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When advocates accidentally spread harmful narratives.

June 19, 2021

Similar to what was discussed in a different thread, an example of the complex usage of non-conformity in allegedly more progressive spaces is the usage of fragile masculinity as an insult. It tries to use the restriction of men's human characteristics like vulnerability as well as the punishments for non-conformity like the death penalty (more on that later), bullying, violence and murder in order to ilicit the internalized fear of being "fragile". Ironically, it is used to selectively promote specifically chosen aspects of non-conformity that favor the wishes of the one who uses the term (even if some of them are absolutely reasonable wishes on their own, see veganism).

Thetinmen's post on catcalling has shown another constellation, with allegedly progressive people pointing out men's non-conformity (coward; attacking those who are alone) as an attack on non-conformity (harassing/attacking women - which is something that should absolutely not become as acceptable as it still is towards men, though it should be about the victims and not their gender), thus just openly demanding conformity by shaming non-conformity, which is a conservative concept. The target of that attack is not the behavior, it is the gender.

And if you believe men who attack women would not be non-conforming, here is a paper on a dating violence prevention program with the article being called "Coaching Boys into Men" - because apparently that is the discriminating factor between the two. And no, the fact that they were adolescent (boys to become men? - I dislike the differentiation because it has a history of being abused to shame adult non-conformers) athletes ("coaching") and the title thus intended to be a "funny pun" does not change that: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054139X12000523

Anyway, the inappropriate behavior (catcalling in this case) is called "cowardly" by thetinmen and his community, even though catcalling has nothing todo with cowardice - it (being a coward) is something men are conditioned to avoid though, so it works.

In fact, I might have understated that. To this very day, being a coward is punishable by death according to US criminal codes:

10 U.S. Code § 899 - Art. 99. Misbehavior before the enemy
Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—

(1) runs away;
(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend; [...]
(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;
(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct; [...]
(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy; [...]

shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.(https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/899)

Internationally, hundreds in war who refused to shoot, refused to obey orders to destroy others or were incapable of doing so were shot with their families being forced out of their homes, denied military pension and stigmatized for being relatives of an (alleged) coward. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/hundreds-of-soldiers-shot-for-cowardice-to-be-pardoned-412066.html

As seen in the article, even to this day people argue that not all of them might be called victims and even to this day explanations like "shell-shock" are needed to clear men's names of it.

And it is not the only time non-conformity might be punished by death:

Unfortunately, the comments echo that something about the messaging was off and attracted destructive narratives:

One of the top comments was then using quotation marks to refer to "men", as once again, it is not about the misguided and inappropriate comments of a person who needs to educate himself on how such comments are perceived and may influence the wellbeing of others rather than their conformity with what a "man" is in the eyes of others. And, of course, it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that it is perhaps not surprising that part of the people who experienced constant reinforcement of the belief that, as long as they are at the receiving end, sexual border crossings of any kind up to forcible rape are a laughing matter could eventually develop a dysfunctional relationship to such behavior. Wasn't it you who talked about "how people got there"? Being a coward surely ain't it, as we have just learned, and maybe you should abandon that term to describe men as it reinforces deadly misandristic concepts trying to rob men of their humanity.

The currently third most liked comment with over 70 likes talks about searching for the home of somone who catcalled his sister a few days prior and beating him "into a pulp". Of course, this was not called out as insane and deadly misandristic rather than semi-praised or at least tolerated (one comment said "please don't resort to violence again"). The most liked sub-comment is glorifying it and the second most liked says he (the victim of the aggrevated assault) would be ready for the second round with op answering that "he'd die" and the other one responding again that he hopes the victim reads that comment and "shits his pants". Is this the kind of audience you want your comment section to represent? - Completely mindless and irrational violence to extents that might cause lifelong suffering to a degree that most can't imagine and might, in certain ways, be impossible to prove as nobody knows what would have happend without the violence(1) (beyond the obvious physical damage) is suddenly not misandristic or at least destructive anymore - now it is apparently seen as courageous.

(1)Maybe one would have an easier time remembering things, etc., if it wasn't for the damage done by violence - of course people will just pretend that any non-obvious damage never occured or isn't connected to it and that healed, yet still existent scars in skin and bones are somehow able to fully revert damage instead of just conceal it.

Using non-conformity to shame people into conformity is not the way. Critisizing one's gender non-conformity and questioning the validity of their identity based on it is not the way. Mindless violence is definitely not the way. All of this is either misandristic in nature or usually has a serious misandristic component (violence and self-"justice"; see empathy gap, disposability, protection gap and so on) - all whilst being invalid approaches to ilicit change in others and demonstrating, in this case even to potentially non-violent people, that physical violence would be a valid way to solve issues.

I ask you to re-evaluate if these types of narratives on conformity are actually compatible with the message you want to support. All the best.

