Monday, 4 May 2015

Redefining words - Misogyny is not a catch-all for hurt feelings

I guess you could say I had a 'mini debate' with TJ Mair last night on Twitter. TJ Mair is a self-employed writer and editor, and has spoken on CBC Radio, though I cannot find any one site explaining exactly what TJ Mair 'does', but he seems to be active in different corners of the community.

The issue I was discussing with TJ Mair was his misuse of the word 'misogyny' in regards to David Chesney, a city councilor in B.C., who "compared the bellies of some pregnant women to "sausage casings"."

While I concede that Chesney is somewhat of an ignorant idiot for having said what he did, and his being a city councilor does indeed hold him to a higher standard, I do not agree with TJ Mair that Chesney's comments were misogynistic or based in misogyny.

The words we use have meanings, and the word 'misogyny' is no exception to that rule. Misogyny means a hatred of women.

That is the definition of misogyny, regardless of what most feminists would like it to mean. It is not a catch-all word for anything someone says or does that may offend one's delicate sensibilities, but that is how it is unfortunately being used now, and it needs to stop before the word loses all meaning entirely.

When we over-use a word, beyond it's actual definition/meaning, it ends up becoming conflated with other words, and thus becomes useless to a society built on accurate communications.

In the case of the word misogyny, when we conflate it to mean things other than its original definition, we are also diminishing others actual experiences of true misogyny. We are essentially insulting all those women out there who have experienced true hatred based solely on their gender. It it indicative of the privileged, ignorant, and entitled attitudes within developed countries such as ours, where we really do not have any clue what misogyny actually is. To misuse and abuse the word, and insist it means anything more than its actual definition, ridicules and diminishes those victims of true misogyny.

The following is part of the conversation I had on Twitter with TJ Mair.

My question was never answered.

Again, my question was not answered. He again dodged it by deflecting

I must point out here that, if we use Mair's logic, then that would mean his use of the term 'pussy-whipped' is then misogynistic, since it can be perceived as degrading to women, and misogyny is the only reason for degrading women like that.

No, I do not believe patriarchy exists outside of an anthropological context. The idea of patriarchy, in feminist terms, is like God to religion - It has no one specific or universal definition. It is a vague undefined idea used to justify the need for feminist ideology. And this is symptomatic of feminism's appropriation and conflation of words - the attempt to redefine words for their own sub-culture.

As for Mair's comment about bias - I find it ironic for him to say that, since his ideological bias is clearly clouding his ability to think about things in a rational and logical way.

As you can see from the conversation we had, TJ Mair has conflated the word misogyny to mean many different things. The reason for this conflation is because what Chesney said offended him, and to Mair, as is the case with many ideological feminists, anything perceived as being offensive, either personally or towards women in general, is now being touted as misogyny.

This is the perfect example of how many feminists have taken a word, that has a specific meaning, and twisted it to suit their own ideologically driven views/agenda. They do it with many words, such as misogyny, harassment, violence, rape, etc... These words have essentially lost all meaning when used by feminists - They have become so broadly applied to encompass so many different, undefined, and unspecified things that no one really knows what they are meant to mean anymore. And now that feminism has become so mainstream, those words are indeed losing all their meaning within  society as a whole.

The danger here can be summarized best by Confucious:

"When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom".

In other words:

"When Confucius spoke of words losing their meaning, he was not referring to a lack of specificity in the spoken words or implying that words were not being taken literally as they should have been.

Instead, Confucius understood that the words one spoke must be meaningful, if one must speak at all. Words become meaningful when they are formed out of reflection and consideration for the entire scope of their consequence. Words spoken from a singular perspective or solely as a reaction to an emotion have no true meaning.

Freedom is the ability to move through life unhindered. When meaningful words are used, one is able to operate in a manner of their choosing because the consequences which they must endure were understood and accepted from the very start. When words are haphazardly used without consideration for their meaningfulness, the consequences cannot be understood and so freedom is replaced with anxiety and fear about potential unforeseen catastrophes.

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Perhaps this adage is the best advice for maintaining the freedom we all possess."

~ Author only known as 'Jeremy'.

This explanation reminds me of 'Newspeak' which is found in George Orwell's novel, 1984.

"It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as "thoughtcrime"."

As one can see, there are indeed dangerous consequences to be had when you begin down the path of re-defining language with conflation and fear-mongering, in other words, with an ideological agenda.

But what does this actually mean? It means you are creating a sub-culture, a cult if you will, that has a specific and independent re-definition of words that then becomes a tool for social ostracization; a litmus test for in-group/out-group behaviors, where you experience behavior that allows people to now marginalize those that disagree with those new sub-culture definitions. This means you are losing freedom-the freedom to associate with whomever you choose, the freedom to think differently than the in-group, and so on. If you understand a word to mean one thing, all the words related to it, both semantically and conceptually, have to then be rearranged to fit the new definition.

Think of it as a cascade effect where words eat other words definitions, leaving those words devoid of any meaning or definition.

We see this in action with, what I call rape culture creep. Rape culture creep has made almost anything deemed sexually uncomfortable or offensive to be included within the penumbra of rape. What used to be harassment is now also being conflated with sexual assault, and what is currently sexual assault is now in the process of being redefined to also mean rape.

All this conflation and redefining of words means that those words are losing all meaning and thus creates great social fear and the perfect environment for othering, vilifying, and moral panic. We can see an example of this in the UVA 'rape' case, the one made famous by Rolling Stone - not for its brilliant expose of a covered up campus gang rape - but for being completely false. The university community and the university's overreactions are on record, and need not be rehashed here, especially since it isn't an isolated incident, nor is it rare, by any means.

The long and short of all this is: Do we want to live in an Orwellian version of society, or do we want things to be well defined so that we can retain our freedom and refrain from demeaning and diminishing others very real experiences with things like true misogyny?

Written by Kristina Hansen
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