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Is Maureen Dowd necessary?
November 4, 2005 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Is Maureen Dowd necessary? Asks Katie Rolph (Slate). I'm not sure... but from a big article in the NY Times Magazine section last Sunday, to a spread in New York Magazine this week, all to support her new book release, she sure as hell seems to be everywhere these days. Rolph sums up Dowd pretty nicely, though:
... Dowd is extremely fond of clever stereotyping. But this strategy is better-suited to satirizing a real person (say, President Bush) than it is to offering insights into the already cartoonish "war" between the sexes. In Are Men Necessary? she gravitates toward quotes like this: "Deep down all men want the same thing: a virgin in a gingham dress," or "if there's one thing men fear it's a woman who uses her critical faculties..."
Her shallow insights are sometimes amusing in the context of 250 word op-ed, but a whole book, press junket and PR tour? The woman who suggests that oedipal conflict is at the root of current US foreign policy speaks out on feminism and culture, and we're supposed to care? Strangely enough, I do. I must be hypnotized by the red hair.
posted by psmealey (218 comments total)

 
I agree ps -- stereotyping is a terrible way to make her point. Rophie also thinks that Dowd could be bitter since she's 50 something and unmarried and Dowd feels her intelligence and high position might turn men off. I, as a man, think she's crazy right there. I personally like women with a brain who have sharp wits -- much like Dowd. And, to boot, she's not bad looking -- especially at 50+ -- either.

I want to know how picky Dowd is being. My sister, who voiced similar complaints to Dowd's and is in her 20s, finally got asked out by a boy -- a nice, cool kid who genuinely cared about her. They got along well, had great conversations, and things seemed to click -- except for the fact my sister thought she could do better looks-wise. So, he got dumped. I really wonder if Dowd ever explored that side of the equation. Perhaps she WANTS good looking men who love gingham dresses and have high powered corporate jobs to love women like her. Well, if that's so, she's fighting a lost fight. That world and that type of guy will never change as long as a supply of women exist to feed them -- and, that supply has been consistent for, well, forever.

So, yes, Dowd is really exposing her shallowness both in terms of personal preference and her ability to engage this difficult subject with any real, mature thought by her constant stereotyping and, I believe, her lack of true introspection.

This book, I take it, will be of solace to some women I guess but good feminist thought is rarely something akin to comfort food.
posted by narebuc at 5:24 AM on November 4, 2005


If Mo is so smart why is she wrong about, well, everything? She devotes her intelligence exclusively to being trendily fifteen minutes ahead of her time.
posted by jfuller at 5:31 AM on November 4, 2005


...and, nota bene, her time was ten or fifteen years back in the day.
posted by jfuller at 5:32 AM on November 4, 2005


And Dowd is just one letter away from being dowdy.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by willmize at 5:57 AM on November 4, 2005


One thing I had forgotten to link to was the highly amusing three-way (ahem) brawl playing out in the NY Papers between Andrew "the Shrew" Peyser, Maureen "Big Red" Dowd and Elizabeth "Miss Run Amok" Miller. Basically it ends up with them calling each other sluts. So much for modern feminism.
posted by psmealey at 6:06 AM on November 4, 2005


AndrewAndrea
posted by psmealey at 6:07 AM on November 4, 2005


Commentary on Maureen Dowd:-

Feminism's devolution from hoaxers to whores

"Whatever was wrong, men did it. During the past 30 years, they've been variously characterized as male chauvinist pigs, deadbeat dads or knuckle-dragging abusers who beat their wives on Super Bowl Sunday. At the same time women wanted men to be wage earners, they also wanted them to act like girlfriends: to time their contractions, feed and diaper the baby, and go antiquing.

And then, when whatshisname inevitably lapsed into guy-ness, women wanted him to disappear. If children were involved, women got custody and men got an invoice. The eradication of men and fathers from children's lives has been feminism's most despicable accomplishment. Half of all children will sleep tonight in a home where their father does not live."

posted by FieldingGoodney at 6:13 AM on November 4, 2005


I think her columns are kind of pithy, but I'd bang her over Ann Coulter any day. Rrrrroowwwf!
posted by fungible at 6:32 AM on November 4, 2005


She even has her own noun - she seems to be doing quite well.
posted by Eyebeams at 6:40 AM on November 4, 2005


She's an embarrassment to the NYT - just a left wing Ann Coulter. She has occasional gems by usually just drowns in hyperbole.
posted by caddis at 6:45 AM on November 4, 2005


Speaking on new books, Michelle "I hate darkies" Malangong/Malkin has a new screed out from, who else, Regnery Press.
When will Scaife finally deplete his billions financing these nuts? I bet he has a whole warehouse full of unsold Sean Hannity trash.
posted by nofundy at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2005


fungible writes "I think her columns are kind of pithy, but I'd bang her over Ann Coulter any day."

Sure, but then you'd have to be a bottom to want to sleep with Ann Coulter...

Feminism's become a frankly funny thing over the years. Now the prominent women we see are Ann Coulter (more of a "might makes right" anarchist in drag who only regrets that McVeigh didn't blow up the New York Times building), Condi "if the President wants this memo in 10 point type it's my job to give it to him in 10 point type" Rice (someone hopelessly out of her depth in a role that requires diplomacy) and Michelle "intern my brains out" Malkin.

It practically makes a man miss Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem.
posted by clevershark at 6:49 AM on November 4, 2005


caddis writes "She's an embarrassment to the NYT"

With the NYT what it is today, one has to wonder if the embarassment relationship isn't in fact a two-way street.
posted by clevershark at 6:50 AM on November 4, 2005


From FieldingGoodney's article:

"More likely they've [Men] turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men."

Holy Shit. I have never heard it put in more succinct terms.
Bravo.

I happen to deplore most women who tout themselves as feminists for just this reason.
I am sick of being the target of their anger.
For the record I am happily married with a terrific, smart, successful woman who makes a hell of a lot more money than I do, but I love her for her intelligence, personality, and Kindness. She is not angry and judgmental, and that makes all the difference.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 6:55 AM on November 4, 2005


She's no Ann Coulter, as she's known to go after her own side and hasn't ever expressed anything remotely close to Coulter's entreaties that her political foes die by terrorist or mob violence.

And I can't help but think that if Dowd were a man. it'd be much less trendy to hate her -- she'd be another David Brooks.

That said I wasn't blown away by her piece on love.
posted by johngoren at 6:57 AM on November 4, 2005


Well, I think she's great. Often better in person than on the page. I think her insights about the Bush dynasty are particularly spot-on.
posted by surferboy at 6:58 AM on November 4, 2005


Dowd's book is inflammatory and amusing, and will be popular for all of the same reasons that you and I read Metafilter.

(despite the fact that she is undoubtedly wrong)
posted by afroblanca at 6:59 AM on November 4, 2005


what's embarrassing is that nobody seems to be able to get Katie Roiphe's name straight, despite her infamy.

a more important question is whether an anti-feminist rape apologist like Roiphe is necessary, since there are so many frat boys who thought of the "date rape is no big deal" thing before she did.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:00 AM on November 4, 2005


Matt Drudge's Maureen Dowd photo caption contest.
posted by LarryC at 7:01 AM on November 4, 2005


Women: still making less than men, increasingly losing control over their own bodies in the US, but come on, don't be angry! Be kind!

Dowd seems to be abusing the stereotypes, but metafilter isn't doing much better in this thread.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:02 AM on November 4, 2005


I read the excerpt in the times. Pure shit and drivel that sounded like a sophomoric effort straight from the pages of a second-rate women's mag. A re-hash of the same tired out polemics and stereotypes about men and women drawn out over many painful pages.
posted by docpops at 7:08 AM on November 4, 2005


maureen dowd?

is that one of those ny times writers i have to pay to read?
posted by bliss322 at 7:08 AM on November 4, 2005


For the record I am happily married with a terrific, smart, successful woman who makes a hell of a lot more money than I do, but I love her for her intelligence, personality, and Kindness.

Very touching TheFeatheredMullet. But why can't you love your wife for being smart and making more money than you? It sounds like you love her in spite of that.
posted by three blind mice at 7:13 AM on November 4, 2005


Thanks, Hot Maui. That's an excellent point. I wasn't thinking of who Katie Roiphe was when I posted her piece (and the name misspelling was just carelessness on my part).
posted by psmealey at 7:18 AM on November 4, 2005


I happen to deplore most women who tout themselves as feminists for just this reason.

And I happen to deplore men who tell me that as a feminist I must, by definition hate them and be a judgemental hypocrite.

It's a funny thing. I'm a feminist, and, in the politicial activist circles I run in, I know a great many fellow feminists. And while I won't deny that examples of the male-hostile mindset exist, for the most part I encounter that stereotype as a straw man myth explaining why we feminists should just shut up and go away.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:20 AM on November 4, 2005


Hear hear, Karmakaze!
posted by agregoli at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2005


It's a funny thing. I'm a feminist, and, in the politicial activist circles I run in, I know a great many fellow feminists. And while I won't deny that examples of the male-hostile mindset exist, for the most part I encounter that stereotype as a straw man myth explaining why we feminists should just shut up and go away.

Ahem, I think you mean straw person ...
posted by ozomatli at 7:39 AM on November 4, 2005


From the unfortunate conclusion to the article linked by FieldingGoodney:

"As even feminist matriarch Betty Friedan eventually noted, feminism failed to recognize that even smart, successful women also want to be mothers. It's called Nature. Social engineering can no more change that fact than mechanical engineering can change the laws of physics...

...something vital and poignant happens when one's own interests become secondary to the more compelling needs of children.

You grow up. In the process of sacrificing your infant-self for the real baby, you stop obsessing and fixating on the looking glass. Instead, you focus your energies on trying to raise healthy boys and girls to become smart, successful men and women."


This fails to bring up the complicated issue of why people often want children, choosing instead to attribute it to "Nature" (note the capital "N") -- No, no, the process is "Natural" because it's how we've always done things...socialization can't have anything to do with it, and it certainly can't be oppressive! -- This is perhaps the most willfully ignorant view of the politics of reproduction I have ever seen expressed.

I don't have any love for Dowd, but that doesn't mean her detractors are right. Too often, they dislike Dowd for all the wrong reasons.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:41 AM on November 4, 2005


Rehashing that tired old canard, Hildegarde?
posted by Kwantsar at 7:41 AM on November 4, 2005


Very touching TheFeatheredMullet. But why can't you love your wife for being smart and making more money than you? It sounds like you love her in spite of that.

Paralysis by analysis, my friend.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:42 AM on November 4, 2005


Rehashing that tired old canard, Hildegarde?

yeah, that independent women's forum is a truly great resource for women who "...believe in individual freedom and personal responsibility," as they put it. replete with a quote from lesbian porn novelist lynne cheney right at the top of the page.

but i prefer the no-nonsense approach of the gals over at Ladies Against Women. no lily-livered pussyfootin' goin' on there!
posted by Hat Maui at 7:57 AM on November 4, 2005


First of all, Dowd's shallow NYT columns are best compared to David Brooks', not Ann Coulter's. Brooks and Dowd are truly the dueling bozos of the NYT Op-Ed page.

That said, Maureen Dowd is attractive, witty, and has had no shortage of boyfriends. I have a feeling that her frustrations in finding a mate come from problems in her own personality, and she's just trying to blame "men" and "the culture" rather than looking inside herself. Any discussion of Maureen Dowd inevitably yields plenty of liberal men who say stuff like, "I would date her!" My guess is that a romantic relationship with Maureen Dowd sounds better in theory than in practice.

Yes, yes, I realize that when I'm single and alone at 60, I will rue the day I blamed Dowd's personality problems for her singledom.
posted by deanc at 8:01 AM on November 4, 2005


I really hope she doesn't get a pass from the critics for this drivel:

"Deep down all men want the same thing: a virgin in a gingham dress,"

Imagine what the result would be if Robert Bly said:

"Deep down all women want the same thing: a big c**k that comes with an even bigger bank account...."
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 8:01 AM on November 4, 2005


From the first link:

Much of what Dowd observes in the piece is true—the nostalgic passion for the 1950s, the increasing number of educated women opting to be housewives or change their names when they marry, the success of books like The Rules. And yet, somehow, the alarmist portrait she draws of female life feels skewed.

Ah I see. Much of what she observes is true, but it feels wrong. Hokey-dokey.

Frankly after reading the comments here, my eyes have rolled so far back in my head, I'm having trouble using my keypad.

the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men."

Holy Shit. I have never heard it put in more succinct terms.
Bravo.

I happen to deplore most women who tout themselves as feminists for just this reason.


Sigh. Whatever. I'm too tired to answer this drivel. Feminists=man haters because of course women can only be defined by their relationship to men.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:02 AM on November 4, 2005


Three blind mice:
"Very touching TheFeatheredMullet. But why can't you love your wife for being smart and making more money than you? It sounds like you love her in spite of that."

Excellent point, and I am not going to try and counter it. You are sorta correct....
I do love her in SPITE of her intelligence and successfulness. I love her because she is much more than that. What I am trying to convey here is that those are NOT the sum total of the qualities that I love about her. They are just a small part of a greater whole.
My wife would probably call herself a feminist when pressed, but what I admire about her is that she is above the anger and resentment that seems to be attached to many of the women who would classify themselves as feminists.
As a man, I have no problem with feminism, and in fact think that it has been a positive contributor to our development as a culture.
What I dislike about it is the fact that many of the women of my generation who have the same educational and job options that I do, seem to think that feminism gives them a historical excuse for anger/confrontation and hatred of men. Though they have not been wronged themselves, they proceed to lecture me at great lengths about what a horrible society men have created, and how all these negative male qualities are responsible for the suffering and inequality in the world. So much anger.... So much bad karma....
Men do not hate you because you are successful, Smart, or because you think for yourself. They hate you because you are angry and accusatory. It is a natural human reaction to someone who believes that you are inherently evil and oppressive, and that your innate qualities must be eliminated from our culture.

Flame away. : )
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 8:07 AM on November 4, 2005


You're not worth flaming.

And if that's the kind of nuanced historic insight you're bringing to the table, I don't think it's your "innate maleness" that these people are objecting to.
posted by occhiblu at 8:10 AM on November 4, 2005


I want to know how picky Dowd is being.

Seconded.

I've got a friend. Extremely smart woman. Very successful freelance writer. Makes enough of a living at it to own an apartment in Manhattan. Her friends are similar over-achievers. All ivy league/jewish intellectual types.

So i've known her and her friends for more than ten years -- ie, the period between 30 and 40, and this thing about the lack of men has been a continuous refrain for all of them.

