Open-minds and opinions

Whenever we get much traffic from a link on a site that’s not about media and gender, we get accused of having our minds already made up, of having an agenda, of not being willing to consider the other side, which generally boils down to that misogyny is deserved in some cases, or that we’re seeing misogyny where it isn’t, or that we’re just as sexist as the misogynists. I’m posting this so in future we can simply link people to this article and avoid confusion:

Well, yeah. An opinion is a conclusion that rules out other, mutually exclusive conclusions. A certain degree of closed-mindedness must follow the formation of an opinion. It’s earlier in the process of forming that opinion that the open mind is helpful.

See, at some point, we all thought misogyny was kind of okay, or just a natural part of life, or something like that. That’s the default point of view in our society. But at some point, we ran into events which made us question these assumptions. Accordingly, we opened our minds, did some further thinking, and came to conclusions such as these:

  • Oh, some of the stuff I thought wasn’t misogynistic actually is.
  • Huh, maybe misogyny is never deserved. Like, even when a particular woman is really horrid, the mistreatment of all women still isn’t justified.
  • It’s not sexist to note that men as a group often benefit from misogyny, even when many individual men are not being misogynistic themselves.

This is not a site for people who are trying to decide whether misogyny is a problem they care about (those people are welcome, but the site is not about them). Nor is it a site for people who have decided there isn’t misogyny, or that there is misogyny, but it’s just how things are/can’t be fixed. There are plenty of sites where those opinions are welcome. This is a site for people who agree there are problematic gender politics happening, and who want a place to discuss it where they will not get lectured about why they should either conform to the status quo or shut up. That’s why comments informing us that the status quo is right or that we should shut up don’t interest us.

That, and a fact that may shock you: we’ve heard it all before. Yes, it’s true! Intelligent and thoughtful as some of our pro-misogyny and misogyny-apologist commenters appear to be, and I’m not being sarcastic there, they’re actually not saying anything new. History is replete with studious thinkers making arguments about how women are inferior to men, less human than men, evil tempters of men, soulless creatures fit only for breeding. It’s hard to imagine some random person visiting a website stating the case better than the Bible, Samuel Butler or Martin Luther.

If you’ve been directed to this post, it’s to let you know: thanks, but we’ve already heard everything you’re saying hundreds of times before, and considered it all carefully, and rejected it when we formed our opinions. We had open minds at the appropriate time, but now we’ve made our minds up.

Comments

  1. The Other Patrick says

    You know, I just recently answered similarly to someone saying I was so sure of my opinions:

    Yes, I am sure that my opinions, when not knee-jerk, are truthful. I am convinced of them. Why wouldn’t I be? If I thought my opinion was wrong, I would not have that opinion. Maybe truth isn’t something many people go by, but I do. So if you think I am factually wrong: prove it to me, and I will happily become as convinced of your opinion (which will be my own then) as I am of my opinion now. If you think my opinion is wrong in matters where facts are secondary (e.g. policy decisions or such), argue your case. The least I will do is listen.

    What I will not do is sit quietly while you spout logical fallacies or decry my opinion without arguing your own.

    I actually LOVE learning, I love changing my mind and being convinced. But I also pride myself on having informed opinions, which means you need to give me new or better information to convince me, show me a side I did not consider, something like that.

    Saying I am close-minded just makes me think you want blind acceptance. I don’t want that, and I don’t grant that. Argue your case or shut up.

  2. says

    I have examined all available evidence and come to a conclusion accordingly. If you wish to alter my opinion, you must actually offer me new evidence. Your interpretation of existing evidence is irrelevant, I’ve already examined that evidence and either disregarded it or come to a different conclusion where it is concerned. Give me something new.

    I was not born yesterday. I’ve been around the block a time or ten. My opinions are just as valid as yours. And if you want me to be willing to reevaluate my opinions based on your opinions, you must be willing to extend me the exact same courtesy. And that’s the kick, isn’t it? I’m close-minded because I won’t accept your viewpoint, but you don’t think you are close-minded even though you are completely unwilling to listen to anything I have to say. When you, in fact, made up your mind before seeking to alter mine.

    I will also point something out: you are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. So don’t bring up bald-faced lies and bullshit ‘studies’ and claim them as new evidence. People who quote non peer-reviewed studies and biased third-hand information from badly conducted surveys as ‘facts’ need to be beaten to death with the salmon of knowledge.

    I don’t bother to entertain hypocrites. Don’t let the internet hit you in the ass on your way out.

    • The Other Patrick says

      I always liked Harlan Ellison: “Everybody’s not entitled to their own opinion, everybody’s entitled to their informed opinion.”

      Strangely enough, I sometimes wonder whether the claim of being close-minded is just a debate tactic because there is not much that gets me riled up as quickly as being called a hypocrite or close-minded. Precisely because I try to be neither, being called thus hits me pretty close to my own self-perception. So I can’t help but sometimes feel people do this on purpose to get me riled up and make mistakes.

      • Nicky P says

        Yeah, it’s the classic ad hominem attack. The opinions of a close-minded person, a “feminazi,” or “a chick on the rag” are almost universally deemed as irrational, and once you have determined that the person speaking is one of these or something just as bad, you don’t have to bother examining their argument. And if the character attacks upset the person, that serves to reinforce the idea of instability because, “Look, now they’re upset.” Or, “They wouldn’t be upset about it if they weren’t all those things any way.”

        Or something like that.

        • The Other Patrick says

          And still; Casey just commented somewhere else,

          What’s especially enraging is he was accusing ME of trolling

          and I recently watched this Scientology documentary (watch here from 2:28 onwards how they would set out to enrage targets on purpose.

          But yeah, especially the “if you’re upset, there must be something to it”, I’ve heard several times.

  3. Anne says

    I was also recently told by someone that she fears my opinions are set in stone and I won’t change them. I respectfully informed her she was wrong, and apparently didn’t know me at all, since my opinions have changed vastly over the last Five years. Five years ago? I was a conservative republican 18-year old who thought feminists were wack jobs and that the wars in the middle East were just, and I was considering joining the Air Force. Now? I’m a college grad with two degrees, graduated summa cum laude with further distinction with a 9.5 GPA, and a lot more thought put into my views. I can honestly say that I am just about the opposite of what I was five years ago. Right now, I am as set in my beliefs as I am comfortable being.

    The opinions she thought I was too set on was how vocally dissenting I was towards Christianity. She also said “I don’t get why atheists want to be heard.”

    Needless to say, that didn’t make me want to even try to see her side–she took my criticism towards Christianity, which I arrived at through my personal experiences with being raised Catholic with very religious friends and family (of various sects), personally despite my very careful wording of it not directed at practitioners but at the Church as a structure and policy and thought maker. She tried to tell me that since the church didn’t “toss people out” for being gay or getting divorced or not attending Mass regularly, that they were good. I LOL’d at her. When I protested that “atheists just want to be heard TOO,” she told me I was playing the victim.

    And she wonders why my opinions are what they are.

    What I’ve too often found is that when some people say “your opinions are too set in stone” or “have an open mind” what they really mean is “my opinion’s better, why aren’t you adopting it?” or “your opinion’s stupid. Change.” And I’ve usually found people saying things like that to me in response to my adamant feminism and unabashed atheism–and then when I sneeze they say “God Bless You” or send me e-mails with Ben Stein saying atheists have no moral values and are what’s wrong with today’s society (specifically school shootings being caused by no one teaching “thou shalt not kill” in public schools [literally the 10 Commandments and the Bible, not just that killing is wrong--which IS taught in schools]).

    /rant.

    Great post. I love this place more and more.

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