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  1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Should misogynists be allowed to participate in discussions on women's rights?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by jazzabel, Oct 7, 2014.

    Many online discussions on women's rights are frequented by men who deny those very issues. Their opinions are varied but all centre around fundamental denial that women are discriminated at all, or perhaps belief that women are rightly discriminated.

    In order to discuss any issue comprehensively, we need to first accept that the issue exists. A debate on woman's rights is bound to go in circles and never move beyond the first step, if it is expected that the discussion will stall and go back to the basics every time a person with misogynist views on the topic joins in.

    Is this stalling one of the reasons why women are struggling to enforce equal rights on a practical level almost hundred years since those rights were won? Is this reason enough to institute some kind of rule of debating, where a person must acknowledge the issue exists in order to be taken seriously in a discussion on women's issues?

    Or do you believe every misogynist should be given opportunity of individual counselling on women's rights, every time they deny the issues are real? How many men with misogynist opinions have, in your experience, ever fundamentally changed their attitudes to women's rights?

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  2. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some discussions, sure - mostly the entry-level stuff: 'people need to realise that this is a problem'. If you're trying to convince people that women - or any other group - are discriminated against, you'll never do that without involving the people you're trying to convince.

    If the point of the discussion is more 'here is a problem, what do we do about it', I don't see what they have to add, so there's no reason for them to be involved.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks @NigeTheHat that's a good point. :)
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you seen http://thewomansplainer.com/ ?

    Meant to be humorous, obviously, but also to make a point. The 'entry-level' stuff is great if the feminists have volunteered to run a feminism 101 program, but it is WEARING to run over the same ideas again and again, and to hear and respond to the same lame responses. If someone has the patience for this, great, but I think it's easy to understand how they might not.

    And, really, the basic points are pretty easy to find online. Why does the learner need to be held by the hand and guided to information readily available?

    Maybe THIS is where the men can make their much-sought-after-and-cruelly-denied contribution to feminism! Biff doesn't understand something totally basic? Great, let's introduce him to Bob. When Bob says Biff has gotten the basic idea, Biff can enter the larger discussion.

    But, really, there's a significant difference between someone who's open-minded but ignorant and someone who's either a hateful misogynist or so caught up in his own ego that he won't hear any ideas that contradict his own. For the later two types? I'd feel fine about excluding them, just like I'd feel fine about excluding someone who insisted on using racial slurs and stereotypes from a discussion of racial equality. I think the challenge comes from being sure which category the person really falls into, as some ignorance can really look like hate, and some hate may disguise itself as mere ignorance.
     
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  5. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say two things.

    In addressing issues and debate in general, we ought never lose sight of the opposition or any other positions. I think racism is still a big deal; but, this doesn't mean that a racist's racist perspectives should be inherently disregarded. They likely ought be, but I think it is good to be aware of them. On this, however, I must stress that I don't agree with "everyone has an opinion;" or at least, I don't agree with what is a consequence that occurs due to it. I think everyone should be allowed to speak, but when speaking, I think one ought acknowledge the responsibility of speaking, and if one decides to speak, one should not be caught up in the preconceived and dogmatic. Problem is, most people do just this.

    So, plainly, my second thought: While we shouldn't lose sight of opposition and understand it and those who stand for it, this does not mean that opposition should be automatically regarded as anything but a position. If people are saying dumb shit, and they are unwilling to be persuaded, then they will have to be disregarded, at a point, if anything is to be accomplished. The problem with what I just said is that it is hard to discern what, in fact, is "dumb shit." Surely, there are the obvious: women belong in the kitchen; a black is incapable of enlightenment; or, a man's a pussy if he cries. The harder areas of judgment begin with a standpoint such as, "On average, a man should be hired over a woman to move warehouse goods." This isn't a great example, but hopefully it relatively communicates what I'm trying to say.

    Point is, in disregarding another's stance because of the nature of their stance, we run the risk of meriting disregard too much. Obviously, it is simple case-by-case and moderation, but often, when anything is done purely on such a criterion, a dogma may develop. However, we should favor those who are open-minded, as they will likely be the most fluid.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @BayView : Hahaha, 'womansplainer' is cool :D I agree with you entirely, I would be uncomfortable with excluding anyone initially, because I think everyone should be given a chance. But when it becomes apparent they are refusing to accept anything that is in discord with their prejudices, they should be ignored rather than letting them stall discussions without there being an end to it.

    @Swiveltaffy : I think your idea to treat discussions on women's rights in the same way as discussions on racism is really good. People don't normally entertain white supremacists indefinitely, so we shouldn't be expected to either.
     
