Traitor to the Mens: Get the T-Shirt!

So, yesterday, over at Reddit’s “Red Pill” subreddit, THE MENS were complaining about this thing I wrote, and what a tool I am, when one of them made a bold accusation:

To which Deirdre Saoirse Moen said, hey, I could design that. To which I said, DO EEEET.

And so she did!

And they are awesome. Here’s Deirdre with the details of the design.

I think I’m going to buy two. At least.

Also, as a closing thought:

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

163 replies on “Traitor to the Mens: Get the T-Shirt!”

Usual Malleting rules apply, obviously.

Also, let’s not make this a very general thread on TEH EVULS OF MISANDRY, please. I may get very Mallet-y about that.

Also, for those of you curious as to what Krissy thought of being alleged to go after a dude with a bat, a direct quote: “That’s fucking hilarious.” Because, well. It is.

Also also: We fully expect one of these Red Pill geniuses or one of their fellow travelers to try to mock this with “Traitor to the Menses,” or something similar because, hur hur hur, they’re all twelve. Try not to act surprised when it happens.

“You… LET your wife leave the house UNACCOMPANIED?”

What are these guys? Ferengi without the lobes for business? I thoroughly expected one to reply “I hear he even lets them WEAR CLOTHES!”

I think if Krissy were to go after some dude with a bat, my starting assumption would be “dude had it coming.”

I mean, most things I can think of that are serious enough to merit being gone after with a bat would probably first merit calling the cops over – but I could conceive of exigent circumstances under which a bat is much closer to hand than the cops. And in those cases, well, yeah – had it coming.

I am so confused by this. Why would any man have a problem with a woman defending herself? I’d have thought even the most virulent “men’s rights” activist (“activist”?) wouldn’t be okay with real violence happening to a real woman – outside of all their talk and theory and what-not. I thought they were all about Protecting the Women from Everything. This is getting so jumbled. Is there a pamphlet they publish or some talking points somewhere??

She was assaulted by the guy, who grabbed her after they’d patiently put up with his verbal harassment. When he did it, she shoved him off her, up against the wall, and told him to knock it off to defend herself.

The assertion in comments to Scalzi’s mention of this was that A) the guy was drunk and should be pitied for his assault, not shoved; B) it’s hypocritical for Scalzi to cheer violence; C) women should be above the tactics of their assaulters and not do anything physical to defend themselves, and variations of above. I think there was a mention in a comment of using a bat on the pro-Krissy side, which may have been the cause of the machobro’s assertion on Reddit.

It was kind of interesting — the blog was a bit more wild west back then.

This is yet another example of why I have no interest in going near Reddit.

You mean you allowed your wife out in public without male supervision? Clearly she deserved anything that might have happened to her, and had no business trying to assert herself. The shame! I’ma tell the Ayatollah on you!

The rhetoric is too new-age for me.
MENS is an acronym? I once knew of a cult called the Holy Order of MANS: M stood for mouTnrio (gk: mysterio/mystery); A for xaokwv (agape/love); N for vouc (gk: nous/mind); S for expia (gk: Sophia/wisdom). I can’t figure the “E” in MENS, if there’s a similar usage here. Too, I’m assuming “Red Pill” means (from a googled answer): It’s “pop culture terms that have become a common symbol for the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).” However, in that sense I cannot understand John’s point. Aren’t Red Pill folks those folks who are trying to adjust themselves to reality?

For the same reason that miniature Dachshunds prefer timid cats.

…and with that splendid analogy from D.C. Sessions, “Wiener Dog” has become my new go-to label for a certain kind of male.

Have you thought about wearing your t-shirt over your dress? :D

Fuck being a gender traitor, that is a truly unforgivable crime against fashion for which Mister Scalzi would have to severely beaten… with a faaabulous feather boa.

Also, for those of you curious as to what Krissy thought of being alleged to go after a dude with a bat, a direct quote: “That’s fucking hilarious.” Because, well. It is.

Oath. Every fashionable girl knows the on-trend accessory for crippling some grabby arsebag is a stylish purse, co-ordinated with your outfit, large enough to hold a brick.

I would not buy that shirt. But I might wear it if I had one.

I don’t really believe in advertising that, as a guy, I support women’s rights. It kind of goes without saying. Kind of like wearing a shirt that says I don’t hate black people.

@Richard Norton:”Too, I’m assuming “Red Pill” means (from a googled answer): It’s “pop culture terms that have become a common symbol for the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).” However, in that sense I cannot understand John’s point. Aren’t Red Pill folks those folks who are trying to adjust themselves to reality?”

All that’s necessary to understand the mentality of the Red Pill crowd at Reddit, is to know these are people who believe themselves to be Neo and our apparently misandrist world to be The Matrix. What you get is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from people playing out superhero fantasies, made scary when you realize they’re not all actually 12.

Speaking of self-rescueing princesses, there was finally a game produced in which exactly that happens. It was called “Remember Me”, involving the protagonist Nilin breaking out of a cyberpunk prison/psych-ward that she’d been wrongfully placed in.

You rescue yourself, nobody comes to rescue you. You also eventually confront and defeat the main villians of the game without killing them, another trope-defying quality it had.

(not that there isn’t violence in the game, there is, but it’s all beat ’em up violence, not horrific graphic violence)

Unfortunately, the game wasn’t advertised very well, so consequently it didn’t sell that well, which is a shame, because it was pretty excellent.

I NEED one of these. At least.

Plus, Mrs. Scalzi is a badass? Really, I expected this.

If we were all Star Trek characters, Mrs. Scalzi would be K’Ehlyr, who was my favorite TNG guest character.

So yeah. She’s badass, and it really shouldn’t come as news to anyone.

The baseball bat is canonical, I think … when, in my senior year of college, I chased a flasher off the front porch of my dorm (before he could annoy the first years) the avuncular campus security officer who came to take the report congratulated me on my reaction time, but advised that we keep a bat by the front door for the next time.

By that time in my life, I’d already learned that I’d have to be ready to rescue myself, ’cause wasn’t no one else going to do it.

I hope this is good on me, but when I see a “[Person] did [action] to [direct object]” story my first thought is “[If so, why?]” -_- Drunk guy grabbed her? Must not have been too bad of a grab for just a shove against a wall. Cool.

@ Thomas Hewlett who said “I am so confused by this. Why would any man have a problem with a woman defending herself?”
Because, as everybody knows, women /need/ to be protected by men and so a woman protecting herself means that no woman will ever have any reason to keep company with a man because [Insert, from my “Like Hell I’m gonna write this” to-do list an essay on education, habit, brainwashing, knowledge, wisdom, intelligence and how all of those are thrown out the window for some speachificationing.]

I’m with Richard Norton: The rhetoric is too new-age for me. I get the Red Pill thing sorta by reading these comments. But I have no clue what the tee-shirt means. “Traitor to the mens”. Are the hat and the mustache significant? Hat traitor to the mens mustache”? Please be gentle with me – I don’t watch TV or go to movies, so I’m hopelessly not with the latest jargon and pretty much don’t care except when I’m brought to curiosity by Mr. Scalzi..

Wait, you mean we weren’t meant to take both the pills? But, but, purple is my favourite colour.

Still, it explains large sections of my life …

I have an entirely different reaction, reading the description of the event. I am glad that your wife was okay, but it was really, really, really stupid move.

People get killed in these situations. Dead.

I do enjoy hearing the essential “you put him in his place” type of story. Especially after the fact, when it’s turned into a good memory. But please don’t give the impression to people that this was a smart or safe reaction.

Drunk man, in the bar, bigger than your wife (although, perhaps that’s not the case?). He was handsy and ended up apologizing, but that was in no way the only possible reaction. His next reaction could have been violent escalation. A fraction of men will always escalate, no matter the situation. It’s their wiring.

If that had of happened.. this story would not be the fucking awesome story of how Krissy took back night, it would the horrible true life story of why you are a young widow.

When you see stories like this or this or this it all starts the same way.

Damn it. I was reading through the thread and the entire time I thought the red object at the top was a rotating red light you might see on top of an old police car. Then I looked for the umpteenth time and realized, no, its a red fedora.

I think the red police light might be cooler, but perhaps less significant meaning-wise to the rest of the shirt. But otherwise, cool shirt.

Taylor Collingswith

Had you bothered to actually read the entry cited you would know that every one of your points had been brought up, discussed, and then laughed at because of their innate silliness.

If you can’t even bothered to click the link then you are, by definition, so full of yourself that you think you don’t need to actually make the slightest effort to inform yourself because you know everything already.

Hint: making yourself look a total idiot is really not helpful if you want people not to perceive you in that way…

1. I wannit, I wannit, I wannit. I wannit to wear at WisCon!

2. I love the fact that Krissy’s t-shirt says “I wish you were a piñata.”

3. It was you, John, who created the term ‘piñata’ (meaning “troll who we’re all having fun taking apart”) in that so-long-ago Electrolite thread, by saying “But…but there’s more candy in him!” Referring to, as it turns out, you-know-who.

4. Mens sana in corpore sano.

at lif vis “traitor to the mens” I don’t know what it means either. I think it is a ‘slap’ of some sort at a set of people about whom I have an extreme disinterest.
Important thing? I’m still having an interesting time here.

Aside (not at lif) I do know what “Take it like a man” means and what that means is all about what “it” means.

A related story of traitor to the men’s hood that I just ran across today

“I told him that we couldn’t hire him – our budget was gone. But if he could find a woman, we didn’t need budget to hire her.

He threw a fit. It was the angriest I ever saw him. (Most of the time, he was a really nice, mellow guy, so he was really upset about his!) It was discrimination! Sexism! Unfair! He carefully went through the resume database looking for the best candidate, not the best male candidate. We were refusing to hire the most qualified candidate! On, and on, and on. I finally got rid of him, after pointing out at least a dozen times that I was just a lowly junior engineer, not someone who made the policy.

The next day, he was back in my office. He was practically bouncing off the walls: he’d gone back to the resume database, and he’d found a woman who was even better than the guy he’d wanted to hire.”

@mikes75. Thank you for your answer. Some of my better teachers explained both the necessity of overcoming ignorance, while yet extolling the calmness ignorant folks should have in knowing that their needs were not demeaning. I do think current cultures consider ignorance a bit too demeaning, but I still need to know what’s going on. As one example, I’d never heard of Reddit. Things move fast.

