a highway robber. That is the element that distinguishes them.

        But actually, it would be pretty easy to conceive of taxation as a tort, if a tort is conceived of as compensation. Taxation can be conceived as the compensation that one pays for the damage caused to others by owning property. I would not make this argument myself, but I would point out (as I have already) that this element of taxation as compensation for property is a crucial part of what makes the social contract a “good deal” — or at least, good enough to keep the heads of the rich attached to their bodies.

        Also, Alrenous, you’ve proved yourself not worth talking to. No doubt, no matter what I say, you will find some way to distort its meaning, much as you did with my use of the word “contradiction.” Your brain is closed to communication, and even this little bit of meta I’m sure will fall on deaf ears.

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        • Alrenous says:

          No doubt, no matter what I say, you will find some way to distort its meaning, much as you did with my use of the word “contradiction.”

          Yes, more libel is an excellent way to demonstrate that you don’t use libel. I like how you’re basing this attack on 1% of the words I’ve ever said to you. Apparently they outweigh the other 99%?

          (For non-Andrews: my specialty is uncomfortable truths. Comparing to-me comments to not-to-me comments, it’s becoming clear that certain people cannot handle the discomfort and become deranged around me specifically.)

          If I had actually misinterpreted you, you could show how and I would be forced acknowledge and retreat, as I demonstrably have done before. Falsehood is strategic weakness. Instead we see this pure-assertion status move. Scholastically speaking you just forfeit.

          Hopefully you’re capable of considering the possibility other people misunderstood, even if you can’t consider I might have misunderstood.

          Alrenous, you’ve proved yourself not worth talking to.

          E-Prime.

          I say, “I won’t tolerate X,” you say, “You are X.”

          Good pre-emptive strike, though. Since you can’t support your assertions and don’t want to give up projecting your fallacies, I’m obviously going to cut you off. “You can’t fire me, I quit!” It probably would have worked if I hadn’t called you on it. (Well, more precisely for this case, “You can’t fire me, I’m the boss and I’m firing you.”)

          Also you’re handing me a strategic fork on a plate. If I want to troll you, I can deconstruct your future comments unopposed…or you can oppose me, and thus I will have forced you to try to communicate. This will happen if I accidentally scan one of your comments and it makes me feel like trolling you.

          Your brain is closed to communication

          Sigh, more libel.

          Again, “I won’t tolerate” vs. “You are.” Again, a status move: looks like you hope that your bald assertions will be taken as fact by third parties and they won’t talk to me either. Gross, dude. Don’t write like a sophist if you don’t want to look like a sophist.

          Usually this kind of attack is covering for fear. It tries to misdirect from my arguments and accusations, because the sophist is afraid a direct comparison won’t go well for them.

          Think about this: if cannot hear, what’s the point of saying so to me? It’s like explaining to an idiot that they’re an idiot; they won’t be able to understand, nor fix it. Ergo, it must not be for the benefit of the so-insulted.

          But, as I said, I won’t tolerate it again. I will endeavor not to read your future comments, nor respond to them if I do.

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          • Andrew says:

            Yes, I could have showed how you misinterpreted me. I didn’t, though. I left you free to draw the unwarranted self-validating conclusion from this, that I knew you would.

            Ironically, you say you won’t reply to my future comments, not realizing that by your own (stupid) standards, that proves you can’t refute them.

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        • Mary says:

          But you didn’t say the difference was that it was socially unsanctioned.

          Furthermore, theft has often been socially sanctioned. Mob violence often blesses robbing the victims as well as physical assault.

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Andrew

          Status move; bald assertion. Projection. Reading comprehension fail. Logic fail. Or are you just a sophist?

          Responding to a comment with off-topic bald assertions strongly suggests you don’t have anything more convincing. Failing to provide backup after being called on it is a confession of guilt. Pre-emptively declining to address a comment is not the same. Apparently you surmise others will be fooled into thinking they are the same, which you’re likely right about, which means I now have to explain this.

