Whinging and Waterworks: Male Confusion in an Age of Social Justice

I’m not in Glasgow right now, but the sound of men whinging in that city is reaching me over the other side of the continent. Teh menz are confused, especially the leftie ones and male tears are being wept by the bucketload all over teh interwebs. There is a part of me that is amused at the bleating, but as has been pointed out in a recent article on Bella Caledonia, this bleating leads to dark places.

Much discussion has been prompted by an article by Suki Sangha highlighting the need for women’s voices on the left. Published in the Scottish Socialist Voice, it mentions the sterling work of the women’s network of RISE, which has included in the last month alone, a major demonstration against rape culture, another in support of reproductive rights and an intervention at Corton Vale highlighting the lack of sanitory provision for women prisoners. Objections have been taken to the use of the phrase “pale stale male” which some of teh menz see as a derogatory slur and in online comments speak of feeling attacked, unsafe and silenced.

Wont somebody think of the white men?

Which brings me to Loki’s article ‘Privilege and Prejudice: Social justice in an age of male confusion’.

Now, before I rip it to shreds, I should point out that I do have a lot of respect for Loki, despite his sexism. He is nothing if not authentic and this article and its prior draft, has prompted a great deal of very interesting discussion. Its still shite tho, and its worrying that someone who has a clear commitment to social justice is finding an attraction to neo-fascist ideas, which only goes to show how pernicious these ideas are.

The article starts by relating a story of a disaffected male youth, who is disruptive in a youth club, agonising over having failed him by excluding him from a club where nominally all were welcome. But then the problem is that when one member of a group starts behaving in a way that upsets others and that isnt challenged, then all aren’t really welcome, the only ones who are welcome are the ones who are willing to tolerate this behaviour.

Loki then goes on to contrast the feminist theory of “Toxic Masculinity” for his behaviour with the more standard liberal explanations of “poor parenting, bad environment, what do you expect?” Dismissing the former as “radical idealism” while praising the latter, the favoured theory of those who are “paid to think a little more” like cops, social workers and child psychologists as “what works” in an echoing of the sentiments of Iain Duncan Smith, he rather misses the point.

Like Loki, I strongly suspect that this youth does indeed come from challenging circumstances, circumstances which have left him feeling powerless. This “standard theory”, which Loki claims is effective, is later acknowledged not to be effective once the child reaches adulthood and merely understanding and tolerating the behaviour is insufficient, when society demands that his behaviour is directly addressed.

What Loki misses however in his discussion of parental challenges is that the boy himself is directly affected by these challenges – he is not only the child of poor parents, he himself is poor; he is not only raised among carers struggling with mental health or addiction issues but he himself is thrown into a caring role, forced to care for family members with health issues. Poverty and caring responsibilities are emasculating – a “real man” provides money, not care. On top of that he is subject to adult authority, most notably in this vignette, the demand to stop swearing.

This child has identified masculinity, a characteristic he inhabits, as a source of power in the world – emasculated by his circumstances and finding himself under adult authority, he latches on to this locus of power as a method to effect agency. His masculinity isn’t a source of oppression, it is the means by which he seeks to effect change in the world. It might be a sorry kind of privilege, but it is privilege none the less.

Loki then goes on to talk of Roosh V, the pick up artist, so successfully challenged by the people of Glasgow. Roosh V is a serial rapist, who has boasted of raping women across multiple continents. He write books and runs “classes” for men to teach them how to rape women without getting caught. He proposes that the way to end rape is to make it legal on private property, a proposal that he later claimed was satire, although its very hard to see exactly what he is satirising, given that there is a large body of public opinion which already believes that any woman alone with a man is fair game. Loki argues that while Roosh may be a doosh, we need to think of all those poor ickle men, who might have come along quite innocently to discuss how best to rape women…cos freeze peach, innit

He quite rightly goes on to link Roosh with the emergent right wing neo-reactionary movement. As he points out, these are not your skinheaded nazi types, these are carefully presented, well groomed fascists; fascist ideology all wrapped up in a bow tie. Also known as the Dark Enlightenment (a term coined by Nick Land, one of its leading proponents), this movement return to older societal constructs and forms of government, including support for monarchism and traditional gender roles, together with libertarian economics.