As smart, successful women, they believe they are entitled to smart, successful men. However, they also believe that men with a similar status to their own just aren't interested in women like them. According to them, the men want models. They don't care if a woman is dumb as a post, as long as she's young and hot.

But, given that these women all have high standards of their own, it seems pretty reasonable to me that the men should be allowed to have their own standards. What these women don't like is that the men they want have standards that they don't meet. But I'm pretty sure that 95% of the men in Manhattan wouldn't reach the standards of these women either. If you aren't smart and of high status, don't bother applying.

And like your sister, they all suffer from that syndrome of believing that there's somebody better just around the corner, so why 'settle' when your 'ideal man' (ie, someone with better looks/intelligence/status) may be just around the corner?

Also, all of these women (my friends, I mean. I'm not extrapolating to all Manhattan women of a certain class because my sample size is very limited) are more neurotic than a box of frogs, so any poor sap who does end up with one of these women certainly has his work cut out for him in the future.

And if women are going into relationships with the notion that they can 'trade up' when something better comes along, they can hardly complain that men eventually trade in their sagging old bodies for a newer, sleeker moder with better upholstery.

Sauce for the goose, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:10 AM on November 4, 2005


Though they have not been wronged themselves

I take it you took full stock of these women's experiences. Perhaps you should consider some sexual assault statistics before you start talking about who does and does not have a right to be angry about something.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:12 AM on November 4, 2005


What, FieldingGoodney, we're quoting Townhall now? What's next, LGF?

I don't see Dowd as "representative" of feminism; she lives in a very exclusive bubble of class and privilege, on top of being behind the times when it comes to gender relations, and that has a lot to do with her inability to understand what feminism is or has accomplished.

Ann Coulter has nothing to do with feminism; since the beginning of women's rights movements, there have always been anti-women's rights women trotted out to give speeches about how awful it is to want equality. Coulter is just a particularly nutty/hate-filled variant.

Patriarchy privileges men, but it is also bad for them, in that it characterizes them as brutes, morons, and/or sex-crazed assholes. Men in patriarchal societies might actually be living shorter lives. And while some feminists are extremely angry, feminism as a whole has never been about hating men. And if you meet a woman who calls herself a feminist, and don't like her or find her tiresome, fine. Every movement has its assholes. Don't make that your excuse for disliking feminism itself.

Normally I wouldn't bother to post such (to me) obvious things, but once we started dragging out Townhall and "man-hating" etc., it seemed necessary...
posted by emjaybee at 8:14 AM on November 4, 2005


Men do not hate you because you are successful, Smart, or because you think for yourself.

Unfortunately, some do. * Which is why so many successful businesswomen are described as "bitches" for behavior that would be referred to as "assertive" or "hard-driving" or some such other positive appellation if it were attributed to a male executive.

* not me
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:15 AM on November 4, 2005


Secret Life of Gravy:
"Sigh. Whatever. I'm too tired to answer this drivel. Feminists=man haters because of course women can only be defined by their relationship to men."

Sigh....
Whatever. I am too tired to debate the issue with people who have nothing constructive to add to a discussion.
Did you read my post? Nowhere in it do I claim that a woman should define herself in relation to me.
Quite frankly I think it would be pathetic if they did.

This question is not a snark...
Could you explain the logic of the sentence that I quoted from you. I honestly do not understand the relationship between women being man haters BECAUSE they are defined by there relationship with men. The two do not seem at all related in my mind.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 8:17 AM on November 4, 2005


Your claim that all feminists hate men brought it on. Feminism is not about setting women up in opposition to men, or in any relation to men at all. It is about letting women define themselves. Any statement that relates it exclusively to the male-female relationship is a distortion, and ignores the goals inherent in the cause -- that is, not defining women by their relationship to men.
posted by occhiblu at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2005


You know, I was wondering how long it would take for this discussion to stop being about Dowd and start being about Feminism in general. I usually stay out of these discussions, as they are generally unrewarding. However, I am in an odd mood today, and will weigh in with my two cents.

Feminism, good : Feminism is good in the actual concrete advances that it has made. Women can get better jobs now, and in general have more opportunities and self-determination then they ever have. Women can now leave abusive husbands and bad relationships without (as much) fear of becoming poor and destitute. I'm not going to pretend that they get the same privileges as men, and I'm not going to say that the work is done- it isn't, and not by a long shot. However, it's a start.

Feminism, bad : People (on both sides of the argument) think that feminism has changed or should change the way that men and women fundamentally think of and treat one another. These opinions are unrealistic, and often reflect more on the opinion-holder then on society itself. Do you really think that 30 years is enough time to change modes of thinking that have been entrenched in the human psyche for thousands of years? If so, please respond to this comment. I would like to hear your opinion.

In other words, I think that it's good for women to be able to do what they want, but I think it's unrealistic to assume that culture/society will change drastically in a short period of time. If anything, I think that feminism's main positive contribution is that less women are being victimized by circumstance, which is good in and of itself.
posted by afroblanca at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2005


The world could use a hell of a lot more of the qualities that true feminism brings.
A matriarchal society is one I could live with.
posted by nofundy at 8:47 AM on November 4, 2005


"Celebrity distorts democracy by giving the rich, beautiful, and famous more authority than they deserve."

- Maureen Dowd

This may be one of her central theses, and though it may be a little obvious, she certainly proves it over and over in her columns. And boy, can that woman write. She is most definitely the Queen of the Beltway Borscht Circuit.

OK, back to the thread about whether or not feminists are man-haters. (Jeez.)
posted by kozad at 8:51 AM on November 4, 2005


Ezra Klein's smackdown:
The Judy Miller of Love

More bad news for the Dowd hypothesis -- even the few facts it does deign to include are flagrantly wrong:
Sociologist Valerie Oppenheimer of University of California, Berkeley reports that today men are choosing as mates women who have completed their education. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to marry. Unlike the single University of California, Los Angeles study, this finding comes from an analysis of 80 peer-reviewed studies.
As for Dowd's repeated invocation of the famous study showing the higher a woman's IQ, the less likely her eventual marriage, well:

Neither Dowd nor the Atlantic bothered to mention--apparently they did not know--that the data were gathered from men and women born in 1921; the women are all now in their 80s.

Should a study of octogenarian women be taken as a guide for today's young people? No.[...]

From 36 to 40, high achievers are more likely to be married and have kids than other female workers, but they marry later than other women.
Boushey found that women between the ages of 28 and 35 who work full time and earn more than $55,000 a year or have a graduate or professional degree are just as likely to be successfully married as
other working women.
And it doesn't stop there, Dowd cherrypicked statistics, used bad data, and ignored reams of contrary evidence.  In other words, her opus was the dating equivalent of the Iraq War -- an embarassing disaster sold on the basis of manipulated data and ignored evidence.  She's the Judy Miller of cultural reporting, the only question is how long it'll be before Keller offers yet another mea culpa.
posted by Aknaton at 8:58 AM on November 4, 2005


In other words, I think that it's good for women to be able to do what they want, but I think it's unrealistic to assume that culture/society will change drastically in a short period of time.

There are so many rights we have now that we didn't just forty or fifty years ago. The world can definitely change.
posted by xammerboy at 8:59 AM on November 4, 2005


Who?


I love smart, sharp, independant women. They seem to love me too. I married one. She's more successful, smarter than I am (although I'm more creative), more on the ball, etc. That she is capable is just one of the many many things I love about her.

I suppose it takes a while to become sexually and emotionally secure and respect it, even seek it, in others.

It's not the feminists, otherwise they'd write me off as a macho pig (not far off the mark) in the first few minutes of conversation. I am gallant, I am old school, I open doors, but that is simple courtesy, women's equality is perfectly natural to me. And after those few minutes of conversation it's obvious that although I am a large threatening otherwise dangerous individual I'd castrate and evicerate myself before I'd lay hands on a woman.

It's often the psychosexual stuff that gets in the way.
Lesbians, for example, seem to hate me. It's anecdotal of course, but every lesbian I've met hates my guts.
I suspect the reason is those very stereotypes that society reinforces.

The feminist debate - if it can be called such - is as hackneyed as the one between ex-christian athiests and anyone positing a position on the existance of God:

"How could Jesus walk on water? Surface tension couldn't..."
"I'm not a Christian."
"See, because God couldn't create the Earth in seven days..."
"Yeah, I'm not a Christian."
"Can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?"
"I don't believe in an anthropomorphic deity"
"There's no way Jesus..." Etc.


Small minded men lash out at women for being "bitches" and the like because they are threatened. They would no doubt act similarly towards a minority e.g. a black man is only where he is because of affirmative action, etc.

I would argue the term “nigger” is far more loaded than “bitch,” and so there should be attention paid to this less obvious form of discrimination.
I believe the anger and frustration on the part of (some in) the women’s movement is justified, but that does not justify the use of inflamatory speech.
On the other hand, perhaps women need a Malcolm X rather than an MLK. What’s justified is not always what is necessary.


Or perhaps she needs a pooka called Harvey.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:00 AM on November 4, 2005


"Celebrity distorts democracy by giving the rich, beautiful, and famous more authority than they deserve."
posted by kozad at 8:51 AM PST on November 4 [!]


Good lord kozad, she sounds like an old-school conservative.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:03 AM on November 4, 2005


There are so many rights we have now that we didn't just forty or fifty years ago. The world can definitely change.

As you can see in my comment, I agree that women have far more rights then ever before. However, I don't think that society and culture have changed very much. Do you think that men and women really think of each other very differently then they did a half-century ago?
posted by afroblanca at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2005


Patriarchy privileges men, but it is also bad for them, in that it characterizes them as brutes, morons, and/or sex-crazed assholes. Men in patriarchal societies might actually be living shorter lives. And while some feminists are extremely angry, feminism as a whole has never been about hating men. And if you meet a woman who calls herself a feminist, and don't like her or find her tiresome, fine. Every movement has its assholes. Don't make that your excuse for disliking feminism itself.

I'm a man, but I must be missing out on all those clandestine meetings. What do you mean by patriarchy? I thought most homes these days have women as the head of the house. You probably don't realise how tiresome it is for many men to be forced under the umbrella term "The Patriarchy", especially after 40+ years of feminism.

As for feminism's meaning - it has become nebulous - it's whatever you want it to be. If anything, it's about championing women's causes whether they create parity between the sexes or actually put women at an advantage over men.

The reaction by some proponents of feminism isn't surprising - put-downs/dismissals without actually responding with any substance. It's funny how feminism doesn't hold up to much scrutiny without debate being closed down.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:06 AM on November 4, 2005


Mullet: I happen to deplore most women who tout themselves as feminists for just this reason.
I am sick of being the target of their anger.


Where do you find all these angry man-hating feminists? I don't think that I've ever met one. I've known many woman who are self-described feminists, (family members, friends, girlfriends, wives, etc) and I've never seen this anger or blaming once. Snarky remarks and eye-rolling over basic Y-chromosome related behavior but anger? Unless the woman that you have met are greatly different than the ones that I've met, I think that you are just repeating boring old stereotypes about the "angry feminist."
posted by octothorpe at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2005


I met one angry feminist once, in college....

Are there pockets of them across the country? Because all the feminists I know (including all my guy friends) aren't angry or man-hating. They simply feel women should be treated as equals with men.
posted by agregoli at 9:20 AM on November 4, 2005


>I thought most homes these days have women as the head of the house.

And yet, not head of the boardroom, or the government, or...

"Women have achieved superiority in the home" is hardly an argument against the idea that men are still ruling the country. And no one I know claims that patriarchal society requires some conspiracy or planning by men -- it just means that men are in the positions of power in that society.
posted by occhiblu at 9:21 AM on November 4, 2005


And yet, not head of the boardroom, or the government, or...


Ummmmmmmmm, and so that is true for 99.99% of men too.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:22 AM on November 4, 2005


FieldingGoodney, that isn't the point - the people who get these positions are still almost always male.
posted by agregoli at 9:24 AM on November 4, 2005


The number of men in these power positions is greatly higher than the number of women in these positions.

That the majority of people, regardless of gender, are not in these positions doesn't make any difference.

How am I the one responding "without any substance" here?
posted by occhiblu at 9:25 AM on November 4, 2005


What do you mean by patriarchy?

Some examples:

Number of women currently serving as US Senators: 14
Total number of US Senators: 100

Number of women currently serving as House Reps: 69
Total number of US House Reps: 435

Ratio of men to women in the US: around 97 to 100

The facts should speak for themselves, so I won't bother explaining them.


As for feminism's meaning - it has become nebulous - it's whatever you want it to be.

Here I think you are on the verge of an interesting point. If the articles posted in this FPP and thread have illustrated anything, they have illustrated that "feminism" as a monolithic movement is nonexistent. This does not mean that various feminisms should be dismissed out of hand, it just means that they no longer form a single target to be dismissed with a flippant wave of the hand; the nuances present in each demand nuanced criticism (which is most frequently provided by other feminists, unsurprisingly).
posted by voltairemodern at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2005


What do you mean by patriarchy?

Oh dear god. Is this women's studies 101? Can you not to a little self-educating? Read Feminism for beginners and Domination and the Arts of Resistance and get back to us.

It's funny how feminism doesn't hold up to much scrutiny without debate being closed down.

If you're starting with "what is patriarchy", you can't have been in too many debates about feminism. No offense meant, but maybe these debates "closed down" because you couldn't understand the terms being employed?
posted by Hildegarde at 9:27 AM on November 4, 2005


FieldingGoodney, that isn't the point - the people who get these positions are still almost always male.

You miss my point agregoli - if we live in a patriarchy, surely it is males who will benefit universally. Or is there more to it than that? Like - who you know, what college you went to, how you look, which person you did a favour for etc. If other factors come into it, then it's time to ditch the word "patriarchy" for something more nuanced.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:29 AM on November 4, 2005


It may well be that a lot of anti-feminist sentiment comes from a very limited number of bad experiences where a man did have to deal with the sort of stereotypical "man-hating feminist" that inevitably becomes the subject of attention in these sorts of threads.

I had a college course with a guest lecturer that unfortunately turned out like that -- there was a pretty clear pattern of discrimination in the marking scheme between men and women, and one also noticed that the only men ever to attend that lecturer's courses were first-year students who really had no means to know better. And college being what it is nowadays (or, more exactly, 13-15 years ago) there was absolutely no recourse to be had short of dropping the course and losing your tuition money. In the end you bit the bullet, took the bad grade, and made sure to warn other male students to stay the hell away from the lecturer in question.
posted by clevershark at 9:31 AM on November 4, 2005


I think there's also a sense that one of feminism's main goals has been to given women choices -- whether to stay home or work, whether to marry, whether to have kids, etc. And younger feminists are taking that idea and actually applying it to their lives, and I keep seeing older feminists (like Dowd) sputtering, "But.... but... they're not choosing what *I* would choose!" and declaring it the Death of the Feminist Movement, or some failure of society.

