DAMSELING – Pity Pumping

Pity pumping is a tactic that increases victim cred. To use it you first have to have victim cred to increase. If you don’t, if for instance you belong to a group that is designated as non-victims or non-victimizable, it will backfire. You won’t increase your victim cred you don’t have to begin with, you’ll just get labeled pathetic and some way to blame you for your plight will be found or invented. But if you are in a recognized victim group it often works very smoothly. In fact it’s nearly effortless.

Let’s look at some forms of pity pumping.

Portray an extreme example as a modal example – For while about ten years ago it was fashionable to brandish the statistic that murder was a major cause, or even the leading cause, of death in pregnant women. It accounted for more deaths among pregnant women than any medical problem with the pregnancy. Of course no actual numbers of these deaths versus others were ever mentioned because then it would have been obvious how few pregnant women die from any cause, medical or otherwise. Patriarchal medicine has seen to that. And publishing actual numbers of murders of pregnant women would allow the reader to compare these numbers to the statistics on male murder victims, and that would have defeated the whole purpose of the exercise.

But leaving in the realm of percentages and expressions of outrage allowed the moral entrepreneurs waving this red shirt to play on people’s normal instinctual protectiveness toward pregnant women. It fed the domestic violence narrative they were pushing.

Sly inversion – In this form of pity pumping you portray a harm to your victim group as greater than much worse harm to a non-victim group. An example of this is claiming that rape is worse than murder, that the victims suffer more. Another is the standard claim that the fact that war is institutionalized violence against men is really misogyny in disguise because it reflects a sexist consensus that women are not fit go off to die, because being considered unfit to die is like so much worse than actually dying. Another example of this was the way the Women’s Liberation movement portrayed the being a housewife as some form of oppression. Betty Friedan actually compared the lot of the housewife to that of a death camp inmate, saying they were both progressively dehumanized. She was speaking of American housewives in the 1950s living in what to the vast majority of humanity would consider a rather privileged position, certainly compared to that of their Man in The Grey Flannel Suit husbands who have all died off by now, years before these oppressed darlings.

See what Friedan did there? She exaggerated and misrepresented a life of relative privilege and thereby implicitly distorted and erased these women’s men’s lives of relative disprivilege – work that shortened their lives, denied them parenting time, required mindless conformity, based on an ethic of male disposability.

SlogansRebecca West’s formulation “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” is an example of pity pumping. “[Daddy!] look! They don’t even think I’m a person!!!!” Sob, sob, sob…….

Motherhood – The prime target for pity pumping, the dark heart of Mother McCree sentimentality about women, is motherhood and the way men, mostly idolize motherhood. And it can be exploited to very good effect. Yes, it’s ultimately misogynist and a part of patriarchal oppression and feminists have denounced it since the 70s – and still are, thank you, Mary Elizabeth Williams, than you very much for shredding this particular piece of sexist bullshit – but that hasn’t stopped feminists from insisting on the trope and exploiting it since before the 70s and right up to the present day. You see this in discussions of abortion and parental surrender, you see it in discussions of who gets primary child custody – “But, but, she CARRIED that child in her own body!!!” -  although this seems to be waning – good – and you see it in discussions of the “wage gap” and why women work fewer hours than men. They answer is not more but better feminism.

So that’s pity pumping. And I am avidly collecting more examples.


FEMALE PRIVILEGE – A the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy

An article appeared over at Thoughtcatalog listing various obvious forms of female privilege with a completely predictable comment section. Althought the denialism was completely predictable, some commenters pushed back.

The comments criticizing the article were a display case of hyopoagency, gynocentric special pleading, erasure and tradtional gender stereotypes. And of course there was the obligatory white-knighty non-responsive attempt at a rebuttal in a later post.

David Bryon, who posts really insightful and solid arguments all over the gendersphere where he is not banned, made some really important points about this denialism and then later a commenter named Sarah Stuart made the key point.

 You should go read the whole thread to get the context of these comments, but I think they stand alone well enough to quote here.

DavidByron • a day ago

Hysterical ad hominem attacks are exactly how you’d expect women and feminists to react if indeed women are the privileged sex. They have the power, therefore entering a debate is irrational. They know they can win by the use of force. Men’s rights advocates know they can win if the battle is of logic and an appeal to morals.

Nobody who advocates for any oppressed minority can be surprised at this sort of reaction from the entitled and privileged.

Privilege doesn’t give up it’s (sic) power just because people ask nicely.

But that is exactly what we are supposed to believe happened with feminism. We are supposed to believe that women were always oppressed and yet the first time women asked for their rights, they were simply given it. That has never happened to any genuinely oppressed group ever. Women were given extra rights because they already enjoyed power. They had the power of being the protected sex, the cared for sex, the innocent sex. Feminists simply reframed their goals in terms of a new way to protect women, and society quickly set about fulfilling those new protections. As soon as the majority of women changed their mind and saw the vote as something that would protect women, instead of seeing it as something that would harm women, male legislators GAVE them the vote. They gained more privilege, based on the privileges they already had.

If feminists had demanded that women be protected LESS (to be equal to men) they would have had a genuinely radical movement, but feminists didn’t demand that because they didn’t want equality. That is how we have feminists today demanding more and more protections for women while women are, and always have had more protections. That is how feminists can unironically claim women suffer more from violence even though men are the majority of victims.

