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  1. Hugo
    Hugo June 12, 2006 at 1:22 pm |

    When I’m better emotionally prepared to do so, Piny, I promise a thoughtful clarification.

    I just don’t know that many of my critics spend much time working with large groups of adolescent and college-aged men; until you’ve done so (for a long time), then I don’t know if you have much right to criticize the tactics those of us who work so hard to bring these fellows around choose to use.

  2. Sara
    Sara June 12, 2006 at 1:26 pm |

    piny, male privilege isn’t infinite, and the fact that women are the ones who deal with the brunt of misogyny doesn’t mean that Hugo’s tackling of patriarchy is without its challenges for him. He’s made a commitment to changing people, and to take action, he has had to make compromises. When you’re blogging about ideals and theory and observation, when you’re talking about the way the world should be, you don’t have to do that. There’s no reason to stop pushing the line between what we have to settle for and what we can take, but it’s ridiculous to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  3. Sara
    Sara June 12, 2006 at 1:39 pm |

    He’s not living in it, no, but a lot of us who talk here are also not necessarily spending our days confronting dudes about their misogyny and patriarchal baggage. Being affected by patriarchy and hating it is not the same thing as taking steps to make it go away.

  4. sly civilian
    sly civilian June 12, 2006 at 1:42 pm |

    Ugh. I didn’t realize that was Hugo. Pulling out your Ally Card to try to stave off criticism just reminds people even more that you’re hanging on to your priviledge.

    “I don’t have to do this!” is not a commendation of your revolutionary zeal.

    Hugo, bring them around to what? Your premise here is that you are participating in the work of feminism, and you’re being told by some women that they don’t just object to your means, they suspect that the ends as well. Your work surely sounds difficult. But you’re being challeged on the value of your work, not the difficulty.

  5. zuzu
    zuzu June 12, 2006 at 1:44 pm | *

    I just don’t know that many of my critics spend much time working with large groups of adolescent and college-aged men; until you’ve done so (for a long time), then I don’t know if you have much right to criticize the tactics those of us who work so hard to bring these fellows around choose to use.

    Hugo, I know you’ve got a lot going on in your life right now, but when you do come back to blogging, consider this: the above comment is not responsive to piny’s point.

    Piny criticized the stance you took that because you do women’s studies FOR A LIVING, that gave you some kind of extra moral authority or something to speak on these issues. The subtext being, that anyone who was not doing feminism professionally didn’t have much to say about it. Piny thinks that’s wrong, and rightly took you to task for it — you may do it professionally, but you can parachute in and out of feminism without much resulting impact on your life. Those of us who are women have to think of this shit every damn day whether we want to or not. We live it. Perhaps we’re amateurs, but that in no way negates our experience or what we bring to the table. And flashing your academic credentials doesn’t really endear you to those of us who have life credits. In fact, it smacks of an assertion of privilege.

    Your response had to do with the tactics you use with your students. Which weren’t under discussion so much except as the springboard for the whole meta-discussion which led to piny’s post.

    Not responsive.

    And not above criticism, either, but I won’t pursue that now.

  6. Amber
    Amber June 12, 2006 at 1:56 pm |

    you may do it professionally, but you can parachute in and out of feminism without much resulting impact on your life. Those of us who are women have to think of this shit every damn day whether we want to or not. We live it.

    THANK YOU. That’s what I was thinking while reading this post and comments. We’re not impressed by assertions of your front-line, in the trenches work that you do, whether for a living or out of the goodness of your little heart. You have the privilege of leaving work at work at the end of the day. We always bring your “work” home.

  7. Sara
    Sara June 12, 2006 at 2:11 pm |

    Insight isn’t action. What should work isn’t always the same thing as what does work. I also think that Hugo’s point about doing this all day every day is not getting enough credence here. Being at the business end of patriarchy totally blows, but it’s not a solution to anything. If he’s not doing something when faced with these situations, he’s not doing his job. He was emailed this by some guy who wanted answers. Hugo could have ignored him until he came up with a way to pull the kid immediately into the feminist fold (and I’m guessing that an email still wouldn’t have been sent today), or he could answer and do his best with the ideological tools he had at the time.

    His job is ethical triage, and it has its place in the struggle for equality. My point is that we don’t need to pick over every action with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that it’s 100% ethically-pure. This is especially true when a lot of the parties involved have a very different view of what is ethical. It is complete nonsense to say that Hugo is doing no good here. He deals with nonreceptive audiences and is able to slip his ideas in where they otherwise might not be heard. It’s stupid that this kid wouldn’t have paid much attention to Hugo if he were the hairy-angry-lesbian type, but the ethical truth that hairy-angry-lesbian types are perfectly human isn’t by itself enough to get anything through the thicker skulls around us. It’s stupid that this kid is worried that feminism will keep him from getting laid, but people care about getting laid. We don’t want to sacrifice the good for the perfect, because Hugo’s incrementalism does have a measurable impact on human suffering. Hugo is not the be-all and end-all of social justice, but he’s here and I’m glad.

  8. Sarah S
    Sarah S June 12, 2006 at 2:48 pm |

    Im sorry piny, but I have to completely disagree with you here.

    Hugo is WAY WAY WAY more “in the trenches” then I am on this issue. When it comes to reaching young men and imparting feminism, he has it so so so much worse then me and worse then most women I would say, because most of us don’t have our jobs in women’s studies higer ed. Hes talking about teaching students and you’re talking about living in the world. That is apples and oranges.

    Most women are not really in the trenches of feminist higher education, yourself and I included. Most women are not in the trenches of teaching young men, yourself and I included. We deal with these same men in COMPLELTELY different ways, in dating or in our families or workplaces or as friends. But we don’t deal with them as students, and you and hugo are talking about different goals here. He’s talking about trying to make them “get” it, even in the tinest ways because that is better then not at all. That obviously wouldn’t be your goal if you were dating this guy. Apples and oranges.

    I have to go through things as a woman in this world that Hugo will never have to go through, but the difficulty, stress, and frustration of trying to make entitled, privledged, naive, and defensive young men about feminism is not one of them. That’s not my burden in this world, that’s his.

    I don’t do it, I don’t have to deal with it, and he’s way way more in the trenches on issues of education then I am. So in this case, I have to agree 100% with him.

  9. Sara
    Sara June 12, 2006 at 2:56 pm |

    He has a greater authority in the subject of what it’s like to be a male women’s studies professor at a religious college than most of us, I’d wager. The problem I have here is that there are lots of demands being made of Hugo here that don’t show a lot of promise of making actual progress. What should he have done? Not what he did – okay. So then what? I think he’s correct to be happy to have made the headway he did.

    I realize that I should have explained that I am not at all in agreement that his advice was so terrible. I don’t think the kid was complaining that he won’t have women hanging off of him like he deserves, but that he thought that no girls would like him in the future. I think that’s a legitimate concern being that people do want to be loved, and we had that exact conversation here earlier in regards to “dating while feminist.”

  10. other ryan
    other ryan June 12, 2006 at 2:59 pm |

    I taught a mens studies class to college-aged men. I don’t know how you could teach about rape and sexism to this demographic without being confrontational. We spend a class discussing the definition of rape (showing clips from both the accused and deliverance – the latter was particularly useful help the men’s empathy).

    After we “discussed” personal opinions about rape, I told them what legal and academic definitions were. I can’t imagine how I could have taken an “incremental” approach to explaining to a man that date rape did indeed exist and was wrong (and illegal). It seemed like a time sucker when there was so much material to cover, but it was important to me that this issue above others was understood.

    I found the confrontation helped build respect from the men – I found they were adverse to patronizing and condescending manipulation. I didn’t expect any of them to agree with me – or like me, but I’m happy to say that by the end of the class everyone was on board with rape, and even the most priveledged and (sincerely) ignorant.

  11. ACS
    ACS June 12, 2006 at 3:37 pm |

    I think the problem, piny, is that your recommended action does not produce Hugo’s desired goal. Taking McBoing’s hard-line stand on feminist principles with this kid would feel good and have no practical or ethical consequences, but in what sense would it suddenly turn this kid into a feminist? If Hugo had any sort of leverage, I can see taking a harder stand, but Hugo doesn’t have any; he can’t enforce any consequences against this kid but shaming. And shaming only works if he is shamed, not simply if he is baffled or offended.

    I was, at one point, this kid, or very much like him, though I never really wanted to be a “player”. And you can argue whether I’ve come far enough — I know a lot of people think I haven’t — but it was from exactly that sort of gentle confrontation that my pro-feminist ethics started to develop. I think there are a lot of pro-feminist men who remember what worked on them, what started a conversion to what felt, at one point, like principles that applied to, or were only relevant to, other people.

    I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable for Hugo to argue that men who do work that requires them to draw men into the pro-feminist sphere of allies know more about making men into pro-feminists than people who do so only obliquely — especially because all men who were not raised as pro-feminists did, at some point, become pro-feminists. When you’re talking about the straight women on the front lines, you’re eliding an important distinction between the “front-lines” that Hugo claims to be on — making anti- and feminist-ambivalent men into pro-feminists — and the front lines that straight women are on, which is, dealing with the consequences of Hugo’s failure to convert every last man who enters his class.

    – ACS

  12. other ryan
    other ryan June 12, 2006 at 4:01 pm |

    I don’t see much value to dogmatic feminism (seems to me students reject the dogma more than the actual ideas), so why the pseudo-evangelical approach to teaching it? There is no essential feminist body of thought (though it’s obviously possible to reduce feminism to a quibble-able philosophy)

  13. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 4:44 pm |

    You know, you may get paid for teaching people about the evils of misogyny, Hugo, but I have to DEAL with misogyny every day. Even women who aren’t feminist have to deal with misogyny. I’m in the trenches every day, and I don’t get paid for it. You know what else? We’re all in the trenches.

    I don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone to feel comfortable with treating me like a human being.

    And Sara, how do you know what the women who post here or elsewhere do? How do you know if we educate people or not? And how does that justify Hugo’s apparent attitude that because he promotes feminism for a living (something, BTW, that we don’t have the privilege to do), that he’s above criticism?

    You know what? I’ve had my ass handed back to me when it came to race, when it came to class, when it came to disability, when it came to LBGT/trans issues–hell, name it. When I was young, and when I was much older. I lived. I came around because I thought about the issue. If hurt feelings will keep someone from the cause, they aren’t much of an ally. And hello, I don’t see anyone sweating our fucking feelings when we’re regarded as so much pussy to be had until the pseudofeminist guy decides he can give it a rest and join up in the cause.

  14. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 5:01 pm |

    Here’s a surprise: many, many men are extremely hostile to feminism, unless they think it can get them a slice of ass.

    How can we correct this? Let’s pick two strategies.

    One strategy, call it strategy A, is to push radical feminism at every step, and take no prisoners.

    Another strategy, call it strategy B, is to kind of slowly ease them into it, gently showing them difficulties women have to deal with simply for being women, and then convincing them of small things they can do to make it better… hopefully snowballing into big changes.

    Full-on strategy A is just going to fail. Face up to that. If you want to live the life of a valiant feminist warrior, strategy A is for you! The cost of living authentically, not pulling any punches, and aiming for instant bolt-of-lightning conversions is an extremely high rate of failure and frustration.

    Full-on strategy B might eventally work, or it might achieve those first few steps and then peter out and accomplish nothing more toward real gender equality. On the upside, it’s easier than A. On the downside, A-strategy people are probably going to denigrate you as a poser.

    A more sensible approach is to invest in both strategies, because A-people need those B-people as a bridge between their ideal and what the masses actually believe.

  15. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 5:07 pm |

    Yes, because grown men are little boys who can’t handle being held responsible or challenged.

    It must be nice to be so fucking entitled.

  16. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 5:09 pm |

    I confess, I didn’t read the source articles, but it looks an awful lot like the point of this blog post was to denigrate Hugo for not being radical. I have fairly radical sympathies myself, but I don’t see the profit in kicking non-radicals out of the clubhouse.

  17. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 5:11 pm |

    Or, Dennis, how about C–where Hugo looks at Pete and asks, “Why do you think that treating women like human beings is something you can put off for now so you have your fun with them and treat them like toys?”

