56 – Adventures in Tough Subjects

This episode got off to an interesting start. We usually test the mics with small talk and whatnot, but wound up just getting into interesting things and never quite got around to breaking to do an intro. I guess today we talk about culture war stuff.
cw: cw

We mentioned Scott Alexander and his views on feminism and social justice. Those links are just some of his views. If you’ve ever read Slate Star Codex, you know his views tend to be nuanced and lengthy. I also strongly recommend this essay of his whenever you’re tempted to despise a member of the out group.

Eneasz has had a number of opinions on this in the past, of indeterminate value: Unwanted AttributesI’m Pro-Equality and I’m Not Your AllyAppropriating the White Guys

Toward the end we talked about Steven’s suspicion that some of the news coming from Left-seeming places was possibly coming from the same sort of misinformation factories that fuel nonsense coming from parts of the Right. This is the article that Vivian had that confirmed those suspicions.

Check out the Human’s Wanted anthology!

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26 Responses to 56 – Adventures in Tough Subjects

  1. deO says:

    Vivian is unbearable. Please, never bring her again.

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  3. Pink Wojack says:

    I found the double think required to understand Privilage unbearable. Please don’t do that again!

    • James says:

      It is really simple. I am honestly confused how anyone could have difficulty with it other than being willfully ignorant.

      There is a DnD stat that maps to it almost.

      If you are rich add a point. If you are white add a point. If you a woman subtract a point
      Add that to your roll and see how it turns out.

      Rich white handsome men can roll a one.
      Poor black women can roll a 18 and still fail the check. Or roll a 20 and crit.

      • Senjiu says:

        Okay, first off.. you actually subtract points for gender or origin? I mean, sure, barbarians usually have lower charisma than, say, clerics. I played a viking-type barbarian once. Clearly scandinavians and icelanders are basically near the bottom of the privilege pyramid, by that logic.
        But we never subtracted numbers for gender or origin.

        In general I think dnd doesn’t map reality that well. I mean, why is healing (using bandages, treating wounds, etc) and being able to hear faint sounds related? Or, to stick with your example of the charisma stat, if you are good at singing you are likely also good at intimidating people (and at using a magic device, if you are able to use that)?

        I agree with the “some people of a class that generally has less privilege can have it good while people of a class that has more privilege can have it worse”-notion. I don’t agree that people with more charisma are at fault for creating that system or should be punished for it. Fight the system, not the people. Don’t call people trash and expect them to be your allies.

        • James says:

          I was thinking more of 2.5 reputation.
          Charisma is part of it. But an orc will have a lower score in an elf town. A barbarian less I. A wizard keep. But a wizard less on a pirate ship. You know?

          Calling you on that hearing fair sounds and healing thing. Stethasocopes my dude.

          Further Rap musicians are really good at intimidating people.
          Most of hacking is social engineering so use that mwgical device if you can convince someone to give your their password.

          You are right no one is at fault for the systems they inherit. But going through life being rewarded for inheriting the system while others are punished does put a moral burden on you. It is real hard for people to the the system they are in so it can be a hard conversation about that. However the moral burden of sitting on pile of other people’s ancestors does not go away because we want it to.

          No one is expecting you to be their ally. If you are offended by all men are trash then she really doesn’t want your input on stuff. You either have no ability or desire to empathize with her position.

          People are part of the system, a part that is much easier to change than the non people part.

  4. Senjiu says:

    I agree with the other commenters that I can’t identify with that kind of view. I don’t agree with the idea of not bringing people that have a different opinion than your listeners though. It’s a peak of what’s outside my echo chamber so thanks for that I guess.

    That being said, I disagree with a bunch of things Vivian said for these reasons:

    – Punching up or down: Is there a specific order in which privilege flows? If a white woman is racist saying she hates black men is she punching up or down? Or, if a black man is saying he hates white women, is he punching up or down? Using that logic one of the two statements has to be okay OR they are on the same level. If one of them is homosexual would that make their message okay if it wasn’t with them being heterosexual? Are these questions answerable with yes or no?
    I think the idea of a privilege level is bullshit for exactly the examples that were brought up that there are disadvantages to being a man, that there are white people that have it worse than some black people (this is just my go-to example now, sorry).

