On Credibility

by FCM

in the real world, meaning in the world occupied by men, where womens issues are a nonissue really, and we are only talking about trite, privileged bullshit that doesnt matter anyway…credibility matters.  journalists have to disclose any possible conflicts of interest when they are reporting on a story, so that any possible bias on their part is vetted.  and if the politician they are covering turns out to be their third cousin or something, the story might be given to someone else entirely.  you know, to avoid the appearance of impropriety.  to avoid the stench of fish.  or to, most importantly, maintain the value of some rich white mans stock in publicly traded media outlets.

in court, judges arent allowed to rule on cases in which it could even appear as if there were something fishy going on.  if the judge is scheduled to hear the testimony of a doctor that once treated him, he must recuse himself, lest the outcome of the case be tainted by judgement that was impaired.  in this context, the rule against the appearance of impropriety:

must cover not just the clear and obvious improprieties but indirect, disguised, or careless conduct that looks like an impropriety to an observer who is neither overly suspicious nor unusually gullible…[in other words] conduct that “would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired.”

not that these rules are not sometimes broken; all rules are sometimes broken, which is why we have the need for punishment, and sequestering offenders from the public, lest the damage be repeated.  but my point is that there are rules, governing the issue of credibility, and bias, in some situations.  but apparently, there are no such rules within third-wave feminist circles.

behold the self-identified feminist man.  when mens access to womens and feminist spaces is challenged, self-identified feminist men respond with rage.  absolute rage, and unabashed mansplanations that should make any reasonably feminist or feminist-identified human blush (or change the channel).  but they never do.  and importantly, the credibility of the speaker isnt seen as an issue, at all.  its not?  says who?

the fact of the matter is, and its the entire fucking point of radical feminist theory in fact, that men have everything to gain from maintaining the status quo when it comes to the systematic oppression of women by men.  they have PIV to gain.  they have free domestic labor to gain.  they have less competition, more freedom, and nothing but eye candy and women trying to sex themselves up for the male gaze, as far as the eye can see.  and its all so sexxxay!  it really is.  you know, if you are a man.

so regarding mens credibility to comment on feminist issues, to criticize feminist work, and to access womens and feminist spaces, men (including transwomen) have none.  nil.  nada.  the question we must therefore ask ourselves, since they are never just going to shut the fuck up, is “is any of what this assclown doodbro is saying actually TRUE?” and sometimes it may be:

the video above addressing prostitution and the logical fallacies men tell themselves and each other about prostitution and prostituted women might have some truth to it.  patrick stewart might have something valuable to say about domestic violence against women.  but they have NO CREDIBILITY ON THESE ISSUES, AT ALL.

so for our part as thinking humans and feminists, we have to analyze every word of every goddamned thing that self-identified feminist men, and indeed all men say, on all topics, in every situation.  and particularly in dealing with issues of feminist concern implicating male privilege, even taking the time to consider mens words is very much like picking through dog shit for the keys to your vespa…when you really really suspect you actually left them in your other jacket, and they probably arent even in this pile of stinking feces you are picking through, at all.

the other option of course would be to JUST NOT.  and if we chose that route, there would be nothing anyone could say about it to legitimately criticize our response to JUST.  NOT.  BOTHER.

a version of this post was previously published at femonade.

23 Comments to “On Credibility”

  1. Menz lack-off credibility on any issues related to womon in my experience is never challenged unless feminist knowledged womon are on the same platform/interview/debate! This rarely if ever happens and when it does the menz get to take the high ground and womons version of the issue/experience is deemed inferior to the male version of OUR experiences/knowledge…..typicaly other womon collude with this state of affairs having mostly been brought up in a world in which menz still own and preach knowledge from the menz standpoint, which for many womon is the default position negating their own real experience of ‘being’ a womon in favour of the male version of ‘what it is to be womon’. Like the crying womon of North Korea womon are brainwashed into the ‘correct’ responses when it comes to male opinion. Womon who see through and openly expose the smoking male mirrors do so at a heavy cost to themselves and their work. Think Dworkin, Daly to mention just two of our major spokeswomon. Cutting through and exposing the ‘lack in male credibility’, is like walking through treacle. Witness the howling menz on abortion…how do they get to be credible on an issue that in the final act has nothing to do with them….and everything to do with controlling over 50% of the population and they bring their howling womon with them to add to their ‘lack of credibility’, which in real terms adds to their un-right to be credible!

