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08:51

Dude Social Fallacies

There was a very interesting discussion going on in the comment section of the Captain Awkward column, “681: Consent Basics: It takes two to decide to be friends and only one to say “Nope!”” The answer was in response to a letter writer, whose boyfriend’s friend was being creepy and manipulative.

It started out in reference to the Geek Social Fallacies, but apparently the idea of Dude Social Fallacies hit a bit of a sore spot for a lot of people. In the same way that we geeks recognize the GSFs, there are some things that men commonly do that are deeply manipulative, frustrating or threatening.

Someone posted that there should be a column or master list, and since I’m all about feminism and lists, I thought I’d do one. Unless otherwise noted, all citations are from the above Captain Awkward column. In some cases I copied verbatim, in others I paraphrased, but I cited all ideas that weren’t specifically mine.

Dude Social Fallacies can be roughly divided into three groups: fallacies about sex, fallacies about women’s behavior and fallacies about the man’s own behavior.

1. ABOUT SEX

1.1 Lesbians and bi women are always interested in a threeway with me and my girlfriend [The Awe Ritual]

There are some straight men who genuinely believe that lesbians and bisexual women aren’t real—that they’re merely women who hate men or haven’t had sex with the right one yet. So, under this assumption, it seems quite reasonable to assume that all lesbians and bi women would be up for threeways. Because she can have sex with a lady, which is what she says she wants, but she gets the bonus of having sex with you, which is obviously what she secretly wants.

This also assumes that because some women have certain male-typical desires (interest in having sex with women) that they also behave in male-typical ways (see other people as sex toys). I think to a lot of dudes, if a woman is interested in women, it’s unfathomable that she wouldn’t want to have sex the way he wants to—with anyone, at more or less any time, regardless of levels of mutual attraction.

While I’ve met plenty of bi/lesbian women who did like threeways, but they did not like threeways with asshole strangers who treat them like a walking vagina.

1.2 If you have done X sexual behavior before, either with me or with someone else, you are obligated to do it with me [meggiebea, Han Solo]

Now, I know that most men don’t actually think their treating women this way is justified. I do think that they think if they whine and wheedle and manipulate someone enough, they’ll get their way.

This includes a number of selfish assumptions on the part of men, as well as one major subfallacy. This is the first of many fallacies that only happens because men refuse to see women as real people. So, for example, a man might be angry at his current girlfriend because she doesn’t like something his ex-wife liked, or doesn’t like it a the same intensity [meggiebea]. This is especially pernicious in the case of things men believe women say they don’t want but secretly desire, such as being submissive or anal sex.

Men also use this fallacy to police, restrict or manipulate their female partners, as they may believe that if a woman submits to one sexual activity, she will do that sexual activity with anyone who asks [thelittlepakeha]. Therefore, if his girlfriend consented to PIV with him, he must control her interactions with other men—otherwise she’ll just be jumping on dicks right and left! Interestingly, carriers of this fallacy also often believe that women have lower sex drives and are less interested in sex than men and yet simultaneously believe that once a woman has done something, she’ll do it with anyone. Pick one guys, you can’t have both.

Men may also devalue women’s sexual agency by assuming that if she consents to an activity once, she’s required to do it again; she’s not allowed to try something once and then stop [Adrian]. In particularly bad cases, the sense of injustice men feel can also make them feel justified in using violence against women. At its less harmful levels, it can make men feel justified in manipulating their girlfriends, or attempting the activity when she can’t defend herself, such when she’s asleep or drunk.

1.2.1 There is a hierarchy of sexy things. If a woman consents to one level of sexy thing, that implies consent to all lower levels of sexy things. (eg, somebody who consents to play at 3rd base automatically consents to play at 1st and 2nd, whether she says so or not.) [Adrian]

I included this as a subfallacy because I feel it’s particularly pernicious and also because it’s the sort of thought you only get in a society that sees sex activities as a way to keep score.

In actuality, there’s no “score” system in sex. Vaginal sex is not “better” sex than oral sex, it’s merely a different kind of activity. Consent to anal sex is not consent to fingering. Again, this disregards women’s preferences and sexual agency. Not every woman likes oral sex, or vaginal sex, or even sex period, and a preference for third base activities but not first base activities is just as valid as the reverse.

1.3 It is acceptable for me to put a down payment on your vagina without telling you that’s what I’m doing. It’s unacceptable for you to accept my gifts but not pay the price, which I didn’t tell you about

This has happened to me, and it is not fun. There were a number of times, particularly in the Army, where a male I thought was my friend would offer to do or buy something from me. It was usually something inexpensive or unimportant. Often, it would be something like a cup of coffee. I assumed he wanted to do something nice for me as a friend; he thought I understood that, when I accepted the coffee, I owed him sex. (I wish someone would phrase it like that—I’d love to negotiate what $1.98 of sex is).

