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It’s All Right To Cry

Stumbled upon this peculiar article on Slate“Cry Me a River (of White Male Tears)”:

What starts off as a run of the mill music piece about a new album by the Dirty Projectors miraculously transforms, as so many things do these days, into a cultural commentary instead. It seems this breakup album is no mere breakup album – this breakup album represents something greater. Apparently, the author believes that men no longer have the right to make art that reflects their life experience because patriarchy, or something.

Eventually, the author concludes that the album simply had to be a work of insightful self-criticism and not “fits of heartbroken pique that have long inspired male songwriters” because apparently that’s the only way the woke critic could justify still enjoying the band. It was impossible that a bepenised individual dwelling in the year 2017 could have the temerity to write an earnest album about his romantic feelings, because other bepenised individuals have historically acted in less-than-desirable ways.

The article left me wondering, when did men crying become a mockable offense among feminists? How did “male tears” become an insult? Why are men’s feelings and their heartbreak being held up for ridicule? And why is this even a little bit cool?

Slate investigated and attempted to justify the rising trend a couple years back. But I’m confused. I don’t think this trend is funny at all and in fact, as a feminist, if an unorthodox one, I actually find it inherently patriarchal.

Patriarchy is not only harmful to women, it’s harmful to men as well. We are all victims of the messed-up system we inherited, regardless of our gender. Women may be oppressed in a patriarchal culture, but men suffer too. They suffer under the burden of impossible expectations that they can never live up to. Men are sold a bill of goods by society in which they must be always strong, ready for a fight, sexually active and aggressive; they must never show emotion (other than anger, that is), even the slightest lack of of skill in traditionally male pursuits, or even a hint of weakness.

Failing to live up to this hypermasculine archetype means a guy is less than a real man. He’s a loser, a flop, a dud. A beta. The concept is generally referred to as toxic masculinity. Successfully achieving manhood in this kind of environment is undoable. Maleness is an unattainable ideal, a goal that is forever out of reach. It’s as impossible to achieve as being 36-24-36, a madonna, a whore, winner of both a major beauty pageant and also the NFL’s Punt Pass and Kick competition, and senior vice president of a Fortune 500 company is for women. Many feminists would agree that toxic masculinity is ubiquitous and harmful and we would all benefit from redefining the word “masculine” in a healthier and more inclusive way.

The argument can certainly be made that the fight against toxic masculinity all too often becomes a fight against masculinity itself, painting innocuous male behavior as sinister and unnatural, and that, in and of itself, is toxic and anti-male.

But let’s set that legitimate criticism aside to focus on the “Male Tears” trend itself. Using feminism’s own set of self-stated values, is belittling the emotions of men compatible with its greater philosophy?

Feminism itself says toxic masculinity is a bad thing. I accept that as being at least partly true. If so, if toxic masculinity is a slow poison that is eating away at our culture from the inside out even if just a little, then why on earth would anyone who identifies as a feminist delight in jokes that perpetuate it? How would being shamed for expressing sorrow and pain help anyone to become more tolerant, more understanding, more sensitive to the needs of others? Why would any feminist ever mock male sensitivity as weakness? Isn’t bashing men for being too emo simply promoting the toxic notion that the strong, silent, Marlboro-Man type of guy is the only viable way to be a real man? Doesn’t that just reinforce patriarchy?

Wouldn’t any reasonable feminist expect that men, with their stereotypical eggshell-frail male egos and all that, would respond negatively to jokes that belittle their emotional vulnerability? Or am I overthinking this? Making too much out of some harmless ribbing?

Hey, I get irony and self-deprecating humor. I myself enjoy a good sammich joke and I’m also a terrible driver. Used judiciously, humor can be a weapon in the arsenal for gender equality because it enables folks to share a congenial laugh about how silly prejudice really is while at the same time acknowledging that yeah, both genders have our adorable foibles and that’s ok, our differences are what we like about each other. But if you want to poke fun at others, you’d best be able to take a joke yourself. I find it hypocritical in the extreme for feminists to make anti-male jokes considering that many of them are perpetually offended over nothing and couldn’t recognize a joke if it walked up and groped them in an overly familiar way.

Beyond that, while I find most sexist jokes men tell are telling come from a place of affection for women, the reverse isn’t always true. At least some of the women that poke fun at male tears would admit freely that they don’t even LIKE men. They think men’s suffering is actually funny, because they think men deserve to suffer. That’s not humor, that’s ugliness with a punchline.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that women are actually wanting to milk males for their delicious tears, or that they think men should be rounded up and exterminated (yet) or whatever quirky proclamation they have imprinted upon their t-shirts in faux-cross stitched letters. But a passive-aggressive dig is not a joke. It’s meant to send a message, and the message is this: Dudes, toe the line, STFU, and if you don’t like it, tough. Cry all ya want, we don’t care about ur feelz. Your day is done, we don’t need you any more, the extinction of the white male is upon us, and males of other races, you’re next. Maybe we’ll call you if we have a flat tire or a spider is in need of killing. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

It’s not nice. Beyond not being nice, it’s dreadful strategy in the long term.

Mocking people for what they ARE, even if you claim to be doing it lightheartedly, doesn’t win you converts. It turns off potential allies (like me) who find your “humor” unnecessary, divisive, and distasteful. It makes your position weaker and your influence smaller. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that when there’s a legitimate case to be made, reasonable people make it with good sense and inclusive humor instead of stupid, unfunny jokes that dehumanize an entire gender…especially when your raison d’etre is to protest the dehumanization of an entire gender. And good thing it doesn’t, since everyone knows there are very few female rocket scientists.

Perhaps predictably, this unfortunate trend appears to have advanced beyond comical mugs about tears and misandry book clubs into jokes about things that even good-natured men tend to take a little more personally. Over the last few months I’ve repeatedly seen self-IDed feminists making dick-size jokes and suggesting that any men who disagree with them politically have probably never seen a vagina:

When I took exception to one of these remarks on Twitter – because I find it awful that any woman, let alone a supposed feminist, would ridicule a man over lack of sexual experience and/or prowess – a wise acquaintance pointed out that it’s a pretty dumb idea for feminists to contribute in any way to the notion that men’s self-worth is directly related to their sexual access. The idea that women are laughing at men’s feeble attempts to engage in intercourse and judging them harshly for being sexually inexperienced is downright radioactive. It feeds straight into the claims of some self-professed men’s rights activists – that women are vicious, scheming, emasculating manipulators who use denial of sex as a weapon and that most women deserve to be taken down a peg in one way or another. This dubious philosophy may have encouraged the actions of Santa Barbara mass murderer Elliot Rodger.

If we want a world where men relate to their fellow human beings with sensitivity and vulnerability and compassion, to define themselves by things other than a long line of sexual conquests and ostentatious displays of wealth and violence, it would seem to be a no-brainer to forgo merciless teasing about their tears and the size of their penises. This is an integral part of feminism. Feminists should not be contributing to a culture of toxic masculinity, not even ironically or in jest. Even if only for our own self-preservation.  The women who are pulling this crap remind me of the Looney Toon where this cute little kitten is standing on the back of a giant bulldog and kneading it with its claws. The dog is mean-looking, but really kind, so he tolerates the pain because he loves the kitten. He would do anything for that kitten. He would lay down his life for that kitten. That dog is a good friend to have.

I’ve only seen my husband, who is very strong, and very silent, cry twice. One time was when he got a $600 traffic ticket, and once was when the cat had to be put to sleep. By cried, I mean, his voice cracked and he blinked a few times. I’ve never seen him actually shed a tear. He didn’t cry when his own father got a terminal illness and died. He didn’t talk about his emotions during that time, or even acknowledge that he was having any. He just got angry all the time, about everything. Despite being a good man and a fine person, he became very difficult to live with for a while. Would it have helped if he’d felt more comfortable expressing his emotions to me, to his parents, or even just to himself? His emotions came out in one way or the other. Maybe it would have been better if he’d felt freer to express the sadness he was experiencing instead of turning it into anger.

The implication of “male tears,” carried to its logical conclusion, is that men who are sensitive and caring and vulnerable are “betas” and not to be respected. Men’s feelings are ridiculous. Strike that, real men don’t even have feelings. Everyone knows real men are an amalgamation of motor oil, Doritos, rage, and pornography. They don’t cry, they punch walls and smash beer cans against their foreheads. If even the feminists agree that male emotion is a sign of weakness, an indication that a guy is less-than, where does that leave men – real, human men who do on occasion experience sorrow and pain? Where does that leave any of us?

I think we, as women, as feminists, should go back to celebrating the gentle, sensitive dude. Not only for the sake of the gentle, sensitive dudes of the world, not only for our own self-interest as women, but also for the mostly-always-tough guys who care about us and need our support, not our disdain.  Those guys who are out there protecting us and taking care of us in ways that we don’t even realize sometimes.  I appreciate those guys.  I don’t want them to feel like they always have to carry their load alone.

One of the fundamental elements of feminism is the notion that just because things have always been this way, doesn’t mean they always need to be this way.  There’s probably something biologically ingrained and natural in masculine and feminine stereotypes. But that doesn’t mean that we have to indulge them to the nth degree. At the very least, feminists shouldn’t indulge them!   Feminists, you should know better.

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Kristin is huge geek, a libertarian, and a mother of 4 sons and a daughter. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor.

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251 thoughts on “It’s All Right To Cry

  1. Even beyond the whole question of crying, and men crying, I think of the old maxim attributed to, but not actually said by, Plato: “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”

    That’s what frustrates me so much about modern discourse; it’s like there’s this giant peeing contest over whose battle is harder and no recognition that we’re ALL tired of fighting our own personal battles….

    Also, a side effect of the whole “men don’t cry” thing I’ve experienced is “Women working in male-dominated fields don’t cry” and I admit there have been more than a few times I’ve closed my office door and put my head down on my desk and cried because at that point I just couldn’t any more. And I’ve cried in front of my chair (also a woman) twice, though one time her reaction was, “Wow, you held out longer than anyone in the department did about coming to me and expressing how upset you were about the situation….”

