MALE DISPOSABILITY – Empathy Apartheid, Part II – Deflections and Dismissals


Empathy apartheid takes maintenance. If it isn’t maintained and policed, people’s basic humanity will lead them to show empathy for the people their society has deemed undeserving of it and the system will collapse. So these same people, sadly, use various deflections and dismissals – silencing mechanisms and minimizing tactics to maintain the system. These include:

  • Anti-male shaming tactics
  • Trivialization of injuries to men
  • Victim blaming
  • Erasure by false equivalence
  • Feminism is the answer to men’s problems …and the one that drives them all, just plain old
  • Dehumanization, reducing men to emotionless lumps that can be hurt with impunity because it doesn’t really hurt.

Anti-male shaming tactics – We saw before how anti-male shaming tactics are a feature of empathy apartheid, but they are also an enforcement mechanism. Let’s list them so we can take a look at how this works:

  • Irascibility (Code Red) – calling a man angry for getting angry at being mistreated
  • Cowardice (Code Yellow) – calling a man a coward for avoiding new victimization
  • Hypersensitivity (Code Blue) – calling a man a crybaby for complaining
  • Puerility (Code Green) – calling a man a baby for refusing to be suitably useful to women, to wit, complaining about being used
  • Endangerment (Code Orange) – calling a man frightening in response to his charge that you have harmed him (TDOM expands on this below.)
  • Rationalization (Code Purple) – femsplaining away a man’s complaints
  • Fanaticism (Code Brown) – calling a man an extremist for insisting on equality
  • Gay-shaming (Code Lavender) – this is actually similar to Code Green when it comes ot trying to shut a man down and is usually expressed the same way – “Man up!”
  • Over-generalization (Code gray) – this is the infamous NAFALT (Not all feminists are like that) or some variant – “feminism is not a monolith.”
  • Misogyny( Code Black) – yes, equality is going to feel like misogyny asthe pain of having all that female privilege peeled away hits.
  • Insanity (Code White) – women are very familiar with being on the receiving end of this one, getting called “hysterical”. It works on men too, well enough.
    …and so on.

In a comment on this thread TDOM pointed out:

Trivialization of injuries to men

“Another way of doing this that wasn’t mentioned is the rationalization the perpetrators of this violence are men. So it is men doing it to themselves. This isn’t entirely accurate since the injured party did not injure himself. It is consistent with lumping all men into “class men” and treating them as if they are one person.”

Fungibility – TDOM is talking about “fungibility”, one of the forms of objectification identified by Martha Nussbaum. It is an inability to distingush between “doing it to each other” and “doing it to themsleves” because “they” are all just one undifferentiated mass. Members of some set are objectified by being considered interchangeable. Another term for this is “borgification.” It is a denial of individuality.

Anomalization – Another form this takes is to claim that every instance of harm to men is a one-off; it’s not real discrimination or oppression or whatever term you prefer because it’s not “systemic” or “institutional”. Oh, so the facts of gender disparity in incarceration rates for the same offences, unbalanced educational outcomes, rates of child custody awards, lack of services for male domestic violence victims, lack of services for male rape victims, propensity to arrest male rape victims and charge them with rape, gender disparities in homelessness rates – none of those have anything to do with the legal regime, the court system, the public education system – non e of this is systemic enough to be called systemic?

The Woozle Effect – This is simple; you just fiddle the actual numbers to make male victims look genderless, then you conflate “victims” with “women.”

TDOM continues with:

Blame the victim and make him look like the aggressor

“Another way we do this is to redefine the term “aggressor” to mean someone other than the person who committed the violence. This is what primary aggressor laws are all about. never mind who actually committed the violence, arrest the man because he is larger; arrest the man because he is stronger; arrest the man because he answered the door when the police arrived (and is the one exerting power and control); arrest the man because he is more likely to inflict a more severe injury IF he becomes violent.”

Erasure by false equivalence:

Cicero contributes an example of what TDOM is talking about:

“In the end of men Hannah Rosin mentions a trial where a woman charged with violence against her husband had a psychologist argue on her behalf that her husband made her do it by being weak and codependent, and that THAT was abuse by him and that THAT was the important abuse in the case.”

