Tunnels and Trolls

23 Comments
Culture, Politics

Just a fair warning, this is a touchy subject for some people, and kind of off my typical subject matter. After reading 150+ comments over at Shamus’ site, I felt pretty compelled to add in my two cents.

If you read the comments to that post, you know how this one really brought out the real trolls of the internet. All manner of them, they came from the depths, with their warts and boils and their horrifying breath rasping out battle-cries such as, “Race and gender are social constructs!” It was frightening, and a few intrepid posters foolishly went at them with their swords sharpened. Trolls cannot be slain by conventional weapons, in fact, they only become more and more agitated by them. Trolls can only be killed by fire.

Those of us who don’t live in solipsistic darkness where external reality is only what we believe or imagine it to be can recognize that these claims are patently false. Skin color is not a good proxy for race, but races are genetically real concepts. Gender is sex. Despite the attempts by Feminists to redefine this word, Feminists have never made a serious attempt at delineating or measuring the influence of sex as opposed to gender. Gender therefore means only what Feminists decide it means as it is convenient for them at the time. Until science has made a great deal more progress, the influence of “sex” as opposed to “gender” is largely unknown and isn’t worth discussing, particularly not with those who think that their thoughts determine what is real.

Both of these are tangents, however. The real battle in the comments took place over the idea that “Rape is about power.” This is actually a shibboleth repeated by Trolls to determine whether the beings they encounter in their darkness are other Trolls, or if they are interlopers from the surface world. If it turns out the being was not another Troll, 1d3 Trolls are summoned within the next round.

“Rape is about Power” is not a verifiable claim. At best, this is a consensus, not a fact. In the world of Trolls, enough of a consensus may determine reality, but in reality it does no such thing. This sort of consensus is particularly suspect given the well-documented and overwhelming political bias of the Psychology field. As a further strike against the validity of this claim, a quick Google search revealed hundreds, possibly thousands of feminist agitprop sites using the formulation, MYTH: Rape is about sex. FACT: Rape is about power.

Even if “Rape is about Power” were true, what does that tell us? Aside from completely misleading us about when, where, why, and how rapes occur, it tells us nothing. One may as well say “Money is about Power.” Yes, and? An understanding of power relationships is already included in folk-psychological understandings of rape. Pseudo-expertise insisting that “Rape is about Power,” though, is far poorer in that it excludes the most obvious and influential factor in rape, sexual desire.

The claim is made not to illuminate our understanding of the subject to help prevent it, but instead to cast it into the Trolls’ delusion of “The Patriarchy.” According to this ideology, rape is a systematic expression of power by this mythical “Patriarchy” over women. Yet another tool in the toolbox, amongst things such as “Truth,” “Science,” “Marriage,” and so on. In reality, the claim “Rape is about Power” is about power. The entire point of this claim is not to help women or stop rape, it is to frame the unacceptable act of rape in terms that Trolls control. It is both a cavern that entices the curious into the darkness of the Trolls, and a weapon that can be used to frame those who oppose the Troll’s perception of reality as being supportive of socially and morally unacceptable behavior.

23 Responses

  1. Great post, very astute observations.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. :)

  2. I do apologize, but I can’t help myself.

    %name said:

    Gender is sex. Despite the attempts by Feminists to redefine this word, Feminists have never made a serious attempt at delineating or measuring the influence of sex as opposed to gender.

    That’s not entirely true.

    The difference between “gender” and “sex” has been studied widely in the social sciences, such as Anthropology and Sociology.

    Sex is what you’re born with. Either you get two X chromosomes or you get an X and a Y. Period*.

    Gender is the [b]role[/b] you take in your society. Most societies have two genders, which we define as “male” and “female.” However, that is not always the case – there are several societies across the globe where there is a third gender, which is neither “male” nor “female.” There are published studies on societies with more than three genders.

    Gender [b]is[/b] a social construct. But anyone who would argue that somehow that makes it less valid, or more subject to change depending on who is talking would not be entirely correct. Gender is enforced by the culture the person is a part of. Cultures tend to stay very rigid unless forced to change – culture is, by nature, conservative. So, while gender roles may be redefined over time, the change is generally very gradual. In instances where it is not, such changes usually accompany periods of rapid societal change (i.e. the “Sexual Revolution” and the events surrounding it).

