Things women say that you hate hearing all the time

Relax, that's not actually Valerie Solanas

A short response to "things lib-communists say that you hate hearing all the time", on being accused of sexism, and in jokes.

This thread seemed to nose-dive after the conversation took its inevitable turn towards talking about how words like "manarchist" and "privilege theory" and "kneecapping" get thrown around anarchism a bit too much. We could throw in "trigger warning" too for good measure, lots of people really hate that one.

Some really excellent points were made in response to this thread that I wanted to highlight, like

bozemananarchy wrote:
I know y'all seem to be having a great time complaining about how sexism is being addressed in the movement right now but please consider how positive it is that it is being addressed, finally. It has been my experience that when sexist behaviour is called out, men rarely come around to taking responsibility for it. They bob and weave and then fall-back on the exact same critique that you all are using as the bases for your jokes. They downplay the accusations against them by going on about how stupid/annoying it is when folks talk of "manarchists" and privilege checking, ultimately, they refuse to take accountability. That failure for men to take accountability for their sexism has alienated my comrades and also, less importantly, fucked with projects I've devoted lots of time and energy into. Its been pretty disappointing to see these posts.

...which, to me at least, seemed to fall on deaf (or maybe just a little hard of hearing) ears, as the rest of the thread (so far) has been a mixture of trying to talk about sexism properly, and also posts describing various times when people have had their behaviours or words questioned as being racist or sexist when they definitely weren't. Also interesting was the idea that being accused of racism or sexism then makes meetings/anarchism/the "scene" or whatever an unsafe space for the accused, and I can see where people were going with this, but it kind of misses the point.

No one ever likes being pulled up on actions or words or whatever that has been perceived by others as directly or indirectly perpetuating oppression. Whenever this has happened to me (which is fairly often), my initial response every fucking time is to start explaining how actually I wasn't really saying anything offensive to anyone, and that's not actually what I meant, and if my intention was something else then really people should give me the benefit of the doubt blah blah and I get all defensive and outraged and really upset that anyone would think I'm racist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic or whatever when I'm totally not, I defintely know I'm not any of those things. I don't think this is that uncommon a reaction.

Problem is, even if I've been unfairly targeted as being racist or homophobic or something when I haven't been (I still haven't got round to dealing with my tendency to Britsplain, which involves me not actively supporting Scottish Independence), the fact that I get upset about it really, really isn't the point here, and I'm aware that I need to try and keep that in check and just suck up that feeling of social embarrassment and deal with what's actually happening. As we have all grown up in hierarchical cultures where patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity and ableism are the norm, we will all say or do things from time to time, maybe totally unintentionally, that perpetuate this so it's really not that big a leap to accept that maybe sometimes when people point this out to us they might actually be right. And even if they're not right, being accused of racism or sexism or whatever when you aren't isn't really much of a match for actually having to navigate life with these oppressions all the time, so... maybe we should try and be a bit less defensive.

There was also a criticism that words like "mansplain" and "manarchist" are too in-jokey and subcultural and no one else understands them1. This criticism entertains me to be honest, as we're steering dangerously close to the good old "try saying that to a real working class bloke down the pub, see where that gets you" test which is invoked now and again mostly when women or people of colour of queers use BIG LONG WORDS like patriarchy, or intersectionality, or whatever word is annoying the gatekeepers of True Working Class Politics at any given moment. Not only is our man down the pub an embarassing, patronising fiction, but he never seems to be invoked when we're talking about, say, Heinrich vs. Kliman, for example. And more to the point, in a "movement" that shits out in-jokes and memes and essays about memes at an amazing rate, I find the criticism of in-jokes and memes primarily used by women a little disingenuous. I'm not a mad fan of in-jokes and things that make anarchist communists even easier to sideline and ridicule, but in the grand scheme of things I think "manarchist" is the least of our worries.

