Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Average Joe Thinks Equality Unfair

Although at times frustrating, one benefit I find to engaging with anti- and non-feminist Devil's Advocate types who sometimes comment here is that doing so can really pinpoint a certain entitled mindset that some men have.

Take this post of mine, for instance, where I noted the instance of the accomplished female hockey coach of a successful women's team being fired for a having a salary that was deemed too high, even though her salary was lower than the less accomplished male coach's.

There, I was making a general point:

Wow, it's unfortunate that a female hockey coach who has more wins, championships, and longevity at a college was fired to save the college money, while her higher-paid male counterpart was retained. That sure seems unfair.

Furthermore, as I elaborated in the comments when commenter Joe stopped by, the unfairness seems especially compounded when we consider that the male coach of the men's team, by virtue of his gender and the gender composition of his team, is a beneficiary of the sport's world's historical exclusion, comparative lack of investment in, and marginalization of female athletes.

To my relatively lengthy response to Joe's rather simple argument that the revenue a sport brings in should be the primary determinant of a coach's salary, he simply retorted:
"I get it now. You're one of those who thinks every kid should get a trophy."
He chose not to comment further.

To me, the interaction was revelatory of a mindset that some men have. When feminists say that men benefit from certain privileges based on past mistreatment of women, what some men think is: Anything "more" that men have is actually due to men's superiority, so to suggest that women should have what men have is to give women something (like, say, a participation trophy) that they have not earned and do not deserve. 

They ignore all historical context, all other past and present explanations for unequal outcomes. They deem references to past oppressions to be unnecessary, touchy-feely dorkiness in a politically correct world gone awry.  And, even if, as in this case, the woman in question is objectively more accomplished than the higher-paid man, some men move the goal-posts and set new Objective Standards for what counts as The Best At Something.

Observation: When male sports fans talk about the greatest all time coaches, how often do you hear them talk about the coach in terms of revenue the team brought in? Never. They talk about championships, wins, molding great players and team synergy. Yet, when comparing and justifying higher salaries for male coaches compared to female coaches, team revenue is suddenly the all-consuming, numero uno criterion for coachly competence.

The lesson here is that some men can get really pissy when we stop collectively waving around the "Men Are Number 1" foam finger and start questioning their self-serving assumptions about their place in the world. Level the playing field? Nah - things are exactly as they should be. For them.

Lastly, as a meta-note and as I've said before, after 7 or so years of blogging, I've picked up a pretty good ability for knowing when a commenter is going to be a problem.  I'll try to share these patterns and clues with you all more often, because I think it could be helpful in many online interactions.

In Joe's first comment, he said:
"Why should she make as much or more than the men's coach? Do you think the women's hockey team at UMD generates as much revenue as the men's team? Honest question."
"Honest question."

To me, that qualifier of his purported motives told me that he assumed I would assume bad faith on his part. It's a similar approach to the infamous way some men precede their "un-PC" and "controversial" statements with feminists by saying, "Don't kill me for saying this" and "I'm gonna get clobbered for saying this."

It's an admission on the man's part that he thinks I, and other women, are not capable of interacting with him in a conversation about feminism in a respectful, reasoned, civil manner - and that we will, instead, react aggressively and unfairly toward him.

Nonetheless, I interacted with Joe in good faith, answering his questions, and giving him the opportunity to likewise engage in good faith. Quickly, his behavior, evasions, and immature retorts showed that his questions weren't honestly asked at all. When I engaged his questions with lengthy, reasoned responses he huffed out of the room with his "insult" about me supposedly being someone who thinks all kids should get a trophy.

His actions suggest that his real motive was, most likely, to play Socratic Question Master with me and others, leading the feminists to enlightenment with what he likely assumed to be his superior knowledge. He also likely wanted an aggressive reaction, as that - to him- would be self-fulfilling. When feminists don't engage men like him or "ban" them from our spaces, it cements in their minds that we aren't capable of objectively, reasonably, and civilly engaging their amazing, awesome Honest Questions.

The lesson is this - be wary of contrarian's who enter a conversation with 1 to 2-line retorts and who state their "honest" motives.  I find that the best way people show that they are engaging in good faith and honesty is by actually engaging in good faith and honesty, not by saying they are.

No comments: