A Gender Discussion Unfolds Across the Web

Nathalie Schoenauer comments on the conversation on gender that started here and spilled all across the Internet.

Over the past week or so I’ve been following the heated online discussion between The Good Men Project’s Tom Matlack, Lisa Hickey, and feminist writer Hugo Schwyzer (who has now formally resigned from his position as editor and contributor to the website). The debate started after an intense Twitter back-and-forth which was posted on GMP under the title “The Wrath of The Feminists”. Schwyzer wrote a response to this title and the content of the tweets arguing that the language and arguments used by Matlack unnecessarily hindered an otherwise thoughtful discussion about gender. Soon after, Schwyzer formally resigned from GMP and posted an article explaining his decision on his own website, hugoschwyzer.net. While Schwyzer claims it was due to a brand-censorship issue, it seems the resignation has two sides with Hickey commenting that Schwyzer refused to have a discussion about the matter before resigning. Whatever the case may be, the whole debate seems to epitomize the very nature of gender discussions today.

If I may be so bold and (for point’s sake) use just the two categories of men and women, I’d have to say that this debate highlights the most common up-in-arms characteristics of gender debates. It’s nothing new to see women (and male feminists) pointing out a way in which they are socially slighted, in turn provoking a defensive response from men (and women who support men’s views) who argue that feminists are far too egocentrically positioned, which in turn stokes this supposed ‘wrath’ of feminists who feel they must adamantly defend and repeat their positions to get the point across (and so on and so forth). But why does this happen–especially among such informed and knowledgeable people?

Picture this: two people are having a conversation. One of them says something to which the other counters. There is a brief pause as both recognize that this conversation has just turned into a debate. Eventually, both people begin to raise their voice, repeat their point, and accuse the other person of not listening. And then, when both parties are on the edge of throwing their hands in the air and calling the other stupid, there comes this unexpected and usually very awkward moment where they both realize that they have been arguing the exact same thing all along. They stare at each other, thinking hard how this heated debate came to be if, as it turns out, they shared the same views the whole time.

In the end, this confusion can usually be explained by miscommunication. And that miscommunication is often the result of two different perspectives trying but finding it hard to reach the same conclusion. At least to me, this is exactly how I see the ‘Gender’ issue today and maybe even the aforementioned GMP debate. There may be some legitimate differences in arguments, but there is such a common thread among everyone who actively engages in gender discussions that it can be so unbelievable confusing when debates spring out of the smallest of miscommunications.

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In an older contribution to the site, Hickey writes that she had always considered herself a feminist and that she looked to feminism to ‘solve her problems with men’. Pointing out a problem with feminism, Hickey writes “I was taught to believe that the plight of women was so difficult that I failed to see that men had problems too”. I personally think this is an excellent point to be made. It seems almost silly that it has to be made at all, but nonetheless, it deserves recognition. The one issue I have with it is that it seems to suggest that feminism is one solid ideology, that every feminist makes the same mistake of assuming only women are victims and mostly men are to blame, and that, as a whole, feminism is an outdated concept. This is where I believe many feminists begin to defensively argue back. As with any ideology, feminism cannot just be dismissed as a solid entity with defined lines and arguments. My own view (which I share with countless other feminists) is that feminism itself has evolved far beyond a sole concern for women and includes any ‘group’ or ‘identity’ that is in any way slighted because of their association with that ‘group’ or ‘identity’, including men. Yes that still includes women, yes it’s a very broad definition, and yes it could be argued that ‘feminism’ may no longer be an appropriate title, but nevertheless, I am not surprised when like-minded feminists stomp their proverbial feet at such a sweeping dismissal of what they believe in. And this is not just about feminism.

I have been in countless conversations where someone will discredit a man’s opinions simply because he is a man and “doesn’t understand what women go through”. To be completely honest, I have uttered that phrase myself (usually followed with a bout of guilt, even in certain blatantly sexist situations where it seemed quite appropriate to say). I am not immune to over-generalization, so I can’t exactly blame anyone else for doing the same thing, but I do understand that accusing a man of being wrong before he even has a chance to speak is the worst kind of hypocrisy that any self-ascribed feminist could commit.

Both these situations amount to the kind of miscommunication described above. The sometimes vicious debate between feminists and their counterparts is simply the result of poor communication. And I do not say that to insult any of those involved; rather, I mean to point out that a very real issue and a ‘common thread’ that exists among those involved. That thread is the fact that while there are still very clear and pressing issues within the separate perspectives, identities, and plights of men and women, both are trying to redefine and reaffirm what it means to be a ‘Good Man’ and a ‘Good Woman’. Instead of seeing these discussions as dichotomous debates about who’s right and who’s wrong, we need to be more open to understanding them as conversations about the same thing, being a ‘Good Human’, from two different (although, sometimes similar) perspectives.

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Both perspectives have valid points and insightful opinions and both perspectives need the space to express them. But just as much as girls are constantly learning and redefining what it means to become women, and boys are constantly learning and redefining what it means to become men, humans collectively need to educate themselves on and redefine the gender conversation. The ‘gender issue’ today is full of rich and varied content on the changing roles of both women and men; however, people are forgetting to recognize that the way men and women have previously communicated with each other must change as well. We cannot expect to reach any new ground if we automatically assume that the ‘other’ is directly opposed to us. It may be easier said than done but that is, after all, the essence of social change.

As for me, I will continue to read and take in as much content as possible — from sources like Good Men Project, and from feminist writers like Hugo Schwyzer. But what’s more, I will continue to actively engage my male and female friends in discussions about gender and call out behaviour that I find repressive to either in the hopes that these conversations will become easier and more self-evident over time.

 

image by inacentaurdump / flickr

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Comments

  1. “The sometimes vicious debate between feminists and their counterparts is simply the result of poor communication”

    I disagree with this statement.

    Feminism is a political polemic, so there is isn’t a debate between feminists and non feminists, as far as the feminists are concerned, people that disagree with their polemic are wring and bad, its because of this polemic approach that the discussion is so dysfunctional.
    My own position is that its entirely inappropriate for a political movement to be misleading the public about abuse and engaging in denial, minimization and apology for female perpetrated abuse to further its agenda, and that its even more inappropriate for this group to be operating in male positive areas.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Jan — we are truly not in a position here to debate statistics, to tell people what is correct and incorrect, right and wrong. But we are in a position to listen to stories and understand the dynamics of what is going on through a very individual, personal level.

