Creative Destruction

December 12, 2006

Are “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” shirts A-OK with NOW?

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 4:16 am

This formerly open thread is now restricted to discussing this comment by Ebbtide from another thread:

“How is it that even though “the overwhelming majority of violence and exploitation is done to male characters.”, it doesn’t occur to people to ask whether or not this is consistently misandrist?”

Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s for the same reason that “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” shirts are just A-OK with NOW…

Update (22 December): Marcella has posted a similar story over at Alas.

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Edited to add the last two rules. Moderators may edit this post to endorse these rules if they want them to apply to their threads too.

41 Comments »

  1. Oh my God, he’s been Atrios all along. Get him!

    Comment by Robert — December 12, 2006 @ 4:57 am | Reply

  2. From the “Sexism Among Comic….” comment thread.

    Daran

    Ebbtide, I have a lot of sympathy for your stance with respect to NOW and to feminism in general.

    You might, depends on which brand of feminism you’re talking about. I have only expressed my views of radical feminism.

    But not only does this particular claim appear to be unsupported, (in fact, it is contradicted by the cite which Aegis provided.) but it is in no way responsive to what I said.

    It is in response to what you said when you raised the issue of violence against males in comics. What I meant was that the silence by groups such as NOW may indicate a double-standard.

    It’s unsupported somewhat, in that it was not a NOW press release, but it was in a radio interview with Kim Gandy (her saying Sacks was “hypocritical” and “whining” about it, that is). She might speak for the organization in some capacity, being the president and all.

    I can’t say I see how Aegis’ quote contradicts what I said, unless you take “I don’t think the shirts are cute” to be a stern condemnation. In fact, I think it pretty much bolsters my contention that a double-standard exists, as Aegis later points out but you ignore.

    I’m not putting on my moderator hat – it’s for Amp to decide what he will allow in his thread – but this is the kind of behaviour which tends to antagonise.

    Interesting that it wasn’t he who exiled me to some amorphous open thread. He knew what my point was, I think.
    What kind of “behaviour” are you speaking of? I have been nothing but respectful since I started commenting here. A suggestion to the contrary is just plain silly.

    Whatever though…your show, your rules. I think I am learning which opinions are allowed and which are not. If you took me to be “antagonistic,” I apologize as it was not my intent.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  3. It’s unsupported somewhat, in that it was not a NOW press release, but it was in a radio interview with Kim Gandy (her saying Sacks was “hypocritical” and “whining” about it, that is). She might speak for the organization in some capacity, being the president and all.

    Got a link to a transcript, or at least to the audio? Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?

    (And by the way, it doesn’t follow that because she’s the president of NOW, every word she says can be spoken of as if it were an official NOW position.)

    Interesting that it wasn’t he who exiled me to some amorphous open thread. He knew what my point was, I think.

    No one exiled you to this thread. Daran specifically said he wasn’t speaking as a moderator in that thread; you were (and are) perfectly free to respond in that thread, therefore.

    I thought your point was that feminists don’t object to violence against men in comics for the same reason NOW (allegedly) says that anti-boy t-shirts are a-okay. The implication of what you wrote is that feminists, as represented by NOW (allegedly) being okay with anti-boy shirts, favor violence against men, and that’s why feminists don’t object to men being hit in superhero comics.

    If that’s not what you intended to say, then I don’t think the purpose of your NOW example is at all clear.

    If that was your intended argument, then I think it’s wrongheaded. I think feminists (by and large) don’t object to violence in superhero comics for the same reason we don’t object to violence in Buffy; we recognize that the violence is a genre convention, and in and of itself doesn’t make a particular comic book (or episode of Buffy) offensive.

    (And, of course, many feminists don’t object because they don’t read comics and don’t know or care about the question. Which is legitimate.)

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  4. Got a link to a transcript, or at least to the audio? Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?

    Playing stupid is one thing. Assuming that everyone else is, is another. Stop it.

    Please.

    Here is what ebbtide just wrote in a previous comment, btw:

    It’s unsupported somewhat, in that it was not a NOW press release, but it was in a radio interview with Kim Gandy (her saying Sacks was “hypocritical” and “whining” about it, that is).

    Comment by Tuomas — December 12, 2006 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  5. “Got a link to a transcript, or at least to the audio? Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?”

    Sure don’t, that’s why I never said that. At least that’s not what I meant to say, I was being a bit sarcastic I suppose. She said Sacks was (sigh, for the tenth time) “hypocritical” for “whining” about the t-shirts when he (allegedly) routinely endorses misogynist positions (in fact I have never heard him do this, maybe you should grill her also). Tell ya what, let me drag out my archives of radio shows I listened to 2-4 years ago and I’ll get back to ya. Bottom line, Gandy had the opportunity to condemn the message, didn’t do it. Grieco, same opportunity, same result.

    “I thought your point was that feminists don’t object to violence against men in comics for the same reason NOW (allegedly) says that anti-boy t-shirts are a-okay.”

    That’s the one! Except I didn’t say that NOW “said” that. They certainly didn’t state any objection to it, as is their prerogative. They lose some credibility though by not advocating for both sides, at least in my opinion.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  6. Pardon me for butting in.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 12, 2006 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  7. Playing stupid is one thing. Assuming that everyone else is, is another. Stop it.

    Could your approach to disagreeing with me possibly be more belligerent, Tuomas?

