In light of Return Of Kings viral outrage over the “Eating Disorder” article, in which my “20 Things Women Should Be Shamed For, Not Celebrated” also went crazy, I exchanged about 20 emails with a young university female. She said she was interested in doing some research for a Social Psychology class at her university:
I am writing about male/female group separation for a social psychology class at the <university removed>. After reading some of your articles, I can see that you believe there are fundamental differences between men and women, and that you have strong beliefs about how true men and true women should behave.
Could you please tell me how you came to these conclusions? What events in your life have caused you to develop these opinions about people?
Her opinion of me can be summed up as follows:
After discussing or testing a subject I am required to inform you of what I’ve been doing and it’s purpose. Since this has been a very informal interview, I will give you an informal debriefing.
In this dialogue we discussed aspects of sexuality, sexual constructs, sexual stereotypes, and other aspects of sexism with the purpose of supplying information for social psychological analysis. At the beginning of the interview I was accepting, open, and even agreeing with your opinions. Throughout the dialogue I became more personal and challenged your ideals to see how you react to appeals of pathos and logos against your beliefs.
If you have any further questions about this dialogue, please feel free to email me at this address. Do not distribute or copy this correspondence without removing all personally identifying information from it including but not limited to name, university, pictures, and contact information provided.
It is my completely unprofessional opinion that you should seek therapy, especially to discuss the effect that your epiphany and abrupt transition in college has had upon your ego and views on gender. I also encourage you to read literature from both sides of the sexism argument with an open mind, as I have during this dialogue.
Without further ado, I present to you her paper, Conversations with an Ambivalent Sexist. My responses are bolded in between her paragraphs.
Conversations with an Ambivalent Sexist
Trouble Maker (TM) is a sexist blogger on the controversial site Return of Kings and his runs his own blog This is Trouble. Recently made (in)famous by the article “5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder,” Return of Kings targets an audience of men who demonstrate a pluralistic ignorance, believing men should be masculine and women should be feminine, but have to hide it because they feel alone in their attitudes. Their eight community beliefs include:
Not sure how she came to the conclusion that I’m “hiding” anything. I write about it on a public website.
6. A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.
7. Elimination of traditional gender roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.
While TM has said he will not speak for Return of Kings, only for himself, he believes these core values and uses many to back up arguments in his viral article “20 Things Women do that Should be Shamed, not Celebrated,” which included being fat, single motherhood, cat collecting, online dating, short hair, feminism, and divorce. After reading this article, I wanted to know how a well-educated young man from San Diego could develop such extreme prejudice, determining throughout the interview that it wasn’t just the persuasion of sexist writers, but also his current circumstances and a predisposition based on his early childhood.
After a few initial questions, I told TM that he is a textbook example of an ambivalent sexist to which he replied “fair enough,” though disagreeing with the term misogynist because he “loves women” – at least those who conform to his ideal image of women which is eerily similar to his submissive, nurturing, homemaker mother. Freudian psychologists would have some pointed opinions here, but as a social psychologist the focus is turned on to his use of schemas.
For the record, an ambivalent sexist is one who exercises hostile sexism (prejudice against women who don’t conform to typical gender roles) and benevolent sexism (encouragement for women who do conform to typical gender roles)…in other words, I like feminine girls.
TM has at least two overarching schemas for women: those who conform to traditional gender roles by running a household, taking care of their bodies, and being generally nice, submissive women; and those who do not conform. The latter includes sluts, feminists, and careerists who are “typically bitches” according to TM. While he encourages traditionalist women in his writing, he takes advantage of non-conformist women – especially sluts – in his intentions and behaviors. When asked about the conflict between dating multiple “sluts” at a time and supporting the traditional family, he said, “I simply play the hand given,” and pointed me to an entire article he’d written about how he will have sex with them because they’re there, but modern women’s tendency towards promiscuity hinders family creation.
First off, it should be noted that the author of this “academic” paper simply paraphrased my emails to twist it as a good story. It is a far cry from real academia. Here is the exact quote from my email to her:
If I were to marry, I would want my wife to stay home if we had children. Maybe work part time on the side. She would be expected to cook all meals, do all housework, and keep herself in shape. If she can accomplish all of this in just 4 hours a day, the rest of the day is hers for her own pursuits.