      • I know that Lisa, but you are in a position to request that the members of a certain political ideology stop dishonestly stereotyping abuse as gendered.

        • “I know that Lisa, but you are in a position to request that the members of a certain political ideology stop dishonestly stereotyping abuse as gendered.”

          Jan – I agree that Lisa has the power to do as you have suggested, but if she did that it would compromise both her positions as chief editor of GMP and as CEO. It would even compromise her own publicly stated views of how she views matters not from her Job Descriptions but even on a personal level – from her own heart.

          Frustration is terrible – isn’t it? P^)

          I know frustration. I deal with abuse issues across many minority statuses, even in my own life.

          I’m male, gay, disabled and with a most odd ethnic background – trans national. I even campaign for change and equality across all Equality Streams – looking to help create on big sea of Equality.

          When it even comes to the issue of domestic violence so many don’t even consider how being Gay excludes you from consideration – let alone how being disabled can make it impossible to leave when the person abusing you is your spouse and carer who has to push your wheelchair and you to a place of safety!

          How many beds are there on a local basis that are wheelchair accessible – and even meet the needs of people with other disabilities – people who are not a wheelchair user? People who are blind, hearing impaired, neuro-diverse or dealing with a myriad of other Disability Issues that don’t fit into a tick box?

          Ever had to fight to get a bed in a place when a disabled person ( male or female ) has to be helped to escape from Domestic Abuse and Violence and not one person has considered that you may need a place to be safe? How about the Guy removed from his home, taken to a motel and left there because it had an accessible bathroom? They forget to consider that he did not just need an accessible bathroom – he needed physical help to get on and off the toilet.

          It’s terrible to escape one set of abuse only to be left and abused by ignorance, and after 25 years of praying for help to be left to pee your pants because no-one considered you as a person.

          That’s just the start – and then there is access to food – to water……. a motel that is so far from basic things like a diner that you are better off being abused and fed, rather than not abused and left to starve and gasping for water.

          There are so many voices being drowned out in debate – and yet if all those voices were heard, there would be a very new and bigger debate.

          Lisa has the job and even personal mission of allowing that debate. Now that is far better than banning some because it will be easier to have a debate without them – but then again there has been debate with so many voices excluded already and unheard.

          It’s sort of old hat but “If You Build It They Will Come”. Lisa has pointed out that nearly 3 million have come already. Maybe we need to allow more to stay and be part of the debate and the change that so many desire and are frustrated at being delayed.

          I hear your views and your frustration. GMP is not a small boat, it’s a Big Ship. It can carry far more than a small number of passengers. It’s even accessible and allows equality. Let the captain steer and guide the passage. All we need to do is help other passengers come aboard.

      • Lisa, perhaps I underestimate how much time and effort it would take to read up about “statistics” but there is a vast amount of good information freely accessible via googling about the various types and issues in male victimization (for example). Many people here have cited some of them but they just get ignored it seems.

        Much more effort gets put into NOT reading those sources, denying them and arguing some ideological point rather than trying to learn something and listen to someone.

        It seems it’s just where American culture is at now. But to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. ”

        I

      • @ Lisa Hickey “Jan — we are truly not in a position here to debate statistics, to tell people what is correct and incorrect, right and wrong. But we are in a position to listen to stories and understand the dynamics of what is going on through a very individual, personal level.”

        Who said that? Is that the forum posting rules for the GMP? No facts, no science, no statistics? Well that fits right in to the female stereotype that so many seem to deny has any basis in reality. Hmm… thought it said “Speak Your Mind” right before the posting box, I must be confused. I guess we are just here to talk about are “feelings” and warm. cozy, and empathic.

        Alan has PERFECTLY stated it with Senator Moynihan’s quote “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. ” But of course this would ruin the entire “business model” of the feminist grievance industry an the quest for ever more privileges, lower responsibilities, and greater victim-hood..

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          No — sorry — I wasn’t clear. The editorial staff of GMP is not set up to write articles or provide commentary that puts a stake in the ground of what statistics are the “correct” ones — this was particularly in reference to gendered violence. We don’t have a research staff, we don’t have a staff of fact-checkers nor a panel of academic experts. So what I meant — and I should have been clearer — is that the editors and publishers can’t take a stand that says, for example, “CDC is wrong, RAIIN in 80% right and other studies need to be looked at in their place including Study X, Study Y and Study Z”. We are covering too many topics here, and The Good Men Project itself, as an editorial/media organization, does not have the knowledge nor the expertise to make those kind of assessments. And that is what I thought Jan was asking me to do.

          This does not mean that the community itself cannot present statistics, science and studies, debate those studies, talk about the facts as they see them. We also welcome submissions that reference research, science and statistics.

          The confusion was over the word “we”. We as a community is different than we as Editors and Publishers. And it is true that the content we like best from an editorial standpoint is individual stories of men, by men, for men that gives insights into the male experience — that is our core, that is our roots. Those stories, when written intelligently and with insight — often leads to empathy — you are right there. But implying that all we want to do is “talk about feelings” — no, please don’t put words into my mouth. On another thread about new sections on Men’s Rights and Feminism we are actively talking with the community about ways to keep the debates and arguments even around the provocative topics, in a way that works for everyone.

  2. I feel very frustrated here. There has been a chorus of “please leave us alone”, “stop publishing your misinformation” here for as long as I’ve been coming here, yet you are still here, imposing your political ideology and advocating for a misandrist man that tells willful lies about men, abuse and the nature of it.

  3. I saw this very thing in another article on this site the other day. The author and a commentor were arguing the same side of the coin but the commentor was so hung up on the terminology that he didn’t realize they agreed.

    I think you will find the same thing in politics anywhere. Like minded people who get hung up on terminology and identity rather than what the other sides are actually saying. I also think many people tend to pontificate and forget that in order to educate others you need to be able to listen to their side too. Once you know what they are truly saying you can then make progress.

  4. I like this. As I saw it, the contretemps unfolded from a few trigger points, and led to the two ‘sides’ becoming increasingly polarised.