I guess the original thread did start to annoy me for the exact reasons bozemananarchy points out in the quote above. Yes, terms like mansplaining and manarchist might make people do a little lefty vomit but what really, really annoys me about listening to feminists within the anarchist movement or elsewhere is that we all sound like fucking broken records having to keep on repeating the same shit time and time again, giving little 101s on what should be the utter fucking basics, and having to keep on defending the tiny tiny amount of ground we've managed to carve out for ourselves within the anarchist movement where we can talk to each other and raise issues that never really got raised when there were less women involved in anarchism. So yeah you can now hear women saying things and sometimes they'll use in-jokey words that you find cringey or they'll talk about getting violent or they'll criticise the things you say, and jesus it's so annoying, and some of them will even make it quite clear that they think you're a dick and they don't like what you have to say!!!1! But yeah that's pretty much what being a woman and trying to join in male-dominated conversations within the anarchist movement is like, but if you'd like I could call for a waaaahmbulance2.

Note - I am crankier than normal due to being really sick today, and I don't think any of the posters on the original thread are misogynists, and I do have a sense of humour honest, I've got witnesses who've seen me laughing at comedy shows at the fringe all month.

  • 1. for what it's worth, I try to avoid those terms, but sometimes the temptation overwhelms me
  • 2. this is certainly my favourite lefty vomit inducing cringey feminist ugh jargon, it works so well

Comments

Noah Fence
Aug 19 2013 17:33
Quote:
No one ever likes being pulled up on actions or words or whatever that has been perceived by others as directly or indirectly perpetuating oppression. Whenever this has happened to me (which is fairly often), my initial response every fucking time is to start explaining how actually I wasn't really saying anything offensive to anyone, and that's not actually what I meant, and if my intention was something else then really people should give me the benefit of the doubt blah blah and I get all defensive and outraged and really upset that anyone would think I'm racist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic or whatever when I'm totally not, I defintely know I'm not any of those things. I don't think this is that uncommon a reaction.

I happened to see this quote on the bottom of the page of my diary today which I think is quite fitting:

Quote:
We judge others by their behaviour and ourselves by our intentions

Oh boy, there's so much truth in quote from Ramona. When I think about some of my posts on the thread that ended up being about the C word I could die with embarrassment! The truth is though, beyond the very basics of feminism, a lot of the time I just don't understand and if I act on my initial response I'm going to make an asshole of myself every time. My mouth(or fingers) seem to operate so much more quickly than my brain.

That said, I do think it's fair enough to explain yourself maybe once or twice, but always with humility and an open mind. This could afford you a better chance of understanding where you've gone wrong than if you 'suck it up' completely. Sometimes, you may still feel that you've genuinely been misunderstood and I think that's ok too.
There are a few threads running at the moment where certain posters seem prepared to just keep slogging on and on and on. I may be misconstruing this, but it seems the motivation is no longer to put across a convincing argument for the sake of the common good, but rather to be 'right' and even more importantly, to be seen to be right. If find this really fucking boring and not a little cringy. Furthermore, and I'm stepping on dodgy territory here, this seems to be very much a man thing. Maybe that's a sweeping and very sexist statement, although I don't think so and I'm ready to get crucified for it.

commieprincess
Aug 19 2013 18:26

This is really bloody marvellous smile

Mike S.
Aug 19 2013 22:21

It's not my goal to bring negativity here into your blog post but I kinda feel like the target of the post here so...

The manarchist thing, I'm not sure if I was coming close to saying "try that on the average working class person at the bar". I said things like MANarchist and MANsplain can be taken as an insult to being a man in general and perhaps it's better to simply call people out on sexist behavior rather than attach the word "man" to mean anything sexist. As far as being called a racist for opposing nationalism it gets to the heart of "runaway privilege theory" in action where people begin to advocate the position that any "oppressor group" member has no right to criticize an "oppressed group" member's opinion. I personally am not going to just "shut up and accept" accusations of racism/sexism while also shutting up and accepting any and everything that comes out of an oppressed persons mouth. Certain issues surrounding sexism and subtle racism I will just quietly take criticism in depending on the atmosphere and the manner in which I'm approached . It's complicated to hold the self awareness necessary to determine whether or not you're in the wrong. I think there's a scale of criticisms I'm willing to accept and being labeled a racist for opposing nationalism isn't one of them but I'm sure I do some sexist things that need calling out, maybe even some subtle racist things but when fingers are pointed and labels thrown onto a person, as happened to me, it was almost like I was being compared to a slave owner or neo nazi. "Hey, look, there's that racist asshole". That's a dangerous label to take on where I live and it did take some work to avoid extremely negative consequences.

