Friday, 9 September 2011

Gender studies, sexism, male bias and privilege

This week the London Evening Standard reported that ex gender studies student Tom Martin is suing the London School of Economics because he believed his course to have an anti men bias and was expected to read books that positioned women as always victims and men as always perpetrators, and never dealt with men’s issues. LSE have responded:

‘The university's legal team has asked for the case to be struck out, claiming the core texts were not compulsory, merely recommended readings, and that the texts were equally available for both men and women to read, so therefore did not directly discriminate against men. The team also argues that "any discriminatory effect [against men] was plainly justifiable".’

(http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23983895-former-student-sues-lse-over-its-gender-bias-against-men.do)

I personally believe that Mr Martin took the course with the express intent of calling out what he saw as an anti-male bias, because for the life of me I can’t understand why someone studying gender studies would object to exploring how layers of patriarchal privilege overlap to create inequality between women and men. Gender studies, as far as I can tell, is about looking at intersectionality and how women’s ‘issues’ (and other groups) or lives or stories or history or social status had traditionally taken a back seat to the overwhelming white male narrative that forms the canon and backbone of academia.

This piece on CIF is very good on why gender studies isn’t about women good men bad: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/07/gender-studies-anti-discrimination-case

In this piece, Jonathan Dean makes this very pertinent point:

‘In my own discipline – politics – the key undergraduate texts are overwhelmingly by and about men. And yet this is seen by most as unproblematic, as natural or inevitable. Gender studies is an attempt to critique this entrenched male bias.’

As I say, to take a gender studies course and then accuse it of critiquing academic and social male bias makes me pretty suspicious about why he took the course in the first place. Fame? Notoriety? Apparently this guy runs an anti sexism website. I wonder if it includes information about rape culture and the impact of conflict and war on women, as an example…(or would that be SEXIST? Talking about WOMEN!)

But anyway, I digress…

What this story has got me thinking about is that entrenched male bias and how this impacted on my own university career (which ended, with a First Class Honours in English Literature, in 2006). I went to UCL in Bloomsbury, right next to Virginia Woolf’s old house. And what I learnt there was that (with some exceptions, i.e. the aforementioned Woolf) male authors were named, and women authors were ‘women in literary period or movement’.

The male bias on my course was overwhelming. In my second and third year we would have four set texts per module, and on every single module 3 of the texts would be by men and one by women. I had lectures on Wordsworth, Manley Hopkins, Dickens and ‘women in Victorians’ (George Eliot was the exception). Lectures on Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald with no mention of Gertrude Stein. Over and over again on my courses the message was sent out that whilst men were individuals, greats; who formed movements and spoke out from the canon, women were a group, an interest, a sub-section.

Of course, a lot of my feminist lecturers recognised this and goodness knows things were better than when, as one lecture informed me, the Norton Anthology of Poetry had something like 30 women in it (for non lit grads, this is the bible of the English literature under-grad). But whereas the very idea of a lecture titled ‘Men in Modernism’ would be ridiculous, talking ‘Women in Modernism’ was perfectly acceptable, even though if we look at those women modernist writers, the difference and range between them and their books is as different and diverse as those men writers. Djuna Barnes and Dorothy Richardson? Hardly the same are they?

In my second and third years I had feminist tutors who let me run wild with my gender angle on literature (writing on Woolf, Mansfield, Rhys, Plath, Brontes, Djuna Barnes - women everywhere!) which unfortunately left me floundering a bit when it actually came to studying the set texts. But their supportive and feminist ideas helped me become the activist and writer I am today. Not so good was my first year, where my tutor asked me not to write any more gender essays after doing one on Paradise Lost (come to think of it, I don’t think there were any women writers on that ‘key text’ course).

I also attended all the gender seminars. Male and female sexuality in modernist literature, gender in Shakespeare – courses almost always run by women with all women classes. The idea that gender was a subject for men too didn’t register where men were canon and women were specialist.

Of course, women weren’t the least represented group on my course. BME writers and colonialist theory did get a brief look in (Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureishi as examples) but despite a disappointingly un-robust post-colonialism course; just as the syllabus was mainly men, it was also mainly white.

In fact, the one ‘minority group’ that was well represented on my course was gay and queer literature – thanks in part to the famous ‘History and literary representation of homosexuality’ module. And of course, a lot of canonical authors were likely to be, or definitely were, gay or bi. After all, even Shakespeare had Mr. W.H ;-)

What I am trying to show here is that even on a course that I loved every minute of (except Chaucer. And Old English) there was an exceptionally male bias. Embarrassingly so. So there is a good reason that a course that seeks to challenge the unquestioned male bias, like gender studies, is allowed to do exactly that.

What Tom Martin has a problem with, in my mind, is his privilege. He has never experienced that othering that comes from your status in society as a woman. He has not experienced that exclusion, that sense that you are not part of the ‘greats’, that feeling that you are not half the population, but a minority, a specialism. He has lived with male privilege all his life (I don’t know what other privileges he may or may not have as an FYI, so sticking with male) and when that’s challenged, when that is not the priority in his academic world, he panics and lashes out and calls sexism.

Last night I had a conversation on Twitter with Mock the Week about their lack of female representation. They informed me that in their six-year history, ‘18 out of 63 of our regulars & guests have been female, which is... 28.6%, so we're doing alright? :-)’.

No, that is not doing ‘alright’. It is not alright that women are so marginalised in our culture, that women’s voices are silenced and not heard, that women’s stories are seen as ‘other’ or homogeneous.

And it is certainly not right that when this is challenged, that there are accusations of sexism or female bias.

Throughout academia, throughout pretty much every damn point of life, male privilege is entrenched. Gender studies is a place where that inherent, unchallenged privilege is questioned and where an alternative view and criticism of power structures is offered. Where different voices and stories are given weight and attention. Where women are considered.

That’s not too much to ask. To be considered. To be recognised. To be seen and heard.

Check your privilege. You never know, you might learn something.

http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-is-male-privilege/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Knapsack

37 comments:

Tom Martin said...

You seem to think you know quite a lot about the subject. Please tell me what men's rights movement authors you have read. Google it if you have to. There will be a quiz later. If you would like to see some candid men's equality discourse in curricula, then go to sexismbusters, and support this legal fight. If you're one of those feminists who doesn't really want equality, then disregard this message.

sian and crooked rib said...

as an fyi - an anonymous poster wrote a comment linking to a site that is raising money for Tom Martin to fight his court case against LSE for 'men's equality'. I haven't published it because I think if people are really persuaded by his case (his site didn't have anything to say about sexism against women as i predicted) then you can google it. I won't be publicising his campaign here beyond my questioning of it. I will however welcome debate (and comments that disagree with me) on this issue, so long as they're not the abusive ones i've been getting lately (you know who you are).

sian and crooked rib said...

