Creative Destruction

July 24, 2006

The hidden war on men in Iraq – part 3

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues,Iraq — Daran @ 8:22 am

In his post about the Hidden war on women Barry complains

And the number of pro-war Americans who have written or blogged honestly about the catastrophic decline in women’s rights in Iraq can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Are they sociopaths? Are they so racist and misogynistic that they’re incapable of caring what happens to non-white women? Are they so loyal to Bush that they think that the harm of saying one critical word about Bush outweighs the harm Bush’s policies have done to countless Iraqi women? What’s wrong with them?

I wonder whether Barry would like to see mainstream feminists including himself held to the same standard. Can he identify more than a handful who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic gender-selective targeting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can he identify any?

I’m not pro-war (or American, for that matter), so the above comment was obviously not directed at me. Nevertheless, I haven’t blogged about women’s rights in Iraq either. This isn’t because I don’t recognise that women’s rights have been eroded. Nor is it because I think this unimportant. I haven’t done so because I’m under the impression that its a subject which is already well-covered in the blogosphere, and there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said better. Men’s rights are a different matter.

Is this impression correct? A google blog search on the words ‘Iraq women rights‘ turns up about 2500-2600 hits. (For technical reasons, you need to repeat the search several times, the figure changes slightly each time and is occasionally anomolously different) Moreover, inspecting the first few pages of returns reveal that the majority are indeed talking about women’s rights in Iraq. The corresponding search on ‘Iraq men rights‘ turns up about the same number of hits – 2500-2600. But most of them are false positives – pages that happen to contain these words, but aren’t talking about men’s rights in Iraq.

Perhaps this is an unfair comparison. It’s possible that people are talking about the e killing of men, but not framing it as a rights issue. Searching on ‘Iraq men killed‘ yields 2900 results. Again, the majority appear to be false positives, though there are a few valid hits including, ahem, the the top return. The corresponding search on ‘Iraq women killed‘ yields about the same number – 2900 – almost none of them false positives.

The overwhelming majority of deaths in Iraq have been male, and almost certainly the majority of non-combatent deaths have been male. The coverage, in contrast has focussed upon the female deaths. In the field of victimology at least, Barry’s claim that “Men are Centered, women are Othered” is a 180 degree reversal of the truth.

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25 Comments »

  1. I agree with much of what you stated. I would add though that male deaths, whether as combatants or civilians, have been so common in war that many people may simply consider it a non-issue.
    Male deaths are expected. That would explain the lack of coverage by feminist and human rights groups. In comparison, female deaths are less common, and given societal views about the general innocence/opression of women the resulting greater concern and coverage of female deaths may be further conflated.

    Comment by toysoldier — July 24, 2006 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  2. Also, most people accept patriarchy as the social model, and under patriarchy it’s men’s job to go out and get killed in wars. A big deal for anyone whose man gets killed, no big deal in a social context.

    Comment by Robert — July 24, 2006 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  3. What they said. Someone who regards man as the default state of humanity and consistently uses “men” to mean humans would read your headline and say ‘Wtf? Everyone knows about the war in Iraq. This writer must want to push some sentimental nonsense about the brotherhood of all men. Doesn’t he know [insert justification for war]?’

    Comment by hf — July 25, 2006 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  4. I wonder whether Barry would like to see mainstream feminists including himself held to the same standard. Can he identify more than a handful who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic gender-selective targeting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can he identify any?

    I feel that you misunderstood what I was saying in the (admittedly overwrought) passage you quoted.

    People who favored invading Iraq, favored a policy which led directly to the harms to Iraqi women I was talking about. That gives war supporters, in my view, a special responsibility to honestly and fully address the harms caused by their favored policy – including harms to Iraqi women.

    In contrast, American feminists – most of whom, it is my impression, opposed the invasion of Iraq – did not favor the policy which led to the harms to Iraqi men you’re talking about.

    It’s possible that people are talking about the e killing of men, but not framing it as a rights issue.

    Actually, they’re not framing it as a male issue. Male victims are often talked about, but when they are talked about, they are said to be “Iraqis,” not “male Iraqis.” An example is this article , which I linked to in my most recent link farm. The article could have easily been framed as a report of sexist abuse of Iraqi men by US troops; nearly every incident of abuse described in the long article is focused on male victims. (No mention of rape, only a passing reference to hostage-taking).

    But it wasn’t; because the victims were male, and men are considered the norm, the article was framed as being about abuses of Iraquis in general.

    Another example: When journalists (in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal) reported on Iraqi prisoners, they reported almost entirely on adult male prisoners, without makeing “adult male” a special category of prisoner. In contrast, the rare news reports about women or children prisoners are reported as being about “women” or about “children.”

    So, yes, men are centered – that is, are presented as the norm – while women are othered – that is, are written about as being a special category.

    Comment by Ampersand — July 31, 2006 @ 2:44 am | Reply

  5. Actually, they’re not framing it as a male issue.

    Just to be clear, I do not regard this as a “male issue” in the sense of an issue which is (or should be) of interest to males only or in particular, or which affects males only or in particular.

    What’s missing from the framing is the gender-selective targetting of “active age” males. That obviously doesn’t affect females in the same way as males, but it does effect everyone, and should, in my opinion, be of interest to everyone.

    Male victims are often talked about, but when they are talked about, they are said to be “Iraqis,” not “male Iraqis.” An example is this article , which I linked to in my most recent link farm. The article could have easily been framed as a report of sexist abuse of Iraqi men by US troops; nearly every incident of abuse described in the long article is focused on male victims.

    This (generally excellent) article is more a counterexample (and a most welcome one at that). It’s true that he doesn’t call it ‘sexist’ but he does at least acknowledge that men specifically are targetted. In fact, what we have here is a very rare instance of a second order gendering applied to males. (See section 5 of this paper for an explanation of this terminology.)

    Edit: It’s actually first order. See this post for details.

    The article is also unusual in that it doesn’t centre women. The smaller number of female victimisations are described in the same tones as those of men. That more male victimisations are described is a consequence of the fact that the journalist witnessed more of them.

    However, I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the picture used at the top of the first page (an editorial decision almost certainly not taken by the author) depicts women and children only. There’s your “default”. There’s your “centring”. And for many people who decide, after a paragraph or less, not to read the rest of the article, that’s all they’ll see.

    (No mention of rape, only a passing reference to hostage-taking).

    I hesitate to draw any general conclusions from this article, given how unusual it is. I suggest, however, that he didn’t think to discuss rape because he didn’t see any instances of it and the focus of the article was upon his personal experiences.

    But it wasn’t; because the victims were male, and men are considered the norm, the article was framed as being about abuses of Iraquis in general.