  18. zuzu
    zuzu June 12, 2006 at 5:11 pm | *

    Dennis, read the source articles before you comment. Nobody’s asking Hugo to be radical, they’re simply asking him not to give the student a pass on thinking that if he mouthed the right words and acted the part of a pro-feminist he’d be deluged with pussy.

  19. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 5:14 pm |

    Sheelzebub,

    I don’t give a damn what they can handle or about entitlement. I’m talking about effective strategizing for social change. If the only feminists are radical feminists, you’re going to be eviscerated in the popular media, people are going to call you a feminazi, and you’re not going to get one goddamned thing done to improve the world we all live in.

    We NEED “soft” feminists like Hugo, because otherwise Harvey Mansfield is going to scoop up all the little undergraduates and add them to the force of the masculinist backlash. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’re pre-destined to win this fight.

  20. Tara
    Tara June 12, 2006 at 5:29 pm |

    If the best that someone could do, if the most they know about feminism, is to give a response like Hugo did, then I would say, great, it’s better than nothing. But I think it’s sad that someone with the knowledge and commitment that he has couldn’t try to speak both with care and with truth.

  21. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 5:35 pm |

    Okay, I’ve read the source article.

    Now, I’m going to post something that will get me annhiliated in comments, and leave.

    Many women really aren’t interested in feminist (or pro-feminist, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) men. This is because many women are sexist. These are the women who say things like “Oh, I just don’t know if I’d trust a woman to be president.” Maybe some of us are too entreanched in academia to realize that these women really exist, but they do. Drive out to the nearest red state and direct yourself to the first hole-in-the-wall pub you see, you’ll find out.

    That said, I think Hugo’s advice was bad. Hugo’s advice was bad because a man who’s truly interested in embracing feminism ought to be interested in changing a woman’s mind in favor of feminism in order to have a relationship with her. A feminist woman wouldn’t (or wouldn’t, rationally) have a relationship with an anti-feminist man without fighting him on it every step of the way.

    However, I also think that his (bad) advice plays an important role… it gives this student of his an “in” to feminism. He can still go out to the bar this weekend and do his thing (which, honestly, he’s going to do anyway, don’t fool yourself). But, he’ll probably do it more responsibly, be less of a dick, and then maybe someday he’ll even grow a spine and talk someone else into behaving responsibly, and not being a dick.

    If Hugo had taken a hard line and said “Nope, you’ve gotta be celibate until you find a nice feminist girl who digs you for YOU, buddy!”, then this guy would probably have slipped right back into his dumbshit frat-boy patterns.

  22. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 5:38 pm |

    Dennis, I’ve got news for you–those “soft” feminists are called feminazis and are evicerated in the media. So much for the eyelash batting.

    And it’s disingenuous to offer only radical feminism (BTW, I’m not a radical feminist), and coddling as the only tactics. WTF happened with being direct? I see this in every issue until it’s feminism, and then, suddenly, we have to be soft and oh-so-nice lest we hurt the widdle boy’s fee-fees. Give me a break. I could handle being called on my shit at 20, and so can the likes of Pete. You know what else? No one really sweated whether I was going to join their cause when they called me on my shit. Nor should they have. What–they’re supposed to stifle their reality for my comfort? And we’re supposed to stifle ours for Pete’s? I don’t think so.

    Again, most of us don’t have the luxury or the patience to hold the hands of the privileged.

  23. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke June 12, 2006 at 5:44 pm |

    shorter Dennis: It’s women’s fault that men think women like assholes, and oh by the way I didn’t read Hugo’s piece on the bullshit passive-aggressive ‘I know you’re going to kill me for saying this’ line either.”

  24. Thomas
    Thomas June 12, 2006 at 5:45 pm |

    Dennis, if you read the posts about this (also McBoing’s and Amanda’s) and you’re familiar with the nice-guy rant, then you should figure out that this is not about whether we need to “work with people where they are.” This guy is not reachable. He thinks women are games that will give out Pussy Certificates if he learns the right series of moves.

    Also, you may want to be smarter about the way you use the term “radical feminist.” It sounds like you’re using it in the pejorative sense that right-wingers use it; and it you’re using it in its technical sense, it’s not a relevant distinction in this discussion.

  25. Monkey
    Monkey June 12, 2006 at 5:50 pm |

    These straight women are also forced to convert as many men as they possibly can. Otherwise, they don’t get things like jobs, promotions, degrees, fair dissertation critiques, classroom attention, or–most germane to this conversation–worthwhile partners who don’t hurt them in some way. They aren’t passive beneficiaries of Hugo’s expertise–in fact, the authority hierarchy should ascend the other way.

    Sorry if this is a diversion from the original discussion, but I find it hard to pass this comment up. Are any women forced to convert men? Why? I can understand that there are women in this world who suffer the consequences of dating alpha males who don’t respect women, but if a female feels so strongly about feminist values, why would she date a man who didn’t share her values? Are there really women who feel they have to date and convert sexist males just to get a decent partner? Dating someone with the implicit goal of changing them is wrong on so many levels – disrespectful to yourself and your date, and not the foundation for a healthy, caring, relationship.

    I’m sure the challenges women face in the workplace and/or academia are going to differ depending on the feild, but the picture you’re painting here of a constant uphill battle for feminists to convert every male around them just to get a fair shot in life and love seems a little dramatic. Although undeniably, we’ve all probably faced some sexism at some point, and that a lot of this is not overt nor even obvious to the woman experiencing it, I’d wager that a lot of women, feminists included, simply haven’t experienced the constant antagonism and struggle you’re portraying here. How many women in their 20′s today have ever been denied a job or a decent grade because of their sex? As a feminist, I don’t think I could agree with unilaterally describing the female experience as being ‘in the trenches’.

    Teaching all men to value and respect women, and their girlfriends, as equal should obviously be a priority to our society. But at the same time, something seems off about portraying it such that women have no choice but to date these thugs. Women aren’t passive beneficiaries of Hugo’s ‘expertise’, but then, those who are in bad relationships aren’t passive victims of his failure either. They are, and should be, active agents in choosing their partners. Women need to be taught to value themselves enough not to date these men, and to identify the signs of an unhealthy relationship. This is not exactly the same issue as educating men. There will always be jackasses and sexual predators in this world. And i f there are women out there who are attempting to ‘convert’ these men so they can date them, I say, stop rewarding them with sex and start hanging out in the computer science department!

    And your reply that women who aren’t “spending our days confronting dudes about their misogyny and patriarchal baggage” simply aren’t feminists was both wrong and insulting.

  26. ACS
    ACS June 12, 2006 at 6:07 pm |

    Dennis, if you read the posts about this (also McBoing’s and Amanda’s) and you’re familiar with the nice-guy rant, then you should figure out that this is not about whether we need to “work with people where they are.” This guy is not reachable. He thinks women are games that will give out Pussy Certificates if he learns the right series of moves.

    If this kid’s not reachable, then what does it matter what Hugo says to him? If he’s not reachable, then Hugo’s actions only have symbolic ethical weight, and I refuse to believe that ethical behavior is only symbolic.

    This kid came to Hugo with a real set of ethical concerns. He was being told that the only way he could have any relationship with a woman was to do things contrary to his feminist ethics. He wanted a relationship with a woman — which is normal; which is healthy — and felt like he might have to make a sacrifice he was unwilling to make in order to keep his feminist ethics. This is a false dichotomy, and Hugo pointed it out to him.

    You’re talking about this like Hugo just dropped a rapist back into the dating pool. But he didn’t. What he had in front of him was a kid that had ethical concerns about — frankly — what the society as a whole, and college society in particular, considers to be normal behavior. This is a step that most people don’t get to.

    So what does Hugo do? He tells the kid that feminism is strength, not weakness, and that what the kid sees occurring is a misperception. Is that enough? Probably, I would have done more. But if I had honestly come to someone for advice while I was in that transition phase and they had told me this:

    “Why do you think that treating women like human beings is something you can put off for now so you have your fun with them and treat them like toys?”

    … it would have set me off my development of a consistent ethic for months. Because it is a willful misreading of what this dumb proto-pro-feminist kid asked. The foundational assumptions of his question were wrong, but there’s certainly something to empathize with in his concern.

    – ACS

  27. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 6:21 pm |

    No, it’s not a willful misreading. He said that he’d be pro-feminist later, but that for now, he wanted to be a player.

    Again–I see no concern for women’s feelings or people “reaching” women. I am tired of being expected to make the feelings of men a priority. It’s not unusual for people to be called on their shit on all sorts of issues–yet when it comes to male entitlement, we’re supposed to pipe down.

    Nope. Not playing that.

  28. Kathy McCarty
    Kathy McCarty June 12, 2006 at 6:28 pm |

    THat’s IT !! I’ve HAD it !!! NO MORE PUSSY FOR THE MEN until they become feminists. ANd if they slip up and behave in a sexist manner, they get KICKED OFF THE PUSSY BUS

    forEVER !!

  29. ACS
    ACS June 12, 2006 at 6:28 pm |

    Again–I see no concern for women’s feelings or people “reaching” women. I am tired of being expected to make the feelings of men a priority. It’s not unusual for people to be called on their shit on all sorts of issues–yet when it comes to male entitlement, we’re supposed to pipe down.

    In what sense would “calling him on his shit” in this situation do anything but feel good for Hugo?

    – ACS

  30. Monkey
    Monkey June 12, 2006 at 6:50 pm |

    Sara wrote: He’s not living in it, no, but a lot of us who talk here are also not necessarily spending our days confronting dudes about their misogyny and patriarchal baggage. Being affected by patriarchy and hating it is not the same thing as taking steps to make it go away.
    – ——-
    You wrote: What difference does the existence of non-feminist women make to the insight of feminist women, or the relative position of Hugo himself?

    Were you not referring to Sara’s “women who are also not necessarily spending our days confronting dudes…” when you wrote ‘non-feminist women’?

    I don’t think I was mis-representing your words, mis-interpreting may be more accurate, if you feel my comments weren’t relevant. Your statements painted a particular picture about the world women live in – one that seemed a bit more antagonistic and dramatic than the world I’ve experienced (in dealing with people myself – the world at large/government is another issue). It’s a far cry from telling off a boyfriend because he thinks I should do the laundry to the previous assertion that women are forced to convert men to feminism just to have a worthwile partner who doesn’t hurt them.

    I’m not discounting your experiences with sexism, nor other women who’ve been denied jobs or grades because of their sex, but I still thought your statements were a little dramatic. I know the ‘in the trenches’ comment originally came from Hugo, and not you. But, while acknowledging your very valid perspective and experience – and don’t think I’ve never experienced sexism – there was just something about your original statements that rubbed me the wrong way. Everyone holds imbedded notions, stereotypes, and assumptions about others, and social interaction is a constant process of negotiation. The image of women fighting it out in the trenches, in a one-way struggle uphill against the evils of patriarchy is what I got out of your comments. Within this context, the idea that I have an obligation to deal with idiots in order to ‘convert’ them is perhaps what set me off. Calling people out when they make the occasional mis-assumption about a person based on something like gender/class/culture/race is to me different than engaging misogynists.

  31. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 12, 2006 at 6:51 pm |

    In what sense would “calling him on his shit” in this situation do anything but feel good for Hugo?

    It would let him know that being feminist or not is a matter of fundamental ethics and basic decency, not a risky dating strategy. This is an important lesson for everyone to learn.

    Assuming that ethics and decency are a priority for him.

  32. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2006 at 6:52 pm |

    How, exactly, did Hugo’s response do anything besides reinforce that feminism was something he could take up later in life, like golf? He’ll be a feminist later, after he’s had fun being a player.

    Yeah. That really worked.

    You know, when I was called out on my shit, I felt defensive as hell. Angry. Didn’t want to hear it. But you know what else? A coddling response woudn’t have woken me up. It would have given me an excuse to keep on being an ass about the issue because no one likes their power questioned.

    Know what else? I came around. I doubt very much that men are such shrinking violets they can’t handle some direct disagreement andsome uncomfortable self-reflection. If Pete or his ilk get pissed and continue to reject the ideas of feminism, it’s more to do with their reluctance to share the power and question the status quo that benefits them. A bruised ego is only temporary.

