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Messages - Kate

Main / Re: Science vs. Feminism
May 16, 2007, 08:39 AM
Hey bluedye - I will respond more fully to your post tomorrow. I will just say that yes, actually, I do *try* and scrutinise feminist theory also. I say try, because, if we're being honest, we all have blindspots. So I think it's much easier to point out the ones that we see in others. It doesn't have to be a destructive act...and just maybe, we will gain the skills needed to turn it on ourselves.  There are those who will say that is too idealistic but I have my reasons. So, I welcome discussion about feminist theory.
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 16, 2007, 02:24 AM
Dr E. I have answered on the other thread. But there are still unanswered questions on this one, too...

Apologies, though, as I still haven't figured out the blockquote function. I've enabled Javascript but can't get it to preview.

gwallan - re: NOW/Fawcett - I've addressed these on the 'has feminism hurt men and boys' thread.

As for the "wall of feminist hate quotes"....
Dr E, do you really want to go down this road? I could make a very good case, should I choose to, that MRAs are misogynists or whatever, if the evidence required is simply a wall of quotes taken out of context. If you really do believe that these statements represent feminism or have had a causal effect on society's treatment of men, then how about you argue it honestly? i.e. you take a quote from that selection, place it in context of the original source (one which we can both access, and ideally, one which anyone reading may access) and then we can debate the text, it's influences, and harms arising or not arising, fair and square.
As regards David Byron's definition of a hate group - again, a case could be made that MRAs are a hate group against feminism!

Hansside -

"Feminism is, per definition, woman-centric." -Right.  "The unspoken ideal is thus woman." - doesn't follow. Ideal for who? Feminists? Everyone? "Men can then only hope to become honorary women." - yes, if feminists were as you say they were and also if they ruled a totalitarian state....come on. I think we need to investigate what you mean by "woman" - what's wrong with being a woman or a honorary woman anyway?

"If society is centered around women's needs than men are valued not in their own right, but only to the extent that they further women's welfare." - yes, maybe, but that is a hell of a big IF.

"Feminism has been very succesfull in making society more women-centered." -yes, and that is an excellent thing, because society needs to be more equal in its representation. We're still not there yet, with women, or people of colour, or disabled people, or....and no, I don't have a problem with acknowledging that men need more representation in many areas, either!

Dr E - I am not familiar with the nurse/witness? or indeed, the case (Duke rape case)? We can discuss it if you want but I would need to research it.

MAUS - you make interesting, if extremely odd, points. I wonder what you can mean with your references to Sacher-Masoch and your dark hints about political lesbianism. I am not averse to discussing such things, but I wouldn't want to corrupt you, MAUS.

Gonzokid - your questions re: what is feminism are valid ones, and I have posted a part of my own motivations on the intro thread. It's a bit off topic here so I will try to answer your questions another time on that thread, regarding definitions and so on. I do note that you have indeed posted your own manifesto, yet nobody else here has answered my question as to whether other MRAs must agree with that manifesto or indeed any manifesto to subscribe to being an MRA. Intellectually dishonest? Or able to appreciate that there are shades of grey in the world of human understanding? Your arguments here tend towards a kind of fundamentalism. I'm not sure on affirmative action, actually - I need to check my understanding of that term and find out how it was implemented in the US as opposed to the UK (not even sure if it ever was, I certainly never benefited knowingly that I remember). So I'll answer that another time. Meanwhile, I think it's only fair that you answer my questions about science in the Healthy Masculinity thread.
Not sure what your point is with the divorce story. Are you saying that someone always winds up hurt so...what does this mean for equality?
Re: your personal history with DV. As you know that is a huge topic, too much for me to go into detail with here. I will say that I don't necessarily follow what I imagine YOU think is the 'feminist' line of thinking on the subject, however, I have yet to see a convincing argument on the MRM side either. Please see the end of this post as regards my main worry with the MRA ideological position on DV.

Bachelor Tom - I find your worry about 'western women' will stop breeding curious. Also, if you are so worried about that, why be a bachelor??? And, how is feminism responsible for stopping women breeding?

Dr X - not only is your post about my honest attempts at dialogue an ad hom attack, but you manage to shame anyone here who actually wants to reply or read posts written by the so-called enemy. Nice one. "Make her prove herself to you." - If this is the attitude, then why should I even bother?  If you would care to read my very first couple of posts, you can find out for yourself how I got here and why. I also stated that in this thread, anyone who does not wish to respond to me does. Not. Have. To.  "You're the ones with the facts." Well, really, if that were true, then why has nobody actually answered my questions with serious substantiated facts, links to studies they endorse, text sources they can actually produce as evidence of their claims etc? OK: maybe this will actually happen. As I've said, I will wait and see.

