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Friday, July 20, 2018

Men's Rights Activism and Feminism

Quote from PBS article on the Documentary No Safe Place

Novelist Margaret Atwood writes that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, "They are afraid women will laugh at them." When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, "We're afraid of being killed."

Where to start. Let's start with something positive first before delving into the depths of what these guys (and women) believe. A former MRA tells all:

The guy in this article actually tries to pit his new found MRA belief system against feminist theory and he records the result. He discovers what you'd expect- that MRA is a bit like feminism in the problems it identifies but differs in both the why and what to do about it. The unfairness MRA identify as uniquely a crisis of masculinity are actually the same forces oppressing women.

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I didn't know this existed. It looks like a great resource in sorting out this manosphere:

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Here we go. We're going in. Get the hip waders; this is going to get messy.

In their own words. . .

True to the experience of the man in article about the MRA turned feminist, they spend an inordinate bit of space up front telling what they aren't and why feminists are evil and feminism is from the depths of hell. And because they are "task focused" and falsely claim not to have an ideology or emotions, there is a list of issues! Yay! Let's take a look.

It's a very strange breakdown of points.

I see three groups: (1) bodily autonomy, domestic violence, father's rights, health, state discrimination, reproductive rights and suicide; (2) unnecessary medication, education; (3) disposability and vilification. Sort of.

Their ideology free tasks are as follows:

1. Bodily autonomy - As discussed, this is the section where they claim circumcision is the same as female genital mutilation.

"Type one FGM would be like removing a male’s testes, type three is equivalent to removing both the testes and the penis. There is no way that would be deemed acceptable," says Taina Bien Aime, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, who adds that comparisons between male and female circumcision are unhelpful."

So, there that is. You can decide if the two are equivalent.

2. Disposability - Here, they discuss how unfair it is that men have to sacrifice for their community and also to protect hypocritical women who don't pull their weight. Instead of fighting against the Selective Service and militarization of society and the damaging effects of this, they focus on the unfairness that men have to do this but not women.

This is a good look at why sending women to war isn't the equality MRA says it is. Men controlling the world governments and sending women to war and the fact that MRA oppose the ERA and Violence Against Women Act are among the disparate situations discussed.

The approach to "equality" of MRA is just completely backwards. Insisting women hurt men more and get punished less in domestic violence and calling rape accusations inflated is not equality any more than saying women should be sent and killing in war as much as men. The real issue is ending war and selective service.

3. Domestic Violence - MRA claim that women perpetrate this as often or more than men but aren't prosecuted as much. They do claim that all domestic violence is bad, but choose to cherry pick to keep the patriarchy alive and women and children treated as property as in the "good old days."

Many fathers’ rights activists argue that women perpetuate as much, if not more, violence against intimate partners and that most domestic violence is mutual, ignoring or discounting all research to the contrary. They accuse programs that serve battered women of discrimination on the basis of sex, even to the point of bringing (unsuccessful) lawsuits against them on equal protection claims.
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Is domestic violence law marginalizing men? According to Joyce, probably not. She writes that "while some men certainly are victims of female domestic violence, advocates say the number is closer to 3 percent to 4 percent, rather than the 45 percent to 50 percent RADAR claims."
4. Unnecessary Medication - It's possible that Americans are over medicated, but MRA focus on boys and ADHD only. There is no interest in fixing health care or anything else - only WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS and IT'S THE FEMINISTS' FAULT!

This link is really all you need. It explains both the question framed both ways - how are boys actually doing and politically/culturally, what does that mean? Boys appear to be doing worse in school and it is frequently blamed on feminism, the feminization of boys or the perceived pathologized boyhood.

Michael S. Kimmel in "What About the Boys?" What the Current Debates Tell us--And Don't Tell Us--About Boys in School:;c=mfs;c=mfsfront;idno=ark5583.0014.001;g=mfsg;rgn=main;view=text;xc=1

Another look at why mothers would jump on this ridiculous bandwagon. It takes the view that the movement will die out when these mothers seek educational opportunities and boys learn that the ideology is bunk.

5. Education - Yeah, it's basically the same issue as above; the former being a solution to this problem - if you're looking at it this way. This and the previous thing are related and should have been one bullet point. 

6. Father's Rights - To me, this is ridiculous to set up father's rights as antithetical to feminism or women's rights. Feminism seeks to equalize gender roles and give everyone the right to participate in raising their children from parental leave to custody and everywhere else.

