I honestly didn't think I had to explain this, but here goes. When you take something such as rational discussion about some disagreement and gender it as masculine you are reinforcing sexist stereotypes, even and especially if the masculine gendering is supposed to be bad. To reduce rational argumentation to nothing more than rams butting horns is just to reinforce the old Aristotelian idea of men as rational and women as not. Gendering things that aren't in themselves gendered is one of the primary ways sexism succeeds.
So does making public places into Mad Men/locker-room atmospheres through bullying uses of vulgarity. With respect to this, a good general rule of thumb is that if it would count as hostile environment sexual harassment in the workplace, then you should not do it on public social media.
I perhaps too obliquely called out Felonius Screwtape, AKA Bob the Phenomenologist, on both of these things in this post , which he's replied to on his public facebook feed. Since they are very NSFW, I'll put them after the fold:
so Jon Cogburn, who has nothing better to do with his life, decided to write a long, patronizing, and ultimately pointless blog post about my "dickbanging" comment last week--and best of all, he even decided to include a "trigger warning" because of my mixture of "violent sexual imagery" and "unoriginal machismo" (proof that he's never met me). And since we haven't met and aren't friends on facebook, i find that writing a blog post about comments i made there while freely (viz. ignorantly) speculating about my motives and my inner pyschology is really quite stalkerish and pathologically creepy. Yes, Jon (since i'm sure you have a google alert on your name and will likely respond with 6000 words following your traditional rhetorical strategy), you're behaving like a pathological weirdo, and you need to get a grip. Find a hobby. Go outside, Marcel.
O.K. (1) The facebook post was public, and people e-mailed me about it. In no way did I violate his privacy. I was also assured by several people that everyone knows who Bob is in the real world. I know who he is (we have friends in common), and get the joke about "proof that he never met me," a joke which is a complete non-sequitur. But I won' t explain why, because as far as I can tell his real identity is not officially public on his facebook account, and I'm not willing to say anything that would lead anyone not already in on the joke to suss out his identity. (2) At no point have I speculated about Bob's motives or inner psychology. Please follow the link above to my post. I rather noted that his comments were sexist and an instance of the very kind of stupid unoriginal macho energy he pretends to decry (but not in evidence in Adriell Trott's original post, my response, or the discussion that ensued). (3) For what it's worth, I have several hobbies and and still manage to blog, help the mission of my church, maintain a decent CV, and help raise two children. It took about twenty minutes to write the post responding pretty gracefully to Bob's vituperative demeaning gendering/sexualization of myself. I don't know what's motivating the "nothing better to do with his life/get a hobby," but it makes no sense. (4) Once again there's a performative contradiction. His first post was a paradigm instance of any negative behaviors that might be inferentially tied up to accusations of "dickbanging." And here one might ask if Bob has anything better to do with his life than two comments and four of these "dickbanging" posts. Is it really that much more of a waste of time to explain why the manner in which he's done so creates a hostile environment?
Second, 10/26/14 10:18 AM:
it's been at least 24 hours since i've said #dickbanging. #dickbanging, #dickbanging, #dickbanging. Oh, pardon me, i forgot to say "trigger warning." #dickbanging.
This is misleading. I didn't criticize Bob for merely using the locution. Again, please read the post above. And can I make a sleight observation? This is the public facebook page of someone whose identity is known by I think every continental philosopher I know. Yet nobody has called him on it in any of the six comments and posts. In fact multiple people have liked each post. This one got 23 likes and eight comments, and no critical words. The original dick-banging posts got likes by luminaries in continental philosophy such as Tom Eyers (whose great book on Lacan I'm actually reading now) and Babbette Babich as well as hundreds of comments, not one of them critical.
What if Brian Leiter had said the same things? Of course he'd be roundly denounced by many of Bob's facebook friends. What's the song say? "And justice is a fickle thing // One law for the common man and another for the king;" replace "the king" with "one of our hip friends" and/or "someone publicly against philosophical movements that I find threatening" and you get exactly what's going on here.
Third, 10/26/14 4:23 PM:
Excessive #dickbanging can lead to Cockburn
Har. Har. Har. I've never heard that one before.
Seriously though, is this what we want to be teaching our students? That it's O.K. to create this kind of atmosphere? I'm positive that many of the people commenting on Bob's blog and liking these posts have sat through lectures on hostile environment sexual harassment. Bob has clearly not done anything illegal. But there are ethical reasons that hostile environment sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace, and these reasons surely apply to social media associated with our profession as well. In addition, the moral reasoning in the relevant court cases finding it possible for men to commit hostile environment sexual harassment against other men is surely relevant here. In the original post to which I took exception Bob compared people who work in Speculative Realism to "middle class white boys" in pornographic films and also said we were masturbating as well as doing the thing on the table with our genitals.
Finally, I don't know why it's so hard for people just to admit to screwing up. Anyone who has taken a freshman level Women and Gender Studies class can explain to you why the posts are obviously problematic. So why be defensive about this? Why circle the wagons? There's not that much at stake in this kind of thing if you just apologize and move on. I'm not trying to argue that Bob's a bad person. We have mutual friends. I took exception to two comments and four posts he made which demeaningly sexualized me and others, gendered things which should not be gendered, and helped to create/sustain the kind of hostile environment too endemic to academic philosophy. But everybody reading this has done worse, and the very fact that nobody has called Bob on this (and in fact that named philosophers signed off on it) is actually pretty exculpatory with respect to him. We're intrinsically social creatures, and if Bob finds himself in a social millieu that accepts and celebrates these kinds of public displays of sexism, then that's not really on him.
Again, what would any of the people who like these posts do if Brian Leiter carried on this way? Isn't it perfectly obvious? And these are named philosophers too. I call shenaningans.