    This saddens me, as I appreciate many of the stories I read at the GMP, and I also respect the perspectives of Hugo Schwyzer, Jenn Pozner, et al. I don’t see any need for them to be diametrically opposed.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      I agree Robert. We are not universally dismissing Hugo, Jenn, or anyone else. Right now we can’t seem to find common language around certain things that are very important to each of us. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

      • Thanks Lisa. I recognise that. Here’s hoping that such common language evolves in good time.

        • Language is constantly evolving – and common language is at risk all the time due to people forcing that “Evolution” – changing, tweaking and subverting language to make it polarized and either shifting or even removing common ground.

          I keep saying that words are a poor tool for communication! The tools are subject to change by people using them. Just look at a dictionaries over the last 100 years to see how language is constantly changing and even being forced to change.

          Far more useful it to set a central Aim – define it in present language and recognize that as some play with and force the evolution of language that Aim may have to be redefined.

          Making Language the battle ground is for me an incorrect view – it simply is making The Munitions the debating point, and developments in how those munitions work takes over from winning the peace.

          Common Ground has a fixity that prevents evolution in common language from shifting the ground elsewhere.

  5. Julie Gillis says:

    I really enjoyed this piece. It speaks to many of the frustrations I’ve had over many years as I’ve wandered through the internet. It’s not just male/female issues where this particular dynamic occurs. It occurs in the atheist community, enviro community, lgbt community and more. Possibly because people enjoy fighting ;) or at least enjoy poles from which to yell at other poles. Possibly because the internet is a hard place to communicate with empathy?
    Then again, vigorous debate takes place face to face as well. I just think it offers more opportunities for understanding.

    You point here, “My own view (which I share with countless other feminists) is that feminism itself has evolved far beyond a sole concern for women and includes any ‘group’ or ‘identity’ that is in any way slighted because of their association with that ‘group’ or ‘identity’, including men. Yes that still includes women, yes it’s a very broad definition, and yes it could be argued that ‘feminism’ may no longer be an appropriate title, but nevertheless, I am not surprised when like-minded feminists stomp their proverbial feet at such a sweeping dismissal of what they believe in”

    That’s my perspective on feminism and one that I am contemplating deeply. I’m contemplating how so many people here on this site do NOT see that, and wondering if that is semantics, contemplating if there are sharp poles inside the ideology that are reaching schism level conflict. Contemplating whether a change in words, as David Byron suggests to Gender Transition Theory is useful in certain cases.

    As for me, I”m certainly interested in women because I am a woman, but I’m mostly focused on all the intersections of social justice, peace and equality (class, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression) and so am not entirely sure what to call myself, or if it matters. Humafemimasculeftist?

    Julie?

    In any case, thank you for the article.

    My response is a bit different than yours, but it still is in the spirit of peace. http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/deep-structure-deep-thoughts/

  6. I do not think this constant debate results from miscommunication. Men and feminists seem to understand each other very well. The divide between them is more akin to the divide between atheists and the religious. Both groups have two very different worldviews they will defend, but the latter is less willing to listen the other side’s views than the former.

    When I look at what happened this week, it reminds me of my arguments with my very Catholic best friend. He holds his religion as “the truth,” and that faith forms the core of his identity, so anytime I question his religion’s doctrine he feels personally attacked. The same thing happens with feminists. Their defensive reaction comes from people questioning the feminist doctrine. Many feminists hold their ideology to be a self-evident “truth.” The moment anyone challenges that there will be conflict because many feminists view it as a personal attack.

    As much some feminists claim that feminism is “for everyone,” what happened this past week would not have happened if feminism honestly included men. The only way to honestly include men is to listen to them on their own terms. That did not happen. Instead, feminists fell back on repeating rhetoric, and ironically did to men the very thing they do not want men to do to them.

    I think the actual problem is an unwillingness to listen to the other side, and I think that comes from people, in this case feminists, not wanting to admit they may have it wrong. When it becomes about being “right” rather than understanding people, you will always end up with this kind of conflict.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Jacob, would you say that’s true for men too? Or both sides? I agree with you that when it becomes about “right” rather than finding a place of mutual understand big problems occur. In a culture of “win/lose” it’s often difficult to figure out how to get to that mutual place.

      • The sticky thing here is that men are not a political group with a unified message, unlike (most) feminists. While men tended to be on the opposite “side” of feminists in this particular debate, they are not necessarily on different “sides” in a larger sense. Why? “Man” is, for the most part, and ascribed status. “Feminist” is a chosen one. The male equivalent to feminism is not men as a whole, but the men’s rights movement. The MR movement suffers from the same problems that the feminist movement does (often too quick to spit venom at the “oppressor”, and often too angry to listen) and is more analagous to the other “side” of feminism. I don’t want to put words in Jacob’s mouth but, from what I’ve seen, men are not as bad about unwillingness to listen to feminists as feminists are to men. Perhaps the same could be said of women and MRAs (with MRAs being the guilty party), but I don’t read enough MRA literature or know enough MRAs to know for sure.

        • Wanna add something, and I think almost everyone can agree with this – the internet makes these s***storms so much worse. If we were all gathered in a room together, things would probably be more civil. It’s MUCH easier to demonize someone you cannot see.

      • Julie, PM beat me to the answer. I think the reason for these conflicts lies with ideology, and as PM noted men do not have a unified ideology whereas feminists do. I also think that because feminists are used to controlling these kinds of discussions, it is difficult for some feminists to let go of that power.

    • “Men and feminists …but the latter is less willing to listen the other side’s views than the former. ”

      It really depends on the feminist and the man in question. It’s dependant on the individual. Please don’t lump me in with every other feminist. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many different beliefs different feminists can hold. In turn, I promise not to say “men won’t listen,” because I’ll remember you and everyone else who does listen, and remember that one bad apple (or a few) doesn’t spoil the bunch.

      But this is the finger-pointing that doesn’t help anyone. When you say “feminists don’t listen” you’re pretty asking for a bunch of non-receptive feminists up the wazoo. Just like if I say that men don’t listen, I should probably grab a helmet. Let’s not poke any of the bears ;)

      • Let’s call the ones that are problematic: “Feminists that have political power or influence”.

        People who made VAWA pass. People who gender abuse in campaigns, and deny male victimhood as if their grants depended on it.

        The people who are reachable and do this are feminist (others are chivalric conservatives, who just aim to fulfill the male gender role of protecting women, and gain cookie points for it, or something – those are unreachable).

        When you try to argue and people defend those feminists who have DV shelters and post stats like 95% of DV victims are female victims of males, and of the 5% male, only 1% are straight (ie female-female abuse doesn’t exist at all + straight male victims are so few they don’t merit any consideration).

        People who invented the Duluth abuse wheel, and gendered it using patriarchal, controlling, dominant wording and implying that only males could want that + that all DV was of this totalitarian controlling type.

      • You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many different beliefs different feminists can hold.
        I think we have no idea because the whole “different beliefs” issue doesn’t come up until its time to disagree with something/someone.

        I’ve interacted with quite a few feminists in my relatively short time and there seems to be a pattern. When it comes time to declare how great feminism is or agreeable a certain idea is there is no division on “different beliefs”. No its just “feminism is for everyone” or “feminists care about all people”. Hell even positive generalizations are fair game.

        On the other hand find something that can lead to disagreement and all of a sudden there’s a demand to recognize there are “different beliefs”. A rush to make sure all feminists aren’t swept under the same rug. And unlike positive generalizations which are fine and dandy negative generalizations are a strict no no.

        I’m all for recognizing that there are lot of different ideas and people operating under the banner of feminism. But we can’t pretend that they are all good until someone finds one they disagree with and suddenly feminism goes from Voltron to five scattered Lions.

      • Erin, I do not like to deal in absolutes, so I would not say that feminists never listen to men. I would say that feminists tend to be less willing to listen to men than the other way around. I think that happens for many reasons, but mostly because they have an ideology that supposedly has all the answers. If one already knows why something happens, what is the point of talking to a person that thing happens to?

        It does not matter how many beliefs a person holds. What matters is what views they express to others, and also whether their actions and behaviors contradict their views.

        • @ Jacobtk “It does not matter how many beliefs a person holds. What matters is what views they express to others, and also whether their actions and behaviors contradict their views.”
          touche !

    • Disagree about the religious and atheist, neither side in those debates are willing to listen. It’s actually just as easy to troll atheists as it religious (who are mostly Christians in the West)

    • DavidByron says:

      I don’t think MRAs and feminists understand each other well. I can see why you’d think that maybe, because MRAs tend to see the two as two sides fighting their own corner, albeit with the feminists being 100 years more developed and therefore more powerful.

      But that view is NOT how the feminists see it, and it’s not how I see it.

  7. Moving forward…let’s try to focus on calm discussion and keep the vitriol to a minimum…I love men and I love my son and his friends….even when they trip up and say or do the wrong thing….In school, if someone gets bullied or harassed, they call the kid out and give him a chance to right the wrong….there is hope for learning and change and improvement in the future…

    From here on out, let’s try to focus on particular stories and experiences and really listen to all sides, even if we don’t all agree…it’s like Thanksgiving and Christmas…you have to get together with family and friends you don’t necessarily agree with but you can sit at the table and drink and eat together and celebrate what is best in all of us….Happy Holidays and Thank You for having these difficult discussions!

  8. I love this article. One thing I saw again and again on feminist sites was the practice of referencing a men’s rights article, then ranting about how women are still raped, paid less, abused, and so on.

    Yes, those things still happen. But if a man hits me it doesn’t mean another man shouldn’t have custody (or shared custody) of the kids he helped raise and was an excellent father to.

    I’m tired of (some) feminists vilifying men, and I’m equally tired of (some) men’s rights activists vilifying women. Uh, hello everyone, we need each other. Let’s talk. Let’s listen. Olive branches for everyone.

    • Erin

      “then ranting about how women are still raped, paid less, abused, and so on. Yes, those things still happen”

      Women do not get paid less for the same work, abuse is not gendered, some men and women abuse people, its fact. Can you people stop spreading your toxic ideology here, so that the can be some peace, can we not have even one day without it?

    • DavidByron says:

      All very well to talk about peace but on whose terms? Feminists want to continue to make negative and controversial statements about men that are opposed by their critics. Even you did it just then in that very comment you just made (if you are not sure what I mean you can ask).

  9. Feminism is not a science it is a political ideology. It is based on a believe system like religious beliefs.
    It is impossible to have an intellectual “argument” with a feminist because of this very fact. It is emotional and based on faith not facts, statistics, numbers, not on anything tangible or that can be shown and proven like in a science debate about a pharmacological product.

    In fact Scientific studies, reports, and well documented facts – (Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, and many others) completely contradict most all the major positions of feminism- no matter what “flavor” of the month it is.

    Furthermore anyone that has studied history understands well that feminism is an ideology born of the political left and it’s real goals are much more in line with left of center to Marxist principles than they are to anything to due with the sexes.

    This can be seen by the fact that Feminism is based on an ideology of victim-hood, envy, even hate. It is always about the “oppressed” and the “oppressor”. For every positive thing this movement has done for women it has done nine negative ones. No group of people can be equal let alone happy or content if they see life only through these lenses.

    If the true goals of feminism are understood, (as can be clearly seen by reading any other websites or blogs) then any man who calls himself a male-feminist is either fraud or a damaged soul full of self hatred, guilt, and more.

    Feminism is all about Equality.
    Sure! and National Socialism was all about making Volkswagens and building Autobahns!

  10. The hardest part about having a good faith discussion is that a lot of things feminism believes as facts aren’t actually considered true to most other disciplines in academia. As jan has noted about pay difference between men and women. It is hard to actually attribute any of the wage gap between men and women as discrimination. The idea that economists are hiding information about discrimination against women reaches absurdity when you notice a lot of economists are women.

    “abuse is not gendered, some men and women abuse people”

    Its a funny thing, when feminists say they believe in equality to be actually shown, that all the things they blame patriarchy or men for ends up actually women aren’t much better. Turns out we are mostly equals after all. Its just no one noticed before because everyone treated women as innocent children.

    It should be treated as good news. It means equality is actually being achieved. Instead its seen as “backlash”. As if taking away the victim status is taking away part of there identity. Not all feminists do this mind you it seems to be a fairly common response though.

  11. Whether you see it as a mere miscommunication or as a more fundamental difference about the facts may be dependent on what question you are asking.

