"But sexism is normal in RPGs!"

From “But sexism is normal in RPGs!” on The Heroine Next Door:

huh, funny how all the settings have sexually-harrassing women and treating women as second-class citizens as the norm. I haven’t played in an rpg yet in which women weren’t as a default considered lesser than men in the society in the setting (that’s not to say there aren’t any out there, but that the big, popular ones all have a little bit of sexism in them). I’ll bet if I wrote an rpg in which men were abused and treated like objects I’d be called a “man hater”, no one would read it (much less buy it), and everyone would tell me the setting had too much of an agenda. oh, so if I do something sexist towards men, it’s bad, but being sexist towards women is just normal? Yikes.

Via Jade Reporting.

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38 Responses to "But sexism is normal in RPGs!"

  1. It sounds like the guys she plays with are jerks– probably wouldn’t matter what setting she was playing with that DM/GM (having read the full post).

    If it’s really the setting that she doesn’t like, they should just play D&D, modern horror, or a Sci-fi campaign. D&D only has as much sexism built-in as your GM wants to interject, and RPGs like Vampire: TM, RIFTS, or GURPS don’t have the same kind of sexist setting she’s referencing when playing in Ancient China.

  2. Nic says:

    Do you think she means respect and treatment as a human… or as a male? If there is indeed a lack or void of such things for the human-female, then I wonder what distinction there is there with no other point of reference than the human-male.

    Is the perceived “solution” to this to follow the other extreme? Would that set the world aright, or create another problem?

  3. tekanji says:

    Cameron said:

    It sounds like the guys she plays with are jerks– probably wouldn’t matter what setting she was playing with that DM/GM (having read the full post).

    It’s true that she’s playing with a bunch of jerks, but unfortunately her experiences aren’t unique for TT gamers who happen to be women. I think that she was trying to illustrate the pervasive sexism that is present in the gaming community, and how it’s normalized by this stupid idea that sexism is “normal” for the settings and therefore should be excused as part of the fantasy.

    If it’s really the setting that she doesn’t like, they should just play D&D, modern horror, or a Sci-fi campaign. D&D only has as much sexism built-in as your GM wants to interject, and RPGs like Vampire: TM, RIFTS, or GURPS don’t have the same kind of sexist setting she’s referencing when playing in Ancient China.

    I got the impression that it was the sexism that she didn’t like and, as you pointed out, since her GM/DM is sexist that won’t change no matter what game she plays. And, while I’d definitely agree that sexism is less prevalent in games that aren’t set in the past (or past-like worlds), it’s still there in the wording of the manual, the way that women are portrayed, etc.

    I would recommend that you check out John Kim’s Gender Roles in RPG Texts because, while it doesn’t deal specifically with the texts that you mentioned, it does go into how supposedly egalitarian settings — like Star Trek — can still reinforce sexism.

    Nic:

    Do you think she means respect and treatment as a human… or as a male?

    Well, that is the problem, isn’t it? When men are given full respect and women are given only the respect that doesn’t infringe on people’s “rights” to be sexist jerks, then “human rights” become synonymous with “male rights”. What she — and, really, all people want — is respect to be for humans not for a good chunk of it to be reserved only for the dominant parts of culture (white, straight, male, etc).

    Is the perceived “solution” to this to follow the other extreme? Would that set the world aright, or create another problem?

    Just to make sure that it’s clear, The Heroine Next Door wasn’t proposing to “turn the tables” on men, so to speak, but rather using that example to point out the double standard and how ridiculous it is.

    But, I would also like to point out that, oftentimes, measures that are taken in an attempt to level the playing field (such as affirmative action) are seen as “follow[ing] the other extreme” when, in fact, they are just making it so that people who are equally qualified won’t be automatically passed over because they aren’t the right skin colour or gender.

    Another problem is that when movements like feminism try to point out that we aren’t equal despite having “big things” like the right to vote and the right to work, we get accused of being “extreme” and trying to make a “matriarchy” to replace the patriarchy.

    So, while no one is advocating treating men like shit in order to advance women, there are many people who perceive a level playing field as doing just that because many of the special privileges accorded to men because of their gender are starting to be shared with women (ergo making them less “special”).

