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This weekend the top twitter meme in the solar system, at least for a few hours, involved Feminist blogs calling me an ignorant, misogynist asshole. Meanwhile, over on the Men's Rights blogs, I'm being called a wussy, asshole, douche bag.

There is still some debate on those sites as to whether Dilbert has never been funny or it used to be funny and now it isn't. I hope someone gets all of this sorted out before I write an autobiography. These are exactly the kind of facts I need to include.

Regular readers of this blog already know what the commotion is about. I posted, and later removed, a piece that mocked the Men's Rights Movement.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was enjoying all of the negative attention on Twitter and wondered how I could keep it going. So I left some comments on several Feminist blogs, mostly questioning the reading comprehension of people who believed I had insulted them. That kept things frothy for about a day. Now things are starting to settle down. It's time for some DMD.

First, some background. A few weeks ago I asked readers of this blog to suggest a topic they would like to see me write about. The topic that got the most up votes, by a landslide, was something called Men's Rights. Obviously the fix was in. Activists had mobilized their minions to trick me into giving their cause some free publicity. In retrospect, the Men's Rights activists probably should have done some homework on me before hatching this scheme.

I'll reprint the original offending post at the end of this post. This would be a good time to skip down and read it before we continue. I'll wait.

Waiting....waiting...waiting...

Okay, you're back. As you can see, I thought it would be funny to embrace the Men's Rights viewpoint in the beginning of the piece and get those guys all lathered up before dismissing their entire membership as a "bunch of pussies." To be fair, they have some gripes worthy of discussion, especially on legal issues. But I'm been experiencing a wicked case of "whiner fatigue." It feels as if everyone in the world is whining about one damn thing or another.  In normal times, I can tune it out. But lately the backdrop has been world class problems on the order of financial meltdowns, tsunamis, nuclear radiation, and bloody revolutions. THOSE are problems. Your thing: Not so much.

So why'd I pull down the post? That question is more interesting than you might think. And there's a fascinating lesson in all of this about the power of context.

The short answer is that I write material for a specific sort of audience. And when the piece on Men's Rights drew too much attention from outside my normal reading circle, it changed the meaning. Communication becomes distorted when you take it out of context, even if you don't change a word of the text. I image that you are dubious about this. It's hard to believe this sort of thing if you don't write for a living and see how often it happens. I'll explain.

Regular readers of my blog know that the goal of my writing is to be interesting and nothing else. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion, largely because I don't believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some. But I do think people benefit by exposure to ideas that are different from whatever they are hearing, even when the ideas are worse. That's my niche: something different. That approach springs from my observation that brains are like investment portfolios, where diversification is generally a good strategy. I'm not trying to move you to my point of view; I'm trying to add diversity to your portfolio of thoughts. In the short term, I hope it's stimulating enough to be entertaining. Long term, the best ideas probably come from people who have the broadest exposure to different views.

Contrast my style of blogging to the most common styles, which include advocacy for some interest group or another, punditry, advice, and information. Now imagine moving my writing from the context of this blog to the context of an advocacy blog. You can see the problem. Men thought I was attacking men, and women thought I was attacking women. The message changed when the context changed. I saw that developing, so I took down the post.

Yes, I do know that nothing can be deleted from the Internet. Yes, I knew that taking down the post would increase curiosity about it. This isn't my first rodeo. It's not even the first time I've taken down a post and others reposted it. But I didn't anticipate how much the context would change when it got reposted on Feminist websites and Men's Rights sites. I should have.

A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post.  If you didn't get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away.

And to those of you who triumphantly scrounged up a copy of the deleted piece from Google's cache, republished it, and crowed that I don't understand how the Internet worked, I would politely suggest that perhaps I do.

But I didn't take down the piece just because I thought doing so would be funny, or because I wanted attention. Those were bonuses. The main reason is that when a lot of drive-by readers saw the piece, and they didn't know the context of this blog, it changed the message of the post to something unintended. As a writer, unintended messages are unbearable.

I confess that I misjudged the degree of excitement this would generate. Indeed, the big fuss didn't happen for over three weeks. I also didn't predict that critics would reprint the post one component at a time so they could dissect it, which has the fascinating effect of changing the humorous tone to something hideous. Humor requires flow and timing. A frog isn't much of a frog after you dissect it.

