If Anyone Needs Me, I'll Be in the Angry Dome

The internet has decided to conspire to make my angry the last few days. I suspect an actual, coordinated conspiracy because everyone is trying to make my angry in roughly the same way.

Quite a bit of background is necessary. So: In the beginning, there was this article by Kate Hymowitz in the Dallas Morning News. She argues that men today remain immature and irresponsible far later into life than they did in previous generations. They marry later, become financially independent later, etc. They also play more video games. The article is interesting for painting a picture of the average young man in the world in 1965 and comparing him to the average young man today. Today's man has fewer commitments, less responsibility, more money, and has the opportunity to enjoy this state of being far longer than the average man forty years ago. Most sensible readers would probably think this is a good thing; men aren't taking on responsibility until they feel they can handle it, and they get more years to enjoy themselves more fully. This thought doesn't even enter into the Hymowitz piece. Men becoming responsible later is aweful. First, it's a harbinger of the doom of civilization; after all, things used to be another way, yet now things are this way! Clearly a sign the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Moving beyond question-begging arguments (Why is it bad that they're less mature? Because they are less mature, and being less mature is bad!), Hymowitz comes to the problem of gender relations. Women (apparently) are just as mature as ever at young ages (an assumption that Hymowitz never confirms). Thus: Women's demand for mature men in their 20s-30s is at 1960s levels, yet the supply of mature men in their 20s-30s is too low! Men need to mature so that women can marry them, thereby achieving the first, last, and only goal of a woman's life.

This, needless to say, is nonsense. It was roundly critiqued in the feminist blogosphere, and rightly so.

A lot of non-feminist gamers were also compelled to critique the article. The trouble is that many of them operated under the mistaken belief that Hymowitz was attacking men from a feminist perspective. You can see some of that in the comments at Kotaku, and in this comment on 1up.com's boards by Catherine G., highlighted in a news article on 1up's front page:

Is it just me, or does all the feminist crap being spouted in both of these feel completely trite? These two are basically sitting here blaming men for the fact that millions of 30-something women are sitting alone, waiting for the fun-having non-committers to call and, eventually, knock them up. Is it just me? Or does that put feminism back a good 40 years or so?

Clearly, it's not just Catherine G.; the article does set the place of women back 40 years. But then, it isn't a feminist article. This is endlessly annoying. It's hard enough to be a feminist without having the opinions of anti-feminists ascribed to you because they happen to involve a critique of some men. So now feminist gamers are fighting back against the anti-feminist backlash caused by the negative reaction to an anti-feminist article. For more of that, see Mighty Ponygirl.

This has all gotten me very upset. But it was cooling down. And then today I went to Pandagon and found this. An attack on the book Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch is a book that uses guilt and shame to try and force the readers (presumably women) to lose weight. Now, ordinarily I wouldn't mind attacking such a book. I have no love for fat-shaming. And the thrust of the Pandagon post is spot-on; this is the kind of thing that exacerbates eating disorders to no positive ends and perpetuates the oppressive beauty culture.

The problem is that Skinny Bitch's schtick is that it commands the reader to adopt a vegan diet and mixes all the moral philosophy surrounding veganism with its fat-shaming. And, rather than taking the opportunity to disentangle the veganism from the fat-shaming, Amanda runs with it and takes the opportunity to get in a few whacks at vegans. There are a variety of clasic anti-vegan tropes on display here, let's see... "Vegans think they're better than you!", "Vegans are just like evangelical Christians!", "Veganism is a cover for eating disorders!", "Veganism is a cult!" and, of course, "I may be a (pesco)(ovo)(lacto)(whatever)vegitarian/flexitarian/whatever, but I'm not like one of them weird vegan extremists!" I can't even bring myself to read the inevitable anti-vegan pile-on that happens in every Pandagon thread that addresses food issues, though someone who has assures me it is, indeed, a mighty pile.

We find the same thing going on in the Pandagon post that's happening in the non-feminist blogosphere. "Look, somebody expressing an idiotic, repugnant idea, who's also a (feminist/vegan)! That means all (feminists/vegans) are morally repugnant!" In the case of the vegan pile-on it happens that the author actually is vegan, which makes it ever so slightly less frustrating. But that's more than overbalanced by the fact that you would think a feminist would freaking know better and would think harder before she decided to attack a whole group on the basis of the opinions of one member of that group. I'm glad to see that the asshole techniques used to attack feminists are now being used (by one person) in support of feminism.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on February 13, 2008 3:55 PM.

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