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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

Notes on Cant XVII

I start from a value system that says, first, that freedom is good and social control is bad. Second, people deserve slack. They deserve to escape "consequences", a disgusting euphemism for punishment. Everybody gets to play a Get Out of Jail Free card at least once. Punishment tends to make things worse, and many violent criminals are avengers in their own minds.

I am fully behind feminism and civil rights to the extent that they agree with these values, which historically has been almost all of the time. I see these as movements born of a broader movement for which these values are foundational, which also included the anti-war movement, gay rights, and just about everything else associated with the "counterculture" and the 1960s.

We expected opposition from the Westboro Baptists and their ilk. But when feminists start attacking exuberant self-expression, that's something even worse: a betrayal, a stab in the back. They should instead be a part of the common cause for more freedom for everybody. Something went wrong.


I'm with you until "exuberant self-expression" takes the form of this kind of thing or this. (These bring to mind the map you showed some months ago that illustrates the nexus of football and rape culture). Or the decal that shows a hogtied woman. Then I am on the side of the feminists no matter what. We do not need cultural expressions that foster a degrading attitude towards women, or anybody else.

I think you linked the same thing twice.

College students are predictable, and so are trolls. The real problem that I see is that moral dudgeon is always counterproductive. Forty years ago, we learned to laugh at sexism, and progress was made. By reconstituting the movement as an authoritarian, censorious establishment, they've made themselves tempting targets for trolls.
When you're talking about the "chronically offended", I agree. There is more truth than bullshit in Who Stole Feminism. You and we have seen it all happen. I call it the WCTU because I don't know what else to call it.

Many people calling themselves feminists and the "social justice movement" are not really interested in either of those. Mostly they seem to spend their days going around on TV and online looking for something to get offended at. Believe me, I've seen their blight. And "feminists" like Sarah Palin, don't make me laugh. I know what you're saying.

They also create noise that drowns out people trying to point out real problems (and that includes you when you blew the whistle on Before Watchmen a few months back).

Aren't your "notes on cant" more like having moral dudgeon yourself against the moral dudgeonists though?

You need to get off whatever forum you are on where these types are wasting your time and inflating your blood pressure. You are not going to win any arguments with them. Many have tried and failed.

Also, corrected second link.
That is a bunch of frat boys making fun of a slogan aimed at them; however stupid it comes out sounding, I understand the impulse too well.

This, by contrast, is a serious problem. I think I can see a difference.
I had not seen that article, but I knew about Weev and about the Kathy Sierra thing. In case you haven't seen this from five years ago about Weev, here it is.

As far as the chants go: I believe that language shapes thought, and while I don't subscribe to the notion this would "make" anyone commit sexual assault, I believe it contributes to a condoning attitude -- like a "boys will be boys" type thing -- towards harassment and assault of women when it does happen. It also terrorizes the women in the dorms where they were chanting.

(I know what you're going to say about human nature. I'm here to say that we don't have to do everything human nature prompts us to.)

Including the things mentioned in the Verge article, the death and rape threats against Feminist Frequency, the death threats against the woman who started a Kickstarter to send her little daughter to techie camp, the slap on the wrist given to harassers of women panelists at Readercon, and on and on.

I don't believe one leads to the other, but I believe one contributes to and normalizes the other.
What bothers me about the frat chant thing is that there are complexities there that just aren't being noticed. For the target audience of this kind of story, frat boys are probably the least "privileged" people you can be while still being white, mostly heterosexual, and rich.

Yeah, I'm bringing up human nature, but not like you think. That was a hazing ritual of an initiatory society for young men. These sorts of social structures are fairly widespread and well understood. They include not only displays of bravado, but humiliations designed to make fools of the would be initiates, to test their tolerance, and to demonstrate a willingness to obey the arbitrary orders of the leaders of the group they seek to join. I doubt that any of those lads would have the brass to start up the chant all by his lonesome.

The African-American fraternities had the worst or best initiations back when I was an undergrad. The basic method was to hold a Mau-Mau, that's what they called it: to occupy a public space and fill it with Black faces, the initiates and their friends. They would begin some rather aggressive chants and circle dances. Freaked many of the white students out. I'd hang around, from the outside of course. The performances were interesting. They practiced this stuff.

I find it hard to imagine what it is to live in an environment where "No Means No" is an ongoing public relations campaign. I was spared that. It's sexual harassment, in the generous definition preferred by people who toss the phrase 'sexual harassment' around. It creates a hostile environment based on gender. You're presumed to be a predator, part of the problem. A reaction like this is inevitable and invited; the cluelessness about this is the most annoying aspect. Punishing the fraternity isn't going to make this any better.

Death and rape threats from individuals and personal attacks are something that absolutely should be taken seriously. Young men parading around yelling stupid shit for beer are a somewhat less serious problem, in my view. I don't like being called a "rape apologist" because I see a difference here.