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    • The term that is sometimes used in the left to describe and avoid those pissing contests is Oppression Olympics. I don’t think they are anything new or unique. The Oppression Olympics is just a real life version of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch from Monty Python.

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    • You remind me of a favorite moment from WKRP in Cincinnati, wherein Bailey encounters difficulties, and tells Jennifer she wants to cry. “Do NOT cry at work!” admonishes Jennifer, “cry in your car on the way home, that’s what men do.”

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    • Right on. It has nothing to do with “bashing men for being too emo” and everything to do with “by virtue of your societal status, you’ll never have a problem that approaches the problems we’ve got, and if you ever get close, it’s probably your own damn fault.”

      But it’s really just passing the abuse on down the line. Hang out in the right parts of Twitter and you’ll see a nearly inexhaustible supply of posts by black women mocking “White Women’s Tears.” Switch over to Tumblr and you’ll get all the “Cis Tears” mocking your heart desires.

      It seems like there’s a “You Must Be This Oppressed To Have Feelings” sign on the rollercoaster of life.

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    • Reminds me of the Holly Hunter character in “Broadcast News” when she’d shut the door and unplug the phone and cry for this set amount of time and then pull herself together and get on with her day.

      I find in situations like that I will hold out as long as I can and then melt down. I wish I wouldn’t, though. It would be so much better if I would complain before the meltdown, but for some reason it honestly never occurs to me to do that.

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      • Yeah, it’s actually rare that I can’t, after five or 10 minutes go, “Okay, time to pull it together and get back to it.” It takes something really big – or a serious progression of things – to tip me over to the point where I can’t control it.

        A friend tells me that I stuff things down too much and it’s ultimately going to be bad for my health. But he’s a man, he’s older than I am, and he works in a different field so he doesn’t always understand that sometimes I have to keep that brave face up. (Though more often than not it’s anger I stuff down, not sadness)

        For me, sometimes anger manifests as tears, especially if it’s that impotent anger that comes because a system is broken and there’s fish-all I can do to fix it.

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  2. “I think we, as women, as feminists, should go back to celebrating the gentle, sensitive dude. ”

    Mismatch between what women SAY they want and what they go after when given the opportunity. I’ve gotten more positive reactions (dating/sex/etc.) to being more dominant, demanding, and jerkish, than being “sensitive” and “understanding”. When I start seeing women put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, things might change.

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    • I sometimes wonder if this is a chicken-egg thing. Meaning, do women think jerks are sexy because they really think that, or because they’re to some extent brainwashed by seeing so many sexy jerks without consequences in media? In real life, you should run from guys like that, but if you’ve seen them reform 1000 times on tv shows or in books, does it maybe feed a misconception that they’re keepers when they aren’t?

      Then I reread “Gone With the Wind” and realize I’m probably full of crap.

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      • Many of our assumptions about what people do and do not find attractive come with a faulty understanding of causality. So, I’m not convinced that women like jerks as much as women like a collection of attributes that can correlate highly with a certain type of jerk-ish behavior. On the contrary, there are other kinds of jerk-ish behavior that are complete turnoffs.

        Think about The Office as an example. Jim and Dwight are both jerks, but of a different sort. My guess is that many more women find Jim attractive than find Dwight so. And that would probably remain the case if you equalized their attractiveness.

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        • Scott Alexander wrote about this a lot, especially in “Looking for One-Sided Tradeoffs.” A lot of romantic advice for men revolves around confidence being attractive. People who are jerks tend to have a high amount of confidence or something that is a reasonable commercial substitute. There is a different type of jerk that routinely engages in vulgar and rude behavior that is less attractive.

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          • Most romantic advice is bad because it uses generalizations like “women want” or “men want.” As the saying goes there is a pot for every lid. Sometimes that is tragic and dysfunctional if people want what is bad for them or don’t’ know what they want. But for every projection about what men or women want you can find an example of it. A million other examples of how that is wrong.

            I know this because just speaking solely for myself plenty of things i’ve heard “men want” i don’t want and never have. That also goes for the people i know.

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        • ooo jr yes, I completely agree. (Some) women like a set of attributes that is at times correlated with men who are jerks, at least at this point in time. But it’s the attributes and not the jerkdom. Maybe at another point in time, the same attributes were not necessarily associated with jerkdom and were representative of something else. Maybe overall fitness or something like that.

          To get ridiculously science-y about it, it seems plausible as a kind of supernormal stimuli – just like (some) men have a hard time resisting big fake boobs and red lipstick, (some) women have a hard time resisting exaggerated masculine signals as well. Maybe??

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  3. Nice rant! As scott alexander has mentioned previously, internet feminism as it exists in Slate and Jezebel (and many other sites patterned on them) is fundamentally a retread of highschool where the cheerleaders bully nerds but this time use “feminism” to justify their acts. There is something to be said of criticising them the way you did it, by accepting that they are feminists and castigating them for not living up to their ideals. There is also something to be said for saying that they are not really feminists. That what they do is not really what real feminism is about (like how we say that suicide bombing is not what real Islam is about).

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  4. Over the last few months I’ve repeatedly seen self-IDed feminists making dick-size jokes and suggesting that any men who disagree with them politically have probably never seen a vagina.

    This becomes much easier to reconcile once you realize that self-identifying as something, especially in the internet era, has very little cost, so lots of people self-identify as lots of things for lots of different reasons.

    We tend to associate feminism with positive things (at least most of us and at least feminism defined most broadly), so we tend to think of self-identifying as a feminist as a form of virtue. But again, self-identifying as something has almost no cost. Hugo Schywzer not only self-identifying as a feminist but was a working Gender Studies professor. It didn’t stop him from being all the things that feminism is supposed to teach men not to be.

    So, here we are in 2017, where folks put an inordinate amount of weight on what you call yourself, sometimes more weight than on what you do. Why? Is it because there is some ethical or moral significance in what you do or do not call yourself. No. That wouldn’t make any damn sense. It only starts to make sense once you realize that the obsession with what you call yourself is almost entirely about the ability to send signals to others in your tribe and to signal your belonging to that tribe to the outside world.

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    • I think this is partially true but I also think that the “male tears” thing is a way to deal with certain combination of issues that aren’t easily resolved. Part of feminism is that traditional gender expectations are bad for everybody women and men and need to be disregarded fast. Another part of feminism is that women should, rightfully, have complete control over who they date and have sex with. People with bad dating lives tend to feel bad about themselves because very few people are conditioned towards abstinence but nobody is required to date them or sleep with them. One way to deal with men bitter about their romantic prospects is just to dismiss them because it preserves the idea that women have control over who they date the best.

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    • We tend to associate feminism with positive things…

      I have a hard time accepting that.

      Granted, I grew up in a single-parent home headed by a woman who worked three jobs to put herself through nursing school. I saw plenty of that. I remember it well enough.
      But that isn’t what feminism is about.

      Feminism is a bunch of whack-jobs out for blood, and little else.

      Growing up, I had a half-brother who was eight years older than me, a true clarion for the value of abortion. Day after day, I had to fight against someone much bigger than me– the 5-year old going toe-to-toe with the 13-year old– the 8-yr old going toe-to-toe with the 16-yr old– the 10-yr old going toe-to-toe with the 18-yr old.
      As a result, I grew up to hate a bully, to have a strong sense of fairness, to look out for those weaker than myself.
      And I don’t intimidate worth a damn.
      That’s why, when I tell you I was in five fights in my late-20’s – early-30’s and got hit five times, three of those times by one man (with military training), and handed out three ass-kickings without the other man laying a hand on me, it’s damned well true.
      That’s why, when I was being threatened because I would not permit entries I knew to be false to be entered into my inspection records, I didn’t run from five burly pipefitters marching out of a trailer to come whale the tar out of me, even as I was thinking, “I hope I don’t have to spend any more than two days in the hospital, or I’m going to really be behind on my work.” The thought of running crossed my mind, but was quickly discarded, because I knew it was time to go toe-to-toe. If they had tried to reason with me rather than trying to intimidate me, there is a good chance I would have given them a fair hearing (though not necessarily that I would have done what they wanted). By trying to intimidate me, I just shut down.

      Feminism is that very same thing, that which delights in the attack, having no sense of fairness, viewing the weakest as prey. Feminism is simply another form of bullying.
      Whoever among them would believe they are my equal, they are welcome to go toe-to-toe with me.
      I’ll be waiting.

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        • I thought it best not to engage.

          I did wonder if he was challenging me to a fistfight or … uh … something else.

          Bullshido.com used to have the rule (and perhaps still does) that they who make the challenge get on a plane and make the flight. I wonder if he’d fly to Boston. But anyway, I’m probably kinda old to be getting into fistfights instigated over the Internet.

          Anyway, I am muchly amused.

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            • Odd.
              I was sitting, watching the market right before close, wondering why you would consider the previous comment as something that needs saying, and that, without regard to what that reason might be, the fact that it did indicates something integral about your character.

              And then this.

              A confirmation, basically.

              But no, I do not need to do these things.
              Not even slightly.

              I believe it is apparent that we have entirely different conceptions of what is important, as well as differing conceptualizations of communication.

              I feel relatively certain that is something you would like to say that really says nothing, but is dripping with insinuation.
              Double mind, forked tongue.
              Come back to me when you grow up a bit.

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              • FWIW – as someone whom I believe you have felt willing to engage with in the past – I found your original comment really hostile and uncivil. Particularly as someone who has been on the recieving end of similar sorts of physical violence in my own life, albeit for different reasons, I was offended and unsettled both by your descriptions of feminists and by your claims that if I wanted to consider myself your equal, I had to prove myself through physical conflict.

                It’s really not in the spirit of the site to go around blanket-writing off groups of people like that. I didn’t say anything at the time because I didn’t know what part of my perception was just my own offendedness, what part of what you said came from experiences to which I am not a party, etc., but if you’re thinking “jeez, any civilized person would know what I meant by that,” well, you’re wrong.

                Or you can just cross me off the civilized list.

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                • :
                  Frankly, I find that odd, and I believe you read too much into the one paragraph, where the part preceding and following are the message.