Loki suggests that this movement has a “a healthy culture of open debate and intellectual inquiry” as exemplified in taking on the sacred cows of the left, like Anita Sarkeesian, a woman who has had to cancel talks because of bomb threats, threats of mass shootings and has even had to leave her home in the face of death threats after her address was posted online. And all because she pointed out things which to Loki are obvious. That doesn’t sound like a terribly healthy culture to me, however much of a cow, sacred or otherwise, they may consider she is. In the vein of the white supremacism inherent in neo-reactionary ideology, he then goes on to suggest that feminists should spend their time addressing “islamic extremists”, who he considers poses more of a threat to women than serial rapists. Yet even ISIS, the most notorious organisation which defines itself as Islamic, cannot come near to the millions of murders of women inflicted by western governments, nor can its systematic campaign of rape and sexual slavery even hope to complete with the rape epidemic in the west, and the trafficking of third world women to meet the demands of the western sex industry.

Loki then goes on to demand that we accede that “some feminist activism is unhelpful”, contrasting this unhelpful activism with the helpful activism of a man, Christopher Hitchens, a forced birther, who considered that “reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing” for women, and who announced that he would not have “ any woman of mine go to work” and (thats even before we get into his support for bombing middle eastern women in order to liberate them) then expresses concern for women who have been “whipped up into a frenzy” by these unhelpful radical feminists. These frenzied women have started demanding safe spaces and trigger warnings, the horrors!

Next Loki explores in more detail the white supremacism of the Dark Enlightenment, suggesting that opposing viewpoints on immigration are not necessarily immoral – presumably he includes Katie Hopkins descriptions of refugees as cockroaches in that. Cos freeze peach. And demands that “we” (the secular rational ones that is) come up with positive case for religion, before casually asserting that most terrorism is perpetrated by muslims, seemingly not noticing that Iraq and Afghanistan, have existed in a perpetual state of terror since 2003 through the bombs which have killed millions, launched by the West. Neither does he seem to notice that in the UK in the last decade only one person has died through islamic extremism, yet over a thousand women have died through patriarchal terror.

He worried that a “small obtrusive strain” of activism is isolating men, and there can of course be no change if teh menz are not on board. 52% of us are just not enough. Although he does seem to have some awareness of the threat of Dark Enlightenment values…after all…first they come for the communists and acknowledges the threat of a violent resolution that this movement poses, yet his solution is to reign in the “zealots” and capitulate to this neo-fascism in the hope that they will play nice and let us be.

I will finish with a quote from Loki’s article.

We should be unafraid to own up to our absurdity and, in fact, welcome the critical gaze from within our own ranks as well as behind enemy lines.

I really hope he takes on board the criticism. Cos if this shite is typical of how your average leftie man is thinking, then there is no hope. We just need to kill teh menz and rely on artifical sperm.

Comments (52)

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  1. w.b.robertson says:

    wot is this rant all about?

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      As if the opening paragraphs, including links, don’t make it clear what it’s about. Also: ‘Rant’. So few words but you still managed to show your hand.

      1. davie says:

        A flower opens to reveal the treasure within.

  2. Iain Miller says:

    Nuts!

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      omg you’re amazing

  3. davie says:

    You can only have right or wrong within a construct.

  4. Darby O'Gill says:

    The main topic at next Thursday’s meeting of Edinburgh/East Lothian and South/Midlothian branches of the SSP will be

    ‘A discussion on the importance of the International Women’s day and the Socialist priority for women emancipation’

    Not surprisingly it will be introduced and led by two female members.

