NOTE: This article was originally published at In Mala Fide on May 16, 2012, then republished at Gucci Little Piggy on June 23. I’m re-posting it here as the site is now defunct.
On my article “The Problem with the Men’s Rights Movement” two weeks ago, I left this insult for a commenter who responded to my post by torching a bunch of strawmen:
Awww, did baby make a poo-poo? You want a fresh diaper and some milk?
He came back at me with this:
Do you think female shaming language works with me? Nice try. Try using your brain next time.
Ah, “shaming language.” Now there’s a phrase that’s been bandied about to the point of meaninglessness. What is shaming language? Here’s a good definition:
“Shaming tactics.” This phrase is familiar to many Men’s Rights Activists. It conjures up the histrionic behavior of female detractors who refuse to argue their points with logic. Yet women are not the only ones guilty of using shaming tactics against men. Male gynocentrists use them, too.
Shaming tactics are emotional devices meant to play on a man’s insecurities and shut down debate. They are meant to elicit sympathy for women and to demonize men who ask hard questions. Most, if not all, shaming tactics are basically ad homimem attacks.
“Shaming language” or “shaming tactics” is to MRA blogs what “trigger warnings” are to feminist ones; you can’t go ten seconds without it being shoved in your face. And I’m really sick of hearing about them. Identifying shaming tactics once served as a noble purpose; shooting down feminist debate fallacies. Now, a growing percentage of “MRAs” use the Catalogue to deflect any criticism of their behavior.
It’s like a little kid who taunts and insults other kids, then runs and hides behind his mom’s skirt when they get mad. “Mommy, they’re gonna hit me!”
A certain amount of shaming is necessary for society to function. Just because feminists and traditionalists abuse shaming in their attempts to manipulate men doesn’t mean that all shaming is bad. The three fundamental questions you have to ask yourself when you’re getting shamed are:
- Is my behavior actually shameful?
- Does the shamer stand to gain in some way from successfully shaming me?
- Is the shamer justified in wanting those gains?
For example, male-dominated groups (or “gangs,” as Jack Donovan might call them) like sports teams are notorious for shaming their underperforming members. I wasn’t an athletic kid, but I know how football teams and the like work; if you aren’t playing up to speed, your comrades and your coach will berate you and attack your masculinity, maybe call you a pussy. The same thing happens in the military. The emotionally fragile react to such japes by getting defensive: “Stop making fun of me!”
But why should they? It’s a cliche, but it’s the truth: a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Your teammates aren’t shaming you because they’re cruel assholes, they’re shaming you because they need you to pull it together. If you’re on a football team and consistently fumble the ball, you could end up losing the game for your team. If you’re in an Army platoon and you screw up, you could end up getting your comrades wounded or killed by the enemy. Therefore, in these contexts, shaming isn’t just a good thing, it’s necessary to keep the group together and ensure it accomplishes its goals.
Plenty of writers have made the observation that MRAs are identical to feminists, only with the sexes swapped. Unfortunately, when you look at how both groups react to shaming, you see a lot of similarities. Feminists love to campaign against social shaming that disadvantages women in any way, whether it’s fat-shaming, slut-shaming or prude-shaming. “Fat acceptance” advocates like Kate Harding have to twist and contort logic to ridiculous degrees so they can keep denying the truth that yes, being overweight is bad for your health, your social life, and your state of mind.
We shame fat people for justifiable reasons: they’re disgusting to look at, unpleasant to be around and hurting their loved ones by being cavalier about their health. We shame slutty girls (well, not me; I personally love sluts) because they’re generally dirty, impulsive and incapable of fidelity. Feminists hate shaming because it presupposes judgement, something we’re absolutely positively not supposed to do. No matter how stupid, offensive or flat-out repulsive someone is, we’re constantly told that we can’t “judge” them (unless they’re white, Christian and/or a conservative, then it’s weapons free).
That’s the cry of the liberal, the feminist and the MRA: “Don’t judge me!”
Don’t judge me… even if I weigh 400 pounds.
Don’t judge me… even if I live in my parents’ basement.
Don’t judge me… even if I’m a 30-year old virgin.
Don’t judge me… even if I’m a creepy weirdo.
They can’t play the game, so they want to throw out the rulebook, fuming like Eric Cartman when they don’t get their way.
Just to clarify again for the slow: I am not some Bill Bennett-type trying to shame men into “manning up” and marrying when the deck is stacked against them. There is good shaming and there is bad shaming. If you’re being shamed, take a step back and ask yourself whether you deserve it. If not, tell the shamer to go fuck themselves. If yes, stop behaving shamefully. You’re not doing anyone a favor, least of all yourself, when you persist in being a loser.
And if you talk like a woman, don’t get pissy when I treat you like one.
Read Next: Of SlutWalks and Double Standards