The thing is, I think women (and men) should be free to design their own lives, but you can't necessarily expect everyone around you to be totally OK with those choices. And I think feminists are hitting up against that fact now in many ways.
posted by occhiblu at 9:31 AM on November 4, 2005


agregoli writes "FieldingGoodney, that isn't the point - the people who get these positions are still almost always male."

But they're hardly representatives of males in general, are they? Frankly you don't see too many minorities holding down CEO and Chairman posts in North America either.
posted by clevershark at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2005


Number of women currently serving as US Senators: 14
Total number of US Senators: 100

Number of women currently serving as House Reps: 69
Total number of US House Reps: 435


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe US citizens vote for who they want in their government? Do you have any evidence that proves women are stopped from running for these positions? Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe female voters outnumber male voters in the US - you get who you vote for.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2005


>You miss my point agregoli - if we live in a patriarchy, surely it is males who will benefit universally.

They do. Women earn less money than men in similar positions. Men can run for President without shocking the nation. Half of those elite institutions you mention didn't even let women into their libraries until the 70s. Are you seriously arguing that men are somehow disadvantaged in America today?
posted by occhiblu at 9:34 AM on November 4, 2005


The strange thing is that even Dowd's anecdotal evidence seems weak to me.

Most of the very successful men I know are married to women who are both plain-looking and well-educated. If there's a representative figure of how high-status men partner with women, it's as least as likely to be former Sen. John Edwards as it is some executive with a 20-years-younger trophy wife.

If there's any common factor in the left-behind women Dowd claims to speak for, it's not that they're smart, but that they're stupid: grossly unrealistic about men and in appraising their own charm, attractiveness and biological clock.
posted by MattD at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2005


>Frankly you don't see too many minorities holding down CEO and Chairman posts in North America either.

Yes, well, we're still working on that racism problem in this country, too. One doesn't exclude the other.

MattD, yeah, I definitely get a very DC/NYC vibe from Dowd's anecdotes. Everyone I met in DC was hugely status conscious -- that's what drove me out of the city. Extrapolating the behavior of high-powered people in DC to the rest of the nation seems iffy to me.
posted by occhiblu at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2005


Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe female voters outnumber male voters in the US - you get who you vote for.

Your point? Do you think all women think the same way, and that all women's ideas are good? Women have been holding women back for a very long time. That's why it's called a patriarchy, dude, rather than just 'men fucking women over'. Hegemonic patriarchy, at that.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:41 AM on November 4, 2005


If you're starting with "what is patriarchy", you can't have been in too many debates about feminism. No offense meant, but maybe these debates "closed down" because you couldn't understand the terms being employed?

Hildegarde, I was referring to emjaybee's comment up-thread. Discussing what certain terms mean to people is important in understanding their point of view. Call me heavy-handed, but I like to know what people mean when they use certain words.

In terms of debates descending into frothing chaos, one thing I found many feminists couldn't abide: discussing men's issues in relation to equality of the sexes - it's almost like to do so is to attempt to steal the mantle of victimhood from women.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2005


Smedleyman: I would argue the term “nigger” is far more loaded than “bitch,” and so there should be attention paid to this less obvious form of discrimination.

Having been called both, I would disagree pretty vehemently. As far as I have seen in my own life, race is often mitigated by class; sex, not so much.

occhiblu: The thing is, I think women (and men) should be free to design their own lives, but you can't necessarily expect everyone around you to be totally OK with those choices. And I think feminists are hitting up against that fact now in many ways.

That's probably the most cogent thing said yet. Just wanted to repeat it.

Regarding the Dowd piece from the magazine section, the one thing that very much annoyed me was her linking affection for the aesthetics of the fifties with retrogressive thought. I love big skirts, but I don't even believe in marriage, must less year for it. Plenty of feminists I know knit. It's little but it really bugged me.
posted by dame at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2005


I think her columns are kind of pithy, but I'd bang her over Ann Coulter any day.

yeesh, sorry to quote this again, but here's a fun experiment for everyone: think for a second and get a clear sense of what the word pithy means to you. now look it up. how many were sure the definition should be the exact opposite? (I'm assuming this is common b/c I see the quoted usage everywhere)

bonus: repeat with empathy and sympathy.
posted by Treeline at 9:55 AM on November 4, 2005


discussing men's issues in relation to equality of the sexes - it's almost like to do so is to attempt to steal the mantle of victimhood from women.

Just from seeing a few of your comments, I can tell you what gets feminists would get upset with you: your total inability to talk about women's issues in a feminist context. The fact that you want to snag the moment to talk more about poor white men and reject any notion that there might be inequality in the world would make some pretty frothy, I imagine.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:55 AM on November 4, 2005


Fielding Goodney: In terms of debates descending into frothing chaos, one thing I found many feminists couldn't abide: discussing men's issues in relation to equality of the sexes - it's almost like to do so is to attempt to steal the mantle of victimhood from women.

I think this is one of those cases where contex--who and how--really makes a difference. If you bring it up in a way that seems to want to totally refocus the conversation on men, then I think the reaction is understandably poor--especially if you have already established yourself as hostile to feminism. However, I have seen it brought up by women and men who are very feminist and it has been received well, most often in the case of discussing the inherent limits of gender stereotypes (eg, how a good stereotype (men are always competent) can be as limiting as a bad one (women never are).
posted by dame at 9:57 AM on November 4, 2005


>In terms of debates descending into frothing chaos, one thing I found many feminists couldn't abide: discussing men's issues in relation to equality of the sexes

And yet, *I* often do.

You're coming across very strongly as someone who's making huge generalizations from a very small sample set, and you're bringing in arguments you've had elsewhere as if the people here are making them. You don't seem to be responding to us, many of whom are claiming to be feminists, but instead keep falling back on stereotypes and half-remembered conversations.

If you want to know how feminists behave, and think, then... listen to some of us and stop telling us how we think.
posted by occhiblu at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2005


>You miss my point agregoli - if we live in a patriarchy, surely it is males who will benefit universally.

They do.


I guess it depends on what you look at. I can put another spin on it:-

- Longevity (women live longer)
- Gender specific diseases (women's diseases get far more publicity and funding)
- Divorce settlements (women are far more likely to win custody of children and gain more financially)
- prison sentences (men more likely to have longer sentence than women for the same crime)

My main point: you see how quickly feminism can create a men V women "gender war" (see my original link), a bit like two different races suffering from different forms of racism, but instead of both tackling racism as a whole, one race has the ownership of victimhood so the other race has no grounds for complaints. My view is simple: both men and women suffer from sexism, just in different ways. You can paint one as the "bigger" victim, depending on your way of looking at things. Who cares? Better to recognise sexism when you see it, regardless of the victim's sex.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2005


NO ONE HERE is arguing otherwise.
posted by occhiblu at 10:00 AM on November 4, 2005


Damn. If only Viagra were covered by medicare. Poor, poor men.

You're so right, FG. *twirls hair, giggles* That feminism stuff sure is silly.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:03 AM on November 4, 2005


Just from seeing a few of your comments, I can tell you what gets feminists would get upset with you: your total inability to talk about women's issues in a feminist context.

Believe it or not, some definitions of feminism (such as the dictionary definition) actually relate to the equality of the sexes - meaning both sexes gaining parity in all areas of life. Think about that for a moment.

Hildegarde, that's what I believe in. It's no big deal. I believe in equality - that means all areas of life. I don't see what you have to disagree about, unless you want a senseless argument of which sex is the "bigger victim" - to which I couldn't care less what anyone's opinion is.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 10:04 AM on November 4, 2005


You think you believe in equality. But since you've told us so much about what we think, I'll turn this around for you: you're part of the problem.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2005


Do you think that men and women really think of each other very differently then they did a half-century ago?

Oh. Good Lord, yes. That should be obvious. My wife is my business partner. She negotiates 100K dollar contracts with CEO's - and these men rarely prejudice this because of gender. Perhaps in other ways. But she is seen as an equal more often than not on the business front. I think that kind of attitude was exceedingly rare 50 years ago.

But as others have pointed out there are things you can't change... or can't change easily. Dynamics with roots very deep in our biology.

On Doud. I think she is funny and less shrill that others on the topic of gender power relations. But not especially insightful.

Her idea that men want virgins? Utter cark. She is projecting on how she secretly wants to be seen by men.

Virgin? No way. Give me a woman who knows what she wants and understands the locations of the neurotransmitters that will get her there. A woman unashamed to loan me the map.
posted by tkchrist at 10:18 AM on November 4, 2005


I think a lot of the problem is indeed the many varied definitions of what feminism is. Is it about the equality of the sexes? I belive many feminists think so, but the underlying philosophy of feminist theory is that ALL in equality (sexism, racism, classism...) is attributable to a patriarchal society. I agree that there shouyld be more equality between the sexes, but I cannot as of now totally agree that ALL forms of inequality are based on a patriachal setup.
posted by ozomatli at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2005


I have issues with FG's position and outlook but I'd suggest that the point at which we lump well-meaning but misguided people in with real haters/opressors as 'the problem' is the point at which we harm our ability to make the world better.

If I am fighting a war I would like people to take up arms and fight on my side. However barring I'd rather that those who want to sit on their hands at home and do nothing continue to do so rather than join my enemy.
posted by phearlez at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2005


Where are the serious feminist thinkers? Dowd's drivel meets a need that's why there's a demand for it. People attacking Dowd are missing the point; she's the symptom, not the problem.
posted by nixerman at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2005


When will Scaife finally deplete his billions financing these nuts?

I'm sure he has tons of preffered stock in Halliburton and ExxonMobil, so the answer is never. It's a full circle patronage that no Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman will be able to break with their hollow words. We need action, we need a popular worldwide revolution. Their whole goal is to keep the middle class and poor fighting between ourselves while they rape us of our wealth.
posted by any major dude at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2005


You think you believe in equality. But since you've told us so much about what we think.....

Well, the irony in that comment made me smile...... :D
posted by FieldingGoodney at 10:38 AM on November 4, 2005


Smedleyman: I would argue the term “nigger” is far more loaded than “bitch,” and so there should be attention paid to this less obvious form of discrimination.

“Having been called both, I would disagree pretty vehemently. As far as I have seen in my own life, race is often mitigated by class; sex, not so much.
“posted by dame at 9:49 AM PST on November 4 [!]

You’re probably reading/responding to a lot dame, so I won’t hand you the usual shit I pile on people who don’t read carefully.

Yes, racism tends to be a more blunt, overt instrument. Sexism tends to be more (subconsciously) acceptable - ergo it’s effects are less likely to be mitigated by other factors.
We agree. I’ve not been called either so I don’t have that experience. We’re still reaching the same conclusion albeit from different perspectives.



“Utter cark.”
posted by tkchrist at 10:18 AM PST on November 4 [!]

Short for carkfum? The new swear word?


I do not agree though that the difference in the amount of senators or CEOs is due solely to sexism. I will concede the numbers, but I suspect it is because the system favors the style of management the male brain tends to offer.
While I think this makes for - for example - better executives, I would argue that the female hardware lends itself to better legislators.

The upshot is, we’re ignoring those differences in favor of ‘equality’ while favoring a methodology that works well for males and trying to force females into that system.
Stupid. We should revamp the decision making process to allow for both styles, both kinds of brain architecture.

There are plenty of individual differences of course, which is another layer that we should allow for in decision making. One of the best officers I worked with was a female. She was able to communicate well, give and take, listen, yet still be decisive.
There are males and females that combine the best talents of both thinking methods and they are marginalized too because the system favors “good ol rock” over using rock, paper and scissors.
Poor metaphors, but I hope my point is clear.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:03 AM on November 4, 2005


My main point: you see how quickly feminism can create a men V women "gender war" (see my original link)

so rather than find a better source to make your point, you're going to again refer to a softheaded townhall.com column?

it's the equivalent of linking to "southern partisan" in a race debate.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:10 AM on November 4, 2005


I'm a man, but I must be missing out on all those clandestine meetings. What do you mean by patriarchy? I thought most homes these days have women as the head of the house. You probably don't realise how tiresome it is for many men to be forced under the umbrella term "The Patriarchy", especially after 40+ years of feminism.

You're reading "patriarchy" as a conscious consipiracy when it's mean to describe a kind of system -- a hegemony, if you will. An individual man need not be a conscious or even willing supporter of patriarchy to benefit from and be complicit in it.

A small example: my wife and I pretty much evenly split housework and childcare. She works evenings, and so often people in town only see me with our son. Pretty much daily, I am told that I am a "good father" by near-strangers who have had no chance to observe me beyond their first ecnounter with me. Why are they assuming I'm a good dad? Because I'm out with my son, and he's clean, and dressed, and his hair is kempt, and he's polite and well-behaved.
But few people compliment my wife as being a "good mother." The reason is that because of patriarchy, men were, for a long time, not expected to have to concern themselves with childcare at all. When men, in response to the feminst movement, began taking part in domestic duties, they were seen as going above and beyond what was epexted of them. Thus, I get kudos for doing what fathers ought to do as a matter of course while my wife would have to do a whole lot more to even get noticed.
This is a trivial example, but this kind of thinking pervades society. For example, when Sandra Day O'Conner resigned, it seem fitting to the media to discuss whether or not Bush would appoint a woman to take her place, but there was much less discussion of a woman taking the place of Cheirf Justice Rheinquist. That is very odd when one thinks about it -- as if there are only two slots for women on the Supreme Court.
The point is that men benefit from patriarchy in a number of unseen, unpercieved ways. Even amongst liberals and feminists, women still have to fight to have their voices heard. And when women do get positions of influence, they are too often understood in light of their sexuality -- so that in this thread, most of the women discussed have already been discussed as sex objects.

As for "men-hating" -- it is, of course, no secret that there are radical, extremist feminists, but to characterize all feminists based on the writings of Pagilla or Dworkin or the angry young lady you knew in college is pretty stupid -- like characterizing all Republicans as if they were James Dobson or Pat Reobertson.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2005


Do you think that men and women really think of each other very differently then they did a half-century ago?

