Ad Feminam: On Picking Sides in a Complex World

I watched a short debate on TV today where two people disagreed passionately with each other and reached no conclusion. Of course they didn’t agree. One was deeply invested in something the other saw as completely wrong, which meant neither was about to change their position. The classic TV debate recipe. I already had my mind made on this issue and before they said a word I knew whose side I was on. I started watching with anticipation that “my man” would wrap the debate around his finger and use a set of solid arguments to make his point.

Should have been an easy win if you’d asked me.

And it was… Until he had to make a comment on her appearance, gender, and age. Took him less than six minutes to go there. She happened to be a woman, young and attractive, and him pointing that out was accurate. But was it relevant? Nei.

How am I supposed to pick sides when both sides are messed up? Why did “my man” have to use his male privilege to make his female opponent aware of her appearance and attempt to tell her what she should be doing with her life as a young, attractive woman. Can we stop acting like Trump? Can we just stop right now and start debating each other with relevant logic and facts and opinions only?

20150822_190159Wikipedia already figured this out:

Ad feminam is defined as appealing to irrelevant considerations about women, in particular, prejudices against them or stereotypes about them, rather than giving an answer to the contentions they made.

And while we’re at it, how about we stop using our (white/male/able-bodied/heterosexual/upper class/imperialist) privilege to “win” debates and start talking to each other as equals.

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