September 24, 2013

They came for the #mansplainers and I ....

Apologies both to Martin Niemoller, for riffing on his poem to write about something far more banal than Nazism, and also, apologies to those who are unfamiliar with nth-wave feminism, post-postmodernist talk of "privilege," or how both have infected the already problematic world of Gnu Atheism.

That said, here goes.

They came for the mansplainers, and
I egged them on
Because I knew that men in general
Were bad enough, even piggish enough
That every man who defended the gender
Had to be as vile as the worst of them.

They came for the straightsplainers, and
I applauded.
I knew that nobody who tried to claim
That non-gay people didn't have special privilege
Especially when they claimed some straights
Were more insightful than some gays,
Really could understand.
Or empathize.

They came for the cisplainers, and
I nodded my head.
I knew that, despite my gender confusion
My knowledge was certain that they could not sympathize
About my gender confusion
Because that uncertainty trumped all certainty

They came for the agesplainers, and
I totally approved.
I knew that, just like in the 60s,
You should never trust anybody over 30,
And, I knew in my privilege-fighting soul,
That I would never pass 29.

They came for all the other privilegesplainers
As I knew they would, and needed to.
I pointed out each time every offender
Invoked "privilege" as a put-down
To disenfranchise social justice warriors.

Surrounded by the like-minded,
With everyone else 'splained away
The social justice war had been won,
Within our tight hermetic circle.
But I knew my vigilance could never cease;
New forms of privilege would always lurk,
Insidious and invidious
And even the most seemingly pure
Might not be part of the elect.

Basically, what all the neologisms are about is nth-wave feminists and allies who, finding even Gnu Atheism didn't offer enough latitude for them as social justice warriors (another key phrase to them) started the Atheism Plus movement. I have heard the first neologism repeatedly and basically threw up in my mouth when I heard the third one. To round out this post, I invented the others. At least, I think I did; somebody else may be already using them.

Per the "straightsplainers" stanza, the notion of "privilege" stands behind a lot of this. In fact, it's enough behind it that I gave it a separate stanza.

The mansplainers is what started this all. And yes, there are men who oppose any feminism in the name of the men's rights movement. And, there are women who lump any man who opposes any excess of certain types of feminism in with the men's rights movement. They may not be equally bad, but to riff on an old cliche, a lesser wrong doesn't turn a greater wrong into a right.

The straightsplainers I kind of link to the cissplainers. And, in case you don't "get" that word, it's a riff on trans-, as in transgender. Showing how non-pomo, let alone non-post-pomo, I am, I had never before heard of the word "cisgender." Some people would probably say that's my "privilege" speaking.

I feel kind of sorry for myself that I waded my toes even this far into the quagmire to learn this much.

I feel more sorry yet for the non-leaders of this movement, being led on leaders who have a back-of-hand-to-forehead martyr complex. Indeed, like Jehovah's Witnesses in the door-to-door meatspace world, I suspect many of the leaders of this movement take delight in having cyberdoors slammed in their faces.

And, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about all of these.

Mansplainers? While men do commit the great majority of sexual and physical assaults, they don't commit all of them. Indeed, a new blogger at the Gnu Atheist ground zero, Ally Fogg, has recently taken on this issue. (I had noticed this myself, before someone on Facebook posted it, and I continue to wonder how long he'll stay there, and how comfortable he'll be there. While the word "mansplaining" wasn't used by commenters there, several commenters did "diminish" what he was saying, one or two in particular. And, that said, I hope he stays and sticks.)

Even to question exact percentages can be called mansplaining. And, that says nothing about gay or lesbian sexual or physical assaults, which add a further twist. And, even if one rejects the outlandish statements of Pop Ev Psych, one can still have the mansplainer epithet hurled at them if one claims that there are genetic differences between the sexes.

Cisplainers I first heard mentioned not by an Atheism Pluser, but by someone who apparently had the word hurled at him, even though he is gay, himself, and "out." Apparently, he still has too much "privilege" to understand the problems of people struggling with sexual identity.

On both this, and straightsplaining, I would probably get such terms hurled at myself if I asked if sexual orientation status isn't to some degree psychologically determined or chosen, rather than being totally genetic (or genetic plus womb-epigenetic).

I believe that gay or lesbian identity, or shades of bisexual identity are, and I'm fine with that. I've said that before in the context of gay marriage. If your type of sexual relationship is to some degree one of gay or lesbian choice, that's fine, too.

I think sexual identity, in the case of would-be transgender people, is even more psychological, rather than just genetic, or genetic plus womb-epigenetic, than, is sexual orientation identity. And, she-males of certain types of pornography aside, in this case, I don't think the psychological side of the coin is always "healthy." Part of that may be due to even less social understanding than for people coming out as gay or lesbian. Part of it may be psychological effects of some of those womb issues. However, people who feel themselves to be clearly male or female, whether gay/lesbian or straight, may vary widely in male to female hormonal ratios, no less than "trans-struggling" people. They may also have hidden partial sexual organs of the "opposite" sex, for all I know. Or maybe, per the issue of chimerism, about which I blogged earlier this week, maybe the twin they absorbed was of the opposite sex and, for whatever reasons, this affects different people in different ways, and in different strengths of effect.

