Using my privilege to interrogate yours

This is not a piece about Ben Pobjie. Nor is it about Justin Shaw, nor Gail Dines nor porn culture. This is a piece about what happens when feminists challenge those who would describe a feminist academic’s work as ‘hysterical screeching’. It is also a recap of a discussion on Twitter two nights ago where this actually happened.

Two nights ago on Twitter, Mike Brull (@mikeb476) challenged Justin Shaw (@juzzytribune) for referring to academic and anti-porn activist Gail Dines’ ‘hysterical screeching’ in an article Shaw wrote for the Kings Tribune. As I watched, the two squared off into what appeared to be pretty aggressive corners. I agreed with Brull’s critique, but admittedly, not with his debating technique, which I thought was a bit inflammatory, and so potentially unproductive.

This is not the beginning, but it’s a good place to start this very long post. These are between Brull and Shaw, with a very helpful interjection from @theriverfed:

@mikeb476: @juzzytribune Calling a woman “hysterical” b/c she’s too angry for you is like calling a woman “slut” b/c you think she’s too promiscuous

@juzzytribune: @mikeb476 Are you saying the word should be banned from use now?

@theriverfed: @juzzytribune Butting in, I would say ‘Choose more precise, less loaded words.” Feminism aside, hyperbole is bad writing. @mikeb476

@juzzytribune: @theriverfed yeah I’ll wear that. It’s my style tho. I usually yell about sport, where hyperbole don’t matter so much..

Then @cosmicjester made a contribution:

@cosmicjester: @juzzytribune haha @mikeb476 taking issue with a single word. Guess you didn’t get it approved by the PC thought police juzzy.

@mikeb476: @cosmicjester Oh life must be tough under the weight of oppression, someone not liking a few words b/c of their history and connotations.

This is when I joined the debate. What follows are the tweets between me (@tammois), @juzzytribune, @benpobjie and some from @mikestuchbery.

There were many many more contributions from a lot of people, and many were not just uncharitable, they were rude and insulting, while plenty attempted to engage in a civil discussion as well. There are far too many for me to collate here, so I have elected to share those between the primary debaters, and have included some from @mikestuchbery although he never engaged with me or directly in the debate, merely made snarky, ‘gaslighting‘ comments from the sideline.

(NB I think it would be great if someone wrote about what happens when a number of people jump in, especially when the numbers are imbalanced on one side – some call it a ‘mob’ or ‘pile-on’, but I think it’s worth further analysis. And if anyone has tweets they think are essential to this discussion that I’ve missed, please insert them in the comments to round out the picture.)

@tammois: @cosmicjester oh, CJ, it’s times like this I lose faith. Seems @mikeb476 is defending women from a sloppy sexist attack by @juzzytribune ½

@tammois: @cosmicjester @mikeb476 then @juzzytribune conceded ‘wrong word’ but defended his right to use it. Sure, has right, as M does to say ‘wrong’

@juzzytribune: @tammois @cosmicjester I use “hysterical” in the generic non-gender sense. Could as easily used “over the top” or “feverish”.

@tammois: @cosmicjester @mikeb476 @juzzytribune I must be careful as haven’t read the article, but ‘hysterical’, ‘shrill’, ‘slut’ all not okay with me

@juzzytribune: @tammois BTW, my attack was not sexist in any way, other than an extrapolation of my use of the word “hysterical”.

@tammois: @juzzytribune I believe you when you say you believe your ‘attack wasn’t sexist’, but that doesn’t make it true… @mikeb476 @cosmicjester

@tammois: @juzzytribunebut I guess my response to calling women you disagree with hysterical has so much historical baggage, I think it’s not okay.

At this stage, @juzzytribune involves @benpobjie:

@juzzytribune: @benpobjie you ready for the hate, big guy? It’s started…

@juzzytribune: @benpobjie our p0rn pieces. I’m a sexist pig, you’re (as usual) making rape jokes..

Then returns to the debate:

@juzzytribune: @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @tammois don’t fucking misquote me. I said “stingy jew bastard” would be wrong, but “stingy bastard” no problem.

@tammois: @juzzytribune ‘hysterical’, like ‘shrill’, has been used as a way to be reductive of women’s contributions to debate, so I wouldn’t use it.

@juzzytribune: @tammois conceded. As I said, I used it in a generic sense. could’ve/should’ve used “fevered” or similar instead…

@tammois: @juzzytribune yes, I think it’s just that these words have way too much baggage & *appear* to be a perpetuation of misogyny, hence concerns.

@tammois: @juzzytribune so perhaps the easiest thing to respond to @mikeb476 is just what you did – could have used other word – bc that word was bad?

@tammois: @juzzytribune it’s a trigger for social justice folk, when someone calls you out, reckon is best to admit to error of judgment & not repeat

@juzzytribune: @tammois done and done.

@tammois: @juzzytribune apols if I sound a bit schoolmarmish. Not trying to be patronising, just to help.

@tammois: @juzzytribune 🙂

And that should have been it, right? @juzzytribune had accepted the feminist critique as valid and it was really not a big stoush. On the sidelines, @mikestuchbery gets involved:

@mikestuchbery: @cosmicjester @juzzytribune Really a waste of time arguing with those two. Unpleasant, arrogant jerks.

@juzzytribune: @mikestuchbery MB, yeah… t’other?

@mikestuchbery: @juzzytribune Humourless Marxist

Now @benpobjie enters the discussion which had just concluded.

@benpobjie: @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @tammois @juzzytribuneif a Jew is stingy why can’t you say they are stingy? And if a woman is hysterical…

@tammois: @benpobjie @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune surely it’s best to acknowledge why someone isn’t forthcoming w $$ re stingy 1/2

@tammois: @benpobjie @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune & actually engage w a woman (or man)’s argument rather than labelling it ‘hysterical’?

@tammois: @benpobjie @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune these sorts of adjectives are a refuge for unwillingness to debate issues, IMO.

@tammois: @benpobjie @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune and I say that having called ppl ‘crazy shouty ppl’ a few times. But happy to be called out

@juzzytribune: @tammois thx. so what word could/should I have used/use in follow-up piece to describe Dines’ screeching?

@tammois: @juzzytribune to be honest, ‘screeching’ is a bit of a cheap shot as well, given, you know, it’s used about women…

@juzzytribune: @tammois seriously? Check my Drum pieces, I use it about men as well, and screeching is what it was..

@tammois: @cosmicjester @benpobjie @mikeb476 @juzzytribuneI don’t know the Dines piece, but surely ‘inciting moral panic’ will do?

@benpobjie: @tammois @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune in that case we can’t use any insults at all. If “hysterical” is accurate I say use it.

@tammois: @benpobjie that’s a pretty boring answer to critique, I reckon. You know, humourless left, etc. @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune

@benpobjie: My next column will be the words “Lighten the fuck up” repeated 250 times.

@benpobjie: @tammois @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune “use words to accurately describe things” is boring? Christ, sorry for the tedium.

