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Quit blaming men.
August 21, 2001 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Quit blaming men. An opinion of my favorite writer. Quote: The novelist Doris Lessing yesterday claimed that men were the new silent victims in the sex war, "continually demeaned and insulted" by women without a whimper of protest.
posted by acridrabbit (24 comments total)

 
Another point might be that every word levied against men is basically reflected tenfold against women, because of the way the system continues to favor men.
posted by Ptrin at 7:42 PM on August 21, 2001


Hmm. Lessing seems focused a bit much on child care as the main feminist issue. It's definitely one of the issues of feminist politics, but I don't see where she gets the idea that men and women are on equal pay scales. That's nutty.

Slightly disheartening to see how the article itself was written. The "sex war" implies that gender issues are approached only through fierce battle pitting men against women against men. Too often, mainstream media lump feminists together, as though we're a unified group with one main goal. I don't think that's the case; times have changed since the second wave. Most women I know today have feminist tenets (belief that men and women should be given equal pay, etc.) but many are hesitant to call themselves feminists. Those that do have different definitions of what feminism means to them... the personal is political and all that.

Are men misaligned? Yes and no, and again, it's on a personal level. I groan whenever I hear a woman (Valerie Solanas?) make a blanket statement like "Men are scum." And the same goes for anybody who disrespects womanhood. I will say, however, that I am boiling-hot over the sexism that many men display. I can't walk down the street without a HEY BABY NICE TITS or a hiss-hiss or something similar meant to put me in my place. And at times like those, I'm filled with a rage that makes me hate the way women are mistreated. Rationally I don't hate manhood at that time, but I usually form slightly violent Buffyesque fantasies that involve me symbolically kicking patriarchal culture's arse.
posted by acornface at 7:52 PM on August 21, 2001


"I can't walk down the street without a HEY BABY NICE TITS or a hiss-hiss or something similar meant to put me in my place."

Weird, as a man, I have never felt the need to do anything like that. (Now, as a boy I did many foolish things)

I have a problem with the associating the behavior of a few to an entire gender. These people certainly are not the spokesperson for all men.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:42 PM on August 21, 2001


A true feminist would style herself after drag queens or hookers and give it right back to them: “You bet they're nice, honey. Don't you wish you had a pair?” True feminists do something. And you can't expect tidy middle-class behaviour on the street.

Income disparities between men and women (in Canada, anyway) are very small when education levels are matched. The overall disparity is, however, obviously in place.
posted by joeclark at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2001


controlling for several different factors, i was told researchers had determined a 10% gap in pay that cannot be explained by anything but sexism (that is, excluding education level, career path, experience, and a number of other mitigating factors). the actual gap, however, remains 30%. and even 10% can be significant when you're discussing salaries payed in the tens of thousands.
posted by moz at 10:52 PM on August 21, 2001


actually, i should say not say education level, but rather the prestige of the institute providing said education. pardon the brain fart
posted by moz at 10:53 PM on August 21, 2001


A true feminist would style herself after drag queens or hookers and give it right back to them

Uh, wouldn't a "true feminist" do whatever seemed appropriate to her personality and predilections?

Just wonderin'...
posted by anildash at 1:24 AM on August 22, 2001


Boy Howdy! You fillies sure are cute when ya'll get all worked up over this here ERA stuff.

covers head and runs like hell.... ;-)
posted by Optamystic at 2:14 AM on August 22, 2001


"In fact, there's no wage disparity at all among full-time workers between the ages of 21 and 35 who live alone, the Employment Policy Foundation's people say. What's more, the pay gap is only 3 percent among full-time employees who are married but childless, the foundation's information says."

That's from a CNN article which hears from opposing viewpoints on this.

One bone I'd pick with the article - this unchallenged statement is false: "Men can choose to have children and choose to be admitted to the workforce because they've already established that women will be doing the caring work, relieving them of the work-family conflict." Wrong. No man in America has the has the final say in having children.
posted by NortonDC at 4:31 AM on August 22, 2001


I can't walk down the street without a HEY BABY NICE TITS or a hiss-hiss or something similar meant to put me in my place. And at times like those, I'm filled with a rage that makes me hate the way women are mistreated.