I’m outside this generation; call me a radical feminist. I’ve believed for a long time that women are superior. I have no qualms about society finally getting things right in realizing this. Feminists, I think, merely want equality, and there I think they are wrong. Women leaders cannot do worse, at least if you look at history. … As a possibly stupid analogy, I sometimes think about the X chromosome and how much knowledge it carries — so much more than its “ignorant” Y partner in us males. Maybe the analogy appears stupid, but to me pictures say more than words. Seriously, look at the pics.

Now that doesn’t mean a gorilla, being mentally inferior, can’t crush a less ignorant homo sapiens, which brings me to the bar story. In no way do I think Krissy inferior, especially seeing how she handled herself. My worry is more that, erm, gorillas really need to be kept in cages or in places where things might be more, erm, “meet and right” as to their unthinking brutish ways. To live around a gorillas sensibly, smart folks should engage them prepared.

Bats? Nah. Tasers? Maybe. I’d think cattle prods would be best. Watch the fun from a distance! See them squirm on the floor! It’s where they should be, if they insist on their ignorant ways; and maybe that is even where they’d feel most at home (under a superior’s foot).

@Thomas Hewlett

You should not confuse Red Pillers with MRAs. While often lumped together by those that don’t understand the difference, or by those who don’t want to differentiate them MRAs and Red Pillers are not even in the same league. MRAs do not consider equality a zero sum game where men lose when women gain or vice-versa and despite the propaganda are not inherently misogynistic. MRAs are characterized by a belief that issues that affect men and the societal perceptions about their gender roles are not being adequately addressed by any other social movement. While feminists feel that they are the gender equity movement to affect social change MRAs do not agree that they are made to feel like they or their issues have a place at the table. In all honesty feminists and MRAs should be allies but they are often in conflict…because reasons. Reasons that are more than I want into right now, I’ve only got a few minutes before it’s time for my daughter to go to bed.

The short of it is that MRAs don’t have an issue with women defending themselves.

I also don’t understand why John engages the Red Pill twits. Ultimately It demeans him to engage with people who are intellectually and emotionally incapable of defending themselves against somebody applying reason and human decency.

Erm, I take it MRAs means “Men’s Rights Activists”? (As someone waspishly suggested, I’ve googled).

Interestingly, the Supreme Court had supported Michigans’ WASPs reverse racist discrimination at the University there, thereby in effect ruining any possibility of that university achieving racial equality (at least that’s what’s happening historically). Bottom line, does the MRA hope to have similar successes with feminists? If yes to that, I’m rather wondering if similarities between them and “Red Pillers” is not that a far stretch yet. Yet again, I admit possibly extreme ignorance of these matters, up to this very moment.

I love MOST of the t-shirt. The fedora is a deal-breaker though; it implies a connection with a whole other bunch of misandrists “I was her friend and good to her and she won’t sleep with me now!”

Xopher? I do indeed know what “race traitor” means. Everybody knows that the best race is the hundred yard dash. Anybody who says that the hundredeadeded meters one is the same is a traitor to racing!

In the same something vis what somebody above just said about “women are superior.” Sigh. Sure, kid*, but at what.
The important thing: I’m a coat and yer a goat and we can prune a rosebush.
Or maybe? I am person, and so are you.

*Baby goat. Adorable things, baby goats are, but they get older and and need to be hunted and fried with cumin and ginger and soy sauce and Matzo meal for the crispy crunchy coating, the fucking bastards.


I speak English, albeit as used 50 years ago. As such I understand better these kinds of phrases: “Traitor to Men,” “Traitor to Manliness,” “Traitor to Men’s Rights,” “Traitor to MRAs” or “Maleness traitor-ship” and so on. In my day a race traitor might better be called an Oreo or some such – yes, a bit obscure but at least visual, where ideas were there to be dug out; but comprehension is lost if one merely makes descriptors plural and expects all and sundry to follow. “Traitor to the MENS”? And why is the “the” there? MENS what? Mensa? Believe it or not, I rather thought MENS might be a takeoff of an old cult I’d once reported on (in another life), named The Holy order of MANS (see upthread). John says we should own our words as get written – well, how about owning as to allowing comprehensibility to the sundry readers in the universe where it can be read? This blog is open to all, maybe even the Chinese. At first look, MANS appears either a possessive noun or some kind of plural-descriptor where something went missing (Manliness? Manship? I admit it took me forever to realize that “shipping” meant relationSHIP-PostING; and I was in Harry Potter forums!), or an acronym, as I have gnawed over upthread. Next, the “the” in the phrase threw me out of all loops. My objections have to do with simplest comprehension. It’s obvious from the tweets given that all folks there knew most of this New English and New Grammar (and appear ever willing to denigrate those who do not), where all such instant-byte phrases are possibly constructed on the moment. But I didn’t and don’t tweet, and a huge portion of the population cannot even type. Believe it. A very large proportion of our society cannot even type. I ask, how can any message explode to ignorant masses, if the words and phrases used can only be understood by that preacher’s choir?

Well, that’s my rant for the night. I’m going now to concentrate on something that makes me giggle, like imagining Krissy tasing gorillas.

@Xopher et al.: I suspect the confusion is partially the word “mens,” which I figured it was facetious double-plural–which I like, though it reminds me of “In Living Color”‘s Men On… sketches, e.g., Men On Film (which I’m not a big fan of).

Some may think it’s Latin, as in “mens rea.” ;-)

“I’m outside this generation; call me a radical feminist. I’ve believed for a long time that women are superior.”

Oh, lord, Richard Norton. So long as we’re covered in honey, right?

Please don’t answer that with several pages worth of anecdotes from back when

The Matrix. The movie made by Lana Wachowski and her supportive traitor to the mens brother Andy. The pretzel logic of these things never fails to amaze me.

Anyway, I’m sure in the next version of the story, Krissy will have pistol-whipped the guy while yelling, “Women rule the world!” Or possibly space aliens will be involved.

1. Someone asked about a version with a baseball bat. Which—why didn’t I think of that? So for @yodasears, I’ll have an option for you in the next day or two.

2. I had been pondering doing a more feminine shirt too, so I’ll work on the “Tool of the Matriarchy” tomorrow. I have some ideas, just need to see what they look like put together.

Once upon a time, my sister-in-law kind of flinched when I mentioned what one of my former beaus was up to. She said that her husband didn’t “let her” talk about (or, by extension, keep in touch with) hers.

I just—can’t imagine.

I’m married to a guy who doesn’t get bent out of shape if I literally travel around the world without him. (I’ve done two solo round-the-world trips, one in 2012, one in 2013.)

Kat, I’ve been trying to figure out why the idea of a shirt that says “Tool of the Matriarchy” rubs me the wrong way, but it’s just not quite jelling. Can you maybe read my mind and/or come to the same conclusion and write about it cogently and at length so I can find out what it is?

I think it’s something along the lines of sarcasm (because there is no matriarchy and we’re very far from having one) not translating well to t-shirts and as such it will tend to be read by MRA-types as identifying the wearer as one of themselves, that is, someone who really does believe that women are the ones in power and men are the downtrodden. And maybe a bit of missing-the-mark humor to people who do feel ground down by the patriarchy since it sounds a bit like the cheerful claim that we live in a post-___ist society when we patently do not.

Any chance you can help me out here, or tell me if I’m missing something obvious?

The Matrix. The movie made by Lana Wachowski and her supportive traitor to the mens brother Andy.

As a serious, non-troll question – what is the best way (concise, non-offensive) to refer to this situation? The person we’re talking about is called Lana now, but at the time the film was made the person was called Larry. Should we say “The Matrix, made by Lana and her brother” or “made by Larry (now Lana) and her brother” or “Larry (now Lana) and his brother” or what? Or does it not matter?

Similar situation: the Welsh historian and author Jan Morris, who wrote some books as James Morris and some as Jan…

As a semi-regular visitor to reddit how have I been so lucky as to miss red pill? Must remember to continue missing it!
I love strong women & was smart enough to marry one, we are lucky guy you and I (Ema Peel was my first TV crush after Annette Funicello – Mrs. Peel took no guff)
Very early in the thread Tamara Knox mentioned she thought the title was a big idea – I got $50 says Scalzi has notes started on it already & we will be able to pre-order it from Amazon in a couple of years ;)

Ajay, the consensus among trans people is that one should *always* refer to people by their post-transition name, for a variety of reasons.
If one was writing something where Ms Wachowski’s trans status was relevant, like a biographical article, it would be OK to say she was formerly known by her previous name, but when talking about a film she’s made, or really in 99.99% of contexts, it’s not relevant and you should just refer to her as Lana Wachowski.

(Also, *never* refer to a trans person by the gender they were assigned at birth, even if you’re talking about their past. Referring to her with “his”, even when talking about a time when she presented as male, is considered grossly offensive by most trans people.)

What Hickey said,pretty much.

OK, technically I’m not Trans, I’m Intersex, but one of the syndromes where you’re born looking mostly like one sex, and change to look mostly like the other. So close enough.
Fortunately,the change was in the right direction, my only complaint is that it could have been sooner, Gender Dysphoria is hellish.

It has given me an unusual perspective though. First of all, no,Feminists are not exaggerating, believe them. I thought I was pretty well up on it while presenting as male, but I was staggered at the unremitting nature of the misogyny afterwards. It really is s bad as they say.

Feminism will also have done its work when we can admit that there’s such a thing as Female privilege too, without immediately having to give disclaimers that Male privilege is an order of magnitude more of a problem in the West, and three or more in much of the world.

I read the original post, and then the comments. Wow.

I don’t wear t-shirts, but I do on occasion throw people out of the pub, with or without my partner. Might be worth noting that in a lot of pubs in the UK, the bar staff will back you up if you complain about another customer, especially if you’re a regular: persistent sexual harassment will get you barred from most of the pubs in my town and I know one person who was barred for racist comments.

My partner did once go to the defence of a young woman who was about to be assaulted, but by the time he got there she and her female friend had already floored the assailant, bumped him up the stairs and thrown him into the street, where they showed him their badges and placed him under arrest.

Thank you znepj and also zoebrain. I then ask, is this ass-hole-like ‘privilege’ we men assume so readily … is it a mens rea? That might better explain John Scalzi’s “all” regarding sexism, maybe that because of culture or whatever, all of us simply operate in a deficit state of mind.

Men’s Rights Activists. That phrase seems to me to imply that those rights are more important than the rights of other genders, such as, oh, I don’t know, women, as an example.

Otherwise, maybe the phrase “human rights activist” would be more accurate. And imply that the rights of all genders of humanity are up for consideration.

