relationships · social philosophy

Thoughts about #ihave

The #ihave hashtag is a response to the #metoo hashtag. The #metoo hashtag shares stories of (primary women) people’s experience being the victims of sexual assault or harassment.

The #ihave hashtag is a response to calls of ‘Where are all the men who have commited these offences?’.

Here’s one such tweet:

This Facebook post here is the one that I saw first – of men using the hashtag to admit their own role.

I’ve long thought that the conversation about sexual assault has lacked the perpertrators side of it, and that ultimately isn’t helpful.

This Ted talk here was produced a few years ago – it’s very moving, and I think the conversation needs to sound more like this. The problem with hearing just the voices of victims is that it doesn’t help us understand why all these assaults are taking place.

There’s a reason perpertrators are reluctant to tell there story of course – there’s a huge social stigma to being labelled a creep or a rapist.

So when I saw this hashtag being a thing – I was faced with a binary decision. Do I jump on board and admit that I’ve done creepy things before, or do I conciously ignore it?

Seeing this as an opportunity to make the change that I want to see – more honest and pragmatic dialog around sexual assault – I jumped on board.

I first posted on Twitter – which is relatively safe. Although it uses my real name and is easily tracable back to me – I don’t really have any followers there. My Facebook on the other hand is a different story – I’m friends with all of my family there, women I have potential romatic possibilities with, and some, but not many, people from work.

I ultimately decided it would be more effective posting there and did it. The message I posted was:

I feel nervous posting this – but I think it’s genuinely, and perhaps a more difficult part of the conversation that needs to be happen if we want to make progress, so here goes: #ihave. I’m hoping this hashtag catches on.

I made it public, so it would show up when other people are exploring the hashtag.

It’s worth acknowledging that the post is fairly coy – making no reference at all to sexual assault or other violations.

I was immediately asked by my brother what it was in reference to, and I had to clarify it was in reference to sexual assault/harrasment.

The response I got was supportive. Supportive messages and heart reacts, from women I respect. No nasty messages or comments.

I observed two men within my immediate Facebook network posted similar posts, and at least two more in the networks beyond that – but I didn’t look especially hard to find them.

I wouldn’t say the experience was relieving, although I am grateful and impressed at the grace demonstrated in the responses. I was constantly checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds for new mentions of #ihave, and getting into arguments with people on Twitter. It’s one of those conversations where speaking up is good, but it’s better to make a couple of bold and sensitive comments, than to create noise with all the rest.

There’s also the knowledge that there are probably plenty of people have probably seen the post, but haven’t said anything. They’ll now be wondering ‘Just what did David do?’ and look at my sideways. The whole thing makes my social situation a bit more complicated. (Note: The details of what infractions I’ve committed I’m not going to get into here. It’s a sensitive topic, and just as your wouldn’t insist a #metoo talks about their experiences publicly with strangers – the same goes for #ihaves).

I would also stress that it’s not like the #metoo campaign brought me to some sudden and recent profound realisation. This is something I’ve been working with for years – it’s just now that the #ihave trend gave an explicit window to say something – the other choice being consciously ignoring it.

I didn’t participate out of an act of self-flagellation – I participated because I want more light to be shone on this very much unspoken about part of the conversation.

Speaking broadly – regarding my emotional and mental wellbeing, my social life, my sense of life satisfation – feelings of guilt around my interactions with women are a significant, but not the only hazard I’ve been dealing with. There’s also addiction, depression, and selfishness/lazyness.

These are all things I’ve been managing, with ups and downs over the last several years. Things that have helped have been exercise, a good diet, not smoking weed, private journalling and vulnerable conversations with people I trust.

Recently things have been going quite well for me – I’ve been motivated, my exercise is going well, and I’ve been having good romantic interactions with women (including one recently where I explained ‘It’s really important for me to use my words to scope out how you feel about a thing. I feel much more comfortable doing it that way.’).