Part of the reason I talk about this is that at least some "trans-struggling" people will change their sexual orientation identity after changing their sex. In other words, if a person were a woman interested in men before, they become a man interested in women. So, maybe some people are confusing sexual identity and sexual orientation identity. For some people, maybe this is even a psychological abnormality similar to people who, often for sexual fetish reasons, want to have a limb amputated.

And, I'm sure that some people would consider the last two paragraphs massive cisplaning.

The agesplaining? Maybe the cutoff age isn't 30, like it was back in the '60s, but the Atheism Plus movement clearly and deliberately trends young.

The "privilegesplainers" is a word that probably even they haven't used yet, but surely will, soon enough.

Finally, as I noted under the "mansplaining" section, allegations that people are engaging in some sort of 'splaining can be made without using the actual word.

It's a mindset. And, one that I've done more than enough plumbing of, for my own taste, for right now. Part of this was written with a snarky tongue in cheek, but part of it is written in seriousness about the total post-postmodernist ideas of "privilege" that lay behind such language.


I had meant to do a stanza about "monosplaining." However, because the great majority of poly-sexual relationships are polygynous marriages, I wasn't sure that would fit the theme, because that might seem patriarchial. And, no, I'm not joking about having the idea, nor about part of why I didn't do it.

There's yet more I could delve into, and may, tangentially, like the whole issue of absolutism.

Or just the issue of "privilege," which I shall now do.

This issue is in a class by itself. My impression is that getting into a discussion of this issue with an Atheist Pluser leads immediately to Kafkaland — once you start trying to have a rational discussion of the issue, noting that it may exist, but not in the quasi-absolutist way that Plusers claim, well, then, you're automatically claiming privilege right there.

I'm lead to this point by a blog post I wrote earlier this summer about issues at the Center for Inquiry, which Stephanie Zvan brought up during a vitriolic exchange on a Facebook thread. For now, in part because the person took it down, although without giving me a chance to spell out my side of the "history" between her and I, I'm not naming his name, though I may well do that at any time, because the whole issue sticks in my craw a bit, and because, though D.F. isn't a full-blown Gnu himself, let alone a Pluser, he is a bit of a Gnu fellow traveler, and I'm still trying to figure out how much. (The post was set to "public," therefore I'm not breaking any Facebook privacy.)

Anyway, I cited favorably, as you can see, part of CFI head Ron Lindsay's comment about the Plusers, and the nth-wave feminists driving it. I also talked a bit about "privilege."

But, see, you just can't do that with these folks. You can only discuss such issues on their terms. And, I think D.F. leans halfway that way. Which is why I'm passive-aggressively mentioning his initials right now.

But, here's the biggie, from one of Zvan's blog posts:
Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed "pisses them off", no matter how much they'll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man's behavior by having sex with him.  
Oy, how much of this is not true.

What started all of this was a heated discussion we had over the Swedish government re-opening the rape claims case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. I said that, as the Swedish government had participated in multiple CIA renditions, it had "good" political reason to re-open the case, no matter how weak it was legally.

Second, "schooled"? Greg Laden couldn't school a first-grader in a Montessori classroom.

Third, the "controlling the man's behavior"? If you're so thin-skinned absolutist that you and Laden can't take a joke about henpecked husbands (and yes, I knew when I first wrote it that you weren't married) with me adding the extra twist of calling him "wife" instead of "husband," after the type of vitriol I know you pass out at many people besides me, take a look in the mirror and stop hyperventilating.

Fourth, this is what got Zvan's goat:
Anyway, this (as in "privilege" claims) is all about "posturing." Or, for the men involved, "dick swinging." Chris (Mooney), you can put those in your next book on motivated reasoning. 
And, I have just the title for you: 
"Mansplaining, the CFI, and How I Learned to Love the Watson."
Thank me very much.

Anyway, this is part of what D.F. took overliteralistically when cutting off his Facebook thread, then messaging me making further allegations, and not wanting to listen to my side of events. I finally told him to stop, which he did. Because if he hadn't, I would have not only unfriended him, I would have blocked him. I was that angry at the time. And, D.F., if you figure out  this is you, or if I reveal your name, now you know.

It seems clear half of the Gnu Atheist block bot, which I've blogged about here, is focused on people who publicly question Plusers' absolutist take on certain issues.  There's, as usual, no nuance. There's no attempt to separate people who legitimately question Plusers from over-the-top men's rights activists.

But, that's not all. Per my link to the Assange issues above, I think not just socially, but legally, some of these Plusers do not believe that in America, people are innocent until proven guilty.

I'm at the point where I think modern "movement" atheism is as much a train wreck as the modern Democratic Party, as I continue to identify as a Green.


Asher said...

I think this post makes you a logosplainer.

Gadfly said...

Or a slogansplainer?

Asher said...

Actually, since you're criticizing slogans that would make your targets slogansplainers, right?

Mebbe slogansplatter? One who makes slogan go splat?