May 22, 2015

Better a millstone ...

It seems that a self-righteous pack of libelous discrimination advocates are in fact sex criminals. But that snarky sentence doesn't really capture the horror of the thing.  What's worse, Josh Duggar is already being referred to as a broken hero, as if anyone who worked for the FRC was ever anything but a villain.

Let us speak plainly.

Josh Duggar was evil through and through; the only thing that we found out today was that he was evil in one more way--and what a way!--than we thought. He's vile "moralist" known primarily for lying about gay people in order to deny them rights, and now we find out he's a sex criminal to boot.

Josh Duggar's entire life was premised around being better than gays (he worked for the FRC fer chrissakes!), and now that he's fallen we find Christianity teaching us that we're no better than him? This is a vile, anti-human preachment.

This article, like Josh's "statement", displays zero--ZERO--empathy for his victims, either of his political stances or of his unpardonable crimes, instead spending its moral energy equating doubting God and consensual sex with murder. The utter warping of the moral compass displayed not only by this family but by their defenders and commentators should be sufficient in itself, apart from any other evidence, to convince one absolutely that Christianity is a festering malignancy on the soul of humanity that it is the duty of all those who seek the good to excise.

There is no hell hot enough, nor eternity long enough, for those who do this to children, and for those who cover for them. Child molestation, and aiding and abetting it, is the vilest act that anyone can commit, and the juxtaposition with their stuck-up moralizing is galling beyond what mortal tongues can convey.

These are deeply evil people and I'm truly sorry that the consequences of their evil will not be more dire--for them. For their victims, of course, it is already quite dire enough.

Apr 3, 2015

The Church of Harvey Fierstein

I'm a bit late to the pile-on, but this is too awesome not to share.

Plus ... it's not really hypothetical.  I have personally been in that exact situation (well, a close analog anyway).

Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria have long denied Evangelicals many basic rights and privileges on the basis of their religious convictions.  Seen it myself.

Then I got back to the States and--whoops!--the only difference between the godly remnant Evangelicals and the oppressive 'form-of-religion-but-denying-the-power-thereof' Orthodox was the extent and geographic distribution of their worldly power.  Seeing my people doing to others what I had labelled persecution when done to us was a shock not easily recovered from, but one which would do a world of good to a very great number of people.

And which, let us add, I should dearly love to personally administer.

Feb 13, 2015

Chapel Hill

On Tuesday this week, an atheist gunned down three Muslims in Chapel Hill.

Apparently I must begin by saying that I disapprove of murder; I would go so far as to say that I disapprove of nearly all violence, with about the only exception being in defense against the violent.  This was a despicable act.

But let us note, in passing, the rank hypocrisy of a society in which three Muslims can go on a mass-murder spree in France while screaming vengeance for the prophet and a veritable tidal wave of commentary will deny any connection to religion, but if just one of a depressingly long list of 'Murkan parking disputes gone bad features an atheist as a perpetrator, then it's crisis time for the entire movement.  Where is your Aslan, now?  Oh that's right, retweeting Dawkins-bashing, 'atheists have no grounds for morality'-regurgitating pablum that wanks itself silly with delight that atheism is a faith, and its adherents no more righteous than those of any other.

Go fuck yourself, Lion-boy.  On a somewhat lighter note, you also have articles like: Moderate atheists claim anti-theist Chapel Hill killer took The God Delusion ‘out of context.  Which ... I do think this is funny, but there's two key differences: 1) atheists, moderate or otherwise, don't revere 'The God Delusion' as a Holy Book, and 2) 'The God Delusion' doesn't actually say to go kill the believers. Contrast the believers who really do revere a Holy Book, which really does say all the nasty things that their extremists get off on.

The reaction in the atheist community has been a bit mixed; you've got the aforementioned, 'People shooting people over parking spots is totally a thing (U!S!A!  U!S!A!), what on earth can you extrapolate from the minor statistical anomaly of both perpetrator and victim holding opposed minority viewpoints on religion?'  On the other end, you've got Heina relating her experience as a Muslim/ex-Muslim having to disavow terrorist attacks to her own similarities with Hicks and PZ advising us to own it, reiterating his familiar point that atheist must go beyond disbelief in one particular truth-claim

Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, was Hemant's reaction, which I might summarize as 'Yeah, this isn't our fault, but since he was one of ours we need to nut up, condemn violence, and stand in solidarity with a grieving community.'

