Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A critique of John The Other -

On Tuesday, September 18th 2012, John the Other posted a Blog entitled Attacking Male Sexuality. He previously accused me of skimming over, and not actually reading one his blogs about Marc Lepine. I did read his Marc Lepine article. But since he has no way of knowing what I did or did not read, I will not take it personally.

Today, I am enthusiastically responding to that accusation by reading another one of his blogs and conducting an analytically write-up. I conducted a random search for his blogs and discovered this one, Attacking Male Sexuality. It was the first blog that I found, there is no reason I selected this blog over any others.

In the past, I found that some MRA writers and members to be no different from radical feminists. They tend to start off with good ideas, then wander off into the land of conspiracy theories and paranoia. I approached John's above mentioned blog with the intention of being just as fair to him as I would any of the feminists. I approach his blog with the same blunt honesty that I would approach any other person.

After reading John's essay, I end up concluding that his blog contains some good points. I will prove he makes some horrible points, lacks research, and leaves many loose ends. With a  combination of unanswered questions, bad stylistics, dichotomous thinking, he ends up shooting himself in the foot.



PREFACE

To set the tone of this analysis, I will be looking John's blog from a few different angles. I will look at the specific ideas, and examine what evidence he presents backing up those claims. I will look at his sources, and ask if he is simply regurgitating the opinions of other like minded people, or is he relying on peer reviewed, double blind studies. Finally, I will examine how effectively he communicates his message.

To start off, we should first make a concise definition of Conspiracy Theory. With a clear definition of conspiracy theory we will achieve two things. First, we will be able to identify whether or not John's relies on any conspiracy theory in his blog. This is necessary because clarity is the counterbalance of profound thoughts. A person can have a million profound thoughts, but if they cannot clearly express them, then their ideas cannot amount to anything concrete. Second, we will be fair to John. A person should not accuse him of being a conspiracy theorist when his arguments do not clearly meet the definition of conspiracy theory.

Oxford English Dictionary Defines Conspiracy Theory as: a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event. I am not sure if I am okay with that definition, because some events have clear explanations  like 911. We know Osama Bin Laden is responsible, we have evidence to support that conclusion, but there are still conspiracy theories that 911 was an inside job. Perhaps this definition would work: A belief that some covert, but influential organization secretly plan and carry out a harmful act. Wikipedia offers a similar definition: A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the public. I am happy with the Wikipedia definition because it is more specific and comprehensive than any other definition of conspiracy theory that I have seen so far. That is the definition I will use in this examination.

So lets begin....


Paragraph one reads as follows:
I

Male identity is one of the fundamental drivers of the MGTOW movement; which, for anyone returning to this planet after a decade of vacation, is a growing pathway of masculine self-identity in which men are rejecting a statist, a collectivist, feminist or even a female-approved definition of what constitutes a manInstead, MGTOW men, or Zeta males, are defining their own identities as men – without much regard for the convenience and utility of those identities to outsiders, to women or to a runaway state. It is, in fact, a revolution of thought in which men declare themselves human beings of worth – and don’t ask permission or apologize or allow anyone else to devalue their humanity in preference to their utility.


I like to begin my analysis of another person's writing by first discussing how I agree with them. I agree that male identity is fundamentally important for healthy human development. Men are human beings, they are loving, caring, passionate, and embody many other wonderful adjectives than I can possibly list. It is important for men to define themselves, for themselves. They live for themselves and nobody else.

Unfortunately, the first paragraph of John's blog already contains a conspiracy theory. The paragraph maintains that there is a secret, state-driven, collectivist, feminist covert operation, mostly unknown to the general population, and their sole mission is to define what constitutes a man. The blog neglected to cite any peer-reviewed, double blind studies proving that there is a covert, feminist, collectivist, state-driven agenda to re-define male sexuality to the detriment of men.


Lets revisit that definition of Conspiracy theory again. A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the public.



The problem that I am seeing, is that the core concepts of the MRA are good because it speaks for the health, welfare, and benefit of men. Their mistake is claiming that there is an elaborate, covert group of feminists, collectivists, and government people who are pushing the agenda to change the definition of what it means to be a man. Feminists have done the same thing. Their core concepts are good, in that they want to improve the health, welfare, and benefit of women. Then they go awry when they start talking about vast patriarchal institutions that are plotting against them. There are some MRA that want women to stay at home, have babies, can vegetables and forego any education that does not make them better mothers. There are some feminists that want all men exterminated because they think that men are the root of all evil. This is how people shoot themselves in the foot. 

