Creative Destruction

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.

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91 Comments »

  1. Oh, bother. Whenever I read some bit of writing having to do with identity politics and it uses special terms of art without recognized meanings and without defining them, I get frustrated. It’s often an exercize in pomo discourse.

    Perhaps it’s a mere oversight, but your core term, feminism, lacks a coherent definition. You need something like the previous definition: “a subfield of philosophy, discourse, and activism that attends to specifically female gender issues.” I’m unsure why it’s so important for a feminist to be validated by other feminists before being called one. Some credentials must be earned, others merely inhere.

    As to your missing label for “Denial, Dismissal, Minimisation, and ignoring of male oppression, suffering, etc.,” I suggest “victim disenfranchisement.” Be careful where you place your modifier, BTW. In the series “male oppression, suffering, etc.,” it’s arguable that the term male doesn’t modify suffering, so male oppression would take its garden variety meaning of oppression by males, not of males. I’m pretty sure you mean “oppression, suffering, etc. experienced by males.”

    Comment by Brutus — December 31, 2006 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  2. Oh, bother. Whenever I read some bit of writing having to do with identity politics and it uses special terms of art without recognized meanings and without defining them, I get frustrated. It’s often an exercize in pomo discourse.

    That’s why I did the post – to define my terms of art. Bear in mind specialised usages like that of “typical” didn’t arise overnight, but developed from the naive usage. Nevertheless, it’s an elucidating definition, rather than an obfuscating one, because (1) many contrafeminists will sincerely feel that usages so described are indeed (naively) typical of feminists, (2) many feminists will sincerely feel that they’re not, and (3) the definition explains why.

    Perhaps it’s a mere oversight, but your core term, feminism, lacks a coherent definition. You need something like the previous definition: “a subfield of philosophy, discourse, and activism that attends to specifically female gender issues.” I’m unsure why it’s so important for a feminist to be validated by other feminists before being called one. Some credentials must be earned, others merely inhere.

    On the contrary, it’s not only coherent, it’s mathematically rigorous. It would also be trivial (though impracticable) to determine how feminist any individual is. Simply get every person (or a representative sample of people) to give every other person (in the sample) a feminism rating from 0 to 1, and then compute each person’s average score weighted according to how feminist the scorer is. Mathematically, compute the principle Eigenvector of the ratings matrix. (The existence of more than one Eigenvector would indicate that two or more distinguishable groups claiming the word.)

    As to your missing label for “Denial, Dismissal, Minimisation, and ignoring of male oppression, suffering, etc.,” I suggest “victim disenfranchisement.” Be careful where you place your modifier, BTW. In the series “male oppression, suffering, etc.,” it’s arguable that the term male doesn’t modify suffering, so male oppression would take its garden variety meaning of oppression by males, not of males. I’m pretty sure you mean “oppression, suffering, etc. experienced by males.”

    That’s good. If nothing better is suggested, I’ll use it.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  3. Shouldn’t it be “instantiation” rather than “instanciation”?

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  4. Daran wrote:

    On the contrary, it’s not only coherent, it’s mathematically rigorous. It would also be trivial (though impracticable) to determine how feminist any individual is. Simply get every person (or a representative sample of people) to give every other person (in the sample) a feminism rating from 0 to 1, and then compute each person’s average score weighted according to how feminist the scorer is. Mathematically, compute the principle Eigenvector of the ratings matrix. (The existence of more than one Eigenvector would indicate that two or more distinguishable groups claiming the word.)

    Yeah, right. That plays. So the proverbial man on the street asks you, “What does feminism mean?” and you reply, “feminism is a self-defining segment of the Gendersphere. A feminist is a person who is recognised as a feminist by other feminists.” The man shrugs, “huh?” You reply with your paragraph above, and the man walks off, muttering “idiot ….”

    Comment by Brutus — December 31, 2006 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  5. It’s not written for the man in the street. It’s written for people who already have a idea of what feminism means.

    The problem with most formulae proffered as definitions of feminism is that they are more or less inaccurate descriptions. for example, here’s Meriam-Webster’s definition

    1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

    The problem with that is you can find examples of feminist discourse which aren’t “organized activity” and which defend inequality.

    Or how about “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”

    Lots of people who clearly aren’t feminists subscribe to this. In any case, its hardly a radical view.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

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

    This kind of self-referential definition is not unprecedented.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  7. Hi. Stumbled on your attempts to dialog with Amp by accident. I used to do the same thing about six or seven years ago. I doubt he’s changed since then….

    A long time ago I had the same discussion with a group of people running various web sites critical of feminism about the best name for a webring linking the various sites which were all by your wording above “feminist critical”. In the end “anti-feminism” was considered the better name for such a group.

    The problem with the phrase “feminist critical” is that it makes it sound like an endorsement of feminism. It’s as if you are saying that feminism is basically good but has one or two little glitches that can be cleared up with a tweak here or there.

    Now from what little I’ve read of your stuff you know that isn’t true. The problems of feminism are deep, inherent and fundamental. Even the name itself is obvious an appeal to see gender from the perspective of only women. It’s fundamentally a lie to pretend that such a movement is about gender equality. So basically feminists lay it out there; they claim to represent the only legitimate gender equality perspective and then say that menas women-only. They put out a huge lie and if you don’t call them on it they get away with it.

    Hell anyone can be a critic of feminism. Andrea Dworkin was a critic of feminism. But I assume what you mean is someone that criticises feminism on the basis of it’s sexism, right? it’s a specific and fundamental criticism. A criticism that if accepted undermines the very purpose of the feminist movement. It’s an existential criticism. It challenges the very existence of the movement.

    You’re not re-arranging deck chairs here.

    Of course there are a small number who generally support these criticisms of feminism while still hoping that feminism can be “saved” from the internal rot. That the “cancer” is reversible somehow. They often self-describe as feminists. But these metaphors suggest that the problem is a small one within the movement which I think you will agree is not the case (eg your definition of “typical” above).

    For these reasons it was accepted that the term “anti-feminist” was better, more accurate as a term.

    As for defining feminism,

    (The existence of more than one Eigenvector would indicate that two or more distinguishable groups claiming the word.)

    Don’t you think that ambiguity’s a problem in a definition? of course we cannot accept the definition feminists give themselves. Ampersand’s definition of feminism for example, would make him not a feminist. Any definition of feminism that mentions gender equality would exclude many or most feminists. In general the definitions are propagandistic. They are claims about what their feminism is, and the claims are false.

    My definition of feminism was,

    Feminism is the belief that women are universal victims and everything is men’s fault.

    Using this definition I agree that dissident feminists (those that self-identify as feminist but criticise the movement seriously) are not really feminists at all.

    Comment by DavidByron — December 31, 2006 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  8. Brutus said:

    Yeah, right. That plays. So the proverbial man on the street asks you, “What does feminism mean?” and you reply, “feminism is a self-defining segment of the Gendersphere. A feminist is a person who is recognised as a feminist by other feminists.” The man shrugs, “huh?” You reply with your paragraph above, and the man walks off, muttering “idiot ….”

    How about “feminism is what people who call themselves feminists do and say?” I think that’s pretty simple.

    In other words, it is a certain cluster of weighted positions and behaviors that may or may not be logically related. Adherence to positions in this cluster explains why other people consider you to be a feminist or not (Daran’s definition). If you walk the walk and talk the talk, then you are a feminist.

    What I like about Daran’s definition of feminism and the one I gave above which subsumes his is that they are empirical. If instead we define feminism based on what feminists actually do, not just on what they say they are, then feminists cannot deflect criticism of their actions and discourses by referring to a definition of feminism.

    Comment by HughRistik — December 31, 2006 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  9. By the way did you come across that essay from the gendercide watch site?

    I was surprised to not see the usual Warren Farrell vocabulary in your list of terms. Or are such terms as “frontman falacy“, or “gender transition movement” or even “myth of male power” already accepted as terms?
    ———

    Another disadvantage to your definition of anti-feminism: by defining anti-feminism negatively you endorse feminism. You are saying that being opposed to feminism is bad and “extreme”. I am sure you don’t mean to do that. You are probably refering to some minority behaviour by rightwing / conservatives who oppose feminism and are also sexist against women (although as to cause and effect linking those two, who can say? especially as many in these groups are women)

    Why don’t you just call such behaviour “sexism”?

    It’s the same word that describes feminist behaviour. In fact drawing this parallel between the two is useful and instructional because fundamentally authoritarian conservative opposition to feminism and authoritarian feminism, are quite similar and have worked together on censorship of pornography and stuff like that.

    Feminism and traditional conservative “chauvinism” are two sides of the same coin. Both groups fundamentally regard women as better (more moral) human beings than men. Both feel that woman’s pain is legitimate but that men’s pain should be ignored — the feminist because men are violent criminal types and the chauvinists because they think men need to be ‘tough’ and independent. Both agree women need more protections; feminists because they believe women are universal victims or male oppression and chauvinists because they see women as hot house flowers that need special protection.

    So whereas I agree that the position that you refer to as feminist critic and I refer to as anti-feminist, has to criticise both of these groups, your nomenclature suggests these two groups are entirely opposite whereas I would stress their similarity. After all they are wrong for the same reason.

    Comment by DavidByron — December 31, 2006 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  10. How about “feminism is what people who call themselves feminists do and say?” I think that’s pretty simple.

    “Feminism is what feminists do, say, and advocate” — Rich P’s definition of feminism from Usenet. (I won’t give his full name; I’d rather not summon the devil.)

    It works as a first approximation, but what do you do then about Young, McElroy, Hoff-Sommers, etc? They self-identify as feminist, but what they say is so different from what other feminists say. My definition would exclude them, as they are not accepted as feminists by other feminists.

    I may have criticisms of them, but they are not the same criticisms.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  11. DavidByron said:

    The problem with the phrase “feminist critical” is that it makes it sound like an endorsement of feminism. It’s as if you are saying that feminism is basically good but has one or two little glitches that can be cleared up with a tweak here or there.

    I see why you say this, but this is not what “feminist critical” evokes for me. To me, feminist critical sounds like feminism is plagued with problems, but that something positive can be salvaged. In short, not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    The problems of feminism are deep, inherent and fundamental. Even the name itself is obvious an appeal to see gender from the perspective of only women. It’s fundamentally a lie to pretend that such a movement is about gender equality. So basically feminists lay it out there; they claim to represent the only legitimate gender equality perspective and then say that menas women-only. They put out a huge lie and if you don’t call them on it they get away with it.

    I agree with this, and I suspect Daran does also.

    Hell anyone can be a critic of feminism. Andrea Dworkin was a critic of feminism.

    Dworkin was a critic of liberal feminism. She considered it to be not feminist enough, and that her feminism was the true feminism. Her criticism did not call into the question fundamental principles of feminism in general.

    But I assume what you mean is someone that criticises feminism on the basis of it’s sexism, right? it’s a specific and fundamental criticism. A criticism that if accepted undermines the very purpose of the feminist movement. It’s an existential criticism. It challenges the very existence of the movement.

    It challenges the existence of the movement in its current state, yes. However, if feminism got rid of its sexism towards men, I don’t think the movement would be destroyed. The purpose of feminism is to fulfill the needs and interests of women. There is nothing inherently wrong with that; the problem comes when feminists paint men as the source of all of women’s problems, and believe that it is justified to sacrifice men’s interests in favor of women’s interests. If feminists simply focused on remedying injustices to women (which do exist), then I wouldn’t have any problem with it. Although many feminists have not realized it, helping women does not have to come at the price of harming men.

    For these reasons it was accepted that the term “anti-feminist” was better, more accurate as a term.

    The reason I don’t identify as an “antifeminist” is because then it sounds like I am against virtually everything that feminists do or say, which is not the case.

    Of course there are a small number who generally support these criticisms of feminism while still hoping that feminism can be “saved” from the internal rot. That the “cancer” is reversible somehow. They often self-describe as feminists.

    I have despaired of reforming feminism from within. I think feminism could only be salvaged with a massive internal revolution. This revolution will not happen on its own, however. That is why I focus on putting pressure on feminism from the outside, while acknowledging some agreements with feminism.

    Comment by HughRistik — December 31, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  12. By the way did you come across that essay from the gendercide watch site?

    Yes.

    I was surprised to not see the usual Warren Farrell vocabulary in your list of terms. Or are such terms as “frontman falacy“, or “gender transition movement” or even “myth of male power” already accepted as terms?

    Because I am a Jones-ist rather than a Farrell-ist.

    Specifically, the “Frontman fallacy” as I have seen it argued on usenet rebuts a strawman version of some rather sophisticated feminist arguments. (It’s possible that the fallacy as Farrell argued it is more sophisticated, but my research doesn’t actually extend to buying books.)

    I don’t recall encountering the “gender transition movement” as a phrase, and don’t know what it means. “The Myth of Male Power” is obviously the title of Farrell’s seminal work, and it’s descriptive enough, but it’s not really snappy enough for my taste.

    Another disadvantage to your definition of anti-feminism: by defining anti-feminism negatively you endorse feminism. You are saying that being opposed to feminism is bad and “extreme”. I am sure you don’t mean to do that. You are probably refering to some minority behaviour by rightwing / conservatives who oppose feminism and are also sexist against women (although as to cause and effect linking those two, who can say? especially as many in these groups are women)

    It may be “minority behaviour” but it is also typical in my experience. There’s nothing in the definition of “typical” that requires a majority.

    Why don’t you just call such behaviour “sexism”?

    Because “sexism” may refer to behaviours other than political opposition. I’m certainly willing to call anyone on their sexism, including feminist misogyny.

    It’s the same word that describes feminist behaviour. In fact drawing this parallel between the two is useful and instructional because fundamentally authoritarian conservative opposition to feminism and authoritarian feminism, are quite similar and have worked together on censorship of pornography and stuff like that.

    Indeed, “sexism” is descriptive of feminism, but its a bit of a broad brush. The vocabulary I’m developing here is intended to be more analytical. I want to be able to explain why something is sexist.

    Feminism and traditional conservative “chauvinism” are two sides of the same coin. Both groups fundamentally regard women as better (more moral) human beings than men. Both feel that woman’s pain is legitimate but that men’s pain should be ignored — the feminist because men are violent criminal types and the chauvinists because they think men need to be ‘tough’ and independent. Both agree women need more protections; feminists because they believe women are universal victims or male oppression and chauvinists because they see women as hot house flowers that need special protection.

    I can’t really argue with that, except that the “violent criminal type” argument is much more sophisticated. They do not appear to argue that all or even most men are violent criminals, however those who aren’t are (according to feminists) responsible for the actions of those who are.

    I’ve argued before that “feminism is really illiberal“.

    So whereas I agree that the position that you refer to as feminist critic and I refer to as anti-feminist, has to criticise both of these groups, your nomenclature suggests these two groups are entirely opposite whereas I would stress their similarity. After all they are wrong for the same reason.

    I agree there are some similarities, but there are differences too. Feminism is not small-c conservative, for example.

    Nor am I convinced that the position you espouse is Feminist Critical the way I conceive of it. I’m not saying that it isn’t, only that I’ve encountered very few, and hence would want to see you argue your position more, so I can better judge what it is.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  13. Although many feminists have not realized it, helping women does not have to come at the price of harming men.

    I don’t think most feminist even recognise the harms to men. They are unconscious of their own sexism, which is another reason to develop a vocabulaly to document it.

    The reason I don’t identify as an “antifeminist” is because then it sounds like I am against virtually everything that feminists do or say, which is not the case.

    That’s my rationalisation for not accepting the “antifeminist” label, the real reason is that the meaning I have internalised is just the truly obnoxious, extreme rightwing, bigotry that David also disowns.

    There isn’t a single feminist who I would ban from my blog, (although several would be on notice about their behaviour.) There are quite a few antifeminists who will never be welcome.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  14. Hi. Stumbled on your attempts to dialog with Amp by accident. I used to do the same thing about six or seven years ago. I doubt he’s changed since then….

    Actually Amp and I get on well, on just about every subject other than feminism. I’ve had some successes with him too. He now recognises the overwhelmingly onesided direct victimisation of males in war, and even blogs about it occasionally.

    But I assume what you mean is someone that criticises feminism on the basis of it’s sexism, right? it’s a specific and fundamental criticism. A criticism that if accepted undermines the very purpose of the feminist movement. It’s an existential criticism. It challenges the very existence of the movement.

    In its current form, yes.

    Of course there are a small number who generally support these criticisms of feminism while still hoping that feminism can be “saved” from the internal rot. That the “cancer” is reversible somehow. They often self-describe as feminists. But these metaphors suggest that the problem is a small one within the movement which I think you will agree is not the case (eg your definition of “typical” above).

    How a person self-labels is the least of my concerns. If self-identifing feminists will listen to me, then I’ll talk to them.

    As for defining feminism,

    (The existence of more than one Eigenvector would indicate that two or more distinguishable groups claiming the word.)

    Don’t you think that ambiguity’s a problem in a definition?

    No, it’s important to recognise the possibility that different groups may claim the same label. For example there are groups of self-identifying Christians which do not recognise the other as Christian. If you’re going to criticise Christianity properly, you need to recognise this.

    However, as far as I can tell feminism isn’t like that. McElroy’s independent feminists aren’t recognised by mainstream feminists, but they do recognise mainstream feminists. The mainstream of the movement in turn is considered questionable by some radfems but regards the radfems as legit. There is thus a heirarchy of recognition, but no clear split.

    of course we cannot accept the definition feminists give themselves. Ampersand’s definition of feminism for example, would make him not a feminist.

    As far as I can see It would. Trouble is, it would make me one too.

    Any definition of feminism that mentions gender equality would exclude many or most feminists. In general the definitions are propagandistic. They are claims about what their feminism is, and the claims are false.

    Hence the functional rather than the descriptive definition I gave.

    My definition of feminism was,

    “Feminism is the belief that women are universal victims and everything is men’s fault.”

    Which is problematic for much the same reason.

    Using this definition I agree that dissident feminists (those that self-identify as feminist but criticise the movement seriously) are not really feminists at all.

    I must admit, I tend to use Amp as a proxy for feminism in my definition. A feminist, therefore, is anyone Amp recognises as a feminist. This allows me to declare, for example bell hooks to be a feminist. Even though she criticises feminism, she’s not sufficiently critical to be rejected as an antifeminist

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  15. Looking back at some of the older terminology I am probably misremembering and even back then people didn’t like the anti-feminist label for the reason of it sounding too negative. It turns out the actual term we came up with was “counter-feminist” and the name of the web ring was “feminism on trial” which was an attempt to capture the oppositional stance without sounding chauvinist or negative.

    However I’m now using the anti-feminist label so I don’t appreciate you in effect calling me a chauvinist or some sort of conservative. Nor in general is it a good idea to negatively characterise a group simply on the basis of their dissent (ie “extremist”). Remember that your own position is numerically even more “extremist” than theirs.

    Nor am I convinced that the position you espouse is Feminist Critical the way I conceive of it. I’m not saying that it isn’t, only that I’ve encountered very few, and hence would want to see you argue your position more, so I can better judge what it is.

    Not all of the sites I managed to find at that time, about seven years ago now I suppose, were liberal. Most of those critical were not but you might be surprised that about 1 in 3 were critical from the liberal perspective. I would say that Warren Farrell is a pretty good representative of that sort of view, but the liberal men’s movement has a long history. For example did you know they tried to present evidence to congress on the ERA (they supported it despite fears – justified as it turned out – that it would be interpreted to only limit male behaviour). Congress ironically refused to hear any mens groups on the ERA — only women’s groups.

    Because I am a Jones-ist rather than a Farrell-ist.

    My problem with Jones is that after starting off on the road to Damascus with his silly so-called Montreal massacre stuff he kept it as an example of gendercide which is ridiculous. All the other examples of gendercide he has effect hundreds of thousands of people and are institutional. Then there’s this silly “massacre” of about 12 people by a lone nutcase. It’s like he is bending over backwards to try and give the feminists an equivalent case to the many many historical male gendercides.

    That sort of false equivalence, that sort of fabricated equality is … well it should be an item in your list really.

    This guy was a feminist who set out to prove the feminist central dogma (that women are universally victims of male violence and oppression) and was honest enough to realise the data proved more or less the exact opposite — ie that when society separates out the sexes and kills a bunch of one of them then it’s men who get killed not women (generally). Again and again “battle aged men” are killed off en masse.

    He was honest enough to seek to point this out and after the obvious rebuff by the feminist movement set up the site etc etc. But why pretend it’s somehow 50-50? Why set up the Montreal massacre as equal to the WW2 slaughter of 2 million (male) soviet conscripts?

    The answer is that it is very very hard indeed for these ex-feminists to really get that whole habit of women oppressed out of their heads and see things without bias. Farrell does similar stuff, another ex-feminist / still a feminist as he’d have it.

    Specifically, the “Frontman fallacy” as I have seen it argued on usenet rebuts a strawman version of some rather sophisticated feminist arguments.

    There are sophisticated feminist arguments!?!

    Frontman criticises the genuinely straw arguments feminists “typically” use. You’ll have to explain what you mean but I find it a very useful phrase.

    It’s possible that the fallacy as Farrell argued it is more sophisticated, but my research doesn’t actually extend to buying books.

    I actually grow tired of Farrell’s false equivalencies even more than Jones and his so-called Montreal massacre as gendercide, but you really HAVE to read him if you want to intelligently talk about this stuff. You can get the book for less then $10.

    HughRistik,
    if feminism got rid of its sexism towards men, I don’t think the movement would be destroyed. The purpose of feminism is to fulfill the needs and interests of women. There is nothing inherently wrong with that

    There is if you simultaneously present yourself as a gender equality movement. If feminism came clean and defined itself as a gender advocacy movement for women’s interests regardless of any consideration of equality then that would be ok. They’d be like the NRA. But they don’t do that. They present themselves as the only legitimate voice on gender issues which means there’s no way of raising male rights issues. That would all remain true even if feminism was not so sexist.

    Farrell calls for a gender transition movement which is essentially what feminism currently claims to be — a movement for sex equality. A real one. Creating such a movement inevitably would involve explaining why it is needed — ie why feminism is not a gender transition movement.

    Nor could feminism be reformed to become a gender transition movement. It is fundamentally only about women — including the name which all by itself has far too many negative associations for many men to be able to transition to a healthy and productive movement for human rights.

    Comment by DavidByron — December 31, 2006 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  16. A feminist, therefore, is anyone Amp recognises as a feminist.

    Which is ironic, considering how many feminists don’t consider me a feminist. (Which fits into your heirarchy argument, I realize).

    Trouble is, [Amp’s definition] would make me [a feminist] too.

    Heh. Yeah, the “excluding Daran” part is something I’ve been puzzling over now and then for the last couple of weeks.

    I think it’s legitimate to think that someone who has virtually no relationship to feminism apart from attacking it, is not a feminist. (This is what sets you apart from bell hooks; yes, she frequently criticizes feminism, but she has also publicly advocated feminism.) So I don’t think you’re a feminist. So I need to think about how my personal definition of feminism should be phrased to reflect that aspect of my thinking.

    By the way, I don’t know if it bothers you to consider me an MRA, I certainly consider myself dedicating to improving the position of men in society. So by your definition, I’m an MRA.

    Regarding your definition of “typical,” this bit seems to have odd consequences: “…if someone with otherwise good feminist credentials does challenge it, they are likely to have their status as feminists challenged by other feminists.”

    So if Sally expresses opinion A, then June disagrees, then Sally says “I don’t think that’s very feminist of you, June,” it follows that opinion “A” must be a typical feminist opinion. The problem is that some level of questioning each other’s feminism is a frequent – I’d even same say commonplace – aspect of intra-feminist disagreement. By putting it this way, you’ve given yourself a way of saying that even opinions many feminists disagree with are “typical” feminist opinions.

    (* I realized you said “behavior,” not “view.” But it’s a distinction without much of a difference, since expressing a particular view is itself a behavior.)

    (Edited for grammar).

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  17. Daran,
    He now recognises the overwhelmingly onesided direct victimisation of males in war, and even blogs about it occasionally.

