Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Favorite Thing!

(Spoiler alert: the subject of this post is not actually my favorite thing.)

I just discovered a blogger I find interesting; her name is Gretchen Koch* and she has a Ph. D.  in the cognitive science of religion. She mostly writes about that.

One of the things she writes about when she's not writing about the psychological underpinnings of religion and ethics, though, is feminism. A while back she wrote a pretty decent, thoughtful, well-argued post on objectification (a much-discussed topic, on which she managed the not-inconsiderable feat of adding something new).

That post drew the predictable ire from the knuckle-dragging community, but it took a really bizarre form:
After noticing a number of hits here that came from [sexist douchebag]'s blog, I returned to see that he had written a follow-up post which talked about my post. Want to guess what it said? I'll make it a multiple-choice question:
A. You know what? I am actually reading too much into this, and should go with the simplest explanation rather than making other men's attraction all about my particular ideological agenda.
B. You know what? I don't think I was given a fair shake -- there are actually differences in the appearance of feminists vs. non- or anti-feminists, and while I didn't go to much trouble to articulate these or why they should exist, that's a factor that should be taken into account here.
C. You know what? It's really weird that I didn't make a distinction between "attractive" and "attractive to me," since I can only speak for myself and since (as with everybody, whether they admit it or not) my own perception of what I consider attractive is shaped by my ideological convictions.
D. You know what? Gretchen's ugly. And probably autistic.
I'll give you a moment to think before answering. 
Done? Yeah, I didn't think it would take long. The answer is ... D!
Yes, it's my favorite rhetorical tactic in the world, Disagreeing by Diagnosing!

The argument assertion in the post she links (which I don't recommend reading, unless you've got a few dozen extra brain cells you won't miss) is that all feminists, and all male anti-feminists calling themselves "men's rights activists" (read this blog if you are unfamiliar with the genus), are autistic.

Here is normally where I would spell out what the writer is arguing, how he or she is using autism as a metaphor, and what the implications of that metaphor are, but it's not being used as a metaphor in this instance. He's just saying "all feminists are autistic," and that the only reason they are feminists is because they are so bad at social interaction that they have become completely alienated from men, and from society in general.

I was actually really conflicted about posting this, because it's a really stupid instance of Disagreeing by Diagnosing, and there isn't actually much to pick apart and criticize in it, but I've developed a collector's mentality about this fallacy, so I feel compelled to post about every instance of it that I hear about. 

The quality of the blog may suffer as a result of this compulsion, but gosh darn it, at least you'll know just how widespread this fallacy is!  

*Presumably not related to Charles and David Koch, though if she were I probably wouldn't hold it against her.


urocyon said...

Oh my. I hadn't seen that version before, but am kinda-sorta looking forward to more examples.

Sorry I haven't been able to reply to your comments yet, BTW! Have been spending a lot of time overloaded lately.

Unknown said...

Sadly, it's become outright common to hear people on the internet "Disagree by Diagnosing" (which is a very appropriate term that you've coined for the repulsive phenomenon). I recently blogged about a similar interest, albeit used as "humor";

Also overlaps with the gender problems (how much of it is them making fun of just the most extreme "bronies", and how much is just laughing at the fact that some men like something not masculine?)

Lindsay said...

Hi, NTB - I was actually considering how to respond to that post of yours! And I also remember you being the one to tell me that "autistic" was apparently now being used as a straight-up insult, a la the R word.

(I had complicated thoughts about your post, because I felt like you were a bit harsh on the bronies yourself. I think non-age-appropriate interests are A-OK, and that men crossing gender boundaries like that are brave.)

Lindsay said...

@ urocyon - don't worry about it; I respond to comments ridiculously late sometimes too, and I always figure that when another blogger does it it's because they're busy, or they're not feeling well, or they're having a Bad Language Day/Week/Month/whatever.

Unknown said...

" (I had complicated thoughts about your post, because I felt like you were a bit harsh on the bronies yourself. I think non-age-appropriate interests are A-OK, and that men crossing gender boundaries like that are brave.) "

I'm sorry if I came across too harsh. I don't have any problem with grown men watching My Little Pony, or buying the toys, or whatnot. It's the fetishistic extremes of the brony culture that bother me, the kind that does erotic material over prepubescent cartoon horses. I can't open my mind that far.

Inspector Clouseau said...

"The cognitive science of religion." Fascinating topic considering I never thought about it in that manner, but it makes sense. Nice blog work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the Nav Bar located at the top of my site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Does he not know about Heather Kuzmich? Because she's autistic and a model, so I don't know where he's getting this "all people with autism are ugly" thing.

I also don't know where he gets the idea that all feminists are ugly.

Lindsay said...

@chordatesrock - I don't know where he gets the idea that autistic people are ugly --- indeed, in her post Gretchen Koch points out that the first descriptions of autistic children make note of their uncommon beauty.

Where he gets the idea that feminists are ugly, well, that's a very common one, actually. Rush Limbaugh might've been the first to say it, when he said that feminism was invented to give ugly women access to the mainstream, back in 1987.