Then, at some point, when he believed he had put in enough time and money and wanted his return, he would be furious when I refused to pay. To me, there was nothing to pay; if we were entering some kind of financial relationship, I expect to be told the costs up front. Trust me, if I had realized I owed Specialist Creepbag $1.98 of my vagina, I would have bought my own goddamn coffee.

Interestingly, while men consider themselves blameless in outright manipulating someone, they view female manipulation as shockingly unethical. This leads to the subfallacy of:

1.3.1 Women who are unclear about their desires, or deliberately manipulate men with sex, are the most evil things in the universe. Conversely, if I lie about my interest in a woman in order to manipulate her with the possibility of a relationship, the woman should have known that that’s just how men are

Besides blaming women for performing the exact same behaviors, this is interesting because a woman merely not knowing about her own desires is enough for her to behave unethically. So, a woman must perfectly understand her desires at all time and must flawlessly detail those desires to any man with even a passing interest, or she runs the risk of being labeled a slut, cocktease, whore, dyke—take your pick of insults.

This fallacy also requires that we accept a gendered behavioral binary. To simplify: All women, and only women, perform x behavior; all men and only men perform y behavior; x and y behavior are naturally in conflict. But, if we do believe in the binary, it should be equally ethical for a woman to use sex to manipulate a man into a relationship as it is for a man to use commitment to manipulate a woman for sex. And yet men who believe in the binary believe that women’s use of manipulation is far, far more unethical than his. However, the binary is used to justify men’s use of force and manipulation—since all men want sex without commitment, any woman who has been manipulated that way should have seen it coming, because that’s just how men are. She should have known that a coffee is never just a coffee.

2. ABOUT WOMEN’S BEHAVIOR

2.1 Women should bend over backwards to take care of my feelings [CPT Awkward]

Women are often socialized to be the peacemaker. It’s women’s jobs to smooth over uncomfortable situations; manage other people’s emotions; and make sure people are happy. In turn, men are socialized to outsource their emotions to women, from mothers to girlfriends to female friends.

This leads men to think that it’s women’s job to take care of and deal with his feelings, no matter what the price to her. Even if he’s merely going through a patch of sadness, the kind he’ll get over in five minutes, a woman should put everything in her life on hold in order to tend to him.

Outsourcing emotions to other people can also lead men to feel they’re entitled to others behaving in a certain way before them, in the following subfallacy:

2.1.1. All women should be nice to me, no matter what I do; If I’m “friendly” and “nice,” I’m owed that behavior from others. [Godric]

One would assume that how one is treated should be in response and proportion to how one behaves. Men often get this when they interact with other men, but can’t for the life of them realize it when they interact with women.

A harsh but necessary life truth: no one is owed kindness or niceness, and no one is required to be kind or nice to anyone. In particular, women do not perform these behaviors as their tax for existing in the world as female.

This gets to be particularly problematic when entitlement is paired with creepiness, or men who are abusive. This sort of man believes he is always owed a second chance, no matter what he did—in fact he is owed an endless series of second chances because this time he’s changed, really. He may indeed have called you a backstabbing gold-digging hooker that’s too ugly to strip, but that’s no reason to ignore him! What do you mean, it made you uncomfortable that he grabbed your ass? It wouldn’t kill you to smile!

This fallacy also ignores how social interaction works. For something to be considered “kind,” the group must agree that it is a kind act. It is not acceptable for any individual to do the diametric opposite of the group definition of kindness and argue that they are in fact being kind. Many men refuse to believe this, however. To them, as long as they think they’re being nice, they cannot and should not be called out on their behaviors. Even if their behavior feels threatening to every woman in their life, those women don’t get to judge his behavior or snub him.

2.2 Women Are Never Rejected For Dates And They Cannot Know Our Heartbreak [EarlGray]

2.2 Woman Are Never Turned Down for Sex and Can Have Sex Anytime They Want [Linden]

I’m actually putting these two together because they’re so similar. In both cases, these fallacies occur because men assume that gender roles are fixed and immutable—men always chase, women always decide. The idea that women can be rejected, and that rejection hurts women, doesn’t register with them because they don’t believe that happens.

But the truth is women can be rejected, women are turned down for sex. It’s not a special type of sadness that only men can experience. And what’s interesting is men will still believe this even in the face of women specifically telling them otherwise. (Show of hands ladies, how many of you have been rejected by someone you like? My hand is up.)