    The question as far as the MRAs and I am concerned is a factual one about the nature of the feminist movement. What is feminism? Or perhaps it is a factual question about a more specific issue to do with alleged male privilege for example (all the stats and so on). Even though these questions may appear more driven by one side, the feminists of course have their own view of the facts and often that type of conversation starts because a feminist will state their opinion of the facts, often it seems without noticing they have done that. For example saying “feminism is about equality” is a statement about facts. It is a statement which is subject to debate with evidence presented for and against. So when a feminist says something like that it is often a trigger for a political debate.

    But then there’s another type of question which the feminists here often want to talk about which is more along the lines of “can’t we all just get along?” Or “don’t we all want equality?” This question is not one that can be answered with facts because it is subjective in the sense that none of us know each other, or else it is more a question about our goals.

    The miscomunication comes from getting these two types of question mixed up.

    So for example, for me, with my “hate movement” hypothesis that can come across to feminists as me saying “you must hate men”. That’s not at all my intention and it’s not what i think. Actually “hate” in the political sense is a quality of a movement, not an individual. I am making a statement about a movement, not any individual. That’s because popular movements necessarily have a wide range of people in them. (By the time hate movements get older and enter their “rump” stage the members are aware that their movement has a social stigma, but during the popular phase that’s not at all true). Hearing my accusation someone might reply to this with a statement about their own individual qualities (“well *I* don’t hate men, I’m married and…”) or a statement about our mutual goals (“Don’t we both want equality?”).

  12. Marcus Williams says:

    Listening, understanding, and agreeing are not the same things, but when we say things like, “You aren’t listening,” or “Group A doesn’t listen,” those distinctions are often lost. In the abstract, it’s not that hard to imagine listening, or at least sincerely trying to, without understanding. Or listening and understanding, but not agreeing. As the listener, it’s easy to imagine, because we disagree with plenty of things we’re confident we understand. As the person seeking all three, I think it can be very hard to feel listened to if the other two aren’t also evident in the conversation, because on our end, some facts and opinions seem so reasonable or self-evident that it’s practically impossible to see how anyone who really listened could fail to understand and agree. Disagreement is more tolerable than misunderstanding, but it’s hard to reach that point respectfully when everyone resists framing anything with the other side’s terminology, which tends to lead to feeling misunderstood and…not listened to.

    (In case that sounds pretentious, I consider myself as prone to that kind of thinking as anyone. I also think fuzzy notions of what “listening” is can complicate any debate, not just ones about gender. I don’t have a solution for it, but it felt worth pointing out.)

    • Perfectly said!

    • Love this. Beautifully expressed.

    • Marcus – well pointed out.

      The “You aren’t listening” is an interesting device. It is all too often Control Language and Stopping Language hidden in a Thought Terminating Cliché. It has the meaning of “Shut Up And Be Told!”.

      You are not listening is a one sided attribution and blame. It’s literally shaming language. I always wonder what people supposedly engaged in a two or more sided dialog hope to achieve by such activity, and why they assume entitlement and co-operation from others?

      “You have not understood what I said”, or even “I did not make that clear enough for you” is very different and even allows co-operation in communication.

  13. I notice that the first comment comes from someone who regards feminism as a “toxic ideology”. After that I don’t think there’s any meaningful conversation to be had, however much the OP might like it. Lines are already drawn and all the rest is either “yes, I agree” or “no, you’re wrong” – i.e. a total waste of everyone’s time.

    • Jonathan

      Feminism is a toxic ideology, well gender and radical feminism are toxic, and they presently dominate the ideology.

  14. Jonathan,

    Many “equity” feminist like Barbara Kay and Christina Hoff Sommers consider modern feminism to be not only “toxic” but a pernicious hate filled ideology. Are these feminist brainwashed by MRA’s or the Patriarchy? Is nit not possible that in fact this description is partially if not mostly accurate?

    Barbara Kay on feminism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flZoMLZgdUo

    • Okay, “partially” is a reasonable position — noting that “partially” means “partly”. You’ll find plenty of feminists (including me) to agree with you that other feminists are full of crap.

      But that’s never enough. These threads are always and only about that particular “partially” part, as though “partially” meant “wholly” or “completely”. There’s no concession that “the rest” of feminism — partially, if not mostly — has anything worthwhile to say. All you get is a list of grievances, endlessly repeated.

      And the same is true from the other side — a personal post from a guy will be ripped to shreds by feminists for failing on some particular piece of politics, completely subsuming any valid point that he was trying to make.

      So there’s no meaningful discussion to be had. It’s just “yes, you’re right” or “no, you’re wrong” — or, as Jan is insisting in the post below mine, “yes, I’m right”. As I said, it’s a complete waste of time.

      As for me, I hardly ever bother to read the comments on sites like this — once you’ve read one intransigent diatribe you’ve read them all. It was just frustration that had me posting yesterday really.

      • @ Jonathan – You wrote – ” You’ll find plenty of feminists (including me)” So please tell us all what that means? What is a male feminist and what are you one? It is a serious question. Women can;t even begin to agree on what a female feminist is. You seem very confident and articulate in your position so I would be interested in hearing your description of what you believe a male feminist (at least for you) is.

        • Someone asked this elsewhere – in the form of “what do you consider to be the point of feminism? What is the end goal and why?” – so I’ll post what I posted there:

          >>From Chambers Dictionary (1993 edition): feminism /fem’in-izm/ n advocacy of women’s rights, or of the movement for the advancement and emancipation of women.

          The point is obvious. The end goal — equality between the sexes at every possible level. This seems to me to be a matter of simple justice and should be supported for that reason alone. But I also think that supporting women’s emancipation, on the grounds that gender isn’t and shouldn’t be a barrier to anything, furthers my own emancipation as a man on the same grounds.<<

          As to what this means in practical terms: "Women can;t even begin to agree on what a female feminist is." — exactly so; i.e. it doesn't mean rigid adherence to a doctrine because feminists can't agree what that doctrine might be.

          In my case "gender equalist" would be more appropriate, since my interest in feminism is as much to do with self-interest (i.e. my rights as a man) as with wider issues of justice. But I don't have your antagonism to feminism – for instance, I don't regard it as essentially misandrist (and I'm not going to argue this with you) – so "feminist" is a perfectly good term. (Note that I don't qualify "feminist" by the prefix "male" either, which I think is irrelevant.)

  15. I have found this posting interesting.

    “The debate started after an intense Twitter back-and-forth which was posted on GMP under the title “The Wrath of The Feminists”.”

