Creative Destruction

May 10, 2007

Because Sometimes Fighting Patriarchy Means…Denigrating Women And Their Choices?

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues — Robert @ 1:03 am

We must fight for women’s rights to make the choices that we think they should make!

And if they don’t, we can always make fun of their looks, sexuality, clothing, and intelligence!

Though to their credit, a couple of commenters are decent enough to point out that mocking women != feminism. I wonder how long they’ll last.

February 17, 2007

The Essential Conservatism of Feminist Discourse: The Whitewashing of Male Victimisation

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Iraq,War — Daran @ 3:57 am

Over on Alas, Kate L. makes an Odious Comparison . (My italics):

I don’t really know about other feminists, but I for one will be the first one to tell you that sexism – both personal and institutional – hurts men as well as women. Now, that being said, I’m afraid that I do agree with amp that the degree of harm is different and that in general most women are probably harmed more than most men, but there is substantial harms to both due to rigid gender role expectations.

How can you draw any conclusion about who is harmed more if you don’t fairly evaluate the harms to both?

The extended discussion between me and Amp, which lead to his revised definition of feminism, began with this post, and this comment by him to Robert’s reply. Amp describes in considerable detail the cataract of disaster that has poured onto the heads of Iraqi women since the invasion. I queried Amp’s statement from his comment that “there’s strong evidence that for girls and women in particular (but not exclusively), things have gotten much worse since we invaded”, (my italics), asking him: “please provide some evidence that it’s not overwhelmingly men in particular who are being targetted for violence?”

Amp’s reply was quite intemperate. He later retracted some of the snarkiness, but stood by his his main point, which was that it wasn’t his burden to prove his claims, but mine to disprove them:

Daran, provide me with some evidence that non-combatant men have been killed more than non-combatant women…

In any case, I don’t doubt for a second that men’s lives in most of Iraq have been made much worse by the US invasion, and that there is an endless supply of violence – perhaps even a majority of violence, by some measures – directed at men, especially if one doesn’t see any moral distinction between shooting an armed combatant to death and shooting an unarmed civilian to death.

In any case, it wouldn’t alter my basic opinion at all. Even if men were the majority of victims in Iraq, I’d still think that there are clearly some forms of violence, abuse and loss of liberty that have been directed more at women then at men, and I’d still be writing about those problems.

Well I took on that burden. It took me several months to find some actual figures, but here they are: 5.4% of civilian fatalities of the on-going violence are women. I estimate about 2% are children, almost certainly mostly teenage boys. The figures for the wounded are similar: 6.4% are women and 2.3% are children.

I don’t think Amp would stand now by what he said then, except for the last quoted paragraph. The question is, how did he ever come to believe that women in Iraq suffered more violent victimisation than men? The answer, of course, is the complete whitewashing of the extent of male victimisation in both mainstream and feminist media, coupled with the feminist gender-norm – the Odious Comparison – that makes such declarations de rigueur in feminist circles without any analysis of the harms suffered by men. Before I found those UN reports containing actual figures, I had to ferret around in reports and news articles for any clues that might have survived the whitewashing. This story for example, discusses these killings at length without any direct reference to the sex of the victims. It’s like reading a description of the Nazi Holocaust which avoids mentioning the word ‘Jew’. But it does contain a clue about two thirds of the way through:

Even the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) humanitarian news agency reported on April 26 that “More than 90 women become widows each day due to continuing violence countrywide, according to government officials and non-governmental organizations devoted to women’s issues.”

Another extremely telling point in the IRIN report is that “Although few reliable statistics are available on the total number of widows in Iraq, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs says that there are at least 300,000 in Baghdad alone, with another eight million throughout the country.” The report said that at least 15 police officers’ wives are widowed every day, and that local NGOs in Iraq said the situation had become much worse since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country, which has brought horrific violence on a level not seen before

Woah there! Eight million widows!? (The figure would include widows from the Hussein era, and so is not necessarily inconsistent with extimates of post invasion deaths in the tens or hundreds of thousands. I am nevertheless sceptical about this figure.) 90 widows per day? Notice that these indirect victims of the violence are gendered. It is only through the centring of the female victims, that the sex of the direct victims becomes visible, and then only by inference. When male victims are discussed directly, they’re desexed, and thus rendered invisible as men. See this post for another example of the desexing of male victims.

Compare with this femininst treatment: “Iraqi Women’s Bodies Are Battlefields for War Vendettas” it says in the headline. Contrast the emotive description of the woman’s murder with the perfuctory language of her brother’s. “They pierced her body with bullets.” vs. “He was also shot and killed.” In case you’d forgotten the headline, the same formulation is used about midway though the article: “women’s bodies [are] the battlefields on which vendettas and threats are played out.”

This is a conservative treatment. It adheres to the mainstream gender-norms exemplfied in the first article, in that the overwhelming levels of male victimisation are rendered invisible, in effect, denied. It is only through being subordinated to a woman’s death, that a male victim is visible at all. A progressive treatment would challenge these gender-norms.

Media whitewashing of harms to men isn’t restricted to Iraq, and it isn’t restricted to war. It applies across the board of feminist discourse which “looks at female oppression through a microscope, and male oppression through a telescope. Backwards. Pointing at the ground. With the lens covers still on. And both eyes closed.

So again, how can you tell who’s harmed the most, if all your sources of information whitewash the harms to men?

(Crossposted with Feminist Critics.)

February 11, 2007

Rape During the Balkan Conflict

David:

…I didn’t blame the people who made up all that crap about rape rooms in the Kosovo war. They were playing to their audience. The west doesn’t care about men dying so let’s give them women raped. Much more effective.

(I do blame the muslims (KLF) for starting that whole war of course and it’s possible the rape room propaganda idea was actually hatched in an American focus group)

The victim populations unquestionably played the “women and children” card, but the underlying allegation about mass rape wasn’t made up. The most authoritative source on the subject of rape in the Balkan wars, and quite possibly in any conflict, is Annex IX (Summary) of the Bassiouni Report, which documents these crimes meticulously. Claims by the victim populations (and by feminists) about the severity of the atrocities perpetrated against women are not exaggerated – indeed it would be hard to exaggerate them. For example:

There are reports of one more camp in the primary school in Kalinovik. *252 On 2 July 1992, drunk Serb militiamen reportedly broke into the school. One witness reports that they said, «Look at how many children you can have. Now you are going to have our children. You are going to have our little Cetniks.» They reportedly selected 12 women, took them to the Hotel Kalinovik, forced them to clean the hotel, and then raped them. The women were then returned to the school. Reportedly, 95 women were raped in the next 26 days. Pregnant women were spared, and women who became pregnant were reportedly thereafter spared. One witness stated that the first night, the militiamen randomly selected teenagers and raped them in bathrooms next to the gymnasium. After that, they selected women by name. On 29 August, the detainees were exchanged, and at least 15 women terminated their pregnancies in Mostar and Jablanica. *253

That example wasn’t deliberately chosen. All I did was move the scroll bar to a random place within the report and cut&paste the first paragraph I came to. It’s a typical, not an extreme example.

However the simple picture of men raping women isn’t the whole story. There were a small number of female perpetrators, and not just in minor or incidental roles:

The victim selection was reportedly well organized at Luka camp. Several reports suggest that young Serbian woman was responsible for its administration. *115 Reportedly, she brought a nurse to Luka to «prepare the girls and make them calm». According to the nurse’s report, she watched as the Serbian administratrix stabbed a girl in the breast and vagina with a broken bottle for resisting instructions. The girl subsequently bled to death….

The report also includes many, many cases of men being sexually abused and tortured by male and, in a small number of cases, by female perpetrators (italics are my comment.):

…The most graphic of the reported castrations [at the Strolit Camp in Odzak] involved a named Croatian woman. She is reported to have ordered a Great Dane to attack naked detainees and bite off their genitals.

[...]

Several reports describe a camp in a shoe factory in Karakaj. There a female guard, a member of Arkan’s troops, ordered men to have sexual intercourse with her. (Good thing she didn’t try to rape them). When they refused, she shot them. *628 One report called the factory the «Glinica» factory, and stated that 48 girls and women were raped there. *629

Another camp was at a theatre in Celopek, where 163 men were housed. One day, three «Cetniks» came to the camp. One called out the names of seven pairs of men. The men were mostly fathers and sons or close relatives. The guard forced seven of the men to kneel down and bite off the penises of the other seven. Three of the men died. *630 The other prisoners were forced to watch. A week or 10 days later, another of the guards cut off a man’s penis with a knife. *631 According to another source, the guard made this man eat his severed penis. *632 The same source reported that this guard beat a prisoner with a wooden stick and shoved the stick into the man’s anus, causing the victim to bleed profusely. He stated that the guard, who was often drunk, forced prisoners to perform sex acts with each other. The prisoners were taken to Batkovic in late June and finally released in February 1993. *633

Finally the report also notes that sometimes men acted to protect women:

There also are many cases where female victims are protected by someone from the same ethnic group as their attackers. Men take women out of the camps to protect them from rape and sexual assault, tell other guards or soldiers that the women are «taken», or help them escape. Women hide other women or bring them contraceptives. There is insufficient information on the sexual assault of men to determine a similar pattern.

My emphasis. These details disappear when you look at mainstream and feminist derivative sources which whitewash anything which doesn’t fit into the ‘men are perps, women are victims’ mould. But for this whitewashing, we would perhaps been less surprised at the pictures of Lynndie England abusing male prisoners in Abu Ghraib, to which some of the above accounts bear a remarkable similarity. On the other hand, had those pictures not emerged, England’s involvement in the abuse would most likely have been similarly whitewashed.

The Kosovo war didn’t break out until after this report had been published, but the patterns of male detention, torture and slaughter were similar, and I’d be surprised if the treatment of women was any different. Antifeminists and Feminist Critics are rightly incensed by typical feminist propaganda, such the claim that “men make war and women are the victims” and “women’s bodies [are] the battlefields on which vendettas and threats are played out.“, which, in the light of the overwhelming burden of torture and murder borne by non-combatant males, is not just victim-blaming, but holocaust-denial.

But that’s no excuse for replying in kind. The best response to falsehood is truth.

(Also posted at Feminist Critics)

February 10, 2007

Amandagate – Unasked Questions

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Feminist Issues,Politics — Daran @ 3:28 pm

At least, I haven’t seen them asked.

Edwards is an enormously wealthy and sucessful white man, who lives in a a $6 Million, 28,000 square foot mansion, set in a 102-acre estate, reportedly “the most valuable home in Orange County”. “Privilege” barely begins to describe this man’s status.

