Listen up cuz this is probably the most important thing I will ever teach you if you typically find yourself on the powerless end of the relationship spectrum (and let’s be honest, you do, given the apparent positive correlation between the traffic our posts get as compared to general poutiness of said post).
Back when I was in grad school I invited the other lolz doll to come and visit me where she met my then-boyfriend. Of course we got in a fight (because at best we were incompatible and at worst he was a majorly certifiable dummie) and rather than take my side, she pulled him aside and whispered to him to “tell her she’s being adversarial.” He did that in every fight for the next three years and it was infuriating.
The adversarial method is basically what happens when two people attack each other with logic in a way that’s less deliberative and more just an attempt to aggressively destroy the other’s position in attempt to promote their own. It’s not a fallacy in the way that another “A” is–the ad hominem (attacking the person holding the argument and not the argument itself–but it’s still alienating in the sense that it doesn’t allow for discussion, compromise, feeling, etc.
An analytic feminist (Janice Moulton–here’s where if I was teaching I’d say, “It’s okay, you don’t need to know her name, just the concept”…. probably gonna get struck down for that) thought of it because she was all “the adversary method doesn’t give women a fair chance because they are both less aggressive and less allowed to be aggressive.” But you don’t have to be a woman or even a feminist to see how this is an unproductive way of communicating.
That said she has a point–think about Hilary Clinton. People hate her for some reason (well you don’t, you read blogs and are an interesting, well-rounded person) but I think a lot of it is because she doesn’t represent her typical gender role (she’s an ESTJ, the most masculine personality type, if that means anything to you). We feel uncomfortable because we want her to be more girly, which is less assertive, aggressive, rational, etc.
Anyway, you don’t have to be a chick to fall victim to the adversary method–anyone who employs emotional evidence when engaged in arguments, wants to compromise rather than win, etc., will feel uncomfortable with a unilateral, attacking method of argument.
So here’s how I’m going to help you…. next time some hyper-rational, unemotional a-hole is yelling at you, just say, simply, “you’re utilizing the adversarial method and I refuse to engage with you.” At the very least they’ll be confused… that’s worth something.