This is helpful in clearing up some of the odd substitutions and logic employed:


Yeah. I can't. I feel like I'm just dealing with the same points over and over again, so maybe just a few more links are needed. Most of these can be described by cherry picking their data and the concern not even being factual, blaming everything on feminism or subdividing topics that are actually the same thing. In every instance where an actual grievance exists, feminism is working to help solve these issues that the men are complaining about. Having bodily autonomy mean circumcision vs FGM while women can't get birth control or menstrual products on demand and are forced to be pregnant by majority male lawmakers makes this point by point examination impossible.


7. Health - see the medication points
8. State Discrimination - see domestic violence and father's rights
9. Reproductive Rights - laughable premise, but see father's rights
10. Suicide - see medication
11. Vilification - laughable and subjective, but go back to disposability if you must

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From Movember to believing there's a crisis in masculinity, to denying the pay gap and the patriarchy exist, to believing the disparity in numbers of women in top positions is due to men being better at it, to believing law enforcement punishes too many men and the real crisis is letting women off easy,  it all stems from a nearly feminist place that veers off into selfish babyman territory also known as men's rights activism (MRA).

In this BBC link,

Movember was mentioned, which I'd not considered as part of this MRA hysteria; it's an interesting point. The other complaints of men's rights activists that I already knew are discussed as well:  suicide, crime, boys under performing in school, losing custody cases, more likely to be victims of violence.

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Next, a great description of the hate groups in the MRA area:

"There's no waxing poetic on the joys of fatherhood, the majesty of a properly groomed beard, or the exquisite joy of scratching your own balls; it's all just variations of "fuck dem bitches" and "amiright!?" It's not an ideology, it's just them feeling bad about themselves and directing that hatred elsewhere ... which is exactly how a hate group works. And that's not just my opinion."

This article has a few good hyperlinks and book references, one being:

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified many of these groups as hate groups. You'll find that proponents like to talk about false rape being prevalent and a "fact" that women assault men as much or more than men assault women.

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This link goes into detail about a few MRA talking points we'll look at down the page - feminists hating men, women being hypocrites because of chivalry, rape is over reported, FGM is the same as circumcision, men are vilified in the media and several more.

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Various MRA have made news, this is only the most recent to make the news as he comes down from political controversy in Canada to make the rounds down here.

Here's the deal with that guy:

Basically he has a problem with using the correct pronouns for trans people and wants to use free speech to support his bigotry.

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On the controversy in my city:

MRA Peterson rented a place to speak and the city spoke against him and a debate about free speech ensued.

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This quote is talking about an MRA group spawned by Peterson's talks:

"One of their group’s main goals is “waking the police up” to female-perpetrated domestic violence, Mr. Trottier says."

Perpetually the victim, he thinks white privilege is a farce and enforced monogamy and sexual redistribution will stop mass shooters.

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Rather an optimistic and scholarly take - "Finding Common Ground: A Feminist Response to Men’s Rights Activism:"

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The zero sum mentality that sees women gaining and assuming themselves to be losing can overlap with white supremacy fears along the same lines. Maybe I posted before, but it is instructive that the alt right is attracted to this set of beliefs.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Confronting ones own prejudice

I heard a story today- The Moth is a wonderful hour if you can listen now and again. It's refreshingly devoid of political affiliation, so you can take a break from the dumpster fire that is our current political hellscape. It's about people and their stories and the things that shaped them. Better yet, this is people in their own words and voices.

Birth of A Nation - A coming of age story in a new African state as white domination recedes into the past.

The whole story is beautiful, but there was a part that was especially relevant to me as I've been interacting with more people about racism and sexism in the age of our Nectarine Nightmare (not my term). Certain things are ok because it's tradition (a racist school song, see Birth of a Nation above) or that's just the way boys talk (calling girls whores or rating them) or it was a successful cartoon, why should we think critically about this a decade later?

Petina Gappah found herself in a majority white school just after Zimbabwe won its independence. There is a painful irony in that as a kid who liked to sing loved the point in the day when they sang the school song because she wasn't being bullied or teased, she could just belt out this song she loved to sing. It turns out that the subject matter of the song was the colonization of her land, the takeover and theft and subjugation of her people and ends with the hope that they can do this again. So this is not a comfortable situation.

The teacher was confronted about the song and she had a very familiar reaction. She was indignant and adamant that she isn't a racist, she teaches black children after all. The song means nothing, it's only tradition, was her reply. You can use this logic on any racist or sexist statement. I've heard it. When 45 said "grab 'em by the pussy" he was defended because that's just locker room talk. Boys will be boys. It means nothing. Well, now. It means nothing if you're in the group who has the power and you're dishing out hate and not on the receiving end. No one should be the recipient of hate, but it has more sinister implications in furthering inequality when directed against the group who already has no power. 

