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Monday, January 17, 2005

The brainiac wars

Boy, am I familiar with these. An ex-boyfriend once told me that I need to have a meek, submissive boyfriend after we quarrelled, and I was really offended and told him so. And with very feminist language--I explained that if he had this model of relationships where one person always dominates, he would probably always be lonesome. Anyway, I was put in mind of that after reading Lauren's blog post about dealing with a guy at a party who seems to have been using the old flirting method of putting a girl in her place by trying to intimidate her intellectually. (He defends himself in the comments section, but I am only more convinced of her side of the story because of what he says. Read it and see.)

For the record, my current boyfriend is not meek or submissive but also isn't overly committed to making me fall in line with his opinion. Trying to bully others into line is something that people do associate with leftists, but it's a behavior that knows no political or intellectual bounds that I can think of. The only strong correlation between this and any other trait, in my experience, is a sort of insecure snobbishness. Some insecure snobs are like me--we talk a big game but capitulate at the first sign of disagreement and hide in the corner. And some are just bullies.

What I don't get and will never get is why some bullying types think that their behavior is so damn sexy. What's clear is that the guys who have pulled this shit on me that was pulled on Lauren tend to single out topics that they have correctly guessed are things I care about. My all-time favorite story on this subject is the guy who hit on me by offering to buy me a beer that's better than the one I had in my hand. Since I was drinking Miller Lite, there is no reason to know that I have a secret side that loves expensive beer, but there you go.

There's no doubt when you run across someone who hits on you by making statements that convey that he thinks that you are the sort of woman who appreciates what he does, though obviously you are not in his league, about what his motivations are. I mean, it's tempting to believe that you could date someone who both sppreciates what you are talking about, but knows less than you and so sits in rapt attention while you pontificate. Hell, I'm enthralled myself. But c'mon. Does it ever work?

I have been hit on this way by more guys I can count. Either they thought they knew more about literature, art, beer, music, whatever, and it was very important that I knew that right away. And it's never really worked. (Well, not since I was legal.) I always fell for guys that I can blah blah with back and forth, who I do respect but I find also respect me. You know, like a friend. One of the things I really enjoy about my boyfriend and about my closest friends, male or female, is that we can be relaxed and excited about stuff we like without getting our egos all in a tangle over it. Just listening to that show Pop Vultures the other day, my boyfriend turned to me and said, "Damn, I think that we could do a show like this. Like with me and you, and ____ and ___. Hmmm.... Who else?" And I offered a couple other names, saying why I thought those people would have unique and valuable perspectives.

I guess that's why I just don't get all the fucking infighting that occurs in any leftist arena, be it men wanting women to take on roles as a chorus of admirers or the punks who beat up Jello Biafra because they thought he had "sold out". I'm as egotistical as the next person, but even I think there's a lot of value in respecting other people, especially those people you know for a fact have similiar goals and values. C'mon now--there's bigger enemies to fight.

And I really don't get any guy whose head is so far up his ass that he can't see that bulldozing women is offensive and sexist and isn't going to get you into the beds of the women whose brains are so attractive in the first place.

87 Comments:

Blogger FoolishOwl said...

Is that URL for the article right? I'm unable to reach the site. Given that the URL suggests it's about sexism in the radical left, I feel obligated to read it carefully before saying too much.

I have seen intellectual bullying and sexist behavior on the part of leftists who should have known better. On the other hand, I think it's *extremely* important that people argue hard and clearly for a political position, and many times I've seen "let's all be nice and respectful" used as an excuse to silence valid arguments.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

It works for me, but trying Feministe's link if it doesn't work.

The push to be "agreeable" is problematic, I agree (smirk), but I think that the major problem is not being agreeable but being so pig-headed that you are so sure of your own righteousness that you can't see that you are bulldozing others. I'm guilty of it, true, but I think I avoid the worst of it. I do make an effort to take other people seriously unless they really do strike me as tedious idealogues.

But there are some leftists that are so full of themselves that they don't see what they are doing, and that alone is going to cause infighting and it's very tiring. I mean, I was reading something today that briefly referenced Jello Biafra getting the shit beat out of him, which is why I brought it up, and suffice it to say, you have to be really out of your mind to do something like that. I live in Texas and so I have no experience with men who echo pseudo-feminist sentiments to hit on girls, so I've been spared that. I have no idea how to feel about that, but I'm leaning towards being grateful that our sexists are pretty in your face about it.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

I tried the link on the sidebar, and that didn't work, either. It may be my "bargain" ISP at work again.

