One especially perplexing character of the hypersensitive internet era is the superficially reasonable or charitable male interlocutor. This person seems to mean well but always ends up getting thrashed by an embittered mob. Here’s how this type makes his appearance. First, a feminist will post her opinion on how society is oppressing women, a garden variety whine about how something is unfair.
Then this man comes along, and he doesn’t outright dismiss or insult the feminist’s opinion, but asks a question that still has a challenging or skeptical edge to it. He will try, in his clumsy way, to have an honest, intelligent conversation with someone he is desperately trying to treat, in his own offensive way, as an equal. He bungles this, and the woman reacts negatively and harshly, usually with personal insults that specifically target his race, gender, and class.
At this point the man desperately tries to work himself out of the trap. He appeases, he apologizes, he backtracks, he trips over himself. He artlessly increases the offense as he tries to reduce it. His every move only further incenses the growing mob of outraged women and minorities. He ends by pledging to improve his understanding and sensitivity, seeking the approval of people who hate him and sneer at his every word and gesture.
I wonder at the motive behind this man’s behavior. Who seeks out punishment? The easy answer is the masochist. But this person might just be stupid.
There’s a brand of stupidity that earnestly strives towards intelligence. A dumb man wants to be smart without being aware that he wants something he can’t have. Sort of a built in feature of his condition.
Men need to be careful, but they are often too stupid. They don’t know that women hold them in contempt just for being who they are, prior to any real, individual contact. It takes finesse for a man to not immediately incriminate himself in the eyes of some women. He needs to be in control of himself and his emotions, and not let the desire for sex dim his vision of his place in the world.
He needs to stay away from contentious issues on social media with judgmental, scornful women. He will not convert or seduce them. But he persists, and I laugh and wonder.