Category Archives: Gender Equity

Man-Hating (& Racist) Shaming Tactic: The Patriarchy

Welcome to “Shamus Tacticus: A Field Guide.” My name is Typhon Blue and today I will be presenting a somewhat rarified and fascinating specimen of the species Shamus Tacticus—colloquially known as “the Shaming Tactic.”

Without further ado, I present today’s shaming tactic:

The Patriarchy

This shaming tactic can be employed in the following way: “I can ignore your emotions and opinions because… patriarchy!”

Interestingly this shamus tacticus can also be utilized to silence those women who have lost the competition for “which woman expresses the least empathy towards men.” Empathy towards men being the primary symptom of the patriarchal thought patterns that parasitize a women’s brains and remove their independent will, supposedly.

This particular Shamus Tacticus arises out of cross-pollination between several subspecies and species.

  1. Blatantus Liacus — quite simply, Blatantus Liacus is the perpetuation of complete and utter bullshit.
  2. Femicus Paracitis Alluricus – A subspecies of Femicus Alluricus, an inflated belief in the attractiveness of feminine submission or parasitism.
  3. Femicus Centrus Completeus – a man is incomplete if he does not somehow center his life around women.

Blatant Liacus enters the fray by describing women in “patriarchy” as property of men rather then their legal wards. To understand the difference consider the relationship between your dog and your child. Your dog is your property; your child is your ward. Women were the wards of men historically; they were not men’s property.

Femicus Paracitus Alluricus adds supposed plausibility to “the patrairchy” as a shaming tactic. It asserts that men have an immense desire for women’s submission.

For most parents who have a severely mentally disabled child, the prospect of being the guardian of someone who will never achieve adult independence is exhausting, suffocating and terrifying. But for some reason men will take enormous pains to arrange society just so they can take complete responsibility for an adult sized female leech for the rest of their lives.

Femicus Centrus Completus, the idea that men wish to revolve around women not unlike the moon revolves around the earth, is foundational to Femicus Paracitus Alluricus because in order to dominate a woman a man must center his entire life around her; and one must assume that a man will sacrifice his own independence to do so, and will sacrifice his independence in order to center women with eager glee rather then the frantic horror of a fox whose paw is caught in a bear trap.

Now that we’ve examined the taxonomy of this particular Shamus Tacticus, let’s look at its anatomy directly and observe its uniquely nuanced self-contradiction.

How is Patriarchy Theory a shaming tactic, one might ask?

For that let’s direct our attention to the international study of patriarchy, the CEDAW map. CEDAW refers to the Convention on Eliminating Discrimination Against Women or, less euphemistically and more accurately titled, how “n*****s are eviler then us white folks.”

 

 

What you will notice as you analyze the CEDAW map, is that the most patriarchal and thus least moral cultures are both poor and dark skinned.

Now one might be tempted to say that societies grant women as much freedom as those societies can afford. In poor societies the technologies, including birth control, that liberate women do not exist or cannot be afforded; further poor societies are often violent societies and the political and social limitations on women serve to both protect them and compel men to take the risks that get men killed at far greater rates.

And you might say our own social history reflects this progression. As technologies that created safer and more comfortable societies and lessened the necessary labor in the home were developed and enjoyed widescale adoption women were granted more social and political freedom.

Nah.

The real answer is that us wealthy white folks, and by white folks, I mean wealthy white women are just better people then those patriarchal, girl raping n****r bastards.

So why is Patriarchy Theory a shaming tactic?

Well let’s step through it.

Let’s imagine for a moment that “patriarchy” put men in charge. But men wished to take care of women as best they could and when it was technologically feasible for women to be free of the limitations of the home, men endeavored to provide them that freedom.

If we imagine patriarchy as paternalistic but ultimately good-natured we approach ending the dynamic by pointing out that men having to take responsibility for women is exhausting, unfair and limiting to them as well as infantilizing to women and we try to correct the situation like intelligent adults.

But this, this is too reasonable. And this reasonable conception of “patriarchy” just doesn’t create the necessary moral opprobrium against men as a group. It doesn’t get the dander up; it doesn’t whip people into a self-righteous fury; and we all know the hate must flow!

Therefore Patriarchy Theory necessitates the belief that not only were women the wards of men in history (not property, wards) but that men actively set it up that way in order to rape, beat and murder women with impunity and secure all the social goodies for themselves.