    It is FCM absolute that in any discourse declaring ones own bias/interest/lack of objectivity gets factored in, but as you say NOT when it comes to men yabbering about womon and feminist theory/politics/experience….their credibility to enter the debate is never challenge , bringing as it does ‘in built bias’, cultural bias, sexist bias, colonization bias, gender bias and making false claims to have knowledge about a subject that is not within their experience or actual grasp! But in the world of menz he who owns the power owns the right to name and explain……fuckwits all!

  2. Oh an by the way I didn’t listen to the vids above, why give them the space! We know they are thentrue IN-Credibles…..

  3. Haha! Yes the vids were probably not necessary. We have seen it all before afterall…

  4. I did listen to Stewart, and found one of his statements–well, you decide. He says his father, a woman-batterer, was “unable to control his temper or his hands.” Really. Unable to control himself, just HAD to beat on his wife? What’s wrong with this picture? Another brute, mansplained and forgiven, I suppose. Poor guy, just had no control.
    Who is this vid intended for? What sort of a message is that lie going to send?
    Non-credible.

  5. oh, you womyn make me laugh–with relief! oh thank you!

    Recently on another seemingly feminist site, I was trying to say some things about womyn’s reality from a biological basis (as touched upon in another way on this site, regarding XX and XY chromosomes, but I was talking about estrogen and testosterone). Which I understand is a tricky topic on so many levels…not the least being that even among FAABs and MAABs who identify themselves in keeping with given sex type (that is, leaving out transfolk), and regardless of sexual orientation, there is a wide continuum of biochemical factors that impact expression of sex-type in our personal capacities. And of course, we have socialization to contend with as well, which has such a great impact on personal development. Like I said, I’m aware that this is a many layered and touchy topic and was trying to speak with respect for all that while still trying to follow a thought on estrogen’s gifts.

    Anyway, someone in the discussion quoted some dude’s work to me, and I had the temerity to respond to that by saying that I wasn’t familiar with the work because I so rarely read anything written by men–just can’t go there anymore, the whole world is flooded with, and founded on, men’s thoughts/words/actions. Can’t see how listening to men on any topic touching on womyn’s lives can possibly be useful to a womyn.

    Oh the chagrin! Oh the accusations of being irrational, of being unwilling to give philosophical rigor and sophisticated analysis it’s due share of my attention–because you know, all that is completely objective, it has nothing to do with one’s sex-type AT ALL. I must simply be suffering from the dreaded man-hating thing–and how can a self-respecting feminist intellectual stoop so LOW?!?!

    Probably, men have good things to say to men about ending misogyny and making a better world for womyn, children and men all. I’m all for men talking to men about such things–hey, since they listen to each other with far more respect than they listen to us, it’s all good for them to talk to each other. I’m all for it.

    But me, I listen to womyn.

  6. On credibility, it reminds me of how little women’s choices, their needs, their ideas, their feelings, their bodies (I could go on) are regarded during pregnancy and childbirth. Apparently women have absolutely no idea on absolutely anything to do with either act despite the fact that they are the ones actually pregnant and giving birth! And yes how often does it happen that some knObstetrician will make up statements [posing as facts] in order to coerce the great majority into continuing to believe that women could only possibly be safe in their hands.. shudder. Of course they do and no one questions it. Not really.

  7. “taking the time to consider mens words is very much like picking through dog shit for the keys to your vespa…when you really really suspect you actually left them in your other jacket, and they probably arent even in this pile of stinking feces you are picking through, at all.”

