Your approval fills me with… unease

Feminists keep trying to ruin TV shows I like.

By which I don’t mean that they do it by sinisterly infiltrating the entertainment industry and fiendishly turning it into a vehicle for the Liberal Agenda (TM) by shrinking the boobies and ruining the gritty realism of Star Wars by putting female characters into it. (you see, when a guy beats up twenty enemies without breaking a sweat, that’s realistic. When a woman displays moderate competence, that’s PANDERING TO SJWS!!!!!!) It’s possible that they have tried that, but if so they were doomed to failure from the start, because the entertainment industry, for all its flaws, requires you to create new things, and that is such a complete reversal of the feminist creed of destroying everything that a feminist, in order to successfully make an impact, must cease to be a feminist in any way that matters.

(people who aspire to be high-brow claim that feminist negativity is due to its heritage from the school of Critical Theory, which as the name implies is far better at dismantling existing things than at creating something new. Myself, having long since thrown philosophy out the window with a cry of “AAAARRGGGGHHH, TOO MANY WORDS!!!”, prefer to simply credit it to the fact that feminists are fundamentally broken people trying to make themselves feel better by tearing everyone else down. So kind of like me, only with social approval)

No, the feminists keep trying to ruin TV shows I like in a way that is far more suited to their slacktivist skill set, while at the same time being oddly out of character.

They approve of them.

I find that to be very unsporting. How am I supposed to continue liking a show after feminists have approved of it? It’s like hearing that the newspaper you read is the only one that Trump doesn’t think is full of fake news. Like, it could be that it’s just so good that even he can’t find fault with it, but it’s hard not to start going through the articles with a fine comb to try to find any pro-stupid-jerk sentiments that you might have missed up to now.

I try to console myself with the thought that they probably just like seeing shows that feature strong women. After all, feminists genuinely believe that they’re this:

220px-Brienne_of_Tarth-Gwendoline_Christie

Even though they’re really this:

whine

(fun fact: when googling “whine” to find that image, I got an awful lot of pictures of Donald Trump. I really can’t imagine why…)

Still, even taking that self-delusion into account, I don’t understand how feminists can approve of shows that are about women who are strong yet flawed. It’s one thing for a feminist to like Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones (featured above, and looking especially dashing!), who is essentially the perfect knight, or Rey from the new Star Wars movies, who’s a sort of warrior saint. I can see how a feminist would like the idea that if only she could kick ass, she’d only ever kick the asses of people who really deserved it and she’d be beautiful and perfect and everyone would love her. But why do they like Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Or Jessica Jones (of the series with the same name), for that matter?

For those benighted souls who don’t know, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a brilliant musical sitcom about a New York lawyer who moves to California and tries to get back together with her teenage crush, who she’s decided is the key to her happiness, and…

… and COME BACK HERE, YOU COWARDS! It’s better than it sounds, okay? Yes, I know it starts off as Felicity (or so I’m told – I’ve never actually seen Felicity), but it actually subverts all those cheesy rom-com tropes and becomes a beautiful, irreverent study of mental illness, of self-worth, of the limitations of friendship and love, of the mutual temptations that lead people into unequal relationships, and, especially, of the fact that women are both capable of having flaws and capable of overcoming them.

That last part is hardly subtext. The third season, in particular, practically screams it: WOMEN’S LIVES ARE NOT DEFINED BY MEN. Rebecca’s entire character arc over the first half of the series is realising first that a man can’t fix her, and then that he’s also not the reason why she’s broken. And that she might just be able to fix herself.

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Rebecca Bunch – far too human and compelling to be a feminist

If that isn’t simultaneously precisely what feminism should be, and a slap in the face of what feminism is actually like, then I don’t know what is. Listen to this part, from the start of the third season! And this part, from the end! Tell me that it shouldn’t make feminists flee shrieking back to their blogs!

For some reason, that doesn’t happen. Instead, we get such nonsense as:

“It deconstructs the sexist stereotype of the psycho ex-girlfriend and reveals that women are only crazy because men make them that way!” Uhm, yeah, it deconstructs it and shows how someone obsessing that much over a past relationship is a real and tormented human being with genuine problems, not someone we should laugh at – but it does that specifically by showing that the obsession with men is a symptom, that a healthy woman can’t be driven crazy by men failing to be perfect.

“It makes a powerful statement by having a woman perform music from traditionally macho genres like rap!” Er, or maybe Rachel Bloom just has a goddamn spine and will rap if she thinks it would be cool if she rapped, and to hell with whether it’s considered macho or not?

“Look how Rebecca keeps commenting on how her lovers are good in bed! What a searing indictment of the way men constantly crave praise!” Yeah, because it’s not like a woman would have any other reason to want to fantasise about being with men who are capable of satisfying her, right? Jesus, next you’ll tell me that the way all women in books written by men are beautiful and sexy is in fact a harsh criticism against female beauty standards…

“Can we ever hope to be like the men on the show?” What, you mean a bunch of addicts, man-children and insecure jackasses? Not that I want to bash the male characters that much, they are all fallible but ultimately sympathetic human beings just like the female ones, but the idea that they’re any sort of role models is absurd. What the question means seems to be, can we ever hope to NOT be the sort of rapey misogynistic emotionally dead ogres that man-feminists love to pretend that all men but themselves (and to some part, even themselves! Sob! It’s true! They’re bad! They’re so bad! They’re trying to do better, but no matter how much they scrub, that Y chromosome just won’t come oooouuuuuuut!!!) are. Frankly, I’d say that the male characters on CEG might be a tiny bit more touchy-feely than the average man in real life, and that’s about it.

I tell you, it’s amazing how feminists can see something entirely different from what’s actually right in front of their eyes. Not that it’s unique to feminism, I suppose. I have spent enough time in opinionated subcultures to know that every piece of media must always be secretly on their side or secretly trying to destroy them, so since CEG spends too much time making you root for an sympathise with a woman to be framed as being anti-woman, everything in it is clearly some sort of coded support of feminism.

(for the record, I’m not saying it has any sort of anti-feminist agenda either. Feminism, when it comes up in the show, tends to be treated as something slightly dorky but essentially good-natured, like saying your evening prayers – do it if it makes you feel better, and it does you some slight credit that you aspire to be modern and progressive, but it won’t explain the world to you or magically turn you into a better person. If the show presents anything as having all the answers if only we would listen, though, it’s arguably psychology and therapy. Which I can live with, as those are things I believe strongly in myself)

And then there’s Jessica Jones. Which makes a little bit more sense. The first season is after all about the heroine fighting an evil rapist all while dealing with the mental scars of what he’s done to her. There’s a relationship that starts out benign but gradually turns abusive. And of course, the show dares tackle that most horrific of misogynist hate crimes: men telling women to smile!

(to be clear here, I’m conflicted about the whole issue of smile abuse. On the one hand, I absolutely 100% agree that you shouldn’t go around telling people to smile. They’ll smile if they damn well feel like it, okay? Being in a foul mood is a basic human right, and there are a lot more things in the world to scowl at than to smile about! On the other hand, it’s one more piddling little annoyance that feminists have raised to the level of a national crisis, and since feminists overstating harm is what has driven me out of human society, I also don’t want to encourage or enable it in any way. (and don’t get me started on the fact that telling strange women to smile is a show of exactly the sort of good-natured cockiness that tends to be seen as attractive in a man, even though this one particular example of it has for some reason become a feminist bugbear. If feminists want men to not tell them to cheer up, they are free to start expressing approval for gloomy and introverted men any time!) All of which makes me want to go out on the street and tell any woman who passes by to scowl – you know, just to spite absolutely everyone involved)

220px-Krysten_Ritter_as_Jessica_Jones
Jessica Jones, bruised but never broken – unlike every proudly broken feminist

But all that said, the show also stabs at the very heart of feminism by delivering the following message: just because you’ve been victimised, it doesn’t give you an excuse to be an asshole. The show delivers it through practically every single character, all of whom have some sort of trauma that fuels their bad behaviour and all of whom are ultimately taken to task for that behaviour. And at least some of them – Jessica in particular – manages to rise above it and be the people they want to be, not the people their traumas would turn them into.