Tom, clearly I do know quite a lot about this subject. If you would like to explain what your cause is doing to further gender equality, I wld be glad to hear about it. I have visited your website and all it seems to be doing is asking for money to pay your legal fees. considering there are manifest problems surrounding gender inequality across the globe, inc intimate partner violence (against women and men), entrenched issues of privilege, poverty, fgm, forced marriage, rape, sex trafficking, pay gap, sexualisation and much much more, I struggle to understand what your stance is about. What exactly are you doing to counter gender inequality other than uphold old style male privilege and actually re enforce male privilege. I really would like to know how your website and argument claims to be against sexism whilst simulataeously it upholds male privilege. Cldnt yr money have been better spent donating to a men's refuge or young dads charity rather than fighting a legal battle against a course that argues that real and happening gender inequality should be addressed?
Thanks.
Ps written on phone late in evening to excuse any spelling or grammar errors.

Hannah said...

I find it really hard to believe that a gender studies course at LSE would be simply representing women as victims and men as perpetrators, and nothing more. Gender studies has long since gone so much further than that.

I studied Gender and International Relations and a lot of time was spent challenging the assumption that women are always victims and men are always perpetrators. In fact, challenging over simplistic dichotomies like that one is in integral part of what gender studies does.

That said, acknowledging that women can also be leaders, agents of change, combatants and abusers of human rights and that men can be victims/survivors, oppressed and abused as well as peace activists and proponents of gender equality, doesn't mean you have to overlook the fact that throughout history and almost without exception, men and masculinities have, ceteris paribus, been privileged over women and femininities. We are perfectly capable of acknowledging that fact whilst also understanding nuance and challenging generalisations.

Mary Tracy said...

Good post. We go through our courses not realising how little women appear in our books, if at all.

Gender studies should be a mandatory subject in every course. Then again, this may bring the demise of patriarchy; everyone would be able to see how biased human knowledge is towards men.

As for men wanting "equality"... Men have been ruling the roost for about 5 thousand years. If they haven't managed to bring gender equality yet I don't see why we should trust them to do so now.

jayseajay said...

Well Tom, where to start?

If you want to engage in a genuine dialogue about the merits of gender studies or the women's movement, it's probably best not to start off by addressing a woman writing about it in an such a patronizing tone, and by using the type of tropes frequently deployed to undermine women's voices. To be more precise:

a) On what basis do you wish to argue that Sian doesn't know what she is talking about? (Clearly you wish to suggest that she is in some way delusional and merely 'seems to think' she knows anything about the subject.) This is a pretty odd claim, seeing as the majority of her account is about her experience of the curriculum of her degree, which, it might not be unreasonable to suppose she does know at least something about. We might want to disagree about her evaluation of that curriculum, as we might wish to disagree with your evaluation about your curriculum, but that's a long way from suggesting that she's been deluded into saying a load of stuff about something she doesn't know much about.

b) Apparently though, that's not what's bothering you. Despite the fact that she isn't giving a critique of the Men's Rights Movement here, her failure to provide an adequately balanced account of the MRM position is apparently the source of her ignorance. Perhaps you would like to rectify that situation here, and give us a nice clear exposition of your position. Because I have actually read an awful lot of MRM material on the interwebs, and I have yet to find a formulation that is convincing. Which is not to say that I don't think there are really important issues facing men today, or really important things to be said about the construction of masculinity. I just don't see it coming from the MRM.

In particular I would like you to explain to me:

i) Do you think that feminism - as you suggest in a bit of a snidely way here - is a movement aimed at the oppression of men, or do you think it is aimed at the equality of women?

ii) If you think feminism is aimed at the oppression of men, can you explain to me in what way - without invoking any argument which undermines women's sexual, bodily and reproductive autonomy?

iii) If you think that feminism is a movement aimed at the equality of women, do you think that that equality has been achieved or not?

iv) If you think that equality has been achieved, how would you explain the persistence of many indicators of gender inequality - eg. the wage gap, the glass ceiling, the levels of sexual and domestic violence against women? Do you want to argue that all this data is misleading?

v) If you are prepared to accept that equality hasn't been achieved, do you then accept that the inequality of women is attributable to their being oppressed? If not, what is it attributable to?

vi) If it is attributable to their being oppressed, do you accept that they are oppressed by men, or rather, by the cultural system we call patriarchy which many men embody to greater or lesser degrees? If not, how would you account for the oppression of women?

vii)If you accept that women's oppression is attributable to patriarchal attitudes which men (and some women) instantiate, do you then accept that an absolutely necessary condition of women's equality would be to analyse and challenge the cultural system which is responsible for their oppression? If not, how would you suggest women looking for equality should deal with this system?

viii) If you accept that women need to analyse this system as a necessary condition of becoming equal human beings, do you then accept that the analysis of this system is not motivated by misandry, or a desire to oppress men, but simply by the desire for female equality?

Well, I guess that should get us started.

I look forward to your responses.

Adam said...

@Tom Martin Your suing the LSE is a pointless exercise. I am neither a feminist nor even a liberal, but I worked with Miss Norris and found her astute and intelligent. Her post highlights the fatuousness of your cause. If you campaigning as an anti-feminist, then suing a university is not going to achieve your aims. I don't think it advances the cause of conservatism either – quite the reverse in fact.

Surely if you have the credentials to join the London School of Economics you should be sufficiently attuned to know that that institution is "well red", a hive of right-on politically correct thinking? It's a shame you didn't enjoy your studies, but the sensible thing to do would be transfer to another degree course or even another university.

Tom (not Martin) said...

The way to challenge perceived bias in academia is to study then publish a paper to shows why you think this to be the case. To try to do this in court rather than in that field of study seems to me because he knows he'd not succeed there, because there is no evidence of an anti-male bias. Its like the climate deniers who fight the science not with other peer reviewed science but in court and in the media - because they know its rubbish and they have not case. This court case is a total waste of everybody's time and a pointless and spiteful right-wing attempt to protect pro-male bias. Sad.

Dru Marland said...

I took up Tom's invitation to visit "sexismbusters", and found nothing more than a plea for money. A less patronising tone than tht taken in your post here would be helpful, Tom, when you're trying to sell a pig in a poke; just saying.

And an explanation of what it was about the curriculum that you found so upsetting, citing the offending texts would seem to be a good idea, too.

From here your case, such as it is, seems to contain nothing more than the Emperor's same, old, same old clothes.

BookElf said...

I did 'Gender Studies' as an elective in my first year of my wishy washy arts degree at an incredibly liberal faculty of a decent university, that was shut down two years later because it didn't make any money. On the first lesson we had to write down differences between men and women. I wrote women 'do not have penises'. My tutor was very angry about this, and said how it demonstrated that women always see themselves in terms of how they lack from men. She then started talking very loudly about 'my' clitorus (sp) and how I shouldn't be ashamed of it. I was a very young 18, and this embarrased me hugely. Plus, I thought at the time I thought that was bollocks.
So you know what I did; I changed the modual I was studying. It wasn't hard, my uni was really good about it, and nobody got sued. Three years later I did another elective on prostitution, power and globalisation taught by the same tutor, loved it, and learned a lot.
It's a shame when there are so many young people desperate to go to university in the first place that someone would sign up to a course as a marketing stunt.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Sian and really would like to see Mr Martin respond to jayseajay's excellent reasoning (and in this day and age I can't believe we have to hold someone's hand through this - still!). Thanks both for writing about this.