    Er, no. The reason why female and child victims are identified as such, and men usually aren’t (This article, as I said, is exceptional in that it does.) is because women and children get extra victim-points.

    Another example: When journalists (in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal) reported on Iraqi prisoners, they reported almost entirely on adult male prisoners, without makeing “adult male” a special category of prisoner. In contrast, the rare news reports about women or children prisoners are reported as being about “women” or about “children.”

    Again, I think that Abu Ghraib was slightly unusual in that when the news first broke, most if not all of the allegations and all of the available photos were about the abuse of adult male prisoners. It was impossible to focus upon the more worthy victims, because there weren’t any. Yet the allegations were sufficiently serious and, (more importantly from a newsworthiness POV) the photos were sufficiently graphic that the story was deemed important enough to focus upon even without women.

    Of course as soon as allegations that there were women abuse victims too, then the spotlight quickly turned to them

    So, yes, men are centered – that is, are presented as the norm

    On the contrary, they’re not “presented as the norm”. They’re not presented at all. They’re effaced. The effect of ignoring the gender of the majority male victims, coupled with the focus on women whenever they can be found among the victims, creates exactly the opposite impression, namely that it’s women who are the majority victims. Even you were apparently unaware of the degree to which men were being targetted for violence just a few days ago, and it’s not because you’re generally ignorant or uninterested in the plight of the Iraqi people.

    – while women are othered – that is, are written about as being a special category.

    That is not “Othering” as you defined it: “singling out […] for treatment as deviants”. By that narrow definition, the main group being “othered” in Iraq by coalition forces are Iraqi men.

    As well as highlighting female victims, the American media also highlights American victims abroad. I’m sure you would not class that as “othering”. It’s “centring” – affording them a privileged position as more worthy of our consernby default.

    Edited for clarity.

    Comment by Daran — July 31, 2006 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  6. Me:

    I wonder whether Barry would like to see mainstream feminists including himself held to the same standard. Can he identify more than a handful who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic gender-selective targeting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can he identify any?

    Ampersand:

    People who favored invading Iraq, favored a policy which led directly to the harms to Iraqi women I was talking about. That gives war supporters, in my view, a special responsibility to honestly and fully address the harms caused by their favored policy – including harms to Iraqi women.

    In contrast, American feminists – most of whom, it is my impression, opposed the invasion of Iraq – did not favor the policy which led to the harms to Iraqi men you’re talking about.

    I take it the answers then are “no”, “no”, and “no”.

    You’ve acknowledged that “the damage to Iraqi men… has… been whitewashed“.

    Feminism is complicit in that coverup.

    Comment by Daran — July 31, 2006 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  7. I take it the answers then are “no”, “no”, and “no”.

    No, the answers were “yes, no and no.”

    What you’re doing is not holding feminists to the same standard that I held pro-war supporters to. You’re holding feminists to an entirely different standard.

    By any fair reading – and I realize that the last thing you’re willing to give any feminist is a fair reading – my “standard” was clearly that the people responsible for the invasion of Iraq should be willing to acknowlege the consequences of their policy. Feminists are not the people responsible for the policy of invading Iraq.

    Is there any way I could explain this that you’d be willing to listen to with any accuracy or logic, or are you so dedicated to mindless feminist-bashing that you’re not willing to be even a tiny bit logical? I’ve said nothing in this post that I didn’t say in the previous post, and nothing that you couldn’t have understood the first time if you just took off those “feminists are evil evil eeeeeeeevvvvillll” lenses you’re wearing.

    Comment by Ampersand — July 31, 2006 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

  8. Sigh. Clearly I should not post when I don’t have air conditioning available.

    Apologies to Daran for the tone of my previous post. I think I’m correct that the double-standard that Daran is accusing me of holding doesn’t actually exist, but I could have explained that with much less obnoxiousness.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 1, 2006 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  9. No, the answers were “yes, no and no.”

    The last one at least you could remedy yourself.

    What you’re doing is not holding feminists to the same standard that I held pro-war supporters to. You’re holding feminists to an entirely different standard.

    By any fair reading – and I realize that the last thing you’re willing to give any feminist is a fair reading – my “standard” was clearly that the people responsible for the invasion of Iraq should be willing to acknowlege the consequences of their policy. Feminists are not the people responsible for the policy of invading Iraq.

    I think feminists have a degree of responsibility for the prevailing culture that regards women as both more vulnerable and more worthy of protection then men, a culture which informs and supports policy decisions which lead to the harms to Iraqi men I’m talking about. For example: the decision to allow women and children to evacuate from Fallujah, but not men.

    I’m not saying feminists directly support such policies. They support the culture and the culture supports the policies. That’s one level of indirection more than the wingnut bloggers, but the connection is there. (The bloggers are also not directly responsible either. They’re cheerleaders, not players)

    Moreover unlike the bloggers, the feminist responsibility is not limited to US lead fiascos. Similar processes are happening in Darfur today where America is not involved. Similar processes have happened in the past. For example in Bosnia, the UN effectively collaberated with the Serb militias in evacuating women and children. They were no doubt motivated by a desire to protect those perceived to be most vulnerable, but the effect was to abandon the most vulnerable to the massacres that followed. The wingnuts weren’t responsible for that one.

    In any case, saying “it’s not the same standard; it’s a different standard” is a poor defence. The feminist discourse is essentially dishonest, in so far as it posits women exclusively as victims of gender-selective oppression. Are you seriously saying that merely because feminists didn’t support the war, we shouldn’t demand honesty from them about it?

    Edited for borked markup

    Comment by Daran — August 1, 2006 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  10. It is unclear to me whether Amp and Duran are disagreeing with each other, or merely talking past one another.

    Amp and Duran both observe the pattern that reporters note a victim’s age and gender only when the victim is not an adult male. Amp explains this by saying that men are “centered” – that is, that men are assumed; men are the default category, and needn’t be specified. Duran explains this by saying that women and children are deemed more worthy of sympathy.

    I find merit, and no conflict, in both explanations. I have not understood Amp to deny that western culture exhibits certain chivalric notions about protecting women and children. And I don’t believe Duran really disputes the thesis that males are the default category of human in most conversation.

    Somehow, I sense the implied dispute between Amp and Duran focuses on whether the status accorded to women and children is more desirable than the status accorded to men. Which group is “privileged.” Which group is justified in feeling aggrieved toward the other. Which group wins the “more oppressed than thou” sweepstakes.

    This is a tough, and occasionally necessary, discussion to have. But I don’t see why this discussion is necessary to this topic. I sense Amp and Duran agree that the Iraqi war has been badly managed, to the detriment of men and women alike. And I sense they both agree that writers generally accord different treatment to woman and children than to men, and that this pattern reflects a cultural bias rather than being dictated by facts on the ground. I don’t see the relevance to this discussion of comparing the relative change in the social statuses of Iraqi men and women.

