If It Looks, Feels and Smells Like Shit: Response to “The Misandry Bubble”

It was pointed out to me that the author of the targeted article doesn’t perfectly fit the WEIRD profile.

He is, in fact, “merely” EIRD.

I’m lazy. Go ahead and mentally subtract all “W”s from any WEIRD references I make.

There was a comic made some long time ago by webcomicker John Campbell of Pictures for Sad Children, vitriolically shredding at the concept of transhumanism. The body of his criticism is fairly off the mark – on technicalities, at any rate. It’s no real secret, for example, that the development of communicative technology tends to self-propagate rapidly – cell phone towers and even laptops are finding their way to villages that even the bleedin’ Red Cross can’t reach. It’s also no real secret that increased computational power and sophistication is pretty much the bedrock to modern science – and even, from a screwy angle, to modern philosophy, given the crucial role of cybernetics and computer-aided neurology in the further understanding of the human mind.

Not to mention that, as Charles Stross (he of the bleak dystopian futures of vicious and vile mind-children and the lesser eldritch threats to sanity) has to admit, on balance, the technologies and efforts of the modern world’s done a lot more good than harm.

All that said, Campbell’s expressed attitude towards transhumanists might still be depressingly accurate. His rhetoric against the privileged white demographic that tends to espouse transhumanism is proven time and time again when clowns like this one open their damned metaphorical mouths. The Futurist’s post on “The Misandry Bubble” would, in a just world, be written as a parody of white privilege – the fact that a quick Googling demonstrates that it’s being taken seriously

Well, I guess it’s only fitting that, after having attained 100,000 visitors recently, I hop back into the fray of the western monocultural noosphere:

If it looks, feels and smells like shit, you should probably stop holding that shit so close to your nose. And, man, The Misandry Bubble is full of shit. Here’s why…

Any thesis has its first principles. Those principles, in turn, must be sound. They must, in fact, be fucking bulletproof – especially on issues as controversial as “is feminism the doom of modern society?” It isn’t enough to have a thousand and one links that support your position – the delusion of the many is far too pervasive to simply ignore merely because they support your hypothesis, and if anything is assured, it’s that there are many delusions, and many are shared. Especially given the echo chamber nature of the digital era, mere citation isn’t enough – a critical analysis of the fundamentals must be conducted, or the writer is guilty of the intellectual sin of furthering a known untruth.

In that, “The Misandry Bubble” has a foundational basis made of whipping cream and cotton candy.

There are literally too many damn problems with the article for me to do an exhaustive point-by-point rebuttal on – literally every piece of evidence or rhetoric he dredges up can be countered easily with a clear mind – but there are at least two major issues with his general approach. I’ll hit on the details if they apply.

WEIRDness

The first is simply that the damn thing’s too WEIRD. No, I’m not saying that the article’s excessively odd or inscrutable in any way – it is, if anything, depressingly scrutable. I’m saying that its underlying foundation is that of a WEIRD perspective – that is, the author is a case study in the reactionary anxieties of the Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic demographic group. His decrying of the lack of male role models (speak for yourself, bub), the gender skew in divorce initiations, to even the institution of what he terms as “marriage 2.0” – every last ounce of it is spoken from the perspective of white privilege – and, more importantly, the fear of losing it.

Here’s some counter-rhetoric: prior to the modern era and the rise of feminism, the status of women in even the most enlightened countries was, at best, as secondary citizens. Yes, of course they were in the work force – doing the shit jobs for no pay, for the majority of them. Their reproductive rights were not recognized as such, nor were their rights to self-defense – a problem that actually continues to this day, given the depressingly common reports of a young woman stuck in the Arabian peninsula jailed or even sentenced to death because of rape inflicted on her. Even in the modern, western monoculture, this problem persists – going by the reported instances of rape or sexual molestation in even liberal, women-friendly countries, and extrapolating to the instances of non-reported instances, it really shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the ratio of women to men manifested in genetic continuance seems so skewed.

The author makes a deadly mistake in assuming that the gender disparity is evidence of rampant female adultery. The opposite is far more likely, in light of the power disparity and social contexts. In fact, it would’ve been self-evidential to anybody outside of the WEIRD privilege bubble.

Going off of that, prior to the modern era and the rise of feminism, women’s participation in the overall economy was at best as “capital.” It was vanishingly rare that women were, in any way, controllers or agents of their own economic participation. As was mentioned earlier, they were, of course, in the work force – so are tools and slaves. The author decries the 10-30% of men “disincentivized” from participation in the economy due to various factors as a bad thing – without ever even giving lip service to the vastly increased presence of women decision-makers introduced to the economy solely because of the ascendance of the feminist movement.

Again, reactionary WEIRD privilege, and the fear of losing it. It is a demonstrated fact that an economy pre-feminism is outright weaker than one post-. The only reason one would argue against it is if one feared that economic growth was itself a scarce resource, and that the individual would lose out from it. This necessitates that one ignores the fact that the overall benefit effects a far wider range of sapients than the system prior to it – including men.