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  7. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd comment vaguely on the removal of participants in discussion again. The reason that I'm partially biased against the immediate disregard is likely because of my interaction with the modern Atheist movement. You'll hear Harris or the others say, "If these people don't value our truth-seeking systems, then we need to remove them from the discussion." I understand why this is said. Religious people who are against abortion due to the belief of life-at-conception are using a perspective unverifiable by empirical means to make claim about how society ought operate. I understand that we need a standard, and I agree. I understand that we can't work off of potential superstition to run what isn't such, and I agree. Still, this immediate sifting seems dangerous. I'm not saying that it shouldn't happen (I am not speaking more generally), but it should be understood and applied with caution.
     
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  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, they should be included. I believe in looking at all viewpoints in an argument, no matter how silly they are. Hopefully by engaging such people in debate/discussion, they'll change their minds or, at the very least, see the holes in their arguments. If engaging them in discussion doesn't do anything, then maybe it's time to ignore them.
     
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  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Swiveltaffy : So just to help me understand, can you give some examples of how one could go about it? Say a discussion regarding rape culture and its effect on safety of women opens. A misogynist joins and insists on denying the official statistics and facts. At what point do you see yourself ignoring that person rather than engaging with them? I'm not actually entirely comfortable with physical exclusion either. I think a person with prejudice, a racist or a misogynist can provide a wealth of examples of their ailment, and as long as they aren't allowed to monopolise the discussion, perhaps should be allowed in to keep providing those examples?

    @thirdwind : I agree, I think ignoring is really the best way to go, but really ignoring, and making sure the discussion doesn't get stalled every time a misogynist demands attention.
     
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  10. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I will try. I'm (not) good at saying bullshit, vague pseudo-analyses but less good at providing something solid and meaningful.

    I'd start by addressing a problem (at least, as I've often encountered the average human being, even one who isn't espousing hate or blatant ignorance). Let's assume, with your setup, that the misogynist just stepped up to start saying this or that. Let's make a generic comment come from the misogynist:

    "I just don't think a women should be anything but a caretaker."

    Already, we are arriving at a few pot-holes. What will follow are assumptions, but they seem to pan out more oft than not. This person, named Biff, because I really liked @BayView 's choice of name, is likely speaking from a preconceived, culturally structured perspective; further, I would suspicion Biff's ability to logically in/deduce is rather lacking. So, Biff here doesn't have a good base for discussion. I get it, he probably didn't grow up with rationality being strictly instructed or favored, didn't read a lick of Socrates or Plato; he probably grew up in a bubble where a calm Christian gal's the good deal and Obama's just a little too dark to be leading a simple, working class America, where the dream is a nice home, with a two kids -- a rough blonde-boy and a cutesy princess -- and a sweet ass ride. Point is, in my generic painted picture, Biff hasn't exactly been given the right tools to influence a greater society. Point is, a lot of people are like Biff. (I'm not excluding myself). I'm not saying that everyone is Biff, in his sexism and old-grandpa-just-leave-'im-alone racism; but, a lot of people aren't (I can't remember the Greek term, so I'll substitute) purified or grounded to step up.

    This may seem like a lot of wasted words to say, essentially, nothing. You'd be right, but I continue in vanity.

    So, the rest of us (actually, my pronouns change, so I), more slightly arrived than Biff, try as we might to bring him -- and his Biffiness -- to the modern era. We say things: "Yo Biff, I understand that you think that a woman ought be something..." (Holy hell, I just realized that you gave me a direction, rape culture. I apologize for completely not doing that. I'm already pretty thick in this, in my head at least, so I'll continue along my current line. If this doesn't do it for you, then tell me, and I will attempt to address the topic you provided. Let this be a demonstration of my ability to lose sight. I apologize again.) "Biff, we understand that you think that a woman ought be something, a caretaker, what-have-you. But Biff, to suggest that a single person, or group of people, should be a particular thing denies that group part of their identity and ignores the capability of the group to be something else. If you ascribe the group a specific role, you do so in reliance on some notion of duty that isn't encompassing regarding the autonomy of the self. Biff, how would you like it if I told you that you had to be something? I'd assume, especially, if you didn't want to be that thing, would find it burdensome or unfair. Well, Biff, you do this to women when you say what you've just said."