I think that this is a powerful and necessary statement. To be victimised is to be made into an unperson, a passive object to be acted upon. To recover from victimisation, then, means reclaiming your agency, and as part of that your moral responsibility. If you hurt others because you have been hurt, then you’re not a person, just a conduit for the abuse. It’s only when you say, “no, I will do what I think is right” that you truly beat your victimiser.

(the observant reader might also notice a certain correspondance with this blog’s mission statement…)

Compare this with feminism, the eternal cry of which is, “PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY HATE! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY COWARDICE! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY SELFISHNESS! PATRIARCHY JUSTIFIES MY WEAKNESS! I can’t be expected to play fair with people, I can’t expected to show the same compassion to others that I demand of them, I can’t be expected to do anything but whatever soothes my horrible, horrible pain! Don’t blame me for stabbing you in the back, blame the Patriarchy for forcing me to stab you in the back by being so evil and hurting me so much!” Jessica would take one look at any of her feminist fans and turn away in disgust. (with a snarky one-liner, of course)

There is also the fact that, irrespectively of their excuses, this is a show where women behave badly. You’d think that if anything would drive away feminists, whose standard narrative is that no woman has done anything wrong in the entire history of forever. The show is absolutely uninterested in making Jessica look sympathetic, or even dignified. She’s a crass, abrasive, over-cynical mess of a woman, and all the more awesome for it. And then there’s Hogarth, who I will love forever for being a woman in power who acts precisely like a man in power, including by cheating on her wife with her secretary. (and then in the second season sits down after holding a stereotypical rah-rah-girl-power speech and complains to her colleagues that the secretary was leading her on by dressing provocatively)

Oh, but Kilgrave (the evil rapist villain of the first season) is supposed to be a metaphor for Rape Culture! Jessica has to fight to make the system acknowledge his existence! Yeah, except at no point is the system portrayed as being malevolent or unreasonable for not taking Jessica’s word that there’s an evil mind-controlling sociopath on the loose. Most of the first season consists of Jessica trying to prove, not that Kilgrave did what he did, but just that he has the power to do it. Even Jessica, who’s a cynic who complains about everything, never blames people for not accepting an exceptional claim without proof that the claim is, at least, plausible. There seems to be not the slightest hint of the kind of implicit bias that feminists claim is everywhere.

Now, if you said Kilgrave was a metaphor for rape, that’d fit better (except he also literally and unmetaphorically rapes people), since it’s a crime that’s very difficult to prove and which a lot of criminals therefore get away with. But the feminist position isn’t that practical reality is unfortunate that way, but that this is a flaw in our society that would be fixed if only everyone would become feminists already. And that position the show does nothing to support.

(I did in fact see one feminist whine that the show “pretends to solve Rape Culture by punching one particular rapist.” First of all, as I’ve said, I fail to see how the show pretending to do any such thing. Secondly, the difference between Rape Culture and individual rapists is that the latter actually exist, and we can all pretty much agree that they deserve to be punched)

As for the show after Kilgrave, I winced with great force at feminist gushing about how great it was that every single episode of the second season was to be directed by a woman (seriously? They didn’t see the problem with that?), but if I was worried that this would lead to the show becoming pure feminist propaganda, then I should have had more faith in my own beliefs – in particular, the belief that most women are if anything more critical of women than most men are. The second season is if anything far less feministic than the first, which did in fact have an evil, eeeeeeeevil man at its center; it goes into great detail about women behaving badly, and also deals more heavily in shades of grey and spends a lot of time on showing that it’s not so easy to just point at a relationship and declare it to be abusive, since all relationships are unique and none of them are perfect. Great stuff, from a philosophical perspective… though I also note that my belief that a mix of male and female viewpoints is best also held true, because the second season is also quite frankly not as much fun as the first one. Kilgrave is irredeemably evil in a way bound to delight feminists and which isn’t strictly speaking realistic, but he is also a lot of fun; all the angsty imperfections and no-win situations in the second season may be artistically superior, but sometimes you just want to see the heroine punch the villain in the face and feel good about it, you know? The season might have been improved by a little less feminine nuance and insight and a just the tiniest pinch of masculine let’s-fix-the-world-by-punching-bad-people dumbness.

It is of course possible that the writers meant for the show to be a feminist screed. But then they had to create actual characters for it, and those characters had to have motivations and – because the writers are pretty good at being writers – those motivations had to make sense and be possible for a reasonable person to sympathise with. The world of feminist thought is a world of strawmen, where regular, sane people genuinely do things for reasons such as “durrrrr, I really hate women!” The writers had to choose between being feminists and being writers, and made the correct choice. This is one more reason why I am willing to cut actual creators some slack, even when their personal opinions are ones I find abhorrent – the act of creating art often enobles even a mind steeped in toxic ideology.

All in all, you’d think that the sort of person who wails about microaggressions would be put off by shows full of women who are too tough to be bothered by microaggressions and in fact are prone to delivering some macroaggressions of their own… but no, annoyingly enough they insist on thinking that they’re being praised even as they are being taken to task.

But then, I suppose it’s not that strange. Feminists are already projecting their twisted, self-pitying worldview onto reality itself, even though anyone who’s been alive for a while should have noticed that women are neither inherently weak nor particularly noble, and that men, for all their common flaws, are not universally a bunch of sadists who despise women on principle. Given that, I guess it’s no surprise that they can project the same nonsense onto the considerably smaller space of a television screen.

But I still wish they could keep away from shows that are actually good and insightful.

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Of gentlemen and man-children

When you get a gentleman to stop being a gentleman, he becomes a man-child. Feminists would be better off if they accepted that.

That’s the short of it, anyway. But let’s take it from the top…

Once upon a time – for most of history, in fact, and in pretty much the entire world – men were supposed to be strong protectors of women. Call them gentlemen, or knights in shining armour, or Real Proper Men. Either way, the idea was that men were (or were at least supposed to be) strong, women were weak, and men were supposed to protect women from the hardships of the world. The particulars vary wildly, but that was always the general gist of it.

Feminism has spent a lot of time pointing out the flaws with that arrangement, foremost of which is that, well… when you take a closer look at a knight in shining armour, nine times out of ten he’s just a lout in a can. Giving a man a bunch of power and saying he’s supposed to use it to protect women is all very well, but if he decides he doesn’t feel like it, who’s going to make him? No one, because the one who has the power also gets to decide how to use the power. In theory, a gentleman was meant to give the women in his life all they needed. In practice, I think most gentlemen took everything they wanted first, and then considered themselves no end of generous for giving the women in their lives whatever was left.

And even that tenth guy, the one who actually was so good and pure and noble that he could be trusted to do what was best for his women before all else? He still did what he thought was best for his women, never mind what they thought and what they wanted. Half the time, they probably knew better than him, but they still had no choice but to go along with his best judgment, because that’s how it works when you empower someone to protect you. He’ll do it his own way, because what other way could he do it in?

It’s hard to blame feminism for deciding that this system really kind of sucked and that they wanted no more gentlemen but equals and peers. In fact, I am wholeheartedly behind that, because I hate unequal relationships. Whenever I’m in charge I invariably mess up, and whenever I’m subordinate I invariably get skrewed – hierarchy may be part of human nature, but that doesn’t make it a good idea! I like consensus.