Patriarchy theory says men are evil fuckers. Not misguided, not part of a society that either didn’t have or couldn’t afford the technologies that free women and make public life safe and comfortable, not part of a system that just doesn’t work any more and forced into a role that they didn’t necessarily want.

No.

Men are EVIL FUCKERS.

I hope you enjoyed this installment of “Deconstructing Shaming Tactics.” Thank you for listening, direct all inquiries to “shamustacticus@gmail.com” and please tune in next time, when we will present another weapon in the endless arsenal of Shamus Tacticus.

Note: I am honored to present this transcript of my friend Typhon Blue’s work.–Dean Esmay.

Feminism and the Disposable Male

The #1 video on YouTube on the subject of feminism for the last year has been “Feminism and the Disposable Male” by Girl Writes What. If you don’t believe it, just go to YouTube and type in the word “feminism” and if it’s not some brand new sponsored video, this will be the top video. And unlike most videos that “go viral,” it has seen not an explosion of views but a steadily increasing number of views. It has ignited a firestorm of hatred against its author. People have put up pictures of her face battered and bloodied to show their hatred for her. She’s called a right-wing extremist, a “back to the kitchen” traditionalist, a misogynist, a woman-hater, a traitor to her vagina–she’s even been called the “Tokyo Rose of feminism.” Much of this is rather amusing since she’s a bisexual atheist who writes erotica professionally, and often doesn’t even vote–not because she thinks women shouldn’t vote, but because, like Penn Jilett, she thinks it’s often a waste of time. Amusingly, she’s also often been called a “feminist extremist” (often laced with many more vulgar epithets).

The fact of the matter is that I personally agree with everything she says in this video. I mean it–every word of it, I agree with. I’ve thought these things for many years. And I’m used to being shouted down and told to shut up for saying these things. But it appears to be even worse when a woman says them. Perhaps that’s because those opposed to what she says particularly hate it when a woman says them? Or is it because they fear that if a woman says them, they can’t dismiss her as a “whiny loser” like they do to men who say these things? I leave it to you to decide.

That said, a number of readers of my blog have complained that they can’t stand listening to Karen (Girl Writes What) talk for 15 minutes. I do not understand this complaint at all, I’ve always found her speaking style compelling, but there’s no accounting for tastes. Although she’s approaching 400,000 views on this one video alone, and has over 13,000 subscribers and growing, some people tell me they want to read her essays rather than listening to them. So in accomodation, I asked Karen for a transcript, and when she said she’d lost it, I went ahead and transcribed it for her in exchange for permission to reprint it. And so here I present, proudly, my friend Karen’s “Feminism and the Disposable Male.” I hope you like it as much as I do, or at least find it thought-provokng. –Dean Esmay

Not too long ago I had it out with a feminist who had come into a male-safe space from a feminist blog just to scoff at the idea of male disposability. She basically said that the entire concept was a myth, that men’s lived experiences were completely wrong, and that they were just a bunch of whiners who were complaining over nothing.

That got me thinking about the concept of male disposability and how that interacts with the feminist movement. Male disposability has been around since the dawn of time, and it’s based on one very very straightforward dynamic: when it comes to the well-being of others, women come first, men come last. This is just the way it has always been. Seats in lifeboats, being rescued from burning buildings, who gets to eat: really, society places men dead last every time, and, society expects men to place themselves dead last every time.

Humans have always had a dynamic of “women and children first” and that has not changed at all. The 93% workplace death gap has to be evidence of this, if only because there’s nobody with any kind of importance or power who’s interested in changing it at all. In fact I remember reading an article in a British Columbia paper not long ago that described the increasing proportion of female injuries on the job as a huge problem, and the insane thing was the change reflected a decrease in male injuries rather than an increase in female ones. Men’s injuries on the job had gone down because the economic downturn had put so many men out of work in the resource sector that there just weren’t as many trees or pieces of heavy equipment falling on men as there had been before. And yet, this was framed as a huge problem for women that required immediate action to solve. It’s like if men aren’t dying at work that 20 times the rate that women are, we must be doing something wrong as a society.

Back when we were still living in caves that attitude was necessary for human survival. Nature is a really harsh mistress, especially when you think of all the animals that never get to die of old age. Things were a lot different for humans through most of our history on this planet than they are now. Life was dangerous, human settlements were small, isolated from each other, and one big disaster that took out a lot of women pretty much meant the end of the entire shebang for that group of people. So really, the level of importance that a human settlement placed on the well-being of women and children reflected almost always how successful that settlement was. And that can be expanded to encompass entire societies.