Then the secondary effect kicked in, like the famous game of telephone. The second wave of critics got their meaning partly from the dissected post and partly by reading the wildly misleading paraphrasing of other critics. By this point the thing gained a whole new meaning.

Next came the labeling. Once the piece had been reprinted on feminist blogs, the "with us or against us" instinct took over. I clearly wasn't supporting every element of the Feminist movement, and therefore I was presumed an enemy and labeled a misogynist. I was also labeled an asshole, which I have come to understand is a synonym for male.

Emotions about the piece were running high. When humans get emotional (yes, including men), our critical thinking skills shut down. In this case, the original post on Men's Rights became literally incomprehensible to anyone who had a dog in the fight.

I know from experience that trying to clarify my opinion always turns into "He's trying to backpedal because we caught him! Ha!" People don't change opinions just because new information comes in. They interpret the new information as confirmation of their existing opinion.

But perhaps I can summarize my viewpoint so you can understand why I'm such a misogynist asshole douche bag. Here's my view in brief:

You can't expect to have a rational discussion on any topic that has an emotional charge. Emotion pushes out reason. That is true for all humans, including children, men, women, and people in every range of mental ability. The path of least resistance is to walk away from that sort of fight. Men generally prefer the path of least resistance. The exception is when men irrationally debate with other men. That's a type of sport. No one expects opinions to be changed as a result.

Are women more emotional than men? I'm not sure how you measure that sort of thing. On the emotional scoreboard, does one person's anger equal another person's excitement?  All I know for sure is that the Men's Rights group I poked with a stick has some irritable dudes.


To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else's interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize. To the men who were offended by my mocking of Men's Rights, you're still a big bunch of pussies. But your criticisms of the legal system are worthy of attention. Even Feminists agree on that point.

Thank you for making my week so interesting.

---------- original post reprinted below -------------

Men’s Rights

The topic my readers most want me to address is something called men’s rights. (See previous post.) This is a surprisingly good topic. It’s dangerous. It’s relevant. It isn’t overdone. And apparently you care.

Let’s start with the laundry list.

According to my readers, examples of unfair treatment of men include many elements of the legal system, the military draft in some cases, the lower life expectancies of men, the higher suicide rates for men, circumcision, and the growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women.

You might add to this list the entire area of manners. We take for granted that men should hold doors for women, and women should be served first in restaurants. Can you even imagine that situation in reverse?

Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.

Add to our list of inequities the fact that women have overtaken men in college attendance. If the situation were reversed it would be considered a national emergency.

How about the higher rates for car insurance that young men pay compared to young women? Statistics support this inequity, but I don’t think anyone believes the situation would be legal if women were charged more for car insurance, no matter what the statistics said.

Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.

Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.

Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It’s called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you’re still crying about your pawn when you’re having your way with the queen, there’s something wrong with you and it isn’t men’s rights.

Fairness is an illusion. It’s unobtainable in the real world. I’m happy that I can open jars with my bare hands. I like being able to lift heavy objects. And I don’t mind that women get served first in restaurants because I don’t like staring at food that I can’t yet eat.

If you’re feeling unfairly treated because women outlive men, try visiting an Assisted Living facility and see how delighted the old ladies are about the extra ten years of pushing the walker around.  It makes dying look like a bargain.

I don’t like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don’t kid yourself that men haven’t earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I’m trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. It’s a package deal. I like being on my team.

I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.  A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us.

I just did a little test to see if I knew what pajama bottoms I was wearing without looking. I failed.

 

 


 
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Jul 7, 2011
"You just disagree with my point because you lack reading comprehension and can't understand it" and "It was all a social experiment!" are both very cheap and intellectually dishonest ways to attempt to win a debate, and any amount of experience communicating with people above ten years of age should tell you that it's ridiculous to expect your audience and/or your critics to take them at face value.

And even IF you meant what you said about this being a social experiment, it still broadcasts the message that it's totally okay for you to treat a serious social issue as fodder for a theoretical experiment, just for kicks. Very much still condescending and insensitive.

Of course, you're probably about to claim that THIS is ALSO part of your social experiment, on an even more meta level. Yeah.