    Putting your tone aside, I think you may have forgotten what Ebbtide’s original claim was. Ebbtide claimed that “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW.” Asking him if NOW has every actually said such a thing is a legitimate question.

    And yes, I saw that Ebbtide shifted his claim in his post on this thread. That doesn’t make it wrong for me to ask him to back up his original claim. In fact, I think my approach is useful – it’s forced Ebbtide to admit that he’s was just inferring that, and that Gandy or NOW never actually said the t-shirts are a-ok.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  8. What do you assume my tone is?

    In fact, I think my approach is useful – it’s forced Ebbtide to admit that he’s was just inferring that, and that Gandy or NOW never actually said the t-shirts are a-ok.

    But that wasn’t the point that was being debated, because the claim NOW actually said that the shirts are a-OK was made by you.

    [bold added]

    Comment by Tuomas — December 12, 2006 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  9. Ebbtide claimed that “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW.

    Amp, do you think, for example, that when Kanye West said that George Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” that he meant that he had actually heard Bush say this, or that his actions (or lack thereof, more likely) indicated as much?

    I believe the latter to be the case. I’m sure you do too. That is how I am also sure that you know I never meant my original post to be construed as a quote (who the hell would use the term “A-OK” in a statement to the media anyway…LOL). I think you may just like to argue, which is cool. Most people with blogs do.

    Anyway…next topic…

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  10. Ebbtide:

    You did indeed claim that NOW views the “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” shirts are a-ok. But now you admit they didn’t actually say that. Thanks for clarifying.

    Gandy isn’t here for me to question, so saying I should be giving her equal treatment is not reasonable. (I know – you were being sarcastic again!)

    I think that Glenn (who is someone I get along with fine, by the way – he emailed me just last week to thank me for giving him an idea for a column) is someone it’s perfectly fair for Gandy to criticize. You don’t have to be misandrist to disagree with Glenn Sacks. However, since I haven’t read or heard the specific discussion you’re talking about, I can’t say whether or not her particular comments in this case were fair.

    Tell ya what, let me drag out my archives of radio shows I listened to 2-4 years ago and I’ll get back to ya.

    Okay. Let’s put this aspect of the discussion on hold until if and when you can find that link, if that suits you.

    I would say that I don’t think NOW is what I’d call a “radical feminist” organization. NOW tends to concentrate on legislative approaches and economic issues, both of which are things that I generally associate with liberal feminism. (Although, like the difference between superhero and action hero, the difference between liberal and radical feminist is often fuzzy in practice.)

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  11. Apparently are a-Ok is IMO far cry from actually saying something is a-Ok, usually the a-OK framing is often used specifically in the way ebbtide used it — to suggest that something is considered irrelevant enough to not merit any serious criticism.

    Comment by Tuomas — December 12, 2006 @ 7:53 pm | Reply

  12. No one exiled you to this thread.

    No, they didn’t, but I’m not the type to walk through a door with a KEEP OUT sign simply because it is not locked.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  13. I would say that I don’t think NOW is what I’d call a “radical feminist” organization.

    I didn’t link the two, Daran did.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  14. Amp, do you think, for example, that when Kanye West said that George Bush “doesn’t care about black people,” that he meant that he had actually heard Bush say this, or that his actions (or lack thereof, more likely) indicated as much?

    Obviously, he was referring to Bush’s actions – for one thing, unlike you, he backed up his statement with a series of specific complaints about Bush’s acts (or lack of act). If he hadn’t done that, it would have been perfectly fair for reporters to ask him if Bush actually said that, or if not what he was basing his claim about Bush’s beliefs on.

    In the end, I think your claim is unsupported, and probably unfair. Obviously it was unlikely that Gandy said the exact word “a-ok”; but your argument made it sound, falsely, that NOW had said something that could fairly be read as saying that NOW is okay with t-shirts calling for violence against boys. Your claim was not true, and you haven’t supported it except in the most inferential and unfair fashion (to paraphrase you, “she failed to condemn it, therefore she’s okay with it”).

    NOW’s positions are best judged from reading what they actually say in their positions, not from something you vaguely recall Gandy allegedly said while arguing with someone off-the-cuff on AM radio years ago.

    Finally, it’s clear that Grieco says sexism oppresses men (“Men certainly suffer their own oppressions and should fight for their rights. I would offer nothing but applause for a legitimate voice fighting for men, while respecting women.”). She just doesn’t think she’s obliged to care about the t-shirt rather than thinking other issues are more essential.

    And yes, I do like arguing.🙂

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  15. The larger question is – does the National Organization For Women bear any responsibility to give “equal time” to boys? I don’t think they do, any more than B’nai B’rith is obliged to give equal time to gentiles. Nor would it be fair to construe B’nai B’rith’s lack of statements condemning abuse of Christians into an assumption that they are okay with gentiles being abused. (Edited to add: Especially if the specific case under discussion was a gag t-shirt.)

    Thanks for clarifying the “radical feminist” thing. Sorry I misunderstood you.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  16. not from something you vaguely recall Gandy allegedly said while arguing with someone off-the-cuff on AM radio years ago.

    Short memory. (edited to add:referring to Amp).

    Actually the, Christian Science Monitor article (already presented in the comic book thread once) supports “whiner” and “hypocrite” claim.

    Wikipedia article supports this (not in those exact words).

    Glenn Sacks’ archived broadcast on that show appears to be broken.

    The larger question is – does the National Organization For Women bear any responsibility to give “equal time” to boys?

    Hmm?

