Friday, October 10, 2008

So I won't mess up the flow over there...

Warning: Sometimes I ramble. Sometimes I ramble when I speak. Sometimes I ramble with I type. This is one of those times.

Last night I was reading a post about fat men and feminism. A few things came up in the comments that lead to general "men and feminism" discussion. I decided to add to them and in the course of things I derailed the damn thread. The people responding to my posts are giving advice and recommendations and I want to respond to them but my responses end up causing them to give more advice and recommendations. A vicious loop indeed. While not related to to the topic of fat men and feminism those comments have lead to things I want to talk about without destroying the discussion over there. Well since I have my own corner of the universe to iron things out why not put it to good use? Go read the post at Shapely Prose to see how this all started then come back here if you are interested in my side ponderings.

Some of the last responses to the last comments I made:


fillyjonk, on October 10th, 2008 at 5:06 pm Said:
Pretty sure I’ve read it before and its good stuff. However it does not entirely address what I’m talking about.

You should read it again. In fact, I’ll pull out the relevant parts for you:

“It’s not ABOUT me, always. And even if it is about me, so what? I’m not perfect. Why shouldn’t I have to take some shit once in awhile? Heaven knows I dish enough out in a day. Would it kill me to get an attitude adjustment? Would it kill me to listen to someone unlike me for five minutes?”

“What we aren’t doing is taking care of them. Nurturing them. Putting their feelings first. Looking out for them, making things safe for them. We aren’t making them the center.”

“Everything else IS centered around y’all. Everything else–you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry–you can’t bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don’t recognize your awesomeness.”

I understand that it takes you out of your comfort zone to hear women talk candidly about men and know that they’re not talking about you specifically, nor have they asked for your specific story. But what I said was that feminism has something to offer men. That doesn’t mean it’s a place where individual men’s beliefs, histories, or feelings take precedence over the deep need for equal rights and the defeat of misogyny. Feminism has something for you, if you’re willing to accept it, but that doesn’t make it ABOUT you. It’s fundamentally the one thing that’s NOT about you.

A lot of that first paragraph sounds a lot like, "They aren't always talking about me but when they are talking about me and what they're saying is true I should let it go because I do the same thing to other people." Yes I do the same thing to other people and as far as I'm concerned its just as wrong. Listening to someone different from me is not the problem in fact I like to hear from people different me because they are different, they might cause me to think of something I haven't thought of yet. And about the attitude adjustment, if I'm misrepresenting you or treating you unfairly then by all means adjust away. Kinda like right now.

You're right I shouldn't be the center of attention in your world and in your own world your feelings should be first. If you decide to help me make things safer for me thanks but if you don't then so be it.

"Everything else IS centered around y’all. Everything else–you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry–you can’t bask in all that adoration day in and day out..."
This is what I'm talking about. The assumption that just because I'm male that everything is geared to towards every indvidual male.
...then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don’t recognize your awesomeness.
I don't need my "awesomeness recognized". In fact those handful of blogs that don't talk about me might sound interesting...until they start putting words in my mouth.


I understand that it takes you out of your comfort zone to hear women talk candidly about men and know that they’re not talking about you specifically, nor have they asked for your specific story.
The discomfort is on me and I'll deal with that in my own way. You say the word specifically. That word is of interest. When I am being addressed specifically and words are being put in my mouth I don't like and that is what I was trying to get at this whole time. As as far as my story is concerned remember that I said "If you want my story ask for it and I’ll tell...". If you don't ask thats fine. But don't decide to not ask then try to tell me what my story is.




The generalizing statements you hate so much are either a) not about you at all, because you are a happy exception to the generality (but that doesn’t make the generality untrue), or b) about you and you’re not getting it. In either case defensiveness that people aren’t taking you seriously enough is not a fair response, especially in a discussion that was patently not about you in the first place.

Here's a breakdown of those A and B type generalizations. An A type would be someone saying, "In my experience black men have been trouble makers". Now even before you get to the black men part I know that does not include me because I've more than likely never crossed paths with you and I'm not a trouble maker anyway. Another would be something like, "Overweight women have low self esteem." That doesn't even apply to me and thats that.