I keep hearing from the feminist camp that femaleness has always been undervalued by society and that maleness is preferred. But I’ve always contended that it’s the exact opposite: the feminine is intrinsically and individually valuable, simply because females are the limited factor in reproduction. When it comes to producing babies, every woman counts, whereas biologically one very happy man could probably do the work of hundreds in that regard. So the level of instinctive importance we humans place on the safety and provisioning of women and their children is one of the main reasons why we’ve been able to be so successful that we’ve come to dominate this planet.

While I will concede that this drive to keep women safe from all harm has often resulted in extreme limits being placed on women’s mobility, their agency, their power of decision to direct their own lives, all through history and many cultures, and in many cultures even today, I think it’s telling that those cultures tend to be the most backward. When you consider the restrictions placed on women in places like Afghanistan, and then you consider that if we “bombed them into the stone age” it might be progress, I think you could conclude that the most successful societies had a good balance between allowing women freedom and the ability to choose and direct their own paths in life, and the need to protect them and provide for them.

However, feminists will insist that these kinds of restrictions being placed on women in those kinds of societies are the ultimate form of objectification. You lock up your possessions to make sure they will never be lost or stolen or harmed. Honestly, if I were a guy on a battlefield I might appreciate being objectified in that way. I think if I was going to be an object, I’d rather be a sexual one or somebody’s prized possession than an object that can simply be thrown in the trash or smashed into pieces in the service of somebody else’s purpose.

Feminists also have a very simplistic idea that our willingness to absolve women of their crimes, slap them on the wrist, spare them punishment, comes from a deep disrespect society has for women’s person-hood—not seeing them as full human beings capable of looking after themselves, that we see them as children who don’t know any better. And while there are parallels there in our desire to protect both women and children from not only their own poor decisions but the full consequences of their shitty behavior, it’s really not as simple as they try to make it out to be.

Seriously, even today—even today in 2011!–we fully expect that if it comes down to a man and a woman in a burning building and you can only save one, the expectation is that you choose the woman every single time. So honestly, whose humanity are we placing above whose here? We’re not talking about going to work, we’re not talking about getting an education, we’re not talking about freedom to decide what you want to be in life. We’re not talking about getting to take Tae Kwon Do. We’re talking seats in lifeboats here. The person in the lifeboat is going to survive, no matter how capable or incapable they are of managing their own life, and the person going down with the ship is going to die, no mater how independent, self-sufficient and awesome he is. That’s the equation: one life, more valuable than another, and the woman wins every time.

So honestly, is there any argument, anywhere, that women’s humanity has always been held in higher regard by society than men’s? To be important to society, a woman merely has to be; a man has to do in order for his life to have any meaning to anyone other than himself. I think it was ManWomanMyth who said our society reduces men from human beings to human doings. I really think that’s an apt analogy. We measure a man’s worthiness to wear the title of “man” and therefore the title of “human,” through how useful he is, either to society or to women, and one of the most useful things a man can do even now in the eyes of society is to put women and children before himself.

While I think there is plenty of argument that this attitude is at least partly innate—the way most survival traits are, even collective ones—if it starts in the chromosomes we really do everything we can as a society to reinforce this dynamic. Studies have shown that even though baby boys tend to cry and fuss more than baby girls, parents are quicker to attend to or console a baby girl than they are a baby boy. Even just the level of acceptance of infant male circumcision in our culture, when female genital mutilation was banned pretty much the first afternoon we all heard it existed, really says a lot about the differing expectations we have for males and females. Speaking as a mother, the last thing I would ever have wanted was to hear my child cry, especially when they’re at an age when they’re completely helpless, completely at the mercy of outside forces, and utterly dependent on the adults in their lives for every last thing, and yet even knowing how painful that cut is, we expect baby boys only days old to just suck that up.

Just think about what these very first interactions and experiences, these differences in how we nurture our babies depending on what gender they are, what this teaches them: What do we teach baby girls when we attend to their crying so quickly? We teach them to ask for help because their needs are important. We teach them to let us know when they’re afraid or in pain because it’s important for us to know when they’re sick or in danger or hurt, so we can do something about it. We teach them that when they’re sad or lonely to summon comfort and comfort will be there. We teach them that they’re important. Their needs and well-being, both emotional and physical, are important just because.