    Comment by Tuomas — December 12, 2006 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

  17. I would say that I don’t think NOW is what I’d call a “radical feminist” organization.

    I didn’t link the two, Daran did.

    I retract this claim, looking back at the thread, he did not say that.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  18. I retract this claim, looking back at the thread, he did not say that.

    Thanks for clarifying. I retract my previous retraction, then. :-p

    Comment by Ampersand — December 12, 2006 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  19. As Amp says, the evidence doesn’t support ebbtide’s claim that NOW thinks the shirts are “A-Ok.” Still, I interpreted his statement as a polemical way of saying the NOW condones the T-shirts, which it certainly seems to, so it seems like Amp is evading the point. As ebbtide points out, NOW had an opportunity to criticize the shirts, specifically on the grounds that they represented sexism towards men, and it failed to do so. Hence, it’s not unreasonable to claim that NOW (or at least Helen Grieco) condones the shirts. By evading this issue, Amp himself is condoning NOW’s actions.

    The larger question is – does the National Organization For Women bear any responsibility to give “equal time” to boys?

    No. NOW does, however, have a responsibility to not trivialize attempts to reduce or criticize male bashing. (Should NOW agree with everthing MRAs say about male bashing? Again, no. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim that these shirts aren’t male bashing.)

    It’s not equal time that I, or Sacks is asking for. How about just 5 minutes: the 5 minutes it would have taken for Grieco to say that bashing males is not acceptable, instead of playing the dishonest “someone else somewhere else is oppressed more” game.

    If NOW doesn’t want to help fight injustices to men, then fine. But at least it should quit standing in the way when other people try to. It’s great that Grieco acknowledges in principle that men suffer oppression and that their rights are important, but that acknowledgement doesn’t extend into practice in this case. (Note: I don’t think Sacks, or those who claim to fight the oppression of men are beyond criticism, or that any criticism of them automatically means “standing in the way” of men’s rights. However, Sacks was in the right on the specific issue of the T-shirts, so it was wrong for NOW to trivialize his campaign against the shirts, especially since feminists in the past have launched similar campaigns.)

    Nor would it be fair to construe B’nai B’rith’s lack of statements condemning abuse of Christians into an assumption that they are okay with gentiles being abused.

    This is not a valid analogy, because what we are seeing from NOW is not just a “lack of statements.” NOW made a statement. Their criticism was to trivialize Sacks’ attempts to fight something morally reprehensible. Even silence would have been better.

    The way you set up your analogy, I would agree with you. But what if Christians were abused or slandered, and you asked the B’nai or B’rith what they thought of efforts to combat the abuse, and the B’nai and B’rith not only failed to condemn the abuse, but went on to trivialize it relative to the abuse of other groups? This would be a valid analogy, and I think it would be fair to say that the B’nai and B’rith are condoning the abuse of Christians by (a) failing to condemn it when specifically asked to comment, and (b) trivializing attempts to combat that abuse.

    Comment by Aegis — December 12, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  20. NOW’s positions are best judged from reading what they actually say in their positions, not from something you vaguely recall Gandy allegedly said while arguing with someone off-the-cuff on AM radio years ago.

    Maybe their positions are BETTER judged, not “best.” For that, I prefer personal experience and interaction with the group’s members. I dare not delve any further into that
    as I have no sources, links, or transcripts to give.

    That said, Amp, you mentioned above liberal and radical feminism. I would like to hear your definition of those terms. I know the encyclopedic definitions. I want the definitions from a real, live feminist. Not to start up an argument or even a discussion. This is just my personal curiosity.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 12, 2006 @ 10:04 pm | Reply

  21. Aegis, it’s clear that you’re so bigoted against NOW and anyone associated with NOW that there’s no chance you’ll ever judge any NOW member fairly.

    There’s no evidence, at all, that NOW in any way stood in the way of Glenn’s campaign. It seems most likely, reading the article, that no one from NOW would ever had made any comment at all if a reporter hadn’t sought Grieco out and asked her (judging from her answer) something along the lines of if NOW wasn’t campaigning against the shirt because NOW thought it was cute. She answered that no, the shirt wasn’t cute; and yes, men are oppressed; but she didn’t think Glenn was a credible person, from a feminist point of view, and that she doesn’t think the T-shirt campaign is a good use of NOW’s resources.

    Nothing we know she said was unreasonable. It’s only by making ridiculous assumptions (“when she was sought out by a reporter, she said that the shirts aren’t cute and men are oppressed, but she failed to condemn the shirts in a full-throated enough way to satisfy MRAs, therefore she’s standing in the way!”) that you’re able to build a case against her.

    Also, it’s not like Glenn comes without a history, especially in California. Glenn has a long record of opposing and attacking feminism, including arguing that rape against women is far less common than statistics indicate. I find it totally understandable, given that context, that NOW folks don’t find Glenn credible, are defensive when a reporter brings Glenn up, and are hesitant to sign on to a Glenn campaign.

    But I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim that these shirts aren’t male bashing.

    No one here, and no one associated with NOW (that we know of), has made that claim.

    [Edited to strike out an empty yet insulting statement.]

    Comment by Ampersand — December 13, 2006 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  22. I’m staying out of this one, for the time being at least, except to give an an exhibition of just how suckyinexperienced I am at moderation. Hat on

    Ebbtide: The thread will cease to be amorphous. I hereby rule that no new topics may be introduced here, and I will shortly update the main post to reflect this, and start a new Open Thread, just in case. (edit: No I won’t. If anyone wants a thread on a new topic, feel free to ask.) You are not exiled; you have the same audience here as you did before. We, or at least I, like to keep things tidy. I made it an open thread initially because I did not know whether anyone would use it, or what they would use it for.

    I appreciate your retraction of your error; I was wondering what you meant.

    Generally I appreciate your approach to argumentation, which is certainly no more snarky than anyone else here, but we do like to keep it reason-based and civil, so I try to keep the lid on the others we try to moderate each other. 🙂

    Tuomas: I agree with Amp that “Playing stupid is one thing. Assuming that everyone else is, is another. Stop it.” is unnecessarily belligerent. I understand you to be arguing that “NOW is A-OK about it” is a different claim from “NOW said it was A-OK”. That is a subtle point. A subtle point in return might be that proof of the second statement may be what people are asking for as proof of the first. I do not think it “stupid” of anyone to have differing views on these matters.

    All: I realise it’s hard, (It’s hard for me too, when I’m taking part), but do try to keep things cool. Thank you.

    Hat off

    Comment by Daran — December 13, 2006 @ 12:29 am | Reply

  23. Ebbtide, I think this (which I’m quoting from a post I wrote last year) may be the best I can do to answer your question. Please note that I’m talking about what distinguishes one form of feminism from the other, which isn’t quite the same thing as a definition, but in some contexts may be a more useful way of looking at things.

    Radical feminism is distinguished, first of all, by the belief that male supremacy is the root or model for all other oppressions. While most radical feminists would not argue that (for example) racist oppression is necessarily less harmful to its victims than sexist oppression, they would argue that fighting male supremacy is necessary to get at the root of both problems. So while fighting racism doesn’t necessarily do anything to fight male supremacy, fighting male supremacy does, by definition, help to reduce racist oppression.

    Radfems are also distinguished by their emphasis on sexual violence and exploitation as the lynchpin of male supremacy. While other feminists care about sexual violence and exploitation, of course, no other feminism makes SVAX as central a point in its analysis of patriarchy. This had led radfems to help women in many concrete ways: rape victim services, battered women’s shelters, sexual harassment laws, and so on.

    Radfems are skeptical of the long-term viability of seeking change within the system, but that hasn’t prevented them from working within the system, as in the case of sexual harassment laws, or from trying to work within the system, as in the case of the MacKinnon/Dworkin antipornography ordinance. Arguably, radfems see working in the system less as a route for seeking social reform than as band-aid measures; laws against stalking or sexual harassment are needed because they provide some protection to women, but laws can’t really do much to fight male supremacy in the long run.

    Finally, radfems are generally more skeptical about men’s ability to be feminists than other feminists are; in this view, supportive men should therefore be called something else, like “pro-feminist men.”

    Liberal feminism is politically more individualist than other forms of feminism (except for libertarian feminism); from a liberal feminist point of view, the primary purpose of feminism is to create a world in which people are judged for their individual characteristics without regard to sex. Liberal feminists do tend to work through the system more than radfems or marxfems; liberal feminists believe that many social problems can be meaningfully addressed through the government, which will gradually bring about social change. Hence, libfems are the most likely feminists to form groups like NOW and the Feminist Majority, groups which try to advance a wide range of feminist issues through legislative and lawsuit strategies.

    While libfems agree with radfems that sexual violence and exploitation (SVAX) are serious problems, libfems are less likely to put SVAX at the center of their analysis of patriarchy. Instead, libfems point to barriers of prejudice and discrimination keeping women from taking an equal place in the power structures of society. Some libfems see strong connections between male dominance and other oppressions; such as racism and classism; other libfems believe that these issues can be seen separately, and feminism is stronger when it focuses on issues of sexism.

    Liberal feminism is distinguished from libertarian feminism (aka individualist feminism) by its belief in government solutions for social problems; it is, for example, rare to find a liberal feminist who does not support welfare policies to help the poor.

    In real life, of course, things don’t divide up that neatly. There are a wide range of views within both liberal feminism and radical feminism; furthermore, many (perhaps most) feminists in practice find that they wind up choosing buffet-like from many schools of feminism, rather than being a textbook example of any one school.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 13, 2006 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  24. Maybe their positions are BETTER judged, not “best.” For that, I prefer personal experience and interaction with the group’s members. I dare not delve any further into that
    as I have no sources, links, or transcripts to give.

    In a debate, I think verifiable sources that everyone can at least in theory view for themselves is best. Not only does it discourage deliberate dishonesty, it also makes it more likely that honest errors and misinterpretations will be noticed.

    But even apart from debate, there are two obvious problems with personal experience and interaction, which I wonder if you’re concerned with. First, the sample of NOW members you knowingly interact with may not be representative. Second, you may not be an objective observer.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 13, 2006 @ 1:01 am | Reply

  25. Ampersand said:

    There’s no evidence, at all, that NOW in any way stood in the way of Glenn’s campaign.

    NOW belittled Glenn’s campaign. From the article, there is no acknowledgement from Grieco that Glenn’s cause was a worthy one. This is what I meant by “standing in the way,” and perhaps I should have made that more clear.

    She answered that no, the shirt wasn’t cute; and yes, men are oppressed; but she didn’t think Glenn was a credible person, from a feminist point of view, and that she doesn’t think the T-shirt campaign is a good use of NOW’s resources.