  33. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 6:53 pm |

    Chris Clarke,

    I’m not saying “It’s women’s fault that men think women like assholes”… I’m saying something much more upsetting: Many women DO, IN FACT, like assholes. I’m not saying that there’s anything essential about womanhood that entails liking assholes, but I’m saying that if you go to a random bar in your town tonight, you’re moderately likely to see some women hanging off of men who ought to be denied all human intimacy until they change their wicked ways… Many women alive and dating have been subjected to social pressures such that they actually dig the sexist guy’s act. Add it to the list of things the project of feminism needs to change, but DON’T pretend that it’s mere sexist fantasy.

    Also, I did read Hugo’s piece on the bullshit passive-aggressive strategy, and that is not what I intended to employ above. What I’d meant to indicate was that I was going to say something controversial and then leave. Hence, I did not want people to sit around reloading waiting for a reply from me that would be a long time coming. Thanks for jumping to the worst possible conclusions about me, though. The principle of charity is dead.
    ——
    Thomas,
    In some instances above, I’d meant to use “radical feminist” in the derisive right-wing sense… because I was referring to how one’s actions/arguments would be interpreted by others. Although, point taken, in other places I ought to have been more careful with terminology.

    And maybe the guy is reachable. You’d better hope he is, because if he’s not then feminism is a doomed project. It’s gonna take more than a few bloggers blogging and Ph.Ds writing books to get anything like gender equality, it’s going to take a real shift in prevailing social attitudes.
    —–
    Sheelzebub,

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to present the wishy-washy and the radical as the only two options… I’d thought my phrasing was sufficiently clear in pointing out that I’d selected those two only for discussion, not for being-the-only-possible-options.

    And just because you could handle being called on your shit when you were 20 doesn’t entail anything about Pete. Age is not really a determining factor in this. What is a factor is how warm one is to the concept of feminism. I admit, I am probably injecting my own prejudice and overgeneralizations here, but my guess is that to a 20 year old college guy, in a contest between getting ass and embracing feminism, feminism loses big time. So, presenting it as a choice between two mutually exclusive options (get some ass, or embrace feminism) is a severe tactical error for bringing this person into the fold. Instead, one ought to point out that one can (and should) do both. Go out, date, interact. But, when you encounter the anti-feminist or the girl who thinks you’re boring because you were interested in what SHE had to say, that’s when it’s time to earn your feminist cred… because that girl could use a spirited debate.

  34. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 12, 2006 at 6:58 pm |

    it would have set me off my development of a consistent ethic for months.

    You realize Hugo’s response let him know it was okay to wait years, right?

  35. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke June 12, 2006 at 7:37 pm |

    An hour and a half is a long time?

  36. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 7:48 pm |

    Chris,
    Since I’d just been doing rapid-fire responses for a short while, yes, an hour and a half is a long time.

  37. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 12, 2006 at 7:54 pm |

    you’re moderately likely to see some women hanging off of men who ought to be denied all human intimacy until they change their wicked ways…

    Yeah, ought to be denied. Because women are ought use our vaginas as part of a reward/punishment scheme, not for our own pleasure.

    Not like this wasn’t just covered ad nauseam over at Pandagon, Dennis, but here’s the thing: when women just want to fuck – like when we pick up a guy at a bar – we choose men based on sex appeal, not by running the nice guy/asshole calculus men are so certain we’ve always got going in our heads. Sorry. Those women you see hanging off the “asshole” at the bar? Are more interested in his nice ass than in what’s in his head. Hard to believe, huh? But true.

    You want to believe that men’s sex appeal is all about their character and personality. Damn right that’s a sexist fantasy. But actually, those women you see at the bar cannot see deep into that guy’s theoretically assholish character. And while this may be harder for you to believe, neither can you. Just because lots of women want to go home with a guy, it doesn’t make him an asshole. It just makes him attractive.

  38. Andreas
    Andreas June 12, 2006 at 8:09 pm |

    Not like this wasn’t just covered ad nauseam over at Pandagon, Dennis, but here’s the thing: when women just want to fuck – like when we pick up a guy at a bar – we choose men based on sex appeal, not by running the nice guy/asshole calculus men are so certain we’ve always got going in our heads. Sorry. Those women you see hanging off the “asshole” at the bar? Are more interested in his nice ass than in what’s in his head. Hard to believe, huh? But true.

    In what measurable way does this differ from what Pete says he wants to do? And if this is compatible with feminism, then why isn’t the correct advice from Hugo: “Oh, well, dude, if that’s all you want to do, then, shit, get to it.”

    – ACS

  39. Dennis
    Dennis June 12, 2006 at 8:14 pm |

    Christ. I can’t catch a break here, can I? Okay, sophonisba… let me make something perfectly clear. I don’t begrudge you any sexual encounters. Go to the bar, pick out the guy you want. If it’s meaningless sex, I don’t care if you pick George W. Bush himself (though, I might object purely on aesthetic grounds.) However, clearly if you’re looking for a friend or partner, you’d be an idiot to choose a sexist.

    HOWEVER. There are women (and I suspect that you are not such a woman!) who are attracted to assholes. Specifically, they are attracted to the character and personality (exhibited via behavior) of the sexist man.

    Now, on another note, it would probably be a good idea to refrain from fucking sexist guys, even if it’s just sex. (Sorry, I don’t read Pandagon… I don’t have quite enough time to hit every blog on the internet. I try to limit myself to three.) Because, of course, having sex with a sexist leaves you vulnerable to abuse and date rape (You didn’t want to do X particular thing? Too bad, because you went home with someone (probably) bigger and stronger than you who doesn’t give a damn what you want).

  40. Andreas
    Andreas June 12, 2006 at 8:15 pm |

    It would let him know that being feminist or not is a matter of fundamental ethics and basic decency, not a risky dating strategy. This is an important lesson for everyone to learn.

    Assuming that ethics and decency are a priority for him.

    Pete walked through the door with that knowledge, or he wouldn’t have come asking for advice. He wanted to do the moral thing, but he was afraid that he’d have to make an unacceptable sacrifice to do it. The reasons he thought this were riddled with bullshit assumptions, but he core of it — the reason he came to begin with — was that he didn’t feel that he could make the sacrifices he felt he had to in order to be pro-feminist. The answer he needed was that the sacrifices weren’t that great.

    To me, early on, privilege was like a limb I didn’t know I had. People around me were constantly telling me that I had this thing, separate from me but still attached, and that I needed to amputate it as soon as possible. I didn’t want to get rid of it and, even if I did, I don’t know that I could have found it. I think Pete’s just emerging from this stage: aware of the mediumaround him, but aware of it in an abstract sense. I kind of remember thinking of privilege like CFCs in hairspray: there’s some kind of aggregate effect if everyone stops using it, but no one would be able to tell if I did and I would suffer the consequences alone.

    – ACS

  41. Andreas
    Andreas June 12, 2006 at 8:24 pm |

    …Oy. Um, Pete wants to know why women aren’t falling all over him because he’s a feminist, and whether it’s politically acceptable to stop being a feminist if it doesn’t get you laid. Little bit different, there.

    I just realized that maybe we’re having radically different interpretations of what Pete is saying. Here’s what I’m reading:

    Pete is not currently ahving women falling all over him because he’s a feminist, because he’s not claiming to be a feminist in public. Claiming to be a feminist in public is the change he’s contemplating. Pete also likes the idea, if not the actual practice, of having meaningless sex with women, but doesn’t feel that that’s compatible with feminist ideals. Pete dosen’t want to be a hypocrite about claiming to be a feminist in public while not living the life he feels he should. Pete’s core dilemma is that he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite. Hugo’s answer is: “You can claim to be pro-feminist when you get to the point where you feel you can.”

    And you:

    Pete is a hypocrite that’s claiming to be a feminist while being a dick to women. Pete comes to Hugo wondering whether he should stop being a dick to women. Hugo’s answer is, “Eh, maybe. Give it a couple years.”

    Is this an accurate representation of your reading?

    – ACS

  42. junk science
    junk science June 12, 2006 at 9:30 pm |

    And maybe the guy is reachable. You’d better hope he is, because if he’s not then feminism is a doomed project.

    Nah, I don’t think we need to feel threatened by that. The nice thing is, guys like Pete are really only hurting themselves. Intelligent women and feminism are a whole lot better off without that bullshit.

  43. zuzu
    zuzu June 12, 2006 at 9:43 pm | *

    ACS: Feminism is not a dating service. Pete’s problem is that he was disappointed that going through the motions of feminism wasn’t getting him laid, so he wanted to just be a player and think about being pro-feminist later. Rather than set him straight about feminism not being a dating service (and assuring him that it was perfectly fine to desire women as long as he saw them as individuals and equals), Hugo just laughed and told him there was plenty of time to treat women as equal, but not to worry because there was pussy to be had now.

    Dennis, once again we come to the issue of: so effin’ what if some women like assholes? Some women were abused, or have been damaged by the patriarchy. There are also a lot of antifeminist women out there. Pete should be treating women, even those women who date assholes, as equals. Not because it’s some kind of formula for getting pussy, but because it’s the right thing to do.

  44. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke June 12, 2006 at 10:06 pm |

    Specifically, they are attracted to the character and personality (exhibited via behavior) of the sexist man.

    And these women are called “heterosexuals.”

    Or did you mean “the more than usually sexist man”?

  45. Andreas
    Andreas June 12, 2006 at 10:45 pm |

    Feminism is not a dating service. Pete’s problem is that he was disappointed that going through the motions of feminism wasn’t getting him laid, so he wanted to just be a player and think about being pro-feminist later. Rather than set him straight about feminism not being a dating service (and assuring him that it was perfectly fine to desire women as long as he saw them as individuals and equals), Hugo just laughed and told him there was plenty of time to treat women as equal, but not to worry because there was pussy to be had now.

    It seems like you’re writing an entire story-of-Pete to align with the “passive-aggressive male quasi-feminist” archetype, but I don’t see it. You’re inserting the phrases and notions “plenty of time to treat women as equal,” “pussy to be had now,” and “going through the motions of feminism wasn’t getting him laid.” I don’t see them in Pete’s story and I can’t see them in Hugo’s advice.

    Feminists don’t have a responsibility to sleep with him in order to keep him in the fold. You’re right. But dismissing the root of his problem isn’t an answer either. Pete needs to learn how to interact with women as equals and also potential romantic partners if he wants to be a happy feminist ally, and he’s going to need to make livable sacrifices if he wants to be a good feminist ally. It’s better that he do it now rather than wind up with an unliviable ethic that makes him bounce from radicalism to radicalism.

    I realize that “I’m having a hard time finding a partner and holding to my ideals” is a common male ally whine, and that the men who do it are often passive-aggressive twerps. But lots of pro-feminist men, and this includes myself, have had problems expressing romantic interest, or get too caught up in a potential romantic partner’s potential discomfort or disinterest or offense to express it, or move too slowly and get permanently categorized as Platonic friends.

    I also realize that this isn’t your problem, or feminism’s problem, or, now that I’m partnered, even my problem, but it’s a legitimate question for a wannabe-feminist kid to be asking an older feminist ally. Feminism asks him to stop trying to find partners through exploitive social games, economic power-exchange rituals, and quasi-date-rape. These are the ways men are taught to meet partners, and they’re wrong. Take them away, and that strips him of the sexual privilege he’s relied on in the past and leaves him with what feels like no chance.

    The thing is, that isn’t the case. Feminism may not be a dating service, but there are plenty of ways to relate to women in a romantic sense that don’t involve oppressing them. The thing is, he needs to change, not them

    – ACS

  46. zuzu
    zuzu June 12, 2006 at 11:05 pm | *

    Andreas, let me quote Hugo’s post for the Pete paraphrase he gives:

    I’m really struggling with whether or not I want to be a feminist man. I get that injustice and inequality exist, but at the same time, I don’t know why I have to get involved in this now, when I’m so young. Didn’t you, Hugo, take a long time to match your language and your life?

    Darn it all, Pete reads this blog. And he’s right — when I was 20, I claimed to be a male feminist, but my feminism was shallow to the core. It’s tough to challenge young men to be at their age what I most certainly wasn’t until much, much later!

