Thursday, 22 December 2011

Been busy...

Doing this:

And a few other videos, you can check them out here.

I've also started writing for A Voice For Men, thanks to John the Other's enthusiasm.

My first article there is here, and my second here, for any of you who haven't heard or had a look yet.

Other than that, I've been pounding the mall pavement, stockpiling goodies to go under the tree, and trying to schedule all the required holiday visits with family in. Also, a lot of drinking, to try to stay sane.

For the near future, I'll be doing an interview after the holidays with Stephen Molyneux of Freedomainradio, a philosophy webshow. And after that, who the hell knows? 

In between all that, I'll be posting here now and then, and kicking up my usual fuss on reddit, but if I don't get another chance between now and Santa Day, Merry Christmas to all of you, and thanks for your support. 

Hugs, all. :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Coming Out

I've said more than once that the men's movement needs more female voices if it's going to achieve any sort of mainstream status, voices like Barbara Kay, Erin Pizzey and Christina Hoff Sommers, but for the longest time I've been reluctant to add my own voice in a meaningful way. Anonymity is comfortable. It feels safe.

But words on a blog and on men's forums are too easy to dismiss, especially if there's no face behind them. Part of my credibility derives from the fact that I'm a woman, but like the old man in a chat room pretending to be a teenage girl, when I choose not to show my face, it becomes very easy for people to doubt my identity, and in doing that, dismiss my words.

So. After a great deal of weighing the pros, I've decided to come out. I am girlwriteswhat.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Gender girlie men allowed!

I've often described myself as a little gender-queer. Though I very definitely identify as a woman, I'm a masculine one, for sure, and those masculine qualities are part of both my social "uniform"--boy's haircut, little to no make-up, serviceable shoes, jeans and wife-beaters, zero jewelry, trimmed fingernails--and my ability to relate to the male viewpoint on many issues. I have a preference for male company, not because I dislike women, but because they often behave in ways that lie outside my scope of internal experience. I frequently find myself quietly bemused among them, unable to find common ground.

And I can get away with this, enjoy the respect of my male and female coworkers and bosses, and I have never had any trouble finding heterosexual sex partners. The same cannot be said for men.

For men, gender is much more severely enforced. It is enforced by women, in their choice of sexual partners (though I know there is a small subset of women who are attracted to emo-boys and androgynes, and "fag-hags" have existed since long before Oscar Wilde). It is also rigidly and often brutally enforced by other men, as Bill Burr so beautifully and succinctly explores in this bit of stand-up.

Displays of weakness are either ridiculed by friends looking to hold their buddies to a standard of masculinity, or exploited by enemies looking to prove their own masculinity by kicking your ass. And the indoctrination as to what is manly starts in the cradle. I've read some material (though I don't have the studies to hand) that demonstrate that, although boy babies are more likely to be fussy, parents are more quick to console or attend to a girl baby. So men's socialization with respect to becoming physically self-sufficient, emotionally self-contained, and sturdy enough to "tough it out" on their own begins in infancy. Moreover, the socialization that begins through peer groups after infancy steers boys toward risk-taking behaviors, pain-tolerance, competition, projection of strength, and a serious reluctance to ask for help.

Over the last year, I developed an online friendship with a fellow Canadian who's been living and working abroad. We bonded over our bisexuality and our openness to new sexual experiences, and the emotional fall-out that can happen when what was billed as a casual, no-strings-attached encounter becomes complicated by unexpected emotion, manipulation or dishonesty. He's hoping that when he returns to Canada, we'll be able to hang out a little. According to him, I am the only person here to whom he feels comfortable speaking about his sexual adventures and experiences abroad, and he's told me more than once that his friends--"dudes" one and all--would NOT understand any of the things he's felt or done over the last few years. He lives in fear that they'll discover it, or sense it somehow, and punish him accordingly.

And while I find his fears saddening, I know they're justifiable. He told me once it would be easier if he were gay--that if that were the case, there would be a clear line that would distinguish what he is as an issue of sexual orientation rather than one of gender. We still live in a predominantly monosexual, either/or culture, especially with respect to men. While me dallying with the occasional woman does not make me any less of a woman, him experimenting with male/male sexuality--even in the context of three-way sex involving a woman--calls his status as a man into question. It may be acceptable for a man to go with men, but such activity renders him entirely unworthy of playing the man to a woman in the eyes of society.

It's the same way with displays of weakness and emotionality, needing help, being victims, crying, or anything else commonly associated as "female". As much as feminists and "new-age" women insist they'd like men to do more of these things, what they say they want from men, and what leads them to choose a sexual partner (whether long term or for a one-off) are often two completely different things. I can't even imagine the level of frustration involved in being repeatedly "friend-zoned" for embodying all the politically correct attributes that women have been saying, for the last god knows how long, that they desire in a man.

Which brings me to the "why" behind all of this--behind my freedom (both socially and sexually) to express my slightly bent gender orientation and not be penalized for it by being considered "not a woman", while men who do the same are considered "not men".

Most of the feminists I've come across have concluded that this penalization of "girlie men" originates in the relative positions of men and women, and societal views of "maleness" as intrinsically superior or preferable to "femaleness". That women have always been considered "less than" men.

But you know what? I actually believe it's the exact opposite.

I mean, let's look at society as an employer. The employer wants all its employees to be useful and valuable, otherwise, there's no point in paying them. And what does our employer need in order to perpetuate itself and grow? It needs strong backs to do the work of making things happen, and it needs people whose job it is to provide more strong backs to replace the ones that wear out or retire.

Women provide those strong backs by bearing children. This is their primary role, because it's an important one and who the hell else is going to do it? Because this role is so important, and because women's ability to effectively do this job requires safety, support and assistance, women are often pigeonholed into a position where those needs can be efficiently and consistently met. They are "warehoused" in safe little cubicles, and not permitted to engage in work that could put them at serious risk of not being able to perform their primary function. Instead, they are relegated to safe, relatively easy tasks in between their periodic larger, more important projects.

The attributes that are most valuable in a female employee are a willingness to take direction, an ability to make their individual needs known so they can be met, and the physical characteristics considered most helpful in performing that primary function many times over.

What role does that leave for men? It leaves them the job of being the strong backs. They do the heavy lifting, they tinker with the high voltage wiring that services the office complex, they go out into the dangerous world and return with provisions and office supplies.

While men are necessary as project contributors to assist in the primary function of the female employees, when it comes to this particular contribution, one man can do the work of many, if need be. Since there are always going to be men employed by the company, those men vary in their capacity to be useful to the company, and men pass on their attributes to the new strong backs they help to provide, it is in the company's best interest that only the most valuable men perform this particular function. It is of no value to the company if a man who is a slacker or otherwise unfit is allowed to contribute in this way, since the new backs he helps provide will not be as strong as others. And it is in the women's best interest, to be selective in choosing their project partners, since women's value to the company improves if the new strong backs they provide are exceptionally strong.

Can women fill those primary "male" jobs? Of course they can. And they have, at points all through history, where and when it's been necessary. While performing these tasks may put them at risk (which is to be avoided, if possible), and often puts a double burden on them in that they may be expected to do the work of two people, it's entirely possible for them to do it and still be of value to the company.

A woman can provide more strong backs while doing some of the heavy lifting and some of the more risky jobs, when that is required. And a woman can also fill her primary female job just by lying around doing not much at all. Even if she does next to nothing else, if she is performing, or potentially can perform, that function for her employer, she has value. She likely won't be paid that much if she's not being productive in other ways, but she's still entitled to a salary if she does her primary duty, or a retainer if she has the potential to do so. If she can't perform this primary duty, there are other tasks she can perform that have value, either in the male department or in the female one, and there's still the off chance of her managing to provide at least one future strong back. That primary function is SO important, that the company has policies in place to provide pensions for its female hirees, even if they've been unproductive in any way.

Can a man fill that single, primarily "female" job? Well, no. No he can't. Like not at all. His entire value to the company is in his ability to perform the more difficult, risky, strenuous jobs so that women can enjoy light duty while they contribute in more important ways. To perform these jobs, he requires certain attributes--physical strength, sanguinity in the face of danger, a willingness to take risks, a sense of putting others before himself, and a drive to perform. The more of these attributes he has, the more valuable he is to the company. The fewer he has, the more likely he is to get fired. He won't be placed on retainer or earn a pension if it looks like the company can't use him for anything, because if the company does that, he'll only be a burden on their payroll.

Men have to earn their value to the company. They can't earn their value through being good at secondary female tasks--there are tons of females in the company, and they can perform those secondary tasks while also performing their primary one. He's not going to get hired to do half a job, and he's not qualified to do the entire thing. The only role he can fill, while retaining enough individual value to the company to remain on the payroll, is the male role.

