Talk

Advanced search

Debating With Arsehole Men: need a how-to guide!

(109 Posts)
KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 11:00:03

Title a bit tongue-in-cheek grin

When I was a teenager I consistently tried to stand up for my beliefs against a father who shouted down opinions that differed from his (right-leaning and often hideous) views. I've come to view this as a kind of baptism-by-fire, and am now extremely proud of teenaged-girl-me for having the strength to continually try in the face of quite extreme male aggression (he stopped short of hitting me but wanted to - fist in face etc - and if he had resorted to physical violence I have no doubt that I would no longer have stood up to him).

I used to get very upset trying to 'debate' issues with men - usually those who were indifferent to women's or LGBTQ rights - and often cried, which of course they used against me - that tired old 'emotions are weak' bollocks. Nowadays I don't and on the mercifully rare occasion these things happen I am articulate and firm in a way that I look back on afterwards and can't believe I managed it grin

But online this eludes me. I generally avoid debating online as it's just banging your head against a brick wall and generally unhelpful/doesn't actually achieve anything other than me become stressed/upset and them remaining a smug arsehole.

I don't want to be unemotional about issues that matter to me. Now I just point out why I am that way - that what for them is hypothetical is my lived experience - but it annoys the fuck out of me. For those who regularly wade into the fire: how do you stay heartened? I find it exhausting and often take days to recover from the stress of it which leads me to ignore and not challenge far more often than I would like. I really don't get into these debates often as I can't be doing with the stress, but I will when I feel I have to!

TL;DR: how do you find the strength to continually deal with arsehole men and counter the 'stop being emotional/why can't you debate this coldly and logically' arse-wipery?

This post has been inspired by a white middle-class "Christian" man saying he's fed up of "people whinging" about Trump and saying "he was fairly elected, stop moaning about it" hmm this type of shit rarely happens as I generally just remove these people from my Facebook but I am genuinely surprised at this coming from this person.

slug Tue 31-Jan-17 11:37:38

I had a twitter argument with a man last night which ended when I offered to set him some critical thinking homework.

Failing that I just offer up the feminist prayer "Grant me the self belief of a mediocre man"

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 11:39:37

Love that, slug grin

Most recent guy flounced from the discussion as he was offended by my swearing, which is apparently offensive. Rather like, say, his views angry

JosefK Tue 31-Jan-17 12:04:03

I think it's very difficult trying to change anyone's mind online. Almost inevitably, exchanges concerning contentious topics get very heated very quickly if two people start off on an adversarial footing.

Certainly, if you're engaging with Men's Rights Activist types online then they'll be spoiling for a fight and won't concede any ground to you.

It happens to me too, although being a man it's perhaps a bit different.

The other day on another forum I was trying to find find some common ground with a very illiberal hard Brexit advocate, but everything I said was met with accusations of being a 'Remoaner' or living in an 'elite metropolitan bubble'. I tried to explain that I definitely don't live in an elite metropolitan bubble, but he wasn't having any of it. For mysterious reasons he mistook me for a woman and called me a 'posh bitch'. He said I can probably have sex with anyone I like and look down on working-class men like him who lack the advantage of being posh and having access to casual sex. This was his manifesto. He very clearly didn't like women very much. Or Muslims. Or anyone who reads the Guardian. In fact, anyone who didn't share his entire worldview was his sworn enemy. He believed that Donald Trump and Brexit would lead to a victory for ordinary men like him against all the Guardian readers, posh bitches and Muslims.

The thing is though, I found myself getting really annoyed too. As the exchange escalated I could feel my pulse quickening and my neck tightening. 'Dumb Brexiter' I called him. 'Racist', 'Sexist'.

When I was lying in bed later, feeling really quite aggravated and unable to sleep I thought 'What was the point of that?'

JennyHolzersGhost Tue 31-Jan-17 12:07:04

1) don't bother.

user1475253854 Tue 31-Jan-17 12:16:15

I am just speechless at the 'I hate "posh" women because they can get more casual sex than me' Josef. I'm not offended or anything, more just WTF?!

But I agree with Jenny, why bother?

ClaudiaApfelstrudel Tue 31-Jan-17 12:16:55

I hear you OP.

I genuinely think that there is something wrong with men inside their heads that makes them incapable of empathising or understanding situations other than those they take part in themselves.

However, I do agree with Jenny, It's a futile and mostly pointless exercise.

M0stlyHet Tue 31-Jan-17 12:20:00

I think the best advice I got was from someone who has to handle this kind of stuff in a professional capacity. It was "remember, you're not actually talking to them, you're talking to the audience" (for audience, read lurkers on threads, etc.) You will never convince them, but if you can show them up for the idiots they are in a dispassionate, informed way, you may sway some people who were on the fence, or who simply hadn't realised what the issues were, or how important they were.

(It is of course advice I personally have honoured more in the breach than the observance - Josef's "feeling aggravated and unable to sleep" is a feeling I recognise all too well. sad )

OnceUponATimeInAVest Tue 31-Jan-17 12:25:46

You can't argue with misogynist men because in their opinion, what you say is wrong because you are a woman. They won't listen to you because you're a woman. Your facts will be wrong on some level because you are a woman.

I read some pop-psych article recently that said the best way to get someone to change their minds about something was to energetically agree with them.

I haven't tried it out yet.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 12:26:12

Yes, the nights unable to sleep and really riled up and upset are why I stopped doing it sad though I could argue that my decision to put myself and my own health first is radical in and of itself.

So I do generally choose 1) don't bother as it's usually a futile exercise I agree. But on the rare occasion I feel I can't stand by I like to be as prepared as possible wink

BarbarianMum Tue 31-Jan-17 12:36:20

I too don't bother. I've found I make far more headway when challenging guys who are basically alright about their unconscious prejudices (women too for that matter).

Annoyingly when arsehole men are challenged in their thinking by other men then they (sometimes) seem willing to make concessions.

JosefK Tue 31-Jan-17 12:38:03

User I have talked to all sorts of extraordinarily awful and crazy people. There are thousands of them on the internet.

There was a man on the Daily Mail website who joked that the family of a Syrian man who was run over by a lorry at Calais should pay for any damage to the bumper. There was a woman on Twitter who said she didn't care about refugee children drowning - that she thought that they should all be killed anyway! Then there was a man on the Guardian comment section who made a civil liberties case for the legalisation of child pornography.

I talk to these people because I am fascinated by the darker and crazier side of human nature. But sometimes I think the internet should never have been invented, because it gives all these awful people a media platform and vast audiences.

It makes you realise what a fragile skin civilization is, and how the internet is rupturing that skin. It's fascinating to see that happen but terrifying at the same time.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 12:38:21

Incidentally this unwillingness to open myself up to these situations is part of a larger picture of not wanting to be vulnerable. Currently doing a lot of work on simultaneously accepting my vulnerabilities and being ok with vulnerability and working on being more confidently forthright. I am a mass of contradictions at the moment grin

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 12:40:37

That is indeed both fascinating and terrifying JosefK. I am firmly of the belief that humans are not nearly so evolved as we like to think we are, and also that we are evolutionarily inequipt to handle the issues brought forward by technology/global awareness/the internet...

HerOtherHalf Tue 31-Jan-17 12:45:43

I don't think the gender makes much difference, there are arsehole women just as much as areshole men. Arseholes, by their nature, are unreasonable. A wise man (or maybe his wife) once said something along the lines of "It is futile trying to reason with an unreasonable person". Repeat that to yourself whenever the situation merits it and you should be able to disengage and walk away without feeling you have somehow let yourself down or conceded the argument.

As to the man who tried to argue that Trump was democratically elected and you should just quit moaning, well so was Hitler. Besides, democracy fails when the electorate are denied the right to criticize their elected representatives openly and freely.

JosefK Tue 31-Jan-17 13:07:35

I don't know OtherHalf. Most of the most vociferous bigots online do seem to be men. All the alt-right forums on 4-Chan and elsewhere are certainly very male dominated.

However I have encountered a minority of appallingly racist women, like the woman I mentioned in my comment above.

Bizarrely, it was reported in the news not so long ago that 50% of online misogynist abuse comes from women. Something like that anyway. How that statistic was established I have no idea though, since I'd imagine there are lots of men pretending to be women. There was one high profile female troll though wasn't there? I think she might have been one of the people sending rape threats to that journalist who was campaigning to get Jane Austen's portrait on the banknote. When they asked her why she did it she said it was because she was bored. Funny old world.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 13:11:04

HerOtherHalf Hitler wasn't elected, he was Chancellorand seized power from within, however "^democracy fails when the electorate are denied the right to criticize their elected representatives openly and freely^" is exactly the point as far as I'm concerned!

In the most recent instance it was made worse by the fact that they think they're entirety reasonable to say what they are - he was elected so stop whinging - and I was painted as an unreasonable and hysterical harridan for suggesting we should stand up and fight to protect human rights hmm infuriating!

venusinscorpio Tue 31-Jan-17 13:13:56

It's not really a question of whether there are also arsehole women. The OP was referencing a specific type of exchange which happens frequently between a certain type of man, IME either left or right wing, and can be "male feminist" or MRA, who is entirely unaware of their male privilege when they "debate" things with women.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 13:14:56

Sorry for the double-post, my phone is an arse.

venusinscorpio Tue 31-Jan-17 13:15:03

*an exchange between a certain type of man and women.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 13:15:56

...as evidenced by the fact that the perceived double post had now disappeared!

venusinscorpio Tue 31-Jan-17 13:16:26

grin that's happened to me before!

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 13:17:47

Exactly venus - in most instances due to the circles I move in its "male feminists" but occasionally MRAs, with a combo of white- class- and educational-privilege looking down of me for daring to question their statements. I've never personally encountered a woman like this, is an entirely different style.

venusinscorpio Tue 31-Jan-17 13:24:24

I have encountered women like that before, but it's hugely rarer. It usually means that I can tell a poster's sex when they adopt this style of debating things. Not completely reliable, but I'd say 9 times out of 10 it is.

slug Tue 31-Jan-17 13:24:38

Interesting comment Josef.

I've never had any misogyny thrown at me on twitter because I suspect users assume I'm male. Partly this is because I tweet occasionally about professional events (I work in IT) and partly because I'm careful to keep my professional life and my personal social media separate. There are no clues in my profile about gender.

I wonder if this is the answer. Make them assume you are male and a large percentage of the patronising disappears.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now