    I have to say that I do not agree. The issue of language use was rife long before Twittergate – and you only have to read the original posts and comments here to see that is true.

    So apparently matters have spread across the net from here?

    Can’t agree with that at all. The GMP was set up to allow Authentic Male Voices. Then there was an invasion of other voices which sought to control the language that could be expressed and how it should be expressed.

    Again you only have to read the Back Catalog to see who was telling who how to speak. I suggest that a debate may be rolling across the Internet, not about gender, but about how some behave when they don;t get their own way and uninvited and unwanted advances are rebutted with a large and resounding “NO”.

    “In the end, this confusion can usually be explained by miscommunication. And that miscommunication is often the result of two different perspectives trying but finding it hard to reach the same conclusion.”

    That can be very true – but I have to say very clearly that I did not see that here. What I have observed is one group claiming that all communication was miscommunication by one aside, because they wanted other communication and only their communication their way. It was like watching an invasion of petulant five year old children ruled by ego with no super-ego to control them.

    Under such circumstances there is no equality that even allows miscommunication on either side.

    • Michael Perot says:

      You are right on target Mediahound. Almost anyone who is familiar with gender politics knows that is is very difficult to have any really free exchange of differing ideas and opposing viewpoints. At times it seems a hybrid mix of a a First Amendment issue and and emotional /psychological inability to even listen let alone even consider differing critical ideas and beliefs. For a fact / science based individual trying to have any serious intellectual debate can be incredibly frustrating. The reality is that many of these topics have concrete answers in Science but feminist ideology and our politically correct culture kept them suppressed.

      • “For a fact / science based individual trying to have any serious intellectual debate can be incredibly frustrating. The reality is that many of these topics have concrete answers in Science but feminist ideology and our politically correct culture kept them suppressed.”

        No, they don’t; no, they haven’t. When it comes to sex and gender issues, “science” is as open to interpretation as anything else; i.e. for every study showing one result (aka “fact”), there are a dozen that show nothing at all, or even the opposite. So people cherry-pick their studies according to what they already believe and then go: look, it’s “science”, it must be true.

        In this case “science” is just another way of privileging one’s own position — and all that “serious intellectual debate” then comes down to is “I’m right, you’re wrong” with even more intransigence than before.

        • This is a perfect example of the fact that there is little to no science behind feminist thinking, ideology, and arguments.

          Jonathan says- “No, they don’t; no, they haven’t. When it comes to sex and gender issues, “science” is as open to interpretation as anything else; i.e. for every study showing one result (aka “fact”), there are a dozen that show nothing at all, or even the opposite. So people cherry-pick their studies according to what they already believe and then go: look, it’s “science”, it must be true.

          Yes it is open for interpretation like “is the earth flat” or “does the sun revolve around the earth”. We are not talking about some obscure area of science where there is legitimate debate of fine details. This is an area covered in mass by scientific studies by males and females and reports from the world over for the past half century. To paint it has an area where one must cherry pick studies to support ones belief is not only highly misleading but simply wrong. I hope that people with this kind of thinking are not in the aviation, pharmaceutical, medical or engineering fields.

          The majority of the basic tenets of feminist have been shown by science the world over to have no basis in fact and to be belief systems. They are primarily ideologies devoid of any factual support from evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, even chemistry. Feminism like a religion or any cult is based on primary on faith and belief and not on science.

          You could “cherry pick” from now until eternity and not be able to find any substantial and serious research or studies that support this belief system. If they existed every feminist web site in the world would list them and have links to them, but they don’t because they don’t exist
          .

          • Whatever.

            • What a brilliant intellectual display! “Whatever” you sound like my daughters sixteen year old friends.
              You write something ridiculous like- “In this case “science” is just another way of privileging one’s own position” and then back it up with annoying juvenile and primarily female response.
              Yes science is all part of the big bad “Patriarchy” conspiracy, Einstein, Newton, Edison, Pasteur, Darwin…. it was all about male privileged. Of course it was.

            • I answered that lower down. The fact that you dismiss meta-analysis out of hand simply because it’s conducted by “an expert in women’s studies” rather rules out any further meaningful discussion.

              But I’ll explain it once: meta-analysis is about NOT cherry-picking studies. It’s about looking at them all across the board and seeing what they say en masse. What meta-analysis shows is that studies showing significant inherent difference are mostly anomalies.

        • Jonathon,
          Let’s accept your statement that their are studies ranging the entire spectrum (from DV being all may initiated to DV being all female initiated), and sifting the truth out among them may be difficult. (Just for the facts, your characterization is wrong, but I’ll get into that later)

          Even accepting this premise, all that tells me is that feminists cherry-picked the studies they wanted. I mean if the truth is not READILY available, then it would seem feminists ALREADY had this belief in the evil of men and went with the studies that aligned with their beliefs.

          However, even accepting your theory about the inability to glean the truth from a swarm of studies. Their is however the matter of a VERY PUBLIC record of feminist actions that speaks volumes.

          Erin Prizzey who started the first DV shelter in england was going to start a shelter for men as her 2nd shelter. She did something that was a big no-no to feminists: when she admitted women into the shelter she interviewed the women on THEIR OWN VIOLENT ACTS.

          Erin Prizzey stated that many of the women she was admitting was as violent or more violent (to the men and the children) as the men they were leaving.

          She was threatened, verbally attacked, she was threatened with attackers coming to her home and bomb threats. All of this was done by supposedly egalitarian minded feminists.

          The most leaned upon researchers by feminists were Strass and Gelles. They were the ones who organized anonymous phone surveys that showed 1 woman was abused every 14.5 seconds.

          These same brave heralded-by-feminist researchers are now banned from appearing to testify at VAWA re-authorization hearings. Why? Because their latest research shows women are as violent as men.
          The Liz Clairborne Institute conducted a study of teen violence. When it was shown that teen girls used violence more than boys, they scuttled the project. And yet they continue to advocate for more protection and more laws–only for teen girls.
          So, it’s not just feminists cherry picking, but executing VERY DEMONSTRABLE actions that resemble zealots.
          Zealotry and politics make for poor bedmates. After all: THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.

          It’s time to bring feminism out of the 1950’s, and admit that not all women are victims, that not all victims are women, and not all men are powerful or malicious.