    Biff will be overwhelmed by this, because I'm not a wise-enough human being to regard the effectiveness of rhetoric. He'd probably turn to some base-line, "Well, that' just how it is," or something like this. This is where we realize that Biff wasn't ever brought up to be a thinker. He wasn't given the tool-set, or didn't find it by chance, to elaborate about ideas, the abstract, or the relevantly concrete. This is where we realize that Biff is just an unfortunate sport, and to be fair, it isn't much his fault; he grew up at a point where what he thinks now was just what was accepted, and it grew on him as wet in the summer sun. To really address Biff, unless luck were to demonstrate itself in a surprise turn of events, he would need to be restructured and reeducated, because right now, Biff just ain't there. Maybe, we just don't know, and there is some grand rule or truth that dictates roles; however, in the realm of human subjectivity, people aren't too keen with being prescribed in such a way; and so, Biff just ain't stacked up with his modern and fellow man; he's stuck in a dogma that's going away.

    I don't think there's much help for Biff. Maybe, he might be convinced, but, more likely, he'll just keep it to himself, not all-too sure why's he's wrong, 'cause he never really knew what it meant to be right.

    At this point, this realization of Biff's inability to genuinely participate, I'm sorry to say, but he'd have to be shipped to the way-side. It sucks, and I'd feel bad for Biff, but a society needs the aware and responsible and capable to speak. I'm sure Biff can do lots of things, but he doesn't have an opinion regarding this topic that is meaningful to his fellows. Maybe we should sit and listen to Biff, to hear his whole spectrum of spew, just to make sure that he isn't hiding something that we aren't enlightened of, but it's more likely that Biff is just another not-to0-smart person, never taught how to serve, adequately, the role of an empowered democratic citizen. We do have too many Biff's though, but I'd say education should be adjusted to help the next generation, because it doesn't seem too effective to educate the Biffs. Just gotta let 'em die off.

    ETA: I realize that I didn't quite give a very specific example. I was still relatively vague. Let me know if this didn't cut it.
     
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  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    That was a perfectly fine example @Swiveltaffy thank you! Lots of food for thought. I generally take the same stance to what you described, try to explain and back off and ignore when I see it's a lost cause. But I wonder if there's sufficient difference between your Biff, who is simply regurgitating what he learned at home (that women should be caretakers) and my Buff (Biff's mentor, I can picture them both already :D) who is going much further, to flat out deny rape statistics, slut-shame rape victims and claim that false rape reports are a much bigger problem than the actual crime of rape. I feel that Biff might be lacking education, but I am concerned that Buff willingly condones violence and is lacking in empathy for half the human population.

    Now imagine Buff is a policeman. Or a judge. Or an A&E doctor who is tasked with examining rape victims who present to the hospital. Or a UN representative for a fictitious country of Sparkleland (sparkles are mandatory in my imagination). Heck, imagine Buff is a rapist himself and that's the reason for his views in the first place. This is where I wonder whether 'live and let live' and 'let them die off' is truly the best way to go about it, because misogynists in power can (and often do) cause very serious damage to women's human rights.

    So I'm in two minds about just ignoring vs holding misogynists responsible, and I think there's a degree of malice/lack of empathy that varies among them and can be easily spotted straight away. So I wonder whether turning the tables and focusing on their misogyny is more appropriate than wasting time trying to convince someone who denies rape is a problem, that women's issues are real. Make them an issue if they don't want to be part of the problem perhaps? It's what my gut instinct tells me, when the misogyny goes beyond off-handed remarks and into serious stuff such as rapist apologism.
     
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  12. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I feel Buff is an entirely different creature, as you commented. In fact, Biffs can come about due to Buffs. (This wording is too fantastic. Just imagine a Youtube fitness channel, Buff and Biff.)

    Buff is a harder case, because he has power (and he's, obviously, the apex of the pair and has those pecs and abs). Even if Buff is bastardized, someone is going to listen to him, and he's going to convince someone. This is where I'd say that we need to prime the next generation with solid and foundational education to prevent them being convinced by people like Buff, but this is an idealistic scenario and certainly out of reach for a while. An immediate action could take place, though. We could have the government shut Buff down. But that gets into a whole basket of eggs that just seems too problematic and would probably increase Buff's power.

    I don't know. I guess it's just time and education. It blows that you can't just convince everyone. I don't know. This is the problem with free speech and things such as that. It implies an equivalency, or at least, it's adopted with such; and, this creates people opining in the worst way; and, this creates Buff's who are either too callous to care or out for some selfish agenda. Either way, it isn't creating good outcomes.

    I'd think that we ought be able to hold these people accountable. But how? The fact that anyone even listens to them is astonishing enough. Maybe remove money from speech. Give people a system to interact with that provides sincere information. This seems rather unlikely, though. The latter seems difficult just to conceptualize.

    I'd suppose that making them an issue could work, but such a path seems likely only to convince those already against people like Buff and Biff. I suppose with Black issues, there was simply a lot of genuine protest. For protest to be affective, though, it needs to be grounded and really address. In the moment, solutions outside of wait seem unlikely. I'm an apathetic pessimist, though, so, go figure.

