Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Feelings... Nothing More Than Feelings...

As the Atheism-plus shit-storm continues to roll on relentlessly, it's worth taking a step backing and remembering that the whole brouhaha is about hurt feelings - nothing more. No-one, repeat no-one, has been raped, had acid thrown in their face, or otherwise been physically hurt in any way.

It all started when Rebecca Watson felt creeped out by some guy expressing an interest in her. Assuming we can take Watson's word for what happened, the guy was a little clueless and socially awkward, but there's no evidence that he harmed or threatened her in any way, or intended to do anything of the sort.

Now, you may feel it was unfair that Watson felt creeped out by a guy merely speaking to her in a reasonably polite way. But here's the thing - the way someone feels is the way they feel. Nobody owes an explanation or an apology for their feelings. We are only responsible for our words and actions towards other people.

Elevator Guy did nothing immoral or malevolent - he was just a bit insensitive, and hopefully he has learned something and is now a bit more sensitive about how he approaches women. And Watson is perfectly entitled to make a request: "Guys, don't do that." As long as she realizes that what creeps her out does not become the law and unilaterally binding on all men, she can make that request, and reasonable guys will grant it.

Where it all began to go off the rails was when people started losing their shit and screaming that a relatively trivial incident was a "potential rape", and because Watson felt she was in imminent danger of being raped (which she had not said or implied), therefore Elevator Guy was a rapist, or at best "Schrodinger's Rapist". From there it was a short step to proclaiming that all men are Schrodinger's Rapists. The root assumption is that Watson's feelings trump reality, and unilaterally make someone else a criminal.

The same dynamic is at work in "T-shirt-gate". Surly Amy gets butt-hurt over a T-shirt or "fake jewelry" bearing a message she disagrees with. Therefore her feelings trump anyone else's right to free speech, and place other people in the same category as a sexual harasser who would "grab someone's ass."

Yet another example is "Mastur-gate". I would be kind of creeped out if I saw a homeless mentally ill man on the other side of the street jerking off, but I wouldn't make it all about me-me-me. I wouldn't be narcissistic enough to declare that my grossed-out feelings were ipso facto proof that the guy had knowingly oppressed and assaulted me personally, let alone that he was even aware of me.

The same pattern plays out over and over again among the hypersensitive crybabies who populate the various A+ online discussion groups. They are constantly on hair-trigger alert, eagerly seizing on every excuse, however tenuous, to be outraged. If you're not in the in-group, then no matter how polite and respectful you are, and how genuine is your desire simply to request information, you will immediately be dog-piled on and used as a "chew toy" until the moderator gets bored and bans you with a final flurry of F-bombs.

The thing is, because you are not part of the in-group, you are a Privileged Oppressor, they are Marginalized Victims, and you mere existence hurts their feelings and "silences" them. This justifies them in spewing hatred at you, and forbids you from speaking up to defend yourself.

Now, I've already mentioned that the internet is a rough-and-tumble, unforgiving place, and whether you are male, female, or anything else, your feelings are guaranteed to get hurt by some other person if you spend any time online. (Dare I say it, you may even get ragged on.) But your feelings are not more important than anyone else's. Women's feelings are not more important as a group than those of men, and to say otherwise is patronizing and infantilizing.

Yes, there are some real dicks out there, but there are also castrating bitches of both sexes (plus genderqueers etc.) If you can't take it, then either don't dish it out, or get out of the kitchen and quit yer bitchin'.


  1. Awesome.
    It's the fee-fee brigade, nothing more.
    A bunch of spoiled crybabies. That's it. Plain and simple.

  2. Nice article, a good summation of all the hullabaloo.