Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Girl Who Cried Wolf, Part II

Recap of Part I:
  • Wolf-whistlers suck, but they’re not criminals.
  • The “Affirmative consent” movement in colleges is complicated and compelling.
  • It is a reasonable overreaction by men to feel the affirmative consent movement puts them in a delicate situation. It is also reasonable for students to feel that an honor code puts them in a delicate situation, but most students are proud to have attended schools with honor codes.
KEY PARAGRAPH: It’s amazing what happens when you research these issues. Answers stop being so binary, so easy or obvious. Details stop being so clear-cut. What I crave, being an extrovert, is a chance to talk through these matters, to discuss and debate, preferably with those who can bring a different perspective to the matter, who can offer me insights I cannot achieve on my own. I cannot learn much in an echo chamber.
Unfortunately, in our current culture, few people are impassioned enough to be informed without becoming almost zealot-like. We seem incapable of caring about something and, simultaneously, tolerating someone who doesn’t agree with us. Not if the issue Really Matters To Us.

Unfortunately, far too many feminists are, in attitude and approach, similar to guns rights extremists in the NRA.

Only a guns rights zealot would tell me that I deserve to get killed, that my family deserves to get killed, by an intruder because I don’t own a firearm. “Your deaths will be on your own hands,” he said calmly, politely, when we discussed the issue, “because you could have chosen to arm yourself.” (This conversation really happened.)

Only feminist extremists would tell a male walking into a speaking engagement, and the police officer protecting his right to do so, that the mere act of showing up makes them likely to rape “your sisters and the women in your life.” As if an army of rapists were being educated on how to better rape and violate women, stormtrooper-like, in a single campus speaker event. (Watch the video in the link. It's quite disturbing.)

In matters of guns and sexual assault, there is no middle. There is no compromising. There is no discussing. You agree with a zealot, or you are A Terrible (or Stupid) Person. Period.

This cultural phenomenon goes well beyond two issues. Ask George Will or Bill Maher, who have been protested as campus speakers because they say offensive or disagreeable things. Ironically, Maher was invited to honor the anniversary of Free Speech Day.

Check out #GamerGate, where any penis-wielding video gamer is made to feel they should bear the responsibility for the trolls and jerkwads in their midst. Can you imagine blaming all black men for their incarcerated minority*? It makes me angry, and I don’t even play video games that have more than two buttons. (* - if you said, "We do, and it's called Stop & Frisk," I say to you touche!) 

On the other hand, when I read about Felicia Day expressing an opinion and quickly getting drowned in hate, I want someone’s scrotum to burn. Key word: "someone's," not "all f*#king gamer dudes'." When it feels like someone is pointing the finger at me simply because I have a dick and like Donkey Kong, it's very difficult to want to Red Rover over to their side of the debate.

For anyone who values discussion, or debate, or learning, or the right to adjust or correct an opinion or belief, for anyone who values carefully and mindfully working through one’s own issues of (possible) ignorance, good luck working through issues on gun rights or women’s rights or the dangers of extreme religion of any genre in this horrifying time. To express uncertainty, much less disagreement, is to be A Bad Person, to be a “rape apologist” or a “hater of freedom” or a “racist.”

A country that cannot debate, that cannot disagree, is an endangered country. Or, if you prefer Noam Chomsky’s version: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”

The Female Rights Revolution -- or whatever we should call what is happening right now -- could be the single-most important issue in American culture in 2014. More important than Obamacare. More important than Ebola. More important than the iPhone 6. It’s a very, very big deal, and it’s going to change the way my children’s children deal with one another interpersonally, romantically, sexually. Unless it slips into the world of Google+, failing to build up a following but not because it lacked promise, not because it didn't deserve to be that important.

Meanwhile, as we discuss and lament "street harassment," an amendment passed in Tennessee that will allow yet one more Republican-dominated state government to restrict, if not outright ban, abortion rights. We're gagging at gnats while the camels run down our throats.


Bob said...

I haven't followed gamer gate for several weeks. Have some/many of the majority of good male gamers you allude to stepped forward to decry the actions of their brethren who gang up to shout down any female critic?

Billy said...

@Bob - Your point is well-taken, but I guess I would suggest this. There could well be dozens upon dozens of "good male gamers" who write BOTG-like blogs and who do exactly that, and who would care to pay attention? Do those kinds of guys not count if only 20-50 people read their blog? Because, unfortunately, the "bigger media" doesn't really care about good guys doing the right and noble thing on their own blogs. Trolls always get more attention and need far fewer numbers to do so.