High desert - I do not endorse killing infants, nor do I agree that rape victims should pay child support. I find it incredible that you are suggesting these are feminist agendas or something. Links/evidence, please.

Overall note to everyone: from what I can see, the main problem with your arguments is that on the one hand, you argue from biological differences to promote policy changes in schools etc. Yet you will not acknowledge the part biological differences may play in issues of violence, including rape and domestic violence. If ANYONE here can refute this apparent contradiction in a logical way, I would like to hear it....also, if anyone actually wants to answer any of the questions I have asked about the MRM that would be nice, too.
Capt DMO - as per my 'strand' of feminism, I agree with you that the term has been re-defined and co-opted and the web is chock full of this sort of thing, though I have to say, it is a little ironic to hear an MRA saying this. I've outlined some of my reasons for identifying as feminist in the 'intro' forum. I'm a little disturbed by your cynicism as to my statement that political ideology should not trump compassion. I wonder why you have come to this cynicism.
I invite you cordially to shred academic theories, including mine. It is what they are for - attempted shredding; and actual dialogue on the issues will hopefully proceed. Anecdotal phenomena is indeed touching at times, though I'm not sure it can prove ideology in any real way - art, however, is perhaps the great unifier and common denominator, and perhaps you are also including such things. In fact, the possibilities of creative endeavour have a lot to do with the fact I am still optimistic about human beings, despite the shitty things people do to each other every day.

Sociopathic Revolution, your points are interesting and perhaps we can discuss them at greater length if you are so inclined. Off the bat I would probably say that hypergamy is related to accessing power by proxy. If you read my intro thread you will probably see why I don't see it as a problem that feminism is woman-centric, though in areas which have traditionally been dominated by women or the feminine (eg. childrearing)  men may be, indeed, at a disadvantage. However, I do not lay the blame for this on feminism or even women alone. My problem with the MRM is in trying to find out why they seem to do this. And yes, I am also trying to see it from the point of view of, if you like, the reverse of my own beliefs...i.e., for the sake of argument, I am trying to imagine "what if...?" What if...the MRM was right about feminism? What if the damage done to men was really caused by feminism? What would this mean for the world? Trouble is, to do that, I have to try and balance the good the MRM might be doing for men with the bad consequences for women. So I think one does need to ask, how would the MRM ensure that women are, indeed, treated fairly within their ideology. The question here is really - what if feminism collapsed, and MRM became incredibly powerful? How would women be treated in THAT world? How would non-macho men be treated? Would it be better than now? A question for a separate thread maybe, another time.

Neonsamurai - your beef, as you put it, with feminism is related to the fact that it is woman-centric. As I've already argued, I don't see this as a problem per se. It's not a secret, i.e. NOW is explicitly titled 'for women.' The reason is that feminism, specifically feminist activism and organisations, identify the inequality already existent within society as far as it relates to WOMEN. So they are reacting to already existent inequalities etc. This does not necessarily mean that feminists don't care about men, or that men cannot be pro-feminist, but you're correct in asserting that issues primarily associated with men are not such organisations' priorities. I ask you, why should they be? This isn't a heartless question! I don't think these organisations are stopping men from gaining rights that they don't have, and I don't think feminism is about hating men. Your argument rests on the assumption that equality for women already exists in every area. Maybe you think it does. But that is a different discussion.

Zarby, your argument - which reduces human beings to gambling, greedy money-grubbers -  makes large generalisations about men and women. It's not really related to the topic title of feminism's specific harms. But I agree, your vision of the world is pretty bleak.
Bluedye - I've responded to the question about stats earlier in this post.

TBQ - I must take issue with your statement that disagreeing with NOW means disagreeing with 'modern, mainstream feminism.' This is totally US centric! I won't argue that NOW has no influence on feminism or feminists today, but I do take issue with the statement that I cannot possibly disagree with anything they say and yet be a feminist!!! I have never lived in the US, for one, and actually, I am not totally familiar with NOW or all their policies. This is not to say I agree or disagree with them, necessarily: ask me about a specific issue and we can discuss it, but I would have to research it. I am not sure I can accept, on face value, your assertions that men have no rights re: reproduction, or that VAWA is unfair because it doesn't address all victims of all violence. Are you agreeing that men commit more violence BTW? You don't mention that. Maybe you will attempt to answer the questions I asked earlier in my reply to Sociopathic Revolution - namely, if the MRM is MORE in favour of equality than feminism is, then how do they/will they ensure that equality is not only for Men? As a woman, I'm curious to hear your response to that. How are your rights protected under the MRM?
Apologies for the lengthy post(s). I have tried to reply to as many as I could.

Dr E: the system you describe sounds like it would indeed, hurt men and boys. If you TRULY believe that is the current system, then I can see why you think it is unfair.
However, as I am sure you can see by now, I don't agree that the current system is quite how you have described it: I also don't agree that where boys and men are disadvantaged, feminism is necessarily the cause.