Just because something's been that way a long time, doesn't mean we can't re-examine it in light of our own growth and understanding and push for change that makes life better for everyone collectively.

Monday, March 26, 2018

March For Our Lives. . .and objections

People had good things to say very creatively. I'm loving the signs. Arms are for hugging! Yes!!

And then there are the detractors who want to compare their right to gun ownership (free of any pesky regulations to defend the rest of our right to life and liberty) with their desire to control/ban the healthcare of women everywhere.

What's actually ironic is that they want zero regulation on guns, the high concentration of which increases the risk of women being killed and yet they want to ban an aspect of women's healthcare that impacts them not one whit and is absolutely none of their business and should only concern a woman and her doctor. Men are often the ones I see demanding abortion bans the most, yet they'll never ever know what pregnancy feels like, none of it, not the discomfort, pain, nausea, vomiting, fear, depression, extreme health risks and potential complications. They can tune out their partner's "complaints" or even just run away. Those are not options for women. Men have no right to make health decisions for women.

So this is a fun link that relates the two concepts there a bit better than those tired conservative memes:

What if Buying A Gun Were Like Getting An Abortion

Here's a satirical bill introduced in the TX legislature to compare obstacles to women's health to something men could possibly understand- being charged $100 for extra vaginal emissions. Well the state would get very rich if that were real!

And a better guide for how to deal with guns is how car crashes were dealt with. Crashes were phenomenally high so something had to be done. The issue was approached as a public health concern and car manufacturers had to be compelled to implement safety features to comply with laws to protect consumers and drivers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Educated by Tara Westover

I finished Educated in just a few days. I was reading two other books, but put them aside for a few days and blew through this one. I couldn't put it down.

It was brilliantly written and it's absolutely amazing to see someone go through everything she did, the violence and physical abuse, bad luck and bad choices of her parents and come out the other side not only just alive but succeeding and creating.

If you had a religious upbringing, as I did, you may find it hard to read for other reasons. It really hits at the core of those beliefs and makes you reexamine. One quote really hit me hard.

She's talking here about one of her brothers' regular abuse, both verbal (calling her names like whore) and physical in contrast to how another of her brothers made her feel:

Suddenly that worth felt conditional, like it could be taken or squandered. It was not inherent; it was bestowed. What was of worth was not me, but the veneer of constraints and observances that obscured me.

But this is really very likely a common feeling for women and maybe women "of faith" as I was. Purity and chastity are drilled into you at every opportunity. Don't wear spaghetti straps, they're immodest. Your skin might cause a brother to stumble (the implication being- and then, well, it's your fault). Don't go to dances, you aren't allowed to move your body that way or let boys touch you (again, your fault is implied). There's no real sex education, just DON'T. Until marriage. Godly men are supposed to marry a virgin, so don't have sex. Do they have to be a virgin? No one really cares, they are preparing to be providers, so any indiscretions we'll sweep under the rug. Girls who have sex though, they are marked, they have a past, they are impure. And you grew up with the story of how Adam and Eve sinned and they got tossed out of the garden and Adam paid by having to work for a living and Eve by pain in childbirth. So there you go, there's your family structure. Created flawed by God so he can punish you your entire earthly life. 

Add to this the doctrine that salvation is conditional (2Peter 2:10). It's a hot topic in the religious world. But I associated salvation and baptism with love an acceptance of my parents, peers and church - basically the sum of my little world. It's supposed to have implications in the next world after death, but it entirely defines your view and interactions on this planet as well. Be saved and enjoy love and acceptance of church family and blood family or don't and be considered a sinner, an object of pity and embarrassment only to be associated with if the mission is to bring you back.

What I learned was that my worth was entirely dependent upon my modesty, virginity and compliance with church beliefs. There's no room for inherent worth there. There's no unconditional love. On the contrary, I grew up hearing every other Sunday that other liberal churches taught TOO MUCH about God's love. We don't talk about the consequences of sin enough. We don't preach about hell enough. We should talk about the hard things, not just love and peace all the time. Too much love??? Who on earth gets too much love or hears too much about love? I wish I'd been brave enough to scream I NEED TO HEAR ABOUT LOVE. Instead, I listened to sermon after sermon about hell and disfellowshipping unbelievers in our midst and faithfulness and the consequences of failing, of false prophets coming to us in sheep's clothing. I worried incessantly about staying home sick, hoping that I wouldn't be accused of forsaking the assembly (Heb 10:25). I nervously read letters from the elders when they ejected a person from the congregation for some sin or another, knowing they could really mount a case against anyone and that person would be gone. How much or how little did one have to do to get one of these? Who knew. The elders are in charge and what they say is law. Don't breathe. 

