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October 14, 2005

Comments

tr1c14

At first I was just going to post the following image and comment that I thought this kind of message is an important one to get out: http://www.edmontonandareacfsa.gov.ab.ca/parents/pdf/SBS%20prevention%20poster.pdf

But it also raises a question to me, that I probably wouldn't have thought of if I hadn't been reading your blog: Is this an example of reinforcing positive masculinity, or is the emphasis on "tough" a negative, gender-role-policing message just as much as a similar ad with a woman and some kind of stereotypically feminine trait would be.

Anyway, thanks for complicating my thinking, it's appreciated even as I feel the hemispheres of my brain going "sproing"

CaptDMO

"Overcoming the fear of "not cool enough": doing anti-sexist work with boys

I've come to realize that the single most difficult aspect of doing pro-feminist men's work is helping men transform the way they speak and act when in all-male settings."

How does "anti-sexist work" morph into "pro-feminist work"?
I actually got to the end of the first sentance before todays lesson in new-speak befuddled me!

Hugo

Capt., I'm not sure what you're suggesting, given that it is abundantly clear that at its core, the pro-feminist agenda is an anti-sexist one (MRA rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.)

bmmg39

Hugo, I don't think you have self-loathing because of your feminism. I will say that the reason OTHERS may believe that, unfairly or otherwise, is your occasional dismissal of MRA issues and concerns.

I know you have a lot of decency inside of you, but I myself was greatly put off when you described someone as a "denier of male privilege." It's an unfair comment, because you put someone in the position of either "admitting" to benefit from "male privilege," or "admitting" that one DENIES that one benefits from "male privilege." It's like me asking someone, cross-examination-style, "Oh, so you ADMIT that you DENY that you're a child molester?" How does one answer that question without sounding bad?

And I still maintain that the word "sexism" is too often used here synonymously with "misogyny," when it should be used with the definition "misogyny OR misandry." I'm anti-sexist, too, ya know, but I like to think I can point to BOTH types.

boy genteel

sophonisba

It's an unfair comment, because you put someone in the position of either "admitting" to benefit from "male privilege," or "admitting" that one DENIES that one benefits from "male privilege."

I'm lost. What is the problem with being in that position? What is there about you acknowledging the benefits of male privilege that's more difficult or problematic than me acknowledging my benefit from white privilege or both of us acknowledging the benefits of computer literacy? The whole point of the concept of privilege is that it's unearned - there's therefore no guilt attached to having it, only to pretending it away or not trying to work against it in small or large ways.

You compare having privilege to being a child molestor - how do you reconcile that with the fact that feminists who want you to acknowledge male privilege are ready and willing to acknowledge our own priviledges that attach to class, education, sexuality, and race? Privilege is only a dirty word in your own mind.

(Mind you, I realize that any jargon becomes tiresome with repetition. But the concept behind it is valid.)

bmmg39

"It's an unfair comment, because you put someone in the position of either 'admitting' to benefit from 'male privilege,' or 'admitting' that one DENIES that one benefits from 'male privilege.'

"I'm lost. What is the problem with being in that position?"

The problem with that argument is that it automatically casts aspersions upon anyone who denies that it actually exists, that we wind up not discussing the question of its existence. Rather, anyone who takes the "no" position is labelled a "denier" of something, as though that in and of itself is a charge.

But my disagreement with Hugo on that point does NOT mean that I assume he's only making it in order to "get laid." I believe he's sincere in his beliefs, just as I am sincere in mine (which, by the by, don't always conflict with his).

boy genteel

Hugo

boy genteel, you're earning the second part of your appellation. I'll think carefully about the phrase of "denier of male privilege." It has a ring of tired rhetoric to it, and I'm trying to purge that sort of thing from my vocabulary.

stanton

Sophonisba, you are correct as far as you are willing to take it, but what prevents you (and most who admit to the feminist faith) from looking at the whole picture? I can see male privilege to an extent, just as I can observe female privilege. You, on the other hand, seem to be committed to working with limited information, in that your faith requires that you pretend that the other does not exist in any meaningful way. And sophonisba, it exists in spades, no matter how the idea offends your belief system. (Perhaps you understand the dichotomy that bmmg39 was expressing a bit better, though.)