@tammois: @benpobjie okay, Ben, do it. Tell me how ‘hysterical’ is accurate & productive. @mikeb476 @cosmicjester @juzzytribune

@benpobjie: @tammois… if any of these definitions apply to a person, “hysterical” is an accurate description. Easy.

@tammois: @benpobjie oh, wow, and you can’t see how calling a woman ‘uncontrollably emotional’ and ‘irrational’ is not okay? really?!

@benpobjie: @tammois are you saying women are never uncontrollably emotional or irrational? They are super-beings immune to these things?

@tammois: @benpobjie I am saying that to discount a woman’s contribution to debate that way is pernicious & unacceptable.

@tammois: @benpobjie I would think such behaviour is more common in the home than in a published piece of work, whether you agree with it or not.

@benpobjie: @tammois it may be more common – but Gail Dines’s work is irretrievably hysterical. It’s a very accurate descriptor of what she does.

@benpobjie: @tammois but it’s not necessarily discounting anything – if anyone’s contribution IS hysterical, why not call them on it?

@tammois: @benpobjie by what judgement do you decree that someone who has a considered (though anathema) position is ‘hysterical’?

@benpobjie: @tammois @cosmicjester @mikeb476 @juzzytribune what use is “stupid” to civil debate? Yet if someone says something stupid I’ll say so

@tammois: @benpobjie not saying we don’t all use unhelpful adjectives sometimes. But gee we should do better @cosmicjester @mikeb476 @juzzytribune

@tammois: @benpobjie and you know, if you want to call people stupid and hysterical, I guess you can, but it’s damaging & unproductive.

@benpobjie: It’s a blocky kind of evening. Also an I-hate-you kind of evening.

@benpobjie: @tammois by what judgment do YOU decree that someone’s position is “considered”?

@tammois: @benpobjie no more so than anything I read on the interwebz, really. But like to give the benefit of the doubt. Which I’m doing here x 1000.

@tammois: @benpobjie you know, we have a lot of followers, Ben. We could ask the women how they feel about hysterical.

@benpobjie: @tammois why? Is your opinion dependent on what other people tell you?

@benpobjie: @tammois if you think hysterical is the wrong word, put your case. Don’t pull this “sexist” nonsense to avoid having to.

@tammois: @benpobjieare you kidding? That’s your new approach to say I’ve not built one against hysterical as critique?

@benpobjie: @tammois point is, you say something is considered, I say it’s hysterical. We disagree. But neither of us is being bigoted.

@benpobjie: @tammois no, that you haven’t built one against it being accurate in a particular case. So you just issue a blanket ban on it.

@tammois: @benpobjie okay, Ben, sorry. Here we go. Your long history of white male privilege is totally blinding you here.

@tammois: @benpobjie I read plenty of things I think are very wrong, but still ‘considered’ in their fashion, as in come from a person with thoughts

@tammois: @benpobjie I guess there is a pretty good reason for dropping certain words until power structures change, yes.

@benpobjie: #block #fuckyou “@tammois: @benpobjie okay, Ben, sorry. Here we go. Your long history of white male privilege is totally blinding you here.”

@tammois: .@benpobjie that is really sad, Ben. Really really disappointing. This was an opportunity. This is your technique, hey? ‘#block #fuckyou

@tammois: Wow. I’ve never been blocked before that I know of? And certainly not by someone I don’t even follow. Hope others gained something.

@benpobjie: Anyone else want to be a fucking moron to me tonight? Anyone? Feel free.

@benpobjie: .@tammois it was an opportunity until you posted a tweet so stupid it brought home the futility of engaging you.

@benpobjie: @tammois sadly my twitter won’t let me block you so your idiocy continues to clog my feed.

@tammois: @benpobjie it is really unfortunate that you don’t want to engage with people when they tell you how they exp words, given you have a voice.

@juzzytribune: @tammois is there a parallel between accusing a white man of inherent blindness and accusing a woman of hysteria?

@tammois: No. RT @juzzytribune: @tammoisis there a parallel between accusing a white man of inherent blindness and accusing a woman of hysteria?

@juzzytribune: @tammois ok then.

@tammois: RT @mikestuchbery: Lovely of @BenPobjie& @JuzzyTribunevia @KingsTribune to highlight the how intolerant & pigheaded some Lefties can be.

@tammois: Nice one by @mikestuchbery there – of course it’s ‘intolerant & pigheaded’ of the left to point out intolerance. Very clever, Mike.

@benpobjie: Protip: don’t bother arguing with someone who decided your gender makes you incapable of being right before you start.

@benpobjie: @tammois I don’t engage with those who predetermined that I have nothing worthwhile to say because I’m male. Because it’s pointless.

@tammois: @benpobjie that’s not very helpful. I engaged w you respectfully at all stages, & don’t remotely think men have nothing to offer.

@tammois: @benpobjie that’s a total cop out. but your total unwillingness to listen indicated that you have *no idea* of your own privilege.

@benpobjie: Don’t call hysterical people hysterical. Don’t call stupid people stupid. Don’t call arseholes arseholes. Fuck that for a laugh.

@tammois: @benpobjie do you realise you have choices her beyond ‘STOP IT I AM NOT SEXIST I SWEAR I AM NICE’? There is also, ‘wow, thx for the input’

@tammois: @benpobjie bc, you know, I didn’t really think you were a terrible sexist. But defending reductive abuse of women isn’t very helpful.

Then people commence with the dismissive jokes about feminism.

@benpobjie:@cyenne40 misogynist album

@benpobjie: @tammois you don’t know me. You don’t know what I do. You don’t know what I think. You don’t have a fucking clue about me. So fuck off.

@tammois: @benpobjie I am not judging you – I’m judging your current words & response to critique *of somebody else’s writing*, btw.

@tammois: @benpobjie I don’t want you to feel bad, or that I think things about you. I just want you to *hear us* when we say don’t call us hysterical

@benpobjie: Twitter has finally allowed me to block @tammois and free my feed of her patronising sexist gibberish, thank Christ

@tammois: For those who follow me, I hope this has been helpful to understand structures of privilege & why it’s not cool to call women hysterical.

@tammois: Nor ‘shrill’, nor ‘sluts’… give me more, everyone, & I’ll RT.

@benpobjie: @crazybrave @ellymc nobody explained privilege because it didn’t need explaining. I’m very familiar with it thank you, patronising tosser

@benpobjie: The world is filled with petty witless fools who’d rather masturbate over their own superiority complex than have an original thought.

As I collected these tweets, I saw a couple where people had asked @juzzytribune what was going on. I’d like to highlight that his responses appear respectful and civil, as they had earlier.

@juzzytribune: @TudorGrrrl I used the “H” word, which started all this…. and I’ve clarified and acknowledged I should have used a non-gender word.. 🙂

Sadly, @mikestuchbery (and others) chose to continue with dismissive acerbity of the ‘feminism is stupid’ variety:

@mikestuchbery: @jeremysear @JaneTribune @benpobjie You are a male. It will take a whippersnipper to your goolies & send you to a site on male privilege.