II










Paragraph two does not have any concrete conspiracy theories because it is merely John's opinions. One might extract one conspiracy theory, the theory that masculine sexuality is generally condemned. This statement is dependent on the assertion made in paragraph one, that covert, collectivist, government people secretly redefined the definition of man. The new definition of male sexuality is to the detriment of men because it reduces them to sexual predators. 

Right off the bat there are some serious problems because John is not good at communicating his ideas. The purpose of writing is not to obscure pure reasoning and inhibit clarity. Quite the contrary. The purpose of writing is to be understood. Here are some more examples of his bad writing. It is not necessary to write, "Male sexuality is of course both demonized and treated as a form of predation, but also strictly limited to a narrow set of acceptable expressions." Instead, write this, "Male sexuality is limited to a narrow set of acceptable expressions." Then list what those specific expressions are. John never says what they are, so I cannot complete the sentence for him. Then write, "Predatory male sexuality", instead of "treated as a form of predation." Predation as a noun does not sound right when it is acted upon in the sentence. If male sexuality is treated as form of predation, then what other forms of predation are there? The entire message is convoluted. 
 "Outside of sexual identities which place men in positions to benefit women as sexual gate-keepers," I would like to help John restructure that sentence so that it makes sense, but I literally do not know what he is trying to say here. What things are outside of sexual identities? How do these things place men in positions they do not want to be placed in? How are women benefited? What is a sexual gate-keeper? Does sexual gate-keeper mean that men have no power to decide if they will have sex or not? Are women forcing men to have sex against their will?
I understand now why paragraph his second paragraph lacks conspiracy theories. It makes no sense at all. It is like a labyrinth of ideas that he is trying to string together, make them sound intellectual, but succeeds only in muddying up the entire process. It is difficult to form an opinion about someone's writing when they cannot clearly communicate their own ideas in the first place.
III
This is evident in the frequent use of rhetorical attack on male sexuality as a go-to response to criticism of feminist dogma. Almost as popular as “you just hate women” is a catalog of ad hominem attacks reducing to “small penis, mother’s basement dwelling, and unemployed virgin”. These standard and frankly boringly predictable insults all relate to a man’s inability to gain access to sex, or in the case of an imputed tiny penis – to perform sexually.

A new paragraph is suppose to signal a new idea. Paragraph three starts off with, "This is evident in the frequent...." What is evident? I can only infer that he is trying to transition the idea of paragraph two, "masculine sexuality is condemned".  It may have been better to combine paragraph two and three. 
I would like to focus on the ideas of John's blog, but his poor stylistics continue to derail his entire message.  Using a passive voice, he claims feminists frequently use rhetorical attacks on male sexuality. Then he claims that these rhetorical attacks are their go-to response when they criticize anyone who criticizes feminist dogma. This writing leaves the reader confused because he does not differentiate between rhetorical devices and simple rhetoric. He does not properly uses either terms in his blog. 'Frequent use of rhetorical attacks,' as used in sentence number one would sound better as: "Feminist dogma uses rhetorical devices on male sexuality." Or, he could write, "The go-to response by feminist dogma is to use rhetorical devices on male sexuality."

He goes on to list the go-to personal attacks feminists use against men. “small penis, mother’s basement dwelling, and unemployed virgin”. I agree with John that these personal attacks are an attack on a man's his sexuality and financial independence. I disagree with John in his opinion that these insults are boring and predictable. Rather, if a person defends their position by merely attacking a man's sexuality and financial independence, bringing nothing else to the table, then I find that person to be a simple idiot. Boring and predictable are not at all the words I would use to describe an idiot who relies entirely on insults to derail another person's argument. Does this dialog sound right to you: 

John, "Feminist dogma is wrong."
Feminist, "You have a small penis, ergo feminist dogma is right."

John, "Men have feelings too, men are humans too."
Feminist, "You are an unemployed virgin who lives in your mother's basement, ergo feminist dogma is right."