As for myself, my first instinct is the vociferous denial that this had aught to do with me; my second instinct is to mistrust the first--reflexive defense of tribe and self against any criticism removes the corrective mechanism for actual errors.  I accept that a healthy contempt and criticism of bad ideas can bleed over into animus towards and dehumanization of those that hold them.  If this contributed to Hick's actions, then that is deeply regrettable.  But on current evidence, the incident looks like the power to take a life corrupted an ammosexual who was only incidentally atheistic.  We all have moments where we get so mad we can't see straight.  The difference between the "normals" and the gun-fondlers is that the latter are vastly more likely to be in possession of human killing devices when that occurs.

This verdict is defeasible by further evidence.  For now, though, I condemn this senseless and despicable act, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims.

Feb 4, 2015

The Thousand Natural Shocks That Movements Are Heir To

It’s long been known that “an identity is something only women or African-Americans or perhaps LGBT people have. White men just have ideas about politics that spring from a realm of pure reason, with concerns that are by definition universal.”  Sadly, I have failed my fellow white men, and my ideas about this thing I’ve been talking about--political correctness, language policing, the idea and abuse of limiting expression so as not to cause offense--still bear the stamp of their lowly origin.

I touched on this last time, but to put the thing succinctly, if I took kindly to people martyring the weak to justify their strictures on my pleasures and free expression, I’d have stayed a Southern Baptist.

So I’m biased.  I’ve watched a collective in-group bend over, spread wide its hairy asscheeks, and devour its own head in a Cartman-esque inversion of an ouroboros.  I’ve seen Grand Loyalty Oath Crusades play out in real time.  Maybe that makes me twitchy, jumping at shadows and reimagining the cannibalistic terrors of the Rankinid Inquisition in every mild critique.  But maybe living through that shit taught me to recognize its nascent form in other contexts.

Let’s never imagine I’m against the goals of the Left.  Quite the contrary, it does the soul good to challenge and upend unjust power structures, to restore dignity to victims, to end discrimination and the casual bigotry embedded in language and humor.  But the movement that does these things is still a movement, susceptible to the thousand natural shocks that movements are heir to.  Intent isn’t any more magical for tribes than for individuals.  I work for a major humanitarian organization, and I assure you that righteous goals are no inoculation against the everyday headaches and inefficiencies of any large institution.  Social movements are no different.

Every principle will bend back round and up its own ass if you take it far enough--every movement can go overboard, and I want us to remember that.  The LGBTQAIPS acronym slipped into self-parody somewhere between the sixth letter and the ninth, and I want us to acknowledge that.  I want us to shoot for the balance point of justice, and not for the far end of the scales to balance out the injustice on the other side.  I want us to remember that any set of norms or rules runs the danger of becoming more about the rules themselves than about the goals they sought to achieve, no matter how noble those goals are.  I want us to regard ostentatious virtue as automatically suspect, if not actually unvirtuous.  I want us to think long and hard about any attempt to police tribal boundaries (especially by excommunication), because such attempts are all too often a pretext for advancing one’s own tribal position.  I want us to have the common sense to recall that people being people, they will--consciously or not--tweak, bend, short-circuit, and otherwise game any system of rewards and punishments, no matter what behavior it actually meant to encourage.

So that’s what’s wrong, and that’s what I want, and that’s what Chait ought to have written, if he had had a more compelling insight into the problem and more useful life experiences with which to analogize.  Exceptions abound, and there’s no clear line or any method other than to be intelligent.  I wish I had a more satisfying ending than “Our standards of goodness lend themselves to dick-measuring, rewards-gaming, and status-seeking just as much as anyone else’s,” but since we seem to have forgotten that, it’ll have to do.

Feb 1, 2015

Chait and Savage, round 2

Revolutions devour their own.  I mentioned last time “the irresistible temptation to be holier than your peers--to lay the costliest and most splendid sacrifice on the altar of tribal allegiance.”  One of the quickest ways to do that is to pick some established figure and denounce their holiness as less splendid than your own.  Emperor, many a trve kvlt metaller informs us, sold out--and by this sign we understand that the speaker has not.  Al Mohler, claims at least one conservative commentator, has been “pandering to the homosexual lobby,” and this serves to declare that speaker would never.  The OBU professor who so gently warned us of the sexual content in a book, thundered my classmates, should have selected a book without any such content.  Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford retained too many mental cobwebs of pre-Ingsoc thought, according to those who profited by denouncing them, and so conspired with Eurasia.

