Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Measuring up to Mr Rational!

Look... I know that this blog distinctly says "No Politics" in the strap line, but I'm going to bend the rules ever so slightly here... Also there's going a bit of drama too. Normal service will be resumed in the next blog, I swear.

So, very few of the skeptical or atheist persuasion will of failed to notice the schism that has developed in those respective communities over the last few years. This has developed over issues of gender and sexism, and the increased profile of feminism within the community (for the sake of brevity here, I'm going to refer to these separate communities as one. If this offends you consider it a model of real-life.) I'm aware there are as many areas of non-overlap as there are overlap. Now, I have an opinion about this, but you know what? It really doesn't matter. There are far more eloquent and intelligent arguments  being issued by both sides of this debate, than I could ever muster.

What is bothering me about this rift, this ongoing battle, is that it has crippled many people's ability to think rationally, surely this is worrying development in a community based on rationality.

Take this chap for example. He is the admin of RATIONALwiki on facebook.

Here is his response to criticism of feminists on his page . By the way "whiteknighting" is the term that some use to describe men who defend women on the internet. The general, and completely facile, idea behind this is men who defend women and feminist ideas, only do so in order to sleep with them.

So "Mr Rational" here feels the need to highlight that the men he disagree with probably have small penises. What an absolute joke. To imply that a physical property is in anyway a factor in one's stance on feminism, in any way, is completely moronic. Shouldn't a flag bearer for rationalism be addressing their arguments? Tackling them this way, rather than throwing out juvenile insults, is surely more productive, hell you might actually change their minds.

The main irony here is this. Brian, presumably, takes objection to misogynists and those he perceives as misogynists, partially because they propagate unhelpful and offensive gender stereotypes. And how does he address this? By banging his chest, shouting down his opponents, by making insinuations about their masculinity by way of genital size. Like a changing room bully/locker room jock. In other words... like an unhelpful, offensive MALE gender stereotype! He is fighting stereotypes by.... adopting them? By propagating them?

 But wait there's more....

Notice Brian singles out attractive women here, so we are free to give woman you deem unattractive "shit" for showing their bodies then? How liberal of you! He then goes on to talk about "body image problems", really, after implying that penis size is some how a quality we can use to judge men, and implying that only attractive women should be free to dress as they feel is appropriate without judgement... You want to talk about "body image issues"? YOU ARE PROPAGATING THESE ISSUES. Your first post clearly enforces a body image stereotype.

Now Brian comes under a bit of fire for these comments, quite rightly as he is being a massive hypocrite. His argument is that his comment is a metaphor, despite not actually consisting of any of the normal  qualities of a successful metaphor. The implication is, we shouldn't be offended, or view this as hypocrisy because "its only a metaphor!" This reminds me of the age only excuse of passing racism and sexism off as harmless if what was said "was only a joke..." Now I think that addressing these topics in the form of humour and metaphor can be helpful, when used ironically, when it is the attitudes of those who hold these positions that is being ridiculed. Other than this hiding your ill-formed opinions as metaphor or humour is something as a red-herring, as humour and metaphor can still offend and propagate harmful stereotypes!

So if we don't get the metaphor, because its ill-formed we must be of low-intelligence. That's doubly true if we don't understand its also a joke! I see! Interestingly, there is a correlation between high-intelligence and understanding metaphor. But often this relationship is inversely proportional, especially in those with Asperger's syndrome, where high-intelligence is coupled  with a tendency to take things literally and a struggle to recognise metaphor. (http://www.orionacademy.org/resources/aspergers-syndrome-and-nonverbal-learning-disorder/)

Also, did someone say "testosterone poisoned idiot" has he read his opening statement?

As the conversation continues the point is repeatedly made to Brian that the reason anxiety over penis size leads to insecurity is due to the propagation of the idea that length of penis is somehow related to masculinity. The opening statement clearly implies that Brian, at least subconsciously, supports this idea. Having this put to him has a strange effect in Brian. A propos of absolutely nothing, he decides to declare his own genital size... Really... I'm not joking....

Why? WHY!?!

That's a question that gets put to Brian, "why did you feel the need to tell everyone commenting your penis size?"

Here is how he responds.

 So he responds by once again suggesting that his critic has a small penis!

Personally, I think Brian felt the pathological need to announce the size of his member (I'm not saying penis again) because he couldn't bare the idea that some people may read the thread and believe he had small genitalia. This categorically shows that he believes that this small element of body morphology actually says something about a person. About their qualities. He feels judged on this, and he judges others to.

This isn't Brian's fault. He is conditioned to believe this. All males are.

Many men experienced terror in the school locker room, of people noticing their penis size of commenting on it. This carries over into young adulthood, insecurities in early sexual encounters. I believe some men never get over that. Don't realise that genital size doesn't define what kind man they will be, will they be generous, kind, selfless,  a caring partner, a good father.... it is these a define a man. None of which have anything at all to do with penis size.

We have a duty to protect, not just our daughters, but our sons too, from body image and gender conformity issues, from what society imposes on them with regards to how they "should" look and behave.
One thought for Brian, why do you think smaller penises, lack of muscle and size, possession of a high voice
etc... has often been perceived as negative traits in men? It couldn't be that these factors make these men seem more feminine could it? Which of course is only a negative thing to... a misogynist.    

What vexes me about Brian and the like, is that their opinions simply haven't been fully thought through. They are faux-feminists. In many cases they are stepping in the defend women who are more than capable of defending themselves. "Step behind me dear, I'll handle this!" They haven't stopped to think long enough to carry their beliefs through to their logical conclusion. That they are as guilty of enforcing stereotypes as the misogynists they rail against.