An Angry, Angry Woman

My iPod shuffled out a soothing 20-minute mantra for my morning drive to work. As soon as I started the iPod and that song began, I kind of wondered if this was Spirit’s little gift to me on account of me having a gut full of feminist rage this morning.

I’m sure that anyone with even a peripheral awareness of U.S. news has heard the basic details of the shooting at an LA Fitness club in Collier, PA. George Sodini entered a women’s-only aerobics class at around 8 PM last night, fumbled in his duffel bag for the multiple guns in his possession, then turned out the lights and started firing. Three women were killed and ten others injured before Sodini turned the gun on himself.

The picture I’ve seen emerge from the news coverage is that Sodini was conscious in his decision to target women. He blogged about his desire to commit this sort of massacre, and he justified this desire by expressing his frustrations at being lonely and not having a girlfriend for the last 25 years.

But I’m also seeing the inevitable media slants on things. I’ve heard Sodini’s blog described as something documenting “his descent into madness” — a convenient way to try and deflect the ways that his frustration, and the ease with which he could slip from sexual/romantic frustration to a plan to exact deadly “revenge” against desirable women, are deeply ingrained within the patriarchy. By casting Sodoni as a madman, no one has to examine the deeply uncomfortable truths about how in this rape culture, most (all?) men are trained receive training to expect women’s availability, to interpret their attractiveness as purely in service to the male gaze. [Trying to clarify my intended meaning as per Bob’s comment, below.]

I am haunted and infuriated by the premeditation indicated from Sodini’s choice to attack a women’s-only class at his own gym. Is it possible that part of the rage working through him was based in this assumptive loop that why would these women be gym members except to make themselves attractive for men, and with that as their purpose, then how dare they be unavailable to him?!?

I’m too furious and incoherent to unpack it all right now, but I know deep to my core that my growth towards self-esteem is deeply entwined with body acceptance and fat acceptance. And I know that body acceptance and fat acceptance are deeply entwined with questioning patriarchal norms about attractiveness, femininity, and the male gaze.*

I was in (women’s) college back when Marc Lepine murdered 14 woman at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. There was a memorial service on campus, the usual candlelight vigil, some thoughtful hymn for everyone to sing together. And a minister who breathed the fire of feminist rage and turned over one of the hymns’ phrases into the proclamation: “We are angry, angry women!”

I’m ashamed to admit that back in 1989, I disapproved of that minister’s reaction. I thought it was inappropriate and disrespectful of the dead, that her anger took focus away from the grief and sorrow we should feel for these lives cut short by a gunman.

Today, as my stomach burns with feminist rage, I remember this minister so clearly, so vividly, so suddenly. And I offer a quiet apology up into the karmic phone network, in hopes she’ll feel touched by an extra little piece of gratitude today. Because it took me a while to understand, but I got there eventually. So now, two decades later, I’m better able to honor the example of strength and righteous indignation that she modeled for me all those years ago.

Today, as I ponder Sodini’s actions in Collier, and Lepine’s in Montreal, and all the great and small incidences of violence against women that have occurred in the 20 years between those two events, I can say without any hesitation:

I am an angry, angry woman.

* Among other topics.

—–

UPDATE: Jezebel has many insightful things to say about the misogyny in Sodini’s actions and the ways they are being culturally read. The succinct jewel of wisdom that blew me away:

Roissy’s contention that “anything is justified” to help men avoid celibacy is terrifying, but more subtly disturbing is his assumption that Sodini’s rampage was directly caused by women refusing to sleep with him. Like Sodini himself, Roissy assumes that Sodini shot up a gym because women rejected him, not that women rejected him because he was the kind of guy who would one day shoot up a gym.

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28 Responses to An Angry, Angry Woman

  1. I offer you this, which I know Holly would understand:

    “We are angry, angry women / And we are singing for our lives.”

    —————-

    What the damned fuck. Your belly full of feminist rage is right on. And mine is right there with yours.

    Thank you for sharing your honest reaction.

    You are a strong and powerful woman.

    This patriarchal bullshit has got to stop.

    Like

  2. Bob Bruhin says:

    “By casting Sodoni as a madman, no one has to examine the deeply uncomfortable truths about how in this rape culture, most (all?) men are trained to expect women’s availability, to interpret their attractiveness as purely in service to the male gaze.”