    1. kate says:

      glad its women presenting it. no guarantee of that with most australian socialist parties, whose appeal to feminists is of course amazing- almost as good as catholic church’s sacred male rulers or all male buddhist hierarchies.

      catholic priesthood etc all just identity politics too i guess! i mean no substantive long term power issues linked to possession of a penis etc there. lol

  5. leavergirl says:

    “Objections have been taken to the use of the phrase “pale stale male” which some of teh menz see as a derogatory slur”

    Well, maybe that is because it *is* a derogatory slur. The only thing I hate more than ad hominem attacks is ad hominem attacks that try to pretend they aren’t.

    I effing can’t believe it. This is a racist, sexist slur, and folks are not picking up on it? Male bashing has been done into the ground. Grow up.

    1. Katie G-Swan says:

      Both racism and sexism are based on systemic power differentials between different groups of people. Black people cannot be racist towards white people, because they are at the apex of this inequality. Women cannot be sexist towards men for the same reasons. It might be biased, discriminatory, or just plain rude, but it sure isn’t racist or sexist. I love this phrase, because it so simply demonstrates the truth that when things are only seen from an old white guy’s perspective, policy/ideas/events/etc. always going to be perpetuating the same inequalities, not because they’re bad people necessarily, but because the privilege of a white guy’s set of experiences imposes limitations on their capacities to understand and appreciate the pain of not being on that pedestal – as experiences do with everyone. The problem is that many who don’t fit that description find it very hard to be listened to.

      I understand where you’re coming from, but it just reeks of fragile-white-man syndrome, where we have to protect the feelings of men just in case we might actually challenge their self-appointed authority.

      1. leavergirl says:

        Katie, I am appreciating your taking the time.
        Well, in the future I’ll just nail it as plain old bigotry. Does that make it any better?
        And how can it reek of fragile white man syndrome when I am a woman? Bizarre, I tells you.

        Do I really buy it? No. I think anyone who abuses a person on account of their race, is racist. If I insult some rich black guy with a lot of power as a ni—- or worse, then that makes me a racist in my world. Regardless of our power differential. I just don’t buy the loopholes. Abuse is abuse.

        And I am tired of the constant disparagement of men, or white men, or old white men, or effing any men. It’s like the new wave of feminism has been overtaken by women running on mean. Enough already. Rude nagging doesn’t seem to result in anything good anyways.

        1. leavergirl says:

          And crap. If I insult a poor black man with zero power the same way, it’s racism too. You know, some people go to great lengths to justify abuse on various technicalities. No.

          1. leavergirl says:

            Oh and one more thing, Katie. I have no effing desire to protect male egos. Ugh. But how do you figure insulting men is getting us closer to where we want to go? Men have insulted us for generations; did it edify us? No, it just pissed us off. Dishing back what we got does not seem a constructive path. At first, it was amusing, and it did seem like it was time to slam back. But when it goes on and on and turns into these dreary predictable robotic-like ad hominems, maybe it’s high time to stop. What do you think?

  6. I Clark says:

    Could we have some checking of the content on the site prior to publication? A previous article on Syria had duplicate content and two of the hyperlinks above (‘Roosh V is a serial rapist’ and ‘freeze peach’) take you to a site related to the ‘a sorry kind of privilege’ hyperlink.

    Mhairi, I was able to work out certain terms like ‘teh menz’ and ‘cos freeze peach’ from their context, but I felt slightly irritated by their use. I couldn’t work out if it was just because I am an ageing middle class white male who is just out of touch with modern expressions or these terms were being used in an elitist way to mock or exclude people like me. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive here.

    1. Alastair McIntosh says:

      Hello I Clark – I’m one of the Bella ed board (there’s maybe a couple of dozen of us) and my main remit is community. I had nothing to do with initiating or editing any of the articles of recent days, though Idrees Ahmad is an old colleague (Strathclyde Uni) of mine and a friend with whom I have informative dis/agreements.