Mistreated? Am I missing something here? I love getting compliments, and no less so for my physical attributes.
posted by dagny at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2001


I agree with dagny. Acorn, why do you consider this such an insult? (I don't think you're wrong in doing so, I'm just curious as to your reasoning. Hell, I'd probably welcome a catcall or two.)
posted by tweebiscuit at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2001


men were the new silent victims in the sex war, "continually demeaned and insulted" by women without a whimper of protest.

This type of statement, so common, is unbelievably stupid.

I'm so glad that all of our society's complex social problems can be boiled down to blaming either "The Men" or "The Women" (not much variation within either of those groups, apparently).
posted by straight at 7:21 AM on August 22, 2001


actually straight, many of society's problems are caused by people who either look or talk funny.
posted by Octaviuz at 9:08 AM on August 22, 2001


actually straight, many of society's problems are caused by people who either look or talk funny.

Don't forget these popular causes of societal problems, Octaviuz:

• Smell funny
• Sound funny
• Write funny
• Think they're funny
• Feel funny
• Dance funny
• Taste funny
• Know something funny
• Try to be funny
• Look at you funny
• Think you're funny
• Dress funny
• Eat funny
• Walk funny
• Act funny
• Megalomania
posted by iceberg273 at 9:19 AM on August 22, 2001


Are you serious?

I also enjoy receiving compliments, but you have to admit that there's a difference between "You have the stunning beauty not seen since the days of Audrey Hepburn" and "HEY BABY NICE TITS." The former is meant to express appreciation, admiration, or opinion. It's an observation, a pleasant one at that. The latter is vulgar and demeaning because there's no respect involved for me as a person; to many of the vegetable unpackers and construction workers who line the streets of my work commute, I am just something to look at, something fuckable.

Here are some of the other things I've heard while walking down the street this week (keep in mind, it's only Wednesday):

- "Hey baby, let me pop your cherrrry! Yeah, aieee! etc."
- "Nice scooter... I bet you could ride me like that."
- "I need a kitty to relax me... you have kitty eyes, you look like a cat" (this from coworker. kitty indeed)
- "OOOOH, yeahhhhh! YEAH!" (staring at me as I walk by)

And those are just a few examples. I haven't listed the intense stares at m'arse--or the plasticine insurance guy who, when getting on the Halsted bus, will bypass a dozen empty seats to sit down next to a young woman and ask her about her love life.
posted by acornface at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2001


One last note -- the Employment Policy Foundation is a conservative think tank, so their research and statistics may be biased. Just saying.
posted by acornface at 10:30 AM on August 22, 2001


"I have a problem with the associating the behavior of a few to an entire gender. These people certainly are not the spokesperson for all men."

True however there is difference between those who don't do anything about a given situation and those who take try to make a difference (although they are in no way responsible for it) however small. In some cases, people benefit from a given situation, although they do nothing to create, they don't do anything to combat it either.

This idea, reminiscent of the Victorian era's tolerance of child workers in the post industrial era, was nicely explored in Peter Greenaway's movie "The cook the thief the wife, and her lover"

I'm pretty much just amazed that anyone would be pleased to be the subject of catcalls and open commentary in public. I think it would be humiliating and rather degrading over time. It's a power thing.

On a personal basis, it's quite disappointing to me when people I admire for any reason make statements or reveal beliefs which absolutely and utterly go against my own set of morals. Lately, Fay Weldon made the comment that "Rape is not the worst thing that can happen to a woman" Going on to mention that she was nearly raped in the back seat of a car when she was a young woman, and it "didn't do me any harm"

Nearer to home (for me) a far lessor talent, Helen Garner, wrote an impassioned rant about a local scandal where two young women reported being sexually harassed by a lecturer at their college. Called "The First Stone" Garner, against the wishes of the lecturer, pretty much ignored the central problem, which was that the college failed to do anything about the case, and pretty much blamed the young women involved for not taking the "attention" as a compliment.

This book is the subject of a collection of essays called "Bodyjamming" which is edited by Jemma Mead and disputes Garners central argument.

However much we admire them, writers and great thinkers are never without flaws. They are as are we the products of a certain time and place. Although I no longer read Weldon I generally make allowances for this fact. Recently I read the diaries of Thomas Mann, and was taken aback somewhat by a couple of negative comments that he made about Jews prior to the war (he did not repeat this line of thinking afterwards)

Sometimes I think that older people forget what it is like to be young. They imbue in the young a certain status that is simply does not exist outside of the world of advertising and fond memories. They admire the young and believe them to be stronger and worldlier than they in fact are. They see that society has changed. Perhaps they see more of the good and less of the bad. Yes, lots of negatives that they had to learn to tolerate have gone or are lessened in their effect.