    Bahaha! Sums up my feelings completely, wouldn’t have been able to put it better! 🙂

    Their bias is not just when they talk about women’s issues, but anything they claim being universal/reality. I don’t just shut up my ears or laugh at their imposture when I hear them talking feminism, but whenever they talk patriarchy (I havn’t heard any middle in between so far). Their science, their medical system, their laws, their religions, their states and the political systems they created are male-biased, male-centric. And everything in this world created by men deliberately negates female experience. It’s not just what they say, but the things they create in general: they don’t just happen to be male-centric because men just happened to make them, but everything is done with the purpose of negating women at the benefit of men.

    Since the whole system is based on women-hatred, I don’t even see how we can separate out women’s issues from what’s not women’s issues. This begs the question: when are they credible at all / not negating women’s experiences as they say/do something? Our experiences and interests as a class are so antagonistic to theirs in every possible way.

  8. @ Hari B: my world and life has been much better since I have been listening to women, especially feminist women.

    Whenever I suggest in feminist meetings that men shouldn’t be part of it because it’s about women, I get really scary reactions too. Women are so used to men definining who we are, our reality, what we should be, we’re so used to identifying to them and distrusting our own experiences and feelings (etc) that the idea of there being no men, only women, horrifies many women. It means there’s still some internalised misogyny, they still hate or distrust themselves enough, or fear men too much to not chuck them out from women’s spaces.

  9. yes there are problematic statements in the stewart vid. there are ALWAYS problematic statements made by even the “best” men on these topics that show either ignorance (bc they dont care enough to really learn this stuff, or the stuff they dont like) or that they are “learned” on a particular subject but they have learned it all from a male-centric bias or they are just flat out manipulating and lying to serve themselves. another thing they love to do is to reject PIV criticism and other radical ideas that they dont like. even the “best” ones do this.

    the “prostitution and sandwiches” guy is very good, but the thing about men involving themselves in anti-pornstitution work is that it ends up normalizing just regular-old PIV which benefits them. they talk about consent and coersion and hit all the (male-centric, legal or ethical) buzzwords but they refuse to apply any of this to themselves and see that PIV has many of the same problems. i had an email exhange with old rubble, in fact, where he told me that my PIV criticism was “disingenuous” bc ALCOHOL POISONING AND THE MORNING AFTER PILL!!11!!1234 fucking asshole. he asked me nicely not to publish his emails to me and so far i havent.

    anti-pornstitution work is important and if men want to involve themselves in it to educate other men, FINE. but their work is extremely limited to the issues *they* want to discuss and they routinely engage in manipulative issue-framing and gerrymandering to exclude as unethical or misogynist everything THEY THEMSELVES are doing to oppress women and support and increase their own male power. they slip in statements like “he couldnt control his temper” even though we all know battering men dont go after bigger men or armed men or their bosses when they are “angry” rather, they somehow manage to get through the day basically functional then go home and deliberately decide to victimize their wives. they tell radical feminists that PIV criticism is “disingenuous” when in fact it is based in fact and is, quite simply, irrefutable.

    fuck them.

  10. Ah yes, when it comes to the menz studies, we gotta know that cos that means we is not biased..but reading and respecting our work as womon…wow that’s a bridge too far for them as they are the subject matter…..the object the cause the responsible sex…and the menz never like to be held accountable for what is done to US….as really what ever is DONE is cos we isn’t Menz…and don’t wanna be……non-credible menz…rule the planet….so credible womon gotta wrestle the power away from them…..

  11. OK, the appearance of impropriety…I see what you’re saying, FCM. Even if a judge is quite sure s(he) can be objective about a case in which he has already received benefits from one of the parties, s(he) should recuse herself/himself because to the world it appears improper per se. The world understands the likelihood of bias is so great that no credence can be given to the judge’s decision.

    And since men are the beneficiaries from birth of an extraordinarily complex and powerful system of thought and material reality which constitutes one side of the issue being tried, they aren’t credible as observers, theorists, judges or actors on this issue, whatever their motives or seeming objectivity. Who can fully trust such statements? Women should not.

