Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Encounter with a real-life leftist feminist

with 2 comments

As the recurring reader knows, I am less than thrilled by some of the people I meet online. However, based on my experiences so far, I have assumed that they are more moderate or more varied off-line—just like a basket-ball player does not run to-and-fro, jump up-and-down, and throw balls around in daily life. Even when I was myself politically active (and had a greater in-person exposure to others active in a variety of parties), I found this to be the case.

Yesterday, however, I encountered a woman who was a caricature of a leftist feminist—to the point that I actually considered the possibility that she was an actress trying out a character on the group (the participants of a one-day seminar).

Picture a middle-aged woman; hair semi-unkempt and tied behind her head; little make-up, but a contrasting red lipstick; horn-rimmed glasses; an odd red dress; and an unhappy, often angry, face.

During the individual presentations, she mentioned that she had once been a member of the German autonomew movement (known for its extreme opinions and methods—including violent confrontations with the police)—but that this was a thing of the past, from which she had repented.

As the day proceeded, however, it became very clear that was still strongly convinced leftist, who turned every discussion onto some angle of a leftist or feminist agenda—regularly interrupting the leader of the seminar and, on balance, talking about as much as he did (and more than the other participants put together). Now, I have nothing against a discussion or an excursion into an interesting side-topic (quite the contrary, as those who know me can testify); however, she moved off the actual topic and went off on long rants with such persistency that the situation become untenable. Without her presence, 1–2 hours of the 6-hour seminar could have been saved or filled with more valuable content (even allowing for other discussions ensuing). Further, her aggressiveness often made it hard for other participants to get a word in.

As for the content she provided, the general impression that I have from leftist and feminist blogs was affirmed, including:

  1. An underlying anger/moral indignation and little insight into other perspectives than her own.

  2. The stating of very trivial insights as great truths that needed to be brought to the people. For instance, she correctly, but tritely, stated that the concept of a citizen as a “customer” of a governmental agency differed from the common connotations of the word—and then forcefully went on about how this was something that needed to be explained to the masses…

    (As an aside: While I too find this use of “customer” annoying, it can possibly be justified by considering it an abstraction. Notably, I have seen academic discussions where even those selling have been considered customers, e.g. making both the person buying an apple from a store and the company selling the apples in bulk to the store “customers” of the store.)

  3. Jumping to negative conclusions about what others said and meant. Most notably, the seminar leader related an anecdote about how he had once been confronted with an epileptic attack in one of his employees. As he stated that this was something he hoped never to witness again (with the clear contextual meaning that he merely wished to stress how unpleasant such a situation was), she immediately accused him of not wanting to hire more epileptics… This interpretation was not only far-fetched (and explicitly denied by the him), but also effectively the opposite of Hanlon’s Razor.

    At some point, she even started to discuss how she disliked how several of the other participants were sitting quietly, without “revealing anything about themselves”. (Her emphasis on the latter part was heavy, leaving the impression that she saw this as more-or-less immoral.) I only barely managed to refrain from citing the adage that it is better to remain silent and be thought an idiot than to open ones mouth and remove any doubt (implying that she, herself, would do well to heed this statement). As I did try to explain to her, there are a number of reasons why hers is an unfair sentiment: Different people learn in different ways—and we were there to learn, not to reveal ourselves to strangers. (In a deeper discussion, there would be a number of other factors involved, including that some may simply be shy among strangers, unwilling to interrupt others, having had a sleepless night, which negatively affected their abilities, whatnot.) Certainly, her own participation brought a negative net value to the group, and we would have been better off, had she kept quiet.

  4. Showing signs of great prejudice and indoctrination. For instance, she went on at length about some phenomenon she did not like (I was a bit tuned out and missed the details, but the area was unethical or illegal business methods) and ending with the (incorrect) claim that this would be neo-liberalism. Similarly, she went off on a rant about how the immigrants in Cologne were to insecure to stand up for themselves (something I have not noticed…) and too willing to adapt to the German way (ditto), and how Cologne was unusually “patriarchal” (a word that is one of biggest red flags around).

Oh, and she was also very loud and waved her arms around well into the personal space of those around her—often without even looking in the direction of the wave.

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Written by michaeleriksson

October 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

2 Responses

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  1. Don’t know if you’re familiar with David Thompson’s blog (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2010/10/an-instrument-of-choice.html) but this over-the-top feminism is a recurring topic there.

    In such situations, I try to reassure myself that since we’ve always had crazy people, this is just the sort of topic to which they gravitate because this is the area where we humor them. But it seems that in the situation you describe, the woman was totally out of context. This of course is why my attempts to reassure myself are simply an attempt at denial.

    Oh, and bonus for the Hanlon’s Razor reference.

    WTP

    October 28, 2010 at 11:14 pm

  2. Hi, just found this blog and post.

    I recently wrote something about how a ridiculous number of discussions that I’d had in my life with feminists – on feminist issues – fell into 2 categories. Either I agreed or I ended up being variously shouted at or insulted. When I started to join in debates online I saw the exact same thing happening to many others. A good example is the story of Neil Lyndon (look on wiki)

    I can’t escape the impression that feminists avoid reason and logic. The reason for this isn’t that women are necessarily much worse at logic, but that feminism is a political movement, and because of this many people argue their cases with religious fanaticism (exactly as far leftists/right wingers will)

    Feminism was once a loosely connected set of ideas with an emphasis on inequalities women suffered at home, in the law, at work, in politics. Not any more. Most of these inequalities don’t exist any more (except for stats about pay and politics which could quite possibly be explained by women’s choices in life).

    Inequalities that affect men DO persist however. For feminism to survive as a political force it needs to ignore problems men face – often with ridicule – and state women’s problems as though they are far more important.

    This appears to thrive on the existence of ‘believers’ with fanatical belief in how women are victimised by men in some general unspecified way. This political stance becomes so important to them that if you disagree, they feel you are criticising their whole life (or are about to roll back years of ‘progress’ just because you disagree over positive discrimination/abortion/whatever)

    Which, I think, might go some way to explaining your friend’s behaviour

    Good luck!

    Henry

    January 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm


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