This is often used as a manipulative tactic to force women to capitulate to a man’s desires, particularly when combined with 2.1. In essence, “You couldn’t possibly understand my sadness because you’re a woman, and you caused my sadness by rejecting me, so it’s your job to fix my sad feelings (by touching my boner).

2.3 All Women Are the Same

This fallacy is caused by men’s refusal to consider women to be human beings. By assuming all women are part of the same hivemind, men can stereotype women and make assumptions about women’s behavior without having to spend time finding out what an individual woman is like.

It can be broken up into four sub-fallacies

2.3.1 If one woman did a thing, all women must allow the thing, or that makes all women lying hypocrites [FlyBy]

This is thinking of women as sub-human in its basest form. This can apply to any female behavior: around sex, dress, social interaction and so on.

This is the fallacy that causes men to assume that all women want to be mothers, and the ones who say they don’t are lying. This fallacy tends to hit hardest around Valentine’s day: obviously women want roses and chocolate, so if my girlfriend says she doesn’t, she’s trying to trick me to see what I do. (MAYBE I WANT TO JUST STAY HOME, BRANDON.)  It also caused men to assume that I obviously wanted a relationship, even when I told them that in fact I was just in it for casual sex.

It can be quite surprising how angry men get when women step out of the mold. I suspect it’s because they treat women like video games: if you have the right strategy, then women should be easy. When confronted with the fact that, no, women are as different from each other as men are different from each other, men seem to feel betrayed. This leads men to simply ignoring women’s stated desires, because if she deviates from the mold, she’s obviously wrong.

2.3.2 If one woman did a stupid or reckless thing, all women are at risk of doing this thing and can’t be trusted [Cactus, sorcharei]

The oldest and best known example of this is female drivers. Everyone “knows” that women are worse drivers than men, so every time any woman gets into a wreck, this becomes further proof that women as a group can’t be trusted to drive. (This is despite the fact that men get into far more lethal collisions, but let’s not ruin our beautiful stereotyping with facts).

I saw this in action quite a lot in the military. I once had an NCO tell me he never wanted another female soldier in his squad because she was lazy and didn’t do her job. I remember thinking, “Sergeant, your squad is currently full of lazy, shamming male soldiers. Why did one female’s laziness reflect poorly on all female soldiers, but male soldier’s laziness only reflects on that one male?”

2.3.3 If a woman doesn’t do a thing that all women do, she appreciates being told she’s “not like other women” [FlyBy]

I deeply dislike this fallacy. What I think a lot of men don’t realize is that being told I’m not like other women isn’t a compliment, it’s a threat. He’s temporarily elevated me into a social status just below male (never right at, of course not), but the implicit threat is if I do start behaving like other women, he could demote me right back down.

2.3.4 If most women dislike a thing, but one woman likes or doesn’t mind it, and this thing is unpleasant or distressing to me, all those other women who dislike it are uptight and wrong

This is the fallacy at work when men get angry about street harassment. This is less a fallacy about stereotyping all women as the same and more about disregarding anything men don’t want to hear (this also applies to other marginalized groups, such as minorities, the LGBT community, etc).

Because women aren’t a hive mind, there will always be at least some women who don’t find certain things distressing. In the case of street harassment, there have been a handful of women who have spoken out saying they enjoy or don’t mind being catcalled. However, far more women have spoken out saying they find it distressing or terrifying. Under that logic, men shouldn’t catcall, yes? However, men who enjoy catcalling would prefer to listen to the 1% of women who enjoy being catcalled compared to the 99% of women who hate it, because that way they don’t have to stop catcalling.

If it stopped here, it would be bad enough. Unfortunately, the kind of man who selectively chooses which women to listen to is also the kind of man who will actively derogate the women he ignores. So on top of merely saying “No, I will not stop catcalling because I heard a woman once say she likes it,” he tends also to say “And the only reason you don’t like it is because you hate men/can’t take a compliment/are too full of yourself/don’t get catcalled so you’re jealous.”

3. ABOUT OWN BEHAVIOR

3.1 Every interaction with women is flirting unless proven otherwise. [EarlGray]

There seems to be a biological basis in men’s overestimating women’s sexual interest. However, there is also a huge cultural basis for it as well, so I’m not going to pretend that this is entirely about evolution. Under this fallacy, men will interpret any behavior from a woman as sexual flirting, regardless of what it is.

I, as a female veteran, can attest to this. Men assumed I wanted to fuck them when I was giving them the Polite Customer Service Smile (which is why I stopped smiling). They jumped at any chance to insert sex into conversations (one went so far as to suggest that I surprise my boyfriend with a threeway with my sister???). It was exhausting because, no matter how little I want to talk about sex, there was no way I could account for all possibilities. Men will make sex jokes out of anything.