    The thing is,Pete continued, I don’t think girls want feminist guys! You know that whole thing where girls aren’t into nice guys but would rather have bad boys? It’s like they say they want one thing, but in reality they want another. If I want to meet girls and have fun, I have a lot more success when I don’t try and be pro-feminist. I mean, why should I be more feminist than the women around me?

    I think it’s clear that he equates feminism with no fun and seriousness and that he sees it as something he can put off for someday, like kids and a mortgage and whatnot. And Hugo didn’t break down what he was saying — that he could only have fun and have “success” with women if he abandoned any feminist ideals — and show him he was wrong. No, he just laughed and commiserated and reflected about some woman he knew who was a feminist drawn to “alpha males.”

    It would have been easy for Hugo to disabuse this kid of his fallacies about feminist women and the whole “chicks say they want a feminist man, but they really want to be treated like shit” thing. But he simply reinforced those beliefs.

  47. Andreas
    Andreas June 12, 2006 at 11:28 pm |

    And Hugo didn’t break down what he was saying — that he could only have fun and have “success” with women if he abandoned any feminist ideals — and show him he was wrong. No, he just laughed and commiserated and reflected about some woman he knew who was a feminist drawn to “alpha males.”

    There are several ways to do that. And I thought Hugo did a good job: he found common ground, explained the reasons behind the misperception Pete had, and then moved on to reconciling his notions of what he thought a pro-feminist man was and what Pete, personally, thought he should be.

    I mean, it doesn’t sound like you have any disagreements with anything between “What I did suggest to Pete…” and “… meet those desires and wants,” other than that perhaps Hugo was too chummy with Pete.

    – ACS

  48. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 12, 2006 at 11:49 pm |

    he found common ground,

    He found common ground putting down women with his student. Yeah, what could possibly be wrong with that? Talking about women’s dumb choices helps men bond across generational lines and across hierarchical boundaries!

    Jesus wept.

  49. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 12, 2006 at 11:52 pm |

    And I might add that Hugo was very concerned about “reinforc[ing] the worst stereotypes about male feminists!” But reinforcing the very worst stereotypes of what women want? Not a problem!

  50. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 1:00 am |

    zuzu:

    Dennis, once again we come to the issue of: so effin’ what if some women like assholes? Some women were abused, or have been damaged by the patriarchy. There are also a lot of antifeminist women out there. Pete should be treating women, even those women who date assholes, as equals. Not because it’s some kind of formula for getting pussy, but because it’s the right thing to do.

    sophonisba:

    He found common ground putting down women with his student. Yeah, what could possibly be wrong with that? Talking about women’s dumb choices helps men bond across generational lines and across hierarchical boundaries!

    You just gave zuzu a pass on making exactly the same assumption five posts above yours. Courtship would not be so utterly fuckered if some people, men and women, didn’t buy the idea that it was the only way to find a partner. The problem is not that some women choose to make poor decisions as to whom to partner with. It is not the responsibility of women, or men, or any human being to make good choices at all times.

    It’s your responsibility not to exploit anyone’s poor decision making, not to believe that all women make good decisions at all times.

    – ACS

  51. nonwhiteperson
    nonwhiteperson June 13, 2006 at 1:06 am |

    That post was pretty annoying but most of his posts are awesome. Pete is annoying but there aren’t enough pro-feminist bloggers yet to beat up on them to this degree. I’d be more comfortable when we have alot more pro-feminist male bloggers.

  52. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost June 13, 2006 at 1:24 am |

    I realize that “I’m having a hard time finding a partner and holding to my ideals” is a common male ally whine, and that the men who do it are often passive-aggressive twerps. But lots of pro-feminist men, and this includes myself, have had problems expressing romantic interest, or get too caught up in a potential romantic partner’s potential discomfort or disinterest or offense to express it, or move too slowly and get permanently categorized as Platonic friends.

    I also realize that this isn’t your problem, or feminism’s problem, or, now that I’m partnered, even my problem, but it’s a legitimate question for a wannabe-feminist kid to be asking an older feminist ally. Feminism asks him to stop trying to find partners through exploitive social games, economic power-exchange rituals, and quasi-date-rape. These are the ways men are taught to meet partners, and they’re wrong. Take them away, and that strips him of the sexual privilege he’s relied on in the past and leaves him with what feels like no chance.

    The thing is, that isn’t the case. Feminism may not be a dating service, but there are plenty of ways to relate to women in a romantic sense that don’t involve oppressing them. The thing is, he needs to change, not them

    Sorry to quote so much, but there’s a lot in there that I can relate to. A few months ago, the idea of a “Feminist dating blog” came up. If memory serves, it was conceptualized as a venue for peple to share stories/theory/experiences/debate/advice/whatever about sex, relationships, dating, all that fun stuff form an explicitly Feminist/anti-racist/queer- and transpositive/so on viewpoint. It’s not controversial to say that people can meet, date, have sex, so on without giving up Feminism. But it’s very true that a lot of people (it seems mainly young pro-feminist men who legitimately want to get it right) just don’t know how to square the two. For a long time, I could count myself as one of them.

  53. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost June 13, 2006 at 1:24 am |

    I realize that “I’m having a hard time finding a partner and holding to my ideals” is a common male ally whine, and that the men who do it are often passive-aggressive twerps. But lots of pro-feminist men, and this includes myself, have had problems expressing romantic interest, or get too caught up in a potential romantic partner’s potential discomfort or disinterest or offense to express it, or move too slowly and get permanently categorized as Platonic friends.

    I also realize that this isn’t your problem, or feminism’s problem, or, now that I’m partnered, even my problem, but it’s a legitimate question for a wannabe-feminist kid to be asking an older feminist ally. Feminism asks him to stop trying to find partners through exploitive social games, economic power-exchange rituals, and quasi-date-rape. These are the ways men are taught to meet partners, and they’re wrong. Take them away, and that strips him of the sexual privilege he’s relied on in the past and leaves him with what feels like no chance.

    The thing is, that isn’t the case. Feminism may not be a dating service, but there are plenty of ways to relate to women in a romantic sense that don’t involve oppressing them. The thing is, he needs to change, not them

    Sorry to quote so much, but there’s a lot in there that I can relate to. A few months ago, the idea of a “Feminist dating blog” came up. If memory serves, it was conceptualized as a venue for peple to share stories/theory/experiences/debate/advice/whatever about sex, relationships, dating, all that fun stuff form an explicitly Feminist/anti-racist/queer- and transpositive/so on viewpoint. It’s not controversial to say that people can meet, date, have sex, so on without giving up Feminism. But it’s very true that a lot of people (it seems mainly young pro-feminist men who legitimately want to get it right) just don’t know how to square the two. For a long time, I could count myself as one of them.

  54. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 13, 2006 at 1:49 am |

    But ACS, zuzu didn’t make the same assumption, or even a similar one. Here is the critical word that distinguishes her description of women’s choices from Pete’s:

    SOME

    There happens to be all the difference in the world between “women” and “some women.”

    “Some women are antifeminists” is not the same assumption as “they [women] say they want one thing, but in reality they want another.” It is not even in the same universe.

    not to believe that all women make good decisions at all times.

    You think when I said sometimes women care more about the shape of a man’s ass than the content of his character, I was saying that women make good decisions at all times?

    I’d call that a radical interpretation of the text. Put another way, wtf?

  55. Freeman
    Freeman June 13, 2006 at 3:54 am |

    I understand that no-one is entitled to keep holding onto viewpoints which keep other people, especially women, down. However, I have to ask: at what point does outreach to mainstream society in an attempt to change minds become ideologically incompatible?

  56. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost June 13, 2006 at 4:06 am |

    It’s a false dichotomy.

    The idea that we have to make a choice between ideological purity and getting the word out is fucking absurd. The implication is that Feminism in its purest form doesn’t hold anything of value, and that the as-yet-unconverted will never buy into it. Bullshit. I think any movement or philosophy hoping to make any kind of real change is best served stating its case firmly (and without compromise) but without blame. Consider the difference between “the idea that women owe men sex in any was is built on partiarchal assumptions about women’s autonomy (or lack of same) and men’s entitlement. Furthermore, it’s misogynist bullshit.” and “the idea that women owe men sex is patriarchal and misogynist, and if you’ve ever thought anything like that, you’re a disgusting woman-hater and you can fuck off and die.”

  57. delia
    delia June 13, 2006 at 8:00 am |
  58. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 13, 2006 at 8:20 am |

    And just because you could handle being called on your shit when you were 20 doesn’t entail anything about Pete.

    It also doesn’t mean that I’m obligated to sugarcoat jack-shit. Hello? There are 20-year-old women that he’s looking to shit on. In his own words, BTW. Maybe later, when he’s older, he’ll take up feminism as an interesting hobby, but for now he’ll be a player, since having sex and being straightforward with and respectful to women is incompatible.

    Age is not really a determining factor in this. What is a factor is how warm one is to the concept of feminism.

    And I’m not going to extend myself for a guy who treats it like a hobby.

    I admit, I am probably injecting my own prejudice and overgeneralizations here, but my guess is that to a 20 year old college guy, in a contest between getting ass and embracing feminism, feminism loses big time.

    I had no idea that the two were mutually exclusive. Don’t most anti-feminists insist that we’re all total sluts? (Well, except for the likes of the psuedo-sex positives, who insist we’re frigid since we aren’t enamoured of the status quo?) It’s not as if you have to talk in-depth about Dworkin’s Intercourse on a date, for Hade’s sake.

    So, presenting it as a choice between two mutually exclusive options (get some ass, or embrace feminism) is a severe tactical error for bringing this person into the fold. Instead, one ought to point out that one can (and should) do both. Go out, date, interact. But, when you encounter the anti-feminist or the girl who thinks you’re boring because you were interested in what SHE had to say, that’s when it’s time to earn your feminist cred… because that girl could use a spirited debate.

    IOW, call him on his shit. Patting him on the head and laughing with him about how those silly women really do like assholes, the way Hugo did, isn’t the way to go about this, and this guy walked away thinking that feminism is a hobby and women are just stupid pussy providers.

    And seriously–if you find a girl who’s anti-feminist don’t expect to convert her, and the one who doesn’t like you because you show interest in her isn’t worth bothering with.

  59. Mickle
    Mickle June 13, 2006 at 8:58 am |

    “Pete walked through the door with that knowledge, or he wouldn’t have come asking for advice.”

    Pete was asking for advice? I was under the impression he was asking for absolution – before the sin was commited. But then most people that seek advice along the lines of the “I know I should do this, but I really want to do that…” variety usually are.

    “You know, when I was called out on my shit, I felt defensive as hell. Angry. Didn’t want to hear it.”

    Which begs the question – will Hugo learn from this experience or will he fall back on the male entitilement he’s vowed to destroy?

    “That post was pretty annoying but most of his posts are awesome….there aren’t enough pro-feminist bloggers yet to beat up on them to this degree.”

    Apparently, I have more faith in Hugo than you do.

    Andreas says:

    “Pete is not currently ahving women falling all over him because he’s a feminist, because he’s not to be a feminist in public. Claiming to be a feminist in public is the change he’s contemplating.

    Pete writes:

    “I’m really struggling with whether or not I want to be a feminist man.  I get that injustice and inequality exist, but at the same time, I don’t know why I have to get involved in this now, when I’m so young. Didn’t you, Hugo, take a long time to match your language and your life?”

    Hugo writes:

    “Darn it all, Pete reads this blog.  And he’s right — when I was 20, I claimed to be a male feminist, but my feminism was shallow to the core.

    The fuck?!? Maybe it’s just to damn early in the morning, but it seems pretty damn clear to me Hugo and Pete are talking about actions and not publicly made claims. Or at least that Hugo is anyway.

  60. SingOut
    SingOut June 13, 2006 at 10:54 am |

    I apologize that my post is entirely anecdotal:

    All of the assholes I’ve dated, originally presented themselves as nice guys. I (and all of my woman friends) don’t seek out assholes. It’s not until I’ve gotten really close to a guy that he’ll start to reveal his true asshole nature. I get really tired of “Nice Guys” whining that ‘all girls like assholes’, when we don’t actually seek out assholes.

