In response to complaints about sexism, you will hear a lot of complaints about how unreasonable and ‘misandrist’ women who complain about sexism are. I want to talk about that.

Last week, I had a couple of run-ins with people who were reacting to complaints about sexism and harassment. The first was with Ben Kuchera over at Penny Arcade Report, who posted an article that – as I said in one of my tweets to him – I actually mostly liked. But I took issue with an apparent assertion that gender has nothing to do with online harassment. I wasn’t sure he meant that – tho’ it turned out he did.

He was clearly expecting responses on the topic, and said that snide and nasty comments would result in Twitter blocks:

Fair enough. After not all that long, he makes these comments, saying he’s being attacked along race and gender lines:

…and that he’s up for debate, but not with people who call him “privileged cis scum:”

So he says he’s totally up for talking to people, but is blocking people who attack him along race or gender, or who are snide and/or nasty. Totes reasonable… on the surface.

Now, I don’t know all the people he blocked, but I do know one thing: I was one of those people. He blocked me, lumping me in with all those people allegedly calling him “privileged cis scum.”

I present to you our entire conversation, in screencaps. I’m building evidence for an argument and this is relevant, so bear with me. @AdamGoodallYes had taken issue with Ben’s assertion in a sentence that gender has nothing to do with online harassment. Ben had responded that picking one sentence out of an entire article to take issue isn’t reasonable. That’s where I jumped in. Read along:

Note that I walked away here. I was willing to be done, because it looked like this was going nowhere; further, I want to make it clear that I’m fully aware I have no right to have a conversation with this guy. I’ve said my piece and said goodbye. But then he comes back to me, a few minutes later, so we pick it up again:

Do you see what happened there? When I try to start providing data that is directly relevant to the conversation, he blocks me, as – presumably – someone attacking him on race and/or gender.

Apparently because I’m providing data he doesn’t like. That’s what it looks like from here, anyway.

Hold on to that thought.

That same week over on Facebook, a Norwescon friend of mine linked to this Tumblr post about nuTrek, and the way that nuTrek has eliminated or written out women. The post consists entirely of facts, except for one observation at the end.

The first commenter – someone I don’t know and won’t name here, but the post is public – called it all “entirely incidental,” and declared that people “went looking” for this to complain about it. I disagreed, strongly, siting the 17%-is-seen-as-balanced rule, and noting – as I have before – that this stuff really matters in real life.

His response is to “reject [my] misandry,” and declare that there are no facts (only “conjecture”) in the article/blog post. After getting called badly enough on that, he goes back to his own Facebook page, where he crows to his friends that:

Nothing pleases me more than listening to a ‘feminist’ spout misandry as a defense for an already flimsy argument, only to find out that said ‘feminist’ clearly didn’t read the ORIGINAL article about the issue, but only read the ‘Cliff Notes’ version on someone else’s blog post about said article.

…an “original article” that nobody linked to, including the Tumblr blogger; that nobody – including him – talked about, and which is not linked to… anywhere, honestly, that I found. I didn’t look that hard; I will presume, in an excess of fairness, that this article actually exists.

But notice what fundamentally happened here, again. Someone was presented with data he didn’t like, data that supports the idea that sexism is real, data that is inarguable, but leads him to conclusions he doesn’t like…

…and that’s misandry. That’s attacking him, because of his gender.

A lot like Ben Kuchera, above.

And that’s just last week.

So here we have two cases of facts being declared misandry; these facts about sexism are gender-biased attacks against men, by “so-called feminists.”

Every time you hear someone talk about “misandry,” – or worse yet, “humourless feminist bitches” – I ask you: think about these. What are the odds, do you think, that the next time you hear it, it’s just as much complete bullshit as it was here?

I’d say the odds are pretty damn good.

In response to comments elsewhere, a followup post: gatekeeping and recourse.