Boring and predictable may be the last words in the English language I would use to describe that conversation. I would call that conversation so moronic that it does not deserve to be dignified with a response. I must ponder why he used the word predictable to describe the dialog. Is John claiming that he has been engaging in that conversation with feminists? If not, then how could he find the argument to be a predictable one?  Since he described it as predictable, then it is fair to infer that he argues the only thing feminists bring to the table is, "Feminist dogma is right because you have a small penis, live in a basement, and have never had sex."Although I am not a feminist, I have read feminist arguments and debunked several of them in this blog. Their arguments certainly have more substance than that. If this is in fact the argument that John is making, we have found our first strawman. 

To put this issue to rest, it is important that John know that there is a difference between ad hominem attack, rhetoric and rhetorical devices. If he is going to blog about them, then he needs to understand them. He states that feminists use ad hominem attacks against men, yet fails to state what the rhetorical devices are. I try to avoid all forms of rhetoric because I believe language should be transparent and neutral. I may use some rhetoric, like irony and metaphor, to elaborate a message yet never use it as the corner stone of my argument. If John would like to restate which rhetorical devices feminists are using against men, I will kindly link a list of them here <<LINK>>. The problem, once again, is that John is not good at communicating his ideas in writing. 

What he is discussing is that the attacks relate to a man's inability to gain access to sex or to sexually please a female. Again, I have to agree with John that male sexuality is the very thing targeted when people want to bring a man down. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a man who cannot gain access to sex, or feel like they are not capable of pleasing a woman. Furthermore, to be targeted by something like that is terrible. 
The overlying conspiracy theory casts a shaddow on any good arguments from John's blog.The conspiracy theory, "we live in a feminizing, collectivist, government, hellbent on redefining male sexuality to the detriment of men " will certainly undermine his credibility with readers. He will attract only the true misogynists and not any of the people in the middle. Any movement must reach out to the regular people if it is to succeed. 

The blog does not explain how government is feminizing or collectivist. He neglects to define exactly what is a feminizing government or a collectivist government. He neglects to explain exactly how it happened, when it happened or why it happened. Collectivism is a broad term referring to the interdependence of human beings in groups, communities, teams and societies. John fails to explain exactly how collectivism harms male sexuality. The definition of feminizing is to give something a feminine quality. Does he argue that the government is making men take estrogen, wear high heels and lipstick? I do not get it. I am open to any new idea, the only thing that I ask is that a person explain their position and present evidence to support that position. As far as his blog Attacking Male Sexuality, is concerned, he fails to to make any clear argument.

When we consider the above mentioned personal attacks, it is worth noting that women are not the only people to use these abuses against men. Men, very often, will uses these same abuses against other men. 
Let me put it this way. If a man is financially independent, a good person, and knows that he can satisfy a woman sexually - why would he care that some woman is spreading a rumor that he is a small penis virgin who lives in his mothers basement? Of course, if the man is a virgin then no one would know how big or small his penis is unless he has been putting it on public display in some way. In short, the only men who care about these silly insults are the ones who feel genuinely threatened by them. The only reason a man would be threatened by them is if the statements were true.



IV









Paragraph four argues that when a person uses the above mention insults against a man, says more about her than it does the man being insulting. Again I agree with John. On their own, those insults are mean spirited and make a person look like a complete moron. Unfortunately, John shoots himself in the foot again by weird terms and oddly constructed sentences. For example, "feminine sexual selection of whatever woman offers such commentary," what is that supposed to even mean?  I find it disconcerting that John refers to the woman as a whatever. Doesn't he mean, who or whomever? It is starting to appear his entire blog is written for the purpose of convincing people that he is smart, rather than to effectively communicate well articulated ideas. 

I will give John credit for this - he is not a lazy writer like PZ Myers. At least John makes an attempt at stringing together more than two paragraphs. I am confident that as John sat down to write this blog, he visited thesaurus.com, looked up the word 'childish', found the word puerile, and plugged it into his blog. Most people do not use puerile in an everyday sentence. It follows that many people are not going to know it at first glance. The purpose of writing is to be understood. I know that some will accuse me of suggesting John dumb-it-down for his audience. Anyone who makes that claim will be making a strawman of my argument. I am saying: use the appropriate word. Ideas are usually complex, but the way we explain them do not have to be if we do it right. 