For those who are confused by the phrase “the mens”, think LOLcat. That’s the sort of grammatical construction common to the LOLcat dialect.

Reading this shortly after reading about CBRs new forum/community and the reason behind it (link below.) And while I was temporarily discouraged at all the stupidity my new daughter is going to someday encounter, it’s overshadowed by the bright lights that are exposing the behavior for what it is and hopefully leading it to become a thing of the past.

re: “the mens” : used mostly in the facetious/pathetic phrase “But… but…but what about the mens?” Which phrase actually gets used non-satirically ‘WAYYYyyyy too much whenever one suggests a change in #whatever that might slightly address current gender inequalities.

‘Cuz privilege will always have its defenders.

Why can’t we have cursing, vulgar Scalzi back? At least on alternate Thursdays. :)

And the blurtacious jerkuloids from Rigel VI were real blurtacious jerkuloids from Rigel VI, not the pale imitations who get past the Mallet today.

Okay, so you got some productivity out of the day then yesterday? Excellent. Love this. Go, Krissy. My only suggestion is she switch to wood. Sounds better hitting the ball, if you know what I mean. Hell, for her birthday get her a Maasai rungu. My wife has one.

As for The Mens they need to stop being afraid of the unknown (which for them is just about everything nowadays). Gawd, they’re sad. Not much else to that really. Well, that and embarrassing.

Missed that story from before my reading here. Thanks for the blast from the past!
Showed this to my partner. Her exact words were: “He’s not a traitor. Because of his valiant sacrifice, we’ll let the Mens live…for a while.” She’s a black belt, and not from one of those McDojo black belt mills, and a better shot than I am, as evidenced by her CHL class targets. I’d listen to her.

Hail Hydra the Femisnarky!

Richard Norton, privilege is not about being an asshole. It’s not your fault, you don’t “assume” it, and you can’t renounce it or stop using it, because it’s not (all) about what you do, it’s about how others treat you…including times when you’re not there to say “no, I don’t want to be treated better because I’m a man!” BTW, I have male privilege and white privilege, but I’m disprivileged when people find out I’m queer. You can be privileged in some areas and disprivileged in others.

The action key here is: be aware of your privilege and try to use it for good. This includes being aware of when not noticing privilege is itself a privilege.

For more details, I think this explains it in a friendly (in both senses) and straightforward way.

Richard (who is NOT Richard Norton, right?), they’ve translated most of the Bible into LOLCat. God is “Ceiling Cat” and Satan is “Basement Cat,” in case you were wondering.

PrivateIron, I don’t know, perhaps because he’s discovered that he gets more of the result he wants with more moderate language? Or because saving the cursing for truly extreme occasions makes it more effective?

I don’t actually know; I’m just guessing. Those are the reasons I’d use moderate language if I had a blog that so many people read.

Yeah I read the original post and waded thru those circa 2006 comments when it popped up on my twitter feed. The antagonism and venality towards John and Krissy just blew me away! It was a literal MRA infestation.

I discovered the wretched hive of villainy and scum The Red Pill from another subreddit called SRS, which translates to “Shit Reddit Says”. They comb thru reddit and pull quotes that are misognistic, racist, homophophic, ect and throw them out to the peanut gallery to snark upon and tear to pieces. They may go overboard at times but it’s still a fun read usually.

sometimes the smallest things set you off John… So I started checking out Larry Correia’s blog. He has taught self defense classes for women. So he appears to be just as in favor of women sticking up for themselves as you are. With one exception, his training involves the use of guns. Lets face it there are some situations where a woman can find herself in where a shove won’t get a guy to stop.

This is not a troll post. Just pointing out that in many ways liberals and conservatives are similiar.

Pointed this post out to my spouse this morning. As I walked away, he was pulling out his wallet. Approximately three minutes later, he happily announced that his Traitor shirt should ship tomorrow.

I myself am impatiently awaiting the debut of “Tool of the Matriarchy.”


Kat, I’ve been trying to figure out why the idea of a shirt that says “Tool of the Matriarchy” rubs me the wrong way, but it’s just not quite jelling. Can you maybe read my mind and/or come to the same conclusion and write about it cogently and at length so I can find out what it is?

Um. Well, a matriarchy isn’t any good in the same way that a patriarchy isn’t any good. It creates a society in which one group is human and the other labeled sub-human and kept unequal and secondary, instead of equality. It is a standard claim of machobros that feminism and women’s rights efforts are trying to establish a matriarchy (and often have somehow uber powers to do so.) And they claim that men who ally with feminism are being a tool of this matriarchal cabal. So I actually wouldn’t probably wear a “Tool of the Matriarchy” shirt because it isn’t as much of a joke when a female wears it. It is more of a sarcastic joke if a man wears it. The unease may, however, be a bit from the idea that being a traitor is a choice, and being a tool is someone manipulated. So that might be the not jell part. But you know that I can’t actually read your mind, right?

I am debating whether I would get a T-shirt that said “Hail the Femisnarky!” I think I might. Anyway, Deirdre’s design is great.


As a serious, non-troll question – what is the best way (concise, non-offensive) to refer to this situation?

She was always Lana. She was Lana when she made “The Matrix.” It’s just for some years of her life, she went by the name Larry. But she doesn’t use that name for work anymore, so she’s Lana and she is/was/will always be a she. And that’s the Red Pill reality. Likewise, if someone is intersex, asexual, agender, etc., they are the pronoun and gender determination they say, that is not necessarily binary. Because they are wired that way and they identify that way. They are the people they are.

Zoebrain: Thank you for sharing your experience and the link to Kempe’s article. That’s a really good one.

No. No. No. I do not do twitter and do not wish to read a succession of twitter messages on the same topic by the same writer (which defeats the character limit of twitter). Please, Scalzi, no more of this twitter business on Whatever. Keep the two separate. Do you twitter stuff elsewhere, not here. Not even copies here. I know. I know. Your site. You will do as you wish. But just know. Some few of us out here do not care for twitter conversations. Rant over.
As for the topic, your thoughts are on target. Men do more harrasment of all kinds toward women; it is not an equal two-way street. What fools think it to be so?

I have ordered one – maybe the first in the UK?

Yes, they do ship internationally.

I shall wear mine with pride. My wife is most amused. Or was that bemused? I get so confused.


As a serious, non-troll question – what is the best way (concise, non-offensive) to refer to this situation?

Simple answer — the same way you refer to everyone else, by using the name and honorific they’ve expressed a preference for. Not calling Lana Wachowski “Larry” is, to my mind, functionally no different from not calling a divorced woman who has reverted to her maiden name “Mrs. [insert family name of her ex-].” I also have a male friend who changed who legally adopted his mother’s surname for reasons that aren’t mine to share here, but which only a complete arsehole wouldn’t respect.

And as other have observed. “misgendering” transpeople by using their pre-transition name or incorrectly gendered pronouns? Dick move, so to speak.

And this?

Similar situation: the Welsh historian and author Jan Morris, who wrote some books as James Morris and some as Jan…

Sorry – again a non-problem. Over the last forty years, many of her books written pre-transition have been reprinted as the work of Jan Morris without any fuss whatsoever.

Like so much in life, it’s only as complicated as you choose to make it.

To boil this all down, it really is the problem that Amerikkka has with the white male christian patriarchy culture that envelopes and enslaves the people here. Kudos to you Sir Scalzi for fighting that wretched system. The future is ours.

She was always Lana. She was Lana when she made “The Matrix.” It’s just for some years of her life, she went by the name Larry. But she doesn’t use that name for work anymore, so she’s Lana and she is/was/will always be a she. And that’s the Red Pill reality. Likewise, if someone is intersex, asexual, agender, etc., they are the pronoun and gender determination they say, that is not necessarily binary. Because they are wired that way and they identify that way. They are the people they are.

Ah, thank you.

On occasion, I can be dumb about this. But I try to be less-dumb as hard as I can.

Just speaking up in support of the Twitter messages. I also do not Twit, but my life would be poorer without the Gremlins and other selected Twit-bits that Mr. Saclzi has chosen to share here.

Regarding “How do you refer to a trans* person when referring to stuff that happened before they transitioned?”, I confess I used to be torn about this myself in certain circumstances. It felt weird to me to refer to a friend of mine as her current, chosen gender and current, chosen name when relating stories from her pre-transition days. My thought process went something like this: She presented as a man back then, with a man’s name, and I knew her as a man back then, so, wasn’t it weird and dishonest to speak as if the man she presented as back then didn’t exist?

What I finally realized it came down to was, in referring to the identity she presented as back then, I was privileging my experience of her over her own experience of herself. All my reluctance to do the right and respectful thing was based on how weird it felt for me to refer to “that time when she and I were talking about X” was based on my having experienced her as a man at that time. Oh, and it was also based on my privileging my experience of “referring to who she was back then as ‘her’ feels weird to me!” overmuch. Because, you know, she probably felt weird and worse than weird, having to present as a man all that time; and also, it’s not about me and how weird I feel.

I basically had to realize I was acting/feeling/logicking out of my own unquestioned cisprivilege, before the right and respectful thing to do began to make intuitive sense. It’s not that the right and respectful thing isn’t intuitive; it’s that “intuitive” is dependent on how we’re taught to think, and after the from-the-cradle training most of us get in cisprivileged thinking, some things don’t get easier until we learn to think differently.

Because, you know, she probably felt weird and worse than weird, having to present as a man all that time; and also, it’s not about me and how weird I feel.

@Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: EXACTLY! As a (much more patient than I really deserved) transman friend of mine put it: “That woman never existed for me.” And every time I misgendered him- and failed to acknowledge let alone respect his reality – it was just one more slap in the face.

@Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

I think that’s a good baseline, to default to the pronouns the person currently publicly identifies with. On the other hand, let’s say I knew they were in the closet before they came out. Obviously I should respect their decision and not out them, and I don’t see that as a slap in his or her face, though I recognize that, feeling the need to remain in the closet for whatever reason, the simple fact of that need is a slap in the face. On the gripping hand, if a transperson were to tell me that they personally prefer I use different set of pronouns depending on which part of their life I’m referring to, I would certainly do so. And honestly, why they might individually choose to do so isn’t really any of my business unless they want to tell me. Maybe their internal identity really changed. Maybe they just started acknowledging what it always was to themself. Maybe there’s some other reason I can’t think of. Maybe there’s no conscious reason beyond feeling that’s how they want to be referred to. The one certainty is that it’s their choice and my moral compass directs me to respect that choice to the fullest extent of my knowledge.

cranapia, There’s a relatively new word for those slaps in the face: microaggressions.