Gonzo, your views on forcible removed custody have been noted. I hope you were joking.

Zarby, I agree that boys may be 'thinking about things like these.' People think about lots of things all the time.

Brian, as we discussed briefly, I am interested to know how you connect feminism to the poor image of men and boys presented in the media. I understand what you are saying about not feeling needed, but really, why would the views of some women, lesbians, that they don't need men, affect you so negatively? They were talking about their own preferences. Why is that so threatening to some men? Furthermore, I would be interested to know why you think (if you think) women aren't presented in negative ways in the media. I think they are.

TBQ, your argument 'the numbers speak for themselves' as regards to boys is fair enough, yet I don't see that same argument 'the numbers speak for themselves' being made by MRAs with regards to rape statistics, DV stats etc. i.e. statistics that show men at fault, or women as primary victims of harm, are strongly contested by MRAs in many areas. Personally, I think that is well and dandy - statistics should be questioned, no problem with that. They should be placed in context and discussed. So:
80% Ritalin users - where did you get this stat? This is, indeed, worrying.
80% teen suicides - I was aware that boys commit suicide more often in the US, but that girls attempt suicide 3x as often as boys. So I don't really agree with making suicide a male-only issue, nevertheless I would support male-oriented services (as well as female-oriented ones) and research into gendered differences in suicide methods and motivations. Do you know of any research that points to reasons given for suicidal tendencies in teens? As far as I am aware, peer bullying is often cited as one of the main reasons. But I would need to research further to comment more on this.

The other stats you quote all relate to the 'boy crisis' in schools that Dr E also emphasised in his intro to this thread. Now I don't think it is as simple as making out that boys' biology is different and the learning environment doesn't suit them. You can't ignore that race and class affect the stats. Why do white boys do better than Hispanic and black girls at grade 4 reading, for example? Here is a report, which shows the trends and breaks down the achievement groups for the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) report from the U.S. Dept of Education.
As you can see, it paints a rather different picture to the 'boy crisis' one. Further, it tracks both the national report from 2005 comparing boys and girls, the main NAEP which has tracked students since the early 1990s, and the 'long term trend' NAEP which has tracked students since the early 1970s. I will not detail every place this study contradicts your findings or ideology, you can read for yourselves.

Furthermore, here is preliminary report on Christina Hoff Sommers' 'Where the Boys Are' - specifically, it addresses problems with Sommers' condemnation of feminism:

Furthermore, Mark Liberman of Language Log has investigated and repudiated the scientific studies cited in several books which popularize the 'boy crisis'. He has posted the critiques AND the original, cited scientific studies online so that anyone may see and judge for themselves. If anyone here is interested in reading the original source material I can post the links. The authors that are found to have misquoted or misused scientific findings include: David Brooks: Leonard Sax: Michael Gurian: and Kathy Stevens. (Bluedye and Shiva: please note that the "talkativeness as a female trait" theory is investigated at length, traced back through popular media and literature and is found to have no basis in any scientific research that the author is aware of. If you know otherwise! Please DO post a link to the actual study/ies!)
Now, please note that I am not arguing that everything these authors have said or written is false. I am very suspicious as to WHY they would argue what is actually an ideological argument from the standpoint of assumed (and it seems, at the very least, extremely exaggerated) 'scientific objectivity.' Dr E - in another thread you said that you would always hope that a scientist is a scientist first and a ___ second. Well, I hope that you have the courage of YOUR convictions and rather than just brush these criticisms off, actually investigate them.