    Even so, even without trusting objective-sounding statements like those above or giving them much credence, I can appreciate the attempt.

  12. Yes, its not just actual impropriety but the appearance of impropriety that’s important in other contexts. in every context, it seems, except where men are commenting on, creating and participating in issues that affect women, within an institutional and interpersonal framework of male supremecy and misogyny, which harms women and benefits men. the only thing that matters is that we let men do this, and ignore the demonstrable conflicts of interest there bc to acknowledge them would give the entire game away.

    in analyzing male statements, positions and presences like the ones above, I always ask myself how what they are doing benefits themselves. and wouldn’t you know it, I always come up with something. even if its “just” that they are normalizing the things that they themselves do that are harmful to women, there is always something.

  13. Others here may disagree, but I would also say this: think if men want to discuss stopping male violence with other men, or to try to stop the violence directly, I consider that a fruitful avenue.

  14. I agree, karmarad…it is at least, a potentially fruitful avenue, and one that I wish more presumably ‘feminist/womyn-loving’ men would take. All too often they sit by silently while men bash and silence womyn, one way and another.

  15. “in analyzing male statements, positions and presences like the ones above, I always ask myself how what they are doing benefits themselves. and wouldn’t you know it, I always come up with something. even if its “just” that they are normalizing the things that they themselves do that are harmful to women, there is always something.”

    I understand your point much better now! I admit I didn’t really get the analogy with the judge at first (I’m not familiar with the “impropriety” concept), how it could apply to all contexts, I thought it was a bit narrow.
    But the “how what they are doing benefits themselves” question is definitely a good litmus test for everyday circumstances and an easy way to bring down men’s negation of women in cases where the misogyny isn’t immediately apparent.
    It’s become a feminist survival habit to systematically scrutinize men’s behaviour by always asking myself: how does he benefit from maintaining this kind of relation with this women? From saying this or that? From denying this? As you say, something *always* comes up. And it’s really useful for gettting straight to the point, uncovering the everyday imbalances of power and explaining them to other women. If I’d only focus on overt expressions of misogyny I wouldn’t be able to pin things down as quickly. It’s important to always focus on men, on the structure, on how men benefit from this or that practice at the expense of women, because it takes the focus away from individualism, and brings down all the ” women agency” arguments.
    Also, it’s a simple question to ask and the answer is usually clear/straightforward.

  16. Well, I’m all for men taking an open stand to other men against PIV + men’s violence against women! Let me know when such a guy shows up, havn’t seen a sign of it yet. As far as I know, only Jesus did it, but he ended up nailed on a cross. Oh but then it’s probably a myth. *cough*.

  17. There ARE NO piv critical male pro feminists as far as I know. There are anti pornstitution and anti rape…both of which conveniently normalize just regular old piv, even though its the source of so much collective and individual female suffering around the world and throughout time. There, they will not go, and there is the privilege they will not examine. Ever. I challenge every single one of them to prove me wrong.

  18. Yeah, witchwind–I constantly apply feminist rhetorical critique…more and more over the years, as I’ve come to grasp more fully the all-encompassing breadth of patriarchy’s grip on our bodies, minds, hearts, creativity…it is reflexive now. Drives some people crazy, talking with me. I get resistance even from some feminists who have gone so far as to reject patriarchal notions of ‘femininity and masculinity’ with accompanying gender assignments/stratification–but who cannot seem to question much else about this world nor see how it *all* expresses patriarchal mind and habit of domination.