    Are women screwed by sexism? Sure. Are men screwed by sexism? Sure. They’re both screwed – even if they’re screwed in different ways. So let not the differences between the sexes obscure our common humanity! Our mutual (if not identical) screwed-up condition!

    Amen. Kum By Yah. Coo Coo Ca Choo.

    Comment by nobody.really — August 2, 2006 @ 12:23 am | Reply

  11. And I don’t believe Duran…

    That’s ‘Daran’ – two ‘a’s

    really disputes the thesis that males are the default category of human in most conversation.

    Actually I do. If a particular group of people is (perceived to be) comprised mostly of one gender, then a random member of that group is likely to be assumed to be that gender. This unremarkable proposition applies to both sexes.

    Example: a female nurse will probably be described as a “nurse”; a male nurse will be identified as such.

    Counterexample: A femle rape victim will be so identified, even though female is the default. You don’t see sentences like “many civilians were raped”. The privilege afforded to females in the victimology discourse trumps the normal process of gender defaulting.

    Somehow, I sense the implied dispute between Amp and Duran focuses on whether the status accorded to women and children is more desirable than the status accorded to men. Which group is “privileged.” Which group is justified in feeling aggrieved toward the other. Which group wins the “more oppressed than thou” sweepstakes.

    Let’s be clear, I don’t think the relative status of men vis-a-vis women at its most general can be summed up as one group is ‘oppressed’, the other ‘privileged’. In any particular field, one group might be accorded a more favourable status. Victimology is one such field.

    Even if I did think the balance tipped one way or the other, I wouldn’t regard that as the occasion for grievance. A focus on relative status obscures the fact that both groups are absolutely oppressed, and that each partakes of the other’s oppression.

    Feminism on the other hand is predicated on the idea that men are privileged, that women are justifiably aggrieved toward men, and that women are more oppressed. Since these unchallangable facts are used to justify some of the most appalling bigotry toward men, I think them highly worth challanging.

    This is a tough, and occasionally necessary, discussion to have. But I don’t see why this discussion is necessary to this topic. I sense Amp and Duran agree that the Iraqi war has been badly managed, to the detriment of men and women alike.

    That’s an understatement.

    Let’s be clear, the war has not merely been badly handled. It was never justified in the first place. That it has been badly handled adds injury to injury.

    Obviously I can’t speak for Barry, but I have not been able to discern any difference between his opinion and mine on this issue.

    And I sense they both agree that writers generally accord different treatment to woman and children than to men, and that this pattern reflects a cultural bias rather than being dictated by facts on the ground.

    Women are afforded a privileged position within the discourse of victimology. That’s of small direct comfort, of course, if you’re one of the women being talked about.

    However the discourse reflects (and reinforces) societal attitudes which also inform policies, for example humanitarian initiatives to assist Iraqi widows. The widows, of course, deserve and need all the help and consideration they can get. But I have yet to see any similar initiatives focusing on the needs of injured Iraqi vets, who also need help, but who are regarded as less deserving.

    Barry certainly seems to agree that writers afford women and children different status. He says that men are “centered” which I understand to be a privileged position. I cited Dr. Jones’s paper for the concept of orders of gendering, but I strongly recommend both you and Barry read it in its entirety. The use of non gender-specific terms from male victims is just one of several techniques used by writers which have the effect of marginalising male victims – the very opposite of “centering”.

    I don’t see the relevance to this discussion of comparing the relative change in the social statuses of Iraqi men and women.

    There are other, perhaps bigger fish to fry. The marginalisation of men in the discourse of victimology is just one aspect of a wider culture of male-disposablility – a culture without which war would be impossible to wage in the first place.

    Are women screwed by sexism? Sure. Are men screwed by sexism? Sure. They’re both screwed – even if they’re screwed in different ways. So let not the differences between the sexes obscure our common humanity! Our mutual (if not identical) screwed-up condition!

    I agree of course. If feminism took that approach, I’d be a feminist.

    Edited for clarity and quote borking.

    Comment by Daran — August 2, 2006 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  12. That’s ‘Daran’ – two ‘a’s

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this matter, Duran. 🙂

    (Sorry ‘bout that.)

    And I don’t believe [Daran] really disputes the thesis that males are the default category of human in most conversation.

    Actually I do….

    Example: a female nurse….

    Counterexample: A female rape victim….

    Good examples. Yet they do not really refute the assertion that males are the default category of human in most conversation. If Daran is going to suggest that most conversation pertains to female nurses and female rape victims, I’m going to suggest that he watches too much daytime TV.

    That said, I concede Daran’s larger point that my focus on most conversation ignores the instances when this dynamic does not hold. Oddly, I’ve argued this same point myself, even using the
    nurse example.

    Feminism on the other hand is predicated on the idea that men are privileged, that women are justifiably aggrieved toward men, and that women are more oppressed. Since these unchallangable facts are used to justify some of the most appalling bigotry toward men, I think them highly worth challenging.

    I’m not seeing the dichotomy here. I have yet to hear Daran argue that men do NOT have certain privileges relative to women, women do NOT experience gender-based oppression, or that women do NOT have grounds for feeling aggrieved. Rather, I understand Daran to argue that women ALSO have certain privileges relative to men, men ALSO experience gender-based oppression, and men ALSO have grounds for feeling aggrieved. I see no conflict in these positions.

    At most, Daran argues that some people have mis-used the ideas of feminism as an excuse to justify bigotry toward men. And, sure, I’ve read some things by self-professed feminists that have struck me as bigoted. Oppressed people often vent their frustrations on people whom they envy; the revolutionaries in France and Russia were none too kind to the children of the aristocrats. Perhaps every struggle for freedom will entail a degree of excess. I condemn the excess, but not the struggle. [Note the “third-order oppressing” argument style!]

    In short, I understand Daran to oppose cultural bigotry and insensitivity to men. I sense that Daran makes a strategic choice to characterize this view as being in opposition to feminism in order to provoke (some) feminists to examine unstated assumptions about male privilege. Whatever the merits of this pedagogical strategy, it sure raises hackles. Again, I have not understood Daran to ask for less understanding for women; I’ve understood him to ask for more understanding for men.

    [Barry] says that men are “centered” which I understand to be a privileged position…. The use of non gender-specific terms from male victims is just one of several techniques used by writers which have the effect of marginalising male victims – the very opposite of “centering”.

    Ok, maybe here’s part of the confusion. I (and perhaps Berry?) distinguish between privilege and “centering.”

    I understand to idea of “centering” to refer to the idea of having an archetype, a default assumption. This default status can create both privilege, burden, both or neither. Imagine Bush’s archetypical idea of a bird is a sparrow. When Rove says, “The public says they want more legislation protecting birds,” the sparrow may benefit from its status. When Rove says “The public wants to see you as a rugged outdoorsman; go shoot a bird or something,” the sparrow may suffer from its status. It works either way.