Are men overwhelmingly the ones who die in war? Well, women have it worse – they are left to mourn and live on alone. Ask Mrs. Clinton. Do young men commit suicide at five times the rate of young women? Well, look at how young women attempt suicide three to four times as often as men! Do men have to jump backwards through hoops to get noticed by women? Well, women have relationships woes too, they often have to settle for less than Prince Charming, sniff, sniff. (See ballgame’s comments on his lack of sympathy for this one.) The murder rates for men are far higher than for women, but it’s really women who are at risk on the street because they get raped. Don’t you see how women really do have it worse????

Yes. I don’t see. I used to fall for this shit, but no more.

Feminism is the answer to men’s problems

Adiabat adds:

“The only one that’s been missed is the dreaded Patriarchy Hurts Men Too (PHMT) and “feminism is already doing that!” deflections. These enable the user to *appear* to empathise with men’s issues but actually ignore the problems that have been raised. They remove the need for the user to empathise with the men affected, “safe” in the knowledge that it’s being handled by some other feminist somewhere else…”

Feminism has the analysis – all your problems are patriarchy, and feminism has the cure – we’ll destroy the patriarchy and set you free. The problem of course is that for decades feminists have been relying on the patriarchy to grant their wishes and enforce the laws and policies they advocate for, so when it comes to the parts of patriarchy that harm men – male disposability, men being valued solely for their utility to women, “what’s yours in the corporate world is mine, what’s mine in running family life is still mine” – feminists are the last ones to destroy any of that.

Simple dehumanization

Then there is simple plain old dehumanization. Judgy Bitch discusses a form of this, the notion that women are complex creatures and men are simple, emotionless robots, specifically when it comes to sex. She discusses two Daily Mail articles by a woman named Shona Sibary in which she complains that a female equivalent of Viagra is unsatisfactory because for women sex is about more than just getting it wet, unlike men, who just need to get it hard, apparently. (Judgy Bitch is a fun read anyway, someone who gets to the root of white woman entitlement princess thinking with a chainsaw.) Then she goes deeper and discusses what emotional violence sexual rejection in a marriage is, and how Sibary’s assumptions all rely on denying that men feel any of that pain at all, that this is really all about making the women feel “desirable and desired” and that’s the sum total of marital sexual bliss. She gets how this is dehumanizing and she gets why it happens, what the point is.

A lot of the Real Man Narrative comes into play here. All those admonitions to “suck it up” and to “man up” are often just a way of telling a man to ignore his own pain because it makes him less of a man to ask anyone else to pay attention to it.

This cannot be an exhaustive list. Please nominate more types of deflections and dismissals.

Jim Doyle
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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="3097">13 comments</span>

  • Awesome piece. I think code white overlaps with ableism. Often when “criticizing” behaviors associated with men, bloggers end up stigmatizing (and making fun of) mental heath problems.

  • I’m not sure if this counts as something new since it is a combination of “Whatabouttehmenz?” and Trivialization and Feminism Solves Men’s Issues.. perhaps it is a “Diversion” more than a Deflection or Dismissal per se.

    The basic formula is simple – “Feminism Solves Men’s Issues, So If You Want To Solve Men’s Issues, Be A Feminist Ally.” This permits concern with men’s issues to be DIVERTED away from men’s issues and towards feminism. In terms of your Empathy Apartheid analysis (a great concept, btw), this basically re-routes empathy for men towards women. Which perpetuates the idea that men aren’t deserving of empathy or understanding unless a woman benefits as a consequence.

  • So I noticed from Clarrisa’s comments those things aren’t the clear communication of desire. Those are just more things that need to be deciphered. Is the person waiting outside because they really needed someplace to stay? Did the person fly cross-country because they are rich and that’s trivial for them? Or perhaps because they had something else to do in your city.

