The Bitch, Bitch, Bitch


So-called Strength of Character
January 11, 2011, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

You know what’s a hoot? Familiarizing yourself with logical fallacies. One of my favorites is the Galileo Gambit, which is briefly defined as, “believing your opinion must be right if everyone thinks it’s wrong (because that’s what happened with Galileo, duh).” Of course, there are the old standbys – your strawmen, your ad hocs, your appeals to authority. However, in reviewing some of the writings of he who shall not be named (who, by the way, may very well be the posterchild for the Galileo Gambit), I’ve noticed there’s one particular argument that may be too specific to fit neatly into any particular established fallacy.

An oft-relied-upon tactic by opponents of feminism is to claim that feminism is actually anti-women, because it frames women as victims who lack free agency. Other sociopolitical struggles such as “LGBTQ rights” can be substituted for “feminism,”  as you like (the resemblance this argument bears to “slavery actually helps negroes by providing them with a place to live!” is not incidental), but the jist is that the mere suggestion that we are marginalized in society encourages us to adopt a victim mentality.

On first glance, this looks like a perfectly reasonable argument – why should we play the victim? However, making this particular suggestion supposes far too much about our own abilities – it claims that if we’re really in control, we aren’t influenced by silly things like sexualization in the media, or the internalization of patriarchal values (and if you feel you’ve been influenced, sorry – you’re weak). But being that the entire field of sociology, and much of psychology, is based on the tenet that we are in fact very highly influenced by factors beyond our control (no matter how “strong” we are), this suggestion is foolish, at best. It assumes undeserved responsibility under the guise that doing so will yield an increase in power, which is simply not true, and perhaps even to the contrary-  in the example of advertising, individuals who consider themselves skeptics are actually more susceptible to the influence of commercials.

This fallacious thinking follows the same brand of logic used in the following comment off a thread on Change.org from back in July, about a woman who pursued legal action for being  non-consentually used for Girls Gone Wild material:

…if Playgirl was there filming the party, I’d be in the film crew’s face demanding a royalty for the use of my image and likeness!

That’s because I’m suprememly confident about who I am, and that I cannot be “harmed” by what other people think about me.  Jane Roe, seems to be totally lacking in this particular quality of self — she is not a strong woman.  But that does’t mean she is worthy of “protection” from her mistakes. [emphasis mine]

Sorry, I’m just having a really hard time scraping up much sympathy.  She was harmed when her breasts were esposed [sic].  But three-plus years later, it’s an anecdote, not a lawsuit.

Both of these beliefs are different takes on a notion of illusory superiority, where the former is simply a rallying call to action suggesting that everyone share the same delusion. Voldemort  has previously claimed in interviews and articles that women who are “real womendeserving of respect couldn’t possibly be so shattered by a traumatic experience (nevermind that this has no bearing on the justice of the situation – if parking in front of someone’s driveway doesn’t happen to inconvenience them, it makes your parking ticket no less deserved) such as rape. It’s a simple case of, “Well, that would never happen to me,” a pretty unwise and solipsistic point of view.

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