The only reasons people grab a thesaurus and plug in an obscure words is to give themselves an aura of sophistication and impression of intelligence. What they end up achieving is quite the opposite. If John is writing poetry or fiction, where the beauty of the language is as important as the content, by all means use the word puerile instead of the word childish. But if his overriding goal is to communicate information, he should avoid obscure words and put the thesaurus aside.

Paragraph four of John's blog posed the question "oh, you don't fancy me? I can assure you darling, I completely understand how you feel." First, who is asking 'oh, you don't fancy me?', is it John or a woman? Why does this person use the term of endearment 'darling'? I do not see how this clause is witty or helps John communicate with the reader.



V







Starting from paragraph five to the end of the blog, we find that the ideas John is trying to express remain convoluted. Lets start with this: thread of opinion. Is that supposed to mean that there is some opinion? Is he trying to say some opinions are becoming more valuable?

The writing is going from bad to worse. Some of these mistakes should have been identified upon the first revision of the blog. Try writing it like this, "There is a growing opinion of some Men's Rights Activists that gay, bi-sexual or transsexual identities are not legitimate." There is no need to write 'self identify', when the word 'identify'will suffice. 

What we are looking at, ladies and gentleman, is a one sentence paragraph. I have not seen this kind of writing since Brett Keane. If John is to effectively communicate his ideas, he will need to add something more substantial than a one sentence paragraph.  He later mentions that some scriptural arguments some MRA use condemn anyone who is not heterosexual are wrong. How does he debunk the scriptures? He says, 'get over it.' It seems to me that if the men he is advocating for are relying on a bad religious arguments, it should be a pressing matter that John explain to his brethren why the religious arguments are wrong. Since the entire premise of the blog is supposed to be about an attack on male sexuality, this is a key issue that he should be giving more attention than a, 'get over it.'




Wrapping It Up






















At the end of the blog, he swings right back into conspiracy theory mode. Rather than debunking all of those Bible verses that condemn non-heterosexuals, he swings the pendulum right back where it belongs. Back to the covert operation of feminists whose mission it is to redefine masculine sexuality. Since John neglected to debunk all of those gay hating Bible verses, maybe his intention is to argue that women wrote those Bible verses so that they could put the gay-hating agenda on the shoulders of religion rather than right on their shoulders where it properly belongs. He explains that some MRA's who do not accept other sexual orientations are no better than those evil women who go about life, policing male sexuality and sexual identity.



At the end of his blog, John shakes his finger at the other MRA's saying that they are no better than the feminists. It is interesting that this is the first time in his entire blog that he recognizes that both women and men are doing something bad. I have never known a feminist who did not support gay rights, so I do not know where John is drawing his conclusions. It must be part of that covert, feminizing, collectivist agenda that I do not see because I refuse to take the red pill. I will give him credit for this, just mentioning that both women and men do something wrong is a step in the right direction. 

He concludes his blog saying: When men are not expected to die without complaint any time higher gas prices make it inconvenient for soccer moms to drive from their gated community to the local grass pitch, or any other time men’s utility trumps their humanity, well then maybe I’ll entertain the usefulness of keeping the gays or the darkies out of the club house.

Seriously - women want men to die because gas prices make it inconvenient to drive from their gated communities? Overlooking the fact that the writing is atrocious. John appear to be no different from an angry feminist. He believes that women rule the world, and have a great deal of undeserved power. Yet, he fails to present any evidence backing up his claims. 




I can only speculate that John really believes women control the world. I do not know if he hates women, as many people suggest. Maybe women treat him life crap day in and day out. Maybe he is angry they are not sexually available to him. These are all speculations on my part, but the anger he has at women is very real. 

Whelp, after reading this load of drivel I can confidently say that I am ready to go to bed. 

Good night everyone!






















































8 comments:

  1. Well done, an elaborate deconstruction ending with "john hates women". Im almost disappointed, all that work, and it amounts to no more than another tedious ad hom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where did I say, "John hates women"?

      I thought you would be pleased. If I only had someone to help me this much with my writing, I would be blessed. I am making you better at your job.

      Delete
  2. Well:
    Rather entertaining. But honestly you DID go wrong in your opening analysis when you confused JTO's listing of various influences (that he knows don't even always agree)that try to define manhood as some sort of conspiracy theory.