    This is how she put it: “But I spend every day on life-and-death issues and don’t have time for T-shirt campaigns.” Does one really have to bigoted against NOW to see this as a trivializing and dismissive response? Can you imagine Grieco giving this response to a feminist T-shirt campaign against Girls Are Stupid T-Shirts? NOW could have declined to join the campaign without being dismissive of it, which is probably how it would have responded to a hypothetical campaign against a female version of the shirts.

    To the extent that this kind of dismissiveness hurt Sacks’ campaign, and the efforts in general of those who are trying to fight sexism against men, NOW has stood in the way of fighting sexism against men.

    It’s only by making ridiculous assumptions (”when she was sought out by a reporter, she said that the shirts aren’t cute and men are oppressed, but she failed to condemn the shirts in a full-throated enough way to satisfy MRAs, therefore she’s standing in the way!”) that you’re able to build a case against her.

    Again, I really don’t think one has to be an MRA to find her response to be half-assed. The shirts are “not cute?” Come on. Can you imagine her saying that Girls Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them! T-shirts, are just “not cute?” No, she would probably say that they were egregiously misogynistic, even if NOW didn’t consider it an issue worthy of its resources. If you showed Glenn Sacks some of those T-shirts implying that women are dumb at math (which aren’t even advocating violence), and he said that they are merely “not cute,” would you consider that a satisfactory response?

    If NOW’s response was something like “Sacks has his heart in the right place fighting T-shirts that express negativity towards men, but we don’t have resources to devote to such an issue, and we don’t consider Sacks to be credible from a feminist standpoint,” then I wouldn’t be criticizing it. But that was not its response.

    (You observe, correctly, that nobody has claimed that the shirts aren’t male bashing. What I meant to say was that the shirts obviously are male bashing, even though other things some MRAs claim to be male bashing might not be.)

    You seem to agree with me that NOW’s response wasn’t “full-throated,” and you seem to agree that the shirts can be considered “male bashing.” That’s why I don’t understand why you find it unreasonable for me to have a problem with NOW’s response. Full-blown bigotry deserves full-throated condemnation.

    Comment by Aegis — December 13, 2006 @ 3:30 am | Reply

  26. I’m quoting from a post I wrote last year

    Thanks for that link. In this post you indicate that you consider Cathy Young, Wendy McElroy and Christina Hoff-Sommers not to be feminists at all. Is this correct? What about Daphne Patai?

    Comment by Daran — December 13, 2006 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  27. That is correct; I still stand by that post.

    I don’t have a real opinion of Patai, because I haven’t read enough of her work.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 13, 2006 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  28. Just to clarify:

    I don’t think I’ve called anyone “stupid” here. If my comment #4 was read as that, then I apologize.

    My intention was to protest at Ampersand’s tactic:

    Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?

    (which no one claimed)

    To add insult to the injury, when called on it responded by (#7):

    Basically saying: “Okay, I bended his words, but remember his comment on the other thread: it was not as much it seems at first, and it was useful, and you’re being belligerent and I don’t like your tone. ”

    IMHO it was dishonest debating tactic. I assumed at first that he would use the fabricated comment to get the high ground in the debate by demolishing a straw man argument. I realize now that I should have called him on it more gently because now he was capable of using my belligerence as an excuse to proceed on doing just that.

    Pardon my belligerence, once again. But I’m not sure wtf I’m supposed to do with someone who shamelessly (see this thread) bends his opponents words and when called on it says that the caller is unreasonable, belligerent, disagreeable or just plain mean.

    [edited]

    Comment by Tuomas — December 17, 2006 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  29. I understand you to be arguing that “NOW is A-OK about it” is a different claim from “NOW said it was A-OK”. That is a subtle point. A subtle point in return might be that proof of the second statement may be what people are asking for as proof of the first. I do not think it “stupid” of anyone to have differing views on these matters.

    Did you miss the fact that “NOW is A-OK about it” was in the other thread and already mostly dealt with? That NOW said it was A-OK with it” was in response to comment #2’s points in this thread?

    Is this sort of “useful” tactic acceptable, as long as one is being polite about it? Or should debating standards include something else besides superficial niceness to each other?

    It’s not very respectful, for one thing. Of course, it is perfectly possible to be both honest and civil, which IMO is what truly non-belligerent debate is about.

    [edited to add: I’m not claiming that I’m perfectly civil or perfectly honest. Honesty I can usually do, civility is somewhat lacking at times, altough often unintentionally so]

    Comment by Tuomas — December 17, 2006 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  30. Jus’ bumping the thread…

    Update (22 December): Marcella has posted a similar story over at Alas.

    Comment by Daran — December 22, 2006 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  31. Sigh… If Daran hadn’t bumped this, I would have missed out on reading Tuomas’ latest comments here. Oh, well.

    Tuomas, unless I’ve misinterpreted you, you seem to believe that I’ve stated or implied that Ebbtide claimed that NOW explicitly said the T-Shirts were a-okay with them.

    But I made no such statement, nor did I intend to imply such a thing. In the comment that began this thread of debate, Ebbtide claimed that “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW…,” but didn’t say anything about what his claim was based on. I responded by asking, “Are you saying that NOW has specifically said those shirts are okay?”

    Responding to the same statement by Ebbtide, Daran wrote “Ebbtide, I have a lot of sympathy for your stance with respect to NOW and to feminism in general. But not only does this particular claim appear to be unsupported….”