  4. Nic says:

    Thank you, very good.

    A question about the concubine statement out of the original post. Is it possible that that statement was not meant to be sexist, but how the GM thought a female would most easily accomplish the objective in the given setting? Though someone took the statement personally, it may have not been intended as an affront? Is this a miscommunication or an actual sexist remark?

    Apologies if this violates your rules.

  5. tekanji says:

    Nic: I would strongly caution against using possible or actual intention as a yardstick to measure what is sexist. It is entirely possible that it was both a miscommunication and a sexist remark.

    The fact that he would assume that, simply on the virtue of her being female, she would become his concubine to get to him is sexist. Pure and simple. That he most likely did not think about it, or intend it as an insult, does not excuse the sexism.

    If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend reading through my Privilege in Action category, as one of the running themes through it is how a good amount of casual bigotry comes not through conscious action or intent, but rather through the result of possessing the privilege not to see how our many of our thoughts and actions are bigoted.

  6. Nic says:

    I see. But shouldn’t bridging the communication gap involve consideration of intent on both sides? I don’t mean to suggest that we use intent to determine what is sexist, but as a means to inform others that use such language?

    It just makes sense to me to minimize and eliminate the miscommunication by determining intent and thus meaning. And while someone may use sexist language, it may not be their meaning to degrade or belittle. It may be simiply their way of cultural or learned communication.

    I would think that there is some value to be had in learning how to see past that. Not to ignorance of what is said or the words used, but awareness of the meaning behind the words. This is not to suggest an acceptance of sexist cultrual norms, but a way to urge correction amongst others. If you know what they mean by certain words, it is then much easier to suggest alternatives in dialogue.

    It is ultimately meaning that counts, yes? Words are essentially neutral, and it is thus the value (subscription) we give those words that allow them to have such emotional power over us, right?

    Am I on, or way off?

  7. tekanji says:

    Nic: The problem is that intent doesn’t determine meaning, at least not in regards to the meaning that is conveyed to observers.

    There is a huge body of information out there that suggests an alternative: it’s called anti-oppression work. The entire concept of privilege is built on the acknowledgment that most people don’t intend to be bigots.

    You have to realize something; you are not, by far, the first person to have come up with these theories. The first thing that ever happens on any thread discussing sexism (racism, homophobia, etc) is for someone to ask us to give the privileged people the benefit of the doubt.

    The thing is, though, the only way for people to stop being bigoted is to educate themselves on bigotry, and that can’t be done as long as they are hiding behind the shield of intent. So they didn’t mean to be offensive. Great. Most of us don’t. But that doesn’t stop the remark from having been offensive.

    And sexist remarks aren’t offensive because many women get offended over them, as your argument on words would imply, but rather that they are rooted in a history of sexist behaviour towards women and are used, quite effectively, to minimize and destroy any power women might try to gain in our own right.

    I really suggest that you do some surfing around this feminism 101 blog because a lot of your confusion seems to stem from a fundamental lack of knowledge on anti-oppression work, and I’m really not the best person to be covering that.

  8. Mickle says:

    And sexist remarks aren’t offensive because many women get offended over them, as your argument on words would imply, but rather that they are rooted in a history of sexist behaviour towards women and are used, quite effectively, to minimize and destroy any power women might try to gain in our own right.

    That’s such an awesome way of explaining it. And I am definitely stealing it one day. :)

  9. Roy says:

    Exactly, tekanji- intention is only a tiny, tiny part of language. What you mean when you say something is a small part of what is actually communicated- the message you send out when you say something is a combination of a lot of things, intention being almost beside the point.

    And, Nic, the thing about intention is that what you intend is strongly colored by who you are. One aspect of belonging to a privileged class is that we have the freedom not to intend offense by virtue of ignoring our privilege. That ability to be completely unaware of, for example, sexism in action, means that intentions are already suspect. Someone who was raised in a sexist society and has internalized sexist ideals may not even be remotely aware of that. He won’t think of himself as sexist, even as he continues to promote sexist idealogies and act in sexist ways. In fact, he may think that he’s doing the opposite- he may think, when he talks about the sexism of other societies, that he’s doing good work. His intention may be quite the opposite of what he’s actually doing. There’s a lot of writing on these sorts of things, and I can’t even begin to do it justice, but I absolutely think that, while it’s sometimes valuable to understand another person’s intentions, it’s not always helpful or important in the context of determining and fighting sexism.