@mikestuchbery: @Twinarp @benpobjie Your derp privilege is derping you both to the derp.

Though consistency seems not to have been his aim:

@mikestuchbery: @JackieK_ Her initial criticism was fine & cogent. It was the resulting pile on with Brull & others on Ben & Justin I found distasteful.

Finally, this:

@mikestuchbery: @benpobjie Some of us admire your persistence in not losing your cool at the bullies, chancers & zealots.

To wrap up:

This all relates to my post on dissent and intellectual honesty (which was cross-posted to the Drum), except that this is specifically around gendered language. The history of hysteria is basically that women’s uteruses make us irrational. There’s more, but brevity is called for here. But let me attempt to articulate concerns around usage in this case.

Dines (or Greer, or any female commentator) says a thing (or things) that someone doesn’t like, in this case, that porn culture is bad. Perhaps she is passionate on the topic, a bit like Tony Abbott wound up about the price on carbon, but these are women. So some people (not just men) say she is being ‘hysterical’, which means ‘uncontrollably emotional’ or ‘irrational’. It is a deeply gendered term – try to imagine it being applied to men, and in most cases you can’t, unless it’s to queer men. In Shaw’s case, he didn’t just say ‘hysterical’, he said ‘hysterical screechings’. So in the first paragraph of his article, he has given us a position on Dines where anything else we read about her, she is a banshee character, so out of control she’s a danger to not only herself, but probably others.

Let’s say Shaw had said, ‘Dines is trying to incite moral panic’. In this example, Dines is a rational actor with an aim, not an out of control woman not to be taken seriously. In the second example, we do take her seriously, but we may just as easily reach a conclusion that we disagree with her position on porn culture as if we thought she was actually hysterical. The key difference is that Shaw hasn’t robbed her of agency and put her back into that female box of irrationality, emotions, tears and hormones.

Calling a male writer hysterical is just as unproductive to civil debate as calling a woman hysterical. But to call a man hysterical doesn’t have the historical baggage that leads to this act of continuing to marginalise women from public debate.

I have been challenged for calling a man out for being ‘blinded by his (white) male privilege’, as I did Pobjie when he grew more and more belligerent and unwilling to enter into productive discourse. Pointing out privilege is not remotely the same thing as calling a woman hysterical. Privilege is about power, being labeled ‘hysterical’ is about usurping power.

It is far too common a position for people who don’t want their privilege contested or acknowledged to insist they are being oppressed. We’ve all heard the undergrads who, upon learning of the ‘women’s room’, start up a culture of ridicule and demand a parallel ‘men’s room’. Because they’re being marginalised by women seeking a place to retreat from masculine aggression.

I looked at the timelines of a number of people yesterday. There has been a long stream of ‘oh, no, we’re sexist’, ‘don’t say gender, bc then we’re acknowledging gender’, and other such witticisms. They’ve even started a #hysteriagate tag – another tactic to silence dissent.

It’s hard to believe that we still live in a world where people feel so comfortable to retreat to (a very public twitter timeline) space where they make a number of sexist jokes to make themselves feel better about dismissing critique.

Ridicule the women who told you we felt ridiculed. Yeah, that’s really grappling with your male privilege.

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Tammi Jonas

The infrequent and imperfect yet impassioned musings of a farmer, meatsmith, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and cultural commentator with a penchant for food and community.

70 thoughts on “Using my privilege to interrogate yours”

  1. Men tell women that if we organize, they’ll organize, in order to hide the fact that they are organized – it’s called the establishment.

  2. I’m sorry, but how can you say “It isn’t about Ben Pobjie and it isn’t about Justin Shaw and then critique their responses in depth?

    It may not have started out that way, but your piece becomes entirely about them. It makes a wider point, of course, but it really IS about them.

    Which is fine as it goes, and it’s probably an accurate sum up of what happened (regardless of whether I agree with the conclusions drawn), but pretending otherwise is definitely going to detract from the point for some.

  3. Keri, my point there is that the post is about the much broader issues, including a lot of people’s behaviour during and since Wed night. That’s the context, which they largely provided, on which people can now continue to base their readings of their tweetstreams. I think it’s pretty important that people who have a voice are called to account about how they use it, but not just these two.

    I’ve actually been pleased at a number of other people’s discussions since Wed – lots of reflection on language and women going on. If this helps, I’m happy about that.

  4. Relevent to everyone’s interests:

    In particular:

    Anyway. Without getting into the specifics of #hysteriagate or whatevs, I think the issue Ben took with it all is that basically telling someone with privilege they need to butt out *is* scilencing.

    The problem is when people in positions of privilege who purport to speak FOR a minority sector they claim to support. These dudes need to speak WITH the minorities. Because otherwise those who already have a voice are drowning out the one that really needs to be heard.

    Juzzy played it well by taking the criticism, but I query whether Ben really understood your point and just reacted to being called out. (As much as I love him, the piece in question was absolute rubbish.)

    PS: Why is Mike Stutchbury? His interjection to this added nothing other to anything than fawning over Pobjie (whom I adore) and trying to get attention. Oh. Right. THAT is why Mike Stutchbury. Urgh.

  5. Kirsty’s point is spot on – this isn’t about Ben and Juzzy any more than it’s about Mike and me – it’s about how we participated in pubic debate in this case, but obviously more importantly about misogynist language and acknowledging privilege. And actually, re your initial point that I ‘critiqued their responses in depth’ – I actually very intentionally didn’t as I thought they stood on their own for examination. A full analysis of those tweets would be a very interesting exercise, but I figured I’m too close to the discussion to be the one to do it.

  6. I agree with TJ in general on this subject BUT I think ithe ‘event’ has gone a bit too far into ‘first world intelligentsia problems’ … I fiind myself thinking about the third world women with fistulas and other uterine, reproductive, health related issues , who will never know the education level that allows us to understand the reductive implied in the hysterical.

  7. This, in microcosm, is how wars start.
    Two people who are totally convinced they are totally right and with neither displaying the skills nor the good grace to solve the issue.

    I agree with Keri that your article really is about Ben Pobjie. To add some balance may I say that your mistake in logic is here – IMHO :
    @tammois: No. RT @juzzytribune: @tammoisis is there a parallel between accusing a white man of inherent blindness and accusing a woman of hysteria?

  8. I understand your point Therese, and would never compare a global north disagreement between a journalist and a feminist the same as the issues facing women in the global south (or even in Indigenous Australian communities here), but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t contest the symbolic violence done in language all the time in our society.

  9. Robin – I think the fact that Juzzy conceded the point early on highlights the point about gendered language. Also, I addressed the point of why there is a major difference between calling a woman hysterical and pointing out privilege (be it white privilege, male privilege, or the privilege of education, etc).

  10. “try to imagine it being applied to men, and in most cases you can’t, unless it’s to queer men.”

    I see plenty of results on Google when I search for “tony abbott’s hysterical”.