I have only one question for feminism. Given that you, quite justifiably, hated gentlemen so much – WHY DO YOU KEEP CLAMOURING FOR THEM TO COME BACK?

Seriously. Everything feminists say these days can be replaced with “oh, aren’t there any gentlemen left to defend me?!” Every time a feminist sobs about how badly she’s been treated, the implication (if there is an implication beyond “I feel bad, so everyone else has to feel bad with me,” which I can admittedly not rule out) is that some gentleman should step up and bring down the evil-doers who have dared behave crudely towards a lady. There seems to be no recollection of the fact that the system wherein men defend women was found to be defective and that the new system was supposed to rely on women being strong enough to fight their own battles.

The lip service paid to female empowerment just makes it worse. Men are supposed to protect women, anticipate their needs and treat them with silken gloves… but they’re not supposed to admit that they’re doing any of those things, because everyone knows that women are powerful and magnificent and need men like fish need bicycles. The reward for being a gentleman was that you got to be a gentleman, which was a cool thing to be. The reward for being a Woke Bae is… that you get to be slightly less of a loathsome oppressor than you’d otherwise be. You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel tempted.

No, I found the original offer to be a good one, and I still do. That damn shining armour chafes something fierce, you know, and it’s a bugger to keep it from rusting (which is why so many of those past knights turned out to be a lot less shiny in practice!). I want to be a person. I want to be an equal. I want to be me. That offer isn’t on the table anymore? Too bad, I’ve already taken it!

Which makes me a man-child. They’re pretty common these days, man-children, because I wasn’t the only one who thought being in charge through no particular qualification but an accident of birth was nothing but stressful and uncomfortable. It’s such a relief to be able to just say, “yeah, you know what, you’re right. You don’t need me to tell you what to do. You do what you like, I’ll just go play some video games.”

(actually, while this is flirting with the most regressive of conservatism, not to mention going against the criticism of the old system I voiced above, I can’t help it note that after a century of feminism claiming that men should let themselves be weak and women should allow themselves to be strong, we now have men gleefully embracing their weakness and women wailing that it’s not fair that they have to be so strong, and why oh why aren’t there any big, strong men around to save them anymore?! Doesn’t that say something unexpected about who actually benefited from the benevolent sexism of yesteryear? Not that it matters, I suppose – if half of humanity was unhappy with the state of inequality, then it’s a good thing that that state was altered, regardless of which half it was.

(and anyway, it’s probably less about who the system was objectively better for and who it looks better to in hindsight – most women of today would hate living in a gilded cage if they actually got to try it, but I’m sure it looks really comfortable in comparison to being out in the world and getting treated like crap just like men have always been out in the world and being treated like crap. Meanwhile, the men of today look back and see a life of getting treated like crap and having to shelter women from the crap that would otherwise come their way, and who needs that hassle? In reality, men of ages past shirked their sheltering duties most of the time without any adverse consequences, but that part isn’t as immediately obvious from a modern perspective)

Another problem with man-children, from a feminist perspective, is the “man” part. The idea seems to have been that once you convinced men to stop being macho, they would effectively turn into women, thus curing all the world’s ills (because as everyone knows, women never do anything wrong, or if they do it’s all the Patriarchy’s fault, somehow). As it turned out, though, while the role of the gentleman was indeed an artificial restraint on behaviour, the natural behaviour beneath it was still heavily influenced by physical gender.

A man does not stop being a man because he admits that he’s not meaningfully stronger than a woman. He does not stop being appealed by linear results and effects more than by developing, multi-faceted situations. He doesn’t stop liking big, loud, ugly things better than intricate, elegant, pretty things. He doesn’t stop having a biological imperative to spurt his semen all over everything. He may not be afraid to admit to having emotions anymore, but those emotions are still going to be big and blunt and unabashedly selfish. If anything, these things are even more apparent in the man-child than in the gentleman, because the gentleman knows that ladies are fragile flowers who can’t handle too much unrestrained manhood, but the man-child is completely unfiltered and shamelessly open about what he wants.

(am I like that? Only to a point, because in a lot of ways I actually do behave very much like a woman. But I’m still masculine enough to be shamed by feminists for it (while also feminine enough to be shamed by insecure alpha male wannabes for it, but that’s another story). I don’t just like boobs and explosions, I sometimes feel like there’s too much boobs and explosions… but I do like some boobs and explosions, so clearly I am Part Of The Problem for not behaving entirely as if I had ovaries)

Now, I won’t sugarcoat this – there is an overlap between man-children and genuinely bad men, with brutes and bullies and criminals. I mean, have you met any children? They’re selfish little buggers, and so are man-children. They throw tantrums, scream and throw things, and so do many man-children (though usually in written form over the Internet, because while they may not be more mature than they were as children, they have gotten lazier over the years). I don’t excuse any of that, but I do wonder exactly how much badness the gentleman facade actually kept in check. Feminists would claim that it was hardly any of it, it was just better hidden than now, and I’m cynical enough to be inclined to believe that – man-children, at least, are out in the open.

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A true male rolemodel – as soft as can be!

I am, by and large, in favour of male self-infantilisation. We’re at our best when we’re soft, no matter how much it makes feminists whine that when they said “you should be soft” what they meant was “you should be hard in a way that benefits me.” The only time when I truly despise man-children is when they try to fool themselves that they’re grownups. Nothing is more pathetic than a life-long nerd trying to adopt an elder statesman persona (GamerGamers have to this day not understood why no one ever took the “ethics in video game journalism” line seriously. Here’s a hint, guys – try to imagine Immanuel Kant playing Grand Theft Auto!), and don’t get me started on the ones who think they’re some sort of capitalist badasses. Simmer down, fool! You’re not hard, you’re soft! Embrace your softness!

But all that said, and acknowledging that things are not perfect, the age of the gentleman is over, and good riddance. It’s going to be man-children from hereon out. Get used to that, feminists. You don’t get to sulk because you got precisely what you asked for.

The Rule of Cool

What’s most annoying with the current state of things is that it’s the cool people who are stomping down on me.

It didn’t used to be that way, at least not this fully. I did used to complain, back in the day, that feminism was entirely too cool for my liking, apparently tailored mostly to hip, happening 20-somethings who were out partying and having casual sex all the time, rather than anyone who I could actually relate to. And there were rather too many snotty comments about the uncoolness of chauvinists, which often gave the impression that their uncoolness was a bigger crime than their chauvinism (“how come all feminist stories are about ugly, worthless men being mean to beautiful, perfect women?” was one of my gripes even back then. I mean, you’d think that what with Patriarchy being all-encompassing and omnipresent and so forth, every now and then a handsome, successful guy would show some signs of being affected by it). But it was still low-key enough that I could live with it, and there was a sense that fat, dorky atheist men and fabulous Sex and the City-style feminists were fundamentally on the same side, united in arms against the stodgy religious right. Which also had the added benefit that it felt like I had some coolness by association.

Not any more. Now that there aren’t quite so much religious wingnuttery to fight anymore, the cool people have suddenly discovered that their uncool former allies are loathsome reprobates one and all. It’s strange how they didn’t notice that while we were still useful, I can’t help it think, because it’s not like we had more social graces back then than we have now, but nonetheless everyone is acting like it’s a terrifying new discovery: NERDS ARE ALL EVIL!!!

For the record, and without the sarcasm: the truth is that some nerds are absolutely awful. That’s because some (and I must be in an especially good mood today, because usually I would have said “most”) of any group are absolutely awful. I discovered that long before the feminists did, and much to my dismay, because back then I really wanted to believe that nerds were the finest people on Earth. I assumed that nerds were per definition smart, and that being bullied all through school must have made them compassionate; instead, it turned out that quite a few nerds were dumb as bricks, and quite a few were libertarian sociopaths, and the especially bad ones were both. It was a great disappointment for me, and a big step on the path that has since led me to refuse to count myself among any group at all because they’re bastards the lot of them.