The easiest way to demand more and more power for themselves was to create a bogeyman that would menace women. A bogeyman that they could point to and say, “See? Women need to have more and more rights because of this terrible threat!” And so feminists set about systematically demonizing men as rapists, violently “oppressing” women. They created a conspiracy theory that said all men collaborate to keep all women down.

If “patriarchy” was real then feminism would never have succeeded without a fight.

The irony is the cry of “patriarchy” only works for feminists because our society is the exact opposite of a patriarchy. Our society is dedicated to protecting women so much that even completely irrational claims of danger towards women must be taken seriously.

Feminism is the political equivalent of a woman standing on a chair screaming for her husband to crush a bug for her. It’s a completely irrational claim of danger. And it works because society has always worked to protect women.

Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy: Then an interesting exchange developed that ended up illustrating a major claim of the MRM, that feminism is just patriarchy repackaged:

llpk • a day ago

Most of those problems are effects of patriarchy, not female privilege. Do you want to know why there are fewer resources for men fighting domestic violence? Because it it deemed unmanly to be a victim. Who created the image of masculinity in our society? Men (as a group). It is often the same men who complain about these lacking services that also degrade men for needing the services.


Men created the image of masculinity in our society? All on our own? Women had nothing to do with it? No gay shaming, no real man narrative; women had no hand in any of this, according to llpk.. Women don’t raise children and socialize them according to llpk. The hand that rocks the cradle does not rule the world, apparently.


DavidByron >llpk • 21 hours ago

The reason there are fewer resources for men in the USA is that feminists fought hard for laws (VAWA) that made it illegal to help male victims of domestic violence.

Feminists also spread the fiction that men are not often victims of domestic violence by burring the results of hundreds of pieces of research of four decades that said DV was an equal opportunity crime.

Feminists also successfully sold all DV as partner violence, thereby hiding violence against children and elders, which is mostly committed by women. They did this to spread their hateful lies that denigrate men as evil violent scum always hurting innocent women.

The VAWA was the single biggest victory of feminism in the 1990s, and it was hate.

So please stop guessing at why things happened if you don’t know the facts. It’s true that the sort of anti-male thinking that you mention probably greased the wheels for feminists to lobby for those laws. Traditional gender roles are used and enhanced by feminists in working to denigrate men.

 And the very predictable reaction – a change of misogyny and anger:

 RocketGrrl >DavidByron • 18 hours ago

You seem to have a lot of anger towards women and feminists. Amusingly. I don’t know any feminists that hate or even dislike men. Including myself. Fighting for equal treatment and respect is extremely important.

 Rocketgrrl either doesn’t know of Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Jesica Valenti or Amanda Marcotte, or Adel Mercier; or else she doesn’t consider them feminists.

In any case, Code Red and Code Black aren’t working like they used to:

DavidByron >RocketGrrl • 13 hours ago

Are (sic) the classic “you must hate women if you disagree with feminism”

I have given many examples of feminists lobbying for anti-male discrimination.

I have challenged you to give even one example of a feminist program or victory or slogan that portrays men in a positive light.

And Commenter edtastic takes it right back to Rocketgrrl:

edtastic >RocketGrrl • 14 hours ago

You must have a lot of anger towards men because you set out to demonize men for caring about men. The anger toward feminists is fully justified by the attack on men’s equal rights and hateful social campaigns against men being waged by feminists.

“I don’t know any feminists that hate or even dislike men. Including myself.”

That’s your own self serving bias talking and we need look no further than things like the ‘white feather campaign’ pretending men aren’t even victims of domestic violence or ‘Don’t be that guy’ presuming all sexual violence perpetrators are males. Men needn’t be warm towards women who adopt an ideology that sets out to bash males and deny their pain.
see more

And David Byron also knows how to turn feminist jargon on them:

DavidByron >llpk • a day ago

Victim blaming.

Now comes the coup de grace. Thank you, Sarah Stuart.

 Sarah Stuart >llpk • 18 hours ago

So, it’s deemed “unmanly” to be a victim. That point of view is apparently part of the patriarchy. Feminists regularly attack men for being concerned about levels of male victims and they need to “man up” and focus on women. So feminists are perpetuating the patriarchy.

It all falls into place. Like the energy companies trying to “help” people reduce costs while boosting up prices, feminism is a monster that hurts and hurts to feed itself.

Edtastic sums up and closes:

edtastic >llpk • 14 hours ago

In that case feminism an effect of the patriarchy and clearly dependent on it to sustain it’s (sic) victim narratives through endless ‘patriarchy’ scapegoating.

” Do you want to know why there are fewer resources for men fighting domestic violence?”

Feminist covering up male victimization rates 30-40 years.

” Who created the image of masculinity in our society?”


“Men (as a group). It is often the same men who complain about these lacking services that also degrade men for needing the services.”

You are collectively blaming men as a sex because you don’t expect to be held accountable for your sexism against men. Meanwhile you see MRA’s keep their focus on feminists like you who engage in blatant sexism, misandry, and gender bashing to gain power over others. Who needs moral guidance on gender equality from people who can’t stop negatively stereotyping the male gender?

