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February 28, 2005

Comments

Bebe

Ahh, Hugo, it is difficult to be a liberal. Your "focus is on changing how the boys interpret [the girls'] dress". Now I recall your taking to task Laura Bush for some similar wording with regard to boys at risk in unfortunate economic and social conditions (e.g., ghettos). The concept (or rather her use of the words "changing our focus") was rather disturbing to you insofar as it seemed to suggest a turning away from young girls who might also be affected by such ills. Of course, you yourself are turning away from young girls by being concerned only with young boys, regardless of how you interpret your function as a "male youth leader". I guess it just depends on whose "focus" we're talking about: Laura's neo-conservative one or your liberal one. Perhaps we can say that a turn of phrase is merely a turn of phrase. And agree to look at the whole sentence rather than the part.

Hugo

Bebe, my criticism of Laura Bush's position lay in her suggesting that we as a society shift our gaze from girls to boys. In our youth group, boys and girls get equal attention and devotion from their youth leaders. However, male youth leaders have a special role to play with young men; female youth leaders an equally special role to play with young women. Both sexes receive the same time and attention and care -- but we also make careful provision for same-sex mentoring. It may be separate, but it is sure as hell equal.

stanton

Hugo, I believe you are right on in what you say about each gender calling their own to account. You said "it just means that we must be very cautious about calling the 'opposite side' to account." I was wondering if you believe that you equally urge such caution upon women who are "calling men to account." I sort of get the impression that you may feel that "male privilege" means that men must expect to take it from both sides. Perhaps you could clarify this a bit more.

Hugo

I do think that women ought to exercise caution in calling men to account -- but that is not to be construed as silencing legitimate expressions of anger, though the form that anger takes does need to be controlled.

At the same time, I'm not interested in helping men defend themselves from women's anger, justified or not. The goal is transformation, and that doesn't mesh well with reactive responses.

stanton

Fair enough, as far as it goes. I can respect that as a defendable philosophy to take, as long as you have similar disinterest in defending women from men's anger, "justified or not."

I am a bit troubled by your expression "legitimate anger." It implies that some anger is not legitimate, and by extension, that someone has the wisdom to declare whose anger is okay and whose is not. I know that I do not have this wisdom.

Amanda

Of course, women are brought up from childhood not to speak back to men, so I don't think that controlling women's judgement of men is an issue here. If anything, women need to be given more of a chance to address their concerns with men. Women are afraid to speak out when men are doing something to us. No matter how victimized you may feel by a woman's tight shirt, it's hard to say that she's doing something to you in the same sense that a man who grabs my body in public is doing something to me.

stanton

Amanda - Speaking only for myself, I feel not at all victimized by a woman's tight shirt. Quite the contrary, I feel blessed! As for a man grabbing a woman's body in public, that is a physical assault - a criminal offense. There is no comparison between the two. I guess that means I agree with you on that.

Criminal behavior aside, I also agree that open, civil (non-blaming) dialogue between men and women is the key to advancement. No progress is made when either side demands a litany of "mea culpas" from the other.

bmmg39

"Of course, women are brought up from childhood not to speak back to men, so I don't think that controlling women's judgement of men is an issue here. If anything, women need to be given more of a chance to address their concerns with men."


Really? Last I heard, men were the ones who have been brought up to be extra-polite to women and not publicly disagree with them, but rather to tip their cowboy hats and say, "Sorry, ma'am."

Now, what I have said doesn't contradict what you say. You are female and I am male, and we are most likely to perceive the things that impact our own respective genders badly.

"Women are afraid to speak out when men are doing something to us. No matter how victimized you may feel by a woman's tight shirt, it's hard to say that she's doing something to you in the same sense that a man who grabs my body in public is doing something to me."

A male is not victimized if a female wears a tight shirt. A male IS victimized if a female grabs his butt without his permission, as a woman at music camp tried to do to me back in the spring. My complaint is that your speaking up in that situation would likely be taken more seriously than mine. Invasions of my privacy, my body, would be laughed off by a lot of people.

stanton

One more thing, Amanda. I raised four daughters, and I have no recollection of raising any of them not to speak back to men. And if I did, they certainly did not take the lesson to heart! I am proud of they way they all fearlessly speak their minds.

djw

Stanton, I'd venture to guess the greater contributor toward women's learned deference to men is social and peer-based, rather than parent-based (in most cases).

Amanda

BG, pretty much every woman I know has dealt with being molested in public and afraid to say something for fear of being treated like she's making an unnecessary fuss.