This has been very helpful. I have a better understanding of the appropriate policy toward past-tense references to trans people, and I’ll do my best.

But now I have a difficulty, because it’s an identity issue for me that I’m not sexually attracted to women.* But that’s not true, because I’ve been attracted to more than one trans woman before she came out or did anything about transitioning. One of them is a (currently retired) porn star who presented as male very, very well (and I don’t just mean body-wise; she apparently had acting skills that most porn stars can only dream of, since she came off as very butch, more so than any of the guys she worked with). I have, I blushingly admit, enjoyed several of her videos quite a lot. But it’s definitely odd to be saying that.

Are porn stars an exception? Probably not. They’re as deserving of respect as anyone (and if you disagree we’re going to have a little conversation about sex workers and slut-shaming). So I can’t say “I liked him back when he was a man,” because “he” never existed, never was a man. I can say “I liked the videos she did when presenting as male.”

She says, btw, that nearly all of her fans from the old days are in that same place of fully supporting her in her transition while feeling a loss of the male-presenting her. It doesn’t appear to annoy her greatly. She seems grateful for the support, in fact.

It’s kinda shaking me up. This is a good thing.

*Well, one or two (cis) women, back in college, but a) they had really big shoulders, b) I never acted on it at all, and c) I got over it. It was a phase, you see.

So I’m late to the party, but my random comments are:

I love the occasional Twitter posts. Usually they’re fun/interesting/funny conversations that I missed because I can’t spend my whole life on Twitter. (Like the time I saw Scalzi slapped down an ex of mine in Twitter and then referenced it here on the blog and I got to see it and laugh hysterically.)

Re: “But I have no clue what the tee-shirt means. “Traitor to the mens”. Are the hat and the mustache significant? Hat traitor to the mens mustache”?”
I think someone else has already pointed out that “mens” is a satirical plural, but in true tradition of the Internet, it should be written “teh mens”. The hat and mustache are pop cultural – mustaches especially are popular hipster design trends right now. (You’ll see things like this poster:

I love the married-now-divorced analogy to the question of how to refer to trans-folks. I’ll have to remember that one. But yes, current gender presentation always.

I wanted to address @Robin’s comments about the “Tool of the Matriarchy” shirt idea. One of the reasons sarcasm is hard to communicate in a t-shirt is that graphic elements must support the intended tone, and they often don’t. I think I’ve got it, I just need to do some illustration, and it’s not my strength so I’m taking my time on that part.

I’ve been involved in a number of contests over on, and it’s really eye-opening how much even just a font choice can change the feel of what a book cover leads the reader to expect.

While I’ve mostly been a software engineer, I also have history working in print graphic design, so I hope to get the intended tone across. Everything will miss SOME people, so I can’t worry about that.

Responding to other comments, especially those about trans pronouns and names, I had an epiphany long after my ex came out. It may help some of you.

Hoping that the digression about respectful/appropriate ways to refer to a trans person isn’t too terribly off-topic, I’d like to add my thanks to those who have articulated such clear and to-the-point comments on that subject.

Even more so, I want to express my gratitude that you volunteered to “do the heavy lifting” for those of us who had not yet internalized the concepts thus explained. I am privileged, unquestionably so, and I acknowledge that I show that privilege in both my ignorance and in my expectation that others less privileged than I will provide the information I need to ameliorate my ignorance.

So, thank you.


On occasion, I can be dumb about this. But I try to be less-dumb as hard as I can.

Join the club. I can’t remember where I first heard the word cisgender — maybe Jim Hines’ blog? — and I was like, “what’s that?” Because I didn’t need to know, did I, on my privilege axis of being the majority default. And I was schooled on my cis privilege on this very blog and I’ve always been quite grateful for it over the last few years, as it’s kept me aware to watch falling into pure female-male scales. Sometimes I do anyway, because that’s how it works, but you just try to keep aware. I’ve got a few trans friends and online buddies and they have enough crap to deal on without me acting like they’re aliens.

Some non-cisgender don’t transition due to one set of circumstances or another, or have to wait a long time. Many trans people are in the closet and only come out to a few privately. And it is of course dangerous for them to do even that, unfortunately. So the cue is to go with what they are comfortable with and in trusting you with, because that is their identity. They were born one sex, but their wiring is for another.

Some people are born both sexes and their wiring is for one or both. Some people have even more complicated situations. They are a “minority,” but what people have to realize is that “tiny minority” still mean millions of people all over the world. That’s a lot of people, who are as much a part of the world as cisgender folk. (It helps when you have a millennial child who is way more aware of privilege stuff to yell remind you.)

The very idea of this is traitorish to those who believe rigid cultures form male identity and keep them superior. But they are also perfectly happy to borrow ideas and symbols created by trans, gay, women, etc. if it suits their purpose, because after all, you get to use whatever the lowlies make, right? So I guess that’s the pretzel logic. But it is more than a little weird. And it is yet another example of that weird logic we’ve seen throughout the last year for everything from convention harassment policies to an entire comics forum having to reboot themselves after watching a woman get nearly savaged for criticizing a really awful comics cover.

Dear folks,

Y’know, I’m seeing three fallacies in the collection of “Krissy (and any other woman) shouldn’t do that because it isn’t safe, ‘cuz what if he gets violent?” posts–

Error one: The specific assumption, not exactly backed up by the information, that Krissy was wound all the way up to 10 on her physical assault scale, while the guy was only at one or maybe two. All he has to do is ratchet it up a bit and she’s overwhelmed, right?

And you know that, how???

‘Cause it reads to me (and I’m just guessing, here) that the abusive drunk was dispatched simply and very efficiently with a relative minimum of muss and fuss. What that usually means, in a physical altercation, is that the person doing the mussing isn’t anywhere near their limits. It’s hard to control things that well when you’re at your limit.

If you’re going to make assumptions, make the more plausible one––That because Krissy used exactly as much force as was necessary, she had a lot in reserve she didn’t call up. Not the one that suggests that this is a frail, physically-insignificant human being who can only stop a man if she uses every resource she has AND he doesn’t put up a fight.

Because, not only does that not fit the data at hand, it’s factually wrong for awful lot of women. Not to mention being downright stupidly sexist.

Which leads me to…

Error two: the general assumption that it is safer for women to never confront the man assaulting them, no matter how far he pushes it.

This is a well-established and known fail in everything from simple harassment up through forcible rape. There is data. Lots and lots of data. It’s not a hypothetical, because women live in a world where this happens to them all the time. Which means, it’s already not safe.

It also means that they’re a lot, lot better at sizing up the situation from a physical standpoint than the naysayers give them credit for. Because they HAVE to be. That privilege thing (or lack thereof), you know?

One of the big things that perpetuates women being perpetually harassed and assaulted is that THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE FOR THE MAN (well… hardly ever). Why shouldn’t a sexist asshole be a sexist asshole? He might win (for whatever his idea of winning is), and it doesn’t cost him anything if he loses.

When a modest percentage of women, the ones who evaluate the situation and decide, “Oh yeah, I can take him,” choose to object forcibly and forcefully to assholery, the calculus changes. Every woman doesn’t have to physically fight back. It’s the social equivalent of herd immunity. It makes all women safer. (Not safe… But safer.)

Remember, women, on average, are a lot better at judging the situation than men, because they HAVE to be.

Which takes me to my third point, which is a tad self-contradictory (Oxymorons-R-Us)…

Every three: the assumption that men are better equipped to evaluate the safety and appropriateness of Krissy’s (or some other woman’s) response. Because, guess what? Everything about the world says you’re not. You’re not as good at evaluating risk. You don’t know as much about the risks women face. You don’t know as much about what women, in general, and any particular woman, is capable of. You are simply not as qualified.

Look through the comments, you naysaying men. How many of the criticisms are coming from men? How many are coming from women? Whose judgment, really, should you trust more in this situation?

And, do you understand that the preceding paragraph was entirely filled with rhetorical questions?

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
— Ctein’s Online Gallery 
— Digital Restorations 

[Deleted because, you know what, Greg, among other things, this just seems like another opportunity for you to start getting yourself wound up on a subject that you often wind yourself up on, and I don’t want to have to deal with it on this thread. Let’s say we don’t, this time around, thank you – JS]

ctein: “You’re not as good at evaluating risk. You don’t know as much about the risks women face. You don’t know as much about what women, in general, and any particular woman, is capable of. You are simply not as qualified.”

Good points, one and all. AND: You were not there. Krissy was. An intelligent, capable, mature woman was at a bar with some friends. She sized up the situation and acted. She had had time to get a sense for how much of a threat he posed. She had backup. She was in a much better position than anybody reading about it here to determine what kinds of risks she ran, if any.

It’s nice when people besides me point out that my wife had the capacity to size up the situation and act accordingly. I always am less than thrilled with the implication (out of concern or otherwise) that she isn’t (or wasn’t) able to do so.

With that said, I don’t care to have this particular topic of conversation drawn out further. Let’s assume moving forward that Krissy correctly sized up the situation, and correctly acted, and leave it at that.

And she was at great physical risk by getting physical with the guy. She was also at great physical risk if she had simply knocked the guy’s grabbing parts away, yelled and gotten bar security (which would be what I would be doing because I don’t have the wherewithall otherwise.) And she would have been at great physical risk if she’d just let him grab her. And lastly, she was at great physical risk simply being a woman in a bar.

Women are always at great physical risk for being women, irrespective of the lesser general physical risk all humans are at and any particular situations that increase risk. (Being in a public bar is not a particular situation.) Any action she took could have led to her death or serious injury. There is no right, safe course of action because simply breathing can get you killed as female. (There are a few wrong ones, depending on the situation.) And Krissy is no more qualified to size up the danger to herself than any other woman or human being. But she is qualified to decide things for herself in regards to her person because she is an independent human being. And she had every right to be sitting in a bar.

She sized up what she did at the time, she made a rapid decision based on that, and she defended herself against attack with what is called containment technique. She immobilized her attacker without harming him, focused his attention, and in a calm voice told him to calm down. It’s basically what the bar security would have also done, except that they would also throw him out. It could have gotten her killed, but it did not. Sitting there and taking it could also get you killed. Someone who has a knife or a gun or a club weapon who wants to kill you for being a woman (or gay, etc.) will do it. Her choice did place the guy at a less advantageous position for killing her than when he groped her. Waving a gun at him would not have done so.