    While, in general, I agree with Stasa that your rage is right on, I really don’t have the words to express how deeply distressing I find the presumption implied by the statement I’ve quoted above.

    Like

  3. Paolo says:

    Sodini’s case has nothing to do with culture. He was ill, and what’s evident is that he didn’t lack female companionship only, but any real and sincere communication with other people. Otherwise he could have received help. What this tragedy talks about is ISOLATION and LONLINESS in our culture.

    In a certain sense you could understand well the Sodini’s case. Suppose now you’ll get to know a misoginist guy (who is doing no harm to anybody). Knowing he’s misogynist you would reverse you rage on him. Aren’t you angry ? Prolly what happened to the women Sodini met. At a certain point of his illness he gave back all the rage he received.

    Like

  4. Paolo says:

    errata corrige:
    Sodini’s casa han nothing to do with machist culture.

    Like

  5. MezzoSherri says:

    @Stasa — Thanks for the reminder about Holly Near. I honestly think that you’ve identified the very rhetorical turn the minister made, all those years ago. We had sung “We are a gentle, angry people,” and her remarks offered that same rewording.

    @Bob — I freely admit I did not parse my words with a whole lot of nuance, which means those words are implying a presumption I didn’t mean. Whoops.

    I really do believe that the patriarchal baggage around defining women as sexual property is so deeply embedded in the culture that pretty much everyone receives training in that model. Men are trained to see women as property and women are trained to see themselves as property. What I also believe — though I did not say so last night — is that it is possible for women and for men to resist that training and to adopt other paradigms. But I’m not sure that resistance can happen on a societal scale until more folks are willing to name the elephant in the room: the fact that such training does occur, through a myriad of subtle and explicit lessons and that we are all caught in this cultural matrix.

    (For the record, I don’t see being “caught” in the matrix as equivalent to “unconsciously following all the expected rules.” What I see in talking about being caught in the matrix as acknowledging how very very HARD it can be to resist the rules, or sometimes even to see that there’s the OPTION to resist.)

    Like

  6. Meems says:

    @Paolo

    If his actions were borne only of loneliness, why did he specifically target women?

    I can’t adequately express how angry your comment that “he gave back all the rage he received” makes me. You’re putting the onus on women to prevent violence against other women! There is no clear evidence that he experienced any “rage” from women – especially not anything that wasn’t a reaction to his inability to treat women as human beings.

    So, no, you’ll forgive me if I refuse to say that I understand why this man presumed to believe that his loneliness gave him the right to take away the lives of women who maybe represented those who had rejected him.

    And, by the way, yes this case is all about misogynist culture. Had Sodini lived in a culture in which men did not assume that women owed them attention and sex, he might not have felt that he was being denied something he deserved (ie female companionship).

    Like

  7. Bob Bruhin says:

    What you say in your comment above, Sherri, truly is a much clearer statement of the problem than the statement I took exception to:

    – Your new statement doesn’t discount Sodoni’s very real illness.

    – More importantly, it doesn’t seem to equate that illness to other very real social ills with superficially similar vector, but of totally incomparable magnitude.

    – Most importantly, it doesn’t Godwinize itself by appearing to paint all men with a broad brush, dipped in a horrifying outrageous color.

    Thanks!!

    Like

  8. Kate says:

    Bob:

    I was going to say much what MezzoSherri said. I think the fact that all men are soaked in the expectations of misogyny makes the men who find ways to resist that training all the more admirable. (So if that’s you, and I expect it is, I am way admiring.)

    With that said, I would also like to say I when I hear the broad generalizations that target the problems of my (many) kinds of unearned privilege, I have actively decided to act as though the huge long caveat is taken for granted. I get that “neo-lliberal capitalism of the West” doesn’t include “except when I am engaged in campaigns of economic justice.”

    Unless we’re talking about all the many ways we actively resist patriarchy, then the relevant information is “men are trained to be this way. And society is effed up past belief as a result.”

    Paolo:

    If it’s about loneliness, some of the 30 million men who have “taken away” the comfort of the “30 million attractive women” Sodini was desperate to find comfort with should also have gotten attacked.