    – Personal experience allows for offensive generalisation (or whatever the correct term is for calling all people of one group bad in a way). The thing is, do you stop taking seriously what they say because they are a rape victim (for example) OR do you agree with all men being evil even if you are not a rape victim (and are you allowed to do that?) and what do you do on the internet where you don’t know peoples personal experience and all you know about them is that they think that all men are evil?
    The thing is, if you allow people to make statements that you think aren’t true and automatically say “they’re allowed to say false statements because personal circumstance” you basically stop taking them seriously. They can’t convince you of something because you assume that it’s their heart and not their brain speaking there. Also, what happened to “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”? If it is wrong by simple fourth grade logic then it is clearly wrong. All men are not rapists because I am not (or Eneasz isn’t if you don’t believe me) so your the statement “All men are rapists.” is clearly false. Same with “[…] are violent.”

    – The problem about there being a lot of subgroups of feminism that are hostile towards normal people for not caring enough about that particular problem. There is little effort being made to tell them to stop alienating people on their side. The other problem that I personally have with feminism is that there is no effort made to correct false claims. Like the 20% gender paygap getting repeated all over with the addition “for the same jobs” when it’s actually the average wage of all working women vs the average wage of all working men. The fact that more men are working in STEM fields for example gets ignored. There is a gender paygap when you correct for the time working in that field and the kind of job but it’s more like 5% than 20%.
    It just makes a movement feel hypocritical and it’s gonna stop people from wanting to identify with your camp. And you can’t force them to join that camp, it would be wrong to do it if you could (and nonetheless it’s being tried … “you can’t say you’re not an ally just because we attack you”).
    Also, there’s a double standard that is related to the privilege level thing: The people defending women only events would be the same people being totally against men only events. Let’s say, some football club says they want one game they play at home, chosen at random out of all the games in that season, to only allow men into the stadium. Imagine the outcry of rage and compare that to the outry of rage about women only showing of movies.
    My stance on that thing is that people should pick one of three stances: Allow exclusive events for one group of people OR don’t allow exclusive events for one group of people OR stop claiming to be in favor of equal rights.

    – The cultural appropriation thing.. I don’t think gamergate was about that, was it? To me it wasn’t. It doesn’t directly affect the games I play (eve online, planetside 2, warthunder, space engineers and factorio currently) but I was worried about it limiting the variety in games being produced. Games like Leisure Suit Larry or japanese dating sims or GTA would have to vanish or change to fit the standards trying to be imposed. If you wanted to make a game about Princess Peach running from castle to castle trying to rescue Mario it would have been totally okay before gamergate as it is after. But making a game where Mario rescues Peach is supposed to stop.
    In my opinion, if you don’t like the stories or games out there, don’t buy them and buy those that you do like instead. Or make your own, have you seen the game development engines out there, like Unity? It has never been more simple!
    The worst thing, in my opinion, was calling for more strong female characters in games while attacking tomb raider at the same time.

    Oh and one last thing: I’m not american so I don’t vote in your elections anyway but on the whole election thing.. I would have been pissed if Hillary won. Because of the unfair way the DNC removed Bernie Sanders from the race. I probably wouldn’t have voted for her if I was american because of that. I would have voted for Jill Stein or something or Lord Buckethead if he was available.
    I think the american election system is broken because it should always be in your best interest to vote for the candidate you agree with the most. (At least I think so, otherwise you might as well not have elections.) And a System where I have to vote for Hillary so Trump doesn’t become president even if I don’t want Hillary to be president is broken. I think it should be changed, honestly.
    Cultures are different but betrayal always hurts more than being attacked by someone you think of as an enemy, even if it causes the same damage. Hillary being a democrat, removing Sanders from the race and then winning would therefore have felt worse than Trump winning. It’s like if you have a teammate that keeps killing you on purpose, you sometimes start rooting for the enemy team to win just so that teammate loses the videogame.
    And I think that is a big reason why people didn’t vote for her. She probably would have won the election if Sanders hadn’t been her opponent in the preliminary elections or if she won in a non-rigged way. Or Sanders might have won if the prelims weren’t rigged against him and he might have won or lost to Trump. But chosing the literally undemocratic way the democratic party handled the prelims lost the election, I think. And blaming people for voting the way their conscience tells them to is wrong.

  5. Jason says:

    Vivian is a bigot. You shouldn’t try so hard to wrap your head around her point of view, it really is that simple (listen to a white supremecist try to defend their reasoning and you’ll get the same nonsense double speak on why its ok in this special case to be a bigot). I second (or third) the request never to bring her back.

  6. casual listener says:

    Personally, I really like this format of having on guests with clashing views.
    I would like to thank both Eneasz and Vivian for being willing to have this conversation in public, and Steven for keeping them on track.
    Public, civil and honest conversations between people who disagree about tough subjects is exactly the sort of thing I’d want more of in this podcast,
    and in the world in general.
    Thank you.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I think others dont like this format because of her arguments, which is why I loved this format and also episode.