The B type ones are intersting because sometimes they really about about you and you really don't get it and sometimes people like to try make the generalization fit you just so they can feel smug about the "fact" that their generalization still fits. "For the most part men usually don't have to worry as much about walking alone at night as women." For a long time I would say to myself that "Gender doesn't matter when to attacker." This is not so and I had to realize that while it is dangerous for men to walk alone at night for the most part it truly is a bit more dangerous for women. Another generalization would be "Anyone that doesn't take up the feminist title is a rape apologist and has no respect for women." Now being a person that doesn't claim the title of feminist it bothers me to think that someone is pushing the idea that not claiming the title of feminist is a surefire indicator that said person is a rape apologist and has no respect for women. That's a pretty serious charge and laying charges like that on people is where the defensiveness comes from.



I've rewritten parts of this a few times due to thinking about that points I'm addressing and drawing new conclusions. So even if I don't fully agree with what the folks over there are saying it was still a stimulating experience. I just wish I could have done without almost proving them right about making it all about me. So I guess one thing to work on is how to deal with people who may talk about me or a group that I fall in with in an unfair and untrue manner. And another would be to not fall into the trap of making it all about me in my effort to correct them.

24 comments:

Llencelyn said...

Hey, followed you over here from Shapely Prose. I think I'm hearing what you're saying, but I'm also finding that my biggest problem in following both sides of the conversation you were having with the SPers is that I seem to have lost the thread of what you were initially taking issue with.

Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but did I understand correctly that you feel that feminism is not, perhaps, for men, because feminists that you read have made generalizations such as "Men are all X"? (Which statement I think I'd probably agree with as it is very easy to drop that "most" or "many" qualifier - and ultimately hurtful.)

I just want to be clear so I can make sure I'm understanding where everyone is coming from.

Thanks much!

Danny said...

Thanks for coming over. The reason I came back to my own spot is because I was killing the discussion over there and that wasn't right.

Actually yes that is part of it. Feminists are trying to make positive changes to a world that excludes women and treats them unfairly right? Part of their argument is that the men at the top have excluded women's interests, feelings, desires, etc... right? The general belief is that those men at the top have instead of actually interacting with women to learn about and address their issues they try to force their own expectations onto women right? If you agree with those statements then let me ask you this:

How can it be seen as fair that a group of activists take it upon themselves to change the world while engaging in some of the practices they complain about being donr to them?

Now let me clarify. I'm not saying that feminists should make men's issues a main focus of their movement. But at the same time totally disregarding men and just going on generalizations about them is about the say thing men have done to women.

Check this comment that Kate Harding made in that thread:
I’ve been hanging around feminists for a long damned time, and I have yet to hear one say, “All men…” If you’re hearing, “All men are like X,” then as everyone else has said, your reaction is the problem — not what’s being said.
She has basically decided that since SHE has never heard such things then there is NO WAY that such things have ever been said. I've never heard a white person say "Those niggers need to go back to the jungles they came from." Does that mean NO racist person has every said that? What makes her experiences valid and mine invalid?

Tiana said...

This is what I'm talking about. The assumption that just because I'm male that everything is geared to towards every indvidual male.

I don't think that's what they're saying. The phrase "everything else is already about you" may be misleading, that I can agree with, but then again we are talking about people who have been doing this for so long that they're tired of being extra-careful by now. You should learn to take everything they say with a grain of salt because I doubt they will change just for you. What they really mean when they say that is that everything else is already geared towards men - as a group, not as individuals.

How can it be seen as fair that a group of activists take it upon themselves to change the world while engaging in some of the practices they complain about being donr to them?

Do you really feel that feminists are doing that? I mean actively trying to change something that would result in unfair treatment of men if successful? It seems to me that instead you are only talking about things that individual feminists have said and not what they are trying to do. I realize that Kate Harding is wrong in this instance, that what you've mentioned does happen and that some feminist articles can be painful to read at times, but keep in mind that we all make mistakes, no one is constantly aware of everyone else's struggles and when it comes down to it, feminists are not actually striving to oppress men.

Come to think of it, I should start following my own advice. The next time I feel misrepresented or offended by what a feminist has said (yes, this does happen to women, too), I will take a deep breath and think back to what exactly the point was, why they have said it and what they are trying to achieve - does the actual goal in question pose a threat to me or is it just the method that I'm unhappy with?

Thanks for giving me something to think about. I hope I'm not completely missing your point.

Lise said...

Heya.

There are some very radical/militant feminists who do the whole 'men are scum' thing, and I do not doubt you may have come across some of the more extreme cases of them.

I also agree with you that although feminism is ultimately about women, it cannot disregard men. This is because the changes many feminists want will change things for men as well as women and those changes have to accommodate all.