      I just want to say I’ve seen two or three comments about the need for better editing. My guess is that what likely happened is that these pieces were sent in or otherwise came to attention of Bella’s chief editor, Mike Small, who runs on a shoestring with no staff and probably had to decide just to run with them warts and all, or miss the moment.

      Same probably goes for those who wrote them. Imperfect, I know, but gets the stuff out there.

      1. I Clark says:

        You’re right. It is better to get the articles out. Content is more important than presentation. Thanks for replying.

        1. Alastair McIntosh says:

          Most welcome, thanks for raising the issue as it gives opportunity to share with others.

    2. Mhairi says:

      Hmm how to explain”Teh menz”?

      You know when people say “not all men”? Well teh menz are the ones that we were referring to in the first place. The ones that we want to murder when a Solanas moment takes a grip. 😉

      The link would have helped with “Freeze peach”. Here you go

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2013/05/free-speech-vs-freeze-peach/

      Both are quite often used by feminists.

      1. leavergirl says:

        Especially by those who want to insult other people and mock free speech. Right on, this new inquisition, pelting each other with “anathema, anathema”! Oops, that would be “no platform, no platform”!

        1. MVH says:

          Dunno why this springs to mind. Maybe it’s the sterling use of freeze speech in the second verse. I’ve lost interest in Loki, it’s a tale told by a rapper full of sound and fury and signifying nothing, mostly. Except he seems to be developing neo nazi/fascist sympathies or did I get that wrong?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX5chjCjDkg&list=RDLX5chjCjDkg#t=0

      2. Alastair McIntosh says:

        That’s a good link, Mhairi, thanks. Like I Clark, I too was wondering what FP meant. So, it’s rhyming slang. From your link:

        ‘There are countless people who don’t understand this, or at least pretend not to understand it, and who insist that their free speech does include all these spurious rights: the right to say anything they want, to anyone they want, at any time and place they want, without facing any consequences or incurring any damage to their reputation. The social-justice community has a punning homophonic description of this whiny, entitled behavior: not free speech, but “freeze peach”.’

      3. I Clark says:

        Thanks Mhairi. I now know that I did not understand terms like ‘teh menz’ and ‘cos freeze peach’ after all. After reading your description, speaking to my son and following the link you posted, I can safely say that is because I am an ageing middle class white male who was unaware of these expressions used in feminist circles. I did not know what a Solanas moment was either until I googled it!

        I now realise that you were not being elitist, but there is still the problem of using ‘specialist ‘ terminology in a general platform like Bella. Having said that, the trade off between brevity and accurate terminology is always going to be a problem.

  7. Eman says:

    Great article a Mhàiri. Taing/thanks.

  8. Fran says:

    Glad to read this. I’m scared of how unaware so many men are.

    1. Portjim says:

      Maybe they are “unaware” because the tone of pieces like this – menBAD – means they choose not to read any further? If you want to educate / inform / persuade, a little respect goes a long way. This seems to be entirely negative as well as illogical, effectively suggesting men should “grow a pair”, while simultaneously complaining that they’ve got a pair!

      1. Alan Bissett says:

        Quite. You ‘choose’ not to read any further.

        1. Callum says:

          If it’s a piece written primarily for catharsis, I get it, but it’s silly to expect anyone but the choir to continue reading past the jibes.

          1. Alan Bissett says:

            Why, Callum? All I hear there is someone not willing to challenge themselves.

          2. Callum says:

            Ehhhh. I mean, there’s kind of enough of a challenge in coming to terms with the fact that you’re a complicit member of a class that oppresses women. That’s plenty to get your head around, never mind the little jabbing insults.

            And anyway, this is the internet! Oh my God, have you looked out there? Every possible viewpoint is fighting for your attention! It’s like being trapped in a haunted house of mirrors. It’s genuinely enormously overwhelming, and I’m not being glib. It’s extremely difficult for anyone to discern what is worth their time online and what isn’t.