Interestingly, this fallacy can be divided into three sub-fallacies, some of which are contradictory. They are:

3.1.1 A soft no is not a no

3.1.2 If she didn’t explicitly say no, how was I supposed to know? It’s not like I can read body language and polite social cues. [EarlGray]

3.1.3 A woman specifically saying “I’m not interested in you” doesn’t count as lack of interest

A “soft no” is a refusal couched in less obvious language. “No” is a culturally disfavored response; we try not to simply say no in order not to hurt someone’s feeling. This is very, very common throughout all age, socioeconomic, racial/ethnic and gender groups. For example, if a friend asks me to a movie, and I don’t want to go, I won’t just say no. I’m more likely to say “I can’t, I’m busy” or “I’d love to, except I promised my Mom I would come over.”

Many men believe that unless a woman specifically says no, she doesn’t really mean no. This is partially because no is inconvenient in men’s attempts to have sex with women, which means the best option is to simply ignore it, and partially due to the belief that women routinely issue “token resistance.” (Token resistance is when women resist sex despite being interested in it, in order to guard themselves from being considered sluts, which is culturally disfavored.) So, men prefer to ignore any form of no, regardless of how it’s phrased.

This also goes along with men’s professed confusion at signals. This is nothing but a smokescreen to insulate a man from feeling like a creep when he behaves in a creepy way. We routinely issue conflicting or hidden signals, and for most people, interpreting them is not difficult. We know that some euphemisms mean certain things, and while they may appear confusing, their interpretation is very simple. For example, when someone says in a job interview “I learn quickly” or “I’m a team player,” the interviewer rightly interprets this as “I couldn’t come up with a better response so I’m telling you what I think you want to hear.” So, knowing this, men shouldn’t be able to hide behind “How could I possibly understand what a woman says unless she tells me explicitly and with no culturally appropriate padding?” The answer is: the same way you interpret subtle cues in any other walk of life. If you can do it at work, you can do it in a bar.  Since this is an acculturated response, men who believe that they are incapable of reading culturally favored cues are at best being dense, at worst being deliberately malicious. 

Interestingly, despite pretending they don’t understand cultural cues surrounding refusals, men also refuse to hear outright no’s. So a woman can literally say “Go away,” “I don’t want to date you,” or “Get the fuck out of my face, seriously, you’re being creepy” and the dude in question will assume she’s putting up token resistance.

Basically, this is a no-win situation for women. If they say no, it doesn’t count. If they don’t say no, it doesn’t count.

3.2 Schrodinger’s douchbag

Taken from a tweet by Sally Strange, this fallacies is as follows:

Schrodinger’s douchebag: A guy who says offensive things & decides whether he was joking based upon the reaction of people around him

Besides being a manipulative cover for offensive jokes, this is also a cover for creepy or inappropriate flirting. This can actually be divided into the subfallacy of (3.2.1) Oh But I Wasn’t Hitting On You Egotistical Much? [manybellsdown]

In essence, this protects men from paying the consequences of unacceptable behavior, or as an ego-saving device when faced with rejection. It is common for men, when women call them out as flirting or being creepy, to respond with gaslighting. So, if I as a woman point out to a dude that in fact, I know he’s hitting on me, he’s doing it right now, that whole constantly-talking-about-sex thing isn’t subtle at all, he feels humiliated by the fact that he both failed to get me interested and that I called him out on his tricks. So, rather than apologizing for his behavior, it feels safer for him to make me doubt my reality.

This can take on a number of forms, and I couldn’t possibly list them all. Besides the subfallacy name, above, it could also be “Can’t you take a joke?” “I thought you were cool” “Like anyone would hit on you” “I wasn’t hitting on you, I think of you like a sister” or of course, simply “No I wasn’t.”

For women who haven’t learned how to stand up to men, this can make her feel unsure of what reality she’s living in. She knows this dude hit on her. He just did it. But often, Schrodinger’s Douchebag behaves in ways that are creepy but subtle. The kind of behavior, in fact, that would make a woman sound crazy if she told her friends about it (or at least, make her afraid she would). So, combined with a flat denial from her creepy creeper, she may wonder if she actually was egotistical, if maybe she did need to just take it as a joke.

3.3 Lesbians/bi women and women in masculine spaces don’t mind my sexist, dehumanizing jokes and should in fact cheerfully join in [EarlGrey, Not Your GBF]

I suspect that this arises either from men not understanding how horrible sexist jokes are, or not caring. This seems to be used as a hazing device in male spaces, and in the case of lesbians, being similar to 1.1, above. Because lesbians are “like men,” they should also want to bond the same way as men, by dehumanizing women. The idea that a lesbian might also dislike sexist jokes, since she’s still a woman, doesn’t seem to cross men’s mind.