But. For the most parts, nerds don’t seem to be more inclined to be mean-spirited than the average person. Having poor social graces doesn’t make you mean, it just makes you bad at hiding whatever meanness you do have. That can make you tiresome, because there’s a reason why socialising is mostly about telling polite lies: the truth is usually not only ugly but also profoundly demoralising and fatal to the happy delusions that we cultivate in order to endure reality. Everyone has some kind of sick fantasies and personal pathologies, and the reason we dare to go within ten feet of each other is because we have the decency to keep them a secret, thus allowing others to convince themselves that our socially acceptable persona is our inner-most self. Nerds, on the other hand, have a tendency to blurt out their most twisted daydreams in the apparent belief that other people will find them as fascinating as they do. But that’s an annoying habit, not a sign of any above-average perversity.

But tell that to the cool people, to the comedians and script writers and actors and journalists and any other smartass who’s got a more interesting job than you. As far as they’re concerned, everyone who doesn’t move through social situations like a fish through the sea is now the enemy, and there is no end to how many witty insults and tearful condemnations they’re going to throw at them.

Look, I think I have made it painfully clear what I think about geek culture. It’s often ugly, and always stupid. But to every well-dressed, well-mannered, hoity-toity bastard who whines about all the toxic nerds they have to put up with on the Internet, I would like to point out the following fact about the Internet that they seem not to be aware of:

WE BUILT THE DAMN THING!

I mean, who did you think constructed the intricate network of nodes that pass data all around the globe so quickly as to be nearly instantaneous? Who figured out how to turn transistors into logical gates, how to turn the logical gates into processors, how to turn the processors into routers and how to turn the routers into a network? It wasn’t any snotty journalists whose only skill is writing long books about how offended they are. It wasn’t any Hollywood producers who have long talks about how badly men treat women before they go off and cheat on their wives. No, it was us fat, smelly nerds who did that, the ones who have trouble understanding other human beings because they function so unlike our nice, deterministic algorithms. We made this thing! It exists precisely because we have a different and less sexy skill set than the beautiful people do. And you have the nerve to complain because this thing that we made has so many of us on it?

Bite me, cool people. Take a great big bite of my autistic ass, and may you choke on it!

What really hurts is that, in spite of and in contradiction of the above display of geek-pride, I would in fact like to be cool. Maybe not really cool, I don’t think I can even imagine that, but to be a bit cool-ish. I don’t actually want to side with with the soulless tech-heads who freak out because someone made the new Star Trek series an iota less masculine and self-congratulatory than the original series from the 60s. I’ve spent my life trying very hard to fight my tendency to mono-focus on technical stuff, to learn how to interact, to at least understand (if not share) all the enlightened, modern values of our time, the ones that cool people adhere to and look down on others for not knowing about. In fact, that was a large part of why I was such a staunch ally of feminism back in the day – because being a regressive, woman-hating, sex-hating, science-hating conservative troglodyte is Not Cool, Man and I didn’t want the world to be run by people who thought nothing of doing things that were Not Cool, Man.

And then I find out that no matter how hard I try, it’ll never be enough. That now that we’ve dealt with the Bible-thumpers, we have to deal with the fact that some of those nerds are simply not up to our standards, you know, are really not our kind of people. Just look how they, in the most crass and unmannerly way, might politely address a woman in a way that does not obey the unspoken-but-clearly-obvious rules for when and how a man is allowed to speak to a woman! This simply can not be allowed! Never mind if they might have spent a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears on becoming as normal as they were able to make themselves, this isn’t about them, this is about the poor abused cool women who suffer so terribly from being exposed to blatant uncoolness!

And you wonder why I explode? Hell, a lot of men who were superficially more neurotypical than me exploded a great deal more loudly. And while I deplore their lack of restraint, I understand why, because this is betrayal. This is a stab in the back. This is being used while it’s convenient, and then declared public enemy number one as soon as you aren’t anymore.

My whole life has gone in a circle. I spent my teens being bullied by the cool people, and now I spend my thirties being bullied by the cool people all over again. And that’s in spite of the fact that I’ve done everything I can to improve myself (which is what they claimed to want, both times – bullies in the real world never see themselves as elitists hurting those who don’t fit in, they see themselves as trying to teach the degenerates how to be real, proper human beings, and surely it’s not their fault that the dirty freaks refuse to learn and just generally are completely ungrateful). That hurts, you know. I could have wallowed in the muck all my life, and it wouldn’t have changed my exterior situation one bit (thought I might have had considerably less self-respect).

And even now, I don’t know what to do about it. Rebelling against the cool people sounds good in theory, but in practice the people who do that do it mainly by behaving in a way that is Not Cool, Man. I didn’t spend so much time arguing against the people who wanted to drag the human race back to the caves just to then throw in with the people who want to drag the human race all the way back up into the trees.

Stupid cool people. Stupid uncool people. Stupid everyone.

Heroines

I could concern-troll, you know. I could concern-troll like nobody’s business.

I could claim to be a Real True Feminist, with all the other (conveniently silent) Real True Feminists at my back. I could phrase all my objections to other feminists (who would, of course, only be a few bad apples who were totally not representative of Real True Feminism) in terms of how problematic their stances are (because all stances are problematic if you want them to be). And I could wring my hands about how sad it was that they suffered from internalised misogyny and patriarchal conditioning – and that’s an accusation that is impossible to disprove, because how do you prove that your inner-most being has not in any way been affected by anything other than pure reason and compassion? You can’t, because it pretty much definitely has. No one’s thinking or motivations are pure, so the one who’s the quickest to accuse the other of impurity wins.

I could do that, and I would get away with it most of the time, too. Because if I claimed to be a feminist and made the right sort of feminist noises, no one would care if all my actual points were 180 degrees removed from anything any other feminist said – in fact, they would be happy to use that as proof that There Is Room To Disagree Within Feminism, which is their way of saying that it doesn’t matter what your actual opinions are, all that matters is that you are for their precious security blanket and against all the mean people trying to take it away from them. Oh, every now and then someone would notice that all my opinions were oddly self-serving and renounce me as not a Real True Feminist, but that’s all par for the course. I’d just renounce her right back, and everyone else would go, “see? See? There Is Room To Disagree Within Feminism! So everyone should be a feminist, no matter if they disagreed with everything every other feminist said! And then we’d all be feminists and that would make me feel safe, even though nothing would actually have changed!”

I could do that. But frankly, the whole idea makes me feel dirty. Yes, I agree with a few things that feminists say, but I agree with just about every movement out there on one or two points. That doesn’t make up for the fact that the movement as a whole is a self-serving, toxicity-spewing, autism-hating abomination. (which movement am I describing? Eh, take your pick, really…) And more importantly, I am not driven by concern for women. Women can take care of their own damn selves, there’s three billion of them and they’re all adults. I am driven by concern for me, ME ME ME ME ME ME MEEEEEEEEEE, for the fact that everyone is harrassing me from every side and my life is crap and someone should damn well take notice of that!

So let me make this very clear: I don’t want women to be less fragile because it’s better for them. It is, but that’s not why I want it. I want women to be less fragile because I deserve to be able to move around and live my life without feminists screaming bloody murder about it.

But having thus talked at length about how I don’t do concern-trolling… I kind of want to do some concern-trolling. Because even though my motivations are entirely selfish, I do in fact believe that current feminism isn’t doing women any favours. It’s not doing men any favours either. It’s making everything worse for everyone.