Oh. Good Lord, yes. That should be obvious. My wife is my business partner. She negotiates 100K dollar contracts with CEO's - and these men rarely prejudice this because of gender


As I mentioned in my comment, there are a lot more opportunities for women now then ever before - opportunities such as negotiating for $100K contracts. However, what about day-to-day personal interactions and expectations between men and women? Business interactions are formal. What about social interactions? What about the stereotypes that people carry around with them from day-to-day? I don't think that any of the prevailing stereotypes have been changed by feminism. If anything, we have simply ADDED a couple new ones - namely the "angry feminist" and the "victimhood-stealing man."
posted by afroblanca at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2005


Oh, I see, Smedley. Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. I have to admit that sometimes I find you hard to parse, so I end up not reading as closely as I ought. My aplogies.
posted by dame at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2005


If the men you are hanging out with all want a virgin in a gingham dress, then you need to find better company.

If the women you hang out hate men because they misunderstand feminism, then you need to find better company.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2005


"Where do you find all these angry man-hating feminists? I don't think that I've ever met one."

Perhaps my experience was not the norm, but I often found myself in heated battles during University. Taking English as an example, it seemed that every story we would look at had to be examined from the 'feminist' perspective. My TA even admitted that because this was how he was 'trained', it was the only way he felt qualified to look at works from.
Fact of the matter was that often there were no other perspectives discussed. Once started, the class would often become polarized and turn into a shouting and insult (ok a little exaggerated) match. We seldom discussed anything else. Ditto for many of my other classes. This was a bad indoctrination to Feminism for me, as I found myself having to defend the actions of all men throughout history. I started to dread going to class because I was sick of it all. Perhaps I should have chosen something other than an Arts major. What upset me most was that these women were my age, and were nurturing grievances that supposedly were perpetrated on their ancestors.
Perhaps things have changed in the years since I have graduated. I hope so.
Honestly, I do not see it much out here in the real world. Perhaps because I avoid the topic at all costs (except today of course) because I feel that it is a subject that is so charged emotionally for some, and I get sick of discussing it. Especially when (like in my english class) any answer that is not feminist friendly is seen as bigoted and chauvinistic.
I know that the truly angry feminists are a minority. It is nice to see that acknowledged by some of the comments that I have read above. The problem is that the discussion is often monopolized by the 5% fringe element.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2005


If the men you are hanging out with all want a virgin in a gingham dress, then you need to find better company.

What if the man I'm hanging out with is himself a virgin in a gingham dress?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:57 AM on November 4, 2005


Dowd, by the way, aside from being your typical lazy, simple-narrative-loving journalist, also fabricates smears against candidates in her own party.

I have this idea for a 24 Hour news channel show called "What The Hell Is Wrong With You?" which would simly debunk journalist lies from both sides of the political spectrum and invite journalists on to defend themselves in a deathmatch against my army of fact-checkers.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2005


The passions of college students should really not be taken as the overriding emotional tone of the causes those students are supporting. People get riled up and self-righteous in college (in my experience, personal and observed, at least). That's kind of what college is for. Then you hit real life and have to modify and compromise and find something that works, rather than something that just fires an emotional response.
posted by occhiblu at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2005


Eustace (Clarence?) Scrubb, you're my hero. :)
posted by Hildegarde at 12:11 PM on November 4, 2005


“...sometimes I find you hard to parse, so I end up not reading as closely as I ought. My aplogies.”
posted by dame at 11:29 AM PST on November 4 [!]


Not necessary. Lots of folks seem to have that problem. I of course never make mistakes myself.
*cheezy grin*




eustacescrubb - that is an outstanding idea.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:14 PM on November 4, 2005


Business interactions are formal. What about social interactions?

Most of comments in this thread I have agreed with - but this idea that basic interactions between men and women lay unchanged after the advent modern feminism is wrong. Like I said there are deep biological drives that define things like psycho-social interaction. IE: the crass construction worker that hoots crude things at my wife as she passes by in a dress and then my idiotic response - punching him in the nose (I'm not proud of it, ok).

Yes. In my informal poll around my office just now - I work with six women and two men (two gay) and all of them agree - that over time men HAVE improved how they relate to women. Can we see into the souls of eachother? Well. No. But does that shit matter?

Every-day I do see and personally experience every-day interpersonal improvements on male-female interactions over what I understand was common fifty years ago.

Look. We have had two - TWO - female Secretaries of State (one black - that is fucking GROUND breaking).

Many many men DO think differently than they used to... in important ways. Not that we don't have a ways to go. But for Christ sake give us credit where credit is due.
posted by tkchrist at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2005


As a [white person], I have no problem with [racial equality], and in fact think that it has been a positive contributor to our development as a culture.
What I dislike about it is the fact that many of the [blacks] of my generation who have the same educational and job options that I do, seem to think that [racism] gives them a historical excuse for anger/confrontation and hatred of [white persons]. Though they have not been wronged themselves, they proceed to lecture me at great lengths about what a horrible society [white men] have created, and how all these negative qualities are responsible for the suffering and inequality in the world. So much anger.... So much bad karma....
[Whites] do not hate you because you are successful, smart, or because you think for yourself. They hate you because you are angry and accusatory. It is a natural human reaction to someone who believes that you are inherently evil and oppressive, and that your innate qualities must be eliminated from our culture.


Apologies to everyone else for the apparent equivocation, but: TFM, do you have a sense, now, why your initial comments might have riled some folks? They simultaneously suggest that there is no such thing as justified (righteous?) anger, which in turn implies that everything's equitable and that we feminists should just stop bitching already. The stereotypes have seeped into your analysis: "You have a valid point, but don't be so pissy about it." has rhetorical power because it plays off the selfsame sexist bullshit that gets us so angry in the firstplace.

Note I'm not angry at you, but don't you think it's interesting that you automatically interpret anger at "the situation" (say, systemic inequality, or the perpetuation of damaging stereotypes) as a personal attack? Is there anything worth getting angry about? Nearly a million people descended on my neighborhood yesterday to pay their respects to a woman and her simple act of righteous anger that helped ignite a cultural revolution in the US. And though the original author would no doubt be floored that I used his words in this context, I can't help but think: "It is necessary for us to get really angry for once in order that things shall get better."

But I could be wrong.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:33 PM on November 4, 2005


eustacescrubb - brilliant. I'll kick in some investment cash for that show. But only if we take the "death" part in "deathmatch" seriously.

PS. I HATE NASCAR.
posted by tkchrist at 12:35 PM on November 4, 2005


What if the man I'm hanging out with is himself a virgin in a gingham dress?

Then you are here. Enjoy your stay in the Windy City!
posted by jrossi4r at 12:36 PM on November 4, 2005


Many many men DO think differently than they used to... in important ways. Not that we don't have a ways to go. But for Christ sake give us credit where credit is due.

If you look at my original comment, you'll see that I don't place the blame on men, women, feminists, or anti-feminists. I think that people on both sides of the feminism debate overestimate the changes that feminism has made to our psyche.

What I think it comes down to is this - men and women are different, and think and communicate differently. I don't think that most men or women understand these differences very well. Since we don't understand our differences in thinking and communicating, we come up with stereotypes and apply them to our experiences.

I don't think that men and women are a whole lot closer to understanding each other then we were 50 years ago. This isn't to say that NO progress has been made - in particular, I'm a fan of Deborah Tannen's work. However, if there is to be a REAL change in peoples' thought patterns, I think that it's going to take a lot longer then 50 years.
posted by afroblanca at 12:38 PM on November 4, 2005


I had a history teacher in high school whose specialty was the American Civil War, and who (especially for a white Southern male) was extremely sensitive to issues of race in this country, and in the South in particular.

One day he and I were talking about feminism, and at a certain point he looked at me, surprised, and said, "We're going to get rid of racism before we get rid of chauvinsim, aren't we?" I wasn't sure what he meant, and he said, "Women have been oppressed for millennia." It still shocks me that black men got the vote in the US sixty years before any women did.

No, thoughts patterns are not going to change overnight, and I don't expect anyone (male or female) to just suddenly transcend thousands of years of thoughts and behaviors and philosophy and conditioning. I think the fact that so many people can get what I think of as a "meta view," and start questioning some of the underlying conditioning that we use to operate, is a good thing. But it's still frustrating to me to see statements like "Well, women just obviously aren't voting for women; it's not that the opportunities are any different" that ignore the power of that conditioning.
posted by occhiblu at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2005


Dowd and supporters: Any legitimate feminist movement is far less concerned with demeaning either gender in general, and more with equity. You can ask questions about the conditions and struggles women face, but if you can't do it with a good measure of equanimity and respect, you're not working for equity, you've just declared another war. I hear war is necessary sometimes, but if you think that will help solve problems in male-female relationships, good luck with that.

Small minded men lash out at women for being "bitches" and the like because they are threatened.

Are they truly wrong that there is a threat?

I'm not talking about the same kinds of threat as, say, sexual assault, which I have no patience for (and yes, I'm familiar with the stats and it makes me sick). But if part of feminism is founded on the idea that women have been hurt by the focus of cultural lenses, they might do well to admit it's possible to do the same damage to men.

I'm sure that a dozen people could disparage that potential damage with comments like "yeah -- threat to the fragile male ego." They would also be proving the point. Oh, yeah, I'm sure there are in fact men out there who *rely* on pathological relationships with women in order to support a shambling psyche -- I've met and know a number of them. But there are in fact men out there who aren't threatened by *equality* or *rights* who are not infrequently slighted by the swing of the lense. Anyone who'd like to is free to ignore those consequences, but it won't help the battle for equity at all.
posted by namespan at 12:58 PM on November 4, 2005


I'm not talking about the same kinds of threat as, say, sexual assault, which I have no patience for (and yes, I'm familiar with the stats and it makes me sick). But if part of feminism is founded on the idea that women have been hurt by the focus of cultural lenses, they might do well to admit it's possible to do the same damage to men.

Except that, by and large, the "hurt" caused women by male dominance is of a different order than the "hurt" caused men. you're relying on an equivocation between kinds of hurt to make that argument. Women are still not paid equally for equal work. Women can lose thier jobs or any chance of promotion if they get pregnant. There are still many areas of society formally and informally forbidden to women. Women are still overwhelmingly the majority of victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual harrasment. We're not talking about little blows to the ego here. We're talking about violence or the threat of it, unfair wages, about how it's considered normal on most college campsuses for women to carry around little mace sprayers on their keychains.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2005


I would add that, ironically, men are actually more hurt by patriarchy than they are by feminism or its effects on society.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:15 PM on November 4, 2005


I'm of two minds... I really, really bristle at the suggestion that women need to make their arguments more palatable to men. I understand ideals of compromise and working together, but can you see how such requests tend to reinforce the "Men rule; you must use our language and see things our way" vibe that many feminists are working against?
posted by occhiblu at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2005


Also, what eustacescrubb said. In both posts.
posted by occhiblu at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2005


Is Dowd a Lesbian?

Are there any reports of anyone ever shagging her? Male or female?

She isn't half bad looking, so maybe her sexual urge is easier to suppress precisely because she is a neurotic (New Yorker)?
posted by tzelig at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2005


(Serial posting, sorry...)

I also don't understand why women wanting equality, and agitating for those causes, in any way prevents men from agitating for their own causes. Or prevents women from agitating for men's causes. I have a great deal of energy for much agitation.

I can believe that women should be paid equally and still think male prisoners get a raw deal. I can believe that childcare in this country needs to be fixed and still believe that women shouldn't automatically get custody in divorce hearings. Why does one preclude the other?

Anecdotally, I see men holding this black-white opinion more often than women, and I think that may be the direction from which some of the "gender war" is coming.
posted by occhiblu at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2005


I'm not sure that tying rape into discussions of feminism is useful (re: mace sprayers). It's a criminal act, not condoned by anyone. (It is in some places/contexts of course, eg. random tribes as punishment, but not on American college campuses.) Saying rape is an example of patriarchy is like saying murder is an example of the criminal hegemony of human cultures.

Throwing rape in as an example of what feminism is fighting against takes attention from the more nuanced analysis it provides of things, and of more subtle issues with regards to male aggression (eg., sexual harassment, cat-calling, etc.)
posted by Firas at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


Also, re: calling aggressive women "bitches", I think it's as valid as calling aggressive men "assholes" or the like. It's just a gender-specific catch-all insult.
posted by Firas at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


still making less than men

Women earn less money than men in similar positions.

We're talking about... unfair wages


"A study by Jacob Mincer and Solomon Polachek indicates that much of the gender wage difference is the result of differences in educational attainment and work experience. Erica Groshen and others have found that most of the remaining gender wage differential can be explained by differences in occupational choice."
posted by Kwantsar at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2005


I'm not sure that tying rape into discussions of feminism is useful (re: mace sprayers). It's a criminal act, not condoned by anyone

That sounds to me awfully like claiming that it's meaningless that when white cops want to beat somebody up, they overwhelmingly pick black men.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2005


I don't think that men and women are a whole lot closer to understanding each other then we were 50 years ago.

I don't care if men ever understand women (whatever that means). I simply want women to be equal to men in society.
posted by agregoli at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2005


Kwantsar:

differences in educational attainment and work experience.

What part of "equal pay for equal work" don't you understand? Forget the fact that your link proves the existence of patriarchy (why do women seem to get the lower-paying jobs and less education?) but my point was that female CEOs get paid less than male CEOs, etc.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2005


eustacescrubb: I assume that rapists who rape women would choose women as sexual partners too. What gender of person to rape is far less an active decision (which gender you have sex with) than which person to beat up.
posted by Firas at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


That's really the first time that I've seen anyone say rape is trivializing sexual harassment.
posted by occhiblu at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2005


I don't care if men ever understand women (whatever that means). I simply want women to be equal to men in society.

Society - general term. Define please?

Do you mean in the workforce? In the media? In their opinions of each other?

What do you mean by equal, anyway? Same chance of getting a job? Same chance of getting custody of a child?

Be more specific, please.
posted by afroblanca at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2005


t.zelig:
Dowd is based out of Washington, D.C.
posted by raysmj at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2005


Feminism, the personal is political, the whole thing: it's all about the kind of society we live in. Is it a society that, on high, sees women and men as equal? No, it's not. The fact that rape carries with it the kind of threat it does (much worse psychologically than merely getting beaten up), the kind of forbidden fantasy rape is (for both men and women) is also telling of the nature of our society as a whole. So no, rape should not be removed from this discussion, because rape works its way into the definition of western woman, like it or not.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2005


Society - general term. Define please?

Do you mean in the workforce? In the media? In their opinions of each other?

What do you mean by equal, anyway? Same chance of getting a job? Same chance of getting custody of a child?

Be more specific, please.


Uh, to answer those questions completely would take a fucking year. I think you're being deliberately obtuse.