Sexual assault isn’t about sex, as every sociologist will explain. It’s about anger. An assaulter gropes you not to get a feel but to humiliate you, dominate you and defeat you in control of your body. That may give a sexual charge, but mostly it gives a power charge. Even if the person slaps the assaulter away, well at least he or she touched you intimately and you couldn’t stop it.

So it doesn’t matter that Krissy was a woman, or that she was in a bar with other women. A guy who was angry focused in on her group. She fended off the attack, best she could, but if she had not, still wasn’t the wrong course of action. There are risks coming and going. This particular situation worked out.

The baseball bat idea had traction in the beliefs that Mr. and Ms. Scalzi are liberals, hypocrites and advocates of no violence or physical force as liberals. Therefore Ms. Scalzi hypocritically went against her beliefs and beat a man for talking to her with a baseball bat. Made perfect sense to them. Because they are angry.

“Responding to other comments, especially those about trans pronouns and names, I had an epiphany long after my ex came out. It may help some of you.

Deirdre, thank you. That was fantastic. It’s eerie how our epiphanies overlapped, too.

I was having a conversation offline about this conversation, and it went in an interesting direction. It was basically about memory and identity. If I can sum it up usefully…

Memory is a very large part of identity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that we resist the obligation to defer our remembered experience to that of someone else. We’re not just saying, “Oh, yes, your memory is correct and mine is wrong.” We’re voluntarily giving up a claim to primacy of identity, in favor of theirs. In fact, showing respect in almost any situation is a matter of choosing to give another person’s identity, needs, memory, etc. primacy over our own.

Put another way: my memory of being friends with and hanging out with man was part of my identity, however small a part, and I had to give it up in order to acknowledge that this friend of mine was a woman all along. Of course her identity as a woman is more important here than my identity as someone who remembers hanging out with a dude. The math involved here is not difficult. What’s difficult is deferring one’s own identity to someone else’s, especially when the rightness of doing so isn’t a context one got trained in from birth they way we got trained in “respect your elders” and “shut up when teacher is talking” and so forth.

Which isn’t to say “Showing respect is haaaarrrd! Pity us poor cisprivileged jerks!” It’s just coming to further understanding of why this should have been so hard, when I feel a little ashamed today that I used to find it hard.

JS: “…Let’s assume moving forward…”

How about to the subject of testosterone?

Heh. A good while back I lived in Portlang Ore, and on our block we had this screamer ex-cop (ex for being abusive). One night I’d gotten back from a printing press and was opening the car door, about 1:30AM. As I got out I looked down at my belly and discovered that there was a Dirty Harry gun in it, and that Mr. Ex cop was screaming at me. He screamed, “Where is it?”

I grinned and said, “Let me help you look for it. What is it we want?”

He hadn’t figured things out that far, so he screamed, “Open your back door.”

“Absolutely.” I kept my hands very open and opened the door. Fortunately, I guess, Mr. Ex Cop didn’t see what he wanted, so he started glancing around the car, I guess for where I might have thrown whatever it was out. At this point of the story we meet his wife.

“You ass,” she screamed from down the street, “He just drove up. The man who assaulted me with the iron went down the street that way.” She gestured, and Mr. Savior to the World took off.

I leaned against the car with my hands still up until he was a good half block away. I watched him even pointing his man thing (erm gun) in storm sewers and even behind trash cans, and suchas he chased phantoms down the street.


OK, to me this is man stuff. It’s that testosterone running in our veins almost right after conception.

I don’t want kinds of equality. I want women ruling the world.

I read this above “privilege is not about being an asshole. It’s not your fault, you don’t “assume” it, and you can’t renounce it or stop using it, because it’s not (all) about what you do .. The action key here is: be aware of your privilege and try to use it for good.”

This seems to me such a hopelessly deterministic view. All I can do is forever apologize, since I will always receive these unfair benefits of being a white man.

I have a suggestion: starting today, don’t analyze your relationship with others in terms of relative ‘privilege.’ It’s a divisive way of thinking. Start with only the assumption that other men and women are your equals, considering natural rights and under the law. When you see your fellow man in need of help, help him (or her) according to your ability. If necessary, do your part to correct historical wrongs. To do any of this, there is no need to assess whether or not you are relatively privileged, only whether some others are in relative need of aid.

Banish the category from your thoughts, and maybe one day we’ll have the kind of society spoken of by those civil rights leaders who were not hopeless nihilists.
” … will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

All I can do is forever apologize, since I will always receive these unfair benefits of being a white man.

This is dramatic, overwrought nonsense, but it certainly is a useful way to avoid thinking about the topic seriously.

@Richard Norton: I’d rather live in a world where I am simply treated as a person, rather than assumed to be some kind of superior being because I pee sitting down. Particularly since the flip side of that whole ‘oh, women are better people than men are’ thing is very ugly: that is, carte blanche for men to behave badly because golly, they just can’t help themselves, all that testosterone that swam through their veins even before they had veins. Please come up with a justification for your conduct that doesn’t involve crapping on decent human beings who happen to share your gender.

Bob: Your argument, IMHO, is at heart – whether you realize it or not – an excuse to ignore the fact that some people have more privilege than others, just because of their skin color, sexual identification, religion, etc. We can’t even begin to correct these sort of problems until we recognize they exist, no? Surely, some people overemphasize the problems, just as others try to dismiss them. Witness the jerks (and while mostly male, I’m sure there were a few women too) complaining about Krissy’s handling of the guy trying to letch on her. Sounds like half their problem was that she successfully drove him off without help, and half that John (or other males) didn’t have to come to her rescue. The definition isn’t necessarily divisive if the majority of us use it to help us try to even out the playing field, rather than using it as an excuse to cast blame for our condition on others, such as blaming ‘all men’ or ‘all whites’ etc for all the problems we may face. It’s a call to be aware that the condition of privilege exists in our current society, and not use whatever privileges we have as a baseball bat to club other people who don’t share those privileges. And that bludgeoning doesn’t stop unless people call attention to it, and name it as being wrong.

I will admit that what gets me, after having grown up in a time period when women were mostly homemakers, with some housekeepers/cleaning ladies, secretaries/clerks, librarians, school teachers, nurses and the like – and almost no women were politicians, company CEOs or owners, military leaders, etc – is that so many younger women (not the ones here by and large!) seem to think that the feminist struggle is over, that there’s no need to keep up the pressure. Then I see some politicians saying things along the lines that women really shouldn’t be in politics, that they shouldn’t be allowed to vote, I see the statistics that say that at the moment men get hired as managers in much larger numbers than their women counterparts, the increase in the number of sexual assaults (I suspect the numbers reported by the military and on college campuses reflects an increased number through out society – and I don’t think it’s ‘just because more women are reporting the assaults’ as some wags claim), and so on, and wonder where the women who think the struggle is over are living, heck, I want to live there, too! Perhaps it’s because a lot of discrimination these days is not as out in the open and obvious as it once was, so they haven’t noticed how it has affected their own lives – at least, not yet? Or perhaps it’s proof of the adage that if one generation is active in trying to change society, that the next generation tends to be more conservative, adjusting to the new norm and consolidating, and while there will be some back sliding, in the end the societal norm doesn’t usually reset all the way back to the beginning? Then the third generation, which will be more activist, may have to regain some ground, but they aren’t starting at the same place their grandparents started at.

Re transgendered folks: I can remember my first real awareness of trans folks. In college I became a fan of then-male-presenting Walter Carlos. When LPs began to be replaced by CDs, I went to try and find CDs of “Sonic Seasonings.” Couldn’t find a “Walter” Carlos in the catalogs. But there was “Wendy” Carlos, now listed as the composer/conductor/musician. I was in shock at first, but then found myself respecting Wendy as much for her courage in so publically stating her true sexuality; transgen folks have a hard time even now, but it was a heck of a lot worse 30 or so years ago… Even so, I have to admit it took me a while to think of her as “Wendy” rather than “Walter” and using that name when writing or talking about her. Mind, when I grew up we didn’t even talk much about gays and lesbians, much less transgendered / non-cis people. Some major changes there over the last 50 years or so. We’re in a much better place than we were back then, but – yes – there is still a way to go. It seems we take two or three steps forward, then one step back – yep, we backtrack some, but not as far back as we were at the beginning.

Hey, that sounds nice, a world where everyone treats everyone equally regardless. How would it be policed?

I love Marx – what he wrote about the needs for us all to be treated equally, and the passion he showed in his writing. Problems occur, however, when we try to figure out ways to police everyone, to keep us all treating each other decently. Erm, secret police? Pie in the sky ideas like “let’s all treat ourselves decently” don’t work until we figure out ways to enforce it. I’m simply suggesting a gender transfer over a system that already works fairly well.

Erm, what do you mean by “justification for your conduct”? My conduct was to hold my hands up while a gun was in my belly. My justification was that I didn’t want my guts blown to the other side of the street, so I held my hands up and said I’d help Mr. Crazy Person look for his whatever. I hope this answers your question to your satisfaciton.

bob: All I can do is forever apologize

“privilege”‘s etymology comes from laws made that gave a privileged few special/better treatment over everyone else. The way equality would be achieved in that meaning would be to remove the law. It gets problematic when that meaning is applied to something internal to an individual (like race, gender, orientation) rather than external (like a law). If I’m privileged because I’m white, how can I achieve equality by giving up being white? Which then leads to the sort of reaction you’re having.

As best as I can tell, when people say “privilege” around issues of inequality, they’re usually meaning something more along the lines of “lack of empathy”. Or to use a term that is a single word: “indifferent” or “disregard”.

Example, Nicole, talking about using a male pronoun to talk about a person who had transitioned to female, said “I was privileging my experience of her over her own experience of herself.” Empathy is entirely about “getting” the other person’s experience. Understanding it. Experiencing it for yourself. Calling the person “he” when they preferred being called “she” would “disregard” their wish and be “indifferent” to it. And the general idea is that if you can empathize with a person, you would treat them as equals.

The other thing it does is shifts everything from “discrimination against” and turns it into “favorable treatment towards”. But this is also problematic because sometimes the problem really is “discrimination against” some other group. Example: racial profiling by cops. You are privileged if you’re white because the cops don’t stop you just based on your skin color. You HAVE privilege because you’re white. But the problem is not that the cops treat white people unfairly. racist cops are treating people of color unfairly.

The goal of this shift seems to be to attempt to engage the moral engine of people’s brains. If the cops discriminate against blacks, then the cops are the ones doing wrong. A white person might see this as a problem and look for ways to fix it, but they’re approaching it as a problem to be solved. On the other hand, if the language is changed so that you’re taking advantage of your privilege by being white and not being stopped by cops, then some of the blame falls on you. You’re doing something wrong, and the moral decision part of the brain kicks in.