                  Shorter Will H.:
                  I revile a bully of any stripe.
                  Feminism is another form of bullying.

                  That said, earlier this week, I was writing about how a woman from Minnesota had won my respect by going to Arizona, and enduring those hardships there, acting from her concern from the environment.
                  Granted, there is no way for you to know that; but I brought up the one instance described as representative.
                  It’s more about not shrinking away from adversity than throwing punches. Were the central message one involving the throwing of punches, it would have been told much differently.

                  I believe this might be your own sensitivity coloring the reception of the message.
                  That being the case (that this is my belief), it would be my preference for you to voice your concerns rather than self-censor.

                  I do understand why it is you would have such a tendency to view things in this manner, as well as the tendency toward self-censoring.
                  You don’t have to do that with me, and I would prefer it if you didn’t.
                  You & I have shared some fairly personal information, though, granted, this says more of where we came from than who we are. It would be a giant step backward for you to default to self-censoring at this point, regardless of background.
                  Please do not do that.
                  Please.

                  And thank you for stepping out far enough to comment here.
                  I do appreciate it.

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                  • So if my experience of feminism is that it supports and strengthens people (not just women, but many people of different genders), and I have countless personal experiences of that, and know many people (not just women) who feel the same way, and your take on it is
                    “Feminism is a bunch of whack-jobs out for blood, and little else.”
                    It’s already hostile to my experiences *right there* before you even get into the rest of your comment.
                    Treating millions of women, most of whom are engaged in a valuable project that actually helps save lives, as “a bunch of whack-jobs” communicates pretty quickly that you’re not looking for a discussion, but for a fight. At least as far as anyone self-identifying as a feminist is concerned.

                    So no, I wasn’t just taking that one paragraph later on out of context.

                    And I won’t be engaging further not because I’m self-censoring, but because I’m allowed to self-protect – to not roll around in being stressed out if I need to rest instead. And while I stopped to say something more because I thought you might hear it better coming from me, sticking around to say further really would be against my own best interests.

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                    • And I won’t be engaging further…

                      In that case, I won’t be tagging you in this comment.
                      But, because I do believe in posterity (at least, conceptually):

                      There are serious issues with this.
                      And because I do believe you are being forthright in your objections, I’m going to peel back the onion a bit.

                      There are a number of false equivalences here, and they consistently trend in one direction.

                      Water has helped a lot of people, and a lot of people I know personally have been helped by water.
                      Nonetheless, I believe it would be a stretch where persons who speak of drownings or pollution are properly stated to be looking for a “fight.”
                      “Fight” involves looking past the words to the person, because “fight” is a human quality, but not one that words are capable of (dictionaries would be much more interesting were this the case).

                      Likewise, “hostile” is not a characteristic of words; i.e., hostility is found neither in the morpheme nor the phenome. “Hostile” implies a human quality. Though it may begin at the word, it flies past the word to aim at the person.
                      Though the statements in question may be “counter to” your experience, or “at variance with” them, it is not feasible those statements might be “hostile.”

                      End of Topic One.

                      Now, while a statement may be counter to, or at variance with, your own experience, is it possible that your own experience might negate the experience of another?
                      Is one experience more “true” and “real” than the other?

                      Personally, I find “Both are equally true” to be the answer to a lot of things.
                      Maybe not so much an answer, but a starting point from where an answer can be discerned. Sort of like the initials A.S. with an arrow pointing in one direction.

                      Whether you intended to or not, you ended up at a place that says, “I will brook no dissent.”
                      That is a fairly dangerous place, because dissent is telling you something important that you should know. Consider dissent as an update on road conditions.

                      Pardon me, but it’s nacho time.
                      Straight up Nacho thirty.
                      Back later.

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                      • “hostile” is not a characteristic of words; i.e., hostility is found neither in the morpheme nor the phenome.

                        Yeah, the deconstruction of Deconstructionism, eh? I’m on board with that project. Anyone else?

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                      • Whether you intended to or not, you ended up at a place that says, “I will brook no dissent.”

                        What she actually said is,

                        And I won’t be engaging further not because I’m self-censoring, but because I’m allowed to self-protect – to not roll around in being stressed out if I need to rest instead. And while I stopped to say something more because I thought you might hear it better coming from me, sticking around to say further really would be against my own best interests.

                        Which sounds less like “I will brook no dissent” and more like “this conversation is not worth the time or energy.” Those are different ideas.

                        Today on the subway there were a bunch of young men, late teens early twenties, with bicycles, obviously out for a day of fun. They were young and a mix of black/latino. An older latino man got upset with them for “acting out” — which they were just being loud and silly the way young men do, nothing particularly bad, nothing worse than I did at their age. But whatever. Words were exchanged. Tempers began to rise.

                        I stayed out of it, not because I don’t care, but having an old white trans woman suddenly inject herself into this conflict would be unlikely to improve the situation.

                        You don’t have to respect me, but I assure you, I have a certain level of “street smarts.” This ain’t my first day on the subway.

                        Anyway, it was “a thing,” just another day in the city.

                        I don’t blame Maribou for not wanting to engage with you. It’s not “brooking no descent” — as if! Get over yourself. It’s merely, we only have so much energy, and just as the conflict between the man and the kids on the subway was of no real substance —

                        Well, figure it out. Not every conflict is worth having. Not every “opponent” is worth engaging with.

                        You said,

                        Whoever among them would believe they are my equal, they are welcome to go toe-to-toe with me.

                        I’ll be waiting.

                        Except of course no one ever wins an internet debate. So basically you tried to puff out your chest by issuing a non-challenge with no rules where no one wins and nothing is at stake. This is not stepping up. It is the opposite.

                        This is not impressive. It is at best amusing.

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                        • That’s quite a leap there, from “misspelled word” to “loser.”
                          Do you care to explain?

                          What is it exactly that I’m supposed to be “losing” here (other than a charitable reading, which would likely be something along the lines of “typo”)?

                          If the one thing you find yourself able to note and consider is that I am somehow imperfect, I freely admit this.
                          This is not some big news flash.

                          If you’re trying to say something, then out with it.

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                            • So . . .
                              Your claim is that you were, like me, describing your personal history?

                              One thing I would like to note here:

                              This is emblematic of the manner in which the Left typically deals with The People, meaning society-at-large; namely, with great overarching concerning and much wringing of hands at the conceptual level coupled with complete contempt at the interactional level.

                              If you read the self-disclosure of my own history, that of horrible abuse growing up at the hands of someone much bigger than me, what sort of person does it take to say, “That brutality was insufficient?”
                              That is exactly what is going on here.*

                              Again, I revile a bully.
                              I care not one whit what particular method they employ, or from what motivation they claim to act.

                              ___________________________
                              * The issue with Maribou is much different, and I will address it elsewhere, as this involves self-victimization as a result of emotional abuse (which is redundant, and this is definitional), and a particular method of that self-victimization, the personification of the impersonal, with a view toward gaining awareness of an unconscious process for the purpose of gaining some measure of control over it.
                              The needless noise, confrontation, one-upmanship, and posturing inevitably interferes with that process.

                              Again, this is emblematic of the Left writ large, as it is quite typical those things they would claim to desire, or to view as good, are consistently undermined by the process in which they go about them.
                              I prefer to recognize the self-imposed limitations on their understanding rather than attribute causes which may or may not be true. It is enough for me to understand that this is unproductive.

                              It is also emblematic of this group that they are largely incapable of learning from their mistakes, and this, like so many other things, has to do with a disinclination to thoughtfully consider and reflect on available feedback. In fact, as you can see here, the injection of inordinate noise into any valid feedback is much more typical.

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                      • I really was done but this is such a painful analogy I need to see if I can get you to see it:

                        “Water has helped a lot of people, and a lot of people I know personally have been helped by water.
                        Nonetheless, I believe it would be a stretch where persons who speak of drownings or pollution are properly stated to be looking for a “fight.”

                        If someone said that water was “a bunch of whackjobs out for blood and little else,” would you think they were looking for a fight? Or to be less literal, if someone said, “Water is awful, it drowns people and little else.”?

                        Because to me that person, who says that about water, is either speaking in a hostile manner, or struggling deeply with some issues that mean their perception of water is very very very far away from a balanced perspective.

                        There aren’t many other options.

                        Assuming that their perspective of water is equally valid to my own, and equally true, is liable to lead to some very sub-optimal outcomes.

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                        • The fact of the matter is that I sometimes use overly-strong terms to convey a point, particularly those I feel to be apparent, and when pressed for time.
                          I am typically much more well-considered, though not always so.

                          There is a very different view expressed below in an exchange with Lee.

                          Additionally, there is an hierarchy of communication, and we are presently at the low end of it, a step or two above a text message, or a tweet. Terms which may appear appropriate for the medium may not be directly portable elsewhere.
                          So, please, put away the hammer and chisel.

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              • It says a great deal. That you don’t understand what it says is not surprising to me as it was neither flowery nor bellicose. It does reveal a great deal about my character. I value a ready wit more than a strong fist. I do not relish using many words when few will suffice.

                Since you need it spelled out, however:

                There are two people who speak about their prowess at arms and strength of character, he who seeks to convince me of something and he who seeks to convince himself. Neither are much to be believed. Your attitude and mindset would fit in well in the murkier depths of the redpill internet and your need to pepper your retorts with humble brag and disclaimer of being the better man belie the words. I don’t doubt that you could best me at fisticuffs, I just doubt that fact has any bearing on the worth of either of us. I’m sure you’ll “win” this discussion as well since I have no energy to spare these days on fools and the small minded so I’ll likely not bother to read further.

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            • All you need now is to tip your trilby and say “Good day, sir!”

              Speaking as the forum’s resident social justice feminist, this was embarrassing to read. In fact, it’s just bad feminism. I’m not defending , not even close, but seriously.

              There is nothing wrong with wearing a fedora (“it’s a trilby!”). Nor is there anything wrong with being a weird-nerd, having facial hair on your neck, being fat, being socially awkward, posting selfies while brandishing a sword, or even being a “gentlesir.” These are not bad things. Attacking men for these things is entirely at odds with feminism.