I guess I don't need to ask you what's wrong with simply acknowledging the benefits of female privilege as a major force in society. I think your faith forbids it. You may corect me if this is not the case.

And bmmg39, I really like your suggestion of the term "egalitarian". In this company, many seem to believe the word is synonymous with "feminist," which is absurd. The actual egalitarians that I have seen here are usually called "anti-feminists."

I say this with the caveat that I have seen a number of women who identify as feminists who truly appear to be egalitarian. A few have posted here, but not recently, that I have seen.

the_methotaku

Hugo- I want to inturrupt the MRA wank for a moment to thank you for showing me how relevant 'Women's Issues' are to my own progressive political and theological position as a man. I think that this website is a wonderful ministry and I hope you keep on blogging.

Emily H.

The problem with a term like 'egalitarian' is that, well, nearly everyone considers themselves to be in favor of 'equality' as a general principle. It doesn't tell you anything about the assumptions people carry with them about the status quo, or what an ideal world would look like under their belief system. A term that encompasses both feminists and MRAs who virulently disagree with each other about nearly everything really isn't very useful, is it?

It is useful insofar as it's useful to keep in mind that feminists aren't seeking for women to have more advantages than men, and MRAs aren't seeking for men to have more advantages than women--what they're seeking is what they believe to be equality, aside from a few folks at the looney fringes of each side.

But we keep talking past each other about what 'equal' really means.

stanton

Very insightful, Emily. And I'm sure that you are correct about both sides looking for equality as they see it. And neither side is able to give the other much credit for wanting the same. It then often boils down to the "more oppressed than thou" debate.

So what is "equality"? It seems to mean many things. Socialists I have known seem to believe equality is achieved only when outcomes are identical. That would obviously be "equality" but it is not achievable without iron-fisted control of behavior. So to me, equality without liberty is worse than useless. If there is to be personal liberty, then there cannot be an artificially forced 'equal outcome'. It can only be equality of opportunity, equality before the law, and the right to live life as one chooses without interference from other individuals or organizations. There are responsibilities that go along with these rights, which are necessary for a government and society to function, and these responsibilities must also fall equally on each citizen.

I think this may also be the dreaded "thread drift" so I will leave it at this.

sophonisba

in that your faith requires
no matter how the idea offends your belief system.
I think your faith forbids it

Golly, Stanton! I have the feeling you're trying to make some sort of point, but I just can't figure out what it is! Maybe a few more iterations would make it dawn on me! Don't be too subtle, now!

If you would like to attempt to argue that my feminism is based on faith rather than reason, it would be a good idea for you to try to, you know, argue it. With logic and examples and stuff.


I guess I don't need to ask you what's wrong with simply acknowledging the benefits of female privilege as a major force in society.

Obviously it would be stupid to ask me that, seeing as how I've always acknowleged it. Perhaps your faith in my irrationality prevents you from noticing?

Naturally there are instances of female privilege, just as there are instances of black privilege and Jewish privilege. In any area where women predominate, women will have an advantage when it comes to being taken seriously and being noticed and being considered the default presence. Here are some casually chosen examples of such areas: stay-at-home parenting, nursing, secretarial work, modelling, elementary school teaching, relationship advice-giving, women's studies departments, lingerie sales, babysitting, PTA volunteering, Planned Parenthood staffing, day-care providing, prostitution. Any man who wants to break into one of these fields will have to face the daunting spectre of female privilege. Boy, he might even have to work harder than your average woman to be taken just as seriously, just like women who want to be chemists or politicians do! Surely the societal prestige, income potential, and power offered to successful women who trade on their female privilege equals the prestige and income offered to men who go into areas where male privilege serves them equally well.

