What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

16Jan/135

“Shaming” Nice Guys of OKCupid: A Discussion From Reddit

So, for those of you don't know, I'm on Reddit, and I post occasionally in the comments over at reddit.com/r/feminism.  There's a thread over there that's led to some interesting discussion.  You can probably figure out who I am.

It discussed the now defunct "Nice Guys of OKCupid" blog.  You can find an archive of that blog here.

Pretty much the discussion point is this: is "shaming" misogynist men an effective tactic?  Is it feminist?  Is it something we, as feminists, should promote?  I'm torn, but not that much.  From the comment thread, a lot of people (I'm going to presume men) take offense to the blog because it's shaming men.  A couple comments have pointed out that it's like slut-shaming.

My responses have mostly been that I think shaming can be an effective tactic to get men to change their behavior.  It shouldn't be your only tactic, but it can definitely be one of them.  Different men will respond to different thing.  As I've written before, I think one of the most effective tactics is for people in the misogynist's life to call them out on it.  Tell them that their statements are hurtful towards women, towards specific women (maybe you!  maybe your mother, sister, daughter, significant other, friend).  But I recognize that not everyone feels comfortable (for physical, emotional, other reasons) calling men out like that.  But what do we have?  The anonymity of the internet.  Certainly not as effective, but it can reach more people.

So we have to move on to other tactics.  I certainly support education, and I think reaching out to men and trying to educate them about feminism is worthwhile.  But I don't think that tactic is going to reach all men.  Some men are going to respond to shaming.  Some men will respond to shaming because they might be genuinely surprised or come to a realization that their behavior hurts women, and they might engage in the kind of careful self-examination that most (if not all) male feminists eventually have to go through.  I think, however, that of the ones who stop their behavior because of the shaming, most of them will do it simply because they don't want to risk society's disapproval.

Will this embitter some men and make them angrier towards women?  Undoubtedly yes.  But were these men you were going to reach through other means?  I don't know.  I'm all for bringing feminism to as many men as possible, and I've tried to write a lot about tactics to reach men.  I think that at this stage in the feminist movement, and in the movement to bring bem into feminism, we need to try to get the low-hanging fruit.  We need to find the men who are sympathetic to our ideas but aren't quite there yet, and bring them in.  And then bring in the next most-sympathetic group, and so on.  I don't know that we can afford to tailor our messages to the lowest common denominator, with the goal of not further embittering men we were never going to reach in the first place.

Thoughts on this?  I'm going to post this on the reddit/r/feminism section, and see if any redditors and my normal commentariat can get a discussion going.  (If there's any normal commentariat left, given the lack of posting on this blog).

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