    I was very eager to hear the strongest arguments from the feminist side to calibrate my beliefs. This was very enlightning episode: she made a lot just irrational generalisations, was not interest having accurate beliefs based on evidence, hide behind emotional arguments and at the same time accused others being emotional. It seems also that she was not really interested changing her mind when being clearly wrong and without basic logic.

    Feminism seems to be more about dark side tactics to reach certain societal outcomes rather than to be interested having fact based beliefs as a foundation to make actually a better world.

    Please do make other episodes like this with the absolute best person argumenting the opposite view from the other side. Im eager to have my beliefs changed. Cheers from Finland! Thanks again!

  8. James says:

    I have had to stop and try to restart this episode multiple times. I am glad that this is the podcast where we can battle common phrases with endless pedantry.

    All men are trash. Doesn’t mean that all people who are men are trash. If you can hear than and realize that it doesn’t apply to you and be cool about it. You passed the test. If you think not all men. Then you failed the test

    Just like bi weekly means every two weeks as opposed to meaning biweekly.

    • James says:

      It keeps getting worse. I this is an wild ride into MRA talking points.

      Women do actually get it worse in the legal system than men. Look at who does better in rape cases as least.

      She used language in a way that is literally incorrect but conveys her meaning more accurately if any empathy is used

      Same with the feminism. I feel like effort is being made to miss the point.

    • Senjiu says:

      I disagree. You can’t just say language means what you want it to mean. It’s a consensus. And the agreed meaning of “all” is “everyone/everything with no exception”. If you want it to mean most then say “most” or if you mean some then say “some”.

      So the sentence “All men are trash” means “Every man is trash”. Or in form of programming code:
      foreach(man in men){
      man.trash = true;

      If you want to change it and add a line of code to it you have to use a different sentence..
      foreach(man in men){
      man.trash = true;
      That sentence would be “Men who are actually trash are trash”.

      If you use language in a way that only works for people with exactly the same mindset and rules to bend the meaning of words then nobody on the outside will understand you. Don’t blame them if they don’t, then. And that does not mean that there is an effort made to miss the point.

      And what is wrong with bringing up MRA talking points? Why only hear one side of the debate?

      Also the problem with the rape cases is that you have a hard time prosecuting anyone when you have no physical proof. That used to be easier during the with hunts but we learned from that, that accusations alone are insufficient. The point about women getting it better in the legal system is that for the same crimes and with the same criminal history they, on average, get less harsh judgments. I’m not sure, meaning I don’t have any statistics here, but I think male rape victims have it even more difficult than female rape victims in court.

      • James says:

        I’ll Grant you that women get lesser punishments for the same crime. I doubt it is true but I don’t care to research it.

        Women get punished for things they shouldn’t in ways that are unique to them and indicative of systematic opression.
        I don’t think you can dismiss the difficulty of rape cases as evidence of bias there.

        Women are frequently jailed for self defence against their abusers. The criminalization of prostitution. And that women’s health issues are criminal ones as well. And I am sure if I had the energy to waste of feeling real sad tonight I could look up lots of worse things and hard numbers.

        Given that women do have less privilage in society extra care should. Be taken to evaluate claims in the area.

        It might be interesting to hear the mra side of the debate. But it isn’t a debate. Debates aren’t real. We can rationally figure things out now. There is a class so information that is true and we should give it extra privilage. It can be important to understand what people think and why. But it isn’t data.

        There has long been a debate in circles about the descriptive use of language vs the prescriptive. Historically prescriptive language makes points that no one cares at all about. Stylistic choices convey information as well despite violating the rules.

        Since she uses languange differently than the host there clearly isn’t a consensus there. But most everyone understands her meaning so there is some consensus there.

        • Senjiu says:

          In that case I think it is me who doesn’t understand what she’s trying to say. What does “All men are trash” or something similar mean? (Please answer that question, otherwise we’re probably gonna talk past each other.) What’s the purpose of the statement, if it’s not to convey the literal meaning?

          Does it mean “men should feel bad about themselves even if they never did anything bad themself”? If so, may I ask why? Because we have it better in some ways? (Are you sure, women don’t have it better in some other ways?)
          Should I feel bad about not being a homeless person while there are homeless on the streets, even if I make barely enough money to pay my bills and put food in my mouth myself?
          I don’t think that it would help anyone and I’m against suffering for no reason in principle.
          I’m definitely against inflicting suffering for no reason so I’m against people telling me I am trash.