If you are interested in debating these issues from ideological standpoints, without claiming some kind of prior legitimacy derived from exaggerated sex differences, then we might actually be able to find some points of genuine agreement. I will wait and see how it plays out. We can talk about issues like single sex schooling and modern vs traditional teaching methods, which I am not necessarily against...
Main / Re: Science vs. Feminism
May 16, 2007, 01:56 AM
Bluedye, this is a nice attempt at reframing the original argument we were having last week. Anyone who wants to can access that thread - titled Healthy Masculinity - and see for themselves my original argument which was never 'feminism is better than science' or any such nonsense.
However, for the benefit of those who are too busy to follow back to the source, I will reiterate it here: my original argument was not, actually with Bluedye per se, but with some other members of this forum who had declared sex differences irrefutably proved by hard science and furthermore, found that said sex differences disproved feminism's attempt to 'argue that there were no sex differences.' I disagreed on the following counts:
a.   That certain sex differences IN BEHAVIOUR were irrefutably proved. I think one can argue that there is evidence to show that there are differences on the whole between the average man and the average woman. However, I am not at all convinced by certain arguments relating those biological differences to social roles. I remain open minded.
b.   That feminism is necessarily founded on believing there are NO sex differences. This is an absurd argument and Bluedye, who persists in making it without any evidence other than his own opinion, is only making himself look foolish. I asked you who was making this argument and you said 'radical feminists.' So I must ask you again: who, specifically, amongst radical feminists is making this argument?
c.   My main point - and I can't believe this is the one you picked up on, Bluedye - is that it is rather hubristic to call any scientific finding 'irrefutable.' This may seem a small point to you, but actually it is a crucial one in science - and, as I pointed out - one of the main things that distinguishes the scientific method from faith or ideology. In other words, I believe it is a strength. If you cannot understand why, then your argument is with eg. Karl Popper. Feel free to critique the notion of falsifiability by all means. Please note: this argument has nothing to do with feminism or anti-feminism, merely the wrong-headed arguments some people were making with regards to science. I argue that science in the service of ideology has, historically, been a dangerous and misused tool. How come you can accept that if you think about science in the service of feminism, but not if it is in the service of Men's rights?
Introductions / Re: Message for Mr Bad...
May 16, 2007, 01:52 AM
Dr E:

"For myself I think that for centuries men and women have been limited in their actions.."


"...based on mutually agreed upon rigid sex roles."

-Nope. I have a big problem with this. How can one say such sex roles were mutually agreed upon? That sounds like men and women had equal agency whereas I don't believe they could have done: you even acknowledge that where women were tied to the hearth, men were tied to, amongst other things, "administration of communities." I just cannot understand how you acknowledge this yet refuse to see the situation as in any way slanted in favour of those who had ownership rights i.e. men. Women were legally the PROPERTY of their fathers or husbands, still are in some parts of the world, and yet you are refusing to admit this leads to any type of coercion or unequal treatment for women....same goes for the suffrage argument. I understand what you are saying as regards enfranchisement being tied to property. I believe it was this way in the UK prior to 1832. The law then DISenfranchised women (although, it is not the case that women had equal representation before that, simply that they were not specifically disenfranchised by law) until women were granted equal rights to vote in 1928. Come on. If disenfranchisement was such a fair deal for certain people then why has there NEVER been a movement from a group with voting rights who want to give up those rights in favour of a less responsible, more pleasure-filled existence?

Secondly, Dr E, your comment as regards not having a problem with allowing women a's a little disingenuous. We both know singing isn't really the issue. Hell, even slaves were tolerated at times to sing the blues. The problem was never really whether women should speak, write, sing literally. It was what they chose to speak, write and sing about.  Yes, we can move this conversation on to the other thread, to discuss feminism's content. But I will note that I have not been offered a plausible explanation for even the most basic, least controversial question that I asked above....why there were no female philosophers...feminism offers an answer to this, so why can't the MRM?

Chris Key - the issue of rights and responsibilities is a red herring. The idea that wanting rights without responsibilities is a specific fault of women is mistaken. The impulse towards selfishness - towards having your cake and eating it - may be found in all humans, and where anyone is granted rights, they have the opportunity to abuse that priviledge. But without rights, they are without power/autonomy (except power through proxy). In fact, Chris, your argument skewers itself - by your logic, before women were able to vote, they could not be held responsible for any policy of government.
I am not going to address the other points you raised. If you read my original posting on 'has feminism hurt men & boys' you will see why. I'm not here to stamp on people's pain or grief. I think you are grieving for your father. I wish you well.
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 11, 2007, 09:08 PM
OK folks. I am not going to be able to post here until next week, weds or thurs. Just to let anyone with bated breath know! I'll try and address everyone's points then :)
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 11, 2007, 02:05 AM
Brian, that is exactly what I'm asking. I *don't* think men are inherently evil or of less value than women, and I want to know why you do - and, why you think feminism is the cause of this, or a large contributing factor. NOBODY should feel a priori inferior on the basis of their sex!
Introductions / Re: Message for Mr Bad...
May 11, 2007, 02:00 AM
OK. I said I'd make a post on how and why I am a feminist, so I'm going to do that here. I'm not sure what 'category' of feminist I fall into, perhaps y'all will be able to discern it with the femdar: I used to be into queer theory rather than feminism, but I've come to appreciate that feminism has a lot of insights to offer, and whilst I don't agree with all of the conclusions that different feminists come to, I certainly don't see it as a 'failed philosophy.'

Before I do, I will make a small note on Hugo Schwyzer. As I've mentioned, I didn't come here to speculate on Hugo's character, motivations or blogging ethics. (For the record, I think he is an excellent blogger, who takes pains to analyse his own prejudices as he sees them and examines how they relate to his political philosophy - he's not forcing anyone to agree with him. To argue that he is censoring MRA arguments seems disingenuous - not only has he blogged extensively on the men's movement, but he has allowed MRAs to post for years, and their posts are archived for all to see).

