A Dose of Stupid v.78

It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:

Reverse Oppression: A Fad that Needs to End

You know it is going to be good from the title, but I will let feminist bloggers Paul and Renee explain:

It’s not a new idea – we’ve certainly seen it raising its ugly head in media repeatedly, but it’s become popular again – the “flipped prejudice” fiction. Victoria Foyt’s racist Save the Pearls did it for race and we now have the homophobic versions: a kickstarter for the book Out by Laura Preble and the film Love is all You Need. I hate linking to them but they need to be seen. They both have the same premise: an all gay world that persecutes the straight minority.

So that’s more appropriating the issues we live with, our history, our suffering and then shitting on it all by making us the perpetrators of the violations committed against us. How can they not see how offensive this is? How can they not see how offensive taking the severe bigotry thrown at us every day and throughout history, bigotry that has cost us so much and then making our oppressors the victims and us the attackers, is? This is appropriative, this is offensive, it’s disrespectful and it’s outright bigoted.

As a speculative fiction and a comic book fan, I find it more offensive that Paul and Renee are offended for someone using fiction to tell an unrealistic story. The whole point of fiction is to be able to create worlds and situations that do not exist. The idea that any world one creates must fit within some narrow-minded, politically correct, “approved” storyline is pure idiocy.

But what is truly stupid about the pair’s argument is that they essentially put down stories that are metaphors that have helped spread the message about the travails of prejudice. According to them, Tolkien should not written about the racial conflict between dwarves and elves. According to them, Stan Lee pissed on minority groups when he created the X-men. According to them, Star Trek’s Let That Be Your Last Battlefield episode was just a waste, even though the episode showed exactly how stupid and petty racial bigotry is.

It seems like Paul and Renee’s real problem with these “reverse oppression” stories is not that the stories exploit “oppressed” groups, but that the conventionally “oppressed” group is shown as an “oppressor”, and from the politically correct worldview Paul and Renee hold that just could never happen.

Here is the reality: throughout history, many groups that have been oppressed were once oppressors, and many groups who are now oppressors were oppressed. One of the best examples of this is how Israel treats Palestine. That is as clear an example of systemic oppression as one can get, and yet Jews have historically been on the receiving end of similar (and worse) cruelty.

The idea that gay people or black people or women would never hurt anyone and would never oppress anyone is wishful thinking. Every group of people who has had a taste of power for a significant period of time has abused it. Some have done it worse than others, but the idea that the oppressed cannot oppress simply does not parse, and that should be painfully obvious to anyone in the West. After all, there is this nation that touts itself as the Greatest Nation That Ever Existed Infinity that was created by a group of oppressed colonists who fought for their freedom as they continued to enslave an entire race of people. Indeed, they were so aware of the irony and hypocrisy of this that they almost freed the people they had enslaved, but decided against it because they feared they would lose too many colonies and ruin the Greatest Nation That Ever Existed Infinity before they could build it.

All of that should be obvious, but Paul and Renee do not seem worried about facts or logic, hence this bit:

And don’t tell me it will help straight/white people understand oppression. Because if a privileged person will only hear about prejudiced issues when it comes from a privileged mouth then what is the point? I’ve said this before when we’ve had similar bullshit, how are you going to encourage people to address prejudice and marginalisation while at the same time training them that it’s only worth listening to privileged people?

Firstly, most of those people do not think of themselves as “privileged”, which is why these stories work. People see themselves with a completely different lens, and as a result it is often hard for people to understand what other groups feel.

Secondly, most people tend to identify with those who share some similarity with them. The more similar the person is to the intended audience, the more likely that character will resonate. If you want someone who typically does not go through a certain set of experiences to identify with those who do, your best bet is to make your protagonist look like your intended audience.

Thirdly, if in the context of the story the person is not “privileged”, then people are not hearing about “prejudiced issues when it comes from a privileged mouth”. Rather, they are hearing it from a disprivileged mouth of a person who looks like them, making the message all the more effective.