    Thus, whether or not civilian men face greater risks than civilian women during war, men remain my default assumption when I discuss humans. When I hear that a civilian was killed, I imagine a man.

    True, when I hear a civilian was raped, I imagine a woman. Women are my archetypical rape victims; men are my archetypical murder victims. But this is an odd context in which to attribute privilege.

    I don’t think the relative status of men vis-a-vis women at its most general can be summed up as one group is ‘oppressed’, the other ‘privileged’. In any particular field, one group might be accorded a more favourable status….

    A focus on relative status obscures the fact that both groups are absolutely oppressed, and that each partakes of the other’s oppression.

    Are women screwed by sexism? Sure. Are men screwed by sexism? Sure. They’re both screwed – even if they’re screwed in different ways. So let not the differences between the sexes obscure our common humanity! Our mutual (if not identical) screwed-up condition!

    I agree of course. If feminism took that approach, I’d be a feminist.

    There may be more feminisms in heav’n and earth than are dreampt of in your philosophy – including here and here. Welcome aboard!

    Comment by nobody.really — August 2, 2006 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  13. I think feminists have a degree of responsibility for the prevailing culture that regards women as both more vulnerable and more worthy of protection then men,

    What evidence do you have for this curious claim, given that feminsts go around saying that chivalry treats women like children and “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”?

    Comment by hf — August 3, 2006 @ 12:36 am | Reply

  14. nobody.really:

    Good examples. Yet they do not really refute the assertion that males are the default category of human in most conversation.

    The burden of proof does not lie with me.

    If Daran is going to suggest that most conversation pertains to female nurses and female rape victims, I’m going to suggest that he watches too much daytime TV.

    Likewise if a feminist is going to suggest that most conversation between women with names pertains to men, I’m going to suggest that she watches too many movies.

    (Actually I don’t have a TV. I occasionally watch television at a friends house.)

    That said, I concede Daran’s larger point that my focus on most conversation ignores the instances when this dynamic does not hold.

    Time to google:

    ‘man’: 2.1Bn hits
    ‘woman’: 772M hits
    ‘men’: 1.52Bn hits
    ‘women’: 1.8Bn hits

    ‘he’: 3.2Bn hits
    ‘she’: 1.4Bn hits
    ‘him OR his’: 3.5Bn hits
    ‘her OR hers’: 2.12Bn hits

    (I combined the last two because of the grammatical oddity that his book is his while her book is hers.)

    Observations: I’m less certain, now, that Google’s counts are accurate, although the behaviour I discussed here does not seem to apply to the main search.

    It should be clear that the shorter the word, the more likely it is to have other meanings, and to be an abbreviation for some other thing. In particular, the first few pages of results for ‘man’ turned up a remarkable number of false positives. ‘man’ also has a verb usage the other words don’t. I therefore give less credence to the excess of ‘mAn’ over ‘womAn’ than I do to the excess of ‘womEn’ over ‘mEn’. Similarly I am by no means certain that the apparent excess of male over female pronouns is not a consequence of their comparative shortness.

    Even if the excess is real, the test does not distinguish between cases where a pronoun is being used for a particular person of known gender, or for unspecified person of (possibly assumed) gender. Nor does it distinguish between conceptual defaulting and grammatical defaulting, i.e. does the writer use “he” etc., because he(!) conceives the person to be male, or because he regards it to be a grammatical rule to use male pronouns where the gender is unknown or unspecified

    I will confess, I missed the significance of the word “conversation”, and I’m not sure why you privilege it over non-conversational language use. It should be clear that, while the internet has facilitated a vast expansion in textual conversation, there is a substantial body non-conversational expression which this test does not distinguish, and which may exhibit different characteristics from conversational text, which may (indeed almost certainly will) exhibit different characteristics from spoken conversation.

    In conclusion, I am by no means convinced that males are the default category of human in most expression, whether conversational or otherwise, or, if they are, that the excess over 50% is significant. I haven’t refuted the thesis, indeed I’ve turned up some evidence which might be viewed as support for it, but it certainly isn’t conclusive, and, as I said, the burden of proof doesn’t lie with me.

    Feminism on the other hand is predicated on the idea that men are privileged, that women are justifiably aggrieved toward men, and that women are more oppressed. Since these unchallangable facts are used to justify some of the most appalling bigotry toward men, I think them highly worth challenging.

    nobody.really:

    I’m not seeing the dichotomy here. I have yet to hear Daran argue that men do NOT have certain privileges relative to women, women do NOT experience gender-based oppression, or that women do NOT have grounds for feeling aggrieved.

    I do not think they have grounds for feeling aggrieved toward men or vice versa.

    Rather, I understand Daran to argue that women ALSO have certain privileges relative to men, men ALSO experience gender-based oppression, and men ALSO have grounds for feeling aggrieved.

    I dislike the ‘also’ formulation insofar as it suggests that consequent is subordinate, ancilliary, or secondary to the antecedent. I would prefer to say that both women and men (or both men and women – it is impossible not to place one word in front of the other) enjoy relative privileges, suffer oppression, and have grounds for grievence.

    Note that I am not saying “it’s worse for men” generally. Nor am I saying “it’s equally bad for men”. I reject the contention that “it’s worse for women” because I can see no metric by which disparate oppressions can be compared How many dead male conscripts are there to a raped woman? What’s the exchange rate here?

    Similar oppressions can be compared of course.

    I see no conflict in these positions.

    There isn’t. Mainstream feminism however, rejects the second of these propositions. If you try to introduce this notion into feminist discourse, you’re likely to get one or more of the following responses:

    Outright rejection.

    Limited acceptance: it’s minimised, particularised, and subordinated to women’s oppression, etc.

    Hostility.

    – Victims are blamed by being identifed with their victimisers.

    At most, Daran argues that some people have mis-used the ideas of feminism as an excuse to justify bigotry toward men. And, sure, I’ve read some things by self-professed feminists that have struck me as bigoted.

    I argue much more than that. Far from being the marginal behaviour of “some people” who are “self-professed” feminists, it represents the default, the mainstream of feminism. Even Barry, who I’m sure you’d agree is one of the most thoughtful and intellectually honest feminists, views male oppression through minimising lenses, and has expressed some extraordinarily biggoted views. For example, he has defended the provision of refuge services to women only.

    Oppressed people often vent their frustrations on people whom they envy; the revolutionaries in France and Russia were none too kind to the children of the aristocrats. Perhaps every struggle for freedom will entail a degree of excess. I condemn the excess, but not the struggle. [Note the “third-order oppressing” argument style!]

    Condemning the excess is all I’m doing.