              Look, such men can be cringy, but so what? Not everyone is required to be a graceful social butterfly. Admittedly — let’s be honest — a fair number of men matching this profile are sexist as fuck. Yep. But still, when they are, attack them for their sexism. It’s easy enough. Plus, it’s better feminism.

              Short version: “You fat neckbeard” is bad feminism. “You sexist jerk” is reasonable, if the person is in fact a sexist jerk (which seems true in this case).

              But more! It’s actually a tactical fail, even from a purely “how well we troll” Internet conflict standard. The simple fact is, we have no idea what looks like. For all we know, he’s a charming sociopath with a face like Milo Y. Suggesting he is a socially hapless fedora boy gives the game away. You score no points that way. It’s weak.

              It doesn’t matter what he looks like. His fashion sense plays no role. All we need is to look at the words he typed.

              Really, the words he typed are plenty. We don’t need to address anything else.

              Like seriously, the words he typed. Good grief.

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    • Is it because there is some ethical or moral significance in what you do or do not call yourself. No. That wouldn’t make any damn sense. It only starts to make sense once you realize that the obsession with what you call yourself is almost entirely about the ability to send signals to others in your tribe and to signal your belonging to that tribe to the outside world.

      There’s also an additional thing going on within that dynamic: people who adopt these types of tribal self-identifications seem to primarily use them not as a mechanism to reinforce their own self-worth or make new friendships or expand their world of experiences (which would be great!), but instead to reign down righteous hellfire on their “enemies.” But since what constitutes an enemy is supposedly determined by the ideological self-identification at issue we quickly get to a bit of a cart/horse problem wrt causal arrows. Which comes first: acceptance of the ideology which entails judgmentally dismantling other people’s live, or the desire to dismantle those lives dressed up in an ideology? Either way, there’s plenty of righteous anger on display.

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    • I disagree somewhat. I think at least part of the emphasis on self-identification over action is because the internet and other technologies put us in greater contact with more people but on a fairly limited basis.

      Because of this site, you know I exist but will probably never meet me. You have very limited information about me, almost all of which I exhibit pretty good control over. You knowledge of my actions is limited to what I choose to share with you and even that is just words on paper. So one of the best ways to educate people about myself — and easiest ways to put my thumb on the scale — is to use well known self-identifiers.

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      • Yes, you can signal to me who you are by using some of the language of tribal identification. But typing things on the internet is virtually costless. So, if I really want to know who you are (at least as far as I can know such things on the internet), I’m going to do my best to look past all that. I’m going to pay attention to how consistently you apply the principles that you claim to believe in. I’m going to look at how you interact with other posters. I’m going to pay special attention to how you interact with people with whom you have disagreements and people who don’t deserve your best behavior.

        All of those things are going to tell me much more about who you are than whether or not you call yourself a feminist or an anti-feminist or anything else.

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        • Well, yes, YOU are going to do that. But you are atypical (in a very good way).

          Most people will say, “Hey, I found this great feminist writer on the internet! She said men shouldn’t cry!” “That doesn’t sound very feminist.” “Oh no, she’s definitely a feminist… it says so in her blog name!”

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          • I understand that not everyone can be me, but I’m not going to start making excuses for them.

            By the way, I literally mean that I don’t care what YOU call yourself, because I can glean enough about you from how you comment not to care. The rest of these guys here, well, they’re still suspect.

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            • Heh… I hope that is a compliment!

              And, yes, it is no excuse. I was proffering it as a possible explanation for the phenomenon.

              I remember at a PD workshop one time, the presenter had us partner up and repeatedly ask each other, “Who are you?” After each taking turns, we re-did the exercise but we could not use any roles or titles. So you couldn’t say you were a teacher or a father or an amateur cook. You COULD say you were someone who loves working with children or who cares deeply about his children or who enjoys cooking… but this subtle chef from identifying labels to identifying actions really changed the experience. Yes, it was a silly, cheesy icebreaker but the idea of defining who you are not by what you are but by what you do is one we’ve really lost sight of.

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  5. I’m not quite at the level of cynicism that some people are on regarding what women want but I think a lot of people are more opportunistic rather than idealistic when it comes to gender roles. They are against traditional gender roles when it suits them and are all for them when it is for their advantage. A lot of behavior regarding “male tears” makes more sense when you take this into consideration. It’s not exactly that women want “bad boys” but they don’t want to deal with the fact that men have feelings too when it comes to repeated rejection because it makes some things they believe in like wanting to go off on a bad approach inconvenient.

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  6. Oh boy, I think these things are complicated.

    There is still a lot of toxic masculinity out there and as you noted it hurts men and women and this toxic masculinity can exist in stereotypical alpha-frat males (think the Wall Street brodude caught on camera humping the little girl artwork that was put up on Wall Street for International Women’s Day) and it can also be seen in areas where the guys are less stereotypically alpha. Gamergate was a real thing and the tweeting of rape and death threats at female videogamers/journalists. There are lots of STEM guys out there who insist women are incapable of STEM excellence.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/why-is-silicon-valley-so-awful-to-women/517788/

    So I understand where all the rage and anger comes from because I believe that structural sexism, racism, etc are real things. But when I look at a lot of Internet articles and fights it just seems like lots of people thrive off anger and you can image a future where everyone is angry at each other over the Internet all the time. The Internet seems to hype up anger. Part of this is because of revenue collapse. It is still very, very hard for media to make money on the net. The solution that works seems to be outrage and clickbait and telling people what they want to hear in the most teeth grinding way possible.

    Jaybird likes to talk about matters of taste v. matters of morality and how everything will be better if we adopt a “none of my business” attitude. I think this is a lot harder than Jaybird imagines because I see taste/morality as being closer than he does and the “none of my business” attitude is really hard work to develop and will require a lot of social engineering.

    But all of this constant fighting on the Internet leaves me rather exhausted. Sometimes I think I would use a genie wish to take away the net because we don’t seem mature enough for it yet.

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    • For the life of me I can’t figure out what the heck toxic masculinity is supposed to mean. It’s kind of like mansplaining, which is another nonsense term, but I’ve come to accept that one for no other reason than it’s payback for the word hysterical.

      Seriously, the term toxic masculinity sounds an awful lot like a combination of gender essentialism and the ascribing of individual character flaws to whole groups of people, which is two things that I’m pretty sure feminism is supposed to be against.

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      • I think it is a modern variant on machismo. The idea that men have to do manly things and narrow cast their range of emotions, acceptable hobbies for men, etc.

        FWIW, I think this happens. I’m pretty confident in my own heterosexuality but I can get coded as “gay” because I don’t really care about sports and am more of an arts person. “Real men” are not supposed to be into the arts or some such.

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        • That might make sense but a lot of very non-machismo guys get labelled with the toxic masculinity label at times. Men into nerd culture rather than the arts are prime examples. Being frustrated at your romantic prospects gets labelled toxic masculinity at times. Meanwhile some very machismo behavior gets a big pass in the right circumstances. Toxic masculinity is a term that should be void for vagueness.

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      • Since Saul mentioned Wall Street that movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” comes to mind. I hated that movie and it wasn’t the subject matter per se, it was that the guy was painted as a superhero for doing all that stuff. That’s what toxic masculinity is to me. Holding up as an ideal, someone who is really quite a bad person, and the reason they’re bad is because they’re indulging the “Cad” stereotype to the furthest extent possible.

        The lead character is allowed mindblowing levels of self-indulgence and endless sexual conquests, he was willing to lie and cheat and hurt people and ruin them financially, and yeah, maybe he has to go to jail in the end, but who the heck cares, he got a movie made out of his life, and what did you get? An employee of the month plaque and one kinda ugly wife? What a loser.

        There is a lot of BS in feminism but the toxic masculinity, they’re onto something with that. Interesting that that’s the thing they seem to be turning their backs on.

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        • There is a lot of BS in feminism but the toxic masculinity, they’re onto something with that. Interesting that that’s the thing they seem to be turning their backs on.

          If toxic masculinity is a thing. If it’s a description of something that is fundamentally related to masculinity, something more than a sort of stereotype of masculinity, then it logically follows that toxic femininity would be a thing as well.

          I always like to qualify my beliefs by identifying what specifically would change my mind. And on toxic masculinity, I think this is it. If someone can explain to me what toxic femininity is, I could absolutely accept the validity of toxic masculinity.

          Short of that, it just sounds like an unnecessary term for boorish behavior.

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          • If I had to venture a guess it would be the women who serially date in order to get free meal, cry to get out of traffic tickets, etc. But that reinforces the gender stereo types more that anything, and I am not sure that the behavior is Gender-Toxic so much as being a bad person. In other words, a scumbag is a scumbag.

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            • A scumbag is a scumbag, but some scumbags have a flavor (ugh just grossed myself out with this analogy) that seems to be gender related.

              I do agree that there’s toxic femininity. Women who would deliberately lie to get pregnant to keep a guy in a relationship, as an example. Women who cheat on their husbands when away in the military. Gold diggers. Amy Schumer shoplifting, using her cousin’s name to get out of the charges, and then laughing about it like it was no big deal. That kinda stuff. Women definitely do stuff that’s less than desirable at times, myself very much included.

              The difference is that society kinda holds up the men behaving badly as an ideal, and women behaving badly as pathological.

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          • Yeah, that’s it exactly – the rewards for bad behavior were so great, and the system that created him was truly villainous…that’s part of the toxicity of the whole thing. It does create monsters, and the thing that sucks about it, is the monsters are just as trapped as anyone.

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      • — I think both the terms “toxic masculinity” and “mansplaining” are possible to define, inasmuch as they name recurring patterns of belief and behavior, but that doesn’t mean everyone will use the terms in exactly the same way all the time, nor that you’ll be able to draw crisp boundaries.

        I’ve used the example before, but precisely define “jazz,” in a way that someone with zero knowledge of 20th century music history can hear an isolated piece of music and say whether or not it is “jazz,” and in such a way that no one will disagree.

        Can’t be done.

        Anyway, in its original, more useful notion, “mansplaining” is a certain kind of boorish behavior that follows gendered social dynamics, namely in many discourse settings, men enjoy displaying status over women by “holding forth” on topic, being “the speaker,” “the knower,” “the expert,” but where they really don’t know what they are talking about. This is tedious, but if a woman pushes back the man will become offended and act out.