  61. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost June 13, 2006 at 2:20 pm |

    Patting him on the head and laughing with him about how those silly women really do like assholes, the way Hugo did, isn’t the way to go about this, and this guy walked away thinking that feminism is a hobby and women are just stupid pussy providers.

    I’m not sure that’s what he did. I’ll

    What I did suggest to Pete was that he consider the possibility that what was really attractive to women wasn’t necessarily the “bad boy”, but the confident man.

    I told Pete last week that I’d found that the most difficult thing to do was to become clear on the difference between an attractive and compelling confidence and a privileged arrogance.

    In the end, I told Pete, there’s more to life as a man than choosing between being a wimp or a jerk!

    An aspiring pro-feminist man still gets to express his desires and his wants; he doesn’t get to keep a sense of entitlement that tells him that women exist only to meet those desires and wants.

    I think Hugo tried to make the points that everyone’s calling him on not making, but just not strongly or clearly enough. That tends to be my main frustration with Hugo — when he’s right, he not right clearly or loudly enough. He puts it on the table beside bullshit, rather than sweeping the bullshit off the table first.

  62. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler June 13, 2006 at 2:26 pm |

    There are women (and I suspect that you are not such a woman!) who are attracted to assholes.

    Thus, being a feminist is not a good strategy for getting laid. I certainly don’t dispute that. I dispute the unspoken premise that if something’s not a good strategy for getting laid, no one should do it. That’s what “feminism is not a dating service” means.

    The correct answer to Pete’s query is probably “mu.” He should be a feminist because it’s the ethical path; he should develop a hobby or start doing theater tech in order to get laid. The two are separate.

  63. junk science
    junk science June 13, 2006 at 2:36 pm |

    Feminists are more likely to get laid because they’re naturally hotter, on average, than the rest of the population. Wearing the same clothes hot people wear does not make you hot.

  64. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 3:42 pm |

    Rather than set him straight about feminism not being a dating service (and assuring him that it was perfectly fine to desire women as long as he saw them as individuals and equals), Hugo just laughed and told him there was plenty of time to treat women as equal, but not to worry because there was pussy to be had now.–zuzu

    Did we read the same post?

    Here’s how Hugo “doesn’t” assure Pete that it’s perfectly fine to desire women as long as he saw them as individuals and equals:

    An aspiring pro-feminist man still gets to express his desires and his wants; he doesn’t get to keep a sense of entitlement that tells him that women exist only to meet those desires and wants.–Hugo

    And here’s how Hugo tells him there is plenty of time to treat women as equal, but not to worry because there was pussy to be had now:

    What I did suggest to Pete was that he consider the possibility that what was really attractive to women wasn’t necessarily the “bad boy”, but the confident man. –Hugo

    and

    Pro-feminism is not about turning men into eager and attentive servants or rescuing knights in shining armor. It’s possible to learn to renounce male privilege while retaining a strong, bold, sense of oneself. –Hugo

    and

    Of course, I did tell Pete that the purpose of becoming a pro-feminist man is not to please women or to “get” women into bed. Indeed, doing so only reinforces the worst stereotypes about male feminists!

    Seems to me that Hugo told Pete a lot of truths. Does that matter at all? Where does Hugo say that it’s ok to not treat women as equal? Does noting that one starts from where one is and then progresses from there mean one abandons all ideals? Of course it can be argued that Hugo ought to have pressured Pete to work harder and faster at being a pro-feminist–but that he didn’t push Pete more doesn’t (seems to me) entail that he’s saying “not to worry because there [is] pussy to be had now”.

    As far as zuzu’s point that Hugo’s response wasn’t a response to piny’s point:

    Hugo, I know you’ve got a lot going on in your life right now, but when you do come back to blogging, consider this: the above comment is not responsive to piny’s point.

    Piny criticized the stance you took that because you do women’s studies FOR A LIVING, that gave you some kind of extra moral authority or something to speak on these issues.

    Part of Hugo’s original response to some of these criticism) is that he sees the ‘incrimental’ approach as a useful approach, and approach that works. It seems to me that Hugo wasn’t arguing that he has some moral authority to speak about all this, but that he has the authority of his own experience–in his experience, this has worked better than the smackdown. Anybody may disagree whether incrimental works better or doesn’t, but disallowing Hugo the option of pointing to his experience in the matter–which seems relevant to me–doesn’t leave Hugo any room to disagree. If he can’t disagree on the basis of his theoretical underpinnings or his practical experience, then how might he reply to a critique, if he disagrees with the interlocutor?

  65. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 3:46 pm | *

    Jeff, go read the part where Hugo talked about Jackie and drew the same damn conclusion about what “women” want from that one example that Pete drew from his own experience — that feminist women say they really want feminist men, but what they want is assholes.

    And then come back and tell me that I’ve got nothing to be annoyed about with Hugo’s response.

  66. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 4:15 pm |

    Jeff, go read the part where Hugo talked about Jackie and drew the same damn conclusion about what “women” want from that one example that Pete drew from his own experience — that feminist women say they really want feminist men, but what they want is assholes.

    And then come back and tell me that I’ve got nothing to be annoyed about with Hugo’s response.

    Hugo tells the story about Jackie, which I assume he didn’t just make up, and then frames it in terms that explain away Pete’s permanent-pro-feminist-celibacy concern.

    What I did suggest to Pete was that he consider the possibility that what was really attractive to women wasn’t necessarily the “bad boy”, but the confident man.

    – ACS

  67. Magis
    Magis June 13, 2006 at 4:22 pm |

    Been trying to be a good boy and stay out of this because it is a pet peeve. But as Popeye once said, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.”

    All this is truly necessary for a man to be a feminist is to ackowlege the equal worth of a woman’s humanity and act in a manner consistent therewith. You don’t have to be dweeby or obsequious. You don’t have to be weak; you don’t have to ineffective. You do not have to be androgenous.

    Are women’s choices in bed partners limited to A) mewling syncophants OR B) studly Neanderthals? If so, is it surprising that the might occasionally choose B for a short-term romp?

  68. Magis
    Magis June 13, 2006 at 4:24 pm |

    ooops

    All THAT is truly…

  69. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 4:24 pm |

    Which is a fact-based claim that many of the feminists commenting took issue with. (And look: another iteration of, “Some random woman said this once, and I concur.”) That’s why the “nice guy” thing came up again: it’s not that he’s too nice, it’s that he feels entitled.

    To which entitlement does what you just quoted refer?

    – ACS

  70. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 4:27 pm | *

    Here’s what Hugo told Pete, and McBoing’s response, Hugo in italics:

    I don’t know how much Pete got out of our conversation, but when he left, he said “Hugo, thanks. I know I’m going to be a pro-feminist — soon. But not just yet.” I laughed and told him “One day at a time, buddy, one day at a time.”
    One day at a time. Like Pete’s is an addiction to pussy and not a full-fledged denial of women’s personhood. Whatever, Hugo, but don’t delude yourself that this is just an acknowledgement “for him to be where he was.”

    As I said above, Hugo has the luxury of parachuting into and out of feminism as it suits him. He’s telling this kid that he can do the same, because it’s just not convenient for his pussy-seeking at the moment to grant women full personhood. He may have told the kid that granting women full personhood is a worthy and
    admirable goal, but he let it remain a goal, for the future, something he can pick up and put down at will — but not until he’s done chasing after hot chicks.

    He didn’t have to coddle this kid, and he didn’t have to bash him over the head with radical feminism, either. He owed it to this kid — and to the young women he teaches and professes to respect so much — to set him straight about women being full human beings, just as this kid is. If he can’t take that knowledge, if his support for feminism is so fragile, I have to wonder if he really gave a shit about it in the first place.

  71. Mickle
    Mickle June 13, 2006 at 4:33 pm |

    jeffliveshere

    Hugo did not try to argue the merits of his approach, he simply tried to argue that he thinks his approach works – and that he should know because he does this “for a living.” If he had actually argued his case rather then relying on privilege, we would be discussing the merits of his approach. He didn’t and instead all we are left with is his privilege.

    If Hugo wasn’t often a stand up guy who says the things you mentioned, we wouldn’t be so pissed – we’d just make fun of him and shake our heads. But does often “get it”, and that’s why his “joke” at the end and his assumptions about “girls who like bad boys” illicited such a strong reaction. As did (for me) the fact that much of his good advice re: why one should be feminist went hand in hand with how Pete’s question is bad because it reinforces steretypes of feminist men. As if that was the primary problem with the Pete’s attitudes, rather than the inherent selfishness of treating people decently only because you will get something out of it – irregardless of if they are men, women, old, young, etc. If Hugo made that last idea clear to Pete, it didn’t come through in his recounting of the conversation.

  72. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 4:35 pm |

    zuzu–
    First of all, I never said that you’ve got nothing to be annoyed about with Hugo’s response. I do claim that your idea that he’s saying Pete shouldn’t “worry because there was pussy to be had now” is off the mark. I think Hugo could have and should have gone further in talking to Pete. But I don’t think that his lack of going further is the same as telling him all the things you’re attributing to Hugo.

    Jeff, go read the part where Hugo talked about Jackie and drew the same damn conclusion about what “women” want from that one example that Pete drew from his own experience — that feminist women say they really want feminist men, but what they want is assholes.–zuzu

    What, you mean this part?:

    Sometimes, in other words, a pro-feminist man can make decisions. As Jackie put it, “I don’t want a man to always ask me where I want to go to dinner — sometimes I want a man confident enough to pick the damn restaurant on his own.”–Hugo

    I don’t think that the above sentiment equates with “feminist women say they really want feminist men, but what they want is assholes…” Part of Hugo’s point is that lots of people–including feminists who are women–tend to like confident people to date, and that it’s important to remember that ‘feminist man’ doesn’t mean ‘meek man’–and that this is something that a lot of men who want to be better feminists often don’t figure out very quickly.

  73. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 4:40 pm |

    Hugo did not try to argue the merits of his approach, he simply tried to argue that he thinks his approach works – and that he should know because he does this “for a living.” If he had actually argued his case rather then relying on privilege, we would be discussing the merits of his approach. He didn’t and instead all we are left with is his privilege.–Mickle

    To some degree, doesn’t what Hugo does for a living entail that he does have some idea about what works, as far as teaching young men to be good feminisits? He should know, in part, because it’s what he does (more than, say, a male fish monger might know the best ways to teach feminism to men). What he veiws as his successes are the merits of his approach. We are not left just with ‘his privelege’–unless all of Hugo’s experience as a man who teaches feminism to others doesn’t matter at all. It matters some. It’s not the same as if he were a woman who had to deal with this stuff from the get-go and didn’t have a choice but to educate men in the ways that others have pointed out. But that doesn’t mean that his experience counts for nothing,. If it does mean that, I don’t yet understand why.

  74. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 4:43 pm | *

    I do claim that your idea that he’s saying Pete shouldn’t “worry because there was pussy to be had now” is off the mark.

    How do you explain his comments about “One day at a time,” then?

  75. Magis
    Magis June 13, 2006 at 4:44 pm |

    What Hugo should have said was…

    “Pete, when you look across the table do you see a human or a toy? Philosophies aren’t something you put on and take off like an old coat. Pete, most women have a pretty effective bullshit meter and I think you’re setting it off. If you want to get laid you should start of by not being a phoney little wanker.”

  76. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 4:47 pm |

    As I said above, Hugo has the luxury of parachuting into and out of feminism as it suits him. He’s telling this kid that he can do the same, because it’s just not convenient for his pussy-seeking at the moment to grant women full personhood. He may have told the kid that granting women full personhood is a worthy and admirable goal, but he let it remain a goal, for the future, something he can pick up and put down at will — but not until he’s done chasing after hot chicks.

    He didn’t have to coddle this kid, and he didn’t have to bash him over the head with radical feminism, either. He owed it to this kid — and to the young women he teaches and professes to respect so much — to set him straight about women being full human beings, just as this kid is. If he can’t take that knowledge, if his support for feminism is so fragile, I have to wonder if he really gave a shit about it in the first place.

    zuzu, 100% of Hugo’s economic well-being, and practically all of his skills, are tied to feminism, though, when he goes home, he doesn’t have to suffer the brunt of patriarchal oppression. While I’m not sure whether he has tenure or not (I’m leaning toward “not”), there’s a very concrete way in which his well-being is tied to feminism: he is professionally accountable to feminists in a way that the vast majority of men are not. This does not give him a pass to misbehave, but he does not have “the luxury of parachuting into and out of feminism as it suits him.” He has tied his horse to the feminist wagon.