The pair goes on to write:

All of this completely puts the lie to the idea that these stories and storylines encourage empathy. If you had empathy could could empathise with the real marginalised people who are actually suffering. You wouldn’t need a privileged person to make up a ridiculous and offensive marginalisation for you to cry for.

That should be the case, but it often is not. After all, Paul and Renee seem to have problems empathizing with fictional characters. One could easily see them having problems empathizing with poor white men who lost their jobs or male survivors of sexual and domestic violence, you know, real marginalized people who are actually suffering.

Here is the thing about empathy: it is a learned behavior, and it is really hard to feel. It needs a person to set aside their own feelings and feel what others feel. That means listening to what others say and taking that emotion in, processing it, and making it part of you. It means going on that journey with that person, feeling every beat as they do, essentially seeing the world through their eyes.

Ironically, that is exactly what stories do.

To quote a certain empress:

Just as he is sharing all your adventures, other’s are sharing his. They were with him when he hid from the boys in the bookstore. […] They were with him when he took the book with the Auryn symbol on the cover, in which he’s reading his own story right now.

That is the point of storytelling, and that is the point of stories that use so-called “privileged” people as protagonists. When you see what it is like when it happens to you, that gives you an insight into what it feels like for other people have it happening to them.

That leads us to the grand irony of Paul and Renee’s piece. The outrage they show sounds remarkably like the outrage so-called “privileged” people show when someone writes a piece of speculative fiction that paints white people, heterosexual people, Christians, men, Westerners, and so on as “oppressors”. No one likes their group to be reduced to nothing but villains. It is insulting, offensive, and dismissive of the scores of people belonging to those groups who are nothing of the sort.

So how ironic that when the table is turned, it is suddenly wrong to cast whole groups of people as evil:

And don’t tell me it’s for marginalised people, so we can see a world where we’re dominant. Would I like to read a book where marginalised people are the majority and in charge? Sure – but not through the eyes of a poor, oppressed straight/white person who is suffering so awfully at the hands of the big, mean, prejudiced gay/black people. Because maginalised people being cast as evil villains? Been done and it’s not fun.

Ah ha. The problem is not really with the “oppressed” becoming the “oppressors”, just anyone telling the story from the new “oppressed” group’s point of view.

Granted, the pair do have a point that in some instances these flipped stories are done to silence criticism about the real world and keep other people in their place. But it is not clear that the examples they wrote about intend to do that. The two films about straight people living in a gay-dominated world simply show how screwed up it is to have your love denied by an intolerant society. The book about a white girl in society dominated by black people comes across as the same thing, although it appears poorly received on Amazon.

Stories are meant to entertain and educate us, and using metaphors is one of the best ways to do that. Speculative fiction is built around this idea, and while it is not always executed well, the notion that certain metaphors are off limits because of some pathetic, politically correct stupidity does no one any good.

On a final note, one cannot help but enjoy the delicious of feminists complaining about people appropriating other groups’ struggles when the feminist movement itself is an appropriate of early Marxism and the civil rights movement. How many times do feminists, particularly white, female feminist, use the black experience, especially the black male experience, to show how bad women have it?

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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16 thoughts on “A Dose of Stupid v.78

  1. “frob – you should probably lurk for a lot longer before posting much more. You’re throwing off such “I’m a cisstraight white man, and here’s what I think!” vibes that they can be seen from Mars. This is not the place.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt”
    I take it that place doesn’t want to hear the opinion of a male at all? Is it feminist or radical feminist? I only ask as I’ve never been there before and it appears to be a women-only space?

    Oh they also call this place an MRA space, are you MRA TS?

  2. Where are they getting the MRA label from then? Or is it just typical applying the label to those you think are from that group as a way to try write off their legitimate gripes?

  3. Archy: It seems that anyone that sees legitimate issues on the male side that aren’t something about “learning to let go of privilege” or “learning to not rape”, is evil, thus a MRA, and denying the obvious “women-have-it-worse” that seems necessary for mainstream feminism approval.