    If it was about loneliness and isolation, Sodini shouldn’t have been worried about whether or not the women he so badly wanted to be with were attractive. You can’t be that lonely if you care if someone you befriend is hot.

    He put it in his own damn blog that way. Sorry. The man hated women and wanted all of us to know it. And now, we do.

    Also? I so hope you don’t go to my gym.

    Like

  9. Paolo from Italy says:

    @Meems

    Meems, I’m not putting the onus on women. I’m putting the onus on all those who reacted toward him with anger, women too.

    You ask me to forgive that you refurse to understand why he did that. I say that EACH TIME we refuse to understand other people positions we lose an occasion to improve reality. I understand Sodini’s act and I understand the angry reaction of the people who loved those women killed by this poor guy.

    If we refuse to understand each one’s position we fail. You see, it’s the exact thing with terrorism. Americans reacted the angry way. Understandable. I too was enraged seeing the twin towers fall. However the right position is to understand everyone’s stance, otherwise violence will not end.

    Another thing we have to understand is basic evolution and genetic (if you’re a teocon, sorry, we cannot exchange successfully our ideas). Primates, and human beings as well, are programmed to make copies of their genes as one of the main purposes of life. Immediately after food, sex and relationships are one of the first needs of human beings.

    In the eighties I was in Zimbawe.
    In a street I saw a boy attempting to bag snacth a westerner diplomatic. He shot the boy in the head. What right that boy had to snatch the private property of another guy ?

    Well, I put myself in that poor african boy position, his hunger and his anger too.
    Indeed he was a loser, as George Sodini was. The first was a loser because the place he was born in. The latter was a lose because of the illness aggravated by lonliness that this society put him.

    Sorry. We have not a metaphisical free choice. We are computers with a hardware (genes) and software (experiences) and we do what these two factors dictates us to do.
    This is the reality.

    Unless you’re a teocon or something alike….

    ciao

    Like

  10. Paolo from Italy says:

    Kate, he was in a catch 22. His illness helped to make him lonely, and his lonliness did aggravate his illness.

    If you’re ill, lonliness has a very different effect.

    He was so alone that he wrote for NINE months about his intention. Why should anyone write his intentions in a public site with his first and family name and photo if not for the hope someone will help him ?

    He was bereft of every real and deep social relation, EVEN WITH MALES (not a single friend to talk about that or who was reading his website, NOT AN ANONYMOUS WEBSITE, but his official first and family name one !!!).

    He was asking help and there was nobody.
    It’s illness made him choose women as a scapegoat of his rage and sexual frustration.

    Like

  11. Meems says:

    @Paolo (I can’t reply to you directly, so I’m doing so this way)

    I assume “teocon” means “theological conservative”? It’s not a term with which I am familiar. If that’s the meaning, however, then no, it distinctly does not apply to me.

    And yes, you do put the onus on women by saying that Sodini “gave back all the rage he received.” This statement implies that women should have alleviated his loneliness and that would have prevented this situation.

    Regardless, your use of “understanding” has the implication of removing Sodini’s own responsibility for his actions. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this world who are lonely, isolated, and rejected. The vast majority of them do not go out and murder the object of their rage. Why? Because they understand that one cannot rely on other people to fix perceived social problems.

    I understand why Sodini was frustrated, but I will not attempt to understand (aside from mental illness) why he thought that taking a gun and murdering women was an appropriate or reasonable course of actions. His feelings do not logically lead to his actions, and we only learn from understanding reasonable positions.

    You talk about “basic evolution and genetic[s].” If you truly believe in this, you also must understand that we have evolved to be self-protective. If Sodini was incapable of appropriate interaction with women (and I don’t know one way or the other for sure), then it also makes sense that women (and people in general) would reject his advances.

    And please 1. do not compare this with terrorism, and; 2. don’t speak as though all Americans reacted the same way on September 11th and after. I’m tired of it.

    Like

  12. Emily says:

    Paolo:
    No. You just don’t get it. You are switching the center of the narrative to the perpetrator. You are making this a story about a tragically lonely man, a victim of his own illness. THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS STORY IS ABOUT.