So while I do think I did a good thing by participating – I also I feel like I’ve potentially jepordised my own emotional and social wellbeing, and it did set me in a bit of spin. I didn’t have a particularly productive day. I do feel a bit better now that I’ve written all this – writing is one of my ways of maintaining a healthy emotional state.

In terms of improving our sexual culture for future – for our children – I would say the single biggest thing we need to do is talk more about consent. Give examples of how to seek and how to give or decline consent.

In terms of improving our own wellbeing for traumas of the past – I do think that forgetting things is a healthy mental mechanism for getting over trauma, and that’s where I’m not really interested in reliving or rehashing a lot of this stuff. For my own well being, I want to keep moving forward.

I know that there’s a lot of people who think that’s selfish and irresponsible of me. But I don’t think continuing to live in guilt or shame is going to improve anything for anyone – bar people who get a sadistic sense of satisfaction at seeing people in misery.

My advice for both #ihaves and #metoos is to not keep rolling around in the gutter if you don’t have to. You only get one life – it’s not like at the end they’re going to say ‘you got a shitty roll, here, have another go’. I say the best way to heal is to keep reliving your trauma but go out and have good, healing experiences that set the new normal.

I guess what I really mean when I say I don’t want to keep rehashing this stuff – is that I’m not keen to keep writing on this topic in an open and public manner, at least for now. It’s stressful and generates a lot of social uncertainty. I’d happily engage in some kind of research project relating to my experiences where I’ve good a chance to tell my side of the story. And I guess gauging how things go – I could keep writing about it – but I do have other things I’m doing with my life. That’s at least where things are at two days after participating.

There’s a couple of consent related things I produced a while ago – which I never posted (in large part, because I was very self conscious about it), so I’ll probably post those – but from where I am now – I don’t feel like this is an issue I want to keep engaging with. (Unless it’s talking about tricks for making consent and social rejection fun and less awkward – in which case I’m totally into that – because that’s a fun topic.).

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politics

The psychopath class.

Let me start by explaining how my political views have developed.

In my teens and early 20s I was attracted towards anarchism. I held conspiratorial beliefs, include that 9/11 was an inside job and I genuinely believed the 2012 prophecy.

As I got older and started seeing through the quasi-religious conspiracies prevalent in the anarchist/hippy social circles and I also developed an appreciation for the genuine quality of educated working and relatively rich professionals. I developed an appreciation that the world is getting better in many regards – literacy is prevalent, disease is no longer a common part of life, and people are more free to choose their careers.

I’m on a backswing now – and I’m convinced that the world is in a large part, ruled by pyschopaths who care little for the experience of everyone else on Earth.

The average intelligent, empathetic person, like myself or yourself – isn’t necessarily very motivated to climb up the ladders of power or wealth. Instead, for many of us, we’d opt to choose a career we enjoy, or spending time with our friends.

Let’s acknowledge that some people are genuine psychopaths who have no problem inflicting misery on others. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have good risk assessment capabilities, and thus don’t necesserily commit crimes or overt social infractions – as they recognise the harm that would produce to themselves.

Where an intelligent empath may not be motivated to climb the ladders or power and wealth, these psychopaths are.

The problem with the world isn’t that there aren’t enough good people. It’s that the good people aren’t motivated by power, and the bad people disproptionately are.

Some good people are idealists and do seek to move toward power to influence for the better – and this is a good thing. I think we should do more to talk about whether the people we are voting for and hiring, are self serving psychopaths, or people who have the interests of the world at heart.

politics · wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week and male tears.

Mental health awareness week has highlighted an interesting theme in gender politics.

I’ve long thought that talk of delicious male tears and other ‘ironic misandry’ is toxic and unhelpful. MHAW highlights where it’s most damaging.

Here’s some example posts I’ve been seeing:

There’s also Terry Crew’s vulnerable revelation about his experience as a victim of sexual assault, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein saga.

