65 Comments
Apr 2, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I think it's a rare female academic who has not experienced some version of this.

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I agree and would suggest it is not only academics who experience this sort of smothering - I certainly have - and also was warned against any sort of disagreement in conversation 'if you keep on like that no one will ever marry you'. - itself a very interesting segue of sorts...

But Kate I do think the mental image of 'smothering' women in this way - by denying our right to express a contrary view - a view that dares not to accord with his - is so very evocative of all the other mechanisms of coercive control now being discussed actively here in Australia. So many metaphors for silencing aren't there? 'choking' which of course is actually strangling... is that it then - the core issue. They need us to breed but would really just so much prefer it if we do not make a sound?

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author

Oof powerful. Thank you for this amazing comment

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I have experienced this throughout my life...finally in my sixties I can reply ‘I do not think as you do’ I edge away and go. Or keep repeating “we think differently” until I can go!

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author

Brilliant!

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Always disheartening when it is a person you are related to making the demand that you acquiesce to their request that you echo everything they say. It happens to me all the time around these concepts of health and fat and nutrition and food. My new thing is to say, "I'm not going to discuss this with you, because it won't end the way you want it to."

And then I disengage. Move the conversation back to harmless things like hobbies and people we both know.

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author

Totally. This is so hard to navigate and I struggle with it too. Thank you for commenting and this excellent strategy

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

"I draw here on a brilliant insight of the philosopher Kate Abramson’s . . . . He wants to keep her around as an interlocutor. And he wants to colonize her mentally, or at least to control her utterances. He wants to win, win, win; so he needs to have at least the specter of an argument with her in the offing. He wants to preserve a subject to subjugate, to control, to dominate."

Well. How the patriarchy works in a nut shell. This or silence or murder.

Thank you again for existing and sharing! It really helps to see things clearly and you have clearly helped me with that on yet another occasion. Best.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

First of all: Eek! That’s so intense.

It’s interesting to me that your argument seemed to him to represent a kind of existential threat---a threat to philosophy, a threat to his self-understanding as a philosopher, and perhaps even a threat to reason itself?

It’s very odd that philosophy (or at least some subset of philosophers) should find itself existentially attached to a certain set of claims about the body----that it is within our control, that we can master it, that we can hold someone morally accountable for its size and shape, etc.

Some of these ideas about self-control and self-mastery, of course, have very deep roots in Western philosophy and spirituality dating back to the ancient Greeks and early Christianity, however misunderstood these early sources might now be.

But it’s as if, for him, conceding that some aspect of the body was not under our control would be to give up on philosophy itself? This is a little bit akin to Kant’s worry (I think?) that fully recognizing the psychological and neurological causes for someone’s behavior would mean needing to give up on moral accountability?

Another way of putting this: I wonder to what extent your work challenges a central tenet of academic philosophy as it has been traditionally understood---about the pliability of the body to reason, our ability to reshape ourselves, etc.? Perhaps a tenet that philosophy didn’t entirely realize it had committed itself to?

(Such a striking resonance too with the idea that privilege wants to see itself as morally justified. The wealthy person wants to believe they achieved it through moral superiority, the thin person wants to believe they achieved it through their own effort, the tenured faculty member wants to believe they worked harder than those not lucky enough to find a tenure line, etc., etc.)

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author

This is a great point. I'd been wondering why the talk was so triggering and I think this is plausible. There’s a chapter in my new book on the rationalism of philosophy about the body as explaining our fatphobia, but I didn't make the connection. Thank you!

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Aug 9, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Wow what I needed to read tonight.

That was an assault of sorts. I think fighting it makes it worse. Avoid as much as you can. Dangerous.

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Aug 9, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Medicine is like this

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I think your comparison to annexation was an apt one. It's a war for territory, and your "country" is something separate from his, and has features that make it attractive (to himself or to others).

As far as being coerced into sharing some "terrirory", those types of exchanges are no longer conversations. You're no longer exchanging ideas or sharing perspectives, and it's up to you how much of yourself you want to keep giving.