    In response to that, Ebbtide wrote: “It’s unsupported somewhat, in that it was not a NOW press release, but it was in a radio interview with Kim Gandy (her saying Sacks was ‘hypocritical’ and ‘whining’ about it, that is). She might speak for the organization in some capacity, being the president and all.”

    Note that what “it” refers to in Ebbtide’s sentence is unclear. “It’s unsupported” is a direct response to Daran saying “this particular claim appear[s] to be unsupported,” and it’s perfectly clear that the “particular claim” Daran was referring to was “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW.” On the other hand, Ebbtide also brings up a second claim, which is that Gandy said Sacks is a whiny hypocrite.

    What I hadn’t yet seen, at this point in the discussion, was an explicit acknowledgment from Ebbtide that his “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW” claim was something he inferred, not something NOW explicitly said. To me, Ebbtide’s statement only confused the issue; he’s claiming that “it” — which in context, seemed to mean support for his claim that “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW.” — was “in a radio interview with Kim Gandy,” but he also throws in a second claim, which is that Gandy called Glenn a whiney hypocrite. Yet it is possible to think that Glenn is a whiney hypocrite without thinking that the “throw rocks” t-shirt is A-OK, so these two different claims shouldn’t be conflated into one. (Just to be clear, I not saying Glenn is a whiney hypocrite, although I do think he’s terribly wrong on many issues.)

    In response to Ebbtide, I wanted to unconfuse the two different claims; and I also wanted to force him to explicitly acknowledge that his claim that “‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’ shirts are just A-OK with NOW” was something he inferred, not something he heard NOW actually said. So I asked “Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?”

    At no point, ever, did I claim that Ebbtide had said NOW literally said such a thing; I asked him to clarify if they had. Nor is asking debaters to clarify the basis of their claims a dishonest or disrespectful debating practice. For example, you should have simply asked me, “Barry, are you saying Ebbtide has actually claimed that NOW has specifically said those shirts are okay?” Then, I could have answered “no, that’s not what I’m saying, or implying,” and that would have been the end of it. That would have been a much better approach for you to take, in my opinion.

    [Edited in a probably vain attempt to increase clarity.]

    Comment by Ampersand — December 22, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  32. Ampersand earlier in the thread:

    I thought your point was that feminists don’t object to violence against men in comics for the same reason NOW (allegedly) says that anti-boy t-shirts are a-okay.

    Ampersand in his last post:

    At no point, ever, did I claim that Ebbtide had said NOW literally said such a thing

    Ummmm….OK, but that seems a little bit untrue to me.

    Anyway, in response to the post at Alas regarding the “Problem Solved” T-shirts, I will say only that I think they are not cute, but due to the fact that I have other life and death issues to deal with, I will not have time for much t-shirt commenting.

    Comment by ebbtide — December 22, 2006 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  33. Point well taken, Ebbtide; I missed that one when I reviewed the thread. That was very poor phrasing on my part, and didn’t reflect my intentions. Please chalk it up to the perils of writing quickly and in a nutshell, and accept my apology if you took that as me accusing you of literally saying NOW had literally said that the t-shirts were A-OK.

    But I think my other two phrasings – “Are you saying that NOW has specifically said those shirts are okay?” and “Does she actually say that t-shirts endorsing hitting boys with rocks are a-okay?” — are quite clearly requests for information, not statements of fact. And it was one of those sentences that Tuomas quoted as an example of my bad behavior.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 22, 2006 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  34. Imagine a park with a “now ballgames” sign. Nevertheless, and group of people start playing a ballgame. The park warden walks past and makes no comment. (Also assume that he is not intimidated by them and has not other reason for not intervening.)

    It is not necessary for him to say explicitly that it’s OK[*] for them to play ball. We can infer that from his failure to rebuke them. If he criticises another person who is campaigning for action to be taken against ball-players, then we could make the same inference.

    [*]A-OK is hyperbole.

    Comment by Daran — December 23, 2006 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  35. I have to admit, I’m getting tired of the overly-elaborate-metaphor war. I don’t even agree with the conclusion of this latest metaphor; it’s not reasonable, when someone says nothing about activity X, to assume they must think activity X is okay. That’s the way someone whose interest is in finding an excuse to condemn behaves; not the way someone with an interest in fairness behaves.

    Leaving the metaphor behind:

    1) It would have been better if the NOW folks had thought to say “of course I condemn this shirt.” (Of course, we don’t really know that they didn’t say that or something else like that; no link has been provided to the radio interview, and in the case of the newspaper article we only know the bits that the reporter chose to quote.) But there’s a huge distance between “would have been better if” and “clearly they think this is okay.”

    And only idealogical feminist-bashers would interpret silence, or saying “no, the shirts aren’t cute,” as meaning “okay.” What’s the point of trying to convince people like that, that feminists don’t hate men and boys? Your minds are completely shut anyway.

    2) The California NOW person did say the t-shirts were wrong (“not cute” – the same phrase a feminist recently used to condemn a woman-hating t-shirt), said that men were oppressed, but also said that she thinks there are mroe pressing issues than these particular gag t-shirts for her to concentrate on. To imply this is the same thing as making “no comment” is dishonest.

    3) In essence, you’re condemning her not because she failed to criticize the shirts – no honest critic could read that article and not understand that she disapproves of the shirts. You’re condemning her because she failed to condemn it in strong enough terms to satisfy you. This isn’t being an honest critic, Daran; this is having predetermined that because she’s a feminist, you’re going to find any excuse, however slim and pathetic, for slagging her.