  10. Sara says:

    Yeah, I’m not so much a fan of this phenomenon myself. I play with a bunch of friends, two of whom are at minimum feminist-friendly, and they still can’t seem to keep themselves from disempowering or otherwise trivialising the female characters (pcs and npcs).

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  12. philly jay says:

    Does World of Warcraft count?

  13. Nic says:

    Roy: I disagree. I think intention is very important. Because if you ignore intent, either by creating a disconnect – or ignoring the connection – between what one intends to say as to what one says, then aren’t we running further into miscommunication via literalism?

    In learning other languages, I’ve had to determine meaning from words that were not meant to be taken literally. I have had to clarify with other Spanish and Russian speakers as to their intent – by their use of words and intended meaning – to ensure there was very little miscommunication.

    If I took the literal meaning from their words without factoring in their intent, I would not understand them or I would come to incorrect conclusions. This is especially more likely to occur when heightened emotions are involved. So, I think that being sensitive to intent is key to communicating effectively and diffusing potentially harmful situations rather than it being a symptom of “privilege”.

    Aside: Though I do not subscribe to the concept of “privilege” based on superficial qualities, it strikes me that such groups would ignore intent. This is because they would either have the capacity to distance themselves from any repercussions. Given the founding principles of free speech, I think that everyone should have that legal immunity. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

    Try as I might to be impeccable with my word, if there is no common understanding in regards to intent behind the words used between us, then we fail to communicate. Now, if one were to understand my intent but disagrees with the intent or actions I take to express it, then I would consider that to be a simple difference of opinion. It is then a decision of either person to reconcile that difference or to let it stand. Situations vary and it is a world of gray areas, but understanding is always key.

    It’s one thing to agree on the meaning of words, quite another to agree on what we mean when we use them.

    I thank you for your participation and answers. It has been very helpful for me to understand your point of view.

  14. Sara says:

    World of Warcraft definitely counts, although at least there sexism doesn’t seem to be built into the game (although this is debatable) as much as it is ingrained in player culture.

  15. Harper says:

    Nic: Your example of communicating in a non-native language is a good example of the way idioms can be difficult for non-native speakers. However, when the people communicating all share a common language, this difficulty falls away.

    Native speakers have a vast well of experience with the language to draw from; certain words and phrases carry meaning based on previous use of those words or phrases. For this reason, native speakers should be on a level playing field in terms of how much of what they say will be understood. You seem to be suggesting that women should stretch to find the good, what you call the intent, behind language that is, if taken literally, hurtful to women. I feel that it would make more sense to bypass the whole fuss of that ‘seemingly’ hurtful language, and simply get to the point, the intent. You say that ‘Words are essentially neutral’ (which I don’t agree with, but that’s just my opinion) so what would it matter if language that is hurtful to many were discarded from the lexicon?

    I am very sorry if this is off topic.

  16. Sara says:

    Nic, not to be too aggressive, but case in point — heard today in barrens chat: “It’s not rape, its surprise sex!” Why should I bother looking for any “good intentions” in that particular communication?

  17. Nic says:

    Harper: Even if we assume a “level playing field” in knowledge and use of native language, it would not remove the capacity for misunderstanding intent. If we all spoke in literal terms there would be very little misunderstanding, but there are far too many sub-cultures and various life experiences that shape the way we perceive each other and how and what we say to express ourselves.

    You are correct in my suggestion. Your perception determines your reality. The manner in which you see things determines *what* you see.

    I say that words are neutral because they have a tendency to take various meanings. What I mean by that is a definition of a word is not always permanent. Its meaning can change over time. Consider the archaic words we no longer use. Newer words came into existence and made the old ones obsolete or unpopular.