  4. True, people probably think I am an MRA. I am a fence sitter, egalitarian, no allegiance to feminism or the MRM. I want everyone equal n supported, everyone free from abuse. It’s been a real pain in the ass though trying to find like-minded people, the GMP was the first place I met them where they could actually support both women’s AND men’s rights, social issues. Hell, we all bleed the same blood when hit!

  5. Here:
    “So today I sat my six year old cousin down to explain to her why, as a white person, she is a sack of oppressive trash. I figured it would go smoothly and easily and that she would fully understand why she deserves to be hated, because it’s really not a difficult concept to grasp, but unfortunately it was more tumultuous than I had imagined.

    “Whiteness is narcissism.” I told her. “As a white person, you are naturally selfish and inevitably racist. Your happiness, which is built upon centuries of misery, is harmful and disrespectful to others.”

    In response she said “I’m not racist!” So I was like “Ugh fuck you yes you are.” At that point she tried to tone-police me by telling me it “wasn’t nice to swear,” but I wasn’t going to let her try to stop me from telling her what she needed to know.

    “You are inferior. You are weak and spoiled because your life is easy, so PoC have the right to say or do anything they want to you. You owe them for their suffering at the hands of your people, so always remember that you and your voice and actions are always less important than theirs.”

    She stared at me and seemed really confused and instead of agreeing with me like a decent person she decided to question me again. “But shouldn’t people just be equal?” she said.

    “Fuck no. You lost the chance for equality when your ancestors committed genocide against the Native Americans and enslaved a race of innocent people. Didn’t you learn that in school? Your race is a race of evil and the damage they have done can never be repaired.”

    Again she seemed dissatisfied with my assertions and, showing the typically self-centered narcissism of a white person, said “But I wasn’t even born back then! That wasn’t my fault!”

    It was at that point that I nearly lost it and began to shout rather loudly at her. “Fuck your whitesplaining! It doesn’t fucking matter – you and all other crackers owe PoC the equivalent of the slavery and genocide your ancestors brought upon them! By the way, when a PoC’s talking to you about racism, you should shut your mouth and listen because it’s not about you, you shitty worthless little cracker!”

    Through her pathetic display of white woman’s tears, she asked me what I meant by “cracker” and I explained that it was a word specifically used to insult white people. Then she said “But isn’t that racist too?”

    Not able to deal with her damaging ignorance any more, I slapped her across the face and told her the world would be a better place if she just hanged herself. I couldn’t say any more because that’s when she ran up to her room, boo hoo-ing and crying her white tears because I hurt her delicate fee fees.

    But hopefully some of that got through to her and she’ll be a better, less oppressive and less racist person as a result of our talk. It’s good to know my activism will one day lead to the improvement and progression of society.”
    Sadly, I’ve read Womanist Musings quite a bit over the years (haven’t bothered to even try to comment if I recall correctly) and this is basically only a slightly exaggerated verison of Renee.
    From the parody of “social justice” tumbler:
    http://childrenwithprivilege.tumblr.com/

    Basically, as you know the problem with the Social Justice types these days is that often they practice Empathy Apartheid. And that’s half the joke of that tumbler.

  6. Reading the comments.
    All the haters are out. Can they do any more to discredit themselves?

  7. Feminist considers the MRA designation to be a tar brush they can wield as they see fit whenever they really don’t want to address the issue. One can only make assumptions on a case by case basis on why they don’t want ot address the issue at hand. Too often it appear clear to me that they simply do not want their preconceived notions to be challenged in any way.

    And so we have feminists who are quick to point out that feminism is not a borg and that those transphobic radfems are not them, yet they have no problems stating that all MRAs are misogynists. The disconnect is so blatant that I can’t help find it laughable.

  8. As for this “reverse” thing I think that some of the folks like Renee and Paul have their hearts in the right place for the most part but at the end of the day I think they are arguing against the concept of “reverse _____” in a manner that almost supports it.

    As we can see when folks like that argue against it they do so by baking a specific group into the very definition. Let’s take sexism. We all know that a lot of feminists actively define sexism as something that men do to women, thus there is no such thing as female against male sexism. Well what do you think people are going to call it when a woman is being sexist against a man when the “definition of sexism” is “something that is male against female only”?

