Saturday, October 1, 2011

So about that radical notion...

So Toy Soldier on how to teach boys to be feminists. Oh this is going to be good.
A couple of years ago, I recall a conversation I had with my 13-year-old nephew who is quite intelligent and a bit beyond his years. He was saying that he and his friends had had a discussion about who had it easier, men or women. They decided that women did for various reasons. A huge conversation ensued, as you can imagine, with my nephew, his mother, his grandmother and grandfather, and me. I think decidedly, by the end of the talk, we might have changed his mind!

I'd be very curious as to what they changed his mind about. Did they change his mind to realize that its hard on men and women? Did they change his mind to think that women actually have it worse? The difference being one is an egalitarian approach while the other is engaging in Oppression Olympics (well feminists don't call it that because to them OO is disagreeing with a feminist assertion that women do have it worse).
There seems to be a lot more research being done lately about boys and gender stereotyping. Undoubtedly, we need boys who will grow up understanding and appreciating what it means to be female in our society as well as the world-at-large because they will benefit from that awareness and so will everyone else.
Now this I can agree with people need to be mindful of how other folks are (or are not) faring in this cruel world.

Further down there is a list of things people can do to "do to educate our boys about feminism and being a feminist" (I added the numbers):

1. Teach them it’s okay to be emotional and that holding feelings in is not what being a man is about.

2. Become media literate so that they can become aware of how gender is portrayed in terms of what they are seeing and hearing.

3. When a boy sees an ad or a TV show in which stereotypes are present, make sure you point it out.

4. Teach them that there is more to a girl than what she looks like. Discuss famous women who have done and are doing important things.

5. Make play dates in which there are boys and girls to play with. Making friends with girls can be an important part of how they will perceive women.

6. Introduce them to female characters through books, movies, etc. Research shows that a majority of these characters are male, so it will be up to you to provide a variety.
Honestly my gripes are few.

1. I'd actually try to teach them that emotional freedom is an important part of being a man. And by that a man should be able to be as emotional or not emotional as he wants to be.

4. I'd also encourage the fact that other guys are there for more than just competition. Competition is fine but (linking back to 1) boys needs to know that a guy could be their strongest emotional support pillar as well as their greatest rival.

6. I'd encourage them to pay attention to more than the numbers when it comes to gender ratio of male/female characters. Despite most characters being male a halfway decent look at them will show that the majority of them are cliches and stereotypes (so I hope that points 2 and 3 were meant to apply male stereotypes as well).

Now those basic building blocks are nice but here's where it gets fun. The next list is of things to teach young men.

1. Teach them that “feminism” means promoting women’s rights and interests.

2. Discuss how being a feminist does not mean women hate men or that women think men are the enemy.

3. Teach them that by taking a role in feminism they will be helping everyone, not just women.

4. Teach them that because they are at the top of society’s hierarchy, they have a responsibility and an ability to be part of social change and justice for everyone.

5. Simply talk to them and use probing questions when teachable moments arise. Allow them to reach their own conclusions.
Here we go. I'd be fine with 1 if it was properly executed but frankly its not always so. Point 2 would be more believable if weren't for the contradicting points pushed by feminists (they don't hate men but have no problem minimizing our experiences, they don't hate men but have no problem defining out experiences for us out of fear of losing their victimhood status, they don't hate men but have no problem crying Oppression Olympics the first time you disagree with their assertion that women have it worse than men, they don't hate men but expect us to join a movement where the things that are of concern to men are forced to the back burner). Ideally point 1 can coexist with point 3 however with the way some of them execute point 1 they end up contradicting point 3, you can't really call yourself helping everyone when you deny the experiences of those who aren't in line with you. And they sure as hell can't fulfill point 3 when they're basing their perception of boys on point 4.

Four is situational at best and straight bullshit at worst. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of boys that these lessons will be pointed at are not at the top of society's hierarchy. In fact by starting off with that presumption they run the risk of turning those boys into the very thing feminists claim to be against, entitled assholes that think they are owed the world because they are male. Why not talk to them and learn where they see themselves in society's hierarchy and work from there rather than presuming that they are at the top? Oh and I'd also teach boys that sharing gender with the precious few men at the top don't mean shit. I have a Y chromosome just like all those guys that run Fortune 500 companies. That power does not trickle down like a lot of feminists would have us believe.

And based on that I am really concerned about point 5. After the stuff I just pointed out about the first four how much faith do you have in the idea that those boys will actually be able to reach their own conclusions or better yet what are the odds on how long those boys will keep those conclusions if they are not the ones that feminists have already decided are the right ones?

