It’s an old trope to cast feminists as ugly.Â The following inference seems to be either a direct ad hominem or a kind of debunking strategy on their claims.Â The direct ad hominem runs as follows:
S is ugly
Therefore, the things S says aren’t worth our time
Notice that the direct argument has application to anyone, regardless of gender or politics.Â The debunking argument works as a kind of explanation for the things S says — essentially, that they don’t track truths, but are mere expressions of resentment. The debunking argument, importantly, is uniquely targeting women who are feminists.
S is an ugly woman
Ugly woman have little chance with men
This causes them to be resentful
Out of resentment, they emote using terms like ‘patriarchy’ and ‘misogyny’.
Therefore, the things S says amount to mere emoting
The first form is a pretty clear error in relevance, the second is actually an instance of exactly the kind of sexist attitudes S’s feminism was criticizing.Â Â But, hey, so it goes for those who rely on the ad hominem for their argumentative strategies — they hardly recognize when their use of it exemplifies precisely what the problem challenged is.Â Â It seems to be in higher relief, though, with these cases applied to feminists.
Enter James Delingpole, over at Breitbart.Â In some ways, I expect he’s just trolling (it’s a modified version of Poe’s Law — with right wing pigeons, you can’t tell whether they are serious, someone else lampooning them, or them embracing their worst sides just to get a rise out of you).Â But, if the Poe point is right, who knows? In response to the Women’s Marches this last Sunday, he tweets:
Sheesh.Â That’s just silly. Not just because folks were coming from well beyond DC. But here’s where things get bad, because Delingpole follows up the tweet with his article, and he puts a little edge on the issue.Â Ad hominem edge, that is.
But this is self-evidently impossible. Very few of these shrieking munters â€“ save the token celebrities â€“ will ever find themselves in a position where they are able to fetch a manâ€™s beer from his fridge because first they would have to find a man willing to share the same space with them.
Yep.Â That’s what he wrote.Â And the lesson he takes from it is that these folks are representative of what a Clinton Presidency would have looked like.
I think we owe those women who took to the streets across the world in their various pod groups a massive favour. They have reminded us what a Hillary presidency would have looked like every single day for at least four years.
Again, what’s it look like?
… the usual ragbag of leftist suspects, far too many of them blue hair, theirÂ whale-like physiques and terrifying camel-toes the size of the Grand Canyon.
Holy crap.Â Let me take a breath here.Â Does Breitbart have an editor over there?
The point I want to highlight how the use of one version of the ad hominem on feminists is a perfect picture of exactly the problem that feminists are out to address.Â I think the only way someone could make this error so consistently is unless either (a) the person is trollling and is doing it intentionally for the sake of irritating a political opponent, (b) the person really doesn’t hear the critique as a critique, but, per the argument, just as empty emoting.Â Either way, it’s an argumentative failure.Â But, perhaps more importantly, a moral one, too.