And what are we teaching baby boys when we leave them to cry? We teach them that there’s not much point in seeking help because it will be grudgingly given if at all We teach them that they should become self-contained in their ability to deal with emotions like fear, helplessness, loneliness, sadness, pain, distress: we teach them stoicism. We teach them to suck it up. We teach them that their fear and their pain are things that are best ignored. We teach them that their emotional and physical well-being are just not as important as other things.

Given all that, is it any wonder it’s like pulling teeth to get a man to go to the doctor when he’s sick?

What we’re teaching that baby boy is all the things a man needs to know and feel and believe about himself if he’s going to stand in front of a cabin with a rifle while his wife and kids hide inside. We’re preparing him for the day he has to fix a bayonet to a rifle and charge a hill under enemy fire, and we’re preparing him to make a decision to resign himself to an icy fate while women and children escape in the lifeboats. We are teaching him to internalize his own disposability.

And baby girls? By attending to her crying so quickly, by letting her know that she’s inherently important to us, we’re preparing her for the day she has to think of her own safety first, even if it means the man she loves is left standing alone with a rifle in front of a cabin. We’re preparing her to take that seat in the lifeboat. We’re training her to not allow guilt or empathy or acknowledgment of a man’s humanity, or any sense that he might deserve it more, to convince her give her seat to him. Because for millenia, the human species absolutely depended on her feeling 100% entitled to that seat.

And that brings me to feminism. You know, the patriarchy smashers? Those righteous avengers of equality? Dogged dismantlers of every single gender role? What exactly is feminism doing to dismantle this traditional role of the disposable male?

Feminism’s greatest victories have only reinforced in everyone that society still owes women provision, protection, help and support just because they’re women. In its collective dismissal and abandonment of male victims of domestic violence, it only reinforces in men that it’s pointless to ask for help, because men’s needs are of no relevance, and their fear and pain don’t mean anything to anyone. Feminism teaches us to put women’s need at the forefront of every single issue, political or social. Whether that issue is domestic violence law, sexual assault law, institutional sexism, social safety net, education funding, homeless shelters, government funding for shovel-ready jobs—jobs that didn’t stay shovel-ready once women got wind of them.

Everywhere you look—everywhere you look!–there are feminists pushing their way to the front of the line demanding women’s “fair share” of all of the goodies, the good stuff, the loot, the booty, the cookies. Even if women don’t need it. Even if women don’t deserve it. And even if somebody else needs it and deserves it more.

And they get it, because we give it to them.

Feminism has done nothing but exploit this dynamic of the expectation on men to put everybody else before themselves. Especially women. Women’s safety and support, women’s well-being, and women’s emotional needs, always come first. This is the most stunning piece of society-wide manipulative psychology I think I have ever come across. Feminism has been down with old-school chivalry right from the start. They might seem like strange bedfellows, but they’re not. Because both concepts are built on a firm foundation of female self-interest.

We made our way as humans through a really harsh history and we became the dominant force on this planet. One of the reasons we were so successful is because we have consistently put women’s basic needs first. Their need for safety, support, and provision. It was in humanity’s best interest for women to be essentially self-interested, and for men to be essentially self-sacrificing. But we don’t need that dynamic anymore. Our species is in no danger of extinction. We’re 7 billion people clogging up the works here!

What’s the worst that could happen if we all just collectively decided that men were no more disposable than women, and women were no more valuable than men? In fact the greatest danger I see to us right now is that in our desperation to bend over and give women everything they want and everything they say they need, we’ve unbalanced society to the point where we’re in danger of seriously toppling over.

And really? The only difference I see between the traditional role and the new one for men with respect to disposability is that maleness, manhood: it used to be celebrated, it used to be admired, and it used to be rewarded, because it was really necessary, and because the personal cost of it to individual men was so incredibly high.

But now? Now, we still expect men to put women first, and we still expect society to put women first, and we still expect men to not complain about coming in dead last every damn time. But men don’t even get our admiration anymore. All they get in return is to hear about what assholes they are. Is there any wonder why they’re starting to get pissed off?