So in my opinion, men suffer more strict enforcement of their gender roles not because they are considered more valuable than, or preferable to, women, or because women are considered less than men. It is because women are and always have been more valuable, on an individual and inherent basis, to the company than men are. A woman retained that inherent value no matter how useful she was, because women as a group were considered so valuable that it was in the company's interest to keep the entire group on the payroll. A woman who could step outside her assigned duties and perform other ones when need be--that is, a woman who sometimes behaved like a man--was, to a point, more valuable to the company for her ability to do so. She was Woman Plus. She could do her job that only she could do, and then some. Conversely, she was Man Plus. She could do a man's job, and then some. She can be the strong back and the provider of strong backs, the most versatile and valuable employee there is.

Men, on the other hand, had to provide value in order to maintain their employment. Their value to the company lay in performing specific tasks so that females wouldn't have to, and in being valued project contributors who had to earn their entitlement to work with females in this way. Men who did not act "like men" were Less Than Men. Likewise, they were Less Than Women. They were incapable of doing a complete job either way, so there was no added value in them demonstrating female characteristics without having a womb to go along with it.

And at that point, the company, for the sake of its own solvency, would either vigorously "retrain" them, or give them their pink slips. It is not that maleness is "better than" femaleness. It is that maleness has always been extremely limited in its useful and productive permutations, while femaleness is simply less so. The essential feminine can only be added to and gain value, while the essential masculine can only be subtracted from and lose it.

Many women have been able to completely abandon their essential feminine--their primary function--and still retain status as whole human beings with value to society, but men simply cannot do the same. When they abandon masculinity, they throw away all that makes their lives worthwhile to anyone but themselves.

Is it possible to change this? Perhaps. The same social, biological and economic progress that has allowed women to set aside their essential feminine and still retain some value to our evolving society should certainly work the same way for men. There are more roles available to everyone--meaningful ones--now that the old "primary" roles are becoming less important to the "corporation", and men are a part of that "everyone". But as long as women are not willing to fully embody these new roles, they're going to want to hold men to their old ones. And the dynamic, all through history, has been about men putting women--their safety, provision and comfort--before themselves. Because of this, the ride to true liberation for men from their gender roles is gonna be a hell of a lot more bumpy than the one for women has been.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The violence of the oppressed... not the same as the violence of the oppressor.

This phrase conjures images such as the slave revolt that liberated Haiti, the Storming of the Bastille that set off the French Revolution, or of rugged, battle-hardened Mujahideen soldiers harrying the Soviet occupation force in 1980s Afghanistan.

Or...well, if you were a radical feminist, it might conjure images of Lorena Bobbitt, Catherine Kieu Becker, and any number of women who've enacted horrific, sometimes sexual, violence upon men.

This philosophy--that the violence of the oppressed is not the same as the violence of the oppressor--is what led to feminist suppression and dismissal of the almost 300 studies on domestic violence published since the early 80s, studies that demonstrate women are as aggressive, if not more aggressive, in their relationships as men are. It is the philosophy that causes feminists to emphasize the importance of "context" (something many of those almost 300 studies explicitly address), and then twist those contextualizations completely out of shape. It is what led women's advocates to conclude that the mandatory arrest policies enacted in the 1980s had resulted in "victims" being arrested alongside or even in place of their abusers when arrests of women in California rose by 446% and men's by just 37%, and to enact predominant aggressor policies to remedy this "problem".

It is what leads them to assign empirically groundless motivations to female abusers that fall in line with "men's and women's relative positions in society", and therefore characterize husband-battering as a "reaching upward" for empowerment, rather than a "stomping downward" act of anger, jealousy, domination, and, yes, oppression. It is what allows ordinary people and feminists alike to consider women's violence against men not only understandable but a justified and even admirable resistance to "patriarchal norms", while male violence against women has become even more universally condemned than it has always been.

It is what leads the general public to conclude, against all the glaring, neon-colored, sequin-and-road-flare-festooned evidence to the contrary--PSA ad campaigns, VAWA, mandatory arrest policies, crisis lines, battered women's shelters, easily obtained restraining orders, primary aggressor policies, Joe Biden, rape shield protections, campus sexual assault committees, billions of taxpayer dollars' worth of funding, sporadic vigilante harassment, shootings and beatings, and lessons every boy learns from toddlerhood that "it is NEVER okay to hit a girl"--that society does not take violence against women seriously enough. 

That's right. In a world where female on male domestic violence is fodder for hilarity on Bugs Bunny cartoons, where FGM is abhorred and legally banned while infant male circumcision evokes shrugs of indifference, where hitting a woman back can land a man in the hospital while an hours-long public assault on a man by a woman is no big deal to passers by, it is violence against women we do not take seriously enough.

When the simple fact that this could be our collective perception in the face of the billions of dollars we spend on the problem, the millions of words' worth of legislation we've enacted to address it, and the thousands upon thousands of hours of media time devoted to it...all this tells me is that society, on the whole, takes violence against women SO seriously it will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

And why? I mean, it's not as if society hasn't always taken this issue seriously--men used to fight to the death over women who'd been harmed, leap in front of bullets to protect them, and even married women have almost always had some form of legal recourse against battering husbands. The protection of women from physical and sexual harm has always been in society's best interest, because women are inherently and individually important to the functioning of society. But now? It's as if we've all collectively gone nuts in our drive to protect women, to the point where we will happily recast female batterers as victims, jail the men they've assaulted, and cram every instance of violence within a relationship into a narrative of dominant, angry, controlling man and victimized, cowed woman--even when it's obvious that the roles are the exact inverse.

Because a single instance of violence by an "oppressor", no matter how mild or or how justified, is horrible enough to overshadow a thousand such offenses on the part of a member of an "oppressed class". If women are believed to be, or to have been, an oppressed class, and beneath men in society, then female violence against men is a righteous uprising, while male violence can be cast as all that is ugly and evil in a tyrant, the boot-heel of oppression.

This is how feminism has taken our already healthy desire--whether innate or socialized or a little of both--to protect women from violence, and turned it into a steroid-enhanced, mutant, logic-defying impulse to not only protect women from harm, but to take as many men down, innocent or guilty, as we can, even if in doing so we put children at risk. Because if women are and have always been an oppressed class, their violence against their oppressors isn't abhorrent. Every penis severed and shoved down a disposal is a metaphorical triumph against tyranny and oppression.

It is this philosophy that allowed an audience of women to laugh and gloat over the barbaric castration of a man who'd committed the dire offense of asking his wife for a divorce, and to lead many people to speculate, without any other details, that she was probably a battered woman. It is what led women all over North America to view Catherine Becker's atrocity as not just excusable, but "quite fabulous", because even though all we knew (or now know) about Mr. Becker is that he was a man, any man, every man, well, you know how men know he had to have done something to deserve it.

This philosophy is what leads many feminists--from academics to manboobz--to characterize MRAs' attempts to bring domestic and sexual violence against males into the public eye (and the governments' budgets) as "zero-sum thinking", anti-feminist, misogynistic, and an agenda to dismantle existing protections for women. It is this view of oppressor (male) and oppressed (female) that views any outreach toward assisting male victims of female violence as a threat to women that borders on violence itself, a heartless revictimization of an "oppressed class".

And none of it...I mean, none of it, is based on reality. The reality is, women's and men's relative positions in society, throughout history, have always been balanced. Were they equal? Not by a long shot. Were they equitable? Absolutely. And the oppression feminists insist was a one-way street in patriarchal societies, well, this just isn't the way it was. Women were elevated above men in many respects--most notably in the motivation of society to protect them from harm.

And before anyone goes off on some bullshit diatribe concerning benevolent sexism and how women were protected because you protected what you owned, or because they were seen as children, or because the were useful to men as sexual objects, or because they weren't considered full human beings and they had no power in society relative to men, I will direct you to Exhibit A.

The White Feather Girls didn't entice men to enlist with a promise of sex or favor. Those young women went in for the kill, striking men at the very heart of their masculine identities, the bestowing of a feather telling them, "If you don't go off to be maimed or die, you are no longer a man in the eyes of some brassy chit you've never even met before and will probably never see again." And many men went, because a woman's censure--ANY woman's censure--had the power to drive them straight into the teeth of death.

Many feminists will attempt to tell you that Patriarchy (or men, depending on who you talk to) constructed femininity in such a way as to benefit men, thus Othering women. But masculinity and femininity evolved together, so that each would benefit the other, and women had, and still have, a strong hand in shaping what is socially acceptable in men and what is not.