Well, let's see. Nurse or computer technician? Housewife or electrician? Boy, it's hard to tell which gender's privileges offer them more real-world security and power, isn't it? You might almost suspect that when people follow where their privilege leads instead of fighting it, women don't do so terribly well. Weird, huh? It's like different kinds of privilege aren't all exactly identical, or something.

jaketk

Talking with one other man, one on one, it's far easier to "let down one's guard"...than it is in a larger group where several young men may be (consciously or no) jostling for status.

one on one interaction was very important for me while i was in high school. i got along with most other boys easily, but every boy wants affirmation that he is indeed a man, or on the road to becoming one, and it can only come from an older male. i suppose it is merely affirmation that you are doing something right, or are worthwhile, but it's just as necessary as air or water. once i had those one on one talks, my guard fell down in a heartbeat. part of it is also a trust issue. boys, and men, who feel they can trust eachother are more likely to open up. within social groups that often cannot happen because both other males and females will mock boys and men for being vulnerable. and within our society male worth is based on how much you are needed or wanted, not on what you can bring to the table.

at the same time, the next step has to be group interaction. the only way perceptions change is if it's okay to do this within a group. otherwise, the boys will remain silent. but this goes for things like pushing themselves too far to prove their manhood. or taking insults and pain to prove they are manily. those are things that as someone stepping into adulthood i am more concerned about. those are things boys and young men my age will do just to be liked, wanted, or noticed. having those talks helped curb a lot of reckless behavior i had engaged in because now it mattered.

what those talks boiled down to, at least for me, was the creation of self-respect and diginity, the idea i did not have to fit someone else's model of who i had to be. and with that self-respect, a lot biases fall away.

bmmg39

"The problem with a term like 'egalitarian' is that, well, nearly everyone considers themselves to be in favor of 'equality' as a general principle. It doesn't tell you anything about the assumptions people carry with them about the status quo, or what an ideal world would look like under their belief system. A term that encompasses both feminists and MRAs who virulently disagree with each other about nearly everything really isn't very useful, is it?"

You are making three false assumptions here:

1.) That all MRAs believe the same things, as part of a monolith.
2.) That all feminists believe the same things, as part of a monolith.
3.) That feminists and MRAs virulently disagree with each other about nearly everything.

"Well, let's see. Nurse or computer technician? Housewife or electrician? Boy, it's hard to tell which gender's privileges offer them more real-world security and power, isn't it? You might almost suspect that when people follow where their privilege leads instead of fighting it, women don't do so terribly well. Weird, huh? It's like different kinds of privilege aren't all exactly identical, or something."

You act as though where a person can work is the only privilege in existence.

mythago

Pro-feminism, in their minds, is a strategy for "getting laid"

These are probably also the same guys who also say that you must be homosexual.

sophonisba

You act as though where a person can work is the only privilege in existence.

No, not so much. You may recall that subjects such as "who feels safer walking home alone?" and "who is more scared of asking somebody on a date?" and "who is judged more harshly for sleeping around?" and "who gets to obey God's call to be a priest?" and "who does more housework?" and "whose formal wear is more restricting and uncomfortable?" have been beaten to death not long ago in this very weblog, and seem to come up on a regular schedule. They're not being neglected.

Furthermore, those questions are far more matters of opinion, subject to anecdote and harder to prove than the question of the gender makeup of an academic department or profession, which can be checked and verified.

Plus, "relationship advice-giver"? Not a profession. Not referring to a paid columnist, but to the matter of women being generally more trusted to understand social interaction and human relationships. Babysitting, also, is a job, but not exactly a profession. You will have noticed the pattern in my list of female-dominated jobs, namely, that women are thought to be better at busywork, at working with people, and especially with children. All of these things are associated with low pay, but they also have clear implications for what women and men are supposed to be like in other areas of life. I should have thought that was obvious.

stanton

Sophonisba: I apologize for the tone of my previous post. It was hastily composed, and I should have waited until I had time to consider how I approached things.