I wonder, though, if the SCUM Manifesto was on the reading list. Being actively misandrist it's a hard book to take, I have to admit, and no feminist 'supports' it in a straighforward sense. But even if that was on the reading list, it's one seriously misandrist book in a whole world of books whose outright misogyny we are expected to accept on the basis of their 'superior' literary status.

Well, until Martin has the guts to actually publicise the reading list - rather than simply cry for money on no basis other than his claims - we'll never know.

Signed, Mia (Sorry to post anonymously. I really don't like sharing online IDs in public forums.)

MariaS said...

I keep checking back here to see if Tom Martin has thoughtfully responded to jayseajay's excellent comment.

Anyway, Here's the LSC's MSc Gender, Media & Culture degree that Tom Martin was taking. The course modules are all listed and linked to, including indicative reading for them (i.e. some of the recommended reading) - e.g. this is the list for one of the compulsory modules, "Gender Theory in the Modern World":
"Benería, L. Gender, Development & Globalisation. Economics As If All People Mattered. (2003) London & NY: Routledge; Butler, J Gender Trouble, Routledge, New York & London (1999); Foucault, M History of Sexuality Volume 1 (1981); Eadie,J (ed) Sexuality. The Essential Glossary (2004); Gould, C Key Concepts in Gender Theory (1997) New Jersey: Humanities Press; Harding, S (ed) Feminism and Methodology OU Press (1987); S Kemp & Squires, J Feminisms (1997) Oxford: Oxford UP; Lewis, G 'Race', Gender, Social Welfare (2000) Polity; Marks, E and I de Courtivron (eds) New French Feminisms (1981); Medhurst, A and S Munt Lesbian and Gay Studies: A Critical Introduction (1997) Cassell; Pilcher, J and Imelda Whelehan 50 Key Concepts in Gender Studies (Key Concepts) Sage (2004); Visvanathan, N, et. al. (eds.) Penguin; The Sexual Subject: A Screen Reader in Sexuality. Routledge (1992); P Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, Unwin Hyman (1990); N Kabeer, Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought, Verso (1994)."

It sounds very interesting but intellectually heavy-weight, lots of theory there. An entirely different league to men's rights movement writings, at least that I've seen on the internet. Academic approaches like this to critiquing and studying gender aren't the be all and end all, and a lot of feminists might not find it accessible too - and academia is certainly not the only place where good solid insightful political thining about gender takes place (see many feminist blogs for example)- but if you are going to engage with it at that kind of academic level you need to be up to it. If Tom Martin felt shut down and dismissed in the lectures and seminars, I wonder if that response to him was in fact the result of him being persistently off-topic, trying to shoe-horn a men's rights movement agenda into the subject under discussion, and just not engaging with the subject with the depth required. If his CiF article give any indication of his approach to discussing gender, then I think that citing You Tube videos by someone called "The Happy Misogynist" as a source for discussing domestic violence really wouldn't cut it in the LSE course seminars either.

I'd be interested to know the substance of Tom Martin's objections to the course content, because in actuality just common sense tells you that a postgraduate degree at the LSE is really not very likely to boil down to "yay! women & boo! men" in the way that he has painted it.

Anonymous said...

This transphobic site has your blog to their blogroll: http://twanzphobic.wordpress.com/

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi anon, thanks for letting me know. Not sure what I can do to remedy situation but I don't agree or put up with transphobic views and recommend ray filar's excellent post on the f word as to why transphobia has no place in feminism.

Maria s, they never come back do they? Thanks for book list.

Michel said...

I am interested in debating these issues and since you've been waiting for someone to come back, I will therefore attempt to explain why many men are starting to really, actually feel (more than believe) a bias towards the male gender while at the same time being told the bias is pro-male, not going overly dramatic about it of course. Anyway, we're starting to raise questions. So if I may be allowed, I will debate but have no fear I have a daughter and I don't do women bashing. Sian, I also
apologise if instead to reply to your article at this point I'm focusing on Jayseajey's questions.

Let me start with question (iv) because as someone who graduated in scientific courses such as logic (yes there are such courses), statistics and as a person who now own his own company and has interviewed men and
women, I believe it qualifies me to debate it with a minimum of credibility.

"iv) If you think that equality has been achieved, how would you explain the persistence of many indicators of gender inequality - eg. the wage gap, the glass ceiling, the levels of sexual and domestic violence against
women? Do you want to argue that all this data is misleading?"
Question IV - Answer Part1
Data is data Jayseajey. One always have to be ready to accept that data is misleading because the validity of interpretation of statistical data (especially social data) is only measured by how much effort you want to
put into it. I'll give you an example. From the British Bureau of Statistics a few years ago "Survivors of the
second world war dies faster than survivors of the first world war". At first it appears contradictory because survivors of the second world war are younger, but if you just second guess your initial reaction, you then understand the data. Do you see?
The Gender Gap - Have any of you ever conducted interviews and debate salaries? If not, do you really think there is something going on behind closed doors at the end of it when managers (many of them
women now) say "She's a woman we're going to pay her less!" Doesn't it sound like a cheap conspiracy theory?
How do you see this working when you talk about it in a Gender Studies classroom? I have no doubt you believe there is discrimination but when you put the process on paper, where do you see it starting? Please answer that. That's when I
really started to dispute all this but I'll tell you what I've seen over more than a decade. First, in my experience men negotiate more, a lot more. Maybe it's something that men don't tell because they don't want to be seen as stupidly competitive but the
truth is we are, between men there is a competition going on when a man thinks "There is no way I'm earning less than these guys" and it's a powerful motivator in a negotiation because if he knows how much his competition earns and truly believe he is worth as much, it leaves less room for compromise. Sometimes it's as
stupid as a achieving some social standing to impress the ladies, another motivation women don't have. I could be wrong of course, I cannot speak for women, actually you tell me, but it seems that women think more along the line of "how much they want", which can be negotiated down to "how much they need". And simply because
they are less competitive about it, there is more room for compromise. Now, make no mistakes, when someone asks for more, he needs to deliver more, otherwise he's the first at risk. And that's why men work more hours, which ends up with them negotiating again some months later and the cycle starts again. Many times I've seen/heard men forgetting to sleep to read the latest book just to get an edge on other men, although arguably it's a mix of
passion and competition. Obviously, women can also be exceptionnally good at what they do and competitive too,
and in my experience, they earn their due.
[...Gender Gap part 2 to follow]

Michel said...

