« Thursday Short Poem: Jeffers's "House Dog's Grave" (again; for Matilde) | Main | Note on tone »

June 15, 2006



Hugo, long-time reader first time commenter here.

The thing that I think is so confounding about your blog is that you manage to be so right on about so many things and then so completely wrong about others.  I can think of a couple of your posts I have just loved, where they made me say "Wow, that is soooo right -- I can't believe a man is that insightful."  And then, you turn around and put your foot in it so unbelievably badly. It's really quite without equal in the blogosphere.  Just a couple of examples I remember (I hope the HTML works) of posts of yours that blew me away, they were so good:

A very long and personal post about men, women, childishness, and responsibility

Some reflections on older men, younger women and integrity

Some lengthy thoughts on feminism, traditional families, contingent happiness and daring to disappoint

And as good as they were, your post (I won't even link to it) about your wife taking your last name (and your conviction that was a sign of trust in you) was beyond stupid and infuriating.  And this recent comparison of feminism to a cold swimming pool is also exasperating and, honestly, confusing. 

I like your blog very much.  But one of the reasons, perhaps, that people are so hard on you is because we can tell from your writing just how good and insightful you can be.  Hence people are all the more infuriated and appalled when you get it so completely and monumentally wrong.

By the way, the commenter who said you shouldn't use so many exclamation points was spot on. I do like the way you "bold" certain sections, though, it makes it helpful to read your longer posts.


Whoops, in my comment above I didn't mean end the thread, I meant stop using it to fight the age-old battle over men, women, and domestic violence statistics. Take that somewhere else.

Liesl, thanks. I know I get many things wrong, and am glad when I get some things right.


I agree. When sexist trolls say blatantly sexist things, it's gross and depressing, but I expect it, and I can almost dismiss it.

On the rare occasion that Hugo writes things that I find sexist or just off the mark, I feel almost betrayed, because the bulk of his writing is so insightful and I consider him an ally to feminists.

Hugo, I'm sorry you've taken so much heat lately. It's only because you've raised the bar. Our expectations of you are incredibly high.

As far as tone, I think the criticism is ridiculous. Are we really going to attack earnestness and sincerity? Now, THAT'S depressing.


Tom Head

Hugo, if you're going to shut down my attempt to correct perplexed's comments about DV statistics, the least you can do is delete his original antifeminist claims. Leaving them and forbidding anyone from rebutting them suggests that you either agree with him, or see the very real problem of violence against women as a mere "aged debate" with which a man of your talents need not concern himself.




TH, sounds like you just want to censor the truth. This is my last comment on this - I respect Hugo's wishes.


Many people are demonstrating here they don't know shit from shinola about human transformation. More talk about process might illuminate. Must say it puzzles me to see women disrespect the process, it's a rather feminine virtue--gestation, patience, the growth principle, non-linear, nuanced; it's about waiting, maybe that's the problem, if only people didn't go at their own pace, wouldn't it be lovely?

I support your strategy, for what it's worth.


Hugo said:
Yet I remain convinced that with some young men, this sort of gradual (even indulgent) approach is best. Before I can hold a young man to account, I have to earn his trust; before I can challenge him to grow, I have to establish my bona fides. And part of earning that trust is acknowledging that some of his concerns (not all) are legitimate, and that living life as a pro-feminist man (particularly in college) isn't a cakewalk!

As someone with a very similar perspective to Carlos', I can tell you that took the right approach. I don't know why some people seriously believe that attempting to bludgeon Pete would have been successful. Nor do I find it self-evident that "Pete's" attitudes were so worthy of outright condemnation as some people seemed to think. I think a lot of their interpretation hinged on "Pete's" use of the word "player," and took it as evidence that he sees women as objects and feels entitled to sex. That intepretation is certainly possible, but I don't it so easy to assume what Carlos meant by it. Not wanting to involuntarily celibate your whole life is not the same thing as feeling entitled to sex.

Another reason that a bludgeoning or confrontational approach would not have worked with me is that I would have perceived it as a form of bullying. I think what attracts a lot of men to feminism in the first place is their experiences of being bullied, which makes them more receptive to feminist claims about the gender system. Consequently, these males will have trouble dealing with any form of what they perceive to be bullying.



Thanks for showing up.

I'd just like to first point out that you seem to be setting up a false dichotomy. (And that, Aegis, is what's pissing us off, not his use of the ill-defined "player"). Perhaps, though, you were really trying to ask "Is being a player really being anti-feminist?" or "Can I be feminist and a player as well?" These are not only thought-provoking questions but also happen to be the ones Amanda, Dr. B, and others are trying to answer with their "feminism is fun!" comments.

Unfortunately, your original questioned sounded a lot more like "Do I really have to be an adult yet?" to my ears. (The answer to which is "hell, yes." btw.)

My beef with Hugo is not that his teaching method doesn't work, but that (judging by his own words) he's abandoned it in his most recent advice to you. I'm guessing that Hugo got you to treat your sisters more nicely and change your views on gendered double standards in part by tapping into your genuine concern for the women around you and challenging whether or not your attitudes were really helping them or being respectful of them.