This kind of appreciation that it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s good to talk talk about your feelings runs into an uncomfortable friction with some themes amongst internet feminism – mocking male fragility and male tears.

bahar-mustafa-white-men-diversity-ban-male-tears-killallmen-featured-image

If we google ‘male tears feminism’ we get a few good articles on the top page:

Slate.com: The Rise of the Ironic Man-Hater – Summary: Ironic misandry is ‘reductio ad absurdum’ – intentionally exaggerating the stereotype of feminists as man haters to point out how absurd it is.

Time.com: Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn’t Funny – Summary: Even if ironic misandry is in jest – it’s bad PR for feminism to use it.

The Guardian: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did – Summary: Misandry is a way of blowing off steam and men complaining about it grasping at straws to find victimhood.

I’ll concede that being the victim of disrespectful jokes doesn’t entail the same amount of harm as being subject to sexual assault or being systemically paid less.

I would argue that ‘male tears’, ‘#killallmen’ jokes are more on par with ‘make me a sandwich’ and rape jokes.

A point that the slate article makes – is that genuine feminist men are ok with these jokes:

“The men who get annoyed by misandry jokes are in my experience universally brittle, insecure, humorless weenies with victim complexes,” while the “many intelligent, warm, confident feminist men in my life … mostly get the joke immediately and play along. They’re not worried I actually want to milk them for their tears.”

This is similar to saying the pledges in a hazing ritual are actually ok with the hazing. They might say that – and the harm of the hazing may be outweighed by their desire for social approval – but that doesn’t making the hazing ok.

It’s a form of gaslighting to suggest that – ‘if you’re not ok with being the subject of bullying – it’s because you’re not a good person’.

It may be that many men simply don’t care – but we should acknowledge that some men are more sensitive than others. The idea that a good man is an insensitive one – is precisely the conception of traditional norms of masculinity.

The reason that ‘male tears’ is such an effective insult, is because goes to the heart of the traditional conception of what it is to be a man. Speaking up about it – only exposes one to more ridicule – revealing oneself to be a weak man with feelings.

It’s precisely having feelings, I imagine, that causes men to kill themselfs – which they do at about three times the rate that women do – depending on what part of the world you look at.

The argument that the misandry is merely ironic identically reflects the arguments that many on the alt-right make about using racist terminology.

For example, Jeffry Lord tweeted ‘Seig heil’ and later defended it as ironic mocking of white supremacists.

If you’re interested in reading more – here’s a good article by Vox about ‘ironic racism’ and the alt-right.

There is a key difference of course – alt right ‘ironic racism’ is enforcing an existing dynamic, whereas feminist ‘ironic misandry’ seeks to flip an existing dynamic.

But in either case – they’re both toxic and bigoted. Ironic misandry is bullying, basically. I have a very hard time believing that someone who thinks it’s ok to mock male emotional vulnerability has men’s interests at heart.

politics

Some back of a napkin analysis re: male vs female sentencing.

This facebook post

22228192_10212800698266410_7965463935256288586_n.jpg

and this news article about a women who received 11 months home detention for pushing her husband down the stairs, killing him got me into a discussion about whether it is men or women are treated more leniently when it comes to domestic violence.

Using these tables from NZStats, here’s what I’ve got:

(The murder statistics aren’t that interesting, because for both men and women, almost all of them result in imprisonment, and the length of sentences isn’t available).

Men, Manslaughter
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 20 16 4 .. .. ..
2008/09 23 23 .. .. .. ..
2009/10 32 30 1 .. .. 1
2010/11 37 35 2 .. .. ..
2011/12 21 19 2 .. .. ..
2012/13 15 14 1 .. .. ..
2013/14 27 25 2 .. .. ..
2014/15 15 15 .. .. .. ..
2015/16 19 16 3 .. .. ..
2016/17 21 21 .. .. .. ..
Women, Manslaughter
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 4 2 2 .. .. ..
2008/09 6 5 1 .. .. ..
2009/10 17 9 8 .. .. ..
2010/11 5 3 2 .. .. ..
2011/12 6 4 1 .. .. 1
2012/13 4 3 1 .. .. ..
2013/14 4 4 .. .. .. ..
2014/15 3 2 1 .. .. ..
2015/16 7 4 2 1 .. ..
2016/17 5 2 .. .. .. 3