    I myself don’t agree with the idea of “reverse _____” on the grounds that there is it’s wrong to define that “_____” in a unidirectional manner in the first place. When a woman commits some act of sexism against a man it’s sexism. Not “reverse sexism” like some say and it damn sure isn’t downgraded to “gender discrimination” either. It’s sexism.

    Now if someone wants to talk institutional sexism vs individual sexism then let’s do it.

    But trying to limit sexism to “its only sexism when it’s male against female” denies the experiences of males for the same of making it look like “women have it worse” when supposedly it doesn’t matter who has it worse.

    Schala:
    Archy: It seems that anyone that sees legitimate issues on the male side that aren’t something about “learning to let go of privilege” or “learning to not rape”, is evil, thus a MRA, and denying the obvious “women-have-it-worse” that seems necessary for mainstream feminism approval.
    That’s pretty much it.

    Funny thing is feminists have no problem complaining that they get labeled a feminist in a negative connotation for daring to think that women are people. It’s funny because they turn right around the do the same thing with the way they toss around the label MRA. Apparently feminists have legitimate things to say so they give themselves a free pass on their hypocrisy.

  9. Oh my god Clarence.

    That story, it’s original link (I’m not even going there.)

    That’s child abuse. Pure and simple. Such brainwashing!

    Even though it was her cousin, it makes me sick to think what she’d do to children of her own. If she does have children, someone should call child protectice services on her. Jesus christ on a handstick!

  10. Eagle:

    Sorry if it triggered you. It’s a parody site. None of that happened. That’s why when I left the link I mentioned it was parody. I think the basic idea behind that site is that if you take some of the positions that are commonly trotted out by your typical holier- than-thou progressive and apply them to children one can see just how radical and circular many of the arguments are.

  11. Well, it begins again:
    Notice WHO is the problem in gaming and notice WHO is the innocent victim.

    http://jezebel.com/5938972/a-call-to-arms-for-decent-men

    It isn’t even that I’m against games having more civil rules for everyone (but options to play less civally if you want) its the hatred and propaganda behind the whole thing.
    Oh, and I didn’t know that until *recently* gaming was a land of Unicorns and Roses, when a bunch of meanie misogynist racist ablest cissexists homophobes of the mostly white and male sex/race invaded and started insulting everybody. The rewriting of history here is disgusting and astounding.

  12. Clarence, the level of hypocrisy and whining at play is phenomenal. Of the female the gamers I know, most of them are just as quick or quicker than male gamers to thrash talk. They are just as quick or quicker to go for insults. And they are just as quick or quicker to police their groups to keep out any newbies. The reason why the people complaining about this cannot make any headway is because the allow it to continue to happen to male gamers. If every one of the people complaining about someone calling a female gamer a “bitch” pitch as a big a fit over someone calling a male gamer the same thing, then we would see a change.

    But that does not happen. Instead, we get irony of watching someone who does not want anyone attacking women attacking men by calling them little boys because they want to hang out with their male friends.

  13. “…yet Jews have historically been on the receiving end of similar (and worse) cruelty.”

    You forget that back in the early days when Christianity was a tiny heretical sect of Judaism, Jews persecuted Christians as well. Christians, however, were able to outnumber the Jews in time and the persecuted became the persecutors.

    In India, after the Muslim invasion, Buddhists became persecuted to the point of extinction. In modern Burma, the Buddhist majority now persecutes the Muslim minority worse than you can imagine.

    Feminists are simply another flavor of religious fanatics, and the writings at the site bear all the markings of this. The only difference is that it’s a religion which refuses to properly name itself as a religion.

    Witness the enthusiasm with which supposedly-secular western feminists backed Pussy Riot’s desecration of a church in a ‘protest’ which mocked the Russian Orthodox faith, a faith which had itself been ruthlessly suppressed violently over the last century. In fact, the Pussy Riot ‘protest’ took place within a building that had been reconstructed after being blown-up by communists.

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