    Given how “typical” the feminist characterisation of war as always causing more suffering for women (“and children” *) than men is — has he ever criticised a feminist who made that typical argument?

    With authoritarian movements such as feminism it’s not about arguments but loyalty. Do you understand what I mean? I would interpret feminism in the context of the theory on rightwing authoritarian movements such as you would find explained at Orcinus and other sites.

    If your basis of membership is essentially anti-rational then you can’t and don’t really care about theory or argument. All that matters is group identity. That’s why feminists go on about who’s in an who’s out such a lot.

    Ampersand is only a man so he’s already “on notice” of course, despite being (well he was) the best feminist arguer on the web. That’s just not that useful an ability within the movement.

    For example when debating the sexist Violence Against Women Act (prior to the change of the language to include men) I would find two mutually exclusive responses to the criticism that VAWA, universally endorsed by feminist groups, was sex discriminatory law. One group would deny that the VAWA was sexist. The other group would say, yes of course it is sexist (that’s the whole point!) because women deserve help and male victims do not.

    These arguments are of course mutually exclusive and contradict each other.

    No feminist arguing one way ever had an issue with a feminist arguing the other way. When the contradiction was pointed out none of the feminists could see the contradiction as a big deal.

    This is typical of authoritarian movements where the only real principle is loyalty to the in-group. Therefore, to get back to Ampersand, it is important to ask if he ever criticised specific feminists. That action would be disloyal and would likely result in other feminists calling him out, especially given his sex.
    ———–

    he mainstream of the movement in turn is considered questionable by some radfems but regards the radfems as legit. There is thus a heirarchy of recognition

    True enough and this is one of the problems with the usual attempt to dismiss criticism of radical feminism as unrepresentative of the whole. In a sense it represents an elite of the movement. They are not rejected in the same way Laframboise or the other dissients are/were.
    ———–

    On the definition question again, the problem with your initial definition is that it is completely non-descriptive. The usual purpose of a definition is to describe what is being defined. You fail to answer the basic question — “What is feminism?”

    It’s a hard question certainly, and the answer is political so people will not agree with you. It won’t be an answer that is common ground. But it is important to ask and try to answer the question — what is the nature of the beast? What is it we are dealing with here? What’s really going on here?

    I must admit, I tend to use Amp as a proxy for feminism in my definition. A feminist, therefore, is anyone Amp recognises as a feminist.

    But does Ampersand believe it himself? Does Cathy Young really say men are discriminated more than women today? I’ve read (those books again!) her book… what was it called … “Ceasfire!” with a specific view to finding out the answer to that question and concluded that she did not. At least if she did she said the opposite. I could probably get a quote…

    Ampersand nevertheless says she is no feminist. I think the reason is that Cathy Young is disloyal to the movement. She is a dissident. Loyalty is the most important thing. Fact is with the right attitude you could probably say much the same things as Cathy Young says and be considered a feminist. Your attitude would have to be that overall women are oppressed and men suck. Prove you are a team player and you’re a feminist. Cross them and you’re out.

    Of course I’ve not read Young for a long time now so I don’t know if she changed her position to explicitly say men are discriminated against more. I doubt it though. That would go against her entire point in “Ceasefire!”. Generally it is the feminists themselves that are keen on that sort of bean counting exercise. You see this (and this tactic ought to be on your list too) on the question of domestic violence for example. A typical feminist “argument” is that male victims are a minority so they shouldn’t be helped at all. To most people gender ought to be simply irrelevent and therefore there’s no relevence to what proportion of victims are male or female.

    In other words Ampersand’s definition of feminism contains a hint of his own sexism. What after all is the purpose of asking whether men or women are the more discriminated against unless you have at the back of your mind a narrative that says “It’s ok to discriminate against men because they are the minority of victims”. But feminists bean count like that (usually rigging the count) all the time (or “typically” to use your term).
    ———-

    (*) You should add to your list the typical way feminists use “women and children” to fiddle their statistics. They infantilize women.

    Comment by DavidByron — December 31, 2006 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  18. He now recognises the overwhelmingly onesided direct victimisation of males in war…

    My opinion is that men are singled out and directly victimized in huge numbers in war, and furthermore that when you look particularly at which sex is murdered, the overwhelming majority are men.

    I’m not clear on your basis for saying that direct victims are overwhelmingly male; rape of women, for example, seems to happen in huge numbers in many, perhaps most modern wars. I think the belief you mistakenly attributed to me tends to dismiss or ignore those victims.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  19. You should add to your list the typical way feminists use “women and children” to fiddle their statistics.

    Gosh, no feminist has ever objected to the phrase “women and children.”

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

  20. Some more terminology:

    Privilege Equivocation: Feminists claim (or imply) that men “benefit” from privilege, i.e., enjoy an absolute benefit, but when asked to explain how, can only give examples where men are (according to the feminist) relatively better of than women.

    And here’s another phenomenon which I don’t have a term for: Suppose two feminists use a term of art (“Privilege”, for example) in their discussion without defining it, they must have a shared understanding of what that means. Now if each gives a different definition of the term, even if each is coherent in itself, they may be incoherent with each other, rendering the discussion between them incoherent. Tom Nolan sent me a paper which may have some relevance to this. I must have another look at it.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  21. The Odious Comparison: Typical feminist practice of unjustifiably or inappropriately comparing male oppression, suffering, etc., unfavourably with female suffering.

    So is this same comparison (with the genders reversed) no longer odious when MRAs and anti-feminists do it? Or are you claiming this practice is uncommon among MRAs and anti-feminists?

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  22. Privilege Equivocation: Feminists claim (or imply) that men “benefit” from privilege, i.e., enjoy an absolute benefit, but when asked to explain how, can only give examples where men are (according to the feminist) relatively better of than women.

    What feminist has said that all benefits arising from male privilege are absolute, rather than relative, benefits?

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  23. I’m not clear on your basis for saying that direct victims are overwhelmingly male; rape of women, for example, seems to happen in huge numbers in many, perhaps most modern wars. I think the belief you mistakenly attributed to me tends to dismiss or ignore those victims.

    Firstly, the “kill the men and rape the women” process is inflicted upon an utterly defeated enemy. Wars which do not end in utter defeat do not result in much rape, but still kill and injure a lot of men. Secondly to the best of my knowledge, even when the enemy is utterly defeated, women are subject to varying degrees of harassment, but there is rarely an attempt to rape all of them, as there is so often to murder all the men.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  24. What feminist has said that all benefits arising from male privilege are absolute, rather than relative, benefits?

    None that I recall have said that all are absolute. But that some are absolute, is implied by the argument that men don’t want to give up their privilege, or that they “benefit” from it. I have yet to see a convincing argument for any absolute privilege that doesn’t depend upon the dubious assumptions challenged here.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  25. To clarify: By absolute privilege I mean that men are generally better off under the privilege system, than they would be if the privilege system did not exist. I do not mean that all men are better off. By relative privilege I mean that men are better of than women under the privilege system.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  26. Wars which do not end in utter defeat do not result in much rape, but still kill and injure a lot of men.

    Where are you getting this nonsense from? The war in the congo went on for years without an “utter defeat” but with stunning amounts of rape.

    Furthermore, your exclusion only makes sense if one assumes that war that end in “utter defeat” in some way don’t count. But that’s nonsense.

    Secondly to the best of my knowledge, even when the enemy is utterly defeated, women are subject to varying degrees of harassment, but there is rarely an attempt to rape all of them, as there is so often to murder all the men.

    So your claim is that the typical war involves an attempt to murder 100% of men on the opposing side? That seems dubious, to me. I’m not sure that at any point during the Iran/Iraq war, for example, either side made any attempt to wipe out 100% of male citizens on the other side.

    In fact, usually attempted genocides end up with wholesale slaughters of both sexes; for instance, when entire cities are gassed, firebombed, air raided or otherwise destroyed. Female Jews were not let alone by the Nazis.

    I admit that I’m no expert on this, but it seems to me that large-scale rape during wartime is more common than you acknowlege. If a feminist made this sort of denial, dismissal, minimisation, and ignoring of male suffering, as you now are of female suffering, what vocubulary term would you apply to it?

    Edited to fix borked link.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  27. So is this same comparison (with the genders reversed) no longer odious when MRAs and anti-feminists do it? Or are you claiming this practice is uncommon among MRAs and anti-feminists?

    Neither. It’s odious when it’s used to justify (or justified by) a disenfranchisment discourse. It’s not odious when its used to rebut a disenfranchisement discourse. Hence I point out the overwhelmingly high rates of male casualties in war to rebut the feminist Odious Comparison in general, and the particular version of it, which is the myth that 80% of war victims are womenandchildren. However I think David’s characterisation of the École Polytechnique killings as a ‘silly “massacre” of about 12 people’ pretty odious. I don’t agree with his criticism of Jones, and even if I did, it’s not necessary to dismiss the atrocity in such terms.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  28. Neither. It’s odious when it’s used to justify (or justified by) a disenfranchisment discourse.

    According to the definition as you wrote it, it is only the “odious comparison” when it is a “feminist practice.” Your definition as written excludes the comparison from being “the odious comparison” when made by any non-feminist, even if it’s done in a way that contributes to the disenfranchisment of women. If that’s not what you mean, then you should revise the definition.

    In this discussion, no one except you has brought up the claim that “80% of war victims are womenandchildren.” You were the one who originally brought up that comparison on this thread, in order to highlight male suffering.

    Why don’t you just admit that you find the comparison “odious” only when it’s used by feminists, and the same comparison is (in your view) never odious when used to demonstrate that men are victims? As this thread demonstrates, you don’t only make the odious comparison in rebuttal to what others have said; you bring it up yourself, seemingly out of the blue.

    (I realize that you said that David’s “silly” comment was odious, and I agree; but you didn’t apply the “odious comparison” logic to him. You cannot apply it to him, unless you alter your definition.)

    I don’t happen to think that the comparison is always odious. Often there are differences in how women and men are oppressed and harmed, and highlighting those differences is sometimes appropriate. But I think your hypocrisy is revealing; the exact same behavior is peachy-keen when you do it repeatedly, but an occasion for condemnation from you when feminists do it. In your view, you are never wrong, and feminists are always odious, even when the behavior is objectively the same.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  29. But that some are absolute, is implied by the argument that men don’t want to give up their privilege, or that they “benefit” from it.

    First of all, just for the record, I don’t think I’d make the argument you’re describing. (Or at least I’d nuance it up a lot.)

    Secondly, I don’t see how the “men don’t want to give up their privilege” argument implies absolute privilege. Are you saying that no one can benefit from a relative advantage?

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  30. Ampersand said:

    So is this same comparison (with the genders reversed) no longer odious when MRAs and anti-feminists do it?

    In my view, it’s also odious when MRAs and antifeminists make similar comparisons. At least, that kind of comparison is odious when it is stated as a fact; I don’t have any problem with people speculating that one sex suffers more than the other, or offering their subjective opinion as long as they recognize that their conclusions is speculative and subjective.

    My view is either that the oppressions of men and women are incomparable in the US, or if they are comparable, women are slightly more oppressed (IF statistics on sexual violence against women are correct). Still, I believe that men are subject to more forms of legalized discrimination. Also, I believe that in proportion to how prevalent and severe they are, women’s oppression is recognized in public to a much higher degree than men’s oppression is. That is why I spend most of the time advocating on behalf of men, even though I grant the possibility that women are oppressed slightly more.

    Comment by HughRistik — December 31, 2006 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  31. Ampersand (quoting me):

    Wars which do not end in utter defeat do not result in much rape, but still kill and injure a lot of men.

    Where are you getting this nonsense from?

    I should have said “battle” rather than war. How do you think you could commit mass rape against an undefeated people?

    “Unlike the siege itself, the violence of the irregulars during the fall of a town was discriminate and highly systematic. Militiamen would begin by publicly torturing and executing the settlement’s political and cultural elite. Of the remaining population, women, children, and the very old were typically permitted to flee or forcibly deported, experiencing varying degrees of harassment along the way. Wounded men were sometimes evacuated as well, usually as part of a prisoner exchange facilitated by the ICRC. Younger women were frequently singled out (implying that older women frequently weren’t — Daran) for rape, some transported to concentration camps and held for indefinite periods; some were killed after being raped. Able-bodied males between the ages of sixteen and sixty were sometimes also detained, usually to face torture, forced labor, and possibly death. However, adult males were instead frequently killed on the spot. In general, wherever villages fell to the BSA, unarmed adult men and older boys were most likely to immediately lose their lives.

    ‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans 1991-95 – RC Carpenter (My bold.)

    Please explain why I should reject Dr. Carpenter’s “nonsense” in favour of the views of someone who “admit[s] that [he’s] no expert on this”?

    The war in the congo went on for years without an “utter defeat” but with stunning amounts of rape.

    I’ve already acknowledged that I don’t know enough about the Congo, so it’s possible that the patterns of atrocity were different there than in Bosnia. By “utter defeat” I do not mean the defeat of the entire nation, but any local defeat such that the affected population is utterly at the mercy of the victors.

    Furthermore, your exclusion only makes sense if one assumes that war that end in “utter defeat” in some way don’t count. But that’s nonsense.

    How come?

    Secondly to the best of my knowledge, even when the enemy is utterly defeated, women are subject to varying degrees of harassment, but there is rarely an attempt to rape all of them, as there is so often to murder all the men.

    So your claim is that the typical war involves an attempt to murder 100% of men on the opposing side? That seems dubious, to me. I’m not sure that at any point during the Iran/Iraq war, for example, either side made any attempt to wipe out 100% of male citizens on the other side.

    I’m not aware that either side was utterly defeated, but that’s another war I’m not particularly knowledgable about. However, Hussein did target entire populations of men in the Anfal Campaign. Do you think he would have been more merciful to the Iranians if he had the same opportunity?

    Let’s frame the question in a different way. Can you identify any war at all that was characterised by the mass rape and/or murder of women, without being accompanied by the mass murder of men?

    In fact, usually attempted genocides end up with wholesale slaughters of both sexes; for instance, when entire cities are gassed, firebombed, air raided or otherwise destroyed. Female Jews were not let alone by the Nazis.

    They were initially. You might like to read Dr. Jones’ case study which investigates this in detail.

    However, I’m not aware that attempted genocides usually end up with wholesale slaughters of both sexes. The Holocaust did, as did the Armenian and Rwandan Genocides, some of the Japanese WWII atrocities, and Mai Lai on a smaller scale, but there are many, many others which overwhelmingly killed men and spared women.

    I admit that I’m no expert on this, but it seems to me that large-scale rape during wartime is more common than you acknowlege. If a feminist made this sort of denial, dismissal, minimisation, and ignoring of male suffering, as you now are of female suffering, what vocubulary term would you apply to it?

    Please feel free to cite your evidence.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  32. Can you identify any war at all that was characterised by the mass rape and/or murder of women, without being accompanied by the mass murder of men?

    No. I very much doubt that any such war exists, nor can any of my arguments be fairly construed as claiming that any such war exists.

    I am not saying that men don’t suffer in war, that men aren’t killed in war, or any such nonsense. I am objecting to the view you attributed to me that the “overwhelming” victims of war are men, as if the suffering of women in war is in comparison “underwhelming.”

    For example, it’s an interesting historical footnote, if true, that female Jews were initially spared by the Nazis. But in what way would that justify a claim that Jewish men were the overwhelming Jewish victims of the Holocaust? Presumably none. So why do you think that’s a relevant counterpoint to make?

    You are acting as if bringing attention to the harms done to men in war requries denying and minimizing the harms done to women in war. I don’t think that’s a helpful approach, and I think that at your best you rightly disdain to take such approaches.

    Comment by Ampersand — December 31, 2006 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  33. Edited to fix borked link.

    Your cite’s references don’t look particularly authoritative to me. You’d think that UN organisations such as UNICEF wouldn’t promulgate myths. Unfortunately as we’ve seen, that just ain’t so.

    Edited to add: I’m not saying that any of the claims are false, only that the cites aren’t good.

    Comment by Daran — December 31, 2006 @ 11:38 pm | Reply

  34. Ampersand said:

    I don’t happen to think that the comparison is always odious. Often there are differences in how women and men are oppressed and harmed, and highlighting those differences is sometimes appropriate.

    I don’t think Daran would disagree that the oppression of men and women are qualitatively different. When Daran objects to the comparison between suffering or oppression, I think he is talking about quantitative comparisons, that try to say that one group is “more” oppressed than another.

    Is this comparison always odious? I agree with you that it may not be (though you may been talking about qualitative comparisons, which is not what Daran is talking about). For example, I think we can say that it’s worse for a woman to be raped than for a man to have his toe stepped on. Yet not all comparisons are that black-and-white. For instance, what is “worse,” a woman getting raped or a man getting castrated? The only answer to that question is “that’s a really stupid question.” Who is more oppressed in the US, Hispanic women or African-American women? Who suffered more, blacks under slavery for its entire duration or Jews under Nazi Germany? Can you see why people would find this kind of comparison odious?

    When the oppression of two groups are both so high, trying to tease apart who is oppressed “more” is really missing the point. Would you agree that at least some comparisons of the suffering of groups are in such a grey area, and would require so many value judgments as to be completely subjective, such that the comparison becomes odious?

    Of course, you may not agree that comparing the oppression of men and women falls into such a grey area. In that case, your disagreement with Daran and I is an empirical one. Ultimately, I agree with Daran that feminists have no business making the odious comparison (whether this true is independent of whether Daran is being hypocritical or not). There may be a “right” answer, but feminists haven’t provided any rationale for making that comparison (see my post on bell hooks’ version of the odious comparison). Such a rationale would require tallying up instances of male oppression and female oppression, and then trying to come to some criteria for comparing them. But what Daran and I are arguing is that feminists do not recognize many examples of oppression and suffering of men (many feminists even argue that men are not oppressed). If feminists don’t have a clue how much men are oppressed, or how much men suffer, how can they be so sure women are oppressed more or suffer more?

    Comment by HughRistik — December 31, 2006 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  35. He now recognises the overwhelmingly onesided direct victimisation of males in war…

    Ampersand has now denied this; probably because you cached the statement in the context of what would have been disloyalty to the cause – the questioning of the universal victimhood status of women.

    Ampersand could probably admit to knowing the basic facts if he was allowed to contextualise it so as to see that women were the “real victims” despite the basic facts saying that men are killed far more often. eg by implying rape is worse than death or perhaps by saying that women are “special” or perhaps by playing up the plight of widows.

    And here’s another phenomenon which I don’t have a term for: … if each gives a different definition of the term, even if each is coherent in itself, they may be incoherent with each other, rendering the discussion between them incoherent

    I think this is what I call “the conclusion justifies the argument”. Just as some say the ends justify the means morally so authoritarians are unconcerned over the form of argument as long as the conclusion reached is the correct one. An incoherent discussion that nevertheless leads to an agreed endorsement of the ideology of feminism (“women are universal victims and everything is men’s fault”) is a valid discussion for purposes of the feminists.

    I think David’s characterisation of the École Polytechnique killings as a ’silly “massacre” of about 12 people’ pretty odious.

    What I said was silly was comparing a lone man killing about a dozen people with cases of genuine gendercide killing hundreds of thousands of people as the result of government policy. Do you really see no distinction between those two things? Do you really think any time some individual kills a dozen or so people that constitutes an act of genocide? Do you really think that denying that scale of event constitutes genocide is “odious”?

    You basically decided to interpret what I said as saying that killing a bunch of people is a silly event in absolute terms, as if I was laughing at people dying. What a cheap shot. Instead of the obvious interpretation that I meant comparing that event with a genocide was silly. Or you could have asked me what I meant. Why on earth would you sprint to call me “odious” like that?? I’d like to know why because that looks very suspicious to me.

    Ampersand:
    So is this same comparison (with the genders reversed) no longer odious when MRAs and anti-feminists do it?

    As far as I know they never do it Amp. The activity listed is an indication of what’s wrong with your movement. It isn’t a generic trait of people. The reason for this is easy enough to see. Feminists must always say women are the real victims in any situation. You even made that a part of your own definition of what feminism means! Therefore any time male victims are admited to so much as exist they must be maligned, dismissed, denigrated or diminuated somehow. The bean counting must always favour women as victims.

    Since MRA don’t feel that they have to bean count or run down women all the time the same way it doesn’t arise as an issue. If you have an example of it in mind please go ahead. What they often do have to do is explain to feminists why their odious comparisons are false.

    Amp,
    I don’t happen to think that the comparison is always odious. Often there are differences in how women and men are oppressed and harmed, and highlighting those differences is sometimes appropriate.

    Ampersand you yourself have used an “odious comparison” in saying women raped in war are a bigger issue than men murdered. That’s the sort of thing we’re talking about here.

    Objectively rape is not as bad as murder, ok? Whereas objectively a single man killing a dozen or so people is NOT even remotely like a gendercide of hundreds of thousands of people by government policy. I assume that Daran means the odious comparison is also a false comparison.

    And btw Ampersand the point of “odious comparison” is NOT to make some group out to be victims. The point is to make out that some group is NOT a real victim. That is something feminists do a lot but MRA’s do not. That’s because the men’s rights movement do not make the claim that men are the only victims. There’s no equivalent of the feminist creed of universal victimhood.

    In fact men’s rights types often bend over backwards to pretend women are equal victims when the facts are otherwise which is exactly what I was illustrating over Dr Jones and his inclusion of the Montreal massacre as a gendercide.

    Comment by DavidByron — December 31, 2006 @ 11:52 pm | Reply

  36. I am not saying that men don’t suffer in war, that men aren’t killed in war, or any such nonsense. I am objecting to the view you attributed to me that the “overwhelming” victims of war are men, as if the suffering of women in war is in comparison “underwhelming.”

    For a start, I don’t agree that “underwhelming” is the opposite of “overwhelming” in this context. “Underwhelming” as I understand the word means “unimpressive”. I’m not claiming that.

    I said “direct victims” by which I meant victims with weapons-based injuries. However I agree that rape victims are also direct victims.

    If there are no wars with much rape and little or no killing, but there are wars with much killing and little or no rape, then it follows that there is probably much more killing than rape.

    For example, it’s an interesting historical footnote, if true, that female Jews were initially spared by the Nazis. But in what way would that justify a claim that Jewish men were the overwhelming Jewish victims of the Holocaust? Presumably none. So why do you think that’s a relevant counterpoint to make?

    It’s more than a historical footnote. In the Jewish, Armenian, and Rwandan holocausts, men were killed first The Japanese atrocities and Mei Lai were committed by soldiers who had killed men first in battle. Everything suggests that killing men is a necessary precursor to killing women. Sometimes the genocide never reaches the killing women stage, and sometimes it does. A misguided focus upon women which ignores the plight of men makes women more vulnerable. That’s not an argument I like to make. I prefer to advocate a focus upon men because they deserve it but sometimes you’ve just got to pitch to the feminist wicket.

    You are acting as if bringing attention to the harms done to men in war requries denying and minimizing the harms done to women in war. I don’t think that’s a helpful approach, and I think that at your best you rightly disdain to take such approaches.

    I’m not; it isn’t; and I do. I’m not suggesting that huge numbers of women aren’t raped (or killed or injured for that matter) Women are also in large numbers the indirect victims of war, and probably suffer more overall because they live longer.

    But I’m not aware that the number of women killed or injured (including raped) overall exceeds, say, 20% of the number of men killed or injured. If you think they do, please cite your evidence.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  37. Hmm. On reflection I retract this one:

    I assume that Daran means the odious comparison is also a false comparison.

    The statements usually are false but I don’t think that’s necessary. I think the point is more that the feminist uses the comparison as a means to dismiss compassion towards the male victims.

    For example it often happens when discussing VAWA that a feminist will throw out some made up statistic about how very few men are victims of domestic violence.

    Now I used to get caught by this tactic. I used to respond to the lie and challenge the statistic. But it is better to point out that it doesn’t matter how few male victims there are because there’s just no reason to deny even one male victim of domestic violence the rights that are given to female victims. There’s no moral reason for any bean counting because the gender equality position is simple : all victims deserve compassion.