If you want to discuss pro-feminist approaches to masculinity and debate the content of the arguments, that's a different matter.

So, why do I call myself a feminist? I will attempt to explain it as I see it. Feel free to question or disagree.

Partly, its out of recognition and respect for the many people - men and women - who have gone before me: I recognise that at no other time in history has a woman in my position had as many rights and priviledges as I do now. My life, my choices, my education - all would not have been possible without feminism and women's suffrage. I can compare my life to my mother's, my grand-mother's, my great-grandmother's. Without a doubt, I would choose my own - I have choices they never even dreamed of. Damn right it's a priviledge. However, my rights and priviledges are mine because I'm a human being, not a woman. All human beings should have them.

How did I come to recognise a need for feminism?

When I was younger, I had a great interest in philosophy. I remember one Christmas I got this book called "The History of Western Philosophy." I always wanted an answer to the question 'why are we here?' I still haven't found that answer, but its always interesting to ask the question and read about the great thinkers of humanity who have attempted to answer it.
As I got older, I started wondering why all the great philosophers seemed to be men. And all the great authors of literature. And painters. And polititians. And so on. I never really connected this to feminism at the time, since I was into reading the 'greats' who, on the whole, didn't tend to mention it. As far as I knew, feminism was just this thing that got women the vote, but it didn't really impact my life. I thought everyone was sort of equal on their own merits by the time I was born, and feminism was just this left-over, angry movement for women who liked to complain.
But still, the question of *why* all the books I liked to read were written by men continued to bug me. In my "History of Western Philosophy" men certainly outnumbered women. Here were philosophers attempting to answer the ultimate questions - the truth about human existence - and yet only one gender was expected to answer it. Humanity comprises at least two genders, I thought. And it seemed like I'd been born into the *wrong* one! What's was quite clear that often, the author or philosopher was speaking, as it were, as a man to men. It wasn't just that I found this unfair to myself, and to all other women. I also considered that it was unfair to philosophy. How can we get at the truth if we only listen to one side of the story?

This was, I think, the seed of how I got started in feminism. I have come to realise now that my concerns were concerns of my time and place, and that, in a lot of ways, they were and are incredibly euro-centric and white-priviledged. I've come to realise that the questions I asked weren't as simple as they appeared, on the surface, to be.

What feminism means, for me, is the belief that the female experience deserves a voice - that women should be able to define themselves, and their position within society, and speak upon *all things*, and have equal authority with men, in deciding the meaning of their own lives, and the truth about human existence.
It also means that we should be able to investigate the female experience, and how and why it is similar between women, and how and why it is different.
Feminist analysis seeks to place women's experiences/women's voices at the centre of its discourse. It seeks to make women the subject rather than the object, and from there, investigate what it means to be a woman, from a female perspective. This is done because the prevailing, or dominant, social discourse is male.
This is not to say, in my view, that women's voices are more - or less - important than men's. It is to say, they are AS important.

One of the criticisms that feminists have levelled at male discourse is that it has tended to minimise, or ignore (intentionally or accidentally) women's experiences. This is why, I think, a lot of women who become feminists do so. To find a voice, voices, that speak specifically to them and of them.

Criticism of male discourse has indeed at times been angry. Where feminism has shown that some men have actively silenced/denied women a voice then feminists have rightfully become angry. Not angry at all men, but angry at some men (and indeed, some women who have supported this silencing). However, feminism is not just about anger, or destruction. If it was, I don't think it would have survived this long. It is also about hope, and using one's energy to find creative and effective solutions in fighting injustice and discrimination.

This is how *I* see feminism. I don't consider it non-debateable, nor do I think that men shouldn't be able to have opinions or criticise it. I am pretty much against censorship or prohibition-type legislation on most things, probably, since IMO they don't work. "A mind  changed against it's will is of the same opinion still" and all that. I'm not here to change YOUR mind, but to see whether my mind will be changed...

So with that in mind, I ask that anyone who is interested define the following: how do YOU define the men's movement? I know Gonzokid has his manifesto up here and it is put in the "what we are about" section. Do MRAs have to agree with this? Who gets to decide on the definition of YOUR movement? Must one hate feminism to be an MRA? Dr E seems to suggest not; in fact, by the dictionary definition many are feminists, apparently. So - who thinks feminism is something completely different from what I am saying? Am I just misguided as to it's true nature and intent? If so, then what or who do you blame for the perversion and misunderstanding of the 'dictionary definition.'?