Yes. Society - as in all societies, preferably. I'd settle for the U.S. for now.

Yes, in the workforce. Equal pay and respect. Same chance of getting a job would be great. Same chance as getting custody of a child - I think men should have equal footing in that arena.

What's so hard to understand about the notion of wanting equality?
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on November 4, 2005


differences in educational attainment and work experience.

What part of "equal pay for equal work" don't you understand?


Okay, then, eustace. Am I missing you, or is your point that two people performing the same job deserve the same pay, even if one of them has more experience and more education?
posted by Kwantsar at 2:37 PM on November 4, 2005


*facepalms*

Does it show us that for a long time, and in still some places and circumstances, it is harder for women to get equivalent experience and education? Therefore the system is rigged in favour of men?
posted by Hildegarde at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2005


how it's considered normal on most college campsuses for women to carry around little mace sprayers on their keychains.

Why is that abnormal, given that we live in a free society of people with freewill? Men want to have sex with lots of women that they see, and have the physical power to get it if they really want it. Women don't, due purely to biology. So what is abnormal about the situation? Men are designed to kill and rape really well, and it is society's job to make sure people have little mace sprayers (and police, courts and prisons) to force us to behave like we think we ought to.
posted by snoktruix at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2005


Women don't, due purely to biology. So what is abnormal about the situation?

Did you know that for most of recorded history, women were considered to be the ones with the uncontrollable sex drive? That it's only in the 300 years that the western world has started to see it the other way? Does that seem like biology to you?

Please, show us this biological evidence you speak of.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:07 PM on November 4, 2005


And when I say "designed" of course I mean evolved (it's kinda sad that I currently feel the need to clarify this...)

On a more general tack, I hate it in these discussions about feminism that men and women are treated like some sort of abstract entities operating in a theoretical social arena. Is it not clear that the origin of this "conflict" between the sexes is biological, generated by natural selection, and that there exist real substantial differences biologically between the sexes? Do these differences not account, at root, for the perceived inequalities (even if the only significant biological differences amounted to such indisputable clear-cut things as muscle mass, the burden of childbirth, and male aggression, ignoring the contentious debates about cognition)?

In contrast the biological differences between races are completely negligible, in that case it is almost entirely due to pure prejudice. But surely rape is not at all a cultural phenomenon, it is hardwired into men, and to suggest it is some anomaly of our "patriarchal" culture is silly.
posted by snoktruix at 3:17 PM on November 4, 2005


But surely rape is not at all a cultural phenomenon, it is hardwired into men, and to suggest it is some anomaly of our "patriarchal" culture is silly.

If I could not point to reams of historical evidence suggesting that this obvious biological issue of yours is a recent phenemenon, you might have a case. But since I can, I'm not sure how you can call any of this silly. It's as created as the racial prejudice if I can point to historical inconsistencies.

And do you really want to suggest that all men are natural rapists? Who's a man-hater now?
posted by Hildegarde at 3:23 PM on November 4, 2005


Please, show us this biological evidence you speak of.

What do you want, a list of about ten thousand papers, or will an amazon link to a textbook on evolutionary biology suffice? Basically men have a high sex drive because making a splat of sperm and fucking for 10 minutes to put it inside a woman's vagina takes a small amount of effort. And there is no penalty afterwards.

Whereas women can't afford to have sex with anyone anytime because making a baby takes a long time and is expensive (biologically).

This applies whenever sperm is cheap and babies are expensive, i.e. in most biological situations.
posted by snoktruix at 3:25 PM on November 4, 2005


Uh, to answer those questions completely would take a fucking year.

Possibly.

I think you're being deliberately obtuse.

You know, it's comments like those that make me not want to participate in discussions like this. Personal invective = not constructive.

I don't care if men ever understand women (whatever that means). I simply want women to be equal to men in society.

The reason that I asked you to define your terms is that the preceding comment presumes that there is not a strong connection between equality and increased understanding between the sexes.

For example, I think that we have made serious progress in workplace equality, but not so much in other forms of equality (families, media, relationships, law, cultural debate).

While feminism as it is has made good progress, I don't think that we will be able to make a whole lot more headway until the dialogue goes from being "men vs. women" to being "men and women understanding each other better."

This kind of change can take a long, long time, and I feel that we are still quite far from that objective. Thus my main point, that the largest obstacles between us and equality are still quite firmly in place.
posted by afroblanca at 3:30 PM on November 4, 2005


What do you want, a list of about ten thousand papers, or will an amazon link to a textbook on evolutionary biology suffice?

No, it won't. Particularly since rape has very little to do with sex drive and a lot to do with violence. And particularly since there is no evidence that men have a higher sex drive than women.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:37 PM on November 4, 2005


Therefore the system is rigged in favour of men?

Although in Washington State there more women enrolled and completing degrees in Universities than men. And that trend is growing pretty fast nation wide.
posted by tkchrist at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2005


No evidence you care to look at i'm sure.
posted by snoktruix at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2005


The reason that I asked you to define your terms is that the preceding comment presumes that there is not a strong connection between equality and increased understanding between the sexes.

I think that is fair. Equality has to be defined. Seriously. because people - individual to individual - are born un-equal. Some are faster, some stronger, some smarter. And even among parallel groups you will find natural divisions in some key areas.

You have to tell us: When will "equality" be achieved? And before that, tell us how. because to a number of us it sounds not that you want to raise the disadvantaged up, but the advantaged DOWN. And well. You see the problem with that, right?

And it's more than bumper-sticker slogans like "equal pay for equal work"... because measuring things like effort is difficult, and the details are sticky. IE: You have to account for the differing career goals between genders and maternity leave etc... things that studies are just now taking into account... and studies are showing more about why payscales differ that make it not such a simple formula to correct.
posted by tkchrist at 4:12 PM on November 4, 2005


hilde - bonus points for playing the troll as ignorant feminist who wants to ignore biology. Did you post this thread too? http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/board/about40652.html

It seems like you, like the poster, are only willing to consider valid, research that matches your expectations. Note that the article in response to the query doesn't even come CLOSE to stating what you wish were true. It merely is saying that sex is important for women, not that their sex drive is more/less than men's.
posted by nomisxid at 4:15 PM on November 4, 2005


No, it won't. Particularly since rape has very little to do with sex drive and a lot to do with violence. And particularly since there is no evidence that men have a higher sex drive than women.

Hilde - I was with you for a while... but this... sigh... you can do better. yes rape is violence. BUT. Men have a more aggressive sex drive because men are more aggressive. Jeebus sake this a fact so well demonstrated you look foolish quibbling over it.

BTW - if you factor in prison rapes between men you get some startlingly high rates that start... that's start... approach men raping women. Again. Demonstrating the natural aggressive tendency of males. Manifest BOTH in domination and sexually.
posted by tkchrist at 4:22 PM on November 4, 2005


Uh...first, no, I didn't post in that thread, but let's make your magical world come true! Yes, I dropped out of high school, am completely ignorant, have never done any graduate work on this subject, and oh, yes, men are all natural born rapists. You win! :D :D
posted by Hildegarde at 4:23 PM on November 4, 2005


Frankly I'm getting the sense that *some people here* are stridently upset that men should want to intrude upon a discussion on feminism.

Sorry to say, but the "shrill" stereotype didn't materialize out of thin air.
posted by clevershark at 4:34 PM on November 4, 2005


You have *got* to be kidding me.
posted by occhiblu at 4:42 PM on November 4, 2005


Hildegarde, you've been constantly condescending and taking things personally throughout the thread. Please simmer down? We're just talking.

Anyway. About rape. The aggression argument goes like this:

1. People like to have sex: Applies to both men and women.
2. People engage in activities that will secure them more of what they like: applies to both.
3. Some people would have sex with others despite the lack of the other person's consent: both.
4. Some people have the physical strength at their disposal to engage in (3): Usually men.
5. Hence rapists: usually men.

That's the point I was attempting to make. Now, when mulling the issue from the parallel eustacescrubb proposed and trying to think of what's missing in it that is salient to the point at hand, I figured out that the act of rape can be seen as a symptom of a tendency to violence towards women, and hence lumped into the discussion with things like (say) domestic abuse--the sex is not all there is to it, as you point out.

See? The world is not all black and white. You don't need to *fight* with everyone you disagree with. We're just talking. Some of us can change our views as we discuss.
posted by Firas at 4:54 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


Hildegarde, if you lived anywhere near me, I'd take you out for a beer. Or a bourbon. Many of them.

For now, however, I'm gonna leave discussing my future and my beliefs to the big strong aggressive raping menfolk.

Pillage away, boys.
posted by occhiblu at 4:58 PM on November 4, 2005


Meh. Read a good article recently about boys falling behind in school. When it was girls it was the fault of the school system. But boys, you know, are just too full of hormones and aggression to learn (ie: it's their fault). These aren't kids who know about, or should have to care about, the history of gender inequality. This isn't a balancing act, where a bit of inequality on one side can even out inequality on the other. People spend entire lifetimes on one or the other side of that line.

I also don't understand why women wanting equality, and agitating for those causes, in any way prevents men from agitating for their own causes. Or prevents women from agitating for men's causes. I have a great deal of energy for much agitation.

I can believe that women should be paid equally and still think male prisoners get a raw deal. I can believe that childcare in this country needs to be fixed and still believe that women shouldn't automatically get custody in divorce hearings. Why does one preclude the other?


Good for you, occhiblu. I wish we could do away with owning causes. Do we not all have both men and women, boys and girls, we care about?
posted by dreamsign at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2005


i am a man and i am not a rapist, you shrill, strident feminazis!

but anyway i'm just a liitle bitch myself. rape me with your stilettos, please.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 6:25 PM on November 4, 2005


Except that, by and large, the "hurt" caused women by male dominance is of a different order than the "hurt" caused men. you're relying on an equivocation between kinds of hurt to make that argument.

I'm doing nothing of the sort. I'm not placing damage to men and women on a scale and seeing which way the balance tips. I honestly do think that we have a long way to go in at least getting to what the *minimum* standard should be: largely elminating the threat of violence and sexual assault, and understanding there's no set of talents and abilities and other capacities that's precluded by gender.

What I am doing is pointing out that if you admit that a social lense can do damage to one gender, you have to admit it can do damage to the other, and that if you're truly committed to the best principles of feminism, you won't try to trade damage to one gender to damage to the other.

We're not talking about little blows to the ego here.

Neither am I. But even if I were limiting my argument to little blows to the ego, I'd be pretty comfortable with asserting that a good number of them over the years administered by a fair cross-section of society can have a real impact, and believe I could find support for that conclusion among feminist thought.

I would add that, ironically, men are actually more hurt by patriarchy than they are by feminism or its effects on society.

I don't disagree entirely with that statement, and think it actually plays into my case. If by the standards you mentioned -- violence or the threat of it and unfair wages -- men have it so much better, where are they hurt by the patriarchy? The answer goes back to the damages caused by social lenses.

I really, really bristle at the suggestion that women need to make their arguments more palatable to men.

Bristle if you like, but don't reduce what I'm talking about to "palatability" or pandering. It depends on the outcome you desire. If the impacts on men or women's relationships with them are unimportant, then no, nobody needs to make them "palatable."

If those things *are* important to you, then yes, you need to consider how your arguments are going to come off. It's certainly not the only consideration. If you let it be -- or if society or something outside of you *forces* it to be the only consideration -- then yeah, that's bad and reduces you to an unacceptably subservient role. But to erase the consideration won't bring to pass equity. There's got to be a place somewhere between pandering and irrelevancy when considering responses to others, and healthily interdependent people have to be able to find that balance.
posted by namespan at 6:32 PM on November 4, 2005


namespan,

I think perhaps I don't understand what point you are trying to make.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:04 PM on November 4, 2005


Jesus fucking christ you guys are obtuse.
Yes, I'm calling you names.
Yes, it's time for you to get defensive and blame it on feminism.

Yes, you're out of your element, Donny.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:19 AM on November 5, 2005


I can believe that women should be paid equally and still think male prisoners get a raw deal. I can believe that childcare in this country needs to be fixed and still believe that women shouldn't automatically get custody in divorce hearings. Why does one preclude the other?

occhiblu, I agree with that 100% - one example of sexism does not diminish the hurt and damage of another example, regardless of the victim's sex. It's time for many feminists to really understand and accept that, and not just get angry when men speak up for themselves, and start a "well, my victimhood's more precious than yours" debate. I apply that to both "sides" of the sexism debate - men's rights activists often say that losing access to their children and that the "age gap is far worse than the wage gap" (men dieing on average 7 years earlier than women). Whatever - why should one negate the other? These causes are not mutually exclusive, but many feminists or "MRA"s can't see that sexism is the enemy, not men OR women as a class.

Many men (as witnessed by this thread) fully accept and are appalled by the sexism that women face. Many women fully accept the sexism that men face. All I ask is that in the context of feminism and debating equality, many feminist accept the latter and not only the former, and that they live up to the original definition of feminism.

An individual man need not be a conscious or even willing supporter of patriarchy to benefit from and be complicit in it.

I still take issue with terms like "patriarchy", and the connotations it has - that women are a victim class, and that men are seen as the oppressive class, even if they're not aware of it. It's just another spin on the "who's the bigger victim" game. To have such a simple wordview, you need to deny class, race, looks, who you know, what your background is (what colleges/universities you attended), your health, oh......and let's not forget that there are still some elements of society that adhere to merit:- skill, talent, diligence etc. There are many prejudices in society - and also society DOES reward hard work and talent too.

Sexism is far more nuanced than calling a society a patriarchy or a matriarchy - to use either term is to deny the fact that both sexes can be victims of sexism. If it's accepted that we live in a patriarchy, it's then also accepted that men's issues are to be diminished or ignored altogether because of the perceived benefits men enjoy of living in a patriarchy - and since they're the "ruling sex", it's tacitly accepted that they are not entitled to air any grievances.

Jesus fucking christ you guys are obtuse.
Yes, I'm calling you names.
Yes, it's time for you to get defensive and blame it on feminism.


joe lisboa, a good example of feminist rage - no substance, all anger. No wonder many men and women are being turned off by feminism - or perhaps I'm being unfair to associate you with feminism at all.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 2:08 AM on November 5, 2005


I have a feeling that her frustrations in finding a mate come from problems in her own personality, and she's just trying to blame "men" and "the culture" rather than looking inside herself.