          It’s time to call the zealots out on their behavior before they do more harm.

          I love how (when I complain about feminism) feminists tell me I need to educate myself about feminism. It always turns out my critic was far less educated about the harm feminism does than I am.

          • As far as you statement that there exist many studies and gleaning the truth is difficult, this is not true.

            The vast majority of published peer-reviewed studies on DV show gender symmetry.
            The majority of studies that show male perpetration are conducted as intake reports at DV shelters in which the women’s own violence IS NOT delved into.

            There are many many more studies established by respected academics and peer reviewed, with very large sample sizes that show gender symmetry.

            By contrast the studies proving feminist myths about DV are not peer reviewed, have small samples sizes and are not done by credible academics.

            In other words the studies proving feminist myths are the tip of the iceberg. The other 95% have been systematically ignored or their authors/advocates have been forbidden to appear at DV seminars and conferences and government reviews.

            This is why egalitarian minded academics started the conference “From Ideology to Inclusion” which is growing by leaps and bounds every year with many from health care and mental health fields who are concerned about the harm laws based on feminist lies do to our families.

            Look at this story:
            ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/blog/?page_id=1784

            It details how Megan Woods is only alive today because the shotgun her mother aimed at her & pulled the trigger was unloaded.

            Megan and her father were denied help at DV centers because her father was a man.

            This is what you get when dupes like you blindly accept feminist myths.

            • John,
              I was not speaking about DV. I am speaking about everything that is known about the sexes and the differences between them. This is a universe of which DV is a very small component. (or course it is a very important one to those who are victims-male or female) The amount of peer reviewed scientific work on studying the sexes in all animals would fill a hundred libraries. Whether one is reading one a feminist site, and MS site or on this one it never ceases to amaze me how many people are simply arguing points that are absolutely contradicted by all known science. And there is always the chorus of “science is not absolute” but I don’t here these same people speaking up when someone says the world is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, or that gravity does not exist. Even if ALL the science is not in yet there is certainly and overwhelming body of evidence that most if not all of the major tents of feminism are just factually incorrect and not supported by science.

            • I keep seeing and hearing the same conversation – it reads Feminism is wrong and we can prove it.

              There is one problem there. So many people without facts and figures believe they know feminism and so they don’t listen.

              If the conversation is not working change the conversation.

              Make it about how Equality is not working – calculate real costs in Dollars for that failure. People get money and so do politicians. They think of money as their own and it makes them look closely how to save money and make it work.

              What is the cost per day, per week, per month per year caused by Domestic Violence.

              Re define Domestic Violence as Violence in a domesrtic setting where one person uses Violence against another. That’s adult to adult, adult to child, even child to adult and child to child.

              Calculate it by lost wages and business productivity by the person targeting, health costs, lost school days all possible factors.

              How many school days are lost – how many educational opportunities are damaged and lost – how does that play out in employment across a generation – how much does that loose the USA economy per year, per decade, per generation?

              You can have the same old conversation or a new one that is bigger and more equal.

            • It is not about having a “new” conversation, or a “bigger” one or even a “more equal” one (whatever that means). It is about reality and truth, not worrying about being politically correct or even delusional at times. Nature is not concerned with the concept of “fair”. And “equal”? Equal in what? where? for whom? when? There are endless variables. Is there new information for this “new” conversation?

            • I like that you got the word “new”.

              I forgot to mention a “new” point of view also helps. New does not always mean having to learn new things, just use the things which you have in a different way.

              I have written here about how looking at things and talking about them can blind everyone to the possibilities and even reality.

              It can be such an issue that it can even cost people a Noble Prize.

              Have a look at this and see if it helps with the idea of a new point of view.

              http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/women-rape-boys-too/comment-page-1/#comment-69641

            • @ John D: As Michael Perot says, we weren’t talking about DV, we were talking about differences between the sexes — and I’m assuming that “inherent differences” was what was meant there. On this, meta-analysis (that is the study of all studies across the board) shows that (procreational factors aside) inherent differences are really quite small; much smaller than the spread of difference within a single sex — in other words that difference is a human quality not an inherently gendered one.

              This analysis is readily available — if anyone is interested in the relevant literature Jack Molay recently put up a list here: http://www.crossdreamers.com/2011/12/literature-on-sex-and-gender.html (my own favourite is Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions of Gender” — but as to why it’s not, as Andy Roberts asked, blazoned over every feminist website, there are two reasons:

              1. from the equalist feminist position — because difference (however large or small) isn’t relevant politically.

              2. from the misandrist (as you would call it) feminist position you all shout about so much — because these feminists believe in inherent difference; indeed, it is essential to their world view.

              That’s me done now btw. I don’t intend to post in this thread again. Feel free to call me a dupe some more.

            • In your link on the discussion about the differences between men and women being small.

              The psychologist who conducted the study, on her home says she is an expert on women studies.
              It is hardly surprising that someone who is an expert in women’s studies would find most of the differences between men and women to be very small.

            • on her home = on her home page

            • @ jameseq: “It is hardly surprising that someone who is an expert in women’s studies would find most of the differences between men and women to be very small.”

              Sorry, you’re going to have to explain how that might be “hardly surprising”. One of the main areas of complaint against “toxic” feminists is that they emphasize difference to otherize men: to claim, for instance, that men are (at least to a much greater extent than women) inherently mean and nasty. Whereas a feminist (even if she is – horror of horrors – “an expert in women’s studies”) who disclaims difference is essentially saying the opposite: that women must be equally inherently mean and nasty.

            • One of the main areas of complaint against “toxic” feminists is that they emphasize difference to otherize men:
              Some feminists do that, while other feminists say that there is essentially no difference between men and women

            • “other feminists say that there is essentially no difference between men and women”

              No, they don’t say that; what they say is that people are different; that human difference cannot be attributed discretely to sex.

              Anyway, which are you saying? You seem to want it both ways — that feminists are wrong whatever they say, even when their views are diametrically opposed.

            • it comes as no surprise that i have to educate you about your own cult. the separationalist feminists tend to be sex-essentialists. while non separationalists tend believe there are virtually no differences between the sexes eg. marcotte’s ‘equal and friends’ http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/as-equals-and-as-friends/

              it is you feminists who want it both ways

            • My own position is as I described it: “that people are different; that human difference cannot be attributed discretely to sex.” Or to put it more simply, in personal terms: you can’t deduce anything about someone from knowledge of their sex.