 It is getting more and more common to see this kind of push back and to see it in more and more spaces. It is also getting more and more common to see more and more women doing it.

Even as MRAs are derided or slandered more and more, the message is spreading. It is spreading partly due to the Streisand Effect, but mostly it is spreading because people are seeing the validity in it on its own merits and going on the spread it themselves.

MALE DISPOSABILITY – SPC Ivan Lopez – pay me now or pay me later

Late in the day yesterday I started getting texts from my brother. My nephew was locked down in his barracks at Ft. Hood. By now we all know the rest of the story, of how a soldier named Specialist Ivan Lopez, who had been exhibiting problematic behavior, certainly symptomatic, probably that community especially should have picked up on….went off.

No one in his chain of command picked up on this enough to do anything in time – and by the way, the way the Army works is quite different from civilian employers and this is one example; intervening and dealing with this kind of thing is very much a leader responsibility. It was his leaders’ job all up the line to make sure this problem got identified and resolved, and unfortunately his leaders’ failure to do that is not anomalous.

We can either identify these guys, and take the trouble and shoulder the expense to help these people when it would make a difference, or we can bumble on and then get blindsided when the bill comes due, like we have this time. Pay me now or pay me later. Just remember, if you pay later, you may not like how the interest has piled up.

The inital speculation was that there was some kind of jihadi connection, because there had been warnings and indicators leading up to it. But it is probably going to turn out that this was unconnected, that it was something much more mundane and familiar, soemthing we have seen over and over. In fact this incident follows the “suicide by cop” pattern we are seeing in these shootings.

And here we should mention the professionalism and strength that cop showed in stopping SPC Lopez. He shot himself in the head right in front of her when she confronted him. To quote the post commander:

“It was clearly heroic what she did in that moment in time,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the post’s commander. “She did her job, and she did exactly what we’d expect of a United States Army military police.”

This is the kind of thing that makes me get impatient with most of the discussion around women in the military, so much of it from people whose understanding of war and what is involved in building and maintaining a military effort seems to come only from television or gaming. This soldier did the job assigned to her and her womanhood got in the way not at all. In war and in garrison that is all that matters. Now she can deal with the nightmares and hyper-vigilance she is likely to experience, like everyone else.

SPC Lopez seemed mellow and friendly to everyone, it looked like everything was fine. But it wasn’t. The issue now is why he was able to hide all this so well, and more than that, why he hid it at all. Why did he think he had to? I think we all know the answer to that, and it is the Army’s challenge to undo all the conditioning and enculturation that fed this.

We go along deploying people multiple times, on basically pointless, vague, high-sounding missions, a small, disposable segment of our society; and then when they crack the answer seems to be to reach for some way to blame them or “military culture” instead of the impossible situations the people we elect put them into and then wash their hands of.

DOUBLE STANDARDS – Feminism’s sorry record on the subject of rape

It’s not unusual in the gender discussion to hear someone claim that feminism is horribly understood, that it isn’t man-hating or gender-biased at all; it’s really all about equality – see, it even says so right here in the dictionary. How valid an objection is this?

Let’s take one example, rape. Let’s look at feminism’s on the subject of rape. It turns out that the feminist handling of the subject of rape is one example of feminism’s opposition to an egalitarian discussion of gender. Domestic violence has been another, but that a discussion for another day

First, back in the 90s the standard feminist line of rape was that it was patriarchal violence to maintain the power system that governs gender. This developed put of Susan Brownmiller’s thesis which she enunciated in 1975 in Against Our Will. A logical extension of her position males, by definition, could not be rape victims. (The extension was logical but of course the proposition is not, being based on an illogical premise.)This was operationalized in rape victims services, where male child rape victims were often treated and lectured as if they themselves were rapists, to the point of being told they were the rapists, that they had really raped the woman who raped them. Toy Soldier experienced this and has written about the phenomenon in general.

Then later as consent became settled as the standard for defining rape – a very sane definition and a very good development – a new theoretical problem reared its head. What about men who didn’t consent to sex? Weren’t they rape victims too?

There were several responses to this challenge:

One was acknowledgement of this and a refinement in the theory – basically there were feminists who said damn straight that’s rape and those men are rape victims. But they became an embattled minority….

Doubling Down with Rape Culture of Their Own
They were even called misogynist – apparently a woman has an absolute right to sex, however she likes it, from a man for these people and it’s misogynist of him to refuse. It’s like insulting her or something. When people talk about “feminist rape culture, this is the kind of thing they are referring to. Feminsts themselves have identified this problem.

By far the most common response was denial – “Well maybe women do rape men, but it’s a vanishingly small percentage of rapes.” This was a widespread response; there was advocacy research to back this up that did what it could to erase male victims. Mary Koss stands out particularly in this connection, both because of her insititutioanl influence over the discussiion and the voluminous discussion of her and her position. Google it if you care to see how voluminous it is. Or sometimes the feint was that if women did rape men, then somehow those men pressured their own rapists into raping them. The “erection as consent” canard got thrown in quite a lot.

Another form this took was to deny that raped men suffer from the rape as much as women do, based on who knows what information or analysis. Another was a retread of the Patriarchy narrative above, where when a man was raped, or even a boy, it wasn’t the same, it wasn’t really rape, because of the power differential (You have to be a real believer to believe some boy has a power differential over a grown woman.) Hugo Schwyzer had a post several years ago to this effect, though he may have taken it down by now.