So why is it, in a Presidential campaign that might include a woman and a black among the candidates, that Marcotte and McEwan have thrown their weight behind this pillar of the Patriarchy? And why are feminists rallying behind them, instead of denouncing them for betraying everything the movement stands for?

You’d almost think they wanted the nation to be lead by a white male.

Updated to respond to this comment by ballgame (talics in original):

There seem to be two possible angles to your post here, Daran. I emphatically disagree with both of them.

Angle 1: The idea that there is something ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’ with Melissa and Amanda hitching their wagon to a man’s campaign instead of a woman’s.

I’ve always disliked ‘team-ism’ (i.e. the notion that one of the primary things to look for in a leader is whether that potential leader is a member of the same race or gender group as yourself). Though both are afflicted with WPO feminist blind spots when it comes to understanding how gender negatively impacts men (Amanda far more so than Melissa), I think they both deserve credit for not making gender a litmus test for who they support.

Feminists cannot have it both ways. They cannot complain that the country is lead by white men, while supporting white men for the leadership.

They are both strong progressives, and they chose the candidate who seems to hold the most promise for progressive reform.

Ya think?

Because what I think is that no matter who wins the election, the US will have more or less the same social structure in four years time as it does now. At best they’ll be some tinkering at the margins of social policy, but no real reform.

They could have supported Hillary instead, even though she is seemingly more centrist and establishment, on the logic of ‘the historic weight of breaking the Presidential gender barrier outweighs the absence of progressivism in Hillary’s policies’ (an argument which I think is not entirely devoid of merit). But they didn’t, and I think that speaks highly of their fealty to progressive goals.

It shows that feminists really don’t believe what they purport to believe, which is that good things will flow from having women in high office.

Angle 2: The idea that there is something wrong with John Edwards being a member of the political-economic elite.

You mean “the idea that there is something wrong with John Edwards being a member of the Patriarchy”.

That is what we are talking about, isn’t it, according to feminists? So why avoid the word now?

I pretty much don’t give a damn about someone’s personal circumstances when I think about a politician.

What ballgame as an individual give a damn about is neither here nor there. I’m criticising feminists generally, and feminists generally do give a damn about politicians’ colour, gender, and personal circumstances.

The fact that he or she is a member of the elite is almost inevitable: it is extraordinarily rare for someone of an ordinary background or non-white, or female to be able to make the connections and generate the cash which is a virtual prerequisite to attaining high office in the United States. The Paul Wellstones and Bernie Sanders are few and far between.

Italics are my insertion. Despite his craven omission of those words, this is a description of Patriarchy, as feminists conceive of it. So what happens when a Patriarch comes along and throws them a couple of bones? Amanda “Mad Dog” Marcotte rolls over and says “tickle my tummy”. Cue thunderous applause from the feminist movment.

Frankly, a rich person is more likely to have the resources to counter the inevitable right wing counterattack against anyone who challenges the hegemony of the economic elite…

But he hasn’t countered the rightwing counterattack. He’s done what the rightwing counterattack could never do. He’s closed the Overton Window. He’s silenced them. We won’t be hearing any more interesting opinions from either of them, at least until the campaign is over. All we’ll hear are the same anodyne, don’t-offend-anyone platitudes we get from everyone else.

Imagine if, before any of this had happened, I had said: “The tone and the sentiment of some of [your] posts personally offended me.” I don’t know McEwen well enough, but I’m sure Marcotte wouldn’t have replied “My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics.” She’d have told me to go fuck myself. She’d have given the same response to any right-winger who said the same.

But for Patriarch Edwards, it’s “Yes, sir. Anything you say, sir. Please don’t take my bone away, sir.”

It’s just that generally it’s rare to find a rich person with the passion and integrity willing to challenge the system of privileges by which he or she has benefited.

And John “most valuable home in Orange County” Edwards is such a man?

2nd Update: This is funny, and sort of related.

(Comments are closed. If you wish to discuss this post, you may do so at Feminist Critics.)

February 9, 2007

ICT: IDF not Killing Women and Children. Killing Men and Boys Instead

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Israel,War — Daran @ 7:18 pm

The Institute for Counter-Terrorism Rebuts Palestinian Propaganda that the Israeli Defence Force indiscriminately kills women and children. On the contrary, it’s men and older boys who are being indiscriminately killed. (Bold added for emphasis. Italics are my comment.):

If we look at Palestinian noncombatants killed by Israel, we see that the few female fatalities appear to be randomly distributed by age. The male fatalities, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly young (although, as noted above, relatively few are below the age of ten). To be more precise, at least 60 percent of all Palestinian noncombatants killed by Israel were boys and men between the ages of 12 and 29.

[...]

Population segments like women or older people are not military targets; (meaning young noncombatant men and boys are?) thus their higher prevalence among Israeli fatalities is an indication of the degree to which Palestinian terrorists have killed Israelis simply for the “crime” of being Israeli.

In contrast, Palestinian noncombatant fatalities have been overwhelmingly young (but over the age of 11) and male. This pattern of Palestinian deaths completely contradicts accusations that Israel has “indiscriminately targeted women and children.”

So that’s all right then.

(Crossposted between Feminist Critics and Creative Destruction.)

Civilian Casualties – Media Depiction vs. the Real Numbers

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Iraq,War — Daran @ 6:11 pm

My good friend and co-blogger on Feminist Critics, HughRistik, has made an excellent post which deserves wider readership:

…according to an Op-Ed in the February 4th issue of the New York Times entitled 31 Days in Iraq, by Adriana Lins de Albuquerque with graphic design by Alicia Cheng. This article is mainly a large picture showing the death tolls in various areas of Iraq. The picture contains icons of people who represent American forces, other coalition forces, Iraqi forces, police officers, and civilians. All of the icons are male figures, except for … the civilian icon, [which] is a figure of a woman holding a child. Apparently, men don’t count as civilians.

Indeed a glance at the full graphic gives the impression that innocent women and children are being slaughtered in huge numbers in Iraq, while male casualties are confined to soldiers and a small number of policemen. But is this a fair picture?

Civilians

The UN produces a bimonthly report on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq. The May/June report last year was expanded, and for the first time gave civilian casualty figures, including figures for women and children. Fatalities reported are the sum of the Ministry of Health figures (which cover deaths in/bodies brought to hospitals around the country, excluding Kurdistan) and bodies brought to the Medico-Legal Institute (MLI) in Baghdad, each of which contributes about half of the total. For reasons that aren’t clear, the figures for women and children killed were omitted from the November/December report, hence I will consider here only the figures for the six months between May and October.

The total civilian casualties for the period are reported as 19,471. (Each report also gives revised figures for the previous two months. I have not taken these revisions, which are in any case small, into account because the figures for women and children were not given a comparable revision.) This figure includes 852 (4.4%) women, and 204 (1.0%) children. However, The MLI did not report separate figures for women in May or June, and does not appear to have reported separate figures for children at all. If the MLI’s figures for May and June are excluded, the total falls to 16501, and the proportion of women increases to 5.2%. Unfortunately the MLI’s figures are not reported separately in all four reports, so it is impossible to repeat this adjustment for children. Suffice it to say that if we could, the corrected proportion would probably be roughly double, or about 2%.

A child is anyone under the age of 18. Although I have not found specific information on this subject, I would conjecture that the majority of children killed are not babes in arms, as depicted in the graphic, but teenage boys.

Police and Combatants

Police are legally non-combatants, even though the media sometimes refers to them as “troops”, and lumps them in with army casualties. In December, the Ministry of the Interior reported that 12,000 of them had been killed since 2003.

I have no information on the numbers, but Google searches on the phrases “female Iraqi soldier”, “female Iraqi terrorist”, and “female Iraqi police”, indicates that they do exist. According to this report (PDF) one in seven suicide bombers worldwide is female. In some places, Turkey and Chechnya, 40% or more are female. This tells us little about Iraq; I cite it solely for the proposition that there could be more female combatants than people might expect.

Conclusion

Just as the Haditha atrocity, and the attack on the Education Ministry the mainstream media whitewashes the overwhelming burden of violent victimisation of men in Iraq. A wholly false picture of ‘innocent’ female victimisation is presented. Men, if they are visible at all as men, are depicted in cannon-fodder roles.

(Crossposted between Feminist Critics and Creative Destruction.)

January 31, 2007

How I got here

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Personal Ramblings — Daran @ 8:49 am

In a comment, to my recent post David Byron said:

I’m not interested in how you got to this specific web page. I would be more interested in how people became attuned to the discrimination against men that goes on since that is what is unusual about people here.In particular I wonder how many have had a Child of the Glacier style experience, vs those who didn’t see any anti-male discrimination until they got hit with it like a brick as an adult (eg divorce). How many were aware of these issues and formulated them out of their own mind vs how many had to read about them from someone else to become aware.

I’m personally curious about how people found the two blogs I started. I’m also aware that there’s been little substantive blogging on FCB recently, on my part because of all the stuff I’ve been doing setting it up. So that post was intended to be nothing more than a bit of light entertainment pending something more substantial.

He asks a good question, though, and his own reply is worth reading. My earliest recollection of consciously observing (and objecting to) a gender norm dates to about the same age, I guess, as Adams was. That would put it in the early seventies. I noticed, (and remember complaining about to my parents), that bad things almost never happened to women in the action/adventure films I watched on TV. They never got killed on the battlefield or in the wild western shoot-out. They didn’t fall into pits of boiling lava, nor did they ever get eaten by dinosaurs. They might get captured by the baddies, but the baddies never did anything actually bad to them, and they always got rescued anyway. Men, by contrast, got casually wasted in their scores.

Even younger – six or seven I guess, I remember being very apprehensive of being put into a class with a male teacher. It wasn’t that any man had done anything bad to me, but that I simply had never been in the charge of any man except my Dad, and of course, he was away at work most of the day. Up until then, all my carers other than him had been female.

Other early childhood memories which may or may not have had a gender element were that I always felt in the shadow of my older sister, who was always physically bigger, more capable, more socially successful, and seemingly favoured by my parents. How much of that was gender, and how much was age and how much was my being Aspie is hard to tell.

I have a vague memory of wanting to do something girly, and meeting with the disapproval of my father, though I don’t remember what it was I wanted to do, or how he expressed that disapproval.

I also remember feeling totally unprotected in the face of the schoolyard bullying I was suffering, that nobody would take it seriously. (Of course, nobody had taken it seriously, that I was aware of. All they had done was pass the buck explicitly back to me.) I didn’t connect it to gender, though, but to childhood. I felt that, as a child, I wasn’t important enough to protect.

Like Hugh, I could never flirt as a teen or even a young adult. It wasn’t until my late 20′s that I ever flirted, and it was a real ‘Gosh, I can do this’ moment. Even now, I daren’t initiate.

