Monday, August 17, 2009

No Pain, No....well. We'll see.

Insightful blog post from a male professor of history and gender studies, on the topic of men fearfully defending against the rage of women.

There’s a conscious purpose to this sort of behavior. Joking about getting beaten up (or putting on the football helmet) sends a message to young women in the classroom: "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."

Read the whole thing here: Words Are Not Fists by Hugo Schwyzer

Two things struck me about this post. First, that disabling women's rage toward man-based injustices is an effective means of preventing those issues from being explored thoroughly, as well as a smooth means of preventing some very hasty words being spoken. Impassioned people are very common culprits of overstating things in their rush to get it all out before they explode. The passion is real; the words may not actually be directly relevant! Second... this post is so circumspect that I find myself wondering if the author is still fearful, even as he endorses courage under fire.

I wonder what exactly happened, the day he woke up and thought, my god, we're all so cowardly! Props for having actually written the whole thing out, though. Even if he does innocently pretend that men aren't ever victims of female hate crimes.


Rufus said...

One thing it brings to mind is how obsessed professors and lecturers have gotten to be about making sure the classroom is "safe" for everyone. I actually like it when people argue with me because it shows that they're engaged with my arguments. Often, the real sign of disrespect from academics is that they tune out what you're saying and make no comments at all. I don't really like the sort of pussyfooting that goes on on campus around each other's cherished 'beliefs'. It's not good prep work for the outside world.

In terms of undergrads, part of the issue is, of course, that the things you talk about in women's studies courses are controversial. But, another thing I've seen in many of the courses I took was an inability of anyone to take criticism, which really comes from being coddled too often.

So, I'd like to see a wider acceptance of the fact that, when you engage with and test out your beliefs and assumptions, discomfort may result.

All that said, I've listened to feminist conversations that I would have no idea how to respond to. For example, how do you actually assess whether or not we live in a 'rape culture'? And how would you argue that we don't live in a rape culture withouth being accused of being part of the, you know, rape culture? But, still, I think it's worth arguing about.

Lastly, I do get the sense that many young men are pretty afraid of young women anyway. I think maybe it just hurts more at that age to be criticized by the opposite sex than by the same sex. Of course, if you're a heterosexual male, it is something you'd need to get used to, if you want to have a healthy relationship.

Maybe he should just include a note in the course catalog: "discomfort may occur".

Holly said...

Also.... there are SO many people who have no space in their minds for the possibility that they are wrong about things. That their views are not viable models of the world. That other people can teach them more by disagreeing, than by agreeing. Totally alien concepts for a lot of people.