From what you presented, it didn't sound like that man had anything to add, he just wanted to make sure you weren't progressing on something foreign to him.

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The feeling of being gagged by that behavior—yes. Thank you for giving it words. I've experienced that so many times and often thought about the way my training in politeness (always giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, assuming knowledge greater than my own) is gendered and racialized, but hadn't connected it to the actual physical feeling of being shut up.

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Thank you for putting words around my response to Kate Mann’s essay.

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Apr 3, 2023·edited Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I am a Ph.D. who dropped out of academia for this reason (among others). I recently had this experience with a police officer who came to take a report of my wife being hit by a car in a hit and run (thankfully, she’s ok), and the officer felt I had to agree that their further intimidation and traumatization of her was reasonable - couldn't abide my disagreement and got increasingly angry as I refused to to offer some phony acquiescence.

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Aug 9, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Seen that happen too; my spouse get bullied standing up for me and eventually because of the dynamics he had to stand down. It’s awful for both. I’m sorry.

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author

Omg I'm so sorry. So awful and scary. I hope you are both OK now emotionally as well as physically

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Thank you for these words. I'm not in Philosophy but I am an academic. I'm in what I jokingly call the basement of the ivory tower-- communication and media studies. To which, honestly, I gravitated because its (undeserved) reputation for being less rigorous made it a less perilous place to be a woman.

Anyway What floors me here is how you've persevered in the field, which for all the reasons you've written about here but also in that lovely essay in the Times about thinness and academic discourse is one of the most difficult for women. When I was an undergraduate I wanted to major in Philosophy. I was at the University of Chicago. I couldn't hack it! I went to Leonard Linsky's Wittgenstein Reading Group and all I could focus on was the dynamics among his graduate students. There was only one woman, who fascinated me. She was the boldest, most brilliant, but also always seemed hypervigilant, intense, on edge. Her eyes sparkled, her teeth gleamed. She brought him espresso every week. She made him a button down shirt of red flannel. I wonder what happened to her.

I always think in this context of Luce Irigaray's 'grid of intelligibility'-- that what women say just slips through the cracks. (I struggle w Irigaray's essentialism but the emotional truth of her work has stuck with me.)

What you describe, it seems to me, is climbing on to the grid, weaving words like vines through its lattice, and then being forced to eat those words and spit them out in better formation. In the process, of course, you slip through the cracks and are silenced.

I'm sorry for the experience you had. What I find most-- soothing? Inspiring? Validating? Useful?-- about your work is the way it wields the master's tools. Admirable. Thank you.

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author

🙏❤️

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I have often felt this way, especially in my teens and twenties when I was in a series of "Pygmalion" relationships with older men who saw themselves as geniuses and me as someone to recreate in their image. Quite frankly, those relationships involved gaslighting, in the purer sense of the term, as well as other types of abuse. It has made me wary, in my thirties, to engage in any way with men who work in academia or the arts.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

I’m so sorry you had to deal with this typical “older white male” professor, but maybe the hope is that twenty years ago there would have been five or more of them in the audience. At 78 years old I have spent most of my life dealing with “older white misogynist males”, while trying to convince myself that each encounter was more the exception than the rule. But thanks??? to so many encounters over the years, and your book Down Girl, I now know it’s the rule and not the exception. But the most distressing part over these past years, to me, was that I couldn’t confront all the misogyny I encountered because of economic circumstances. But I, and millions of like-minded women, at least now don’t have to depend on these jerks anymore because we are finally allowed some economic independence. One of my grandmothers used to say “if they don’t drink, if they don’t hit you and if they bring home a paycheck” you don’t have it too bad. That’s a really low bar.