    In short, I understand Daran to oppose cultural bigotry and insensitivity to men. I sense that Daran makes a strategic choice to characterize this view as being in opposition to feminism in order to provoke (some) feminists to examine unstated assumptions about male privilege.

    It’s in opposition to mainstream feminism. That there are some “self-professed” feminists whose approach I don’t oppose is of little relevance.

    Whatever the merits of this pedagogical strategy, it sure raises hackles. Again, I have not understood Daran to ask for less understanding for women; I’ve understood him to ask for more understanding for men.

    That’s correct. As Barry said, it’s not a zero sum game.

    What is a zero sum game is the game of “it’s worse for women than men”, since it can’t be both worse for women and worse for men) This is a feminist game. Here’s Barry’s definition of “feminism”.

    A feminist:

    1) Believes that there is current, significant, society-wide inequality and sexism which on balance disadvantages women.

    2) Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

    My emphasis. I think it’s fair to say that to most feminists, “on balance” means “overwhelmingly”. This notion of male privilege is absolutely fundamental. All my efforts to unravel the Gordian knot that is mainstream feminism lead back to it. Every bias, every inequality in feminist discourse is justified by it including the wholly one-sided nature of the analysis that leads to the conclusion that men are privileged.

    Thus the foundation of mainstream feminism is circular.

    Me:

    [Barry] says that men are “centered” which I understand to be a privileged position…. The use of non gender-specific terms from male victims is just one of several techniques used by writers which have the effect of marginalising male victims – the very opposite of “centering”.

    nobody.really:

    Ok, maybe here’s part of the confusion. I (and perhaps Berry?) distinguish between privilege and “centering.”

    I understand to idea of “centering” to refer to the idea of having an archetype, a default assumption. This default status can create both privilege, burden, both or neither. Imagine Bush’s archetypical idea of a bird is a sparrow. When Rove says, “The public says they want more legislation protecting birds,” the sparrow may benefit from its status. When Rove says “The public wants to see you as a rugged outdoorsman; go shoot a bird or something,” the sparrow may suffer from its status. It works either way.

    OK, but you haven’t addressed my main point: As Dr. Jones persuasively argues, “displacement”, as he terms the phenomenon is one of a trio of techniques which have the effect of marginalising male victimisation. The words “centering” and “marginalisation” are antonymic on their face.

    Thus, whether or not civilian men face greater risks than civilian women during war, men remain my default assumption when I discuss humans. When I hear that a civilian was killed, I imagine a man.

    I don’t. I picture women and children, because that is what the press keeps telling me. (As far as I have been able to determine, about half of those killed in Haditha were adult men.)

    Notice how all three of the strategies documented by Dr. Jones are at play here:

    The effacing of male victims in mass media is generally accomplished by three interrelated strategies. The first might be called incidentalizing. Modern news, as noted, is a hierarchical creature. It generally “leads” with the dominant theme of the article, which the headline is also meant to convey. Many newspapers, printing or reprinting an article or wire-service report, will include only (a version of) the headline and the first several paragraphs of the story. Thus, to relegate an important theme to passing mention in the middle reaches of the article, or to introduce it only at the end, is effectively to render it incidental and inconspicuous, if not outright invisible…

    A second strategy is displacement. Here, the male is defined by some trait or label other than gender — even when gender obviously, or apparently, is decisive in shaping the experience or predicament being described. During the Kosovo war, typical displacement terminology included designations such as “Kosovars,” “ethnic Albanians,” “bodies,” “victims,” and “people.”…

    The third marginalization strategy is simply exclusion. The trope most commonly adopted here can be summarized in the little-examined phrase, “including women” — or, equally commonly, “including women and children.”

    True, when I hear a civilian was raped, I imagine a woman. Women are my archetypical rape victims; men are my archetypical murder victims. But this is an odd context in which to attribute privilege.

    “Privilege” as feminists conceive it, is an odd concept. If it’s a privilege to have a non-zero risk of being raped merely because someone else has a higher risk of being raped (See Item 7.) then it’s surely a privilege if you get raped then receive more consideration for it then someone else who got raped.

    There may be more feminisms in heav’n and earth than are dreampt of in your philosophy – including here and here…

    I hadn’t seen the first link, so thanks for that. I have to say, though, that my enthusiasm for Barry’s point is somewhat tempered by that fact that I’ve seen him engage on many occasions in precisely the kind of behaviour he criticises here.

    As for the second, I take it as implying that you self-identify as a feminist. Er, OK. I’m more interested in people’s ideas than the labels they give themselves, or which others pin on them. It’s true that I’m “centering” one particular feminism, but as you said in that post: that’s my privilege.

    Welcome aboard!

    Similarly, I’m uninterested in pinning labels to myself. Even if I did, I’d still be saying the same things.

    Some editing and unborking.

    Comment by Daran — August 3, 2006 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  15. Me:

    I think feminists have a degree of responsibility for the prevailing culture that regards women as both more vulnerable and more worthy of protection then men,

    hf:

    What evidence do you have for this curious claim, given that feminsts go around saying that chivalry treats women like children and “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”?

    I find it curious that you should equate the concept of “worthy of protection” with “need(ing) a man”. I should have thought it axiomatic than civilians of both sexes need protection from those who would commit war crimes against them.

    I should have also thought it fairly evident that feminists consider the subject of gender-specific war crimes against women worthy of considerable attention, while the subject of gender-specific war crimes against men gets – to a first approximation – no attention at all.

    Comment by Daran — August 3, 2006 @ 1:56 am | Reply

  16. nobody.really:

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this matter, Duran.

    Mickey Smith: I bet you don’t even remember my name.

    The Doctor: It’s Ricky.

    Mickey Smith: Micky.

    The Doctor: No, Ricky.

    Mickey Smith: (sarcastic) I think I know my own name.

    The Doctor: (even more sarcastic) You think you know? How stupid are you?

    link

    Comment by Daran — August 3, 2006 @ 2:02 am | Reply

  17. I have seen some cases where one group is treated as generic: for example, in the case of race, I think that in the US white skin is seen as generic while colored skin is not. Does this argument apply to sex? I am not so sure. And I don’t know if tallying up Google results will really help.

    daran said:
    I think feminists have a degree of responsibility for the prevailing culture that regards women as both more vulnerable and more worthy of protection then men,

    hf responded:
    What evidence do you have for this curious claim, given that feminsts go around saying that chivalry treats women like children and “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”?