Look, if the goal is to make women powerful and equal, then I am a success story for 90s feminism and a failure story for 10s feminism. When I was growing up, women were awesome. They could do anything, and they usually did it with considerably more style than men could. If you wanted something done, it seemed to me, you should get a woman to do it, because she’d actually deliver. If you put a man to the job, he’d just slack off and half-ass it and then be all wounded innocence when someone pointed out that he’d made a hash job of it.

And then one of those self-proclaimed empowered women fighting fearlessly to create a new and better world declared herself unacceptably harmed by being politely and respectfully approached in a way that wasn’t completely safe and normal. And what seemed like every single woman in the universe (yeah, yeah, fine – aside from a few token conservatives) piped up to say YES, YES, YES, WE’RE SCARED ALL THE TIME OF AVERAGE ORDINARY MEN AND WHY OH WHY ARE THEY SO SELFISH AND WON’T REALISE HOW POWERFUL AND TERRIFYING THEY ARE?!

Our heroines, ladies and gentlemen! Our brave and valiant heroines, who are totally going to defeat the evil, evil Patriarchy! Unless, I suppose, the Patriarchy does something completely unsportsmanlike, like fight back! Unless it raises its voice! Unless it uses a bad word! Unless it does anything to make them uncomfortable in any way! Because then they’ll flee right back to their blogs and wail about how unfair it all is! But they’re totally ready to fight any forces of evil that don’t in any way, shape or form act like forces of evil.

You know, I used to imagine that Superman was completely unrealistic, because if he actually showed up at a bank robbery, he’d smash through the wall and let a bunch of bystanders get buried under the wreckage, get a few hostages killed rather than let the robbers think they could tell him what to do, and then let half the robbers get away because he’d spotted a hot chick across the road who he needed to inform of the fact that he had a penis. And then get beligerant when someone pointed out that this wasn’t the a particularly good act of heroism, because how dared they criticise him?! He’d stopped the robbery, hadn’t he? Buncha crybabies!

That’s how I imagined it going down in real life. And I still do, actually. Seriously, men are crap.

But now I have another mental image where it’s Wonder Woman who shows up instead, and just as she’s about to take down the first bankrobber, he calls her a cunt. And she immediately curls up on the floor crying while the robbers make off with the money – and then, once she’s picked herself up, she goes home to write a 12,000-word blog post about how horribly she was treated, and how the fact that the people in the bank had the nerve to act like she’d done something wrong instead of being outraged on her behalf is indicative of how our evil misogynistic patriarchal society Does Not Acknowledge Women’s Suffering.

Everyone is crap, there are no heroes and we’re all boned, is what I’m getting at.

Superman-and-Wonder-Woman-have-a-son-839164
To be clear – these two are heroes because they behave nothing like what I just described. They are each a credit to their respective gender!

But given the choice between those two approaches to (sigh) heroism, which one would you pick? The one that will deliver a half-assed job with suspicious sticky spots on it? Or the one that will deliver nothing at all, because she’s too busy wailing that she absolutely cannot woooooooork under these condiiiiiiiitions!!!! I’m pragmatic enough that I’d hold my nose and pick the former.

And pardon me if I’m thick, but isn’t that exactly what’s happening right now? The absolute worst kinds of masculinity is taking over in country after country, because the only alternative is increasingly the absolute worst kinds of femininity. Who do you want to rule you – the loathsome braggart who’ll run around doing stupid things, or the entitled whiner who’ll just sit on her ass and laugh at any suggestion that maybe she should do something? The 2016 US election made the answer to that pretty clear. People will take something over nothing, even if it’s something stupid and disgusting.

(well, to be fair – I won’t. In a lot of situations, including that election, I’ll take nothing over something, because nothing is, at the very least, less likely to upset me. And I’m a pessimist, which means I expect random change to usually be for the worse. But most people are optimists and hate the idea that what they have right now is as good as it’s going to get)

It’s the same thing all over. Who do you vote into office? Who do you pick for an important job? The gross, worthless man who’ll do something, or the fragile, perpetually-triggered woman who’ll do nothing? Feminists have worked tirelessly at making women weak, and are now absolutely flabberghasted to find that a world that has always worshipped strength (and that includes the feminists themselves – I know from my own experience that they attack me relentlessly when I show weakness, but simper and plead for my understanding at the rare times when I’m feeling confident) has not therefore developed more respect for women.

Here’s the thing, though – it doesn’t have to be this way. I know for a fact that women can be heroines, because I’ve actually met a few. But right now we have a generation of women being told that they’re victims – that they should be proud to be victims, that they’re betraying all women everwhere if they make any effort to deny their victimhood. That is not the environment that creates heroines. You get heroines when you teach women that they can stand up and fight for what they want and for what they believe in.

(and, sure, men don’t need to be gross, stupid buffoons, either. In their case, though, I think the key to being a hero is finding a duty and a stewardship, something greater than yourself that you can serve – and right now, I can’t find much in the world that’s worth serving. Women are easier, in that regard. A woman can be at least moderately heroic even while being completely selfish)

So yes, I’m concerned. A little, at least. I absolutely do not care more about the welfare of womankind than I do about my own rights and dignity – in fact, if it turned out that women could only gain full equality by picking on autists, then I would rather see the entire world burned to cinders than have that happen. But I also genuinely do not believe, at this time, that picking on autists is the way to go, and in fact I genuinely believe, at this time, that the fact that feminists pick on autists is part of a larger flaw in feminism that is preventing it from reaching its stated goal of a world balanced between the genders. And I am concerned about that, because I actually want to see that goal reached – if and only if it can be reached without picking on autists, yes, but all the same.

So, in the name of feminism, I demand that feminists stop being jerks to me! And anyone who continues to be a jerk to me is clearly not a Real True Feminist but afflicted with the patriarchal notion of feminine fragility that all us Real True Feminists are working to dismantle!

(I mean, what the heck. It’s worth a try…)

I only hate people who I actually meet

There seems to be a nearly complete correlation between people who hate feminism and people who hate minorities. I find this to be unfortunate.

I’m a pretty hateful person. You may have noticed. I only need to spend a short while interacting with a group before I start hating it. This is because all groups are made up by people, and people are horrible. I hate liberals. Conservatives. Libertarians. Feminists. Anti-feminists. Geeks. Geek-bashers. Gamers. Games journalists. Libertarians again, just because I hate them so very, very, very much. You name it, I hate it. You’d think hating minorities would come naturally for me.

ihateeveryone
And because I REALLY don’t discriminate, I hate everyone in direct proportion to how often I have to deal with them!

But the thing with minorities – what one might call the defining attribute of minorities – is that… there aren’t that many of them around. You rarely run into them. They are easy to ignore. And that allows me to exercise one of the virtues of my slack, passive, apathetic mindset – if someone doesn’t bother me, it’s far too much trouble for me to bother them. I see it as simply cause and effect. If you’re a jerk to me, I hate you. If you’re not a jerk to me, I don’t hate you. I’m sure if I spent a year in Belgium, I would find that all Belgians are jerks (because all human beings are jerks, or at least they all seem determined to be jerks to me in particular) and then I would hate them, but as it is, I’ve never even met a Belgian, so I don’t have any opinion of them at all.

I am genuinely perplexed, therefore, by people who hate immigrants (which is the go-to minority group for hating on in this day and age). How often have you actually had to talk to an immigrant? I’m thinking not very often. If I had the option of ignoring feminists as completely as I am ignoring immigrants, you’d better believe I’d take it! I don’t because I can’t, because they’re everywhere and determined to crap all over me no matter where I go. A couple of women walking around in burqas? You know, I think I’ll cope.