    Three women are dead. Women who were the center of their own lives and their own stories. No one is reading their blog entries; no one is parsing their motives.

    The shooter killed three women and himself in order to assert his own centrality, and by indulging in the kind of indulgent speculation you have done above, you are making yourself complicit in his strategy.

    This is not about loneliness. This is about anger.

    Like

  13. Paolo from Italy says:

    Meems, I reply here because for some reason the “reply ” doesn’t appear beside your last message.

    Yes, the right word is theocons, religious conservatives. Happy you’re not one of them.

    About the personal responsability matter. This is only a law’s fiction. There isn’t in Nature a personal responsability other than the mere fact a group of people take revenge on someone else.
    I explain this:

    We are computers with a hardware (genes) and software (experiences) and we do exactly what these to components dictates us to do. There isn’t a carthesian theatre with an ego making choices and having a power on decisions, there isn’t a doer. Nature acts through us.
    Whatever different opinion is theocon, or something alike. These are mere scientific facts.

    So the final responsability of each act is total.
    It is a defect in George’s genes that made him do that and also (necessarily) the experiences he lived.

    In those experiences there are also all the angry people who didn’t love, accept him. I’m talking also as a friend, not sexually.

    This guy wrote for NINE months on his personal website WITH FIRST AND FAMILY NAME AND PHOTO he was going to do what he did. He had not a friend to talk about this, not a friend putting his name in the google form.

    No, there is NOT a personal responsability. OR THERE’S NO CULPRIT OR EVERYONE IS GUILTY. Neither in between.

    The concept of guilty in law can have another function, that of isolate a person who is dangerous, not that of punishing them.

    Outside this realm, the very concept of “guilt” is theocon.

    And if we want to use it anyway, than I say we are ALL guilty.
    The final causation (the more near causal factors of his deeds) are the persons he met who gave him anger or otherwise ignored him.
    Women too (and not only).

    Every reaction of anger, as I see on blogs, are reaction that have no utility at all to impede such things to happen.

    There are ill and lonely people out there needing help, not anger.

    Like

  14. MezzoSherri says:

    Quick hit from the blogowner: I am explicit in my embrace of spirituality as a powerful, relevant, and real force in the universe.

    Paolo, your declarations that any perspectives beyond the scientific-mechanistic are toujours deja “theocon” is forcing your world interpretation on the rest of us, and doing too much of that will get you banned.

    Like

  15. Paolo from Italy says:

    I reply here because there isn’t a reply beside the message I want reply to.

    @MezzoSherri, if you explicitely say you adhere to whatever religious idea I don’t feel you are forcing anything on me.

    I hoped that in explicitly saying that I do NOT adhere to ANY religious idea I’m not forcing anything on anyone else.

    In particular when a debater always uses serene and polite language as I do.

    In any case I’m a guest here and blogs can be exclusive clubs for those having only some ideas, hence I don’t want to disturb.

    All the best.

    Like

  16. Paolo from Italy says:

    Emily:

    The map is never the territory.
    Talking about his illness and his lonlyness does not deny the consequent tragedy. To the contrary.
    The explanation comes because of the tragedy.

    If I talk of WWII and I remember the terrible famine germans had to face because of unjust treaties they were forced to accept after WWI I’m not supporting them when they did put my uncle, as they did, in the Buchenwald concentration camp.
    I’m doing that because understanding the reasons they voted Hitler helps me to avoid a new tragedy.
    The tragedy keeps being at the center.

    The same goes here. Understanding Sodini’s deeds does not imply any belittlement of anything other. And you never understands a person if even for a minute, or a fraction of it, you don’t put yourself in his shoes.

    Like

  17. It disturbs me that so many people are assuming the gunman was ill. You don’t know him. You didn’t examine him, physically or psychologically. You very likely aren’t even qualified to diagnose physical or mental illness.

    So the assumption is that he must be ill, b/c only someone with mental illness would have done this.

    There’s no real, scientific reason to believe this man was “ill” with anything but patriarchy and misogyny.

    Part of MezzoSherri’s whole point is that the news coverage is excusing him and ignoring the misogyny — the fact that this was a hate crime against women — by saying he must have been mentally ill. And there are some commentors here doing the same thing.

