Who Has the Right to Forgive?

I have to say that I’m really puzzled by all these discussions as to whether Hugo Schwyzer should be forgiven for whatever it is he did in the past and whether his repentance is genuine. The only people who have the right to forgive or not forgive Hugo are the ones whom he hurt (I don’t know if he did or not, that’s his own private business.) If he (or any other blogger) shares a personal story that bothers me, I can say I feel repugnance, I can condemn the blogger’s actions, I can write passionate posts in response. But it isn’t my place to grant or withhold forgiveness from a total stranger.

It really bothers me that people identify so strongly with bloggers as to start seeing them in highly personal terms. We can all realize that this is unhealthy, right? I understand the temptation to spend a lot of time online. I succumb to this temptation too often myself. But the moment when you seriously start to consider whether you can forgive a complete stranger who has no personal relationship with you, I say you need to step away from the screen and go have a life.

Whenever I see those really scary news segments where some celebrity du jour apologizes to anonymous crowds for cheating on his or her spouse, I realize that this is a society where way too many people have no lives of their own and live vicariously through others.

The definition of “repentance” is:

Repentance (Greekmetanoia) is a change of thought to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from a person who is wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law.

Got it? So unless you are either the person who has been wronged or God, you have no business expecting anybody’s repentance, believing or disbelieving it.

I hope to close the topic of Hugo Schwyzer on this blog for a long time to come. Before I do so, however, I want to say the following. I disagree with Hugo Schwyzer on a variety of issues. I’ve had some very heated discussions with him. I condemned his position on a host of subjects and have written about his views in very harsh terms.

However, the treatment he has been subjected to recently on Feministe is nothing short of disgraceful. What I find especially ridiculous is the strong religious vocabulary of “redemption,” “repentance,” “sin,” “reforming,” “redeem,” etc. used by many of the participants. (Just do the context search of the thread and you’ll see for yourself.) It feels like the entire Michele Bachmann camp of supporters has alighted on what is supposed to be a feminist website with no specific religious affiliation.

It’s funny how even the most progressive folks tend to slip into the preachy tones of the most annoying among Bible-thumpers whenever it suits them to do so.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

A brilliant deconstruction of arguments against same-sex marriage.

A great post on the war on drugs.

“Who could possibly view the term “breast cancer” as sexually arousing? What self-respecting medical team, seeking to produce an easy-to-understand booklet to promote early detection of breast cancer, can write phrases like: “The cancer in the organ under discussion” so as to avoid using the word “breast”.” Find out who has this completely insane attitude to breast cancer here.

Traditional upbringing in Zimbabwe. Eye-opening!

Will the young voters turn out for Obama in the 2012 election like they did in 2008?

The most vocal critics of my decision to let my kid “decide” for religion has come from my academic atheist friends who are aware of my own (lack of) beliefs.  They seem as eager to inculcate atheism into their kids as the religious are to instill certain beliefs in their.” What we need is more amazing parents like the author of this post.

I wish more people understood this: “Until we learn that people around the world are not necessarily the same as we are, don’t necessarily think in the same way and don’t necessarily appreciate the same things, we will continue to muck up foreign policy terribly.”

I like this blogger because she always has an original take on things and delivers it in a very concise, to-the-point manner. Check out this post on the different styles of feeding the homeless.

Fun Christmas reading: a great long post ridiculing a book of marriage advice from religious fanatics in a truly miserable marriage. I know one should be compassionate towards people who are this brainless but I can’t muster any good feelings towards them. maybe you will prove a better person than I am.

And if there is anything more ridiculous than books of marriage advice from religious fanatics, it’s dating advice from same religious fanatics.

Is teaching “cost efficient”?

It is clear that what most people in pursuit of ‘higher education’ want is not an education, strictly speaking, but a credential that will gain them admittance to a certain social and/or economic status. Education as most people  use it nowadays is a euphemism for a ticket to success, where the latter is defined in terms of money and social position.” I know exactly what this brilliant blogger means. All I wish for in my work is to meet more of those students who are looking for an actual education and not for a set of formal credentials. There are so few of them, though. . .

Copyright insanity keeps growing and spreading.

Iraq is about to disintegrate into a Civil War. Does anybody feel surprised? If so, I have to ask what rock you’ve been sitting under for the past fifteen years.

If you are as obsessed with reading lists as I am, check out this list of books that feature translators or interpreters as characters.

“[Feminism] is also the radical notion that men are people too, complete human beings, with the same range of emotions and the same capacity for empathy and self-control as any woman.” In this brilliant statement Hugo Schwyzer echoes my own profound belief and the subject of the most unpopular post I have written recently. Let’s see if Hugo manages to attract more attention to this idea than I did.

Ron Paul’s “extreme bet on an economic catastrophe.” Note that Ron Paul really needs our economy to collapse completely. Any other scenario will lose him money. If you know anybody clueless enough to vote for this religious fanatic, share this article with them.

