Mirroring back bad behavior vs. Taking the higher road

Just finished reading this article in the New York Times (posted yesterday) titled “We Brought Charles Murray to Campus. Guess What Happened.” That taking place on the University of Michigan campus. And reflecting on a Google Hangout discussion I partook in last night where a self-described “MGTOW” was arguing that mirroring feminist behavior is necessary in order to show people the wrong in their ways.

Hmmm…  The topic of whether to employ the tactics of one’s “enemies” continues to leave me with mixed thoughts. On one hand, I tend to think it best that we hold ourselves to higher standards and refrain from behaving like schmucks since that sends a better message to the general public observers. But on the other hand, I can also see where groups who behave in such foul ways as disturbing assemblies and refusing to allow invited speakers to speak and blocking entrances to lecture halls really do deserve retaliatory comeuppances, partly because it’s just desserts but mostly because I’d like to think if they experienced this sort of treatment in kind they might realize just how much it sucks and agree to a ceasefire.

The subject honestly perplexes me. If you allow the other group to behave like hooligans without behaving in kind, perhaps onlookers and outsiders will come to associate them specifically with the use of such tactics and disassociate themselves as a result. At least one can hope. BUT in the meantime, your speaker has been unfairly berated, along with the attending audience who came to listen to him or her, not to a loud crowd of assholes hellbent on pushing their own political agenda (nevermind if it doesn’t even apply in the given situation, they not being the types to actually look deeply into what exactly it is that they are protesting). And there’s the concern that the outside world will just ignore what’s going on, leaving your organization fuming but without any real recourse. That’s entirely frustrating and unfair. We’re supposed to be a society all about the free exchange of ideas, but that’s cannot be the case when hooligans do nearly everything in their power to be super disruptive and derailing.

But what happens when we fight fire with fire? Sometimes we do draw more attention to the situation, though not always in the ways we’d wish. While observing and reading about the tactics of MRAs (men’s rights activists), because I was unaware of the extent feminists were misbehaving prior I got the initial impression that the MRAs were a bunch of bullies. My sympathy toward their causes was hesitatingly expressed because I didn’t wish to closely associate with bulldog jackassery, not from them or from the feminists they were reacting to. The more I learned about how feminists were conducting themselves (after a few-year hiatus from keeping up with much going on in the feminist scene), the more I began to grasp why MRAs were acting as they were in response. But I still loathed their tactics and wished they would take the higher road instead. To which they commonly responded that they tried that and it led nowhere other than them and their plights being roundly ignored. Which is probably true. For many, I imagine, it didn’t register as a concern until a bunch of women out in society claimed to feel threatened, insulted, and unfairly mistreated.

Having said that, I came to take issue with the so-called “MGTOWs” (Men Going Their Own Way) whom I encountered online (never having actually met a self-described one in person) because I found that they tended to go on the offensive when dealing with women, not waiting for an incident to react to before spouting off epithets and deriding random women they happened across as “whores,” “cows,” “sluts,” “cunts,” and openly celebrating their hope for us to die alone with our cats. Deal with enough jokers like that your sympathy threatens to dry up entirely. Which I openly expressed a few years back once I completely tired of their incessant and unwarranted remarks toward myself and others who hadn’t done a damn thing to them to provoke such a reaction. They tend to argue in response that they’re entitled to behave this way due to how womankind tends to be, dismissing any objections that the individual in question they’re currently addressing isn’t guilty of what she’s being accused of, stating that she could be if she so desired thanks to the current state of the System. So therefor we all deserve to be tarred and feathered outright regardless of who we are, what we’ve done, how we actually live, or what values we assert. I’d say that’s mad…completely and utterly. That strategy and worldview is every bit as bad as that professed by the worst feminists they’re claiming to be trying to combat.

Leads a person to a “no win” situation in a hurry. Can’t communicate effectively with people employing such tactics. Can’t stand to even be around them. Can’t escape them since they like to seek out those they disagree with. Can’t live and let live since they refuse to do so. Can’t fight them back half the time without looking like the bigger asshole through the way the situation winds up being spun. Can’t defend oneself effectively since members of groups like this like to travel in packs and prove relentless in the harassment they dole out. So what then? Where do we as individuals and as a society go from here?

I worry that if we attempt to fight fire with fire that we’ll just wind up burning down the whole house. That nobody will ultimately win but a whole lot on both/all sides will wind up suffering. That free speech will be lost amid the chaos. And that people won’t limit their reactivism to tit-for-tat exchanges where they’re willing to lay down their arms when the other side agrees to do so, preferring instead to sadistically keep on and on at them beyond the point of reason. Why? Because humans sometimes revel in behaving like assholes. Smells like POWER. Easy to get drunk on the stuff.