Anyway, your past arguments don't strike me as coming from the "let's all be nice" contingent. Some of my less pleasant experiences when I started out as a socialist activist were with coalition meetings and the like in which, when arguments broke out, people would clamp down upon them with faux-feminist arguments like, "I think there's too much masculine energy in the room." It's faux-feminist because it implies that women don't, and shouldn't, argue strongly for a point of view.

Of course, argument and debate is supposed to be an interaction, but lots of people are in love with the sound of their own voice. It seems like the socialist group I'm part of spends almost as much time teaching people when to shut up and listen as it does teaching people to stand up and speak. And failing to shut up seems to be much, much more common among men.

I've also seen a number of occasions when we've had to kick men out of the group for sexist behavior. I can't remember ever having to kick someone out for racist behavior.

It's not so much men being pseudo-feminist as a gambit to hit on women, from what I've seen, as men who think that declaring themselves radical leftists absolves them of all responsibility for their behavior, and who think that associating themselves with the left gives them some sort of right to hit on any women associated with the left.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Pseudo-Adrienne said...

I hate that stereotype that feminist-women only want submissive, docile, and meek male-partners, just as much as I hate the 'men want weak and submissive girlfriends' stereotype. No one should dominate a relationship. Both partners will realize a happier and loving relationship if they work together equally to sustain the relationship.

As for male intimidation via intellectual bullying; yeah, sometimes I hear, "women are too emotionally hysterical and irrational to have an intelligent opinion about anything," bullshit. Like I said...BULLSHIT!! I have encountered men who try to bully women into denouncing their own opinions and take on the opinions of their men. Thankfully, these men have been few in my life and I'm pretty sure that these kinds of bullying men are few in general....at least I hope so.

I won't renounce my opinions and views for anyone, but at the same time, I don't, nor will I ever ask my future male-partner to renounce his opinions and views.
People within a relationship need to realize that sometimes you won't always agree on everything, and you have to accept and respect that. Peacefully agree to disagree, and forget about your damn ego. Or else, ruin your relationship due to infighting and butting heads.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

Okay, I got the link to work. I agree -- that guy was a pig.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Yeah, I have no desire to be nice, which gets me in trouble, because people in a sexist society tend to rate me as abrasive or angry when the same words coming from a man would be taken in good humor. But we're all the same page, so let me yell an "Amen!" here. I tend to run in DIY circles where there is a lot of innovation but no internal control, so gross sexists like this guy get in. The good news is that a committment to not censoring means that women have an opportunity to speak back, and more often than not, they win the last word out of sheer reality.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger heydt said...

I'm gonna try to make a couple points here, which may manage to be relevent, and if I'm lucky, may manage to come together at the end.

I actually am a pretty meek and submissive boy. But I talk alot. Alot alot. And when I get into a discussion (intellectual or not) I get excited, and fired up, and often refuse to back down from my position. And I've had arguments (with men and women) where I came away really happy and pumped because I just had a really fun argument, and I found out later that the other person thought I was being a jerk (and I may well have been.)

I have an aquaintance who, while polite to me, believes sincerely that I am a misogynist. She might be right, I hope she isn't. Her reason for thinking this is that the first time she ever met me, I was at a party where I knew exactly 2 people... both guys, and one of them certainly something of a neanderthal. I was pretty damn shy, and only really talked to those two guys all evening, and not to any of the women that were there. She is definately one of those people who, having formed a first impression cannot change it for any reason. So it's sort of a joke with our mutual friends that I'm this horrid misogynist. (I learned about all this, by the way, through these friends... she's never said to me that she feels this way, so there may be some exaggeration through third parties.)

Some time after meeting her for the first time, I had gotten together with a girl who was a proffesional dominatrix, and a naturally very dominant woman. But she's even more shy than I am with new people, so at the event where this acquaintance met my (then) girlfriend I talked a whole heck of a lot (which is my want, when I'm not a wallflower) and my s.o. said hardly a peep. The acquaintance, I later learned, was horrified at my behavior; I hadn't let her say anything all evening.

Where am I going with this? Well, sometimes a boy is misunderstood, sometimes while well meaning he still makes mistakes (especially if young), sometimes he gets carried away and forgets things he should know... and I've been blessed all my life by being around women (and men) who would correct me when I said something terrible and I would try to learn from the experience. This guy, tho...