Question IV - Answer Part 2
Speaking about competition, the competition between companies is also a factor. We all agree on the physical differences so let's use it as a simple example: There is the old debate asking if a man can carry three bags when a woman can carry only one, should you pay him three times more? Depending on how you think, you might decide that she's working as hard as him and will pay her as much, and everything appears fine. Well... in the public sector it would be, but in
the private sector, here comes a competitive company who see Mr Strong's efficiency, and they will offer him more, unfair on the woman but factual in a capitalist society. If you lose Mr Strong, you lose someone who does the job of 3 women or 2 men, so you pay him even more in order to keep him and there is nothing else you can do about it except telling him to keep quiet about his salary, a process we all know about.
Obviously there are things that unless we drastically change the way we see economy, are always going to be harder on women but it's not men's fault and it's certainly not oppression on women. Why? Because when women didn't work and Mr Weak was paid less than Mr Strong for the same reason, it was the same logic and Mr Weak was not a woman.
But if you decide to penalise men for it (as I will explain in your question [ii]), it can become oppressive to men, yes.
Also in a competitive society I think it's economically impossible that the Gender Gap is due to
discrimination. When you go on the other side of the planet to recruit people just because they are cheaper, if women were doing the same as men for a lot less, by now we would have stopped employing men. And since, in Australia for example, the gender gap has increased back to more than it was before the affirmative actions laws 30 years ago, somehow, somewhere, men must be doing something different. The data doesn't lie, you're right about this, it tells you there is a difference, but it doesn't tell you why. There are a lot of other reasons (almost 20 have been found I believe). Another is that because men, due to the physical differences will have a broader sets of skills (between the hard physical men and the intellectual men) a lot more women will compete in intellectual fields and they will also compete with other men in those fields. This obviously diminishes the salaries in those fields because there is too much competition. And then in the high risk jobs, it's men first who are put in the hazardous situations (no women went into the WTC, and no women died, if they don't go why should they be paid the same?) So it's more than a stretch to call it oppression, and calling it oppression is obviously making men loose patiente with feminism and start to question if Gender Studies is not about
'radical' feminism after all. Today, men do not deliberately make things more difficult for women at work,
women have equal opportunities. But wanting to enforce an equality of results on the other hand, just because some things are harder for women is a deliberate move to make it difficult for men in an attempt to balance things out and because it's deliberate, it borders on oppression (more on that later - I'm being careful when using oppression, it's a strong word), and yes men shouln'd just accept it without consideration.

I realise I've only answered the first part of Question [iv] here but I have taken the time to scribble some thoughts on all of them if you really are interested.
Then again you could disregard all of this on the ground that I'm not an 'academic', I really have no idea, so I'll wait on your reactions. But at this point, I would say that calling women 'oppressed' is more than a stretch, it really isn't appropriate, I would even go as far as to say that when that word is used, the data is not analysed in good faith, no matter who wrote what.
Maybe speak to you later.

Michel said...

One more thing I couldn't say (due to the size limit): the main reason I started with question iv, is ,as I said earlier, because it's the one I can answer with the most credibility out of personal experience. Obviously, you put some logic in the order of your questions, I certainly didn't miss that, so again if someone is genuily interested, after iv, I will answer them in order and you will see that there was another reason why I started with this one. Cheers

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Michel, thanks for your comments, altho I think in general I disagree with some of your conclusions! But thats ok, we can respectfully disagree!! One point I find interesting is your points about the gender pay gap and how men are more inclined to negotiate their salaries. This is something I read about in Natasha Walter book living dolls and Cordelia Fine's delusions of gender. Both books quote numerous studies that look at how women and men are received in the workplace. The studies found that whilst men who negotiate were seen as strong, assertive and ergo attractive as potential employees, women who negotiated were seen as 'not nice' and the women who took what they were offered were seen as a more attractive person to.employ. the studies are interesting as they show that in some ways women are a bit stuck...take lower pay or risk not getting the job. Would v recommend the books, I am not an academic and neither are these books. The issue with the pay gap is so often about what work is valued and how work done traditionally by women is not valued.

Michel said...

"The studies found that whilst men who negotiate were seen as strong, assertive and ergo attractive as potential employees, women who negotiated were seen as 'not nice'... Women are a bit stuck". You know Sian, these conclusions ring true to me. As you've seen by now I am not disputing that they are things that are harder on women, we agree on that much but we will probably disagree on how to solve them. This different perception of male strength and female strength is another interesting debate yes but since we started all this by talking about how men feel a real pressure and staying in the subject of the wage gap, to me, there is another reason to the wage gap that comes from a reaction of men feeling cornered.
For example, I can tell you that already as a teenager you know that your career might be the only thing you have in life. We know or at least strongly believe (as there are always exceptions) that if things don't work out on the family side, family courts will not be in our favor, even with the best of intentions, so instead of being paranoid about it, men simply approach their career as the only thing that is truly theirs, as a safety net if you will. And when you take into consideration all we previously discussed, plus women taking time off during their pregnancy (which is fair enough of course), that strong belief makes men take any opportunity to compete for their carrier as if they were competing for their life, sometimes literally when you look at the suicidal rate on the men side. In turn the wage gap increases, and by looking only at the women issue and only looking on that gap as discrimination, then passing more laws to help women, men are pushed to survival mode, they end up fighting feminism or even turn their anger (as I've unfortunately read on the net) on women themselves, which in turn can end up being very bad news for women when or if enough men agree. No matter how far women have come today, no matter how men are portrayed in the media (as in buffoons) turning men into a real enemy (a political enemy of course, no one I've seen is immature enough to talk about real warfare here) cannot possibly help women, of that I have no doubt. That's why it's important that Gender Studies look at the bigger picture in my opinion, to stop that cycle. Men now have genuine concerns, it's real for us, we're not faking it, and ignoring these concerns can only make things worse (more on that in a future post). One thing for sure, right now no one really has the answers, it's difficult to find a balance and we're only trying to find it, so the most civilised and wisest thing to do is to keep the discussions open. And I must say you have been fair play and true to your blog rules to publish my comments.

Michel said...

Question IV - Answer Part 3
Glass ceiling: In my experience that's because less women seem interested in getting there. Many women want more representation for sure, but I'm not that sure many actually want to do it, again I can't speak for them. I guess you'd say that even if it's because they don't want to do it, it's because of remnants of traditional values as studies have put forward. I suppose you could be right. Obviously Gender Studies academics have studied it, evolutionary psychologists give other reasons, the rift between the two is enough to start another debate. But again this is what I've seen: The higher the ladder you go, the more you will be challenged. People want to know why you are in this position, if you deserve it, even if themselves don't want to be there. And I do think women find it harder and harder. Also, even if we don't live in a time where who rules the battlefield rules the tribe, the physical presence of people still has an impact. I hate to say it, but it is instinctively easier to say 'I won't do it' to a 4ft tall person than a 7ft tall. It's also harder to say 'I won't do it' to a deep voice than to a high pitch one. There is something about the voice when it comes to authority, I couldn't believe it myself when, years ago, my 6 months old first born, who kept on testing my wife (a thing they do at this age) time and time again, immediately stopped when I lowered my voice, no shouting, just lowered it. Many men don't even need to lower it. But I can guarrantee you that when women raise to all the challenges, men have the utmost respect for them. I really don't think men ever had a problem with female authority, men only need to know why a person is the leader and will challenge it incessantly, and it will be undeniable harder for women. In the end, women who raise to the top after having earned respect will be worshiped. How else would you explain that there has always been queen (Gender Studies cannot deny that) as far as written history or archaeology can take us, you do find Queens. So, ok it's harder on women but active oppression from men, especiallly today, in the west? No, rushed conclusion.

