Mad Feminists: Developing the Argument

 Posted on January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Commenter Akio Katano writes in part:

One thing that needs to be established is that the infographic debacle (which, mind, has caused significant criticism across the board) is that it's a failure of statistics, rather than reflective of a broader ideology....* * * * *Another, more important point is that it is CERTAINLY possible to be misogynistic – or racist/homophobic/classist/what have you – without intent or knowledge.* * * * *[P]eople want to believe that they are reasonable, fair, just, and coherent, and are very good at pretending that their biases are simply The Way Things Are. It's not just a matter of conscious intent.

My response to the comment became long enough to justify a post of its own:

The infographic was entitled "The truth about false accusation." The number it used for the portion of allegations that are false was 2%-a number not supported by any statistics, but only by ideology.

This is not a "failure of statistics." It is, rather, a failure of ideology and a failure of innumeracy. The graphic was produced and propagated because people-the author and those who republished it-a) wanted to believe; and b) didn't have or didn't apply the simple mathematical tools to question the data.

Certainly other ideologues are as likely to falsify data as feminist ideologues. At least all ideologues that disagree with me* are.

I am comfortable with the notion that we all harbor biases. There is a reasonable hypothesis that we are programmed to have biases because evolution favored biases against people who are unlike us. If you think you don't have any prejudices, that just means that they are controlling you. I have done a great deal of difficult personal work on my own biases, and I think I'm a better person for being able to say, "there is this thing, this darkness within me, but I'm working on it and I'm doing okay."

I hate to resort to the argumentum ad lexicon, but misogyny is fundamentally different from prejudice, bigotry, racism, classism, homophobia, or any other form of bias I can think of. Misogyny is not fear or preference but hatred of women. It is possible to fear without intent. It is possible to prefer without intent. It is not possible to hate without intent.

When one suggests, based on reading something I've written, that I hate women, she has already abandoned intelligent conversation. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that she then rejects any explanation of my true intent-there is something wrong with her; this is madness.

You might think that "misogyny" is at worst a poorly chosen synonym for sexism, but the word is chosen and used by people who know and preach words' power to do harm. It is used and intended to separate those who disagree with orthodoxy into a group that is of less value than those who agree.

The problem is that once you get in the habit of "othering," it's hard to get out of it.

*This is a joke.

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