  11. Terese, I don’t see this discussion as apart from the other issues you mentioned. In fact I see them as one in the same – the reduction/devaluation of women by the institution of patriarchy. Violence abstracted through language is still violence. Language is the primary act which constructs “The Other”, to whom all forms of violence and degradation are not only become possible, but inevitable.

    David, using words primarily applied to women to describe men is intended to equate those men with the degraded state of women. It doesn’t de-gender the word, rather it’s an attempt to re-gender (demote) the man.

  12. I don’t really see the point of this whole post, being so completely over the whole thing as I am. But whatever floats your boat, I’ve got no problem with it.
    But I have a question.
    If “hysterical” is a way of shutting down a woman’s argument through invective and put-down, which I accept and have apologised for, (despite its other accepted definitions), what of “misogynist”, which clearly only has one meaning?
    I am now being called the “M” word on twitter, without any attempt to argue against the point of my article.

    I am perfectly happy for my arguments to be argued with and perhaps even shown to be wrong. I am perfectly happy for my article to be criticised and my arguments to be shown as illogical or ill-based, if that is the case.

    Are you Tammi, or any others, prepared to go into bat for me on a similar basis?
    That is, that I and my arguments are now being shut down through the use of a single perjorative insult?

  13. this is not the first time pobje has been called on white male privilege and misogyny. he doesn’t seem to understand the weight of responsibilty his widely published voice/work bears. it is easy for him to throw off ( wank? ) for want of a better word, than engage with any kind of meaningful/fruitful debate. what a shame!

  14. Hi Juzzy, thanks for reading the post and contributing. Not all feminists are alike, as you know, and the position I would take is that it’s not very constructive to simply label a person misogynist unless there’s a track record that indicates it’s an ongoing issue with that individual. In your case, I haven’t read enough of your writing to comment, but what I have read and spoken with you on twitter indicates to me that although there is some casual sexism in your language that you’d do well to examine and perhaps alter. I think you have proven yourself open to being challenged – in fact just now, here – and so yes, it’s unfair of people to wholesale label you a misogynist. And yes, I would go to bat for you on that. I haven’t seen people say it, tbh, so perhaps I don’t follow them? But yes, ultimately I agree with you – challenge the words, and the work and then let people revise a position as new evidence comes to light, but a simple ‘you’re X’ is very unlikely to shift anybody’s views.

  15. thx tammi – it’s @drmeagantyler (who I had a crack at in “the article” dun-dun-daaaaaah).
    I’ve @ed her asking to discuss on email rather than twitter but haven’t heard back yet.

  16. I like all the main participants in this so really hope all can move on after today!
    Twitter is not ideal for arguments as it moves too fast, doesn’t give those on receiving end enough time to fairly formulate a response.
    I hate use of “hysterical” & I hate the way people make fun of Gail Dines when I think she has done valid concerns about damage caused by SOME porn (yeah not all).
    But also accusations of “privilege” etc cause similar anger to men who are decent and feel they get attacked even when they’re “on our side”.
    Mutual misunderstanding and defensiveness etc. I agree with Tammi’s points but as an observer don’t think this is too big a deal really – and I honestly don’t mean to be dismissive or patronizing in that. I just don’t think anyone was too badly in the wrong on either side, it shouldn’t have got this heated…
    Easy for me to say I know.

  17. juzzytribune, given the gravity of the effects of misogyny: rape, gender-cide, all of the little and not-so-little insults and harassments, being passed over for promotion or consideration, etc, etc, etc. I’d be less concerned about being labeled a misogynist than I’d be concerned about tackling misogyny. But then I can’t help but have other priorities. The fact that you can is what separates us – if you let it.

  18. I am very, very sceptical of the notion that people are trying to make Tony Abbott seem un-masculine (especially members of the Gillard ministry!) when they call his ravings “hysterical”. It is not a message that gets through to me *at all* – I just hear someone complaining about how what Tony Abbott says is divorced from reality or good sense.

    Only a small minority of people, even well-educated people, are aware of the history of psychology enough to know what ‘hysteria’ used to refer to. I only learned about it as I watched the Twitter war. Most of us use the word with its dictionary definition, and that is how most of us would interpret someone saying, e.g., “Tony Abbott’s hysterical position of trying to pretend that somehow this Government wouldn’t last full term…”. There is no suggestion that this somehow undermines Abbott posing in his Speedos, but it *is* perfectly consistent with Google’s autocomplete of ‘tony abbott is a moron’.

    So I can not only imagine ‘hysterical’ applying to a heterosexual man, but I have seen it, it made perfect sense, and I didn’t have the slightest impression that someone was trying to de-masculinise him.

  19. Lori – I agree that misogyny is far worse than being labelled a misogynist, however misogyny being as awful as it is implies that the wearer of the term is a pretty awful person. Which I’m actually not, unless you’re a Collingwood supporter.
    But the whole point of this discussion was in the use of language to shut down someone’s arguments; I am now being shut down (by some) with use of a label – they don’t have to listen to anything I have to say because of the convenient use of the M word.
    I am effectively unable to tackle misogyny because anything I have to say will come from That Misogynist Over There and can then be ignored/ridiculed, just as the woman with something to say is ignored because she’s “hysterical”.

  20. Gail Dines : “Men are amoral support systems for an erect penis.”

    This is an emotional and irrational statement, in other words, it is hysterical. It is also stupid. It is ignorant. It is unscholarly. It is offensive. It does not in any way represent feminist ACADEMIC thought.

    It is but one example of Dines’ many emotional, irrational therefore hysterical statements, all in the public domain for anyone to look up and read.

    I think its very important that women with a public voice such as Dines’ are called to account for how they use it. You cannot demand this of men without also demanding it of women.

    Dines is a disgrace, both to academia and feminism.

    Since when did equality mean the right to dehumanize men and be applauded for it? Or do women such as Dines think it’s all right because we have so much catching up to do?

    Dr Jennifer Wilson

  21. Jackie K, men who are “on our side” don’t get angry, or at the very least understand how they have been conditioned by male privilege to feel angry. And focus their anger accordingly

    If men don’t want to be challenged on their privileged status, then they need to challenge male privilege.

    Men who want this to change need to change men. Period.

    If you ever let other men tell sexist jokes, assuming that as another man you won’t get offended, tell them you are deeply offended, and why.

    Do this and you’ll learn first hand what it is like to tell a man “no” on behalf of those who are not entitled to the word. Cast your lot with ours and feel how threatening the air gets – how the tension in the room hums in your bones and strains the muscles in your neck.

    Form a Men Against Rape group. Reject all forms of male privilege, especially the unearned praise of women.

    Do this every day, and then I’ll believe you are one of the good guys who are “on our side”.

    (The same is true of racism, if you are not actively anti-racist, putting yourself out there on the line as a traitor to your race, you’re still part of the problem. “Not participating” is not an option, and lack of action always defers to the status quo.)

    Yes, this post is confrontational. Because without confrontation we’re just chipping at the edges.