Well, assuming (quite reasonably) your friend's relation of the conversation is at all accurate, and by this guy's responses I say I can do so... nah, he's a jerk. We can all hope he learns from the experience, and learns why the things he said and did were problematic, but (again from his responses) I fear he will not...

1/17/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Completely understood. I too run over people totally on accident. But I definitely think this is one of those situations, in part because I doubt Lauren would lie, but mostly because I read his rebuttals and they were pretty typical--while trying to shed the sexist label, he spewed sexism, even at one point saying that he pretended to care for her sake.

I can tell the difference between harmless blowhard stuff and sexism. Usually, it's easy to tell by watching the blowhard (like myself) choose who gets to interrupt. I let women, men, dogs and cats interrupt me. Some men are particular--only men get to interrupt.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger heydt said...

Whew, I'm glad I was clear... conversing in this format always makes me extra worried I've said something stupid that I won't be able to revoke, it will sit there in text for ever, damning me.

Frankly, when I get started, the only people who can get a word in edgewise are the people who do interrupt me, aggressively. A serious failing on my part. And often their interruption causes me to interrupt with a tangent that has little to do with their point, and likely nothing to do with my original train of thought.

Sigh.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger mythago said...

What I don't get and will never get is why some bullying types think that their behavior is so damn sexy.They don't think their behavior is sexy. They don't care what *you* think of them--your opinion is not relevant. What's going on is that you've stood up to their bulldozing, therefore you are an exciting *challenge.* Guys like that get all hot at the idea of a woman who they have to work to put in her place.

1/17/2005

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

I understand what Heydt means. I don't think of myself as aggressive or domineering, but I do talk over people -- particularly women. I've had to catch myself doing that now and again, and a few times, others have cut me off and told me what I was doing.

Just because I know I'm in a sexist society, and mean to oppose sexism, doesn't mean I'm magically cured of the taint. It takes some effort.

What most disgusted me about the scenario at the party described was that no one apologized, or seemed to consider that, if a newcomer thought they were being sexist, that they might be doing something wrong. It's possible that an accusation of sexism might be unfair, but there's no hint that "Shane," or any of the others, even considered the possibility that they'd erred. It suggests that they really don't care enough to take fighting oppression *seriously*.

1/18/2005

 
Blogger Critical Mess said...

Does it ever work? Mixed results, at best. Unfortunately, I know this because as a young graduate student I sadly resembled the obnoxious, overbearing boys you've described. I liked to think of myself as a passionate, committed intellectual, and foolishly believed that this excused my proclivity for dominating discussions and turning casual conversations into heated arguments. I'd like to think I've outgrown these tendencies, but the truth is that it's hard to shake such ingrained patterns of behavior. That's the first point I want to make: male aggression (whether physical or intellectual) is rewarded and reinforced in our culture. I was praised by professors, male and female alike, received fellowships and accolades, and quickly rose above my peers in the estimation of the faculty. And yes, on more than one occasion, this academic machismo got me laid. Talk about positive reinforcement!
That's the second point: all of this blustering concealed a huge amount of self-doubt. I craved approval, and when I realized that this sort of behavior racked it up by the truckload, I thought for sure I'd found my calling. But at the heart of my intellectual bravado was a deep-seated insecurity. Now, when I encounter men who mirror my former self, I want to put my arm around their shoulders and tell them, "It's OK. I know you're scared, but letting your guard down and walking with humility is really the only way you'll make the human connections that cause the fear to subside." I don't, but I want to.
I guess all I'm really saying is that there may be more at work here than stereotypical masculine desires for domination over women, or preening, overconfident male egos. I think it's far more likely that you're witnessing the embarrassing behavior of someone who just doesn't know how to live outside of the gender identities our culture ascribes. Then again, maybe he's just an asshole.

1/18/2005

 
Blogger Critical Mess said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/18/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He defends himself in the comments section, but I am only more convinced of her side of the story because of what he says. Read it and see.)I don't even think you need to read what he says: everything she says is confirmed by the fact that he posts four seperate and sequential comments all arguing that he isn't a bulldozer! He's not a bully! He WASN'T BEING INTIMINDATING, OKAY??I'd be much more conviced of the dude's willingness to listen respectfully to others if he had, you know, listened respectfully. Or even shut up long enough to let someone, anyone, speak.