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[–]Skirt_Douglas 0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy Link

You’re taking the post out of context and fixating on meanings that aren’t even there. He is calling cat callers who only target women who are alone cowards, specially because of the “targeting women who are alone” part, it has nothing to do with non-conformity, and it definitely has nothing to do with soldiers who where executed for being deserters or whatever. Cat-calling isn’t passive, so it is not equal “failing to protect women”, it’s a proactive attempt at street harassment.

[–]DistrictAccurate[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

Thank you for your comment.

He is calling cat callers who only target women who are alone cowards, specially because of the “targeting women who are alone” part, it has nothing to do with non-conformity, and it definitely has nothing to do with soldiers who where executed for being deserters or whatever.

Like that is literally what I'm talking about. This does not change anything. In fact, I have a hard time coming up with any other way than the one you mentioned it could have been meant? Cowardice inherently mocks the exact aspects men are expected to adhere to. It is still mocking non-conformity in taking the easy route whilst fearing retribution and denying the enemy the opportunity to defend themselves in a fair fight - taking the vulnerable targets, avoiding fights and self-"justice" and whatever else doing this in different settings might spark. Look at any streetfighting videos with serious violence and the comments will do the same for cheap shots and whatever. In these cases, it is not the assault, but the nature of the assault and its contradiction to traditionally masculine norms that is attacked first. The whole concept mainly mocks irrelevant aspects expected in men for superficial reasons. Which is why the "man" way of settling stuff is a "fair" 1 on 1 with no weapons and whatnot. The first thing someone who shows up to a "meeting" with backup to protect themselves or put the other one in a position of elevated vulnerability or just doesn't come at all is attacked for is the non-conformity to masculine norms. He is considered a coward lacking in things like bravery, strength, invulnerability and honor to be a "real man". This is nothing different. You simply said it is, which is not constructive. None of that is relevant nor does it address what is so harmful about the behaviour - yet it is what the top-comments remembered and instantly applied to retract the "man" title. And if you read the whole post you would see that this was in fact understood by top-comments in relation to non-conformity. Catcalling would not be more okay if the victims were not lonely. Mocking men for "not daring to do it in front of others" or other aspects of the way it is perpetrated is still missing the point completely and still attacks conformity to social norms that are primarily expected and enforced in men. That being said, one of the comments I focused on did de-facto connect it this way and that was the main issue I called out. By the way, calling out female catcalling like this wouldn't make much sense either, even if the implied non-conformity to the smaller, non-gendered portion of that concept would be less prominent.

That being said, I don't believe that we will find a common ground regarding this, which is why this comment is more explainatory than argumentative. I doubt I can change your opinion on this. And once again, even completely ignoring the non-conformity aspect, I still believe bringing up the alleged cowardice would be a mistake. And by the way, of course one can call a woman a coward - there are no completely isolated aspects of conformity and to a certain degree there are society wide norms that are simply extended by gendered ones, as is the case for most of what makes up cowardice. It is not endorsed in women, even if it lacks the extra spice from the additional conformity gradient in men.

Cat-calling isn’t passive, so it is not equal “failing to protect women”, it’s a proactive attempt at street harassment.

Not attacking is de-facto protecting, which was why I used that phrase initially and thought would be a good way to merge these two aspects of conformity. I even explicitly said that that is how I meant it and that I was not directly talking about protection.

Thetinmen's post on catcalling has shown another constellation, with allegedly progressive people pointing out men's non-conformity (coward) as an attack on non-conformity (offending women and therefore failing to protect them), thus just openly demanding conformity by shaming non-conformity, which is a conservative concept.

If one really wants to be offended, they could claim this to portray basic human decency as a service offered by men - well, if they ignored everything else I wrote. Or that I explicitly called it "not attacking" afterwards. But still, having people believe stuff like that was obviously not my intention and it is thus in my best interest to prevent it. I will adapt that part to fit the rest of the post and prevent the above. In fact, that whole part is quite irrelevant to the post and the conformity aspect to it is, especially in the given case, far less pronounced than that of the cowardice accusation, so it might be more accurate to exclude it completely.

Both are part of current day masculine norms in more progressive spaces. Attacking a woman will get your conformity attacked, which is one of many reasons why so many men refuse to protect themselves (I don't mean self-"justice") even in cases of severe injury and afterwards tried to rationalize this irrational behaviour by reassuring themselves of their conformity to not laying their hands on a woman, as men are told regularily. As with everything, it will, at least to some degree, differ by community. I guess at times there was a distinction for IPV, though in the current day and age "wifebeater" is understood as a serious insult by basically everyone and the aformentioned cases are, to a considerable degree, IPV cases.

It is great that people have the desire to protect and not attack people, and it would be desirable to one day provide similar basic human decency to men.

I appreciate your take, though I guess we mutually disagree. But maybe you make some lurkers question the issue and think a bit more about it and that is always good. If they prefer your take, that's fine - at least they thought about a topic and may have come closer to their own personal opinion on the matter.

You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea.

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