  22. juzzytribune, I think you have a lot more resources at your disposal than you are letting on. For example, you can be actively anti-sexist. Then, even if someone is calling you misogynist, it’s not a label that will stick. And, if you have to contend with someone trying to marginalize or silence you for awhile, you surely can use the experience to gain empathy with women who are stymied by such acts every day of their lives.

  23. Dr Wilson, I find it interesting how much attention is paid to the voices of those women who are privileged by the dominant culture to represent all women, or at least the “women’s perspective”. And conversely how little attention/scrutiny is given this “selection process”. I.e. I think it suits the male dominated media to give greater exposure to those women (Paglia, for example) who either toe the patriarchal party line or who can be readily ridiculed. Attacking those women just adds to the problem, intentionally or otherwise, reinforcing female inferiority. Horizontal hostility is feminism 101, and I, for one, refuse to bite, no matter the attractiveness of the bate.

  24. So, are you saying that women must never publicly disagree with other women because this reinforces horizontal hostility and allegations of female inferiority?

    And that women who disagree with, for example, Dines, are simply by virtue of publicly expressing that disagreement, “toeing the patriarchal line?” Albeit un-intentionally, or perhaps because we are too unaware to realise that we are (allegedly) “toeing the patriarchal line?”

    Are you demanding that women be allowed to say anything, no matter how stupid, ignorant, offensive, prejudiced and ill informed it might be, without incurring any kind of public criticism at all from any other women, lest we should reinforce our supposed collective inferiority in the eyes of the patriarchy?

    Are you saying that in this way, by remaining silent about the ignorance, stupidity, prejudice etc expressed by women we will further our cause?

    Have you ever studied ethics 101?

  25. Dr Wilson, I googled that phrase. I am not a Dines fan, but it seems that you’ve misrepresented her in saying it’s how she views men who use porn. In fact, Dines used it to critique how pornography portrays men:

    “The story pornography tells about men is much simpler than the one about women, since men in porn are depicted as nothing more than soulless, amoral life-support systems for erect penises who are entitled to use women in any way they want. ”

    As I said, not a huge fan of hers, but to rely on an misrepresentation to justify your argument that Dines is irrational, overemotional and unscholarly is profoundly unpersuasive.

    Happy to be corrected if you can point to her saying what you suggest she said.

  26. Calling privilege is a very fraught exercise. I’ve always personally found the word entirely confrontational, and therefore rarely constructive when thrown at someone when trying to get them to see the argument. Not least, because I’ve pretty much never been persuaded by someone throwing it at me. I’ve only ever been able to examine my own privilege by considering the perspective of those who don’t share it, not by being told I have it, if that makes any sense.

    I also remember the first time I heard the argument against using “hysterical” and was dumbfounded. It had never had that connotation for me, or the world I grew up in. I understand that it does for some people, though. This language thing is tricky, murky and has no clear lines in the sand. How many people have to feel the connotations in order to ask the whole world to change their language (at least in public)? I mean that as a genuine question, not as a cheap shot. I think there clearly is a point at which it’s reasonable to do so, but equally, 2 people finding something offensive probably doesn’t justify such a claim. I can understand arguments for “hysterical” being on either side of the line.

    But in the broader context, the power of language is generally under-estimated, and people who use it effectively often underestimate their own power, so I agree that the discussion needs to be had often.

  27. @Zoe: Dines uses the phrase “amoral life support systems” at the Sydney Writers Festival Q&A, as well as in several interviews about her book. Men who use porn such as Justin Shaw, do not, I imagine, perceive either themselves or the male porn actors in those terms. Neither do women who enjoy porn. Gail Dines does. I don’t think I have misrepresented her at all. It is a clear statement of how she views male porn actors and male porn users who enjoy the product.

    But just in case here’s another on how pornography wrests reason and self-control from boys and men through their genitals: “the penis is a powerful delivery system to the brain.” I can imagine the outcry if a male academic publicly claimed that “the vagina is a powerful delivery system to the brain,” can’t you? Something akin to the outcry about us being described as “hysterical?” Governed by our anatomy? Helpless in the face of our hormones?

    And to cover all my bases, here is a fine example of the kind of pseudo sociological misinformation on which much of Dines’ arguments are based:

    “Another one is what I call pseudo-child pornography, (PCP) which is women who are 18 — I’m pretty sure of that — but they look younger, and they behave in a younger way. So what you have are men who are bored with adult women looking out for these pseudo-child porn sites. And I’ve interviewed child rapists, and some of them actually started looking… They didn’t want to go to illegal child pornography, so they started with the legal so-called child pornography, and then basically matured into child pornography. And for some of them, the distance between looking at child pornography and raping a child was six months. What they said to me was they got bored with ‘regular’ porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped a child.”

    This bizarre process analysis of child sexual abuse, based on half a dozen interviews with imprisoned pedeophiles who were undoubtedly only too happy to blame the internet for their crimes rather than take responsibility, is nothing short of ludicrous. How does Dines explain pedophilia prior to the internet, is the first question that comes to mind. The internet made me do it, they cry. Only six months of internet exposure and I was catapulted from horror at the idea of raping a child to finding myself actually doing it!

    So pedophiles are really men who got bored with adult women, graduated to porn sites featuring adult women who looked like children, got bored with that and moved on to porn sites featuring actual children, presumably only female, because apparently the process doesn’t work with adult men looking like young boys. They then went out and raped female children as a direct consequence of this internet journey.

    Dines fails to offer any explanation for the sexual abuse of boy children in her “analysis.” It’s only the pedophiles who raped girl children that she interviewed, apparently.

    The woman is a charlatan. She is irrational, emotional, unscholarly and a disgrace. Her attempts to use pedophilia and the suffering of children to pursue her case against pornography is despicable.

    I do not rely on misrepresentation to pursue my case against Dines – I rely on the evidence provided by Dines herself.

  28. Jennifer, I have no problem criticizing, say, Margaret Thatcher, or any of the women who’ve so throughly aligned themselves with the male power structure as to be nearly indistinguishable from it. But I am still aware that, as a woman, she was subject to greater vitriol than any man of similar actions, politics and temperament. So, for the most part, even with the likes of Thatcher, I didn’t/don’t feel the need to “pile on”. As Tammi has pointed out here regarding vegans and omnivores, there are far bigger fish to fry and institutions to unravel. So, in the case of women and minorities, I’d rather expend my limited energies on criticizing the patriarchy than the people trying (imperfectly) to live in it.

    I’m never one for silence on any subject. Nor am I advocating it here, but I do think that you missed my part about context. Some people are privileged to have their voice in print, or in some way amplified beyond what the average person can expect. In those circumstances, we should each weigh our “opinions” accordingly. For me, it’s less about “objective” critiques, than it’s a question of, “is it helpful?”

    It reminds me about how when attending a Take Back the Night march, I was asked by the press about abuse in lesbian relationships (and it is so flattering to be asked ones opinions by the press). But it was clear to me that at an event that was about specifically about calling out men on their horrifically violent and degrading shit, I was asked to throw some shit women’s way as well. See, men are not the problem, women can be bad as well. Well, of course we can, but that was not the point that night. I’m more than willing to discus woman on woman violence an appropriate context.

