Science showdown

After reading the always fascinating Emily Nagoski take on Jesse Bering at Scientific American over cervical mucus, disgust, and sex-positivity, I have now read his rebuttal column, titled ‘The foolish feminist: Be careful who you call a misogynist, you misandrist’. Emily herself has a reply to this, and over at The Sexist there is also some nice discussion of how he has successfully debunked feminism. Well done, Jesse Bering!

As well as personal insults towards Emily (calling her “not-so-delightful”, and saying he will allow her her two minutes of “lackluster fame”, calling her a “hypocritical, self-righteous, sanctimonious schmuck” and “man-hating”), he calls her a misandrist after reminding us that hey, a women edits his posts (so surely he can’t be misogynistic!)- ohmigod, guys, I wonder if he also has black friends??

What I found hilarious was this comment

I’d venture a guess that, unlike “misogyny,” many of you had to look up the word “misandry” (I did), which probably says something about the double standard by which society feels it’s perfectly acceptable for women to hate men, but men aren’t permitted to hate women.

Hahahahahaha….. so, he and I live in different societies, right? I think the claim that society doesn’t permit men to hate women is possibly the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. Our society doesn’t permit men to hate women? I didn’t realise that denial of reproductive freedom, unequal pay, and discrimination were things you did when you love someone! My bad, people. Apparently I have been doing it wrong.

He also completely fails to consider that maybe the reason people are reluctant to call themselves feminists isn’t because

radical, hot-headed, loudmouthed caricatures of blank slate feminism—are giving the feminist movement itself a bad name

but maybe because of a huge backlash against feminism that has been going on ever since women started to push up against people who didn’t want them to be allowed any rights at all: a huge tactic of any kind of hate campaign is to smear the people who are pushing against ‘the man’, and to discredit them and make them look bad by creating a hugely exaggerated negative image of the group. Like, I don’t know, painting feminists as unfeminine or unnatural, or perpetuating the myth about foaming-mouthed bra burners. You make your opposition look bad, it makes what they are fighting for also seem bad. Simple, right? So, I disagree with Jesse Bering’s point that “caricatures” of feminism give feminism a bad name: I think the image of feminism created by the backlash is more likely to be the culprit. He quotes from the conclusion of the study he mentions (Jessica Jenen and colleagues conducted an Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) on feminist concepts):

[Previous researchers] showed that many women believed that a “typical feminist” was different and more radical than many actually are.

It is completely possible that this “typical feminist” image comes from stereotypes perpetuated not by feminists but by anti-feminists. It certainly is a plausible explanation.

As for the “bad name” being the thing (or one of the things) that scares people from identifying as feminists; this is possibly the only thing Jesse Bering and I would agree on. Where we differ, however, is the possible reasons we believe have contributed towards creating this “bad name”.

As a side note, I found his concluding sentence repulsive

Go stuff it up that hole of yours which is shared by both male and female jackasses alike.

He has obviously been careful to make sure we get this is a ‘stick it up your ass’ comment, not a ‘sexual violation’ allusion, but I still think it is hideous, and given how frequently feminists on the internet are told that a certain part of male anatomy in a certain part of their female anatomy would set them straight, I think it is pretty inappropriate. And, aside from that, ending your rebuttal in ‘stick it up your ass’ is possibly the most childish thing you could do, and weakens your entire ‘I am arguing from a place of intellect and reason’ stance.

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