    Feminism tries to argue against this by denigrating male victims as “only 1%”. That statistic is false but even if it were true it would change nothing. Even if there was only one male victim in the country they would deserve the same rights as any female victim.

    So I think the main point of the odious comparison is not it’s factual falseness but that it is used to dismiss men as an object of compassion. That’s something men’s rights activists never do towards women. It’s just not part of men’s rights ideology that men are universal victims or women are the “bad guys”.

    (At least it wasn’t as of a few years back although it did seem to me at the time that the men’s rights movement would likely become more corrupt in mirroring the evils of the feminist movement as time went on.)

    At any rate I guess it’s not my term but that’s the impression I get of it from my experience of feminist rhetoric.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  38. I’m going to have to return to this later, because I want to go do New Year’s Eve stuff. But a couple of quick notes:

    I should have said “battle” rather than war.

    Okay, that’s a rather significant correction, which would have changed some aspects of my response. 🙂

    Daran, I admit that you caught UNICEF messing up. That doesn’t change that UNICEF is generally and widely considered a reliable source. (As an analogy, I think that Murray Straus has made mistakes in his career, but that doesn’t make his general reputation as a solid researcher something we should ignore.) Do you have any specific arguments suggesting that the UN’s reporting on a matter as basic as whether or not mass rape has occurred is so flawed that it should be ignored?

    Besides, UNICEF was hardly the only reference my cite used. I admit that my cite could be mistaken, but I’ve generally found religious-tolorence.org a reliable source of facts; you’ll have to actually show me that the link is untrustworthy before I’ll buy it.

    I have to admit, I’m bewildered and surprised that you apparently feel the need to deny that mass rapes in wartime are a significant problem. I can understand why it’s important that men’s suffering not be ignored; you’re right about that. What I can’t understand is why you apparently think that you must deny women’s suffering in war, as well.

    Comment by Ampersand — January 1, 2007 @ 12:13 am | Reply

  39. LOL.
    Nice one Amp.

    I have to admit, I’m bewildered and surprised that you apparently feel the need to deny that mass rapes in wartime are a significant problem.

    I’d like to contribute something about how reports of “mass rapes” (of women) have been inflated and fabricated as a political act —- but obviously I can’t do that in case my words are twisted out of all context and I am accused of saying that no women are ever raped or something equally “odious”.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 12:31 am | Reply

  40. Daran, I admit that you caught UNICEF messing up.

    I would have spotted that easily too Amp. You want to know how? The factoid didn’t pass the smell test. I guess it turned out, according to Daran, that the real figure was that almost 80% of the victims were men without even including children.

    Interesting post Daran. I remember doing stuff like that in chasing down the derivation of some of the outrageous domestic violence related factoids that get parroted by supposedly respectable organisations all over the web. It was like Chinese whispers.

    Why is it that you have no nose for bullshit like that Amp? I think it’s because it wouldn’t be functional for you. Doesn’t help your case to have any skepticism does it?

    This relates to the habit feminism has of censoring criticism of course. It’s a system calculated to magnify bullshit and minimise correction. The result is that just about nothing favouring feminism from even normally reliable sources can be considered a reliable fact. That’s what censorship means Amp.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  41. Note: My previous comment was written and posted before I read Daran’s post of
    January 1, 2007 @ 12:10 am.”

    I prefer to advocate a focus upon men because they deserve it but sometimes you’ve just got to pitch to the feminist wicket.

    Daran, it’s only in your mind that feminists are man-hating demons. The vast, vast, vast majority of feminists – all but a few marginal nutcases – would not disagree with the proposition that saving male lives is worthwhile for its own sake.

    * * *

    Hugh, nice to meet you.

    Who is more oppressed in the US, Hispanic women or African-American women? Who suffered more, blacks under slavery for its entire duration or Jews under Nazi Germany? Can you see why people would find this kind of comparison odious?

    Absolutely.

    My question to you is: Who is harmed more by racism in the USA, blacks or whites? I hope you’ll agree that blacks are harmed more, and that making such a comparison is not inherently odious.

    So the question becomes, is the male/female comparison more like the black/white comparison, or more like the blacks in the USA/Jews in Nazi Germany comparison?

    And my answer is: It is not like either one; it is its own thing, which should be considered independently. The comparison is not as clear-cut as black and white, but nor is it as clear-cut in the other direction as Jews in Holocaust vs. blacks in US slavery.

    I can see why you could consider the comparison odious. But I also think that, for women in countries where war massacres are not part of their lives, it’s not unreasonable to think that women as a whole have the shorter end of the stick, and that analysis is important to understanding sexism in society as a whole. Saying that in no way requires denying that men are “oppressed” or are harmed by sexism. And if denying one’s perceived reality is what’s necessary to avoid being judged “odious,” then I think the judgement of odiousness has become a bit unfair.

    Of course, you may not agree that comparing the oppression of men and women falls into such a grey area. In that case, your disagreement with Daran and I is an empirical one.

    No, I don’t think it’s empirical; it’s just a matter of subjective opinion. You can point to such-and-such an issue (US soldiers killed in Iraq? Workplace deaths? Rape? Wage gap? etc) and make empirical claims, but how to add up all the issues and form a judgement about overall significance is not empirical (as you yourself have said).

    But what Daran and I are arguing is that feminists do not recognize many examples of oppression and suffering of men (many feminists even argue that men are not oppressed). If feminists don’t have a clue how much men are oppressed, or how much men suffer, how can they be so sure women are oppressed more or suffer more?

    Daran has argued in the past that racism is harmful to whites, a view of white suffering that many civil rights activists don’t share; does it follow that civil rights activists are wrong to think that blacks are oppressed more by racism than whites? After all, if they don’t have a clue how much white people suffer, how can they be sure that blacks suffer more?

    I don’t think the broad-brushed “feminists” you’re using is useful — at least, not to me. I don’t think that I fail to recognize male suffering, or male oppression (although “oppression” is a word that means different things in different contexts).

    I don’t like the way some radical feminists too often have no apparent concern about male suffering. It’s plain that people of both sexes are harmed by sexism, and it’s a mistake to deny that.

    However, many MRAs seem to miss this point too, and if anything miss it by a wider margin. This is anecdotal, but when I asked once at an MRA forum (Stand Your Ground), NONE of them could name a single example of what they’d consider a legitimate complaint about how women are treated.

    At the same time, I don’t like the way anti-feminists, MRAs and feminist “critics” seem dedicated to pretending that it doesn’t matter that nearly all the senators, all the presidents, all the congressmen, all the fortune 500 CEOs, all the Supreme Court Justices, etc., are male. It’s true that both women and men are screwed over by sexism, but it’s also true that the system tends to keep the ruling class overwhelmingly male. And in most material ways, if you hold other things (race, education, etc) equal, men in the USA are materially better off than women.

    The only way you can say that it’s hard to see which sex is oppressed in the USA is to assume that oppression is entirely about suffering, and not at all about who gets to be in the ruling class. I don’t think I buy that. Suffering is important, but it’s not the only consideration.

    At least, that’s my opinion. As we’ve agreed, this question is subjective, not empirical. I also think that it’s not a terribly important question (except when considering some specific issues or triage matters). For me, that both sexes are harmed by the current system is enough to make it worth changing the system.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that I don’t think feminists are obliged to talk about male suffering or oppression if they don’t want to; likewise, MRAs aren’t obliged to talk about female suffering or oppression. It’s not unreasonable for people to focus on their passions.

    Edited to add the word “percieved.”

    Comment by Ampersand — January 1, 2007 @ 12:53 am | Reply

  42. You can point to such-and-such an issue (US soldiers killed in Iraq? Workplace deaths? Rape? Wage gap? etc) and make empirical claims, but how to add up all the issues and form a judgement about overall significance is not empirical (as you yourself have said).

    You are the one making the positive claim Ampersand. And then you say you can’t back it up? Well then let me be devil’s advocate and make a case for the idea that men are objectively more “oppressed” or whatever. I’ll show you how easy it is.

    First let’s use the international standard aproved by bodies like the UN in comparing populations. The two biggest indicators of quality of life are health / life expectancy and literacy / education. In America women clearly out-pace men on health & life expectancy (by margins only a little smaller than the margin of black/white race difference) and narrowly out-pace men on literacy / education.

    Your ball Amp.

    As you know Amp. I used to regularly ask feminists to try to come up with even one major issue where present day American women were worse off than American men. I wasn’t saying no issues existed mind you – I was just asking them for a “for example”. What’s your best shot? See what they’ve “got”. The comparison might be odious but it’s their game. What have they got?

    And as you know the great majority of feminists I asked could not come up with even one issue.

    I think that’s significant.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 1:10 am | Reply

  43. Amp,
    I don’t like the way some radical feminists too often have no apparent concern about male suffering. It’s plain that people of both sexes are harmed by sexism, and it’s a mistake to deny that.

    But you nevertheless still think these “radicals” are feminists by your definition. How can that be?

    This is anecdotal, but when I asked once at an MRA forum (Stand Your Ground), NONE of them could name a single example of what they’d consider a legitimate complaint about how women are treated.

    And as per my own anecdote — based on not just one feminist board but scores of them — feminists can rarely do any better. So the plain fact is nobody on either side can easily think of issues for women. I guess it’s “common ground” then.

    It’s good to find common ground.

    I don’t like the way anti-feminists, MRAs and feminist “critics” seem dedicated to pretending that it doesn’t matter that nearly all the senators, all the presidents, all the congressmen, all the fortune 500 CEOs, all the Supreme Court Justices, etc., are male

    It matters of course because male leaders are harder on men than female leaders, and easier on women. Thanks for pointing out that example of discrimination against men Amp.

    if you hold other things (race, education, etc) equal, men in the USA are materially better off than women.

    That’s just not true. You probably base this on wages. Wages that men have to hand over to women (eg taxes, CS, married life) resulting in women accounting for over 80% of total consumer spending. In general men and women share the same economic level for the obvious reason that they share the same houses and bank accounts. Major assymetric exceptions would be single homeless men / prison inmates (generally very poor and male) and single female widows who outlived their husbands (generally richer or provided for by the state).

    Is this the best material you have btw Amp?
    I just assumed you’d get some new material in the six or seven years since we last locked horns.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that I don’t think feminists are obliged to talk about male suffering or oppression if they don’t want to

    Unless of course that feminist insists that women are oppressed more than men as part of their definition of feminism…?

    After health, education and money I would guess next most important would be liberty and security. They are finding how vital that is in Iraq right now…

    In the US something like 10-13 times more men are locked up than women. Biggest prison population on the planet. Fully one in four men in America will be incarcerated over night (often without charge) during their lifetime. In jail men face cruel and unusual punishment — anal rape. Men also have less security from violence outside of prison as they are the majority victims of violent crime (although both sexes are pretty secure in the US).

    Oh but Amp you’re right. The important thing isn’t the reduced health care, life expectancy, education and the increased imprisonment and violence a man experiences. The important thing is that every American man knows that the leaders responsible for screwing him over have a penis just like him.

    I have always drawn great comfort from that fact.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  44. I don’t like the way some radical feminists too often have no apparent concern about male suffering. It’s plain that people of both sexes are harmed by sexism, and it’s a mistake to deny that.

    But you nevertheless still think these “radicals” are feminists by your definition. How can that be?

    I don’t understand the question. Is there some rule that says Amp has to like the behaviour of all feminists?

    This is anecdotal, but when I asked once at an MRA forum (Stand Your Ground), NONE of them could name a single example of what they’d consider a legitimate complaint about how women are treated.

    And as per my own anecdote — based on not just one feminist board but scores of them — feminists can rarely do any better. So the plain fact is nobody on either side can easily think of issues for women. I guess it’s “common ground” then.

    Er no. Feminists have plenty of issues for women, and MRAs generally dispute those issues. This contrasts with men’s issues, which feminists tended historically to deny, dismiss, ignore, etc. I think the difference is indicative, not of greater intellectual rigour on the part of MRAs, but of the historical hegemony of feminism within the Gendersphere. It’s analogous to asymmetric warfare. It could also be viewed as an example of Ghandi’s law: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you…”. We’re at the fighting stage now. Y’all do know the final stage, don’t you?

    if you hold other things (race, education, etc) equal, men in the USA are materially better off than women.

    That’s just not true. You probably base this on wages…

    He probably bases it on poverty measures.

    …Wages that men have to hand over to women (eg taxes, CS, married life) resulting in women accounting for over 80% of total consumer spending. In general men and women share the same economic level for the obvious reason that they share the same houses and bank accounts. Major assymetric exceptions would be single homeless men / prison inmates (generally very poor and male) and single female widows who outlived their husbands (generally richer or provided for by the state).

    What about single unwidowed women, especially those with children? In any case, I don’t think control of consumer spending is necessarily a better measure of welfare than wages. If I did, I would be much more interested in the provenance of that 80% figure. I’ll bet there are all kinds of ifs and buts attached to it.

    Is this the best material you have btw Amp?

    I just assumed you’d get some new material in the six or seven years since we last locked horns.

    Er no. Actually you just assumed that he hadn’t.

    In any case, this is all rather snide and snarky, David. Here we aspire to discuss issues in a more courteous manner. We don’t always succeed, (arguably we don’t usually succeed), and Amp and I as much offenders as anyone else, but please try to curb the smarkiness, while still making your points.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that I don’t think feminists are obliged to talk about male suffering or oppression if they don’t want to

    Unless of course that feminist insists that women are oppressed more than men as part of their definition of feminism…?

    Which they don’t, anymore, according to his new inclusive definition that includes me. Hey, I have been calling for inclusion after all 🙂

    But you’re right, and this is a point I have been making for a while, if you are going to make a comparison, odious or otherwise, you need to fairly assess the advantages and disadvantages accruing to both sexes, and not just “look[] 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.

    In the US something like 10-13 times more men are locked up than women.

    I believe that this has something to do with men committing more crime as well as discrimination against men in the criminal justice system.

    Biggest prison population on the planet. Fully one in four men in America will be incarcerated over night (often without charge) during their lifetime. In jail men face cruel and unusual punishment — anal rape.

    They face rape. I’m sure you didn’t intend to imply it, but what you written sounds like you’re suggesting that other kinds of rape aren’t “cruel and unusual”. Women also face prison rape albeit in much smaller numbers, and much higher rates of rape outside prison walls.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 8:40 am | Reply

  45. I would have spotted that easily too Amp. You want to know how? The factoid didn’t pass the smell test. I guess it turned out, according to Daran, that the real figure was that almost 80% of the victims were men without even including children.

    Oh but it does, you see. The interlocking systems I’m trying to attach a vocabulary to are so effective at rendering male victimisation invisible that it becomes not just plausible, but obvious to feminists that women must make up the majority of victims. That men might make up the overwhelming majority of weapons-inflicted casualties (you agree, Amp?) becomes an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. I’ve met that burden, at least as far as Amp is concerned, but it took quite a bit of research.

    George Orwell pointed out that the Inner Party who created the fabricated reality of 1984 were its most fanatical believers.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  46. Frankly, Daran, I don’t recall being aware of the 80% claim until you began posting about it. I’m not at all sure that it would have passed “the smell test” had I ever given it a moment’s thought.

    As for the definition of feminism, maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve had a day to consider it, but right now I’m thinking of this:

    A feminist:

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

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

    3) Does not consider opposing feminism itself, as it exists today, to be a significant form of fighting sexism.

    This definition doesn’t exclude believing that sexism harms men, nor does it make the Infamous Comparison. But I think it would exclude most contra-feminists, yourself included.

    Finally, did you see my comment number 16? You’re not obliged to respond to it, of course, but I’d be curious to know what your response is, if you don’t mind.

    Comment by Ampersand — January 1, 2007 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  47. Ampersand (quoting me):

    Note: My previous comment was written and posted before I read Daran’s post of January 1, 2007 @ 12:10 am.”

    And I should point out that I had had a fair amount to drink last night (remember I’m at least five hours ahead of you) and probably wasn’t at my best.

    I prefer to advocate a focus upon men because they deserve it but sometimes you’ve just got to pitch to the feminist wicket.

    Daran, it’s only in your mind that feminists are man-hating demons. The vast, vast, vast majority of feminists – all but a few marginal nutcases – would not disagree with the proposition that saving male lives is worthwhile for its own sake.

    And it’s only in your mind that I think that feminists are man-hating demons. Feminists focus solely or overwhelmingly on women. I should have thought that was an uncontrovertial statement (maybe should be in your definition?) Feminists want to improve the welfare of women, so if directly improving the welfare of men had a significant albeit indirect affect on women, then that should appeal to feminist conserns in a way that the direct benefit to men does not, no?

    That feminists do not concern themselves with the welfare of men does not imply that they don’t think concern for men is worthwhile. There are lots of issues, including lots of men’s issues that I don’t concern myself with much, but which I nevertheless think are worthwhile.

    (Quoting Hugh):

    Hugh, nice to meet you.

    You’ve probably already met. Hugh is Aegis.

    Who is more oppressed in the US, Hispanic women or African-American women? Who suffered more, blacks under slavery for its entire duration or Jews under Nazi Germany? Can you see why people would find this kind of comparison odious?

    Absolutely.

    Now, let’s assert that the jews were less oppressed under the Nazis than the Roma. Would you not regard that as odious?

    Let’s go further and imagine that the Jewish Holocaust was downplayed by the UN office of Roma Affairs (there being no comparible office of Jewish affairs) which promulgated the notion that the Roma were the primary victims of the Holocaust. Would you not regard that as odious?

    Alternatively, suppose the fact that six million (or however many the current accepted figures is) Jews were exterminated and ‘only’ a few hundred thousand Roma were killed was used to dismiss concern for the latter, would you not regard that as odious?

    My question to you is: Who is harmed more by racism in the USA, blacks or whites? I hope you’ll agree that blacks are harmed more, and that making such a comparison is not inherently odious.

    It would depend upon the context

    So the question becomes, is the male/female comparison more like the black/white comparison, or more like the blacks in the USA/Jews in Nazi Germany comparison?

    I would say it was more like the black/white comparison, but with men and women corresponding to different sexes in different contexts. Male survivors are like the blacks in that women who control the resources exclude them. It’s notable (and yet another of the many things I have in mind to blog about some day) that many of the arguments put forward against inclusion are so similar to those made against giving blacks access to resources such as transport.

    I can see why you could consider the comparison odious. But I also think that, for women in countries where war massacres are not part of their lives, it’s not unreasonable to think that women as a whole have the shorter end of the stick, and that analysis is important to understanding sexism in society as a whole. Saying that in no way requires denying that men are “oppressed” or are harmed by sexism.

    But it is typical for feminists to say this. There is a bird in your garden. Do you consider any of those challeging her to be feminists? Do you think any other feminist would?

    And if denying one’s perceived reality is what’s necessary to avoid being judged “odious,” then I think the judgement of odiousness has become a bit unfair.

    As an initial matter, it’s not unheard of, for feminists to demand that men deny their perceived reality.

    I’m not suggesting that one should deny anything. Firstly as David pointed out, the comparison doesn’t have to be false to be odious. I think it would be pretty odious to respond to a woman’s disclosure of a date rape, for example to say “hey, that’s no big deal, some men in prison get raped on a daily basis”. Yet as I pointed out it is de rigueur to compare male suffering unfavourably to female suffering if you want to discuss it within feminism. I already pointed out, you did it yourself.

    No, I don’t think it’s empirical; it’s just a matter of subjective opinion. You can point to such-and-such an issue (US soldiers killed in Iraq? Workplace deaths? Rape? Wage gap? etc) and make empirical claims, but how to add up all the issues and form a judgement about overall significance is not empirical (as you yourself have said).

    I agree its a matter of subjective opinion. In my case I consciously privilege death over suffering. Thus according to my calculus a quick and relatively painless death is worse than a rape which can be recovered from. Someone who privileges suffering over death might come to a different conclusion.

    However what is objectionable is that feminists (and society in general) privileges female death over male death, female suffering over male suffering, and female disadvantage over male disadvantage, and then uses a range of discourses to render male death etc., invisible. I do not consider a “perceived reality” that is informed by holocaust denial to be defensible.

    But what Daran and I are arguing is that feminists do not recognize many examples of oppression and suffering of men (many feminists even argue that men are not oppressed). If feminists don’t have a clue how much men are oppressed, or how much men suffer, how can they be so sure women are oppressed more or suffer more?

    Daran has argued in the past that racism is harmful to whites, a view of white suffering that many civil rights activists don’t share; does it follow that civil rights activists are wrong to think that blacks are oppressed more by racism than whites? After all, if they don’t have a clue how much white people suffer, how can they be sure that blacks suffer more?

    I recently said: “Antiracists have much the better claim to universal societally-imposed disadvantage toward POC, than feminists do toward women. There does not appear to be any antiracist equivalent to the feminist denial, dismissal, minimisation, and ingnoring of the disadvantages faced by men, probably because there appear to be no corresponding disadvantages to being white for them to deny, dismiss, etc.”

    I probably should have said “comparitive disadvantages”. I maintain that every group is probably absolutely disadvantaged by racism, sexism and all the other prejudices. But in the absence of any significant identifiable relative privilege of blacks over whites, it’s fair to say that blacks are worse off. The same is not true from women.

    I don’t think the broad-brushed “feminists” you’re using is useful — at least, not to me. I don’t think that I fail to recognize male suffering, or male oppression (although “oppression” is a word that means different things in different contexts).

    You defend feminism with a broad brush.

    I don’t like the way some radical feminists too often have no apparent concern about male suffering. It’s plain that people of both sexes are harmed by sexism, and it’s a mistake to deny that.

    Have you ever lead on that subject in a blog post?

    However, many MRAs seem to miss this point too

    I agree.

    and if anything miss it by a wider margin.

    It’s a poor defence of feminism to say “MRAs are even worse”.

    At the same time, I don’t like the way anti-feminists, MRAs and feminist “critics” seem dedicated to pretending that it doesn’t matter that nearly all the senators, all the presidents, all the congressmen, all the fortune 500 CEOs, all the Supreme Court Justices, etc., are male. It’s true that both women and men are screwed over by sexism, but it’s also true that the system tends to keep the ruling class overwhelmingly male…

    Well let’s debate that. I’ll accept your axiom that this is because of societal sexism. Why don’t you start by explaining why you think it matters that a tiny minority of already privileged women who, absent that sexism would reach the very top jobs but who instead reach slightly lower positions. Meanwhile a considerable number of already disprivileged men who, absent sexism would reach high positions, instead reach dead positions.

    …And in most material ways, if you hold other things (race, education, etc) equal, men in the USA are materially better off than women.

    That claim appears to be disputed. It’s also not an area of focus for me, so I tend to sit back and watch others do the debating. (Again, I’m not saying it’s not worthy of concern, only that I have my niche and that isn’t it.)

    The only way you can say that it’s hard to see which sex is oppressed in the USA is to assume that oppression is entirely about suffering, and not at all about who gets to be in the ruling class. I don’t think I buy that. Suffering is important, but it’s not the only consideration.

    I think we can safely say that 99% of the population, including 99.9% of those I’m particularly concerned about, don’t get to be in the ruling class.

    At least, that’s my opinion. As we’ve agreed, this question is subjective, not empirical. I also think that it’s not a terribly important question (except when considering some specific issues or triage matters). For me, that both sexes are harmed by the current system is enough to make it worth changing the system.

    The concern is that feminist discourse as a body tends to deny, minimise, etc., and ultimately render invisible, male disadvantage. That’s a reason to criticise it.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that I don’t think feminists are obliged to talk about male suffering or oppression if they don’t want to; likewise, MRAs aren’t obliged to talk about female suffering or oppression. It’s not unreasonable for people to focus on their passions.

    As David, pointed out, if you make claims that imply a comparison, or paint an unrealistic picture, then we’re entitled to call you on them.

    Edited to fix markup and punctuation.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  48. Frankly, Daran, I don’t recall being aware of the 80% claim until you began posting about it. I’m not at all sure that it would have passed “the smell test” had I ever given it a moment’s thought.