            I get that this piece wasn’t meant to be outreach – I’m not nagging about how it should have catered to men. But you’re talking about it as though it was outreach, and as though men turned away (by a piece that was not written for them in the first place) are childishly sensitive.

            You say this demonstrates a lack of willingness to challenge oneself. If someone is already grounded in feminism, then sure: it would have to be someone pretty weak willed to be turned away by the jibes here. But we’re talking about men who are not already sympathetic to feminism. To someone coming in blind, what is there to indicate that this is a challenge worth taking on? To the uninitiated, what differentiates that first paragraph from the spewing acerbic hyperbole of an MRA rant?

  9. tickle says:

    loki didn’t say those professionals were paid to think he mentioned “his child psychologist, social workers and any cops who are paid a little more to think.”, I read this as the higher up cops who are paid more to think more.

    1. mhairi says:

      Ah, OK, this is where the confusion over the use or otherwise of the Oxford comma comes in.

  10. w.b.robertson says:

    I started all this (see first comment) by asking what her rant was all about. I`m now aware that it seems to be about feminist movement slang, unedited essays and Oxford commas. Glad I got my uni education when English was the main language…

  11. Peter Burnett says:

    What I got from Loki’s article and some of the comments also reflected this, was for a debate in Scotland about libertarianism, especially between its left and right versions.

    It’s been about feminism in this blog and anti-women attitudes, which is a debate which affects us all, but many of these guys that Loki and others bring up talk about parenting, immigration, banking and a heap of other things that have easy-entry right-libertarian (here-styled) neo-fascist ideas ready packed and available for the swallowing of.

    The debate is in full swing in the US but they don’t seem to have the same high quality of left libertarians as we do in Alba, so I approve of calls to challenge these ideas as they wash up on our shores.

    BTW – – – I notice that this article and Kirsty Strickland’s article also today on Bella style men as ‘whining’. Is that ironically supposed to suggest that men toughen up because they are as the title here suggests, cry-babies? I don’t care either way – I like a whine and I like crying too – but I keep hearing that trope and looking at these articles and comments it appears that between us we have nailed it: women RANT and men WHINE. Way to a sophisticated debate, people!

    Loki suggests we should remove some of this discussion from social media and do it like they used to – – – in meetings – – – ? It’s a good call and there is always a lot less rudeness and random slagging in my experience – – –

    1. Thanks Peter (and everybody) we’re discussing ways to host difficult discussions – as streams and public live events. Suggestions welcome.

  12. Barry Graham says:

    Great column.

  13. Lodgepole Pine says:

    Buried in all the retro-chic riotgrrl, Dworkenite hyperbole and Solanas-referencing adolescent ranting here, we find a kernel of an intelligible response to the original piece, mostly in the paragraph acknowledging the unreconstructed patriarchy of many aspects of working class culture.

    I wonder about the implications of all our earnest theorizing in some concrete outcome for this unnamed protagonist (this “socially excluded male youth”) when he reaches manhood.

    Years ago I remember a late night session with a drinking buddy of mine. He was an older version of our protagonist – young but mentally damaged, long term unemployed, chronically alcoholic, marginalized, bitter. “I’m fucked,” he said, draining a can of Tennent’s half-self-deprecatingly, “I should’ve had a wean at 16, married and started an apprenticeship at 18”. What will white working class young men make of radical feminists’ diagnosing their thwarted breadwinner ethic as “toxic patriarchy”? (Or plain ‘machismo’ as it used to be more prosaically called before the RadFems felt the need to reinvent all gender-terminology in order to control the discourse).

    I can tell you this much – they won’t be voting for RISE or similar left-groupings while hectoring and manipulative radfems hold such sway. The observation that political agreement is so often a mere masked acquiescence is more apt than the author knows. Yes, Mhairi, you will indeed have to go full SCUM Manifesto and kill us all 😉

  14. David Kerr says:

    This is plain nonsense. How the hell can she be in possession of such knowledge? Has she spoken to the young guy (from Loki’s article) in question to “diagnose” him of what afflicts him and where he gets his power from? Pop psychology drivel. Jeremy Kyle-esque level of intellectualism. Utter nonsense.