    And what if she had condemned it in strong enough terms? It’s not like you would have given her credit, in that case. You would have ignored this issue entirely and just looked for some other pretext for condemning NOW and/or feminism.

    4) Glenn has spent years attacking feminists at every turn, as well as doing his best to argue that most feminist concerns about real harms to women are imaginary or vastly exaggerated (such as his describing well-regarded rape prevalence studies as “discredited”). A negative reaction to Glenn Sacks is understandable, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable of feminists to not want to sign on to him or give him credibility. Even if the issue he’s talking about on Monday is legitimate, any credibility lent Glenn on Monday will be used to attack feminists and women’s issues and needs on Wednesday.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 23, 2006 @ 2:08 am | Reply

  36. 3) In essence, you’re condemning her not because she failed to criticize the shirts – no honest critic could read that article and not understand that she disapproves of the shirts. You’re condemning her because she failed to condemn it in strong enough terms to satisfy you. This isn’t being an honest critic, Daran; this is having predetermined that because she’s a feminist, you’re going to find any excuse, however slim and pathetic, for slagging her.

    It is ironic than in arguing that we cannot draw inferences from what people don’t say, you’ve drawn such an inference. I never mentioned Grieco or NOW in the post to which you are replying, yet you assume I was talking about about them. I wasn’t. Rather, I was disputing the general proposition you have put forward which is “it’s not reasonable, when someone says nothing about activity X, to assume they must think activity X is okay.” It depends upon the context and the circumstances.

    My views about NOW and Grieco in this matter are given in my new post on the controversy, in which I emphasise that the claims about NOW were unsourced and that Grieco might have been quoted out of context.

    Here is the passage in question:

    “Puh-leeze,” moan the feminists, noting that they are busy trying to raise awareness of real-life problems, such as recent sharia rulings in Nigeria calling for unfaithful wives to be stoned to death. “No, I don’t think the shirts are cute,” says Helen Grieco, executive director of the National Organization for Women (NOW), California chapter. “But I spend every day on life-and-death issues and don’t have time for T-shirt campaigns.”

    Constrast with a similar passage from the article cited by Marcella:

    “I thought that shirt was very offensive, and I’m sure people who made that shirt thought it was cute,” District Attorney Evert Fowle said Friday. “But when you prosecute 728 domestic violence cases a year, it’s not cute.”

    Although both quotes describe the respective shirts as “not cute”, the Grieco quote contrasts the shirts with “real-life problems”, while Fowle connects them to those problems. The second paragraph is a true condemnation. The first is a dismissal.

    However I agree that we cannot be certain that the first paragraph truly represents what Grieco said without at least seeing a transcript.

    4) Glenn has spent years attacking feminists at every turn, as well as doing his best to argue that most feminist concerns about real harms to women are imaginary or vastly exaggerated (such as his describing well-regarded rape prevalence studies as “discredited”).

    Do you have any links to transcripts of his broadcasts so we can confirm this, or is it one rule for Glenn, another for Grieco?

    Edited for wording.

    Comment by Daran — December 23, 2006 @ 7:49 am | Reply

  37. And another thing…

    “Of course I condemn this shirt.” is an incantation, not a condemnation. Of course I condemn it. I condemn that too. And the other. Now let’s get back to the real issues…

    A real condemnation addresses the matter properly. The Fowle quote is a real condemnation. Marcella’s assessment is a real condemnation. Heck, even her non-condemnation of the “rocks” shirt is better than saying “of course I condemn this shirt”. At least she considered the matter and addressed it.

    Comment by Daran — December 23, 2006 @ 8:00 am | Reply

  38. “Of course I condemn this shirt.” is an incantation, not a condemnation.

    Actually it’s a dismissal as well, not simply an incantation of dismissal. To condemn something in that manner, particularly using the words “Of course” at the beginning of the sentence, is to place it as something that should be obvious to anyone. At least, it should be obvious to anyone who follows the same philosophical patterns as the speaker. “Of course I condemn that” is used for only one practical purpose: to show your ideological allies that you have addressed their concerns on an issue without actually addressing their concerns.

    Insert here Daran’s two cited passages for comparison in #36, which I am too lazy to copy/paste right now. And nesting blockquotes in comments tends to be a not-good thing under WordPress.

    Both of them read as dismissals to me. Both of them claim issues that would be higher on the priority ladder (Greico with the amorphous “life-and-death” category and Fowle with the specific number of domestic violence cases per year that cross her desk) than a not-cute T-shirt design.

    This method of dismissal, even if via a slightly indirect approach, has one major pitfall: it only addresses those who are already your ideological allies without touching upon those who are either unmoved by the issue and can’t see the problem in the first place or in minor disagreement with one side and minor agreement with the other. Like me, for instance.

    I see the same degree of intergender conflict between the two shirts. One suggests violence is the answer to minor problems. The other suggests violence is the answer to minor problems. The only difference between the two is that the gender identifiers are switched between the aggressor and aggressee roles. So if one is OK, the other must also be OK. If one is wrong, the other must also be wrong.

    Then again, that viewpoint is probably only possible via the philosophy of true equality. And holders of a true equality outlook are unfortunately rare.

    Comment by Off Colfax — December 24, 2006 @ 2:49 am | Reply

  39. I actually agree with Off Colfax that the distinction between the shirts is extremely fine. I find both shirts objectionable; at the same time, I’m not going to spend any time working against either shirt, nor am I going to donate to campaigns, etc.. This didn’t seem like an important issue to me when it was the “throw rocks” shirt, and now that it’s the “problem solved” shirt, it still doesn’t seem terribly important.