–Karen (AKA Girl Writes What)

Karen’s YouTube channel can be found here and her blog can be found here. I am enormously proud to call her my friend, and while at first the hatred and irrationality directed at her sickened me, I now view that as to be expected: people who question society’s most basic assumptions are often hated, ostracized, and demonized. But I think those of us who care about our sons should care about these things–DE

Online Death Threats & Abuse

Just to be clear, we can’t call this sexism, right? Irked, apesh*t fans are only sexists when they target women, after all.’

*Update*: Since someone on Facebook asked, while most of the threats and vile abuse were taken down, some of the sexually-derogatory language thrown at Marshall Fine included ‎”you f*cking suck monkey c*ck” and “Nice mustache. A lot of people don;t know pseudo-intelligence is grown from fancy facial hair. Now go tickle a little boys asshole with it, you pedophile-looking douchebag. Now go tickle a little boys a***ole with it, you pedophile-looking douchebag” were some of the choicer remarks that DID NOT get taken down. FWIW. Sexual denigration of males is common in this society, we just don’t take notice when it happens.

Girl Convicted of 1st Degree Murder of a Boy

I see that, going against general social trends, a brutal girl is being held accountable for criminal violence against a boy.

The only question that remains is if, being a girl and all, she gets a lighter sentence than the boys involved. It’s been proven repeatedly that females generally get substantially lighter sentences than males do when convicted of the exact same crime. Will we see a change here in the case of convicted murderer Amber Wright? Or will we see, as is so often the case, people (conservative and liberal alike) leaping to her defense just because she’s a girl? We’ll see I suppose. It bears watching. I’d like to believe there will be a social change on these attitudes, but I remain pessimistic.

Gender Wage-Gap: Questionable Logic

An old friend recently tweeted an announcement from the Obama White House that women make 77 cents on the dollar for what men make. It’s tiresome to hear that when the real picture is far from simple, and in many areas, women now out-earn men.

It would be nice if, when talking about these things, we would not oversimplify. Unfortunately in the hyperpolarized politics of today, that often seems impossible.

Spot The Similarities

See if you don’t see the similarity between these two videos:

I am all for the totally sexist rule that boys aren’t allowed to hit girls… as long as we amend it to say that if you hit first you just lost that privilege.

Sorry, I know it’s probably wrong but I wanted to give that cop a medal.

(Thanks GWW.)

*Update*: I suppose I should make it clear that I don’t think cops should be hitting people. I don’t know what country this is from (Italy?) or what the police rules are there, but the interesting thing to contemplate is that if this were an American cop, typically, the proper procedure would be to grab her by the wrist, spin her around by her elbow, shove her against a wall or to the ground, and cuff her. That would be proper police procedure, and he would be in line to do that–which, ironically, would be a lot more violent and humiliating than what he *did* do here. No, that’s not advocacy for slapping around suspects, but the irony is hard not to note: cops, at least in this country, often have to do things that are more heavy-handed than what they’d really rather do. I’ve known many cops, respected most of them, and I’m quite certain a number of them would look at this video and turn very rigid and not-endorse it but would privately admit, “man, there’s a lot of times when if I could just do that to a suspect then a lot of silliness would end and no one would even get arrested.” No, they really can’t do that, and being allowed to would lead to widespread abuse they wouldn’t approve of, but for some it would hard not to say, “man, how many times have I been forced to arrest someone when all they needed was some sense shaken into them?”

*Update 2*: I am also reminded in this about an incident some 20+ years ago with a friend of mine; a bunch of us were out at a bar and one of our friends started getting extremely loud and rowdy and shoving over something that wasn’t clear to any of us, although it had something or other to do with something her boyfriend had apparently said (and no, he wasn’t being loud or violent). Well she was drunk and so were we so we kind of pulled her out to the parking lot, but she kept yelling, mostly at her boyfriend (who was also our friend), and none of us could get her to calm down or even make sense of whatever she was mad at. The cops were called, and showed up to talk to her, and she started getting more and more belligerent, this time getting in the cop’s face. This was spiraling out of control, she started calling the cop names and it looked like she might even hit him. The cop was very disciplined and very calm in the face of her crazed behavior, but it started to become obvious what was about to happen so I stepped right up to her (sideways to the cop, my hands carefully at my sides), and said her name very loudly, and said (making sure the cop could hear me), “This is a police officer and if you don’t calm down, he’s doing to have to be a dick and arrest you. Do you want him to be a dick and arrest you? Or do you want to just calm down and go?” The cop sort of froze at my words, but looked at me with an almost pleading widening of his eyes, so I said it again: “If you keep this up, he’s going to arrest you. He doesn’t want be a dick. Don’t make him be a dick.” She muttered something foul and we calmly walked her away. The cop didn’t say “thank you,” he didn’t say anything, but he sort of looked at me with a pursed “I’m really trying not to smile, but thank you” expression and body language.