    Also, the people who are most often persuaded by people like Buff are often those like Biff. If we can convince Biff's not to participate, then we could remove Buff's power. This is kinda a ridiculous proposition, though.
     
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  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If only I had the time and talent I'd greatly enjoy making a YouTube channel with cartoons featuring them both :D Sort of like Simon's Cat but more sinister.

    I agree that the solution of how to stop B&B isn't easy. But I always think back to racism issue in America. A war was fought for the rights of much less than 50% of the population, and as much as I despise war I am happy that slavery was abolished. Today, racism persists to a degree but it is really frowned upon, even borderline racism, whilst misogyny is much more widely tolerated, especially the less-than-extreme versions of it. I wonder if this is because racism issue affected men and women both and the gender was removed from the equation. Could that be why enough men felt strongly enough to truly stand up to those who wanted to continue the oppression?

    Or to look at it another way, why wasn't misogyny abolished in the same way as racism? It affects 50% of the population, but unlike racism, it doesn't affect men nearly as much as women. Is that enough to account for lack of definite and unified support of men in resolving this issue? If so, I think that is a significant factor that should be explored.
     
  14. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've outlined a trend, I think.

    We never address the problem as an idea. We address it as an occurrence. We don't look at racism and think "there is something irrational about hating based on these categories, and we should aim to understand the nature of difference." We look at it and think "look at how much black people are suffering, we better stop that."

    Sure, here in the States, we tend to espouse something like the former, but I don't think we really pay attention to what it means. If we genuinely appreciated the idea, and thus, the universality, of anti-prejudice, then we'd do away with all prejudice, not just parts at a time.

    For instance, there was the agender and otherkin (excuse mis-use of terms) thread a little while ago. These classifications of people are met with prejudice, because we haven't addressed what we supposedly espouse. We don't truly appreciate people despite the way they are; we actually decide that this prejudice is bad while other forms of it are okay. I'd suppose that that is why history seems so circular. First, we said blacks should be slaves, and then we said they shouldn't. Then we said that they're still different and need their own institutions, then we said that's wrong. Then we said that they need to be frisked because, well, look at them. This repetitional pattern occurs in women's issues and, really, any new subset of people's issues.

    We need to learn what it is we are saying when we say things. If we say that blacks are equal, then we are commenting on a "common thread of humanity." This means it is universal to all humans.

    Also, the relevance of racism to more people did probably give it more momentum. Plus, the long history (blatantly brutal) of it. People are more tempted to overlook the station of women, because it isn't as prominent in the public.
     
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  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    To borrow the character of Biff for an example: The only person who can really change is him. None of us can change his outlook that women should only be caretakers. Even if we gave him the most passionate speech ever, it won't work unless he himself decides to let it be so. Unless he decides to think outside what he's been taught or led to believe his whole life.

    So should he be allowed to participate in discussion on women's rights? Only if he's willing to hear out the other side and take their words for consideration. Otherwise, if he's just going to waste time going on "women are weak, bur bur bur, women should be like they were in the '50s a-bur bur bur!!" rants, then....no, he shouldn't.

    That said!! If he is willing to hear them out, is willing to consider what they say, then sure, let him join. Any time we can get someone to drop the bigotry is a victory.
     
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  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Distasteful as it is, I'd rather let an idiot betray his assholity than stomp on his First Amendment rights. Of course, a privately owned website can restrict content, but if the site adopts an open posting policy, they should apply it as uniformly as possible.
     
  17. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand rights, but I am not too sure about universality.

    ETA: By 'not too sure," I'm merely trying to stress suspicion for this idea of "rights" and any potential of implementation. I feel "rights" doesn't really address what is suggested it does.
     
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  18. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito : I agree, I don't like restricting anyone's freedom of speech either. I'd rather know what people are thinking, to be honest. I wonder, though, whether engaging with misogynists after they make it abundantly clear they are only interested in denying the issues exist, is worth it.
     
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  19. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Worth it? If that means effective in convincing or causing an outcome that you'd fine preferable, then probably not. However, this is something it expressing opposition to highlight to those outside of the direct interaction (between theoretical you and theoretical misogynist).
     
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  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that it depends on the purpose of the discussion group.

    I've considered the analogy of a discussion group for vegans.

    If the purpose of the group is discussiong nutrition issues, and how to feed non-vegan guests, and other elements of the vegan lifestyle, then there's no need to allow carnivores to post about how God and evolution wants everyone to eat steak.