    Of course, I found the whole argument in question riddled with fallacies anyway, since quite honestly, I never got “rape” out of the comic in the first place.

    *Except in rare cases of genetic abnormalities, but those are rare enough for us to leave them aside for the purposes of the argument.

  3. If Gender is synonymous with the “role” one plays in society, then why not say a “role” in society, or a “sexual role in society?” You could say that’s a bit verbose, I suppose, but no one ever accused these people of being terse.

    In any case, that’s a little besides the point. There are obviously historical, environmental, and biological factors that determine the patterns of existing societies. The question is, at what point does one determine “Heer be Genderes” as opposed to biology? Furthermore, given the huge gaps in our knowledge about biological differences between men and women, gaps exacerbated by hostile attitudes in the social sciences, how can anyone say with any degree of confidence the major factors that play into in cultural expressions at all?

  4. %name said:

    If Gender is synonymous with the “role” one plays in society, then why not say a “role” in society, or a “sexual role in society?” You could say that’s a bit verbose, I suppose, but no one ever accused these people of being terse.

    Because scientists like to invent words? I honestly don’t know. Although, from my experience, “sex” as it refers to whether you have manly bits or womanly bits is not the same as having a “sexual role.” Remember that in science, your sex (male, female) is not necessarily about what you do with those manly or womanly bits. It’s just about whether you dangle or don’t. The truth is, sex and gender are usually directly linked. But not always.

    Also, it’s important to note that the role of women in, for instance, American society has changed fairly drastically over the last two hundred or so years. Yet, women are still female – they still have two X chromosomes, they still lack the dangly bits, etc. Yet, their roles have changed. If they are, indeed, still female (XX, not XY), then the only thing that’s changed is their role – how we define their gender.

    %name said:

    In any case, that’s a little besides the point. There are obviously historical, environmental, and biological factors that determine the patterns of existing societies.

    Very much so. And it’s important to note that even if what a society does makes no sense at first glance, cultures always have a reason for what they do. Human beings are fairly logical creatures, oddly enough.

    %name said:

    The question is, at what point does one determine “Heer be Genderes” as opposed to biology? Furthermore, given the huge gaps in our knowledge about biological differences between men and women, gaps exacerbated by hostile attitudes in the social sciences, how can anyone say with any degree of confidence the major factors that play into in cultural expressions at all?

    I both want to say we can’t, and yet, we can. To explain what I mean, the thing is, “culture” is a difficult creature to classify. It encompasses so much of what we are. It is what we wear, what we eat, what we believe, what we do, how we think, etc, etc. How much of this is based purely on biology is unclear.

    To be clear, I speak from an Anthropological perspective, as it is what I have my degree in. My discipline focuses on the micro versus the macro. So, for instance, for every fundamental, “This is always this way” that, say, a Sociologist might throw out there, an Anthropologist would respond with, “Well, not always, and here is this one tribe in Equatorial New Guinea that is the exception to your rule.”

    With that in mind, if we are to make the presumption that all human beings have fairly much the same genetic code with a few small differences (i.e. we’re all the same species, same base model, as it were), I offer this for your consumption:

    It is safe to say that in Western Society, men are regarded as the aggressive side of the equation, while women are the passive, nuturing side. Men are expected to be strong, the bread-winner, outgoing, the one who goes off to war (see the fact that the U.S. draft only registers men). Women are expected to raise children, be understanding, be more empathetic. Recent studies have gone on about how women tend to try to build bridges, bring understanding to the table, while men tend to be more aggressive towards getting their way. That female children tend to want to build things while male children tend to want to run around and bust up what the female children have built.

    Alright. With that in mind, consider the following:

    In Papua New Guinea, there exists a tribe called the Tchambuli. Among this tribe, what we think of as “traditional” gender roles are entirely reversed. Women are the aggressive, pushy, outgoing, warlike, bread-winners. Men are the passive, nuturing, caring, and empathetic stay-at-home-dads.

    If biology solely determines gender, why is it that two living cultures existing on the same planet with base members of the same species have such radically different gender roles?