    I don’t recall you ever claiming it, and it was David, not I who challenged you over “the smell test”. Nevertheless it is widely quoted within feminism and the humanitarian movement (which is strongly feminist influenced.)

    As for it not passing? But it’s from a reputable source…

    As for the definition of feminism, maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve had a day to consider it, but right now I’m thinking of this:

    A feminist:

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

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

    Assuming that there is no increase in the available resources for survivors, should existing services continue to serve only women? A feminist, according to your definition, would have to answer “no”, since to answer “yes” is to advocate the preservation of a social inequality.

    3) Does not consider opposing feminism itself, as it exists today, to be a significant form of fighting sexism.

    This definition doesn’t exclude believing that sexism harms men, nor does it make the Infamous Comparison. But I think it would exclude most contra-feminists, yourself included.

    Dr. Jones self-identifies as a “dissident feminist”, and he’s far less overtly critical of feminism than I am. If you’ve read enough of his writing to form an opinion, how would you class him?

    He does, however, tend to focus on men. Perhaps you need a “focuses on women” clause. (But it’s your definition, not mine. I already have the correct definition; I’m only interested in yours in so far as it is or is not an accurate description of feminism.)

    Finally, did you see my comment number 16? You’re not obliged to respond to it, of course, but I’d be curious to know what your response is, if you don’t mind.

    I did. I tend to read forwards, and reply backwards, which means in a fast moving thread, posts which don’t get reached quickly get missed out. But I’ll go and look at it now.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  49. Daran,
    I don’t understand the question. Is there some rule that says Amp has to like the behaviour of all feminists?

    Ampersand endorses the behaviour of all feminists by his definition of what a feminist is (“Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”). Therefore he has to explain how, “have no apparent concern about male suffering” can be compatible with his concept of sex equality.

    Daran,
    Er no. Feminists have plenty of issues for women, and MRAs generally dispute those issues. This contrasts with men’s issues, which feminists tended historically to deny, dismiss, ignore, etc.

    But surely you don’t equate a dispute with a dismissal? If so you are simply saying there can never be any agreed facts between feminists and non-feminists. For example do feminists really deny that men live years shorter lives? or that living longer is a good thing? Do they really deny more men are in prison or that being in prison is a bad thing?

    Naturally feminists attempt to denigrate all male suffering. But if feminism is to claim that the odious comparison can be valid then they have to be able to try to reach some facts at some point. They can’t afford to throw up their hands and say, as perhaps you do, that neither side can prove anything. Nor in fact do I think that is true as the example of comparing the conditions of the races shows.

    I think the difference is indicative, not of greater intellectual rigour on the part of MRAs, but of the historical hegemony of feminism within the Gendersphere.

    It’s because of the hegemony that feminists lack intellectual rigour. If you prevent all criticism of your position then you become stupid very quickly. The purpose of free speech is better knowledge and that purpose is frustrated in feminist circles.

    What about single unwidowed women, especially those with children? In any case, I don’t think control of consumer spending is necessarily a better measure of welfare than wages. If I did, I would be much more interested in the provenance of that 80% figure. I’ll bet there are all kinds of ifs and buts attached to it.

    Single women without children as you know have no so-called wage gap with single men without children. As for women with children who are separated, the father has the same burden to provide for the children financially whether they are separated or living together, plus it is the woman who has sole legal control over whether that huge financial burden is taken on by both her and the father. IE she gets the choice to place them both in poverty or not, so presumably when she choposes to do so it’s because she considers it a good deal for her.
    Poverty studies tend to ignore both the homeless and the prison population which are overwhelmingly male.

    The source of the 80% figure is Gloria Steinem. She got it from the women’s business bureau or something like that. It was published in one of her books but I don’t recall which. Steinem did not note any surprise between this factoid and the so-called gender wage gap.

    I think that one of the problems with the gender wage gap stuff was in trying to rip a comparison that works fine for population groups that are distinct and don’t generally live together (eg. two races) and apply them to two populations that are interdependent financially (men and women). The result was nonsense and the nonsense became a big lie.

    Generally for the same reasons I would consider any economic comparison between men and women a bit of a bust. It would just be incredibly hard to prove much of anything because men and women are so financially in each others pockets. Take the 80% figure as you will. I’m certainly not going to claim Steinem is a relibale source. I’m really using it to point out the absurdity of relying on gross economic comparisons between men and women. In this case the women get 80% of the spending because they have the role of spending within family groups. It’s not spending only on them, just as the men who earn more don;t earn only for them. But that flaw is true of many economic comparisons of men and women. Even if the men and women don’t cohabit there are many relationships that draw the sexes together in families and other relationships.

    Basically feminists throw out these economic factoids and expect no challenge to them because they’ve never had to think.

    Er no. Actually you just assumed that he hadn’t.

    You seem to have an oddly hostile attitude Daran. Ampersand and I have a history together. The last time we met up on a board of his he had a partner on the board who was a feminist. After we got into discussing the gender wage gap she became so disgusted with the dishonesty of the feminist big lie and all those 75 cents on the dollar figures that pretend to be about “equal work” that she left the board saying she wouldn’t call herself a feminist any more. She was particularly upset because Amp wouldn’t cop to it. He carried on defending it you know the way he does (by sliding the terms to a different discussion about employment choices).

    In any case, this is all rather snide and snarky, David. Here we aspire to discuss issues in a more courteous manner.

    I know which is why I was surprised at your sudden and completely uncalled for personal attack on me yesterday. I am waiting for the explanation. It’s quite normal to be slandered by an opponent during these discussions (and of course Ampersand also insulted me by calling me odious) but rather unusual for someone who essentially agrees with you to do the same.

    They face rape. I’m sure you didn’t intend to imply it, but what you written sounds like you’re suggesting that other kinds of rape aren’t “cruel and unusual”.

    Well clearly being gang-banged anally repeatedly every day and in a quasi-homosexual manner is worse than “normal” rape. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here? I mentioned that men are the victims of violence more than women outside as well as inside prisons. But whereas outside prison Americans are pretty safe and security is minor issue, the inside of a US male prison is essentially a torture camp. Many of the stuff coming out of Abu Ghraib for example came from the US prison system. They used reservists with domestic prison warder experience. It really is a huge human rights violation.

    In judging the quality of human life in America the US prison system is one of the biggest considerations. It’s a nightmarish set of conditions that is enjoyed by a significant and growing minority of the male population.

    Any honest assessment of the quality of life of Americans must include it prominently IMO.

    I can’t tell if you are being serious or just playing with me now. Are you playing at devil’s advocate? Disagreeing for it’s own sake? What? Why did you accuse me of being odious and saying a dozen or so people’s deaths were “silly” yesterday?

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  50. As I understand Daran’s current definition of “odious comparison” I don’t see I can agree with it as a criticism of feminism.

    Daran,
    Now, let’s assert that the jews were less oppressed under the Nazis than the Roma. Would you not regard that as odious?

    Would you regard saying Jews were treated worse than Christians as an odious comparison?
    Daran it seems to me that uncontroversially sometimes we do compare the experiences of two population groups and say one is worse off than the other. For example rich vs poor, black vs white. Feminists simply have the delusion that men vs women is such a pair. They are wrong of course, but to say that the very concept is wrong even before considering the facts… that seems “silly” if I am allowed to use that word.

    And btw no I wouldn’t consider Roma vs Jew an odious comparison depending on the context. It’s certainly worth pointing out for example that communists and Jehovehs witnesses were the two religious groups that were the primary target of the Nazis. That’s an important fact about WW2.

    To be honest taking offense over the asking of honest factual questions is something I’d associate with feminism and Zionists and other authoritarian groups.

    I think you should calibrate your meaning of “odious comparison” to what I originally thought you meant by it, which is the way feminists seek to dismiss suffering by means of pseudo-factual comparisons.

    Let’s go further and imagine that the Jewish Holocaust was downplayed by the UN office of Roma Affairs (there being no comparible office of Jewish affairs) which promulgated the notion that the Roma were the primary victims of the Holocaust. Would you not regard that as odious?

    If I get your meaning here then you are saying it’s ok for someone with a pure heart to make the comparison but when feminists do it then they do so for reasons of prejudice so that’s bad. I disagree. Prejudice itself is bad (“odious”). If you can demonstrate feminists are prejudicial then you’ve already established what you set out to. There’s no need to make any claims about the moral status of asking questions and comparing groups.

    I think it would be pretty odious to respond to a woman’s disclosure of a date rape, for example to say “hey, that’s no big deal, some men in prison get raped on a daily basis”.

    That’s simply being insenstive on a personal level (or challenging a feminist attempt at emotional manipulation I guess) and has nothing to do with this.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  51. Ampersand (quoting me):

    A feminist, therefore, is anyone Amp recognises as a feminist.

    Which is ironic, considering how many feminists don’t consider me a feminist. (Which fits into your heirarchy argument, I realize).

    Exactly. We could define an Orwellian “Inner Party” of feminism as those who are recognised as feminists by the feminists who don’t recognise you. 🙂

    [snip discussion about your definition which I think has been superceded]

    By the way, I don’t know if it bothers you to consider me an MRA, I certainly consider myself dedicating to improving the position of men in society. So by your definition, I’m an MRA.

    By my definition, so am I, even though I don’t self-identify as one. (Nor do I object particularly to the label, as I do “antifeminist”.)

    The thing is, I see feminism as a social group, and “feminism” as a label used by many in that group to identify others they regard to be within their ingroup. Contrafeminism isn’t a group. It’s the complement of a group. Within contrafeminism I see several overlapping groups, but no consensus within them on a self-label. That David reports a debate over that issue confirms this. Nevertheless, I think the groups are discernable. If instead of asking a sample to rate each other as a feminist, you asked them to rate each other according to how much they agreed on a range of gender issues (assuming that each knew everyone else’s views well enough), then several Eigenvectors would emerge, corresponding roughly with the groups I’ve outlined (and possibly a few other small groups would emerge too).

    Regarding your definition of “typical,” this bit seems to have odd consequences: “…if someone with otherwise good feminist credentials does challenge it, they are likely to have their status as feminists challenged by other feminists.”

    So if Sally expresses opinion A, then June disagrees, then Sally says “I don’t think that’s very feminist of you, June,” it follows that opinion “A” must be a typical feminist opinion. The problem is that some level of questioning each other’s feminism is a frequent – I’d even same say commonplace – aspect of intra-feminist disagreement. By putting it this way, you’ve given yourself a way of saying that even opinions many feminists disagree with are “typical” feminist opinions.

    That’s an interesting phenomenon in itself. It represents both a means of social control (“agree with me, or you’re not a feminist”) and a competition within feminism to claim the orthodoxy.

    In any case, the claim is not that one person says a thing, but that it is commonly said. The bird in your garden test is intended to be a quick and dirty indication only. At the very least if you can’t find a single example in the blogosphere of a feminist saying “all sex is rape” or “all men are rapists”, then these views are probably not the cornerstone of feminism that some antifeminists claim they are.

    On the other hand, Biting Beaver’s Rape Spectrum is the more nuanced typical feminist argument which I think “all sex is rape” is the strawman version of. There are two problems with the rape spectrum. Firstly it’s misnamed. It is a Consent Spectrum. Consent is what varies from one end of the other, but by labelling it according to one end of it, BB is labelling almost all sex as rape. And that does indeed go unchallenged within feminism. But that still doesn’t make all men rapists, because not all men have sex. (A second problem with the spectrum is that it fails to take into account the possibility of negotiation in a sexual relationship. Thus it privileges sex for sex’s sake, over sex for bonding, sex for security, sex for the other benefits of a sexual relationship.)

    (* I realized you said “behavior,” not “view.” But it’s a distinction without much of a difference, since expressing a particular view is itself a behavior.)

    I meant to include views, as well as other behaviour. Do you dispute that there are a lot of views which are frequently expressed by feminists and which go unchallenged by feminists, even if they are not expressed by all feminists? Do you dispute that there are some views which, if challenged are likely to result in the challenger being regarded as an antifeminist/MRA, or if challenged by a feminist, are likely to result in her being thought of as less of a feminist? Do you dispute that, as a simple consequence of the outgroup homogeneity bias, these views (or a simplified strawman version of them) are likely to be perceived by non-feminists as representative of feminism?

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  52. I think you should calibrate your meaning of “odious comparison” to what I originally thought you meant by it, which is the way feminists seek to dismiss suffering by means of pseudo-factual comparisons.

    The point is that it is used to minimise and dismiss suffering. Pseudo-factual comparisons are one form. Factual comparsisons which are literally true but which frame the issue in a self-serving way are another. for example:

    7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).

    It is, of course, trivially true that women suffer more violence than men if you exclude the kinds of violence that men are more likely to be subject to.

    A true comparison which is made for the sole purpose of dismissing or minimising something else is a third form. It is true that the Holocaust against the Jews was on a much greater scale than the Holocaust against the Roma. Simply observing that fact (or even questioning it, so long as not from a denialist point of view) is not necessarily odious, but it would be problematic if the greater scale of the Jewish Holocaust were given as a reason to deny that the Roma Holocaust be given attention, or (historically more than now) to deny its victims services.

    I hope this clarifies what has always been my point.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  53. Daran don’t you think it’s a little disingenuous for you to say that when other critics of feminism (ie “antifeminists”) make reference to the “all men are rapists” doctrine that they are attacking a strawman whereas you in your genius realise it is not literal but, is nevertheless representative of a serious pattern of thought within the movement and can be used as a shorthand label for that thought?

    Don’t you think that’s the way everyone means it when they talk about the “all men are rapists” doctrine?

    From a dead site I was working on about eight years ago:

    I want to use this phrase as an example of the endemic anti-male sexism within the feminist movement. Not so much the use of that precise word-for-word phrase, which seems to be graduating from a rallying cry of feminists, to become more a rallying cry of their critics, but the presumption of the general concept of male = rapist, or “all men are potential rapists”, for which it has become a symbol

    I think your overzealous attempts to distance yourself from other feminist critics has caused your definition of anti-feminist to have to work double duty. On the one hand you want to define them as simply an extreme oppositional stance (true of me), but on the other hand you want to define them as a sexist group that is usually factually wrong (not true of me).

    Oh hey btw, are you using blockquote there? I should probably use the same thing for quoted text. testing….

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  54. If I get your meaning here then you are saying it’s ok for someone with a pure heart to make the comparison but when feminists do it then they do so for reasons of prejudice so that’s bad. I disagree. Prejudice itself is bad (”odious”). If you can demonstrate feminists are prejudicial then you’ve already established what you set out to. There’s no need to make any claims about the moral status of asking questions and comparing groups.

    That’s not what I’m saying at all, and I honestly can’t see how you got that from what I said.

    I think it would be pretty odious to respond to a woman’s disclosure of a date rape, for example to say “hey, that’s no big deal, some men in prison get raped on a daily basis”.

    That’s simply being insenstive on a personal level (or challenging a feminist attempt at emotional manipulation I guess) and has nothing to do with this.

    If it’s a typical response of members of a group, it goes beyond being personally insensitive. However I’m not suggesting that MRAs/Antifems do this, only that if they did, it would be comparible to how feminists treat male survivors.

    An offensive typical response of MRAs/Antifems is to seek to engage female victims who only want to talk about their own victimisation in a discussion about false accusations.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  55. “Feminism is the belief that women are universal victims and everything is men’s fault.”

    Anyone want to discuss my proposed definition? I crafted it over years of thinking about this issue. It really is actually pretty good. What it is saying is that there are precisely two ingredients necessary and sufficient for a person to be considered an in-group feminist. Fail in one of these conditions and you’re out. Abide by both and you can criticise feminism from the inside. Or just write utter nonsense. Basically feminist identification isn’t based on ideology so much as loyalty to a side in a perceived gender war.

    The two statements identify your position within the (metaphorical) “sex war” waged by feminists against men. As with much war time propaganda the criteria are basically, the other side are the bad guys and they started it / it’s their fault there’s a war.

    You can say anything as a feminist as long as you never say women are not victimised (here Ampersand agrees — it’s in his definition too) and you never try to excuse men’s guilt or explain discrimination as something both men and women are responsible for equally.

    I guess the first clause is common ground as things stand, but the second may be controversial perhaps? The concept of “patriarchy” is feminism’s way of saying everything is men’s fault. So the second clause is saying to be a feminist you must believe in “patriarchy”.

    Often you can see this in the negative more clearly. For example talk about prison rape and a feminist will dismiss it with “it’s just men raping other men“. The pain doesn’t count if it is “friendly fire” in the sex war is what they really mean. This hints that the feminist would accept privately that women on women violence might score less points in the bean counting game too(*). In other words, to the feminist, in calculating the odious comparison it’s important to know what sex is to blame for an action and not just what sex is getting hurt by it.
    ————

    (*) In practise they simply reach for an explanation of why the female perpertrators of violence are doing so because they have been influenced by “the patriarchy”. eg Female genital mutilation. Nevertheless they accept that the female victimiser needs to be explained away in order that the female on female pain “counts”.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  56. An offensive typical response of MRAs/Antifems is to seek to engage female victims who only want to talk about their own victimisation in a discussion about false accusations.

    Oh I call bullshit. You’ve even wrote your own essay on how feminist fabricate offense at anything to get their critics censored. I’ve been accused of literally stalking my feminist opponents (whom I had only just met in cyberspace and on the board) several times because they know it’s the ultimate way to get someone thrown off a board. When these accusations are made almost every other feminist on the board pretends to take them seriously.

    The feminist almost never, “only want to talk about their own victimisation”. They usually bring it up as a response to and a dismisal of male suffering, in the context of a debate with a feminist critic. Even out of that context it is almost always a political act aimed at making political points about the larger issue of rape.

    Find me a “typical” situation as you describe it here where an anti-feminist supposedly attacks some rape victim who wasn’t being political.

    And another example of the way you try to run down anyone except you who is critic of feminism. What’s up with that? Disagree with folks on the substance of what they say. When I attack a feminist I want to do so by attacking what makes them a feminist, the substance of the opinions. But you attack so-called “anti-feminists” and MRAs without distinguishing yourself from their opinions.

    Why?

    While I also refuse to label myself a men’s rights activist I would do so by explaining precisely why I disagree with that approach. And the same thing goes for chauvinists (your “anti-feminists”) and feminists themselves of course.

    I would say I disagree with feminists and chauvinists because I support gender equality in law for example — which both those other groups stand opposed to (feminists because they claim women deserve special rights as universal victims that don’t apply to male victims even of the same crimes, and chauvinists because they believe in legal enforcement of traditional gender roles to some extent).

    Your definitions of the various groups need to say what they believe in. Only your own position does that currently.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 1, 2007 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  57. Aren’t identity politics wonderful?

    Comment by Robert — January 1, 2007 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  58. I think your overzealous attempts to distance yourself from other feminist critics has caused your definition of anti-feminist to have to work double duty. On the one hand you want to define them as simply an extreme oppositional stance (true of me), but on the other hand you want to define them as a sexist group that is usually factually wrong (not true of me).

    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I would say that you were an antifeminist (as I construe the term) in terms of your locus within the gendersphere, but you are more sophisticated in your analysis than 95% or more of antifeminists I have ever encountered. I have not claimed that antifeminists were “usually factually wrong”. My experience is that like feminists they have their own set of purported facts, many of which are true, and some of which are myths; and like feminists they have their own arguments, some of which are sound, and some of which are weak and/or self-serving. I’m willing to accept, again based on what I’ve seen so far, that this is “not true of [you]”.

    Quoting me:

    An offensive typical response of MRAs/Antifems is to seek to engage female victims who only want to talk about their own victimisation in a discussion about false accusations.

    Oh I call bullshit. You’ve even wrote your own essay on how feminist fabricate offense at anything to get their critics censored…

    Believe me, if I take offence at something, its because I’m offended.

    I’ve been accused of literally stalking my feminist opponents (whom I had only just met in cyberspace and on the board) several times because they know it’s the ultimate way to get someone thrown off a board. When these accusations are made almost every other feminist on the board pretends to take them seriously.

    I’ve not seen literally that, but yeah, I’ve seen bad behaviour by feminists:

    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 far), attacking that person, and making generalised attacks on “men”, “antifeminists” and “MRAs”. And the victim gets the blame.

    The feminist almost never, “only want to talk about their own victimisation”.

    Who said anything about feminists? I said victims. The people I’m talking about are those who wondered in to talk.rape, probably thinking it was a support group, and very probably exhibiting typical ‘societal’ rather than ‘feminist’ levels of prejudice again men, and they’d get ambushed by extremely hostile MRAs/antifeminists/chauvinists/whatever you want to call them.

    It’s crap. It’s crap that male survivors also get shat on by feminists, but two wrongs do not make a right.

    They usually bring it up as a response to and a dismissal of male suffering, in the context of a debate with a feminist critic. Even out of that context it is almost always a political act aimed at making political points about the larger issue of rape.

    Sure, that’s a typical feminist response. But it doesn’t prove that what I’ve described as a typical antifeminst response isn’t one. Bear in mind that it is in the nature of typicality as I have defined it, that it is difficult to recognise it in your own ingroup. It’s also not clear to me that those I am talking about are your ingroup anyway. They’re outgroup to me, as are you. Just as feminists have difficulty in telling me apart from MRA’s and antifeminists, perhaps there are two groups (those you call antifeminists and those you call chauvinists) that I have difficulty in telling apart. That I can see some differences between you and those I call antifemininists is a strong indication that this may be the case.

    If your only problem with my nomenclature is that it fails to distinguish you from the idiots, then I’ll happily add “chauvinism” in.

    Find me a “typical” situation as you describe it here where an anti-feminist supposedly attacks some rape victim who wasn’t being political.

    I can’t in the blogosphere, because I’ve never seen it. The most time I’ve spent on any single site is at Amp’s Alas, and he’s usually pretty quick to kick a remotely obnoxious MRA/antifeminist/chauvinist. I don’t lurk on MRA sites much. Also the mere fact that sites are moderated has a moderating effect. When I posted on usenet, it happened quite frequently. The threads are years old, and it would take quite a lot of searching to find one. I agree that the burden of proof is mine, and I ask to be excused it.

    And another example of the way you try to run down anyone except you who is critic of feminism. What’s up with that? Disagree with folks on the substance of what they say. When I attack a feminist I want to do so by attacking what makes them a feminist, the substance of the opinions. But you attack so-called “anti-feminists” and MRAs without distinguishing yourself from their opinions.

    I criticise both opinion and behaviour. Here are a few examples of where I differ in opinion from both feminists and antifeminists/MRAs:

    Like feminists, I consider rape prevalence surveys such as Koss to be basically sound. Most antifeminist objections that I have encountered appear to be self-serving and incoherent. I disagree with both feminists and antifeminists on false rape accusation/allegation stats. All the purported figures I’ve seen are crap. Therefore any firm belief on the subject is faith-based. I (tentatively) agree with feminists that rape acquittals often result from jury prejudice rather than objective reasonable doubt. I suspect (and am more concerned) that rape convictions may also result from jury prejudice rather than objective proof beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore I support moves to try to break down societal prejudices against both alleged rape victims, and defendants generally. I do not agree with the feminist “believe the victim” approach (in a criminal justice context. In a therapeutic context, “Believe the victim” is appropriate, indeed essential.)

    The antifeminist notion that men are more victimised than women in domestic violence fails the smell test. CTS studies which find greater rates of victimisation by women (Strauss, etc.) and those which find greater rates of victimisation of women (NVAW) can be explained by the hypothesis that women report more violence than men period. I agree with feminists that raw CTS violence figures aren’t a good measure of who is victimised, and who is defending themselves, but I don’t see feminists offering a better one. (They don’t seem to have that objection about CTS studies whose results they like, NWAW, for example.)

    That’s just a taste.

    Why?

    Because I find the behaviours I object to detestable, on both feminist and antifeminist side. Also because I am outgroup to each, I get lumped in with both groups by the other, so I try to avoid that (not that it works). I’ve no doubt that had your first impression of me been when I was bashing antifeminists/chauvinists on usenet, you would have considered me a feminist.