Here’s where the tricky part comes in: you can criticize someone without doing this.  You can also do this with accurate criticisms.  Many people accuse their critics of this to deflect accurate criticism, and all those who do it reply that they are “just” concerned about policing the going virtue paradigm, and certainly not the pecking order and boundaries of the in-group.  There can even be a revolution that’s basically in the right, yet is still subject to this tendency.  There is no bright line.  It’s a smell test, and your mileage may vary, but I’m catching a whiff of something--perhaps in the subtle distinction between ‘inadvertently says things alleged to be bigoted’ and ‘is a bigot’.

Mileage varies at least in part by one’s own tribal affiliations.  I jump down people’s throats for repeating hackneyed apologetical slurs re: atheists, and after critical self-evaluation I don’t think I’m status-jockeying.  But I’m not nearly so prepared to recognize--or object to--a genuine slur against trans folk or bisexuals, much less to extrapolate remarks into a pattern of bigotry.  For example, he got criticized for saying: “Many adult gays and lesbians identified as bi for a few shining moments during our adolescences and coming-out processes.  … This can lead adult gays and lesbians—myself included—to doubt the professed sexual identities of bisexual teenagers. … a bi-identified 36-year-old is likelier to be bisexual than a bi-identified 16-year-old, and I resent being asked to pretend not to know it.”

To me, this is uncontroversial.  Dan himself did it.  My brother did it.  They’re hardly alone--of all the under-20’s who I ever knew to be bi, exactly 1 (of those I kept up with) still identifies as such.  He’s not even talking about actual bi people, he’s talking about the fact that a sizeable chunk of young gay people lie about being bi.  I don’t fucking get it--but then, I’m not bi, maybe this is … a thing?  Or sounds too much like a thing for comfort?  But not one of the people I’ve heard mention this has arsed themselves to explain it, they all just link to it: ‘an enlightened person such as I shouldn’t even have to explain to an enlightened person such as you what’s wrong with it--I mean, you are enlightened, aren’t you?’

So with Dan, sometimes I’m genuinely unsure what point his critics are trying to make; sometimes, he really does say quite mean things (for instance fat-shaming); sometimes … well, let’s put it this way.  If you’re going to storm out of a lecture over “the t-word slur”, does your non-trans friend then get to use “the i-slur” in front of whatever other trans-folk might be in the room without utterly demolishing your case?

Look, I realize: I’ve got a lot of baggage on this one.  Language policing was a part of my complete breakfast of emotional-bleeding-over-into-physical abuse.  I’ve been slapped for saying “dang”, and the attitudes had so thoroughly osmosed into me that I literally cried for half an hour the first time I ever said ‘crap’ in public--before I was even scolded.  Language policing is a trigger for me, and I don’t mean that as a cutesy reductio, I mean it literally--my first response to anyone who tells me what I can’t say is blind rage and a stream of profanity.  Outside the actual abuse, in the church culture I grew up with, such games were nothing more than ways to out-holy your peers.  Offense has since become an integral value to me.  As a metalhead, I listen to offensive music; as first a liberal in a conservative school and later an atheist in a religious world, my personal ideology and criticisms of majority delusion have been slammed as offensive more times than I can count--the “precious widdle fee-fees” defense invoked upon an Everest of bullshit, and never by those who could offer a coherent rejoinder.  ‘You’re not allowed to say that!’ is a contraction of “You’re right and I’m helpless to dispute it!”

And Dan, it strikes me, probably feels the same way.  The times he grew up in, and the battles he’s fought, have made him a pugnacious, self-confident fighter unapologetically asserting his own view against the sex-negative, homophobic consensus that dismissed him as offensive.  That’s what you have to be if you’re going to fight that battle.  … and that’s maybe not the bestest place from which to evaluate whether you’ve actually hurt someone you shouldn’t have.

Which brings us back to the smell test.  And the question of what exactly I want, which I’ll tackle next time.

