Friday, March 1, 2013

"She" Defines "He": Gender Shaming Language: Part 1

Description:"Pussy, bitch, fag, etc. are all used on a regular basis by men towards other men to insult and discredit them because after all, what is more insulting than downgrading a man to a woman, from masculine to feminine?"

So says blogger Charles Clymer in a recent post entitled, "Why Are We Ashamed Of Our Women Heroes?"

Now, putting the title's syntactical error aside, in my experience those words from the above quote have been used as often by women in addressing men. Especially after those women receive a "No.".

Upon receiving a reply of "No. I don't want to go home with you." more than one woman has replied to me with a "Are you gay?" either verbatim or implicitly. It seemed to be beyond them that it was possible that they were not necessarily attractive to everyone --- or that a man might actually not be interested even if a woman deigned to, in their minds, lower themselves to giving him what he wants. 

In a little more benign a confrontation, I remember using the word "grotte" in describing some gym mats, and receiving a chorus of high-pitched "Aren't you supposed to be a guy?" whines. Among the high pitches was a lone alto voice, a husky butch of a woman, apparently unaware of the irony of the moment.

Cuz, like 4srs, how dare you be so dainty as to dislike dust-covered mats that you have to roll around on.

In a similar fashion comes the shaming language of "Man up." --- sometimes paired with the passive aggression of borderline physical violence guised as a playful punch. This can occur when a woman feels like a man is not fulfilling what she thinks is his social obligation to her, or in successfully emulating the traits and characteristics that she and her sisters deem to constitute acceptable "masculinity". These exhortations are all based on the notion that "she" gets to define what it means to be a "he".

Of course men will say this too, but they say it because they have bought into the "she" defines "he" premise, and their own identity is predicated on maintaining that, lest they have to face their fear of defining themselves independently of how well they can qualify themselves to a woman/women.

This is primarily why men have shaming language for other men, whether that is of the "man-up" or "you swing like a girl" variety; a man who steps out of what women have defined to be masculine, becomes a threat to the identities of the other men who have embraced this idea and conformed to someone else's blueprint for how they ought to be, in order to feel visible, loved, and qualify for sex. Thus, the feminine becomes THE imperative, and this must be protected at all costs.

It is also often feminists who use this kind of language. In response to criticism to which there's no easy answer, I have encountered variants of, "Why are you so angry at women? Can't get girlfriend, right? Can't get laid right?" i.e., you are shameful because you don't share the "imperative" to define yourself based on a woman. Such shaming is intended to be the ultimate in identity undercutting, and sadly for many men, it is.

Apparently, it okay for women to sow the seeds of all social interaction and self-esteem for men, and yet, if modern men were to be bold enough to assert a behavioral suggestion, or a social obligation that women have to them (for example, “You have reproductive rights, what about mine?” Or, “Maybe 3:00 am is not the best time to walk through a high-crime area of town in high-heels.”) suddenly that is unacceptable and we need to rally up a slutwalk or manifest another shaming lecture about "the patriarchy"/University freshmen indoctrination about "Campus Rape and You" or whatever the flavor of the week is.

In the end, surely everyone would like to be treated according to their own rules. But not everyone creates rules that apply equally to everyone else; instead they are applied pragmatically, or through the lens of a skewed ideology. Many women who wear short skirts (or its equivalent) want to be able to dictate which eyes are acceptable to view their legs or cleavage or curves. They call it “objectification”. There are websites, like "hollaback" entirely devoted to "outing" men who dare look at the skin that by some magic was thrust directly in front of them: "I felt uncomfortable, so that means you are icky.".

And yet, such women don’t shame their boyfriend or girlfriend for looking at them in such fashion. Indeed, individuals whom women are attracted to are entirely acceptable. Individuals whom they aren't can be labelled "creeps" --- and then no introspection about the implicit sense of entitlement, and their role in facilitating their own discomfort is ever made.

There's a clear difference between people who can accept the actions of other people that they find to violate their own rules, and those who, at the first taste of something unpalatable, have absolutely no sense that the other person has a right to the same boundaries, rules, and self-definition that they are claiming for themselves.

So while it may feel safe and warm under the protective coat of "she" defines "me", there are a growing number of men who are self-defining and will not fall prey to such shaming language, whether it comes from women or other men, and whether it manifests itself as a glib "man-up" or a long, winding blog entry based more on psychological projection than on reality. In other words, Charles Clymer says "*WE* are ashamed"?

Speak for yourself, bro.

And for whatever merit there is to the question you asked, let me suggest to you a more thorough answer: It may be true that saying you look up to and admire and have your own female heroes is at best a neutral thing, and at worst it unleashes the same "Man-up", "You sing like a girl", or, as you say about the Hilary poster, "Are you gay?" kind of shaming --- but the "are you gay?" question comes from somewhere; from a place of fear; of being different; And it's women's social expectations that are the cause of how men are to be "defined", measure themselves, and thus how they behave. The result is that, ironically, the women who want to define "masculinity" and control the narrative about social interaction between the sexes are the authors of most of the problems they blame men for, including this one. In what kind of world does that amount to "patriarchy"?

Let this be an opportunity for Charles Clymer to think beyond the shaming language and the feminist catch-phrases, and into what's really going on in gender culture. I think he will find that things are more complex than a me-tooing, approval-seeking, identity-confirming, announcement of: "The patriarchy is real!".


  1. Styles, I don't know how to say this in a kinder fashion, but your entry doesn't bother me. Its logic and obvious MRA-trigger-happy talking points kinda negate whatever spark of insight you're trying to get across.

    However, I am pissed that you put the wrong title on here. The correct one, "Why are we ashamed of our women heroes?" is correct. Better attention to detail, next time?

    Also, I have covered my annoyance with "man card" language, so to speak. If you had read through my blog, you'd have seen that.

    Good day.

  2. Thanks for the correction, I will make the change to the title.

    Perhaps in a future article when you say something like "The patriarchy is real." You can give some evidence for that, besides a biased stat about rapes.

    Have you ever investigated how that 91% stat was reached? Don't you know that the criteria in that study(and in most) for what counts as the rape of a woman and the rape of a man are not equivalent? Not to mention that that study (which you probably tracked down in 30 seconds to support your point via wikipedia) does not include prison rape of either gender?

    Are you familiar with the FBI's recent redefinition of what constitutes rape, and how it means that a man being forcefully enveloped does not qualify as rape? How might that influence the results they calculate?

    Don't you understand that knowing the method of gathering statistics is as important as the results? Seeing the statistics in their full context is the only way to make an appropriate judgement. It is a total inversion to begin with ideology and then just conveniently insert whatever happens to fit what you want to believe.

    I don't know what "man card" language is, it sounds to me like just another form of shaming. However, I sense that you think I must be guilty of this sin and that engaging in it automatically disqualifies anything else I may have to say.

    I don't feel obliged to read the entire archive of your writing before commenting on the merits of a particular entry. However if the end of your comment is instead an invitation to further tear you up, I am more than game.