Also: Thank you for your original post and for promoting the viewpoint that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, they can't ever learn to understand each other and shouldn't bother trying, and the best way to deal with it is to tune out arguments for the strategic purpose of getting laid later. I'm sure that sort of attitude is exactly what we need, and was enlightening - as well as flattering and reasuring, as it gives us an excuse for our lack of effort at decent communication - for men and women alike. You made my day.

Disclaimer: I'm not actually addressing or making a statement about the issue. I just want to do a social experiment on how people react to sarcasm.
 
 
+25 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 30, 2011
So, I made an account just so I could reply to this post. Yes, I am a girl, yes I consider myself a feminist, and yes, I agree with a majority of what was written. You can't really define who makes more money because that depends on what job you are doing. Waiting tables, for example, most female servers make more than their male counterparts, and those statistics are never going to be accurate because no one who works in a job that relies on tips claims as much as they make.

Second, allow me to explain my concept of feminism, I believe that women should not be oppressed (This isn't really happening that much in the USA) and I think women should be allowed to do anything men can if capable. For example, I can fix just about anything that's broken and and am a pretty good marksman but I don't know !$%* about cars, so I'm probably not going to change my own oil. This doesn't make me an oppressed woman anymore than the fact that my husband cooks most of the meals makes him less of a man (it's more a thing about wanting something other than mac and cheese or pizza that isn't terrible). Everyone has skills and limitations, when did being a FEMINIst lose it's feminist touch? Think about what women are going through in some parts of the world, start !$%*!$%* to help them instead of finding something like this and try to prove you have bigger balls than an actual man.

I'll take my free drinks at the bar, and multiple orgasms and you guys can keep your higher paying jobs and ability to pee standing up.
 
 
May 12, 2011

Avoid Zealots, they are generally humorless.
Never has this been proven more right than now.
 
 
Apr 15, 2011
Feminists and Mens Rights !$%*!$% will also both be offended by this:

www.thedailycramp.com

The Crazy Bear rules!
 
 
Apr 15, 2011
I love it.
 
 
Apr 6, 2011
I just realized who Alice is... she's the reincarnation of Lucy from Peanuts! Lucy thought everyone was a blockhead and frequently ends arguments with her fist. Incredible. I wonder if anyone else ever noticed the similarity. Now we just need to see Alice mooning over a reclusive genius artist who doesn't return her affections ...
 
 
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2011
"achristie
-11 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
I tried posting a comment on that Feministe site but apparently the moderator didn't approve:"

Ain't that the truth, those sites show how little actual discussion is allowed in those places, there is a dogma, and they have to stick to it, and so the comments are all effectively cheerleaders for the article, the commenters that tow the party line gets promoted, and they promote their own kind in turn, in a way, they operate like partisan hacks would, no different from say a rush limbaugh type forum.

But yea it is the truth, the problem with many feminists these days is that they do not really care about the principle of fairness, which is why spurious reasoning is so readily accepted, whether it be the made up numbers, massively inflated much of the time, or simple apple to orange comparisons. The more closely you look at any issue, say the 80 cents on the dollar bit, the more factors you take into account, the more those differences go away, we've known this for a long time, but the agenda groups stick to the old lie, because it is convenient, and because they have sold their soul in the name of their cause. When standards slip because anything is justified to further your cause, it gets ugly.

It has become such a mine field now, 9 out of 10 prisoners is male. This is accepted, but as scott said, if the numbers were flipped around there would be no end to the screaming. But there is silence, why? It reveals an inconvenient fact about gender difference, that men suffer as well, and while they might succeed more, they also fail a whole lot more as well. And acknowledging that difference is detrimental to the simplistic narrative the agenda groups rely on when trying to push quotas and other special treatment. I'd have more faith in womens groups if they pushed as hard for girls to become auto mechanics, garbage men and plumbers as they did for the "board room". The discrepancies are there in both cases, but you can guess which jobs they are not bothering to fight for!
 