That is what I'm suggesting he do now. Tap into your desire to be a responsible, respected member of your community - however you define it - and question your priorities. Not by arguing that you can't have fun, but by reminding you that any amount of power brings with it a certain amount of responsibility. If you can find a way to be a "player" and still be responsible and respectful, more power to you. But if you are trying to decide between being a "player" and doing what you should, your beef isn't really with feminism specifically - it's with being an adult.

That is not, however, what he did. Or at least that wasn't the part he focused on in his blog post anyway. Perhaps your actual conversation was quite different, but as he presented it, responsibility was only a quickly dropped tangent in the overall discussion.

Quite frankly, whether or not you consider yourself to be a feminist is not my main concern. My main concern is that you treat everyone around you with respect and dignity.

As Hugo points out, feminism is a process - this is mostly because growing up is a constant process. (God knows I'm still working on both myself.) Regarding the idiotic "good girls like bad boys" meme, the fact that other people - even female people - are sometimes less feminist than you is no more a valid excuse for you to backslide than "but everyone else was doing it!" was ever a valid excuse with your parents. Questioning whether or not certain actions are really feminist or not - based on your experiences with the way many women react to them - is a valid and logical response. Basing your conclusion on your experiences alone, or using others stupid behaviour as an excuse for yours, are not.


The Happy Feminist said:
I think what a lot of people have been objecting to is (a) the notion that women, even feminist women, generally prefer to date assholes or non-feminists (i.e. that women say one thing and do another -- a gross and mostly inaccurate generalization, in my opinion); (b) that being a feminist would be incompatible with your ability to get women to date you;

Mickle said:
I'd just like to first point out that you seem to be setting up a false dichotomy.

What has always worried me is that it's quite possible that there is some truth in those notions; the dichotomy between being pro-feminist and attractive may be true. I certainly wouldn't say that women prefer to date assholes/jerks. First, those terms are so ambiguous that they are useless (like "nice guy"). Second, asshole/jerk may connote abusiveness, and I think that it is false that the majority of women are attracted to abusiveness in men (though whether they attracted to dominance in men is a different question).

What women are attracted to (and the variation in what women are attracted to) is still an open empirical question. Hence, the possibility that adopting mindsets and behaviors associated with feminism will mean becoming unattractive to the vast majority of women cannot be dismissed a priori.

Since there is variation in what women are attracted to, I don't think adopting feminism would necessarily mean destroying one's chances with all women. Yet even destroying one's chances with the majority of women could be bad enough. Let's say that being a pro-feminist man of average looks and social skills would mean being attractive to 5% of women (I think this is very generous). Yet when you consider that many of those women would have boyfriends already, or not be attractive to the guy, or there might not be enough personality compatibility for a relationship, the percentage of women in the guy's dating pool is going to go below 1%. This means that he could go ages without even meeting a woman who could be attracted to him, let alone actually end up dating her!

So, in short, dating women women may not be incompatible with feminism in principle, but it may become impossible, or severly curtailed, in practice.

Ultimately, I think often the best person to make judgments on whether a man adopting feminism would be compatible with any reasonable success dating women is that man himself. Assuming he has basic social awareness, he experiences women responding to him directly across various situations, and he knows what women are available and what type of male behaviors they are going for in his subculture, so he may be best positioned to guess how they would respond to him were he to change his behavior and attitudes. If he is saying "adopting certain behaviors that I believe feminism to require would destroy my chances with women," then there is a good chance he is correct. Yet it's another question whether the behaviors he thinks he would need to adopt are really required by feminism.

But if you are trying to decide between being a "player" and doing what you should, your beef isn't really with feminism specifically - it's with being an adult.

But what he "should" do is hardly clear, at least not to him. I think that is precisely his complaint. I know that on a general level, he should respect women as human beings, but it's not clear at all exactly how that should play out in practice (for instance, "respect" for women has often been taken to mean chivalry or paternalism, so it's obviously not self-evident what it means). Specifically what behaviors are mandated by treating someone as a "human being," and what behaviors are prohibited? Those are the million dollar ethical questions. There may be a few obvious examples on either side, but there is a massive grey area in between.

Tom Head

Aegis writes:
Second, asshole/jerk may connote abusiveness, and I think that it is false that the majority of women are attracted to abusiveness in men (though whether they attracted to dominance in men is a different question).

What I find more interesting, as a man, is that men tend to be attracted to women who are jerks--"bad girls" and so on--and that this gets much less press.

This is my 5:18am cynicism, but my suspicion is that most people of both genders are primarily attracted to attractiveness. Real relationships are complicated, but in my experience attraction is astonishingly superficial. Good looks, and the sense that this person would be fun in the sack, will cover up a multitude of sins.