(edit: as evidence, might I note that the gender pay gap is not uniformly closing up? Between two equally trained entry-level candidates for the same medical practice, the female doctor gets the short stick – in fact, a shorter stick than she used to get.)

Speak For Yourself, Bub

Projection is an unlovely thing, forcing one’s fears and insecurities upon the targets of one’s fears and insecurities. As the studies on WEIRD culture’s indicated, more often than not, it is the members of that very demographic that are actually outliers in the general psychological makeup of the world population – despite being the center of the vast majority of psychological studies. Despite this, authors such as the “Futurist” attempt to generalize his fears and insecurities to the world in general.

In doing so, massive swathes of untruth are presented as riches, when “dross” would be a more aptly applied label.

Let’s start with a small and amusing thing: the author thinks that most women, pre-feminism, married as virgins. This inherently treats pubescent hormones, urges and the actions resultant as somehow something new. While it is certainly likely that families of privilege and influence were probably sticklers about these sort of things, let’s not forget that the social channels that could possibly uphold and enforce this facet of patriarchy were always rare – in fact, from an economic standpoint, the insistence on virginity was nothing short of dehumanizing exertion of claim. The reason for its insistence was simply to ensure that there were no prior claims upon the object of exchange – no risk, in other words, of somebody else’s genetic capital parasitizing upon your own.

The case for this for most of pre-industrial humanity, however? Hahahaha, right. Because teenagers wouldn’t find time to sneak off into the woods or into unattended barns or behind the tavern’s kitchen for a bit of boot-knocking. Sure. That’s completely believable. If there is any social dogma I’m willing to embrace, it’s the idea that there is no such thing as an ideal social interaction – our ideas of what should happen occur because the majority of us would do otherwise.

Quite frankly, though, the idea of what “should” be conducted often leaves much to be demanded. In fact, it often demands itself to be ignored. Take, for instance, the author’s insistence on the primacy of genetic continuation – his rallying against adulterous women, against contraceptives, against the dissolution of the institution of marriage (would this be the “nuclear family” of the American 1950s, the tribal family of an overwhelming number of other cultures, or that odd little arrangement amongst some Pacific Islanders where the children are raised by their uncle?) are all centered around the implied necessity of the dominate male being the sole contributing factor in “his” woman’s offsprings.

Where, then, is there space for adoption and sperm/egg donations? How does the author wrap his worldview to include polyamorous relations, infertility, or communal-upbringing cultures? Are we to treat couples that opt to adopt instead of contributing to overpopulation as lepers, or admirables?

Or is this so very desperately out of the WEIRD “norm” that the author simply opts to ignore it, despite its prevalence everywhere outside of that bubble?

Furthermore, when he espouses the positive factors of marriage, what form of it does he mean? Marriage for political and economic benefit between clans? Marriage due to psychosexual intimacy and compatibility? Marriage of convenience due to the local establishment’s tax laws in relation to the establishment? Or shotgun weddings because some idiot was unaware that the broad he knocked up has a dad with very set ideas on how his daughter ought to be treated?

From the onset, the author was projecting his own fears and insecurities upon a body that simply doesn’t share his worldview. Even the discussion of the “lack of male role models…” well, I dunno about you, Bub, but Jack Bauer seems exactly opposite to me of a well-reasoned and enlightened individual. If I’m supposed to look up to guys like him, I’d rather have no heroes, and instead work to inspire others myself. The acts of an intern rushing into harm’s way to save Representative Gifford’s life; the selfless efforts of firefighters working against monstrous blazes covering thousands of acres of combustibles; the countless millions shouldering quiet burdens, working thanklessly without ever finding it necessary to blame feminism, of all things, for the rote and ordinary setbacks that is par for the course of societal interaction:

I don’t need to look very hard to find role models. It takes a willing ignorance to find it hard to find a good role model. It takes a very disturbing intellectual dishonesty to then, in turn, confuse vicarious escapism with role models. Are we really to believe that sociopathy and anarchism are acceptable standards for males to work towards? Rather than decrying the lack of superheroes, should we not be looking at why we uphold the heroes we do or did have?

Or is it easier to defend a position than it is to analyze it?

Stones and Glass Houses

Preemptive defense is a common tactic in debate – shoring up known weaknesses in your rhetoric and position, or using it as a lure to attract or dissuade an opponent towards a position you’ve prepared for. Its usefulness in a rhetorical fight is dependent, of course, on style and skill – setting an opponent up for a devastating counter implicitly means you know what to expect from them.

The boxing metaphor is actually pretty apt – as with the idea of a counter, there is the rhetorical cross-counter, also known as the turn. The concept is elegantly simple: having your own argument figuratively turned against you. It is, in other words, the act of pointing out the hypocrisy of a position.

The “Misandry Bubble” attempts to defend itself against critique based on the concept of “shame dialogue.” Basically, it makes the claim that the majority of argumentation against it is merely name-calling, shaming, and the ilk – or, in other words, an insubstantial distraction from the arguments and points that the author attempts to make.