Because otherwise here’s how that scene would have ended: cop grabs her by the wrist, spins her around by her elbow, bends her over his squad car, cuffs her, and begins reading her her rights as he puts her in the squad car, and we all sit around trying to figure out how to bail her drunk butt out.

Common sense really eludes some people.

Women Standing Up For What They Believe In

Jessica Crispin writes:

Okay, so this is what I want: I want, when someone changes their mind about something, for them not to go ideologically swinging to the far other side. I was reading some reviews of Mark Simpson’s Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity, and there are some of former feminists writing about it. And when I say “former” I mean “anti.” We’re taking PhDs in women’s studies who have suddenly realized men are people, too, and they are also oppressed by our patriarchal structure, and so that means we have to wipe out decades of feminist thought, because obviously the two cannot coexist.

Someone can explain to me why this is later, I have tickets to the opera tonight and I have a feeling it’s going to take a while.

Quiet Riot Girl, the ex-feminist with the PhD in women’s studies whom Ms. Crispin refers to, has a short, simple, eloquent response:

That is easy. It is because feminism is fueled by misandry and a need to present men as the oppressors of women.

In that one pithy sentence, Quiet Riot Girl (should we call her “Dr. Quiet Riot Girl?) manages to encapsulate what I’ve often inarticulately felt since I was a boy growing up in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the meantime, Girlwriteswhat, herself a sharply intellectual critic of the Patriarchy Theory of female oppression, appears to have gotten herself a new fan club. Complete with bloodied pictures of her face, attacks on her boyfriend, and abusive distortions.

You know, there’s nothing some people hate more than a woman speaking her mind. Funny how often that turns out to be people who call themselves “feminists.”

I think the old guard feminists are mostly aging Baby Boomers with foolish assumptions who are not used to having their prejudices challenged, but a new generation of women who don’t accept all their doctrines as dogma is starting to slowly appear–and to speak out because they know the men in their lives love them, and they love them back, and that the “Patriarchy Theory” of women as oppressed and men as oppressors isn’t just oversimplified, it’s blatantly insulting to many of the women, and men, of history.

The funny part is I think it’s going to have to be women to do the heavy lifting on changing these attitudes. Men who complain about it are dismissed as whiners, losers, and more. We’re going to need women to speak up if anything’s really going to change.

(This item cross-posted to The Moderate Voice.)

*Update*: Quiet Riot Girl responds with more on the often ruthless attacks on women who dare to dissent.

Musings On The “F” Word

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” –Rebecca West

I have long been alternately amused and irritated by that famous quote. Why? Because I find myself relating to it in divided fashion:

For my part, I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is either. But I do know that people call me anti-feminist, or a misogynist, whenever I question the logic of some self-proclaimed feminists–or express sentiments that differentiate me, as a man, from a doormat.

I began ruminating on this a few days ago upon reading an essay by the (thoughtful, rational, and decent) Willow Wilson entitled How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Feminists. There’s not a thing wrong with that essay, and I highly recommend reading it. Were I to give it a shorthand summary it amounts to, “Angry feminists may sometimes be over the top but there are some real evils in the world and they often serve a necessary function to combat that evil.” OK. I can dig it. (But seriously, read it yourself.)

On the other hand, I’ll be 46 this year, and if I’ve done my math right that means I’m about 16 years older than Willow. That doesn’t give me any special authority or make her viewpoint any less valid—indeed, I’m often wearied by Baby Boomers who obnoxiously tell me my own youth compared to them means I “just don’t understand” certain things that I think I understand very well, thank you very much. But it does mean I remember things she would never have experienced: how men, especially those of us who were boys in the 1970s and 1980s, were often castigated by self-proclaimed feminists for things we didn’t do and had no part of. Or how frequently normal boyish behavior was deemed wrong or evil–and by that I do not even mean things sexual, I mean guy stuff like enjoying professional wrestling, heavy metal music, tinkering with engines or electronics or computers instead of being concerned about the latest emotional goings-on around us, or not being very tidy.