Some thoughts:

  • Men obviously commit more manslaughter than women
  • The sample size for women is a lot smaller, meaning that any noise is going to have a much bigger effect
  • But that said – eyeballing it, about 1/3 of women convicted of manslaughter get a non-custodial sentence, while almost all men get a custodial sentence
  • It’s possible that men commit more serious manslaughter offenses
  • It’s possible that women plead guilty earlier, or express more remorse

The data for assualts is more pronounced. There are a lot of of them, and so we can more safely extract trends:

Men, Assault
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 7980 1401 4063 1336 781 399
2008/09 8487 1408 4651 1233 880 315
2009/10 8436 1500 4715 1048 847 326
2010/11 8144 1394 4681 904 914 251
2011/12 7755 1406 4394 855 854 246
2012/13 7320 1452 4202 734 740 192
2013/14 6332 1239 3799 606 547 141
2014/15 6026 1318 3632 534 437 105
2015/16 6497 1497 3914 511 487 88
2016/17 6545 1498 4063 439 441 104
Women, Assault
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 1349 72 697 245 246 89
2008/09 1588 82 833 269 305 99
2009/10 1675 96 937 225 312 105
2010/11 1704 110 996 192 319 87
2011/12 1605 104 948 191 277 85
2012/13 1374 90 860 148 207 69
2013/14 1226 87 799 105 196 39
2014/15 1224 95 803 103 186 37
2015/16 1263 100 845 85 194 39
2016/17 1182 84 801 90 172 35

Around 20% of men who are convicted of assault get a custodial sentence.

Around 7% of women who are convicted of assault get a custodial sentence.

    • It’s likely that the assaults men commit are more serious
    • Men are probably more likely to have commited prior offences

In any case – some pretty good refuting evidence would be required to suggest that women are treated more harshly when it relates to violence offenses.

 

politics · social philosophy

Tinder’s #menprovement campaign is looking like some cheap misandric bullshit.

Tinder has launched a new advertising/social awareness campaign, they’re calling #menprovement.

22141089_1413388888730892_1312093210497322896_n

The premise is that there a lot of douchebags on Tinder, and so there’s a scientifically themed effort to improve the quality of men on Tinder.

It features videos of women scientists like these:

And charts like these:

Now obviously this is intended to be a fairly lighthearted kind of campaign – but humour like this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The reason that this campaign is considered a good idea, is because there is genuine sentiment that there are too many douchey men on Tinder.

A starting point – let’s acknowledge the existence of douchey men and abuse women face on the internet.

I want to be clear. I acknowledge that women on the internet, and on dating apps like Tinder, likely face a lot of verbal/written abuse in the face of rejection, sleazy messages, unsolicited dick pics etc.

I’m generally of the opinion that men and women have opposite problems on online dating – where women suffer through unwanted attention – men suffer from a vacuum of attention, and loneliness.

If we consider the wider issue of rape culture / consent culture – it’s very reasonable to consider conducting social campaigns aimed at changing the way people behave, and in this case, the way men behave in the context of a dating app.

So getting that out of the way – I acknowledge that there’s a problem of douchey behaviour from men on dating apps like Tinder, and it would be a good thing to improve on that.

Tinder’s campaign does not address actual douchey behaviour

This image is probably the egregious example:

Wanting a partner who has a job and is nice to your mother? Great – that’s just the kind of thing we want to encourage.

Being six feet tall? – Is that really the problem with Tinder? That there’s not enough tall men? Are short men guilty of being douchebags?