That skillet-wielding Victorian harpy chasing her husband out the door and off to work with shrieks of "lazy, good for nothing layabout!" was wielding the "Hulk SMASH!!!" version of a power all women had, have always had, and still have, over men.

That feminism managed to convince the world that the oppression of patriarchal societies placed women at the bottom in every single facet of life (even areas where they were elevated), in a position where they were utterly powerless and incapable of inflicting oppression, or where their only avenue to power and agency was through their usefulness as brood mares, domestic slaves and receptacles for male ejaculate, while men alone had the power necessary to oppress anyone, is a feat of sociopolitical chicanery worthy of Charles Ponzi.

And until western societies open their eyes and start seeing reality, instead of continuing to believe what they are told, we will continue to see women's violence as what it is not--excusable, justifiable, less harmful, a righteous rebellion against tyranny, and a reaching upward for empowerment--rather than what it actually is.

And until we, as a society, come to terms with this divergence between what we have been told to believe, and what is actually real, we will continue to enable, excuse and even reward female violence, and sweep all those inconvenient male victims who challenge our ideas of what society actually looks like, under the carpet where we don't have to see them, or worse, recast them as abusers themselves--a whole underclass of people whose crime was bruising women's knuckles with their faces.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Can we redefine the terms, please?

And I don't mean changing Patriarchy to Kyriarchy, and leaving the ladder of the rest of society relatively unchanged, with males enjoying privilege and women suffering "benevolent sexism".

I mean changing the words with which we examine the complex interaction of society and gender roles, the oligarchical structures depending on us plebes' subservience, etc etc.

Under the feminist treatment, we talk about rights, freedoms and oppression. When we look at gender relations in this way, we get a very "women on the bottom" picture:

  • Men had the right to earn income and own property
  • Women did not generally have a right to earn income or own property. This lack is defined as an oppression.
  • Men had a right to be in authority over women (and children) and money in marriage
  • Women were under men's authority, and were therefore oppressed
  • Men were free to bang floozies all they wanted before (and often during) marriage without social outcry
  • Women had to be virgins until marriage, and faithful within marriage, and were therefore oppressed sexually
  • Men had a right to sex within marriage
  • Women were sexually objectified, therefore oppressed
  • Men had a right to a clean house and dinner on the table
  • Women were seen as domestic slaves
  • Men had freedom of movement
  • Women did not have similar freedom of movement, and were therefore oppressed

But when you redefine the terms a little, and make them about obligations and entitlements rather than rights and oppression...well, when we look at the base unit of society, the family:

  • A man had an obligation to earn income
  • A woman had no such obligation
  • A man had an obligation to provide for his wife and any children of the marriage
  • A woman had an entitlement to a man's financial provision

Wow! Net gain for Team Woman! Let's delve a little deeper, shall we?

  • A man had an obligation (social and legal) to be accountable for provision for his wife and children, and maintaining family finances (if all the money got spent on booze and fast women, he was the one working extra shifts to compensate)
  • A man therefore had an entitlement to authority over his wife, children and marital finances, including property
  • A woman had no such obligation of accountability (if all the money got spent on spa treatments and subscriptions to fashion magazines, her husband was stuck working extra shifts to compensate), therefore, she had no entitlement to authority over finances
  • A woman was thus obligated to defer to her husband in financial and important matters

Huh. You mean when someone is responsible for the financial wellbeing of other people, they're the one who has the say in how the money is spent?

  • A woman had an obligation to provide her husband with children if she could (sex)
  • A man had an obligation to provide his wife with children if he could (sex) 
  • A woman had the (biological) entitlement of knowing that her children were her genetic progeny
  • A man was entitled to have all the sex he wanted before marriage, and to engage in extramarital sex without much social censure
  • A man had no biological entitlement to know that the children of the marriage belonged to him, yet he had a legal obligation to provide for children born into the marriage (whosever they were)
  • A woman therefore had an obligation to remain faithful, so her husband would know he wasn't paying to put the milkman's babies through private school

Um....this actually seems too close to call. Tie game!

  • A man had an entitlement to freedom of movement
  • A woman had an entitlement to the protection of her husband
  • A man had no such entitlement from his wife, but was obligated to die to protect his wife, if necessary
  • A woman had an obligation to abide by her husband's restrictions on her movement, so that his safety would not be needlessly put at risk
  • A woman had an entitlement to share her husband's income
  • A woman had an obligation to perform domestic labor in return for sharing her husband's income
  • A man had an obligation to provide his wife with a living until her death, if he could

So, to recap, in a different way:

  • A man had an entitlement to freedom of movement. He also had an obligation to keep himself safe
  • A man had an entitlement to authority over his wife. He also had an obligation to keep HER safe
  • A man had an entitlement to domestic comfort provided by his wife. He also had an obligation to provide her with food, shelter, clothing, and all other material necessities out of his own paycheck
  • A man had an entitlement to virginity in a bride and fidelity in a wife. He also had an obligation to provide for all children born into the marriage, his or not
  • A man had an entitlement to authority over his children. He also had an obligation to protect those children
  • A man had an entitlement to earn income. He also had an obligation to earn income, whether he married or not
  • A man had an entitlement to control any assets of his marriage, including those his wife brought into the marriage. He also had an obligation to keep the entire family afloat, increase their holdings (if any), and would be held solely socially accountable if he failed
  • A man had an entitlement to be provided with children, if his wife could do so (sex). He also had the obligation to provide for and protect his wife until her death, even if said death occurred long after the children left home, or long after any sexual congress between them ceased, and even if there were no children

Now let's look at how it went for women:

  • A woman had an entitlement to the protection of her husband. She also had an obligation to defer to his authority
  • A woman had an entitlement to be provided for until her death or her husband's. She also had an obligation to provide him with domestic labor, and with children if she could (sex)
  • A woman had an entitlement to share in the social and financial status of her husband. She also had an obligation to hand over any of her own assets into his control
  • A woman had an entitlement to be provided with children (sex) and to provision for those children. She also had an obligation to ensure her children actually belonged to her husband
  • A woman had an entitlement to protection for her children. She also had an obligation to cede authority over those children to her husband
  • A woman was entitled to basic provision (from society or extended family) even if she never married. She had no obligation to earn income
  • A woman was entitled to basic protection (from society or extended family) even if she never married. She had an obligation to abide by societal restrictions with respect to keeping herself from endangering others by endangering herself this point, things aren't really looking that onerous for women, when you consider the entitlements they got in return for their obligations. While feminists have always argued that men "got more", they've never really looked at it in terms of different obligations (most importantly, personal accountability and accountability for others) that were expected of men and women, and different entitlements being derived from those obligations. Women "got less" because their obligations and accountability were less, their responsibility was less. Men "got more" because the buck stopped with them, whether that buck consisted of a sack of coins or his blood.

And this isn't even going into what men owed society. The obligation women owed society consisted of the obligation they owed their husbands--to be wives, mothers, housekeepers, etc, or to be as small a burden on society or family as they could manage. What men owed? Economic output. Military service. Often financial provision for extended family--unmarried or widowed sisters, aging parents, etc, before the days of national pensions, health insurance, 401Ks, income assistance, and unisex office jobs. 

Was it restrictive? For sure! Did history miss out on some serious contributions women might have made if they were not crammed into this very strict, very confined little box? Oh yes. Does this model remotely fit the world we live in now--a world of safe public transit, a social safety net, daycare subsidies, service industry jobs galore, birth control, formula, and a multitude of modern conveniences? Fuck no. Was any of it a cakewalk of privilege for men? I don't fucking think so.

But the impossibility of a different kind of bargain for the majority of women and their children until very recently made it very, very important to society to uphold this system of obligation/entitlement, and uphold it for everyone. The truth is, until the last 100 years or so, most women could not have lived a life of children and public sphere work, independent of a man (and not all can today, realistically). Because of this, men's obligation to provide for women and their children had to be ruthlessly enforced. And the only meaningful way to enforce those obligations in men was to not allow them to become entitlements for women.

And then the nature of work--both in the home and outside of it--changed, feminism descended, and where are we now?

Women have no real obligations--neither to society nor to men. They have no obligation to remain faithful in marriage, no obligation to remain married if they don't want to, no obligation to provide a man with sex or children within marriage, no obligation to bear any children conceived therein, no obligation to become fully self-supporting afterward. No obligation to maintain their children's relationship with their fathers if it becomes inconvenient or annoying.

Only entitlements. The entitlement to share in a husband's social and financial status, and to a share in his income--even after a marriage ends. The entitlement to not have to earn income if she chooses.