One of my friends has gone back several times to a guy who treated her horribly. Slept around on her, dismissed her feelings, the whole nine yards. And why is she going back, my gentle readers? Well, I asked. And she basically told me it's because he's incredibly hot (he is) and they have great sex (I'll take her word on that part). And nobody can tell me that otherwise intelligent men don't do exactly the same thing.

Come to think of it, I have no trouble thinking of several situations, off the top of my head, where the circumstances were reversed and it was the good guy going back to the woman for similar explicated reasons.

The "women are attracted to jerks" myth is a myth, but a guy who has everything going for him and also happens to be a jerk will still have everything else going for him. And the same applies to women. Men who are tired of the commodification of the dating scene would be well served to get the logs out of their own eyes before they start looking for the splinters in the eyes of women who are attracted to jerks, because in my experience men tend to be far, far more superficial about these things than women are. No man who rates strange women on a 1-10 scale, or reads Maxim, has any room to complain--at all--about women who are attracted to hot men who happen to be jerks.



Tom Head

And let me say that I feel the pain of men who say "Women are attracted to jerks," but the people who say this are generally not much better-looking than I am. I never see anyone who looks like a male model walk up and say "I can't get any dates because I'm not a jerk." It's always men who look "regular" who say this sort of thing. A 6 on the 1-10 scale, perhaps. Maybe a 4. Maybe lower.

I can understand not wanting to face up to this sort of thing, because looks aren't something you can change. Like most men, I will not wake up tomorrow morning looking like George Clooney.

But women have it worse. Because how many of these men have to diet, exercise, spend countless hours and a small fortune looking good--all just to be acceptable?

I think the "women are attracted to jerks" meme can actually be worked out to the advantage of the feminist movement if the men who experience that feeling can be made to realize that it is only a very mild form of what most heterosexual women in this culture always experience, and always have experienced.

It's sad. And brutal. And unfair. But men are not the primary victims here.




What I find more interesting, as a man, is that men tend to be attracted to women who are jerks--"bad girls" and so on--and that this gets much less press.

Tom, yes I agree with this and the other points in your posts above. It's all part of the cultural system we have that defines attractiveness in a very narrow and superficial way, along with the very stupid idea that in order to be a "success" in relationships you have to acquire one of these "A-list" dates - or even that all a relationship consists of is the acquisition of said trophy girlfriend.

So you end up with ordinary (but potentially decent and interesting) guy, whinging that the cheerleading squad aren't putting out for him. Same time he's ignoring or denigrating ordinary (but decent and interesting) girl - 'cause she's nerdy or a "dog" or some such, with the end result of a whole load of people feeling totally and unnecessarily miserable.

Tom Head

Well said!




CrysT, I appreciate the inclusiveness of your feminism. You said, "If you believe that women are full human beings, you are a feminist." I accept that, to you, I am a feminist, in that I strongly support the notion that women are full human beings - and unlike many feminists, I consider the notion to be self-evident, and not at all radical. But you must be aware that there are many who would dispute this inclusiveness of yours - including self-proclaimed feminists. So when I and many others state that they are not of the feminist persuasion, please understand that they may be working from a more restrictve definition than yours - and thus it does not necessarily follow that they regard women as less than human. I acknowledge myself, then, to be a "CrysT feminist". Most - perhaps all - of the MRAs that I know are also CrysT feminists. And by our MRA definition of unequivocal support for full equality for all, regardless of race or gender, perhaps you also are an MRA.


(Sorry for the delayed response. Was out in a cabin on a lake in Northern Minnesota, blissfully out of telephone or internet range for the past ten days.)

Benko Westcyk

Since men are in fact more attracted to looks (which is a sign of good health and fertility) and women are more attracted to means (which is a sign of status and survival-ability) any form of comparison between men and women on same ground is pure nonsense and only for the benefit of social theory which doesnt work in reality.

If you do not believe this check out any scientific documentary on the subject (Brainsex from Germany for instance). We actually scan peoples brains today. It doesnt matter what asked people respond. Their brains respond in another level completely so social theory is meningless.

Girls respond more to the bad boy behavior from guys who doesnt loook good
Guys respond more to any behavior fron girls who does look good.

And the only comparison worth mentioning is how girls respond to good looking bad boys in comparison to good looking good guys. And in that competition the bad boys win with about 25 to ZERO in score. Good luck explaining why the good looking guys chosen by any woman who can chose any man (due to her looks and money) all the time just happen to be a goodlooking bad boy, not a goodlooking good guy.

Then try find any guy who prefer a goodlooking bad girl (who treats him like shit) instead of an equally goodlooking good girl who respects him
And then the truth shall set you free - if you even care about the truth that is.

Also try to understand one thing. Girls have it hella easier, its MUCH easier to look good than to be successful and always act like "the man"

Girls who look good can behave any way they want
Guys who look good must "be themselves" meaning their actions are measured in comparison to congruance all the time. If you dont have this knowledge your competence to even discuss the subject is clearly in question. Then you are just speculating on basis of ideology while ignoring facts, science and reality.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004