Or maybe it's a problem within the personalities of the men she's dated: West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, a past love of Dowd's, described her as "more independent than I would like."
posted by zarah at 3:14 AM on November 5, 2005


- Gender specific diseases (women's diseases get far more publicity and funding)

Do you have some data to back this up, i'm sincerely interested. I've only read material that states quite the opposite & recently read that the majority of drugs are tested based on the male model only. ie: things like effectiveness & adverse reactions are not tested based on the female model, unless the drug is specific to female usage. Sorry if i'm using the wrong medical terms, but I'm confident you can glean what I'm trying to say.
posted by zarah at 3:46 AM on November 5, 2005


- Gender specific diseases (women's diseases get far more publicity and funding)

Do you have some data to back this up, i'm sincerely interested.


Sure.

And from a UK perspective too.

A MAN diagnosed with prostate cancer has only one-quarter of the cash spent on research into his disease compared to the amount devoted to a woman’s breast cancer.

The wide discrepancy shows the scale of the discrimination against men. The two diseases kill similar numbers.

posted by FieldingGoodney at 6:43 AM on November 5, 2005


Or maybe it's a problem within the personalities of the men she's dated:

You're correct, and I should have mentioned that one. Though perhaps she's attracted to these specific types of men that she consistently chooses

On the other hand-- maybe she's right. Maybe the class of ultra-successful Hollywood actors and screenwriters/producers that she dates do have a problem with successful women. But then, I wouldn't know-- I don't know any of these people, and I don't know anyone who does. In that case, she's merely extrapolated from the tiny subculture in which she's dated, and it's hardly applicable to the professional white-collar audience for which she writes.
posted by deanc at 6:48 AM on November 5, 2005


The wide discrepancy shows the scale of the discrimination against men. The two diseases kill similar numbers.

On the other hand, more money is spent on AIDS research than cadiovasucular research, when heart disease kills far more people. An example of gender/sex/drug use discrimination or simply a failure of the political system?

Apparently the push to finally achieve better sex parity in drug trials occurred in the 80s and 90s, but until then there was quite a problem with the issue.

Prostate cancer awareness has only become a large issue recently, in part because of an aging boomer generation, whereas I grew up hearing warnings about breast cancer (not a concern to me, of course) since I was quite young. Why the difference? I don't know.

In the same way that I think that Dowd's column says more about her than the culture, Fielding's posts say more about him than the issue of feminism.
posted by deanc at 7:01 AM on November 5, 2005


The wide discrepancy shows the scale of the discrimination against men. The two diseases kill similar numbers.

What you have there is a false dichotomy. But, Rush Limbaugh would be proud of the logic you've employed.
posted by psmealey at 7:13 AM on November 5, 2005


In the same way that I think that Dowd's column says more about her than the culture, Fielding's posts say more about him than the issue of feminism.

I'm just commenting like everyone else here. OK, you may disagree with what I say (hence, your personal comment) - but if what you say is true, I think everybody gives away something about themselves by the opinions they have.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 7:24 AM on November 5, 2005


The wide discrepancy shows the scale of the discrimination against men. The two diseases kill similar numbers.

What you have there is a false dichotomy. But, Rush Limbaugh would be proud of the logic you've employed.


Those are not my words, but those of a Times reporter (helps to read the article, I guess :-) ).
posted by FieldingGoodney at 7:30 AM on November 5, 2005


[off-topic]

here's a fun experiment for everyone: think for a second and get a clear sense of what the word pithy means to you. now look it up. how many were sure the definition should be the exact opposite?

bonus: repeat with empathy and sympathy.


Just wanted to say thanks, Treeline. I stand corrected on all counts, and I make my living with words. How the heck did "pithy" get so totally inverted in common usage?


[/off-topic]
posted by gompa at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2005


Is it OK if I just read Dowd whenever one of her columns is in front of me, sorta like I read Krugman or Brooks or Ivins or whomever and then just go onto the next thing?

Do I really have to consider her in a way that will tie my mind in knots, as evidenced above?

It just does not seem worth it.
posted by Danf at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2005


Frankly I'm getting the sense that *some people here* are stridently upset that men should want to intrude upon a discussion on feminism.

Sorry to say, but the "shrill" stereotype didn't materialize out of thin air.

posted by clevershark at 7:34 PM EST on November 4 [!]

At first I laughed and then I shed a tear...well a tear in my mind anyway. And to all the men who defined what Feminism IS or what it Should Be, all I can say is Ha fucking Ha! (That's actually a pretty good definition of patriarchy: a society where the men tell the women "This is what you should be thinking about yourselves and your role in society.")
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:40 AM on November 5, 2005


Secret Life of Gravy, that's a bit puerile. Like it or not, feminism is an academic study, not a cult. You can't have a field of knowledge upon which a gender is stopped from commenting :/
posted by Firas at 9:41 AM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


Therefore, equality would be where both men and women tell each other: "This is what you should be thinking about yourselves and your role in society"?
posted by catachresoid at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2005


No... not anymore than what you think about history isn't telling someone else what they should think about history. It's just another drop in the ocean of the intellectual tradition behind it. Some people spend their lives studying it, some just brush against it from time to time. I'm not sure why the qualification would split genderwise rather than by one's credibility among feminists. At least, if you're looking at feminism from the perspective I tend to. If you see it more as a personal credo I can obviously see why one would turn elitist and smug about what the 'other side' thinks. But it's an unhealthy attitude in any movement, aesthetic, social or political.
posted by Firas at 9:56 AM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


At first I laughed and then I shed a tear...well a tear in my mind anyway. And to all the men who defined what Feminism IS or what it Should Be, all I can say is Ha fucking Ha! (That's actually a pretty good definition of patriarchy: a society where the men tell the women "This is what you should be thinking about yourselves and your role in society.")

Secret Life of Gravy, enjoy your exclusive club if that's how you see it as. I was talking about how sexism affects both sexes - and how often feminists see that as a red rag, for some reason. In this thread, they haven't let me down yet. However, I don't really see any other posts saying "women this is what you should be thinking about yourselves and your role in society" - I think you've gone off the deep-end a bit here.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2005


Those are not my words, but those of a Times reporter (helps to read the article, I guess :-) ).

Ok. Fair enough. I misread the citation. I just meant that there are many, many different explanations for why breast cancer accords higher degree of awareness than prostate cancer, and simply reducing it to one reason -- feminism -- betrays either a reactionary anti-feminist agenda or else an ignorance of history, neither of which are good things.
posted by psmealey at 10:36 AM on November 5, 2005


Ok. Fair enough. I misread the citation. I just meant that there are many, many different explanations for why breast cancer accords higher degree of awareness than prostate cancer, and simply reducing it to one reason -- feminism -- betrays either a reactionary anti-feminist agenda or else an ignorance of history, neither of which are good things.

I'm not "blaming feminism" for this - I mentioned the disparity in funding between prostate cancer research and breast cancer research upthread only to highlight that both women AND men face inequalities in different areas of life. If anything, my viewpoint encompasses feminism.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 11:19 AM on November 5, 2005


Secret Life of Gravy, that's a bit puerile. Like it or not, feminism is an academic study, not a cult.

I guess we differ on our definition of "Feminism." My definition (and the dictionary definition if you care to look it up) is the advocacy of women's rights NOT "an academic study." Now certainly we would welcome any man that wants to champion our cause, but I don't believe we should allow men to decide what those causes are or what they should be.

Come to think of it is a bit childish of you to assume that just because you studied something in college it is "an academic study."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:47 PM on November 5, 2005


ok, I misphrased that. Not an academic study per se, but still something with philosophical underpinnings.
posted by Firas at 1:46 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


And--on a basic level--of course you're right about not having men define what womens' role should be. I just disagreed that anyone was doing so upthread.
posted by Firas at 1:48 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


The eradication of men and fathers from children's lives has been feminism's most despicable accomplishment

I read this to mean "Femisists should advocate for Father's rights as well."

"More likely they've [Men] turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men."

I'm guessing this means "Feminists are not allowed to be angry."

My wife would probably call herself a feminist when pressed, but what I admire about her is that she is above the anger and resentment that seems to be attached to many of the women who would classify themselves as feminists.

"Feminists are not allowed to get angry."

But if part of feminism is founded on the idea that women have been hurt by the focus of cultural lenses, they might do well to admit it's possible to do the same damage to men.

"Feminists should remember that men have also been hurt by our culture."

Many men (as witnessed by this thread) fully accept and are appalled by the sexism that women face. Many women fully accept the sexism that men face. All I ask is that in the context of feminism and debating equality, many feminist accept the latter and not only the former, and that they live up to the original definition of feminism

"Feminists should aknowledge men have been hurt by sexism."

I still take issue with terms like "patriarchy", and the connotations it has - that women are a victim class, and that men are seen as the oppressive class, even if they're not aware of it. It's just another spin on the "who's the bigger victim" game.

"We should not blame men for our current status."

but many feminists or "MRA"s can't see that sexism is the enemy, not men OR women as a class.

"Feminists should not be merely agitating for equality for women, but should be agitating for an end to sexism for both women and men."

The wide discrepancy shows the scale of the discrimination against men. The two diseases kill similar numbers.

"Feminists should worry about men's health being equally funded."

Though they have not been wronged themselves, they proceed to lecture me at great lengths about what a horrible society men have created, and how all these negative male qualities are responsible for the suffering and inequality in the world

"Feminists may only get agitated about their personal problems"

You have to tell us: When will "equality" be achieved? And before that, tell us how. because to a number of us it sounds not that you want to raise the disadvantaged up, but the advantaged DOWN

"Feminists have to clarify their goals and explain how to achieve their goals."

These are some of the male ideas about Feminism put forth in this discussion. Some of them may have merit, but I find it difficult to agree with the mentality of "sexism cuts both ways so Feminists need to worry about men's needs/ feelings/ status/ equality."

Take the very thorny issue of high school football which in some American High Schools is of primary importance. As a feminist I'm not crazy about the idea that the male high school atheletes get all the funding and all the glory. I'm also not too thrilled that the female equivalent to the Star Quarterback is the Head Cheerleader-- a girl who is chosen first and foremost for her sexiness and whose primary responsibility is to flaunt that sexiness by jiggling her boobs and doing the splits while wearing hot pants.

But how to change this? It is such a complex problem where culture/biology/tradition mix that I would be a fool to attempt a change. Should Feminism concern itself with High School Football? I think it should because it lays a foundation of sexual sterotyping and convincing girls that they can be valued members of high school is not to play sports but to flaunt their sexuality. Should I be equally concerned about how men feel about sports/not making the team/jiggling boobs? No, I don't think so.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:43 PM on November 5, 2005


convincing girls that they can be valued members of high school is not to play sports but to flaunt their sexuality.

Sorry. I meant to write: convincing girls that they can become valued members of high school not by playing sports but by flaunting their sexuality.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2005


These are some of the male ideas about Feminism put forth in this discussion. Some of them may have merit, but I find it difficult to agree with the mentality of "sexism cuts both ways so Feminists need to worry about men's needs/ feelings/ status/ equality."

Well I think you're misrepresenting a lot of comments here, and I'm not sure why you feel the need to be defensive as I haven't seen anyone disagreeing with the idea that women face discrimination in certain areas of life. However, it's interesting to me that when the sexism debate is expanded to include male victims, suddenly there's this need to defend feminism.....I do know some feminists who champion men's rights too, as they simply want equality in all areas of life, regardless of gender - I'm certainly a proponent of their definition of "feminism". In fact, according to the principle definition in the dictionary, this is indeed feminism - Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that I don't like this debate seen as some zero sum game between the genders - as if there is only enough spotlight for one gender - and that one cause should diminish or negate another cause. They can both exist.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:43 PM on November 5, 2005


FieldingGoodney

I think a lot of feminsts react the way they do to the "men get hurt too" response because it has become a stock male response to topics relating to feminism. It starts to seem like an attempt to dodge any efforts at real change.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:36 PM on November 5, 2005


I think a lot of feminsts react the way they do to the "men get hurt too" response because it has become a stock male response to topics relating to feminism. It starts to seem like an attempt to dodge any efforts at real change.

Then I can fully understand a feminist's need to defend themselves in that situation - this is exactly what I meant by "stealing their spotlight" - deflecting debate, or closing it down. If this thread was about breast cancer research, and I waded in with a line like "hey, what about prostate cancer research?" I'd quite rightly get shot down. That can cut both ways of course though - I've heard that claim from men too (and have seen it myself) - that whenever men's rights gets a mention in feminist circles, it gets shot down with the "ahh well, you think you've got troubles buddy - try being a women" line. To me, I find both examples laughable - as if two examples of sexism somehow have to compete with one another. Sexism is caused by individuals and bad laws, not one whole sex as a class. I think both "sides" can get more support by stop seeing the opposite sex as the problem (and already I've seen many comments in this thread with the usual "men think they can....", "ahh men's reaction to feminism is....").
posted by FieldingGoodney at 1:24 AM on November 6, 2005


and I'm not sure why you feel the need to be defensive as I haven't seen anyone disagreeing with the idea that women face discrimination in certain areas of life.

My very bloated response was in answer to this:

And--on a basic level--of course you're right about not having men define what womens' role should be. I just disagreed that anyone was doing so upthread.

I was listing some of the ways that it appeared to me -- as a woman and as a feminist--that men in this discussion were defining what women's roles should be.

To be blunt, I don't really care what your problems are as a man-- men have been running this country for 300 years so if men are raping men in prison then that is something that happened on your watch-- you can deal with it. All I am concerned about is making sure that women have a crack at running their own lives and contributing all they can to this country-- whether as mommies or as President of The United States.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:00 AM on November 6, 2005


To be blunt, I don't really care what your problems are as a man-- men have been running this country for 300 years so if men are raping men in prison then that is something that happened on your watch-- you can deal with it. All I am concerned about is making sure that women have a crack at running their own lives and contributing all they can to this country-- whether as mommies or as President of The United States.

I'm not sure what you mean by "on your watch" - are you assuming there is some kind of patriarchal conspiracy going on? You make men and women sound like competing political parties. What bemuses me is that you probably don't realise the sexism present in your comments - if you want to enter the arena of discussing equality, you should check in your own prejudices at the door.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2005


FG, your comments would imply that black racism against whites is equally bad as white racism against blacks. The fact is that it is whites who are the ones in power. The unempowered minority cannot really be "racist". They can be anti-white, but that is different than institutional racism against blacks and other minorities, which existed in this country for years and still exists in pockets of our society. Being anti-white when you are an oppressed minority doesn't make you a racist; it makes you awake.

I don't think the unempowered minority (technically majority, I know, but underrepresented almost everywhere) of women can really be sexist, either. We're not making the rules, boys. You are, and have been, for centuries.