    Consider a “bad” word. How did you come to that conclusion? Were you taught that this word was “bad” or did you actually think it was rotten to the core? Cultural definitions of words occur through agreement. That is we consciously agree that words x, y and z are “bad” or “good” and will have a respective effect over us. That is to mean, we give words our power over us. This is how certain phrases become emotionally charged on a large scale. We start identifying those phrases in the same way because everyone else does. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, part of reconciling differences is learning how to get around the language we use with each other. That means changing the meaning of the words, or interpreting intent positively. Unfortunately, that can take a very long time to filter through generations raised to think and use it otherwise.

    So how does one do this? Humor.

    Radical satirists and comedians have made all types of taboo words, racial slurs, stereotypes as something funny, not hateful or negative. They have taken these words and used them in such a way as to make us laugh instead of boil over with anger. They break down the traditional way we think of using these words and form new ideas about them. Most importantly, they allow us to laugh at ourselves. And that is always the first step toward healing.

    To suggest that we actively remove words, I think would mean to remove the art of expression. We tend to think in language. So, when you remove words you also remove thoughts.

    …or so I choose to believe.

  18. Nic says:

    Sara: You shouldn’t. I hate WoW and barrens chat. Play Eve Online. At least you can kill anyone that smacks in local.

    But seriously, the intent there is quite obvious. That comment is drastically different than what was noted in the original post/article to which I was referring. I would consider pursuing intent if I needed clarification on an ambiguous statement or were actually interested in what they were saying. In the case of the article, I could see how one would see sexism where possibly none existed. However, the barrens chat remark is clearly inflammatory, rather than an attempt to get any real meaningful dialog. It’s that kind of thing that one should take with a grain of salt.

  19. tekanji says:

    Nic said:

    Radical satirists and comedians have made all types of taboo words, racial slurs, stereotypes as something funny, not hateful or negative.

    I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Like, totally, utterly, and completely wrong. And I don’t say that very often.

    Remember Dave Chapelle? Yeah, he realized that people were laughing at him, not with him.

    From the linked article:

    We laugh so hard at racial humor because it’s dangerous, naked and forbidden, almost like pornography. But the thin line between hilarious and offensive can shift without warning. A joke that kills today might get you punched tomorrow.

    According to Time, Chappelle became unsure about his material for the new season when a white visitor at a taping laughed especially hard and long over a sketch Chappelle performed in blackface. “When he laughed, it made me uncomfortable,” Time quotes Chappelle as saying. His longtime writing partner is quoted as confirming that Chappelle had decided some of his material was not funny but “racist.”

    It’s one thing for a black comic to perform racially charged material that delights black audiences. A black audience takes it as pure satire or a kind of inside-the-family ribbing; slurs and stereotypes have no power as weapons of mass distortion. But how can you be sure that a white audience doesn’t take the jokes as “proof” of ugly, buried, unacknowledged assumptions?

    When satire is done right it’s funny. But when it’s done by someone from the privileged group and/or done for people who are in the privileged group, it doesn’t subvert the hatred, it reinforces it.

  20. Nic says:

    Watch Pryor, Carlin, Brooks, Murphy, Rock or Martin and that statement will ring true with *any* of them.

  21. tekanji says:

    Nic: No, it won’t. It just gives whites license to use racial slurs without feeling like racists. The “it’s just a joke” line gives them justification to act like racists, and an excuse to not think of themselves as one.

    But, anyway, this subject deserves a lot more time than I can give it right now. Maybe after I get the newest issue of Cerise published I’ll devote a post to the humour defense.

  22. Sara says:

    That comment is drastically different than what was noted in the original post/article to which I was referring

    I think, though, that the difference is one of degree, not of kind — and I don’t see why female gamers need to put up with either of them just to enjoy a game. Why should it be on us to try and figure out the intent behind a given statement or to “take it with a grain of salt” when male gamers employ sexism as a regular part of their activities? That still leaves us holding the bag, while the men who gave the offense just go about their merry way.

  23. Nic says:

    Sara: Part of playing games with other people is learning how to put up with them. You have to tolerate other people and the things you don’t like about them, but hopefully in the end you walk away with a good time and maybe a good memory with friends. Tolerance is a learned skill that seems to be fading away as we utilize technology designed to block the world out.