It’s no longer “racial profiling by cops is wrong and how do we fix it?”. It’s “I’m wrong and how do I stop being wrong?”

When you said All I can do is forever apologize, that a side-effect that shows up sometimes when someone’s moral engine is engaged and realizes that there is no way to stop being wrong.

Just because it’s something that comes up a lot: A guy who wears a fedora (or similar sort of hat) isn’t necessarily aligned with the MRA/MGTOW mindset. Many hipsters are actually very progressive and even feminist. Something something book by it’s cover something something.

I’m buying one of these shirts when I get back from travel, and I’ll buy a Tool of the Matriarchy one as well, and wear both (at the same time, maybe even) whilst wearing my fedora or trilby or whatever.

@Richard: it sounds a heck of a lot nicer than a world where women are assumed to be better than men by virtue of being female, doesn’t it? (And we know how that kind of world would be policed.)

Geezlouise, I should SOOOO leave things as they are, regarding what people think of my visions. However, to be perfectly honest I need to give the whole schmear. (God, how this could be shredded by the current lot of posters.)

I would PREFER a world run by neutered humans – meaning gelded males at birth (or sooner) and neutered females, but I don’t believe that’s feasible so I’ll go for second best: females over males. This is a statement about the problems of hormones, which comes from an old horseman’s phrase: stallions come from Mars, Mares come from Venus, but geldings come from heaven. I am saying, then, that folks with sexual hormones running through their systems tend to behave like current members of congress, and in a perfect world I would hope we could do better.

(BTW, someone asked if Richard is Richard Norton. Yes. Deal is, I forget to write my name consistently & I use many PCs)

Richard, that’s just the flip side of the old canard that women can’t be trusted to run things because once a month their hormones make them irrational. Every healthy, sexually mature human being has sexual hormones running through his or her system. These hormones do not force people to behave violently, hysterically, or irrationally. Although hormones may play a role in some human behaviors, our behavior seems to be governed more by culture and socialization than by hormones.

There’s lots of reading out there on this topic if you’re interested. Any easy place to start might be

BW, my statement WAS the flip side of the “biased” statement you provided, which I also kind of believe in; and you were very gracious in guiding me to studies showing how humans should master their hormones. I’ll read the articles with interest, but let’s face it: we all have baggage. Mine is that I’ve grown up around horses, and I since can’t vote for geldings in congress so my TENDENCY is to vote for someone less hormonally dangerous (in my opinion), which means a female, if no other reason overrides; and that’s really why I would term myself a “radical feminist” in threads like this.

John Scalzi is within perfect rights to mallet this sonnet I’ve just finished, but when you read my posts you might consider the poem first, as my baggage:

It’s sin to sit horseless on fresh April days
With wind and rain brushing high-pricked ears
And prancings in pasture – going to graze
On foal-greened hays, sweetest of year
Abandon sit-ins! We’ll go out and ride
Lose winter goo and make nostrils flare
Whip hairy hides and gallop the wide
Work and surge forward, charge away fear.
‘Tis said that horse sweat meets special needs
Proving to all who really can fly
And ably perform the great hero deeds
Galloping on ‘neath thunderous skies;
They’ll finally lick-learn and in hearty joy
See all as one: horse and cowboy

Bob, you do not have to apologize forever for being a white male. But you do have to be forever aware of the privileges you have and make sure you take the time to assess your assumptions and make changes to yourself and the way you interact.

I don’t care about apologies, I care about how a person acts now and in the future.


I have a suggestion: starting today, don’t analyze your relationship with others in terms of relative ‘privilege.’

In other words, completely ignore the society you live in and what other people are struggling through? That’s just more privilege, where you get to ignore the privilege you have and we who are on the downside of those privileges cannot ignore them and continue to be damaged by it. We don’t need you apologizing for privilege, Bob, because you didn’t deliberately give yourself privilege. We need you to recognize that it is there, even though it’s ugly and you don’t like it. Because privilege — the social structures under which we live including legal ones — is not resolved or changed by pretending it isn’t there to resolve and change.

Privilege isn’t individual; it’s social. The society gives you privilege and teaches you that it’s normal. Consequently, you treat others through privilege because you don’t or refuse to acknowledge that it’s there. Like, say, lecturing people in disadvantaged groups that they should ignore society’s privilege approaches that disadvantage them and pretend that they aren’t there, because it upsets you, a privileged person, to hear their perspectives and positions in society over your own.

If you treat everyone equally without understanding how privilege works in the relationships, you aren’t treating them equally, because you are refusing to acknowledge that you are both in a society where they aren’t equal. You are ignoring the obstacles, discrimination and institutionalized social attitudes they face. You are ignoring that they can’t treat you equally in the same way that you are attempting to treat them because of those obstacles in society. You can treat a black person almost any way that you want because you are white, but the black person cannot treat you back any way that he or she wants because you are white. The black person has to be very careful with you, even in a simple conversation, or risk punishing consequences — damaged career, cops and jail, death, loss of property, loss of opportunity, etc. Sometimes they do risk these things; sometimes they point out the white person’s privileged position relative to them to the white person. And the response often is that the black person is angry, exaggerating, overly aggressive, etc. — privilege is asserted to deny that privilege and inequality exist, privilege and inequality in society with which a black person has to deal with every day.

Women in the work world are judged differently from men on their behavior and performance because of privilege training. Consequently, there are often things women workers can’t do because they are women and will be punished for it. But the men can do them, rewarded for those very same things, and that gives the men an advantage in their careers. The men are seen as more capable, the illusion that the men and women are being treated equally is maintained, and women continue to face roadblocks that keep them to 15-20% of leadership positions.

So just because you want to treat people equally doesn’t mean that you actually are. Unless you acknowledge and look at the privilege in the situation — unless you are willing to understand and learn the unequal position they are in — there isn’t any equality; you’re just continuing the unequal status quo.

Take our friend Richard Norton here, who is all for women. But he’s throwing privilege all over the place. His neighbor’s behavior wasn’t testosterone induced, it was due to mental health issues. But Richard accepts the behavior as being because he was a man and therefore aggressive (privilege.) Scientific studies have shown that women are no less aggressive than men. What happens, however, is that from the earliest age, girls are taught in society that it’s not okay for them to be aggressive, violent, or even angry. And boys are taught that it is okay for them to be aggressive, violent and angry — that this is in fact a key aspect of being a male (because testosterone!) Women are mostly punished for aggressive behavior; men are mostly rewarded for it. (As we see with the Krissy incident.)

This is then used to block women from professions that are “male” — aggression required — soldier, cop, security — and used to block them in the business world — CEO, stock trader, anything where the word “shark” is regularly used. Women are naturally seen as softer, more submissive, more conciliatory, kinder, less decisive, etc., because they don’t have as much testosterone — and that’s used to discriminate against them. It’s also used to push men into internalizing scripts that don’t necessarily fit them either, to keep them from accessing emotions, away from childcare, rape culture, etc. It means that men and women pick up myths from society, like Richard did, and repeat them, backed up by their random experiences and their privileged interpretations of those experiences.

Accepting and acknowledging privilege means you try to be more aware of discriminatory myths cropping up in your own behavior and the social circumstances around you. That when a woman co-worker is arguing vociferously and you think she’s going overboard, you look at whether you feel that way partly because she’s female and her behavior is going against views you have about women that you’ve never bothered to examine, whether you would have a different take on it if it came from a male co-worker. Accepting privilege means you are aware of what the female co-worker is risking speaking that way as opposed to a male co-worker speaking that way. Accepting privilege means listening to others’ perspectives of the discriminations they are facing, rather than insisting they accept your worldview and interpretation of those things. And it means knowing that when you accidentally do insist, that they are not in an equal position to answer you back without a lot of risk. That society does not want them to answer back because society has put you in the superior position and they have to deal with those social forces, whether you are okay with it or not.

Social shifts do not occur when privileged people blithefully decide in their largesse to treat others “more equally” and dictate the terms of how they’ll do that. Social shifts occur when enough people become aware of the privilege that creates discriminatory biases, so that those biases can start to be set aside and dismantled, changing the script about people in disadvantaged groups. That’s why the “mens” are screaming a lot because the collective social view of women is changing, which makes them uncomfortable. It’s changing because women keep talking despite risks, and because more men are listening and looking. (See, I looped it.)

Does it come with a pocket? And in 3X size, or bigger? :)

I wear shirts with a breast pocket so I can put my iPhone in there at the gym – and Tammy wears big (3x plus) shirts as nightshirts, and I can’t think of any better!

Oh, Bob! Are we doing “Do I have to apologize for being a Straight White Guy” thing again?

As a Straight White Guy myself – yeah, I know it’s tempting to feel persecuted because finally Not-Straight White Males are calling us on our bullshit, but…Get Over Yourself. Seriously.

If this counts as the sort of “not all X” argument you lambasted in a previous post, I apologize and willingly submit to the Mallet, but I do wish to point out that redpill is just one of many thousands of channels on reddit, which is no more a singular entity than Usenet was back in the day (for anyone else old enough to remember that). I heartily encourage anyone who has not given the site a try to check out a “subreddit” tailored to a specific interest of theirs (perhaps readers here would enjoy before passing judgment on the site.

Kat: If you treat everyone equally without understanding how privilege works in the relationships, you aren’t treating them equally,

This is mumblymuck. if you “treat everyone equally” then you are treating everyone equally. The “how privilege works in the relationships” is that it is a synonym for empathy.

because you are refusing to acknowledge that you are both in a society where they aren’t equal. You are ignoring the obstacles, discrimination and institutionalized social attitudes they face.

If I treat someone equally regardless of race, then I’m treating them equally. And if the cops are racially profiling them, then, ta-da, I’m still treating them equally.

The amount of vocabularly you conflate (individual versus systemic, internal bias versus external discrimination, and others) into this magical mumblymuck term “priivilege” doesnt make anything clearer to understand.

Mark J. Reed:

Reddit has a basic free for all philosophy as a massive discussion community, and I don’t have a problem with a website existing having that philosophy. I just don’t want to be involved in such a website. Child porn, sexual harassment, far right groups, and a lot of people I really don’t want to have any contact with, even accidentally, no matter how nice others there may be. That’s just my personal thing; a lot of people find Reddit very useful and good for them.

Greg, it might be easier if you read “treat everyone equally” as “treat everyone identically”. E.g., showing respect to all, but that respect might be expressed differently toward a child, a peer, and an elder.