But there’s a lot of truth in the claim that people are stubborn to learn the wrongs of their ways without feeling the brunt of such treatment themselves. Having been around dogs all my life, I am aware that some dog personalities are obstinate to the point where they simply don’t (or possibly can’t) learn to stop biting until they are bitten back hard  and enough times in response (usually by other dogs, mind you). They’ll take rough play too far amid human cries for them to stop and demands for them to settle down, and I believe a good bit of that pertains to the dog not respecting the human owner’s authority. Because there are little or no consequences for their bad behavior. That’s another topic for another time, but I toss that out there because I’d also argue that we humans tend to be a lot like that ourselves. Thoughts of the debate over child-rearing and the use of spanking as discipline springs to mind. Some screech at the idea, calling it abuse in all cases, while others swear by the tactic in raising their own kids. Just the same, some kids report being spanked by their parents as having been character-building for them while others sulk  well into adulthood over the matter. I’d argue that it entirely depends on the temperament in question as to what the approach ought to be. Divvies up differently for different people. Some people will eventually gain enough empathy and/or sympathy to come to recognize the err in their ways and will aim to make amends with those they’ve harmed. While others will continue behaving like jackasses until the end of time unless they’re physically stopped from doing so. Many in the middle will finally experience a lightbulb moment where they’re essentially forced to realize that they don’t like the just desserts doled back onto them so therefore they must discontinue doling it out to others. Consider it an appeal to one’s self-preservation (if only in regards to preserving one’s own peace of mind).

We tend to be a selfish bunch. Some of us will carry on with a behavior until something obstructs our actions and exacts a consequence that we find sufficiently uncomfortable. Perhaps when it comes to feminists and antifa they would be swayed by having their own rallies invaded and “safe spaces” disrupted and their own speakers shut down. Maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps they will then up the ante, as those with a well-entrenched victim mentality are prone to do. But I’m willing to bet a good many of them could be influenced to change their ways if they were shown a clear comparison of what their group did and how it made people feel vs. what wound up being done to them in retaliation, assuming the retaliation was kept directly proportional.

But that then leads to the next problem, which is that people have a hard time keeping reactions and responses proportional. People get angry and lash out and sometimes take things too far, which then makes victims of those you were aiming to merely mirror. That’s no good. But there’s always an asshole in the crowd who doesn’t understand proportion yet craves revenge and winds up making the whole situation worse for his own group. And I say “his” here for a reason — many of those who escalate the situation to violence are men. Women prefer utilizing more passive-aggressive, crazy-making approaches generally. Initiating an act of violence or a major overreaction tends to hurt one’s cause more than anything. So then you’ve set your group or movement back all the more and brought yourself and your affiliates scorn from the general public. That scorn isn’t soon to be forgotten either in most cases. Ruin your group’s reputation in such a way and it might never be restored.

So what the hell do we do with this?

My instinct keeps telling me we have to adopt a higher road in our responses. But I’m not 100% sold on the idea, acknowledging the handicap it can create for those unwilling to properly defend themselves and to give their tormentors a taste of their own medicine. Self-respect tends to hinge on being willing and able to stick up for oneself. But it’s all in how we go about it. And the bigger the group, the more likely that one idiot therein will take matters too far and muck up the situation for all involved. Hence why I don’t involve myself in groups. Hate the idea of my own reputation being tarnished due to the actions of somebody else. But sometimes we’re grouped together whether we mean to be or not, as in attending a speaking event. To outsiders we’re then viewed as supporters of the speaker, whether we’re just there out of curiosity or are devoted fans. Might not have any idea of what other groups are in attendance or what they might stand for, but that doesn’t stop opposing parties from lumping us all in together. Not sure how to get around that, aside from staying indoors and away from all others.  tongue_out

We ought to be able to rise or fall on our own merit and be judged according to our own individual actions. But that’s a bit naive to expect, especially considering the hold and influence group dynamics and their enshrined ideologies commonly exercise on their participants. No human is an island. We tend to judge people in accordance with the company they keep, even if that company was kept unintentionally or accidentally. Especially now that so many are actively aiming to make real world events mesh with the socio-political narratives they’re pushing forth. It ceases being about accuracy. Quite obviously.

There are no easy answers to this conundrum. Perhaps it comes down to assessing what’s most appropriate in each event and situation. Doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach that won’t eventually run into trouble. I’ll continue pondering on this matter.

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