Finally, what men have a problem with, as an example if biased point of view is always mentionning the Glass Ceiling but not the Glass Cellar (an expression from Warren Farrel, so I'm sure you've heard of it before). Women didn't have access to the best but were always, and still are protected from the worst. Even today, you don't see any women in the hard jobs (garbage collectors, miners, deep sea diving, oil platforms, fishing etc...) ending up with 99% of death at work being men. When you look around you, who is repairing a road under a hard sun or under the snow without complaining while you go to work? Why is it that feminism ignore that part? Isn't it as important as the Glass Ceiling? In both cases, it's actually the same answer, it's because it's easier for men to do it but in the Glass Cellar women are actually protected from it. So wouldn't it be courtesy to give men some slack? On a bigger picture there are privileges that come from being a woman and what appears to be a male privilege is not necessarily one (see "Myth of male power"). Societies evolve empirically, so by definition some balance must exist. The system you call Patriarchy also came up with concepts such as 'women and children first' and took it very seriously, calling it oppression is hard on those who gave their life so that their families could survive. It seems to me women are being promised 'all' by feminism, and it's a delusion, it can't exist.

Anyway, I'm afraid work and family life are catching up, so I will stop here for today, I also wouldn't want to spam your blog with too many of my 4000 chars post in one go, but you did ask for someone to reply.

jayseajay said...

Michel,

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate your desire to engage in the debate. That said....I have a lot of stuff to say....

i) You might also consider your tone a little, for example, I find it more than a little patronizing for you to inform me that logic classes exist. I find this patronizing because I have taught logic classes in university, so yeah, I know they exist. I know us feminist types have something of a reputation for being 'sensitive' about being patronized, but perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to reflect on the fact that maybe we are like that because people very often assume things about what we do or more usually do not know.

ii) Having a daughter is no guarantee of not being a misogynist...patriarchy is called patriarch-y for a reason.

iii) "The validity of interpretation of statistical data (especially social data) is only measured by how much effort you want to put into it." Okay...Do you really want to say that the difference in the interpretation of data is simply down to how hard you look at it? And what is the implication of this, that feminism is a social movement based on a bunch of grievances arising from people not bothering to look properly at data and jumping to hasty conclusions? Yes, data is open to interpretation...that's not news. If you want to challenge the interpretation of the data, you need to challenge the interpretation of the data, and explain why the common interpretation is incorrect.

I'm not saying you're not doing that, but there is a weird implication in your first comment. So, onto the nitty gritty.

jayseajay said...

iv) No one is saying that people get together in a room and say 'let's pay her less because she's a girl.' I'm sorry to sound harsh, but this comment suggests that you don't really understand how systems of oppression work. We are talking here about a great big cultural edifice that conditions all kinds of aspects of peoples behavior, expectations and beliefs.

For instance, as Sian suggests, the thing that you use to potentially explain the wage gap, but think is an example of the non-existence of oppression...the fact that women don't negotiate. The fact that women don't do this, is not evidence of any kind of natural proclivity. It may be, as Sian suggests, that when women do it they are not considered to be assertive and go-getting, but pushy and demanding (I'd like you to think here, for a moment, about how many times in your life you have heard a man being described negatively as demanding, or high-maintenance, or to consider what words we use to describe male children who ask for a attention, what for instance is the male equivalent of 'little madam' or 'princess'?) A man who negotiates, you say 'truly believes he is worth as much.' How do you consider that a woman is to come to value herself as 'worth as much' in a society which routinely values the worth of women as less than men, which construes women who value themselves highly as bolshy, difficult and demanding, and which instills in young girls the idea that their needs are often not as important as those of male children around them, and that, in fact, their value is to be found in meeting the needs of others. So yes, maybe there is a wage gap because women don't negotiate, and maybe women don't negotiate because they are oppressed.

v) I could make a similar set of points about competition. You seem to make a lot of assumptions about what the world is naturally like. It is competitive, it is capitalist, it favours strong people! But then you assume that this is not a world which has been made by men, and which has been made in the image of the characteristics which are valued and held in place by the system called patriarchy. Apparently, the way the world is is "not the fault of men," despite the fact that it has been structured to reflect their values and interests. And when women challenge this structure, and attempt to get the world remade in a way which reflects the values and interests of both men and women, we are told that we are oppressing men.

jayseajay said...

The problem is that I strongly suspect that when you talk to us about oppression, and deny our oppression, that this denial is coming from the fact that you really have no experience of what it is like to live in a world which is designed according to sets of assumptions and values which are not your own. That you do not know what it is like to live in a world in which people routinely undervalue your skills because of your gender. That you do not know what it is like to get to the age of 30 and realize that you really have no idea what your needs are, or how you might go about getting them met, because you were never taught to value them, or think it was reasonable to have them met. That you do not know what it is like to have strange people of the opposite sex touch you as you walk around the street, or demand that you smile for them (and this is the mildest form of sexual harassment that every women in the world deals with, on pretty much a weekly basis at the very least). That you do not know what it is like to maintain sexual relationships with people who you worry may, at some more or less repressed level, think that they should have non-negotiable access to your body.

We suspect you do not know what these things are. And not knowing what these things are is called privilege. And when we point it out, we really really want you to try and empathize with us, and work out what we can all do to try and make it better. And not accuse us of oppressing you, because I'm sorry, almost all of the oppression men experience in this culture (the violence of other men, the repression of certain aspects of their personality, the nonfunding of help for men that suffer from traditionally feminized problems like DV and sexual violence.) All of these things are themselves the product of patriarchy, not equal opportunities legislation, or the attempts by women to change our justice systems and public narratives so men cannot commit acts of sexual violence against us with something very close to impunity.

I could go on, but I really have work to do. I'm going to write a post on the Men's Rights Movement and Misandry and Medusa. Maybe it will interest you. I'll post a link here when I'm done.

Thanks again for your comments, and sorry if I was not so gentle in places.

Please, think. Try and empathize with us. That is all. That's the start.

Michel said...

Question IV - Answer Part 4
Errata: Noticing some of the tiredness related typos I've made earlier, such as 'raise to the challenge' instead of 'rise to the challenge', unless my name didn't already give it away, you guessed by now that English is not my mother tongue, my apologies in advance for future mistakes.