Also in my late twenties/early thirties I had my first encounter with feminist hostility toward male-survivors I describe some of these incidents in this post, and in a couple of the comments.

What I never did, as Adams appears to have done at a very early age, is join the dots. Instead I swallowed the script as it has been fed to me: Women were the disfavoured sex; it was men who are violent toward women, not the other way about (my personal experiences of violence by women notwithstanding); men received favourable treatment in court. Etc. It wan’t until I found usenet in 1999 that I first encountered rightwing antifeminists/MRAs, the kind that David calls Chauvinists. What an eye-opener that was!

My first reaction was that their behaviour was appalling, and their purported facts seemed absurd. My second reaction when I tried to defend feminism from them, was that they were well prepared for the argument, and I wasn’t. I had to wise-up and educate myself. Some of their alleged facts stood up. Other’s turned out to be garbage, but many feminist claims fared no better. After a while, feminists and antifeminists came to look more and more like mirror images of each other, and I realised that I could not in good faith defend feminism while excoriating the Chauvinist antifems for their misogyny.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

(Crossposted between Creative Destruction, DaRain Man, and Feminist Critics. In order to shamelessly promote my new blogavoid turning Creative Destruction into just another feminist blog comments are closed there. Comments are open at Feminist Critics.)

January 19, 2007

Announcement: Feminist Crititics

Filed under: Blogosphere,Blogroll,Feminist Issues — Daran @ 2:20 pm

Feminist Critics:

Feminist Critics is a single issue, single viewpoint blog. The issue is gender and gender politics. The viewpoint is what we call “Feminist Critical”, that is to say we look at feminism and other positions and belief systems about gender from a critical point of view. If we come across as broadly opposed to feminism, then this is because we find that it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Currently there are three co-bloggers – Daran and HughRistik, who are the founders and toysoldier who joined shortly after the blog was started. We intend to invite other contributors who views and approach to discussion is concordant with ours. We may invite guest bloggers with different viewpoints to be the salt in our stew.

We believe that ideas and belief-systems benefit from critical and in some cases adversarial discussion. That includes ours, so we want to encourage intelligent, courteous, evidence-based discussion and debate in the comments from a variety of viewpoint. In particular, we wish to attract feminists to defend their position. And if we’re unable to persuade them of the error of their ways, we want to feel that we have gained from the experience anyway, and for them to feel that they have gained from it….

January 5, 2007

Just Another Feminist Blog?

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues — Brutus @ 2:44 pm

It’s been not quite a year since this blog has been up and running. The initiator, Adam Gurri, has since gone missing, Bazzer has fallen silent, and we’ve added a few folks and discussed adding others. I was especially interested in joining and adding my voice to the din as the original concept was that no idea was safe from examination (the blurb disappeared under the title banner). That throws the door open to everything, and participation in respectful discussions among folks of diverse views intrigues me, not that I ever expect anyone to be convinced of anything.

So this modest little exchange got me thinking:

Me (Brutus): What if all the overreacting to perceived threat has SAVED JUST ONE LIFE? Was it worth it?

Daran, in response: If you really think that, then you should eat your own dogfood.

I’ve witnessed for some time now how quickly some participants cave, and I guess in this particular case, Daran has only a coarse retort when someone like me is a little arch. The other thing I’ve noticed, notwithstanding a focus on politics surrounding the midterm election last fall and subsequent abandonment of politics as significant discussion fodder, is that many, even most, of the posts are about feminism or male advocacy. According to the stats page, these are yesterday’s tops posts by number of views:

Kansas Court Throws Out Charges Against

59
“I Am Man” Burger King Commercial 28
Tools of the Patriarchy 26
A Vocabulary for Feminist Criticism 23
Is This Image Anti-Semitic? 18
American Soldiers Arrested For Rape/Exec 17
Again With The Insanity 15
Sexism Among Comic Book Geeks: “The Rape 12
In Defense Of No-Fault Divorce 10
Affirmative Action Doesn’t Increase Mino 9

Except for the stray BK commercial post, they’re all about identity politics, or at least they turned into that in the course of the comments. Certainly the bloggers who post to Creative Destruction and the commenters (who are dominantly the same bloggers) are free to discuss whatever they wish, especially in the context of some open threads that have been offered, but is Creative Destruction becoming just another feminist blog, because that’s what dominates the minds of most of the participants?

Someone will no doubt observe that my comment (not even a complaint, really) could be sour grapes because my own posts get so little traction. That may be partially true, but I have my own blog (which is being mostly ignored for failure to attract interest), so I’ve got my own platform there. And besides, I’m the sole blogger there, whereas here the idea (for me at least) is to add my unique voice and perspective to a sort of roundtable discussion.

About identity politics in general, I don’t go very far into any of the discussion. Like deconstructionism, it gets very tedious defining and redefining terms of art and seeking definitions that cover all possible scenarios (which they never do). When does consent end and rape begin? Which carelessly used term reveals an author’s true if unwitting sexism, racisim, ageism, etc.? The answers to those sorts of questions and the ensuing discussion quickly become maddeningly pointless. It’s not unlike this ridiculous pomo discourse:

We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifiying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multi-referential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously.

Even if I provided a context for that quote, it is still, in the end, utterly meaningless. Or another example, perhaps worse:

The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, [is] attribute[d] to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids … From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders.

Aye, that’s the rub. Solid mechanics is a tool of the patriarchy. We must voice our support of oppressed fluid mechanics.

Update: I was wrong. The post about the BK commercial is about feminism, too.

January 4, 2007

Tools of the Patriarchy

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 10:19 am

I said:

Here’s where I think feminists have a point: Women are constantly being told “watch out, you’re at risk”. Men don’t get that message, despite the fact that we’re the ones at most risk. Consequently, women fear violence more than men, and it curtails their behaviour in a way that men’s aren’t.

Of course, it’s the feminists doing most of the fearmongering…

Snowe:

That has not been my experience at all. All the wacky “advice” about how to prevent stranger rape and abduction has come from my very conservative family.

“Most” was a baseless, and hence Odious Comparison, and I withdraw it. I should have said “some”. As Robert said, it comes in variable formats. Here are some feminist birds in your garden:

Maia worries that a newborn girl might be victimised some day. She worries that a newborn boy might become a victimiser, but it never occurs to her to worry that he might be victimised, even though the risk to him is higher than for a girl. Not content with scaring her own readers, she posts the same on Alas. Q Grrl posts rape stats higher even than found by Koss, twenty years ago. The incidence of female rape has fallen in America by a third since then. Richard Jeffrey Newman says that “women, as a class, have to worry about being raped and sexually assaulted in a way, and to a degree, that men as a class do not”. Not merely that they worry more, (which is true), but that they have to.

Your very conservative family may have given you wacky advice, but at least they don’t blame other people for their own fearmongery.

So what’s the real situation for men and women? The National Violence Against Women Survey, a study which didn’t survey prisons, nor the homeless, nor others living in institutions where these attacks are most common, still found one male rape victim for every three females raped during the survey year. (Thanks to David for reminding me of this) When you take this undercounting into consideration the ratio is probably closer to 1:2 or even 1:1. Then consider that men are much more likely to face non-sexual violance and about 20 times more likely to be murdered.

But Richard is still right about men. They don’t have to worry, and neither do women. Rape is a truly crap thing to happen to anyone, but it only one of many crap things that happen to everybody at some point in their lives our lives. But you can recover from it. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s not even close.

So don’t listen to the wacky advice; take sensible precautions instead. Then go out and enjoy yourself. Enjoy your female privilege which is your relative immunity to violence. (I don’t begrudge you that. I object to feminist denial of it, but I woudn’t want women to face more violence, just to make it eeequal.) Then, if your taste runs to men, go out and find some nice ones, and have yourself a good time with them.

Do all of this in the certain knowledge that at some point in your life, and probably more than once, something really, really crappy is going to happen. It probably won’t be rape, but it will be something. Be prepared for that, but don’t worry about it, because whether it’s rape or something else, you will be able to deal with it when it happens.

December 31, 2006

A Vocabulary for Feminist Criticism

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 9:48 am

I was gratified to see my co-blogger on ‘Darain Man’, Hugh Ristik, refer in his last post to the “Odious Comparison“, one of a several phrases I’ve coined to describe some of the objectionable aspects of feminism. Just as feminism has its own vocabulary, including such terms of art as “Patriarchy” and “Rape Culture”, so we Feminist Critics need a vocabulary of our own. Ideally each concept should be described by a memorable word or two word phrase. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Some of these terms I have been using for a while; others, so far, have existed only in my head; still others I’ve coined even as I drafted this post.

Gendersphere: The entire field of philosophy, discourse, and activism that attends to gender, including, but not limited to feminism, antifeminism, Men’s Rights Activism, and Feminist Criticism.

Feminism: A self-defining segment of the Gendersphere. A feminist is a person who is recognised as a feminist by other feminists.

Pro-feminism: Men who are unwilling to call themselves feminists (or who are not recognised as such by some feminists) because they are male, even though their views are indistinguishable from feminism.

Contrafeminism: That part of the gendersphere that is broadly in disagreement with or opposition to feminism.

Antifeminism: Extreme contrafeminism. An essentially oppositionist stance.

Men’s Rights Activism: A movement devoted to improving the position of men in society. While this is basically a positive stance, the movement is infested with antifeminism.

Feminist Criticism: My term for my own philosophical position, and for the similar views of other people. The phrase is deliberately ambiguous: A feminist critic could be a critic of feminism or a feminist who criticises. I want to carve out a position within gendersphere independent of of the other -isms, overlapping with both feminism and MRA, and critical of both. Arguably the phrase “feminist criticism” is obnoxiously gendered (see below), because feminist critics are also critics of antifeminism, however given the hegemonic position of feminism within the gendersphere I think it is justified. The word “criticism” should be taken in its constructive sense, there are many aspects of feminism that feminist critics will agree with. Feminist Critics accept the tools of feminism (gender analysis, etc.,) and apply them to feminism itself.

Typical: I use this word as a term of art, meaning behaviour, etc., which (a) is common among feminists (or some other group), (b) is unlikely to be challenged by other feminists, (c) if someone with otherwise good feminist credentials does challenge it, they are likely to have their status as feminists challenged by other feminists, and (d) those without feminist credentials who challenge it are likely to be regarded as antifeminists/MRAs (or the equivalent opposition group). Typical behaviours within a group are likely to be perceived by outsiders as representative of it.