A favorite cliche I remember from my youth that I daresay most men my age will remember: “you’re only messy because you were brought up to have your mother clean up for you and now you expect women to do it for you!” Um, no. First off, she didn’t clean up after me much. My stepfather was the neat freak. Second off, I’m just not a very tidy person thank you very much. I will consistently put up with a greater degree of household messiness than most women, and the proof has been that whenever I’ve lived with a woman who’s gone “on strike” and refused to “clean up after me,” I have obliviously gone on without even noticing. On the other hand, whenever I’m asked to clean something, I simply do so without (much) complaint, because my very male brain says “the female needs this cleaned, thus, I will clean it and she will be happy.” (Note to self: make sure to explore in a later essay just how automatically and unthinkingly most American men will do anything a woman asks just because she asked.)

I remember how frequently we were accused of attitudes we really didn’t think we had. How often we might get accused of misogyny or sexism for just uttering a thought or sentiment that was not deemed Politically Correct by many self-proclaimed feminists–Political Correctness itself being (in part) an invention of self-proclaimed feminists. Or how often we were subjected to double-standards of behavior by women in our age group, who simultaneously demanded utter equality when it suited them, but deference and chivalry when it was convenient. Or how often we experienced–and still experience!–gender discrimination in the workplace today.

I work in a field where women are given preferential hiring status, and fast-tracked for promotion because they are women. I don’t necessarily object to it–in fact I tend to prefer working for female managers over male ones–but I do note that this is a systemic bias that no one seems to care about. And that such systemic biases are common in today’s work world. Discrimination against men, either overt or subtle, is so innate to this culture that it’s either completely invisible to most people until you point it out, or, it’s often considered laudable. Indeed, in many fields, women make considerably more than men the same age do, often even when they work fewer hours. Instead of wondering if that isn’t evidence of at least some level of systemic bias against males, the usual take on that is to laud it as a great achievement.

And if feminism is supposed to be about equality for women in a world that oppresses them, what are we to make of the following facts–all of which I’ll be happy to verify with references if anyone really needs me to–which are all going on right now in modern-day America, circa 2012?

* The vast majority of High School dropouts are male.
* Fewer men now go to college than women, and are far more likely to drop out if they do go.
* Women are now by far the majority of college graduates, a trend that’s been increasing for years.
* Men are significantly more likely to be the victims of violent assault in their lifetimes than women.
* Men are the majority of the nation’s homicide victims.
* Men are as likely to be assaulted by intimate partners as women are, but are less likely to report it and more likely to be laughed at or accused of wrongdoing if they do.
* The vast majority of prison inmates are men.
* The vast majority of alcoholics and drug addicts are men.
* The overwhelming majority of the long-term homeless population is male.
* The overwhelming majority of victims of work-related injuries are male.
* The overwhelming majority of work-related deaths are male.
* The overwhelming majority of successful suicide attempts are male.

Anyone who has a son, or a brother, or a father whom she loves should find those facts sobering.

And by comparison, while we as a nation are preoccupied with the problem of “Violence Against Women,” as Patricia Pearson noted in her classic book When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, “Women commit the majority of child homicides in the United States; more than 80 percent of neonaticides; an equal or greater share of severe physical child abuse; an equal rate of spousal assault; about a quarter of child sexual molestations; and a large proportion of elder abuse… The rate at which infants are murdered by women in the U.S. is higher than the rate at which women are murdered by men.” Those facts remain fundamentally unchanged, except for the fact that the (reported) rate of female-on-male violence has been on a steady rise for about 20 years. For her audacity in noticing things like this, Patricia Pearson wasn’t hailed by feminist political groups as a gender-role-busting warrior for equality, for giving women agency by holding them accountable for their actions, but instead was either ignored or attacked by much of the politically-active feminist community. (And if you don’t believe me, ask her.)

A good counterbalance to Willow’s essay, I think, is by the remarkable “Girl Writes What,” a blogger I recently stumbled upon whose work thrills me. She’s a bit over 40 so she remembers some of these things I’ve talking about very well, and can still see how some of it remains active in modern America. She’s by no means a conservative or a right-winger, but she’s still got beefs with modern feminism. To quote part of her Manifesto on Female Agency and Equality:

Under extremist modern feminism, there can be no female autonomy or agency because though we have freedom and opportunity, there is no corresponding expectation of self-sufficiency, accountability, or responsibility placed on women. And there can be no male autonomy or agency, because for men there is only self-sufficiency, accountability and responsibility, while freedom and opportunity is becoming a thing of the past.