  5. “Trolls” does not mean “people who hold a different opinion from you.” It means “people who are trying to stir up a reaction and screw up the thread.” Post 83 and 99 are very far from trolls. There’s no inflammatory language, there’s no picking fights with other posters, and you can just tell they’re expressing sincerely held opinions. The post #93 by “deoxy” taking issue with #83 is actually far more trollish since its whole reason to exist is to disagree with people and call them names.

  6. “Skin color is not a good proxy for race, but races are genetically real concepts.”

    That’s not actually true. Genetically, the differences between a white person and a black person are no more significant than between two white people or two black people. Race is nothing but outside appearence.

  7. Wow, I really hope that you are kept in an institution far away from . . . everybody. Particularly women, women for whom you feel “sexual desire,” women who have experienced violence, and anyone of a different race. It’s obvious that you’ve been kept away from books.

  8. Now there’s a troll. Anyway, I was pretty sure recent scientific thinking showed that Allan was wrong about being able to tell someone’s race by their genes, but I just went on a pretty long Wikipedia tour and I guess it’s not open-and-shut either way.

  9. %name said:

    That’s not actually true. Genetically, the differences between a white person and a black person are no more significant than between two white people or two black people. Race is nothing but outside appearence.

    Well, there are actually genetic markers that are more common in, say, someone from Africa than someone from Mongolia. But from the studies I saw, it has more to do with which populations settled where than with which populations have dark skin and which have light skin. Really, skin color is a protective adaptive effect. And that’s it.

  10. Elaine Vigneault

    You’re so wrong. I’ll explain later in my blog.

  11. @HeatherRae:

    Did you actually read my previous comment? I explicitly mentioned environmental and historical factors, and did not point to biology as a sole factor. The point being that, with biology as an unknown, any proclamations about “socially constructed” (a largely fallacious phrase itself) roles are little more than guesswork and wordplay.

    I mentioned in my post that I am highly skeptical of psychology, and this skepticism extends to other highly politicized fields, such as sociology. I also tend to think that researchers who study obscure tribal cultures tend to exaggerate features both of “Western” culture, and of the culture they are studying, in order to make bold claims that generate interest (and funding). Factor in that the seminal research on the Tchambuli was done by Margaret Mead, hardly a reliable “scholar,” and that her claims have been contradicted by other researchers, and my confidence in these accounts is especially low.

    @Noumenon:

    You’re right, “Troll” doesn’t mean, “Someone I disagree with.” Troll, in the context of this post, also doesn’t mean “Internet Troll,” though one can reasonably expect some degree of coincidence. I figured it would be fairly obvious how I was using the term from reading the post.

    @Allan:

    You are wrong. Link (via GNXP).

  12. I just spent the last half hour typing out a response.

    Only to have it eaten because I forgot to type in “human.”

    I am going to go to sleep now, and think on this tomorrow, for I fear I may cry at having my post eaten. It is very sad.

  13. %name said:

    I just spent the last half hour typing out a response.

    Only to have it eaten because I forgot to type in “human.”

    I am going to go to sleep now, and think on this tomorrow, for I fear I may cry at having my post eaten. It is very sad.

    Same thing happened to me, but with hitting the delete key while I wasn’t in the text-box.

  14. Thanks for answering, cineris, but I’m going to stand by my position that a post starting with “If you read the comments to that post, you know how this one really brought out the real trolls of the internet,” should be taken by a reasonable reader to concern Internet trolls. You didn’t pick the right word for what you meant. “Ogres” would have been better. “Troll” implies a real attack on someone’s credibility, but you were just namecalling.

  15. %name said:

    Thanks for answering, cineris, but I’m going to stand by my position that a post starting with “If you read the comments to that post, you know how this one really brought out the real trolls of the internet,” should be taken by a reasonable reader to concern Internet trolls. You didn’t pick the right word for what you meant. “Ogres” would have been better. “Troll” implies a real attack on someone’s credibility, but you were just namecalling.

    That’s a reasonably fair point. I don’t get the image of living in darkness from “Ogres” though, and most other creatures I can think of in a general consciousness don’t feel like they work either.

  16. I absolutely can’t believe how conciliatory your response is… is this the Internet, or some kind of magical realm of angels where people can listen to anonymous criticism without getting defensive? +1 Karma points for you and may you somehow get back any time you lost responding to my snipe attack.