          About the justice system results.. I believe it’s true that women get less harsh judgements. There’s a report by the british government that confirms this for the UK, I believe:
          “Males were more likely to be sentenced to immediate custody and to receive custodial sentences of 6 months or longer than females with a similar criminal history”
          http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/women-and-the-criminal-justice-system-statistics-2015.pdf (that sentence is copied from page 11, the more detailed analysis on that topic is on page 100). It might be different for other countries, honestly I only checked for data now and this was the fifth google hit (the first only had numbers on numbers of victims and offenders by sex, not on the outcome of court cases) I got for the term “women punished in justice system official data” – the ones before were either blog posts or only had numbers on numbers of victims and offenders by sex, not on the outcome of court cases (the fourth hit basically had a similar conclusion on that matter as the fifth but was five years older and also from the UK Government).

          • James says:

            I guess that the most precise formatting of all men are trash would be “A large portion of my interactions with men are negative, there is no systemic way to determine which man will behave poorly, I have no recourse to correct the situation and I am frustrated by the structures that enforce this”.

            It is like Schrodinger’s cat. You can’t know untill you check. Is this man trash. You don’t know untill he has done something terrible.

            Some of that is from the history of and context of that specific phrase.

            Men is used as a catagory. So no man is a Men. If that makes sense.

            The way that some men specifically respond to that phrase just reinforces it though. So that’s it’s own mess

            I would say six months less prison time still does not balance the specific and severe injustices of the legal system that women would have to face that men do not.
            Globally this is especially obvious. But even in modern and developed counties you can see the same structures and forces at play.

          • Senjiu says:

            “Men is used as a catagory. So no man is a Men. If that makes sense.”
            I don’t think it does, unless we change the meaning of either “man”, “men” or “category”. Is men the empty set? To me that sounds like “furniture sucks” doesn’t include chairs and if you think it includes chairs you are willfully ignorant.

            Could you name one of the “severe unjustices in the legal system that women would have to face” besides winning custody battles by default if they want to (unless there are obvious reasons why it would be a bad idea to have the children stay with the mother)? I’m speaking of western industrial countries here, which I assume we were speaking of the whole time. That the state of womens rights in the middle east is wrong is obvious imo.

      • James says:

        Categories are allowed to have emergent properties that it’s parts do not.

        No single bacteria is an infection.

        But the way she is using language here, as most people do most of the time, doesn’t strictly follow the rules. So you just have to use your communication skills.

        Stuff like that. Some good places to start.






        Take your pick. I am not the guy gonna be the one to convince you that women get it tough. It’s true. Every process you use to evaluate social claims should lead you to that fact. Unless empathy and human suffering are not things you concern yourself with. Either way plenty of data out there if you want it.

        • Senjiu says:

          These articles all say “women have it bad” but none of them say “the situation for women is worse than for men”, I think? I mean, “There are more than 200.000 women behind bars and more than 1 million on probation”. What should I do with that fact?

          Apparently in 2016 there were 2.2 million people imprisoned in the US. And out of those 9% are women so… how does this make a point that women have it worse than men?

          Look, I don’t deny that women have it bad in the justice system. I just doubt that they have it worse than men.
          And yes, there are women specific things that are worse for them. Pregnant men are never treated as badly as pregnant women in prison.
          So sorry, the articles you picked don’t really show that women have it worse in the justice system, they just show that the media are more willing to report on women (because these stories are more popular, I think). You just linked single cases but no statistics and nothing that compares it to men.

  9. Hi. Just listening to the show on my way home tonight…

    This gave me a lot more insight on “sealioning” which was an interesting subject to me… Sealioning is supposedly a form of informal logical fallacy where one politely defends their own character, when attacked broadly by someone of lesser privelege.

    I didn’t hear the whole thing yet, but I was really frustrated because you weren’t making a simple distinction: Accusation vs. Defense vs. Confession

    Statements such as “All men are pigs” or whatever is an accusation

    “I am afraid of all men, now because I was once raped” is a confession

    “I am a man and I am not a pig” is self-defense.

    “Oh, yeah, well, you’re a bitch.” is accusation again.

    Did you decide, before the show that you were going to pretend this isn’t obvious, so you could talk longer about it?

    Accusation is generally wrong thing to do… especially when you’re making “ALL people of type X are Y” When you make an accusation, you’re indicting them for a crime or moral flaw. You need to have evidence to support your case. Being a victim does not give you the right to make false accusations against people. Certainly we should be able to FORGIVE someone for making false accusations against a big group of people, but that does not mean we JUSTIFY someone for making false accusations because they are victims.

    Making a confession “I am afraid of person of type X because one person of type X did Y.” is perfectly legitimate, and should bring sympathy and empathy from anybody that isn’t actually an example of the very reason you are afraid.