        A non-useful notion of “mansplaining” is whenever a man disagrees with a woman.

        I find the first sense useful. The second sense is not.

        (Yes, a lot of people use it in the second sense. I wish they would not.)

        “Toxic masculinity,” in my view, is about unhealthy male status expectations. Yes, it’s a vague term. It can mean a lot of things. But it is pretty easy to find examples. I can give one. Take this comment over on Ozy’s blog, which basically summarizes the “sour grapes” version of the “redpill”. An excerpt:

        However for the 80% of remaining men they are in descending likelihood: forced to either wait for the upper 50% of women to accept marriage from them, accept a secondhand 50% woman with offspring from another man or accept marriage from the lower tier 50% female. Each option represents a compromise that the 80% male must accept if they are to find marriage. The first option usually results in long stretches of celibacy, with the other two options marking the man as low status and unworthy of respect from other men. Being in the 80% cohort as we can view it is a grueling existence for these men and it is no wonder that they set up a movement online to complain about the state of affairs. Nearly 50% of the females now regard them with contempt and the other lower 50% represent a destruction of the male’s status and bloodline. Additionally minority males seeking to use interracial marriage as a reflection of their status will probably find even greater resistance to this as they and their minority female pairs are shoved down to the lower 50% and 80% pool forced to choose among each other (slowing down integration.)

        Note comments such as “…marking the man as low status and unworthy of respect from other men.” But why should that be? If a man finds a woman he likes, and she likes him back, and they delight in each other’s company, why should anyone object? Should we not all celebrate such a thing?

        From whence this obsession with status?

        It seems real. When I challenge men about this, they argue that I must be high status (in the “a rich person doesn’t care about money” sense) or that “women don’t get it” (until I point out I’m trans), etc. To them it is clearly a real concern. However, honestly, I know people who just don’t play that game. They tend to be weird, queer, and neuro-diverse, but the point, it is possible to step away. What traps men in this rotten, suffocating game?

        Then we get “…the other lower 50% represent a destruction of the male’s status and bloodline.”

        I mean, try to interpret that in a way that is not appalling.

        Anyway, this poster did not invent these ideas. He learned them from the “manosphere.” Likewise these ideas, when they emerged, where not completely disconnected from the existing strains of cultural sexism. I recall hearing toned-down versions of this stuff back in the mid-80’s, long before the Internet. In other words, these movements clarify and concentrate existing sexism.

        And yeah, it’s toxic as hell.

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  7. I used to believe in Equality, or at least the possibility of it.
    Through the study of redteaming, I now reject Equality categorically.

    Nature itself abhors equality.
    Asymmetry is inherent in all things material.
    Nature will always achieve an equilibrium.

    Equality is a denial of oneself, a denial that one is living in this world.
    All things equal must perish, that an equilibrium might be established.

    [EDIT]
    To be clear, feminism is an inversion of nature.
    The proof of this is the appearance of “patriarchy” through many places, in many diverse cultures, even those at odds with one another, rather than being one isolated instance in specific.

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    • Equality under the law is only possible when people can understand the law and its consequences.
      If they can do that (not all can), then we ought to extend them equality under the law.

      This is not to say that equality ought to be held out as a good thing at all times.

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    • will,
      Yes, feminism is an inversion of nature.
      So is marriage.
      So are condoms.
      (And if we really want to go there, so is homosexuality, though I can go on at length on the unintended benefits of people with different sexual orientations).

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    • Sure – equality is an inversion of nature deeply to be desired.

      So is a low rate of death in childbirth.
      So is a high rate of infant survival.
      So is widespread access to clean drinking water.
      So are antibiotics.
      So is a justice system that avoids lynching and takes evidence seriously.

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      • When logical opposites are studiously shunned (in favor of polar opposites), this appears somehow relevant.
        However, due consideration of the well-formed contrapositive reveals the non sequitur; e.g.:

        It is not within nature for a not low rate of death in children;
        It is not within nature for a not high rate of infant survival;
        It is not within nature for a not widespread access to clean drinking water;
        etc.

        Compare this to the contrapositive to the above:

        Everything which is not asymmetrical is not within nature.

        This is a true statement.

        In fact, it is not feasible that a perfect symmetry might even exist.

        Issues of scale might present a more cogent argument, but I’m not going to argue both sides, on this one occasion, at least.

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        • I read this response a whole bunch of times and I got nothing. I don’t understand what you’re saying. Maybe I’m having a not very bright day, maybe I’m just not very bright.

          But also, I read your bozo explosion of an hour or so ago and ah fuck it I don’t care to understand what you might be getting at anymore.

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  8. I’m with you on this. “Men Don’t Cry” impoverishes everyone. It makes me wonder “what’s up with that?”, too.

    As a personal note, I’m kind of a cryer, since I decided I needed to do that while in college in the Seventies. I cried my eyes out at a film called “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden”. After my father’s memorial service, my stepmother told me “I was doing fine until you started crying”. I found myself wondering if you can’t cry at your father’s funeral, just when can you? I took her remarks as a sort of three-bank compliment and thank you. She wasn’t capable of being direct about something like that.

    I’ll tell you where I think it comes from.

    First, many women are trained to put the needs of men before their own. This too, is wrong, particularly when its generalized to all men, rather than a partner. Even in a partnership or relationship, it can turn into something unhealthy.

    So “drinking male tears” is kind of a battle cry of liberation – “I’m going to do this even if bothers you, because I need it”.

    And then there’s the effect of the internet. Again, Pew Research recently showed that the posts that get the most engagement in the form of clicks, comments and reshares are those that not only disagree with something, but are indignant about it. Anger and bile sells.

    We’re being trained, like by like, to be hostile and nasty. So that’s how, “I need this even if it upsets you” turns into “drinking male tears”. It fits into the larger trend of “buttercup” and mockery of “safe spaces”, too.

    But no, it’s not where we want to go.

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    • I think it’s worth pointing out, the whole “male tears” thing emerged mostly on Twitter and mostly in the throes of gamergate. It is a dysfunction idea that grew out of an ugly conflict. It’s bad. It’s counter to feminism. I hope it dies off.

      That said, if you will allow me a moderate defense, I think many of the women using “male tears” did not intend to decry genuine emotional expression by men. Instead, I think they dismiss the litany of petty grievances being slung by aggressively sexist jerks on Twitter. In other words, it wasn’t a man saying, “My dog died. I’m sad,” and a woman responding, “Ha! I shall drink your male tears.” Instead, it was men saying, “The economic independence of women has ruined the chances for male betas thus feminism will destroy society,” to which, yeah, cry your male tears you sexist jerk.

      Anyway, the problems with this are obvious, and well documented in the OP.

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  9. Another issue with a lot of Internet writing is that there is a strong utopian streak to it and there are multiple utopias being fought for. The world would be paradise if everyone did this one neat trick. What your neat trick is different than my neat trick..Die heretic.

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  10. I think you are overthinking this. I assume that these feminists aren’t talking about male tears with respect to the social dynamics of men crying; they’re simply talking about their enemies crying. (Just like I’ve seen things about liberal tears from weird, dark corners of the right.) Now, I’m a guy who isn’t trying to be admired by feminists, so I guess that references to male tears could be sending mixed messages to guys who are trying to be admired by feminists. But they’re probably less likely to feel bound to a toxic male framework anyway.

    BTW, I haven’t cried in months (or maybe weeks).

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    • I think you are overthinking this.

      I agree and disagree with you on this. On the one hand, you make a very good point about the meaning of “male tears” in this context. When internet feminists talk about male tears, they’re talking about those tears as a sign of their dominance over said men. So, Kristen is right that there is a fundamental conflict in arguing that men should feel free enough from the constraints of the patriarchy to cry when appropriate while simultaneously claiming that making men cry is a sign of your mastery over them.

      I do think that there is some element of overthinking, however. Whenever you catch someone claiming to stand for two things that are, by definition, the opposite of each other, you generally don’t need to go into elaborate theorizing about why. The simple answer is that they don’t actually stand for one, or both, of those things. Lots of people claim to want equality or justice when what they really want is to win.

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    • I think the official rules are that crying in the privacy of your own bedroom is OK. If other folks are in the house, tho, the preferred strategy is to cry in the bathroom with the door shut, lights off, and fart-fan on to drown out the sobs. Or the garage with some power tools running. :)

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        • “Hey, honey, why are your eyes so red? Are you OK?”
          “Gah. I’m fine. I musta got some of that biodegradable, non-GMO, free-range soap in my eyes when I was washing my face. Just give me a minute to work thru it. I’ll be right as rain…”

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          • Heh. My dad was just such a guy. Ivory Soap for whole body was what I was taught! A bit later in his life he learned that shampoo wasn’t a demasculating feminist hoax afterall. He was a big enough man to admit his error and make the change. To Prell. Which I’m pretty sure was just a mixture of Ivory soap and Mint flavored Colgate…

            #realmen

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          • Well, I’ve never lived in that close a proximity to men (my dad and brothers’ bathroom habits were mostly mysteries, and I wanted it that way). So I have fifteen different shampoos (the one I really like but that is too expensive, the cheaper similar one I tried that wasn’t as good but I need to use up, the one that’s a new brand I’m trying, etc., etc.) and I kind of assumed guys were, if not similar, at least a scaled down version of that.

            I have seen bar-soap shampoo, but mostly sold for camping when you need biodegradable and don’t want to carry a lot of stuff. (Dr. Bronner’s would also work – but wow, would hurt if you got the mint version in your eyes)

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    • they’re simply talking about their enemies crying.

      Correct. Note that this is almost always conceit. Nobody is actually crying, or even upset, necessarily; it’s just a rhetorical technique to delegitimize dissent. Any disagreement with a feminist or other pseudojustice warrior of this ilk, no matter how calmly and dispassionately delivered, is liable to be characterized as evidence of “male tears” or “white tears,” because that makes the dissenter sound emotional and thus less credible.

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      • True.

        Though I admit, such “enemies” as I have, I’d much rather have them come to some reasoned understanding of my position, than I would have them “cry.” Reconciliation rather than me emerging as some kind of short-lived Pyrrhic victor…..

        An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

        People who are unwilling to reconcile or even consider other points of view? Eh, stuff ’em, I’ll just ignore them.

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        • filly,
          Oh, well, then your enemies are decent and upright people.
          Or, at any rate, would think twice before poisoning you.

          Not everyone is so fortunate.

          (Of course, certain people use the word enemy for the person you have to take down, not just the nearest asshole).

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  11. Good piece, really on target. I’m a guy who thinks feminism is a good thing. I’ve even cried and would gladly offer up a hearty FU to any guy who was bothered by that. Feminism, especially on-line, has fully embraced tribalism. Mocking the other team is all good. There are to many places that will criticize some faulty logic in a piece then knowingly use that same poor logic 5 paragraphs later.

    I have a lot of daily reads, one of them is an SJW site, Everyday Feminism. I’m trying to keep my bubble as large as possible and they often have some interesting bits. But there isn’t a week that goes by that i’m not gobsmacked about their absolute inability to talk to anybody else but the completely converted or the thoughtless tossing of buzzwords and hip kid lingo. It’s a lesson in how to be totally closed minded. I remember one piece about rape culture that was astonishing. Of the first 8 items on the list i agreed with 4 thought 4 more were meh but arguable. The 9th point was that the writer knew rape culture existed because people say it doesn’t. Ummm WTF??? This also proves the existence of giant purple snorkle wackers.

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  12. Oh man, I must be a horrible man, I get misty eyed at all sorts of things. My mom dying, my dog and cat getting put to sleep, the end of Lilo & Stitch.

    Seriously, I suck at this.

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  13. Excellent post, Kristen (as usual :) – well written, well argued, all that writer stuff. And I agree with the main thesis presented in the post. I do have a small quibble tho (I mean, of course I do, this is the internet!) with something you say towards the end:

    I think we, as women, as feminists, should go back to celebrating the gentle, sensitive dude. Not only for the sake of the gentle, sensitive dudes of the world, not only for our own self-interest as women, but also for the mostly-always-tough guys who care about us and need our support, not our disdain.

    I don’t have a problem with celebrating the gentle sensitive dudes, but I DO have a problem with feminists qua feminism celebrating those dudes. And the reason is this: it reduces certain types of male behavior to serving the interests of feminism rather than the interests of (say) an ism that celebrates the freedom of all humans to be what and who they are without judgment, unless they (for example) inflict demonstrable harms on other folks. Whether a dude cries or not, or is emo or not, seems to me to not inflict any direct harms on anyone one way or the other.

    Now, I get that you’re effectively encouraging feminists to discourage other feminists from making fun of men for shedding emo tears. But even that premise seems to me to further retrench the problem it’s trying to solve: trying to derive a comprehensive normative view of the world based on a very narrow identity-based ism.

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  14. One thing that I don’t fully understand, in our era of modern pharmacology, is the notion that no one is supposed to cry. There is a fuzzy sort of ethic out there that suggests that any sort of discomfort or pain can be medicated away. If something happens in your life that makes you cry, there are antidepressants to help for that.

    I’m not much of a cryer. I identified crying with immaturity and resolved when I became a teenager to not be a little boy anymore when faced with adversity. Not to impress women or myself, but because the people I admired at that point in my life didn’t seem to cry when bad things happened to them, they absorbed the blows and persisted. I realize now that these people, mostly men, probably did cry, but they hid it from me at least and probably others.

    But I’ve done a fair amount of it in the last year. One of my judicial applications was denied. This wasn’t enough to make me cry though it was a bitter disappointment. My mother dying a month later put me over the top. I cried when I put my beloved dog to sleep. And I cried when my wife left me. (This hurt the most and it came at the end, on top of all the rest.) You get all of this happening over a relatively short time in life and it’s kind of hard not to have it build up.

    So far I’ve eschewed the use of antidepressants although they’ve been offered to me. If all of that depressing stuff happens to you, you’re kind of supposed to be depressed. Some tears from all of that would be inevitable in just about anyone. My plan at this point is to work through all of this accumulated grief and heal naturally, and only if that doesn’t seem to happen over time seek other sorts of help. Yet from a number of different people in my life, though, I get this odd sort of pushback. People seem confused that I would forego antidepressants. Why would I choose to endure the low emotional lows of all of this loss and sorrow? Isn’t it now not only acceptable but normal to get some help taking those edges off?

    This is very different than the ethic of toxic masculinity that I know the OP is about, but I do think it plays into the notion of how we as a culture deal with issues like pain, grief, loss, and depression. One way is to delve into toxic masculinity, to lash out with aggression and anger and boorishness and in that way mask the pain. Another is to avoid it by using medicines that are appropriate for people with actual brain chemistry imbalance issues (for whom such medications are often literal lifesavers) to deal with regular, if intensely unpleasant, emotions.

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    • Crying can be deeply cathartic. It’s often what you very much need to do so you can release some bits of pain.

      Grief and loss need to be felt and survived to ever get past them. Indeed that sucks but without feeling those terrible feelings you can never heal. Taking the edge off of “normal” suffering through meds( or booze or drugs) only helps in the short run. In the long run it leads to unresolved loss that keeps dragging you down.

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      • I never said there wasn’t a valid use for anti-depressants. Quite the opposite.

        I’m bothered if they get used as a grief-suppressing mechanism for someone who otherwise is not a candidate. Not being a medical professional, I don’t know how much I should be bothered by that.

        I’m… glad to learn your emotional expressiveness was functioning. As for the rest, my heartfelt condolences and best wishes.

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        • I didn’t read your original comment as something I had to rebut. I hope I didn’t come off that way. I agree with you. My biochemical stuff was a separate issue from my life-experiences stuff.

          I appreciate your condolences. It was a while ago. You have my condolences and (without retracing years of threads to find out if this matters to you or not) prayers.

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    • Sorry to hear about your multiple losses. Sounds like you have had a rough year; hopefully it turns around.

      I find that I have cried more since my children were born. I rarely cried prior to their arrival, but I find myself weeping over sad movies and music more often. Not sure what the correlation is between the two.

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    • That does really sound like a rough year. I hope things improve for you.

      It sounds like you are taking a healthy approach to what you’re going through now, and distinguishing between healthy grief and dangerous despair. I don’t think that’s universal.

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    • I’ve had friends off and on suggest to me some kind of biochemical intervention when I was frustrated with circumstances of the world, and my reaction was, “Why the hell should I blunt my feelings about a situation that sucks? The situation needs to change, not me!” (Mostly in response to my malaise over last year’s budget cuts)

      I figure if I’m mostly enjoying work/hobbies/food/etc., I’m still remembering to shower, and I’m not self-harming, the occasional bout of tears over the stupidity of modern life or the jerkholery of some people is a totally normal human response to a screwed up world.

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    • I’ve never taken antidepressants either, though when my youngest child attempted suicide, it might have been reasonable. I do see a therapist. She’s great. It helps. It’s not the same, I think.

      Healing involves pain, and confronting the pain, and chances are, that’s going to involve some crying. I tease her that therapy is like deep-tissue massage, which I’ve studied. You just find that tight muscle and stick your elbow into it and lean on it. It really hurts, but eventually the muscle will let go, and the hurting will stop.

      But antidepressants maybe let you choose the time and place of that crying, and the depth to which the elbow is pushed. I think that’s going to have some value.

      And by the way, Burt, that all sounds like it really sucked. And it totally deserved some crying.

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    • Thank you all for your well wishes. I did not want to threadjack by way of fishing for sympathy, though — my comment is directed at “medication as an alternative to crying” and how that seems to be something that is acceptable for men to participate in as opposed to toxic masculinity. Both medicating away emotional pain and aggressive behavior to make it are pathways fraught with peril.

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      • That is really interesting. I would have thought that medication was seen as non-stereotypical-masculine. You know, “tape your finger back on and finish the game, then we’ll go to the emergency room if it still hurts”. Self-medication is seen as stereotypical-masculine – great quantities of alcohol for emotional pain, chugging cough medicine for a cold. Pills are for wusses.

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    • I completely agree with your take on antidepressants, Burt, (it’s not that people use them if needed, it’s that people think it’s weird if you don’t) and I’m so very sorry you’ve had a rough year. I hope things are looking up soon.

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  15. Perhaps my exposure to the “male tears” jokes has been non-representative, but I’ve always thought it was a reference to the “feminists are man-hating monsters” trope – taking it mock-seriously to highlight its very ridiculousness. “Yes, this is the mug from which I drink the coffee I brew with the tears of men. We get them at a feminist ritual every Tuesday in which we bind a man in a pentagram and tell him he’ll be earning 70c on the dollar of his previous salary.” That kind of thing.

    Also this
    Beyond that, while I find most sexist jokes men tell are telling come from a place of affection for women, the reverse isn’t always true. At least some of the women that poke fun at male tears would admit freely that they don’t even LIKE men. They think men’s suffering is actually funny, because they think men deserve to suffer. That’s not humor, that’s ugliness with a punchline.

    Does not ring at all true for me – with respect mostly to the men telling anti-women jokes, because that’s what I’ve actually seen and heard – if it’s a place of “affection for women” it’s a very limited affection, reserved for those who don’t rock the boat by asserting themselves in any way.

    Women’s jokes about men, to the extent I’ve heard them, have not seemed to me to be based on a premise of male inferiority of worth. But then my presence might well have considerably affected which jokes came out.

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    • I think that is how the “men’s tears’ thing started as mock serious highlighting of stupidity. However has taken on a separate life and i think it’s said with real venom at times. Also it’s terrible messaging if you want to change peoples minds. Of course not everything has to be focused on changing minds and in jokes are fine. However the mens tears thing, as in the Slate piece, seems to be taken as really serious not mock serious by some.