Happily, though, this type is the flesh-and-blood version of a troll; if ignored for long enough they eventually go away, and they're rarely found anyplace where they might be expected to do any actual work. It also helps to know that they go away all by themselves once you get old and wrinkly, since they only find it exciting to intellectually dominate fresh-faced young things. This is one of the blessings of age.

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Lighten Up : Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious.

Night of Passion : Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.

Cuddle Time : When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday existence.

Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

I Forgive You : If something has happened in your relationship causing the trust to waiver, you will have many things to work through.

Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

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1/08/2006

 
Blogger Lina said...


easy weight loss 101 Ways to Get In Better Shape and Stay That Way.

Therapeutic Massage : You might be thinking what does getting a massage do for my health other than to make me feel good.

Eliminate Stress : Stress is a key contributor to poor health.

Young at Heart : Regardless of your age, if you start acting too old, you will actually not benefit yourself at all.

Body Fat : When you think about losing weight, more importantly than weight is the amount of fat you are carrying around.

Do Not Forget the Teeth : Often the care of teeth and gums is overlooked as potential health risks.

Be Careful with the Sun : Everyone loves basking in the warm sun, especially if it is lying on a beautiful sandy beach.

Give your Eyes a Rest : Most jobs in today's society require the use of a computer.

Breast Exams : Make sure you conduct regular breast examines.

Make Time for Intimacy : If you are married, be sure to make time for intimacy in your relationship.

Puffy Eyes : If you battle with puffy eyes or dark circles that make you look worn out, do not feel alone.

FITNESS : Fitness is just as important as health, and in reality, fitness correlates directly with our health.

Squats : Squats are excellent for glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Get to the Gym : Working out at home is a good option and for some people

Get Ready to Run : Before any workout, always warm up.

Resistance : The next time you work out try adding some resistance to your routine.

Be Realistic : It would be great to be able to jump right into a hard workout, feel great, and see instant results.

Bowling : Get some exercise by joining a bowling league.

Fitness and Food : Certain foods provide specific benefits for people who workout.

Diabetes and Exercise : Aerobic exercise can actually be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Check your Pulse : As you exercise, it is to your advantage to keep track of your pulse rate.

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1/08/2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


relationship dating 101 Ways to Build Happy, Lasting Relationships.

Multilingual : English - Chinese Simplified - Chinese Traditional - Dutch - French - German - Greek - Italian - Japanese - Korean - Portuguese - Russian - Spanish

Start Over : When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting.

Lighten Up : Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious.

Night of Passion : Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy.

Cuddle Time : When couples first start dating, cuddling is usually a part of their everyday existence.

Make the Women Feel Good : Just like men, woman love feeling good about themselves.

Showing Love : Although hearing the words, I love you is special and important.

Realistic Expectations : No matter how wonderful and flawless your mate seems, no one is perfect.

Go on a Date : Especially for married couples, but even for some dating couples, start dating.

Control Your Anger : Every relationship has difficulties, and sometimes, there can be some intense arguments.

I Forgive You : If something has happened in your relationship causing the trust to waiver, you will have many things to work through.

Day at the Movies : Have a movie marathon some rainy or cold Saturday.

Dinner by the Fire : Order in some of your favorite food, open a bottle of fine wine, light some candles.

A Day at the Spa : Show your appreciation for the hard work that takes.

Keep in Touch : It is important that you keep in touch with each other often.

Motivate Each Other : Find a mutual incentive that will motivate both of you.

Adore your Mate : Appreciate and love them for the person they are.

Make Eye Contact : Think back to the first time you saw your now mate.

Respect Privacy : When two people come together in a relationship, each person has their own set of history.

Be Flexible : There will be times when your mate is right and times when you are right.

Encourage Friendships : Men, unlike women, have a more difficult time in developing close friendships with other men.

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1/09/2006

 
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1/09/2006

 
Anonymous Lina said...


la weight loss 101 Ways to Get In Better Shape and Stay That Way.

Therapeutic Massage : You might be thinking what does getting a massage do for my health other than to make me feel good.

Eliminate Stress : Stress is a key contributor to poor health.

Young at Heart : Regardless of your age, if you start acting too old, you will actually not benefit yourself at all.

Body Fat : When you think about losing weight, more importantly than weight is the amount of fat you are carrying around.

Do Not Forget the Teeth : Often the care of teeth and gums is overlooked as potential health risks.

Be Careful with the Sun : Everyone loves basking in the warm sun, especially if it is lying on a beautiful sandy beach.