Having grown up in the 60’s and 70’s amid Second Wave Feminism I knew intellectually that women had many legitimate grievances (a vast understatement). But I didn’t have any close-at-hand role models, so it was difficult to know how to behave with this knowledge. My two daughters, 40 and 30, seem to be doing a lot better, even though there is still a long way to go. I was glad to read that most of your colleagues at your talk were supportive. However, everything I have read over the last 20 years or more, such as Richard Reeves new book about boys and men and their decline, and the rise of authoritarianism around the world, and Peter Beinart’s excellent article in The Atlantic a few years ago about The Global Backlash Against Women just confirms your insights in Down Girl, that misogyny is basically hard-wired and structural. I really appreciate your battle against misogyny. As I mentioned, I have been trying to wage war also, but it has been difficult. My only success is that my two daughters don’t take any shit off anyone. But I have a granddaughter who is ten, and a grandson who is six, and I really worry about them. Luckily, my granddaughter and my grandson are very close, and I can only hope, due to their exceptional mother and their relationship with each other, that my grandson will somehow grow up to understand what his mother and his grandmother experienced and to realize he has a mission to change the way things are.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Yes, I have felt this way. While I have no experience with philosophy, this is my experience of psychotherapy. Of course here it's not just men. There is the pervasive understanding that even the act of disagreeing can lead to more harm. Even if you don't agree, the clinical notes will describe me (cis-woman) as very neutral, firm, rigid, and inflexible. Everything is fraught with risk, share your feelings and experiences and risk a dx of BPD; share your feelings and experiences in a limited way and risk a dx of AvPD. Either way someone has stuffed a rag with their words written on it into my mouth, only to have me choke on it, and if I complain to the regulatory body the provider will say I benefited from the relationship.

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Aug 9, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

THIS THIS THIS and then some.

There are non fda approved AI programs datamining medical software to determine whether we can fill prescriptions. I live where no one agrees with anything I think. Therapy is a minefield.

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Aug 11, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

This is tangential, but this just makes thing of how the purdue pharma data-mining to determined which physicians were prescribing the most of its competitors’ painkillers, and then dispatched sales reps those practices. Dark times.

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Apr 3, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

You describe this behavior as not present among all white, male philosophers (but, common enough that theres typically one in any given audience). I wonder if it is more common, but perhaps to a lesser degree? These behaviors maybe existing on a continuum from the extreme you depict here to subtler, less blatant gaslighting, silencing, etc. I was married to that, and despite being an accomplished academic (in another field) and an empowered women, it eventually and insidiously took a toll. I'm out finally, but at an enormous cost. I'm still digging myself out from the self-doubt.

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

What do you think of the idea that such individuals, while arrogant, are, in fact, quite fragile and all they have is the sense that they possess a more accurate system of beliefs and attitudes than others who might otherwise seem more successful? If they don't secure agreement, then the foundations totter.

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author

Seems plausible. I'm always most interested personally in the social dynamics and what women face rather than the psychological underpinnings of men's bad behavior. That’s just me though. Anyway thanks!

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Apr 6, 2023Liked by Kate Manne

Crashing bores. That's my diagnosis of such men.

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This entitled attitude is insidious and pervasive, and often so subtle that others who are not subject to it, are unaware of it. It combines with power and control of reality to create environments that the less powerful just have to learn to navigate, if they want to gain some measure of success in that area. So, as a grad student I must conform to the expectations of those in my department who would have their reality look a certain way. And if I fail to conform, I risk not getting my degree. As I grew up in the 70s, I am used to conforming in order to succeed, but it is deeply disappointing to see this is still happening 40 years later. Of course, in evolutionary terms, 40 years is only two generations. But still.

Thank you for your thoughtful work, as always.

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Thank you so much for this article. I’d like to translate it into French at some point to share with a lot of people I know who would be interested, would you mind ?

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author

Go for it! Thanks so much for your interest and labor

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Here is the link : https://quentindelval.substack.com/p/les-hommes-exigent-que-je-sois-daccord?sd=pf is it ok if I share on twitter ?

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author

Thank you so much for your labor! And of course 🙏❤️

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