    If you don’t take it with a grain of salt, you carry that insult… this event… with you. You will remember it, it will fester in your mind, and it will make you bitter. If you do this too much, you may get to a point where you can’t let it go. This is a conscious choice, I don’t think anyone is telling you to carry that. Don’t honor their words if this affects you so negatively.

    Love can heal all wounds, but we must first want that to happen. Some of us don’t want to heal because pain too often defines who we are, but only if we let it.

  24. Roy says:

    Nic: I’m not suggesting that intent is completely unimportant- only that it’s not the only or even the most important aspect of communication. In our everyday lives, the intent of a speaker tends to matter a lot less than the context and perception of the speech does. We rarely know the intentions of a speaker- we don’t stop and ask every person what they mean when they say such-and-such a thing, or what they intend. We make assumptions based on context, our personal experiences.

    There is a big difference between intention and perception. When we’re communicating with other people, we’re basing our interaction on our perception of the other person’s words- what we think their intent is, not what their intent actually is.

    In the case of bigotry, through, I maintain that intention isn’t particularly important. If someone says something sexist, why does it matter if the intention was to be sexist or not? If someone uses sexist language or treats someone in a sexist manner through ignorance, is that less harmful than if the person were doing so intentionally?

    Intent is worth examining, but I still maintain that it’s not the most important aspect of communication, and if someone says or does something sexist or racist, or whatever, the intent isn’t always going to be important. It shouldn’t be up to everyone else to suss out the intentions of every sexist asshat that reinforces negative stereotypes.

  25. Nic says:

    Roy: Yes, I agree with your points. I think it is the assumption that tends to get us into trouble.

    Like I said before, perception determines reality. Relating to the article: If there is no agreement as to what constitutes “sexist” between the offended and the offender, then how do you reconcile that difference? Assuming that there were no hard feelings intended from the offender how do you make the offender aware of what he has just said?

    Who wins when it’s largely a difference of opinion?

    Musing – Do you think that a person that does not intend to be sexist more likely to be less cruel and more considerate than that does?

  26. tekanji says:

    Nic: I suggest you read Negligent Sexism on Molten Boron.

  27. Sara says:

    Nic: Are you seriously suggesting that women “tolerate” sexism? That we “tolerate” coming in second, every time, to men and male needs, wants, and expectations?

    I mean yeah, sure, there’s tolerating little things. Maybe I don’t particularly care for the smell of smoke, but most of my gaming group are smokers, and I can put up with that and not let it get to me. Maybe I don’t like dungeon crawling so much, but other people in my group do, so we do dungeon crawls and I put up with that. No problem. We’re all here to have a good time and letting little nitpicky things get in the way of that is ridiculous.

    But sexism? Is not a little thing. It is not a nitpicky thing. It is a real social phenomena that is a detriment to female experience from womb to tomb — and it’s not something we should just learn to “tolerate.” Not in gaming, not in our media, not in our lives. Period.

    Suggesting otherwise … is just ignorant.

  28. Sara says:

    Assuming that there were no hard feelings intended from the offender how do you make the offender aware of what he has just said? Who wins when it’s largely a difference of opinion?

    Been there, done that. To me, the caring, friendly thing to do is to own that you’ve caused offense, apologise, and attempt not to make the same mistake in the future. The ignorant, hostile thing to do is to argue about whether the offended person has a “right” to be hurt/upset.

    I can understand not wanting to feel like an ass because you’ve just hurt someone’s feelings, but for gods’ sakes, be an adult and take some ownership of the statement and its consequences.

  29. Nic says:

    Sara: Yes. I suggest tolerance because intolerance tends to lead to extremism. Not always, but it can make things much more difficult in changing the culture. People are more likely to agree and be receptive to you if you can make them think that this benefits them as well, as opposed to putting them on the offensive/defensive by shouting in their faces. Tolerance, I think, is a big part of that.

    Tekanji: Thank you for the link.