Amanda

Stanton, my parents raised me that way as well, but more than parents influence a daughter. Despite this, it took a long time for me to learn to defend myself from public gropers. Criminal it may be, but so incredibly common and bordering on socially acceptable that it's hard to defend against it.

cmc

Bmmg39--

Hi there! I was intrigued by your statement that men are taught to tip their hats and not publicly disagree with women. I thought that was fascinating because I had never really heard of men being taught not to disagree with women. But I think the difference is that that kind of courtesy/chivalry is really a form of condescension. It reminded me of the male lawyers decades ago who objected to women practicing law-- they felt going up against a woman wouldn't be a fair fight because as gentlemen they could not be seen to beat up on a member of the weaker sex.

My first thought is that women's socialization not to contradict men is closer to subservience. But maybe not-- I have no problem cross-examining people in court or a deposition, but I have a profound feeling of discomfort in questioning or contradicting people in less formal settings, especially when they are men. When I examine why, I realize that I am uncomfortable because I assume that they will suffer some profound humiliation or embarassment if they don't have a good answer to explain their actions or position. So I guess my reticence is a form of condescension as well - protection of the fragile male ego.

mythago

Last I heard, men were the ones who have been brought up to be extra-polite to women and not publicly disagree with them, but rather to tip their cowboy hats and say, "Sorry, ma'am."

So the men who angrily yell "bitch" at women who don't immediately and warmly return their come-ons are, what, Martians in man suits?

I don't know where you live, bmmg, but I don't know a single man who was brought up to behave with anything remotely approaching that level of deference.

Aegis


Amanda said:
Of course, women are brought up from childhood not to speak back to men, so I don't think that controlling women's judgement of men is an issue here. If anything, women need to be given more of a chance to address their concerns with men. Women are afraid to speak out when men are doing something to us.

Amanda, you are making a lot of sweeping generalizations here. Which women are brought up from childhood not to speak back to men, and how do we know this? You imply that all women are, but you don't give any support to such an inference. And clearly there are plenty of women who are not afraid to speak up, so your generalizations (at least as you phrase them) are false.

You are talking about "men" and "women" as if they are homogenous entities (though lots of posters on this blog make that error, including MRAs).

Furthermore, you seem to imply that any female reticience towards speaking up is specific to females speaking up to men. Maybe lots of females and males are taught not to speak up to males. Or maybe some people (regardless of gender) are taught not to speak up to people in authority in general, or risk "making a fuss" if they are mistreated.

Amanda said:
BG, pretty much every woman I know has dealt with being molested in public and afraid to say something for fear of being treated like she's making an unnecessary fuss.

Ok, but do you really think that a guy who's butt was grabbed in public would be treated any better? It may be a problem that victims of molestation are treating like they are making an unnecessary fuss regardless of sex, yet bmmg's point is that male claims of molestation are more likely to be disregarded than female claims.

Amanda said:
Stanton, my parents raised me that way as well, but more than parents influence a daughter. Despite this, it took a long time for me to learn to defend myself from public gropers. Criminal it may be, but so incredibly common and bordering on socially acceptable that it's hard to defend against it.

Wait, what evidence is there that groping borders on being socially acceptable? I highly doubt that anyone but perhaps a small minority of people think it is socially acceptable. Maybe some people think it isn't a big deal, and that a woman should just deal with it, but that is a different issue.

Aegis

bmmg said:
Really? Last I heard, men were the ones who have been brought up to be extra-polite to women and not publicly disagree with them, but rather to tip their cowboy hats and say, "Sorry, ma'am."

I see what you mean (though obviously we can't claim that this applies to all men, or we would be making the same error that I called out Amanda on). I am not even sure that this applies to most men. But I do think there is a sizable minority of men who are socialized to show deference towards women. Pressure to show deference to the opposite sex is not a problem that effects only women.

cmc said:
But I think the difference is that that kind of courtesy/chivalry is really a form of condescension.

I think it's an example of women being placed on the Victorian pedestal of moral superiority. Chivalry is doubly sexist. It bothers me that feminists often seem to focus on the condescenscion towards women, while ignoring the way chivalry disadvantages men for the benefit of women.

mythago said:
So the men who angrily yell "bitch" at women who don't immediately and warmly return their come-ons are, what, Martians in man suits?

I don't know where you live, bmmg, but I don't know a single man who was brought up to behave with anything remotely approaching that level of deference.

I've never seen a man yell "bitch" in response to a rebuff, or behave with anything remotely approaching that level of rudeness. This shows that there may be lots of behavior going on that neither of us have observed. Or maybe I'm just unworldly because I'm too young to go to clubs and bars ;)

stanton

Mythago, if it is a common experience of yours for a man to yell "Bitch!" at you when you rebuff his come-on, I have to wonder where you hang out. I honestly have never observed this anywhere - on college campuses, singles bars, parties, or anywhere else. I HAVE seen (and experienced first hand) a withering, crushing put-down from a woman - apparently rehearsed - when a man expresses interest, perhaps ineptly, but not offensively.