    Feminists certainly see chivalry as a problem, and they often claim that it is sexist… towards women. And it is. Yet it is sexist towards men also, though feminists don’t seem to talk about that as a serious problem. The implication is that the wrongs that chivalry does to women are enormous while the wrongs it does to men are relatively insignificant, which would imply that the primary problem with men giving up spaces on lifeboats (and their lives!) on the Titanic to women was that it was patronizing to women. By failing to challenge chivalry specifically on the grounds that it disadvantages men, feminists are indeed complicit with the perception that women are more vulnerable and worthy of protection.

    daran said:
    I reject the contention that “it’s worse for women” because I can see no metric by which disparate oppressions can be compared How many dead male conscripts are there to a raped woman? What’s the exchange rate here?

    I do think there are some cases where we can compare oppressions: for example 10 women getting raped and murdered might be worse than 1 man getting tortured and murdered. Yet once cases of massively different rates and durations aside, it becomes impossible to compare. The only answer to the question: “are 10 men getting tortured and murdered more oppressed than 10 women getting raped and murdered?” is “that’s a really stupid question.”

    Have you read Legalizing Misandry by Nathanson and Young? They have a name for the concept we are talking about. “Comparative suffering”: the belief that human suffering can and should be quantified.

    Not only is there a conceptual problem with “comparative suffering,” but I think there is also a moral problem with it as well. When two groups are both suffering a high absolute amount of oppression, it’s really beside the point to figure out which group is “more” oppressed, especially when the oppression of both those groups is interlinked. For example, who suffers more racism, Blacks, or Hispanics? This is just a really stupid question. Say there was actually was an objective answer, and one of those groups was oppressed, say 20% more Units of Oppression (UO) than the other. Does this really matter practically, especially since efforts to combat racism in general would help to reduce the oppression of both groups? It is much more probable that there is no objective answer to this question, and trying to find one will lead to needless squabbling which will involve members of one group attempting to inflate how much they are suffering, and trivialize the suffering of the other group.

    I see an analogous situation between men and women. Maybe one sex is more oppressed than the other, should we find some way of measuring it, but I don’t think the difference would be so dramatic as to demand a totally different course of action. Still, feminists insist on pushing the view that women are “more” oppressed.

    I asked these same questions of Ampersand in the past, and he said that if I looked at things in the “big picture,” it should be clear that women are more oppressed. I accepted this for a while. But now I am not so sure I know exactly what the “big picture” is, or if anyone can really claim to. For example, reading about the gendercides against men in the links you have provided has changed my perception of the “big picture” (such as hearing about how the Nazi executioners had to practice killing men first before they were psychologically prepared to kill women also, and that there were complaints about murdering women and children: apparently, chivalry is strong enough to compete with one of the strongest ideological hatreds in recent history). People, me included, just seem to have an easier time empathizing with female suffering than with male suffering.

    The “big picture” is composed of many smaller examples. If someone is unaware of certain examples, especially a whole class of examples, then they won’t be able to see the “big picture.” I don’t claim to know the big picture here, but by saying that women are more oppressed, feminists claim to. Yet feminists will never know the “big picture” themselves if they remain unaware of, or trivialize, examples of the oppression of men (which, as you point out, is the current attitude in mainstream feminism).

    Comment by Aegis — August 3, 2006 @ 6:11 am | Reply

  18. Aegis said:
    I see an analogous situation between men and women. Maybe one sex is more oppressed than the other, should we find some way of measuring it, but I don’t think the difference would be so dramatic as to demand a totally different course of action.

    I just thought: in saying that I don’t think the difference between the oppression of women and the oppression of men would turn out to be that dramatic, am I succumbing to the error of claiming to know the big picture? My intuition here could be false, which is why I want to make clear that it is speculative.

    Still, the default assumption, or null hypothesis, is “we can’t tell whether men or women are oppressed more than the other.” The default assumption is NOT that women are oppressed more. The burden of proof is on feminists who make that claim. And the burden of proof for the claim that “the difference between the oppression of women and the oppression of men is not very dramatic” would be on me, if I was actually trying to claim this, rather than just making a speculation. In the absence of any way of measuring which sex is “more” oppressed, we should not assume than one sex is “more” oppressed, OR that both are “equally” oppressed (which some MRAs claim). Instead, we should start trying to resolve the oppression of both men and women without trying to figure out who has it worse.

    Comment by Aegis — August 3, 2006 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  19. That’s ‘Daran’ – two ‘a’s

    Let’s see about that. Time to google:

    ‘‘Duran’’: 22M hits
    ‘‘Daran’’: 67M hits

    Damn. Ok, you’re Daran. This time. 🙂

    Honestly, I don’t know how Googling could demonstrate or disprove the proposition that most references to humans evoke an assumption of male humans.

    I have yet to hear Daran argue that men do NOT have certain privileges relative to women, women do NOT experience gender-based oppression, or that women do NOT have grounds for feeling aggrieved.
    I do not think they have grounds for feeling aggrieved toward men or vice versa.

    Fair enough. Admittedly, what constitutes “grounds for feeling aggrieved” depends on your world view.

    – Individual women will have cause for grievance with individual men. I unilaterally choose to state a the office late blogging, causing my wife to spend her time watching the kids rather than working on her projects. Does she have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    – Beyond that, people often do not obey the Golden Rule. I believe that people with power do not promote the interests of those with less power with the same zeal that they promote their own interests. And I believe that most powerful people are male. As a male professional, I have more disposable income than most people. I sincerely believe that there are higher uses for my resources than subscribing to cable TV, yet I subscribe to cable TV. Needy people around the globe could not be faulted for concluding that I behave selfishly. Do needy people have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    – Beyond that, individual men could do more to shoulder the burdens that social norms place on women, but avoid doing so through inaction or conforming to convention. I know that my wife feels more keenly the responsibility for having a clean house than I do. Through simple inaction, or by going to the hardware store, I can and sometimes do evade my share of housecleaning duties. Does she have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    Given the pattern wherein individual women feel aggrieved towards individual men, I can hardly be surprised that some women – and men who identify with them – would generalize. Similarly, given the pattern wherein some people develop a generalized grievance toward men, I can hardly be surprised that some men – and women who identify with them – would develop a generalized grievance in response.

    I take [your remark] as implying that you self-identify as a feminist.

    A fair interpretation, but I was just trying to come up with a pithy end to a long post. I actually share your perspective on labels:

    I’m more interested in people’s ideas than the labels they give themselves, or which others pin on them. It’s true that I’m “centering” one particular feminism, but as you said in that post: that’s my privilege…. Similarly, I’m uninterested in pinning labels to myself. Even if I did, I’d still be saying the same things.

    Great! I find that labels often obscure more than they explain. It’s what you mean that matters, not the label.

    And in that spirit, may I humbly suggest that you obscure more than you explain when you take exception to the amorphous “feminism”? If you’re gonna eschew labels, eschew’em. Dump the abstraction and say whacha mean, dude. Er, Daran.

