“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s very easy to find a reason to hate someone. People everywhere do it all the time, especially when they disagree or feel threatened by what someone is saying. I was taught as a child when I was mean to try and think about how that would make me feel. I assumed this was they way a lot of kids were taught, the dreaded words…
“How would you feel if someone did that to you?” – lotta moms
As adults we learn ways to circumvent this lesson. We figure out ways to rationalize and skew data in order to get a result that reinforces our world view. A huge chunk of the news industry revolves around this very talent. When I get messages from men demanding answers for my videos on feminism, I see a lot of this rationalizing. It’s now common for the opposition to throw the frequently used phrase “I don’t have time to educate you about this” in our faces as if it’s some kind of hypocrisy.
Now let me be clear, if someone engages you personally in a debate and then when you question them they say, “Oh I don’t have time to educate you!” that’s crap. Feminist or no, that’s absolute horse shit. Because that’s not how to one properly debates.
High School Debate Class 101
Do you remember learning how to debate in class? I sure do. We were divided into teams, then each team had to research the material thoroughly. Then you would sit with all your notes and take turns trying to prove your point. It was a lot of fun until one kid usually went overboard with the passionate speeches and made everyone uncomfortable. But that’s debate class for you.
Notice I said “each team had to research”. This is where most angry commenters fail the class. You see the whole point of debating something is lost if the opposition never bothered to do their homework. All actual debate comes to a halt while you catch them up, define terms, and slowly bring them up to speed on the topic at hand.
Now imagine if the opposition was a constant stream of people who never bothered to do their homework.
A day in the life of a Internet Feminist
Say you make a video about rape culture- here’s an example. Now you begin to receive some comments from men who don’t agree with you.
“Well I’m a guy and I’ve never raped anyone. Not ALL men are rapists!”
“Was she dressed like a slut?”
“There is psychological research that says rape might be a biological imperative.”
“Men get raped too, it’s not just women. Stop talking about just women.”
I’ve seen all of these and more. The fact is these arguments have been around for a long time. And the answers have always been there. These particular commenters have not bothered to look into these arguments or if they did they found the results didn’t match what they wanted to hear. Now, what to do?
Well, you could go through one by one. You could calmly and rationally state your points, the facts and the citations needed for said facts. If you’re dedicated enough you might do that the first 50 times it happens. But the sad reality is these questions will keep coming. No matter how many times to answer that one guy on Twitter or Youtube, he’ll just be replaced tomorrow by another angry person demanding you also answer the exact same question.
It also rarely makes a difference whether you bother with facts or data. In almost every case the commenter will throw it out the window as being “twisted bullshit funded by the feminist agenda” <— actual quote, by the way.
And that’s when it really dawns on you… it doesn’t matter what you say.
You will never convince them they’re wrong or even just misguided. So really, if this were your situation day in and day out, would you bother? Really?
I see high profile authors like Lindy West (Jezebel writer and Twitternaut), whose completely given up on the angry comment birgade. Instead blowing off the steam from the constant bombardment of yelling by openly mocking them. And really…can you blame her?
Imagine 1000 men yelling at you from all directions demanding you answer the same questions over and over to each of them personally. And then even when you place the information directly in their hand, they toss it over their shoulder and call it bullshit. How would that make you feel?
Answer: it makes you mad. Very, very mad. Bothering with them at all feels like endlessly bashing your head against a brick wall if the wall was calling you a “feminazi”. You can never debate them properly because they have not- and more importantly will not – look into anything for themselves. They will never stop for a moment and think in earnest, “how would this cultural system make me feel if it were me”?
It could be an entitlement thing. But I personally think it’s more likely that they have no interest in debating at all. They want you to be wrong. And when you’re not wrong they call you a cunt. Rinse and repeat every day until you’re old and bitter and perhaps at that point finally do hate men as they all claim we do. But most decide to take the less painful route and just start telling them to fuck off. It’s doesn’t help anything, in fact I personally think it’s counter productive. But it is cathartic. It does give a certain sense of relief to simply say, “I don’t have time to educate you about this, come back when you know what you’re talking about.” Because of course, they never do.
This isn’t a perfect system. It’s only real use is helping you keep your wits about you in a sea of ignorance. In fact I think some legitimate debates fall through the cracks because the arguments get lumped in with the constant “not all mens” and the “biological imperatives”. Popular feminists often stop responding completely because they don’t have the time or energy to wade through the yelling idiots.
What’s even more troubling is the power of the internet to shape how we see the world. If all the people who are kind agree, and those who aren’t are in a constant state of ignorance then it’s easy to lose perspective. You can get lost in your own ideals, down a rabbit hole of increasingly radical ideas. And the volatile, misogynistic words being sent to us only end up making us angry. That anger can only go so far before it becomes hate. The only alternative is to go completely numb. Just give them the finger and walk away. Content is the idea that you were right all along. And how the fuck is that helpful? The internet can be a great place to communicate, but I think few people are doing any communicating.
Was this post even helpful? Will anyone who reads this actually think, “Oh wow I hadn’t considered how the feminists felt. Gee wiz I should stop yelling at them for answers and maybe look up some of this stuff on Google myself. Thanks, Nycea!”
Nope. Oh well, feels good to say it at least.