The ‘Bird in your Garden’ Test: A test for typicality. If all you need do to see a particular kind of bird is look out the window, that’s an indication that those birds are typical of where you live. If you have to travel 200 miles to visit a nature reserve to see them, then they’re not typical. Similarly if you can easily find an example of a particular argument or behaviour passing unchallenged among the usual suspects within the blogosphere, then that’s an indication that it is typical. If you can’t, then it probably isn’t.

Obnoxious Gendering: Refers to the typical feminist practice of equating maleness and masculinity with bad, and femaleness (though not femininity) with good. At its most obnoxious, it refers to the practice of never letting men forget just how lousy they are: “It’s male violence, committed by men, who are male. Just in case you didn’t get that, it’s men who are doing this, etc., etc., ad nauseum“. Obnoxious Gendering has a more subtle aspect in the use of gendered terms like “feminism” and “patriarchy” to refer to things which (in the view of the feminist) are good and bad respectively.

Self-flagellation Obnoxious Gendering applied to oneself. Typical behaviour of pro-feminist men. (Thanks to Hugh for the phrase.)

The Avuncular Arm: A typical pro-feminist response to male victimisation. An avuncular arm slides around the survivor’s shoulder, and he is invited to “consider how we oppress women”. A collective form of self-flagellation, this is victim-blaming at its worst because it casts the survivor into the role of perp. It is one of the reasons why feminism is toxic to many male survivors.

The Odious Comparison: Typical feminist practice of unjustifiably or inappropriately comparing male oppression, suffering, etc., unfavourably with female suffering. If a feminist or pro-feminist wishes to discuss male oppression etc., within feminism, then it is de rigueur to genuflect to the Odious Comparison.

Selective Focus: Typical feminist practice of looking only at those oppressions which (according to the feminist) affect women worse, in order to justify the Odious Comparison. For example, in a discussion about violence, only sexual and domestic violence will be considered. (Note that I do not object to a focus upon these issues. It is the exclusive and frequently innappropriate focus which is problematic.)

Rape Trivialisation: Typical feminist practice of defining rape so broadly that it encompasses the trivial, in some cases even sexual activity considered fully consensual by the person purportedly raped. (Note that this is not to be confused the the antifeminist objection to Koss’s rape study, that many of the raped women did not define their experience as “rape”, but whose experiences were nevertheless rape according to a non-trivialised definition.)

Rape Privilege: The practice of elevating rape and other sexual assaults “the worst”. A particular instance of the Odious Comparison. (This is a typical mainstream discourse. Feminists typically selectively focus on rape, but they do not typically privilege it in this way, in my experience.)

Denial, Dismissal, Minimisation, and ignoring of male oppression, suffering, etc.: I really need a catchy phrase to describe this quadrumvirate of discourses. (The ‘four discourses’?) Note that this is not limited to feminism, but is characteristic of the mainstream. Hence it is an example of feminism embracing and extending a previously existing gendered discourse.

Subordination: The typical feminist practice of presenting men’s oppression and suffering as subordinate to women’s. A fifth discourse related to the previous four.

The Three Techniques, also Displacement, Incidentalisation, and Exclusion: Mainstream rhetorical techniques used to minimise male victimisation, described by Dr. Jones in his paper “Effacing the Male“.

Lachrymosity: The tendency within both feminism and mainstream media to use tearjerkingly emotive language to describe female suffering and comparatively perfunctory language to describe male suffering. Arguably a fourth technique on a par with the three described by Dr. Jones.

Instanciation Not to be confused with “incidentalisation, which would be a better word for it, which is already taken. By “instanciation” I mean to portray instances of male victimisation as incidents rather than as systems of oppression.

Hidden Victimisation also The Other Side of the Mountain, and, in extreme cases, Holocaust Denial: How male victims and male oppression are rendered invisible by these techniques and discourses.

Comments and criticisms welcome, in particular, better terms for some of these phenomena would be greatly appreciated. Clearly many of the terms fall short of the “memorable one or two-word phrase” criterion. Is there anything I should add? Any good “Bird in your Garden” examples of each type of typical behaviour?

Crossposted between Creative Destruction and Darain Man.

December 23, 2006

Throwing Rocks at Boys, and Pushing Girls through Windows

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 3:20 am

The latest flare up in the gender wars concerns a pair of T-shirts, which, so their respective critics complain, justify and encourage violence against males and against females. In addition, those on the Men’s Rights Activist Side have criticised feminists for failing to condemn the anti-boy shirt, while feminists in turn are questioning the motives of MRAs.

Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!

Wikipedia (which also has a picture) summarises the controversy:

Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them! is a slogan on a popular T-shirt by Florida company David and Goliath. The slogan is printed next to a cartoon image of a boy running away from five stones flying in his direction.

In 2004, radio-host and men’s rights activist Glenn Sacks started a campaign against the misandrous T-shirts, which raised national attention and led to the removal of the shirts from several thousand retail outlets.

[...]

LA-based radio host and men’s rights activist Glenn Sacks initiated a campaign against the T-shirts in 2004. He claims that they are part of a general societal mood that stigmatizes and victimizes boys. The company says that their shirts are meant only to be humorous.

The campaign against the line received support from several men’s rights groups, such as the National Coalition of Free Men, but also from groups with broader agendas, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many critics of the T-shirts pointed out that similar slogans directed against girls or ethnic groups would be widely regarded as unacceptable. The Canadian Children’s Rights Council has termed the slogan hate speech. The campaign has led to the removal of the shirts by several retailers, including Bon-Macy’s, and Claire’s. Campaign organizers claim that they have been removed from more than 3000 retail outlets.

Some, including the National Organization for Women, generally discount the issue as unimportant and depict Sacks as hypocritical, as they claim he publicizes anti-women views in his radio broadcast. Others, like San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jane Ganahl have ridiculed Sacks’ efforts, arguing that the T-shirts are perceived as harmless fun by children and that sexism against women is a far more widespread and substantial problem in U.S. society.

Glenn Sacks has responded that this criticism is dismissive of the feelings of boys, that the idea that boys should laugh at the joke at their expense creates a double bind for boys.

Citations omitted. Note that the claim that NOW “generally discounts the issue as unimportant and depict Sacks as hypocritical…” is unsourced in Wikipedia. Certainly the quote “No, I don’t think the shirts are cute… But I spend every day on life-and-death issues and don’t have time for T-shirt campaigns.” attributed to Helen Grieco, executive direct of NOW, California chapter appears to be dismissive, but it is not clear that her remarks within the full context of her interview would have sounded so dismissive, nor as Ampersand point out, is it clear that Grieco was speaking on behalf of NOW. Nevertheless, in the light of the “Problem Solved” controversy her “I … don’t have time for T-shirt campaigns” remark may prove to be a petard on which her critics will ensure she is well and truly hoist.

Problem Solved

Pandagon has a picture which Abyss2hope describes (Update: Alas is down at the moment, but Marcella’s updated post can be found here.) Italics are quoted from Kennebec Journal:

The T-shirt depicts two panels of stick figures, with a male figure pushing a female figure out of a box.

In the first frame the girl stick figure is jumping up in excitement while the boy stick figure appears to be frowning at her with his hands at his waist. Underneath that frame is the word Problem.

In the second frame the boy figure is smirking and has one arm fully extended toward where the girl was, but now there is now only empty space beside him. The far wall of the second frame has been shattered sending bits of the frame wall out. Two lines show the path of the girl’s descent and she is shown falling head first. Underneath the second frame is the word Solved.

Her crash landing is left to the imagination. Which makes sense since what happens to her isn’t relevant to this boy’s problem and his solution.

This attitude T-shirt is unintentionally educational.

In only 2 frames it captures the dynamics of a common and sometimes deadly form of interpersonal violence that happens in the real world. It perfectly illustrates the imbalance between the stimulus and the response. She annoys him and he shoves her through a wall. He’s left with a feeling of satisfied power and that’s all that matters.

To me it looks like the girl in the first frame is jumping up and down in anger, rather than exitement, and screaming at him. In the second, I see her pushed through a window, (though a wall is possible, this being cartoon land), from at least the 2nd (UK) or 3rd (US) floor of the building.

Marcella goes on to say:

…many people don’t understand why the dynamic captured in this T-shirt is offensive. They think nobody should make a fuss about this because it’s a cartoon. Those who do make a fuss must be missing a funny bone.

This isn’t satire or humor. It is reality in stick-figure form. And it makes some people smile or laugh.

That’s the real problem.

I agree with her entirely. The irony is that this is exactly what MRAs have been saying about the “Throw rocks at them” T-shirt.

Comparing the two

In the comments, curiousgyrl thinks it a joke to even suggest that they be considered together (Update: curiousgyrl disagrees with my interpretation of her comment.):

But Marcella! Why didnt you mentinon the t-shirts about throwing rocks at boys?

Just kidding.

Marcella Replies:

curiousgyrl, I’m glad you brought up that other T-shirt design. Here’s why I don’t have the same reaction to that T-shirt:

That message doesn’t elevate a current trend in criminal behavior into good clean fun. As far as I know there have been no recent cases of girls stoning boys to death. If that T-shirt had said: Homeless Men Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them, it would elevate a current trend in criminal behavior in the same troubling way as this Problem Solved T-shirt does.

Marcella is mistakenI do not agree with Marcella’s assessment. I’m not aware of any “trend”1 in boys pushing girls through walls or closed windows. Though I dare say it happens, I see very few windows or walls with girl-shaped holes in them, at least in my neighbourhood. Of course, Marcella is not suggesting this. Rather she construes the cartoon more broadly as endorsing, not just pushing girls through walls, but male on female domestic violence in general.

By contrast her construction of the “throw stones at them” cartoon is actually narrower than what the cartoon depicts. Marcella assumes that it is girls throwing the stones, but there is nothing in the cartoon to indicate this. Only the boy is identified by sex. We are told that they are stupid and that we should throw rocks at them. Giving the same broad interpretation to this cartoon as Marcella does to “Problem solved”, would mean viewing it as endorsing, not just throwing stones at boys, but violence against males in general. And there most certainly is a current “trend” in such violence, as a quick comparison of the figures for violent victimisation (including murder) of men and of women will show.

A further irony is that the revised version of the cartoon (Problem, Solved, Justice) also depicts a “trend”: the overwhelmingly one-sided application of the death penalty to men.

1 If by “trend” she means that domestic violence against women is increasing, then I would like to see her cite this. Certainly domestic murders of women have fallen dramatically over the past few decades. For the purpose of this post I have interpreted “trend” to refer to the continuing prevalence of the problem.

Crossposted between Creative Destruction and DaRain Man

Edited to strike unnecessarily sharp characterisation of Marcella’s opinion, and to clarify the footnote.