    Clear communication involves this wonderful (and rather new) invention called “words”. To communicate your desire clearly with someone you do not sit outside their house. You say “I want you so much I stayed outside in the biting cold for six hours”. If I see someone camping my house, I’m gonna call the police and report a creepy stalker, if you use your damn words I’ll get your meaning. Words, people. They are the new thing in communication. Use them.

  • If it isn’t maintained and policed, people’s basic humanity will lead them to show empathy for the people their society has deemed undeserving of it and the system will collapse.

    There could still be an unequal distribution of empathy, if there are biological factors, for an empathy gap between males and females.
    Such factors could be
    1.Males are on average bigger and stronger than females, so they are more capable to face dangers by themselves and are less reliant on protection from others.
    2.Pregnancy and nurturing of infants puts women in vulnerable positions, in which they are in need of assistance, so they need strategies to manipulate other people (in particular males) into caring for them.
    3.Males seem to be on average more attracted to frail features and females to strength. Also women seem to have (on average) a preference for dominance in intimate partners. (The dominant partner needs to be more empathical towards the submissive one, than the other way around.)

  • “desirable and desired”

    Often when the man in the relationship has become unattractive to the woman in the relationship she will say he does not make her feel desired despite him trying to get sex with her and displaying in all sorts of ways that he wants her and loves her etc. What it really means is “I can not feel an ATTRACTIVE man desiring me”. That in turn makes her feel undesirable overall because “If no attractive man is desiring me (only you are) I am not desirable”. It is a version of unattractive men for women, in a sense, not existing.

  • Well written article about truly important stuff. The ubiquity of these stances shows just how Misandric our society really is, while punching giant holes in the hull of feminist ideology. Bookmarked.

  • God damn it Cicero, why did you have to compel me to read that blog post?

    That post is baffling in its stupidity. This guy seems to actually believe that his penis is a deadly weapon that carries a very real risk of killing any woman he sticks it in. He even heavily implies that STDs are something only women have to worry about and only if they have vaginal intercourse.

    It’s really amazing how exactly rad-fems imitate trad-cons. They even think that it’s wrong for a man to have vaginal intercourse with a woman like it’s the bloody Dark Ages.

    More on the topic of discussion: one big thing that ought be added as a dismissal is the attribution of hyperagency. An example of such a tactic can be seen in the first sentence of this comment (or it could if that sentence wasn’t tongue-in-cheek) wherein I blamed Cicero for something that I had complete control over. In fact, many of the tactics described above are merely sub-types of the misattribution of agency such as “Blame the victim and make him look like the aggressor.”

  • Thanks, everyone. Most of thse look like the male prvilege narrative in its various lobes. I will make the addition/correction.

  • Hey–I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ve been cruising your site since I saw a link to it (I think of AVfM) and I wanted to add another shifty tactic I’ve noticed in “debates” about gender.
    I’m not sure what pithy label to give it, but I’ve noticed the following:
    1) State unequivocally that all X are Y–in this case, that all men are sexist.
    2) If a man engages, ignore any and all rules of polite discourse. Insult, be a hypocrite and provoke the shit out of them until…
    3) they lash out. After having eaten a Youtube thread’s worth of insults, picked out of thin air and often aimed at perceived vulnerable spots, the guy gets mad and says something mean, possibly but not usually misogynistic, in my experience.
    4) Having obtained proof in the form of sexist insults that the men in question is indeed a misogynist (even if his insults are neither insults nor sexist, but merely something at which the feminist takes offense,) use said proof to justify ignoring any and all points (however factual or pertinent) the guys has made as mere sexism, misogyny, etc.
    5) Extrapolate from this one guy (or however many they’ve done it too) to all men.
    6) Use this extrapolation to justify the attitudes that all men are sexist, and thus any points made by men the feminist doesn’t agree with are just misogynist rage.
    7) Use this justification to argue that all X are Y, and to provoke people unmercifully, ignoring fact, logic, civility, the rules of polite discourse, and their own hypocrisy, and until they lash out. Basically, move back to 1), 2) and 3).

    I know this is a bit involved, but damn, I have seen it oh so many times, and not just with feminists.

By Jim Doyle

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