Take patriarchal organisation, for instance. Jobs are based on a male standard and male is seen as gender neutral. In order to remove patriarchy from organisation there is a need for large scale organisational change which would probably involve changing the capitalist system of organisation.

This means changing organisation for both women and men, so feminism would have to consider men's needs as much as women's needs, otherwise discrimination would just turn the other way around.

Lynne said...

Hi Danny, I came over here from SP, too. Thanks for posting more of your thoughts! It is a bit of a derail, but a good topic for discussion.

I think you're missing something a little bit about how feminists generally view society and its structure. The idea is not that men are the enemy and all are the same, but rather that the social framework favors them, so they have unthinking advantages and privileges, and it's woven into the fabric of how our society functions (so that's a little different from active exclusion or oppression by men at the top). It's more that both men and women are conditioned into behaviors through taught gender roles, and on average, those conditionings are disadvantageous to women. And I don't think Kate is saying that *no one* has ever said what you think you have heard - but rather that she spends a LOT of time on feminist blogs and websites, and for the most part when men have reacted as though someone said "ALL men..." that was never said in the first place.

You keep saying that people are putting "words in your mouth" - maybe you mean that, again, you feel you are an exception to many of the things observed in general about men as a group. And your response to my comment that you don't need to take comments that don't apply to you personally is, I think, along the lines of, "okay, but if something is stated generally enough then I AM included in the group in question." This seems defensive to me. I think it might be helpful to give people the benefit of the doubt here.

If someone makes a statement about how men are, I don't know, all rapists, for example, and you strongly feel you are NOT, then the generalizing statement simply isn't about you - you can walk away from that one. It's entirely about those men that ARE. It's not an accusation leveled at you personally, but rather an observation from someone who is or feels like a victim and feels very unsafe and angry. (And there are a lot of men who are rapists, so the victim mentality is not unfounded.) Taking that statement personally makes it about you, when really it's about how that victimized woman feels. You as an individual are actually tangential to the statement. Often I think the generalizing statements about the evilz of the menz seem to come from a place of being disadvantaged or victimized or just stomped on. That's why they're not about you - it's not just that you are an individual and the statement is about a group to which there are likely exceptions. It's also that this is really about marginilized people's experiences, and not *about* the individuals in the privileged group. That's just a different discussion altogether. Does that make sense?

I think that Tiana's comment is brilliant. If someone makes a statement about privilege, and it in fact doesn't apply to you, it doesn't apply to you because of some factor *other* than your gender. Because under most circumstances, your gender *would* award you that privilege. And if you have other stuff going on, that doesn't mean you lack *male* privilege, but rather that the layers created by your other circumstances change your experience. These ideas are abstract constructs, but for the most part they are useful constructs for talking about extremely complicated problems.

Lynne said...

lise, I disagree about the "radical/militant feminists." I also disagree with whoever on SP was commenting repeatedly about "extremist" feminists. Anger isn't radical, militant, or extreme. Some people express their opinions and feelings more from a place of anger than others, but to belong to a disadvantaged group can bring a lot of anger, and that's justified. It's like the conversation recently on SP about how ANGRY people feel once they become aware of how unfairly they have been treated on account of being fat. Anger might lead people to say unfair and cruel things, but I try to look on that with compassion, and not always be defensive. I'm thin, and if a fat person makes comments about "skinny bitches," my first inclination might be to feel defensive (especially considering how much I was picked on for being thin as a kid). But then I remember - there are skinny bitches. Lots of them. I'm not one, so the comment isn't about me anyway. And I can react to this person's righteous anger with compassion and sympathy and not turn it into something about myself and my feelings and how important they are - it's just not the time or place for that.

Llencelyn said...

I am very afraid that my response is going to sound like I'm dodging the question. But here is what I would say about the questions you raised.

First and foremost, I always worry when someone says "Feminists are trying..." because one of the biggest things for me about feminism is that there is no one voice for the movement. It took me a year to find a feminist blog that really spoke to me in terms of their behavior, the words they use, and how they treat other oppressions (that blog being Shakesville). So no matter what, I can never speak for any feminist but myself. And I also believe that if a self-identified feminist says something hurtful to a group of people, that is hir thing to worry about, and not a problem with the fundamental goals of the movement itself. Other feminists can and should call hir out on hurtful statements, of course - and that doesn't always happen. I am curious what feminist sites you go to, because there are certain ones that I just simply will not go to because I believe they're populated largely by assholes who don't really think about what they're saying - and it sounds like those are the sort of environments you've ended up in at times. Also, you ask:

How can it be seen as fair that a group of activists take it upon themselves to change the world while engaging in some of the practices they complain about being donr to them?