    That being said, you would be a wonderful proofreader. JTO does often need help, and I'm not perfect myself. But then again, I don't blog for a living.

    Clarence

    ReplyDelete
  3. First of all, I'm impressed with the analysis and you certainly make some solid arguments.

    You did lose me in one place though:

    How did you get from

    "...in which men are rejecting a statist, a collectivist, feminist or even a female-approved definition of what constitutes a man."

    to

    "maintains that there is a secret, state-driven, collectivist, feminist covert operation, mostly unknown to the general population, and their sole mission is to define what constitutes a man. "


    The way I understood that paragraph was that it was pointing out what is effectively an imbalance between the meaning of the word "man" and the meaning of the word "woman". The former is a title as much as it is an identity. You must earn that title by fulfilling a list of (often contradictory) criteria. You can lose the title as soon as you either fail at any (arbitrarily selected) criteria or if you commit an offense that nullifies them.

    Perhaps the closest female equivalent of "man" is "lady" but it certainly is not "woman". Since this is just a comment I will not elaborate further at this point and jump right to the end.

    Of course there's no conspiracy that created this imbalance. It's a consequence of circumstances in which every member of society looks after their interests. But that only means that it's far more difficult to solve. Perhaps the temptation among MRAs to think there's a feminist conspiracy arises from the wish that there was a Goliath to fight, a romantic longing for a glorious heroic battle against a powerful, ruthless and evil adversary. Strange how similar that is to what historically was often a role ascribed to men.

    I realize that many MRAs (need to) believe that while the notion that the problems are caused by no particular group of individuals (though some groups are responsible for perpetuating them) is kind of depressing from the point of view of an activist. But I can't really see that in the article discussed - certainly not as strongly as I've encountered it among other similar articles.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When writing an expository essay, one should never tell the reader what one is going to do, one just does it. For example, "I would like to focus on the ideas of John's blog,..." is not considered good writing. We, the reader, already know that you would like to focus on the ideas of John's blog.

    "The purpose of writing is not to obscure pure reasoning and inhibit clarity. Quite the contrary. The purpose of writing is to be understood"

    The above is not only unnecessary, but poorly written. A comma should follow 'clarity', not a period. You do yourself a great disservice with this excess. Your ideas are sound, but your grasp of the mechanics of language are not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When writing an expository essay, one should always tell the reader what one is going to do. This gives the reader a sense of what is to come, and a sense of what to anticipate.

      You clearly do not understand how to write an essay.

      If you would like help - feel free to contact me in the future. It would be my pleasure to help you.

      Naomi

      Delete
  5. Hmmm. Apparently I wasn't clear enough. Allow me to clarify.

    When writing an expository essay, avoid using the first-person pronoun "I". In general, pronouns weaken an essay, and it is advisable not to use them.

    For example,

    "Boring and predictable may be the last words in the English language I would use to describe that conversation. I would call that conversation so moronic that it does not deserve to be dignified with a response."

    The above reads like a Louisa May Alcot novel, not an exposition. Keep in mind that expository essays, unlike narratives, are factual and written without emotion.

    If you wish to improve your writing style, there are many sources on the web. If you've any questions post them here and I will respond when time permits. I'm an English teacher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, let me get this straight.

      First: your criticism is that I stated clearly what was being discussed. Then, I explained that in writing, one does this to give the reader a clear sense about what is being discussed.

      You did not respond to that, but instead brought up a second criticism, which is my use of the pronoun I.

      If this were an essay submitted to one of my professors, I would use "one" instead of "I", which is something I do submitting an essay in both French and English.

      However, for the purpose of this blog, the pronoun does not weaken the writing because I am quite literally, discussing something from my perspective. I am not discussing anything from the perspective of "one".

      That being said, I am disinclined to believe you are an English teacher. I think your function here is to seek out, and actively find something to criticism. You think that it will bother me that you make criticisms of my writing. I think that it bothers you that I criticized someone you admire, and it bothers you that I did it in such a well thought manner. Hence, bringing down my writing is the only thing you have to attack because you cannot attack the arguments them self.

      With that, if you ever need writing help from me, feel free to let me know. I like helping people improve themselves.

      PS: I'm a writer - and a linguist :-)

      Delete

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