December 18, 2006

The Developing World: Why Women Need To Be Empowered Within Their Households

Filed under: Feminist Issues,International Politics — Ampersand @ 11:12 am

un_report_women.jpgI’ve been looking through the UN’s “State Of The World’s Children 2007″ report (pdf link), which seems to concentrate mostly on children in the developing world. The entire report is well worth reading, or at least skimming the summaries included at the start of each chapter.

It’s clear the authors believe it’s impossible to discuss improving the state of the world’s children, without also discussing the state of the world’s mothers. The rest of this post is quoted from the summary of chapter two:

(more…)

December 12, 2006

Are “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” shirts A-OK with NOW?

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 4:16 am

This formerly open thread is now restricted to discussing this comment by Ebbtide from another thread:

“How is it that even though “the overwhelming majority of violence and exploitation is done to male characters.”, it doesn’t occur to people to ask whether or not this is consistently misandrist?”

Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s for the same reason that “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” shirts are just A-OK with NOW…

Update (22 December): Marcella has posted a similar story over at Alas.

Rules for participants in the comments (including co-bloggers/moderators) of all of my threads.

  1. Keep it civil. Try to keep each other civil.
  2. Don’t raise new topics or issues not reasonably responsive to what has been said before in the thread.
  3. Topic drift is not discouraged so long as each comment is reasonably responsive to the comment to which it replies. However I reserve the right to divert a digression into another thread.
  4. Don’t make controvertial claims unless you are prepared to support them precisely as you made them with evidence.
  5. If you see that you have made a mistake, post a correction. If your error has caused offense, correct it and apologise.
  6. You may ask that a new thread be started on a topic of your choice. I do not promise to give you one.
  7. Discussion of my moderation of a thread is allowed in that thread.
  8. You may not discuss these rules. If you want to discuss these rules, ask for a thread to discuss them in.
  9. I may change the rules if I find them to be not conducive to intelligent, civil discussion.
  10. I will try to moderate with a kind word, failing that, with harsh words. Magic powers are a last resort.
  11. Moderators, please be proactive in moderating my threads according to these rules. That includes moderating me. I reserve the right to overrule you.

Edited to add the last two rules. Moderators may edit this post to endorse these rules if they want them to apply to their threads too.

December 11, 2006

Who’s on First?

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 11:53 am

Post deleted by author because it was based on a misunderstanding, and it was being misunderstood by others. Easier to start anew than to try to clean up the mess. See this post for an explanation.

I apologise to CD posters and commenters for dragging you all into this mess.

Comments are still open.

December 8, 2006

The Quintessence of Victim-Blaming

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues — Daran @ 6:02 pm

The comments thread of my previous post here on Creative Destruction has been completely derailed. I wanted to talk about Realpolitik in the Blogosphere (and why liberalism always loses), and for some reason, everyone’s talking about a flame war that CD wasn’t even involved in. I don’t mind of course. Quite the opposite: I’m really grateful for the opportunity to discuss this, and I’d rather it were on CD, where I have the greater audience.

But if it’s to be discussed here, I’d rather it happen in the comments, through the positive actions of the CD constituency, than foist in on them by way of posts. So I will continue only to raise issues arising which have wider significance, and leave the “sordid details” to the comments or on my own blog.

I maintain that I am completely innocent of culpability for what happened. Amp argues that I’m not. In particular he claims that two of my posts as they were written were inherently objectionable and also that they “galvanised” the attack against me.

I agree that the first post was rendered inherently objectionable by a typo, and I apologise to Q grrl and the other feminists for that. I disagree that the second post was, but whether it was or wasn’t is a “sordid detail” which I’ll take up with him in the comments. It’s this “galvanised” argument I want to focus on. This is not merely victim-blaming. It is the quintessence of victim-blaming. There are two forms of the argument – a forward, and a backward version.

Forward

The forward version takes the following form:

  1. The Victim(s) does X
  2. which galvanises
  3. the Attacker(s) to do Y,
  4. where Y is inherently offensive against the Victim,
  5. Y does not legitimately meet the Attacker’s needs resulting from X,
  6. and the Victim is blamed.

Counterexample: Suppose you were to physically attack me, and in the process of defending myself I hit you. It would not be victim-blaming to blame you for your own injury, because hitting you was a legitimate way for me to meet my need for self-defence arising from your attack.

If instead I beat you to a pulp, then the argument is victim-blaming. In particular it is an example of the “offensive victim” variant, which I’ll discuss below:


Offensive Victim

Example: “The Palestinians got what was coming them, firing rockets into Israel like that.”

In this variant of the argument, X is (or is characterised to be) an offensive act, while the disproportionate nature of the response is justified, downplayed, or ignored.


Stupid Victim

Example: “I heard that he hit her again. Can’t say I’m surprised, I knew he was bad news the moment I saw him”.


Unguarded Victim

Example: “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”

The victim is blamed for failing to protect himself. There is a considerable overlap with the Stupid Victim. The Unguarded Victim is often given “advice”. For example, on how not to get raped.

And vice versa. It is very difficult to offer genuine anti-rape self-help advice to women, particularly feminist women, precisely because it is perceived as victim-blaming. What distinguishes real advice from victim-blaming is that real advice recommends appropriate avoidance and response to likely danger scenarios, while victim-blaming “advice” tries to “prevent” the rape that just happened, and recommends stereotypical virtuous behaviour as a purported defence against stereotypical attacks.


Innocent Victim

Example: “She was asking for it, dressed like that”.

In this version the only objection to X is that it galvanised the attack. This is victim-blaming in its purest form.

Backward

The backward version of the argument takes the following form:

  1. The Attacker(s) does Y
  2. which galvanises
  3. the Victims(s) to do X
  4. where Y is inherently offensive against the Victim
  5. X is inherently offensive against the Attacker
  6. but X does legitimately meet the Victim’s needs resulting from Y,
  7. and the Victim is blamed.

In this version, the offensiveness of Y and/or the appropriateness of X are downplayed or ignored.


Equivalent Victim

Example: “I just caught the two of them fighting.”

Where the victim was merely defending themself.


Blamed Victim

Example: “Daran derailed the thread”.

This has a similar reversed dynamic, but instead of holding victim and attacker equivalent, the unprovoked attack is downplayed or ignored and the legitimate response is portrayed as the primary offence.


Little bit to Blame Victim

This variant exists in both backward and forward forms

Forward example: “Well, you must have don’t something to provoke him!”
Backward example: “I know he started it, but you were fighting too.”

In this variant, the blamer grudgingly admits that the greater part of the blame lies with the attacker, but still insists that the victim bear some of the blame. This is unfair to a wholly Innocent Victim because even a little bit to blame is closer to equivalence than to innocence.

Edited to typos, markup, and to clarify the backward scenario.
Edited to add internal links.
Edited (19 December) to further clarify the backward scenario, and to add the “little bit to blame” variant.

December 7, 2006

Realpolitik in the Blogosphere (and Why Liberalism Always Loses)

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues,Free Speech — Daran @ 6:08 am

Continuing my practice of relegating to my own unread blog the sordid details of my recent flame war with some of the feminists on Alas, while bringing to a (slightly) greater readership any points which arise that have a wider relevance. In this case, a discussion which started with Tuomas (All quotes from the same thread):

One point here in Amp’s defense (I can’t believe I’m saying that…) is that [Alas] occupies a very precarious position in the blogosphere. Unambigiously feminist man who thinks radical feminism has a lot to offer who nevertheless seeks to incorporate even anti-feminists and right-wingers somewhat to the discussion.

It’s a bold experiment, but I think it is impossible due to the natural religious mentality of many feminists — he has to step in someones toes and can not be fair about it while maintaining “Alas” as he would like it to be.

I replied:

I don’t accept your defence, Tuomas. I don’t see anything in his definition of feminism that requires him to behave so as to be accepted by other feminists, or to let them piss all over him.

Tuomas:

You speak of consistency (and you are technically perfectly correct) I’m speaking of realpolitik in the blogosphere.

This is why liberalism always looses, at least in the short term1, and why feminism (which is in reality is illiberal) is currently winning. Liberalism rejects realpolitik in favour of genuinely retaining the moral high-ground and loses. Realpolitik falsely claims the high-ground, and wins.

Me:

And even if it did, that doesn’t absolve him from responsibility for allowing them to use his blog as a platform to piss on other people.

Tuomas:

Agreed, which is why I think it is doomed to failure.

It’s already failed2. Notice that my pingbacks got deleted, I don’t know whether this was Amp or Marcella, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s his blog, and his responsibility. And of course, it’s his right to do that on his own blog. Nobody questions that. But consider the implications of doing so:(Update) The thread was derailed by means of repeated personal attacks upon a dissenting voice, and to bring it back on track, the victim of the attacks AKA the dissenting voice AKA me, was silenced3:

Here then, is how to derail a thread on Alas, if you’re a feminist. Make a post abusing some present or past member. They don’t even have to be part of the thread. If they are, and you can goad them into responding, or if just one person makes just one post in their defense, then multiple feminists pile in, with off-topic post after off-topic post after off-topic post (seventeen so far6), attacking that person, and making generalised attacks on “men”, “antifeminists” and “MRAs”. And the victim gets the blame.

This is precisely the kind of “bullying” Amp said he doesn’t want on Alas.

And it works.

And it will always work. They will always be able to do this, at any time, to any dissenting voice, and the victim will always be blamed, always be silenced, because that’s the only way Amp can realpolitically end the derailment. After the dissenting voice has been silenced, the derailers stop.

1It’s questionable whether it wins in the long term. Certainly the liberal democracies (including the USA, still, just about) have thrived, but only by behaving illiberally toward the rest of the world.

2Richard, though, has unwittingly started a new experiment, which I will do my best to help him make suceed.

3Whoever it was, graciously left one pingback. Thanks for that, One trackback to my posts on my own blog appeared, but really, of the hundreds of people who will read that thread, how many are going to follow it? Next to none. The falsehoods about me remain in full view on a prestigious blog with a huge readership, and all I can do is squeak, squeak, in reply.

Edited to add: the comments, true and false, are also the “evidence” that prove my complete innocence. For this reason, I have asked that they not be deleted, for the time being.

December 6, 2006

Putting Obstacles in the Way of Male Survivors

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 8:27 pm

I’m embroiled in a bit of an interblog flame war with some of the feminists over at Alas. I don’t want to involve CD or its readers in all that, but part of my latest post addresses some substantive issues, so I’ve decided to post an editted and expanded version here.

ms_xeno:

Check it out. Right next door, Daran is going on and on about “feminist apartheid” and how men simply must horn in on everything women do for women because “that’s where the money tends to end up.” Tends to. It just falls in our laps like free milk and cookies in fucking kindergarten. Truckloads of free milk and cookies, and how meeeeeeean of us not to give him any just because he holds out his hand. Sweet jeebus.