And there are NEW entitlements for women that never existed under patriarchy. The entitlement to not be expected to be a virgin on her wedding day. The entitlement to stray without penalty, the entitlement to divorce without penalty, the entitlement to abort a fetus without even informing her husband or partner, the entitlement to child support and alimony, and the entitlement to move with the kids out of state if that's where the new boyfriend wants to live. The entitlement of an unmarried woman to a man's financial support for an illegitimate child (back in the day, that entitlement came with a corresponding obligation of marriage or it didn't come at all). An entitlement to demand her husband help with domestic labor and child care, even if she doesn't work outside the home.

And men?

Still socially obligated to be the primary breadwinner, still socially obligated to share his social and financial status and any assets with his wife, still obligated to share those assets and provide for a woman even after she's no longer his wife, in many jurisdictions still obligated to provide for children DNA testing proves were conceived through his wife's infidelity, still obligated to earn income or be called a deadbeat, and apparently still obligated to provide sex to his wife or he's gonna pay out of pocket.

In the US, he is still obligated to serve in the military if his government sees fit, and still obligated to be self-sufficient or end up in the gutter. He still has a socially enforced obligation to generate more income and economic activity than he requires to meet his basic needs.

And what about what women owe society?

No obligation to serve in the military, no obligation to put more (or even as much) into the economy than she takes out. No obligation to the taxpayer who subsidizes her education as a doctor or lawyer by actually, you know, remaining in the workforce full time over the long haul to help pay back the cost of her training and serve society. No obligation to earn a self-supporting income if she's unable, or can find a man who'll do it for her.

Yet she is still entitled to society's provision (through a multitude of women-targeted income and social assistance programs), and still entitled to society's protection no matter how foolishly she behaves (VAWA, the new sexual assault rules on campus), or how badly she behaves (google any female offender and you'll find criminal accountability for women is at patriarchal levels and not going anywhere).

Women have a "right" to serve in the military (while for men in the US it remains an obligation that hangs over their heads the moment they turn 18), a right to earn income and spend it as they see fit (and then become burdens on the system in their old age), an entitlement to an education whether they're going to do anything with it or not, an entitlement to disproportionate government assistance with their health care needs.

Women now have no obligation to do anything that is not in their own interest. You do what's right for YOU, sister! And yet all of society--including any men they've been more than tangentially involved with--has an obligation to them. An obligation of protection, provision, acceptance and tolerance, no matter how poor women's choices might be, no matter how badly they fuck up, no matter how selfish they are, no matter how much they harm others. The good women and the bad, the productive and the burdensome, all enjoy these entitlements if they so choose. Feminism has done nothing more than free women from any obligation, while simultaneously expanding their tally of entitlements.

And yet feminism seems to have no interest in freeing men from their obligations, does it? Financial abortion for men is pooh-poohed the moment anyone mentions it, even though this option is fully open to women through unilateral abortion, adoption or abandonment. There are giant, free, government agencies whose only purpose is to extract men's (patriarchal) financial obligations to the mother/child unit, while no similar agencies exist to enforce any obligation on the part of women to maintain a father/child relationship. 

200 years ago, we could not grant women an entitlement to earn income without removing the income-earning role as a male obligation--and without that male obligation, perhaps 2% of wealthy, educated women would have found work in a barrister's office, while the other 98% would have been mining coal with babies strapped to their backs. But now? The world has changed just enough to free women from any obligation toward anyone but themselves, while keeping their entitlements virtually untouched and actually increasing them.

And who pays? I mean, entitlements aren't free, right? So who's paying for all this?

Well, all of us. And if these entitlements were equally available to anyone, regardless of their gender, this would be just peachy, wouldn't it? But they aren't. And those to whom none of these patriarchal and more modern entitlements apply are now paying for them through a disproportionate cost of obligation.

The more I look at it, the more I realize women have never had it as bad as feminists believe they did, and no one has EVER had it as good as women in the west do today. They receive left right and center, from society, from government, from men. And the only person they owe any obligation to is themselves. Pretty sweet deal.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Time to Set Down the Tools

There's been some brouhaha recently on my second home, reddit, with respect to the recent creation of a "kinder, gentler" men's rights subreddit (r/masculism) whose stated intention was to build bridges of understanding and find common ground between MRAs and moderate feminists. Team up for equality! Yay!

A few feminists (mostly regular trolls of r/mensrights, but a few well-meaning ones) have already stormed off in a huff, citing the "rabid MRA spittle" of anger that "already permeates" the subreddit, after only being open for business a week or two, and others have retreated to r/egalitarian or r/equality after being forced to hear their beloved feminism maligned.

Some MRAs, on the other hand, accuse some posters and the head moderator of bias, intellectual dishonesty, intentional skullduggery, sock-puppetry, and an agenda of distract/divide/appropriate and thus conquer the MRM.

There have been complaints by MRAs regarding the name of the subreddit, indicating a degree of worry that an "ism" is, sorta by definition, based on ideological and advocacy concerns that don't necessarily conform to equality of rights between men and women. "Will masculism become like feminism, which has arguably become a movement with nothing much left that needs doing, but which doesn't know how to stop advancing women's interests for fun and profit?" Unlike feminism, the MRM's stated goals are right there in its name--and many members look forward to a day when they can declare "mission accomplished" and cease their work. (Personally, considering the state of things now and the natural, cultural and legal obstacles in the way, I'm neither holding my breath nor dreaming of drinking pina coladas on some beach anytime soon.)

I myself did not have high hopes for r/masculism, though it was difficult for me to articulate exactly why. Given that my SO was called on board to help moderate the forum, has had long discussions with its creator, and that he seemed cautiously optimistic about finding some common ground, I was really bothered by my misgivings, especially since it was very difficult for me to determine their exact source. He is...well, much more forgiving of wrongheadedness in others than I am, and has characterized me as antagonistic at times. And while this is certainly true--I can antagonize like whoa and like damn when someone is being obtuse or intellectually dishonest--I don't agree that allowing bullshit to stand is in any way correct or helpful.

My intuition was that I would not be able to participate on the subreddit in any meaningful way without having to don the mantle of "bullshit-caller" constantly, and after perusing some of the posts and participating in the comments, this intuition seems to have been accurate.

But it wasn't until I briefly discussed it with my SO yesterday morning, that I finally pinpointed the source of my doubts. When I mentioned that r/masculism was losing credibility with MRAs, he told me, "Seems to me that what MRAs want from feminists is an apology, and what feminists want is to not have to admit that feminism has fucked up or that they're wrong."

And while I think there is a grain of truth in what he said, I don't believe it's a true or complete picture of the situation. I don't think MRAs want an apology. I don't think they're that petty. What they do want is for feminists to acknowledge their fallibility, that they got it fundamentally wrong right from the start, and that they are continuing to get it wrong.

A quick look at some of the links and comments posted on r/masculism reveals that this is not something feminists seem prepared to do. Many links go to seemingly supportive articles on feminist blogs--blogs with other articles that are altogether different, such as this one, purporting to be supportive of helping male victims of domestic violence, which states:

I wish they had done a fourth ad showing a boy child as a future victim. Men are a minority of victims of intimate violence, but “minority” doesn’t mean “nonexistent.” There are male victims of intimate violence who require assistance, and there seems to be virtually no outreach to abused men. (The Family Place provides assistance to both female and male victims of violence.)
But the best evidence we have indicates that most intimate violence — and in particular, the most severe and harmful cases — are typically cases of men abusing women. Given that context, it’s ridiculous that Glenn objects to the depiction of women suffering from male abusers. It’s notable that Glenn didn’t work to have a new ad added to the campaign, reaching out to male victims of abuse; that’s a goal I could support. Instead, he campaigned to have these adsremoved. Whatever his intent, what Glenn’s demands called for wasn’t inclusion of male victims, but the erasure of female victims and male perpetrators.

...and which decry the efforts of the MRM as "anti-feminist", the tone being that "anti-feminist" is synonymous with being anti-woman, or with tearing down battered women's shelters, or with being against equal rights.

What MRAs want from feminists is an acknowledgement of empirically proven reality, and the above quote falls WAY short of that. What MRAs want from feminists is full concession that feminist interpretations of DV, rape and patriarchy itself are, and always have been, completely wrongheaded.

Yet when I mentioned to one commenter in r/masculism:
The entire feminist line of thought wrt rape being about power rather than sex is analogous to their views on domestic violence as evidenced in VAWA. The entire thing is constructed on the premise that both rape and domestic violence are patriarchal crimes--society-wide patriarchal oppression of women enacted on a microscale.
Both DV and rape (feminist interpretations thereof, I mean) have been held up as supporting evidence for the more general feminist Patriarchy Theory that formed the basis of feminist discourse on gender and power structures, privilege/disadvantage, gendered oppression, etc, and even helped to develop what many call "intellectual tools" for examining those issues (otherwise known as the feminist lens).
If there is mainstream acceptance that rape is NOT primarily about patriarchal power structures or views of women, and DV is NOT patriarchal oppression and violence on a microscale, it serves to discredit the entirety of feminist thought on gender, and on the nature of the tools we must use to examine it.
Feminist academics have a vested interest in dismissing all evidence that their supporting evidence is inaccurate or flawed, which makes their efforts to dismiss, discredit, disregard, manipulate and ignore the mountains of evidence wrt DV being essentially ungendered, very understandable (though no less malfeasant).
When you look at child abuse PSAs, the abuser is almost inevitably male, despite the empirically proven fact that mothers abuse and kill their children at a much higher rate than fathers do. While male child abusers do indeed exist, this mainstreaming of only one side of the problem poisons social perceptions of maleness and leaves women completely unaccountable for their (larger) share of the problem.
This is what we're talking about.
...what I get in response, over and over, is the same tired reasoning that it is "useful to examine" the different gendered motivations men and women have to hit each other, and how cultural views of women inform them--such as a woman who hits may feel like she's standing up for herself, or may not actually be trying to strike fear into a partner. Just more of the same--that men must be hitting for reasons consistent with the patriarchal terrorist paradigm, and that who knows (or cares) why women hit, so long as we can make excuses for them?

The CTS studies on domestic violence point to ungendered motivations for hitting. The only aspect of domestic violence that seems to be gendered to any degree is in the reporting differences between men and women--men are less likely to report being victimized (for a variety of reasons), men are more likely to understate both their own and their partners' perpetration (possibly indicating shame wrt both, or a desire to protect a female partner from consequences), and women are more likely to overstate both their own victimization (heh) and their own perpetration (wowza).

If domestic violence is gendered at all, it is in that as a culture, we teach boys and men that it is always wrong to hit girls and women, and we do not teach girls and women the inverse--in fact, we teach them that hitting boys and men is hunky dory, even funny, and an avenue to empowerment for which they will face no consequences, not even getting hit back. And we teach them that it is never okay for anyone to hit them, ever, for any reason, and if someone does hit them they are being victimized and deserve protection.

Is it any wonder then that woman will happily overstate their own perpetration? With the culture telling them men are fair game for a beating, and the law letting them off the hook for any bad behavior so long as they cry "victim", is it any wonder that they will overstate their victim status?

But no. The feminist paradigm of domestic violence as inherently gendered in its perpetration (wrt both rates and motivations) is entrenched in the hearts and minds of feminists. Men hit women because they view women as "less than". Men hit women more often than the inverse. If women do hit men as often, then men are less harmed by it.


How do you deal with someone like that? How do you find common ground? How do you attempt to do this and reconcile it with any sort of personal integrity or ethical dedication to truth? How do you attempt to find common ground with someone who refuses to set down the faulty tools they've been taught to use when examining what society, and gender's place in it, looks like?

Here's a snippet of conversation I recently had with a feminist man on reddit. His sally:
So what about 'women's lib'? not even 60 years later and I'm supposed to believe that everything[sic] that not only did they already achieve equality but they were the ones actually causing the oppression the entire time?
You have a long history of claiming that, and I can't imagine how you convinced yourself that. Trading protection from work, war, hunger, etc for being a sex object? Seems like a fairly one sided deal, no? Women get all these things and only have to give up one. That would be pretty oppressive if it was women who were forcing men to protect them. Is that what you think is happening? Women are wielding sex as a weapon to get what they want?
Is that because sex is a powerful weapon, or because it's the only agency that traditionally woman has?
My reply:
I've never said that women caused the oppression. Only that they benefited from it and encouraged and enforced it, because the nature of the world up until recently would have rendered the alternative far more oppressive to them.
His response:
Wait, so you actually agree with me that women's power in a 'traditional society' is derived sexually?
my head just exploded.
My riposte:
Women certainly had other forms of agency available to them. Those forms of agency, however, had significant downsides and obstacles.
Listen, monogamy was a model of human interaction that springs from the cave, and could be rendered down to a very simple and powerful exchange:
A man got a shot at fathering children. In return for that shot, he provided resources and protection to his woman and children.
The majority of human behavior--especially, but not exclusively, wrt male/female interactions--can be inevitably reduced to a few primary motivators--individual survival, the ability to successfully pass on one's genes (generation and survival of offspring), and tribalism (bonds of family, community, etc).
For women, sex wasn't the only avenue to agency. It was just the one with the best cost/benefit ratio for most.

And that was pretty much the end of the conversation. He had nothing more to say. In light of our subsequent conversations, he's not convinced, but there was no logical argument with which he could refute my own.

There is no room in his feminist worldview for him--even as a man--to examine the issue from the other side of the gender fence, or through a different lens but that of feminism. For him, a woman was a sex object, and this was the worst thing ever (even if it was her best option at the time and improved her quality of life--not because of men or society, but because she could not realistically bring up children without being dependent on a man's resources).

There was no thought in his mind for where exactly this arrangement left a man, wrt sexual and reproductive agency. How this transaction objectified HIM. While it is sad that 400 years ago a woman's primary value was her ability to provide a man with children, it is equally sad to me that a man's primary value to a woman (and to the perpetuation of society) was his ability to provide a woman (and her children) with resources.

Warren Farrell called it "success objectification", and it is every bit as terrible and restricting and dehumanizing as sexual objectification, and just as much still with us today. If a woman had to sell access to her body in return for a living, then a man had to sell a living for access to a woman's body, didn't he? If either party wanted to procreate, this was the best deal available to each of them, even if it objectively sucked.

And all feminism's talk of historical male agency...well, yeah, I'm willing to concede that on the surface, men had more options--a million different forms of wage slavery (in a coal mine or a foundery or a factory or a forge or a barrister's office or a barracks) to choose from if they wanted a ticket in the genetic lottery. But if they wanted a ticket, they had to pay for it with cash on the table.

It isn't agency if you have to do it. It's only a choice between one form of slavery or another, a choice to either make horseshoes or plough a field all day, instead of writing poetry like you really wanted to, because writing poetry might keep your own belly full, but wouldn't bring you a "marrying wage".

My adversary on the internet is wearing very special glasses, and those glasses only allow him to see certain things from very specific angles. Those things all have to do with how women have always had things awful compared to men. Those glasses make him believe that it was obviously much worse to derive power with respect to the opposite gender through sexuality than through being seen as a walking ATM. He doesn't even see the men who sacrificed their health and their lives, the hours upon hours upon hours of labor when they'd rather have been doing something else, in order to spare their women the need to make those sacrifices themselves.

Those glasses make him believe that even though women initiate violence more than men do in relationships, that women are still more often the victims of violence in relationships because their reasons for hitting are different than men's. They make him believe that poster campaigns like this one and this one are better than nothing, instead of worse than nothing because they are lying to us about the nature of the problem, about the nature of society--both pre and post-feminism--and about the nature of men.

And while many would insist that any help--even wrongheaded help--is better than none, that if a feminist believes men are "the minority" of victims of severe DV still deserve support then we should bring that feminist on just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Because that is not alliance--it's conditional assistance, and it is conditional upon them being allowed to go on believing the same lies as before, and spreading them, and feeding the problem even as they're supposedly trying to solve it. And someone who cannot or will not see truth, who is lying even when he believes he's telling the truth, isn't someone you can trust as far as you can throw him.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Feminism and Gender Enforcement

I know most of you are probably expecting this to be a diatribe about how feminism has vilified and demonized male sexuality, and criticized the aggressive qualities (ambition, achievement, competitiveness, assertiveness) of masculinity that have been so useful to society since the dawn of time.

I mean, it's no secret to those in the know that feminism is all too happy to reinforce, manipulate and even codify the cultural norms surrounding maleness--in domestic violence discourse, policy and law, sexual assault discourse, policy and law, family law, etc.

But what I want to talk about is how feminism has manipulated and enforced other masculine qualities that most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about in any depth with respect to feminism. I mean, if society has been well-served by the men who were ambitious and high-achieving--the scientists, inventors, artists, leaders, etc, who inhabited the upper echelons of social status--well, for every William Shakespeare or Henry V or Sir Isaac Newton, there were a thousand or ten thousand male cogs in the machinery of society, dutifully bending their backs and making the whole thing work, often at the expense of their health, their happiness and their lives.