    Not that I object to anyone campaigning against either of these shirts. I don’t insist that other people’s priorities match my own, in this sort of case.

    So, yeah, “of course” these shirts are offensive. And if not finding an issue ultra-important is the same thing as dismissal, then I guess my own attitude towards the shirts is dismissive. But I don’t understand why I have to march in lockstep with anyone else’s priorities on this question. Nor do I expect MRAs, antifeminists, or feminist critics to concentrate any resources or mental effort on condemning the “problem solved” t-shirt. There are far more important issues for MRAs to concentrate on, in my opinion.

    Treating “do you object vigorously enough to this t-shirt” as an important moral issue is, frankly, ridiculous. This isn’t an important enough issue to require anyone to take a stand on it.

    It is ironic than in arguing that we cannot draw inferences from what people don’t say, you’ve drawn such an inference. I never mentioned Grieco or NOW in the post to which you are replying, yet you assume I was talking about about them. I wasn’t. Rather, I was disputing the general proposition you have put forward which is “it’s not reasonable, when someone says nothing about activity X, to assume they must think activity X is okay.” It depends upon the context and the circumstances.

    Yup, that is ironic. Sorry I misunderstood what you were getting at.

    I agree that it depends on the context and the circumstances. But in this context, where the issue involved is a piece of cultural fluff that will be forgotten in a year, is one in which people cannot reasonably be called to task for finding other issues more important and more deserving of resources and mental energy.

    Do you have any links to transcripts of his broadcasts so we can confirm this, or is it one rule for Glenn, another for Grieco?

    I wish you had asked for my source, sans the snide phrasing. The broadcast I was referring to is this one (mp3 file). The bit I was referring to is approximately 5/8ths of the way through the broadcast. Glenn cites Koss’ study as an example of a study of male violence against women which is male-bashing, “lies” and “refuted for years.” A few sentences later he refers to several studies generally as “discredited,” but in context I think it’s fair to think that he’s referring to Koss’ study too.

    This is only one of several occasions in which Glenn has taken the denialist position regarding rape prevalence statistics; however, this is the only one for which I have a link handy.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 24, 2006 @ 4:21 am | Reply

  40. Ampersand:

    4) Glenn has spent years attacking feminists at every turn, as well as doing his best to argue that most feminist concerns about real harms to women are imaginary or vastly exaggerated (such as his describing well-regarded rape prevalence studies as “discredited”).

    Me:

    Do you have any links to transcripts of his broadcasts so we can confirm this, or is it one rule for Glenn, another for Grieco?

    Ampersand:

    I wish you had asked for my source, sans the snide phrasing.

    Please excuse me, I was feeling a bit testy about the beyond-snide comment I was replying to, which, incidently, appears to be self-refuting. You are correct that this has been an essentially antifeminist thread – Most of those involved (including yourself) have either been attacking/criticising Grieco/NOW, or defending them, rather than discussing the T-shirts themselves.

    My Initial response was to express some irritation at the topic’s initial introduction. Since then I cited the affair as a counterexample to the very principle you evoked here in Grieco’s defence, which Tom Nolan had raised in a different context. However I withdrew the example (on other grounds) after you challenged it, editing my post to reflect my revised “not proven” stance with respect to Grieco. It wasn’t until Marcella’s post on Alas, which invited comparison, that my interest was ignited. In that post, I reiterated my “not proven” stance with Grieco and NOW, accepting some of the arguments you have made here in their defence.

    In summary, I have shown no interest at all in the antifeminist bashing of Grieco or NOW. As I keep telling you, I’m not an antifeminist.

    The broadcast I was referring to is this one (mp3 file). The bit I was referring to is approximately 5/8ths of the way through the broadcast. Glenn cites Koss’ study as an example of a study of male violence against women which is male-bashing, “lies” and “refuted for years.” A few sentences later he refers to several studies generally as “discredited,” but in context I think it’s fair to think that he’s referring to Koss’ study too.

    Thanks for that. I listened to it all the way through. I didn’t hear him “argue that most feminist concerns about real harms to women are imaginary or vastly exaggerated”. For the most part, he argued positively to a fairly typical MRA agenda, while arguing against some feminist positions. He did dismiss rape prevalence studies, without raising a cogent objection (or any objection at all) to them. (Presumably he thinks he has cogent objections to them, which, also presumably, are the same objections that antifeminists and MRAs typically raise, which I do not consider to be cogent.)

    If one false step is sufficient to discredit him, then I find Hugo Schwyzer similarly discredited after his victim-blaming response to what he accepted was unfairness against fathers in the legal system.

    What else to say: He made some crappy jokes at Schwyzer expense, which is a discourteous way to treat a guest, but he wasn’t verbally abusive, and I’ve seen worse from both feminists and antifeminists. He said nothing misogynistic to my judgement.

    Comment by Daran — December 26, 2006 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  41. Both of them read as dismissals to me. Both of them claim issues that would be higher on the priority ladder (Greico with the amorphous “life-and-death” category and Fowle with the specific number of domestic violence cases per year that cross her desk) than a not-cute T-shirt design.

    Fowle appears to be saying that the shirts are “not cute” because of the DV cases she has.

    Comment by Daran — December 26, 2006 @ 8:20 pm | Reply


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