    And, as I said earlier, you’re imputing things to Pete that Pete didn’t say, and McBoing’s engaging in hyperbole that absolutely strains credulity. You’re absolutely sure that he came to see Hugo in bad faith, rather than simply coming to see him with bad assumptions. I don’t think that’s a fair assumption.

    And to piny:

    The idea that being nice means that women will sleep with you, and that the default is “women will want to sleep with me.” That’s an unstated premise in “I’m not getting laid, and this guy is, therefore my desire to treat women well is the problem.”

    Celibacy is not the default, and it isn’t what anyone — Catholic priests included — want. It’s legitimate, but wrong, to believe that ruling out a large subset of fucked Western courtship behaviors will force you into celibacy. Hugo is explaining to him that this is in fact not the case; that being pro-feminist is not your ticket to not-get-laidsville, and not some bizarre form of ethical martyrdom.

    – ACS

  77. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 13, 2006 at 4:49 pm |

    But he used his profession as a way to silence his critics–shut up! I do this for a living! I’m in the trenches!

    Well I’m in the trenches too (unpaid, BTW), and so is every freakin’ woman who’s called him on his response. Way to ignore the rest of us.

  78. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 4:51 pm | *

    I don’t think that the above sentiment equates with “feminist women say they really want feminist men, but what they want is assholes…”

    Probably because you’re ignoring the part that *does* equate with that. To wit:

    I hear this from guys like Pete a great deal. I had a female friend in college who was an ardent feminist, yet admitted that she wasn’t sexually drawn to most pro-feminist men. “Jackie” acknowledged an inconsistency that I’ve come to see in a number of other younger feminist women — an intellectual desire to be in an egalitarian relationship, but a strong physical and emotional attraction to men who were more dominant and, to put it mildly, much less feminist. Jackie always said she wanted to marry a pro-feminist man someday, but until then, she was going to have her fun with men she referred to as “dangerous assholes who turn me on.”

    When I was in college, I knew a lot of women like Jackie. They haven’t disappeared from the ranks of the younger generation, either. This is what Pete was complaining about — among his peers, he found relatively few women who seemed to want feminist men, and more who seemed drawn to the alpha male “bad boy.” Pete told me that he had the capacity to be either at any time, but it seemed pointless to work on being a feminist when living up to pro-feminist principles didn’t seem to him to be an effective strategy for connecting with women. Pete asked:

    Why shouldn’t I wait to be a pro-feminist man until I’m older, when women will appreciate it? Why shouldn’t I be a player now, and have my fun?

    I laughed gently, and reminded Pete of Augustine’s famous plea: “Give me continence, Lord, but not yet!” Pete got it, and chuckled too.

    Emphasis mine. Pete spouts bullshit about wanting to be a player, how treating women gets in the way of that, and Hugo just chuckles, makes a quip, and gives Pete a pass on actually confronting his attitudes towards women.

  79. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 4:53 pm | *

    zuzu, 100% of Hugo’s economic well-being, and practically all of his skills, are tied to feminism, though, when he goes home, he doesn’t have to suffer the brunt of patriarchal oppression. While I’m not sure whether he has tenure or not (I’m leaning toward “not”), there’s a very concrete way in which his well-being is tied to feminism: he is professionally accountable to feminists in a way that the vast majority of men are not. This does not give him a pass to misbehave, but he does not have “the luxury of parachuting into and out of feminism as it suits him.” He has tied his horse to the feminist wagon.

    And this means he should be insulated from criticism — why, exactly?

  80. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 4:59 pm |

    piny–
    I think I see what you’re saying. But I think I may still disagree with you.

    But it’s still missing the point. Hugo left out what a lot of women report as a turn off: the belief that being nice–or anything else, really–will get you the girl.–piny

    Perhaps he left this out because he made it a focus to point out to Pete that feminism isn’t about giving people (women or men or others) what they want:

    Of course, I did tell Pete that the purpose of becoming a pro-feminist man is not to please women or to “get” women into bed. Indeed, doing so only reinforces the worst stereotypes about male feminists!–Hugo

    As far as confidence being a red herring, I think that’s a matter that’s up for discussion: For those of us men who went through a stage of not getting that feminism does not equal (among other things) weakness (no matter who does perceive it as being equal to weakness), then Hugo telling Pete that, no, being a feminist is actually a brave act–even for a man–and it doesn’t mean that you can’t stick up for yourself or make choices or any of that, those of us who went through that stage see those points as central to Hugo’s post (and not as red herrings).

  81. Magis
    Magis June 13, 2006 at 5:01 pm |

    zuzu:

    I’m with you. What did Pete walk away with? Nothing, in my opinion, except a load of bromides. There was a chance that Pete could have been disabused of the notion that the only way to get laid is to trick the woman into it. He should have been told that being a “player” is morally reprehensible. There was so much that could have been said that wasn’t.

  82. Sally
    Sally June 13, 2006 at 5:11 pm |

    zuzu, 100% of Hugo’s economic well-being, and practically all of his skills, are tied to feminism, though, when he goes home, he doesn’t have to suffer the brunt of patriarchal oppression. While I’m not sure whether he has tenure or not (I’m leaning toward “not”), there’s a very concrete way in which his well-being is tied to feminism: he is professionally accountable to feminists in a way that the vast majority of men are not. This does not give him a pass to misbehave, but he does not have “the luxury of parachuting into and out of feminism as it suits him.” He has tied his horse to the feminist wagon.

    He does have tenure. He could drop feminism at any time without paying any sort of career price.

  83. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 5:12 pm |

    And this means he should be insulated from criticism — why, exactly?

    This means nothing about him being insulated from criticism. Only that he should be insulated from the particular criticism that he has nothing to lose or gain from being or not being a feminist, because it is as unfair as it is untrue.

    – ACS

  84. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 5:43 pm |

    zuzu–
    I didn’t mean to cherry-pick, but it’s clear that I did, by not addressing everything in the section you quoted. Thanks for pointing it out. I’d like to examine the section you quoted though, because it doesn’t mean to me what it means to you (it seems):

    When I was in college, I knew a lot of women like Jackie. They haven’t disappeared from the ranks of the younger generation, either.

    Is Hugo generalizing to ‘all women’ or even ‘most women’ here? I don’t think so. If you look at the comments on Hugo’s blog on this post, there are at least some women who agree that this is the case. What Hugo is addressing is that Pete’s concerns aren’t coming completely out of left-field, that there are appears at least to be some basis (even if it turns out to be eventually wrong) for Pete’s perceptions. Also, saying that they haven’t disappeared from the ranks of the younger generation isn’t saying that they’re the majority, or generalizing that they are. Pete, of course, thinks that they are, but Hugo points out to him later on that Pete is wrong about what he thinks he sees: what he sees as ‘women wanting bad boys’ is really just women liking confident men:

    Sometimes, in other words, a pro-feminist man can make decisions. As Jackie put it, “I don’t want a man to always ask me where I want to go to dinner — sometimes I want a man confident enough to pick the damn restaurant on his own.”–Hugo

    I’ll admit Hugo isn’t perfectly clear here–and Hugo has admitted that as well. He seems to both be saying that some women (even feminist women) do seem to have some sort of masochistic thing going on, but the stress to me seems to be on the fact that that very perception is wrong: To whatever degree men see women as ‘wanting assholes’, they may be just wanting confidence.

    Pete spouts bullshit about wanting to be a player, how treating women gets in the way of that, and Hugo just chuckles, makes a quip, and gives Pete a pass on actually confronting his attitudes towards women.–zuzu

    I disagree. I think Hugo doesn’t ‘just’ do any of that; in fact, he goes to great lengths to explain to Pete that he doesn’t get a pass:

    An aspiring pro-feminist man still gets to express his desires and his wants; he doesn’t get to keep a sense of entitlement that tells him that women exist only to meet those desires and wants.–Hugo

    What you see as ‘a pass’ Hugo sees as possible incrimental change. I see no problem arguing that incrimental change isn’t enough, but that’s not the same thing as misrepresenting what Hugo’s saying as ‘there is pussy to be had now’ as you put it.

    As far as Hugo’s One Day at a Time method–I can understand that this could be taken as “It’s ok to be an asshole misogynist,” but in the context of Hugo saying thing like:

    An aspiring pro-feminist man still gets to express his desires and his wants; he doesn’t get to keep a sense of entitlement that tells him that women exist only to meet those desires and wants.–Hugo

    it seems more likely that One Day At a Time means something more along the lines of ‘keep trying to make progress’. And that’s practical advice, I think.

    Progress in the face of what sometimes seem to be insurmountable odds, that’s how I took One Day at a Time, not as liscense to be a misogynist. Which isn’t to say that Hugo could have put that better (if indeed that’s what he meant; I’m putting words in his mouth). But it also doesn’t seem to me to be an arbitrary interpretation, given lots of other postiive, feminist-minded stuff that Hugo told Pete.

  85. Fed up
    Fed up June 13, 2006 at 5:56 pm |

    God, Lauren… PLEASE, come back.

    Without you Feministe has become a freaking nest of rigid, angry assholes using \”feminism\” to work out their personal rage and inability to see texture and nuance. Just judgment. All around, all the time. Moralistic, black-and-white judgment. Like the wingnuts, only pretending to be \”open-minded\”.

    Arghh.

    Get yourselves a therapist. A better one that doesn\’t pander to your rigid defenses. And stop speaking for \”feminism\’ in absolutist terms. You\’re voicing your own primitive, unresolved issues, not a sociopolitical stance.

    Boy, do I miss the old Feministe…

  86. d
    d June 13, 2006 at 6:08 pm |

    I do claim that your idea that he’s saying Pete shouldn’t “worry because there was pussy to be had now” is off the mark.

    How do you explain his comments about “One day at a time,” then?
    I’d explain it as “I just told you a bunch of stuff, probably more than you want to hear or can really internalize right now. You’ve just made a flip/dismissive comment to me that is secret code for ‘Oof, I’ve had enough of this conversation right now.’ I’ll make a flip/dismissive/indulgent comment back to you that is secret code for ‘Ok, I understand that this conversation is over for now. I still like you and don’t think you’re a bad person, and I continue to be available for you to talk with as you think about these ideas more.’”

    Overall, I think there’s too much that’s unclear in the whole story to walk away with a clear sense of what exactly was said and what Pete heard. Did Pete hear a bunch of indulgent permissions to keep doing what he’s doing, or did he hear some things he needed to hear set in a non-blaming context? Did that context make it easier for him to hear difficult truths, or did it make it easier for him to dismiss them? It seems like people are drawing pretty different emphases from the same story–whether or not the incremental approach is a desirable one, I think Hugo’s entry was an interesting but flawed illustration of how he employs the incremental approach with his students.

  87. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 13, 2006 at 7:01 pm |

    piny–

    I said:

    It matters some. It’s not the same as if he were a woman who had to deal with this stuff from the get-go and didn’t have a choice but to educate men in the ways that others have pointed out. But that doesn’t mean that his experience counts for nothing,

    .
    …and you responded:

    Hugo’s first comment on this thread:

    I just don’t know that many of my critics spend much time working with large groups of adolescent and college-aged men; until you’ve done so (for a long time), then I don’t know if you have much right to criticize the tactics those of us who work so hard to bring these fellows around choose to use.

    I think Hugo is wrong here, when he says that ‘you’ don’t have much right to criticize his tactics. Of course ‘you’ have a right. That doesn’t mean that his experience of success (to whatever degree) with young men in teaching them feminism isn’t something, or that his experience doesn’t count as support for his position.

  88. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 8:18 pm |

    Overall, I think there’s too much that’s unclear in the whole story to walk away with a clear sense of what exactly was said and what Pete heard. Did Pete hear a bunch of indulgent permissions to keep doing what he’s doing, or did he hear some things he needed to hear set in a non-blaming context? Did that context make it easier for him to hear difficult truths, or did it make it easier for him to dismiss them? It seems like people are drawing pretty different emphases from the same story–whether or not the incremental approach is a desirable one, I think Hugo’s entry was an interesting but flawed illustration of how he employs the incremental approach with his students.