          1. I have pre-emptively judged, based on your past & escalating rudeness and your disrespect for epistemology, that future comments will be rude and light on content. I have been disappointingly correct. It is therefore a waste of my valuable time to find out if there’s anything to rebut at all.

          2. This is not like seeing something to rebut, responding to it thus acknowledging it needs rebuttal, yet rebutting it with libel and bare assertions.

          Are you really unable to tell the difference between 1 and 2, or are you just playing politics? Either way, I guess that explains your juvenile political philosophy.

          Look, you’re a scientist who, when being told that their theory needed an experiment, called the critic a poopyhead.

          You threw the first punch. If you don’t like being punched in return, back off.

          you’ve proved yourself not worth talking to.

          So…stop? Are you lying about what you believe? Are you not aware of what you yourself believe?

          And yes, I read this by accident. I do regret having read it, but I’m not yet sure how to prevent it happening again. Though, upon reflection, not sure ‘regret’ is the right word, I managed to salvage something.

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          • Andrew says:

            ROFL, I thought you said you weren’t going to reply anymore.

            Yeah, so anyway, like I told you, based on your choice to misinterpret what I said, I concluded you’re not worth it. Really, do you carefully explain yourself to every internet blowhard who chooses an uncharitable interpretation of what you say?

            I fear that in fact you do. But, alas, I do not.

            PS. I didn’t read your comment.

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        • Alrenous says:

          @Andrew

          Childish nonsense.

          “I’m not listening to you!”
          “Nuh uh! I’m not listening to you first!”

          Calling mommy when flinging poo didn’t work. “They’re being mean to me!”

          Subtext: “Why won’t they SHUT UP AAAAAAAAARGH” So you won’t spend a few minutes on explaining yourself, but you’ll spend endless time flinging insults? Gotta have the last word, right? I like how your social insult theory is deep and nuanced and your political philosophy is a board with a nail in it.

          At least it explains why you seem to lack reading comprehension. You haven’t been reading at all, probably not even the first comment. Actually, that’s helpful, I can probably use that elsewhere.

          I like the projection. You engage in libel, but I’m uncharitable. I’m kind of tempted to try that myself, see what it’s like from the other side. Expand my psychology research. Of course I’d have to retract it later. Pity, it would interfere with the study.

          If this is your normal behaviour, I bet you seem to find ‘internet blowhards’ everywhere.

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      • Mark says:

        This is a neat distinction that probably doesn’t track how native English speakers actually use the word. Most people, for example, would be happy to describe Nazi confiscation of Jewish wealth as “theft” and not just “heavy Jewish taxation,” even if German society as a whole supported it. Perhaps you’d say there’s a hidden indexicality here: theft is is taking by force in a way that violates *our* community’s property norms. But in addition to the extreme fuzziness now involved (evidently libertarians with strong norms against taxation don’t count enough), it still misses cases where most people would admit theft but still be O.K. with the act, like an orphan stealing a loaf of bread to save a dying sibling, or taking off on a bike you don’t own to escape a crazy murderer chasing you.

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        • Andrew says:

          It does track how the word is used. Confiscation is distinct from theft. People might be willing to acknowledge that coordinated confiscation is theft — if you pressed them to do so. But they wouldn’t go ahead and call it by that name, simply because it would be confusing. They’d call it confiscation (just as you yourself did!), because that makes the meaning clear.

          Just think about what would happen to your paragraph above if you had avoided the use of the word “confiscation.” The very denotation would be lost. The theft vs. confiscation distinction was necessary for you to even communicate your meaning.

          As far as libertarians with strong norms not “counting” — the reason they don’t count is because they’re not the ones setting the rules. Their norms aren’t the ones relative to which we currently define theft. If they were, then they would be. The point is that “theft” doesn’t have an objective universal meaning outside of a set of social norms. So theft means different things given different social norms.

