Home / General / The missionary position

The missionary position

Comments
/
/
/
1054 Views

Natalie Wynn is a 30-year-old philosophy grad student dropout who is the philosophical and artistic force behind the Youtube channel ContraPoints.

To date I’ve only seen one of her videos, as I discovered her yesterday, but it is a fantastic piece of work in every sense.

In it, Wynn is both analyzing the Incel movement, and reaching out to the men trapped within it.  The latter aspect of the film is particularly remarkable.  Wynn was just profiled in the New Yorker:

“I know what it’s like to obsess over millimetres of bone,” she continues. [This is a reference to the Incel movement’s phrenological obsession with facial bone structure as social destiny] “I actually had to interrupt work on this video to go to a consultation for facial-feminization surgery so I can pay luxury-car amounts of money to shave off a few millimetres of bone here and there.” When she was deciding whether to transition, Wynn says, she spent many torturous hours online, “intentionally looking for abusive comments, preferably ones that cut to the core of my deepest insecurities and fears.” Some psychologists refer to such behavior as “digital self-harm.” Wynn calls it “masochistic epistemology: whatever hurts is true.” This, she posits, is the pathological urge that drives otherwise normal men to self-identify as incels. “We’re all obsessed with the bones, honey,” she says. Against her better judgment, she had arrived at empathy. . .

Sitting at her kitchen table, Wynn returned to one of her preoccupations: the chasm between the left’s ability to criticize and its ability to proselytize. An earlier ContraPoints video opened with an m.c., played by Wynn, announcing two public speakers, also played by Wynn. “Ladies and gentlemen, a Fascist,” the m.c. says. The Fascist is poised. The Fascist is coolheaded. The Fascist’s rhetoric, if you’re not listening closely, sounds sensible and patriotic. The audience cheers. Then the m.c. says, “Ladies and gentlemen, a leftist.” The leftist is halting, hostile, and condescending. “So, actually, according to Hegel, the for-itself can only be actualized through the in-itself,” she begins. The audience giggles and boos. “Aw, fuck you, you fucking racists!” the leftist responds, giving the audience the finger.

The food arrived—goat curry and chana masala—and Wynn pulled back her hair and started to eat. “You often hear, with regard to the alt-right or the Intellectual Dark Web or pro-Trump nationalists, that the way to avoid normalizing them is to avoid responding to them, or to only respond by calling them offensive and terrible and bad,” she said. “And, look, sometimes they are offensive and terrible and bad, but you don’t win by saying that. You win by pointing out why they’re wrong, and by making better propaganda than they do.” When Wynn posted the final version of the video to YouTube, several commenters wrote that it had made them reconsider their views. “I didn’t even know what cis meant until I stumbled on your videos,” one wrote. “I guess I just wanted to thank you, as cheesy as it sounds . . . I know how rare it is to change someone’s opinion on the internet.”

As somebody or other once said, philosophers have interpreted the world, but the point now is to change it.  What I’m saying here is that this kind of thing could actually work.  Basically the only things fascists are good at are propaganda and proselytizing. Wynn is trying to do something about that.

I’m going to be exploring ContraPoints in depth, and I hope other LGMers already have.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
It is main inner container footer text