 
Apr 4, 2011
I liked your perspective on fairness, although I had not really considered it from a male vs female perspective before.
I think it was one of the !$%*!$%*!$ of becoming an adult when I finally realized that fairness was an illusion, although nevertheless a goal still worth aiming for.
Every child has uttered the cry "That's not fair!" and vowed to change the source of the unfairness if such power is ever granted to them. Obviously I was no exception, and growing up in a family of 7 children, I witnessed many perceived instances of unfairness, and vowed to right the wrongs in my own parenting later on.
Child number one arrived, and fairness was easy. Child number two followed eventually, and suddenly I realized the error in my thinking.
Child number one had my undivided attention for the first 3 years of his life. It was impossible by all laws of the universe to provide the same to child number two. Child 1 suddenly faced a much limited attention share, compared to child 2. Was this more fair to child 2 (who received a great deal more attention) or child 1 (who still overall received more than child 1 would ever attain)?
Even in the simplest of tasks of fairness I was defeated. Buy the 2 children identical toys. Sooner or later, one was broken or lost. Now prove who really owns the undamaged toy. Or deprive the other child of the undamaged one, when he did nothing wrong??
Solve this by buying one red and one blue toy, otherwise the same. A basic law of the universe (I believe Murphy was the first to define it) states that both children will prefer the red one, and scorn the blue one. How to solve that 'fairly'??
I believe that the only way to 'win' (defined in the loosest sense) is to try and balance for each individual that the number of good (i.e. unfair in my favor) times with the number of bad (i.e. unfair in the other guy's favor). Of course, for me, that means I get to hear the cry of "It's not fair!!" an equal number of times for both children. Which probably balances karmically somehow with the number of times my own parents heard it from me. Blech!
 
 
Apr 4, 2011
Scott,

From one comics artist/writer to another (Cubicle101.com) I'm in complete agreement on everything you said. In fact not long ago I posted a comic strip to address the people who are pissing and moaning about a subject very similar to this one. It's regarding the use of words and how people will go out of their way to be offended about something that really doesn't matter to begin with.

(Link: http://cubicle101.com/cubicle101/?page_id=1450) NSFW language/topic

So, short and sweet I know exactly where you're coming and I'm right there with ya.
Stay Tooned!!!
 
 
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 31, 2011
As a writer, I understand the point about not wanting your words shared once the meaning is distorted.

As a woman, I like being treated better than men. I like not having to worry about being drafted. I like having doors opened for me and being served first (yes, waiters, I notice if you don't), I like having men open jars and carry heavy boxes for me. There are reasons why men and women are made differently and I would be missing out if I didn't appreciate and enjoy the perks of being a woman.

I understood the points of the post and it didn't bother me. I didn't think it was particulary humorous, but it wasn't offensive.
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
First time on here. I've been a long-time reader of Dilbert, Scott. I admit that when I first saw the original blog earlier today I said to myself "wait, what?" So I did what the dying-breed of normal human beings do, and I read it again. Actually, what I did was find it, and read it in it's entirety, as that wasn't what was the website I saw it on had given me.

Want to know what the real issue is that plagues us all daily is, Scott?

It's reading. In a world filled with youtube, "lol's" and "ttyl's," most people just really don't bother to devote time to reading anymore. When I say reading, I mean the whole gamut; not just seeing the words, but being able to comprehend their meaning when assembled a certain way at the same time. I had this realization a while ago, and yesterday (before even seeing this nonsense), I had it again, only this time with numbers. A gentleman at a store that I don't frequent refused to sell me some beer. When I asked why, he wouldn't give me my drivers license and went for his phone. He informed me that he was going to phone the police, because minors aren't supposed to be purchasing alcohol. If I had time to kill, I would have waited there for an officer to show up and arrest me for being born in 1982, as opposed to the 1992 that he seemed to have read on my drivers license, but I just simply wanted to get the beer and go home. Path of least resistance, basically.

That moment, and many other moments just like it, have single-handedly killed any aspirations I have had in my life to be a writer. It's painful to know that anything you say will be quickly broken down, all which is relevant to your point will be eradicated, and idiots will fixate on the wrong parts of the message. Even in some of these comments, on this very post, you can tell that some people joined just to call you an !$%*!$%* and didn't bother attempting to even learn what the hell was going on. It's no wonder there are only pictures and no words in assembly instructions for things like cheap drug store furniture like tv stands and bookshelves anymore. What's amazing is that you can still buy bookshelves. What for, I have no idea.
 