    If he had gone into a gym and shot a handful of Black people b/c he had no Black friends, not one person would be saying he was ill from loneliness or that African-Americans were to blame for not befriending him. Although we might try to get him off the hook by speculating that an African-American had gotten a job he’d been trying for.

    If he as a straight man had gone into a gym and shot a handful of gay men b/c he had no gay male friends, not one person would be saying he was ill from loneliness or that gay men were to blame for not befriending him. Although we might try to get him off the hook by talking about his fear of AIDS or speculating if someone had made an unwanted pass at him.

    It’s ridiculous to say the victims had any responsibility for this man’s actions — all the more so b/c none of them knew him.

    There is absolutely an assumption in this culture that women are supposed to be available to men. This is why we get whistled at and cat-called on the street. That’s why every girl grows up being taught to be wary and afraid of boys and men. What’s why every boy grows up being taught to try to “score.”

    It takes feminist women and feminist men to change culture.

    In his own words, this man targeted women because they are women. This was a hate crime, pure and simple. There is no way around that.

    Like

  18. Kate says:

    From an anthropologist’s point of view, this really grates my cheese:

    “Kate, he was in a catch 22. His illness helped to make him lonely, and his lonliness did aggravate his illness.”

    Illnesses- even pathology and psychosis- have to be founded in some kind of reality. There is no crazy if we don’t define what is sane, and craziness has a relationship to what we relate to as normal.

    That his illness should be manifested in such a hateful, explicitly hateful, way about women should make you very uncomfortable.

    The building blocks of his delusions (that women are property and owe him something) comes from a whole sick Lego set of cultural blocks about women, their autonomy, their experiences, their rights as humans.

    If we want to contextualize his actions, as you do with your narrative about your family, be honest about the context. Our society is such that a deluded person can get their hands on and then magnify and magnify some really terrible ideas.

    Dial down the psychosis, and the idea that women are evil because they deny men their bodies and their personhood is still going to be familiar to us Americans.

    I, because I believe in the precious human dignity of every human being grieve for this man’s apparent disjuncture from reality and his actions, which denied his own humanity.

    But I am also a woman who has been treated as an object by men one too many times to shift the focus of victimization off the DEAD WOMEN he shot ON PURPOSE because they WERE WOMEN and who ARE DEAD and DID NOT CHOOSE TO BE DEAD.

    This doesn’t make me less pissed off about the shooter. It’s starting to make me mighty pissed off at any man who can’t see this is sick.

    Also:

    If you want to talk about tragic consequences of isolation, have a long, long talk with a woman who has been cut off from family, friends, and other support by an abusive husband. Assuming said husband hasn’t killed her yet. Because that happens. A lot.

    Like

  19. Kate says:

    Stasa:

    Oh. My. God. Thank you so much for making this point:

    “It disturbs me that so many people are assuming the gunman was ill. You don’t know him. You didn’t examine him, physically or psychologically. You very likely aren’t even qualified to diagnose physical or mental illness.”

    I should revise the start of my most recent point to this:

    IF and what an assumption that IF is… IF this guy was sick, IF he had problems with mental illness IF IF and prove to me the IF…

    then everything I said about the cultural context of sickness.

    Thank you!

    Like

  20. Paolo from Italy says:

    Kate wrote: “There is no crazy if we don’t define what is sane, and craziness has a relationship to what we relate to as normal. ”

    Right on ! We need a point of reference regarding normality.

    And normality is that guys do not kill women who reject them, neither they kill other women randomly. Psychopaths do that.

    And what else do you want other than a psychopathy ?

    Do you need a soul put in that body by a God giving her free to choose between evil and good, and erect your self to authentic interpreter of God’s will ?

    Why do you need it ?

    One main functions of religions is to find culprits, channeling society’s rage.

    There are no culprits, there are dangerous persons because of their genes and experiences, the only determinant of their behaviour.

    These persons have to be put under control and isolated from society until – if possibile – we can recuperate them, helping both them and society.

    This position does NOT belittle the deads’s tragedy. It does NOT belittle those being abused or tortured. It merely states the facts.