Let’s have a look at what I said right next door

What kind of space are you talking about? I don’t want a homeland for male survivors. I don’t want reserved seats at the back of the bus or separate but equal provision. I want inclusion.

And then

there are male-created survivor spaces. But it’s the female ones that get the lion’s share of the resources and recognition.

Many years ago, I was an administrative support worker of a group for both male and female survivors. We had a funding application rejected on the grounds that the funder was supporting the local Women’s Aid Centre, and therefore there was no need to support us. Set aside for a moment the fact that the services we offered to women were complimentary to and non-overlapping with those of the WAC; what this episode illustrates is the complete invisibility of male survivors, despite our efforts to centre them in our campaigning material.

I’m asking for access to public resources. I’ll take no lectures from Ms_xeno about the hand-to-mouth existence of many of these little groups. I was there. I was doing it. Fundraising was part of my job. And yes, I do feel that sexual abuse/domestic victims in my half of the population are entitled to be heard by public bodies, and to a share of the public resources intended for victims. But I wonder how it feels, as ms_xeno apparently does, for her half of the population to be entitled to all of it.

Unfortunately ms_xeno is not a lone voice. There are many within the survivor movment with similar views to hers, who actively seek to place obstacles in the way of those who try to access and develop resources for male survivors.

Let me give an example. The following account is not my experience. It was told to me by one of the two female founders of the survivor group I used to work for. She had no reason to lie and I’ve no doubt she was telling me the truth.

The two members, both women, went as delegates from the group to a conference for female survivors in the south of England. When they arrived, (having paid their fees in advance, and having incurred travel expenses from Scotland) they were told by the organisers there was a problem. Some of the other delegates were objecting to their presence. The group qualified to attend as a survivor group for women, (and of which women were the majority of members) but because it was a survivor group for men as well, this offended the sense of gender-purity of some of the other delegates. Eventually their objections were put to a vote, which was defeated, but there was a substantial minority who voted to exclude our delegates.

These are the attitudes that we’re up against. Whatever privileges might attach to maleness in other contexts, there are none in the context of abuse-survival. Rather “privilege” is a magic word used by ms_xeno and her ilk to justify her bigotry and prejudice.

December 4, 2006

Sexism Among Comic Book Geeks: “The Rape Pages Are In!”

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 2:02 pm

Quoted from Occasional Superheroine, a blog written by a former DC comics editorial assistant, about the creative process behind the rape and murder of long-established supporting character Sue Dibny:

My theoretical comic company, which, for the theoretical purposes of my theoretical memoir, I’ll call Gilgongo! Comix, was tired of being “pushed around” in the sales wars and in the court of fanboy opinion (such as it was). So with all the red-nosed gumption and determination of Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” Gilgongo! Comix decided to go badass.

They needed a rape. Because there’s nothing quite so badass as rape, lets face it. And the victim couldn’t been from the usual suspects: “The Black Raven” (done that already plus ovaries ripped out), “Bondage Queen” (wasn’t she raped like every issue–at least mentally?), “Demon-Girl” (she was already paralyzed from the last pseudo-raping and that provided all sorts of logistical nightmares for the artist).

No, they had to find the most innocent, virginal, good-natured “nice” character they could find and ravage her not once but twice.

Theoretically, this character’s name was Vicki Victim.

A whole groundbreaking limited series would be built around Vicki Victim’s rape and murder. [...]

[This was] the crucial syzygy that began the chain of events that ended my career. That particular incident had to do with your dead friend and mine, Vicki Victim.

It started with my associate editor running gleefully into our boss’s office, several boards of art in his hand.

“The rape pages are in!”

The strategy worked, by the way. Sales went up.

The long quote above is from a series of twenty blog posts entitled “Goodbye To Comics,” which make it brutally clear that sexism at DC editorial wasn’t limited to how they decided to treat female characters. The entire series is worth reading in order – because she has a disturbing story to tell, and also because she’s an excellent writer with an appealingly dark sense of humor. You can either read the whole thing in the archives, starting with the bottom post and working your way up, or you can instead use the handy table-of-contents-style links Elayne has compiled. But be warned, a lot of it is pretty harrowing to read.

At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna — who also worked in the corporate comics industry — comments:

You put a bunch of immature men, many of whom were very sick as children or had absent fathers or both, ((I’m skeptical about Johanna’s “very sick as children or had absent fathers” observation. No doubt she’s right about the particular men she worked with. But is it a real pattern, or just a coincidence in the guys she ran into? For what it’s worth, I’ve also run into a lot of bitter misogynistic male fannish types over the years, and the ones I’ve known haven’t been unusually likely to have a background of sickness or absent fathers.)) and all of whom escaped into over-muscled power fantasies as a result, in charge of a publishing subgroup with no prestige and little money. Several of them have never worked anywhere else, or if they have, it was at one of the few similar companies in the same industry that behave the same way. They’re still geeks, mentally, with low self-esteem and no success with women, few of whom they actually know in person, but they’re power brokers within their little world, and there are thousands like them who desperately want to be them… and you wonder why it all ends up so twisted?

The blogger at Mountain of Judgment agrees with Johanna: “Like a terrarium, it’s a perfect closed system, with the men on either side of the equation–publishers and purchasers–reinforcing one another, bending the superhero comics sharply back toward their ancestors–not in the newspaper comics but in the violent, soft-porn dime novels.”

I haven’t been part of the corporate comics industry. But I’ve been a comics geek all my life, and I’ve run into my share of bitterly misogynistic geek guys over the years. It’s by no means a universal type, but it’s common enough to be a type. I can’t even count how often I’ve heard or read female comics fans describe walking into a comic book store only to be treated as The Woman Thing, subject to suspicious glares, leering, and maybe being hit on. (One friend of mine doesn’t read comics on the bus anymore, because it’s such a pain in the neck being hit on by male comics fans.) Valerie D’Orazio, the writer of “Goodbye To Comics,” worked in a comic book store when she was sixteen — until the much-older owner of the store made a pass at her. When she turned him down, he slimed her character among that entire group of comics fans, and most of them went along with it.

Superheroes are part of the problem. Not all superhero fans are misogynists (some of my favorite friends, including a few women, read superhero comics). But the genre attracts a lot of boys and men who are insecure about masculinity, and who need to read male-oriented power fantasies in which women are babes and men are human tanks. Some of those guys are fine; they grow up, they make female friends, they compartmentalize successfully. But some don’t. Too many comic book guys feel entitled to women’s emotions and women’s bodies, and feel bitter over what they see as an unfair denial of their due.

At the same time, I feel a little uneasy about posting this on “Creative Destruction,” where most of the readers aren’t comic book fans. I think a lot of non-fans have the impression that most male geeks are like the comic book guy on “The Simpsons.” And yeah, that type does exist (in both thin and fat varieties), and anyone who spends years in fan culture runs into some guys like that.

But let’s not forget, misogyny rooted in a frustrated sense of entitlement to women is not unique to geeks. You see it among men of all types (including some who get laid as much as anyone). But it’s easier for people to recognize misogyny in lonely male fans, for two reasons. First, because a disproportionate number of fans have poor social skills, and so aren’t good at hiding their misogyny. And second, because “lonely bitter misogynist fan” is a stereotype, so it’s what people are expecting to see.

More links: Blog@Newsarama has a post summarizing various reactions in the comics blogosphere to “Goodbye To Comics.” And When Fangirls Attack! has a list of links.

Finally, Heidi MacDonald at The Beat comments on this story obliquely and visually, by contrasting the way that DC actually depicts Wonder Woman with an really excellent-looking approach that DC rejected.

December 3, 2006

The Challenge of the Congo

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Personal Ramblings,War — Daran @ 11:04 pm

Tuomas’s recent post, or, more precisely, the news story to which he linked about the violent rapes of tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of women in the Congo has been personally challenging to me on a number of levels.
(more…)

December 2, 2006

Abortion is a Human Right – Choice for Men isn’t

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Reproductive Rights — Daran @ 5:30 pm

I’ve been a member of the UK branch of Amnesty International for a while. Although I have issues with its gynocentrism, I generally agree with its aims and methods. The latest edition of its magazine invites members “to take part in the consultation” on ““sexual and reproductive rights“. The motion carried at this year’s AGM (PDF link, see motion A3) made broad reference to reproductive rights for both men and women, including access to contraception. The consultation is narrower, focussing solely on the right of women to abortion. Neither discusses any proposed right which could fall under the rubric of “Choice for Men”. (Edit: It goes without saying that I answered all three of the consultation questions in the affirmative.)

Although I am a long term supporter of both abortion rights for women, and Choice for Men, I think Amnesty has called this one right. Access to birth control including abortion should be regarded as a universal human right. That the right to abortion is void for men does not implicate the right’s universality: every person who gets pregnant should have the right to abort.

In contrast, my position on Choice for Men is one of advocacy of a policy. I do not construe it as a human right. In particular, I have always argued that it should be contingent upon the practical availability of post-coital birth-control to women, including safe medical abortion. Where this is not available to women, both legally and practically, they should not be left holding the baby that they had no more practical choice to produce than did the man. This lack of universality to any purported C4M “right” forcloses its construction as such, and puts it beyond Amnesty’s remit.

November 27, 2006

Depths of Depravity

Filed under: Feminist Issues,International Politics,War — Tuomas @ 6:23 am

Don’t read this story if you are easily disturbed. It contains violence and sexual assault triggers.

“No one wanted to believe it at first,” says Lyn Lusi, manager of the HEAL Africa hospital (formerly called the Docs Hospital) in the eastern Congo city of Goma. “When our doctors first published their results, in 2003, this was unheard of.”

Here’s the full Newsweek article from Congo.

What is there to say?

(Specializing in what?)

November 24, 2006

The Women and Children of Srebrenica

Filed under: Feminist Issues,War — Daran @ 6:57 pm

Brownfemipower:

Men are also positioned as the “true” threat–women couldn’t possibly act as anything more than companions or mothers–they may have access to the info, but they aren’t going to actually be *acting*.

From the communities end, however, WOmen were, indeed, doing a lot of the *acting* (that is, carrying guns, planning take overs, etc) while at the same time, never really having access to any positions of power.

The actions of the women of Beit Hanoun is one example.

I came across another remarkable and ultimately tragic account in my research into the fall of Srebrenica. Four months before the final collapse, UN Force Commander Philippe Morillon paid a surreptitious visit:

Morillon’s party crept into Srebrenica in the dead of the night. They found hundreds of people living in the street, and dozens still pouring into town. It was cold. There was no wood left in town. People were burning plastic bottles for a little warmth and the smell clung in the cold night air.