If women want a career though, nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think moms that want to stay home should be ridiculed for not being a career woman.
A disconnect between his behavior and attitudes is apparent. Even when I made the disconnect salient by questioning him about the contradiction, TM held to his hypocritical opinion. He had already internally justified his actions by adding new cognitions: since he can’t change women’s promiscuity, then the answer is to use it for personal gain.
There is no disconnect between my opinion and my statements. I like feminine girls. If I were to marry, I would marry a feminine girl who would be happy to stay home and care for the household. The way things are these days, finding these girls is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. On the flip side, casual sex has never been easier, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of that? At the end of the day, I’m looking out for myself.
While justifying his schemas for women internally, TM externally justifies his approval of the traditional woman with the statistics that women initiate half of all divorces and initiate over 75% because feminism has created equality in marriage; “You can agree the rise of divorce has risen with feminism, right? That should be relatively easy to look up and confirm, but I’m at work and I’m lazy.” When I prompted him to give a more detailed response because marriage equality is not the only factor increasing divorce rates, he went on to list four more reasons, three of which were directly caused by women and one indirectly caused by the other three. “Feminism. [It’s] cause and effect, baby.” I further tested his resolve with academic research from my Economics of Gender course with a similar response. TM’s internal justification that “professors are full of high and mighty shit” demonstrates the incredible belief perseverance that he has fostered for the last three years that the misogynist writers and scholars he reads are accurate.
My reasons, which I came up with off the top of my head: Of course there are other things that cause higher divorce. More jobs are computer-operated rather than manual labor, so women are given more opportunity. Living together and having sex prior to marriage becomes more common, and tends to lead to more divorce. People marry later and therefore have “seen” more to life and always think something better is around. Now we have divorcees marrying other divorcees and I doubt that works out often.
Most professors are there to simply collect a paycheck for their research. 90% of my professors in college were pathetic. The thing is to, young men are lied to our entire lives. We don’t even have a chance due to the justifications and beliefs everyone rams down our throat from the moment we pop out of the womb. I wouldn’t say I had a happy childhood at all growing up, but I made my life better. So, no, I don’t care about whatever bullshit your worthless economics professor shoved down your throat that made you somehow think that women have it bad when it comes to divorce. I majored in Economics in college. I looked at the syllabus for that course she mentioned; I’m disgusted it’s allowed in the major.
Even peer reviewed academic texts cannot stand against his sexist belief system, so I explored the explanation for his vehemence in his self-worth. TM grew up overweight and unkissed until college, which made him feel inadequate as a man. After losing weight and two women (through no fault of his own, according to TM) he came across The Chateau, a sexist blog advocating the resurgence of the alpha male as a biological success. It was immediately apparent that this is where many of TM’s beliefs came from. He constantly references biological impulses and their effect on a man’s “game.”
Correct, peer reviewed texts from professors don’t hold any value to my beliefs which I’ve validated in real life by being in the trenches. Your professors can tell you that you’re attracted to the nice guys who treat you well all you want. Let’s take them out to a bar and see who pulls more girls – me or them. Then they can write a paper about that.
TM not only has a strong sense of his individual self, but also a sense of his collective self as part of “the .05% of men in America who understand this stuff.” He believes that he is in a select group of alpha males, including the men from Return of Kings and The Chateau, that have biology figured out and can use their knowledge to become successful in many aspects of life. These men engage in downward comparison with the supposed beta and omega males to increase their self-esteem, then engage in self-enhancement to maintain their beliefs against intense negative feedback.
Not at all. Blogs like mine exist because I want to help guys.
It is not difficult to defend their arguments against the increasing number of people who challenge them: many women post death threats and other extreme reactions in response to sexist arguments. This behavioral confirmation just reinforces TM’s beliefs, making his self-efficacy and esteem increase, and enforcing his belief perseverance. It doesn’t help that women also demonstrate behavioral confirmation in his dating sphere, responding to his “game” with promiscuity and one night stands, as this similarly increases his self-esteem and convictions. Though many of his ideas are false, often illusory correlations, some have basis in social psychological research. He once made a girl borrow a car to drive to his house though he owns two cars. Her effort justification probably encouraged her to sleep with him, which she did. He also demonstrates a very effective form of reciprocal liking; he acts like he doesn’t like a girl, then suddenly wants her, shown to be the most powerful of the four types.