These men were dutiful, honorable, responsible, self-sacrificing, generous, hard-working, decent, and devoted to those in their care. "Nose to the grindstone", "get 'er done", "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do", "grow up, get a job, do something with your life."

I've often thought that there's not that much difference between a "mangina" and what has always been thought of as a "real man". Both manginas and real men are generous, thoughtful of others (especially women), and put the benefit of others (especially women) before themselves. Manginas have been accused, probably accurately, of behaving this way out of a (mostly vain) hope of being rewarded with pussy. Real men, throughout history, did this because it needed to be done, and because up until very recently, a real man's efforts and sacrifices were worth the rewards he received, even if those rewards only consisted of social acknowledgment and appreciation and the returned devotion of a woman.

A real man will help a woman move her shit, and expect a thank you. A mangina will go way out of his way to ingratiate himself by helping her, and then tolerate being treated like an asshole for it.

And "guys"? When a woman needs to lug her furniture from one apartment to another, "guys" duck her calls and let them go to voice mail. And if she wants a commitment? Forget that shit, he's got his XBox.

The collective feminist gnashing of teeth over this state of affairs has been no less frenzied than that of more traditional arms of society, as they all scratch their heads and wonder whatever happened to real men.

We've gotten so used to men's sense of duty, obligation and responsibility toward women, children and society, that we didn't even know what we had until we realized it was going extinct. And you see the anger and lamentation over men abandoning those roles nowhere more than in what many feminists have to say about "guys".

Guys--or MGTOW--are characterized by feminists and traditionalists alike as irresponsible to the point of repugnance, commitment-phobic, losers, Peter Pans, wasting their lives, and refusing to "grow up". Keep in mind, these men aren't welfare cases. They're self-sufficient, not leeching off their families or society. They don't peel up and down suburban streets at 3 AM waking up babies and kicking over mailboxes, or refuse to pay their taxes. But as Kay Hymowitz once put it, they're free to live in "pig heaven" until women get sick of it and go to a sperm bank.

But think about what this kind of criticism is actually saying about our expectations--even feminists' expectations--of men.

The complaint is not that they're a burden on others or on society, but that they refuse to take on anyone else's burdens. This is a far cry from the very occasional, heavily-qualified criticisms we hear of women--and utter condemnation of men--when they willingly take on a responsibility by, say, having children, and then fail to live up to it. No, this is all about, "You men are not doing what women want, and what women want is to be given what they want."

Women have spent the last 50 to 75 years challenging the roles they used to be stuck in, sort of negotiating and renegotiating with society as to exactly what was acceptable and what was pushing too far too fast. They've cast off their shackles, been free to define themselves as women, and to put personal fulfilment first. Until recently, for men, it's been mostly business as usual--they've worked, achieved, devoted themselves to women and children, and continued to put the good of others before themselves.

And I think women, and society, sort of figured that men would just keep doing it--working, being responsible, being dutiful and honorable, toiling and sacrificing for the betterment of society or the benefit of women, achieving, building, etc... even though a huge number of the benefits men were given in exchange for these efforts and for putting others first have been effectively removed. What used to be a well-compensated bondage is now an entirely onerous form of imprisonment. 

I mean really, how long can you expect a man to continue living up to those expectations when society stops respecting or appreciating them for it, when society only threatens to take away what he's built and what he loves, shoves its hands deeper into his pockets, and constantly tells him he's an idiot, or evil, or unnecessary, or a piece of shit?

A lot of feminist writers have been taking great pains to tell everyone for years about what giant assholes men are and have always been. And even when men do awesome things, like working around the clock digging children out of a collapsed school after a tsunami, it's just another opportunity to remind people how the chaos of the situation puts children at risk from pedophiles (who are always men, of course). When men die saving lives, they're called police officers or firefighters, but when they mow down a bunch of innocent people at a mall, they're gunmen. Hell, even the millions of men whose lives have been callously and brutally thrown away on battlefields through history--even their suffering and tragedy can be appropriated by feminists to prove to everyone who'll listen that women have always had it worse. 

Can anyone blame men for finally starting to say fuck this shit, why try to cram yourself into that mold if you're just going to be called an asshole? Some--PUAs, most notably--are even saying, "Fuck, if I have the name, I might as well have the game."

For the first time in history, men are starting to do what makes them happy, even if it doesn't benefit women or society, hell, even if it pisses women and society off. And EVERYBODY'S freaking out about it.

I'm not gonna lie, it's a tough pill for everyone to swallow, because those characteristics--duty, honor, devotion, self-sacrifice, responsibility--are the very characteristics that societies are largely built on. Without them, it's every human for him/herself, isn't it?

And feminism--which pushed women to live for their own fulfilment, to be true to themselves, to break out of the roles they were stuck in, who insist patriarchal gender norms harm everyone--should be celebrating men's increasing casting-off of their shackles, of men's smashing of patriarchy by eschewing traditional masculinity in favor of smoking pot with their buddies. But they aren't. Because feminism itself has been as dependent on those particular male roles as individual women have been throughout human history.

I mean, the entire feminist movement, and society's reaction to it (swift capitulation), boils down to the interaction of two traditional gender norms, right? Women wanted to be protected, provided for and given the things they want and need. And men have, for the most part, kept doing that, for decades, even as what women say they want and need has changed. Mostly male governments have passed laws and enacted public policy that gave women what they wanted (freedom, protection, provision, support, and opportunity) and individual men have also continued to keep giving women what they say they want and need (freedom, provision, support, understanding, accommodation).

Those are the two patriarchal gender norms that have been at work throughout the entire timeline of the feminist movement--women asking for something, and men doing it or going along with it to make women happy. So I suppose it's been something of a shock to women when men started putting their foot down and saying, "Yeah, I don't think so. Me first now. I got shit of my own to deal with." The men's rights movement has only driven this point home for feminists and women in general, and it's like two gender norms going kablooie all at once--women being indulged in their needs and desires, and men being indulgent of them.

And the most radical feminists? I kind of think of radical feminism itself as a kind of collective shit-test. Sort of a "Are you guys really gonna let us get away with this? Huh, I guess you are... Okay, how about this? We're really talking some shit about you now. You gonna let that stand? Hmmm.... Okay, well, I bet you're not gonna put up with THIS!" 

And the longer people have put up with it and let them get away with it, the higher they've escalated the test. The collective temper tantrum that's begun over men starting to put their foot down--whether it's through activism and advocacy for the equality of men, or through playing XBox and refusing to devote themselves to doing what women want them to--rivals the antics of any three-year-old denied candy in a grocery store check-out line.

And me? Do I want men to cast off those roles they've had throughout history? To be honest, no. Those roles are beneficial to society, and they get shit done that needs to get done. But do I blame men for saying, "Hells, no, I only look out for me now"? Why would they do anything different? There's no individual benefit in men living up to those standards anymore--not even appreciation--only risk, punishment and the reward of being called an asshole no matter what you do. 

Who the fuck needs that?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Woman and Black are Not the Same Thing

The other day, I had someone who identified himself as a feminist man, tell me that he is certain that women are more disadvantaged than men in our society because men hold more positions of power and influence than women.

I told him that when examining patterns of oppression, advantage, disadvantage and privilege, one cannot look only at the top. One must look downward as well (to the needless deaths, the incarcerated, the homeless, the suicides, the impoverished, etc), and frankly, men dominate the numbers there, too. They always have, and their domination of these areas has become even more lopsided relative to women as women break through the glass ceiling without concurrently breaking through the glass basement.

He replied that looking to those in power has always been a good indicator of privilege and oppression, citing apartheid South Africa and Jim Crow America as examples. Whites at the top, therefore whites are privileged. When I asked him if he did indeed feel that the experience of women throughout history was remotely comparable to the experiences of blacks during slavery, he replied "Absolutely."

I was shocked. And a little sick to my stomach. And I began to realize one of the reasons why I've been seeing more and more women of color throw up their hands and disavow mainstream feminism.

Anyone who has read my piece on Patriarchy will know that in my view, patriarchy was not a system of oppression, but a collective strategy for dealing with a world that was very different from what the world looks like now. Differences in biology that go just a little deeper than the color of one's skin, and a history of public sphere labor that more closely resembled the work portrayed on "Dirty Jobs" (only without the machinery) than "The Office" made it essentially impossible throughout most of humanity's time on this planet for women to collectively put their hands to "men's work".