The next day, Morillon met Oric. He told him that he would do everything possible to secure a cease-fire, and get humanitarian aid through. He then got into his vehicle to head out of town. Oric had other plans for him. Efendic, back in Sarajevo, had sent Oric a coded message: ‘Whatever happens, prevent Morillon from leaving Srebrenica until he provides security for the people there. Do it in a civilised way. Use women and children.’

Morillon now found his path blocked by hundreds of women and children sitting in the middle of the road. He was now as trapped as they were…

(Laura Silber and Allan Little, “Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation” quoted here.)

Three things occur to me. Firstly the obvious power dynamic – it’s men who are in charge. Secondly it does not appear that Oric (the Bosniac commander) had to organise this. These women (and no doubt the older children too) were already organised in the defence of their city. All Oric had to do was give a command. Finally the government in Sarajevo was aware of all this. “Use women and children”, without further detail, implies that Efendic and Oric shared an understanding of the ways women and children can be used.

November 23, 2006

Colouring Gender

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Race and Racism,War — Daran @ 5:15 pm

brownfemipower, toysoldier, I, and others have been having a three way discussion at her blog, about the issues I raised in my post about how gender-selective atrocities are represented in the media and how feminism interprets those representations. TS’s part in the discussion ended with me slapping him down. I feel a bit of a rogue for that, because he was, after all, supporting me in the face of ad homs from some of the commenters there, (though not from BFP herself).

But it was necessary. The (false) suggestion that I wanted to centre the discussion on white males was becoming self-fullfilling, and I didn’t want that to happen. TS posted a response back at his blog

Any ideology or philosophy that purports whites cannot experience violence, discrimination, marginalization or oppression to the same extent as other racial groups should never be tolerated. That is part of the very foundation of racism.

That was not her argument. Although she did not use the word, I understood her argument as saying that whites are not victims of genocide.

I can’t argue against that proposition. There certainly have been white genocides. The history of Europe is one genocide heaped on another. Europeans colonised Europe before they colonised anywhere else. All that ended in Western Europe sixty years ago.

The whitest genocides in recent history were in the former Yugoslavia and in Armenia. But were they white? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t think it’s my business to decide who’s white and who isn’t. The race element comes in as an “us/not us” calculus, and in those cases, I think the Armenians fell clearly on the “not us” side. Ex-Yugoslavia is less clear, but I think it was more “not us” than “us”.

So, BFP goes on, without in any way denying the crap things that happen to white men, she doesn’t want to centre them.

That’s a deal.

That said, the real issue is that instead of addressing the misandry within the media and within feminism, it was utterly dodged and unaddressed.

It was. And it would have beem no chance of ever addressing it, had we gotten into an endless fight over whether we should or should not be talking about whites.

To a certain extent, when Daran acquiesced to the position that his post failed to acknowledge race as a prominent, if not the, component of this biased treatment, he also conceded that the overall issue of male marginalization, which affects all males, is inherently less important than any other issue. But if this is what the proper response should be, this notion that one should ignore the larger issue/issues that affect an entire group of society and rather focus a smaller subset of that group, then what is the point of bringing up the issue at all? Why call it marginalization or misandry if the “real” problem is racism?

This misrepresents my acquiescence. Firstly I didn’t say “my post”. I said my “analysis” was inadequate. I wasn’t referring to a single post, but to my entire hitherto race-blind conceptual framework. Secondly I did not concede that race is “the” component of this biased treatment. It’s “a” component, and one I should pay attention to.

Regardless of what role, if any, race plays in the media’s coverage of violence, the fact remains that when the victims are male, the media coverage “exemplif[ies] incidentalisation and displacement which, together with exclusion are the three strategies commonly used in the media to marginalise and conceal the gender-selective victimisation of men.”

All men? Or just dark men?

I don’t know, because it’s never occured to me before to ask the question. I think it’s worth trying to find out.

November 19, 2006

Feminism and Media Representation of Gender-Selective Atrocities

Filed under: Current Events,Feminist Issues,Iraq — Daran @ 6:42 pm

Look at this headline on Boston.com

Men in Iraqi police grab kidnap scores in raid

Notice how the perpetrators are gendered, but the victims are not. In fact there’s no mention of the victims’ sex anywhere on the first page. It’s not until you get to the second that you find out what happened:

The gunmen speedily weeded out the men from the women. The women were taken to a room and locked up, witnesses said. The men were pushed into the trucks and driven away. The kidnapped included employees and visitors to the agency, janitors, and PhDs, even a deputy general director of the agency. Some were blindfolded and tossed into the backs of pickup trucks, said witnesses.

There’s some small comfort to be drawn from the fact that – unusually for this kind of atrocity – many of the men were released alive. Some of them were tortured. Many others are still missing, probably among the dozens of bodies floating down the Tigris, with electric-drill holes in their skulls. What’s not unusual for this kind of atrocity is its gender-selectiveness. Almost all of the bodies being washed up in Iraq are male.

But you wouldn’t know that from the media. A day later, and the victims had been completely desexed.

These reports exemplify incidentalisation and displacement which, together with exclusion are the three strategies commonly used in the media to marginalise and conceal the gender-selective victimisation of men.

Feminists make the opposite complaint. According to them it’s violence against women, which is marginalised and concealed in the Media. For example, in respect of the killings of women in Beit Hanoun, Brownfemipower says:

…take a close look at how the violence against these women is justified or even erased

As far as erasure is concerned, in three of the four articles she cites, the victims are identified by gender in the title or first paragraph. The fourth article was about the day’s killings across the occupied territories as a whole, rather than just those at the women’s demonstration. Nevertheless, the women are there, the only victims to be identified by gender.

In none of these articles, nor in any other I found while researching my recent posts on the men and women of Beit Hanoun did I find any examples of the three strategies being used to marginalise or conceal the victimisation of the women. The only people erased were the males who, according to OCHA, were the majority of those shot dead at the women’s demonstration.

Echidne of the Snakes made a similar complaint with respect to the Amish School Shooting.

And only a few days earlier another murderer selected smaller teenaged girls for his violence in another school. Yet this is something the radio news last night didn’t mention when discussing “school violence”. Indeed, the Air America news avoided a single mention of the victims’ gender.

That last sentence in particular caught my eye. What Echidne has just described in the vocabulary of the three strategies is displacement, and I have yet to see an example of it applied to female victims. Echidne’s remark motivated to me several weeks ago to examine the first hundred returns from Google News on the atrocity. Apart from some very early “news just in” bulletins when the victims’ gender wasn’t known, every single one of the reports identified them as female. Nor did I find any examples of incidentalisation (nor exclusion, but the nature of the crime made that strategy impossible). Echidne’s observation, while notable, seems to have been an isolated case.

And you need to read far down into the newspaper stories before you come across a one-sentence-aside about the hatred for girls these horrible acts clearly demonstrate.

Why this silence, this looking-aside? Why make loud comments about possible motives but not look at the obvious one: that these men hated girls? Is it because on some level the society accepts such a hatred, because if we start focusing on it we have to ask some mighty unpleasant questions?

I could ask the same questions of her. Why the silence about the gender-selective slaughter of males in Iraq, which she’s certainly aware of? Why haven’t any of the major feminist blogs as far as I can see done a post about the this kidnapping atrocity? If men had been locked in a room while scores or hundreds of women were kidnapped and tortured, the femisphere would have erupted.

The answer, of course is that gender-selective atrocities perpetrated against men don’t fit the feminist narrative. Girls being killed because they’re girls is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. Women being spared because they’re women is because… err… Let’s talk about something else.

More about the mass kidnapping can be found here.

Edited for clarity and typos.

November 17, 2006

Boobs Kick Breasts Off Plane; Nation Saved

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Reproductive Rights — Ampersand @ 4:06 pm

Emily Gillette creating a deadly menace in the skies.The boobs at Delta, that is. ((Freedom Air, actually, but Freedom Air was acting as Delta, or Delta was doing business as Freedom Air, or something. I’ve never quite groked all the little airline intertwining.))

See that photo, to the right? That’s Emily Gillette breastfeeding her child (as you can see, she’s virtually dancing topless!). And that sight is apparently sooo offensive that it can’t be allowed on planes. From the Burlington Free Press:

Gillette said she was seated in the second-to-last row, next to the window, when she began to breast-feed her daughter. Breast-feeding helps babies with the altitude changes through takeoff and landings, Gillette said. She said she was being discreet — her husband was seated between her and the aisle — and no part of her breast was showing.

Gillette said that’s when a flight attendant approached her, trying to hand her a blanket and directing her to cover up. Gillette said she told the attendant she was exercising her legal right to breast-feed, declining the blanket. That’s when Gillette alleges the attendant told her, “You are offending me,” and told her to cover up her daughter’s head with the blanket.

“I declined,” Gillette said in her complaint.

Moments later, a Delta ticket agent approached the Gillettes and said that the flight attendant was having the family removed from the flight.

The airline’s behavior is appalling. To make it even worse, this happened in Vermont, where state law says that mothers have the right to breastfeed in public (Queenbadmama has the text of Vermont’s law).

Lactivists haven’t been taking this lying down – they’ve staged a nurse-in, a turn of events Emily Gillette was apparently surprised but pleased by.

MomsRising.org has a petition you can sign, “to tell Delta Airlines to get a clue and be supportive of breastfeeding mothers. And tell Congress it’s time to pass the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding mothers.”

As you’d expect, the Momblogs have been covering this story. More blogging on this topic: Queen of the Bad Mommies (who I adore based on her blog name alone!), Blogher, Playground Revolution, Blogging Baby, Mama Knows Breast, The Zero Boss, Mother Talkers (which has a great header image, by the way), Strange As Angels (who is pissed off!), and Aurelia Ann (whose post is titled “Throw Momma From The Plane”).

Thanks to Bean for pointing out this story to me!

November 16, 2006

The Women of Beit Hanoun – What Really Happened

Filed under: Blogosphere,Current Events,Feminist Issues,War — Daran @ 2:10 pm

I’m still trying to make sense of what happened to the Men of Beit Hamoun, which post I will update shortly. However, what’s become clear in my research is that the story of the women given by the press, and subsequently taken up in the blogosphere, is inaccurate, and that the truth is even more remarkable and tragic.

The press version of the story is that two women were shot dead when a group of around 150-300 unarmed women broke a IDF seige of a Mosque in Beit Hamoun on Friday 3 November, allowing the men trapped inside to escape. In fact two separate incidents appear to have been confused here.