I think she’s talking about this girl…but I don’t remember who I did that to.
Well, I’m glad the professors of these classes understand at least some parts of game 😉
His ideals for women are based in evolutionary science preferring women be “sweet supportive, nurturing, not detrimental via drama” as well as beautiful and fertile. It can be hypothesized that TM grew up with an avoidant attachment relationship with his mother as he sleeps with many women, is not invested in any single relationship, and values a nurturing, supportive relationship like that experienced with a mother without intentions of achieving it.
TM’s views of manhood are equally influenced by evolutionary biology. He wants to be “in the trenches making money… not cleaning up vomit, doing laundry, and cooking (though, [he does] like to cook, admittedly).” He conforms to the ideal alpha male set forth by his group, even though he doesn’t completely fit the mold, perhaps a result of modified groupthink. When I test the group’s beliefs by noting they are outdated in this modern world of equality, he responded, “While modern women do not NEED that providership, you cannot simply UNDO thousands of years of biology in, what, 50 years? … No, women want me to take them, lead, and be a man. That doesn’t mean be a total dick, it means be a leader.” Throughout the interview he consistently used language that makes the ideal man a dominant figure, while women should submit to men’s – especially their husband’s – will, a common societal structure for thousands of years, now promoted by “alpha men” group.
Here’s what I really said:
I just don’t see myself in a situation like that, ever. If I want to marry and have a family, it’s going to be to someone who aspires to make a home and doesn’t aspire to living her life as a careerist. It truly is soul-sucking as I sit in my cube at work now typing this to you. I don’t want the mother of any potential children having to deal with the drag. It will sap the life of her, and therefore the kids from the best experience they can get from their mother. I hope to not be doing it for much longer.
His tone during the interview supported the idea that I am biologically inferior to him because I am a woman. He asked for my picture to judge me based on my attractiveness because my intellectual conversation was not a good evaluation to him. He consistently patronized me with his words, calling me “dear” and “baby,” at one point noting, “Sorry, that comes off a little condescending.” When I told him an opinion of my significant other – a man – he immediately agreed saying, “Ahh your boyfriend is a clever one,” though the way TM interpreted the comment was not how it was intended.
TM expected a man to have a good opinion simply because he is male, so he did not actually stop to comprehend the meaning behind the statement. His assumption could be explained by in-group/outgroup analysis or any manner of themes discussed already in this paper.
She didn’t send me a picture of her face, but the foolish girl emailed me without a pen name and it wasn’t hard to find her website. Complete with a picture (she’s a 7.5, maybe 8), and a resume including her home address and all of her phone numbers! But because I’m *such* an asshole as I’ve been painted in this paper, I’m…not going to post it 😉
For the record, this sums up her boyfriend:
Does it feel weird when I kiss a guy first? Nope. Does it feel weird when I make decisions? Nope. Does it emasculate my boyfriend? Also nope. I kissed him first and asked him out on our first date. We discussed what our relationship would be together, on equal terms, and respect each other equally. I’ll admit, he’s quite attractive and that plays a role, but he’s also funny, caring, and smart. He says the same about me. How would you feel about this type of relationship?
Once I had enough information, I thanked TM for his cooperation, then debriefed him on the intentions and uses of the interview. He was surprised and offended upon discovering that I had not only been learning about his beliefs, but also testing how those beliefs persevere under small attacks. I explained that while I appeared very accepting and inquisitive in the beginning of the interview, this slowly changed to appeals of pathos and logos against his beliefs to see how he would respond. He hoped “the irony of [this interview] is not lost on [me],” then refused to respond further.
Please explain the irony? I would like to quote you on it for my GSI.
I bet she won’t quote it.