The way privilege theory is expanding in the USA I'll soon have to accept any and everything anyone says and sit with any sort of accusation of oppressive behavior (which became kinda dangerous for me when the racist label was thrown my way). The list of oppressed groups is growing rather large. I'm even a member of a couple of them and I'm a straight white male. My major criticisms of PT surround the silence of debate, fractionalization into opposing camps (take the WOC feminist ongoing tension with white women feminists as an example), universal claims made which lack nuance and complexity and a general accusatory resentful atmosphere which I understand is in direct relation to people minimizing oppressed peoples grievances....I don't know, maybe lopsided "push back" is necessary. I understand what's going on I simply have some complains that I'm vocal about. It's hard to fully encompass my thoughts on the atmosphere base privilege theory activism creates. It's created by men and women social justice activists who graduate from university with no interest in communism, people who wholly focus on social justice activism which isn't a bad thing in and of itself of course it's just, that sort of one sided theory put into action can have off putting side effects but also very positive side effects. I don't think I'm the only person who's trying to tackle the privilege theory activist thing. It's a sensitive subject I know that much.

The picture, Lily Taylor playing Valare Solonis. Classic. Please don't shoot me or knee cap me smile

wojtek
Aug 19 2013 22:41

cba

radicalgraffiti
Aug 19 2013 22:27

why do you guys have to whine so much about people discussing problems like racism sexism etc? and why do you keep conflating discussing things that divide us with causing division?

DrBroccoli
Aug 19 2013 22:40
Mike S. wrote:
I said things like MANarchist and MANsplain can be taken as an insult to being a man in general and perhaps it's better to simply call people out on sexist behavior rather than attach the word "man" to mean anything sexist.

Why do you have a problem with the word 'man' being associated with sexism? Do you think it's a falsehood to draw a connection between the two concepts? If not, why does it upset you so much that someone would point that out?

Mike S.
Aug 19 2013 23:00
DrBroccoli wrote:
Mike S. wrote:
I said things like MANarchist and MANsplain can be taken as an insult to being a man in general and perhaps it's better to simply call people out on sexist behavior rather than attach the word "man" to mean anything sexist.

Why do you have a problem with the word 'man' being associated with sexism? Do you think it's a falsehood to draw a connection between the two concepts? If not, why does it upset you so much that someone would point that out?

Well, I laughed when I was called a "manarchist" (because I criticized a second wave sex neg radfems position on trans women on youtube. The "nuclearnights" radfem poster. Her views are quite disgusting). I don't have a fixation or problem as far as sitting in a dark room depressed and tormented by the terms very existence I'm simply discussing it in a thread concerning "things people say that annoy you". Hate is too strong a word to describe my feelings. If I'm sitting in a meeting or planning some sort of function with people and a woman interprets my input as dominating space and says, "hey manarchist, why don't you quiet down for a minute", I'd probably giggle. If she said, "hey, Mike, we hear what you're saying now lets get some other opinions" I'd probably shake my head in agreement.Maybe even thank her for pointing out the fact I was hogging space.

Atop of that yes, I think it's unproductive to equate the very existence of men with negativity. The term "man" becomes the foundation for terms meant to be insulting. I can see the ease and utility of the term though. I mean, just put an M in front of the A and explain all of the problems away! To expand on another aspect, the term mansplain, in some circles, has come to mean any situation where a man has a different opinion than a women and voices that opinion. I'm aware it was originally meant for cases when men tell women things they already know under the assumption that they are unintelligent or naive.

LizzieGlass
Aug 19 2013 23:00
Quote:
Mike S. wrote:
I said things like MANarchist and MANsplain can be taken as an insult to being a man in general

that quote is gold. The matriarchy's gone mad I tell ya!!!

DrBroccoli
Aug 19 2013 23:14

You didn't really answer my question but. I asked whether you thought it was incorrect to association men with sexism, because you said above that you thought it was unfair to associate the word 'man' with 'sexism'. I was just trying to establish whether you said that because you actually think that men don't have a huge, huge, huge role in maintaining the patriarchy, or whether it was just a flippant comment because the word 'mansplain' hurts your feelings.