For everybody who celebrates Christmas:

Merry Christmas!!!


And for those who don’t: 

Have fun perusing this link collection!

On Hugo Schwyzer’s Resignation from the Good Men Project

I think that resigning from the GMP was a very positive and redeeming act on the part of Hugo. After its founder, Tom Matlack, published his supremely inane post that pushed the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” ideology, no self-respecting individual could remain part of the project. I declared the GMP officially dead the moment I saw that ridiculous piece, and it seems like Hugo Schwyzer felt the same.

My new-found hope that the most famous male feminist in the country was not beyond redemption, however, faded pretty soon. In a post explaining his resignation from the GMP, Hugo Schwyzer just couldn’t help displaying his trademark condescension to women. I know this is a longish quote (even after I pared it down somewhat) but please try to read it in full. This quote from Hugo Schwyzer’s post is crucial because it allows us to see very clearly why feminism has run into such an hopeless dead-end:

Seemingly innocuous words often have a profound charge depending on how and by whom they’re used.  . . What many men fail to understand is that accusing a woman of being insane or of engaging in reprisals merely because she’s expressing forceful disagreement has an equivalent ugliness. . . All of this behavior reflects two things: men’s genuine fear of being challenged and confronted, and the persistence of the stereotype of feminists as being aggressive, wrathful,  “man-bashers.”  The painful thing about all this, of course, is that no man is in any real physical danger on the internet— or even in real life — from feminists.  . .

There’s a conscious purpose to this sort of behavior.  Joking about getting pelted (or putting on the football helmet) sends a message to women in the classroom – and online: “Tone it down.  Take care of the men and their feelings.  Don’t scare them off, because too much impassioned feminism is scary for guys.”  And you know, as exasperating as it is, this kind of silencing language almost always works. Time and again, I’ve seen it work to silence women in the classroom, or at least cause them to worry about how to phrase things “just right” so as to protect the guys and their feelings.  It’s a key anti-feminist strategy, even if that isn’t the actual intent of the men doing it — it forces women to become conscious caretakers of their male peers by subduing their own frustration and anger.   It reminds young women that they should strive to avoid being one of those “angry feminists” who (literally) scares men off and drives them away.

My regular readers probably know me well enough to realize why this quote bugs me so much. Hugo Schwyzer describes a phenomenon that definitely exists and that deserves to be discussed and analyzed. And then he immediately destroys his entire argument by saying that this anti-feminist strategy “forces women to become conscious caretakers of their male peers by subduing their own frustration and anger” [emphasis mine].  And this makes absolutely no sense.

At the very beginning of this long quote, Hugo Schwyzer recognizes that one should be very careful with words. By the end of it, however, he demonstrates that he has no interest in exercising such care. A woman cannot be “forced” to do anything by some silly strategy. Agreeing to become “a conscious caretaker of male peers” is always a choice. And that choice brings certain rewards at the same time as it exacts a certain price. I’m saying this as a woman who has never subdued her rage to placate men* and can’t say that her life has been in any way thwarted by that decision.

Another problem with this argument is that the silencing strategy Hugo Schwyzer describes has nothing to do with gender. Once again, it is a dud, an issue that is not related to gender in any manner but that masks as a feminist concern in order to distract us from true feminist concerns. Using gender stereotypes to silence people works extremely well on both men and women. Let’s not forget that in the patriarchal mentality, men are supposed to take care of and provide for women. As my favorite Russian blogger says, “The only goal of a man’s existence is to solve a woman’s problems and make her life easier.” How difficult do you think it is to bully into complete and utter silence a man who is at least somewhat in thrall to patriarchal stereotypes?

And if said hypothetical man allows himself to be bullied into silence by these stereotypes, that will be his conscious choice and he will get a pay-out for doing so. Just like a woman does when she chooses to shut up in order to be considered “a good girl.” See? Not a gender issue.

There is a very interesting discussion that could have happened here about the strategies we use to manipulate and silence our interlocutors. Sadly, Hugo Schwyzer’s overpowering need to see women as perennial victims and men as victimizers has gotten the best of him yet again.

I’ve been wondering for a while why Hugo Schwyzer is so haunted by this desire to see women as weak and helpless and men as powerful and in control in every single situation. After I read his post about one of his marriages, the answer became clear to me. Hugo Schwyzer has a history of being extremely disempowered in his relationships with women**. In his pseudo-feminist writings, he creates a universe were women are powerless and he can finally feel like a savior of weak and pathetic damsels.

* In the spirit of full disclosure: I have done so to placate women. And that was a conscious choice on my part. It would be very easy for me to blame this decision on my cultural conditioning and upbringing. If I were to do so, however, I would not be honest. This was always my own choice. 