Deflection by accusation of deflection
A common attempt at deflection was to claim that talk of female rapists was intended only to deflect attention from the real problem, male rapists. No real evidence was ever offered to back up this mind-reading. The same accusation is often made of attempts to discuss false rape accusations.

Rape denial and rape apology
Everyone one of these responses were forms of rape denial, and one thing feminists have taught us is that rape denial is a part of rape culture. When people talk about “feminist rape culture, this is the kind of thing they are referring to.

Double standards
The sexist double standards – there literally two standards for what constitutes a rape victim, two standards for the degree of harm rape inflicts and two standards for when rape apology gets called rape apology, and a bitterly entrenched anti-egalitarianism in all these responses.

The feminist handling of the subject of rape is one example of feminism’s opposition to an egalitarian discussion of gender.

I doubt this is an exhaustive list. Please help expand it.

HYPOAGENCY – “Pussy”, “bitch”, “harpy” and “girl”

The behavior of the terms “pussy”, “bitch”, “harpy” and “girl” in the language, including cultural strictures on their use, shows how deeply attached people are to female hypoagency, even those who insist they reject this patriarchal gender norm.

There are pejorative uses, in descending degrees of pejoration, of all four terms – for instance “girl” is a powerful racial shibboleth – but the first two are as active in the language as denucniations of hyopagency and weakness as they are of anything else. Thus it is odd to find feminists and other self-identified progressvie-minded people objecting to them.


Language is a mirror into cultural assumptions and attitudes. Words are labels for semantically defined categories in the language and culture, and if you can identify the criteria for inclusion of an item in a specific category, you can define that category accurately.

The only empirically valid way to do this is to look at actual usage in the language. It’s not rigorous to ask this or that native speaker what he thinks the word means, although that is a good starting place. But looking at how the word is actually used will yield insights that even a really competent native-speaker will miss. For instance how many native speakers will be able to tell you right off why the word “bill” is used both for a dollar “bill” and the gas “bill”, or a legislative “bill? (See the answer at the bottom.)

There are a couple of ways to identify these categorization criteria. One method is to catalog the environments where the word occurs, and compare it to the environments where it does not occur. A subset of this method is to look for similarities and differences between members of the category. A second method is to simply catalog various sub-categories of items that are included in the category and then look for common features. These two tools enable us to identify the specific criteria for inclusion in a category or exclusion – the semantic shape of the word.

Let’s use the first method to look at “kill”, “murder” and “assassinate”. “Kill” can be used very generally to refer to the act of making something die. “Murder” is not so widely applicable. The killing has to be illegal and in most jurisdictions it has to be intentional; in other words there are selection criteria pertaining to the manner of killing. “Assassinate” refers to killing someone socially or politically prominent; in other words there are selection criteria on the patient of the act. Here we see how adding criteria restricts the scope of the category the word labels.

Let’s use the first method again to look at what identifies something as a “stool” rather than a “chair”. We find that everything in the “stool” category has a platform to sit on held up by some kind of support, typically at least three legs. We find that to be a chair always has a structure you can rest your back on. This is the feature that distinguishes a “stool” from a “chair”. Well, not quite. Let’s use the second method to look at “stool” again. Now we find it can also refer to feces. Wow. What possible connection is there? Well, people used to sit on special stools to shit and this connection licensed to the word to take in this second meaning. This is actually quite common. There is a whole load of words that refer both the container and the contents – “casserole” for both the pot and the food inside, “board” for bother the table and the people who sit at it, and so on.

With these two tools we are ready to look into the terms “pussy”, “bitch” and “girl” and how they fit into the culture – when they are used, which are proscribed and when – and then we may be able to identify which semantic features are eliciting negative reactions.

Let’s just list the categories of referents these words apply to:

- Female sexual parts, specifically human

- A cat, felis domesticus. The word has an interesting etymology. Discussion below.
.- A weakling (usually of a male)
- An over-sensitive person, a complainer (usually of a male)

- A female dog
- Something unpleasant – “Life’s a bitch and then you die.”
- A combative, belligerent woman; a woman who says cutting things
- Someone subservient or dominated; a loser, a weakling – “You play like a bitch!” “That’s my bitch…. hey bitch, bring me a Coke!”
- And combining the last two, someone who is underhandedly belligerent; passive-aggressive

- A combative, belligerent woman
- A woman who says cutting things

- A young female; young and therefore low on the dominance hierarchy, thus subservient or dominated
- A general affectionate term for a grown woman “- “Just us girls!”

Now let’s look at which terms are considered offensive and which acceptable and why. It’s pretty uncontroversial that most speakers find “pussy” and “bitch” objectionable, especially when applied to women, in fact so objectionable that that objectionable meaning is driving out all the others and displacing these words from polite speech. (This is the same process affecting “ass” and “niggardly”. It is a form of word taboo.) And likewise “harpy” is considered pretty objectionable. Oddly enough “girl” is not. It is not uncommon to hear grown women breezily addressing each other as “girls”.