I’m not going to pretend that we shouldn’t have physical qualities that we find attractive, and I’m not offended by the proposition that many women prefer a man taller than them.

The issue I have with this image is the gross insensitivity it demonstrates.

For example, where I think the fat acceptance movement is dangerous; I think obesity should be treated as a health condition, not an acceptable lifestyle, I think all people should be treated with respect – and not be the subject of cruel jokes.

So while I think it’s ok for someone to have a preference for slim women for example – I don’t think it’s ok to make fat jokes. The same goes for short men – show some sensitivity.

Let’s examine some qualities of what Tinder considers douches

 

  • A self employed CEO
  • Has a bluetooth
  • Tips minimum
  • Late because charging vape
  • Is into fitness, and you should be too
  • Posts gym sessions on instagram
  • ‘This body wasn’t built for monogamy’
  • Eggplant emojis as opener
  • Come hungry as closer

Of this list, I’d say tipping minimum is perhaps the only actual douche behavior, and eggplant emoji, depending on whether you’re into that kind of thing.

Here’s where Tinder needs to get it straight:

There’s nothing wrong with being into the gym, being non-monogamous, or owning your own business. 

It’s straight up misandric bullshit to try shame men for possessing these qualities – things that they’re probably quite proud of.

If I’m to hazard a guess here – that these stereotypes are seen as acceptable targets – because they’re ‘successful men’ – and can therefore take take being taken down a notch.

However – what Tinder needs to realise – is that it’s not just men fitting the stereotype, or men who water rolls of the duck’s back of,  that sees these videos.

I think we need to consider men in the context of having higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of computer and video game addiction. Within that context – we shouldn’t be trying to tear men’s sense of self esteem and value away from them. If men get that from owning their own business, or working out – that that should be encouraged, not criticised for being douchey.

What it suggests to me – is that Tinder’s willingness to go along with this campaign – means that they don’t value men’s feelings nearly as highly as women’s. That again reinforces the social norm of male disposability.

Douchey behaviour that Tinder could have used.

The thing is – this could have been quite an interesting and positive campaign – if Tinder had seeked to address actual toxic or unappealing behaviour.

Here’s a quick list, if they need inspiration:

  • Boring first messages, ‘Sup’, ‘How are you’ guy.
  • Main hobbies are playing video games and trolling on the internet, and nothing outside of that guy.
  • Ten days unwashed dishes guy.
  • Responds with abuse at rejection guy.
  • Only wants to talk about you guy.
  • Only wants to talk about him guy.
  • Never suggests going on a date guy.
  • Insists on a first date at your place guy.
  • Is cheating on his girlfriend guy.
  • Selfish lover guy.

How women can foster non-douchey behaviour Tinder

Let’s get this ball rolling.

  • Send the first message. Set the frame for the conversation. Want flirty banter? Want a challenging argument? Want a standard get to know each other conversation? Your message determines that.
  • Unmatch severe douches. Train men with negative reinforcement.
  • Call out mild douchey behaviour. See if there’s a correction of behaviour.
  • Respond to desired behaviour with positive reinforcement. Personally, I like the 😍 emoji

God. This must be what being a Cosmopoliton writer must feel like.

‘But it’s just a joke David, stop taking it so seriously’.

Jokes are never just jokes. Jokes are generally funny because they have a kernel of truth (or what the joke teller purports to be the truth).

Just like how telling racist jokes creates a hostile environment for black people, or telling sexist jokes creates a hostile environment for women  – these guys of jokes create an hostile environment for men.

Now – I would suggest that there’s a brand of feminism that is ok with this – men need to be taken down a notch because either that’s justice, or because that makes it easier for women to achieve equality. I don’t want to get get into this line of argument here – but I would make two points – that this is likely to be not effective, it’s just likely to cause division between men and women, and that this philosophy directly contradicts the argument that ‘feminism is for the interests of both men and women’.

