Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Avoidances

I’m absolutely certain that I’m not a great independent thinker with a keen intellect able to parse ideas from a far range of potentially offensive sources thereby arriving at every one of my opinions by throughly investigating nearly every available angle on an issue in detail. I don’t try to be. I don’t even want to be.

I want to know things, yes. Of course, I want to have informed opinions. But I’m also very interested in being a good person and I work hard at that. I also have a partial awareness of my own cognitive limitations and tendencies, which can work against my goals, even challenging my efforts at decency and empathy. So I do try to be at least somewhat selective about my sources of information.

As a result, despite caring a lot about gender and sexual equality, I don't read much Mens Rights Activist writings or interact with men who identify as such. Quite the opposite, I avoid such people just as I avoid avowed white supremacists, neo-confederates, or Christian dominionists. Because, what philosophical positions of theirs that I do know are antithetical to what I value.

That said, are there MRAs who complain about unfairness like the ways in which courts sometimes treat divorce or child custody? Sure, and those are valid complaints that are shared by feminist thinkers -- though the feminists have arrived at that conclusion via different rationale -- and I don't see any need for male supremacists to tell me about injustices that equality minded people have already shown me. Do my avoidances make me prone to ideological limitations on what I know about? Maybe they do, but I'm not bothered by that if it helps to marginalize the ideologies of misogyny or racism or other social evils.

Are there other people who actively seek out fringe opinions, take such views seriously, and incorporate what they learn into their thinking in rational ways without fear of adopting anti-social attitudes, falling into depression, or becoming disillusioned with humanity? Sure there are and I’m glad they do it. I learn a lot of things I might otherwise not know from such people. But I am not one of them and at this point in life I don’t even aspire to be.

Monday, May 26, 2014

On Deadly Misogyny

A few days ago a young man in Southern California went on a shooting spree. The details of the shooter, his experiences, and his motivations have become topics of considerable, sometimes heated, discussion. Some blame his rampage on mental illness. Some blame his toxic beliefs. I think that even if there were some underlying mental health problems, he still chose influences that made him worse, that made him dangerous.

That young man absorbed so much ugly entitlement and misinformation that it twisted his view of women to the point of hate and spectacularly misplaced blame. Many of the sexist influences to his thinking are omnipresent in our culture, like a haze of pollution in the air and that young man sought out the tail pipes of misogyny from which to breathe deeply. I think it transformed a troubled young man into a monstrous one.