Perhaps also these comments are at times taken out of context.

I do agree with Lessing that Childcare is an important and oft-ignored issue. I know I don't agree with everything she is quoted as saying, however I will continue to find her an inspiring writer and this does not alter my overall view of her as a writer or as a person.
posted by lucien at 2:50 PM on August 22, 2001


Being male I don't think I can really comment on whether or not women have achieved real equality with men on any of the point she mentions in the article. However, I have to say that if you look at network sitcoms today (especially those revolving around married couples) it seems like most are populated with:

1) stupid men who always say/do the wrong thing and are obsessed with sex and/or pornography.

2) amaziningly wise and intelligent women who, if they ever make an "honest mistake", imediately appologize.

Think "Everybody Love Raymond", "King of Queens", "Friends", "Yes, Dear", Etc. Of course there are exceptions to this, but I definitely see a pattern.
posted by cakeman at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2001


1) stupid men who always say/do the wrong thing and are obsessed with sex and/or pornography.

Unless the man is gay.
Stereotypes in sitcoms are easily explained by the fact that marketing people are only interested in appealing to "women". Given that most shopping is done by women and that TV is there to sell advertising TV has to appeal to "women".
posted by davidgentle at 5:36 PM on August 22, 2001


Unless the man is gay.

eh-hem... gay man porn (just look at filepile one weekend).
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:31 PM on August 22, 2001


"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

As a male, this is the type of mentality that I'd like to avoid. It's a battle not worth fighting, because you don't know who you're fighting against. If you find someone, you just further the examples of stereotyping in which it would be absurd to expect positive outcomes. There are also way too many factors involved in how a human get's pissed off and blames a stereotyped portion of population. Had a bad day at work? Must be those damn Cream fans!

Without sounding like Rodney King, can we stop being so trite?
posted by samsara at 7:46 AM on August 23, 2001


"Income disparities between men and women (in Canada, anyway) are very small when education levels are matched. The overall disparity is, however, obviously in place."

the overall disaparity? could that be explained by a disparity in education? (i don't actually know if there is one, this is merely speculation on my part)
posted by raedyn at 11:46 AM on August 23, 2001


Full disclosure: I am a white male, and thus have an inevitably skewed view of this issue. I have to say, though, that I agree with Lessig's stance: males in the past decade have been made to think (in a variety of ways) that their maleness is somehow shameful.

A word to the women out there: we really can't help it most of the time. Evolution has worked its inexorable will on us just as it has on the females of our species. Testosterone is a harsh taskmaster, and sometimes our forebrains cannot override the impulses of the endocrine system. Males are hardwired for this kind of behavior -- you'd better either learn to deal with it or enter a monastery.

Women no less than men are prone to certain behaviors that are evolutionary artifacts -- acquisitiveness, for example, or the female tendency to seek comfort in groups of other women.

I remember a book by a psychologist (can't remember the name, but it was a woman) who compared men to hatchets and women to Swiss Army knives. Her point was that men as a group tend to have a narrow but deep focus on things, while women tend to keep a shallower but broader focus. Bear in mind that this is only true of groups; the book had nothing to say about individual men or women. It was interesting me me because it illustrates in an easily understandable way that men and women are different in fundamental ways, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing -- in optimal situations, we strengthen each other where we are weak.

I guess my point here (if I have one :-}) is that gender differences are as much biological as cultural. We guys don't mean to be such jerks. Sometimes, we just can't help it.
posted by mrmanley at 12:59 PM on August 23, 2001


"We guys don't mean to be such jerks. Sometimes, we just can't help it."

I think that's a culturally-induced view of being male that has had it's day. None of us are perfect, but we can "help it" we can, every day.

Yes, there are steretypes in the media, and each gender tends to notice most those sterotypes which belittle them. Both genders, I am sure, would like to see far less gender-stereotyping in the media. However, sadly, popular media tends to lag behind progressive attitudes. Popular media is not a force for change, it is a force for generating money.
posted by lucien at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2001


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