The most detailed incident-based reports of the invasion of Beit Hanoun that I have been able to find are from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), both of which publish weekly summaries, which can be cross-referenced.

According to the PCHR the Mosque incident happened, not on the Friday, but the day before:

At approximately 12:00 on Thursday, 2 November 2006, IOF besieged al-Naser Mosque in the center of Beit Hanoun. There were a number of resistance activists inside the mosque. Approximately 150 women from the area around the mosque moved to lift the siege. IOF responded by heavy gunfire at the women. One woman was seriously wounded to the head. Medical crews were not reach the injured woman. She lay bleeding on the ground for a long time before she was transferred to the Beit Hanoun Hospital, where her wound was described as serious.

The OCHA confirms (PDF link) that “A Palestinian woman was injured by the IDF in Beit Hanoun” on 2 November, but give no further details. No women are reported dead that day.

The second incident, which happened the following day does not appear to have involved a Mosque, other than perhaps being near to one. According to the OCHA, there were five fatalities in all:

3 November: Five Palestinians, including two women and two boys, aged 15, 16, 18, 22, and 42 years were killed, and 38 Palestinians – mostly women – were injured when the IDF opened fire in the direction of a group of women who tried to enter Beit Hanoun.

The PCHR thinks there were two casualties among the women, plus a further four in a separate incident a few hours later:

At approximately 7:00 on Friday, 3 November 2006, a group of about 300 women from several areas in the northern Gaza Strip organized a demonstration and headed to Beit Hanoun. When the demonstration reached the outskirts of Beit Hanoun near ‘Izbit Beit Hanoun, IOF fired at them. Two women were killed and 40 others were wounded. Ambulances were not able reach the bodies of the dead. The wounded were evacuated to hospital at 20:00. The two women who were killed are:

1. Rawda Ibrahim Jaber, 48, from Jabalya refugee camp; and

2. Ibtissam Yousef Mas’oud, 44, from Jabalya refugee camp.

At approximately 11:00 on Friday, IOF continued indiscriminately shell of areas in the towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, and Jabalia. Four Palestinian civilians, including two children, were killed by the bombardment near ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam Mosque in Izbit Beit Hanoun:

1. Ahmad Sahweel, 15, from Beit Hanoun, hit by a live bullet to the chest;

2. Hamza Mohammed Karsou’, 18, from Beit Lahia, hit by a live bullet to the chest;

3. Hamdi Ramadan ‘Abdul Dayem, 16, from Beit Hanoun, hit by a live bullet to the chest; and

4. Mohammed Ahmad Sabbah, 20, from Jabalya, hit by a live bullet to the chest.

In additions, scores of civilians were wounded, including a journalist of Ramatan news agency, Hamza al-‘Attar, 22.

It isn’t clear how indiscriminate shelling can cause bullet fatalities. What is clear, despite minor discrepancies in the listed ages, is that five of the six fatalities identified by the PCHR correspond to those given by the OCHA.

The Men of Beit Hanoun

Filed under: Feminist Issues,International Politics,War — Daran @ 7:26 am

While preparing a post about the attack on the women’s protest in Beit Hanoun, I came across this remarkable claim, (via Chuckie’s comment at the Woman of Color Blog).

…Beit Hanoun was left with no men between the ages of 16 and 45 in the wake of a massive forced round-up by the Israeli army last Thursday night amid helicopter gunfire, tanks and artillery shelling.

The systematic wholesale internment of entire populations of adult men is by no means unheard of in wartime, but I’ve never heard of the Israelis using this tactic. I became suspicious when, on searching, I could find no news report of this claimed round-up independent of the Guardian’s original piece. I suspect the direct source was this article, also published in the Guardian, by Jameela al-Shanti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who led the women’s demonstration.

For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.

This was published the following day, but the Guardian’s editors certainly would have had it in hand when they published the earlier report.

It’s not clear what “all males over 15″ refers to in the above. The editors appear to have understood it to refer to every man in the city, but it could just as well be interpretted to refer to all the men in the raided houses, or even just those men known personally to al-Shanti.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I carried on searching. The most detailed incident-based reports of the invasion of Beit Hanoun that I was able to find are from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), both of which publish weekly summaries. The PCHR report makes no mention of any kind of mass detention, while the The OCHA (PDF link) reported the following (page 11):

1-6 November: More than 2,000 people including women were detained by the IDF in the Agricultural School. Most were released, but it is not clear how many in captivity.

[...]

4 November: IDF ordered all men aged between 16 and 40 years living in the Al Masreen and Al Bora areas in Beit Hanoun to evacuate their homes. They were all detained by the IDF in the Agricultural School

The School appears to have been used by the IDF as a temporary holding area. Presumably those not released would be moved to more secure locations. It’s not clear whether the mass arrests on 4 November were included in, or in addition to the more than 2000 people detained there during the week.

The 4 November action, however, does not appear to be the one that al-Shanti was referring to. Aaccording to her, the detentions happened “last Thursday”, i.e., 2 November, the day of the Mosque seige. I began to search for news reports for that day, and found two syndicated stories by Reuters and Associated Press.

Reuters:

Witnesses said soldiers using loudspeakers had ordered all residents over 16 years of age in the town of Beit Hanoun to present themselves at a school for questioning. The town of 30,000 people is effectively under an army curfew, they said.

Associated Press

Amid the clashes, men between the ages of 16 and 40 were ordered over loudspeakers to gather in one of the main squares of Beit Hanoun, but few complied.

Those who arrived in the square were taken by soldiers in trucks to another area of the town and questioned to find out if they were involved in terrorist activity, said the army, which took over the town Wednesday. Some were released and others were taken for more questioning, it said.

Compare with this report from Al Jazeerah:

Israeli occupation forces, on Thursday afternoon, transferred the males of Beit Hanoun aged between 16-45 in a convoy of large trucks to unknown destinations.

Security sources reported that the Israeli occupation forces called the men through loudspeakers, and gathered them in front of An-Nassr mosque in the north of Beit Hanoun.

No mention there that the call had been largely ignored, or that some of the men had been released. Note also the reference to the Mosque – the same one that had been liberated by the women that day.

November 15, 2006

The Times Deems Raping And Murdering A 14-Year-Old “Fallout” from “Frustration”

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Iraq — Ampersand @ 4:28 pm

The top three paragraphs from a story in today’s NY Times:

One of four Army infantrymen charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in Iraq last March and then killing her and her family pleaded guilty today to all charges in a military court at Fort Campbell, Ky.

The plea came on a day when a marine is scheduled to be sentenced at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for his part in the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi man in a town to the west of Baghdad.

The legal actions are part of the fallout of the fighting in Iraq, where insurgent fighters blend in with the civilian population, frustrating soldiers who are subject to roadside bombing and other attacks.

Holy fucking shit!

So when four infantrymen decide to rape a 14-year-old girl and kill her and her whole family, that’s “fallout” from the frustration soldiers feel because “insurgent fighters blend?”

Yes, I’m sure the soldiers thought that the 14-year-old they raped and murdered – not to mention her 7-year-old sister, who they also murdered – were insurgents blending with civilians. In no way was this a problem of a culture of entitlement, racism and misogyny, combined with giving green soldiers absolute authority over civilians that some of them think of as subhuman.

Heck no! It’s the fault of those damn blending insurgent Iraqis!

(The soldier, by the way, plead guilty in order to take the death penalty off the table. The Times says he’ll probably get sentenced to life, but could be out in 20 years.)

* * *

It’s besides the point of this post, but I feel obliged to point out that the other case the Times mentioned involves soldiers who planned to kidnap and murder an alleged insurgent, but grabbed and killed the wrong man. That’s a genuine example of a death resulting from “insurgents blending with civilians,” I guess; but it’s mainly an example of the inevitable result of believing that war justifies punishing alleged “insurgents” without trial or defense. George Bush and conservatives have been fighting hard to erode the right of trial and defense, and their thinking may have influenced the murderers in this case.

November 10, 2006

Does Having Women In Elected Office Make A Difference To Policy?

Filed under: Election 2006,Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 2:42 pm

A few days before the election, Rachel blogged that “women were poised to make gains in election” and asked, “If the number of women increases, do you think this could affect policies or do you think we will start to see the women politicians join the ranks of the ‘good old boys’?”

There are two reports from the Institute For Women’s Policy Research that suggest that more female legislators does mean more feminist and pro-woman laws will be passed. The first, “Does Women’s Representation in Elected Office Lead to Women-Friendly Policy?” (pdf link) looks at how many laws benefiting women, such as “protection from violence, access to income support (through welfare and child support collection), women-friendly employment protections, legislation protecting sexual minorities, and reproductive rights,” have been passed in each of the fifty states. ((The three best states for women, by this measure: Hawaii, Vermont and Washington. The three worst: Tennessee, Mississippi, and Idaho.))

What the IWPR found is that the more women are in elected office in a state, and the more powerful those elected offices are, the more woman-friendly legislation gets passed.

As the authors point out, the direction of causation is ambiguous. Maybe more women in office leads to more “woman-friendly” laws; but it’s also possible that states that are open to these laws are more likely to elect women legislators. I think it’s likely that both are true.

On an aggregate level, women’s presence in legislatures and other state-level elected offices is closely associated with better policy for women. This suggests that having women in elected office may be important to encouraging states to adopt policies relevant to women’s lives. Conversely, women’s resources and rights may influence the number of women elected to public office.

The second IWPR report, “Gender Differences in Bill Sponsorship on Women’s Issues” (pdf link), examines who sponsors which bills. From the report:

Within each party, women are more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues.

Across both Congresses, between 23 percent and 27 percent points more Democratic women than Democratic men utilized their scarce resources of time, staff, and political capital to develop women’s issue legislation. Among Republicans, 83 percent of Republican women sponsored a women’s issue bill in the 103rd Congress, compared to just 37 percent of Republican men. However, in the 104th Congress, the proportion of Republican women sponsoring women’s issue bills dropped to 59 percent, only 12 percentage points more than Republican men. This 24 percentage point drop was largely due to the election of six conservative Republican freshman women, none of whom sponsored any type of women’s issue bill. [...]

The influence of gender on a member’s legislative behavior is highly dependent on his/her specific political ideology. All Democratic women and moderate Republican women are much more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues of the same party and ideology. In contrast, conservative Republican women are not more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their conservative Republican male counterparts.

So it appears likely that having women in government does make a difference to what laws are proposed and passed.

Although these reports are several years old, they’re especially relevant today, since we have now elected record-breaking numbers of women to congress, and we will soon have the first female Speaker of the House in US history. (I really love Jen’s take on that).

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