  30. Denise says:

    Say you’re sitting at a table with several friends. You stretch, and unintentionally hit the person next to you in the face, hard. Is the correct response to berate the person who has been hurt for leaning forward, or is it to apologize and keep greater awareness of your surroundings? Nic’s response has been telling the person who has been hit to stop being so sensistive and continuing on in ignorance. Intent is a part of what matters. Your friend would likely find the anger at being struck easier to let go of once he or she knew it was an accident. BUT that the injury was unintended does not make the injury go away. A failure to apologize and an insisitence that you are in the right when you injure people because you’re not paying attention makes you look like a jackass.

    Almost any word by itself is value-neutral (words only used as slurs tend not to be). The words “knight” and “secretary” are not in themselves good or bad, but they are not culture-neutral. Compare the mental images that come to mind with each, particularly time period and gender. Different people’s images may not be identical, but are usually similar enough to that communication is clear. As with the words I gave as examples, gender is deeply coded in our language. The value of a word to a person can be inferred by the words it’s surrounded by. If I had a nickel for every time a guy said, “I got totally raped by that test,” called another man a “pussy”, or said, “That’s so gay,” within my earshot I would be a rich, rich woman. Femaleness is devalued, homosexuality is equated with lame and stupid, and rape is something so pedestrian a guy can use it as a figure of speech when he does badly on a test. Once you become conscious of these messages, it’s hard not to see how pervasive it is. It’s uncomfortable to be told you’re part of the problem, undoubtedly. But is it not worse to keep acting in ways that alienate and debase many of the women around you?

  31. Sara says:

    People are more likely to agree and be receptive to you if you can make them think that this benefits them as well, as opposed to putting them on the offensive/defensive by shouting in their faces.

    As much as I’m now disinclined to take anything you say seriously — there’s a big difference between shouting in someone’s face and telling them that they’ve said something that hurts you.

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  33. Nic says:

    Denise: My ideal and recommended response would be to apologize… sincerely. I might buy him his next drink as a sincere courtesy or gesture that I was genuine in my attempt at reconciliation. I hit him. I caused him physical harm though not intentionally. A resolution must be sought. Since it is no question as to what I had done, it is my responsibility. Keep a greater awareness of your surroundings, but do not be so inclined as to rush to judgment. While it may be hard to bite one’s own tongue in pain, there is value in not lashing out against someone that intends no harm. If he did lash out at me in pain, I may not be as close as before. I may keep him at arms length next we meet. Or I may understand what it would be like to be in his position and I would fault him none. I cannot speak for all variations of this instance, but that is generally what I would do and hope others would do as well.

    But comparing the harm from a physical accident to the harm of an unintended turn of phrase is with very little parallel. We’ve all felt some measure of physical pain, so we all know how real it is. But not all of us are wired the same way when it comes to emotional or mental harm. Sure, we’ve all lost relatives and felt the emotional pain associated with loss. But not all of us take insults from others personally. We’re not all wired the same when it comes to perceiving the world.

    Let’s say that your friends and family know not to talk about those certain things in your presence that might be triggering. You know each and every person in your family and they know you. The harm seems to come when we begin to take things personally from people that don’t even know us or see us as people. We are outside of their awareness. Their … Monkeysphere if you will indulge.

    What if you were speaking with your friend in a public place and you said something that offended me? In turn, I go up to you and ask you to apologize. Technically you weren’t talking to me, the words you spoke were not meant for me, but I heard it. You’d tell me to go away, wouldn’t you? I mean you’ve just offended me, someone you’ve never met before, by speaking disdainfully about a prominent political figure who was my grandmother. But to you, she’s just a lying, thieving, anti-abortionist, con-artist. See the disconnect? You don’t see my grandmother as a person, but more like some evil politician that needs to step down. When you see someone like that, why would you apologize for speaking your opinion?

    It’s the same when people say “I got totally raped by that test”. They won’t always see offense in that because they themselves are not offended by it. They don’t consider your feelings because they weren’t talking to you. You may be the first person that they have ever met to take offense to that. So, how would you expect them to apologize to someone they’ve never met before for a phrase they commonly say? They also just barely see you as person.