    I don’t know you at all, so I have no idea how you relate feminism, anti-sexism, anti-racism, etc. But jumping in to an argument about sexism to support “the guy” tends to throw up a red flag for me. Especially since I don’t see any real harm befalling men from charges that they belittle women.

    I find this poem describes the bind we women find ourselves in, in trying to play the game as if it’s not rigged:

    CINDERELLA [1977]

    . . .the joy that isn’t shared
    I heard, dies young.
    Anne Sexton, 1928-1974

    Apart from my sisters, estranged
    from my mother, I am a woman alone
    in a house of men
    who secretly
    call themselves princes, alone
    with me usually, under cover of dark. I am the one allowed in

    to the royal chambers, whose small foot conveniently
    fills the slipper of glass. The woman writer, the lady
    umpire, the madam chairman, anyone’s wife.
    I know what I know.
    And I once was glad

    of the chance to use it, even alone
    in a strange castle doing overtime on my own, cracking
    the royal code. The princes spoke
    in their father’s language, were eager to praise me
    my nimble tongue. I am a woman in a state of siege, alone
    as one piece of laundry, strung on a windy clothesline a
    mile long. A woman co-opted by promises: the lure
    of a job, the ruse of a choice, a woman forced
    to bear witness, falsely
    against my own kind, as each
    other sister was judge inadequate, bitchy, incompetent,
    jealous, too thin, too fat. I know what I know.
    What sweet bread I make

    for myself in this prosperous house
    is dirty, what good soup I boil turns
    in my mouth to mud. Give
    me my ashes. A cold stove, a cinder-block pillow, wet
    canvas shoes in my sisters’, my sisters’ hut. Or I swear

    I’ll die young
    like those favored before me, hand-picked each one
    For her joyful heart.

  29. @Jennifer Wilson – I didn’t see the Q&A, but I’ve read the transcript. Dines does indeed use the phrase, but again, to describe and critique how porn portrays men:

    “… my argument would be that the only way to stop this is to have a public health approach, start a movement of enraged women and men of good faith who are also enraged at being defined by the pornographers as amoral life support systems for erect penises, because that’s all that pornography thinks men are. ”

    As before, Dines is not saying male porn users are “amoral life support systems for erect penises”, she is decrying the porn industry which she says views men that way.

    If there’s an interview or whatever where she says that’s what she thinks, put a link up, I can’t find one.

    I am not persuaded by your claim that your argument is “rely[ing] on the evidence provided by Dines herself” when what you claim is evidence is incomplete and when examined actually contradicts your point.

  30. @ Zoe: “But jumping in to an argument about sexism to support “the guy” tends to throw up a red flag for me.”

    That is an insulting and belittling description of my engagement with the controversy. I became involved in this because yesterday in another forum my opinion was asked for, and it was asked for because I’ve written about anti porn activists in various media, on occasion specifically about Gail Dines, and Gail Dines has publicly responded to me.

    The poem describes the bind some of us women find ourselves in. Some of us are in that bind for some of the time and then we liberate ourselves. Others stay bound.

    A woman does not have to “try to play the game as if it is not rigged.” That isn’t our only choice. A woman can live with her eyes wide open, knowing full well the nature of the world in which she exists and carving out a life for herself in spite of that. “Trying to play the game as if it’s not rigged” sounds to me rather dishonest and victim-like. It is in many senses “rigged” and for some men as well, as not all men are hegemonic masculinists. Have you read bell hooks?

    Victim feminism is not my thing.

    I simply will not engage in these dehumanizing generalisations about “men” and “women.” Feminists have long fought to end stereotyping, knowing from bitter experience the dangers inherent in it. Yet everywhere in feminism today I hear and read “men do this” and “women do that.” If language matters, and I believe it does, what is the feminist justification for this stereotyping? Would we accept “Muslims do this?” “Jews do this?” “Palestinians do this?” No, I don’t think so.

    If “jumping into an argument about sexism to defend the guy” throws up a red flag for you, maybe you could ask yourself why that is. If you find you’ve decided that no matter what, men are always wrong on this issue just because they are men, then I think our conversation is on tenuous grounds.

  31. @Zoe, I think you are missing my point. In Dines opinion and only in Dines opinion, there is no research available to confirm that pornographers do indeed perceive men in this way, pornographers view men as “amoral life support systems.” The description is hers, and she projects her belief onto pornographers.

    Are you trying to tell me that Dines does not view men who use the porn in the same terms? Because that makes no sense. If you read her work you’ll see that she believes boys and men become, through the use of porn, incapable of conducting satisfying relationships with women in real life, and over time, need the stimulation of more and more extreme porn. In other words, Dines’ whole argument is that boys and men become the “amoral support systems for a penis” that she claims pornographers model for them. They become enslaved by their penis, and the only gratification they become capable of is that modeled to them by pornographers. This is all men who use porn, according to Dines, and it doesn’t matter what kind of porn. All porn. You really need to read her stuff if you’re going to get into a discussion about it.

    Apart from that, it looks as if you are seeking the gratification of a “gotcha” moment, and that is so important to you that even my explanation of Dines’ manipulation of pedophilia and child sex abuse to support her anti porn campaign is not sufficient to distract you from that goal.

    Knock yourself out.

  32. @Jennifer Wilson I’m not trying to tell you what Dines thinks, I’m examining the comment you attributed to her. You didn’t give the full quote, and It think your argument suffers for it.

    I’ll be offline for a few days for a family holiday, so will not be around to respond to any other comments.

  33. “It’s hard to believe that we still live in a world where people feel so comfortable to retreat to (a very public twitter timeline) space where they make a number of sexist jokes to make themselves feel better about dismissing critique.”

    I consider myself to be a self-styled antiporn advocate and despite doing my best to educate people about the dangers associated with pornography, it really amazed me at first just how vile and sexist the comments I got from people who legitimately disagreed with my views. Apparently Mr. Shaw feels that his opinion is so infallible then gives him the right to make a fool of himself in denouncing someone –in this case Ms. Dines– whom he has a simple disagreement with. Fortunately it was done in public for all to see Mr. Shaw’s true colors.

  34. Taking this back to the heart of the argument.

    If a woman is indeed a slut, is it OK to call her one. Or, is that term too loaded?

    If a woman is indeed hysterical, is it OK to call her one? Or, is that term too loaded?

    I’d say that such language, especially when directed against a member of an oppressed group by a member of the oppressor group, is at the very least inappropriate. It smacks of defending the privileges (an presumed superiority) of the user, and not the heart of the argument.

    And Jennifer, just a note, I think that patriarchy is bad for men as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that it chucks in some huge benefits for them. The same can be said of whites and racism. Pointing out that someone is on the privileged end of a system of cultural inequalities is not the same as saying “men bad” (or “whites bad”). And yes, when we defer to defending the dominant voice defending the dominant discourse in an argument, it bears scrutiny.

    p.s. Apologies for odd bits of fragmented writing. I’m dyslexic.

