Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Foreign Land: Amanda Marcotte Describes The Lion

When I threw some daggers at the self-absorbed and vile Laurie Penny Monday, I did not really think it was possible to descend much lower at the time, but somehow Amanda Marcotte has sunk to the occasion. Riffing on the original Penny piece, she adopts as her essay's axis a feminist trope that bears broader examination, that of male sexual entitlement.
Penny is incredibly gracious to Aaronson in her response, so much so that I thought that his lengthy diatribe must be nuanced and humane on some level. Much to my surprise, however, it was just a yalp of entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men. So, unlike Penny, I feel no need to be gracious about it. On the contrary, I think it’s time for a good, old-fashioned blog fisking.
Perhaps so, but it's Marcotte, who is one of the most reliably inhumane and willfully blind feminist authors out there today, who needs a proctoscope applied to her typings.
You write about tech conferences in which the men engage in “old-fashioned ass-grabbery.” You add: “some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion … In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.”
If that’s been your experience, then I understand how it could reasonably have led you to your views. Of course, other women may have had different experiences.
Translation: I think  you’re lying, because my desire to believe that nerds are balls of pure goodness oppressed by 80s-style cartoonish jock villains cannot countenance the idea that nerd men could ever do anything wrong, ever. Never mind that the movie epitomizing the nerd/jock dichotomy I lean heavily on features a nerd raping a woman in an act of revenge, which is treated like a triumph instead of an act of violence.
Seriously! We're not two paragraphs into this and she's already relying on thirty-year-old movie stereotypes and accusing him of being a rapist or somehow siding with rapists? He never warranted that nerds are "balls of pure goodness", never only that he had different experiences than commenter Amy, and neither did he call her a liar (bringing Marcotte's reading comprehension skills into question). He did, however, remark that he would be "scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison" for entirely natural male sexual desire. Professor Aaronson goes on:
... to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.
 Well, um, yeah, and duh, of course. One gets the very real sense that all male desire is so thoroughly alien to Marcotte that the line between rapist and nebbish is simply not possible for her to draw, so it's better to preemptively declare Aaronson — for whom she has literally no basis for this charge — a rapist, or a potential rapist, or a supporter of rapists. This, of course, is the point of employing the specious charge of sexual entitlement. Back to Marcotte:
Despite saying he’s steeped in feminist discourse, you will find that the only feminist whose name he appears to remember is Andrea Dworkin’s, i.e. a woman modern day feminists reference rarely (if ever) but misogynists tend to obsess over because they want her to be the spokeswoman for feminism.
It would be funnier if peculiarly anti-male views weren't so clearly on display in the writings of Marcotte, Laurie Penny, and a slate of others more modern and not-quite-dead. The misandrist Dworkin may never have outright claimed that, as frequently summarized by critics, "all heterosexual intercourse is rape", but she certainly opened herself to the charge.
Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison.
This is a critical passage, because it really lays out his thesis: That fear of rejection is a male-only experience, and one that is so awful that any suffering women have endured through history is a mere pittance compared to it. The possibility that women want love and attention and worry about being humiliated and denied simply has never occurred to him. I have some theories as to why.
This, of course, again, is Marcotte injecting words into Aaronson's mouth, building up straw men by the hay field; male difficulties with their own bodies, lives, and emotional states must be not only minimized but scorned, because, well, entitlement. Or something. The real entitlement here is Marcotte's insistence on orthdox feminism, which bears no deviance, and an abject refusal to even try to understand her subject. More straw men, this in reference to Aaronson's graf about sexual-assault lecturing:
Translation: I was too busy JAQ-ing off, throwing tantrums, and making sure the chip on my shoulder was felt by everyone in the room to be bothered to do something like listen.
And she knows this, how? She is, after all, criticizing events at considerable remove from the present day, to which she brings neither witnesses nor evidence. This brings something else up, too: the demand that men "listen" to endless harangue is one of modern feminism's principle features. No matter how baseless, scattershot, or irrational the charges, one must "listen", which seems to mean "quietly accepting your perpetual guilt, regardless of actual merit, and don't you dare defend yourself", something we saw frequently during the idiotic and reductive #NotAllMen/#YesAllWomen hashtag wars in the wake of the Elliot Rodger spree killing that quickly devolved into a solipsistic "let's talk about meeeee" madhouse. Rodger, of course, was fascinating for the exact reason that feminists were more upset about his misogynistic ravings than his homicide victims, four of whom turned out to be male. "Entitlement" again caught the blame, and maybe so, but not the kind they're thinking of.

I could go on; Marcotte does, for paragraphs and paragraphs. I suspect Aaronson, who deserves none of this slander, got this sort of vituperation is because he is a professor of engineering and computer science at MIT. In Marcotte's feminist Wonderland, he qualifies as a member of the largely mythical "brogrammer" species, supposedly the reason so few girls go into that field, rather than, say, a lack of interest in or aptitude for the subject.

The opposite sex lives in a foreign country to which Marcotte denies herself a visa; in that, she is like the medieval Europeans describing exotic Asiatic animals strictly on hearsay.

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