If chivalry infantilized women, feminism does the exact same thing. Only instead of running to tell daddy/Sir Galahad about all those horrible brutes who are so very mean to us, we’re supposed to run to daddy government.

But I have news for modern feminism. Some of us just aren’t that interested in feeling like victims. Being victimized is something that happens to people, and is often completely outside our control. But we DO have a choice as to whether we see ourselves as victims, and choose to live our lives as victims, or not. Modern feminism wants me to feel like a default victim. And I am NOT a victim. Victims are passive. Victims are acted upon. Victims lack agency. That’s not the way I will ever choose to view myself, and it saddens me that so many women have been convinced to see themselves this way.

But I suggest reading the whole thing.

I heartily recommend reading her other blog essays. If you like having your preconceptions challenged, you’ll get plenty of that there.

Now one of the problems with Girl Writes What’s writings is her use of the term “feminism.” She offends some people when she uses it, because she writes about it critically. It points to the same problem in reverse with Willow’s article, or really, almost any article I’ve ever read or discussion I’ve ever had with anyone about feminism: nobody can tell you precisely what they mean by it. This leaves a lot of people in a whiplash condition. There are perfectly decent people who don’t hate women and want women to be free to live their lives as they wish who still say they are anti-feminist. But there are others who say, “If you respect women and want women to be free to live their lives as they wish, that makes you a feminist!” Then there will be those who read Girl Writes What, who is critical of feminism, who say “wait a minute, I’m a feminist and I don’t think those things she accuses feminists of!” And they get their feelings hurt.

To close this out where I began: I have never been able to figure out what feminism is, because it appears that no one can agree on what it is, let alone whether or not it is a good thing. If you can’t even agree on what a word means, you will usually get into tailchasing exercises where both parties argue fiercely with each other when it turns out they’re arguing as much or more about what that one word means than they are about the actual issues involved.

So me? I just won’t use the word “feminist” if I can avoid it. It’s a distraction: like the word “socialist,” in the modern English lexicon it has come to mean anything the speaker wants it to mean at the moment they say it, subject to revision at any given moment if their opinions change. I won’t even play with words like that anymore. If you want to even discuss feminism with me, I first ask that you tell me exactly what you mean by that word, and once you do we can discuss that. Hopefully in a mutually respectful way. Otherwise, frankly, I would rather use less emotionally charged terms like “gender equity” or “gender fairness” or “women’s issues” and “men’s issues” or, really, anything other than the damned “f” word that not only makes people angry, self-righteous, confused, or otherwise in a state that makes clear communication impossible.

What do I actually think about men and women? I think men are biologically, psychologically, spiritually, and pragmatically different from women, and vice-versa, although men and women have more in common than not, and no gender label perfectly describes anybody. I think neither men nor women are innately superior as human beings by dint of gender. I think that everybody should have a chance to do whatever they want with their lives, regardless of their sex, so long as they actually have that capability. I think that as much as possible, women and men should be treated equally under the law except in those rare areas where that’s impossible, and in those cases we should strive to make it as equitable as we can. Special treatment should always be avoided wherever possible.

There are those who would call all of that feminism. There are those who would call it the radical opposite of feminism. There are those who’d call it liberal. There are those who’d call it right-wing. And you know what? That’s why I eschew labels when I can. Because what do I call all of that? I call it “what I think.” And I’m open to hearing what you think, so long as you can avoid calling me names or making nasty allegations about my character or motives.

Peace out. ;-)

(This item cross-posted to The Moderate Voice.)

The Real War On Women

There is a war on women going on, it’s been going on a long time, and it’s in the Middle East.

Although there’s room to believe there’s some occasional exaggeration–in many traditionalist cultures, women have far more power in the household than is shown to the outside world–there can be no doubt that in the public sphere and at least sometimes in the private sphere it’s a horror show. And for all the good being done during the “Arab Spring,” some ugliness is coming out that needs to be observed, acknowledged, and talked about, so that those taking power or finding their voices in the Middle East do not get to silence other important voices. Mona Eltahawy has a riveting look in Why Do They Hate Us? The Real War On Women Is In The Middle East.

Riveting and sickening. Read the whole thing.

(This item cross-posted to The Moderate Voice.)