I would say that it's probably a symptom of the fact that feminists are all human and sometimes revenge just feels good. I am not condoning it, by any means. Nor am I saying it's right, or even truly fair. But if you've been screwed over royally by someone, it can sure feel good to give them a taste of their own medicine. =/

Now let me clarify. I'm not saying that feminists should make men's issues a main focus of their movement. But at the same time totally disregarding men and just going on generalizations about them is about the say thing men have done to women.

Again, I guess I haven't been involved in any communities that totally disregard men. But, on the other hand, the common FAQ answer is this: If men are hurt by the patriarchy, and they see this and feel it is important, why don't they do something about it themselves, rather than asking feminists to include it in their already bogged-down movement? It is not, as I see it, saying that feminists won't help men at all. It is, instead, asking them to pick up the responsibility for fighting their own oppression, and then feminism (the one I subscribe to, anyway) would be happy to work with them in the interest of intersectionality. An analogy might be the anti-racism movement. Obviously sexism and racism are tied up together as part of the same oppressive system. And (thoughtful) feminists work to include intersectionality with the anti-racist movement so that we can work together towards a better world. But feminists do not do the major brunt of the hauling on that topic - because it is simply not the focus (and of course I'm being an arse by leaving out the people who are deeply involved in both movements). I am not sure if that made sense, but it is how I see it. Feminism will be happy to work with men to end their portion of the oppression, but men must be willing to be their own movement, working in concert with feminism and anti-racism and such.

I am not being as clear as I want, and I know it. I apologize. Let me try this personal example to clarify. When I started dating my current partner, he knew effectively nothing about feminism. And in that one-on-one relationship, I was happy to show him to the resources to help him start to understand it. But I did not hold his hand, or try to make him feel specifically welcome. I sent him links that I felt summed up the essence of why this movement is important to me and let him come to his own conclusions about it. And I hope that he continues to become an even more staunch feminist. I think he will because there are certainly aspects of the oppressive parts of patriarchally defined "masculinity" that he wishes he could do away with. But it is up to him to stand up and decry those aspects. I am not going to take my attention away from the things that are important to me (birth control, for example) to fight his battles. I am here to support him and help him and direct him to resources, but if he wants change in that area, he has to take the active steps to work on fixing it - which he can. As an officer in the army he is ideally placed to begin the subtle activism of being an example for others of a positive masculinity. That's not something I can do - nor that it would be effective for me to do. Generally speaking, a man would not, probably, want to be "preached at" by a woman telling him what his masculinity should look like - because she has never been a man.

This is getting to be such a long response! I hope that I am starting to be able to explain why it is important for men to involve themselves first.

As for some feminists making hurtful comments towards men? Like I said, that is their own problem. And I try my best to make sure I'm not supporting "feminists" who marginalize others. There is a reason I don't go to Pandagon anymore, and a reason I was horrified the first time I went to the Tennesee Guerrilla Women site.

As for Kate, well... I think (though I am loathe to put words in her mouth) that she is not trying to invalidate your experiences. I think she is trying to say that while you have had these bad experiences, that from what she can see as someone deeply involved in feminism, they do not represent the movement as a whole and therefore hopes that you will not write off the movement on a few bad eggs.

It is, sadly, true that many many feminists will fall back on a crude sort of jargon which lets them get through a post without making about a million qualifiers, but which appears quite awful to anyone who has not read that post in the larger context of what that person and the movement as a whole actually stand for.

On the other hand, Kate is generally a pretty rough person to begin with, so maybe she's just being a jerk. ^_^

Keep in mind that it was fillyjonk who started the thread. From what I've seen of Kate, she's far less patient with non-feminists.

Argh, babbling done. I should have just written my own post! I hope I addressed your questions. If not I'll be happy to try again.

Llencelyn said...

And of course everyone else addressed your concerns far better than I did. Sigh. ^_^

Danny said...

@tiana:
...but then again we are talking about people who have been doing this for so long that they're tired of being extra-careful by now. You should learn to take everything they say with a grain of salt because I doubt they will change just for you.
True. Most of the people on all sides of human rights are growing weary and no one wants to walk on egg shells for anyone else. And that grain of salt is good advice. I get the feeling that if I let every slight get me I'll burn out quickly.