This behavior from some, teaches me absolutely NOTHING about "women" as a whole. These few unkind examples do not represent who and what women are, and most refusals of advances are done as gently as the woman can make it, knowing how difficult it is for both parties. Do you believe that you know something about "men" in general from those (few? many?) who have yelled "Bitch!" at you for refusing their advances?

And Hugo: I was hoping that you would say something about your reference to "legitimate anger". Do you believe that you are a proper judge of whose anger is "legitimate" and whose is not?

Hugo

No, I'm not a proper judge of other folks' anger. I can suggest that we all need to be ruthless about examining our own anger, asking if it is a legitimate, reasonable response or if it is rooted in a self-centered sense of our own importance.

And regardless of whether our anger is justified or not, we have to be very careful about how we express even legitimate anger. The point of expressing anger cannot be to blow off steam or to feel self-righteous -- it must be to, in as loving and firm a manner as possible, let the other person know they have crossed a line they ought not to have crossed.

Amanda

Aegis, I am not going to waste space with the phrase "the vast majority" of men or women. For instance, I am a woman who not only fusses when I'm groped, but I punch. But I had to overcome a lot of growing up in a society where a woman making a fuss tends to get more disapproval than a man who does this. One thing I've noticed is groping men and guys who call you "bitch" for not responding to their advances often avoid these behaviors if they think another man will see them. So they are relying on the typical woman's fear of making a fuss to get away with this harassment.

Amanda

By the way, that men who do this avoid the male gaze when calling names or groping is as good an explanation as any for why some of the men here haven't ever seen it.

stanton

Hugo: I am in agreement with what you say about expressing anger in a loving way. I have seen both feminists and "MRAs" express anger in non-loving ways on this blog, but it seems to me that there is little "official" disapproval of the feminist variety, but plenty of disapproval for the other. Is this my own prejudiced perceptions showing through, or is there some truth to this?

Amanda: I can accept that explanation as to why most men may have never observed this behavior. It speaks to the fact the the men who do this realize the extreme level of disapproval these actions would provoke from most other men - possibly including violence.

bmmg39

"I thought that was fascinating because I had never really heard of men being taught not to disagree with women. But I think the difference is that that kind of courtesy/chivalry is really a form of condescension."

Oh, it absolutely is. Those men aren't being respectful to women and treating them as equals; they're merely being POLITE to them. There's a difference.

bmmg39

"I think it's an example of women being placed on the Victorian pedestal of moral superiority. Chivalry is doubly sexist. It bothers me that feminists often seem to focus on the condescenscion towards women, while ignoring the way chivalry disadvantages men for the benefit of women."

Bingo.

"I've never seen a man yell "bitch" in response to a rebuff, or behave with anything remotely approaching that level of rudeness. This shows that there may be lots of behavior going on that neither of us have observed. Or maybe I'm just unworldly because I'm too young to go to clubs and bars ;)"

You're not missing anything -- believe me.

mythago

One think y'all are missing is that while groping or whistling is not necessarily socially acceptable, for a woman to act assertively or defensively towards a man is even less socially acceptable. And frankly, I have yet to have a man jump up and tell another man to leave me alone. Maybe that's something that happens in bars and clubs. ;)

Do you believe that you know something about "men" in general

stanton, I don't know who you're arguing with, but it's not me. If'n you scroll up a tad, you'll see I was telling bmmg39 that his experience is not in any way universal. If I said something about 'men in general' kindly point it out.

(Bars and clubs? Try public transit, or walking down a street in broad daylight.)

Short of being called 'bitch,' there's a whole range of rudeness far short of tipping one's hat and saying "Sorry, ma'am." Being followed around after ignoring advances or saying no thank you, or accused of being "stuck up" or rude, for example.

And then there are the 'politer' responses--I believe other women here have mentioned, say, being in a business meeting and being talked over or ignored as though they simply weren't present.

Chivalry has always been about good manners towards 'ladies,' not to women, period. It's as true in the modern day as it was when The Art of Courtly Love was written. As I've said, I've worked as a stripper, and it's very illuminating to see how some men act when they perceive that there are no "nice girls" around and therefore they are free to be as sexist and obnoxious as they please.

stanton

Mythago, I believe that you and I agree much more than we disagree. I know that all of the things that you mention are common experiences for women in many settings and contexts. As an attorney, I easily believe that you have had males speak as if you were not relevant to the discussion. My own daughter (the feminist one) is about to take the LSAT and apply for law school. I don't want her to have any illusions about what she is facing, nor do I want her to get discouraged by what lies ahead. I AM encouraged by the fact that most of the schools that interest her have student bodies that are nearly 50% female. A couple are majority female. That has to be a plus.

You are 100% correct about chivalry applying only to "ladies." But as for generalizing about "men," I admit that I often feel that statements such as yours (about yelling "bitch") contain a note of general disapproval of the male gender, beyond that small fraction - the morons who behave this way. If this is not true in your case, I apologize completely.

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