Jan 29, 2015

I Love the Baby Jesus More than You

I grew up Southern Baptist.  I went to a Southern Baptist university.  One of the things I rebelled against--and one of the reasons that I swear so much these days--was the constant nonstop language and tone policing.  To be sure, it was wrapped up in virtue words.  It was done in the name of our weaker brothers and sisters, who we might cause to stumble.  It was done for purity, for holiness, for the Baby Fuckin' Jesus.  We even had trigger warnings--though we didn't call them that--on any literature that might cause lustful thoughts.

Here I was, a legal adult and budding metalhead who had just completed his acquisition of Suffocation’s back catalog, and here was some bunny-eyed administrator taking me gently by the hand and explaining in a worried voice about how I might want to skip certain passages of this book because my fledgling faith couldn’t handle it.

It’s fair to say I was peeved.  ‘It’s just an Orwellian method of thought-policing by controlling language, perpetuated by its memetic justifications and the irresistible temptation to be holier than your peers--to lay the costliest and most splendid sacrifice on the altar of tribal allegiance!’ I ranted.  As Joseph Heller described it:

Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.

Let’s all have a great guffaw at the silliness of the Southern Baptists, shall we?  I could use a good guffaw, and they certainly deserve it.  (Let’s also never forget that, having been indoctrinated as children in the stated justifications for this system, and having repeated them so often through the years, lots of folks have come to really believe them.)

How can I put this delicately?

Also I've been meaning to post that video.

I write all this in the shadow of Chait's piece on political correctness. I linked it, with a brief caveat, as it addressed an issue I think important, but the more I think about it, the more it strikes me as a mess. It careens back and forth between an odd history of the PC movement, mentions of execrable descents into violence and intimidation ostensibly in its name but clearly at odds with its tenets, some weird Marxist/liberal distinctions and some weirder criticisms.  Students protesting campus speakers?  Please.  Granted the very limited number of speaker slots (especially for big events like Commencement), and the fact that many speakers also command high honorariums, students are entirely within their rights to be pissed that a year's worth of tuition and a huge-ass megaphone were handed over to someone they hate.  It's not like anyone had a problem when a bunch of us UofM types protested Cantor (oh you betcha I was there--and no we didn't "interrupt" him go fuck yourself whoever wrote that headline).  While we can certainly debate who ought to make the cut and why, the idea of having a cut is one imposed by necessity, so why shouldn't students have a say?

What bugs me about the whole thing--and what Chait stubbornly refused to lay his finger on--is that any focus on public virtue runs the risk of becoming a focus on the public.  It's a terribly subtle shift from being praised for a genuine desire to do right by one's weaker brothers and sisters to ostentatious jockeying for in-group status--and policing the boundaries of the group against outsiders--via extravagant displays of self-abnegating commitment.  Surely I'm not alone in picking up the vibe?

Of course I really do believe in the stated goals of the P.C. movement--some virtue words really are virtuous.  But the dick-measuring undercurrent is unmistakably there.  Since Chait picks on UofM, and since I went there for grad school, it's fair to report that I have seen, on the campus shuttle, a t-shirt whose ginormous lettering announced that "I LOVE THE BABY JESUS MORE THAN YOU."

Lol just kidding.  It actually said "'THEY' IS MY PRONOUN."  But the message is essentially the same.

Jan 14, 2015

Talking Down to the Terrorists (Charlie Hebdo pt 1)

I had a debate a while back about whether or not atheism is a religion; my interlocutor took the side of Kent Hovind and Conservapedia in insisting that it is, and that therefore I’m religious.  Invalidating someone’s choices and narrative for cheap rhetorical points is par for the course in such discussions, and unfortunately the R-worders are at it again.  This time, they insist--in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings--that terrorism really has very little to do with religion.

Apparently to finally be acknowledged as non-religious I'd have to shoot up a building full of people in the name of religion.  I'm not quite that desperate, but I now have the dubious honor of an irritating commonality with the terrorists: liberal religionists talk down to us.  They know better than we do who we really are, and why we really do what we do.

There are a multitude of factors behind many terrorist acts--Western imperialist bullshit has long fertilized the ground in which the seeds of extremism grow.  But imperialism doesn’t just mean dropping bombs, it also means thinking that we know other people better than they do, and refusing to listen to them.  When white Christians in Ireland bombed each other for years, did well-meaning liberals take them by the hand, give a patronizing little smile, and explain why they were really fighting?  When Scott Roeder murdered George Tiller over abortion, did we hear a chorus of voices echoing, “Now, now, we all know better than that”?