Do you really feel that feminists are doing that? I mean actively trying to change something that would result in unfair treatment of men if successful? It seems to me that instead you are only talking about things that individual feminists have said and not what they are trying to do.
In the sense of them thinking that only certain people (feminist approved people) should have a say so in things yes I do feel there is an effort to block, ignore, and/or silence those that don't agree. I would say that it both in what those individuals have said and in what do.


The next time I feel misrepresented or offended by what a feminist has said (yes, this does happen to women, too)...
I guess that is joy of activism. Even though you all share a common goal there are several interpretations of the goal and several different opinions on how to reach that goal.

...does the actual goal in question pose a threat to me or is it just the method that I'm unhappy with?
I think it a bit more exact than that. One of the (if not THE) big goals of feminism is equality for all people. I totally agree with that. The trick comes in when you ask, what is "equality?" To some a part of equality would be an exact 50-50 male/female split of the politicians on Capital Hill. To me that is not equality, thats a quota. To me equality is to ensure that anyone regardless of gender, religion, etc... gets a fair chance to win a position on Capital Hill.


@lise
This means changing organisation for both women and men, so feminism would have to consider men's needs as much as women's needs, otherwise discrimination would just turn the other way around.
Precisely. And I think that some feminists don't want to admit that men's feelings are going to factor into the equation eventually. Certainly not at the top of the list but they are certainly on the list. Considering the fact that one of the reasons feminism got started is because men disregarded women's feelings it would pretty hypocritical for them disregard men's feelings wouldn't it?


@lynne
If someone makes a statement about how men are, I don't know, all rapists, for example, and you strongly feel you are NOT, then the generalizing statement simply isn't about you - you can walk away from that one. It's entirely about those men that ARE.
I'm sure this is going to link to being tired of being extra careful but I have to ask. If the person making the statement knows it does not apply to that entire group then why make that statement? I could say, "All feminists are man haters." I know full well that is not true (despite having come across from pretty hateful ones) so why would I say it? I suppose in the end when such untrue generalizations are lodged at me I guess I'll just take quiet comfort in the fact that they are making a generalization and not an accurate observation.


It's also that this is really about marginilized people's experiences, and not *about* the individuals in the privileged group. That's just a different discussion altogether. Does that make sense?
It's starting to fit together. I think that when someone makes a generalization about a privileged group there is something in the back of my mind that thinks that by making that statement they are indeed casting a blanket over every individual in that group. A bit of internal conflict.


Thanks for dropping by folks!

Lynne said...

Danny, I think I see what you're saying. There is something of a language problem here sometimes, where the words people use sound one way to one group and one way to another. That's probably somewhat unavoidable - feminism is at its root an academic criticism of culture, and that requires a lingo.

Okay, for a personal example, say you had a female friend who had just been through a really tough breakup with a man that had been a total shithead to her. And she's coming to you to vent and cry, and says, "All men are such jerks!!" You could respond by getting defensive and saying not ALL men are jerks, I'm not a jerk, how could you say that, that's so unfair!! Or you could respond by realizing she's not talking about you at all, and just listen and sympathize. She's having a rough time, she's been mistreated by at least one guy (maybe more), and she needs a safe place to complain about that. All men are not jerks, and you're not a jerk (or she wouldn't be coming to you in the first place), and fundamentally she knows that, but she's been systematically hurt by men and it hurts.

That's a really personal and specific situation, and it really has nothing to do with feminism in particular. But I think it's the kind of spirit in which general statements are made. They might be factually inaccurate (NOT all men are rapists), but they aren't even truly ABOUT all men. I try not to take those statements literally, but to listen for what they are really saying (these men hurt me so badly that it makes me feel mistrustful of all men!).

occhiblu said...

Peggy McIntosh writes, "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group."

I think that shift is important. People who think, "I'm not a racist/sexist/sizeist/etc because I don't personally say mean things about minorities/women/fat people/etc., so why is someone including me in their generalizations?" end up defensive.

People who realize, "I may not personally say mean things about minorities/women/fat people/etc., but I'm still part of a society in which those groups of people are held back and held down by the biased attitudes that dominate our society. Therefore, unless I am making a concerted, ongoing effort to work against these biases whenever and wherever they come up, I am unthinkingly benefiting from those biases that favor me. Not because I'm actively being 'mean,' but because I'm passively accepting the 'common sense' attitudes that white neighborhoods are just 'safer', that men are just 'naturally better' at leading, that thin people are just 'obviously' more in control of their lives than fat people, etc."