Domestic Violence:
We all know these particular statistics have been extremely disputed from both sides. And for us mere bloggers, there are so many statistics figures on the net that unless you can pull them out yourself from police records and start analysing data properly, anyone can pretty much read anything they want into it, I've seen very contradictory numbers on both mras and feminists quotes. So I can only go back to which is to me the most fascinating story about it all: when Erin Pizzey opened the first women refuge in Europe (even America maybe?) - google her if you don't know about her. I'm sure we all have heard of her though, she was not only the one who opened the first women refuge, but from a very admirable neutral point of view noticed very early on that domestic violence couldn't work only one way. Is there actually any feminist that still denies this now? Is it impossible to consider that women and men are morally on equal ground? Now I can understand that the police has to treat violence towards women a priority when there is not enough police force because unless the perpetrators use weapons women are far more at risk of actual damage. But it doesn't change the fact that women are obviously also capable of violence. The incredible part of that story though, is that after inocently writing about women being also capable of violence, she started receiving death threats and her dog was killed by feminist activists. That's her claim, I'm not sure if she managed to prove it though, but a woman protecting other women from domestic violence, why would she lie? And she's not just anyone. Still more threats towards her family were serious enough for the police to get involved and for her to leave the country for years, she only came back in 1990. Again google her, wiki her, write to her if you have a hard time believing that story but there is certainly enough in there to discredit anything told by the movement on the matter of domestic violence. On top of that there has been so many studies since then that it's now generally accepted that domestic violence is mutual, so on this one I don't think it would be hard to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no oppression on women, but I'm really curious about what your take is on this. Besides you never really see any man hitting a woman in the street in the western world (of course it's only because violent men would rather not be caught and they do it behind close doors), but we've all seen the opposite more than once if only with a slap (only because these women know no one really cares), so again my point is it's mutual. Jayseajay, there is no oppression here, there simply can't be.

Michel said...

Question IV - Answer Part 5 - Last Part
Sexual Violence:
Rape is a difficult issue to debate, I totally respect women sensibility on the subject so far from me the
idea to minimise it. All I can say is that the great majority of men are not rapists, 1 in a 1000 I heard once
from a lawyer. Come to think of it, out of the total population, I understand it's still a scary number,
because if they're not caught they'll probably do it again, so it raises the statistics. Let's see, consider
60 millions people in the UK, remove the children we end up in a very gross estimate of 15 millions men, and
you have 15,000 rapists. So when wiki mentions 85,000 women raped in 2006, even if it appears high as it
suggests 5 rapes a year in average for these men, these being extremely gross calculation anyway, we're still unfortunately in the realm of possibilities when crossing what I heard from that lawyer and wiki. Also, I certainly concur that there is no 'invitation to rape', I'm sure we'll agree on that much.
But on the subject of oppression on women compared to men, the part that is also important to men's rights is that false rape accusations are also a very real issue to consider and if Gender Studies refuse to talk about it, then it is probably biased yes. Do they though? I don't know, you tell me. First the quantity of rape accusations appear to be in the same proportions, but as long as some rapists do not get convicted, as long as men get convicted when there was undeniably rape (victim brutalised and unconscious) but they got the wrong man,
as long as false accusations of rapes are not cleared etc..., it's going to be difficult to compare numbers. At the end of the day, statistics are not important here, what is important is to consider that a false accusation of rape should be a severe crime. It's deliberate, the man's life is pretty much finished as his reputation is tarnished for life, even when cleared and if he ends up in jail he will be effectively raped himself because it is what they do to rapists in there. If you do not see this, it emphasizes the growing realisation that a man's life has no value next to to a woman's life in our society. Finally, with policies that protect a woman's name, even if she admits of false accusation, while the man who is therefore the victim has actually been named, it's easy to see why it's an issue.
It's a very difficult one I know, because if a woman who has actually been raped also has, on top of it, to go through an interrogation process... Jeez, it is a difficult one, no one would want to put a woman through that. And of course on the other hand, if there is no real risk in falsely accusing a man of rape, then nothing stops mean women to do it. Terrible debate this one, I honestly do not have the answer.
But I hope you see my point, if you start to see things from a man point of view, when you also consider that it's men who go after rapists, arrest them and convict them where is the factual evidence that women are oppressed?

I know I will not convince you, I don't expect you to be convinced, it's not why I'm writing all that, but with all this I argue that thinking of women as oppressed in today's society is not only highly debatable but can sound like the result of an indoctrination, no offense intended.

Again, there was a reason for answering Question 4 first, other questions will have much shorter answers now. I will resume tomorrow.

Michel said...

Question (i)

I realise my last 2 or 3 posts probably do not bring any kind of pertinent comments that you haven't read before but for this one I'm going to raise the bar a little here.

Looking at the male privilege link it doesn't take long to see that philosophically speaking it is extremely shallow. You see outside of some boundaries, such as mathematics for example, "True equality..." is a delusional concept unless you have all the tools to measure every dimension of the components you are comparing. This kind of wording is like 'complete freedom' which is delusional as without the concept of limit, the concept of freedom wouldn't exist (yes, I took
philosophy as a course for 5 years, hardly makes me a philospher but references are important). So with human beings, unless you plan on cloning everyone and putting them into a box for the rest of their life, 'true equality' is very bad wording. The wiser approach is to accept that inequalities exist and talk about balance, otherwise, you can only gravitates toward oppression of who is perceived as the ennemy. If this kind of
wording is taken from a Gender Study lesson, this lack of rigor certainly compromises its place as an academic study I'm
afraid, because if Gender Studies doesn't even make the effort of getting its semantics right, then it shouldn't have a
place in university. It's actually quite shocking. This isn't even about sexism. This reminds me of one of Richard Dawkins's convention (whose academics credibility cannot be denied), when he revealed that Gender Studies taught 'logic was
a tool of domination, and the approach of logic was sexist because it was incompatible with women way of knowing, that analysis and abtractions were from alien territories belonging to men, and that female intuition was a safer and more fruitful approach to truth'. Not only
this is an extremely sexist comment in itself as it suggests women cannot use logic but it shows serious signs of delusion
and indoctrination being taught at university.

And Jayseajay, that is also why I chose to answer Question 4 first, because the way you formulated your questions also
indicates a tendendy to indoctrinate as you try to lure someone into reaching a conclusion by choosing the orders of the questions and deciding which ones would come last. So I answered iv first to cancel it out and at the very least raise a doubt on the subject of oppression, and now I can answer. Ergo:

i) Do you think that feminism is a movement aimed at the oppression of men, or do you think it is aimed at the equality of
women?

If it's a movement aimed at an equality of women when inequality, arguably, doesn't really exist, and if as a
result it gives incessant help to women at the expense of men it becomes biased against men, yes.

sian and crooked rib said...

Am on my phone so can't respond to all points made at the mo.
Michel you mention the glass cellar or sticky floor, giving examples of low status but hard jobs that men do. It is also often forgotten tho that women are also trapped by the sticky floor. Is caring for the elderly or cleaning toilets any harder than waste disposal? Women are over represented in the 5 Cs, cleaning, caring, catering, clerical and cashiering, and these are among the lowest status and lowest paid jobs, some physically and emotionally demanding. I give this example to show it goes both ways.

False accusations of rape are v low, according to bcs they make up 3-5% of rape cases, and Home office stats put number of rapes at 100,000 a year. The links are in my dsk post, as I say am on phone so can't link at mo! If found guilty, the accuser faces a jail term. I find the false accusation debate a bit of a derailer tbh, there are so many rapes, so many rapists go free...the two crimes aren't comparable imo.

Thanks for all the comments, it is interesting to see how ppl are responding to the post.

Michel said...