  35. @39 So you run website call “Find His Porn” that sells software for $19.95 that women can use to secretly track their male partners’ porn use?

    Nice one. Way to have a good relationship with your male partner. Spy on him with specialised software.

    And then what? Do you confess your invasion of his privacy and confront him? Or do you keep it ll to yourself and secretly despise him?

  36. For the purpose of this comment, I’m probably more interested in the way the conversation unfolded than the issues discussed themselves.

    But I will state at the outset, so any bias of mine is clear, I blocked Ben over a year ago. The reason I did this was because (IMO) he can be relied upon to cut off critics – whether they are reasonable or not – with derision and personal attacks which I find unacceptable. In his defense, I would say that he has a large following and I doubt reasonable critics take into account how much unreasonable, abusive shit he may be copping at any one time. That doesn’t excuse him – and I think he actively invites it – but it can lead to people misattributing the reason for his responses.

    Knowing that Juzzy is still getting the mysogynist word flung at him, I wonder if he has lost his cool on occasion. If so, considering his laudable openness to my critique of his article, I wouldn’t blame him for that. Whoever has been going at him must be very ill-informed, as it is so very easy to be on Twitter. We don’t all see the same tweets. We don’t all see the whole context.

    By my estimation, Ben’s (less than laudable) rejection of criticism is pretty egalitarian. I consider him a feminist regardless of how much I dislike, and even disapprove of, his shock jock style. And by my reading here, it /looks/ like the accusation of “crying sexism” and the accusation of “privilege” were both unjustified and inflammatory.

    I’d also like to point out that much of the really unproductive, ugly stuff came late. Much of it was followers defending their tweeps on the basis of what little they had seen. Anyone who had read the actual articles would have realised the word ‘hysterical’ was not the sole issue but it was all that was discussed – rather ‘hysterically’ – that evening.

    I can’t lie and say that I didn’t see a couple of ‘men do this’ tweets that night which made me laugh and provided some personal relief from the tension so I’ll be fair here and guess both Juzzy and Ben found some relief in seeing ‘women do this’ tweets too. (Anyone who read the entirety of my discussion with Juzzy would have seen how we actually ended it by playing with stereotypes and laughing at them… Together.)

    The problem, however, is that by the time the discussion had branched out into a wider audience, it had been polarised and all contributions – fair or not – were rendered useless.
    Yes, I think Ben adopts a persona that deliberately pushes buttons to cause his followers and his critics to cross lines and I don’t think he owns that. But his ‘gaslighting’ is /not/ restricted to women, or to women’s issues. I blocked him as the lynchpin of pointless, divisive, bullshit arguments, not as a sexist. And in the grand scheme of things, it is irrelevant who made the first blanket accusation. Everyone has the choice not to mirror the behaviour and make it worse.

    Obviously, it would be lovely if everyone was perfect and never let the frustrations of the broader world effect how we interact with or react to individuals. But we’re not. I’m not. And if I am prepared to fault myself and forgive myself on occasion for terrible generalisations applied to individuals, I try to extend others the same courtesy. Men are just as unconsciously enculturated into their positions as women are into theirs. The ‘benefit of the doubt’ is one of the most useful tactics at anyone’s disposal. Sometimes especially when the person in question deserves it the least.

    I realise my ‘catch more flies with honey’ approach might be criticised by those who take a harder line, since it fits so squarely within ‘acceptable’ female behaviour. But I’m not fighting a war and I definitely don’t want to win one.

    I’m also NOT suggesting it should be women’s job to always “be the better ‘man'” – a rather ridiculous phrase considering which sex is programmed to do that. The general principles of reasoned debate apply to any discussion, had by any genders/ages/ethnicities/religions etc. And everyone, always, should be aiming to live up to them, even though we are all destined to fail on occasion. And our ‘opponents’ will too.

    In terms of those principles, accusing a critic of crying sexism or crying victim or having no sense of humour etc, is definitely a big FAIL. But I see no difference between that and accusing someone of blind privilege. The fact of a broader power imbalance, such as there is between men and women, does not mitigate the fact that, in an individual disagreement, ‘privilege’ is a personal attack too.

    It’s understandable. And forgiveable. And ‘true’ in the grand scheme of things. But it is not a valid argument by any measure, whether it was provoked or not, whether you /think/ it is the motivating factor or not.

    As is obvious, /I/ think expecting Ben to live up to those principles in /any/ discussion is a rather fruitless exercise and I believe he is often damaging rather than helpful on feminist issues because of that. He gets no free pass from me.

    In the end, we – all of us, men and women – can only control our own words. We should choose them carefully, avoiding insult and offense, ensuring that what is an apparent pattern in a broader framework does not creep in to the way we perceive and speak to individuals.

    That, after all, is what we want feminism to achieve, is it not?

  37. @ Lori. Your writing is good. It’s miles better than plenty of non dyslexic students I’ve had.

    What I want to say and it’s not specifically to Lori, is that it seems as this discussion has unfolded that apparently practically nobody involved has actually read Dines’ work.

    This has not stopped @Zoe from accusing me on twitter of “misrepresenting” Dines, solely on the strength of one quote she discovered with her google finger, and not from her knowledge of Dines’ body of work, and how that specific phrase is fundamental to it and to any analysis of it.

    And as language has been at the core of this discussion, we’d probably do well to recall that the term “hysteria” was not originally an insult. It comes from hystera, (womb) and was up until Freud, used to describe ailments that at the time were considered to be specifically female. It then gathered a great deal more undesirable baggage. As do very very many words.

    A woman can always, as in the Chinese proverb about the man who was kicked by a donkey, choose to overlook the insult on considering its source. This is the most powerful way I know to de-fang sexist insults.

    In the two days prior to this argument I wrote two pieces on my blog about misogyny. One concerned the misogyny directed at Julia Gillard. The other was about a misogynist attack by Bob Ellis on women writers. Justin Shaw was not being misogynist. Gail Dines was being hysterical. And I now know before engaging with even those who are academics, to first ask if they’ve read the material to which they are referring.

  38. Justin was not being intentionally misogynist, but his use of a loaded word had that effect. Intention does not change the effect, which Justin recognised.

    I can’t speak for what Zoe does and doesn’t know, but I can say that it’s not just something that she discovered with her google finger. She stated that she is not a fan on Dines and as I know Zoe IRL I believe that she has come to this conclusion after becoming familiar with at least some of Dines’ work.

    I have stated on your blog why I think Gail Dines is not being hysterical but rather deliberately provocative, so I won’t repeat it here.

  39. Tammi, you come across as extremely self righteous. You claim this is a battle for feminism, but this is all about YOU. This is about *your* argument. It is about *your* gripe with a particular word. This is about *your* perception of that word. Quite frankly, I believe your perception of the word is skewed and outdated, if not flat out wrong.

    You keep saying the word ‘we’. What is this ‘we’ business? You don’t speak for me, or the large majority of feminists I know. I doubt you speak for the large majority of linguists in the world, either.