    P.S. from what I read in that blog Sodini’s idea was not that women were property. Otherwise he would have solved the problem with prostitution. He was enraged by the very Sartre’s dilemma of love and liberty. As Sartre put it, people want to be loved not by constriction (otherwise they would not love, they would rape or pay a prostitute). They want to be chosen freely, Sartre says.

    Even though Sartre is wrong about free will, his thoughts are psychologically spot on.

    “The lover wants the object of their love to love them, but to love them freely. The lover would not feel loved if who theyr loved was forced to love them. To be loved is to be freely loved. However, to love freely implies the possibility of not loving, and to be loved freely implies the possibility of not being loved.” And here is the paradox:
    People want their beloved to love them, id est they want a free act to be determined, unchanging, fixated. They want the square-circle, the fixation of freedom.

    This, psychologically, it’s the dynamic.

    Now, that’s Sodini’s drama.
    He did not want a prostitute.
    He did not want to rape anyone.
    He wanted women freely choose him !!

    They did not.

    Hence he deemed their free will culprit of not choosing them.

    He didn’t deem women objects. He wanted them persons, and persons who love him.
    For they did not, he HATED them.

    Yes, this is exact. It’s an hate crime.
    By a psycopath abandoned by society.

    Like

  21. Kate says:

    No Paolo:

    “And normality is that guys do not kill women who reject them, neither they kill other women randomly. Psychopaths do that.”

    It should read:

    “Normality is that guys DO KILL WOMEN who reject them, who accept them, who are forced to deal with them, and who have never met them. And also, psychopaths do that.”

    And that is part of my point if (IF) he was crazy, then (THEN) we as a society have been handed an uncomfortable example of just how sick our society is. Because the pieces of misogyny that Sodini synthesized to a crazy-shoot-fest already exist in our day to day lives.

    Grievance misogyny.
    Blaming women for not making him the center of the universe in exactly the way he wished.
    Inappropriate understandings of what women should be like.
    Calculated attempts to manipulate women in order to make them react in the way he wished.

    Incidentally, he doesn’t appear to have been all that terribly isolated (also click the article to the right):

    http://jezebel.com/5330560/gunman-murders-gym+going-women-misogynists-approve

    And the contact he did have apparently gave him approval for this attitude.

    I am with Stasa. No proof yet he was mentally ill. And there’s lots of proof out there that killing women, blaming women, and demanding women behave in certain ways because they are women is something men do. Sane men do. And they do it all the time. With social approval.

    Like

  22. Paolo from Italy says:

    Kate wrote:

    “Normality is that guys DO KILL WOMEN who reject them, who accept them, who are forced to deal with them, and who have never met them. And also, psychopaths do that.”

    What ? Uh ? English is not my language and I’m not sure of getting what you say.

    Normal men don’t kill women !! They love them and they are loved by them !! I’m very sorry if you had bad experiences, but I beg you of not making the same Sodini’s mistake !!!

    There are violent men, killers, rapers, abusers and all that ilk. And those men tyrannize even males in the same way.

    Normalcy is my family or the family in which I was raised. Without any violence of any type.

    I’ve not read all the article you posted yet but we know that if in Internet you make a club of those liking to have sado-masochist sex with parrots you find someone else liking it. But it’s not normal.

    Like

  23. MezzoSherri says:

    Paolo: I’ve only got two minutes between meetings right now. But I need to say that there’s a lot of ways in how you’re carrying on this conversation that is troubling to me. I will take more time to dialogue with you about these troubling aspects when I have the time to do so.

    Until then, I hope you can let things rest for a while. (Yes, even if someone responds to refute your most recent comments.)

    Thanks.

    Like

  24. Paolo from Italy says:

    Thanks to you for your hospitality. I want to underline I don’t want to be annoying to anyone, and I hope also that not being mother tongue I didn’t write certain things in an involuntary unclear way.

    I will not post anymore.
    If you want to write me you can do it. I guess you seem my email.

    My only point applies to al criminal acts, not rape or killing women. Even terrorism etc.
    I love women and men too. The world is full of wonderful people. Let some deranged ones don’t ruin life.
    All the best to everybody.

    Like

  25. Meems says:

    @Paolo, I believe I have made my arguments very clear by now, but I don’t believe that you are open to hearing others’ views.