    Not to pick on those feminists particularly–only to say that my feminist critique is indeed reflexive and encompassing now. And that this is hard on many I know, even some feminists. The general thread of thought is “do you really believe, Hari, that EVERYTHING in the THE WORLD is about male domination/womyn’s oppression?” Um–yep. Every institution, every product and economy, every ‘job’ and ‘career’, our cities and architecture, our energy-systems, medicine, relationships…everything arising from the dominant world culture of patriarchy. And also every abstraction elevated to value–such as notions of ‘peace’, ‘love’, ‘justice’ and my recent favorite, ‘intellect’. A whole nother topic there…for now, I’ll just say that my reflexive feminist critique amounts to what you’re saying–that it’s about seeing how patriarchy expresses itself in everything, and with that, how men in particular benefit at womyn’s and children’s expense (at the expense of all of life, really–but in human terms, womyn’s expense).

    FCM–I agree that even the most presumably enlightened of ‘feminist’ men, have not travelled the radical route yet. Totally not. I don’t pay much attention to what such men are up to…but I do know male privilege is the slipperiest, most difficult-to-grasp thing for all men (and even many womyn). In a sort of distant, bemused way I’m glad that some men are beginning to approach this….but I no longer give it my focussed attention. A big step for me because once upon a time I heaped praise and encouragement on such men–not realizing how in doing so I was only reiterating their privilege and assuming a role of ‘good mother’ to them. Men might or might not be helping themselves/each other/us to root out misogyny, but I don’t care. It is womyn who must lead the way–only by womyn rejecting partriarchy, can we ever create a better world. Some people say if I think only womyn can ‘save the world’, then I must think womyn are innately superior to men somehow. To me it is not a matter of innate superiority, simply that oppressive regimes only end when the oppressed stop accepting their oppression and overthrow the dominator.

  19. Women are superior to men!
    In every way.

    The best of the pro-feminist men are not radicalized. What’s in it for them?

  20. Julia–I knew someone would say that here ❤ So nice that someone will!

  21. I would agree too. I think it’s the very reason why men are so unreasonably angry at us and hate us in every possible way.

  22. witchwind, I have had that very thought. No amount of hating makes womyn less than what we are. Violence can kill us, yes, and enough localized rape, infanticide and other atrocities can murder the spirit of some womyn even among those who don’t physically die…but after the thousands of years of misogyny, we have never truly been changed or lost in this world. We continue to grow stronger, smarter, wilier, more determined than ever…in this era, more angry, and more powerful in our anger yet no less powerful in our love than ever…and yes, I think men on the whole do hate us expressly for that. They cannot murder us all outright, for then who would ‘relieve their (PIV) needs’, bear their children and do the shitwork? So they must stop short of murdering us all…and so we continue to grow in ways that seems to increase their hatred along with their frustration as they watch us grow to be more, not less, under their seige.

    I don’t know if, by nature, womyn are superior to men. I don’t know if we will ever have a chance to know this. It doesn’t so much matter to me–for me it is enough to know my marvellous gifts and tremendous value as a womyn without comparison to anything else. I do know that patriarchy is also violating of male essence, that men are harmed by cultural assignment of ‘masculinity’, in very different ways but in a similar manner as cultural assignment of ‘femininity’ hurts womyn …I witnessed this happen to my sons, and other boys I watched grow up. I saw all my kids gradually more and more impacted by patriarchy–but my girls benefitted quite a bit from my feminism in ways the boys could not…because of the seduction of privilege and the apparent ‘power’ of dominance in the social realm. Sometimes I have thought that perhaps when patriarchy is finally over, all humans will discover what the real possiblities of being womyn and men really can be, by spiritual and biological nature, within a culture that values love, wholeness, inclusion, power-sharing and respect for life…I think none of us fully knows yet because we are all so damaged by patriarchy. But it doesn’t matter to me anymore what men ‘might become’ or ‘could be, by nature, in a different kind of culture’…that is their concern and one they must figure out for themselves. As it stands right now, I do think womyn are superior–because along with what is naturally conferred to womyn, we have the strength of surviving misogyny. The oppressed always, in time, become stronger than the oppressor, and smarter, and more great-hearted.

  23. comparing women to men, even to say that we are superior to them, is extraordinarily easy to do and not at all interesting, whether or not its true. lets kick it up a notch ay? thanks

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