Jayseajay,

It might take time for me to come back to you on all your posts (and Sian) let alone finished to answer your original post, I will be busy for a while (so I don't think I will do it all today) but I will quickly answer to your first one as something typical of the internet has just jappened.

i)Oh god no, far from me the patronizing tone, I actually meant it as a joke. Whenever I mentionned 'logic classes' in the past, it's always been followed by light-hearted jokes calling you 'Spock' and so on, and since you've taught logic I'm sure you've heard it all before. So I always say 'Yes, it does exist...' with a smile, as a preventive attack which in turn stops people to make silly jokes but still makes them smile. Obviously a complete fail here, which is typical of internet since there is 'no tone' and no face, you couldn't see my smile or hear my voice and of course I see where you're coming from. Patronising is always a bad idea anyway in a debate, because if you're caught being completely wrong and you've been patronising, you won't have any arguments left and it then degenerates in an emotional debate like the very 'civilised' YouTube arguments.

Come to think of it the way the word 'patronizing' is used today indeed confirms the impact of father's authority in the past. But my stance on that one is that consistently attacking any form of father authority in return is extremely dangerous (more on that later).

ii) Touché, food for thoughts for me on that one. But having a daughter certainly makes my blood boil when it comes to woman bashing, which is why I prefer to debate on a blog like this one, even if I disagree, than some others I've seen.

iii) Yes that is exactly what I'm saying, there is no weird implication in there at all. The principle is essential to analysing data, as if your first reflex is not to question your first interpretation, the more there is data to analyse, the more the chances of seeing only what you want to see. You obviously know that given your answer, and you must have also heard that the main criticism towards feminism has been on how they bring up data. So these interpretations have been challenged yes, so much in fact that now 'common' interpretation as you say (like domestic violence) does not agree at all with the feminist interpretation. And of course you need to explain why you disagree, and you'll see that if I can't explain why I disagree, I give the benefit of the doubt to the original analysis. But by all means, don't hesitate to tell me when I don't.

jayseajay said...

Michel,

I didn't see most of your comments before my last response. I'm not going to be able to respond to much of what you've said, because its late and there's an awful lot of points and things to say.

I have written the post I mentioned earlier, which touches on a lot of these issues also. http://mindingandmattering.blogspot.com/2011/09/misandry-medusa-and-mens-rights.html
Sian - I've mentioned this post a couple of times...and I'd all be superinterested to hear any thought you had..

So briefly...
On DV - There is a link on my post to a fairly extensive debate between Paul Elam and David Futrelle on just this question. You asked me what I think? I think it's a slam dunk to Futrelle. That is, I think the 'woman are half the problem' line is bunk (which is not the same as saying that men do not experience violence at the hands of women, it is saying that the violence men experience is not equivalent in severity, and type, and intention and consequence, to the violence women experience, and it is these things that are significant when it comes to the relationship between DV and the way it effects women's self-esteem, freedom, possibilities and experience, i.e. the extent to which DV oppresses them. On this, I'd like you to hold together two statements you make in your post. One, that woman "are at far more risk of actual damage" from DV, and two, that "there is no oppression here, there simply can't be." There is a serious question of consistency here. Lastly on this, "there is certainly enough in there to discredit anything told by the movement on the matter of domestic violence" only follows if you think that the entire argument about DV rests on proving that there is no DV against men, which it doesn't.

It's very late now, but the last thing I do want to raise. Feminism has spent an awful long time discussing what equality means, it would, as you suggest, be pretty negligent for a movement aimed at equality not to think very hard about what equality means...and I'm really not sure on what basis you are suggesting that Gender Studies lacks rigor as a discipline because it has lazy semantics. It really doesn't, and what this suggests to me, is that you don't really know that much about what goes on in Gender Studies. For instance, as you point out, people are not identical...so equality can't mean that right? The issue of interpretation here is also, for instance, why feminism is divided into 'equality' and 'difference' feminisms. I'm a difference feminist actually, which is more unusual in the Anglo-American world, but that means that I want women to be given value, and opportunity, and high-expectation, as women...and that I am skeptical about the valuation of certain traditionally masculine characteristics over feminine ones. So yes, if you like, I want balance too...I want a balance of masculine and feminine characteristics in all individuals, and I want all individuals to live in a world which values them equally, while respecting all of their individual differences.

jayseajay said...

Lastly, this whole business about logic and maths and its gender dimensions. Its really complex, but you know, logic is not just logic, there are different types of logics, and they have different metaphysical implications, and some of those implications are gendered...Really, this whole 'there is only one reality and it presentation is totally objective and there could be no gender dimension to it' won't wash...which again, is not the same thing as saying there is no reality, and it is all interpretation. And lastly on that, really, Dawkins - sociobiolgy in general - is really up there when it comes to gendered assumptions in science (read Haraway on this)...and also, Dawkins is a pretty sketchy source when it comes to gender...after he compared a women's discomfort about being propositioned in a lift in the middle of the night by a strange man with his irritation when he hears someone chewing gum. Like I said. Privilege, the thing is, it's invisible to those that have it. And on this, there is nothing better on the internets anywhere, ever, than Sady Doyle on mansplaining http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/08/29/chronicles-of-mansplaining-professor-feminism-and-the-deleted-comments-of-doom/

Cheers.

Michel said...

Sian,
For the risks involved I must strongly disagree on the 5Cs, but you got me thinking about the elderly.
1) Sticky floor: Isn't cleaning toilet far less risky than waste disposal though? (awkward subject to talk about) I mean you pretty much know what kind of waste you're dealing with, you always have the right tools and most of it is already drained.You get no unexpected acid or fumes, no cutting poisoning your blood stream, no risk of
losing an arm to a machine... You find diseases, but not more so than waste disposal as, even when cleaning
hospitals, the hospital waste also has to be recovered. 5Cs can be demanding but you can also not compare the relative risk of death between cashiering & catering (none) and mining & building (high). So if 5Cs salaries increases enough, when balanced against risks, men will apply. That will create more competition for these jobs while the risk allowances will rise on the other side. Men will then go back there, everyone will have more money but in the end the same gap will remain in between(I heard it has happened but couldn't confirm it).

The elderly: it rings true that women are more selfless than men for this type of work. And if one needs to be
selfless it implies that there is something very hard to do, and by my own logic that such efforts should be recognised, so I agree. So why isn't the money there? You said traditionnally female work was less valued, ok maybe it's the source, yet care houses are not cheap. The money must have gone somewhere, equipment maybe? Don't know but it didn't disappear and male nurses are actually paid less. My wife worked a few years as a carer, she tells me most men in this line of work are needed in mental institutions for the physical presence and are paid in the same range, so again can't see gender oppression here but you convinced me that these jobs (elderly or mental help) are extremely demanding and should be paid accordingly, and the reason we don't value them yet could be remnants of how we perceived strength. (I need to answer Jay here on her latest point (v) because imo it's too manichean to see Patriarchy as a system that suited men, it was very much a survival system which also protected women).

