Continued from last post . . . It took me a while to understand all the implications of systematic causation’s reality. I’m saying this as a person who wrote, and will release through a major non-fiction publisher, a book of ecological philosophy.* Systematic causation is simply difficult to understand.
* Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity, available from an online bookseller with a major global forest’s name sometime this August.
We’re accustomed to actions being generated from intentions, from personalities and acts of will. This is the conception of action that descended from Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. When I was working on my doctorate, I encountered the field of action theory, which centred on a very human model of what it was ‘to act.’ How could such a profoundly human thing like a framework to marginalize and oppress the already vulnerable not be intentional?
|Anger is powerful and cleansing when you let just enough
of it through you. But it can easily cross its point of
This failure to understand how the genesis of actions could be anything other than the individual’s will is the dynamic of thinking that provokes hatred in regard to feminism. Feminist hatred, done correctly as Laurie Penny does, is a rage toward particular men who embody the sexist norms that permeate so much of our society, and the forces and concepts that twist us all into patriarchal shapes.
A man who harms women deserves anger from two justifications. 1) He harms women through his aggression in violence. 2) He harms women through his idiocy as he acts uncritically, with no attempt to develop real empathy or knowledge of how uncomfortable or frightened women become around him.
Such a man – the idiot – can become violent towards women if he becomes convinced that the reason women turn from him is not his own way of carrying himself, but in the corruption of women themselves as a species. Because this is their essential and definitive message, this is why I hate Men’s Rights Activist groups. They interpret their mistakes as her evil.
I’ve been such an idiot before, so self-absorbed and unable to conceive that he might make a mistake with someone, that he leaves only a wasteland where there were once happy memories of old friends.
Yeah, this sure turned into that kind of post.
If a Men’s Rights Activist group found me at one of my most vulnerable moments, I don’t know what I might have become. I won’t say they definitely would have ensnared me, but I can’t say for sure they wouldn’t have. But instead, at a time when I felt lowest, I actually found love.
That’s why I almost cried when I read Penny’s second chapter of Unspeakable Things, “Lost Boys.” It’s the chapter that showed me how deeply and perfectly Penny understood systemic causation, the processes that shape human action and society that are beyond all our conscious intentions. This is a feminist perspective that not only understands when to be angry, but also when not to be angry, when a woman must be compassionate.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate.
|You know what they say about small minds . . .
Once, I put my foot in my mouth on Facebook talking about trans activism before I really knew much of anything about trans activism. I was subject to an enormous pile-on from friends of mine who did know slightly more about trans activism,** but who spent all night yelling at me on that thread, treating my every attempted apology as a fresh provocation.
** I’ve since learned from another friend who knows a whole lot more about trans activism than anyone else I know that my question actually hit on a subtle ideological schism in the trans activist community about advocacy methods. I still sounded pretty douchey when I first asked the question, though.
When one of my now-former right-wing friends read through this exchange, he used it as an opportunity to show me the true colours of feminism, the left in general. They were only interested in taking my dignity from me, forcing me to live subject to constant abuse or fear of violence. The left would take my freedom away, he said.
Of course, that’s just what a privileged person would say at the prospect of losing their privilege: they’re going to throw on me the oppression and violence I’ve been throwing on them for centuries. He didn’t say this explicitly, obviously, but his basic message was that feminism’s goal was women treating men as men have historically treated women. It was a movement to punish, a vengeful attitude.
Until you read Penny talk about how boys and men are twisted by patriarchal social norms and frameworks of thinking until violence dominates their souls. Either we give in completely and embody all the worst possible sexist traits a man can have, or at least most of them. Or we resist, simply because violence isn’t in that individual’s soul to the same intensity as a proud date rapist, and are tortured by social pressure to dominate despite our individual nature.
This is how you understand systemic causation, the power of a presumption into which you’re socialized from birth. If the teenage girl driven to anorexia and suicide by constant sexual violence and bullying is a victim of patriarchy, then so is a Men’s Rights Activist or the most aggressive #Gamergater.
Perpetrators of violence whose roots are in systemic causation are victims too, twisted by forces more powerful than they are into demons. And they don’t even know enough of this force to perceive it as it mutates them. Punishment and revenge miss the true cause of destruction. Only healing and educating can fight a systemic cause. . . To be Continued.