Mike S.
Aug 19 2013 23:20
LizzieGlass wrote:
Quote:
Mike S. wrote:
I said things like MANarchist and MANsplain can be taken as an insult to being a man in general

that quote is gold. The matriarchy's gone mad I tell ya!!!

And here it begins. I'm not sure why the level of discussion on these issues needs to regress to platitudes meant to frame people as intellectual pariah's. In this case the bottom feeders who are MRA's. To act as if I'm running around screaming "misandry" or "matriarchy" is just silly. I'm going to go smear poop on myself now and gaze into the mirror. A disheveled, confused gaze. Like Ted Kaczynski's mug shot. I quit. You win.

LizzieGlass
Aug 19 2013 23:29
Quote:
If I'm sitting in a meeting or planning some sort of function with people and a woman interprets my input as dominating space and says, "hey manarchist, why don't you quiet down for a minute", I'd probably giggle. If she said, "hey, Mike, we hear what you're saying now lets get some other opinions" I'd probably shake my head in agreement.Maybe even thank her for pointing out the fact I was hogging space.

so what you're saying is you'll only listen to a woman if she tells you you're enjoying the sound of your inevitably dull voice again if she asks very nicely? that's cool, i get that.

and no, i don't think it's incorrect to associate sexism with men. They're not the only people who perpetuate sexism, of course, but they're the ultimate beneficiaries of the system, and that's significant. They're also the people who have most power, so the sexism they reproduce has more meaning.

in short: you're a manarchist admin, no flaming, honey.

LizzieGlass
Aug 19 2013 23:30

also lol 'interprets my input as dominating' bloody pesky women always interpreting stuff that's not there eh what are they like?!?!?!

Mike S.
Aug 20 2013 00:42
LizzieGlass wrote:

in short: you're a manarchist cunt, honey.

Ya I'll go ahead and just sit with that. Yeeeaaah.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0AEdWJ3FQ

Fleur
Aug 20 2013 02:24

Ramona: excellent post

Webby: you obviously have a taste in far more profound diaries than me. Mine's open at a picture of Wolverene right now.

btw, I'm really tired, so this is a bound to be a bit rambling and incoherent.

Generally: is there actually a huge problem out there somewhere with hordes of hectoring harridans shutting down men's opinions en masse? Just how much of a problem is the use of the word mansplaining actually causing? Certainly it's a tad wanky and activisty but surely it can't be causing too much trauma? It's just a word which has been picked on to describe certain patterns of behaviour which some men indulge in, and I'm not about to get all girls versus boys about it, like nine year olds in a playground.
Incidentally my partner, who is not particularly political and certainly isn't in the habit of throwing around activisty jargon, uses the word mansplaining often to describe behaviour in his workplace, which is a very male dominated industry, maybe a 80/20 % split men to women working there, because he thinks it accurately reflects workplace behaviour where men habitually talk over, down to and drown out the voices of their women co-workers. It's not that all of his co-workers are misogynistic dicks (well, some of them are) but it's a reflection of cultural norms and I'm not saying that all men behave like this, it's part of the baggage we have to bin. However, unless they've grown up in a vacuum, all women have had to put up with this behaviour and there's an underlying sexist assumption that when confronted by the ramblings of an asshole, we are expected to be demur, defer and politely and patiently explain, yet again, things that might be expected to be taken as read. Give us a break, we're bound to get pissy and throw the odd insult around, from time to time. ffs, manarchist, manslpaining, they're petty, ego-bruising words, they're hardly massive instruments of oppression.
And I feel like I'm treading on eggshells here because I don't want to offend (which is probably part of the problem) but none of us are perfect, ideologically and intellectually pure, we all have things we need challenging on from time to time and equally as importantly we need to challenge ourselves. However, being challenged does not make you a victim. It may make you go away and rethink your position, or it may make you even more certain in your convictions. However, if you think that women giving you a verbal slap from time to time is just a kneejerk reaction, perhaps you should consider the long history and experience we are reacting to.

