Monday, February 11, 2013

Disagreement ≠ Sexism

When researching for my posts about the Shermer vs. Benson debate I have found a common problematic thread running through the arguments that I want to discuss. That issue is this: just because I disagree with you does not mean I am sexist. If you respond to my disagreement by calling me sexist you derail the conversation and I can no longer say anything (and no longer take you seriously).

Before I go further I want to show you an example of what I am talking about. As context, Ophelia Benson has responded to accusations that she lied in her original article on "It's a guy thing" here in this blogpost. In the comments one poster pointed out that Benson had made factually unsupported allegations against Shermer and that Shermer responded with clarifications.

The problem is, that a later poster (comment #26) decided to take this comment that didn't contain sexism and then make it sexist by adding her own words thereby implicitly accusing the original poster of sexism (the additions are in italics):

Ophelia made a factually unsupported allegation against Michael – because she’s a girl.

Michael, quite reasonably, responded to this with clarification, well-supported refutation and a clear explanation of the broader problems of which he considers this symptomatic – because he’s a boy.

/fixed for you.
…and you know, when defending the indefensible, you coild least try using less flowery, long winded and turgid explanation and just get straight to the point, lol.
Let me start by saying, please, don't do this!

This type of argument makes it impossible to debate these issues because any time a man disagrees with a woman people can simply say "oh he just doesn't agree because he's sexist." So instead of saying we disagree because we're sexist, tell us why we are wrong. Then, if we do say something that is actually sexist, tell us! Just, don't accuse us of being sexist merely because we disagree.

Otherwise, how can a man ever hope to enter a debate when faced with this sort of attitude. It suddenly feels like an us vs. them world. We are stuck listening, and when we see problems with an argument we aren't allowed to say anything because we are told criticizing a woman is the equivalent to saying women aren't as smart as men. Trust me, were not saying this. I'll I ask is that you wait until someone explicitly says that to accuse them of it.

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