Upon analyzing the content, I came to the conclusion that TM is a product of circumstance, predisposition, and effective persuasion. The latter is most easily identifiable: misogynist literature is persuasive. It often cites vivid case studies, biology, evolution, and other credible sources that aid in the credibility of the writer and, if there is little credibility, bloggers can rely on the sleeper effect to help their ideas take root. Return of Kings and The Chateau answer enough of the opposition, though often with faulty logic, that the appeal seems two sided enough that readers can see the rebuttal without alienating already sexist readers. The writers proclaim that there are answers to common questions of self-esteem and self-worth that many young men experience.
She’s credible here. There are a lot of keyboard jockeys out there that regurgitate this stuff but don’t take action – I guess that’s the “sleeper” effect she’s referencing. However, myself and countless other men have gone and tested this stuff and concluded that it works. We have one, or multiple, if we so chose, girls in our lives that adore us, AND, those girls seem pretty damn happy, too. Example one, my girl, Shannon. Example two, Kaitlyn Sploosh.
Young men and women become imbalanced often in their teenage years, which can decreasing their self-esteem. For TM this was the failure of his first crush, followed by years of feeling inadequate because he lacked sexual experience, culminating in his breakup with his first girlfriend after more than two years. He felt lost and confused, making him seek self-knowledge both in and out. What he found was incredibly appealing: successful men telling him that it’s not just his fault, it’s nonconformist feminist women who emasculate him, that all he needs to do is become an alpha to be successful. There are even how-to’s to instruct him in the journey, facts that most people agree with to make the arguments seem more mainstream, and scientific evidence to dissuade him until he only seeks to confirm the biases, not read opposing arguments.
She’s right. I did feel inadequate for years. I’ll say this for the record, right now: while no doubt society is part of the reason to blame for my initial inadequacy, it was my own, too. I never took action, never made a real effort to fix it. I never looked outside the box. And as hard as it is to write about it, I do it because I do want to help guys turn their lives around and find happiness. Hence, the “looking down” on betas and omegas statement she made earlier is utter garbage.
TM was probably also predisposed to become an ambivalent sexist by his traditional upbringing and early childhood, explaining why not all young men seeking self-knowledge are persuaded by sexist arguments. Many young men can fight traditional stereotypes and schemas simply by realizing they are happening and shutting down those notions. They analyze the quality of sexist arguments for logical fallacies and weigh the opposition. Some men who agree with parts of TM’s arguments fight him because of the few extreme arguments, others posted on his Twitter (before it was suspended) that he was giving all men a bad name and enforcing negative stereotypes against men.
What can be taken away from the case study of these conversations, is that sexism is pervasive, in the right circumstances and once it has taken hold in a person’s beliefs, it perseveres with support from a minority group of vocal sexists connected through the blogosphere. Sexism in itself is not condoned publicly – many bloggers refuse to give their real names or photos to avoid public animosity – and men resist the persuasion of sexist arguments, demonstrating huge steps towards the reduction of stereotypes and sexism of many forms, not only ambivalent.
For the record, I sent the following email to her professors:
While I certainly don’t expect either of you to look at me in a kind light after reading that paper and my “professors are full of high and mighty shit” comment, I would like to pass on kind words in regards to the work and effort that <name removed> put into researching. She did an excellent job of broaching the topic of sexuality and my views with an open mindset and then becoming more calculating with her statements and questions to get me to delve further in depth into my past work, my views of the world, and my personal history. She made good use of pathos and logos to get the information she needed to write this paper.
While it sounds like an extra credit article and not something that is being given a letter grade, and I realize that, as a result, restrictions are more relaxed; I am curious if she shared our email correspondence with either of you as it wasn’t properly referenced in the paper. For the most part, Cara conveniently picked snippets from my emails to strengthen her argument, and they are easy to take out of context when put into the light that she shed upon it with her writing. This is what the media does when they want to draw attention to something. I certainly have no issue with this if it was written for that platform, as I write a pretty controversial blog myself.
However, if this is really being considered in the context of academics, I think a proper sourcing of the correspondence is necessary. Without proper context, this paper reads more like a gossip column you’d find in a Cosmo magazine (apart from the social psychology terms) than an academic paper.
Best of luck to you both in your endeavors.
So there you have it! Someone wrote a damn research paper about me. 8 pages, none the less.
I’m going places in 2014.