    And it’s not just you. It’s everything and everyone from PETA, NAACP, NASA, Boy Scouts of America, politicians, pundits, religious institutions, and a bunch of other influential people and organizations in varied media that claim “offense” in the eyes of everyone else. It’s too many people to keep in mind to not offend everyone. We can’t possibly be sensitive in regards to everyone when communicating. We can only do this with people we know and no one can possibly know everyone. No one has the mind of a god. You will always offend someone, that’s part of being human in a world of billions of other humans. If you think otherwise, just drive on any highway for a few hours. It’s tolerance in the face of insult and bigotry that helps us get along with each other. I’ve written such isms off as “facts of life”.

    Sara: Do not equate tolerance as silence or as “coming in second”. By all means, rally, protest, speak out, spread awareness. But when it comes to individual conversation and interactions, be mindful that not all people will know or see what you do. Don’t assume that what is “truth” to you is the same for everyone else. Simply because you perceive intolerance from others, doesn’t mean you should engage likewise. Take example from me. Though you’ve potentially insulted me, I do you no disservice.

  34. evil_fizz says:

    I suggest tolerance because intolerance tends to lead to extremism. Not always, but it can make things much more difficult in changing the culture.

    Actually, what makes it more difficult to change the culture is to tolerate the stupidity, sexism, and bigotry therein. If women “let it go” every single time, what incentive is there for men to change? Because either they’re bigoted and don’t care or they’re bigoted and blissfully unaware. Neither of these situations makes things the slightest bit better for the party who’s being told to suck it up.

  35. tekanji says:

    Nic: Okay, that’s enough. I’ve tolerated you being an apologist for sexism on this thread, but now it’s just insulting. You have repeatedly given the benefit to the doubt to the person who has engaged in sexism, while assuming intolerance on those who have said that sexism is unacceptable. That kind of behaviour is exactly what allows bigotry to continue, and I will not have it on my blog.

    You act as if you have all the answers, but you’re out of your league here. You’re blindly arguing for allowing privileged people to continue ignorantly hurting people, excusing their behaviour while trying to suppress any criticism by “cautioning” against being “intolerant” when you have no more to go on of the behaviour of the critics than you do of the criticized.

    So, kindly, educate yourself and until you can come up with arguments that haven’t been brought up — and debunked — a thousand times, do yourself a favour and be quiet and listen rather than trying to speak over us. I’m no longer going to give you the benefit of the doubt about your ignorance regarding your own privilege, as you have proved — on this thread, and others — that you are unwilling to challenge your own privileged assumptions.

    I suggest reading through the links provided in the Feminism 101 blog, and then going to Feminist Allies, malefeminists, and/or Patriarchy Hurts Men Too in order to engage with your subjects, as those communities are there for that kind of discussion and learning.

    You are not expressly banned from here, but I will no longer allow any comments of yours that are ignorantly harmful to go through. I’m not your educator, my regulars are not your educators, and my blogroll provides more than enough information for you to get a baseline of knowledge to argue from, so you have no excuse for not educating yourself.

  36. Sara says:

    But when it comes to individual conversation and interactions, be mindful that not all people will know or see what you do. Don’t assume that what is “truth” to you is the same for everyone else. Simply because you perceive intolerance from others, doesn’t mean you should engage likewise.

    I don’t assume they think the way I do. That’s why I tell them when they’ve said something insensitive or offensive to me. How else are they supposed to know?

    Oh but wait, apparently telling them that they’re being ignorant jackasses is being intolerant … of their ignorant jackassery. So, they don’t have to tolerate my calling them out, but I‘m supposed to tolerate the behaviour that needs calling out?

    You make no sense.

  37. Mickle says:

    Intent is a part of what matters. Your friend would likely find the anger at being struck easier to let go of once he or she knew it was an accident. BUT that the injury was unintended does not make the injury go away. A failure to apologize and an insisitence that you are in the right when you injure people because you’re not paying attention makes you look like a jackass.

    Exactly. I didn’t see anyone trying to argue that intent wasn’t worth noting, just that it doesn’t excuse hurtful behavior.

    But comparing the harm from a physical accident to the harm of an unintended turn of phrase is with very little parallel.

    So it’s all “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Bullshit. If that was the case – why care about even “rape = surprise sex”?

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