    I also have a HUGE problem with you claiming that you can only apply hysterical to ‘females and queer males’.

    Firstly, you’re inferring all homosexual men are effeminate. The internalised prejudice you’re displaying is appalling. Yet, you are willing to tell everyone else what they must be thinking based on their language.

    Secondly, you call them ‘queer’. There are very few gay men I know who refer to themselves as queer. They are more likely to say ‘gay’. I feel you avoided using the word gay so you could steer readers away from the point that others have been trying to make, in that language evolves.

    The word ‘gay’ is a perfect example of how a word can start off derogatory, be reclaimed, then become a part of popular parlance with little to no negative connotation compared to it’s original meaning. Hysterical has done exactly that. Many people have tried to point that out to you and you’ve either flat out denied it, created circular arguments, or just accused the individual of sexism if they were male.

    And before you say, “Really? I don’t even remotely see that,” well, of course you’re going to say that. Admitting you’re wrong would mean that you created an internet pile on on two men because you made the mistake on jumping in on a discussion where you actually admitted you hadn’t read the article in question, then overreacted to their questions.

    And you can’t say you didn’t start the pile on, you ‘just put it out there’. On the internet, that’s the equivalent of giving a child a box of matches. I don’t doubt that you knew this.

    Congratulations on being everything you hate: A bully.

  40. ‘Seemingly innocuous words often have a profound charge depending on how and by whom they’re used. Tom knows, surely, how problematic it is to use the word “boy” to refer to an African-American. It’s not a curse word in most contexts, but when used by a white person to refer to an adult black male, it’s steeped in the long and painful history of racism in America. What many men fail to understand is that accusing a woman of being insane or of engaging in reprisals merely because she’s expressing forceful disagreement has an equivalent ugliness. If that seems hyperbolic, google the word “hysteria.”

    All of this behavior reflects two things: men’s genuine fear of being challenged and confronted, and the persistence of the stereotype of feminists as being aggressive, wrathful, “man-bashers.” The painful thing about all this, of course, is that no man is in any real physical danger on the internet— or even in real life — from feminists. Women are regularly beaten and raped — even on college campuses — but I know of no instance where a man found himself a victim of violence for making a sexist remark in a feminist setting! “Male-bashing” doesn’t literally happen, in other words, at least not as a result of arguments over feminism. But that doesn’t stop men from using (in jest or no) their own exaggerated fear of physical violence to make a subtle point about feminists.’ – from ‘Why I resigned from the Good Men Project’, 21.12.2011

  41. Sorry for absence from the comments – it’s been a busy and social weekend here, and a bit of relief from the abuse I also copped throughout this ordeal, including the threat I didn’t let through to the comments where someone told me they had my address. So it’s not just Ben and Juzzy who had to put up with extremely uncharitable and abusive ‘feedback’.

    I’m not going to address every point in the 46 comments here, though there have been many really important issues discussed.

    I would like to say, first up, that while I certainly stand by my reading of Juzzy’s initial use of ‘hysterical screeching’ as a sexist (and lazy) description of Dines’ work, my broader point is that it is a device employed to silence your opponent rather than engage honestly with the issues.

    Jennifer, not a single argument you’ve made about Dines’ work has convinced me that it’s reasonable to call it ‘hysterical’, let alone ‘hysterical screeching’. There is plenty of scholarly work that I loathe, but as a cultural theorist who has taught critical literacy and media critique for many years, I am too aware of the ‘persuasive techniques’ of such hyperbolic attacks, and they are pedestrian and pandering to a presumed-to-be-dullard mainstream audience to say the least. I expect more from publications I choose to read and support, such as Kings Tribune, which I have hopes for as a newer entry to independent media in Australia. If I wanted that kind of ‘critique’, I’d read the MSM. Your actual arguments against her work have been much more readable than a simple bit of lazy slagging off.

    Ariane & L.K. Giesen – I take your points. As I said in the post, I was so frustrated at the perceived fingers-in-the-ears ‘lalalalala’ from Ben that I demanded he examine his male privilege. While it is, in my view, a fair thing to point out (and others have pointed out mine to me, which I acknowledge, and hence the title of this post), it was probably not the most constructive thing to say if I wanted him to take his proverbial fingers out of his ears. The ensuing behaviour over the next days, however, did serve to support my concern as he and others made the sorts of ‘make fun of the feminists until they go away’ comments that are so incredibly unhelpful and in fact destructive.

    Having said that, I have reached a point of saturation with abusive and unpleasant comments myself that I can better imagine how frustrating it must be for Ben Pobjie at times like this. It’s demoralising, to say the least. However, I have worked very hard not to simply crack the shits and shout back at the people who are *not helping*.

    This is a great spot to end, given the most recent comment by Chasy, who also wrote a blog post (which was much more productive than her comment, btw), and who I see from the timeline is a big fan of Ben’s. I suspect that even responding to you will lead to further claims of me being a bully, but this is a public debate, no? Aside from the fact that you radically misinterpreted my claims about ‘hysterical’ and its application to women or queer men, as well as my use of the word ‘queer’, you’ve resorted to the very tactics I’ve been writing against all along. If this was about me, I would definitely have read a book rather than post something I knew would cause the wagons to circle. This is about denigration and dismissal of women, but it’s also about dismissal of contributions to debate – by women or men. It’s about intellectual laziness and lack of civility. And you demonstrated a number of these issues in your comment.

    Thank you, everyone, for participating in this discussion. Those who would have had us STFU around midnight last Wednesday will be especially tired that we are still talking about civility, language, misogyny and respect, but they would do well to join us.

  42. Chasy, I very much disagree with this being all about Tammi. Especially since this topic is exhaustingly familiar ground, addressed over and over in tomes of feminist discourse.

    Nor is she inferring anything about gay men. Rather she is acknowledging their ascribed Otherness in the Cartesian dualistic model of Man/not Man, means that they are frequently, and negatively, lumped in with women.

    As a lesbian, I call myself a lesbian, but I accept that queer is generally accepted the most inclusive word currently in use, and I therefore don’t shy from it, or take offense.

    I have a particular interest in etymology, especially words about women and how they have changed over time. There are two strong currents. One, the words that are solely ascribable to women eventually become weighted negatively, no matter who they are addressing. And two, that negative words are more likely to become gendered female over time, if they were gender neutral to begin with. Harpy, harridan, shrill, shrew, etc, etc, etc.

    Straw man, much? Don’t put words in other people’s mouths.

    Women, and well-meaning men, put it out there, in speech, in print, on the Internet, over and over, that these acts of oppression are part and parcel of our everyday lives. And yet, somehow, despite the our fanning the ‘conflagration’, it keeps happening. Which leads me to believe that our actions are not nearly as bullying, or limiting to others, as you seem to suggest. Which is too bad.

    My heart is moved by all I cannot save
    so much has been destroyed

    I have to cast my lot with those
    who age after age, perversely,

    with no extraordinary power,
    reconstitute the world.

    – Adrienne Rich, “Natural Resources”

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