Wonderful fights between narcissism and worthlessness

Strawmen and Support

on October 16, 2012

Strawmen are my favorite derailing tactic by a mile, although I’ve noticed I use them for sarcastic jabs way too often for how often I vilify straw feminist imagery. A strawmen can be any horrible lie you want it to be and can derail a debate from the main argument to so many subtopics by introducing and then fixating on a point of contention, contrived or not. And it’s hard to argue it as total bullshit because, as a 7 billion plus member species, it’s likely someone, somewhere has opinions more extreme than the strawman.

Of course, strawmen are total bullshit despite this. When people evoke a strawman to debate a point, they mean to slander a group or an ideology that just is not represented as a whole by a strawman (or stereotype when it goes down that road). One on my mind today is Mitt Romney’s attempt to dismiss reality with the idea that not having health insurance is fine and no one dies from non-access to medical care. It’s a hyper version of his $10,000 bet with Rick Perry to show us he doesn’t understand what money means to most people, with an odd use of strawmanning; in this case, the strawman is actually every American, with the bullshit qualities that we’ll go to the ER no matter what, always be prescient enough to know when a condition is life-threatening, not actually have that debate about whether symptoms are of something that can be slept off or not, and also no one gets bills. Someone will take care of that (insanely expensive for most Americans but not Mitt Romney) ER visit’s cost!

One of the many insidious ways this turns a debate is in it’s accusatory power. What? You support feminism? You mean you ACTUALLY support THE ENSLAVEMENT OF MEN? What? You support homosexuals? Why do you want our CHILDREN ABUSED? And etcetra. Feminism is a great big diverse flagpole, almost as much as theist really, and to think you can say anything definitive is ludicrous, as is every claim the Men’s Rights Movement makes. But if you’re debating what someone says and they accuse you of being an evil man-hating feminist, once you’re debating THAT point, you aren’t debating what the other persons aid anymore, and you’re probably not getting back to it.

The main issue is derailing debates, believing false realities, and caring more about how you are perceived or “winning” a debate than figuring out truths and being truthful prevents a lot of very necessary conversations. Global warming’s history is weird as fuck in the public sphere, really. And it seems to be becoming the normal process for public ideas and discussions: two sides are set up, sometimes deliberately, and both start spinning the truth, trying to win favor, be seen as “the good guys,” and turn any issue, no matter how impactful or important to work out (like whether global emissions will allow enough methane to escape from melting ice caps into the atmosphere to make life unsustainable on our planet long term due to runaway greenhouse effect) into another politicized, ideological, disconnected-from-reality debate.

Opposing the MRM is not opposing the idea of men having rights, no matter how much they scream it, just as opposing the FRC doesn’t oppose families no matter how much they insist people are by promoting “alternative” families. It is in fact opposing their opposition of families while hiding behind and busing the language of family support, just as the MRM lies about the reality women and men face and promote discrimination against women. That’s not to say men don’t have issues unique to them that absolutely need redress; male sexual assault victims need support and a voice and need for their rape (in prison, by family, anywhere and everywhere it occurs) to be viewed as serious and not a punchline and needs opposing. But you don’t need to interrupt efforts to end the victimization of women to do so. We can support more than one thing. And painting feminists as an opposing side, lying about the realities women face, and co-opting the issues men face to promote an ideology of bigotry towards women has the potential to harm men’s rights and their particular struggles while also just plainly discriminating against women and opposing their equal rights. No matter how hard they insist they have the best interests of men at heart, co-opting their issues to try and entrench your privileged position in society by turning men against women harms men too.

It also, of fucking course, harms women and equal rights, and remains completely reprehensible as yet another vomit-inducing and effort-derailing tactic and that’s enough to oppose the “Men’s Rights Movement.”


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