    Comment by nobody.really — August 3, 2006 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  20. I will shortly be going on holdiday for the next eleven days, so this will have to be quick. I regret not being able to continue this conversation.

    nobody.really:

    Honestly, I don’t know how Googling could demonstrate or disprove the proposition that most references to humans evoke an assumption of male humans.

    A decisive and substantial excess of male pronouns over female would tend to show that, no?

    In any case, the burden of proof, as I said before, lies with the person making the statement, which was Barry, or defending it, which appears to be you. At the moment, all we
    have is a bald assertion, with no supporting evidence at all.

    Me:

    I do not think they have grounds for feeling aggrieved toward men or vice versa.

    It should be clear that ‘men’ in the above means ‘men as a class’.

    nobody.really:

    – Individual women will have cause for grievance with individual men. I unilaterally choose to state a the office late blogging, causing my wife to spend her time watching the kids rather than working on her projects. Does she have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    Perhaps she does.

    – Beyond that, people often do not obey the Golden Rule. I believe that people with power do not promote the interests of those with less power with the same zeal that they promote their own interests. And I believe that most powerful people are male.

    It is a fallacy to infer from those two propositions that powerful people promote the interests of men. That the US government is largely male does not mean that it is reluctant to send men to die in battle. I’ve argued before with Barry that while I can show the influence of feminist doctrine and concern toward women in particular reflected in government policy and legislation, he is not able to show any similar MRA doctrine or concern towards men in particular.

    Barry’s response was that the current administration has been and is extremely reactionary with respect to women’s rights. This is true, but it seems to be a consequence of the its theocratic rather than its patriarchal character.

    (i.e As a male professional, I have more disposable income than most people. I sincerely believe that there are higher uses for my resources than subscribing to cable TV, yet I subscribe to cable TV. Needy people around the globe could not be faulted for concluding that I behave selfishly. Do needy people have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    Perhaps they do, but I fail to see how this supports the thrust of your argument that women have occasion to be aggrieved at men, unless your ‘default’ needy person is female. If so, then that’s a counterexample to the claim that men are centred (and an extraordinarily general one at that). There is no evidence that needy people are in general female.

    – Beyond that, individual men could do more to shoulder the burdens that social norms place on women, but avoid doing so through inaction or conforming to convention. I know that my wife feels more keenly the responsibility for having a clean house than I do. Through simple inaction, or by going to the hardware store, I can and sometimes do evade my share of housecleaning duties. Does she have grounds for feeling aggrieved?

    Perhaps she does, but the converse is also true. Individual women could do more to shoulder the burdens that social norms place on men.

    Given the pattern wherein individual women feel aggrieved towards individual men,

    This is a common, almost stereotypical feminist ploy. Individual women having grievences at individual men is merely a subset of individual people having grievences at individual people. You focus on the subset which supports your thesis, ignore all data points to the contrary, then claim there’s a pattern.

    (edit: Rereading the paragraph into which the above was interpolated, I see that I misunderstood your argument. I apollogise therefore, and withdraw. As a generalised criticism of feminism it stands. See y’all in a couple of weeks.)

    I can hardly be surprised that some women – and men who identify with them – would generalize. Similarly, given the pattern wherein some people develop a generalized grievance toward men, I can hardly be surprised that some men – and women who identify with them – would develop a generalized grievance in response.

    I can hardly be surprised that some whites with individual grievences against blacks develop a generalised grievence against blacks. That it is unsurprising does not make it any less prejudiced.

    Great! I find that labels often obscure more than they explain. It’s what you mean that matters, not the label.

    And in that spirit, may I humbly suggest that you obscure more than you explain when you take exception to the amorphous “feminism”? If you’re gonna eschew labels, eschew’em. Dump the abstraction and say whacha mean, dude. Er, Daran.

    My disinterest is in the labels pinned to people. I faile to see how I can discuss ideas without having a word to refer to those Ideas with.

    Comment by Daran — August 3, 2006 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  21. I will shortly be going on holdiday for the next eleven days, so this will have to be quick. I regret not being able to continue this conversation.

    [Evil cackle] The conversation is mine, all mine! That THAT, Duran!

    Honestly, I don’t know how Googling could demonstrate or disprove the proposition that most references to humans evoke an assumption of male humans.
    A decisive and substantial excess of male pronouns over female would tend to show that, no?

    Dunno. As a thought experiment, someone could check out the online version of tomorrow’s New York Times and scan for pronouns. I’d expect to find a predominance of male pronounces over female pronouns. And I would expect that many stories would pertain public figures, and that most public figures – government officials, business executives, labor leaders, religious leaders, professional entertainers/athletes, etc. – are male. This fact would not, by itself, demonstrate the presumption I refer to.

    Rather, I’m referring to assumptions made about specific people of unspecified gender. Consider the old “Terrible Accident” puzzle: A car crash injures a boy and kills his father. But when the boy arrives at the hospital, the doctor says, “I can’t operate – this is my son!” How is this possible? Simple: The doctor is the boy’s mother. See http://members.aol.com/Jakajk/ESLtwo.html Now, why would any writer think that readers would find this puzzle puzzling unless the writer believed that readers harbor assumptions about the identify of doctors?

    An experiment to probe this matter might involve giving people statements about specific individuals of unspecified gender and asking the people to flesh out the details: “The paramedic helped the dazed driver out of the car. While a passenger stated that the driver seemed to be fine, a witness reported observing a distinct limp.” “Once again a Kenyan has won the Boston Marathon, as the day’s record heat and humidity sapped the strength of Pat O’Brian, America’s best hope for victory in many years.” “One of the youths, dressed in gang colors, approached the car. The officer moved to intervene.” “But now it was too late for self-doubt; with a sweep of the conductor’s arm, the pianist launched into the concerto’s most challenging passage.” “Having finally found the locker, the exchange student stood there – puzzled – studying the dials and numbers.” “When the last guard’s last cries had died away, the alien sank down to feast upon the bodies. But unbeknownst to the creature, just behind the fuel tank the last survivor was taking aim….” Then ask visually-oriented people to draw pictures of these events. Ask word-oriented people to draft a narrative or script. And then check the outputs for assumptions people make about the gender of the paramedic, the driver, the passenger, the witness, the Kenyan, Pat O’Brian, the youth, the officer, the conductor, the pianist, the exchange student, the survivor, the alien.

    I’d anticipate a disproportionate number of male actors. But, hey, I could be wrong. In any event, I just don’t see how a Google search could tease out these phenomenon. Admittedly, you don’t bear the burden of proving the hypothesis. For purposes of the current discussion, in remains an unproven hypotheses.

    That the US government is largely male does not mean that it is reluctant to send men to die in battle. I’ve argued before with Barry that while I can show the influence of feminist doctrine and concern toward women in particular reflected in government policy and legislation, he is not able to show any similar MRA doctrine or concern towards men in particular.