    While I also refuse to label myself a men’s rights activist I would do so by explaining precisely why I disagree with that approach. And the same thing goes for chauvinists (your “anti-feminists”) and feminists themselves of course.

    I reject the label “antifeminist” because the meaning I have internalised is very negative, because it implies oppositionism rather than a positive point of view, and because there are quite a few points where I agree with feminism. In particular, I agree that society-wide gender-stereotypes are generally harmful to both men and women, and that gender analysis is a valid lens. However I flunk feminism on its specialist subject, because it replaces society’s stereotypes with its own.

    I would say I disagree with feminists and chauvinists because I support gender equality in law for example — which both those other groups stand opposed to (feminists because they claim women deserve special rights as universal victims that don’t apply to male victims even of the same crimes, and chauvinists because they believe in legal enforcement of traditional gender roles to some extent).

    I’m not opposed to equality, but I am opposed to what I call (derisorily) “eeequalism”, which is the principle that if we cannot treat everyone fairly, we must treat everyone equally unfairly. For example, I oppose the draft and draft registration. Not absolutely, I can see that for some countries in some circumstances a draft might be desirable or necessary, but not for the United States in any foreseeable circumstances.

    Barring the unforeseeable, I oppose the draft. If the draft for men is a given, then I oppose it for women. I consider the NOW position, which is if it cannot be abolished it should be made universal, to be incoherent. I call it NOW’s position, but they have, as far as I can tell, issued precisely two statements on the subject in the past 40 years. I don’t know whether that’s to their credit or not.

    Your definitions of the various groups need to say what they believe in. Only your own position does that currently.

    At the moment, I’m more focussed on criticising feminism. My main interest in the other groups is to be clearly distinguishable from them, more precisely to be distinguishable from the Chauvinist.

    The purpose of the vocabulary is not to criticism feminism on the issues, but to be able to deconstruct the rhetoric that they use to avoid discussing the issues, and the deceptions they use to falsify the facts.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  59. “Feminism is the belief that women are universal victims and everything is men’s fault.”

    Anyone want to discuss my proposed definition?

    I think my definition is objectively correct, albeit useless without a proxy feminist (as I said, I use Amp.) All other definitions are merely more or less accurate descriptions.

    I think yours is pretty good, probably close to being as accurate as any two-sentence description can be. It describes many feminists, but I don’t think it describes Ampersand’s historical view:

    …I’ve met a handful of feminists who blame men for everything; but the vast majority of feminists I’ve met don’t waste their time with that…

    There may be only a handful of such birds, but there’s one in the garden.

    Note also that in that thread I can find loads of birds in the garden denying female privilege, Mythago has to travel 200 miles to a nature reserve to find a counterexample.

    Also in that thread Amp admits that “I’m completely convinced that the sexist system we’re stuck in damages both women and men. I’m completely convinced that some of the ways men are damaged can indeed be narrowly described as female privilege, when “privilege” is defined in the flawed way my list implicitly defines privilege. I’m completely convinced that the “yes, but men are controlling the system” response I’ve seen some feminists make rings hollow, because the men with control of the mine shafts and the men dying in the mine shafts are not the same men.”. My emphasis.

    Now perhaps I should make it explicit about the ‘bird in your garden’ test that you’re not allowed to be your own bird in response to a challenge, (though you may cite your own or other’s historical posts made before the challenge). Nevertheless, I consider it a result that I’ve gotten him to acknowledge both that his conception of privilege was flawed, and that something that could be called female privilege exists, even if it is only “narrowly described” as such. I don’t think he’s ever said this on his own blog, or anywhere else that a significant number of feminists are likely to see it, and I’m still waiting for a revised definition of privilege from him which is (a) not self-serving or sexist, (b) includes all the usual things regarded by feminists as “male privilege” and (c) excludes these three huge interlocking systems of female privilege: non-disposibility, non-combatantcy, and victim-visibility.

    But it’s a result.

    Back to his view on blame:

    I don’t feel guilty for being male. What would be the point? My guilt wouldn’t improve anything. Although I’ve benefited from being male in a male-dominated society, that’s not my fault. The system was in place a hundred generations before my birth; how could I be to blame?

    So if we don’t have blame, what’s left? I would say, responsibility.

    Although not all men perpetuate sexism, virtually all men benefit from sexism. Virtually all men have in some way gotten gains that we don’t deserve, at the expense of women. And that means that even though we’re not to blame, all men have a special responsibility to support feminism and fight sexism – because we owe women for our unjust gains.

    I called it his “historic” view, because I don’t know if he still adheres to it, and if so, how he reconciles it with his admission in this thread that the purported comparative advantages enjoyed by men over women are “just a matter of subjective opinion”.

    And, in so far as I don’t recall him making such an admission before, that’s another result.

    Of course, as Amp himself points out, many feminists don’t recognise him as a feminist. A few more “results” like this, and I won’t either. 🙂

    ————————-

    How about amending your definition to “Feminism is the belief that women are universal victims and this is men’s responsibility.” What’s good about your description is that its terms are sufficiently ambiguous to encompass much of the variation in the precise loci of individual feminists within the femisphere (I should define that: The femisphere is feminism viewed as a division of the Gendersphere). My amendment improves on yours by being more ambiguous, including yours as a particular interpretation, and also including views such as historical Amp’s, but not so ambiguous as to include obvious non-feminists.

    I’m not sure it includes “Women of Color” feminism though. WOC feminist and white feminists flame the hell out of each other. White feminists call WOC feminists out on their “Stand By Your Man” attitude, while the WOC feminists point out that “Screw Over Your Man” is something you can’t do when you’re dependant upon your man for your very survival, i.e. that SOYM feminism is only possible from a position of white western privilege. Nevertheless, white feminists seem generally unwilling to excommunicate WOC feminists, presumably because that would be racist.

    In general, I always found myself silently cheering the WOC feminists, even before I gained an understanding of what these battles were about. Bullshit stinks even when you can’t see it clearly.

    I crafted it over years of thinking about this issue. It really is actually pretty good.

    I agree

    What it is saying is that there are precisely two ingredients necessary and sufficient for a person to be considered an in-group feminist. Fail in one of these conditions and you’re out. Abide by both and you can criticise feminism from the inside. Or just write utter nonsense.

    LOL, yeah.

    Basically feminist identification isn’t based on ideology so much as loyalty to a side in a perceived gender war.

    The two statements identify your position within the (metaphorical) “sex war” waged by feminists against men. As with much war time propaganda the criteria are basically, the other side are the bad guys and they started it / it’s their fault there’s a war.

    You can say anything as a feminist as long as you never say women are not victimised (here Ampersand agrees — it’s in his definition too) and you never try to excuse men’s guilt or explain discrimination as something both men and women are responsible for equally.

    You used the word “responsibility” there.

    Basically I think this is an excellent summary.

    I guess the first clause is common ground as things stand, but the second may be controversial perhaps? The concept of “patriarchy” is feminism’s way of saying everything is men’s fault. So the second clause is saying to be a feminist you must believe in “patriarchy”.

    I think “it’s men’s fault” is a typical rather than a universal feminist construction of Patriarchy. “It’s all men’s responsibility” is a more inclusive formulation.

    Often you can see this in the negative more clearly. For example talk about prison rape and a feminist will dismiss it with “it’s just men raping other men“. The pain doesn’t count if it is “friendly fire” in the sex war is what they really mean. This hints that the feminist would accept privately that women on women violence might score less points in the bean counting game too(*). In other words, to the feminist, in calculating the odious comparison it’s important to know what sex is to blame for an action and not just what sex is getting hurt by it.
    ————

    (*) In practise they simply reach for an explanation of why the female perpertrators of violence are doing so because they have been influenced by “the patriarchy”. eg Female genital mutilation. Nevertheless they accept that the female victimiser needs to be explained away in order that the female on female pain “counts”.

    Agreed again.

    Comment by Daran — January 1, 2007 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  60. Well your idea of anti-feminism seems incoherent. Honestly it just seems to consist of a bunch of peope you disagree with or dislike for unknown reasons that you’ve arbitrarily lumped together. You need to tighten it up.

    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I would say that you were an antifeminist (as I construe the term) in terms of your locus within the gendersphere

    This implies you think the term is defined by it’s “locus within the gendersphere” but the only thing your definition says of locus is that is not feminism. That just isn’t enough.

    So what is it that you mean? In fact you’ve consistently misconstrued my positions subtly as far as I can see, to try and fit me in a mental box of some kind. It’s as if you conclude that an aggresively held position must be wrong or “odious” simply by virtue of the strength the opinion is held.

    but you are more sophisticated in your analysis than 95% or more of antifeminists I have ever encountered

    Only 95%? Figured I would rank at least 99%

    Do you mean by “sophisticated” that I don’t actually believe what they believe or do you mean something else by that? Do you just mean I am better at presenting the same views — the equivalent of Ampersand who is probably the best feminist on the web for presenting feminist absurdities in a way that sounds half way decent sometimes? (or at least he used to be)

    I have not claimed that antifeminists were “usually factually wrong”.

    You’ve made it clear that’s your view but it’s incoherent because that’s all you say about anti-feminists; they oppose feminism (which you say is good) but they have opinions which are all wrong (but what are these opinions? We’re never told).

    You go on about rape and DV a bit trying to differentiate yourself from feminists and “anti-feminists”. This isn’t the sort of thing I meant. That’s a specific conclusion. Not a principle upon which conclusions are based. Conclusions can change with new data, and in fact ought to change with new data from time to time. Principles generally do not.

    For example you characterise your position on rape and DV as what differentiates you from anti-feminists. let’s say I give you new data and persuade you that on these conclusions the anti-feminist position is correct. Would that make you an anti-feminist in your view? no.

    You claim that the feminists view rape studies that have a broader definition of rape as better. And that anti-feminists hold the reverse. That’s not true though, is it?

    Feminists don’t have a coherent view of how to define rape. They use the broader definition when it is convenient in an ad-hoc argument and also use very narrow definitions when convenient. For example they love Koss and the NVAW survey when they want to magnify a reported estimate of the total number of female victims. But the NVAW survey also magnifies the responses by men reporting rape to something like 1 in 4 of rapes outside of prisons. Feminists hate that so they switch back to the most narrow definitions of rape when reporting ratios of male and female rates. (As you may know “victim” reporting surveys tend to get larger numbers of incidents reported than “crime” surveys because minorities including men, tend to be less likely to self-identify their experience as “rape” compared to white women. White women are the best at labeling themselves as victims because society endorses them and crying victim is functional for them)

    Again feminists love the broad definition of the CTS when it comes to reporting large numbers of victims but use a narrow definition such as actual arrest numbers when it comes to comparing the ratio of male to female victims. In other words they have no coherent view at all. They simply cook the data to present the data the best they can. Large numbers from CTS (ignore the fact that CTS makes the ratio 50-50) and good looking ratios from arrest figures (ignore the far smaller absolute number).

    I can’t speak for what your view of anti-feminists is because I don’t know what you mean by that. Chauvinists tend to denigrate male victims of women as silly the same as feminists do, and they use a consistently narrow definition of rape. MRA are more sympathetic with male victims and are generally more in favour of a broader definition, which would also be my position (although really it all depends on context doesn’t it?). However I would remind you that it’s only feminists that insist that bean-counting victims like this dictates which gender of victims are deserving.

    Recall that it is feminists passing discriminatory laws not anyone else. Nobody is saying we need to have laws that discriminate against women instead of men (except the 19th amendment bunch of extremist chauvinists). IE only the feminists are making the odious comparison here.

    Nobody for example is saying that because men are the majority of victims of heart desease or murder that no money should be spent on female victims. Don’t fall into the trap, while in the middle of an argument about feminist bean-counting, of thinking that the opposite of believing that men should be ignored is saying women should be ignored. The opposite is to say that (your phrase) the comparison itself is odious, the bean-counting itself is irrelevent (to the question of what sex is deserving), and that victims of both sexes deserve compassion regardless of the numbers.

    Don’t fall into a trap of saying “I think the feminists are right about the bean-counting”. The point is that the entire exercise is flawed.

    I reject the label “antifeminist” because the meaning I have internalised is very negative, because it implies oppositionism rather than a positive point of view

    That’s just silly. By that logic your own opposition to anti-feminism must also be wrong. Just because something is called “anti-XXX” doesn’t mean it’s wrong!!!

    and because there are quite a few points where I agree with feminism.

    Feminism doesn’t have “points”. Per my definition it is an authoritarian group identified on the basis of loyalty not principles or ideology. This isn’t about individuals. Feminists believe all sorts of things and nothing on any given day. The movement as a whole believes very very little as a sine-qua-non core. Even the pro-choice position has been challenged by recognised feminists (eg Naomi Wolf).

    In particular, I agree that society-wide gender-stereotypes are generally harmful to both men and women, and that gender analysis is a valid lens.

    Well feminists don’t beleive that at all. They beleive that gender stereotypes harm women but not men. Chauvinists believe that traditional roles are appropriate. That’s basically the definition (of chauvinism) for me. Is that what you mean by anti-feminist?

    What you just described corresponds to Warren Farrell’s gender transition movement concept.

    A gender transition movement is one that challenges traditional gender roles (for both sexes). In doing so it doesn’t seek to “blame” one group or another for the roles, and possibly doesn’t even conclude that the roles were themselves negative in the past but says that traditional gender roles are non-functional for us today and must be challenged to allow individuals of both sexes increased flexibility in their lives (their jobs, their family relationships, their societal obligations and so on). Obviously a GTM never needs to bean-count which sex is “more oppresed”.

    The feminist position is that only women have roles that need to be challenged and that these roles were imposed by men who oppresed women and continue to oppress women today.

    The chauvinist position (often held by women btw) is that the traditional roles need to be preserved and that in the past their usage created some kind of “golden age”.

    I’m not opposed to equality, but I am opposed to what I call (derisorily) “eeequalism”, which is the principle that if we cannot treat everyone fairly, we must treat everyone equally unfairly.

    May I suggest “procrustean equality” as the name for that.

    I’m not quite sure what point you were making there to be honest….. although I agree with the principle as stated it hardly ever arises practically.
    ————-

    I suppose “chauvinist” is actually a poor name for what is perhaps more accurately and blame-neutrally described simply as the “traditionalist” position. Even the guys (and girls!) who want to make it so women can’t vote appear to do so not from the point of sexism but from this idea of a golden age where strict gender roles created a more moral society. I’m not saying they are not sexist but their sexism isn’t the driving force as it is for feminism. For example women who are traditionalists don’t have to apologise for their sex as male feminists often do.

    This way of thinking was very common at the time that feminism was being birthed (in the mid 1800’s) and a lot of the negative attitudes that traditionalists have about men were inhereted into the feminist movement during that period. The ideas that men are inherently violent and brutal and have to be controlled socially is common to both groups.

    As for the men’s rights guys… my impression was that they were often the walking wounded. They often “have issues”. The second wives (financial victims of feminism) were often the most level headed members but they seemed to be viewed suspiciously by the men that had often become activists because of their own experiences. So they come at this from the position of hurt, mainly over divorce. That isn’t healthy and the movement was drifting towards a mirror image idea of feminism (though about 100 years behind). In the sex war that feminists started the men are fighting back, but that’s a very negative view comapred to the gender transition movement concept.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 2, 2007 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  61. It’s an interesting quesion. Does Ampersand subscribe to what I claim is a feminist sine-qua-non; blaming men for alleged discrimination faced by women?

    I suspect he does but it would be helpful for him to say something about it.

    Amp (quoted by Daran)
    I don’t feel guilty for being male. What would be the point? My guilt wouldn’t improve anything. Although I’ve benefited from being male in a male-dominated society, that’s not my fault. The system was in place a hundred generations before my birth; how could I be to blame?

    I don’t think he is denying male guilt. He’s just denying feminist original sin. If you asked him who was to blame historically for the way things had become, men and women equally, or men, he would not hesistate to say men.

    And I believe if he did come out and say publicly that he thinks discrimination against women is not men’s fault but just came about from neutral forces in society then feminists would say that he is not one of them (and for that reason I do not think he ever would say that).

    It has to be blame and not merely “responsibility” because of the way the victim calculus works. if it is nobody’s fault then it doesn’t count. For example in listing male disadvantages the first thing I listed was men’s lower life expectancy. That’s uncontroversial. Life expectancy is a major part of any quality of life measurement. However for a feminist every time I say this the answer is “How is that women’s fault?”

    I say, “Why does it need to be anyone’s fault?” We were discussing who is worse off, men or women. If pushed of course I can point to the fact that women have far more spent on their health which presumably points to a part of the gender life gap being the result of discrimination. But that’s playing to the feminist wicket as you put it.

    I’m not sure it includes “Women of Color” feminism though. WOC feminist and white feminists flame the hell out of each other. White feminists call WOC feminists out on their “Stand By Your Man” attitude, while the WOC feminists point out that “Screw Over Your Man” is something you can’t do when you’re dependant upon your man for your very survival

    I thought the term was “Womanism“. I do not think womanism is really any different in this matter, but I am not an expert because the on-line groups I’ve interacted with are all white middle class dominated as far as I can see.

    Lower class women have always failed the feminists in not being sufficiently hateful of their men. This was true even back in the 1850’s. The same is true today of men’s rights activists and most men. Most men simply don’t realise how discriminated against they are — or how restrictive their gender role is (to put it in a more Gender Transitional Movement terminology). Women are generally more conservative (with a small ‘c’) than men are. However blaming men has roots back into pre-feminist days so it’s all part of the traditional outlook too.

    I honestly think that the reason Womanism is separate is that if you are a black woman (which is a proxy for being poor here) you have real issues not just faked ones. eg. White middle class women argue endlessly about the legal right to abortion but you don’t have the money to get one even if it is legal.

    But the movement needs them because it needs legitimisation as a representation of oppressed peoples. They need to keep saying, “woman and children” or “women and minorities”.

    The men’s movement is basically white and middle class too isn’t it?

    In my wanderings I did come across a black men’s rights site which was quite…. interesting. Offensive to pretty much every side of the middle class debators. When I was running the ring we had a policy against sexism and racism but this site (which wasn’t as clearly prejudicial at the time — it’s grown a lot since then and become more extreme) caused us a real problem because we wanted to highlight it (without endorsement) just for it’s rarity value.

    Blacktown.net

    It will freak you out 😉
    Maybe.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 2, 2007 @ 1:44 am | Reply

  62. How about using the word orthodox instead of typical?

    Comment by Daran — January 2, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  63. Missed this one.

    David, (quoting me):

    I don’t understand the question. Is there some rule that says Amp has to like the behaviour of all feminists?

    Ampersand endorses the behaviour of all feminists by his definition of what a feminist is (”Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”). Therefore he has to explain how, “have no apparent concern about male suffering” can be compatible with his concept of sex equality.

    I understand you now. I thought you were challenging his statement not to ‘like’ some feminists. In fact you were challenging his definition of feminism. I agree that’s a problem with his definition.

    Er no. Feminists have plenty of issues for women, and MRAs generally dispute those issues. This contrasts with men’s issues, which feminists tended historically to deny, dismiss, ignore, etc.

    But surely you don’t equate a dispute with a dismissal? If so you are simply saying there can never be any agreed facts between feminists and non-feminists. For example do feminists really deny that men live years shorter lives? or that living longer is a good thing? Do they really deny more men are in prison or that being in prison is a bad thing?

    I’m responding to your statement “So the plain fact is nobody on either side can easily think of issues for women.”

    I generally assume that people mean exactly what they say, unless its untenable, in which case I look for alternative interpretations. It’s a matter of direct observation that feminists “can easily think of issues for women” (You and other antifeminists, of course, don’t agree with these are valid issues for women). So a literal interpretation of your words appears to be untenable. Rather it appears that you are claiming that feminists can’t think of issues which you and other antifeminists don’t dispute. (If that’s not what you meant, then I’m defeated. Please try to explain your point in a different way.)

    But that’s no more than a restatement of what Amp said – antifeminists disagree with every claim of female disprivilege made by feminists – which is more or less the definition of antifeminism anyway.

    Naturally feminists attempt to denigrate all male suffering. But if feminism is to claim that the odious comparison can be valid then they have to be able to try to reach some facts at some point. They can’t afford to throw up their hands and say, as perhaps you do, that neither side can prove anything. Nor in fact do I think that is true as the example of comparing the conditions of the races shows.

    I certainly don’t think that neither side can prove anything.

    I think the difference is indicative, not of greater intellectual rigour on the part of MRAs, but of the historical hegemony of feminism within the Gendersphere.

    It’s because of the hegemony that feminists lack intellectual rigour. If you prevent all criticism of your position then you become stupid very quickly. The purpose of free speech is better knowledge and that purpose is frustrated in feminist circles.

    I disagree with the first sentence. Hegemonic Science, for example (Outside the United States of Bushville) is pretty rigorous, precisely because it does permit criticism. (That doesn’t prevent science from clinging to some stupid ideas for far too long on occasion. Scientists are human after all. But on the whole it does pretty well.) Also there are plenty of stupid non-hegemonic discourses. Of course I agree with your second and third sentences.

    Hegemony comes into play because it is a viable strategy for a hegemonic discourse, stupid or otherwise, to suppress, ignore, or ghettoise the dissent, while the dissent, stupid or otherwise, cannot suppress or ghettoise the hegemon, and cannot make progress by ignoring it. Gandhi’s Law:

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    is merely a succinct expression of the optimal resistance strategy of a failing hegemon.

    The converse:

    First you fight them, then you laugh at them, then you ignore them, then they lose

    Describes the process by which a dissenting discourse defeats a hegemon. Of course, outright victory is rare.

    What about single unwidowed women, especially those with children? In any case, I don’t think control of consumer spending is necessarily a better measure of welfare than wages. If I did, I would be much more interested in the provenance of that 80% figure. I’ll bet there are all kinds of ifs and buts attached to it.

    Single women without children as you know have no so-called wage gap with single men without children. As for women with children who are separated, the father has the same burden to provide for the children financially whether they are separated or living together, plus it is the woman who has sole legal control over whether that huge financial burden is taken on by both her and the father. IE she gets the choice to place them both in poverty or not, so presumably when she choposes to do so it’s because she considers it a good deal for her.
    Poverty studies tend to ignore both the homeless and the prison population which are overwhelmingly male.

    As I said, this is not my field. I’d rather watch an adversarial discussion between two knowledgable opponents than try to take on either side myself. Amp?

    Generally for the same reasons I would consider any economic comparison between men and women a bit of a bust. It would just be incredibly hard to prove much of anything because men and women are so financially in each others pockets.

    I tend to agree, although I would give Amp a hearing on this

    Er no. Actually you just assumed that he hadn’t.

    You seem to have an oddly hostile attitude Daran.

    Jus’ calling it as I saw it.

    Ampersand and I have a history together. The last time we met up on a board of his he had a partner on the board who was a feminist. After we got into discussing the gender wage gap she became so disgusted with the dishonesty of the feminist big lie and all those 75 cents on the dollar figures that pretend to be about “equal work” that she left the board saying she wouldn’t call herself a feminist any more. She was particularly upset because Amp wouldn’t cop to it. He carried on defending it you know the way he does (by sliding the terms to a different discussion about employment choices).

    Then your assumption may be well founded, but it’s still an assumption.

    In any case, this is all rather snide and snarky, David. Here we aspire to discuss issues in a more courteous manner.

    I know which is why I was surprised at your sudden and completely uncalled for personal attack on me yesterday. I am waiting for the explanation. It’s quite normal to be slandered by an opponent during these discussions (and of course Ampersand also insulted me by calling me odious) but rather unusual for someone who essentially agrees with you to do the same.

    I don’t recall anyone calling you odious or insulting you. As I said to Amp, I read forward (though I missed the post I’m replying to now) and reply backward. In a rapidly lengthening thread, older posts sometimes get left behind.

    I took exception to how you phrased your point. You took exception to my taking exception. Personally I’d call it quits for now, unless it becomes a repeating pattern between us, in which case we might want to look at it.