    If the purpose of the group is promoting the vegan lifestyle, then the same is true, to a somewhat lesser extent. There may be debates about the pros and cons of veganism, in the context of being more persuasive and easing the fears of non-vegans, but the general understanding would be that those who want to "convert" vegans to meat-eating will have to do that somewhere else.

    But if the purpose of the group is a free-for-all discussion of veganism, then the Steak Evangelists probably have a place in that discusson, on the "con" side.

    So I would say that if this were a forum FOR feminists, then misogynistic remarks could quite reasonably be moderated away, or confined to one little free-for-all subforum.

    In places like WritingForums, where the forum's purpose isn't to either support or undermine feminism, it's a difficulty. Racist remarks are pretty much forbidden, if I recall correctly. Homophobic remarks seem to get much more leeway, and I don't like that--I'd like to see them squashed just as flat as the racist remarks. Sexist remarks seem to get even more leeway.

    It's a difficulty.

    I tend to feel that as long as the discussion may be informative for people reading the thread, it's worthwhile. As soon as it gets into a round-and-round where everything's been said, I think that it's fine for the debating misogynist to find that all the feminists have suddenly gone deaf to him.

    I also think that it would be perfectly appropriate to say, to assertions that have been made many times before, "See this link and come back when you've read it." If further posts make it clear they haven't read it, go back to deafness.

    I remember participating in a forum on some controversial subject where, when the deafness point was reached, the regulars would suddenly start posting recipes in response to the person to whom they were declaring to be mute. I found it to be an amusing, and sometimes tasty, way of signalling that point and encouraging a consensus.

    I don't know how the WritingForums moderators would feel about the recipes, though.
     
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  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Replying to myself. I said:

    This may mean that in writing my response to either Biff or Buff, I don't bother to actually couch my response in a way, or using a language, that Biff or Buff is all that likely to understand. Because when I realize that Biff/Buff are not willing or able to hear me, I may decide to write for other readers who may be willing and able. I see this as similar to the way that reviews in the Review Room are not just for the author of the piece posted.
     
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  22. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you successfully talked to yourself online. This is a feat. <insert emoticon> (Wouldn't it be funny if this whole time, I simply thought that that <---(over, over, over, et cetera) was simply the way to insert emoticons?)
     
  23. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Oh...you killed your joke. Never give the plot away man.
     
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  24. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would be tempted to say no, because if a person is a misogynist, then he has an attitude towards women that won't change no matter how much evidence to the contrary you give him. And he has no motive to, because he's not a woman and doesn't have to deal directly with being discriminated against as a woman. He can continue denying seeing any issues and he can deny the problems' existence. I doubt he'd date a woman who didn't agree with him. He'd reinforce his own views.

    That being said, that's just my knee-jerk reaction. I believe everyone has the right to speak their opinion. If neither side acts patronizing or disruptive, then I'm all for a polite debate.
     
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  25. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak : Haha, recipes is a good idea. I'd be tempted to talk about menstruation and pregnancy instead. Don't want to feed the troll. :crazy: :rofl:

    But seriously, I see two issues in misogynists joining discussions on feminism, especially considering how some men make it their business to come into every such discussion they encounter and start antagonising the women, knowing full well we aren't talking about something trivial (so that their flippancy can be justified). They also always seem fully cogniscent of all the objections their views will receive, as well as of all the evidence, which they just keep denying.

    What interests me is what motivates this behaviour? Because, let's be honest, most men don't have to worry about most types of discrimination women face. It doesn't affect them personally. The misogynists already have the satisfaction to have won that debate with feminists - despite all our efforts, it's not enough and men like them can and do successfully maintain the status quo. What a power trip. What more do they need?

    This motivation is what I'm trying to figure out my response to. Because vast majority of misogynists don't enter discussions with feminists in order to 'defend their privileges'. They are coming in to taunt about the fact that women still, contrary to all laws and reason, don't have equal human rights because of men like them. This is the real power trip. This is how even the most insignificant, inadequate, ignorant, inferior man can instantly feel big and strong.

    So for me, the issue is one of energy. I shouldn't be expected to participate in this S&M game every time I want to discuss the burning issue of women's rights, my rights. Are the misogynists simply there to leech our energy away from the task at hand, with their predictable performances that have nothing to contribute than manifestation of force?
    (psychologically speaking)

    ^This. My expectation is that racism, homophobia and misogyny will be treated the same. I can see the discrepancy, but I call it out. I'm not prepared to accept double standards, only because I feel that if we are permissive of it, it just prologs the issue. So there should be no platform for blatant misogyny any more than there is a platform for blatant racism and homophobia.

    @edamame : I agree. The only practical issue is that misogynysts seldom engage in polite or respectful debate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2014
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