The most effective team strategy humans ever stumbled on for perpetuation of the species, one that has been seen in some form or other throughout most of human history, was the pairing of a resource-gathering unit with a child-caring unit. Given the fact that until very recently, any sexually active woman was, or could have been, pregnant at any given time, that she was the sole member of the team who had the necessary equipment to provide food to a child in its infancy, and that the vast majority of public sphere work was either beyond her physical capabilities or more ably performed by the larger, stronger, faster man, it should really come as no surprise that the vast majority of societies have always arranged themselves this way. It was, up until recently, virtually impossible for men and women to swap roles on the team.

Then the nature of public sphere work began to shift dramatically with the Industrial Revolution, assembly lines, and automation, allowing women entry into jobs outside the home and giving them the tools to be able to compete with men. But even so, it wasn't until women got control over their fertility (the pill) and were provided with realistic options that eliminated their children's physical dependence on them and only them (bottles, formula, disposable diapers, regulated daycare providers), AND the workplace became dominated by service jobs rather than resource ones, that women gained some serious equality in the working world and became 50% of the workforce.

To say that this means men and women are equal is...disingenuous. Women and men are not equal and can never be, because men are still larger and stronger than women, and women are still the ones who gestate and lactate. What it does mean is that both public and private sphere work have changed in such as way as to make the biological differences between the sexes largely irrelevant. A father cannot lactate, but he can bottle-feed a baby as well as any woman can, and so can a daycare provider. A woman could never have been reasonably be expected to cut down trees with a handsaw for a living or harvest grain with a scythe, but she *can* file documents, run an office, diagnose an illness, operate a forklift, drive a taxi, enter data on a computer or work a cash register as ably as any man.

The biological differences between men and women are not even remotely the same as the skin-deep differences between black people and white people. Women's unique gendered disadvantages throughout history can ALL be traced back to those very real and significant biological differences between the sexes. Women were forced into their roles not by men, but by reality. And men's options were, realistically, not much more varied than women's.

The disadvantages blacks faced under slavery, and the ones they still struggle to overcome even now? Those disadvantages owed to nothing more than the color of their skin, and what that signified with respect to their status as persons to those in power. How on earth can the two be considered even remotely comparable?

Moreover, when we examine oppression with respect to men and women and their relative places in society through history, we see men at the top and men at the bottom. If we looked only at the top, as feminists have been, and are still, wont to do, we could say men were the privileged class and women oppressed. But if we look only at the bottom, and the expectations and obligations required of men that were not required of women, we could just as accurately and justifiably say that women were the privileged class and men the oppressed.

While there were downsides to being a woman, there were upsides to being one as well.

  • She might have less freedom of movement, but she had a greater expectation of safety and protection than a man did.
  • She might not be able to own property, but she had an often legally codified entitlement to financial support from men.
  • She might not be able to work outside the home, but at the same time, she wasn't expected to risk life, health and limb earning money.
  • She may have been "stuck" at home with the kids, but she wasn't "stuck" for 12 hours a day in a coal mine, either.
  • She may have been under her husband's authority, but if she committed a crime, she wouldn't be held fully accountable for her actions.
  • The upper echelons of power and influence were mostly (not completely) barred to her, but she couldn't be ordered against her will to die for her country, either.
When we examine the pattern of oppression, disadvantage and privilege with respect to black people and white people during slavery, things are rather and white. You looked up, and you saw all whites. You looked down to the very bottom and you saw mostly blacks. And things still very much look that way even now--the higher up you go in the strata of society, the whiter things look. And blacks still disproportionately dominate the areas of greatest disenfranchisement--the poor, the incarcerated, the uneducated. All based on a difference that is no more relevant than eye color or the size of one's nose.

And what, pray tell, were the "upsides" to being black in America during slavery? Can anyone here name a single white slave owner who ever died to save the lives of his black slaves? Who ever gave up a space in a lifeboat to his black slave and chose himself to go down with a ship? Who ever stood with a rifle between his black slaves and an enemy to defend their lives, rather than his right to own them?

Can anyone even imagine a white slave owner working 16 hours in a field while his black slaves stayed inside and kept his house tidy, then coming home and sharing the fruits of his labors with his black slaves?

Did a black woman who was the sexual partner of a white man have any expectation of respect, lifelong provision or shelter, or of sharing the benefits of his quality of life and his social status? Or was she just an object of the moment, free to be used and cast aside at will? Did a black man who was obligated to obey his owner's wife have any legal right or recourse when she turned around and pointed a finger and claimed he raped her? Or was he swinging from a tree within hours?

Can anyone imagine a reality where a white slave owner would perform physically gruelling or dangerous work his black slave was incapable of? Or would he simply set more slaves to the task, or work his slave to his death, or discard his used-up slave and buy a better one? If women were truly oppressed by men, would they have been spared the most onerous and dangerous work because they were less physically capable of it, or would men have simply assigned more women to the task?

Can anyone here name a single black person, man or woman, who rose to a state-sanctioned position of serious political power during slavery? Off the top of my head, I can name a fuck-ton of women who have been heads of state, going as far back as Ancient Egypt. The greatest and most notable black leaders emerging from Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa rose to influence by opposing the government, not being elected to it, because they had no avenue to power within a system that oppressed them.

Women have always been less likely to be punished than men for the crimes they commit, and less severely punished. When, under slavery or Jim Crow laws, did black people enjoy this advantage? While women historically had to defer to men, in return for this disadvantage they have always been held less accountable for their actions. Black slaves, on the other hand, were under the total authority of their owners, and could be (and often were) brutally punished or executed--without trial--for crimes not their own.

Even now in these "enlightened" times, blacks are not only more likely to be convicted of crimes than whites, but their sentences are disproportionately long compared to whites. At the same time, while women no longer have to defer to men in any aspect of life in the west, they are STILL not held as accountable for their crimes as men are.

While a woman had less freedom of movement than a man, she had a socially and legally enforced expectation of safety and protection from the harshness of the world. Black slaves, on the other hand, had NO freedom of movement, and no right to any expectation of protection from those in authority over them, or from greater society.

Women had no money of "their own" (once they were married, anyway), but the most difficult, dirty, nasty, smelly, dangerous, physically arduous jobs (other than childbirth) belonged to someone else. And slaves? Do I really need to outline how it was downside all around for them in this area too?

When one wishes to identify groups which oppress and those which are oppressed, one simply cannot look only at the top of society and draw all your conclusions from who occupies those positions. In order to be oppressors, a group doesn't just have to occupy positions of power, but they have to, you know, do some oppressing. And while the biological differences between men and women could be said to be oppressive to both parties with respect to the expectations, obligations, choices, freedoms and rights afforded to each group, the oppressor responsible for patriarchy was not men, but nature.

The nature of human sex differences and the nature of the world we lived in, wherein some choices were simply not realistically open to either gender. Roles were rigidly enforced because rigid enforcement was beneficial to the stability of society. Was a man "oppressed" by women because his inability to lactate forced him into the role of provider rather than a possibly preferred role of nurturer? How then can we characterize a woman as oppressed by men because her inability to control her fertility and the limitations of her physical size and strength kept her from earning her own money working in a foundery?

The only quantifiable, material, functional and practical difference between black people and white people? Skin color. That's it. And yet it is black people, who won the right to vote before women did, who are facing a more difficult and arduous struggle for equality with whites than the women who have breezed to equal, near equal, or better than equal status with men in the space of a century. It is black people--not women--who even now inhabit an average position of lower social, educational, legal and economic status than white people in America, who are still disproportionately represented among the incarcerated, the poor, and a dozen other areas of real disenfranchisement.

And that's because the oppression of black people in America was--and is--really-and-for-true, one-way, genuine oppression that looked NOTHING like the experience of women relative to men at any point in human history.

Patriarchy was a cost/benefit partnership where men and women each bore some of the costs and reaped some of the benefits. Slavery was a cost/benefit system of oppression where all the benefits were reaped by one party and all the costs borne by the other.

To compare the experience of women--a valued, protected and provided-for class--throughout history with that of black people under slavery and apartheid is a slap in the face to every single black man who died wrongfully imprisoned in South Africa, to every single black woman who was forced onto her back by her white owner, to every single black man who was ever executed by a mob without trial, to every single black person who lived and died in bondage or in a concentration camp, and every single black person who still struggles to overcome the lingering and devastating effects of the utterly baseless, unjustifiable and man-made oppression of slavery and segregation.

So I just wanted to repeat, so we're all clear on this:

Women and Black are NOT the same thing.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Sex, Lies and Political Agendas

A very good article over at the False Rape Society, on how women's advocates are harming victims by their spinning of the outcome of the DSK sexual assault case. I started to leave a comment there, but then it got kinda big, so I decided a post was in order.