I get so tired of hearing people equate unfairness in the divorce courts of America with unfairness in the workplace throughout history. It's not the same. Sure, unfairness exists everywhere. Some white men are not in power! Shocking, but true! That doesn't mean that the power in this country (and in most other places in the world) isn't in the hands of white men, with few exceptions.

And to the point about rape and aggression and how "natural" it is, upthread: puh-lease. Imagine, if you will, a society that is NON-patriarchal. A matriarchal society, for example. Do you really think that rape would be as commonplace or "natural" in a matriarchy as in a patriarchy? I think not. (Unfortunately, I don't have statistics to back me up here, so... flame away. But I still think I have a point here.)
posted by jenii at 1:38 PM on November 6, 2005


At the risk of being way too simplistic, and regardless of whether or not Dowd's article has any sort of heavy-duty merit, and as a 38-y.o. single-but-with-long-term-boyfriend woman (preface over!) -- the piece *did* resonate with me for the sole reason that I am sick to death of having to defend my choice to a) not get married (no thank you, I don't really want or need a "MRS." tshirt), and b) not have kids -- AGAINST OTHER WOMEN. I don't know how many of my previous friends have completely dropped out of my life once they got on the babytrain.

And yes, I know - life changes, priorities change, we all change. That makes sense. What does NOT make sense is how these previously independent, worldly women, have now decided all they want to do is stay home with baby 1 (and then baby 2...), buy their $1000 strollers, sip lattes with their other mom-friends, and say things to me like, "So, are you and the BF ever getting married? Hmmm??? It's okay, it'll happen some day sweetie..."

For the record, I have nothing against marriage, I have nothing against kids -- I just simply cannot understand what compels Mrs. Moms to feel like they should pity me for not making those same choices. It feels like a big stab in the back - not just for me, I mean, whatever, I'm just one person - but for women as a whole.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:29 PM on November 6, 2005


FG, your comments would imply that black racism against whites is equally bad as white racism against blacks.

jenii, I wouldn't go with that analogy - I'd equate men and women to two different races that suffer different forms of racism. In fact I said earlier on this:-

you see how quickly feminism can create a men V women "gender war", a bit like two different races suffering from different forms of racism, but instead of both tackling racism as a whole, one race has the ownership of victimhood so the other race has no grounds for complaints.

That's exactly what you've just done.

Your analogy dismisses any area in which men may face discrimination based on their sex. Believe it or not, I've heard the same thing from men's rights activists - they say it's men who face more discrimination these days - the pendulum has swung. In danger of sounding like a broken record, who cares who's the "bigger victim"? Isn't the problem more nuanced than dismissing one gender's claims to be victims sometimes? And what exactly does that achieve? Does it solve one problem to deny another problem?

I don't think the unempowered minority (technically majority, I know, but underrepresented almost everywhere) of women can really be sexist, either. We're not making the rules, boys. You are, and have been, for centuries.

Ideas can be sexist. Individuals can be sexist. Individual companies can be sexist. Please don't paint an entire gender as sexist, and then say absolutely no individual in the other gender can be sexist. That's..........sexist.

I get so tired of hearing people equate unfairness in the divorce courts of America with unfairness in the workplace throughout history. It's not the same.

To you maybe. To another person, well - it's their life. The subjectivity here isn't helping. Why should either form of sexual discrimination be in competition with one another? They can co-exist. In any case, there are sex discrimination laws in place for workers. If an employer is discriminating based on sex, he or she can be prosecuted. That includes the hiring process too.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 1:09 AM on November 7, 2005



I'm not sure what you mean by "on your watch" - are you assuming there is some kind of patriarchal conspiracy going on?

Male legislators write the laws, male police enforce the laws, male judges pass sentence, male architects and contractors erect the prisons, male wardens run the prisons, male guards enforce the prison rules-- but I, a woman in a powerless position am supposed to agitate for change? As a human I care that people are being hurt, but I won't expend any time, energy, or money on the issue of prison rape. My time, etc. would be better spent making sure that more women are placed in positions of power.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:19 AM on November 7, 2005


"To be blunt, I don't really care what your problems are as a man"

I read this to mean "I don't want equality, I want to reverse who gets the shitty end of the stick."

That's how your message arrives for me, and I imagine I am not the only one. You don't seem to want to communicate so much as browbeat us all into submission to the inherent superiority of your opinions and politics.

I respectfully submit that this approach may not work as well as you might hope.
posted by Irontom at 9:00 AM on November 7, 2005



I read this to mean "I don't want equality, I want to reverse who gets the shitty end of the stick."

Or, perhaps you might read my message as: I want women to have a chance at the sweet end of the lollypop. Men can continue to lick whichever end they want. I mean nothing is stopping you, right? Just because I agitate for social change doesn't mean that I want a reverse of any given situation.

I want an equal (or near equal) number of women on the Supreme Court
I want an equal number of women in Congress
I want an equal number of women CEOs on Fortune 500 companies
I want an equal number of women on the list of America's most wealthy list.

If by reversing years of discrimination and suppression of women's rights you perceive men to be getting the shitty end of the lollypop then that is too bad.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:23 AM on November 7, 2005


And I want you to see that you aren't playing straight. You give 10 or 12 examples above about what people wrote and what you take away from that text. And yet, when I do the same thing, in the hopes of showing you how you affect some people, suddenly it's no longer a legitimate activity?

Who's telling who how to think now?
posted by Irontom at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2005


Besides, I want what you want: I also want our society structured in such a fashion that no-one, male or female, ever feels they are powerless victims of anything.

But I'm some kind of neanderthal because you sound angry and confrontational to me?
posted by Irontom at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2005


And yet, when I do the same thing, in the hopes of showing you how you affect some people, suddenly it's no longer a legitimate activity?

Who's telling who how to think now?

posted by Irontom at 1:20 PM EST on November 7 [!]

What I am attempting to do is clarify my stance as a woman on women's rights by explaining what I wrote. If any of the men I quoated want to clarify what they wrote, I would be open to that.

Actually, I want to switch metaphors on you because I am not so thrilled with the two-ended stick. Really it is more like a feeding trough for pigs.

For thousands of years men have been feeding at the trough and only allowing women the few scraps of food that fall to the floor. What some women at this time and in this country are saying is "Move over, ya pigs, and let us share." By sharing, some of the males are bound to get smaller amounts, and end up getting angry and feeling hurt. But who knows? Maybe by sharing the food will get better, the shares will get doled out more equitably, the piglets will get better portions, and meal times may become a lot less acrimonious. Or maybe not. Maybe I am giving females too much credit.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:37 AM on November 7, 2005


I want an equal (or near equal) number of women on the Supreme Court
I want an equal number of women in Congress
I want an equal number of women CEOs on Fortune 500 companies
I want an equal number of women on the list of America's most wealthy list.


Great. I, and most men I know, would happy if women achieved these things. And many of us do what we can.

The question is how? Tell me how will "equality" be achieved when it appears there are not an equal number of qualfied women interested in doing these things? Yet.

Is there a FAIR way to achieve these ends? Do we move the bar on qualifications? Do we shift wealth around? It is it education? What?

I mean if it, this equality you want now means taking rights, power, and wealth away from me and my children... or possibly changing the effectiveness of these positions of power... then... well.. honestly? Sorry but... Fuck you. If the roles were reversed you would feel the same way, right? So explain how.
I think equality is going require patience from everybody.
posted by tkchrist at 11:53 AM on November 7, 2005


Labels like "feminist" are too broad to be much use. Stick to issues. You are for or against (with various possible qualifications) abortion, for example, and you don't have to be a feminist or anti-feminist to be on either side. You can be for or against affirmative action, for another example, and that also doesn't define you as feminist or anti-feminist. You would have a very hard time finding a woman (or a man) these days who isn't "feminist" compared to women (and men) 30 or 40 years ago, thanks of course to the "feminist movement" and all of its disparate constituents, but there have always been too many issues and too many ways of approaching them to fit under any but a very wide and slippery label.

Likewise, writing a little book about a thing called men and how they behave would require too much stereotyping to be accurate or even, I would imagine, very entertaining. I'm surprised she bothered, but maybe there's still a large market segment that gripes about those darned all-alike men.
posted by pracowity at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2005


The eradication of men and fathers from children's lives has been feminism's most despicable accomplishment

I read this to mean "Femisists should advocate for Father's rights as well."


Shouldn't they? Nobody achieves equality through oppressing others. Plenty of other examples of this same thing in your post, I'm not going to list them all.

"More likely they've [Men] turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men."

I'm guessing this means "Feminists are not allowed to be angry."


I've been angry without being hostile and demeaning on many an occassion. I think if you don't read any difference in those two it indicates something unpleasant about you.

Or perhaps you mean you read that statement to mean something more than it contains - that between the lines there's a don't be angry command. In which case I'd suggest that you're not taking other people's statements at face value and insisting no, THIS is your real message. And I thought that was what a lot of people were saying some men were doing in this thread when talking about feminism.
posted by phearlez at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2005


I want an equal (or near equal) number of women on the Supreme Court
I want an equal number of women in Congress
I want an equal number of women CEOs on Fortune 500 companies
I want an equal number of women on the list of America's most wealthy list.


Secret Life of Gravy, you want equality in terms representation, I see (equality of outcomes). I am for equality of opportunity to all.

If somebody is held back from taking a seat in Congress because of their gender, or race, or height, or because of their accent, or whatever - well - this is clearly wrong (and illegal I believe). However, it is just wrongheaded to equate unequal representation with an inequality of opportunity. Not many male nurses? Oh, the men are being discriminated against! Not enough female refuse collectors? That'll be discrimination against women! I'm guessing you're not getting my point here, but I think there are a lot of factors that determine why there are unequal representations of men and women in certain positions. Biology for one - men and women are different biologically in more ways than just the obvious - remember, difference does not mean unequal - just different. The members of one gender share tendencies that are often not found in another gender - think Venn diagrams, not black and white when I say this. Also, there is always some social "engineering" to encourage men into certain roles, women into other roles (nurture). And of course, there can be some discrimination taking place too, in individual institutions and companies. These institutions and companies are breaking the law if they are indeed hiring people based on sex and race, and also paying people less based on sex / race on a like-for-like comparison.

Secret Life of Gravy, your point of view is very strident and unequivocal. By latching onto the idea that men are living this life of Riley you imagine, and oppressing women at the same time is just causing you to feel more angry towards men it seems. Whatever anyone says here, I doubt you will change your worldview one jot.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:39 PM on November 7, 2005


"Yes, Maureen Dowd is necessary"
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on November 7, 2005


These are some of the male ideas about Feminism put forth in this discussion.

Sorry, but you don't own the term. Do you think for one minute that there is a consensus among women what feminism is or should be?

One split evidenced in this thread is the "feminism is about advocacy for women's issues" versus "feminism is about equal rights". Naturally, these two do not have to be mutually exclusive, but to certain individuals they are. And given limited resources (and media, and donations, and public attention span) it can be a zero sum game. So when -- in a particular issue -- we've moved past equality and keep on chugging along, yes, that's a problem. At least to some feminists.

Last I did work in the field, men were at risk of an assault on the street 11 times that for a woman. Yet public transit runs "safe stop"... for women, children, and senior citizens. Some of us would just like it if one kind of advocacy could, for decency's sake, be replaced with another. When is enough? Do you not care about your sons?

And yes, that point way upthread about the small majority in power is on point. I have not had 300 years of anything. I am not nor will I be "in power", nor do men unknown to me see fit to do me any favours but try to sell me things I do not need, underpay me for work if they can, and do all the other things that men (and women, when possible) have been doing since the dawn of time: competing for resources, and I'm not on their wish list. Get over your "patriarchy". We're all capitalists, now.
posted by dreamsign at 11:46 PM on November 7, 2005


Last I did work in the field, men were at risk of an assault on the street 11 times that for a woman. Yet public transit runs "safe stop"... for women, children, and senior citizens. Some of us would just like it if one kind of advocacy could, for decency's sake, be replaced with another. When is enough? Do you not care about your sons?

VAWA is a good example of that. Male victims of domestic violence are ignored. I don't expect to see feminists up in arms about the explicit sexual discrimination going on here.....which leads me to believe that feminism oftentimes is about championing women's causes whether they create parity with men, or actually gain advantage over men. Equality cuts both ways - and if feminism wants to get itself some integrity, it has to realist that.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 12:37 AM on November 8, 2005


realist realise
posted by FieldingGoodney at 12:38 AM on November 8, 2005


Secret Life of Gravy, your point of view is very strident and unequivocal. By latching onto the idea that men are living this life of Riley you imagine, and oppressing women at the same time is just causing you to feel more angry towards men it seems.

Well since you don't know me personally, I take no offense at what you think I imagine.

Not many male nurses? Oh, the men are being discriminated against! Not enough female refuse collectors? That'll be discrimination against women!
Well this an easy straw man issue to disprove. The reason why there aren't many men in nursing is because for so long it was one of those "feminized" jobs like elementary school teacher and social worker. Jobs that a) required a college degree b.) had a relatively low pay scale c) required a nurturing personality. For a long time nurses were simply secretary/waitresses-- they played the subserviant secretary to the doctor and waitress to the patient. "Oh here let me fluff up your pillow. I'm so glad my four years of college taught me the right way to do that." Most men looked at that and said "I can skip the college and the ass-wiping and make the same amount of money as a police officer." As more men enter the nursing profession maybe the profession itself will become less stigmatized and the salaries more commesurate with the job.

As to why not as many women are working as garbage collectors? Well I've only ever known one garbage collector personally and she was a woman. I think she had to prove that she could lift a certain amount of weight-- 100 lbs or something like.

But what really puzzles me is why I am supposed to be so concerned that men are 11 times more likely to be assulted on the street. You know I'm just guessing here but I would say that they are being assaulted by men about 99% of the time or more. If you are afraid you are going to get assulted I'm not going to stop you from trying to get more police or more safety classes or whatever. Be my guest. Hey here's a thought! What if more women started selling drugs, carrying large wads of cash, acting like asses-- then we can all be assaulted equally!

As to the issue of domestic violence, here is the American Bar Association Study:

90 - 95% of domestic violence victims are women.
Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Violence Between Intimates (NCJ-149259), November 1994.

as many as 95% of domestic violence perpetrators are male.
A Report of the Violence against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.

much of female violence is committed in self-defense, and inflicts less injury than male violence.
Chalk & King, eds., Violence in Families: Assessing Prevention & Treatment Programs, National Resource Council and Institute of Medicine, p. 42 (1998).


And while we are on the topic of domestic violence, let us not forget that the number one cause for death among pregnant women is homicide.