I am especially confused by the fact that anti-feminists always hate immigrants. Feminists are rarely immigrants and immigrants are rarely feminists, so you’d think that hating the one would not automatically lead to hating the other, but you’d apparently be wrong. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to some anti-feminist ranting about the evils of feminism (usually he misidentifies those evils, but sometimes I am so sick of it all that I’m inclined to pretend otherwise) and all of a sudden I hear, “and another thing! Those immigrants are all evil and horrible and we have to throw them out!” What the one has to do with the other I really can’t imagine.

In fact, if anything I would expect xenophobes and feminists to get along, because feminists are terrified of any man who behaves one iota differently from what feminists consider normal, because clearly that means that he’s about to rape them – and even if he’s not, he maliciously failed to consider that his actions might cause them to think that he was going to rape them which is JUST AS BAD!!! (they also claim that to be a normal man of our society is to secretly hate women without realising it, so normality is bad also, but apparently abnormality is even worse) You’d think, then, that feminists would be especially frightened of foreigners, most of whom have strange and unfamiliar cultures and habits.

But there it seems that the feminists actually agree with me about something, which is that there’s no sense in hating and fearing people you never meet. Immigrants tend to cluster in their own communities, which are usually quite poor communities that’s far below the feminists’ middle-class standards. The average feminist will not need to interact with an immigrant especially often. On the other hand, since they’re (for some reason I’m not entirely clear on) determined to infiltrate every nerdy pasttime and subculture in existence, they will definitely need to interact with weird, nerdy white guys a lot. My feud with the feminists make perfect sense – I cause them pain by existing in the areas they want to colonise, and they cause me pain by making me unwelcome in the only areas I’m capable of functioning in.

So it makes sense that feminists don’t care about immigrants. What makes no sense is that anti-feminists do. About the only connection I can come up with is that people who argue for taking in immigrants tend to do so with appeals to compassion and shared humanity, which is the same arguments feminists use to make for why every man has to walk on eggshells around them. If the reason why anti-feminists are anti-immigrant is that they have no compassion, then that means at least two things are wrong with anti-feminists: one, they are sociopaths, and two, they are idiots, because they honestly think that feminists give a crap about shared humanity. If they really wanted to annoy feminists, they shouldn’t be arguing for being petty and mean, they should argue for a largesse of spirit that made each of us responsible for everyone else’s comfort and well-being – because that would completely contrary to feminism’s neurotic ideal of absolute self-preservation at all cost.

(and if you’re wondering what my problem is with self-preservation, I don’t have one. As an abject coward, I’m a big fan. I do, however, have a problem with self-preservation being put before every nobler value, because it inevitably takes up so much space that you never get around to doing anything but make sure you’re really, really, really safe and comfortable. If you say to yourself, “first and foremost, I must come to no harm,” then you’ll soon find that your definition of “harm” grows more and more liberal until even the slightest prick or sting or momentary inconvenience is unacceptable. That’s the problem with feminism, and in combination with a hefty dose of sheer idiocy it’s also the problem with xenophobes. No, you need to put the need for self-preservation alongside the need for social responsibility, and distribute your energy between them. That means that neither one is going to get fully funded – you will not be completely safe and comfortable, nor will you be doing everything you possibly could to improve the world. Accept that and move on. Living with less than you want – of everything, including virtue – is what I’ve found being human is all about)

Of course, an equally plausible explanation is that they just listen to what feminists say and then go “NUH-UH!” I mean, that seems to be the general level of thinking most of them rely on. (and then their even-dumber fans guwaff and high-five each other and go, “haha, he sure showed her!”)

It would sure be nice if there was any such thing as a sensible, progressive anti-feminism movement that opposed feminism on the valid grounds that it’s a self-pitying hatefest that lacks all compassion and empathy. Instead, all I’ve got is one that revels in its own lack of compassion and empathy. Well, newsflash, assholes – I don’t like that sort of thing from the left, and I don’t like it from the right either!

Where is the ‘sperg-rage?!

My fellow autists disappoint me.

And it’s not like I get along startlingly well with them in the first place, because they are almost uniformly of the opinion that autism is a superpower, while I more sensibly see it as a life-long pain in the ass that simultaneously makes me anal-retentively determined to live life in the right, correct way and absolutely incapable of coming within a thousand miles of actually succeeding in doing so. I’d be a lot more comfortable being autistic if only I wasn’t autistic, and that’s so loathsomely ironic that I can only imagine that the affliction has been cooked up in Hades by some bored archdemon! So I don’t tend to hang out in autistic circles, but that’s not the problem here.

The problem is, I seem to be the only autist who is the least bit bothered by the fact that feminists – the largest and most well-connected social movement in the world today – really freaking hate autists. Not that I’d exactly want to enlist in a great big autists vs feminists war to the finish, but… it’d be nice to have someone rage on my behalf once in a while, you know?

anger problems in adults with asperger syndrome
There should be a lot of this going on! WHY ISN’T THERE ANY OF THIS GOING ON?!

And I don’t understand why there isn’t any anger here, because it’s not like autists are easy-going. In fact, they’re sort of famously… not. Disagree about their interpretation of a video game, and a true autist will rant at you for hours about how insufferably wrong you are. Nor can it be that they don’t care what other people say, because, again, call autism a disability or a disease and you can sit back and watch the fireworks. But feminists can devote all their time to wailing about how horrible it is that they have to come into contact with men who behave exactly like autistic men behave, and no one raises an eyebrow.

(could it be that autists genuinely don’t realise how they come across? Do they sit there and nod eagerly, “yes, yes, it’s HORRIBLE that men talk all the time and don’t care that women aren’t interested in listening. Shame on those men! I’d never do that – why, I only talk about things that are self-evidently the most interesting things in the world and that that everyone clearly wants to hear all about!” Honestly, it’s the only explanation I can think of. I guess another thing autists aren’t famous for is being self-aware…)

Either way, when I tried to google “feminists are hostile to autists,” the only hit that even vaguely touched upon the issue was this one, which frankly made me feel worse instead of better.

Boys are expected to be competitive, in social games that are often beyond us. We are expected to enjoy team sports, when teams are baffling and most of us are dyspraxic or at least clumsy. We are expected to be part of a universal boys’ club by default, when for the most part other boys are no less alien to us than girls are.

All of this means that the average autistic boy suffers a good deal from the patriarchy. Male privilege means something quite different for someone able and willing to dominate others than it does for a socially confused autistic boy who just can’t get a handle on masculinity. It’s something else again for someone who’s got enough of a handle on masculinity to reject it outright.

To start on a positive note, and ignoring all the oh-woe-is-women-they-have-it-so-hard hand-wringing – this is actually interesting, because I didn’t know that. But it certainly describes me to a T. I may have mentioned my intense hatred of competition once or twice before. I just didn’t know it was an autistic thing. Huh. That actually makes me feel vaguely positive towards my autism for the first time in my life, because apparently it’s responsible for at least one trait that I like about myself… in addition to a bunch of ones that I don’t, of course.

Perhaps the worst is when autistic men come across as creepy (this is not something autistic women are entirely immune to, but women are generally far less likely than men to be seen as creepy). This is not always our fault. I recently read an article about the psychology of creepiness with a sinking feeling, as I realised how many of the psychological cues for a perception of creepiness are regularly seen in autistic people: ‘Invading personal space’? Oops. ‘Talking too much about a topic’? Guilty as charged. ‘Laughing at inappropriate times’? ‘Not letting someone out of conversation?’ ‘Displaying too much or too little emotion’? ‘Smiling peculiarly’?

Yes! Exactly! The feminist definition of “creepy” is exactly the same as the medical definition of “autistic”! And we’re angry about this, yes? We are not going to stand for this unjustified and bigoted attack on our already long-suffering and much-abused kind, yes? YES?

Over-zealous condemnation of men who make other people uncomfortable risks veering into ableism,

… “risks veering into ableism.”

“RISKS VEERING INTO ableism.”