Are white Christian terrorists really so much more articulate than brown Muslim terrorists?

Admittedly, the account that they give of themselves names one of my personal favorite bugbears as the culprit, which doesn’t incline me to critical reflection.  It’s axiomatic that beliefs have consequences, and that beliefs like jihad, martyrdom, and thoughtcrime will have bad consequences.  The terrorists professed such beliefs and acted upon them, and while that’s not case closed exactly, it’s the necessary opening deposition.

I realize that it’s ultimately necessary to complicate this narrative, and we might even come to disagree, albeit with a great deal of effort.  But instead of engagement we get dismissals, and the dismissals have been just that: dismissals.  Incidental dependent clauses blithely asserting the contrary with all the intellectual heft of Dick Cheney’s “greeted as liberators”.

Of course not all religion advocates terrorism.  Most of it, in fact, does not, and you’d be a fool to say otherwise.  But this curious assertion that a system of morality inculcated by childhood indoctrination, forbidding criticism and justifying itself on the arrogated word of the divine, could never go this badly awry?  Please.  That is no less foolish. I know from the painful personal experience of having marched in pro-life rallies, stridently opposed civil rights, and attempted to vote for the Shrub (and failed due to a registration mistake) just what religion can accomplish.  No thinking person should be surprised that a more virulent form--especially combined with disaffection or mental illness--could do far worse.

Nov 24, 2014

Growing Up in Missions, Memoir Project Excerpt 4: Our New Computer

When we announced our call to missions, a wealthy family in the Morristown Church gifted us our first computer: a 486 dream machine with a 33MHz clock speed, 2 megs of RAM, DOS 6.0 as the primary operating system with a bonus of the most impressive Windows 3.1. Its 200MB hard disk came preloaded with the very latest and greatest in gaming technology: a lot of Shareware, to be sure, but a complete Wolfenstein 3-D (which we deleted due to violence), and Carmen Sandiego, and Castle of the Winds, an addictive little Roguelike (which we deleted because witchcraft).

It also had Monkey Island, which also had witchcraft, but it’s a puzzle-based adventure game. We had never encountered the genre before, and at ages 5, 9, and 11 we were so bad at it that it took us well over year of intermittent playing to actually get to the witchcraft-y bits. By that time we were already in Bulgaria and Mom and Dad had stopped noticing anything that didn’t impinge on their ministry directly. Even so, it required some soul-searching. There’s a voodoo priestess who has a fortune-telling shop on the town’s main street; inside is a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle that you need to zipline over to another island where you would then touch a fearsome parrot to prove your bravery to Meathook before he would join your crew. We didn’t know all that at the time, but we had been everywhere else, and a friend finally told us that the missing piece to the puzzle was indeed in The International House of Mojo.

This was a grave moral dilemma. On the one hand, you want to beat the game. On the other, this is Voodoo—and divination! These are evil spirits we’re talking about, here. Guybrush Threepwood stood staring at that door for a long, long time as the inner struggle raged, and then—a brilliant compromise. We would go in, grab the chicken, get out as quickly as possible, pray forgiveness, and save the game. Then, on any subsequent playthroughs, we would play through right up till the spot that the plot forced you to put your immortal soul in danger, and from there just load the save on the other side.

It was decided. With hearts pounding, we began the clicking: “Open” “Door”. The interminable load … We were in! Our eyes scanned the darkened room, where pixelated skeletons lurked in the corners, illuminated only by the ghastly green light of the priestess's cauldron ...  there! “Pick Up” “Rubber Chicken with a Pulley in the Middle” “Open” “Door” … and we were out. We could breathe again. We prayed forgiveness, just in case, and immediately created the brand new save file, kept sacrosanct for any future use.

Nov 19, 2014

Google is your Friend

Oh, Reza ... why do you get under my skin so? Is it the smug confidence with which you play the reasonable, sophisticated believer talking down to me from out your ass? Is it that exact mix of well-researched points delivered in polished phrases and "the first damned link on google lists a bunch of people who said what you just claimed no one ever said"-level stupid?