In the case of women in masculine spaces, I think men probably know full well that their sexist jokes are unpleasant to sit through and tacit threats. Trust me, my coworkers making joke-not-jokes about raping me did not make me feel better about being in the hyper-masculine space of the military. It’s used as a form of hazing and to keep women in their place—if we can’t force women out of gaming altogether, at least we can make them be quiet, not participate, and constantly remind them that they’re not welcome here.

In that case, a woman is left with few options: she can leave the space (and her friends and hobby); she can fight back against the jokes and be worn down through attrition; or she can join in, and maybe be accepted as one of the boys. None of these are good options, but the latter option can feel like the least amount of work.

3.4 It is appropriate for me to have boundaries, and to defend them with violence if they are encroached in any way. It is unacceptable for women to have boundaries, and any form of protecting her boundaries indicates that she is unreasonable and unstable [ona555]

The “trans panic” defense is legal in 50 states. Basically, if a man finds out that someone is trans, and it freaks him out so much that he beats that person to death, this can be considered legally reasonable. Because everyone knows that if you interact with someone who isn’t a cis woman (and also trans women are really men whose favorite hobby is tricking straight cis boys for sex), you can catch the gay, so you have to assert your masculine boundaries with violence and murder.

“Heat of the moment” has also been used as a way to mitigate murder. While it is not usually considered reasonable for a woman to murder her husband if she catches him cheating, there have been scores of men who murder their wives and then either aren’t charged with murder at all or are charged with a lesser crime.

And yet, any boundary setting by women, no matter how banal, and men assume she’s crazy, uptight or unreasonable. A man might feel justified in having very strict standards for how women are allowed to interact with him (50 Shades of Gray is a perfect example of this done horribly, horribly wrong) but be furious if a woman tells him not to call after midnight.

3.5 The best way to interact with women is to prove that you’re better at things than they are, especially if I can prove they are not good at that thing at all. [Kellis Amberlee, sorcharei]

This can also include “Women like it when you introduce yourself by attacking something they like” [piny1]. This goes closely with 3.3, especially when the thing is usually considered a masculine thing.

Sometimes I think men don’t understand, nor care to understand, basic human interaction. Based on all my past friendships, I feel safe in assuming that friendships and relationships blossom best when two people talk about something they enjoy. For example, my best friend graduated last year with a degree in my major, and we spend a lot of time talking about Obscure Psychological Study in Tiny Journal. I did not spend a lot of time talking to Mr. “Yeah, I know you said you can make headshots at 350 meters with an M16, but I managed to tag a target at half a mile with a handgun.” (Partially for lies, partially because fuck you, I’m proud of my shooting.)

But of course, this has nothing to do with interaction and everything to do with not wanting women to be better than you. It sometimes goes as far as not wanting women to be good at things at all. The idea of women being successful in any capacity that isn’t boner-touching, babies or cooking seems to absolutely terrify a certain kind of men; as if my ability to shoot will strip him of his masculinity and leave him with nothing.

3.6 I would never hit you (but I totally could!) [embertine]

This is where the fallacies stop being frustrating and start being terrifying. This is behavioral modification, plain and simple. This is men using fear to control how women in their lives by reminding them he would never rape you or hit you… but he could. If you step out of line. If you do the wrong thing. If you set him off. But as long as you don’t do those things, everything will be fine!

This is unacceptable in all situations, but it’s particularly unacceptable when men try to control things women have every right to do. Oh, you’re going out for coffee with your ex? Well. Maybe you shouldn’t. You know how I get when you hang with your exes. But I would never hit you.

CONCLUSION

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, my primarily feminist and liberal followers, why all of the above fallacies are awful. I’m mystified that I would have to tell anyone this, because literally, all these problems would disappear instantly if men treated women with kindness and respect and as though we were human beings.

If there are men who have found my little corner of the internet and had to confront some harsh truths: I’m not at all sorry. These things have made my life worse, through terror, manipulation and assault. I’m not sorry about your sad feelings and I’m not at all sympathetic to them. What I hope you can get from this is we know what the fuck you’re doing and you’re not clever for doing it. Go forth and sin no more.

Those are all the fallacies I can think of just now. I had originally included another category, fallacies about other men’s behaviors, but I couldn’t think of enough entries to make it worthwhile. If anyone has any suggestions, either for this post or a subsequent post, I’m very interested in hearing them. I know there are fallacies I’ve missed.

SPC Snaptags — Dude Social Fallacies
Reposted fromlordminx lordminx

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