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    • Here’s the thing with the ironic humor…

      Only a tiny percentage of people joke like that. It took me forever to realize it during which time I made a million jokes that fell flat, but most people don’t have that sense of humor. I don’t mean to say they’re dumb or have poor senses of humor, not at all, just that it’s a particular type of humor that is fairly unique to a certain type of upbringing and social group that is not ubiquitous to everyone. A lot of people take it seriously – it confirms their bias, in one way or another – and I think it’s a dangerous move for “feminists” to indulge it.

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  16. Thanks to equality, we’re now reaching a point where it’s bad for women to cry as well.

    Just take things, smoosh them down into a little black ball, and stuff it down into your bowels.

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  17. Crying is such a weird thing. When i cry, and then think about it afterwards, it kind of freaks me out. Because it feels like I’m completely losing control. And what I’ve come to realize, long after I accepted that it was OK/natural for me to cry (I learned this pretty young thankfully), was that its also perfectly OK/natural to try to will myself to stop as soon as it starts, even though frequently i can’t. Though on analysis afterwards, it feels less like i couldn’t stop and more like I just wasn’t quite ready to.

    And I cry a hell of lot more since i’ve had kids too, like Roland.

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    • I’ve had the same experience vis. crying more since my daughter was born.

      In my case the amount of pre-parenthood crying was probably unhealthily little (specifically, to the best of my recollection, zero times in the 19 years between starting high school and becoming a parent). Partly I think this was as a consequence of parenthood, and partly of general self-work that might well have gone on even without parenthood.

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  18. It’s alright for a man to cry…when he’s just seen his own brother kill himself after realizing that his quest to tame the unbridled chaos of reality was leading him down the same megalomaniac path as those who nearly destroyed the world via nuclear armageddon, but that the compromises and choices he’s made to achieve that end have pushed him too far to turn back.

    Oh, and he killed himself by punching himself in the head so hard that it exploded.

    http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_FotNS_-_manly_tears.png

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  19. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I’ll say two things quickly before doing so.

    1. I pretty much agree with almost everything you say here (“almost” because I can always find something to disagree with).

    2. I see that you’re a “staff writer” now. Congratulations and welcome!

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  20. This is addressed at (many many) of the comments, not at the OP, but –

    I think one thing that tends to happen on the internet is that reasonable (insert label here) people get about 1000 times as much interest as ridiculous (insert label here) people, and then (insert label here) ends up associated with the ridiculous rather than the reasonable, particularly by people who especially disagree with the ridiculous aspects of (insert label here) – and it also *seems* as though that’s where the numbers and the core ideas are, with the ridiculous people, even though really what it is, is that the ridiculous people are just “louder” in terms of the attention paid to them. This happens with feminists, libertarians, etc etc etc

    For every Everyday Feminism, there are hundreds, probably thousands of feminists who are worried about, you know, real problems, and who are almost always kind (almost always ’cause everybody screws up sometimes). Many of ’em even post on the internet. Most of ’em don’t go around yelling AND ALSO THIS IS FEMINISM GUYS (irony intended) IF YOU ARE A FEMINIST YOU BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE.

    I can’t count the number of times Jaybird has tried to get in some argument with me-as-a-feminist because of some stupid thing somebody loud and ill-informed on the internet said was “core feminism.” Most of these people are not especially well-read and some of them are deliberately aiming to be as polarizing as possible because that gets clicks. And again, they’re not in some kind of majority. They’re espousing beliefs as central that are either dumb or profoundly ill-interpreted. (Don’t even get me started on the way capital F-feminists of this type go around yelling about intersectionality and trying to tell everyone else they are doing intersectionality wrong, without ever having read anything about it beyond a 3rd-hand internet essay, or having any grounding whatsoever in womanist history, for example.)

    That said, I think the author of the piece Kristin linked was using the white male tears thing in a slightly weird way that isn’t really covered by her (entirely reasonable) objection to the term.

    That is, he was using the term as a form of self-criticism, generalized to men at large – he was attacking the systematic thing where men’s reaction to a breakup is to not just be hurt, but to belittle and demean the woman. Historically that thing is SUPER related to gender – women were far more likely to be run into the ground post-breakup, post-divorce, etc. I don’t think it is nearly as much any more (at least not in the relatively “egalitarian” field of pop music conversation or reviews of such online) -but it’s certainly a pattern that I’ve seen over and over in older generations, in conservative places like the one where I grew up. That’s where the feminist, male author of the review is coming from, I think, in his Slate-y way – he’s attacking the kind of “tears” that are really more about a self-serving false narrative than they are about genuine pain – I have suffered a great wound by you puncturing my narcissistic balloon sort of thing. Then when he listens closer he re-interprets the album as being a lot more genuine and empathetic – he’s not accepting it as being more ironic, he’s accepting actual tears, which include a reflection of how the other party is affected, rather than “how dare you” tears.

    This is why I wish we could make the shift in online discourse (which, again, corrupted by conflating “loud” with “numerous” or “important”) from attacking maleness to attacking kyriarchical relationships, because there is a thing where the powerful pretend that their relatively minor wounds are far worse than someone else’s deep pain, and it sucks, and we’ve institutionalized it as a society, and it contributes a lot to all the crap we’d like to stop happening in a differentially unfair way (eg how fucked up the prison system is). But calling that thing “so and so” tears is … pointless and memelike and counterproductive and frustrating. At best. And cruel at worst.

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    • I don’t know if you’ve ever visited The Other McCain’s site, but he’s actually done a phenomenal amount of research into feminism, reading the texts of women’s studies programs and poring over the internet. He makes the argument that the “extremist” feminism, the anti-male, anti-heterosexual part, is and has always been central to feminism. He documents the consistency of the fringiest elements, and how the claim that those fringes don’t represent mainstream feminism is disproven by the mainstreaming of the fringe through the educational system. He’s a nut, but the kind of nut who researches something by reading ten books a week about it.

      It’s all very slippery. Call out feminism and they’ll say that they just want equality. But if you look at the anti-male elements from the beginning, and the anti-male writings of the subsequent waves (and the proliferation of those writings), and the increasing anti-male tone of the debate, it’s touch to argue that it’s not fundamentally anti-male.

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      • That makes no sense. It really doesn’t. Its like the people who argue against Social Security because Pol Pot. The works of fringe feminism have not worked their way into the education system at all. A lot of the alleged anti-boy parts of public education, which I’ve only seen by anecdote rather than experience, has more to do with path of least resistance and making things easier for the staff than fringe feminism. Most women, including many self-described, feminism roll their eyes at fringe feminism. The general response to Political Lesbianism was “but I’m not sexually attracted to women.”

        Every political or religious movement is going to have a fringe that believes in a really wacky version of the ideology or religion because they work in academia or in secluded communities and don’t have to deal with the physical world. As semi-retired Jason K. put it, if you think long enough about any subject your going to come up with some strange suppositions. Feminism is no more immune to this than any other ideology or religions.

        Its true that fringe feminism sometimes sips into mainstream feminism but you can find say Fringe Judaism stripping into Mainstream Judaism via a similar mechanism. The Breslov Hasidim are considered a weird group even by other Hasidic Jews but the relatively upbeat message of the founder, “Its a tremendous mitzvah to always be happy: and his ecstatic practices like dancing, clapping, and singing during prayer make some their beliefs and rituals popular because Mainstream Judaism can get very scholarly and dry in practice at times.

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          • That’s because Women’s Studies is taught in university, the Ivory Tower. All sorts of wacky theories get taught in academia. The more extremist forms of libertarianism only thrive in academia to.

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            • OK. We’re two thirds of the way there. You acknowledge that extremist feminism has been around since the beginning of the movement, and you acknowledge that it’s being propagated on college campuses. Would you also acknowledge that the national conversation has grown increasingly supportive of socially liberal gender policies? Because once you say that, you’ve basically laid out McCain’s argument.

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          • Actually*, there are three different strains of feminism.
            IIRC, there has only been one popular strain at any given time.
            Some of my own thought flows quite naturally from some feminist authors, and I would say that these are the closest to me that I have found at this time.

            Any program which doesn’t teach the three different types of feminism is an institution asking to be discredited.
            Yes, there are programs at my school which are overrun with feminists, some of whom the university would be better off without; but these are the exception rather than the rule.
            _________________
            * Information received from a Philosophy of Law class taught by a Georgetown LS grad (Brigham Young undergrad) and member of the bar who also happens to be the current chair of the Women & Gender Studies program.

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            • There is a different between using extremist texts and saying that these people were part of the movement unfortunately and that these people had important things to say. It might be more of the latter than former in Women’s Studies.

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              • I don’t have my notes in front of me, but I’m fairly certain the writers this fellow is referencing are among the earliest of feminists.
                IIRC, the movement appears fraught with alternations of expansion and constriction in scope.
                Where men fit in to feminism has been an overarching question from the beginning.
                More to point, whether deliberate harm to men serves interests in furtherance of feminism is the key difference that separates the three strains, with a rather broad continuum between two extremes.

                But make no mistake about it– there is a fairly hateful form of feminism that was very important, and very formative, in the movement.
                It is quite easy to find any number of writers in agreement with them, as it is also quite easy to find any number of writers in disagreement with them.
                The time at which the writings in question occurred are a fairly good indicator overall, though there is some overlap.

                Those are the facts.

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                • I’m well aware that there is a very anti-male form of feminism that comes from people like Andrea Dworkin and other Second Wave feminists. The male terms variety of Internet feminism is a descendant of these thinkers.

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                  • Pardon me, but I am uncertain as to how the term “Second Wave” is being used here.

                    From my view, it is not the vehemence that is the major fault, but the preference for absolutes; more accurately, the manner in which they are used.
                    Truth be told, there are a number of men whom I thoroughly detest as well.
                    Nonetheless, the most horrible people in this world are people.
                    It’s difficult to see that sometimes when talking about the Death Flights, and similar conduct.

                    If no restriction on the sexuality of women is legitimate, then women having sex with dogs becomes a norm.
                    Where no limitation on commerce and industry wrt women is legitimate, women selling their children into prostitution becomes not only permissible, but desirable.

                    Absolutes should be applied with more caution.

                    However, the greater point that feminism is no one thing, but several competing views, is established.