          It is analogous to the use of “murder.” Murder isn’t the same thing as “homicide” — it carries an element of social condemnation along with the element of ending life. To say that the death penalty is murder is to condemn the death penalty. Similarly, to say that taxation is theft is to condemn taxation. It’s not a morally neutral descriptive term. To say “taxation is forcible reappropration” or “taxation is confiscation” is _not_ to communicate the same meaning as “taxation is theft.” And you will find, indeed, that real world usage reflects this. Nobody calls taxation theft unless they are taking a specific moral position against taxation. (As far as I personally have seen in my whole life, the confused soul to whom I responded above serves as a solitary exception.)

          As far as theft that is justified, this is just the expression that the social property norm exists, and yet violating it is justified in this instance. It doesn’t become not-theft, because it’s still illegal: society’s property norms still do not sanction orphans just taking loaves of bread from stores because they’re hungry. They still have to do it in secret, the store owners can still use force to prevent them and not go to jail, etc..

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        • Mary says:

          ” Confiscation is distinct from theft. ”

          Not in my experience of the English language.

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          • Andrew says:

            I don’t suppose a dictionary would convince you?

            Theft \Theft\ (th[e^]ft), n. [OE. thefte, AS.
            [thorn]i[‘e]f[eth]e, [thorn][=y]f[eth]e, [thorn]e[‘o]f[eth]e.
            See {Thief}.]

            1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious
            taking and removing of personal property, with an intent
            to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.
            [1913 Webster]

            Note: To constitute theft there must be a taking without the
            owner’s consent, and it must be unlawful or felonious;
            every part of the property stolen must be removed,
            however slightly, from its former position; and it must
            be, at least momentarily, in the complete possession of
            the thief. See {Larceny}, and the Note under {Robbery}.
            [1913 Webster]

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        • Mark says:

          It does track how the word is used. Confiscation is distinct from theft. People might be willing to acknowledge that coordinated confiscation is theft — if you pressed them to do so. But they wouldn’t go ahead and call it by that name, simply because it would be confusing. They’d call it confiscation (just as you yourself did!), because that makes the meaning clear.

          The meaning of words is governed by their use, and if you grant that most people would be willing to describe confiscation as theft (even if that’s not quite the first word that comes to mind), that’s extremely good evidence that government confiscation can fall under the general category of theft. People also call churches “churches” rather than “sanctuaries” because it’s more clear to do so, but that doesn’t mean “sanctuary” can’t pick out churches.

          Your response, as I understand it, is to point out that “theft,” unlike “sanctuary,” has a normative component. But this isn’t always true. O.K., maybe it is in the case of Nazis confiscation, since everyone actively hates the Nazis and describes them unflatteringly whenever possible. But there are plenty of contexts where it isn’t, even with regard to governments. To name the first example off the top of my head, I think I can talk about the Qarmatians stealing the Black Stone from the Ka’aba without actually implicitly condemning them. (I really don’t care about the Black Stone.) On a much smaller scale, there’s the orphan case I already mentioned: I needn’t be condemning the orphan when describing him or her as stealing bread. I may even be actively opposed to the some of the norms being violated, e.g., Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book.”

          There’s also somewhat more metaphorical cases: a basketball player “stealing” a ball, or a lion “stealing” a carcass from a hyena. You might argue that these shouldn’t count, since we don’t actually think any real property norms are in play here. But I would suggest it’s further evidence that “theft” simply has no tidy definition, and that the word refers merely to an extremely vague gestalt (which often but not always inspires negative emotions) rather than an absolutely binary logical predicate. And while I agree it’s rhetorically very misleading to appeal to appeal to this gestalt vis-a-vis taxation and therefore shouldn’t be done, that doesn’t make it factually wrong.

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          • Andrew says:

            Well, I don’t think that most people would be willing to “describe” confiscation as theft. When the government confiscates something according to law, people won’t _describe_ it as theft unless they are opposed to that particular confiscation or form of confiscation. But they might still grant that you could call it theft if you want, like if they don’t particularly care about that particular issue.