And what I've seen in terms of generalizations, is that people stuck in the first mindset, of looking at only individual actions but not systems, make weird generalizations about people that they do think apply to each individual in that group. When you talk about men historically not caring about women, and making generalizations about them without checking in with them, that's the kind of generalizations I see happening.

However, when you look at things on a more systems level, which is where I think most (good) feminists are working, then the generalizations are used not to label each individual member of a group but as a way of talking about large groups of people (if that makes sense). The generalization is not meant to apply without question to each individual, it's meant as a way to talk about trends and commonalities among groups of individuals.

I fear this may all be vague and abstract enough to be confusing, but I think it's because we don't have easy language for differentiating between the two modes. And I think, really, men in Western society are so strongly encouraged to think of themselves as individuals (rather than part of interconnected systems, which is a "feminine" way of being), that shifting into "systems-think" can be hard. And so it can be hard to understand that people who *are* talking in "systems-think" are not talking about -- and blaming and accusing and angry at -- individuals, but about systematic forces that are working on all of us.

Artemis said...

To some a part of equality would be an exact 50-50 male/female split of the politicians on Capital Hill. To me that is not equality, thats a quota. To me equality is to ensure that anyone regardless of gender, religion, etc... gets a fair chance to win a position on Capital Hill.

So what do you think would cause in a world with full equality, the number of politicians who are elected to be skewed significantly in the favor of men? You think women are just naturally less capable of being good politicians, or just naturally less inclined to want to be politicians?

I disagree. I think if we see that elected officials don't closely resemble the porpotions of that group (in this case women) in the population that this is far more likely a sign that we have not acheived full equality, and therefore something in society is causing this than that there is some biological component to women making them either bad politicians or less interested in it than men.

Danny said...

@lynne:
Anger isn't radical, militant, or extreme.
I agree. I think what makes a person extreme or not is what they do with that anger. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X both wanted a better world for black people and they got angry at times. The difference is who they used that anger.

@Llencelyn
And I also believe that if a self-identified feminist says something hurtful to a group of people, that is hir thing to worry about, and not a problem with the fundamental goals of the movement itself.
You're right that one's negativity isn't proof of the entire movement being wrong. However reading this line made me realize that the movement's reaction to that one's negativity can be a bit of an indicator of the feelings that movement has to that group.

I am curious what feminist sites you go to...
Well one of the first I went to was Shakesville. At first it all seemed fine...until I made the mistake of disagreeing with the crowd. And on that site I crossed paths with a person by the name of ginmar, need I say more? Then there is Feminism 101. Lots of feminists link to that site like its first step on the one truth path of equality or something. The site is informative but I decided to take some of the things on that site with a grain of salt (namely how they felt the need to redefine sexism and privilege so that it can only be male against female). Now don't get me wrong there are some out there that speak good stuff. Portly Dyke, Jump off the Bridge, and Womanist Musings come to mind.

If men are hurt by the patriarchy, and they see this and feel it is important, why don't they do something about it themselves, rather than asking feminists to include it in their already bogged-down movement?
And good point and this brings me to MRAs (that's men's rights activists). Just like feminists MRAs aren't all the same. But one thing I do notice is there are MRAs out there that are taking up their own fight for their own issues. Yes for some reason there are feminists that like to call most of what MRAs say "whining" and on the occasion they do say something agreeable they just shrug it off with something to the effect of, "what they are talking about is really a feminist issue so if they would just embrace feminism we would all be better off".

Now the reason I mention that is the double standard I see among some feminists. If you point out to them where a feminist said/did something hurtful about a group of people they just say, "that's not me." but if you point out to them where an mra said/did something hurtful about a group of people "its proof that the mra movement is about whining over the loss of male privilege." One person's negative comments either reflects the sentiments of the whole movement or not, can't have it both ways.

...they do not represent the movement as a whole and therefore hopes that you will not write off the movement on a few bad eggs.
That is something I've been working on. I've managed not to let my experiences at Shakesville spoil my entire view of feminists (not to be confused with feminism) and by that I've managed to find others who don't all think the same way.

And of course everyone else addressed your concerns far better than I did. Sigh. ^_^
Yet you managed to prompt the longest response from me. LOL.

