Bing Bong–Someone on the internet is wrong!

I get this perverse please out of posting contentious shit on Facebook…

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But look at what happened in the comments… You can click on the image to go to the post, but basically what happened is this: Two women expressed their personal preference for circumcised penis, and also conflated it with being clean because of their past cultural or religious upbringing. A bunch of people argued with them, but they doubled down, and the one even got some support from someone else, calling the guy who called her out sexist, somehow twisting the words to be about women’s choices. On a post about male genital mutilation.

So… what is whataboutism?

According to Wikipedia: Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.

I’m not sure I like that definition because it isn’t what I always see, but anyway… I prefer my own definition of tu quoque logical fallacies, which goes like so… A tu quoque is when you respond to an argument not with a valid criticism or argument, but by accusing the opponent of hypocrisy. This is the most childish counterargument I have ever seen, because it is equivalent to a small child pointing back at the adult and saying, “But you are also naughty!” If you’re a parent, you should recognize it right away. It is literally the go-to argument of a typical 3 to 4 year old with their childish initial grasp of logic. Its cute and clever when a toddler does it – not so much when coming from an adult.

(Off topic, but I find it fascinating that these arguments in politics typically come from those on the right in the US. Politicians and so-called conservative commentators use it all the time. Think of someone like US right wing loon Tomi Lahren – virtually every criticism of the left she spews from her hate-filled mouth is either a tu quoque or some kind of strange psychological projection.)

In my mind, whataboutism is something different to tu quoque, albeit similar. It’s when someone responds to a valid statement with something irrelevant, attempting to switch the focus, especially when the original issue involves an oppressed or marginalized group, and the counter-statement attempts to make themselves, another group, into the victim. In other words, it’s usually an oppressor playing the victim.

Generally, but not always (almost though), whataboutism is used by men when the conversation is about women. It’s often also used by white people when the conversation is about the oppression of black people. For example… men raising men’s rights when the conversation is about women or feminism… white people responding to black lives matter with all lives matter.


Getting back to the circumcision meme, this just happens to be one of those very rare times when the conversation is about men and men’s bodily autonomy. That makes me a little loathe to write this but I think it’s important. I consider myself not merely an ally of feminists, but a feminist myself. But… a conversation about men… is a conversation about men. Circumcision is male genital mutilation. Your preference as a woman for a cut cock does not make circumcision OK. Your belief that it is cleaner or more hygienic is one not based on evidence. It also doesn’t mean that a man who calls you out is being sexist. It means you’re being called out. We can all be wrong at times.

This thing where everybody wants to be right and they continue to argue and call their opponents names is very fucking annoying. Debate isn’t easy, but we need to be able to remain impartial and we need to know when the conversation isn’t about us. Don’t play the victim when you’re not one. It makes you look like an arsehole.


To clarify… I’m only reflecting on the comments that got the most responses… There are others too, for example from men who were circumcised and comment about their feeling being perfectly good during sex, though not in those words. Also whataboutism in a way… just less interesting that my focus in this post.

There is also a lot of ad hominem in the comments… people whose arguments were right, who are, in my mind, on the “right side” of this debate, who then turn to name calling and insults… The internet can be a terrible place for any kind of discussion because it often degrades to this name calling mess where everybody is wrong. That isn’t my focus for today’s post either. But that is one of the reasons I prefer trolling to debate these days. I’m more interested in throwing some contentious bait out there to see who bites than I am in trying to change some idiot’s mind.

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