    They face rape. I’m sure you didn’t intend to imply it, but what you written sounds like you’re suggesting that other kinds of rape aren’t “cruel and unusual”.

    Well clearly being gang-banged anally repeatedly every day and in a quasi-homosexual manner is worse than “normal” rape. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make here?

    I consider it axiomatic that, all other things being equal, it’s objectively worse to be raped more than once than it is to be raped once, to be gang-raped than it is to be raped by a single assailant, to be raped frequently than it is to be raped occasionally, to be raped violently than it is to be raped with minimal violence, and to be raped while confined to a generally hostile environment (such as a prison) than it is to be raped in an otherwise secure environment.

    But it’s not clear to me that anal rape is worse than vaginal or oral rape, or that homosexual rape is worse than heterosexual rape for heterosexual victims. Nor is it clear to me that rape in a hostile environment from which one subsequently escapes (such as prison, after one is released) is worse than rape in an otherwise secure environment. Nor is it clear that a tyrannous person cannot create prison-like conditions for their partner within a domestic residence.

    Therefore I do not consider it axiomatic that prison rape is objectively worse than non-prison rape, though it certainly isn’t ‘not as bad’.

    The comparisons I made in the first paragraph would be odious if made for the purpose of disparaging or minimising women’s experiences of rape. The comparisons in the second paragraph are always odious in my experience, because I’ve only ever seen bogus and self-serving arguments used to support them.

    Consequently, while I agree that prison rape is an important issue, and one which you rightly raise, I am left wondering why you are emphasising the “Anal” and “homosexual” aspects of prison rape.

    I mentioned that men are the victims of violence more than women outside as well as inside prisons. But whereas outside prison Americans are pretty safe and security is minor issue, the inside of a US male prison is essentially a torture camp.

    At their worst, I agree. I don’t actually know how ‘good’ they get. Here in the UK, we have a range of security levels, from “maximum security” to “Open Prisons”. The latter are for non-violent criminals judged to pose a low risk of escape. They’re not torture camps.

    Assuming that there is a similar system in the States, then it is a fallacy to frame the issue in terms of the total number of prisoners at any given time facing the maximum level of torture prevalent in the worst prisons.

    Comment by Daran — January 2, 2007 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  64. In fact you were challenging his definition of feminism. I agree that’s a problem with his definition.

    It’s a fundamental problem. Ampersand wants to define feminism in propaganda terms by his equality stuff but at the same time he knows he must include radical feminists and genuine man haters, because everyone knows they are the membership / in-group core.

    It’s simply not possible to square that circle.

    It’s a matter of direct observation that feminists “can easily think of issues for women” (You and other antifeminists, of course, don’t agree with these are valid issues for women). So a literal interpretation of your words appears to be untenable.

    But this is a very silly way of thinking. Basically you are throwing up your hands and saying there is no truth, only opinion and if feminists want to answer my challnge by saying, “cabbage” then by definition “cabbage” becomes a legitimate feminist issue. And if I claim “cabbage” isn’t an issue then I’m just being pissy? Really? there’s no middle ground here? No room for saying that issues should be actual issues?

    antifeminists disagree with every claim of female disprivilege made by feminists – which is more or less the definition of antifeminism anyway.

    Well then your definition of antifeminism is a strawman because no antifeminists exist. Or else give me an example of such a person. MRAs and traditionalists would say that women suffer because of feminism for example in various ways (eg MRA’s say second wives suffer financially and traditionalists say women are oppressed by the need to work outside the house, forced to adopt non-traditional gender roles).

    Let me give you a real life example of “cabbage”. When I ask feminists to give me an example of discrimination facing women in present day America there are about five answers that come up again and again. One of those is that they say “Women couldn’t vote” and another is that (this was back around 1998) “the Taliban are oppressing women”.

    And I would say that those examples were not from present day and not from America. And it didn’t matter to these people. Really. Try it if you don’t believe me.

    Another favourite would be the gender wage gap which I am sure you are aware is simply a fraud. Are they really allowed to claim as an issue something that is simply materially false? And admited to be false by feminists when you actually pin them down? Ampersand for example would admit the 75 cents on the dollar crap was false but then try to move the question to employment discrimination – a different issue (and an issue I would have accepted as an issue if the feminist I had challenged had been honest enough to go with that instead of the bogus “wage gap”).

    Again the other issues raised would be rape and domestic violence. As you have stated yourself these are tiny subsets of the issue of violence which are narrowly focused on to try and create an artificial idea that women suffer from violence more than men do.

    Even among DV feminists ignore eg violence against elders and violence against children — both mostly performed by women not men (again to the feminist WHO does the violence is important although it shouldn’t be).

    I am not saying that there are not issues for women. What I am saying is that feminists don’t know what they are generally. Only very rarely would a feminist pick what I would say objectively was an issue for them. There are plenty of issues like that but they don’t know about them because instead they always report these “propaganda” issues that they highlight. Bizarrely enough the right to vote for women in America is a huge propaganda issue even though it was all done with 87 years ago.

    It is highly significant that the average feminist (by no means all) cannot think of any issues for women, but only these propaganda themes. That tells me that the whole idea of feminism helping women is a bit fake in itself.

    Have to go for now…..

    Comment by DavidByron — January 2, 2007 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  65. Just continue that last theme….

    Feminist issues seem fake to me regardless of what you think about whether or to what extent women have genuine issues. I would say that the feminism movement is actually hurting women at this stage, though obviously it hurts men more. One way of describing how this comes about is that feminist issues tend to be mythological.

    As I say if you ask feminists to name an issue effective women in America today, “the vote” is a very frequently given answer. Clearly this answer is not based on reality (The reality in the US today is that men are discriminated against in voting terms because the US tries to disenfranchise poor voters through baring felons from voting and they are suusally men. This is a significant electoral issue in the US where people have no right to vote as such).

    It is a mythological answer based on the feminist self-perception. It’s as if the feminist movement got so identified with the right to vote that they never realised when the facts changed. It’s as if they almost want to have that issue still. As it happens I’m quite interested in the history of the movement and I can debunk a lot of the mythological basis of the feminist movement including this voting stuff. But even before getting into all that it’s just interesting to note that for feminism the myth is more important often that any sort of issue that might still be claimed to exist.

    Compare that with the men’s movement where the members are usually involved because of direct experience with discrimination in their own lives. They obviously don’t need any mythological / historical basis because their issues are fresh and genuine, at least from their own perspective. There is a real need perceived.

    There’s little knowledge of the history of the movement with the MRA’s although in fact you can trace it back a lot further than you might think. There’s certainly no equivalent of the feminist view of all history, or the feminist creation myth. The idea that there was an Eden like existence before men became evil, often identified as the time when people worshiped a mother goddess because women were seen as the life givers and supposedly prior to the worship of the phallus when folks “discovered” that a woman needed to be impregnated to have children, and therefore it was really men who gave life somehow and blah blah blah…

    Or again on an issue like rape (of women), sure we all agree rape is bad but there’s only so much you can do and society already has taken the issue too far and to the point of negative utility. You are reacting to rape too far when sexual crimes like rape have completely different rules of evidence and presumption of innocence. When you’ve basically started to dismantle the liberal system of law and order and trial and justice just so as to “take rape more seriously” and to artificially inflate rape convictions, that’s negative utility. So yeah rape of women is bad, but if there’s just nothing more that can be reasonably done in what sense is it an active issue? Rape is a crime. It’s been a crime for millenia. Trying to push it further is attacking the basis of liberal justice.

    So why is it an active issue with feminists? For its propaganda value. For its mythological “all men are rapists” value. For its usefulness as a means of waging the feminist war against men — not to help women. And that difference between mythological issues and real issues is what I am getting at when I say feminists generally can’t name a real issue. They can name mythological issues like “the vote” or the fabricated “gender wage gap” but they cannot name even a related real issue like employment discrimination.

    An example of this is the feminist screw-up on domestic violence. Their treatment of DV is entirely ideological so they ban all male victims of DV and allow no male shelters. However the reality is that most of the people who turn up to shelters are not victims but abusers; female abusers. By allowing only female abusers to get help feminists actually did male victims a favour of sorts. The result was that death of male spouses by DV was reduced more than deaths of female spouses. So you tell me. Are feminists trying to help women or are they trying to prop-up a certain ideological view of men and women?

    Traditionalists / chauvinists don’t claim to have issues of discrimination at all as such. What they are concerned about is the supposed lack of moral values in society allegedly as a result of the non-traditional gender roles that are being “forced” upon men and women today. [this sort of pining after a golden age that never existed is also typical of authoritarian groups]

    What’s interesting about the blacktown.net site is that all these other groups … let’s face it they are ALL privileged groups compared to the vast majority of the world’s population where the US imperium is commiting genocide in Iraq and tens of thousands of people die of hunger every day because of the grinding poverty of the corporate class war.

    You look at the black male population and you can see the stuff that the traditionalists are scared of – a sort of collapsed society full of single mothers and fatherless kids joining gangs and going to jail more often than they go to college. You have a situation where the infant mortality is greater than it is in many third world countries — for example in Washington DC itself. You have a situation where the women earn more than the men do in absolute terms, and where until recent decades more male spouses died of DV than female spouses. Black men had a life expectancy 14 years less than white women in the US (I think it has got a little better recently). These are people with something to really bitch about. The bottom of the stack.

    But the treatment as it developed (and I had a chance to see the site in 1998 when they started out, I think this is one of the original pages) is not only sexist but racist, anti-gay, anti-transgendered, religiously prejudiced and frankly pretty xenophobic to groups I hadn’t even thought of anyone discriminating against.

    The xenophobia is reminiscent of tradationalist groups and feminism, but it’s like “How would these guys be if they really had cause to complain about their lives?”

    Comment by DavidByron — January 2, 2007 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  66. Does anybody else think the idea of the “gendersphere” is bogus? or at least, undertheorized? It seems a bit like another self-referential definition; the gendersphere is just the ideological terrain on which feminism is hegemonic. That self definied fram I think will tend to obscure feminism’s fairly marginal role in the ideological universe and overestimate feminist power and the harm to men *caused* by feminism out of proportion to harms to men which are not caused by feminism.

    I do appreciate this outline, however. It gives me a better sense of what ya’ll mean by feminist critics. As I think I’ve said before, I agree that men suffer substantial harms as a result of the gender system, and that feminism should do more to analyze and address that.

    I think the blurry part for me is to what exten feminism is percieved as the cause of those harms–to my mind, its very little. In fact, I think feminism (though not feminism alone–race and class analysis are extremely important here; Daran’s usual example of the gendered nature of war is a critical example of that).

    I’m not sure why the task is to criticise feminism, as opposed to say, the power structures of gender, and this framework highlights, rather than answers, that question for me.

    Comment by curiousgyrl — January 2, 2007 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  67. the gendersphere is just the ideological terrain on which feminism is hegemonic.

    No, feminism is hegemonic over very wide areas which are nothing much to do with gender issues as a philosophy or discourse. If that wasn’t true nobody would care what they got up to. The problem is that government policy is set according to the prejudices of feminism and that hurts people’s lives.

    For example police officers are trained to believe the feminist prejudicial view of DV which leads to them ignoring or further victimising male victims.

    That self definied fram I think will tend to obscure feminism’s fairly marginal role in the ideological universe and overestimate feminist power and the harm to men *caused* by feminism out of proportion to harms to men which are not caused by feminism.

    Well feminism has a giant role in the world of ideas, but it has a very large role in the real world too. The movement casts a large shadow unfortunately. Oddly enough many would say that, among those who have no particular opinion or even agree with feminism on gender issues for the simple reason that it represents a huge opportunity cost to liberal activism. Think what could have been achieved if all that effort wasn’t being wasted on the relative trivia of feminism compared to race or class issues.

    However on the non-feminist side of things, yeah a lot of people really hate what the movement has done. Traditionalists essentially blame feminism for the entire collapse of what they see as moral values, but that’s just scapegoating (as conservatives they tend to ignore the real culprit of changing values: class war against the middle class and poor which forced wages down and tended to force famillies that used to be able to survive on one full time wage to have two full time wages or multiple part time jobs).

    The men’s rights have a credible case against feminism because feminism really was pretty instrumental in encouraging the anti-male discriminatory legislation that they are particularly concerned over in the areas of familly law and reproductive rights. However what is easily missed by all sides is that this sort of anti-male prejudice pre-dated feminism and was really just a part of the traditional gender stereotyping that feminism challenged when it came to women but encouraged and used when it came to men.

    From a Gender Transition Movement point of view… well honestly they are mostly wusses that wouldn’t ever say anything nasty… but from my point of view as a sort of hard-assed GTM…

    I would say that feminism represents a human rights dead end that set back the opportunity for genuine gender equality 100 years because it set up all gender issues into a toally combative “sex war” of men against women and everyone since then has had to basically play to that point of view. Blaming, victim playing, bean-counting, the odious comparison, collective punishment, the zero-sum game, and fundamentally accepting the status quo instead of genuinely challenging the gender roles. All of that is what feminism gave us. And that’s before we get into the genuine hatred of men that represents so many feminists and the backlash that hatred has created among men’s groups and others. In short the sex war has brought all the usual good stuff that any war brings.

    Feminism had a choice around the 1880’s and it took the easy route based on appealing to popular anti-male prejudices of men as brutes and women as angels on pedastals that needed protection. They went with the status-quo and the temperance movement gals like Susan B Anthony. All that drunkard / violent men stuff just writes itself.

    The movement could have taken the radical route and hitched itself to the men’s movement (basically the labor movement) and challenged gender roles of both men and women at the same time without blaming either sex. That was the approach favoured by Victoria Woodhull who was herself a leader in the labor movement, the first person to publish Karl Marx in the US as well as a very influential feminist. (If you haven’t ever heard of her it’s because after the purge they buried memory of her; she was in the top three most influential feminists of her day)

    Instead of saying women needed extra protections because men were such brutes — a conservative meme — they could have challenged the prejudicial view of men as brute AND the prejudicial views of women. they chose the low road because it looked easy. In fact the tactic backfired as the very influential alcohol lobby blocked the vote for women until after the temperance movement had won Prohibition without the female vote.

    Because of this fundamentally conservative nature of feminism with respect to male stereotypes, I agree that it is hard to say to what extent feminism causes men problems and to what extent it’s just the status quo. Feminism _is_ the status quo and became that way in part by failing to challenge the status quo on men 100 years ago.

    And now how can that mistake be corrected? Once the war is joined both sides will fight until nobody has any energy left.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 2, 2007 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  68. Hmm. Interesting– I plan to respond tomorrow while waiting in the airport, but I’m packing now and pressed for time. I did just read a biography of Henry Ward Beecher though which (notably) had a great bit about Woodhull. Is there a biography of her that you’re aware of?

    Comment by curiousgyrl — January 2, 2007 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  69. Ampersand said:

    Hugh, nice to meet you.

    Nice to re-meet you, Amp. As Daran said, you know me as “Aegis.” I’m blogging with him now.

    But I also think that, for women in countries where war massacres are not part of their lives, it’s not unreasonable to think that women as a whole have the shorter end of the stick, and that analysis is important to understanding sexism in society as a whole.

    But what analysis shows this? My point is that feminists have provided no analysis that can support the claim that women’s suffering/oppression is greater than men’s. I think Daran’s idea of feminists looking at female oppression with a microscope and male oppression with a backwards telescope with the lens cover on is pretty accurate.

    I don’t think the broad-brushed “feminists” you’re using is useful — at least, not to me. I don’t think that I fail to recognize male suffering, or male oppression (although “oppression” is a word that means different things in different contexts).

    Yeah, and what “oppression” means to the vast majority of feminists is something that women suffer and men do not. I know of exactly three (3) exceptions: you, Caroline New (British sociologist of gender that nobody has heard of), and Marilyn French (?!?!). Caroline New herself argues that other feminists tend to scoff at the idea of the “oppression of men.” The feminist in my garden doesn’t believe that men can be oppressed; I have to travel far and wide to find feminists that do, and when I do (Caroline New), at least one agrees with my perception of feminists’ reaction to the concept of the “oppression of men.”

    Lots of feminists will admit that men suffer as a consequence of gender norms (like curiousgyrl above, but they won’t be willing to call it oppression, like they do for the suffering of women due to gender norms. As New points out, this is a double standard. By failing to call male suffering oppression, feminists obscure its systematic and gendered nature.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 2, 2007 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  70. Ampersand said:

    No, I don’t think it’s empirical; it’s just a matter of subjective opinion. You can point to such-and-such an issue (US soldiers killed in Iraq? Workplace deaths? Rape? Wage gap? etc) and make empirical claims, but how to add up all the issues and form a judgement about overall significance is not empirical (as you yourself have said).

    Yeah, I like your formulation more than mine.

    Daran has argued in the past that racism is harmful to whites, a view of white suffering that many civil rights activists don’t share; does it follow that civil rights activists are wrong to think that blacks are oppressed more by racism than whites? After all, if they don’t have a clue how much white people suffer, how can they be sure that blacks suffer more?

    Well, I can point to examples of what I consider to be the oppression of men which are denied or ignored by feminists, while I cannot point out any major examples of oppression of whites that are ignored by civil rights activists. The only arguable examples of oppression of whites are affirmative action (I’m not necessarily making this argument myself, only saying that it is possible) and stereotypes of whites as universally racist. Ultimately, I mostly agree with (the atypical feminist) Caroline New who argues:

    The injuries inflicted on men are different in kind from the restrictions, hurt and alienation suffered by other oppressor groups, such as whites. Racism limits whites, by putting difficulties in the way oftheir relaxed, equal and close contact with the majority of the world’s population. But whites are not targeted as whites, they are not treated as bad and disposable, as are both men and people of colour. The fact that men are also told they are superior and deserving of privilege does not cancel out the effect of this mistreatment, which can realistically be called oppression.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 2, 2007 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  71. David (quoting me):

    Well your idea of anti-feminism seems incoherent. Honestly it just seems to consist of a bunch of peope you disagree with or dislike for unknown reasons that you’ve arbitrarily lumped together. You need to tighten it up.

    That’s probably true.

    Based on what I’ve seen so far, I would say that you were an antifeminist (as I construe the term) in terms of your locus within the gendersphere

    This implies you think the term is defined by it’s “locus within the gendersphere” but the only thing your definition says of locus is that is not feminism. That just isn’t enough.

    “Contrafemnism” which seems to match your “counter-feminism” is, roughly speaking, more or less “not feminism”. (Actually I conceive of “contrafeminism” as being “more con than pro”. Conceivably that leaves a space for a “more pro than con” locus which is not sufficiently feminist to be recognised as feminist by feminists.)

    Antifeminism is that part of the contrasphere which expresses extreme opposition to feminism. You appear to agree with that definition, and also that it applies to you.

    So what is it that you mean? In fact you’ve consistently misconstrued my positions subtly as far as I can see, to try and fit me in a mental box of some kind.

    I’m feeling consistently misconstrued myself. Why don’t we just assume good faith on both sides, and recognise that these misunderstandings are the result of a whole heap of perceptual biases, on both sides?

    It’s as if you conclude that an aggresively held position must be wrong or “odious” simply by virtue of the strength the opinion is held.

    Not strength of opinion, no. My own opinions are held pretty strongly.

    First of all, it should be pretty clear that we agree with each other whole-heartedly on many issues, even if we have mismatching vocabularies for them. I’m also (gosh) learning from you, which is another indication that you’re something different from anything I’ve ever encountered before

    Then there are a number of points of “polite disagreement”, usually on matters of detail. You think X, I think Y, and we can try to persuade each other, or just agree to disagree. It’s no big deal.

    Finally there are a number of things you say that cause my hackles to rise. And when I make my hackly risey response, your hackles rise in tern. Now, let me guess. When I respond in a hackly-risey way, I look like a feminist to you. Am I right?

    but you are more sophisticated in your analysis than 95% or more of antifeminists I have ever encountered

    Only 95%? Figured I would rank at least 99%

    I originally wrote 99%, but then revised it down to give myself a bigger margin of error. 🙂 I can think of a handful of MRAs/antifems/chauvinists I’ve encountered in the past that shone out of the crowd, but I wasn’t counting the crowd.

    Do you mean by “sophisticated” that I don’t actually believe what they believe or do you mean something else by that? Do you just mean I am better at presenting the same views — the equivalent of Ampersand who is probably the best feminist on the web for presenting feminist absurdities in a way that sounds half way decent sometimes? (or at least he used to be)

    What you believe appears to be a considerably more refined and nuanced version of what they believe. Alternatively what they believe appears to be what you believe stripped of its nuance. I do not mean sophisticated in the sense of sophistry.

    I have not claimed that antifeminists were “usually factually wrong”.

    You’ve made it clear that’s your view but it’s incoherent because that’s all you say about anti-feminists; they oppose feminism (which you say is good) but they have opinions which are all wrong (but what are these opinions? We’re never told).

    How about the bogus claim that 30% of convicted rapists are exonerated by DNA?

    Or the misattribution of “All heterosexual intercourse is rape…” to Mackinnon. I’m sure you know that it wasn’t. It may or may not be an accurate distillation of her views, but they are not her words. I’ve known antifeminists to continue to insist that they were her words even when you point out to them that the book they were in wasn’t written by her, and was critical of her.

    In fact there’s a whole list of quotoids in circulation, many of them misattributed, and all of them taken out of context. The original misattribution to Mackinnon wasn’t by Cal Thomas (Snopes is wrong on this) although he did broadcast it. The list, which predates him, was originally compiled by a female journalist whose name escapes me at the moment Vera Somethingorotherski (it was a Russian name.) She subsequently married. I don’t remember her married name either.

    The point is, that list has been circulating for years, and no matter how many times you point out the errors and misattributions, they never correct it. It’s usually trotted out to “prove” whatever claim about feminism the antifeminist was making. I see you using the same technique. At least you seem to have pruned the misattributions.

    The problem is, by that standard you could find a Naomi Wolf quotoid to “prove” that the pro-life position was a “cornerstone of feminism”.

    Bullshit!

    If there’s one thing there’s near enough unanimity on within feminism it’s that it’s pro-choice, Wolf notwithstanding. It’s precisely to get away from “proof by quotoid” that I devised the garden-bird test. It works against feminists too. If they try to tell me that feminists favour liberating men, I say “show me the birds”. Don’t quote footnote 2 of page 273 of “Popular Feminism” by “A. Feminist”. Don’t quote a twenty-year-old policy statement by NOW. Show me the birds.

    You go on about rape and DV a bit trying to differentiate yourself from feminists and “anti-feminists”. This isn’t the sort of thing I meant. That’s a specific conclusion. Not a principle upon which conclusions are based. Conclusions can change with new data, and in fact ought to change with new data from time to time. Principles generally do not.

    OK, I reject proof by quotoid. I’m not interested in book feminism. I don’t give a toss if Dworkin said “Foo” or Frieden said “Bar”. If the feminists I actually meet aren’t saying “Foo” and “Bar”, then I’m not interested. If Catherine Comins, vice-principle of Vassar College really did say what an unnamed Time journalist claimed that she said, then I guess that sucks if you’re a male student at Vassar. But that’s a nature reserve 200 miles away. If you can’t show me the birds in the garden, I’m not interested.

    For example you characterise your position on rape and DV as what differentiates you from anti-feminists. let’s say I give you new data and persuade you that on these conclusions the anti-feminist position is correct. Would that make you an anti-feminist in your view? no.

    No.

    But if you could give me a valid, non-self-serving argument why I should reject the existing data (or even just a new argument I haven’t heard before), then I would be mightily impressed.

    You claim that the feminists view rape studies that have a broader definition of rape as better. And that anti-feminists hold the reverse. That’s not true though, is it?

    You misunderstood me. I have said nothing about whether the definition used in these studies should be broad or narrow. I said that I broadly accept the studies, by which I mean that I basically accept their validity. I have, I guess, one generic issue (I haven’t seen the question of systematic response error addressed properly, or, for that matter, addressed at all), and a number of methodological issues with specific surveys. But I see no reason to believe that response error is so huge as to completely invalidate their results.