2) False accusations: That's why I didn't mention numbers, I heard of the 5%, but just by looking at wiki it varies from 41% to 1.5% depending on the study. Who to trust? I chose none. I see what you mean by the subject being a derailer, that's why I emphasized that the debate should not make rape any less a crime. But Sian, I'm afraid that when you say the two crimes are not comparable you are
not being very fair to us, as many men contemplate suicide because their name is so tarnished that their
life is over. Which in turn emphasizes that a man's life has no value which in turn makes men less sympathetic to rape. The danger there is, even if that debate itself shouldn't make rape less a crime, diminishing the 'false accusation' can only make 'rape' less of a crime by reaction. You see, men can be very worried of false accusation as it can mean our life, so for the sake of argument, if we push it to the extreme, if false accusations can be made at any time without impunity, even when knowing that the vast majority of women are of course not false accusers, then by pure self-preservation men will push for diminished sentences as it would then be the only way to be safe. Could the slightest false accusations also be partly responsible for raising doubt and convicting less? Terribly harsh on the rape victims but without doubt since the Justice System has the presumption of innocence. That's why it's not necessarily a derailer, the two are linked. Until we find a solution to protect women from it at any time, without making that solution a weapon that can be used against men, the subject will be sensitive.

Michel said...

Jay,

Absolutely no need to apologise, there is nothing in the way you write that is upseting. And it's not my goal either.
Of course we do empathize and we listen, but too many things in feminism seem to be concluded without scrutiny. Isn't it easy to blame a system that needed to exist for survival (and yes came with some unfairness) for everything while conveniently ignoring everything men aggressivity has also accomplished, building bridges, cities and so on and even made a civilisation safe enough for everyone to work, then accusing it that not everthing is perfect, when we don't even know how far another system would have gone, and when femimism itself still show signs of radicalism against the other gender arguably worse than we ever heard. I mean Anonymous mentionned 'SCUM as one book hard to read but being only one among so many patriarchal books', but name one book that calls for the extermination of all women and girls written by a man? And Solianas was not the only one (we can all name a few) and it is still very much alive, I don't know if you've seen the documentary by female norwegian journalist Evin Rubar, need I say more?

On my assumptions

Where did I make assumptions? Men are not responsible of instinct determinism, how can they be? All humans could do through time is to grow through civilisation with trial and errors, brilliance and injustice. Men did what they could to survive, first organising in men hunting and women nurturing, then men building and then fighting with others, still for survival and during all that time women were still nurturing yes, and also for survival. So yes most shots were called by men, but saying it has been structured to reflect their values and interests is a big leap, that sounds like an assumption to me.
I just finished the BBC documentary 'The Human Planet', very beautiful, and everywhere you look when it comes to civilisation still struggling it's one man risking his life everyday to feed his family, almost every time. Is that oppression? Really? Now that hurts! Isn't it how it all started though? And why does he do it, because it would be a lot harder for his wife, she'd probably die in the process. So of course in returns he calls the shots, otherwise it makes him a slave, with the responsibility should come the power and vice-versa. With time came prejudice because by doing most of it you start doubting that others can do it too. Prejudice yes, but oppression no and for many other reasons. And here comes the 20th century, and men listened, albeit slowly, but things changed, and feminism wants to tell us that it's all our fault, that it was all to reflect our interest. The interests of the men (most of the time) and women (let's not forget the horrors of the Merovingian queens among the worsts of men and women) in power and wanted to hold on to it, yes, but men as a gender? Harsh, very harsh. Then feminism as you say, now that it's all safe, wants to reshape the world in its value. And for men too? Even if many feminists mean it, how can we trust that they really make the effort to understand men when so many of them perceive anything male as an oppression and masculinity is often under attack? So of course we're raising questions.

Looks like us 3 only in this debate anyway, probably bored everyone else by now, but hopefully I will eventually answer (ii) and (iii).

Michel said...

One more thing Jay, your link (I'm not spying I was just curious) mentions you're studying philosophy (and since it's PhD then you will be the bigger fish here no question as it was only an interest for me and long ago). But it's making me extremely curious now, you don't see anything wrong with putting concepts such as True and Equality together outside of the only realms where you can do it?
Anyway, debate aside, PhD is hard work so good luck.

Michel said...

Jay,

If I guessed right, you might like this one. On the main points only, I need to go too:
" I'm a difference feminist actually, which is more unusual in the Anglo-American world"
Let me guess: French-Theorist, right? ;-) I mean Luce Irigaray is the first thing you mention on your blog, or was it her book? (Not sure, it was yesterday). And then Derida... why so much interest in the post-modern philosophy of my country?
The interesting thing is despite my nationality I don't necessarily share that post-modernism view, and I already noticed a pattern in the rift we have that is linked to that. You see, I completely get your deconstruction (no pun intended) of logic as in things can never be that black and white, but I kind of disagree as 'complex' is only a matter of how many of the metaphysical implications you don't understand. If you can put them all into objects, then it becomes simple, until then it isn't. That's why that particular school of philosophy comes with a warning to me as when deliberately avoiding some senses of the word you can bend your perception of reality (assuming it's the same for everyone, let's not add too many abstract layers here), hence the danger of saying 'true equality' when talking about gender and luring people into chasing a concept that doesn't exist within that reality. That was a criticism of the 101 blog linked from the article by the way, my post was full of 'if this is what is taught' when it came to Gender Studies.
By the way, I must say you are a fair person, it's only after my post I realised you were currently doing a PhD in philosophy and you could have cornered me with what is very fresh in your memory versus a mere interest you knew was of the past for me, a ruthless debater would have used that as an advantage, you didn't, so thank you.

On "are at far more risk of actual damage" from DV, and two, that "there is no oppression here, there simply can't be", you said "There is a serious question of consistency here."
Where is the inconsistency Jay when men themselves, and me agreeing, make the conscious decision of protecting women first just because of factor 1. It would only be oppression if we ignored it, and even there debatable. So, that is balance, now you calling it oppression is imbalance imo, because it becomes a 'woman only' need that men are obliged to accept just because nature made them bigger, which men are not responsible for and therefore devaluing the aforementionned decision, a decision we know many, many women already abuse. That to me is an example of why invisible privileges work both way, because here you seem to have no recognition for the effort many men make as women through history take it for granted that they should be protected at the expense of men life, and recently we've been pointing the male privileges a lot more than the female ones.

I will look at your links, something tells me I won't agree, but I guess you already know that ;-)

Cheers

Michel said...

Jay,

Forgot to mention about Dawkins. Of course I knew the story, but you see that is why it is important to us that Feminism makes the effort to understand men.
The guy obviously meant well, put yourself in his position. Only a woman today could make an international fuss about someone who was making the effort of proposing, especially when the pressure is still on the man to do it. And if he wasn't, chances are he was just being polite. It seems extremely wrong to us to do that. Like you said, Privilege is invisible to those who have it.

Michel said...

Errata: My English again, not "no pun intended" but "forgive the pun", as outside Derrida's context Deconstruction would imply Demolished (since construction obvously means build) and you had a go at maths. I'm sure you'll get the joke.

Michel said...

Jay, you said: "Privileges are invisible to the ones who have them"
Then it also explains why women do not see the ones they have, doesn't it?
Could it be remotely possible?