  10. Jonathan Doolin says:

    By the way, I was really glad to hear Vivien on the show. I asked an unfair question, though. “Did you decide, before the show that you were going to pretend this isn’t obvious, so you could talk longer about it?”

    I listened to the rest of the show and it was really delightful. Casual listener was totally right when he said ” Public, civil and honest conversations between people who disagree about tough subjects is exactly the sort of thing I’d want more of in this podcast, and in the world in general. Thank you.”

    You guys don’t even need to edit the show. I would have just loved being there, listening, even if I never got a word in edgewise.

    But I was frustrated in this time to not be able to get in such edgewisdom.

    I forgot how long it’s taken me to come to a point where I think I can successfully detect the difference between an accusation and a passive-aggressive “I” statement.

    I statements are OKAY so long as a person is making them authentically. In scientific communications, say “It is my own personal hypothesis–what I believe most likely to to be true…” In moral communications say “I do not believe that the law should be required to punish….” etc.

    What usually happens is somebody will pop on and say “I’m a scientist, and science doesn’t care what you believe.” Actually, science does care, because if you believe the wrong thing, you might win the Darwin awards.

    It is the same with moral statements, such as “I believe, with all my strength, men are adulterous and violent and rapey, and I want to get away from them”. The unfortunate part of this is that I think, all men and women have a bit of an evil streak, that is generally held back by the fact that they use their hearts and minds to keep their animal sides on a tight leash.

    In most cases, though, that man’s “animal side” would be quite satisfied just be acknowledged in a non-condemning way. The whole “Yeah, you like this, I like that you like this, but I have faith in your ability to keep your self-control, and respect my boundaries”. (I was watching videos from Comiccon Los Angeles for two hours yesterday, where this issue was brought up frequently, but in the lighter language of comedy.)

    However, there are also those who allow that evil-streak/spoiled-baby/animal-side of themselves decide what their higher faculties prepare for, and do. People have told them their whole lives that the animal-side of themselves was evil… But young children are so sure there is nothing wrong with anything about themselves… They try something… At some point it may be confirmed–“Oh… right… It was evil, in this way… This other person got hurt by my actions…. However, I am fine, and actually got pleasure out of it.” Then how do they react?

    It depends on what messages they hear. If they hear further condemnation from everyone around them… Saying they are evil because they are attracted to women, for instance, they will say “I am surprised that I am not evil for being attracted to women, but if people insist that this is evil, I certainly cannot help it. Who am I to question what God made me?” So they will continue to do what everyone assures them is evil… They come to realize it is their own personal victims who are punished, and “weaker men” who respect the women’s opinions who are punished for their actions. And their advice to those so-called “weaker-men” is to either “stop respecting women’s opinions (e.g. stop being a cuckold)” or “Just accept your place in life as the unloved (enjoy being the cuckold).”

    So long as women continue to paint with such a broad brush, they empower this separation of men into these two categories… The men who say “Hell yes, I am rapey and violent, and privileged, and I will continue to be so long as I can get away with it, and women’s issues are just their opinions of what is right” and the men who say “I guess women are right… Underneath at all, I envy the men who get to enjoy the wealth and power and women, etc… But I respect the women’s opinion more, and the women hate all the men.”

  11. Eddie says:

    Vivian, if you read the comments, know that some listeners really enjoyed the episode and having you in it.

  12. Bob says:

    I’ve been trying to get through this episode as well but I’m going to call it quits now.

    In a sense I’m glad Vivian expressed her views because I always thought the “privilege” narrative is cloaked racism and perpetuates the very thing it purports to seek to solve. I feel more secure in my view than ever. The term “punching up” betrays the mentality here. “I’m a white guy, you’re a black guy… well, of course I’m ABOVE you.” Yuck. This view is despicable and minimizes people into little more than members of a tribe.

    This wasn’t rational. This was nonsense.

    • Bob says:

      Hey all, I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed. I rattled off the comment above after coming to a part in the podcast episode that was just a little too infuriating for me, personally.

      For some context: this was only the 2nd or 3rd episode I had ever listened to, so I didn’t really understand what your show was or the personalities. I was not thoughtful enough to think you’d read my comment, let alone read it on the show. If I came across as too gruff (I cringed when I heard you read the comment), I sincerely apologize.

      I’ve listened to at least a dozen episodes since this one and you run an excellent show. Thank you all for doing it.

      • Eneasz Brodski says:

        It’s all good! 🙂 Thank you for the comment, and I’m sorry that airing it made you cringe. We thought it was interesting enough to respond to, so thank for that.

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