    And I do not believe your computer analogy is completely accurate. Yes, humans have a variety of automatic responses to emotional situations, but we are far more complex than computers. Besides, we do have the ability to think and make decisions for ourselves. Sodini’s reaction was not a natural one, but one borne of illness.

    I may not be a religious person, but I find your rejection of guilt and personal responsibility repugnant. The fact that these women were shot and killed is the fault of one man. Could it have been prevented? Maybe. But those people who read his blog (assuming there were any) are not responsible for his actions.

    Like

  26. MezzoSherri says:

    @Paolo, I appreciate that you may not even be reading this, but I’m still going to respond to some of the elements I found troubling in your comments to my post. I apologize for the ways that treats you like a “straw man,” but this is a useful context for me to articulate — for my own sake as much as anyone else — some of my ground rules for discourse here in my Internet house.

    Most of my problems stemmed from the various ways you kept falling into the One True Truth fallacy: presenting your OPINIONS about some very debatable topics as if they are, instead, fact.
    When I first warned you about your comments, it wasn’t because I am spiritual and you were speaking from an atheistic perspective. It was primarily because of this red-flaggable statement:

    “We are computers with a hardware (genes) and software (experiences) and we do exactly what these to components dictates us to do. There isn’t a carthesian theatre with an ego making choices and having a power on decisions, there isn’t a doer. . . . Whatever different opinion is theocon, or something alike. These are mere scientific facts.”

    I’m okay with you speaking about how you understand the world through a scientific-mechanical lens. But here you crossed the line of what I deem acceptable for my Internet living room in two ways. 1) You claim that your perspective is the pure unquestionable truth (“These are mere scientific facts.”) 2) You categorize anyone who disagrees with you (in this case, specifically, Meems) with a label (“theocon”) that Meems has already explicitly rejected!

    Let me be really super-duper explicitly clear about this ground rule, because it is one of the quickest ways for me to bring out the banstick: You do NOT get to pretend you have access to the One True Truth, especially when you’re pretending to be the expert on anyone else’s life. In other words: once Meems tells you she’s not a theocon, don’t you DARE create a logical construct that will reapply that label to her!

    You pulled a couple more One True Truth fallacies in your 15:03 reply to Kate and the ensuring chain of conversation. 1) You literally defined “normal” as “[Paolo’s] family or the family in which [Paolo] was raised.” That kind of statement is a really obnoxious way to invalidate the humanity of anyone who’s different than you. Emphatically not cool and I will not allow it.

    2) You also defined a main function of religion as “to find culprits, channeling society’s rage.” If I was still working as a writing teacher you’d get one of my most common in-margin corrections: presenting opinion as fact. I’m not saying your statement is entirely ungrounded, but it’s an opinion. NOT the truth.

    There’s also something I’m finding harder to articulate that bothered me. Something about the way I didn’t see many signs of you really listening to anything anyone else had to say. Instead it began to feel as if your comments were all variations on a theme: “You are wrong and I am right. LET ME TELL YOU how I am right!” Lather, rinse, repeat. When this pattern is being enacted by a male person telling female persons that he can better define and understand when misogyny does and does not apply to a situation — well that kind of stinks to high heaven of patriarchal privilege, which is not a positionality I’m going to tolerate around here.

    So that, in a nutshell (or an acorn tree) is the beginning of the comments policy I’m going to be writing and posting this weekend. If nothing else, I’m grateful for the opportunity to think some of these issues through.

    Like

  27. Meems says:

    So, I’m rather late in responding, and Sherri has already outlined most of what I’d say, so I have little left to add. However:

    1. The term “theocon” usually refers to Christian (specifically Catholic) religious conservatives. I am not Christian, nor am I conservative in any respect. Please do not pigeonhole me simply because I disagree with you.

    2. I actually study religion (from a sociological perspective) at the graduate level, so I find assumptions about my beliefs especially insidious.

    3. Finally, I hadn’t thought about my assumption that Sodini was mentally ill, but I choose to stand by it. I’m not giving him any specific diagnosis, but I do believe that any person who thinks mass murder is a reasonable solution to his feelings of rejection and loneliness is mentally ill in some respect.

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  28. Pingback: Misogyny Taking Aim — Again | Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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