So I gusee your view is that female privilege exists, but that male privilege greatly exceeds it. Is this correct? At least we agree that female privilege exists, and I guess I have not read all of your comments, because I don't recall seeing you express it in the past. So we agree, but I don't see it in any of the places you mention. I believe that men are more than welcome in every one of those fields that you listed. I myself and men that I've known have been in most of them, and experienced no barriers.

My field is software engineering, and I work with physicists and mathematicians as well. My woman colleagues are outnumbered, to be sure, but but they are certainly welcome in our midst. I seek out resumes from women applicants, in hopes of giving more of them an opportunity when we can, as do many of the other technical managers that I know. (Anecdotal, yes, but nearly universal in my experience.) Our CEO welcomes women, being one herself. As for politicians, my feminist daughter tells me that a milestone has been reached in American politics now, in that in America, a woman candidate is slightly more than 50% likely to be elected when running against a male candidate in a race with no incumbent. I did not ask for a source, but I believe it, coming from a Women's Studies student and self-professed feminist. Where is this male privilege? And where the female privilege?

Rather than selected disparities that can be asserted to be due to privilege without proof, or the bahavior of the criminal fringe of males, I look for societal privilege, enforced by commonly accepted rules, laws, and "common wisdom". In our society, these combine to say that by law, it is a more severe crime to hurt a woman than to hurt a man. It says that women should have "resource centers" and courses of study just for them, and men should not. It says that there should be re-education facilities to send persons who offend women, but none are needed for those who offend men (as long as the men are not of color). It results in more lenient sentences for women criminals than for men committing the same crime. It means that women have a tremendous advantage in family courts. It means that alarms will be raised nation-wide at reports of problems faced by girls or women (see AAUW, Pipher), while there is a national yawn over the rapid dropoff in the percentage of male college enrollment and other such things. It results in female-on-male violence being fodder for comedians, while male-on-female violence is the stuff of national mobilization and congressional action. These are the disparities of privilege that I am addressing. Will your feminist egalitarianism allow you to support efforts to balance out any of these things? If so my hat is off to you. I make no assumptions as to how you will respond, if at all.

Apologies once more, for the tone of the previous comment.

bmmg39

"Furthermore, those questions are far more matters of opinion, subject to anecdote and harder to prove than the question of the gender makeup of an academic department or profession, which can be checked and verified."

Well, THESE certainly aren't:

"Which gender is subject to selective service and/or the draft?"

"Which gender of domestic abuse victims is less likely to be taken seriously and receive adequate protection and support?"

"Which gender has a lower life expectancy, despite life expectancy being equal between the genders in the early 1920s?"

I'd call these mighty verifiable and none too frivolous. Wouldn't you? And, mind you, I'm right now just sticking to the quantifiable ones...

bg

Socialist Progressive Communist Like Hugo!!

Just kidding. Hugo will delete anybody that disagrees with him. Much like Freedom of Speech Loathing Feminists. "Huston we have a problem, all people much not have guns, or have an opionion that is not toeing the Politically Correct line."

I think the sole goal of feminism is to turn all women into good taxpayers and that is it!!!

Manyly man

It takes a man to be a man!!!! Feminism is a lame attempt to turn all women gay. Heck now men will not even open the doors for women!!! Is that Progressive??? NO!!!

Awallman

Wow...Where to begin. Did a girl write that article???

mythago

At least we agree that female privilege exists

Of course it does. That's precisely why there are so many anti-feminist women; they prefer the childlike state of protection that a sexist culture affords them.

Where is this male privilege?

You work for a tech company that is unusual in having a female CEO; you seek out female employees; therefore there is no male privilege anywhere. Am I misunderstanding you?

On your daughter's comment, I will attribute your odd wholesale acceptance of statistics to fatherly affection. To which elections does that "slightly more than 50%" apply? On what is that number based--election results, or voter polls, or something else? How many races (especially for important and high-ranking political positions) have "no incumbent"?