Give your Eyes a Rest : Most jobs in today's society require the use of a computer.

Breast Exams : Make sure you conduct regular breast examines.

Make Time for Intimacy : If you are married, be sure to make time for intimacy in your relationship.

Puffy Eyes : If you battle with puffy eyes or dark circles that make you look worn out, do not feel alone.

FITNESS : Fitness is just as important as health, and in reality, fitness correlates directly with our health.

Squats : Squats are excellent for glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Get to the Gym : Working out at home is a good option and for some people

Get Ready to Run : Before any workout, always warm up.

Resistance : The next time you work out try adding some resistance to your routine.

Be Realistic : It would be great to be able to jump right into a hard workout, feel great, and see instant results.

Bowling : Get some exercise by joining a bowling league.

Fitness and Food : Certain foods provide specific benefits for people who workout.

Diabetes and Exercise : Aerobic exercise can actually be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Check your Pulse : As you exercise, it is to your advantage to keep track of your pulse rate.

la weight loss

1/11/2006

 
Blogger Lina said...


weight loss tip 101 Ways to Get In Better Shape and Stay That Way.

Therapeutic Massage : You might be thinking what does getting a massage do for my health other than to make me feel good.

Eliminate Stress : Stress is a key contributor to poor health.

Young at Heart : Regardless of your age, if you start acting too old, you will actually not benefit yourself at all.

Body Fat : When you think about losing weight, more importantly than weight is the amount of fat you are carrying around.

Do Not Forget the Teeth : Often the care of teeth and gums is overlooked as potential health risks.

Be Careful with the Sun : Everyone loves basking in the warm sun, especially if it is lying on a beautiful sandy beach.

Give your Eyes a Rest : Most jobs in today's society require the use of a computer.

Breast Exams : Make sure you conduct regular breast examines.

Make Time for Intimacy : If you are married, be sure to make time for intimacy in your relationship.

Puffy Eyes : If you battle with puffy eyes or dark circles that make you look worn out, do not feel alone.

FITNESS : Fitness is just as important as health, and in reality, fitness correlates directly with our health.

Squats : Squats are excellent for glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Get to the Gym : Working out at home is a good option and for some people

Get Ready to Run : Before any workout, always warm up.

Resistance : The next time you work out try adding some resistance to your routine.

Be Realistic : It would be great to be able to jump right into a hard workout, feel great, and see instant results.

Bowling : Get some exercise by joining a bowling league.

Fitness and Food : Certain foods provide specific benefits for people who workout.

Diabetes and Exercise : Aerobic exercise can actually be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Check your Pulse : As you exercise, it is to your advantage to keep track of your pulse rate.

weight loss tip

1/15/2006

 
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Blogger Lina said...


weight loss surgery 101 Ways to Get In Better Shape and Stay That Way.

Therapeutic Massage : You might be thinking what does getting a massage do for my health other than to make me feel good.

Eliminate Stress : Stress is a key contributor to poor health.

Young at Heart : Regardless of your age, if you start acting too old, you will actually not benefit yourself at all.

Body Fat : When you think about losing weight, more importantly than weight is the amount of fat you are carrying around.

Do Not Forget the Teeth : Often the care of teeth and gums is overlooked as potential health risks.

Be Careful with the Sun : Everyone loves basking in the warm sun, especially if it is lying on a beautiful sandy beach.

Give your Eyes a Rest : Most jobs in today's society require the use of a computer.

Breast Exams : Make sure you conduct regular breast examines.

Make Time for Intimacy : If you are married, be sure to make time for intimacy in your relationship.

Puffy Eyes : If you battle with puffy eyes or dark circles that make you look worn out, do not feel alone.

FITNESS : Fitness is just as important as health, and in reality, fitness correlates directly with our health.

Squats : Squats are excellent for glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

Get to the Gym : Working out at home is a good option and for some people

Get Ready to Run : Before any workout, always warm up.

Resistance : The next time you work out try adding some resistance to your routine.

Be Realistic : It would be great to be able to jump right into a hard workout, feel great, and see instant results.

Bowling : Get some exercise by joining a bowling league.

Fitness and Food : Certain foods provide specific benefits for people who workout.

Diabetes and Exercise : Aerobic exercise can actually be beneficial for people with diabetes.

Check your Pulse : As you exercise, it is to your advantage to keep track of your pulse rate.

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