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                  • I found the slides from the lecture on feminist jurisprudence. There aren’t many of them; 14 total. My notes are more detailed in some areas.
                    The materials state the two big debates within feminism as those of radicals/reformists and of sameness/difference.
                    On this latter point, it should be noted that there are those who hold the differences are insurmountable, and that it is simply not feasible for a man to be a “feminist,” nor is it possible for a male to further the cause of feminism in any way. Mind you, these are not people on the internet the professor (then chair of Women & Gender Studies) is teaching, but legal scholars publishing in law reviews and other peer-reviewed journals. As to whether this is “mainstream,” I will set that question aside til the end.

                    The slides state the dominant questions of feminist jurisprudence as:

                    What is the proper moral foundation of law? (given that any answer depends on the moral principles of the dominant structure of society)
                    What is the meaning of the rule of law? (given that obedience to law has been part of the history of subjugation)
                    What is the meaning of equality and rights?
                    What is the meaning of harm (where women are subjected to certain kinds of violence that men are typically not)?
                    What is the best approach to adjudication of conflict (here not everyone comes to the process on a level playing field)?

                    From this, it can be seen that “Feminism” covers a rather broad swath.
                    For all practical purposes, the territory is so broad, the term is practically useless, very close to a synonym for “post-modern Western thought,” and little else.

                    As for the issue of “mainstream,” not one whit of it is mainstream, but every vein is an obscure offshoot largely without grounding in the overall whole.
                    Though it is nigh ubiquitous, the interpretation of it is so far-ranging in variety that it is more common than dirt, though with something near the separation as the shape of a snowflake, where no two are exactly alike.

                    I think the term has outlived its usefulness, and we could stand to be more forthright about exactly what it is we’re discussing.

                    Seems like I said that before, somewhere . . .

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      • If you confront someone who is a feminist with “actually this anti-feminist nutter has studied your movement extensively and so he understands it better than you do,” you’re pretty much mansplaining-baiting, fyi.

        As for arguing that feminism is not inherently anti-male, It’s not tough to argue if you pay more attention to actual people, and writings across the board, and less attention to cherrypicking the Academy.

        Much like I don’t think Derrida or even Houllebecq (yes, despite his awards) is particularly fundamental to the current state of French novels.

        Historically, actual feminists often were reacting to actual harm done to them and to other women by an anti-female society, often enacted by males or in the name of pleasing males, and sometimes the fury and exasperation and fear that surrounds that comes out sounding anti-male. Some women do and did become anti-male as a response to their pain and suffering -something that is a mistake,and which is generally perceived as a mistake, philosophically, even if with sympathy for their reasons. They remain a minority. When they are studied in school, it is usually a matter of “why would someone think this way?” rather than with encomiums. The women’s studies programs I’ve encountered are critical thinking based, not inculcation based.

        Part of it depends on what counts as “anti-male”, I suppose. I strongly reject the idea that “socially liberal gender policies” are defacto anti-male. That is a vague label that I suspect contains a very wide range of policies. Without unpacking that lump, you’re making it difficult for anyone to tell whether that piece of your argument has substance or not.

        The only anti-male nationally-common policy I can think of off-hand is the “custody favors the mother” tendency in family court, which is a) a failed effort to countermand earlier anti-mother policies, and b) generally exceptionally unpopular with the social liberals I know and slightly less unpopular with social conservatives.

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          • That was more or less why I said you were -baiting rather than doing it. I actually did wonder whether you were doing it on purpose, ie trolling for that accusation – though I don’t assume you were. Mostly because expecting people to have an open discussion premised on the claims of well-educated nutjobs to which one is careful not to actually aver one’s agreement is a bit … welll…. cagy. Not really how I would expect one to go about attempting to have an open discussion. Were one actually trying to do that. Hypothetically.

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            • I don’t troll. I was being upfront, that this guy might scare people off but I think he’s worth reading. I wasn’t claiming his argument as my own because I haven’t read all the material he has. I was approaching this as an adult.

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              • I’ve tried reading him several times (including just now, when I spent about 15 minutes on his site – I read fast) but basically any time I try, I can’t get past the hatred toward … everyone… and the paranoia, that seems to be leaking off the page (not just toward feminists). It’s possible I’m being completely unfair to the man, but there it is. There’s no value for me in spending a lot of time reading his kind of stuff, I grew up being ranted at in a similar (and similarly “well researched” – in air quotes because it’s actually very selective in its seeming breadth) vein by someone with a great deal of intellect and very little compassion or common sense. There’s not a novel or educational argument there. It’s not going to teach me anything I haven’t already been soaked in.

                I can see if that if someone was less exposed to the style already, and/or more thinky and less feely, so the cupfuls of rage were less obtrusive, it could sincerely seem worthwhile.

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                • Also, FWIW, there are some extreme feminists (and other ideologues) who are basically the same as this guy, sure. I don’t read them either, unless I have to for one or the other reason. Because they *are* in fact the fringe, and if you want to understand a mass movement, a relatively moderate movement, and you’re not worried about imminent takeover by dictators, there’s really no point to steeping oneself in hate. I’d rather figure out where the middle lives in any given stream, so I’m paying attention to the current and not the eddies. It’s also kinder to myself.

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                • That’s why I put it right up front about his style. I really wasn’t being coy. He’s got the social graces of a pit bull. That style is not an attraction for me; it’s his pit-bull-like determination that interests me. A few years back, he wrote primarily about politics, and never discussed feminism. But then something made him look into it, and he got determined to learn it literally chapter and verse. He’s the kind of responsible oddball who will spend years studying a case before he decides whether to bring it to trial.

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    • Personally, I don’t have much utility for attacking or defending broadly defined ideological positions. I’d much rather talk about specific claims that can be empirically and logically investigated than to worry about what people call themselves.

      So, when I read statements like this (and I read a lot of them under the auspices of internet -isms, left, right and center), I am a little nonplussed:

      That is, he was using the term as a form of self-criticism, generalized to men at large – he was attacking the systematic thing where men’s reaction to a breakup is to not just be hurt, but to belittle and demean the woman.

      I’ve seen scores of examples of people reacting to breakups. Sometimes men react poorly to breakups. And sometimes women react poorly to breakups. If there is something more to this, something particularly pathological about men’s reactions relative to women’s, something that can be empirically demonstrated, I would love to see it. And I don’t mean this in a snarky way; for my own edification I would love to see it.

      The problem for me is that I often read articles about gender relations and they hinge on some un-interrogated claim about how men or women are. This relates to my point above about mansplaining or toxic masculinity. You can spin these claims any which way you want, but short of actual evidence, many of them just end up resting on some overly broad generalization or stereotype.

      And here’s the thing. I’m perfectly fine with broad generalizations and stereotypes. I think that they have some limited value. But what tends to happen is that people fall into the rut of claiming something along the lines of my generalizations and stereotypes about you are enlightening and meaningful and should be taken seriously; your generalizations and stereotypes about me are hateful and inaccurate and should be banished from acceptable discourse.

      I get why people think this way. Everyone likes having their cake and eating it, too. Generally speaking, though, the key to a broader acceptance of any point of view is establishing that you apply your principles in both directions. And that’s the thing that I just don’t get from the internet feminism crowd.

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      • Did you see the entire paragraph of narrowing the generalization that followed that statement?

        I’m not a huge fan of arguing by generalizations either, generally – in this case I was trying to explain what the author of the article was trying to do (as far as I could tell), and that part of his essay rested on the assumption described, one which I think is a lot more complicated and less absolute than the sentence you quoted out of context makes it sound- but I was explicating him, not asserting for myself. I tend to think there is some there there, but it’s exceptionally context dependent and it seems like the “equality” that has happened has been more in the direction of everyone being a jerk to the point where I’m honestly not sure what the American context is these days. But if I were discussing independent of the article, I would never have brought it up.

        The article in question is one I would not have written, for oh so many reasons, starting with not being a fan of “I was uncharitable and hated this for reasons I will describe at great length…. but I eventually realized that no! I am dumb! it is fab!” as a genre. But “founded on nothing but generalizations” is right up there.

        As for wanting to see such things empirically, generally, I think it’s hard to do if it’s the water you’re swimming in. Because any study is going to be biased by the assumptions the study authors are swimming in… and you’re going to gravitate toward the studies that suit your biases…. it’d be nice to believe social sciences are effective and scientific, but that’s a generalization I don’t subscribe to myself. Provocative and intriguing, definitely. Question-settling, not hardly.

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        • Did you see the entire paragraph of narrowing the generalization that followed that statement?

          I’ve read every current comment on this thread and I still disagree. There are always reasons, always qualifications as to why my generalizations are substantive and yours are wrong. But like I said, I don’t reject your generalizations. I’m sure that they have validity. That’s not really where my objections lie.

          My real problem is with the kind of thing going on in that Slate article or in the Twitter threads referenced in the OP. Actually, that’s not quite true. I don’t have a real problem with them, because I don’t take them seriously in the first place. And if I have one critique of the OP, it’s that it takes very unserious people seriously.

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  21. Re: Toxic Masculinity

    Toxic Whatever isn’t a behavior, it’s an expectation or an excusal of a behavior. The guy who is boorish isn’t exhibiting Toxic Masculinity, he’s just being boorish. That his peer group (or society at large) expects, or excuses, or encourages that behavior because he is male is Toxic Masculinity. Likewise, the expectation that women are subservient to men, etc. would be toxic femininity, with the converse being the expectation that a strong woman is one who hates or emasculates is toxic feminism.

    Call it Toxic Identity Expectations – and expectation (and the subsequent excusal thereof) of a negative behavior solely because of gender or social position (e.g. Toxic Urbanism encouraging Thug Life, etc.).

    There will always be people who behave badly. The toxic part isn’t the bad behavior, it’s handwaving it away, or encouraging it, because it’s expected of that person because of some identity.

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    • I’m not sure that this is right. Your explanation makes sense when you combine common meanings of the term toxic and masculinity but when I see the term toxic masculinity used, the authors are definitely describing a behavior rather than the excusal of said behavior. The real problem with defining toxic masculinity is the same problem as defining obscenity. Everybody knows it when they see it but very few people agree