    I think I can live with this too. I feel like my interpretation is skewed by having been not that far from having been that kid — maybe I’m reading more based on my empathy with him than the actual text. You’re right that it’s too unclear to draw a sharp line through “what Hugo did right” and “what Hugo did wrong.”

    – ACS

  89. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 8:20 pm | *

    Is Hugo generalizing to ‘all women’ or even ‘most women’ here? I don’t think so. If you look at the comments on Hugo’s blog on this post, there are at least some women who agree that this is the case. What Hugo is addressing is that Pete’s concerns aren’t coming completely out of left-field, that there are appears at least to be some basis (even if it turns out to be eventually wrong) for Pete’s perceptions. Also, saying that they haven’t disappeared from the ranks of the younger generation isn’t saying that they’re the majority, or generalizing that they are. Pete, of course, thinks that they are, but Hugo points out to him later on that Pete is wrong about what he thinks he sees: what he sees as ‘women wanting bad boys’ is really just women liking confident men:

    Jeff, can you see why that interpretation isn’t any better? What’s happening is that Hugo isn’t sitting Pete down and saying that “women” are not an undifferentiated mass who all want the same thing. Instead, by saying that women don’t really want bad boys, they want confident men, Hugo is reinforcing Pete’s idea that women are an undifferentiated mass who all want the same thing. From Pete’s perspective, it’s like he’s being told that the only reason he was frustrated was that someone had given him the wrong key for the lock of all womankind. Instead of telling him that THERE IS NO KEY, AND THERE IS NO LOCK, Hugo just hands him another key.

    Oh, and Fed Up? The door’s over there, if you’re not satisfied with the quality of the discourse.

  90. Andreas
    Andreas June 13, 2006 at 8:25 pm |

    Pete, when you look across the table do you see a human or a toy? Philosophies aren’t something you put on and take off like an old coat. Pete, most women have a pretty effective bullshit meter and I think you’re setting it off. If you want to get laid you should start of by not being a phoney little wanker.

    This makes Pete leave and never come back. His eyes glaze over and he walks out of your office right then, having not even listened to a word you said after you started swearing at him. Has anything like this ever worked, in all of human history? Have you ever gotten a road-to-Damascus conversion out of just berating someone who doesn’t even share the same foundational assumptions as you?

    Sure, you get a total pass from everyone more radical than you for having driven someone totally out of the fold, whereas, if you’d strayed too close to the “too nice” line, you’d’ve gotten 108 comments worth of criticism and argument over what you’d done.

    – ACS

  91. Pato
    Pato June 13, 2006 at 8:44 pm |

    Well, I’m no fan of Hugo, and I agree that there are many glaring sexist blind spots embedded in his response to Pete (and in every single post he writes.)

    HOWEVER, I don’t agree either with the idea that only the purest confrontational style is the necessary approach to change a sexist ways. Actually, I think the purest/purist confrontational style is the fastest way to failure and lack of communication. A lot of what Hugo does can be considered psychoeducational, since he is imparting education while also needing to use “clinical” skills for engagement, that is, he needs to use skills to engage and retain boys who are not necessarily open to a new perspective, and then challenge them in such a way that they will respond and engage in their own process of reconsidering their belief system.

    To engage somebody you have to meet them where they’re at, so they can trust you, lower their guard, and then truly engage in an exchange of information/opinions/whatever. Shooting someone down for their beliefs only works on blogs… oh, wait… it doesn’t work in blogs either ;P

  92. Magis
    Magis June 13, 2006 at 9:05 pm |

    Andreas:

    This makes Pete leave and never come back. His eyes glaze over and he walks out of your office right then, having not even listened to a word you said after you started swearing at him.

    Or…
    He gets a sorely needed dose of reality. Looking back, some of the most important moments of life my life were getting called out when I deserved it. That namby-pambly bullshit did him no good at all. Don’t believe it? Read Pete’s own words.

    Plus…
    You’re way too literal.

  93. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2006 at 9:06 pm | *

    Pato, how is reminding the kid that women are individuals, there is no one-size-fits-all way to “have success” (however defined) with women, that he’s misinformed about the “nice guy” thing, etc., “confrontation” or “shooting someone down for his beliefs”?

    Setting the kid straight does not have to involve confrontation or crushing the kid’s ego. So many people are acting as if the only alternative to walking on eggshells is taking a sledgehammer to his fragile sense of self-worth. It’s not, and nobody’s saying it has to be that way.

    All anyone’s saying is that Hugo’s doing the kid no favors by reinforcing his misconceptions.

  94. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz June 13, 2006 at 9:42 pm |

    All anyone’s saying is that Hugo’s doing the kid no favors by reinforcing his misconceptions.

    If only this were true. Honestly, it seems like this thread has turned into a referendum on Hugo as a person and everyone’s extrapolating from a story that’s not articulately laid out to begin with.

    Hugo once remarked that if it were 1859, he’d be trying to make everyone all get along rather than side with the North in the Civil War, which to me illuminates everything about his personality I ever needed to know: he’s far more worried about people’s feelings than being right. When he doesn’t have something personally at stake (like women and people of color do), he’d rather make nice than be principled. He can afford to do that. And damn right, it’s a huge failing, but I’m really disconcerted by how much this thread is an attack on him more personally.

  95. Catty
    Catty June 13, 2006 at 11:36 pm |

    I don’t always agree with Hugo- in fact, I think we have a pretty wide gap on a lot of things. One thing I do respect is his sincerity and his commitment to feminism.

    I think these types of discourse within the feminist community is incredibly important, because it keeps everyone on their toes and keeps our minds sharp. Being complacent, lazy and comfortable are fndamentally the death of an activist.

    I agree that sometimes you have to use the “incremental” step, kid gloves or just flat-out kick them in the head. In my experience, I do not handle getting yelled at very well or being attacked- but people that did take the time to talk to me and get to know mw did in fact make a difference in changing my mind. I used to be a death penalty supporter, I no longer am- and it was a long journey that was a result of long discussions with a very kind, patient and intelligent woman. If anyone knows Hugo- he comes across as a very soft person- and we should always be true to ourselves. I don’t think hostile confontation is his style- and such, he’s gonna lose ppl that need their head kicked in, but he’s going to be good for people that need a softer touch. We’re all individuals, and each of us respond to different tactics in different ways.

    I suppose I am also quite sensitive to the words “apologist,” (from McBoing- not a criticism of the post per se, just a comment regarding the word choice) as it’s a term often bandied about in every activist community, and I think it’s very counterproductive. I don’t think anyone in any position is beyond criticism, but I don’t think name-calling within the community is questionable.

    I suppose the issue I fel here isn’t the criticism on Hugo’s posts. The issue I have is with the seeminly personal tone that I’m seeing. I gotta agree with evil_fizz here. So no, he (nor any of us) are above criticism, but at the same time, we have to make sure our criticisms don’t turn into unneccessary personal attacks.

  96. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 14, 2006 at 12:23 am |

    he’s gonna lose ppl that need their head kicked in, but he’s going to be good for people that need a softer touch.

    But the problem wasn’t the soft style. It was the content. It was what he said – or rather, didn’t say – not how he said it. There are plenty of gentle ways to say, “no, it’s not ok to not care about other people’s rights because there’s nothing in it for you. You can’t opt out of ethics just because you’re in college.” Telling the truth isn’t kicking someone’s head in, and it’s nowhere near as hostile a sentiment as the things Hugo reported “Pete” as saying about women.

    A soft style, a gentle touch, is fine. Softened content is not. That’s a crucial difference.

  97. Terel
    Terel June 14, 2006 at 12:41 am |

    [Hugo]’s far more worried about people’s feelings than being right.

    DAMN, people. Evil_fizz is right. I know the guy, and after reading all these personal attacks on him and what he does for (yes, for, however indirectly or not) our society by trying to shape young minds is so unfounded I had to post.

    Hugo and my HUSBAND have taught me more about feminism than my own raging feminist baby-boomer mother… she clobbered me over the head with feminism when I was a little girl, and for a long while I blindly fought against everything patriarchial in society. When I met my husband I would rage on and on to him about the disparity between the sexes, and when he would not fully agree I would be disgusted with him.

    It took me years to learn that raging against him because he’s a man wasn’t going to further feminism, and now I can champion the cause in many positive ways instead. Hugo teaches and instructs in the same way — without judgements, name calling, and personal critiques. He knows everyone has their own opinions and experience, and unlike so many ofus he doesn’t look down on anyone for sharing theirs.

  98. Chris Clarke
    Chris Clarke June 14, 2006 at 2:13 am |

    Without you Feministe has become a freaking nest of rigid, angry assholes using \”feminism\” to work out their personal rage and inability to see texture and nuance. Just judgment. All around, all the time. Moralistic, black-and-white judgment. Like the wingnuts, only pretending to be \”open-minded\”.

    Robert! It’s good to see you.
    Except for that “good” part.

  99. Catty
    Catty June 14, 2006 at 3:22 am |

    “A soft style, a gentle touch, is fine. Softened content is not. That’s a crucial difference.”

    I agree with you. On the other hand, softened touch to one is softened content to another.

    Totally different issue, but as a minority, i’ve had to be very careful when explaining race issues, and there are many times where I’ll have to hand hold and start off with what many ppl would consider a softened content, depending on the person- because you want to continue the subject, not turn them off immediately, and you hope for progress over time. I rarely start off with “you racist bitch/bastard!” I met a incredibly feminist woman that was also incredibly racist- and it took YEARS for her to realize that she had some serious racist streaks in her. It took a lot of people (gently) calling her out on her issue, because she just did not respond to harsh words well (being a former abused child, this woman was very sensitive to criticism). Many ppl thought she was wasted effort and thought she needed a kick in the head- but I’m just glad that she came around in the end.

    I’ve been called apologist for not always kicking people in the head. I try to gage my responde to the person, but in the real world, my aim is the end result. In an ideal world, we’d all like to be able to show people a logical argument and have them accept it- but unfortunately, that is not the case. The blog being less personal, I take the kick-head route more often- not because of the protection of anonymity, but because I am not speaking to just that person I’m responding to- i’m also speaking to people reading the comments.

    working with kids and adolescents, I’ve also had to take the incremental step with some kids, and sometimes, that requires me to bite my tongue and slowly introduce concepts like racism and feminism in small steps, gaging what they can digest and not offering more than they can chew. some kids you can lay out the whole banquet and they gobble it up- some kids need to be fed in bits and pieces.

    So, in the end, again, do I agree with Hugo’s blog? Not exactly. Does his comment merit criticism? I think so. I can live with that. He represent a facet of feminism that I don’t connect with- the religious part- as I am an atheist. As a result, I don’t agree with him, but at the same time, I do, so far, feel his commitment, and I do think it’s important for religious feminists to reach out to others that are religious. I can accept diversity in feminism- it’s healthy. Does that mean one faction is above criticism? no. What I do think is that his post is reflective of his personality, and that his style of trying to “convert” people is also reflective of his personality.

  100. R. Mildred
    R. Mildred June 14, 2006 at 5:23 am |

    I’ve also had to take the incremental step with some kids, and sometimes, that requires me to bite my tongue and slowly introduce concepts like racism and feminism in small steps, gaging what they can digest and not offering more than they can chew. some kids you can lay out the whole banquet and they gobble it up- some kids need to be fed in bits and pieces.

    Kids != Pete, we’re talking about a college going adult, who should be treated as such, patronizing men like that is a patriarchal thing and is certainly not something feminists should routinely engage in.

  101. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 14, 2006 at 10:03 am |

    piny–

    So we both agree on a point that isn’t germane to what we were discussing, is what you’re saying?

    That’s not what I’m trying to say. Part of my point is that Hugo’s experience in teaching young men feminism–while it certainly doesn’t keep him above all criticism–is important to his defending himself agains claims that he went too easy on Pete.

    I may have misconstrued your points, in part because I took at face value something zuzu said regarding your points:

    Piny criticized the stance you [Hugo] took that because you do women’s studies FOR A LIVING, that gave you some kind of extra moral authority or something to speak on these issues.

