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Oct 06 2011

The Iona Institute’s stealth patriarchy

It finds “experts” to say policies that benefit working women are “unfair” to “women who want to stay home with their children.”

Keynote speaker Dr  Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics told the audience that social policies which assume all women want to work are unfair and act against the actual wishes of most women.

What about social policies that assume all men want to work? Is it only women who should benefit from social policies which assume some women don’t want to work? How about social policies that assume no one wants to work? Wouldn’t that be the fairest thing?

Swedish  social policy expert Jonas Himmelstrand told the audience that Sweden’s  experiment with daycare had failed. Swedish policy in this regard is  frequently held up as a model for other countries to follow.

Mr  Himmelstrand said: “Sweden is the pioneering nation in comprehensive  highly subsidized daycare, a model which was put into practice 35 years  ago. Today a full 92pc of all 18 month to 5 year olds are in daycare.”

However, while Sweden topped many statistics, including welfare with low child  poverty, high life expectancy, low infant mortality and an admired  social welfare system, in other areas the picture was not so bright, he  added.

Yes we know, it gets dark way early there in winter.

46 comments

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  1. 1
    Yakamoz

    What, are they forced to put their children in daycare by mere dint of the subsidy?

  2. 2
    Beth

    Actually, the current tax system does make it finacially burdensome for families that attempt to have one parent stay at home to raise children. As a working parent with a stay-at-home spouse, I can attest that we would be much better off financially if we had continued to be a two-income family and sent our children to subsidized day-care facilities rather than sacrificing half our income to have one parent stay at home.

    I agree with the point about men often not having the same choices, but I see that as mainly due to wage disparity between men and women. As incomes equalize, it becomes a matter of personal preference who stays home with the kids and who supports the family by working outside the home.

    I know that in my own situation, the difference in income between me and my husband at the time was very small. Since he wanted to stay home and I didn’t, it wasn’t a hard decision for us for him to be the stay-at-home parent. At any rate, there’s no reason that tax policies regarding daycare/stay-at-home parents need be gender biased or patriachal.

  3. 3
    AlysonRR

    <<>>

    I’m thinking the statistic that is “not so bright” in his eyes might *possibly* be that fewer Swedes are involved in the Christian faith, LOL.

  4. 4
    shichils

    Hmm, and from the name I am guessing Dr. CATHERINE Hakim is a woman – what a hypocrite!! Why isn’t she at home rather than giving talks at conferences! Appearing in public with a PhD! Oh, the horror!

    I am thinking this hypocrite oughta form a club with Phyllis Schafly – I suspect they’d have a lot in common.

  5. 5
    Niall A

    But apart from low child  poverty, high life expectancy, low infant mortality and an admired  social welfare system, what have the Romans ever done for us?

  6. 6
    Francis Boyle

    A quick google reveals Dr Catherine Hakim has some other “interesting” (though not to say unfamiliar) ideas as expressed in this Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/aug/19/catherine-hakim-interview

  7. 7
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Hmm, and from the name I am guessing Dr. CATHERINE Hakim is a woman – what a hypocrite!! Why isn’t she at home rather than giving talks at conferences! Appearing in public with a PhD! Oh, the horror!

    That’s something I’ve noted before: Those women who are telling other women to stay at home and have children aren’t doing it themselves.
    They have a career, a high salary, public recognition.
    Often they’re victims of patriarhcal pressure themselves and seek to “cure” it by telling women to submit again.
    If you look at their bios, they often “failed” at that very point where they had to decide between a family and a career.
    So, when they find out at 40something that having 3 kids isn’t possible anymore, and that having one or two would seriously harm their career, they don’t lash out against a system that got them into that mess, they lash out against feminism for telling them they could have a career in the first place.
    Prime examples of this are the German news presenter Eva Herman and the German politician Christa Müller (Link in German only, I’m sorry), who’s a disgrace for the German Left Party

  8. 8
    Smokey Dusty

    Look at Japan. Their child care policy (they don’t have one) is causing all manner of social problems. Apparently their low birth rate is going to cause catastrophic demograhic problems.

  9. 9
    Svlad Cjelli

    There was a push for granting each parent a nontransferable period of parental benefits a couple of years ago, in order to force a gender balance regardless of income differences. Not sure what happened with that.

  10. 10
    Beth

    @ Giliell

    I don’t read this article as anyone telling women to stay home and have children. I read it as an acknowledgement of the fact that current policy discourages families from choosing to have a stay-at-home parent and suggesting that it would be appropriate to change that policy.

  11. 11
    michaelnicholson

    I live in Sweden, and the darkness in the winter is a serious problem actually! I’m considering moving …

    @Yakamoz: Not quite, but it’s difficult to run a household with kids on only one salary here unless one partner has very high earnings. So it’s not the subsidy that encourages you to do it, but the high cost of living.

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Beth – why do you read the article as an acknowledgement of the fact that current policy discourages families from choosing to have a stay-at-home parent? It doesn’t say a word about families choosing to have a stay-at-home parent. It’s exclusively about women staying at home with the children.

