How Not to Apologize, by Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert would like you to know that women are not necessarily better than men. Any columns he might have written recently suggesting in no uncertain terms that women are better than men notwithstanding.

The blog was filled with qualifiers, but never mind. I had a point I was trying to make and I did a bad job of it. Strange how this is clear to me now, and how invisible it was at the moment I clicked on “publish.”

What qualifiers? Sure, there was a lot of stuff in there reminding us that all generalizations have exceptions (well, except that one), but the point that women are, in general, better than men was unmistakeable. For example:

Women are nicer than men. There are exceptions. Most people of both sexes are probably fairly nice, given the nature of their upbringing and opportunities. But in terms of their lifelong natures, women are kinder, more empathetic, more generous. And the sooner more of them take positions of power, the better our chances as a species.

I mean, I got the qualifier. It’s the sentence that goes “There are exceptions.” But the bit about how women are just generally better over the course of their lives, and that the Earth itself would be better if they took over, is simply impossible to miss.

And the rest of the article hits every 1970s talking point. Men are evolved to be shallow, women deep. Men cause wars, women stop them. The economy is busted because of boardroom pissing contests that women (who are, what, completely unconcerned with status and position? Does he know any women?) would never engage in. Power is shifting to women anyway as the world civilizes (how he squares that with his assertion that men caused the recent economic crisis is left as an exercise for the reader). I could go on – but if you’re interested in a thorough rebuttal I recommend this one.

What I’m tired of is insincere apologies. Come clean, Ebert, you meant what you said. There is no mistaking it. The original blog post does not mince words, and the qualifiers that you sprinkled in there do nothing to mitigate the overall point. Nothing about anything was “invisible at the moment [you] clicked ‘publish.'”

I’m tired of people who “apologize” by complaining about all the abuse they receieve in the comments section.

And that called down upon my head 408 comments, at least 80 percent hostile, and many surprisingly angry and insulting.

Well, ya think? It’s almost as though saying offensive things will offend people. Who knew? Ebert, for one, must have known, since he’s been blogging for about a decade now.

I’m really tired of the “pussy card” – whereby getting offended by anything at all is automatically a sign of weakness, regardless of the original offense. I ran into this on Facebook recently, where right after North Carolina passed Amendment One, one of my FB friends posted a chart showing how now every southern state has a ban on gay marriage (I blogged about this) and wrote something facetious like “this isn’t helping my stereotypes about the South.” Har har. I posted something in the comments about how California had passed these bans twice and was told I couldn’t take a joke. Actually, I got that it was a joke, I’m just tired of these stereotypes. I’m fairly certain, for example, that she doesn’t ham it up with her black friends about robbing liquor stores.

Here’s Ebert playing the same game:

Some web comments I read accused me of falling prey to the “feminazis.” Why is feminism such a threat to some men? What is the message they’re picking up?

I think the message they’re picking up on is that a lot of feminists hate men, or else feel superior to them. The term “feminazi” refers exclusively to those feminists, not to equal rights feminists. The technical term is “gynocentrist.” When you post columns titled “Women are Better than Men” making the point that women are better than men, and hoping that women take over most positions of power, “feminazi” fits you like a glove. This is like when socialists get offended when people call them socialist for wanting to nationalize the healthcare industry. That’s fine, if that’s your political position, but your political position is socialist, and if I can’t use the word “socialist” to refer to socialists, why have the word?

What would the opposite of feminism be? Perhaps it’s reflected in the belief that men are the God-appointed heads of families, and dutiful wives are subservient to them.

And what would the opposite of that be? Maybe the position that women are better than men and should be in charge? For some of us, changing the dominant gender doesn’t really disguise the fact that you’re coming down against equality.

I’m tired of people insuinating the very things that they deny they’ve just said. Here’s Ebert again:

[Internet anonymity] seems to be an attractive opportunity for countless users. I will not speculate on their gender or age, although I have some good ideas.

If you have some good ideas, then you’ve ipso facto already speculated on their gender and age.

The whole column is a cheat.

We all make mistakes. We all say things we regret. None of us likes apologizing for it. It’s part of being human. That doesn’t make the apology any less necessary, nor does it change the fact that insincere apologies don’t cut it.

If you meant what you said, stand by it. If you didn’t, repudiate it. This does neither.

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