Points made with rhetorics such as “misandrists shrieking,” “carnival of bridezilla narcissism,” “unhinged lunacy,” and other such offerings of choice and well-reasoned rhetoric..

I agree with the author – usage of loaded terms and namecalling is merely a distraction from the weaknesses of one’s own position. There is no need for pathos-laden arguments when discussing… anything at all.

So, a turn: by the hypocritical usage of laden terms in his own rhetoric, the author knowingly solicits a vast range of untruths and weak rhetoric in the guise of debate. Through the lens of both his WEIRD bubble of privilege, the defense of it against those that accurately surmise that privilege (“private law,” as Terry Pratchett reminds us) comes at the cost of inequality to others, and the evidently deliberate usage of falsehoods and half-truths, the author commits the intellectual sin of insincerity of assertion.

Bugger Off – We’ve Got a Future to Attend To

It is a central irony that a self-proclaimed “Futurist” would fall back upon the 18-19th century rhetoric of anti-suffragists in order to forecast the future conditions of the western world, through the lens of gender politics. In opposition to his assertion of forward-looking transhumanism, the so-called Futurist is, in fact, a conservative reactionary – an old-school conservative reactionary, sharing traits with the ancient shades of industrialists and shipping magnates of ages past, reliant upon gender politics both westernized and desperately obsolete in his analysis of ongoing trends.

The fact of the matter is that gender inequality still persists – in favor of males. The fact of the matter is that patriarchy necessitates a socioeconomic lock-out of over half the population, and is by that fact alone something that needs to be torn down as efficiently and swiftly as possible. The fact of the matter is that absolutely everything the author has described as inappropriate and amoral on part of the female part of the race is implicitly treated, even by the author himself as acceptable and even normal for the male.

All this because of a difference in chromosomal shape? Seriously? Maybe I live in my own privileged bubble, where the thought of something that, on balance, has been provably demonstrated to be utterly insignificant in anything but the extremities of purely physical capability, should have such an overwhelming role in the fabric of our society is in itself an evil.

Or maybe not. Because I do recognize it. Because I do see it. Sometimes, I’m guilty of it myself. But, as a transhumanist, my vision for the future is both genderless and perhaps excessively gendered – where the primacy is not towards cutthroat Darwinian genetic propagation, but towards the self. A vision of a future where gender is a completely personal issue – an expression of one’s self-image and identity, and a celebratory one at that.

But!

But that vision is only possible in a world of gender equality. Because only when the female and male are on equal platform can the cultural pressures of gender be made obsolete. Because only in a world of gender equality can gender itself lose meaning. Because only in a world where the consensus reality of gender has lost meaning can the individual be empowered to create meaning unto themselves.

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the (Father’s) domain].”

– Gospel of Thomas

The oft-leveraged accusation that transhumanism is merely the Rapture of the Nerds is not without foundation. There are many overlaps with the Christian idea of immanentizing the eschaton. In a way, transhumanism itself is old as rocks – it is the pursuit of a physical utopia and the obsolescence of common ills through the use of technology – the transition and transcendence from the flaws of humanity as-is.

It’s not such a bad pursuit. I would reckon it superior to the spiritual equivalent for one reason alone: in it is the idea that there is nothing that can’t be solved with sufficient hard work and effort. That progress isn’t found in prayer but practice. That all is within reach of a ready and willing hand.

The “Futurist” demands that we step back into an era where the only ones with power are those that look and think like him.

I say we push on.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on February 3, 2011.

5 Responses to “If It Looks, Feels and Smells Like Shit: Response to “The Misandry Bubble””

  1. I tried reading it but it was too boring to go through the whole thing. Suffice to say the author was talking about something in the US alone?

  2. Actually, this ‘rebuttal’ is the response of someone who appears to be stumped. The vast majority of readers appear to agree with him, as a quick Google search would indicate :

    Dr. Helen :
    http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2010/01/western-world-has-quietly-become.html

    The Spearhead :
    http://www.the-spearhead.com/2010/01/05/the-misandry-bubble-an-excellent-treatise-written-by-the-futurist/

  3. er… The Futurist is not white, you ignorant dumbshit. He is Asian, just like you (except that he is smart, unlike you).

    You might be the first dumb Asian I have ever seen.

    Asian men like James Chen can’t get laid, but at least they are supposed to be smart in order to get by. Unfortunately, this loser is both dumb and a loser with women.

  4. I had someone link to the Misandry Bubble on my forum recently — not a particularly welcome move, considering it’s hard to distinguish it from hate propaganda — and it’s nice to see a well-reasoned and lucid response piece. I’ll look around some more if I have a chance. Most of my exposure to transhumanists has been to ones that give me the creeps, but you don’t seem to fall into quite the same camp. I enjoy having my expectations thwarted! :D

  5. Thanks for taking the time to read and write something about this. I skimmed it and as appalled at how much publicity it had gotten in the dark corners of the internet given the appalling quality of the argument. If I had a free couple of days I’d love to do something similar but it seems like a pretty thankless task…those who easily buy into that kind of rhetoric are the ones least likely to bother appreciating a critical position.

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