            There are some pretty significant functional differences between confiscation under color of law and theft, by the way. For example, only one of them can be appealed in a court of law.

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        • Andy says:

          Andrew, I think you’re missing the best argument against the “taxation is theft” claim – “Of course it is.”
          And I say this as someone who loathes the libertarian dislike of taxation as a general class, and thinks it’s hopelessly naive to expect a modern government to run on voluntary donations.
          This is, of course, from Scott’s excellent Non-Libertarian FAQ, where he skewers this line of argument with the idea that taxation is theft, it is a small amount of legitimized theft in order to maintain the structures of society and ensure some social order. However, and I’m assuming you’re an American here because most of SSC’s commentariat tends to be, you can leave the United States, disavow your citizenship, stop paying taxes, and set up a society somewhere run on voluntary donations. I don’t think you’d get off the ground, but I would enjoy being proven wrong. You may also take the civil-disobedience route and stop paying taxes, report yourself to the IRS and the media, and document whatever actions follow in hopes of sparking a tax revolt, though there, I don’t think you’ll inspire the kind of support necessary to eliminate the tax system.
          In short, yes, taxes are legitimized theft, but if you think you can deliver an effective and even-handed government without compulsory taxation, go ahead. The door is right there. Though I consider that position as naive as the left-anarchists who think that all conflict could be solved by removing capitalism, I would enjoy being provlen wrong. (Not by Somalia, which was mentioned upthread – it is not a place very many people want to move to or start a business in, whereas my tax-happy hometown of Los Angeles has many many businesses and entrepeneurs.)

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          • Andrew says:

            Andy, that may well be the best way to refute the claims of libertarians, but that is not my concern here. My concern is the general use of dishonest distortions of language as a rhetorical tactic. I actually believe that this is a bigger issue than any political issue; the entire possibility of discourse is at stake.

            Or at any rate, it’s a different issue, and I’m not willing to grant a general right to abuse the language like this, whether for political reasons or not, even if it doesn’t actually buy the libertarians anything in this particular instance.

            For example, if my daughter comes home from school and says “my teacher stole my phone,” I want to know whether I need to be calling the police to get it back. If the teacher actually confiscated the phone, then the girl is lying — or, at best, engaging in hyperbole — but if the teacher stole the phone, she was the victim of a crime (and of an extreme violation of trust, at that). If I refute libertarianism in the way that you suggest, how do I teach my daughter not to abuse language in this way?

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        • blacktrance says:

          However, conceding that taxation is theft admits a prima facie presumption against taxation – perhaps not one strong enough to categorically forbid it, but one that does require a significant justification for tax-funded activity. The mainstream progressive left’s position is that taxation isn’t theft, because people implicitly agree to a social contract by living in a country. According to that view, you having to pay taxes is similar to you having to do your part in any other contract – if you didn’t like it, you shouldn’t have agreed to it. This generates no presumption against taxation, as it’s merely part of a contract you agreed to. But if the progressive left is mistaken and there’s no implicit agreement, then it’s as much against your will as a burglar breaking into your house and stealing your stuff. It’s possible to come up with justifications for tax-funded activity, but then it’s necessary to justify why it’s different from the burglar – the progressive answer of “Because you consented to it” is no longer available.

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        • Mark says:

          Well, I don’t think that most people would be willing to “describe” confiscation as theft. When the government confiscates something according to law, people won’t _describe_ it as theft unless they are opposed to that particular confiscation or form of confiscation. But they might still grant that you could call it theft if you want, like if they don’t particularly care about that particular issue.

          Of course people wouldn’t describe all instances of confiscation as theft. And yes, “theft” is typically pejorative and hence applied to things people dislike. (But not always: there are simultaneous exceptions to both. I gave some examples already. And it’s hardly impossible to imagine a neo-Nazi gleefully remarking that he’s glad the Germans stole the Jews’ wealth because they’re evil or something. Indeed, I bet I could do this if I really wanted to force myself to search for it.)