              From this position I can argue with anyone who tries to claim that “men” (as a group) are whatever — that men are inherently violent and misogynist, for instance — and tell them they’re talking essentialist crap.

              Whereas all you seem to want to do is make snide remarks about cults and feminists from no position at all.

            • @ Jonathan – Different does not mean good vs. evil, passive vs. aggressive, black vs. white. Different means “Unlike in form, quality, amount, or nature; dissimilar:”

              You can argue that from this reality you can conclude that men are inherently violent or misogynistic. You can argue from whatever position you like. It does not change reality or make that argument correct or even logical.

              Ignoring science (and reality) because some feminist manipulate the meaning of “different” just creates an equally delusional position.

              First one must understand the simple basic meaning of the words All, Most, Many Some, Few, and None.

              Regardless of all the pop and junk science articles and blogs that are referenced the fact is from a practical human stand point males and females are GENERALLY very different in many substantive ways. Not ALL, but most- generally.

              It is very popular among some circles to chant the mantra that the sexes are hardly different at all and there are more differences within the sexes than between them. Of course this is all smoke and mirrors playing games, politics and ideology with genetic information and just flies in the face of simple common sense and practical experience.

              Yes and at a table setting the knife and the spoon are more similar than different than the knife is to all the other knives in the world.

              It is entertain to read these posts. I work with University students from all over the world. From every culture, religion, economic, and ethnic background.

              In this environment it is very easy to see the common traits that are nearly universal to the sexes. The same traits that feminist and their male supporters like to deny as being nature as ascribe to being socially constructed.

              The young women in my company have only two things in common- 1. They were born between the years of 1987 and 1993- two decades after feminism was sweeping the west. 2. By simply viewing their behavior it is very simple to see that all the 40+, 50, 60, 70 year old feminist don’t have much of a following anymore outside of a small hard core group.

              And as female behavior continues to spiral ever downwards (as can be easily seen- on TV, in malls, or anyone working with young women) I wondered if there was a “goodwomenproject.com”. Sure enough but the site is ranked 443,553 positions down from the goodmenproject.com! Seems like a lot more attention is being focused on making men “good” (making men behave as women would like) than in making women behave like the ladies that most of them want to be treated as. As a side note there are about 100 different Slutwalk web sites and many have traffic hundreds of times over the goodwomenproject site.

              My concern is not really about men or women- it is about boys and girls and the damage the feminist moment (including their male supporters) movement has brought to them an continues to ravage them. A permanent war between the sexes, blurring of gender, promotion of promiscuity, and creates and environment where the concept of a good marriage is become a distant fantasy.

            • The key word before “difference” was “inherent” – which in this context signifies “a fact of nature”, something which “is and must always be”. My own concern (in which I have a huge stake as a gender non-confrming man) is about social restrictions imposed on men and women due to culturally designated notions of gender, which are bolstered by these (spurious) claims about what men and women inherently are and can be and can do. There are all sorts of reasons why we’re different in social reality. (And I don’t just mean some facile nature vs nurture debate either.) So what you see or don’t see in your students is hardly relevant to arguments.

              As for “making men behave as women would like” – who are the “women” here and what do “they” want? Supposing you mean “the 40+, 50, 60, 70 year old feminist [who] don’t have much of a following anymore outside of a small hard core group.” – why should any individual man care what they want anyway? Since we’re using personal experience as evidence here, I’ll just say: I don’t personally know any men (discounting sites like this) who would even have heard of these feminists, let alone give a shit what they want or think.

            • PS “In this environment it is very easy to see the common traits that are nearly universal to the sexes.”

              And those common traits are?

            • @ Jameseq – James you are right on target. Women’s studies is as fact based as the study of astrology, tarot cards, or crystals. This is a belief system not science.

              As for real science there are literally THOUSANDS of peer reviewed studies, many by women that show there are major differences between the sexes. And these people don’t have their degrees in women’s studies- they have it in Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, Genetics, Chemistry, and so on.

      • “You are right on target Mediahound. Almost anyone who is familiar with gender politics knows that is is very difficult to have any really free exchange of differing ideas and opposing viewpoints.”

        Anyone who if familiar with the Internet and web can “Google” and find who said what first! P^)

        It seems that quoting someone else has become a blood sport – and a comment in one place is quoted and taken as warfare in another!

        Maybe the Internet needs to be tuned off? It’s such a bad tool for communication and such a good one for starting false wars! P^)

  16. Oh and a PS

    I was wondering who chose the picture above. It is a “Tad” on the Stereotypical side and does engender some Bias based upon sex/gender.

    “Picture this: two people are having a conversation.” – well picture above seems to indicate how any conversation is to play out! Not much point picturing anything else! P^/

    • Which gives me a wonderful opportunity to talk about the glory of our male ancestors clothing ( everyone groans, lol)

      He wears velvet, first introduced into europe from about the 11th century ce, from the then wealthier middle and near east. slashed in the style that was made popular by the atthetimefamous 16th century ce germanic mercenaries, the ‘landsknecht’ (search engine them to see images). the landsknecht are believed to be the first to split hosiery into two parts, in effect making stockings and breeches whereas before the hosiery(joined hose) if worn as outerwear, was worn as leggings are today.
      tightly fitting clothing to reveal the long lean legs, narrow hips and small bottom not of a woman, but of a man.
      he is not wearing trunk hose(baggy, padded breeches) so with these tight breeches he would still be wearing a codpiece (with some codpieces reaching 30cm in length). even with trunk hose, men still wore codpieces.

      the ruff around his neck is made from lace. lace and velvet were of course very expensive materials during this time, and were signs of the status and material wealth, like a ferrari would be today.

  17. While it looks like the male in the cover pic is the aggressor,in fact the female has a knife in her skit, and she ain’t afraid to use it!

    Or maybe the moral is :Justice is blind..
    As well as deaf and dumb!

  18. “Two people having a conversation”

    um no.
    1 person wrote an article and an entire gender told him to be quiet.
    Those are no where near the same thing.

    (Watch those smoke and mirrors folks)

  19. “A Gender Discussion Unfolds Across the Web” Discussion? I think you misspelled “shouting match”!

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