** Just read the post. Even if only 10% of it is true, I will never stop feeling sorry for a person who has been treated in such a horrific and shameless way by a manipulative and nasty partner.

Canadian Anti-Abortionists Are Funny

Canadians are truly special. And Canadian anti-choicers are even more special than that. I don’t know if the goal of this anti-abortion group was to make abortion funny but this billboard made me roar in laughter:

As angry as these woman-haters usually make me, I can’t summon any anger when I look at this billboard. This is just too funny. I’m not even going to analyze all of the implications of the toy that was chosen to transmit the idea. This billboard does not need to be subverted. It achieves that task on its own.

I found this billboard here.

Ukrainian Feminists Are Brutalized in Byelorussia

There is this very scandalous group of Ukrainian feminists called FEMEN (I blogged about it here) that uses some very strange means to promote feminism. For some reason, women who belong to this organization believe it’s a good idea to run around half naked in support of feminism. I think they are clueless and their activism is counterproductive. However, now is the moment to stand in solidarity with these activists because they have been subjected to really horrible treatment by anti-feminist fanatics in Byelorussia. I’m not seeing any articles on this subject in the feminist blogosphere, which is why I decided to write about it and share what has been happening to feminists in Byelorussia.

Byelorussia is one of the former republics of the Soviet Union. It suffered horribly during World War II. I think it was probably the area of the USSR that sustained the greatest damage during the war. When the Chernobyl catastrophe took place, the wind blew most of the radiation towards Byelorussia. The entire population has been affected by the nuclear tragedy.

As if all this suffering wasn’t enough, this miserable republic has been cursed with a dictator of well-known fascist leanings. Since 1994, Lukashenko, a great admirer of Hitler, has ruled Byelorussia. International observers state that there has never been a single even marginally fair election in the country. Candidates who tried to run against the dictator have been brutalized by the police and arrested. Journalists who tried to publish even mild criticisms of Lukashenko have been found murdered. Or not found at all.

The Ukrainian feminists went to Byelorussia on Monday to protest the mistreatment of the country’s numerous political prisoners. After they conducted their peaceful protest, they left and headed to the bus station to take a bus home. There, they were approached by a group of men (it is obvious from a variety of details that these men worked for the Byelorussian KGB), taken into the woods, stripped naked, and beaten. Then, the attackers cut off their hair and doused them with a sticky bright green substance that is very hard to remove and that leaves long-lasting stains. After that, the women were feathered. They were forced to hold slogans with swastikas. All of this was recorded with a camcorder.

After the Ukrainian feminists made their ordeal public, the leader of the Byelorussian KGB stated that “they react to everything like women” and refused to take the matter seriously.

I have noticed that my posts about the violations of human rights in the FSU are very unpopular. I understand that the reason why people don’t want to read them is not indifference. It is, rather, a sense of impotence. Nobody knows how the situation can be helped. I believe, however, that knowledge and awareness are the best – and the only – ways to help. If people in other countries know what’s going on, if they are aware of the facts, they are already doing a lot.

Sorry for spoiling the pre-Christmas mood, but this is important. I was going to promise only to write about happy things during the Christmas festivities, but there is another huge protest against the Putin regime planned in Moscow for tomorrow and I can’t avoid blogging about that.

Patriarchy and Men

If you think being a man in a profoundly patriarchal society is easy, think again. I’ve been listening to the Russian radio again and I almost choked on my pomegranate juice when I heard a man announce in a very intimidating and tragic voice:

“Does it sometimes take you more than ten minutes after you’ve had sex to prepare for the next sex act?? If so, you have erectile dysfunction! And you need to take care of it now, before things get worse!”

By things getting worse, the radio host must have meant that it takes some people – oh, horror! – as much as 20 minutes to prepare for the next sex act. And those who need a couple of hours (or days) must be hopeless invalids.

Seriously, is there anybody older than 18 who never needs more than 10 minutes between sex acts?

And I’m not even starting on the issue of how many people have trouble finding any partner, let alone one who’d be willing to go again ten minutes after sex.

Even people who are extremely healthy can be bullied straight into an erectile dysfunction by such announcements if they hear them often enough.

Spammers Posing as Famous Bloggers

I haven’t visited the Spam collector of this blog for a while, and it has grown to a terrifying size. Finally, I decided to visit it and discovered the most hilarious thing ever. Some very silly spammer has been trying to impersonate blogger Tenured Radical to get me to let their Spam through.

In order to be effective in your profession, you have to invest some effort into what you are doing. Even if your profession is being a spammer, you can’t do a half-assed job and expect to be successful. If the spammer had done a search of this blog using the term “Tenured Radical”, s/he would have easily discovered that there is no likelihood that Tenured Radical would start leaving comments on my blog with pleas that I get in touch.

Tenured Radical is a lot more famous than I am. It would be great if one day spammers tried impersonating me. And yes, I know that this is a very unhealthy statement.