There’s often some core, fundamental beliefs to people that usually stem from some deeply scripted familial programming, experience or self-established values. I think we all have some of these. Mine take me off the chart on the Political Compass in terms of left/libertarian (small ‘l’) values, yet weirdly I more and more often get accused of somehow being racist, sexist or (increasingly) conservative. None of this is accurate and all these accusations go against my core left/lib values.
I’ve come to see – largely via involvement in Gamergate – that this divide isn’t a left/right one, much as it is characterised as such, but rather a libertarian/authoritarian conflict that is being characterised as a left/right one. ‘Conservative’ has become an insult, and as an old-school lefty living under a Conservative government, it’s easy to see why, but it is being misapplied in much the same way ‘socialist’ or ‘Marxist’ gets abused as an insult by the US right wing. It shuts down discussion, reduces things to tribalism, much like empty accusations of sexism or racism do.
If I had to write down my core values they would probably look something like this:
- Logic, reason and evidence having the greatest worth in problem solving.
- The value of individualism.
- The value of maximum possible liberty, individually AND collectively.
- Challenging authority.
- Science as the most efficacious method of addressing problems.
- Tolerance – ‘Do what thou wilt, so long as it harms none’.
Pretty much the values of The Enlightenment, all told and while some people do, indeed, object to these ideas by wanting equity over equality and disregarding objective science as somehow being white imperialism, most rational people surely couldn’t particularly object to any of these on principle, could they?
So where’s the problem and why, knowing my own mind as I do, and knowing that I’m not sexist, racist or any of these other accusations do they bother me so? Why do they both me sufficiently that I sit down and work through my thoughts on the issue in a blog post? Let’s have a look at a few of the areas of contention and work through these thoughts – I think better in writing so this blog is really more for me than anyone else, though I’m interested in your comments.
If I describe myself as being anti-feminist, what’s the message received by that statement?
If you look to the dictionary it will tell you that feminism is about equality (at least on a cursory reading) and most people would take feminism to mean things like women having the vote, legal equality and so on. People also tend to equate feminism (the ideology) with women (people) which is a bit disingenuous, like equating Putinesque nationalism (ideology) with Russians (people). The one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other.
So if I say I’m anti-feminist, you – perhaps understandably – think that must mean that I hate women, regard them as inferior, don’t want them to have equality and so on and so forth.
However, that’s not the message being communicated.
When I describe myself as anti-feminist I am talking about the modern kind of censorious, authoritarian, overreaching feminism. The kind that labels all men rapists. The kind that wants to censor and control a great many forms of artistic expression. I’m talking about the kind of misandrist, pseudo-scientific, sex-negative feminism found in the likes of Anita Sarkeesian, Jessica Valenti, Gail Dines etc. The kind you find on Tumblr, swigging from ‘male tears’ mugs and tweeting unironically on #killallmen. The Bahar Mustaphas, the exploiters. The people that campaign to restrict artistic expression, to put trigger warnings on everything, lie about statistics and even want to strip men of the right to a fair trial in cases of alleged sex crimes.
This is the third-to-fourth wave feminism that dominates the current discourse and that is what I’m opposing, precisely because of my core beliefs of liberty, equality and fairness.
Are there still problems women face? Yes, largely in the third world and especially in Muslim communities and countries, but these need to be addressed – in my opinion – by egalitarianism, not feminism.
Men’s Human Rights
If I describe myself as a Men’s Human Rights Activist, which I didn’t until fairly recently, what reaction would you have?
This betrays a certain hypocrisy in people, because if you define feminism purely by its dictionary definition then why not men’s human rights? Who could possibly object to men having human rights after all? In this case, however, it’s not the meaning that counts is it? It’s the supposed actions and other factors.
I was describing myself merely as someone who was interested in men’s issues, but enough people spat ‘MRA’ at me as though it were an insult I decided I might as well adopt it and make it my own.
Are there issues with men’s rights activism? Yes. Absolutely. Just as there are with feminism but, on the whole, I’ve found MHRAs to be much more amenable to discussion, debate, dissent and to hold a much more rationalist viewpoint – which appeals for obvious reasons (core values). There’s a lot of bitter men in the MHRA movement, just as there’s a lot of bitter women in feminism – both with good reasons – but that doesn’t invalidate the problems men genuinely face, nor the problems that women genuinely face.
So when I say ‘MHRA’ you hear ‘woman hater’, ‘whiner’ and it goes against the peddled narrative that women are oppressed and downtrodden, even though – at least in the West – that can’t really still be said to hold true.
The message actually being transmitted is that ‘men are facing a huge amount of problems in our society and I want to address them and campaign to see men getting a more equitable and fair deal’.
Fairness, equality, core values again – plus I have a vested personal interest in men getting a fairer deal in terms of medical access, especially mental health.
If I say I’m part of Gamergate, and have been since its inception (going on ten months), what’s the message you get from that? If you know nothing but what the media tells you, Gamergate is – supposedly – an organised harassment campaign to push women and minorities out of games.
That’s absolute bullshit, but it has been the mass-media and games media message as well as being one hijacked and tacked on by existing ‘SJW’ activists within the industry.
Is that the message being transmitted though?
When I say I’m part of Gamergate I’m saying I want ethical media around games (and given the hatchet jobs by lazy mainstream media, there too). I’m saying I want game creators to be free to make games according to their vision without being harassed, demonised and shamed by ‘SJWs’ and I’m saying I want to be informed about the games I might want to buy, not the political and social biases of the reviewer (at least not in a review).
When people accuse me of these things it does give me pause and cause me to take the time to examine myself – again.
When someone calls me sexist I stop and I think ‘Am I?’ and I’m forced to conclude that no, I am not. I think we should all be treated equally on the basis of gender and if thinking that means no special privileges for women (or men) is sexist, then so be it. It doesn’t meet the definition though.
It’s the same with racism and it’s the same with everything else.
Questioning bad ideas, challenging conclusions that don’t follow from the evidence, calling ‘bullshit’ on spurious claims of misogyny, racism or other prejudice does not confirm that prejudice or mean you have that prejudice. It means you’re skeptical, that you demand evidence, that ideas should survive the application of logic and reason before we accept them.
That’s being a responsible, rational human being.
Not a bigot.
IF you think I am being such, ever, you’re welcome to point it out – but do so reasonably and don’t just fling accusations. Nor would disagreeing with you confirm your accusations. There’s room for disagreement and we’re unlikely to agree on everything (or anything!) but discussion is always better.