My own experience as a lawyer, and that of my husband's as a software engineer, is that there is less overt, no-broads-here bias against women in traditionally male workplaces, but more covert bias due to wanting to work with those like us (e.g. fewer women sit around and jaw about football with the boss, so he is not as comfortable around them, less likely to spend off-work time with them or see them as colleagues) and expectations that assume the worker either has no family obligations, or has somebody else to manage them. (One piece of wisdom passed around female law students, as I recall, was that if you find out a potential place of employment consists mainly of men with stay-at-home wives, run.)

You've mentioned that your feminist daughter is in law school, stanton, and the advice I can give her for succeeding in areas outside of traditionally "female-friendly" areas of law like public-interest work is this: if she starts a family, she needs to be prepared to either offload the bulk of the responsibility for day-to-day childcare, or she needs to expect her career to take a major hit. This also means she needs to be prepared for employers who ask her, in job interviews, about her family plans; she also needs to expect that as she spends more time at work, her female colleagues will cut back or drop out and she will be in a more and more male-dominated environment. That's part of the sexism that men see as "female privilege"--the freedom to tank your economic future to stay home with your children and make your livelihood dependent on a breadwinner. This is, in fact one of the privileges most cherised by 'traditionalist' women.

evil_fizz

Well, THESE certainly aren't:

"Which gender is subject to selective service and/or the draft?"

Yes, women are not subject to selective service, but I think an argument could be made as to whether or not this is a privilege. Some might argue that it's because women were seen as incompetent to fight in wars or that women were somehow worthy of paternalistic protection. Also, given that the draft hasn't been imposed in over 30 years, it *appears* (emphasis on appears) as though men aren't suffering a great hardship here.

"Which gender of domestic abuse victims is less likely to be taken seriously and receive adequate protection and support?"

Agreed, and this is a problem. It is also one that arguably exists because of gender roles and perceptions about male strength and female weakness. No one should be belitted or insulted because they are the victim of assault, but I think that (to draw a crude analogy) people struggle with the idea that the linebacker got beat up by the punter. (Apologies for the flagrant abuse of sports metaphors.)

"Which gender has a lower life expectancy, despite life expectancy being equal between the genders in the early 1920s?"

This is the only one of your points I struggle with, because I'm not sure how you would elucidate "female privilege" as a cause of a difference in life expectancies. To go out on a limb here, I think that in the 1920s, causes of death were unlikely to favor one gender over the other: communicable diseases, malnutrition, etc. While it does make me curious, I'm not sure that it's a question which can be answered by assessing relative privilege.

However, to bring this all back to the topic at hand, I think that the existance of male and female privilege makes people wonder why we need feminism or MRAism (what's the term I'm looking for here?). If everyone's got their issues, why can't we just get on with things? My argument is that the existance of privilege or discrimination is no reason to maintain it, and I think the squabbling over who has it worse is a disservice to the discussion.

jaketk

privilege is a loaded word, which is why i don't use it. it implies that it exists at all times, and that there are few or no exceptions. a privilege implies that one can manipulate the system at any time to prevent or cause any random event. so if one is privileged, then one should never be unemployed, or homeless, or incapable of paying one's bills. one should never be in position where it is impossible to turn the tide to one's favor. the other issue with privilege, particularly male privilege, is when does it kick in? when does it start? at birth? puberty? college? the job market? when does it surface, and why is it that only some, particularly those with large quantities of money, are the ones who can truly manipulate things to their favor?

the same is true for discrimination. we tend to look for it. so in the instance where i associate with other gamers at my job, that's discrimination against women because none of the women there play videogames? when we get to the point where you have to have politically social groups, we've gone too far.

the biggest disservice is to diminish or not acknowledge the other side's views. that's the worst thing that always happens in these sort of discussions. instead acknowledging the issues, it's "i don't know if that happens" or "i doubt that's an issue" or "that's not part of this issue" or "that's not that bad." that invites squabbling. in order to cease discrimination, one must acknowledge it as a problem, and leave the "it's worse for women/men" comments at the door.

Jeff

jaketk: I think that's a straw-man definition of privilege. It doesn't imply that everything will go your way; it's more that someone of the privileged group will have an advantage that others not of the group will not.

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