Here's my last thought on the subject. Whenever we start talking about how society still needs some work on the issue of equal rights for women, the same tired arguments crop up, including the one about men being discriminated against in the courtroom. Sure for hundreds of years men simply owned their children, so up until the 40's (or so) men automatically got awarded the kids. Then the pendulum swung the other way, and for 60 or 70 years it was women who (unless they were adulterers, drunks, drug users or insane) automatically got custody of the children.

So I am sure that you will all be relieved to know that the pendulum has started swinging back. I know several women who receive no child support because in theory the husband has 50% custody. As for myself, even though I quit working before she was born so I could be a full time mommy, my husband was awarded custody because I chose to leave the state.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:53 PM on November 8, 2005


Am I the only one here who thinks that most of the "men" in this thread sound like a bunch of cry babies?
posted by caddis at 5:36 PM on November 8, 2005


You know I'm just guessing here but I would say that they are being assaulted by men about 99% of the time or more.

Here's a thought. Maybe I'm not responsible for these perpetrators of violence, just because we both might happen to have male genitalia. Once again, it's "our side" rearing its ugly head. How about we divide this between the peaceful and the violent? Or the law-abiding and the criminal? Perpetrators and victims? Or do I deserve what I get because of the aforementioned genitalia?

I'm not going to stop you from trying to get more police or more safety classes or whatever. Be my guest.

This conveniently ignores the competition for media and, frankly, scoffing at the idea -- just as you did the sentence before -- that we deserve protection. After all, it's a "male problem", isn't it?

Hey here's a thought! What if more women started selling drugs, carrying large wads of cash, acting like asses-- then we can all be assaulted equally!

Wow, that must be it. If I'm a male, and I am assaulted on the street, it must be because:

a) I am carrying a large wad of cash,
b) I am acting like an idiot, and oh right,
c) I am selling drugs.

Hmm. Not because, for example, I was just standing on that streetcorner talking to a friend, and a guy wanted to impress his punk friends by cracking me on the jaw. Nooo. Oh here's a thought. Maybe it was the way I was dressed. And what was I doing out late, anyway? Sound familiar?

And while we're on to domestic violence, that was actually my particular area of study, and if you don't think that males underreport incidences of domestic violence by female spouses, then you don't know a thing about gender roles. Or perhaps the crippled male who was basically laughed out of a courtroom in the east (Canada) because "a real man" would never have let that happen? But of course, you need to bring up another subject to deal with the 11 to 1, because -- thanks for proving the point -- you can't deal with any kind of playing field tipped against males without deflecting attention with another that is tipped the other way.

I really thought that you started off this thread being very tolerant and reasonable, Gravy, but it turns out that you're about as bigoted as they come.

And yeah, caddis, that's the automatic implication, isn't it? I commit a crime and a woman commits a crime, and maybe I go to jail and she doesn't. Or maybe I get twice the jail sentence she does, with the same criminal background or lack thereof. "Boo hoo. Poor baby." There are real concerns here, but let us know when you're done name calling and we can discuss them.
posted by dreamsign at 5:57 PM on November 8, 2005


Oh, Boo Hoo!
posted by caddis at 6:08 PM on November 8, 2005


Hehe. Ok, that actually did make me laugh.
posted by dreamsign at 6:09 PM on November 8, 2005


:)
posted by caddis at 6:17 PM on November 8, 2005


Am I the only one here who thinks that most of the "men" in this thread sound like a bunch of cry babies?

Nope.

Sure men are assaulted on the street more often, but how many of those men are raped? I think those bus programs were implemented more with rape prevention in mind and that's why men were not considered. I think if it's dark or late at night and you don't feel safe, those bus programs should accommodate both males and females.

Men get custody more often than politically driven rights groups want to admit, even when the mother isn't a miscreant. My dad was given custody of me in 1989, my god mother's father was given custody of her in 1963. Neither of our mothers were drug addicts or abusers, our dads were just the more stable parent at the time of their divorces. (for those that know me as having been raised by my god mom, she didn't take over until I was legally emancipated from my biological parents at age 13)

Men's rights groups also love ignoring that a great deal of men are quite happy to walk away from their families after divorce and just move on. This has played no small part in the courts' rather modern practice of favouring the mother.
posted by zarah at 6:19 PM on November 8, 2005


I would say that there's a good bit of ignoring politically inconvenient facts on both sides, truly. (and even more false dichotomies, as I said before) I would agree with your custody example, however, zarah.

If you can't tell, it's really the sentencing bias that burns my ass, because I can't think of any other modern-era bias that so wholly plagues a machine we like to call the justice system. Every crime we have a law for. When defence attorneys get their defendants waived to downtown Vancouver from Delta or New West, because the downtown judges give, what -- 8% lighter sentences or what have you -- that's considered judge shopping and improper. But let's ignore -- truly ignore -- the most pervasive criminal justice bias next to race. (incidentally, I am a human rights lawyer working for the Justice department, so how's that for cognitive dissonance)

Anyway, it isn't that this is my personal bugbear. I will never (hopefully) serve a term in prison. But others do, and the sheer hypocrisy of it has me grinding my teeth away to nothing.
posted by dreamsign at 6:36 PM on November 8, 2005


Sure men are assaulted on the street more often, but how many of those men are raped?

Oh, really should have responded to this. I will then bow out, though. It isn't my intention to monopolize the thread.

Of course what you say is true, but a "damage done" analysis has other interesting things to say, largely about the double standard of what it means to do to damage to a man vs. a woman. I'm certain that no one would fail to take seriously a man punching a woman in the face on the street, without a rape. But it happens to me and it's little more than a funny anecdote. Why is that? Because I can "take it"? What does that mean, exactly? What exactly about having a penis means that my bodily security is worth less? Rape -- no. But I've never met a group of lads who think that they could score social points by decking a woman in public. I've met lots who think that of men, though, and have been willing to demonstrate on occasion.

Ok, I'm done. Appreciation all around for the more thoughtful and objective comments in the thread.
posted by dreamsign at 6:50 PM on November 8, 2005


Am I the only one here who thinks that most of the "men" in this thread sound like a bunch of cry babies?

Shaming tactic! :-)
posted by FieldingGoodney at 5:18 AM on November 9, 2005


This thread is quite funny, because I predicted earlier on the kind of male/female dichotomy that debates on sexism brings up, as if the sex of the victim matters and not the actual act of sexism itself.

I see this less in racism where people accept all racism is bad. However, sexism and sexual discrimination ironically brings out a lot of sexual stereotypes in people, and feminists tend to dismiss instances of sexism when men are the victims.

90 - 95% of domestic violence victims are women.
Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Violence Between Intimates (NCJ-149259), November 1994.


Well, let me raise you with this..... a weighty 62 page PDF study on intimate partner violence - conducted in 2000 on behalf of the US Department of Justice. It summarises that 36% of victims of intimate partner violence are male. Frankly, who cares if it was only 2% male victims, or 98% male victims, or 15% of victims favourite colour is green, or 44% of victims have blue eyes?

I guess it matters to some people because they see their victimhood as some kind of exclusive club.

Am I alone in finding this all amusing?!
posted by FieldingGoodney at 5:46 AM on November 9, 2005


However, sexism and sexual discrimination ironically brings out a lot of sexual stereotypes in people, and feminists tend to dismiss instances of sexism when men are the victims.

I don't dismiss it, as a feminist. But I do give tend to give instances of sexism towards men less importance because A.) The instances are fewer than the ones against women and B.) We have a far longer way to go for women than we do for men.

Equality for all. And right now, there's a lot more ground to cover for women.
posted by agregoli at 7:07 AM on November 9, 2005


I don't dismiss it, as a feminist. But I do give tend to give instances of sexism towards men less importance because A.) The instances are fewer than the ones against women and B.) We have a far longer way to go for women than we do for men.

Equality for all. And right now, there's a lot more ground to cover for women.


Yes, I covered this "my cause is greater than your cause" method of argument earlier upthread:-

...instead of both tackling racism as a whole, one race has the ownership of victimhood so the other race has no grounds for complaints

Thanks agregoli for providing us with a fine exemplar.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 12:02 PM on November 9, 2005


I never said that men have no grounds for complaints. You're being awfully obtuse.

But I get awfully tired of fighting for women's causes and having men say, "What about us?" Well, hell, get moving then. I'm going to fight for whoever is the most oppressed at the moment, and guess what guys? It's not you.
posted by agregoli at 12:36 PM on November 9, 2005


But I get awfully tired of fighting for women's causes and having men say, "What about us?" Well, hell, get moving then. I'm going to fight for whoever is the most oppressed at the moment, and guess what guys? It's not you.

If you actually believed what you said, you'd find the needs of starving children in the 3rd world more of a priority than women's rights in the first world. Sorry, but I think your comment is simply self-serving.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2005


Wouldn't it be nice if you could just browbeat me into submission by the sheer force of your writing? Wouldn't it be great if all you had to do was tell me I'm a "strident," "angry" "bigot" who "needs to change her world view" and I would rush to obey?

Sadly, it just doesn't work that way. All your efforts are for naught, because I will continue to believe that women have a long way to go before they achieve parity in this country. And as a feminist I will continue to advocate for women's rights in order to achieve equality.

Oh look! I didn't even mention men in the above two paragraphs. How is that even possible? Surely the world revolves around men! Surely I must be concerned about the many, many problems men have!

No. Not so much. Because I'm a bigot.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:58 PM on November 9, 2005


Yes you are. But at least you're an honest, if smarmy, one.
posted by dreamsign at 10:00 PM on November 9, 2005


All your efforts are for naught, because I will continue to believe that women have a long way to go before they achieve parity in this country.

Yay! Yet another prediction I made has come true (Whatever anyone says here, I doubt you will change your worldview one jot.).

It's fun when you have these debates in a meta-analysis kind of way.

My posts were merely to highlight bigoted thinking. Changing it is something else.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 12:12 AM on November 10, 2005


Dreamsign: Please do me two favors (yes I know it is a lot to ask, but we have been through so much!):

1. Go take a look at the male privilege checklist

2. Look up the words "smarmy" "bigot" and "feminist" in the dictionary. I don't think they mean what you think they mean.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:35 PM on November 10, 2005


Sure, I like doing favours.

Mirriam-Webster ok?

Etymology: smarm to gush, slobber
1 : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness

No problem. I think you might need to look up the other two yourself, though.

As for #1, have I denied any concern you have voiced? If anyone here is saying that men and women can't both be the victims, it is you. Again. And again. And again.

posted by dreamsign at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2005


oops. accidental bold. but it sure is fun to use, isn't it Gravy?
posted by dreamsign at 8:10 PM on November 10, 2005


Of course there are male victims. Nobody said there weren't. I have asserted again and again that I want to focus on the problems in society that I think are important to address, and I invite you to do the same. Let me repeat this since you seem to have missed it:

If you are afraid you are going to get assaulted I'm not going to stop you from trying to get more police or more safety classes or whatever. Be my guest.

Apparently though you will not extend me the same courtesy. You seem to believe that by parading your victimhood around I'm supposed to be convinced I need to work on rights for men. That just isn't going to happen.

smarmy Ingratiating; flattering; obsequious.

bigot Person obstinately and unreasonably holding some creed or view and intolerant to others.

Feminist Person advocating claims and achievements of women; advocant of woman's rights.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2005


If you are afraid you are going to get assaulted I'm not going to stop you from trying to get more police or more safety classes or whatever. Be my guest.

And there's me thinking everybody was deserving of equal protection anyway, gee.....let me see now......nope, not quite true! It seems male victims of domestic violence somehow need their OWN legislation - so instead of having one, all-encompassing protective system that doesn't discriminate by gender (hmm, something most feminists would be against, surely?), we need two - one for men, and one for women.

Ahh, but there is ONLY one system (in the US) in place at the moment - Violence Against WOMEN Act.

You seem to believe that by parading your victimhood around I'm supposed to be convinced I need to work on rights for men. That just isn't going to happen.

By not caring about men and not seeing sexism as a problem that affects both men and women, you look like a self-serving "women-firster". I know you don't care about that, but you might want to realise that it's actually counter-productive to your cause to have this image. Of course, you may not even care about that, to which point I think you really have a problem with men, and this whole feminist thing is a psychological prop for you.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 1:55 AM on November 11, 2005


Oh geez, the "problem with men" comment. How original.

:::rolls eyes:::
posted by agregoli at 7:17 AM on November 11, 2005


Since I won't kowtow to your ideas about how I should act as a feminist that makes me a selfish, angry man-hater, hostile blah, blah, blah.

Funny how you demand I serve your needs, but I'm the one that is selfish.

Just keep telling yourself what a horrible, horrible person I am so that you can dismiss everything I've written. I wonder, though, in your enthusiasm to pat yourself on the back for your predictions as to how this thread would go, did you never wonder how you could change the inevitable shouting match? Did you never ask yourself why? Why do women get so upset when the discussion is always turned back to men?

I know, I know, the world revolves around men. It is not enough that men run the government and the business world and the religious world, men also want to control how women think. Unless I think exactly like you and do what you tell me to do, I must be a (insert latest tirade against me personally.)

It must be very frightening to you that many women are so independent.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:43 AM on November 11, 2005


I know, I know, the world revolves around men. It is not enough that men run the government and the business world and the religious world, men also want to control how women think. Unless I think exactly like you and do what you tell me to do, I must be a (insert latest tirade against me personally.)

Simple question: do you see equality as equal representation of both male and female workers in each job position, or equality of opportunity?

Did it occur to you that unequal representation might be more to do with women's choices being different from men's choices? And that would surely be down to a combination of social engineering and simple biological differences (both nurture and nature). You seem to overlook these two influences - why? You lay the blame squarely on sexual discrimination, and not the choices people make.

Discriminating against a person based on their sex is illegal. Did you know that?
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:13 AM on November 11, 2005


Oh look! I didn't even mention men in the above two paragraphs. How is that even possible? Surely the world revolves around men! Surely I must be concerned about the many, many problems men have!

No. Not so much. Because I'm a bigot.


If you're extra sympathetic to problems of women because you are one and identify with them, that's fine, and pretty natural, and a good starting place from which to address women's issues.

If, on the other hand, you're essentially unsympathetic toward the problems of some segment of humanity because of their gender, then yes, you're a sexist bigot, feminism notwithstanding. And you can congratulate yourself about being a good soldier for the female side of the War, but don't for a damn minute think that you're doing anything to create the peace where the pendulum you spoke of rests in equilibrium.
posted by namespan at 2:29 PM on November 27, 2005


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