Mike S.
Aug 20 2013 04:00
fleurnoire-et-rouge wrote:
Ramona: excellent post

It's not that all of his co-workers are misogynistic dicks (well, some of them are) but it's a reflection of cultural norms and I'm not saying that all men behave like this, it's part of the baggage we have to bin. However, unless they've grown up in a vacuum, all women have had to put up with this behaviour and there's an underlying sexist assumption that when confronted by the ramblings of an asshole, we are expected to be demur, defer and politely and patiently explain, yet again, things that might be expected to be taken as read.

What makes the term "manarchist, obviously (I'm going to mansplain here), is the M in front of the A hence making it an insult solely based on the adjective "man". "The ramblings of an asshole" then become completely inseparable from simply being a man. "All men are assholes" is the implication. It gets kinda "boys vs girls" from there.

fleurnoire-et-rouge wrote:

However, being challenged does not make you a victim. It may make you go away and rethink your position, or it may make you even more certain in your convictions. However, if you think that women giving you a verbal slap from time to time is just a kneejerk reaction, perhaps you should consider the long history and experience we are reacting to.

I've already said I think when things get blown out of proportion and when some people overreact it's most certainly because of the amount of minimization some people have to deal with. I would hope in the end, on both "sides", cooler heads would prevail. The fact I've been called a "manarchist cunt" in this very thread kinda highlights part of my point. It's as if I committed blasphemy in the days of the inquisition.

jolasmo
Aug 20 2013 07:12
Mike S wrote:
It's as if I committed blasphemy in the days of the inquisition.

OMG it is a bit like that, I see what you mean - being called mean things on the Internet is pretty much exactly like being brutally tortured an killed by religious fanatics.

Or hang on, is it actually not at all like that?

~J.

commieprincess
Aug 20 2013 07:26
Mike S. wrote:
The way privilege theory is expanding in the USA I'll soon have to accept any and everything anyone says and sit with any sort of accusation of oppressive behavior (which became kinda dangerous for me when the racist label was thrown my way). The list of oppressed groups is growing rather large. I'm even a member of a couple of them and I'm a straight white male.

This is like a paragraph out of the Daily Mail. "Soon we'll all be wearing headscarves and practising Sharia Law!" "It's PC gone mad!" "Now lesbians are having babies!"

Mike, privilege theory is popular amongst a small section of an already small number of hippies. I know a small handful of class struggle anarchists who are keen on it, but it doesn't mean they're uncritical of it. I'm sorry you've been labelled a racist for simply not agreeing with a person of colour (if that's what happened) and it's not that I don't think that's a problem, but my god, try being a woman for a while mate, and see if that's really the worst thing to happen to a person.

Anyway, no one is ignoring that privilege theory is far from perfect. I think almost everyone who's posted on this thread and others has acknowledged that. So you're preaching to the choir to some extent. But you seem to be mushing together people who have a critique of misogyny and white supremacy with privilege theory, and then attacking privilege theory. I tell you what, that is some irritating bullshit.

Steven.
Aug 20 2013 08:44

Just to say totally agree with the OP, commie princess, fleur and J here.

Mike, I really think you're on a hiding to nowhere with this one. As others have pointed out, if being called something to do with being a man is the worst thing that happens to you today, you're not doing too badly. Sure, some people like the radfem you mention can use terms like that inappropriately, however that doesn't mean the word doesn't explain an actual behavioural problem. And the thread on which originally posted was called "things libcoms say that you hate", not "things radfems or nationalists say that you hate".

Anyway, just a general admin reminder to everyone that no flaming is permitted on libcom.

lzbl
Aug 20 2013 09:49
Mike S. wrote:
The list of oppressed groups is growing rather large. I'm even a member of a couple of them and I'm a straight white male.

intersectionality must blow. your. mind.

Mike S. wrote:
ocelot
Aug 20 2013 13:56

Great blog post.

Lol at "Britsplaining". Totally having that one for the next bookfair when (yet another) UK anarcho or ultraleftist explains to be me why Irish are reactionary nationalist bastards for failing to appreciate the internationalist virtues of the British Empire... (and you think I'm kidding!)

sawa
Aug 20 2013 15:16

Lol Manarchist and mansplaining are meant to attack/make fun of horrible misogynistic men thats the whole bloody point sighhh.
Gah am sad that libcom(not all obv) still isnt getting much better at liberation politics. :[

Ramona
Aug 20 2013 15:21
sawa wrote:
Gah am sad that libcom(not all obv) still isnt getting much better at liberation politics. :[

Hmm we still have a huge way to go obviously but I can't imagine the conversations that have been happening about sexism and racism getting nearly as far as they have say 3-4 years ago. But I'm also biased.