    Feminists don’t have a coherent view of how to define rape. They use the broader definition when it is convenient in an ad-hoc argument and also use very narrow definitions when convenient. For example they love Koss and the NVAW survey when they want to magnify a reported estimate of the total number of female victims. But the NVAW survey also magnifies the responses by men reporting rape to something like 1 in 4 of rapes outside of prisons.

    Not quite. About one in four victims raped in the past year were men. But prison rapes were not excluded as far as I can see, and the proportion of men raped (0.1%) was small enough to be included entirely within the proportion of men released from prison each years. I’m not saying that this is what happened, only that it is likely that a substantial proportion of those rapes may have been prison rapes.

    Switching to the prevalence figures, the proportion falls to about 1 in 9. This is most likely because prevalence samples over the lifetime of the study subject, i.e., over a period of years during which the incidence of rape of women has fallen markedly, while the vulnerable male prison population has exploded.

    But you’re right that prison rape can only be grossly undercounted by NVAW. Which reminds me, the Prison Rape Elimination Act mandated the DOJ/BJS to survey the prison population. If I recall correctly, the study was supposed to be completed in 2006. I must look and see if anything has been published.

    Feminists hate that so they switch back to the most narrow definitions of rape when reporting ratios of male and female rates. (As you may know “victim” reporting surveys tend to get larger numbers of incidents reported than “crime” surveys because minorities including men, tend to be less likely to self-identify their experience as “rape” compared to white women.

    In what context are you claiming they do this? When Special Interest Groups post lists of “statistics” and purported statements of facts, they invariably select just those that best suit their agenda, without regard for their provenance, reliability, or relevance. Thus we see the same nonsense regurgitated over and over again, often attributed to the most ‘reputable’ agency whose non-peer-reviewed publications were involved in the cut&paste chain. This is true for feminism as well as any other SIGs, so I just take it as read that these data are bogus, and only look at them if there is something specific I want to refute. I don’t see this as a point against feminism in particular. It is a point against SIGs in general. However Feminism has a strategic advantage over other SIGs in that they have successfully opened “Women’s Offices” within many governmental and humanitarian organisations, and are thus able to add the parent body’s imprimatur to truly staggering quantities of self-serving bullshit.

    However in a discussion context, the dynamics are different. I can’t imagine a feminist who, having cited NVAW for whatever, turning around and rejecting NVAWs male rape figures on the grounds of “wrong definition”. Rather, they reject them on the grounds of not being male on female victimisation.

    […]

    Again feminists love the broad definition of the CTS when it comes to reporting large numbers of victims but use a narrow definition such as actual arrest numbers when it comes to comparing the ratio of male to female victims. In other words they have no coherent view at all. They simply cook the data to present the data the best they can. Large numbers from CTS (ignore the fact that CTS makes the ratio 50-50) and good looking ratios from arrest figures (ignore the far smaller absolute number).

    Does it? My impression is that CTS only makes the ratio 50-50 if you ask men and women about the DV they commit. If you ask them about DV committed against them, women report more (NVAW used modified CTS). I agree with the feminist criticism that CTS doesn’t contextualise the acts, and that it’s wrong to say that the abuse is 50/50. On the other hand, there’s no reason to believe that it’s overwhelmingly male on female either. CTS tells us that both sexes are committing violence against each other, but not why or whether it’s offensive, defensive or involves some other dynamic.

    Nobody for example is saying that because men are the majority of victims of heart desease or murder that no money should be spent on female victims. Don’t fall into the trap, while in the middle of an argument about feminist bean-counting, of thinking that the opposite of believing that men should be ignored is saying women should be ignored. The opposite is to say that (your phrase) the comparison itself is odious, the bean-counting itself is irrelevent (to the question of what sex is deserving), and that victims of both sexes deserve compassion regardless of the numbers.

    Which is basically what I do argue, and why I invented the term in the first place.

    Don’t fall into a trap of saying “I think the feminists are right about the bean-counting”. The point is that the entire exercise is flawed.

    Yes. Arguing that they’re wrong about the beancounting too can be a trap too, (even when they are). The exercise is flawed. That’s the point.

    I reject the label “antifeminist” because the meaning I have internalised is very negative, because it implies oppositionism rather than a positive point of view

    That’s just silly. By that logic your own opposition to anti-feminism must also be wrong. Just because something is called “anti-XXX” doesn’t mean it’s wrong!!!

    You misunderstand. I reject the label (i.e., do not self-identify as) “antifeminist” because of my visceral aversion to the word, (because those I’ve hitherto identified as antifeminists have been mostly idiots. You’re clearly not an idiot, and not like them). I also think that I agree with feminism on enough issues to justify rejecting the ‘anti-‘ label. That is possibly a self-serving argument, but hell, if you can’t self-serve when choosing your own label, when can you?

    I’m not saying that antifeminism is wrong because it’s opposed to feminism. I’m saying that antifeminism is “antifeminism” because it’s opposed to feminism, and it has little or no common ground with feminism, while I have some.

    Feminism doesn’t have “points”. Per my definition it is an authoritarian group identified on the basis of loyalty not principles or ideology. This isn’t about individuals. Feminists believe all sorts of things and nothing on any given day. The movement as a whole believes very very little as a sine-qua-non core. Even the pro-choice position has been challenged by recognised feminists (eg Naomi Wolf).

    I’ve seen this argument before, and I don’t buy it, at least not in the way you’ve stated it here. Feminists do have points and a whole heap of near unanimity, individual dissenters notwithstanding. Moreover there’s a strange coherence to its incoherence. I see a lot of circular discourses. One characteristic of circular arguments is that they’re compelling if you already believe their propositions, and look totally incoherent if you believe none of them. If you believe some of them, then you’re forced to refute the logic of the argument. The result is a kind of perceptual bias – when you’re conceptually far away from the group (i.e., you) it looks like incoherent nonsense. A little closer, (like me), and it’s still obviously incoherent, but you start to see some coherency. Inside it looks completely coherent. It’s very culty in that respect.

    The only time I ever got a (temporary) ban on Alas was when I called it a cult.

    In particular, I agree that society-wide gender-stereotypes are generally harmful to both men and women, and that gender analysis is a valid lens.

    Well feminists don’t beleive that at all. They beleive that gender stereotypes harm women but not men.

    That is not really true. BPHMT is at worst a dismissive discourse, and at best a minimising and subordinating, one, but it is not denialist. Feminists, when pressed, will admit that Patriarchy does indeed hurt men too. When they deny female privilege, (I’ve already pointed out the birds) they are denying the framing of privilege, not the actual disadvantages suffered by men.

    BPHMT, therefore, is therefore a self-serving discourse (need to put that into the vocabulary.), which enables feminism to pretend to address men’s issues, but in reality it’s just a way to minimise, dismiss, and subordinate inconvenient facts that it cannot ignore or deny. It makes feminism more robust and resistant to criticism.

    See what I mean about being coherent in its incoherence?

    Now, you can argue that this is a distinction witout a difference, and you’d be right, from an antifeminist point of view. From the point of view of feminist, it makes all the difference. To them, your criticism is absurd. Of course they acknowledge male disadvantage. Patriarchy hurts men too, you know.

    Chauvinists believe that traditional roles are appropriate. That’s basically the definition (of chauvinism) for me. Is that what you mean by anti-feminist?

    It certainly included Chauvinists, and probably a lot of other people you wouldn’t necessarily call Chauvinists. I would characterise antifeminism (as I have hitherto concieved of it) as Chauvinist-accepting in the same way as feminism accepts their own version of Chauvinism (RadFem). A person who appears to be antifeminist but who recognises and explicitly rejects Chauvinism and who is smarter than 95-99% of antifeminists I’ve ever encountered is just not something I’ve ever come across before. As I’ve already said.

    What you just described corresponds to Warren Farrell’s gender transition movement concept.

    OK

    A gender transition movement is one that challenges traditional gender roles (for both sexes). In doing so it doesn’t seek to “blame” one group or another for the roles, and possibly doesn’t even conclude that the roles were themselves negative in the past but says that traditional gender roles are non-functional for us today and must be challenged to allow individuals of both sexes increased flexibility in their lives (their jobs, their family relationships, their societal obligations and so on). Obviously a GTM never needs to bean-count which sex is “more oppresed”.

    I agree that this is what I stand for.

    The feminist position is that only women have roles that need to be challenged and that these roles were imposed by men who oppresed women and continue to oppress women today.

    That’s definitely not correct. The feminist position is that men have the role of perpetrator/oppressor, and that this needs to change.

    The chauvinist position (often held by women btw) is that the traditional roles need to be preserved and that in the past their usage created some kind of “golden age”.

    I think you’re making it sound more coherent and thoughtful than it is. While one might analyse the “She’s a lying slut” discourse as a Chauvinistic condemnation of her purported departure from the traditional “female virtue” role, sometimes all it means is that the Chauvinist thinks she’s a lying slut.

    I’m not opposed to equality, but I am opposed to what I call (derisorily) “eeequalism”, which is the principle that if we cannot treat everyone fairly, we must treat everyone equally unfairly.

    May I suggest “procrustean equality” as the name for that.

    That’s a great word for it.

    I’m not quite sure what point you were making there to be honest….. although I agree with the principle as stated it hardly ever arises practically.

    I would never have coined the term if I hadn’t encountered it

    ————-

    I suppose “chauvinist” is actually a poor name for what is perhaps more accurately and blame-neutrally described simply as the “traditionalist” position. Even the guys (and girls!) who want to make it so women can’t vote appear to do so not from the point of sexism but from this idea of a golden age where strict gender roles created a more moral society. I’m not saying they are not sexist but their sexism isn’t the driving force as it is for feminism. For example women who are traditionalists don’t have to apologise for their sex as male feminists often do.

    That’s the word I was looking for: “Apologise”. Hence:

    Self-flagellation: Typical pro-feminist behaviour of endlessly apologising for being male.

    Female traditionalists don’t need to apologise. They just need to be sexually virtuous until marriage, good wives and mothers afterwards.

    As for the men’s rights guys… my impression was that they were often the walking wounded. They often “have issues”.

    Yes and yes. Many feminists do too.

    I am too. I’m extremely protective toward survivors – “walking wounded” – of any kind of abuse and of either sex.

    (This will come as a surprise to some of the survivors and probable survivors I recently got into a fight with over on Alas because they were beating up on another survivor who wasn’t even there. But it was they who attacked me.)

    Hence my hackles go up when I see anything that even hints at minimisation of the victimisation of others. Even if it wasn’t your intention to do so.

    The second wives (financial victims of feminism) were often the most level headed members but they seemed to be viewed suspiciously by the men that had often become activists because of their own experiences. So they come at this from the position of hurt, mainly over divorce. That isn’t healthy and the movement was drifting towards a mirror image idea of feminism (though about 100 years behind). In the sex war that feminists started the men are fighting back, but that’s a very negative view comapred to the gender transition movement concept.

    I agree with this too.

    Thanks for this. I really appreciate your insights.

    Edited for typos and markup.

    Comment by Daran — January 2, 2007 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

  72. Wow, so many interesting posts I want to respond to.

    DavidByron said:

    You go on about rape and DV a bit trying to differentiate yourself from feminists and “anti-feminists”. This isn’t the sort of thing I meant. That’s a specific conclusion. Not a principle upon which conclusions are based. Conclusions can change with new data, and in fact ought to change with new data from time to time. Principles generally do not.

    I think you have a good point here. I don’t see a big philosophical difference between the views of me, you, Daran, Warren Farrell, and the non-traditionalist men’s rights activists I’ve seen (some of which could be called “antifeminists” I guess). The main differences I see are on specific issues and positions, though perhaps someone could convince me otherwise. Have I seen lot of intellectual dishonesty or spurious arguments from MRAs/antifeminists? Yes, though not necessarily more than from feminists. Unlike Daran, I have a more positive view of MRAs/antifeminists than of feminists. Maybe I have just not encountered the type of antifeminists he has met; most of my experience with MRAs and antifeminists has been on Stand Your Ground.

    I guess the main difference I’ve seen is that some MRAs/antifeminists can be classified as “misogynists.” I put the term in quotes because I want to explain exactly what I mean by it, because it is so often abused by feminists to shut down debate. What I mean is that they tend to cynically stereotype women as manipulative or as golddiggers. Still, this is only a minority of MRAs and antifeminists I have seen behave this way.

    Ultimately, I just haven’t seen the analogue of radical feminists among MRAs and antifeminists. I have never seen MRAs or antifeminists expressing the same level of hatred and cynicism towards women as Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Marilyn French among others have directed towards men.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 2, 2007 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

  73. I did just read a biography of Henry Ward Beecher though which (notably) had a great bit about Woodhull. Is there a biography of her that you’re aware of?

    Yes there are several biographies of her. I think the woman who runs the Woodhull site (a descendent of Victoria’s second husband, Colonel Blood) recommended the “Notorious Victoria” one.

    There’s a lot about Vicoria at the site.

    The Beecher scandal was a pretty sensational piece of history but that was Victoria all over. Her sister was pretty much the same. They were genuine radicals.

    Woodhull actuall came up with the voting strategy based on the 14th amendment that Susan B Anthony is famous for using to try and cast a vote. Woodhull was a candidate for president in that election, although she spent the election day in jail.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  74. Daran said:

    It certainly included Chauvinists, and probably a lot of other people you wouldn’t necessarily call Chauvinists. I would characterise antifeminism (as I have hitherto concieved of it) as Chauvinist-accepting in the same way as feminism accepts their own version of Chauvinism (RadFem).

    This puts the finger on what has bothered me about the discourse of some MRAs and antifeminists. Only a minority of them engage in chauvinism, but I didn’t really see that chauvinism being challenged.

    That being said, I was looking around on StandYourGround, and I didn’t see anything I considered to be chauvinistic. No birds for today.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 3, 2007 @ 1:57 am | Reply

  75. DavidByron said:

    Daran it seems to me that uncontroversially sometimes we do compare the experiences of two population groups and say one is worse off than the other.

    I’m not sure about Daran’s exactly position, but I don’t dispute this. My point is that these comparisons must be made with a level of care and tentativeness that feminism does not display when it treats the supposedly greater level of female oppression as a fact.

    Feminism doesn’t have “points”. Per my definition it is an authoritarian group identified on the basis of loyalty not principles or ideology. This isn’t about individuals. Feminists believe all sorts of things and nothing on any given day. The movement as a whole believes very very little as a sine-qua-non core. Even the pro-choice position has been challenged by recognised feminists (eg Naomi Wolf).

    I’m not sure about this specific example. I do think it’s reasonable to say pro-choice is a feminist principle. Whenever I have heard people calling themselves feminists challenge it, they have been challenged by other feminists. I think something else that the vast majority of feminists will agree on is that current sexual harassment laws are unquestionably valid (or if they do question sexual harassment law like Jane Gallop, it will be on the grounds that it can be used against women).

    Feminism is to some degree an authoritarian group, but I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t have principles of ideology. The best analysis I’ve seen of feminism is by Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young in Spreading Misandry and Legalizing Misandry who discuss some forms of feminism as a “secular religion.” Religions do have principles and worldviews, if not always very coherent ones.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 3, 2007 @ 3:01 am | Reply

  76. Daran,

    Finally there are a number of things you say that cause my hackles to rise. And when I make my hackly risey response, your hackles rise in tern. Now, let me guess. When I respond in a hackly-risey way, I look like a feminist to you. Am I right?

    Actually no. It makes me think you are like Dr Jones and his desire to include the Montreal massacre in his list of gendercides. I just figure that you think you will sound more serious to an audience if you distance yourself from what you regard as an extremist opinion, or if you fudge your data to make yourself look as if you are conceeding ground in two different directions.

    Plenty of people do this and I find it very irritating. If I think something is true then I say so. I do not sugar coat my views to make them more acceptable to people who are stupid enough to think that whoever represents themselves as the middle ground must be correct. I don’t care if people see me as an extremist because of it. Practically speaking without extremists like me people like Dr Jones would have to back up his bus over the truth even more than he does. With me in the picture such people can be a little more honest.

    Call it a public service. Stand next to me and you’ll look like you’re on middle ground regardless of what you say. My gift to you.

    Per my definition: you don’t say women are universal victims and you don’t blame men. You are no feminist.
    ——————-

    On the question of your definition of antifeminism, I guess I started off fisking some of the stuff you said, and I’ll get back to some of it that was more interesting but to re-start the definition of antifeminism thing it occurs to me that you don’t distinguish between leftwing counter-feminists and rightwing counter-feminists. I think you might just mean by “antifeminist” that they are rightwing critics. I am leftwing, probably more than you in fact.

    I would characterise antifeminism (as I have hitherto concieved of it) as Chauvinist-accepting in the same way as feminism accepts their own version of Chauvinism (RadFem). A person who appears to be antifeminist but who recognises and explicitly rejects Chauvinism and who is smarter than 95-99% of antifeminists I’ve ever encountered is just not something I’ve ever come across before. As I’ve already said.

    I really like RadFem (though she hates me). She’s a radical and so am I. She’s an extreme lefty (on issues other than gender) and so am I. Of course she would say it’s me that is wrong on gender. I think we first met on the NOW baord before Kim Grandy (then vice pres.) closed it down blaming me for causing trouble. The real trouble was really the combination of the two sides of course. RadFem had the balls to post on a mostly men’s rights board run by… I think it was the IWF, Cathy Young’s group…. OTOH I have a crap memeory sometimes. I think she was a journalist of some kind…?

    My point is I have empathy for her just as I assume the rightwing men’s rights guys have empathy for the traditionalists and maybe even the women-shouldn’t-vote nutcases. You say that you have stuff in common with feminists but you didn’t really say what exactly. You gave the example of accepting the idea of gender roles and gender “analysis” which I asume is stuff I would also agree with, yet I am anti-feminist. I suggest to you that you are simply saying that you have a leftwing viewpoint and so do feminists on issues other than gender.

    How many other lefty feminist critics do you know? On the webring about one in three seemed to be lefties including both the founders, me and a woman who agreed to take it on with me. Maybe we just lucked out to have so many.
    —————–
    Odd bits follow:

    If there’s one thing there’s near enough unanimity on within feminism it’s that it’s pro-choice, Wolf notwithstanding.

    If there was one thing you’d be right; it would be pro-choice, but there isn’t even one thing they agree on. If there was I’d have to have put it in my definition.

    I’ve met plenty of pro-life feminists. They really do exist and in some numbers. That link is to a woman I corresponded with for some years on and off. She’s not active now. There’s another lady who was co-founder of the Pro-life feminists group, but I didn’t keep up with her.

    When Special Interest Groups post lists of “statistics” and purported statements of facts, they invariably select just those that best suit their agenda, without regard for their provenance, reliability, or relevance. … This is true for feminism as well as any other SIGs, so I just take it as read that these data are bogus, and only look at them if there is something specific I want to refute. I don’t see this as a point against feminism in particular.

    Yes but feminists claim they are not a special interest group but a group only interested in equality that happens only by the merest chance to always find female issues because it’s females that are discriminated against. Ampersand would have you beleive that had the evidence been the other way, feminists would have been going on about men’s rights instead.

    You’ve so internalised the feminist big lie to be for equality that you can’t see it any more. You see it all over the place but because everybody knows it is a big lie and feminism is a special interest group for women, you ignore the implications. If feminism is a SIG then Ampersand is lying. All feminists are lying when they claim they want gender equality. Which is it? An equality movement, or a movement for women? It cannot be both.

    That is not true. BPHMT is at worst a dismissive discourse, and at best a minimising and subordinating, one, but it is not denialist.

    BPHMT?

    That’s definitely not correct. The feminist position is that men have the role of perpetrator/oppressor, and that this needs to change.

    Gender Transition Movement “roles” represent restrictions – the opposite of choices. Feminists consider that only women were/are restricted (ie forced / coerced) to stick to their roles. They think men just did their roles because men liked being assholes essentially. This is important because if they admit men had no choice in their roles, then how can men be to blame for being in those roles? Hence GMT says men had no choice and feminists say men did have a choice and are to blame because they could have refused to oppress women.

    sometimes all it means is that the Chauvinist thinks she’s a lying slut.

    Of course. But there is a reason the chauvinist hates all this stuff. It happens that the reason is not gender related.

    Female traditionalists don’t need to apologise. They just need to be sexually virtuous until marriage, good wives and mothers afterwards.

    Right. These people are NOT “antifeminists” in the sense of being some kind of mirror image or contrarian. They are not an ideological core of the men’s rights movement, or even a part of that movement necessarily. The situation with radical feminists is not symmetric. The commonality is only that both left and right have their extremists that are harder to reject because of agreements on other political matters.

    HughRistick said,

    Ultimately, I just haven’t seen the analogue of radical feminists among MRAs and antifeminists. I have never seen MRAs or antifeminists expressing the same level of hatred and cynicism towards women as Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Marilyn French among others have directed towards men.

    I’ve seen it in individuals and also in some published material which was widely endorsed in a sort of “you go girl!” way. In particular I am thinking of the books that say all women are just whores trying to get men’s money through marriage. I had the reaction of asking, “Do you really think XXX is a whore?” where XXX was one of the female posters favouring men’s rights.

    But it was never a sub-movement. It wasn’t taken to psychotic extremes such as the SCUM manifesto or any of the many feminist utopias where men are exterminated. But the seeds were there in that “you go girl” style response to those who published books with that angle about all women being whores. An odd expression of course because generally men empathise with actual whores whereas feminists tend to despise them. (Although as usual there are feminists on both sides of that issue).

    I said MRA’s had real issues they were victims of. Daran replied,

    Yes and yes. Many feminists do too.

    Not the same, no. They identify with the mythological issues of feminism. eg they’ve been raped. But rape is already illegal. What happens to the men in the MRA is state sponsored “rape”. They are activists to stop other people being screwed like they were. Trying to change the law. See the difference? The feminists are victims that society has endorsed. The MRA are victims that society has rejected. Feminist victimhood is functional. The MRA victims are told to get over it and act like a man. Feminists are the status quo. The MRA challenges the status quo. Feminists don’t need to do anything so they are not activists.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 3:34 am | Reply

  77. still running about, but, Hugh–you’re wrong, I have and do call male suffering opression. Just because I didnt in that post doesnt mean I “won’t” or haven’t. Sorry for not searching for a link.

    Comment by curiousgyrl — January 3, 2007 @ 8:50 am | Reply

  78. By the way Daran, I wasn’t sure if you were trying to say that I had something wrong on the “all men are rapists” page or not. It sounded like you ,b>wanted me to be wrong, but I couldn’t tell if you felt I was or not.

    The point is, that list has been circulating for years, and no matter how many times you point out the errors and misattributions, they never correct it. It’s usually trotted out to “prove” whatever claim about feminism the antifeminist was making. I see you using the same technique. At least you seem to have pruned the misattributions.

    I don’t have anything on that page that is not attributed to someone and with the name of the book or whatever. So are you saying what I have is right or wrong? Which quote do you say is wrong?

    You know you did say that you don’t read books. Well I do. I have a copy of a book by McKinnon in which she pretty clearly says all men are rapists. Snopes is wrong about this one. I wrote to them about it at the time but they never corrected their error.

    See I have a copy of both Feminism Unmodified and Professing Feminism the one a book by McKinnon and the other, in part, a book about her. I didn’t need Snopes to tell me who wrote Professing Feminism. It’s a great anti-feminist text, but it’s clear Snopes never cracked it open.

    Though the book isn’t by McKinnon the quote is McKinnon’s quote within the book.

    And by the way? Nobody who has ever read either McKinnon or Dworkin could say that the “all men are rapists” idea wasn’t central to their view of men. McKinnon was the foremost feminist legal mind of the 20th century and she’s the one behind many of the feminist legal attacks on civil liberties. Sexual Harassment law, VAWA, porn censorship in Canada. It’s all based on this “all men are rapists” concept. Snopes seemed to have relied for their article on nothing more than a formal denial by McKinnon (which they probably Googled) and in the strictest technical sense, yes, it was Marilyn French who came up with that famous quote (and it was – famous – and lauded at the time). but the Snopes article is wrong when it goes further and denies McKinnon said anything very much like that and it also implies nobody said it which is also true.