Reactions from the internet

The reactions on their Twitter and Facebook threads has been almost entirely negative – mostly pointing out that it’s sexist and douchey in itself. There’s also a lot of comments from men saying how they don’t get matches – would would seem to confirm comment I made in the first section.

This does take us to a point of personal conflict for me. While I clearly agree with the commenters in this instance – in other gendered hot topics on the internet – there is often a reaction of faux victimisation from what can be fairly considered alt-right types. (I’m struggling to think of examples here right now though – maybe revisit this later).

Bottom Line

A pretty gross campaign.

Not the right way to go about creating a society of confident, respectful men, at all.

I’m curious to hear from my feminist friends about this. While Tinder has faced a bit of criticism on social media about this – the feminist community as a whole are quite quiet about it. There’s definitely no social media storm about it – which does suggest that people simply don’t care about this kind of toxic gender dynamic.

There is though – the chance that this is a long running deeper social critique – that explores things like gender norms around height attraction, and all will be revealed in time. If I was taking a bet, I’d bet against that happening though.

politics

A quick thought about punching nazis.

On With the emboldening of the white supremacy and the alt-right, there is growing discourse about whether it’s ok to confront nazis with violence. For example, take a look at this segment on Bill Maher’s show.

The alt right use nazi punching episodes as evidence that liberals are the real fascists.

To weigh in with my own opinion:

What concerns me about pro-nazi punching sentiment – is the potential for it to turn into an uncontrollable mob frenzy. For example there’s the example of the wrongly targeted doxxing victim following Charlottesville, or the shooting of Republican senators at a baseball game.

On the other hand, I’m perplex and how Germany allowed the Nazis to rise to power, after the failed beer hall putsch that killed four police officers.

Here’s an example of a nazi punching episode:

Now being honest, I’m not particularly sympathetic to Richard Spencer, and I can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction at witnessing this attack, regardless of whether it fits with my more rational thoughts about the matter.

But for those who suggest that this is completely unwarranted and unforgivable – here’s a counterpoint:

Here is a video of Buzz Aldrin punching a man who believes he didn’t walk on the moon:

 

There are of course some notable differences. Buzz Aldrin is an old man. Buzz wasn’t going out of his way to punch someone, he was punching someone who was already in his face.

It does pose an interesting moral conundrum though. Is there some point at which we’ll let a punch slide? Just where is it?

 

letters

I wrote a letter to a news media company about distasteful content. Here’s their response.

My email (sent September 4):

Hi, I’d like to formally complain about this article you published, regarding a serious assault that took place in South Korea.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2017/09/woman-cut-off-husband-s-penis-because-he-played-golf-too-much.html

 newshub.PNG

The article concerns a man whose wife cut his penis off.

The accompanying image you elected to use – a vegetable being cut up, essentially makes a joke of the assault, trivializing it, and doesn’t demonstrate the sensitivity that is appropriate.

Domestic violence is a serious issue, once that is exacerbated by cultural attitudes that prevent people from seeking help about it. As a media outlet, it is irresponsible to contribute to this attitude, by treating it like a joke.

It is also insensitive to any similar victims of domestic violence seeing their circumstances being treated this way.

Please treat this email as a formal complaint.

Can you please check your policy/guidelines for how you handle cases domestic violence, and tell me if your standards were adhered to in this case.

Yours sincerely,

David Johnston

Their response (Recieved September 29):

Dear David,

Thank you for you complaint about the Newshub article at the attached link. The MediaWorks Standards Committee agrees that the stock image used for the article was inappropriate and we apologise for the offense it caused you. Immediately after receiving your email we raised your concerns with the editor of Newshub online. The image was removed and the staff member responsible counseled.

We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and once again apologise for the offense the article caused you.

Kind regards,

Robert Dowd

For the MediaWorks Standards Committee

I’m pleased with this response. It’s unequivocal, and it mentions that the staff member who published the article faced some kind of feedback. I would suggest that the email I sent may very well have a tangible effect on how domestic violence is portrayed in the media.