Taken together the pattern we see is that terms that refer to sex or belligerence are considered objectionable but the one term that is purely hypoagentive is not. That means it’s unlikely that the hypoagentivity of “pussy” or “bitch” is what makes these terms objectionable. The problem must be the belligerence and genitality of the terms. And indeed these traits do fall outside the traditional female gender norm, and we can expect traditionalists to take exception to them.

In fact the pejorative use of these terms is an attack on female hypoagency through shaming language. That sounds pretty gender-iconoclastic to me.

So since the hyperagency/hypoagency binary lies at the heart of traditional or patriarchal gender roles, one would expect feminists bent on doing the Patriarchy down to use any tool at their disposal to accomplish that. One would expect them to use terms like ‘pussy” and “bitch” to denounce women who reinforced these roles with the same relish they used “pig” to denounce men who reinforced the patriarchal masculine role. That they don’t says a lot about their actual dedication to their stated ideology and goals.

Maybe there really is no discrepancy here at all. Maybe it’s just traditionalist being traditionalist.



The modern-day core meaning of “bill” is “sheet of paper.” The other meanings are semantic extensions. The original core meaning was “slat of wood”, dating from before the easy availability of paper. A related word is “billet” – 1) ticket, 2) lodging (obtained by showing a lodging ticket), 3) organizational slot requiring the person to hold a security clearance (by extension from “lodging”). Etc.

Bast, Ubaste, Bastet – Cats in heat engage in group sex and they were a symbol of fertility in Egypt and of witchy sluttiness in midieval Europe. Many were killed as familiars of witches.

HOMOPHOBIA – All these desperate new “religious freedom” laws, and why they are a very good sign

In a time when laws and constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage are falling almost daily – Utah, Nevada, Virginia (especially poignant);  and Michigan will probably be next – to federal court decisions resting on United States v. Windsor we see a flurry of new laws in entirely predictable states – Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee - trying to exempt people with religious scruples from having to comply with non-discrimination laws, although they fully expect the protection of those laws themselves.

The smell of desperation is thick in the air, and the spasms are coming ever faster and harder. The ploy here is to claim that religious freedom is under attack because religious people are more and more being penalized for discriminating against gay and lesbian people.

This takes a page out of Sun Zi’s book:

兵者,詭道也。故能而示之不能,用而示之不用,近而示之遠,遠而 示之近。利而誘之,亂而取之,實而備之,強而避之,怒而撓之,卑 而驕之,佚而勞之,親而離之,攻其不備,出其不意。此兵家之勝,不可先傳也。 

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive. When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him; if he is secure at all points, be prepared for him; if he is in superior strength, evade him; if your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him; pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant; if he is taking his ease, give him no rest; if his forces are united, separate them; attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

The beauty and power of this advice is that you do not have to consciously follow it for it to be effectual. It operates with or without intention. Whether or not there is a covert gay agenda, whether or not some queer cabal is orchestrating all this, the war is playing out exactly as Sun Zi said it will.

Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee


A bill in Kansas would protect people discriminating against gay and lesbian people from legal action on the pretext of protecting their religious freedom.

“House Bill 2453 explicitly protects religious individuals, groups and businesses that refuse services to same-sex couples, particularly those looking to tie the knot.”

The obvious flaw in the argument is that one person’s rights stop where another person’s right begins. That seems not to trouble the sponsors and backers of the bill, or perhaps they just don’t believe gays and lesbians have any rights in this area.


And then in Arizona there is SB 1062, which would allow businesses to discriminate if the owners’ religious beliefs promoted that discrimination. Since Arizona has a typical Sun Belt religious landscape – lots of Evangelicals and Fundamentalist – the groups this puts at risk are Mormons, gays and maybe Wiccans. But problems are rearing their head and some of the very people who voted for this Senate bill are having serious second thoughts:

“Three state Republicans who voted for the measure have also expressed buyer’s remorse, telling the Arizona Republic that the fallout from the measure is causing the state “immeasurable harm.”

Read the rest of Katie McDonough’s article to see how well proponents of the law can articulate the threat to religious freedom this law supposedly addresses. (She deserves the click, though she hardly needs it.)


Oh, and Tennessee too:

”On February 5, Republicans introduced legislation in both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature allowing a person or company to refuse to provide services such as food, accommodation, counseling, adoption, or employment to people in civil unions or same-sex marriages, or transgender individuals, “if doing so would violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the person.”

The most efficient and effective way to destroy this last ditch defense of bigotry is to excite it to excessive and convulsive action, to destroy its credibility so that the public sees it for what it is and rejects it; to destroy its mask of respectability and expose it as the hate movement it is and thereby demolish any chance of success it may have.

As Sun Zi tells us:


Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.


This is not the first episode of this backlash. The first episode came in the form of anti-SSM laws in states and amendments to state constitutions. Now that federal court decisions are knocking those down like ducks in a shooting gallery, a new backlash, more desperate, more incoherent and ridiculous, is shaping up. And almost certainly this one will fail before it even looks like having any success. The cycle has just gotten that much shorter.

So as public opinion shifts further and further and furhter away form the old homophobic tropes and becomes less and less toelratant of homophobia, these people are scrambling to brand themselves as homophobes. Remember the old story of the two scorpions in a botle who hated each other so much that they sat there stinging each other until both died? These religious homophobes are managing to do the same thing with only one scorpion in the bottle. 