Prosecution's decision to drop the case has been condemned by women's advocates as a miscarriage of justice. They characterize the system as one that demands a "perfect victim" if they aren't going to abandon her. This is a gross mischaracterization of the facts of this specific case. Nafissatou Diallo was not just an "imperfect victim", she was a "toxic complainant" who has a long history of lying, and has done pretty much nothing but lie from the moment she reported the alleged incident.

Credibility is important in a sexual assault case--more important than in many other criminal prosecutions. In cases of rape and sexual assault, there is often no physical evidence unambiguously indicating a crime was even committed. What evidence there may be is frequently evidence of a legal act, not a criminal one. The factors that differentiate the legal act of sex from the crime of rape are based entirely on two states of mind: those of the victim's non-consent, and the perpetrator's intent--that is, his (or a reasonable or law-abiding person's) awareness of the victim's lack of consent.

There are usually only two witnesses who can testify to either party's state of mind at the time of the incident--and each of those two witnesses have a vested and oppositional interest in the outcome of the trial. This means that in a sexual assault case, credibility is everything. Due to the ambiguity of the evidence and the biases of the only eyewitnesses, it should be more difficult to convict a man of rape than it is to convict a man of murder, or aggravated assault, or any number of other crimes that rely more heavily on physical/forensic evidence.

But here's something I bet you all didn't know (I'll explain why you probably don't know it below). The conviction rate for rape is frequently higher than the conviction rate for homicide. Seriously. The conviction rate for a crime where there is no unambiguous physical evidence, and which therefore hinges almost entirely on a jury believing one party over the other, is often higher than the conviction rate for a crime with a dead body, forensic evidence of cause of death, and physical evidence tying the defendant to the crime.

To suggest that the outcome of the DSK case means the system "doesn't work" is egregiously misleading and harmful. I'm not going to lie. The system works perfectly for neither victims nor defendants, but it's the best possible balance we can manage given the circumstances. And to characterize the dismissal of the DSK case as some sort of evil on the part of the prosecution is...well, I can only say it's batshit insane. Diallo repeatedly lied to those whose job it is to help her and punish the man who allegedly assaulted her. Then recanted her lies, only to present prosecutors with, yup, more lies. She insisted she was not after money, then launched a civil suit against DSK for monetary damages. She lied to the Grand Jury, under oath. She quite plainly proved herself to be someone who can't be counted on to tell the truth about anything.

Even more frightening to prosecutors was her ability to lie with "complete conviction". This meant that, no matter how convincing her story of a given day or week was, there was no way for prosecutors to determine if THIS particular version was the truth. The complaining witness was not an "imperfect victim". She was the justice system's worst nightmare. To go to trial with an alleged victim who can lie so convincingly that even prosecutors could not tell truth from falsehood...this could result in railroading a potentially innocent man based on the word of a woman who'd taken a tire iron to her own credibility.

As the FRS rightly claims, this case does not demonstrate that prosecutors require "perfect victims", and it is the women's advocates who make such absurd statements--not police or prosecutors--who are discouraging women from coming forward to report their rapes.

But I think women's "advocates" have a very different agenda from the one they openly admit to. As people who care about women, and care about rape victims, they should be doing everything in their power to convince women to come forward and report when they are raped. And yet they do the exact opposite.


I once suggested on a feminist forum that my advice to any victim of rape was to get a kit done. Even if you don't want to report--in fact, even if you're positive you don't want to--getting a kit done leaves you with options if you ever change your mind. You can stand on the bridge for a long time before deciding to cross it or go back, but not if you've burned the way in front of you--and you do that by washing away all the physical evidence of what was done to you. Not getting a rape kit done erases all your choices, removes all your power.

Oh, the shit I got from feminists! That I should have the gall to "tell victims what to do! Don't you realize how hard it is? How small the chances of justice are? How victims are revictimized if they report? It's up to every victim how she wants to respond to what happened to her! She knows what's best for herself!"

I suppose it's just as well that I didn't suggest that women have a social responsibility to report their rapes, even if they don't want to go through the ordeal of pursuing charges. Go in to police, tell them, "I was raped. His name is John Doe. His DNA is in a test tube at Local Hospital. I don't want to pursue the case. But if another woman comes in saying this guy raped her, believe her and do everything you can to nail him."

Imagine someone implying that women have a responsibility to other people! I would probably have been crucified for even hinting at such a thing.


There's a pervasive and very public sentiment among feminists and women's advocates that it is pointless to report. That women should not trust the police or the legal system because it will, at best, let them down, and at worst, clobber them. At the same time, they inflate rape statistics, always applying the highest possible estimates on non-report figures (even when such numbers couldn't possibly add up), and including women who didn't believe they'd been raped among victims in surveys. At the same time, they deflate false report statistics, clinging to the insistence that false report rates for rape are ~2%, the same as for every other crime, even though a growing body of evidence places the rate somewhere between 8% and a staggering 50%.

They routinely compare the attrition rate for rape (the percentage of reported rapes that end in conviction) alongside the conviction rates (the percentage of trials that end in conviction) for other crimes. How many times have we all read that the "conviction rate" for rape is a "pathetic" 6%, when in reality it is usually 50-60%, and often higher than the conviction rate for homicide.

All while simultaneously implying there is nothing women can do, no way they can (or should) dress or behave that will minimize their risk, and that every woman is at risk because "any woman can be raped". They go out of their way to highlight a "culture of victim-blaming" that, in their view, applies solely to rape, when I would argue that we as a society are more likely to engage in blaming male victims of female violence (he must have done something to deserve it, he was probably a cheater, he probably battered her, she was defending herself), and male victims of female reproductive abuse (he should have thought of that before he had sex, don't stick your dick in crazy, if he didn't want kids he should have kept it in his pants).

Even when these feminists and victim advocates are being nominally truthful, they still spin the truth in the most pessimistic light.

It's like they want women to believe that there's a HUGE chance they'll be raped, that there's nothing they can do to prevent it, and that when it happens, not only will no one help them, but those responsible for helping them will only inflict more harm on them. To what purpose?

We're seeing the thin end of the wedge on campus now, with the attack on due process rights--the new 50.01% burden of proof, the barring of an accused from cross-examining his accuser, etc. Feminist's defence of this atrocious situation tends to consist of, "What, so it's a horrible thing that the accused won't be able to personally ask the accuser, 'Isn't it true you're a big ol' slut?'" when such a question would already be inadmissible in any hearing or court. Again, painting a false picture of the process as it was before this "reform" in the ugliest possible colors.

I can only believe that those who engage in this kind of scare-mongering and doomsaying have a specific goal in mind. I'm not a conspiracy nut, but here's how I see it, looking at the entirety of feminist discourse on rape:

  • discourage women from reporting by telling them it is pointless, that they won't be believed, or will be blamed for their own rapes and revictimized by the system, that the police can't be trusted
  • manipulate consent law to the point where even women who enthusiastically participated in consensual sex can be numbered among victims (consensual drunk sex, consensual unconscious sex)
  • generate fear among women by telling them there is nothing they can, or should have to, do to protect themselves from rape
  • generate fear among women by telling them that any woman at any time is at risk of rape
  • inflate the numbers for underreporting, leading to a pervasive belief that rape is everywhere
  • compare attrition rates for rape with conviction rates for other crimes, so that the public will believe the system doesn't work in rape cases
  • constantly reiterate the erroneous 2% false rape "statistic", generating an erroneous assumption that women "don't lie about rape"
  • define rape as a crime of "patriarchal domination" rather than one that has a multitude of different factors and causes--in other words, blame rape on "maleness" in such a way that all men are cast as rapists or rapists-in-waiting
  • charge the discourse with emotional language that places "feelings" in authority over facts--i.e: "If she feels she was raped, then she was raped."
  • characterize the necessary due process protections for accused rapists as an "infringement of female/victim's rights", even though the "rights" of complainants--female or otherwise--are currently greater in cases of sexual assault and rape than in other criminal case (anonymity is a privilege, not a right, as is the inadmissibility of an accuser's sometimes relevant sexual history)
Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? The last thing many women's advocates want is for anyone to believe the system isn't irreparably broken. Because if it isn't hideously broken, then there is no need to "fix" it or rebuild it. And if rape isn't everywhere, and something women must walk around in constant fear of, then the masses will simply never be terrified enough of it to enact the kind of overhaul that would lead to the kinds of "reforms" that are "necessary", ones we've already seen enacted on campuses across the US.

After examining the entirety of the rhetoric of sexual assault and rape from feminist circles, I can only conclude that the end game of women's advocacy groups is to reengineer sexual assault and rape law to the point where a woman need only claim a man raped her for him to be locked away for years. 

Welcome to Hell.