    The result is that Snopes gives a very false impression of feminism wrongfully maligned whereas the idea is central to radical feminism and has had huge influence on American society.

    Like I say I’ve got both books so if you want I can get a page reference for you. But you say you don’t care about books. Well fine but then don’t be too quick to say others have got it wrong.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 10:23 am | Reply

  79. oops,
    “and it also implies nobody said it which is also true”
    ought to be,

    “and it also implies nobody else said it which is also FALSE”

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  80. Very briefly…

    I really like RadFem (though she hates me).

    Heh, ditto on both counts.

    But I didn’t mean Radfem, the individual who posts under than name, but Radical Feminism.

    Comment by Daran — January 3, 2007 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  81. I’m not sure about this specific example. I do think it’s reasonable to say pro-choice is a feminist principle. Whenever I have heard people calling themselves feminists challenge it, they have been challenged by other feminists.

    The question is not whether their challenge is challenged, but whether their status as feminist is challenged?

    Comment by Daran — January 3, 2007 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  82. David:

    By the way Daran, I wasn’t sure if you were trying to say that I had something wrong on the “all men are rapists” page or not. It sounded like you ,b>wanted me to be wrong, but I couldn’t tell if you felt I was or not.

    I mean that you took the list of quotoids, pruned away the misattributions and irrelevencies, and were left with a small number of what as far as I have been able to tell are genuine quotes, but which are still out of context.

    Alternatively you ignored (or have never seen) the list, and got the quotes from somewhere else, or perhaps compiled them independently. The effect is the same, you have some quotes which are apparently correctly cited, but taken out of context.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong about what these feminists are saying, only that you can’t prove it with quotoids. It’s clear from just the little extra from the French quote that’s she’s not just talking about forced sexual intercourse, but about the male gaze, etc, which is a typical feminist complaint against men, but not typically called “rape”.

    The problem with the “male gaze” baloney isn’t that feminists call it “rape”, because hardly any of them do. You’ve identified one, and a fictional one at that. If you ever find that “her own voice” reference, please let me know. Until then, you’ve still only got a fictional feminist.

    The problem with the “male gaze” baloney is that it’s baloney. Let’s call it baloney, but let’s not pretend that feminists are complaining that we’re raping them with our eyes.

    The point is, that list has been circulating for years, and no matter how many times you point out the errors and misattributions, they never correct it. It’s usually trotted out to “prove” whatever claim about feminism the antifeminist was making. I see you using the same technique. At least you seem to have pruned the misattributions.

    I don’t have anything on that page that is not attributed to someone and with the name of the book or whatever. So are you saying what I have is right or wrong? Which quote do you say is wrong?

    As far as I’m aware, they’re all correct. They’re just insufficent to prove that feminist say all men are rapists. At best, they demonstrate that those individuals views can be so characterised, but even then, I’d rather see the entire argument, so that I know exactly what it is that is being claimed. But then I’d have to buy the books.

    You know you did say that you don’t read books. Well I do. I have a copy of a book by McKinnon in which she pretty clearly says all men are rapists. Snopes is wrong about this one. I wrote to them about it at the time but they never corrected their error.

    Does she say “All sex is rape”? Those exact words? Does she say “In a Patriarchal Society, All heterosexual intercourse is rape…”? Those exact words?

    If not, when antifeminists say that she did say those exact words, they are lying.

    See I have a copy of both Feminism Unmodified and Professing Feminism the one a book by McKinnon and the other, in part, a book about her. I didn’t need Snopes to tell me who wrote Professing Feminism. It’s a great anti-feminist text, but it’s clear Snopes never cracked it open.

    Though the book isn’t by McKinnon the quote is McKinnon’s quote within the book.

    Where did she say it? When? To whom?

    And by the way? Nobody who has ever read either McKinnon or Dworkin could say that the “all men are rapists” idea wasn’t central to their view of men. McKinnon was the foremost feminist legal mind of the 20th century and she’s the one behind many of the feminist legal attacks on civil liberties. Sexual Harassment law, VAWA, porn censorship in Canada. It’s all based on this “all men are rapists” concept. Snopes seemed to have relied for their article on nothing more than a formal denial by McKinnon (which they probably Googled) and in the strictest technical sense, yes, it was Marilyn French who came up with that famous quote (and it was – famous – and lauded at the time). but the Snopes article is wrong when it goes further and denies McKinnon said anything very much like that and it also implies nobody said it which is also true.

    Did Mackinnon say the words attributed to her?

    The result is that Snopes gives a very false impression of feminism wrongfully maligned whereas the idea is central to radical feminism and has had huge influence on American society.

    So what happened is that McKinnon’s etc., complex and nuanced ideas were labelled as “all sex is rape” by people like you, and then that label was falsely put into her voice by lesser people than you who didn’t realise that it was a label. There’s two problems with that. Firstly it prevents those following from judging her words on their merits. Instead we are obliged to accept your judgement of them. Secondly, it gives feminists a get-out. They can say, honestly, “no, she didn’t say that”.

    Like I say I’ve got both books so if you want I can get a page reference for you. But you say you don’t care about books. Well fine but then don’t be too quick to say others have got it wrong.

    I am interested in the provenance of the quotoids. I know where it is in “Professing Feminism”. If you can find those exact words in Mackinnon’s own voice, then I will greatly appreciate the correction. If you can find an equivalent statement that you can quote in no more than a paragraph or two, then I would appreciate that too. If you feel that it would take a longer quotation to demonstrate that this is what she thinks, then I suggest you show me the birds instead.

    Comment by Daran — January 3, 2007 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  83. OK, this will be my last comment for a while. I have a huge amount I want to blog about and discussion in the comments has been taking up all my time. That’s not a point against you or anyone else. In fact, it’s a testament to how interesting you have been to me.

    Please continue to comment, and I will read them all, and maybe address some of them in the blogging.

    Daran,

    Finally there are a number of things you say that cause my hackles to rise. And when I make my hackly risey response, your hackles rise in tern. Now, let me guess. When I respond in a hackly-risey way, I look like a feminist to you. Am I right?

    Actually no. It makes me think you are like Dr Jones and his desire to include the Montreal massacre in his list of gendercides. I just figure that you think you will sound more serious to an audience if you distance yourself from what you regard as an extremist opinion, or if you fudge your data to make yourself look as if you are conceeding ground in two different directions.

    You’re wrong about my motives, and I think you’re wrong about Jones’. But discussing our respective motives are the least of my concerns right now. I agree that this particular essay sticks out like a sore thumb on the site, but, seriously, does that really matter?

    Per my definition: you don’t say women are universal victims and you don’t blame men. You are no feminist.

    On the question of your definition of antifeminism, I guess I started off fisking some of the stuff you said, and I’ll get back to some of it that was more interesting but to re-start the definition of antifeminism thing it occurs to me that you don’t distinguish between leftwing counter-feminists and rightwing counter-feminists. I think you might just mean by “antifeminist” that they are rightwing critics. I am leftwing, probably more than you in fact.

    You realise you’ve been aiming at a moving target here. The meaning of antifeminists, as I’ve been using it, has been changing even within this thread, not in a self-serving way, but in response to new data. You’ve been providing that data. You’re also a rather significant new datum.

    So yeah, my usage of the word is probably going to be a bit incoherent for a while, in a cognative-dissonant sort of way. Sorry about that, but I still feel there are more important things to discuss that what, precisely, I mean by antifeminist.

    My point is I have empathy for [Radfem, the individual] just as I assume the rightwing men’s rights guys have empathy for the traditionalists and maybe even the women-shouldn’t-vote nutcases. You say that you have stuff in common with feminists but you didn’t really say what exactly. You gave the example of accepting the idea of gender roles and gender “analysis” which I asume is stuff I would also agree with, yet I am anti-feminist. I suggest to you that you are simply saying that you have a leftwing viewpoint and so do feminists on issues other than gender.

    Yeah, that probably sums it up mostly. I also agree with feminists on the basic diagosis of some of the problems faced by women, just not their proposed solutions. For example, I agree that there is widespread rape of women, and that this is a problem which shouldn’t be ignored. I just don’t agree that this should (or even would) be solved by blaming men, excluding male rape victims from services, and curtailing still further the presumption of innocence. I agree that fear of violence curtails women’s freedoms. I just wish feminists would stop stoking the fear. Etc.

    How many other lefty feminist critics do you know? On the webring about one in three seemed to be lefties including both the founders, me and a woman who agreed to take it on with me. Maybe we just lucked out to have so many.

    I’ve known only a handful, including HughRistick, I would identify as feminist critics, and these only in the past few months. Before that, one, probably. Its possible that there were others I just didn’t see in the rightwing misogynistic noise.

    Misogynists. That’s basically what I find objectionable. Does it make sense if I say that what I originally called “antifeminists” are basically the idiots and raging misogynists. My impression is that most of the idiots in the gendersphere are on the contra side, while there are comparatively few raging misandrists. Misandry tends to be more poisonous than raging.

    I don’t know if that fits the picture you have.

    If there was one thing you’d be right; it would be pro-choice, but there isn’t even one thing they agree on. If there was I’d have to have put it in my definition.

    I’ve met plenty of pro-life feminists. They really do exist and in some numbers. That link is to a woman I corresponded with for some years on and off. She’s not active now. There’s another lady who was co-founder of the Pro-life feminists group, but I didn’t keep up with her.

    They self-identify as feminists, but are they accepted by other feminists? Let’s ask my feminism-proxy: Amp, are pro-choice feminists really feminists?

    When Special Interest Groups post lists of “statistics” and purported statements of facts, they invariably select just those that best suit their agenda, without regard for their provenance, reliability, or relevance. … This is true for feminism as well as any other SIGs, so I just take it as read that these data are bogus, and only look at them if there is something specific I want to refute. I don’t see this as a point against feminism in particular.

    Yes but feminists claim they are not a special interest group but a group only interested in equality that happens only by the merest chance to always find female issues because it’s females that are discriminated against. Ampersand would have you beleive that had the evidence been the other way, feminists would have been going on about men’s rights instead.

    You’ve so internalised the feminist big lie to be for equality that you can’t see it any more. You see it all over the place but because everybody knows it is a big lie and feminism is a special interest group for women, you ignore the implications. If feminism is a SIG then Ampersand is lying. All feminists are lying when they claim they want gender equality. Which is it? An equality movement, or a movement for women? It cannot be both.

    You underestimate me. I know that feminism claims to be more than a SIG. I just wasn’t addressing that particular point in this paragraph.

    As for Ampersand lying, that depends upon what you mean by lying. Since feminism is a big lie, all feminists are liars, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t believe it. They do, fanatically. You say you’ve read the books, but have you read the greatest feminist treatise of them all? Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell. Nobody believes in the fabricated reality more than its creators.

    And that is why Amp’s admission in this thread, that it’s “subjective”, is so significant. So much depends upon the claim that women are oppressed more, that its going to be very difficult for him to maintain even a semblance of coherence. I predict that he will either back off from that, or equivocate.

    That is not true. BPHMT is at worst a dismissive discourse, and at best a minimising and subordinating, one, but it is not denialist.

    BPHMT?

    Now that’s telling.

    You’ve read the books, but you don’t recognise “But Patriarchy Hurts Men Too”? That discourse probably doesn’t get much play in the books. Book feminists don’t need a minimising discourse because they can simply ignore inconvenient facts. They don’t have those pesky MRA/antifeminists/critics saying “but what about…”

    That’s definitely not correct. The feminist position is that men have the role of perpetrator/oppressor, and that this needs to change.

    Gender Transition Movement “roles” represent restrictions – the opposite of choices. Feminists consider that only women were/are restricted (ie forced / coerced) to stick to their roles. They think men just did their roles because men liked being assholes essentially. This is important because if they admit men had no choice in their roles, then how can men be to blame for being in those roles?

    That is definitely not Amp’s POV. He’s been quite consistent about this. Men’s responsibility arises not from their choices, but from their privilege – a privilege he now admits is “subjective”.

    I said MRA’s had real issues they were victims of. Daran replied,

    Yes and yes. Many feminists do too.

    Not the same, no. They identify with the mythological issues of feminism. eg they’ve been raped. But rape is already illegal. What happens to the men in the MRA is state sponsored “rape”…

    Oh please.

    Look, I don’t believe in rape privilege. It’s a terrible thing, certainly. There are a lot of terrible things that happen to men and to women, including some of the “walking wounded” MRAs. But however terrible it was, if it’s not rape, then it’s not “rape”, and to call it that, even with scares, is to make a mockery of your complaint about feminists abusing the word.

    Comment by Daran — January 3, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  84. curiousgyrl said:

    still running about, but, Hugh–you’re wrong, I have and do call male suffering opression. Just because I didnt in that post doesnt mean I “won’t” or haven’t. Sorry for not searching for a link.

    Thanks for clarifying. I doesn’t actually surprise that you are willing to call it oppression, based on what I have seen of your beliefs.

    DavidByron said:

    See I have a copy of both Feminism Unmodified and Professing Feminism the one a book by McKinnon and the other, in part, a book about her.

    Is the quote from Feminism Unmodified? If so, what page or chapter? I have the book out from the library.

    Comment by HughRistik — January 3, 2007 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  85. Daran,

    however terrible it was, if it’s not rape, then it’s not “rape”, and to call it that, even with scares, is to make a mockery of your complaint about feminists abusing the word.

    What complaint is that? I have not complained about using a broad definition of rape or of using rape in a metaphorical way. I am entirely happy with that usage. If someone wants to use rape that way and the terms are defined I’m fine with that and would if necessary point out how the extended usage applies to men too.

    I take it you have an issue with this then?

    That might explain your odd behaviour over the “all men are rapists” thing. As far as I am concerned my usage of rape was entirely appropriate. I’d have zero problem with a feminist using the rape word in a similar context. I thought you’d agree since you made a point of saying that you agreed with feminist gender analysis. Surely this is part of that?

    Perhaps you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the whole “all men are rapists” complaint is about. It’s not a complaint that feminists are saying that all men have had sexual intercourse with a woman using force. It goes without saying that the use of the word rape in “all men are rapists” is metaphorical. And the metaphor is saying that all men are just as evil as rapists are. That the inherent undeniable fundamental nature at the root of the male soul is one of being a rapist — regardless of whether that man has so much as had sex.

    I honestly thought you knew that. Nobody is saying that they mean it literlly. That would be plain stupid. Of course it is a metaphor. An incredibly telling metaphor.

    Some people think that when you say something is “just” a metaphor that it somehow means that the sentiment doesn’t count or that it isn’t really meant seriously. That’s not true. It just means you are using one word to describe another situation. (In fact some theorise that most of language is based on the principle of the metaphor and that it is hardwired into the brain).

    These feminists are describning the fundamental nature of men and especially in their relationship towards women. Do you not get it? The precise wording is not important because it is not intended literally but metaphorically. But the metaphor is clear and remains the same even if the words are slightly changed.

    It’s clear from just the little extra from the French quote that’s she’s not just talking about forced sexual intercourse, but about the male gaze, etc, which is a typical feminist complaint against men, but not typically called “rape”.

    Duh. That’s what we are talking about Daran.

    The problem with the “male gaze” baloney isn’t that feminists call it “rape”, because hardly any of them do. You’ve identified one, and a fictional one at that.

    The do call it rape all the time and I don’t have a problem with them calling it rape as long as the term isn’t used inconsistently to pull a bait and switch. What I have a fucking huge problem with is when feminists declare that the fundamental nature of men is that of the rapist.

    Jesus I can hardly beleive you actually thought they meant, or that MRAs were implying they meant literal rape. LOL. Oh my god. =) That’s priceless.

    To be honest calling all men literal rapists would be a statement I would be much less upset about because it would just prove what a lunatic was talking, and to boot it’s not actually quite as nasty IMO to say someone is a rapist than to say their fundamental nature is “rapist“.

    Ha. I bet this explains why you were so worked up about what exact words were used.

    So what happened is that McKinnon’s etc., complex and nuanced ideas were labelled as “all sex is rape” by people like you, and then that label was falsely put into her voice by lesser people than you who didn’t realise that it was a label.

    Are you sure it’s not just you who didn’t get it? And once again the “all men are rapists” phrase is actually a literal quote. It’s not a complex idea. It’s no more complex than if someone declared that all black men were rapists. There’s no nuance in thinking that an entire birth group are rapists. It is blatant in your face misogyny.

    Secondly, it gives feminists a get-out. They can say, honestly, “no, she didn’t say that”.

    Only if they lie. You forget that to feminists this metaphorical usage of rape is accepted and understood. When a feminist denies that these women said these things they are technically lying. Now you tell me that you’d never use the word “rape” that way. Fine. But remember you’re in the minority on that. To me and the feminists and I suggest to the MRA’s too, it’s normal acceptable usage of the word.

    The MRA’s do the same thing over those all-women-are-whores books. They don’t literally think that all women are whores. That would not even be such a bad thing because men like whores. Whores work hard for a living. Whores use up their body and soul for money like men do. Whores are honest about their sexual relationship with men. No it is a metaphor that is far nastier than calling all women literal whores. it is saying that women in their fundamental nature, their inner core, are people who screw men over to get their hands on the men’s cash. And that’s a bitch of a thing to say about anyone, let alone an entire birth group. That’s why the popularity of those books was the biggest red flag to me in the MRA and we attacked those books.

    I was going to lookup some stuff but I’m not sure it is worth it now. I think you’ve already quoted some of her stuff on the topic but probably thought it tended to aquit her rather than convict if you had the wrong accusation in mind at the time.

    I did get as far as checking the passage mentioned in Snopes and it is just a characterisation of McKinnon not a direct quote, but it is a fair characterisation of her views. The book traces the basis of sexual harassment law from this very philosophy about men. In general I have not had feminists try to say I have the wrong idea about McKinnon. It they agree with the idea then they do so openly and if they do not then they dismiss it as just “radical feminists”.

    The man-as-rapist dogma informs an enormous amount of feminist theory. In this thread alone for example it explains why pro-feminist men are the way they are. it explains why Ampersand can neevr be completely accepted as afeminist. it explains why Ampersand refuses to moderate female feminists on his board.

    If the feminist central dogma (per my definition) is that women are universal victims of men, then the crime used to victimise the women universally is metaphorical rape. Rape is what men do to women. Always.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

  86. Is the quote from Feminism Unmodified? If so, what page or chapter? I have the book out from the library.

    Before ‘Google’, there was ‘Index’ !!
    It’s p129 in mine.

    If you have the book out read it for the stuff on sexual harassment law. It’s a very interesting read. But as I just said I was wrong about it being a direct quote of McKinnon, rather it is an accurate assessment of her, in the course of a wider discussion.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  87. Daran,

    Now that’s telling.
    You’ve read the books, but you don’t recognise “But Patriarchy Hurts Men Too”? That discourse probably doesn’t get much play in the books.

    It’s probably just because it didn’t get much play eight years ago. I’ve been out of circulation for a long time. I don’t mind admiting that running on my faulty memory I am probably going to be better on the sort of high level stuff than the details. That’s probably best anyway.

    To me, BPHMT sounds like the feminist equivalent of “Some of my best friends are black”.

    In those days feminists would deny their antipathy towards men by saying that they were married or had a boyfriend. I rarely heard the sentiment that patriarchy hurt men too.

    That is definitely not Amp’s POV. He’s been quite consistent about this. Men’s responsibility arises not from their choices, but from their privilege – a privilege he now admits is “subjective”.

    That last quote of his that you posted on this topic made it clear that men have to choose to not oppress women and that is how they can avoid the guilt of patriarchy. Therefore clearly Ampersand feels that men in the past could have and should have made those same choices. He thinks men had choice not roles.

    I don’t know if you buy this so let me give you a for example.

    Voting for women. Why didn’t women get the vote in America until so late? Was it sexism? That is what the feminis mythology suggests (and has no explanation for why an all-male electorate and congress voted to give women the vote if men hated women so much).

    But if you look into the historical record you have statements by folks like John Adams that he’d be happy for women to vote (and even children) if they had economic independence. But the feeling at the time was that without economic independence giving women the vote would be nothing more than giving a married man two votes to the single man’s one.

    And this was also the reason that the poor or landless were often denied the vote. Landlords could and often later on did, demand that their tenants vote for their candidate. How could they refuse? Since the vote was publicly made, often using voting ballots printed by the candidates themselves, in distinctive colours, everyone knew how you voted and so the poor could be intimidated easily. In fact that was the whole point of their view of democracy at the time. Democracy was a pitched battle of threats and agreements, bribes and deals. It was compromise and battle between independent peers.

    Without the secret ballot, or “Australian ballot” which was introduced late in the 1800’s I think, at least into Australia, but I think to the US sometime around then, giving votes to women and other economically dependent people was rather problematic. However the secret ballot changed the whole way democracy was viewed because now you couldn’t make deals or threats. Nobody knew how someone had voted.

    So anyway the upshot of this is the question of why women didn’t have the vote. The evidence suggests it was not because men wanted to oppress women as the feminists believe, but because the system of elections that had evolved at that time to a point where women voting was not very functional yet. Individual men had no choice about that any more than individual women did.

    Ampersand’s version of events has men in history choosing to be either oppressors or “feminists” I guess. That concept just doesn’t relate to history.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 3, 2007 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  88. I wish I could comment/read more extensively on this thread, but I’m swamped. Just wanted to interject that DB’s analysis of the labor movement vs feminism is a sort of mirror image of my own; i think the labor movement need not have been ‘essentially the mens movement’ to paraphrase DB, but that it missed the boat in not fighting equally for the rights of women workers, and that this missed boat is part of the explanation for the weakness of the labor movement today. Most of my actual involvement with politics IRL has actually been in the labor movement and primarily with workers who are men, and I think this problem continues to exist. meanwhile, feminism’s lack of class analysis is as much of a problem for feminism–a lot of the critiques of feminism here (the ones that dont strike me as completely wrong, eg ‘there is no wage gap’)are to me, actually critiques of liberal or neoliberal feminism.

    Comment by curiousgyrl — January 4, 2007 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  89. As opposed to what kind of feminism?

    I think the problem that unions have in the US is that the country has always been run by the elites and they have had a long running campaign to murder, intimidate and shut down unions and communists.

    Feminism has never been a threat to the elites. It was always a middle class affair. Victoria Woodhull of course being the exception, was from not just a poor, but a dirt poor working class background.
    ————————–

    There is no wage gap. It’s just a big lie that feminists tell women to make women feel they are oppressed. However I’m not sure it exactly works because what happens instead is that everyone accepts the lie but nobody does anything about it (they cannot – you can’t fix what doesn’t exist). It ends up promoting the acceptance of discrimination, and not just of women but of real cases of discrimination.

    Instead of spinning the huge lie feminists could have told the truth. Men and women have different wages because they have different lifestyles. Men tend to have to work full time to become wage earning machines and women tend to split their time between work and home giving earning money a lower priority. But recognising this simple fact would naturally lead to asking which lifestyle is best — the rat race men have to deal with or the flexible approach to career and family that women enjoy? This is fine if you want to explore how to free people from rigid gender roles and give them genuine choices. But it’s useless if you want to indoctrinate women to think they are oppressed by “the patriarchy”.

    Feminists badly need a big lie because most women have turned off the movement. But how strange! Despite convincing all women that they are magically paid far less for identical work, nobody seems to care! Why? Is it because nobody really believes it?

    Comment by DavidByron — January 4, 2007 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  90. […] is a repost of an article originally posted at Creative Destruction. Comments older than Wednesdau 10 January 2007 were originally posted there. See this post for […]

    Pingback by Feminist Critics — January 14, 2007 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  91. Male oppression? We can do nothing but accept, since oppressor women are far more powerful than oppressor men.

    Comment by Urago — January 5, 2008 @ 4:51 am | Reply


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