BTW my next post, I will put my reply to the questions posed to me in the 'is feminism harming men and boys' thread. Dr E, I'll have to start a new thread to do that, unless you want to re-open the one there. I think there were some good and thoughtful questions asked so I want to reply.
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 11, 2007, 12:06 AM
Plus, can anyone tell me how to use the blockquote function in this forum? Cheers.
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 11, 2007, 12:05 AM
Mr Bad:

"I would tend to agree that there are a lot of societal/political aspects to how society addresses "gender" - the more modern customs associated with "chivalry" as it pertains to male/female interactions (vs. its original manifestation of behavior between Knights) is an example of such.  However, one cannot escape biology when examining why those customs were put into place, e.g., the sexual dimorphism between men and women leading to men deferring to women and accepting duties and sacrifices when confronted with physical challenges. "

-Interesting. I am not arguing one needs to 'escape biology.' However, your assertion that sexual dimorphism leads to men deferring to women appears to be a sociological observation. In what way does biology lead to male deferral?

"I disagree that gender roles are traditionally due to socialisation rather than biology; that reasoning puts the cart before the horse so-to-speak.  The social roles of 'masculine' and 'feminine' have evolved over many millenia, IMO primarily due to the biological differences between men and women."

-You seem to be arguing that biology is destiny here. Fair enough: but how do you square that with the MRA arguments against domestic violence: i.e. that feminists who observe men are more violent are 'man-haters' and promoting false assumptions about men?


"To make a long story short Leopold was a brat raised by a platoon of nannys in a Teutonic household and his best source of attention was to get caught and punished for masturbating. He formed a philosophy of what a man's relationship with women aught to be based on this background. Don't bother looking for an English translation of his writings, none was ever done....."

-I believe you are referring to the guy who gave his name to 'masochism.' Didn't he write Venus-in-Furs, which has been widely translated, including into English?

"JOKE: How do you charm the pants off a feminist? your chin on your chest and sniff and whimper audibly. Then...rock your head back and forth while blinking your eyes too rapidly to be accused of making eye contact. Pout your lower lip visibly. In a whiney near tears voice say "as a new sensitive androgynous male ..I just feel so ASHAMED...and GUILTY...would you like to pee on me?...I'm sure we would both feel much better"

Garanteed much more effective "panty remover"than gin laced with date rape drug."

-The odd thing is, I got a little turned on reading this. No, seriously. Yes, the secret to feminists is we JUST WANT TO PEE ON MEN!


"It's a very common practice to use the word "healthy" to mean positive/good, so I'm sure the vast majority of people know exactly what is meant by the phrase "healthy masculinity."

-Yes, exactly. Glad you agree. Which is why "healthy masculinity" is not a neutral phrase, any more than "healthy femininity."

"We're not talking about the science of old.  Using your logic I shouldn't trust modern day surgeons because the medieval "surgeons" would make holes in people's heads to let the "bad spirits" out."

-Today's new science will be tomorrow's 'science of old'. You cannot justify your faith in science based ONLY on an appeal to the 'new'. Plus, you are taking my argument to an extreme. I am not arguing that people shouldn't trust science at all. I am arguing for critical thinking.
To use your analogy: one shouldn't trust modern day surgeons UNCRITICALLY. Would you accept a person perfoming surgery on you, even if you suspected you didn't need it, simply because they have the job title "surgeon"? (Or told you they did). To go further: what if they assured you that the medical consensus was that this particular surgery was beneficial, that it had proven health benefits etc? I think you can probably guess where this is leading: look at the history of circumcision.

"What scientists are finding now is irrefutable differences in the biology & chemistry of the male/female brain."

-Kindly point me towards any respectable scientist who declares their findings to be "irrefutable." Do you even know the meaning of the word hubris?

"To conclude there is NO behavioral difference based on proven biological difference is lofty at best.  There is obviously some, but the degree is still absent from the findings.  As time passes, we will learn more."

-Again, who is concluding that there is NO behavioral difference based on biology? As you say, the degree is still absent from the findings - which is why interpreting and pronouncing WHAT those differences lead to is not hard science, but theory.

Bluedye, the rest of your post appears to be an unsupported rant against "feminists". Support your assertions with evidence, please, or I will assume they are nothing more than personal, misinformed opinion. As for feminism vs science: I say to you, and to everyone else here, are you under the impression that there is no such thing as a scientist who is also a feminist?

Dr E - I actually agree with you that it's important for men and boys to have a positive view of masculinity. I really, really, wonder how it has happened that feminism's message - that girls and women are more than male chauvinism would paint them - has been interpreted as 'boys and men are less.' Here's the thing: the media is not friendly to feminism. In fact, what you read about feminists and feminism in the mainstream media misinterprets and distorts what feminists actually say. The media is interested in making money, and one way to do that is to exaggerate and emphasise the "gender wars" - always a good one to get people riled up. Thus you get stupid adverts where men are portrayed as 'always in the wrong' and their wives are portrayed as smart and clued-in. Ad agencies presumably think this sort of thing will sell their products to women: I find it pretty patronising and offensive. It certainly isn't a feminist message. You will not find me arguing that masculinity is portrayed in a balanced, healthy way in mainstream culture.