So all in all, these frantic attempts are a hopeful sign. But the enemy is not dead yet and its defeat here has prompted even more desperate attempts elsewhere – such as in  and Russia. That is where the next battle is.

SLY INVERSIONS – The “man-child” trope

We’ve all heard the jibes “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” and seen the commercials that show husbands as bumbling idiots with their indulgent wives looking on in amusement standing by to make sure they don’t harm themselves somehow. It’s a structural feature of modern culture. It’s relatively new. It started only in the 60s and gained momentum with the accumulating success of the Women’s Movement. It is an expression of female supremacy perhaps; at best a form of women’s empowerment, at bottom just plain old rancid gender bigotry.

This is a running theme in “literature” marketed to women (“Literature” the way action movies are “film”.) One example is the Crossfire series of novels by Sylvia Day. The form this theme takes in these novels is the very familiar “broken man saved by the love of a good woman.” At root this comes from a protective and loving instinct, but the idea that you have the right or the competence to go in and fix someone else and their life because after all you’re the adult, you understand them and their life better than they do, is distorted and objectifying.

Another example of this thinking is the recurring trope that if only women ran the world!!….. life would be a paradise of peace and sweet reason. There would be no war, there would be no evil hierarchies, the Great Recession would never have happened because that was all just testoreone poinsoning. The world would just all be peace, love and understanding.

This is the man-child trope. We see it in a thousand forms – the dopey husband, the clueless father, the overgrown boy who won’t pick up his socks – a steady drumbeat of derogatory and false images of men. Surely there is some advantage to someone that is driving all this.

Where does this come from? There are probably whiffs of it in other cultures, but no one seems to take it as far as Anglophone culture does. What gives?

One explanation is that it is simply a power grab, an expression of supremacy. But there is another possible explanation. Given the much wider latitude women have in our culture for childish behavior* – not just extravagant displays of emotion but appeals to emotion as justification or to manipulate, and celebration of forms of conversation that are really just emotional group masturbation – this man-child trope looks like it serves a real purpose, especially in light of the fact that men are generally held to and generally have to meet higher standards of mature behavior. Have you ever wondered why “woman up” doesn’t carry the same admonition to suck it up and be strong and carry on, like an adult, as “man up”’ does? Because it doesn’t have to, that’s why. Real adulthood is not part of the defintion of “woman” anymore.

 And if anyone calls bullshit on this man-child trope, well, you just smile and smirk and remind him he’s really just a woman-hating little boy with “issues”, not a Real Man, and he is supposed to just tuck tail and slink away. That’s if he knows what’s good for him.

What this man-as-child trope looks like is a defensive mechanism, psychologically necessary for those women who are the real children in the relationship. That’s why you only hear this trope out of some women. It might be interesting to see how many women actually are an audience for this stuff and how many just roll their eyes at it. This way th e women who use this trope get to go on being children, with all the indulgence that entails, and call themselves the adults in the relationship, with all the rights that accrue to that.

How does this get going in actual life, how do people men fall into accepting this and how do women learn to perform this sly inversion?

Most children grow up these days with the mother in charge of the house, even if she works the same numbers of hours outsidie the home as the father. Her word is final and her defers to her. This can take forms ranging from simple mommy-blocking to unsubtle reminders about who will get the kids if she decides to take her ball and go home. Children observe this and generalize it to gender relations, as they do with every observation of their parents’ interactions.

Outside the home the pattern is repeated at school, where the overwhelming majority of authority figures are women. Thoughout childhood boys see that female approval is the foundation of everything. Men propose and women dispose.

By the time they graduate both boys and girls are fully enculturated in this pattern. It is a cultural norm. The way it is expressed is in the man-child trope.

The man-child trope exists to compensate psychologically for the contradictions that arise out of the hyperagency/hypoagency binary, and it arises out of distorted patterns of child rearing. And all three of those things must die.



* A Checklist: 10 ways your wife is just another child
1. She’ll cry when she’s sad, or scream and carry on when she’s angry, without regard for where she is.
2. She’ll cry and whine to make you do what she wants.
3. When there’s a scary noise in the night, she’ll hide under the covers and expect you to go investigate.
4. She is adamant about foods she will or will not eat, and considers the ones she doesn’t like yucky and wonder, and even ask you, how you can stand to eat them.
5. She expects you to attend every one of her family functions, or even tag along clothes shopping with her, but has no time for your family or their events, and whines if you try to attend by yourself because “How does that make me look?.”
6. She thinks your friends are “immature.”
7. She is affronted that you think her friends are boring and takes it personally and calls you selfish or “immature.”
8. She thinks she can say all kinds of derogatory things about you to her friends but is constantly on guard and accusatory of anything you say that can possibly be interpreted or even just mischaracterized as derogatory of her.
9. She calls you unappreciative when she puts on a big birthday thing for you and invites all her friends, and you really don’t appreciate it, after you told her you just wanted a family dinner with the kids.
10. She insists on leaving the toilet seat down, and she even expects you to.

HOMOPHOBIA – Why homophobia is not some subset of “femmephobia”

…and I put “femmephobia” in quotes, because from where I sit this culture is structurally gynophile; not only does it value and reward conventional femininity but it values it above just about everything else, brigading men into protecting, providing for and honoring women by law, custom and social policy.