Lise said...

lise, I disagree about the "radical/militant feminists." I also disagree with whoever on SP was commenting repeatedly about "extremist" feminists. Anger isn't radical, militant, or extreme. Some people express their opinions and feelings more from a place of anger than others, but to belong to a disadvantaged group can bring a lot of anger, and that's justified.

Fundamental movements exist everywhere, some feminists are militant/fundamental. I know very well that they are angry, and I do not say that they are not allowed to be angry, nor do I say their anger is not justified.

What I say is that some few feminists do choose methods of displaying their anger that is militant, and I do not agree with that type of feminism.

They can have as much justified anger as they want, but that does not justify their methods, like breaking into erotic shops to wreak havoc in there because they think porn and sex toys are men's oppression of women. Maybe this hasn't happened over where you're from, but it has happened where I'm from, and not too long ago.

And like I said, they are few and far between. But, where I come from they give feminists such a bad name that very many women will refuse to call themselves feminists because they think all feminists are extreme. When I tell people I'm a feminist I risk them thinking I'm like the militant feminists, even though I'm quite the opposite.

Danny said...

@artemis
So what do you think would cause in a world with full equality, the number of politicians who are elected to be skewed significantly in the favor of men? You think women are just naturally less capable of being good politicians, or just naturally less inclined to want to be politicians?
No I don't gender has any real impact on the inclination or how good of a politician someone is.

I disagree. I think if we see that elected officials don't closely resemble the porpotions of that group (in this case women) in the population that this is far more likely a sign that we have not acheived full equality, and therefore something in society is causing this than that there is some biological component to women making them either bad politicians or less interested in it than men.
I do agree that the number of elected officials does not fully represent the population but the question is how to fix it. Let's say that right now the male/female split of politicians on Capital Hill is 90/10. Based on your logic are you saying that "equality" would be achieved by kicking 40% of the male politicians out and replacing them with females?


@lynne
Okay, for a personal example, say you had a female friend who had just been through a really tough breakup with a man that had been a total shithead to her. And she's coming to you to vent and cry, and says, "All men are such jerks!!"
It would be obvious she wasn't talking about me (if for no other reason than the fact she is coming to me) but I think I get your point.

I try not to take those statements literally, but to listen for what they are really saying (these men hurt me so badly that it makes me feel mistrustful of all men!).
Now that makes sense. Its perfectly understandable to be distrustful of all members of a group once one of them has hurt your. And maybe I'm asking too much but why not just say that in the first place?

Artemis said...

Based on your logic are you saying that "equality" would be achieved by kicking 40% of the male politicians out and replacing them with females?

No. You set two scenarios. Either a 50/50 split, or gender not affecting one's ability to become an elected official. I do no think the two are different things. So long as their is not equal representation of the population, I think that is a sign that there is not equality.

And again I'm seeing you make another argument which doesn't seem to ever happen. Can you tell me where it's been an at all commonplace feminist belief that a random sampling of male elected officials should be "fired" on spot so that any random group of women can take their place?

Llencelyn said...

I am NOT, by any means, speaking for artemis. I'd like to offer my own response/thoughts about this, though:

Based on your logic are you saying that "equality" would be achieved by kicking 40% of the male politicians out and replacing them with females?

I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone suggest kicking out any politicians (except ones that suck ^_~). The point behind drawing attention to the percentage discrepancy is to demonstrate that our social expectations and our institutions are set up to disadvantage woman (and PoC, and the poor, and disabled) from entering public office. And single dads!

I only really feel that I have enough familiarity with information on the plight of women to talk about that, so I'm gonna have to ignore the other groups I mentioned. But one reason that women, for example, are disadvantaged when running for public office (and when seeking high-level promotions in companies) is that most of our jobs still expect that the worker has a "wife"/primary caregiver taking care of the home. As the burden of childcare and housecare still falls primarily on the woman (I can try to find some sources for this, if it is not in your repetoire of accepted statements), women as a group are barred from entering positions of authority. In fact, (no source for this, just my own brain meanderings) I think you'll find that if you look at those jobs with the lowest representation of women, they will also be those jobs with the least schedule accomodation, the longest hours, etc. This, as I mentioned, is also an obvious disadvantage for those men who are bucking the norm by being single fathers (or in other applicable situations). They will not really be able to get into public office or high-level corporate positions or really any other typically high-powered and well paid jobs because they ARE the primary caregiver and our society disadvantages that.