I grew up knowing for certain that life is a balancing act and I was worth nothing inherently, my value was bestowed, as Westover observed. Bestowed by my creator? Sort of. Conditionally. If I was a faithful servant of God. Who judges that- my dad, the church elders, the church collectively? My worth is bestowed. I am defined by constraints I didn't choose- be "modest", don't dance, don't have sex, don't drink, don't be a liberal. Virginity, attending services three times a week, no instruments in worship- those are the things with value. As long as you value these things, you too can have value.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Tragedy in Parkland, FL


Photos above: School shooting inspired school letters going out around the country this week. How to talk to your kids about senseless violence (brought to you by toxic masculinity and our gun worshiping militarized society).


Another school shooting. I don't want to keep saying that. But here are the details:

The victims:

An action:

There is always a rash of calls for gun control or an assault weapon ban after a mass shooting. Liberals calling Congresspeople to account for their NRA money. All good things. Conservatives always responding with - wait a minute families need time to grieve and don't politicize these children's deaths. Of course we should be beating down the door of elected representatives and calling them to account and voting out those who prize guns over our lives and safety. We need laws. Thoughts and prayers don't make laws. Lawmakers make laws. Sometimes. Gun control is a very good thing, we should absolutely be talking about that after a shooting, but not the only issue. Also, mental health and health care are very good topics to talk about, but not as a convenient excuse for another white male abuser. The gun fetish and misogynistic culture along with white supremacist terrorism in America is a better place to start.

From Facebook:

Why is this happening to us?? 

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”
What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer

*****       *****      ***** 

Ultra Violet and others have been pointing this out for some time, that there are some very real correlations between gun violence and toxic masculinity. It's a welcome change from thoughts and prayers and the mental illness cop out. If mental illness were the driving force here, the statistics would look a bit different.

A thought and a prayer from Twitter:

After the Las Vegas shooting four months ago, it became popular to declare that that common condolence, thoughts and prayers, is not enough. This is still true and we need to call Congress again.

Also from Facebook:

But it is good to see a spotlight even if only journalistically on mass killings and domestic violence:

Of Course Florida School Shooter Was A Girl-Hating White Supremacist. Of Course I Am Tired Of Writing This Article.

Control and Fear: What Mass Killings and Domestic Violence Have in Common

My post on Facebook with accompanying links:

Along with guns, white supremacist violence is a problem no one (Congress, White House, FBI and police) wants to identify. Everyone wants to excuse the men who kill this way as a lone wolf or mentally ill, yet there are more telling patterns with these guys (white supremacy, domestic violence, basically toxic masculinity).

And Twitter with another reality check:

Aaand finally, just what are these gun rights that are so important they trump the lives of school fulls of children:

Monday, February 12, 2018

Urgent! This is true!

I am embarrassingly fascinated by these things- how they spread, who passes them on, how long they survive, what tactics they employ to compel a person.

Via messenger in the present, February 12, 2018:

In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked the Lord to spare the city if he could find 50 righteous people. God responded to Abraham's plea "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all ....Genesis 18:16-33The movie "Corpus Christi "is due to be released this June to August. It is a disgusting film set to appear in America later this year which depicts Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals! As a play, this has already been in theaters for a while. It's called "Corpus Christi" which means "The Body of Christ". It's a revolting mockery of our Lord. But we Christians can make a difference.That's why I am sending this e-mail to you. If you do send this around, we just might be able to prevent this film from being shown in Australia, Canada and America etc. Let's stand for what we believe and stop the mockery of Jesus Christ our Savior. Where do we stand as Christians? I am forwarding this to all I think will respect and appreciate being informed. Please help us prevent such offenses against our Lord. There is no petition to sign, no time limit, or minimum number of people to send this to.It will take you less than 2 minutes!If you are not interested and do not have the 2 minutes it will take to do this, please don't complain if God does not seem to have time for you. Imagine what would happen if this film were depicting Mohammad in the same way...the Islamic world would be in flames!!. Apparently, some regions in Europe have already successfully banned the film. All we need is a lot of prayer and a lot of E-mails.JUST GET THE WORD OUT!....Will God be able to find at least 50 righteous people who are willing to express their concern and voice their opinion against this act of blasphemy?