  17. %name said:

    I absolutely can’t believe how conciliatory your response is… is this the Internet, or some kind of magical realm of angels where people can listen to anonymous criticism without getting defensive? +1 Karma points for you and may you somehow get back any time you lost responding to my snipe attack.

    That was a snipe?
    Well, anyway, assuming you’re being serious (this is the Internet, after all!), thanks for the compliment. I’m definitely not perfect, and language is always slippery.

  18. I don’t know exactly the right word either, but I tried using “snipe” to mean “I had no connection to your blog community other than this criticism so dialoguing with me is likely to have the same long-term effect as hunting down and retraining a pigeon that pooped on your car.” I saw you in the comments at 2blowhards the other day, though, so maybe it wasn’t just a one-off. I read some of your old posts, too…

  19. I find it curious that you are only willing to accept scientific studies that reinforce your existing beliefs, while decrying all other fields because they obviously have strong political agendas behind their research. Why do you presume that a scientist looking for genetic differences between whites and blacks is pure and unbiased but a scientist looking for social differences between Americans and Papua New Guineans is unethical and tainting research?

    It’s one thing to question all science – that’s a good thing, that’s one of the base principles of science. (Well, unless you’re just choosing to ignore widely accepted scientific principles a la those who don’t “believe” in evolution, but that’s another story.) It’s one thing to be incredulous about any study done by one person on a limited sample of people. And it’s one thing to keep in mind that some topics are still highly controversial and there’s no real consensus in the scientific community.

    But it’s quite another thing to act as a skeptic one moment and then declare things as “FACT” based on ONE article. One might be inclined to think you’re cherry-picking which bits of science appeal to you and discarding the rest.

    In truth, I found this whole post quite rambling and nonsensical – I just came away from it with a general sense of “All feminists are wrong about EVERYTHING and any science that agrees with them is manufactured by people with political agendas!” I’m not really sure it even had anything to do with weighing in on the original issue – it just seemed more an opportunity to babble about your own world-view, dismissing claims which do not fit neatly within it without providing a lick of real science or credibility to back up your own claims.

    As for the substance of your argument that rape is about something other than power, not only is your attack on that idea weak at best, you provide no alternative theories. Is the reader just supposed to infer that you believe rape to be about sex? Do you honestly think so little of your own gender that you would rather believe a significant minority of men “can’t keep it in their pants” than consider that maybe when a man rapes a women who turns him down, he’s doing it to “show her” rather than just because he was so totally overcome by her hotness that he had to have her, right then? I think at the least you would agree that rape is done with the intention to hurt (or at least, I would hope you at least acknowledge this), so how can you logically infer that rape is just about sex?

    I really hope that you reread your original post and at least reconsider the structure of your argument and the evidence you use to back up your claims about the world, because at the moment not only am I not convinced, but I can’t see how you could possibly convince anyone of anything when you use these methods of debate.

    And I have to agree with above comments regarding your use of the word troll.. You know what it means to call someone a troll, yet you chose to use that word anyway because it cast doubt on the validity of their claims. I can’t tell someone she sounds like a bitch and then later claim that I just meant her voice resembled a yapping dog and sit there thinking about how clever I am. So just own up to the fact that you’re merely attacking people who disagree with you and stop pretending like you came up with this ingenious analogy of a cult of cave-dwelling trolls all on your own and it just applies perfectly to this situation.

  20. @Finn:

    You seem to be assuming my objective is to convince people. It’s not.

  21. I would add that something is junk science if its proponents go out of their way to villify challengers. Real science *wants* to be challenged, retested, verified, confirmed. No self-respecting scientist would ever utter a phrase like “the science is settled” or try to demonize dissenters. Real scientists welcome an alternative point of view and will hopefully integrate it into a more thoroughly researched conclusion.

  22. @Brant:

    Although I think that’s a bit of an idealistic picture to paint, considering the investment that people have in their own work. But you’re correct in pointing out that the scientific process literally requires a critical perspective to function. Unfortunately, while it’s easy to recognize that certain things (e.g. gender feminism) are scientifically bogus, it’s a lot harder to deal with the social blowback of pointing that out.

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