Yeah feminists are just like members of any other movement. There's good ones and there's bad one and you better be damn careful which ones you cross paths with or you might end up with someone like this trying to teach your son.

7 comments:

Clarissa said...

There are few things that bug me more than these Oppression Olympics. People keep compiling these endless lists of grievances to arrive at an exact tally of who has it worse, men or women. Such exercises are futile by definition. All they achieve is reinforce the idea of an unbridgeable chasm that separates men and women.

How is that useful in terms of achieving any genuine change I ask?

Toysoldier said...

Reinforcing the idea of an unbridgeable chasm is kind of the point of the list, at least in terms of who has it worst. I find those kinds of things useless. At best, they allow one group to bully another group into silence. At worst, they cause people think other people's lives are much better than they are. What ever happened to saying "These are the things my group goes through. Let's talk about that." without claiming no one ever goes through the same things?

Danny said...

Sadly Clarissa I think TS is on the money on this one. They do it for the purpose of shutting groups out of the conversation by trying to overwhelm them with "see we have it worse than you!" rhetoric.

But to answer your question its not useful at all.

And you would think that a feminist (you know those folks who constantly claim they want equality for all people) would have convinced her nephew that its pointless to go on about who has it worse but just to recognize there are some foul things going on. The main thing that bothered me was at the beginning when she said she changed his mind. Depending on what she changed it to there's no telling what kind of harm she may have done. But I'll say this. If he goes on to make some positive change she'll have no problem taking the credit on her own behalf and that of feminism. But if he ends up an entitled asshole she'll act like feminism (or at least her feminism) had nothing to do with it.

Eagle33 said...

5) "Make play dates in which there are boys and girls to play with. Making friends with girls can be an important part of how they will perceive women."

But what if the boy doesn't want to play with girls at this stage in his life? Does this mean he's sexist for refusing?

Sounds like this nothing but a thinly veiled political agenda behind these suggested play dates.

6) "Introduce them to female characters through books, movies, etc. Research shows that a majority of these characters are male, so it will be up to you to provide a variety."

Here's where the problem lies: most of the stories these female characters are in portray the male characters as idiots and are taken down just to accomdate these female characters. Again, make sure there's a male supporter character that's just as strong.


But then I lost all respect when her gynocentrisity shows:


1) "Teach them that “feminism” means promoting women’s rights and interests."

Not according to the dictionary definition. No concern for the boy then, I see.

2) "Discuss how being a feminist does not mean women hate men or that women think men are the enemy."


I've got stories to tell that would say otherwise.

But point 4 contradicts this one so we'll get to that in a minute.


3) "Teach them that by taking a role in feminism they will be helping everyone, not just women."


Oh really? Well, let's go on to point number 4.


4) "4. Teach them that because they are at the top of society’s hierarchy, they have a responsibility and an ability to be part of social change and justice for everyone."


Firstly, we're talking about little boys here. Not CEOs, politicians, or whatever powerful man they have a gripe with.

How do they know they're at the top of the hierchy? What, just because they're boys gives them an automatic free pass to the positions of power in society?

Above all, how does this benefit their self-esteem to be told they're part of a group that oppresses women just by association? Especially if we're also dealing with boys who have been hurt (sexually abused by women, bullied by girls, etc).

Awfully presumptions to assume they're going to have power handed to them on a silver platter later in life.


5. "Simply talk to them and use probing questions when teachable moments arise. Allow them to reach their own conclusions."

If you use #4, they're going to feel guilty and loathe themselves. Again, we're talking about boys. Impressionable kids, specifically. Do they seriously want another generation of self-pitying men?


If I had a son, I wouldn't want her within 10 yards of him.

Danny said...

Good points Eagle. And I'd be mindful of my sons, nephews, daughters, and neices around this woman.

debaser71 said...

Hey a parenting thread.

What some people don't seem to understand is that you can't use your child as a pawn in an ideological movement. That is abusive. What most parents do understand is that it's your job to socialize your children. So even though you might want to instill certain ideas and qualities in your child you have to balance that with the reality of how society is.

When I was some punk ass teenager I used to talk about suburban clones and what not. Now as a 40 year old adult, father, and husband, I WANT to be a suburban clone. I want 3 kids, a white picket fence, a minivan, and a dog. That IS what life's about. (for me).

Danny said...

What some people don't seem to understand is that you can't use your child as a pawn in an ideological movement.
And it pisses me off when they do debaser.

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