From ‘Erdogan’ to ‘losing your shit’

On first glance, it seems almost paradoxical that someone could personally leverage their own evident hostility against women toward criticism of the same hostile impulse in an untouchable government/religious representative or head.

In two, sequential sentences, the statement and its own contradiction, as follows:

Remember all the people who lost their shit over Matt Taylor’s shirt? Well, here’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a real misogynist fucktard.

The contradiction may not be immediately obvious. Someone wishes to appeal to all other devotional anti-Feminists asks whether his audience “remembers” the people who “lost their shit” over a shirt; also, whether his audience would like to “hate someone”. The opening criticism accompanying headline and photo is ostensibly made to be about this particular Turkish leader by virtue of a referenced article, an included picture. The rhetorical (pre-)conclusions presented in opening remarks are directed toward some hypothetical people: people who hate, people who haven’t their priorities straight, and people who are prone to hysterical outbursts.

Just to recap and to describe the situation conceptually, a hip and smart guy with a penchant and enthusiasm for BDSM pinup girls, but otherwise technically competent, shows up in a professional environment, wearing his enthusiasm on his person in vivid color. Anyone in line-of-sight instantly wonders whether this whole thing is about him all of a sudden and we should think we could count on a tactful supervisor to just tell him to change his shirt. “Hey, this will be a worldwide broadcast, so…” This didn’t happen. I’d think it no different had he shown up in a tank top or a thong.

The whole world is aware of what an objectionable person Erdogan is. This is low-hanging fruit. Ask anyone and they are likely to say, “what a jerk”. Yet, the same impulse that pushes Erdogan to endorse police aggression and open hostility toward women is, as I see it, the same impulse behind the sorts of blinkered aggression against the “females” — as they are thus indirectly and impersonally referred — and proclaiming that the causes of “female” alienation are the complaints women make about hostility against women! The object of criticism, Erdogan, was quoted in various news outlets as saying:

You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.1 2

~

It is useful to note here that no one actually “lost their shit” over a shirt, per se. A bunch of people did “lose their shit” over the very idea that someone would dare mention it and have the audacity to discuss what is or is not appropriate in a professional environment. Anti-Feminists still foam at the mouth at the mere mention of the episode. The people who “lost their shit” were people very much like Erdogan who think that women should stay silent and just take whatever they have handed to them.

I’ve found it impossible, personally, to bring this observation to bear with those who practice this habit of devotional anti-Feminism. It’s like talking to people who subscribe to the “International Jewish Conspiracy”. Pointing out evident hypocrisy will likely lead to, at the very least, the knuckle-dragger trying to support his own position by telling you to “Google it” 3. But, the spittle begins flying shortly thereafter. This was just the “shirt” episode.

Actually, you might try “Googling” this yourself. I think you’ll quickly encounter the troupes of anonymous, Gamergate-type thugs, ready and wiling to “lose their shit” at the tiniest complaint and the smallest objection and, coincidentally, only when the complaints come from a woman, it would seem. Look, but don’t touch: If you jump into the fray, some egalitarian adherent of the Right Wing Men’s Rights Movement may just decide, as a flourish, to publish your home address and phone number.

Funny thing is, I was there, so to speak; I was involved in the discussion in real time while it was happening, so I know what was said, by whom, and toward what purposes. Truly, the only people who “lost their shit” were the men who were literally enraged that someone would dare bring up something so trivial, in their minds, as a shirt during a blessed and holy moment like that of landing a space probe on a comet. In this case, we find ourselves asking, incoherently, “why aren’t there more women in Science?” and, simultaneously, dumbly, and with immediate forgetfulness, “why are people losing their shit?”.

Unable to see, let alone break through our own cognitive dissonance, we are forced to take the Dawkins-like evasion route, pointing to “all those who have it worse”. Sorry, but I think that strategy is also unacceptable. The problem still exists “here and now”, just as before and without regard to concerns and problems elsewhere.

A second method of evasion, incidentally, is to throw out all of the matching, confirming data. For example, to acknowledge that openly sexist behaviour happens “all the time”, so therefore shouldn’t be considered relevant, being merely ambient and neutral background noise.

Which, of course, should make any curious or occasionally thoughtful person ask how it is that things that happen all the time aren’t relevant. It’s tough to take that approach seriously. These are work environments with jolly fellows who think everyone around them should just relax because it’s “just a little off-color joke about ‘homos'” during work hours. Somehow that isn’t something that would add to an atmosphere of hostility. Maybe the same jolly fellow likes to give little shoulder rubs. In response to the inevitable complaint, he responds with a straight face that only “uptight Feminist” would think are inappropriate? I’d sure “lose my shit” if someone did that to me. And, those sure seem to happen all the time in many places; the complaints fall on equally deaf of ears as those of Erdogan, to bring it back to the original cognitive dissonance. You can be sure that he is a guy who doesn’t give a crap about these sorts of “trivialities”!

Add to the list of workplace hurdles a guy who thought it would be a great idea to wear his favourite bondage-girl shirt during a worldwide, televised event. He had the sense to finally acknowledge his audience and the wishes of his employer.

All you can do is bring up the issue. Let them thrash about like so many fish on the deck. No matter how carefully it is stated, no one likes being told that they are doing the very thing they accuse others of doing (“hypocrisy”)

Careful there! You see seem to be on the verge of losing your shit at me.

At this point, we arrive at a familiar place. Someone raises issue and in the diluting reply, the dog pile counters with , “you think you have it bad? Look at what they are doing in Iran [or Louisiana or Turkey, etc]”. It is always “somewhere else”; and “some bigger issue” and “you don&’t understand context”. It’s always some way to get out of addressing the uncomfortable matter at hand. A shouting conga line of diversions, in fact, away from the matter at hand as it happens in real time. You want diversion? Check out the genius Right Wing/Libertarian attempting a pantomime of postmodern relativizing while explaining the “real” issues underscoring the need for frat boys to throw eggs and wave dildos at rape protesters 4. Their heads explode at the effort.

Clearly, these jerks are losing their shit over the wrong guys. Don’t they know about Erdogan? OMG get a perspective, people, right?


  1. “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: ‘women not equal to men’”. The Guardian 2014-11-24 (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/24/turkeys-president-recep-tayyip-erdogan-women-not-equal-men
  2. Heidi Stevens, “Why I want Turkey’s sexist president to meet attorney Kristin Pagano” Chicago Tribune 2014-11-25 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-taking-motherhood-seriously-balancing-20141125-column.html
  3. FS 7:59 AM “Actually, there were lots of people who lost their shit over the shirt. Try googling about it.” 
  4. Scott Kaufman, “SDSU suspends all frat activities after members wave dildos, throw eggs at rape protesters”. Raw Story, 2014-11-26 (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/sdsu-suspends-all-frat-activities-after-members-wave-dildos-throw-eggs-at-rape-protesters/
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