"Men have been deemed expendable for eons and long before the advent of feminism."

-Who deemed them expendable? Feminists would probably argue this was patriarchy, but I suspect you have a different answer.

"They blame all men, not just some men and have been sadly effective in promoting propaganda that claims men are evil, unpredictable and not to be trusted. "

-Please explain and support this assertion - it appears you think that ALL feminists blame ALL men. Also, how have 'they' promoted propaganda?

"It  could be likened to our claiming that all women are defective and need to be more like men since they are the predominant child abusers and rape so many young boys etc etc."

I don't follow your reasoning here. What are you saying? Who claims this?

Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 09, 2007, 08:24 AM
Hey, Dr E! I just saw your message on the other thread - I will try and reply to the points raised there asap. I just wanted to say that I do appreciate everyone who took the time to reply in detail - no doubt, to many of you, it's an issue that you've been over countless times!
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 09, 2007, 08:14 AM
That's OK, I'm not offended - someone had mentioned the 'hit-and-run' thing in a previous comment, and I get why that might be annoying. Maybe the 'one-on-one' thing might be good. However, I do like to hear from lots of posters, and its a bit frustrating for others who can't reply I would think...we'll see how it goes! Just saying, it might take a while for replies, my brain can only go so fast!
Here's my reply to 'healthy masculinity' (apologies for the length! the system even logged me out whilst typing it...)

I'm not sure how one defines "Healthy Masculinity" - but surely, it's a socially defined value. Let's take "healthy". It's one thing to define this as applied to statistical averages. But the word 'healthy' also exists in our language as implying a value judgement. Healthy = positive/good. So it becomes an issue, not only of scientific conclusions, but also of ideology.

A note on the scientific method: Gonzo, and a few others here, seem to be making the argument that 'hard science' has proven the 'gender construct' argument false. (I'm not sure what you mean by 'hard science' and 'soft science' - the terms have different meanings depending on the context of the argument. I'll assume you mean the physical sciences, unless you correct me.) In order to accept the scientific method as the only or best authority, one must understand science as progressing - that is, progressively increasing the sum of human knowledge. This seems to me to be what you're saying: "social constructionists are wrong about gender, and science will prove it."
Historically, science has been wrong before about the differences between the sexes (see, for example, formerly respectable branches of science now re-classified as pseudoscience: phrenology etc). This should be enough to at least give you pause lest you become hubristic. To accept the current consensus (although I'm not sure there IS a consensus, I suppose you could argue this is due to PC suppression) one has to have faith that today's scientists *have* learnt from the past, that their methods are the least fallible, that they are, on balance, objective etc.
Let's assume we can do all that.
My main issue is not with the FINDINGS of science. It should be allowed to investigate such things. There is IMO the possiblility of such a thing as 'the truth of human existence' and we should try to investigate this without political interference as far as possible. This is an ideal. As we've seen with the creationism vs science debacle, there are forces at work in this society that seek to paint science as just another faith. Whilst I DON'T accept this (because science works on evidence) even Richard Dawkins points out that science's strength is that scientists don't tend to say that they have "proved the truth about something." Instead they tend to say that, looking at all the possible evidence, they present the *likeliest explanation.* That's why, if contradictory evidence becomes available and overwhelms the previous evidence, refutes the previous conclusions, the discipline is well able to withstand it - science is always aware that today's conclusions can become tomorrow's hypotheses. In short, the scientific method may well be the best method - but we must remember, it is not infallible.

Gender as construction: the consensus here seems to be that scientific findings have been rejected by feminists and/or gender constructionists. I think it is not so much the scientific studies or results they reject, but rather the interpretation of those results. Firstly, I don't know any theorists that argue biological sex is entirely a social construction! (Can you give me a HT if you do, because I sure think *that* would be an interesting read!) The one I can name as coming closest to this is Judith Butler - from what I remember, she wasn't arguing that there are no biological differences between men and women, but rather that we cannot escape the fact that how we interpret, talk about, even think about those differences is shaped by social conditioning. Whether one thinks this is fair or not, accurate or not, it is a fact that our society 'polices' the genders - if gender roles were natural, then why would we need to do this? The focus of such theorists' work tends to be on analysing how and why gender/sexuality is constructed within the culture, therefore. I think it's perfectly reasonable and valid to investigate this.

