By Jackson Doughart
Normally, personal attacks are easily pushed aside as ad hominem, as Veronica Abbass’s article today on yours truly here might well be. But seeing as how she’s responding to my own piece in the Prince Arthur Herald about Heather Mallick, which is indeed a critique of a person and takes liberty with a rather personal tone, one can forgive her for doing so.
What can’t be forgiven is the quite amateur clipping job, which I’m sorry to say is not limited to this afternoon’s piece. Indeed, Ms Abbass lambasted me once before on the mere basis of the four-sentence long biography on my website, not because of anything I’d actually written, or she actually read. Anyway, her apparent modus operandi is to skim over the text in question, with her eyes drawing toward the sound-bite-worthy portions, to stitch these bits together in an incoherent but incriminating way, and then to insert as necessary her own commentary, often quite unrelated to the intended meaning of the author.
And so we receive her bizarre summary that, in my opinion, Mrs Mallick is not taken to court for her derogatory remarks about men because of her “unchecked privilege.” This is plainly not what I wrote. In fact, I offered no direct explanation for why a woman who hates men, and advertises and promotes this prejudice in print, is not prosecuted. (Not that she should be, necessarily. My point is that there is a glaring contradiction in our sensitivity toward speech which is prejudicial and demeaning, except when the subjects of that speech are men.)
My comment about “unchecked privilege”—intended ironically, well over the head of Ms Abbass—was included to lampoon the feminist belief that men cannot have any legitimate opinions because they are “privileged” and cannot empathize with women. But as I argued in my piece, this is the very sin of Mallick’s article about prostitution: she by definition cannot empathize with the great many men who are depressed, anxious, and unwanted by women, and who in a very small minority seek the attention of prostitutes on account of their loneliness, not a desire to oppress women. Yet this doesn’t stop her from misjudging these men as monsters equivalent to slave holders. The problem is “male entitlement”, as Mallick wrote.
Ms Abbass seems not only to miss my point but also Mrs Mallick’s when she writes, “[I]t’s true [that] many women have little or no sympathy or even empathy with men ‘who’ve had misfortunes with the fair sex.’ Women have had their share of bad experiences with less-than-fair males, and for milleniums [should be “millennia”—JD], have received little or no sympathy.” Of course, the analogous female emotions emanating from a lack of male companionship are not Heather Mallick’s basis for her views on prostitution. As she wrote in her article, prostitution should not be legal; she just thinks that only one half of the exchange—the pathetic male half—should be subject to sanction. That’s one view of the subject that I was not directly disputing; what I was objecting to was Mallick’s heartlessness and disregard for the legitimate sorrow of men who are diffident or otherwise unskilled in social relations with women. As Ms Abbass acknowledges my point, and then provides an irrelevant and illogical response, she does little to show that I was incorrect.
“Doughart needs to tell us why men should not go to prostitutes,” she demands. Too bad that I already answered that question in the second paragraph: “In general, though, I think that such activities debase sexual relations—the proper preserve of committed, emotionally-invested couples—whatever this might imply for its legality.” She must have missed it, or at least one hopes it was so innocent. And her charge that I am a “misogynist accus[ing] Heather Mallick of misandry” evidently rests on a completely empty notion of what constitutes misogyny. My piece actually made an argument not only that Mallick is a sexist, but why such an accusation is justified. Ms Abbass has done no such work, and is actually using misogynist to mean “a man who has said something I don’t like.” It rather cheapens the word misogyny, don’t you think?