“RISKS! VEERING INTO!”

Yeah! Sure! Declaring a whole group of disabled people inherently unacceptable may indeed veer into ableism! It’s kind of heading in that general direction, you know? Like, if you followed that path of treating a medical handicap as a dreadful sin for long enough, you might in the fulness of time arrive at something that might be uncharitably viewed as GODDAMN FREAKING ABLEISM!!!

Ohhhhhhhh, I’m having one of those HL Mencken moments again. Does anyone have a black flag I can borrow?

You know what else I’ve heard referred to as ableism? Not as things that might verge into ableism, but just as ableism? The idea that caring for a heavily disabled person for the rest of your life might not be much fun. So, to recap: a lifetime of wiping someone’s ass? Awesome, and you’re a bigot if you don’t do it with a smile on your face. Putting up with someone talking a little too much? Horrible and demeaning and if you don’t think so you clearly hate women.

but

No! No, don’t you dare! You just delivered the weakest, most timid sort-of-not-really objection in the history of humankind! Don’t you dare put a “but” after it too! DON’T YOU FREAKING DA…

personal safety is crucial. By all means keep your distance from anyone who makes you uncomfortable, just try to remember that instincts can be wrong.

… goddamnit.

Okay, you know, aside from everything else? I don’t even know what feminists are supposed to make of that feeble suggestion in practice. You shouldn’t, but you should, and also you should, but you maybe shouldn’t? Do exactly what you were going to do anyway, but, uhm, consider feeling a little bit bad about it?

Straining my goodwill to the limits, I could sooooooooort of see it as being a very badly phrased way of saying, “do be afraid of autistic men, but don’t be so sure of your right to be afraid of them that you post online about how horrible it is that they terrify you.” Which I could maybe live with, actually. If a woman flees from me in terror, that would certainly hurt my feelings, but what really crushes my spirit and makes me wonder if I should even bother living in this world is the sheer suffocating consensus of it, the unified front of every single non-lout in the world agreeing that women deserve to be pitied for being forced to coexist with me. So yeah, “do what you must, but then shut up about it” would actually work as a compromise as far as I’m concerned… but I somehow doubt that was how the author meant it.

autistic men who hold the same bad ideas about women as so many men will sometimes make glaringly inappropriate moves.

Well, I wouldn’t want to have bad ideas about women. Or about anything, to be sure – there’s that anal-retentiveness again, I want to have the correct opinion about everything. But would you care to help me out here, because I feel like I’m getting mixed messages and have been for a while: what is the correct idea to have about women?

Is it that they are as strong and capable as I am, my equals in all things, with all the rights and responsibilities of adult human beings? Because that’s the idea I was raised with, and it’s the one I would very much prefer to have.

Or is it that they are fragile little things who are utterly at my mercy, who can be traumatised by my slightest misstep, and who certainly can’t be expected to speak up for themselves and set boundaries but who are dependent on big strong MEEEEEEEEEN like me to anticipate their needs? Because that’s the idea I get from feminists, and that’s the idea I’m getting from you, and it’s a horrible idea that I hate for a number of reasons, but I can’t entirely dismiss it as long as it comes so widely argued for!

Aaarrggggghh.

Hey, article author guy, you wouldn’t happen to know what the autistic version of an “uncle Tom” is, would you? You know, someone who kisses up to the bigoted majority and thus makes the lives of every single other member of his kind harder? BECAUSE WHATEVER IT’S CALLED, YOU ARE ONE!

Okay. Okay. Let me finish this by making a heartfelt offer to all the women of the world, feminist or otherwise. I promise to minimise my autism to the furthest possible extent of my strength and ingenuity. I will do my utmost to identify all the unwritten rules in that great big non-existent book of unwritten rules that you are so keen on, and to follow each and every one of them. I promise, in essence, to try my very hardest to be as predictable and normal and non-Creepy as it is humanly possible for me to be.

In return, you – toughen up just the tiniest bit. Just the miniscule fraction that it would take for you to suffer an occasional bit of social miscalculation without throwing a pity party for yourselves. Make just a fraction of an inch of room for me, and I will balance on that tiny foothold without complaint.

And if you don’t trust me, if you think that I will not live up to my end of the bargain, then I have good news for you: you don’t have to trust me. You just have to see for yourself. Because here’s the thing:

I have already done all that.

I have spent my entire life trying to as neurotypical as possible. I have crammed my natural inclinations into a tiny hole in my head and left them to die there, replacing them with my best approximation of what you, yes YOU, seemed to want from me. I have worked small miracles. I have learned to do things that I had no idea I was capable of. And it was hard, and it was painful, and I did it all anyway, because it was the right thing to do. I am and continue to be as perfect as facsimile of a neurotypical as I have the strength and the wit to make myself.

Now it’s your turn. Stop your whining, give up the idea that you’re entitled to always being comfortable, and let me exist.

You know what? Fine. Let’s consider Elevatorgate.

I have, once again, read a book. And as usual it’s making me uneasy.

The book is sort of vaguely recommended, by the way, if only because it attacks most of the people I tend to attack – and while it kicks harder to the right than to the left, it has some choice words to say about Tumblr-dwelling oppression-olympians. The message of the book is a bit vague, but it seems to be something like, “the Internet is horrible and liberals should stop identifying with anarchists because most liberal causes require law and order,” of which I can heartily agree with the first part (while still sadly noting that horrible as it is, I am dependent on it to function) and am at least broadly sympathetic to the second part. I have never understood why anarchism was supposed to be extreme liberalism. Liberals, in my mind, were always the responsible types trying to make everyone quiet down, eat their vegetables and stop running with scissors, and it’s always bothered me that that never seemed to be how anyone else saw it, even other liberals.

Hotel_Stairs_in_Maracaibo
If elevators fill you with such dread, let me point you to a clever new invention that you seem to be unaware of…

But of course she has to mention Elevatorgate, and of course she’s on the lump of matter Rebecca Watson’s side, and that’s the part where I start pounding my head against the wall. Seriously? She can’t make the tiny connection between the Tumblr drama queens and the woman who claimed that a guy asking her a civil question in an elevator was proof of the ingrained misogyny of the atheist community? Those two don’t look just the teensiest bit alike to her? What the hell am I missing?

Okay, okay. Part of what I’m missing is that the louts and the brutes are, as usual, providing wonderful cover for the feminists by being every bit as horrible as feminists claim all men are. Let me make a disclaimer that no one will believe: I have nothing but contempt for anyone who sent the lump of matter hate mail after the event. (hey, lumps of matter have feelings too!) In fact, part of my inspiration for this blog was the realisation that I didn’t have to make excuses for troglodytes just because they were anti-feminist, that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend – a realisation that actually gave me a modicum of inner peace for the first time in ages, because believe me, being an apologist for the scum of the Earth does nothing for your self-respect. So: I’m not part of Team Emailed Death Threat, I am not friends with anyone on Team Emailed Death Threat, and if anyone told me they were on Team Emailed Death Threat I would inform them in the strongest terms that that sort of thing is not okay. I am on Team Got Outraged Beyond Words Yet Still Remained Civilised, which is a very small and overlooked team but which still has a membership of at least one, even if I sometimes despair of it being any larger than that.

But just as I don’t defend the gurgling, gibbering Internet hate mobs, I also refuse to let them provide cover for awful people. So pry your eyes away from that macabre spectacle, and freeze time at the moment of the lump of matter’s infamous post. Because I think I need to talk about this in more detail than I have so far. As one of my few commentators has noted, Elevatorgate stands tall in my mind as the perfect, irrefutable evidence that the world is not large enough for both me and the feminist movement – so I should at least explain, as well as I can, why that is.