    Perhaps not.

    – I understand the US government is more willing to send men into battle than to send women. And I understand that government is willing to promote soldiers based on the amount of battle experience they’ve had.

    – I understand government provides Social Security benefits, Earned Income Tax Credits, and other benefits as a function of paid employment. And I understand that women perform a disproportionate amount of the unpaid labor in America – labor that does not influence a person’s qualification for these benefits.

    – I understand that government provides tax deductions for the cost of corporate benefits, such as health benefits, whereas (at least until recently) there is no comparable tax deduction for uncompensated people buying the same benefits. And I understand women provide a disproportionate share of the uncompensated labor in America.

    – I understand government provides tax exemptions for not-for-profit organizations. And I understand that the amount of the tax breaks that go to organizations that discriminate against women (e.g., the Catholic church) greatly exceeds the tax breaks given to organizations that discriminate against men.

    – I understand that when people do not earn enough to pay taxes, they can still file for a refund to claim the benefit of any tax credits for which they qualify – except for the Child Tax Credit. And I understand that women bear a disproportionate share of the burden of raising children.

    – I understand that laws typically outlaw paying for sex, but that prosecutors more often prosecute the prostitute rather than the client. And I understand that most prostitutes are women and most clients are men.

    – I understand that women have been unrepresented in virtually all areas of government, from the elective to the appointed to the statuary in the Capital building.

    To be sure, I don’t believe any of the government policies were adopted with animus towards women. I expect that there are plenty of reasons for many of these policies. (Ok, except the child tax credit one; that one’s barefaced.) And where the policies seem most biased, I suspect the bias reflects class more often than gender. But I’m hard pressed to dismiss people’s frustration with such policies’ cumulative effects. It’s hard to imagine that if government had been dominated by women that these same policies would have resulted.

    [P]eople often do not obey the Golden Rule. I believe that people with power do not promote the interests of those with less power with the same zeal that they promote their own interests. And I believe that most powerful people are male.

    It is a fallacy to infer from those two propositions that powerful people promote the interests of men.

    Agreed.

    I fail to see how this supports the thrust of your argument that women have occasion to be aggrieved at men, unless your ‘default’ needy person is female…. There is no evidence that needy people are in general female.

    Sorry to be unclear. In this example, the point was not that women are disproportionately needy and therefore aggrieved, but that men are disproportionately powerful and are therefore likely to be the targets of grievance.

    That said, I would not be surprised to learn that the majority of female households availing themselves of social services are headed by females. But you accurately note that I have not demonstrated this.

    – Beyond that, individual men could do more to shoulder the burdens that social norms place on women, but avoid doing so through inaction or conforming to convention….

    [T]he converse is also true. Individual women could do more to shoulder the burdens that social norms place on men.

    Agreed. And the psychological concept of Attribution Theory says that we tend to give our own behavior the most generous interpretation, while imputing the least generous interpretation to others. Hence patterns of mutual grievance emerge. As I said:

    Given the pattern wherein individual women feel aggrieved towards individual men, I can hardly be surprised that some women – and men who identify with them – would generalize. Similarly, given the pattern wherein some people develop a generalized grievance toward men, I can hardly be surprised that some men – and women who identify with them – would develop a generalized grievance in response.

    I can hardly be surprised that some whites with individual grievance against blacks develop a generalized grievance against blacks. That it is unsurprising does not make it any less prejudiced.

    To be clear, I’m not defending the idea that it’s constructive for anyone to have generalized grievances against men (or blacks or anyone else). I only mean to note patterns that would explain the basis for such grievance. So if I have one experience with a black person and then generalize that to all black people, that would be hard to explain. If I discover a general social pattern regarding black-white interactions, then my generalization would be easier to explain. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the adaptive response to this social pattern is to blame groups. I just mean to say that it’s understandable.

    Martin Luther King railed against oppression of blacks, and remonstrated bitterly about white indifference, yet advocated love, not animosity, between the races. Malcolm X argued many of the same things, but also found cause for animosity. People disagree about which approach was more adaptive, but I feel an understanding for each.

    My disinterest is in the labels pinned to people. I faile to see how I can discuss ideas without having a word to refer to those Ideas with.

    Well, I guess will again have to agree to disagree. I see the problem with attaching labels to people – even seemingly tautological labels. (E.g., Would Christ fit the definition of a “Christian” today?)
    But I don’t know how you can discuss ideas by attempting to reduce them to a single word.

    I object to social norms imposed on the basis of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, etc. This includes norms that presume men and not women should fight the wars, earn the paycheck, forego child custody, “be strong” and refrain from crying, drive, mow the lawn, etc. Some people would label this humanism. Some would label it egalitarianism. Some would label it feminism; some (you?) wouldn’t. Hence I find these labels not very helpful.

    If you mean to express objection to people having generalized grievances against men, and to attitudes that regard men as disposable, you may find it helpful to allow yourself a few more words.

    Anyway, have a good trip, Daran. It’s Daran, right? I should catch up on my work anyway. (Hope I haven’t borked this thing up too badly, ‘cuz you won’t be around to fix it!)

    Comment by nobody.really — August 4, 2006 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  22. The conversation is mine, all mine! That THAT, Duran!

    The conversation is yours…hopefully the ability to formulate a sentence will come along with the territory. 🙂

    Comment by Robert — August 4, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  23. Even Barry, who I’m sure you’d agree is one of the most thoughtful and intellectually honest feminists, views male oppression through minimising lenses, and has expressed some extraordinarily biggoted views… For example, he has defended the provision of refuge services to women only.

    I don’t have the inclination to participate much in this discussion now, but I wanted to point out that this is an incorrect summary of my views.

    I do think that specific shelters may be justified in providing services to women only, as a matter of practicality. Just mandating that already-existing women’s shelters should serve all victims, without regard to funding or security, would turn it into a zero-sum game, in which helping male victims would have the effect of screwing over female victims. I’m against that.

    However, I don’t think that it’s justifiable that male victims lack services, and I think services should be available to male victims. The only question in my mind is how these services should be provided.

    Daran may think this is an “extraordinarily bigoted view,” but I don’t think it is.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 4, 2006 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  24. […] The problem with feminism is that it’s not EVER the most relevent point. Here are a couple of questions I put to Barry: Can [Barry] identify more than a handful [of mainstream feminists] who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic gender-selective targeting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can he identify any? […]

    Pingback by Denying, Dismissing, Minimising, and Ignoring the Harm to Men « Creative Destruction — October 14, 2006 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  25. […] post concludes (again, quoting myself from a post I made on Creative Destruction): Can [Barry] identify more than a handful [of mainstream feminists] who have blogged honestly […]

    Pingback by Feminist Critics — January 15, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Reply


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