In any case the claim is made over and over again that homophobia (when it is directed at gay men) is really just another example of society’s misogyny, that femininity is hated and this is just one more expression of that truth. It’s bunk on several levels. For one thing it looks suspiciously like another feminist appropriation a la “Women and minorities”. But the other thing is it’s just an inaccurate characterization of what is going, proceeding largely from general pig ignorance of male sexuality and what a man has to do to be perceived as fully masculine in this society.

Hyperagency – Zach Howe has a post at Slate that makes some very good points about the way male heterosexuality is perceived or “constructed” which are crucial to understanding the mechanics of homophobia, and have much more explanatory power than femmephobia. Basically it comes down to hyperagency:

“Clearly, men in America have grown up learning to be scared of gayness. But not only for the reasons we typically think—not only, in the end, because of religion, insecurity about their own sexuality, or a visceral aversion to other men’s penises. The truth is, they’re afraid because heterosexuality is so fragile.

Heterosexuality’s power lies in perception, not physical truth—as long as people think you’re exclusively attracted to the right gender, you’re golden. But perception is a precarious thing; a “zero-tolerance” policy has taught men that the way people think of them can change permanently with one slip, one little kiss or too-intimate friendship. And once lost, it can be nearly impossible to reclaim.

Put another way, the zero-tolerance rule means that if a man makes one “wrong” move—kisses another man in a moment of drunken fun, say—he is immediately assumed to be gay.”

He says this is where the actual fear of gayness comes from – it is a fear of being labeled gay, regardless of a man’s actual sexuality. And as he points out, it is determined by something a man does or fails to do, even the smallest thing he might do.

The gender binary – Yet Another Commenter explains another way that homophobia is not necessarily or even primarily femmephobia – it’s not about a man being feminine at all. It’s about being non-masculine, and non-masculine is not the same as being feminine. It is a third state, neutral. After all there is more being a woman than being a non-man. The masculinity the gay man is failing at is predicated on desiring women, and not doing that is read as a failure, as for example by slipping and desiring a man for even a one-time hook-up – more hyperagency. It’s as if male heterosexuality is some fragile state of grace that requires constant effort to maintain. A man does not have to act feminine to fail at being masculine, and that is the root of homophobia.

So no, failing to be male does not instantly pop a man into the female category. He will not be able to turn on  the tears and rely on the pity of men to run to his aid. He will not be able to sit in a bar and have people keep coming up to him to see if he’s interested in them. If he harms someone he will not be able to casually explain it away as self-defense and blame his victim, or blame it on something his spouse did or falied to do; he will not be able to use tears and a show of helplessness to evade accountabuility. So no, he is in no way going to be treated like a woman.

 David Palmer picks up on this:

Fascinating. This would explain the problem I have when I encounter feminists asserting that “homphobia is really misogyny” and is all about “hatred of the feminine”. As a gay man I’ve never thought that was really a valid sort of argument and it tended to stick in my craw quite frankly-but I never could quite articulate why it seemed so off to me. I think your article explains it. The proposition that “homphobia is about misogyny” is based on a flawed proposition-that we must define everything in binary terms-which results in a classic either/or fallacy.

David Palmer sums up in another comment:

I always loved the one about “homphobia is really misogyny”. As a gay man, I cannot recall single case in which I was faced with being attacked based on my orientation (whether physically or verbally) in which it was “all about hating women”. It’s sort of the ultimate in feminist narcissism: If a gay man is bashed, it’s STILL all about the wimmin.

CULT OF THE MOTHER – The Minoan Great Mother

One lobe of Second Wave feminism was the Goddess Movement. Proponents posited that there had been a stage of historical development, in Europe and the Mediterranean at least, where the dominant image of divinity had been female. It was controversial from the start and the level of intellectual rigor behind the argumentation for it basically doomed it to obscurity. But it is still worth examing for the larger lessons it offers.

A corollary to this assertion of a female overgod was that these societies had been naturally peaceful, because that’s inherent in femininity or something. One example adduced was Minoan civilization, with its Mother Goddess and cities without walls, taken as proof that warfare was so rare as to require no special defensive fortifications. (Yeah, well, Washington DC doesn’t have any walls either….)

This is a standard image of the Minoan Mother Goddess. It’s probably quite familiar by now.

 Along with the Great Mother/Snake Goddess bulls were a very important symbol in Minoan culture and religion, and a form of sport that involved jumping over bulls by grabbing the charging bulls horns. Yee hah, coming to a rodeo near you. Don’t hold your breath. At least that’s what some mural depict; it looks so difficult as to be impossible.
 Minoan culture produced beautiful statuary featuring bulls and stylized bulls horns were a standard decorative form along the tops of walls at the palace at Knossos and they always were a fixture on altars – “the horns of consecration”. Note the connnection between bulls and sacrifice.
The myth of the Minotaur reflects the importance of the bull in that religion.