And just to be completely thorough and avoid any risk of unfairness, let’s start by stating Watson’s own account, which Nagle helpfully quotes in full in her book:

I used my time to talk about what it’s like for me to communicate atheism online, and how being a woman might affect the response I receive, as in rape threats and other sexual comments. The audience was receptive, and afterward I spent many hours in the hotel bar discussing issues of gender, objectification, and misogyny with other thoughtful atheists. At around 4 AM, I excused myself, announcing that I was exhausted and heading to bed in preparation for another day of talks. As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?” I politely declined and got off the elevator when it hit my floor.

This is what keeps making me wonder if I’m just crazy. I mean, am I seeing a different string of words on the page than everyone else does? Because to me it looks like it’s an account about how some guy… behaved a bit oddly. That’s all he did! He wasn’t rude! He wasn’t mean! He didn’t break any rules! He took no for an answer with apparent grace! There’s just nothing there that should be possible to use as an example of how Men Are Insensitive To Women’s Pain, but nonetheless that seems to be precisely what everyone is treating it as.

And please note, this is her account of what happened! This isn’t he-said-she-said – it’s just she said! I am not disputing her account by one iota, I am working on the assumption that everything happened precisely as she described, and I still can’t find the slightest sign of the casual misogyny that everyone else claims it’s conclusive proof of! By her own words, black on white, preserved for posterity, she had absolutely no reasonable cause to feel ill-treated or disrespected.

I want to be very definite about this, because the situation wouldn’t have scarred me for life if there had been any shade of grey in it, any reasonable cause to condemn the guy’s actions even the slightest. If he had done the slightest thing actually wrong, this wouldn’t have been one of the defining moments in my life. If he’d have kept coming after her even after she said she wasn’t interested, that would have been bad! If he’d have tried to follow her into the women’s bathroom, or even worse tried to force his way into her room, that would have been bad! If it had been anything like that, I would probably have grumbled a bit about how every time a man does something bad the feminists feel the need to shout it from the rooftops, but I would have acknowledged that it was, in point of fact, bad, and I wouldn’t have needed to take it personally because I’d have known that I would never do anything like that.

But no. He behaved a bit oddly. This is something that autists, and weird over-cerebral guys in general, tend to do. We can’t help it. Our brains aren’t wired the same as neurotypical brains, so we do things that make sense to us but not to you. That’s no excuse for us to be mean, or to break the rules – I want that to be very clear. But this guy wasn’t mean, and he broke no rules, and he still got used as an example of how Men Are Insensitive To Women’s Pain. And that means that being autistic has officially been turned into a crime, because the sort of behaviour that we will always end up engaging in – the sort of behaviour that isn’t wrong or malicious, but a bit odd – has been turned into a crime.

This is like if I had a bad leg, and someone told a story about a person with a cane getting in her way and ended it with asking: “don’t you think that’s AWFUL?” And everyone who heard the story agreed that yes, yes, it’s most certainly AWFUL that those limping types go around inflicting their limpingness on innocent people! Is it really so strange that I find that absolutely, utterly unacceptable?

(just to completely avoid any misunderstandings: the cane, in this metaphor, represents the manual compensations and coping mechanisms that autistic people are forced to learn in order to interact with others in a socially acceptable way. If an autist really refuses to adjust to the majority, then that is like if I had a bad leg but refused to use a cane and instead demanded that other people let me lean on them wherever we went. That would be bad, because there isn’t enough time and energy and goodwill to go around. But just like a bad leg can not be fully compensated for with a cane, an autistic person can not learn to act 100% neurotypical – and so in both cases, it behooves the able-bodied and neurotypical people to make some allowances. This is not negotiable. This is the absolute least we can ask for if we are to take part in society, and anyone who thinks that they’re a compassionate, inclusive liberal is obligated, YES I SAY OBLIGATED, to give us that bare minimum)

Apparently it is, because no one else seems to! No one else sees the blatant, disgusting ableism of it – the refusal to tolerate an autistic presence in the public sphere if it will make some woman, somewhere, uncomfortable. No one else realises just how starkly this sets down the progressive movement’s priorities: first, women must have absolutely everything they want (because they deserve it, because they suffer soooooo badly, the poor little darlings!), and then, if possible, the handicapped can have what’s left. If there is anything left at that point, which there won’t be, because it’s amazing how much people turn out to want when they really start thinking about it.

(and to anyone who wants to object that no one’s actually preventing me from going wherever I want and talking to anyone I want, in an elevator or otherwise – yes, true, if I wanted to talk to people who would hate me for it, I could do that anytime! If I wanted to be a year-round version of that annoying uncle that no one wants to invite for Christmas but dutifully does anyway, I’d be all set! But I happen to feel very strongly that one should not approach social interaction in a spirit of “this is going to hurt you, but I don’t care.” I don’t want to talk to someone who has decided that me talking to them is morally wrong – which means that I don’t get to talk to any progressive woman. And I frankly don’t want to talk to any progressive man, because he’ll be of the opinion that I don’t get to talk to any progressive woman, and I don’t want to talk to someone who denies me my basic human rights in that way. And don’t get me started on all the reasons why I don’t enjoy talking to conservatives!)

The funny thing is, this is practically Liberalism 101. It’s unexamined privilege. Most people don’t know how slow and painful the learning process is for an autist who wants to be part of the world, what it’s like to have to struggle to wrap your head around lessons that seem intuitively obvious to others. They don’t know, and what’s more, they don’t care to know – not if acknowledging someone else’s difficulties would be inconvenient for pursuing their own goals. And autism is a mental disability, which means that it’s invisible. A lot of the time, the line between “I can’t” and “I don’t want to” is blurry even for me, so what could be easier than for an outside observer to just decide that I could behave in a smooth, perfect, neurotypical way but that I just choose not to because I’m selfish and malicious?

No, this is prejudice and bigotry, pure and simple. I would compare it to right-wing racism or sexism or what-have-you, but the sad thing is, I don’t have to. I can just compare left-wing anti-autist bigotry to right-wing anti-autist bigotry, because really, who can tell the difference? In both cases, it’s contempt for the weak and a refusal of the moral responsibility to be inclusive and make room for people who are different than you. And when I say “make room,” I don’t mean throwing them a parade and giving them free stuff, I mean accepting that every so often you might need to interact with them and during that interaction they may behave a bit oddly.

So this is my line in the sand. This is my hill to die on. I could be wrong about every single other thing I say, and feminists could be completely right, and this would still not be okay. I deserve to live. I deserve to take part in society. There is no excuse, there is no conceivable situation, that gives people the right to treat my participation in human society as a blight and a thorn, to claim that my existing in the same space as them is an unacceptable hardship that I should be ashamed of inflicting on them. Everything else, every word I’ve ever said here or elsewhere, everything I’ve asked for or criticised, is ultimately negotiable – but on this issue, it is entirely impossible for me to budge so much as an inch. I deserve to exist. If I signed that away, I’d have nothing left.

So yeah, a lot of people sent all manner of disgusting hate mail to this excuse for a human being. In doing so, they proved themselves unfit to take part in civilised society – for them I have no sympathy and make no apologies. But that was after she had thrust her damnable neurotypical feminine fragility forth and demanded – as if it was nothing, as if it was just the very minimum of what she was owed! – that men around her never ever be the tiniest bit harmlessly awkward or eccentric. And every goddamn feminist in the world thinks, to this day, that she was perfectly justified in asking for what is for a lot of men (and certainly a significant percentage of the subculture she had made herself a celebrity in) absolutely and completely impossible.

You think I should forgive and forget? You think I should get back on “the right side of history”? Then demonstrate to me that progressive society no longer has a “NO WEIRD TONEDEAF GUYS ALLOWED” sign on the door. Because that sign went up one day in ’11, and from what I can see, it has only become bigger and clearer since then.