It is true... so please forward to everyone you know

*********     *********     *********

My usual source will give you the history. Conservatives tend not to like this site. OOh- has Snopes rated that - Conservatives don't believe Snopes' research? I should look that up- but for now:

Just on the surface, it's pretty funny. Or you could call them red flags. I love how there was no studio executive's address, no concrete film information or times, no state officials to address complaints to, no specific information really, just an exhortation to get angry or offended and email your friends. The premise is wonky, too- it seems like an odd position to take given that Christians are to show Jesus' attributes to others through actions, not by banning everything and trying to control their perception or trying to protect Jesus' reputation. Does he need that?

Also great is that it says "this is true" which you don't really say unless you know for a fact it's spurious to begin with. Another highlight is how they just moved it from the 90s email to messenger without updating the wording. I'm a little disappointed it didn't promise a wish for each person I forwarded it to - or predict my doom if I fail to act within 10 minutes of receiving it.

Before Googling the thing to see what was what, I started to think of the nature of the hypocritical request and Christianity and wrote this:

Seems like people should be more interested in giving and being kind and campaigning for peace instead of war- all the good things the Bible teaches in order to spread Christianity.. . Banning films and books (among other things, like abortion, alcohol and divorce) is both ineffective and impossible and doesn't teach people any of the good things you want people to know about Christ like peace or love or kindness towards your neighbor. I would think the Bible approach (rather than this urgent message to help ban a film) would be who cares what they think of you, you just live the Bible and the truth will prevail if he wills it. And if the truth doesn't prevail, you ran your race (2 Tim 4:7), turned the other cheek (Matt 5:38-40) and you'll be justified in the end with you eternal reward. The Bible, as I understand it, doesn't teach that you are to control everyone else's actions to be found faithful.

Also, this Christian tendency for knee jerk bans that appear to be a litmus test of faith reminds me of some Muslims trying to ban disrespect of Mohammed (there was a cartoon in Denmark?) or a dictator banning disrespect of himself. Book and film bans are impossible to police and an abysmally ineffective evangelism tool since bans usually give free people a goal or mission to unify around and fight for. If Christians start living the peace and love in the Bible, the Quakers do a pretty good job on that front, that would go farther in demonstrating the respect one needs to have for Jesus than just banning things and demanding respect be given arbitrarily.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Scene On: Seeing White - Episode 8 Skulls and Skin

Seeing White - Episode 8 Skulls and Skin
Several good book references are in this link, books by the authors/ experts he speaks with.

I'm also reading this collection of Steven J. Gould's natural history essays called Bully for Brontosaurus:

One the same day I hear this podcast, Skulls and Skin, I also read the essay Petrus Campers' Angle.

I originally thought they discussed Camper and Gould was somewhat dismissive of much culpability, saying he was a product of his time, so I was thinking- uh oh. But I'm going to sort out who the podcast talked about and where this guy I just read about fits in- and how I should feel about him. 

Petrus Camper- b.1722 in Leiden. Artist who became a professor of anatomy in 1755.

He was bothered that for the one traditionally black Magi in paintings (one of three was always black), they apparently used a European model and just painted them black and he wanted to see a more accurate representation. Skull measuring would help him understand this difference as well as why children weren't painted in their proper proportion either, so he measured young and old too. 

His facial angle is the beginning of craniometry and later became known as the father of scientific racism as his work was used as a springboard for bigots who wanted to use science to justify a conclusion they had already made up. He is problematic in that he assigned beauty to white Nordic types and Greek statues - I say arbitrarily- but of course it's because that's his in group. The image of the progression of beauty in the book is racist in that it has an ape with the lowest angle, then a black man, then a Greek statue as representing perfect beauty. Though his work and question he was answering weren't racist, he left the door open for those who wanted to to make some pretty wild claims. He was a monogenist though and stated that the skin color is not obtained through your genes, so he's got that going for him.


Now for these other guys mentioned in the podcast.

Samuel George Morton collected skulls from the 1830s- 1850s and considered the father of American physical anthropology. This is where I may have become confused. So many fathers. So this is the guy who was trying to prove the superiority of white people. Not to be confused with the guy who started measuring skulls. . .

Linnaeus (Sweden) is the father of taxonomy and he gave us the name homo sapiens in the mid 1700s. He described four types of humans.

Johan Friedrich Blumenbach (Germany) is the father of anthropology and named five types in the late 1700s. He gave us the term Caucasian because he thought people who looked like him were beautiful and also another arbitrary declaration of the supreme beauty of Georgian women, people of the Caucasus.