Another aspect of the importance of the bull was the bull sacrifice. The story of Theseus encodes the bull sacrifice under its overlay of human sacrifice. The Athenian youths are sent to Knossos to feed the Minotoaur, yes, but after all it is still the bull that ends up dying. This is the kind of patchy reconstruction we should expect after that story has come through a span of centuries and a dark age as part of the overall Bronze Age Collapse in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Minoans prospered at the heart of a thalassocracy that spanned the Mediterranean. I have heard them credited with spreading cultivation of the olive over the entire region. Perhaps some other aspects of ther culture endure in these far reaches as well.
Oh dear – bullfighting. How barbarous and brutal! Surely the naturally nurturant religion of the Great Mother could have nothing to do with anything like that! And notice how again it’s the bull that always dies.
A much better attested female-oriented religion was the mystery cult of Adonis. Mystery cults in Roman times were the preserve of women. Christianity was a mystery cult in the beginning and this held up its full social acceptability for generations. And what do we find in this cult tailor-made for women? We find the myth of Adonis, whom Aphrodite takes as a lover when she looks down from heaven, and who dies as a result of this connection.
What a treasured teenaged fantasy – the hot young man dying for love! How romantic it all is! And the crucial part is that he has to suffer and die to give the story some juice, to give the listener someone to moon over and pine over. Country Joe and the Fish nailed this one not so long ago.
So these female religions are all nurturant and peaceful, as long as you’re not the one on the receiving end of all the fevered fantasies.
The Goddess Movement is largely forgotten in internet feminism, if it was ever known at all, but it has diffused into the gender discussion. You hear its echoes all over – the way every issue is discussed in terms of how it impacts women, the way female victims are identified as female while males are degendered and borgified into either non-males or non-victims, the way gains for women and girls are gains whereas gains for men and boys somehow always threaten women…If it seems implausible that the Goddess Movement should have such influence despite its short duration the larger feminist movement, it’s not really strange at all. It’s not at all strange because it fits so perfectly with the general gynocentric orientation of the culture, which measures a “Real Man” by how useful he is to women. So examining the Goddess Movement and its narratives is an important part of any gender discussion that hopes to be at all through.
The Goddess Movement and its assertions were controversial from the start and the level of intellectual rigor behind the argumentation for it basically doomed it to obscurity. But it is still worth examing for the larger lessons it offers.

MALE DISPOSABILITY – The Church of Football

Commentariat, here’s a chance to help out. I want to look at football as a cultural phenomenon in American society, all the way from high school to college to professional ball, and I realize that after decades of avoiding the subject, I am never going to know enough to say anything close to accurate. So please help me out with information and insights.

I suspect there are parallels with the role of football (“footie”) in the UK and Ireland, but there also some differences, so we will deal with that separate and related subject some other time.

I call football a church because of the function it has in society. It’s like a religion for people – they are emotionally deeply invested in it, they wear its symbols as marks of identity and it gives meaning to their lives – specifically an experience and expression of masculinity. What would men rather do on a Sunday – go to church or watch the game? Well both, if the timing works out, but missing which one occasions the most heartache? That tells you what is feeding their spiritual needs. That qualifies it as a church by my lights.

Here are some topics I would like to explore:

1. I suspect that football and sports like it are the male equivalent of the fashion industry in that in both cases the structure of the activity is young people being sacrificed – injured, broken, starved, strung out and juiced up for the sake of performance – for the sake of entertainment for older people. Think of who buys up all those expensive box seats at football stadiums and drives up admission prices generally – middle-aged guys entertaining corporate guests. And who is behind all the money pouring into college football programs? Rich alumni wallowing in the vicarious youthful vigor that money buys. And who do you see sitting in the audience when those fashion models put on that sullen pout and go slouching up and down the catwalk? Emaciated glamor queens – maybe not up in the front row with all fashion writers, but certainly in the rows right behind them – enjoying a jolt of vicarious youthful grace and glitter. 

I’d like to look into this dynamic in more detail, and with an eye to finding the parallels between fashion and these team sports.

2. Football and other professional sports’ primary audiences seem to be blue collar – originally urban but now more diffused – and in some areas the football team seems to be a tribal icon. Even college teams can be the focus of non-college audience loyalties. Why should football assume such a central role in blue collar culture?

My guess is that the drama of football and other team sports are a subsitute for risk-taking behaviors available to men higher up the socio-economic food chain such as high-risk investment, yachting around the world, explorations to the North Pole or to find the source of the Nile, and in modern times adrenaline sports like parasailing and so on; and that is why football emerged as such a cultural phenomenon in blue-collar settings after arising originally as a rich-boy sport in universities. That’s my guess - what began as substitutes for combat for warriors in between cattle raids so many centuries ago has evoleved into basically the same thing for blue-collar guys.

3. Football and team sports are dramas of masculinity. To me this explains several things. One is why so many men these days have little interest in the kinds of drama we trasdiionally call drama – novels, plays, that kind of thing. Another is the way that male sports are such commercial successes while female sports struggle along to get much of an audience at all. (And here by the way is where hypoagency rears its head – to the extent this is ever discussed, it is usually framed as audiences (> men) failing to support these female sports, rather than as female sports failing to attract and hold the interest of viewers.) And finally, this also accounts for female viewers being such huge fans – women like dramas of masculinity - or plain old displays of masculinity in general - and always have.


So those are the topics I’d like to explore and that I hope you all will contribute your insights on. I am especially looking for corrections to my guesses and/or expansions on them.