Tyrion
Aug 20 2013 18:23
commieprincess wrote:
Mike S. wrote:
The way privilege theory is expanding in the USA I'll soon have to accept any and everything anyone says and sit with any sort of accusation of oppressive behavior (which became kinda dangerous for me when the racist label was thrown my way). The list of oppressed groups is growing rather large. I'm even a member of a couple of them and I'm a straight white male.

This is like a paragraph out of the Daily Mail. "Soon we'll all be wearing headscarves and practising Sharia Law!" "It's PC gone mad!" "Now lesbians are having babies!"

Yes, this is really very silly. The notion that the use of terms like "manarchist" will lead to the general marginalization of men within the anarchist or activist scene has nothing to do with reality.

Also silly is the language being used here, that you'll "have" to accept anything. Even the most vehement advocates of privilege theory are unlikely to physically compel you to stay silent and accepting as others accuse you of acting objectionably.

Ramona
Aug 20 2013 19:42

For the record, my original post didn't talk about privilege theory beyond a brief and facetious mention in the first sentence. I'm not an advocate of privilege theory, I think that the idea of privilege can be helpful to explain how groups of people can benefit from structural oppression of other people without being sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist etc themselves. Whether that's a "theory" by itself I have no idea.

It confuses me how a point about challenging sexist behaviour (or, ok, behaviour that might unintentionally reinforce patriarchal dynamics) seems to be seen by default as privilege theory, or maybe even "runaway privilege theory" (which brings to mind some wonderful imagery). Maybe thinking that people shouldn't be sexist and if you're told you're being sexist you may well actually be sexist makes me a privilege theorist (is that a thing?), but it kinda feels like a big strawman is being built here to conflate all confrontation of sexism or other oppressive stuff with privilege theory or identity politics or just being middle class or whatever.

Matt
Aug 20 2013 22:18

*Does best Stewart Lee impression*

The other day a woman disagreed with me, no matter how many times I re-stated the same point. It's privilege theory gone mad!

Ramona
Aug 20 2013 22:46

Also, I'm curious as to how people who are worried about "privilege theory" think that casual sexism, racism, homophobia should be confronted. In a way they'd find adequate. Because if pointing it out and explaining your opinion isn't how it should be done, what should we do instead?

Serge Forward
Aug 20 2013 23:06

Eh? I'm curious as to why it's implied that those who are in some way critical of 'privilege theory' do not confront casual sexism, racism, homophobia or do not think these should be confronted.

Privilege theory does not confront sexism, racism or homophobia, it ghettoises those who are subject to sexism, racism or homophobia.

Steven.
Aug 21 2013 08:01
Ramona wrote:
Also, I'm curious as to how people who are worried about "privilege theory" think that casual sexism, racism, homophobia should be confronted.

just to say on this point that I'm not a fan of "privilege theory" (mainly because I think different types of oppression like sexism, racism, ablism for example are qualitatively different, and it doesn't work to try to define them all by the same framework), however I don't really see what any of the points you or people on that original thread had to do with privilege theory. Privilege theory was just a strawman brought in by those feeling criticised.

Steven.
Aug 21 2013 08:04
Serge Forward wrote:
Eh? I'm curious as to why it's implied that those who are in some way critical of 'privilege theory' do not confront casual sexism, racism, homophobia or do not think these should be confronted.

Privilege theory does not confront sexism, racism or homophobia, it ghettoises those who are subject to sexism, racism or homophobia.

Serge, I think you're missing Ramona's point, which unless I'm mistaken is pretty much what is in my post above. Basically Ramona is pointing out that people are raising the spectre of "privilege theory" just because people have called out casually discriminatory statements, hence these people are implicitly saying that calling out discrimination is "privilege theory" in some way. Which of course it's not.

Serge Forward
Aug 21 2013 11:07

Ah...