    And the ending about killing men is the icing on the cake. This is no better than the nonsense Roosh V comes out with about women.

    Not sure why Alan Bissett (the author) if it is him, dips in and out putting down folk who disagree with the article, which much of hangs on spurious connections to theory.

    I am amazed Bella had published this. Poor show.

    Ps. Kill men?! Jesus.

    1. It’s a complex debate David – but (and I’m just guessing) she didn’t mean to actually kill men…

      1. David Kerr says:

        Maybe. But Roosh V has written a lot of nonsense that apparently he does not really mean either (but is taken seriously).

        But seriously, the “diagnosis” of the young man in question is well, beyond the pale, no pun intended; maybe 😉

        1. Alan Bissett says:

          David, you frown on me popping up to disagree with folk putting down the article, but it’s totally fine for you to pop up and disagree with the author? Hm.

          1. David Kerr says:

            Yes Alan, but unlike you, I actually contribute something to the debate, rather than blind acceptance of a poor article. Not sure what your function exactly is other than try to appear to be hyper politically correct?

          2. Alan Bissett says:

            Your ‘contribution to the debate’ has been to pour ‘blind’ scorn, David. I haven’t seen you engaging at all with any of Mhairi’s ideas beyond that. But carry on flattering yourself, by all means.

          3. Frank says:

            Perhaps his function is to look good in front of left wing women? After all he has written nothing substantial in defence of feminism other than to come on here and say, hey look at me I’m a male feminist.

          4. Alan Bissett says:

            Hi Frank! Where in these comments did I call myself a ‘male feminist’?

          5. David Kerr says:

            Alan I pointing out the utter nonsense of the quote below. The author has never met or spoke to the young man in question, whom the article by Loki was concerned with. If you think this is scorn, fine, but it still makes it utter nonsense and it detracts from a more complex understanding of the issues at hand. If you cant see that, well you are misguided.

            But to end the article by stating to killing Men is the answer, is well….I am speechless.

            If this is what you, the trendy left, and its sychophants are celebrating, then you have sold Scotland short. Not everybody thinks in such blinkered, unenlightened ways.

            ” This child has identified masculinity, a characteristic he inhabits, as a source of power in the world – emasculated by his circumstances and finding himself under adult authority, he latches on to this locus of power as a method to effect agency. His masculinity isn’t a source of oppression, it is the means by which he seeks to effect change in the world. It might be a sorry kind of privilege, but it is privilege none the less.”

          6. Frank says:

            You didn’t, but it is the impression that you give off.

      2. Frank says:

        Probably not…but if she had jokingly referred to killing any other group you would probably have edited it out…

        1. Frank says:

          Sorry that last comment of mine was directed at the discussion about the authors reference to killing men.

  15. David Kerr says:

    I.e:

    “This child has identified masculinity, a characteristic he inhabits, as a source of power in the world – emasculated by his circumstances and finding himself under adult authority, he latches on to this locus of power as a method to effect agency. His masculinity isn’t a source of oppression, it is the means by which he seeks to effect change in the world. It might be a sorry kind of privilege, but it is privilege none the less.”

    I am sure the young man in question might quite rightly disagree, and .at have many other valid reasons for how he feels and behaves. I thought more people on here would have recognised this.

  16. David Kerr says:

    And I am well aware it’s a complex issue; far more complex than the analyses punted around on social media and in articles (and some comments) here.

  17. Peter Clive says:

    As I have said elsewhere, male contributions to discourse tend to go astray when they try and adopt feminism as a template, which by definition is concerned only with female experience. More detail here:

    http://moflomojo.blogspot.com/2016/03/are-beards-are-feminist-issue.html

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