Secondly, the issues of whether and why gender roles are constructed relates to politics insofar as politics legislates on groups.
I think, as human beings, we have more in common than we do separating us. But I don't seek to deny difference. I quite like gender, I'm not at all sure I'd want to be rid of it: variety is the spice of life, hey? The question for democratic politics, though, is whether everyone gets listened to. Who does not have a voice?
One of the things that progressive anti-racist work has taught us is that its dangerous to deny difference. 'Colour-blindness' may in fact have the effect of eliding and silencing voices which DO speak of difference. I am not advocating 'gender-blindness' for precisely this reason.
It IS my experience, and considered opinion at this time, that differences in gender roles are largely due to socialisation, not biology. However, I do recognise that others feel differently. At this time, I don't think we can answer the question how far biology is destiny.
I think legislation which sees no difference in gender, therefore, can elide the voices and experiences of those who do. But I also think legislation which recognises differences can be inherently problematic when it comes to deciding how that difference is applied to groups. I think you, Mr Bad, and most others here might be in agreement with that point at least. That's why the argument over masculinity, or femininity, is so damned important!

To take an example: stands2p, on this thread, names 'courage' as one of the masculine virtues. I'm not disagreeing with you that it has played out historically as a 'masculine trait' - but I really wonder how this can be proved, scientifically, to be innate to men. (I'm not assuming that you think that, stands2p, BTW - I can't tell from your post.) Mr Bad, Dr E, anyone, care to speculate?

Some quick points responding to specific comments here:
Dr Bad - you said "our society has gone feminine and thus values all things feminine"
Really? What's the basis of this belief?

Dr E - the points you raised about 'the mature masculine' - this is interesting. I'm not too familiar with this sort of literature - is it related to the mythopoetical men's movement (Robert Bly et al)?

Mr X - you mentioned the case with Dr Money, a truly tragic case. I saw the BBC Horizon doc on this, and the most shocking thing, IMO, was that they decided to remove the
boy's testicles thus denying him the basic human right of reproduction. You may already be aware of this, but the reason his penis was damaged was due to a botched circumcision.

Bluedye/Shiva - re:stoicism vs talkativeness. Yes, stoicism is a pretty much undervalued and misunderstood philosophy. The word has come to mean something slightly different in common currency today. Intriguingly, there's often arguments about how far talkativeness/emotional restraint relates to national character - I seem to recall the British newspapers regularly discussing it viz. whether Americans are more 'open' vs the British "stiff upper lip" and so on, particularly around the death of Princess Di.

TBQ - the post where you discussed men and the need for safe spaces. I agreed with everything you said in this comment. Have you ever read "Self-made man" by Norah Vincent? The other comment, where you differentiated between gender traits and values (sorry, I'm not sure how to get the blockquotes) - well, here we have it. If everyone thought that way, i.e., didn't ascribe value judgements to traits, and *really meant it* I doubt there'd be half the problems we've got today in the world.

OK - well, I'm off for now (cup of tea). I'll try and get the post up about my take on feminism later tonight or tomorrow, in my intro thread.
Main / Re: Healthy Masculinity
May 09, 2007, 06:20 AM
"Lastly, where the heck is Kate?  Looks like another hit-and-run."
"Notice how they run as soon as the logic appears."
-Woah, hold your horses, Mr Bad and Biscuit Queen! I said I'd be back for debate and I am! (Sorry to be tardy, but I had to wait until the hubby was in bed - he's a dyed in the wool political lesbian and he'd kill me if he knew I was conversing with the dark side ...
Just kidding.)
Now, to the boards. I'm going to post on my beliefs on feminism in my introduction thread. As I've mentioned, I'm coming from a pretty different political standpoint than most of the peeps here. So, it's fair enough that I explain to the best of my ability what that it. As to debate, it looks like I am possibly the sole feminist here (not sure who else is?). So, is it going to be fair to assume that the debate ratio is me:everyone else? Actually, I don't mind commenting at variance with lots of people - but it's unfair to expect me to reply to every rebuttal within a short time period!
I'll be honest, I don't know and can't guarantee how often I can post here/reply to everyone. My work pattern's pretty irregular - sometimes I'll have ample time to read and post, sometimes none. Having said that, I am interested in the issues you raise here. Personally, I think the questions MRAs (and other men's groups) are asking about, for example, boys in education, circumcision and domestic violence are valid questions. My standpoint is kinda: just because I don't agree with your premises, it doesn't mean I necessarily disagree with your findings.
Also, it seems a bit too easy to assume that all MRAs are misogynists or whatever, and that's why they're anti-feminist. I don't think its all that fair to discount the personal experiences of why people subscribe to MRA ideology. For instance, some of the stories men have shared here and elsewhere about DV are pretty powerful. I would like to find out more about that. (From my own experience, I certainly don't think it's a simple case of 'men = violent, women = victims').
Ok. This comments getting a bit thread-drifty, so I'll post the next one on 'healthy masculinity.'