Gah, there is so much intersectionality with this topic - it could just be written about worker rights! - that I feel like I'm leaving oodles left unsaid. Please try to take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.

I might sum it up by saying that one of the things I'm striving for, as a feminist, is multiple weeks of paid parental (fathers AND mothers) leave at most if not all jobs - at least the kind that come with benefits at all.

And I didn't even start in on the issues that crop up in non-het relationships!

So, um, back to my original point. No one wants to kick out the dudes who are in office right now. What I, at least, want, is to fight for a society where other people are given a fighting chance! :)

Llencelyn said...

And maybe I'm asking too much but why not just say that in the first place? - Danny

Are you that serene when you're angry? ;)

Danny said...

@artemis
And again I'm seeing you make another argument which doesn't seem to ever happen. Can you tell me where it's been an at all commonplace feminist belief that a random sampling of male elected officials should be "fired" on spot so that any random group of women can take their place?
I'm not trying to make an argument that doesn't seem to happen I am asking you a question and you gave your answer. Simple as that.


Gah, there is so much intersectionality with this topic - it could just be written about worker rights! - that I feel like I'm leaving oodles left unsaid. Please try to take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.
That's the part that gets me a lot. When you talk about a single issue it can be difficult keep it to that one issue even though the issue A ties to issue B.


Are you that serene when you're angry? ;)
Point taken.

thebigmanfred said...

Wow. There is an intense discussion here. Hope I’m not too late coming in on the discussion.


Danny:
One of the (if not THE) big goals of feminism is equality for all people. I totally agree with that. The trick comes in when you ask, what is "equality?"

That’s probably the most fundamental question and the most philosophical. For me it all boils down to opportunity. I, and everyone else, should have the opportunity to do whatever (with a few more restrictions – not causing harm, etc.). Representation that does not fit the population statistics to me indicates there could be inequality. But how would anyone know? How does anyone know the choices a whole group of people should make or would make? As a black engineering major this is something I grapple with a lot. I think it’s deplorable that there are so few minority engineers and that minorities are underrepresented in the field. However, I really don’t know how underrepresented it is. I have some indication from talks and discussions I’ve had with others that it is underrepresented but what would be the correct representation?

Danny said...

I have some indication from talks and discussions I’ve had with others that it is underrepresented but what would be the correct representation?
A good question indeed. If there just aren't that many...let's say Latin people in engineering does that really mean that they are being kept out of the field? And in that case would it be right to say those few that are are "correctly" representing the Latin population?

thebigmanfred said...

Danny:

If there just aren't that many...let's say Latin people in engineering does that really mean that they are being kept out of the field? And in that case would it be right to say those few that are are "correctly" representing the Latin population?


It could mean that they are being kept out and that they likely are being kept out (at least that’s my opinion). The test to me is what opportunities are available to both groups, those in engineering and Latin people being kept out. If it turns out that both groups have the same opportunity (equal education, equal resources, etc.), should we expect an equal outcome? I would say maybe. If both groups value engineering the same then it’s possible and likely there will be an equal outcome/equal representation. If they don’t then we get the variance that we see today. To have an equal outcome/equal representation we have to assume equality of opportunity and that the worth and value of an occupation is the same to everyone. We know that the former isn’t true because capitalism inherently produces inequality of opportunity. What we don’t know is if the latter is true, that comparing group to group everyone has the same motivations statistically speaking.. I don’t have answer for your second question, I’ll think about that some more.

thebigmanfred said...

Llencelyn:
"Men are all X"? (Which statement I think I'd probably agree with as it is very easy to drop that "most" or "many" qualifier - and ultimately hurtful.)

This actually leads me to a question about male privilege. Is male privilege something that all men share or that most men share?

thebigmanfred said...

Danny, I promised to return to answer your second question with a little more thought.

Danny:
And in that case would it be right to say those few that are are "correctly" representing the Latin population?

I would say our concept of representation is somewhat flawed. Representation has to always have a purpose. Political speaking groups that are represented have a voice and means for their concerns to be addressed. The purpose of representation is always to get your concerns addressed. Some people think that they’re concerns can only be addressed by people like them. We’ve seen this principle applied through history frequently, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, modern movements of today, etc. What is the purpose for the representation in this case? In particular, what are the concerns of Latin people that would be addressed specifically if there were more Latin engineers? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any (which doesn’t mean there are not any, engineering is a diverse field). The same could be applied to other minority groups. When confronted with the issue of representation the question should be representing who for what purpose to redress what concern?

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