Whatever the reason, here we go again:
[D]o you think that the Church fathers who in the 4th century decided to put both Matthew and Luke in the canonized New Testament didn’t bother to read them first? They didn’t notice that they have different dates for Jesus’ birth? They didn’t notice that the gospel of John absolutely contradicts the entire timeline of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? They didn’t notice that there are two completely different genealogies for Jesus in Matthew and Luke? Of course they did! They didn’t care, because at no point did they ever think that what they were reading was literally true.
Either you're lying, or you don't know the first damned thing about this question--as in, you literally did not google this. Did not type the words "genealogy of Jesus" into the internets.  Did not click on the first thing to come down the tubes.  Did not give it a quick once-over. Did not encounter the 3rd century references to Levirate marriages as a means of reconciling both genealogies as literally true. Did not discover Augustine's initial objections to the faith (4th century) on the grounds of the impossibility of it being literally true.  Did not learn of Augustine's propagation of the adoption theory for reconciling both accounts as literally true.

Literally. Did. Not. Google. This.

This is creationist-level stupid.  Demonstrably, verifiably, empirically, embarrassingly, and categorically false.  Aslan does for church history what Ken Ham does for biology: doctrinal denial of known facts, with just enough truth mixed in to make the pill go down easy.  But then, you're talking about someone who says that:
We think that truth and fact mean the same thing. Indeed, science tells us, ‘that which is true is that which can be factually verified.’ But that’s not what the ancient mind thought. They were not as interested in the facts of Jesus’ life as they were in the truth revealed by Jesus’ life. When they constructed these stories about Jesus, and I mean that quite literally, they constructed these stories. If you asked them, ‘Did this really happen?’ they wouldn’t even understand the question. What do you mean did this really happen? You’re missing the point!
Uh huh.  Perhaps if we take Aslan's statement that "at no point did they ever think that what they were reading was literally true" and ask, "Did that really happen?" then he, too, might misunderstand the question and accuse us of missing the point.  But we didn't even need to go to wikipedia to know this is horseshit: we could have just read the Bible--specifically, 1 Corinthians 15: "if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ ... if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain [and] we are of all men most miserable."

If only Reza had been around to set him right.

Nov 9, 2014

A Depressing Coda on #GamerGate

With the obvious out of the way, everyone go grab your clutching pearls, because I’m going to say something vaguely sympathetic about #GamerGate.

Well, not #GamerGate--the movement and the ideas can go to hell--but the sort of gamer that comprises it.  The thing that I’m going to say is that they’re pathetic, basement dwelling virgins.  The sympathetic part is that that’s a low kind of place to be.

These are guys that by-and-large haven’t had any female attention in years.  Most of them tried real hard at one point, failed, tried again, failed again, and at the end of the trying and the failing either gave the whole thing up in triage or else ran out of people to try with.  Without commenting on the accuracy of the impression, this is the impression.

If you tell a guy with that kind of self-image about--let's say--the damage that male notions of attractiveness are doing to women, you won’t get a good response.  It would be like explaining to some poor redneck who just lost his job, his dog, and his trailer about white privilege.  At best, you might wind up with a blank stare; more likely, you'll get an inchoate snarl about the damage that female notions of attractiveness have done to him.  Without commenting on the accuracy of the gut response, this is the gut response.

I know this because, having once had that impression, I still retain that gut response.  A friend of mine recently posted the image at right of Amanda and her hairy legs; the first damn thought in my head was, “I should totally support this, for the sake of all the girls who overlooked my departures from conventional attractiveness ... oh wait there weren't any. People who lose the genetic lottery or flout the rules aren't found attractive the end.” In the context of talking about weight loss, Andrew Sullivan linked to this article.  The gist is that a girl turned down an unattractive guy; now he's finishing law school, slimmed down, and dating someone more attractive than her. My gut reaction? The first thing that my brain contributed to the conversation?

Not the word "justice," not the thought "justice"--literally that clip. As before, I'm reporting my reaction, not defending it. But it was my reaction.

I'm not entirely sure how to fix this.  As a brain-having person and self-styled feminist I absolutely get the harm that negative, stereotyped, and objectified portrayals can do.  And I get that we should accept and value everyone no matter their gender or orientation or attractiveness.  And I've still got that raw, ex-basement-dwelling-virgin part that responds, "You first."