Or maybe it wouldn’t be easier for you. As John noted, you wind yourself up on this topic, since you start a priori with the assumption that anything involving “privilege” is mumblymuck and respond accordingly without any possibility of learning something to challenge that mindset at all.

I think where people often get tangled up on the idea of privilege is by treating it like the substance of a discussion rather than as a tactic for understanding the world better or communicating more effectively. Privilege is just a jumping off point; it should not be the end of the discussion. But too often it is. Some people exit the discussion to avoid looking at privilege; some people act as if determining the relative privileges of the participants is more or less deterministic of the outcome of whatever it is at issue. Needless to say, both sides lose, but unfortunately, almost ipso facto, the people with less privilege lose more because they are ones in the worse position to begin with. People without relative privilege have to keep teaching the privileged ones, regardless of how frustrating and unfair it is, because otherwise they are left with the status quo and the status quo sucks, particularly for them.

I will try to put this more practically: People who may have some sort of privilege in some aspect of your life, you still have the right to have an opinion. You still have the right to disagree with someone who is “not privileged” in that particular respect. You still have the right to value your interests as you see fit. In fact, due to the structure of the system, you probably have more rights, as a practical matter than the people you are arguing with. So just for the sake of human empathy, try to recognize that fact and work it into your daily life if you can.

Oh and we need a way to talk about class and economic issues. I disagree with the capital letter Socialists/Communists who think race/sex/orientation are distractions, but class really is the elephant everyone seems to think they can ignore these days and the one that has the most potential to unify us thanks to our lovely shrinking Gini Co-efficient.

What is to be done about one’s privilege?

Use it for good:

And, a post I originally wrote in response to John’s “lowest difficulty setting” post and the ensuing conversation, in which this same question came up: “Stuff you can do if you know you have privilege and you want to do something useful with it instead of harmful.”

Dr. Sheila Addison, I have at least read & listened to those two sites now. & Kat, Okeydoke, your comments to me cut through. Must say I’m not used this kind of hard thinking. Seems somewhat like math.

First, Kate, I’ll agree now that women may have natural aggressions equal to males, if not possibly more actually maybe. Makes sense. Horses are “prey” animals and sensitive to aggressive ways, especially in predators like from their human owners. Horses react to occasional talented cowgirls at some basic, instinctual way I think; and there may be something you’ve said that’s behind this. Not all girls are good cowgirls (though I think a higher proportion than males), but girls and horses have always been a thing … maybe because society has allowed females ‘privileges’ this way? (Still a bit unfamiliar with the term).

I’d agree right away that the crazy neighbor in my old story (with his Dirty Harry gun) had mental issues! That man was a loose cannon, probably dead now or in prison. Maybe I also misread this some of this because of my grasp of privilege stuff.

Here’s some thoughts I’m now having about cowgirls losing privileges. I’ve known some excellent cowgirl trainers but very few popularized ones – in the sense of where equivalent men trainers are having circuits to ride, DVDs to sell and such; and I can’t help but wonder if that wasn’t a privilege thing. I know I’d buy such. (I’m sure you could have expressed this better.) Too, I’ve wondered about that even in normal rodeos. Some females are SO GOOD at knowing how to handle livestock, yet I have never seen women in the critical position of “pickup men” in normal rodeos, for example – pickups are those folks who handle livestock right after bronc rides and such. I’ve sometimes thought, “why aren’t those extra-capable women I’ve envied out there?” I’ve always thought some good cowgirls might have done better than current male ones, if only because they never cease to communicate discipline to their mounts, even at critical moments (this is hard to explain). Of course there are girl rodeos and gay rodeos etc; but at regular rodeos, management I guess pretty much keeps women to barrel riding, entrances and erm, lesser things. Not that anyone should want to get their necks broken nightly, but I’m just saying I’ve sometimes wondered why no women weren’t at least overseeing in the ring. (I am no expert; I only attend and have a mouth with opinions; but something does seem uneven).

I am trying to listen. BTW, most horse “listening” I’ve had I’ve learned from my wife. I like to talk more to horses than listen to them. I wrote that poem (above) for them.


Got ya, my sister is Dr. Doolittle ex-horse trainer who barrel rode back in the day. And yes, all the things you are talking about re women being shut out in the rodeo and exhibits area are privilege (bias drift,) as well as often more direct sexism. Even when folk don’t think that women can’t be as good as men at it, they are likely to still feel that the men are somehow more capable and to listen to the men as authorities (DVD’s and such,) put them in the riskier or more prominent positions, count the men’s victories as more due to their abilities and the women’s as more due to luck or circumstance. The women have to do a more impressive performance than the men to get any of the sort of praise that the men do, to build a career or hobby career at it.

Because having the men do the riskier things, be in charge, be the featured performers, etc. seems normal to us, seems to be the central experience, while women are regulated to the side, lesser experience. That’s what we mean by saying men are the default — they go with the men first — men’s needs, interests, views, etc. That you noticed it means you noticed the bias built into the system. Which helps to start to remove biases both personally and in the fuller scope of the society. Noticing leads to challenging — people asking the rodeo runners, “why are the women restricted to barrel racing?” And then you usually get pretzel logic back as a response. (Like, women just seem to like only doing the barrel racing, or women aren’t physically strong enough to do the livestock wrangling, or they treat everybody equally and that’s just how it happened to have come out this time.)

And then you have to push against the pretzel logic. Because unless people do it, women stay restricted to barrel racing. But it causes a lot of uproar before that. And the first step is identifying it and not accepting it as normal. The first step is also understanding that it’s not just a matter of the women being treated unequally by an organization — it’s a matter of the women being blocked from objecting to that unequal treatment, having such objections be dismissed and the woman punished if she objects — with shunning, even more restrictions, accusations of witch hunting, etc., by the entire society as well as the rodeo runners. That’s the first reaction against shifting the bias — there is no problem or that the problem is over there and has nothing to do with us.

We think we are treating people equally but we aren’t. We aren’t judging them equally because the criteria we’ve been trained to use isn’t equal. We think if we treat them in the way that we regard as equal that this somehow makes them equal, as if we’ve magically removed the restrictions on their behavior and the risks to them for challenging those restrictions — as if they can be equal with us just because we’ve allowed it (unequal.) We dismiss and attempt to restrict the experience of the person on the down axis about their discrimination and get mad when they refuse to defer to our views about themselves. We pout that if they aren’t going to defer to us like proper down axis folk, well then, there’s nothing that can be done about the problems. As we talked about in the other thread, we roll boulders down the hill at them.

Treating people as equal means first understanding and acknowledging that they aren’t equal with you because of the society we’re both in. I’m willing to bet that ninety percent of the rodeo runners think they treat the female riders as equal. And yet the statistics show that’s not happening. The women are at a disadvantage both in not having the opportunity and not being allowed to speak freely about the lack of opportunity. The mens go one step beyond that in believing that inequality is deliberately good. The mens are the majority in some countries and a minority in others. But in all countries, women are unequal. And part of that inequality is to limit and restrict their ability to object to bias they experience.

Robin: it might be easier if you read “treat everyone equally” as “treat everyone identically”.

The point is that if I treat everyone equally or identically, then regardless of what is going on in my internal thought processes, I’m still treating everyone equally/identically. This as opposed to Kat’s assertion that one cannot treat people equally without first subjecting themselves to the nerve-induction box of the Bene Gesserit and conquering the privilege within.

you start a priori with the assumption that anything involving “privilege” is mumblymuck

A priori? “If you treat everyone equally without understanding how privilege works in the relationships, you aren’t treating them equally, “ is mumbly muck. It’s the kind of thing the Sphinx might say on Mystery Men.

respond accordingly without any possibility of learning something to challenge that mindset at all.

Mindset? “privilege” is all about controlling the “mindset” of people. If I treat people equally, then it doesn’t matter what I’m thinking. Maybe I’m treating people equally because I follow a moral humanist philosophy. Maybe I do it because of an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard. Maybe I treat people equally because three ghosts visited me and put the fear of god and eternal damnation in me. The thought doesn’t matter. What matters is the behavior. And Kat’s assertion that I can’t treat people equally without subscribing to her voodoo hoodoo, mindset, called “privilege” is dogmatic nonsense.

I don’t need to subscribe to the religion of “privilege” to treat people equally. (and its a religion because it has the first commandment that all religions have)

Here’s a little puzzle for you: Take the term “privilege” and compile a list of everything its definition encompasses. Now subtract all the stuff that has other terms to describe something in the definition of “priivlege”. That means subtract off stuff like implicit bias, explicit bias. individual discrimination, systemic discrimination, empathy, or lack of empathy, advantage, disadvantage. Now, what’s left in the definition of privielge that isn’t already defined by those other terms? Mindset. That’s it.

“privilege” isn’t about “implicit bias” because if I wanted to talk about implicit bias, I’d say “implicit bias”. “Privilege” isn’t about empathy or understanding because if I wanted to talk about empathy or understanding, I could use those other terms. Every part of the definition of “privlege” is already defined by other terms except for one part: the mindset it insists its followers believe.

The languaging of “privilege” attempts to engage the moral decision process in people’s minds but it does so by the process of invoking guilt.The concept of “privilege” epitomizes western religion’s notion that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god. It asserts that every individual starts at a moral deficit and can only be redeemed by the grace of God or the proper mindset. It is the clearly the product of people living in the cultural conversations of western religions.

And I don’t buy that its the only path to salvation. I don’t buy that its the only way up the mountain labeled “equality”. I don’t buy that the first thing we need to do to achieve equality is for everyone to adopt the mindset of privileged sinner. You want to talk about implicit bias, lets talk about implicit bias. You want to talk about systemic discrimination, lets talk about systemic discrimination. Everything that people try to say is defined by “privilege” is already defined by other terms, except for the mindset.

And if you want to assert that no one can treat anyone equally without subscribing to the mindset of “privilege”, then I say you’re wrong.


Really? All religions have a first commandment? No, I really don’t think so.

On the other hand I do think you need to get out more…

Greg, have you heard the story about the doctor who called all the interns by their first name? I think I read it here not long ago. It turned out that his patients assumed that the women interns were all nurses. Treating them “identically” turned out to mean that they were NOT treated “identically” by anyone else. Because in the social context of a hospital, nurses are often called by their first names, but doctors often aren’t. So this doctor, in the attempt to be warm and friendly, was actually undercutting the female intern’s authority with their patients.

“Identical” treatment is not always actually equal.

