Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Misogynistic Surge Of 2012

Throughout the history of humanity, misogyny has been an oppressive force against women. We've made some progress, but perhaps not as much as we would like to believe.

The most obvious evidence can be seen in recent comments made by many politicians of the right-wing variety and the more than 600 bills they have introduced in an attempt to take away a woman's right to control her body. Of course, there is also rape, the glass ceiling, inequities in pay between women and their male counterparts, and so on.

There seems to be a surge in misogynistic behavior in some of the most primitive males of the human species. Like a virus before it finally dies out, succumbing to the immune system of its host, there is a surge of feverish activity in a desperate attempt to continue its survival.

However, there is a less-obvious (and perhaps more insidious) source of oppressive behavior towards women by males that often gets overlooked, one that I have personally experienced with increased frequency over the past few years.

It goes something like this:

A woman has males with whom she interacts either in person or online who are casual acquaintances. Sometimes they are old classmates, others may be past or present work associates, friends of friends, or acquaintances from a variety of other sources.

As it goes between most humans, there are shared views regarding economics, politics, and religion, along with differing views regarding same.

Everything is fine until the differences become evident in a debate, and this is where things go south very quickly in a way that rarely occurs between two males or two females:

The male makes statements regarding his views, and the female counters with her own (or vice versa). There is an exchange between the two, but in cases where the female is just as persistent in defending her view as the male is in defending his (especially where the female is providing logic based on facts and the male is relying more on assumptions and an emotional attachment to his own views) the female becomes the enemy, and civility becomes something the male seems incapable of exercising.

I have seen this quite frequently here in "The Bible Belt" where I spend much of my time, but I have also seen it elsewhere. The message seems quite clear: "You're allowed to have different views than me, but you are not allowed to challenge my statements regarding mine, especially when I have not based them on sound information. My male ego is so fragile that I will make you my enemy if you point out logical fallacies, factual inaccuracies, or other information that shows my assumptions and statements to be in error."

A woman can be perfectly civil and never raise her voice or engage in rude behavior, but many men seem to think it is their right to be "right", even when they are wrong, and begin to personally attack the female with whom they are engaged in conversation when her challenge to his logic is as persistent as his refusal to be confronted with factual information to the contrary.

From there, we see ad hominem attacks, anecdotal fallacies, red herrings, and other pathetic attempts to distract the opponent (and perhaps themselves) from the fact that they are losing ground in the argument, debate, or discussion:

  • ad hominem attack: an attempt to deflect an argument by inferring or outright claiming something derogatory (and unrelated to the discussion) about your opponent
  • anecdotal fallacy: unverified stories given as "evidence"
  • red herring: an attempt to deflect an argument by bringing up something else, but usually only after the one committing this act has had a chance to state their case, leaving the other party without the opportunity to do the same

If you're lucky, you learn that this is someone unworthy of your time and you simply stop associating with him. However, it doesn't always work out so smoothly.

There are some males who become so riled by the fact that a woman dares oppose him as persistently as he has opposed her that his ire doesn't end with her attempting to distance herself from him, and he aggressively pursues her with behavior that may range from bullying to stalking, either online, in person, or both.

The cyber-bullying, which has now been classified as a crime, usually involves making statements about the victim which are either false or unsubstantiated, and/or badgering the victim by repeatedly making derogatory statements about her publicly, either addressed to her directly or referencing her on social media platforms or other electronic means.

The cyber-stalking, also classified as a crime, often involves harassing or hunting her down online (finding as many ways to contact her as possible, including multiple social media venues, blogs, etc.) and sometimes even involves attempts to hack into her accounts and disrupt her ability to use them and/or commit crimes using them.

In some cases, the stalking becomes physical and the victim is physically hunted in an attempt to intimidate or terrorize her.

I have several friends in law enforcement who have witnessed some of this behavior toward me from males over the past couple of years and have expressed concern. There have been reports made in some cases and in others, I simply didn't feel it was warranted.

Nonetheless, it is a frustrating state of affairs at best, and a reminder of just how hostile the world still is toward women (especially intelligent, articulate women who do not cow down to arrogant, unsubstantiated proclamations made by emotionally immature males).

I have heard many stories from other intellectual women who hold their own well with their male counterparts, and it wasn't until I heard from so many others that I realized this wasn't just something resulting from my own refusal to back down from a few bullies, but a widespread attitude and set of behaviors from many men who, now that rape and physical assault are not options they can easily get away with, have learned to find other ways to make themselves feel powerful at the expense of women.

Fortunately, there are many males who are not like this. I am very grateful to have many of them in my life, which only makes the less-evolved males stand out even more as the troglodytes that they are.

So, my warning to all women is: don't get so distracted by the idiotic statements of GOP members on television that you fail to notice when someone right in front of you is engaging in the subtle behavior of undermining you psychologically. They may not be able to pass laws in an attempt to control your body, but they are desperately seeking to take up the same amount of space in your mind that they apparently have allotted in their own minds (such as they are) for you.

Evict them.