          “Theft” nevertheless has a cognitive, non-normative component of its meaning, and as with most words, that meaning cannot be perfectly captured by clean definitions like “violation of our property norms/the relevant society’s property norms.” It’s instead just a hazy web of associations, some closer to the center of the web than others, and there’s very little to make an invocation of the gestalt objectively right or wrong in any given instance. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t object to such invocations when they serve to sneak in unfair, sinister connotations. It just means that there are better responses than quibbling semantics.

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  28. James James says:

    “motte and bailey tactics”, “strategic equivocation”

    Stephen Law (a British philosopher) gives an example of priests who tell stories about miracles. When challenged, they might admit that actually miracles do not happen. But, “when the atheist has left the room”, they go back to telling children stories about miracles as if they are literally true.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I am also suspicious of “family values”.

      Opponent is in the room: “That just means that we want strong families who love and care for one another!”

      Opponent leaves room: “Yeah, we really don’t like gay people”.

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    • Mary says:

      “When challenged, they might admit that actually miracles do not happen. ”

      Or again they might not.

      Or again they might perform a miracle on the spot.

      Hypotheticals are so much fun.

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    • MugaSofer says:

      I have never knowingly met a priest who would admit “miracles do not happen”.

      They will all admit some specific miracles did not happen, historically – but that’s not the same thing at all.

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  29. Zorgon says:

    As someone mentioned above, there’s another dimension to “privilege” that is missing from the GIF and resultingly* from the discussion. Most definitions I’ve seen include an element of inherent ignorance, born of lack of experience of the context and assumptions and received wisdom covering that lack.

    This is why it comes across as “talking where you’re not wanted”, “belittling my experiences” and so on – the underlying idea is that the privileged person not only has a distorted view of the situation due to the gap in their understanding caused by their privilege, but is also unable to see that fact due to the assumptions and received wisdom (along with a couple of oddities of assumed status, which leads to things like “mansplaining”).

    This does make the core premise of privilege less fundamentally aggressive, although to the average educated middle class person it’s probably going to come across as being at least passive-aggressive (“I would engage you, but you don’t really know enough to be worth engaging”). But the key part is the ignorance, and a BIG part of this, repeated over and over again in pretty much every single definition of the term I’ve ever seen, is that the privileged person does not know they’re privileged, or else is actively defending their privilege and thus being a shitlord. In this way of thinking, it’s an article of faith that the behaviour of the SJW conception of a decent person would not continue to intrude on oppressed people’s discussions of the situation if they were aware of their privilege, as doing so is in itself an act of oppression; you’re “talking over” the oppressed, “negating their experiences”, and so on, by continuing to express your privilege-distorted views.

    So since virtually every definition includes ignorance of privilege as a core element of having it, you’d think that it’d be the case that in complex multidimensional oppression structures like gender relations (in which it’s trivially easy to demonstrate statutory and/or institutional prejudice against either gender in pretty much every Western nation) it’d be taken as read that “female privilege” had to exist by definition. Women get lower sentences for the same crimes, more cancer funding, and at least in my country, cannot legally be found guilty of rape except in extremely unusual circumstances. Most of these privileges are things most women will never think about and usually think don’t happen, because of received wisdom and assumptions. Seems an open-and-shut case for their definition of “privilege”.

    But… well, we saw above where that goes. Wanting a rapist to be legally considered a rapist if they have a vagina is “whiny man syndrome”. What joy.

    Yet here’s a question. Certainly we could consider this the careful pruning of the superweapon stock, guarded and kept only for the in-group and used to control and limit discussion only to their terms and their framing. But the thing about it is, there isn’t any part of this that isn’t explained by their own conception of “privilege”. They’re simply every bit as unable to see it as any of the men they so furiously condemn.

    Maybe they’re just more right than they think they are?

    (*Really, Chrome spellcheck? You’re going to pretend the 150 year old word “resultin