Stevie, yeah. Thou shalt not have any other gods before me. Ours is the only way up the mountain. Its part and parcel of western religions.

Cally: the doctor was treating everyone equally. And the doctor wouldnt need to subscribe to “privilege’ to notice that some patients have an implicit gender bias, nor would the doctor need to subscribe to ‘priviliege’ to figure out that calling everyone by their title would also treat everyone equally, would short circuit any implicit gender bias/assumptions in patients, and would be professional.

The religion of ‘privilege’ isnt the only way to equality.

Greg et al, are you against the tweeted stuff, because you are fighting what one might call “bandwagon bullying”? (I just invented the term.) Or thinking things are stated too dogmatically or religiously, or Westernly? I note “pcinsff” directed us to some interesting comments from his site about abusive Political Correctness Police, but also note that pcinsff accused no one here of that. And I note Greg implied a “Western Dogmatism” kind of style in all this, with hints (in my mind) of Inquisitors.

Hmm. How about a different Western Pragmatic: trees should be judged by their fruits. I mean, nearly anything can be made to look good, including dogmatisms; yet at least in my experience nearly everything good will leave a mental and emotional good taste in the palate after a bit of time if we are willing to digest. Perhaps some of the messages here appear a bit heavy-handed; yet the feeling I personally get from them so far are: 1) there are moral arguments I now feel I cannot ignore without some personal lessening; 2) within the arguments, eating a bit of humble pie may be necessary, since some of the scenarios appeared familiar enough to me; and 3) changes may be worthwhile.

Whatever the terms, privilege or mindset – which are all new to me anyway – I do feel a moral struggle from what’s being said here – actually from both sides.

Folks looking to improve society are interesting. There’s folks who are completely abstract, not worrying about how things should be enforced – which can be a bad thing. There’s folks who just want to be bullies with whatever’s at hand, maybe using “politically correct,” arguments to catch unlucky “malefactors” whenever, and put them in public stocks and throw tomatoes at them, for fun really. And there’s the curious: folks who join bandwagons or reject them, maybe because of baggage in their lives. It’s interesting, both in finding what’s being said, and wondering about whys and consequences, and if anybody’s really looking at a big picture (WHATEVER that may be – I’m just trying to close my thought!)

Me, I clicked Dr. Sheila Addison’s first link and absorbed an anecdotal illustration via youtube. I honestly had not realized a certain problem that clearly yet, and think the new understanding was worth the effort. (I do feel sorry for cashiers, though: bosses can hold cashiers on tenterhooks or they’re fired.) OK I tried the second link. The good Dr. appeared heavy-handed but I didn’t sense bad fruit. I think the grim doctor is grimly trying to flesh out some grim facts, and grimly fighting off inventive trolls at the same time. No William F. Buckley humor in her, maybe, but the fruit seemed OK.

Richard: Greg et al, are you against the tweeted stuff,

Not sure which part of which tweet you mean. I think Krissy (and any other woman) should be able to defend herself just as much as any man. I think the folks who chastised John for letting her go out by herself are nitwits.

Or thinking things are stated too dogmatically or religiously,

When a discrimination conversation turn towards “privilege”, inevitably someone starts making claims (direct or implied) that one must subscribe to the notion of “privilege” to treat people equally.

or Westernly?

Well, I think the notion of “privilege” was more likely to come from the sort of culture that gave us the Puritan work ethic, Catholic guilt, and proselytism. The eastern philosophies I’ve studied don’t seem as obsessed about claiming theirs is the only way up the mountain. Nor do they start their moral accounting with the deficit that is original sin, and that redemption must come from outside, from someone or something else.

I do feel a moral struggle from what’s being said here – actually from both sides.

Certainly, I think equality is a moral issue. The difference, I would say, is that I’m not trying to tell you that my version of morality is the only way to equality. How you treat people is what matters. How you got to that point is your unique path.


You keep using the term “equally.” I (for one) would be more comfortable if you used the term “fairly.” For example, allowing everyone “equal” time to walk from Point A to Point B is not “fair” to the person on crutches. Addressing the whiteboard when you lecture may be “equal” treatment, but it is not “fair” to the deaf person who needs to see your lips. Etc.

Pfusand, I agree. And if the doctor in the earlier example learned that addressing interns by their first names was causing patients to think that the female interns were nurses, it would be a poor show to say, “Well, I’m treating them all the same, and I can’t be concerned about what the patients think or how the patients treat the interns.” It would be the fair thing to call all the interns Dr. Lastname, since his laudable intent (being warm and friendly) was having an adverse effect on the female interns. It would be silly to insist on his chosen form of address just because he meant well and was treating them equally, when the result was unequal treatment by others.


You have shifted your ground from ‘all religions’ to ‘Western religions’ and, from past experience, if I point it out you will concede that, as a question of fact, around a sixth of the global population, some 700,000,000 people, have no religious affiliations of any kind. We’ve done this before.

So you knew that statement was nonsense, but you typed it anyway, and I really do not understand what it is about this topic which screws up your brain so thoroughly that you will type statements which you know to be nonsense in defence of a position which is nonsensical.

Your claim that Kat Goodwin is peddling a religion is nonsense; I could just as easily suggest that your claims about non-Western religions stem from your belief that Asian women know their place and are grateful for any crumbs of recognition you may deign to toss in their direction. This is, after all, a favourite riff of the guys who are horrified, and terrified, by John’s desire to have women in his life who have lives of their own; you are fitting into the VD world view but you really don’t want people to notice it, or comment on it.

It is unsurprising that people do notice it because there is a very large disconnect between the amount of time you spend mansplaining how you personally are not privileged in any size, shape, or form, and the amount of time you spend considering whether there may be ways in which society is structured to give more opportunities to people who conform to a particular model which they can do nothing about, whether it be their chromosomes, their skin colour, their sexual orientation or their disabilities.

If you choose not to spend time thinking about whether you are getting more opportunities than others for reasons apart from your general awesomeness then you do run the risk of people reading your interminable screeds about your awesomeness and concluding that you are not, in fact, awesome…

Stevie: You have shifted your ground from ‘all religions’ to ‘Western religions’

Rereading my post, I see that the word “western” was dropped from one of the sentences, My bad. Later on in the same post I said “.. “privilege” epitomizes western religion’s notion…”, which was my intent in the first reference as well. So there was no shifting goalposts. Typo yes. Shifting, no.

If you choose not to spend time thinking about whether you are getting more

Your chastizement was that I’m not THINKING ABOUT whether I’m getting MORE opportunities than others because of privilege. But I could just as easily THINK ABOUT how others are getting LESS opportunities than me because of discrimination. And both ways of THINKING ABOUT could lead to the same behavior/solution/action.

Any example of measurable discrimination could be viewed through the mindset of ‘privilege’/advantage or discrimination/disadvantage, and both mindsets could lead to the same behavior/solutions.

“privilege” is a mindset. Or, if you’d rather, a linguistic frame of the situation. Many different mindsets can lead to the same behavior/solution. Indeed, every single person has their own unique mindset or view of the world.

Scalzi, in your life you may believe it is so.

I’ve said many times discrimination is real. But there are many ways to frame it.

It could be framed that some are disadvantaged below others.
It could be framed that some have advantage over others.
It could be framed as an “invisible knapsack” of advantages that some get to carry around.
Or it could even be framed that some play at the lowest difficulty setting in the game of life.
They’re all different ways of framing the same problem.

Disagreeing with one frame isn’t’ the same as saying the problem doesn’t exist.

Okay, the refresher apparently does not like green boxes. I will work on that. Last wrap:

We like to laugh at Scalzi making fun of the twisty angst of the Mens, and wear the T-shirts (which again are beautiful,) and such. But the reality is that the philosophy of the Mens in regards to what they label “PC” is in charge or partially in charge of every country in the world, in the government and the courts making the laws, and running nearly every major religious group and nearly every business, corporate and smaller. The Mens and the systemic discrimination they endorse are still the social and legal normal. They are upset that some disagree that their philosophy should continue to be the social and legal normal. They feel that civilization will be destroyed or lesser unless that discrimination is in place or put back in place, the bits that have been lessened slightly in some spots, but not as much as we often like to think.

When we have people who are obvious about supporting social inequality, who have actually examined their attitudes and found them good because they were trained that way, like Cliven Bundy and so on, it is easy to see them as those fringe folk over there, and ourselves as traitors to their attitudes. But we really aren’t. We still live in the Matrix. We still support the Matrix. We still really, really mostly do not want to discuss the Matrix and who it flushes down the toilet and why, if it will in any way discombobulate the creche pod we sit in, if it gets too uncomfortably close.

I have great hope for the future (except perhaps for the environment,) but I don’t have illusions that I am radically apart from the Mens, just because they see me as mouthy property. What I do know is, the more we talk, the more that philosophy loses. The more we bring up what we go through and listen to what others go through, the more we all start examining our attitudes and the world we are living in. The more we bring up the issues, despite objections, outrage and threats, the more there is a chance not just for legal reform on the big issues, but real mental change on the everyday issues and attitudes. And the normal does change. And a T-shirt to that effect doesn’t hurt.


“I’ve said many times discrimination is real.”

And discrimination is not the same as privilege, so it’s not just an issue of framing. It’s an issue of you actively trying to deny something that’s real and pervasive for whatever reason that causes you to do so. And yet again you’re doing that thing that looks like if you believe that if you just type about it long enough, either you’ll either stumble across a winning argument or simply tire people out. It’s gotten a little tiresome.

Greg, since you really can’t seem to stay away from this particular issue, and since you don’t really seem to be able to disengage from this topic, even when I drop a massively large hint for you (as in, deleting your first attempt to argue on this thread), and I don’t think you are capable of acknowledging your own set of issues on the topics (except to deny them via rhetorical maneuvers like “framing,”), I’m giving you a month-long time out on commenting here on sexism, privilege and the like (you’re free to comment here on other topics).

In the interim, you might want to spend a little time with yourself asking yourself why these particular topics exercise you as much as they do. I know you don’t think this, but from the outside you come across as angry, dismissive and, yes, sexist and/or privileged when you discuss these issues here, and it’s long past the time where it’s become a problem.

If you want to convince me you can discuss these topics in good faith, then you have some work to do. Get to work on them, please. You have a month, starting right now.

Everyone else:

Unless it’s directly on topic, wrap up, please.

They are seriously wonderful t-shirts; I’m awestruck by the artistic skills of so many people that I encounter on Whatever, and the way that humour can be deployed so brilliantly against the raging hordes of Mens…

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