    I was trying to say that while Hugo doesn’t have some special ‘moral’ authority (especially some authority that innures him from any criticism, the way he might be seen to imply), the fact that he works with young men combined with the fact that he claims his methods work better than smacking Pete down a bit more, give credit to his claims. Him pointing out that he works with young men is germane to the discussion, because it backs up his claim (to whatever degree that his experience counts for something) that he did the right thing.

    When you say:

    Unlike you, I got to experience misogyny and misogynist entitlement firsthand. (And unlike you, I don’t seem to have some problems seeing entitlement where it occurs.)

    I think you’re trying to say that Hugo’s experience as a pro-feminist teacher of young men counts for nothing, that his noting that he does this work is irrelevant. I think it’s somewhat relevant (again, even if it doesn’t make him above all criticism, which of course it doesn’t) because he’s trying to support his view that not taking Pete more to task is the way to help him be a better feminist.

  102. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 14, 2006 at 10:16 am |

    zuzu–

    Jeff, can you see why that interpretation isn’t any better? What’s happening is that Hugo isn’t sitting Pete down and saying that “women” are not an undifferentiated mass who all want the same thing. Instead, by saying that women don’t really want bad boys, they want confident men, Hugo is reinforcing Pete’s idea that women are an undifferentiated mass who all want the same thing. From Pete’s perspective, it’s like he’s being told that the only reason he was frustrated was that someone had given him the wrong key for the lock of all womankind. Instead of telling him that THERE IS NO KEY, AND THERE IS NO LOCK, Hugo just hands him another key.–zuzu

    I get what you’re saying, and I didn’t get this before, so thanks for explaining it to me. I think that Hugo could have gone on further in various ways, including pointing out to Pete that not all women ‘want’ anything in particular. On the other hand, I do see a difference between ‘all women want assholes’ and ‘all women want confident people to date’. I get that both statements overgeneralize, but I think that the first both overgeneralizes andis just flat out wrong. I think the second one overgeneralizes, but is right about more–and I think that makes a difference.

    I want to emphasize that I do appreciate you explaining this again to me; your point is a good one–part of sexism is seeing women (or men, for that matter) as an undifferentiated mass. Still, I think Hugo’s not telling Pete explicitly that not all women want the same things isn’t the same as telling him “not to worry because there was pussy to be had now,” as you said before.. Especially in the larger context of the conversation he had with Pete, wherein he did tell him things like “An aspiring pro-feminist man still gets to express his desires and his wants; he doesn’t get to keep a sense of entitlement that tells him that women exist only to meet those desires and wants.”

  103. Catty
    Catty June 14, 2006 at 12:24 pm |

    “Kids != Pete, we’re talking about a college going adult, who should be treated as such, patronizing men like that is a patriarchal thing and is certainly not something feminists should routinely engage in.”

    Well, when I was a college going adult, I was still very much a kid in many ways… I also talk to college kids and I realize how inexperienced many are- for a lot of them, this is the first time they’ve been away from the parents, and unfortunately, the first time to think for themselves. People- doesn’t matter- adults, kids, tenn-agers, can only digest so much information. To be an effectiv communicator, you adjust based on the individual no matter what their age. Unfortunately, in my experience, age has not been a determinant in how much people can digest and understand in one fell swoop- in fact, I’ve have very young children understand ideas quicker than adults who’s been ingrained by society for twenty odd years.

    “He did argue, in as many words, that we didn’t have the right to criticize him because we don’t do what he does for a living.”

    I see what you’re saying there. I don’t think Hugo was trying to say that he was above criticism. I’m going to impose my thoughts here for a second- as an educator, if Pete was one of his students or a student at his campus, you cannot be rude or harsh to them. Calling a student sexist or racist can get you in seriously hot water unless they’ve done it in a grossly overt way with many witnesses. You do often have to handle students with a certain sensibility that you don’t with other people, not because students are dumb- but because of your position and your professional reputation and career is on the line. So, I’m looking at it from an angle of having been in the position as an educator, and having to be more delicate. So, I’m thinking what he meant was more along the lines of- “understand that as a professor, when I speak to a student on my campus, I have to be more careful with my words.” did his tactic come out as being patronizing? I can definitely see how people see it to be so.

    Basically, I feel the argument is in the possible implications of what hugo said, regardless of his intentions (certain things can be taken the wrong way- and if it can, your intentions may count for something but not much). I think it’s fair to criticize his tactics and what he said- as a pro-feminist male blogger, he’s going to get (and he should) criticisms from all sides. hopefully, that will make us all a stronger community by learning from our mistakes. I know for one that posts like this remind m e to be very careful with my words- because implications of what you said is as imporant as your intentions.

  104. Morder
    Morder June 14, 2006 at 2:54 pm |

    Thats right Piny… Keep jumping on Hugo’s ass… Soon he’ll realise what a bunch of sexist, bigotted, cunts you feminists are and turn away from you completely.

    You go grrl!

  105. junk science
    junk science June 14, 2006 at 3:39 pm |

    Wow, Morder. You sound pretty hot. And so brave, too.

  106. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere June 14, 2006 at 3:47 pm |

    piny–

    No. I’m saying that it does not give him authority to speak over women who use their lived experience as basis for criticism of his methods and his ideas. It’s worth more than nothing (I’d accept Hugo’s word over, say, Dr. Phil’s); it’s not worth more than their credentials, as it were. He did argue, in as many words, that we didn’t have the right to criticize him because we don’t do what he does for a living.–piny

    I see better what you’re saying now, piny. Thanks for your persistence. I think that there are two ideas going on here that I was conflating, for whatever reason:
    1. The idea that Hugo is above reproach from others (including women who experience ‘teaching’ men feminism every day) because he has worked teaching men feminism for a while now.
    2. The idea that Hugo’s experience teaching men feminism counts as some support for his position that incremental steps are a better way to teach men feminism than more direct methods.

    I would now say with some confidence that you and I would both agree that #1 is bs. With less confidence, I would say that you and I both agree with #2, but that you would add: And Hugo’s wrong, despite his experience.

    How might Hugo show support for his position that incremental methods are better than head-bashing-ish methods, other than offering up his experience (I’m talking more #2 than #1 here)? Some people of all genders seems to think that the incremental/bashing thing is up for grabs, if the comments on various blogs discussing this seem to be any indication. If Hugo had said something along the lines of “Well, in my experience this works better, but I’m open to the idea that it’s not,” (and meant it), where coudl the discussion go from there? Can Hugo make such a claim given he has never been a woman, and have it mean something (and somthing more than ‘he’s better than Dr. Phil’)?

    To put it another way, when you say:

    [Hugo's experience is] not worth more than their credentials, as it were…

    do you mean to say that any man’s experience, no matter how in-depth, never counts as much as any woman’s experience, as far as teaching young men feminism goes? In that case, Ann Coulter is more of an authority on teaching young men feminism than Hugo, just by virtue of having lived the life of a woman in our society. I don’t mean to put worlds in your mouth–I’m honestly asking if this is what you mean. (And here I recognize that we have left the land of what Hugo said–he said something very strong that we both disagree with regarding who has a right to object to his position.)

  107. Pato
    Pato June 14, 2006 at 4:40 pm |

    I’m a little disconcerted by the level of discourse on this topic. Basically, Hugo has been turned into an all-bad figure without redemption. I see a lot of attacks and very little attempt at figuring out what his thinking and circumstances may be, which factors influence his choice of action. Of course, I don’t mean to imply he is “untouchable” and shouldn’t be called on certain things. But by the same token, I don’t see how this rabid judgment deluge is justified. I see very little empathy and humility at play while demanding empathy and humility from him.

    I think the fact that he just lost his beloved pet and his father is dying probably are making him quite vulnerable right now. I can only imagine how much more hurtful this kind of thread is for him right now. IMHO, unnecessarily so.

  108. Hugo
    Hugo June 14, 2006 at 5:31 pm |

    Pato, thank you — but please know that I’ve learned from reading zuzu, piny, and sophonisba (and others) that they aren’t actively hostile towards me as a person – just “calling me” on my own beliefs and practices regarding feminism. I do expect sincere sympathy on my pain, but that doesn’t have to entail an intellectual ceasefire.

    I have kept up intermittently with this thread and will respond tomorrow.

  109. Orion
    Orion June 14, 2006 at 10:39 pm |

    It seems to me that people are reading Pete’s character very differently form the way I perceive it.

    Let’s start with the assumption that nobody can simply switch between seeing women as people and seeing them as objects on a whim. therefor,e iether Pete does or he doesn’t see women as people.

    If he doesn’t, there’s not much Hugo can do. well, maybe there is, but i don’t know what: i tend to assume that people are acting in good faith.

    Let’s assumed that Pete does, in fact, see women as equals. the question, then, is what he should do about it.

    Inf act, i think that form Pete’s point of view, it’s largely about labels. he thinks of feminism as a tribe and an identity label, rather than a belief, and is worried, essentially, that he will be kicked out of the tribe– that he can’t call himself a feminist if he isn’t meek.

    put it another way: he’s worried that the feminist label will keep him form getting laid; he’s thinking of ditching the label, not exploiting women ruthlessly.

    I don’t even think that’s within his abilities. he’s NOT a “player.” Hugo pointed out that many women are attracted to confidence, because THAT’S WHAT PETE DIDN’T HAVE.

    in other words, Pete is a submissive, feminist “nice guy” and it isn’t getting him laid. being lacking in self-confidence and self-respect, he wants a scapegoat. he wants to blame feminism for his failure to get laid. It’s not like he’s about to run off to commit date-rape; that’s not in his character– far from it. he’s not a dominator looking for justification to continue dominating: he’s a guy paralyzed by his FEAR of domination.

    Hugo quite rightly pointed out that feminism doens’t mean a lack fo confidence, and doesn’t prevent getting laid, and that Pete needed to work on himself, not his philosophy. I’m not altogether happy about his story about Jackie, which softened the impact of his main message.

    but, on the whole, i think he had the right instincts.

  110. Catty
    Catty June 15, 2006 at 12:33 am |

    Piny,

    Fair enough.

    Hugo says:
    “I just don’t know that many of my critics spend much time working with large groups of adolescent and college-aged men; until you’ve done so (for a long time), then I don’t know if you have much right to criticize the tactics those of us who work so hard to bring these fellows around choose to use.”

    ^^ Didn’t come across as “you don’t have the right to criticize me” -to me. He’s saying “tactic”- one that it incremental, in this case. Personally, I think head-bashing and incremental tactics have their place depending on the situation. So, that was my take on the situation.

    I read Pandagon, Feministe, Hugo and other feminist blogs- and I personally enjoy them all. I’m a secular feminist- my general beliefs are probably much more closer to Pandagon or this site than Hugo. I see Hugo in one corner and other feminists in different places along the line. Again, I don’t think any feminist is above criticism, but I suppose I’m sensitive to what I consider infighting.

  111. zwrk
    zwrk June 15, 2006 at 5:30 am |

    The right kind of infighting can be a good thing. There’s a difference between “Hugo’s a horrible person who needs to DIE DIE DIE” and “Hugo said some pretty messed-up things just now, and here’s why it’s messed up, and while we’re at it, what does that signify about how he thinks?” If anything, it’s better to jump on an ally’s mistakes, because they’re more likely to listen than an enemy would. Especially one like Hugo, who’s generally willing to think about things.

    Catty and evil-fizz talked about personal attacks, but the only personal comment I saw was evil-fizz (!) and piny’s bit about “ethical martyrdom”, and frankly there’s a point there – and even then, that’s not so much an attack as it is an observation on one of Hugo’s relevant personality traits. Everything else has been attacking Hugo’s statements. Okay, more like pummelling, suplexing and firing squad-ing his statements, but it’s still about attacking the man’s arguments, methods and preconceptions.

  112. Catty
    Catty June 15, 2006 at 1:49 pm |

    “Catty and evil-fizz talked about personal attacks”

    Mine was more along the lines of the word “apologist tool”… which was a word selection issue, as I can understand where the originating article by piny and mcboing is coming from, and I can see their points.

    zwrk, i’ve said repeatedly that I think discussion is positive. I don’t see the problem with that. No, I don’t believe anyone is above criticism as a feminist.

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