 
+29 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
I have a fairly high reading comprehension level. Still, I'm perplexed. Was the Men's Rights piece meant to be satiric in the manner of Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal? If so, I'd say it just didn't work. I know that taking statements out of context is often misleading. Lawyers like me do that to one another a lot. It's not considered good form but the bad lawyers do it and if the Judge isn't paying much attention (modestly, about 75% of the time) they slip a little more injustice into the system than people should be able to expect. If the Judge is paying attention, the Judge usually chastises the lawyer for trying to make a fool of the Judge for missing what the ellipsis elided. Here, however, the context didn't help me understand what the heck the writer was trying to say. Nor did I find the explanation of what the writer was trying to say written after the post was posted unposted and reposted. Biggest problem. Post not funny.
 
 
-13 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
I tried posting a comment on that Feministe site but apparently the moderator didn't approve:

"After reading these posts, it's no wonder men always just say,
"Yes dear."
It's so much easier, which is the point of Adams' blog.

If a woman really has a problem that needs resolution, try to explain it concisely to a man in less than 30 words. Bullet points are a plus."
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
I never read blogs. Until today I considered blogging to be an egotistical act perpetrated by an overly selfish person. "HEY LOOK AT ME!! LOOK AT ME!"

That has all changed. Scott, you are funny. I get you. Thanks to 'Men's Rights' and its associated fallout, you have a new fan.

Thank you and keep writing. (I'll get a dictionary)
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
I went through the entire inane and tedious registration process just to respond to the OP regarding the men's rights thing.

IM(female)O, the whole post was pretty well done.

The entire topic can be boiled down into one simple concept, "The squeakiest wheel gets the grease."

If guys want preferential treatment then clearly they need to learn how to !$%*! and moan louder and better than females. Men are apparently not willing to do the hard work necessary to become so obnoxious that society will give you anything so long as you shut up. In so long as men "don't care" about 90% of the things going on around them, they cannot be expected to be taken seriously as a minority of any sort.

As such, I think it would be wise for men to get together and draft a charter that clearly focuses on strategies to improve their commitment to the art of complaining loudly. Once this document has been created and signed by appropriately impressive male figureheads then it should be submitted to the board for approval. If you men don't take this whole thing seriously, then why should we?

BTW I LOVE the word !$%*!$%*! in the context of the OP. And also, I don "get" the whole talking dog thing.....
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 30, 2011
Dear Scott: One of my favorite feminists (and there are many) posted something on FB about this whole mess. However, you have won me over. Dangerously thin ice you've been skirting, given the diversity of venues - but brave and true, I believe you are.
Of course: Fail me, and die. (jk)
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
Been reading the Comic for years and now this seems like the perfect first and only blog to follow. Rolling on my ass at every word.
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
Saw a post on EW and I registered specifically so I could provide a vote of support. Anyone who reads this post and thinks you're a misogynist is simply being combative. I also agree that "Men's Rights" activists are kind of corny - the right way to approach the problem is by promoting *equal* rights. Equal rights gets the same job done, appeals to woman as well, and doesn't leave men sounding like a bunch of crybabies.
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
[repost to get rid of all those filters--would've preferred to edit but alas]

Scott, I am writing regarding your one-sentence summary of your views, not the sexism charges.

I'm pretty sure Frederick Douglas' biography is direct proof that emotional charge doesn't ruin your ability to rationally discuss. His clarity & poignancy are otherworldly.

And even if you think that the vast majority of people can't overcome their emotional investment arising from being date raped and not believed by the cops, having someone yell [n-word] at you just for laughs, reading about a Mexican kid being shot and killed for throwing rocks over the border and hundreds of Yahoo commenters agreeing that it wasn't an overreaction, even if you believe that level of overcoming isn't possible for the vast majority of people, you should at least agree that we have to try and engage discussion anyways, lest these emotionally charging events continue indefinitely. If you admit that some people deal with crap that enrages them to the point of irrationality, yet refuse discussion, at least come up with another solution for ending that crap. But this is all moot! Have you truly never met an emotionally charged person who can argue logically? Have you truly met so few that you believe they are exceptions to an overarching rule?
 
 
Mar 30, 2011
I get it.

Good Luck with everyone else...
 
 
 
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