  13. 13
    Crommunist

    @Ophelia – the article actually does reference the situation as couples with one stay-at-home parent, and then specifies that this is usually the mother:

    Also addressing the conference, Peter Saunders, a UK social policy expert, said that tax individualisation policies, such as the one in force here, were inherently unfair to single-income couples and discourages one parent from staying at home with their children

    He said “Tax policy used to enable couples with children to be relatively self-reliant. The principal earner (usually the husband) had one tax allowance to cover his own subsistence needs, another to cover those of his wife, and a third in respect of his children, so they didn’t need much extra help from government.

    It’s awkwardly worded, but they do recognize the difference between the de facto bias toward women being the stay-at-home parent, and the de jure policy that is onerous to either parent staying at home.

    I think I’d have to hear Dr. Hakim’s remarks in their entirety, but the way it is phrased there it does sound like she is speaking only about women, which is definitely short-sighted. There are a number of women, however, who feel left out by feminists, particularly those who view choosing to be a stay-at-home parent as a betrayal of the cause. I’ve never met that kind of feminist personally, but I have been assured that they exist.

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah. I checked first, but too hastily. I withdraw the “one word” then.

    But don’t be fooled: they’re clearly not a bit interested in gender-neutral parental policy, and having one guy who talks that way is a fig leaf. They’re more stealthy than the blunt Patriarchy types in the US, but not by much.

    I know there are a lot of women like that, and they make me tired. They resent the fact that now more is expected of women. That’s a stupid thing to resent.

  15. 15
    The Pale Scot

    ““Tax policy used to enable couples with children to be relatively self-reliant. The principal earner (usually the husband) had one tax allowance to cover his own subsistence needs, another to cover those of his wife, and a third in respect of his children, so they didn’t need much extra help from government.”

    Bullshitsky, I’ve worked for tax processors, and there are positive subsidies for spouses and especially children. Your ERC is enhanced and child care is positively subsidized if your income is below the median, they start to phase out around 60Gs so after that there are diminishing returns. Tax laws have become more giving to families of the middle class with children not less.

    In this country problem that isn’t discussed by the right wing is that if income distribution had remained what it was in the 60′s the median income would be 90Gs, not under 50Gs, while R.E. and insurance of all kinds has gone up beyond the inflation rate. But the MSM pays more attention to the those making over 250+ and whine about not being able to make ends meet.

  16. 16
    The Lorax

    I’m a man and I don’t want to work. Damn the unfair system!

    … ok, running away now… *flee*

  17. 17
    Beth

    @ Ophelia:

    Crommunist has answered your question in #12, so I don’t feel I need to add much to that. I simply read the article as discussing developing policies that provided assistance to families with children that would like to have one parent stay home with the children. It’s primarily women who make this choice, so I can understand some fuzziness there on both the part of the writer/speaker and readers.

    You said “they’re clearly not a bit interested in gender-neutral parental policy, and having one guy who talks that way is a fig leaf. They’re more stealthy than the blunt Patriarchy types in the US, but not by much.”

    Why do you think this is the case? Patriarchy types in the U.S. talk about why women should stay home and take care of children. They have no respect for men who choose to do that or women who choose to work outside the home. That’s substantially different IMO that seeking policy changes that would assist families that want to have one parent stay home.

    Nothing I read indicated to me that the speaker held an attitude that it should be the woman, not the man, who stays home or that women should choose to do so over working outside the home, which is what I would consider to be patriarchal attitudes.

  18. 18
    Ophelia Benson

    Beth, no, Crommunist didn’t answer my question in #12. I still don’t know how you managed to read the article in that idiosyncratic way when it almost (though not quite) exclusively talks about women staying home with the children.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    How is this anything but obvious?

    The big message of the latest Iona Institute conference was that governments must be fair to women in paid work and those who want to stay at home with their children.

    Entitled ‘Women, Home and Work: towards a policy that is fair to all families’, the speakers highlighted social policies that unfairly discriminate in favour of working women over mothers who wish to spend some or all their working lives at home with their children.

    Keynote speaker Dr Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics told the audience that social policies which assume all women want to work are unfair and act against the actual wishes of most women.

    She said research has shown that on average 20pc of women prefer to stay at home with their children, 60pc prefer to mix part-time work with childcare duties and 20pc prefer to focus on full-time paid employment for their whole working lives.

    Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien said that Irish social policy here had been “shaped by a number of myths regarding women and work”.

    She said: “For example, it is assumed that all modern, educated women aspire to full-time careers outside the home even when they have children, and that the state must provide heavily subsidised childcare to facilitate this desire.”

    Instead, she continued, most women with children want to spend as much time as possible with them, and when they need childcare, favour care by relatives or other people that they know.

    Despite this, the taxation system continues to penalise families where one spouse, usually the mother, chooses to stay at home, Ms O’Brien said.

    Etc.

  20. 20
    Beth

    @Ophelia

    Because the reality is that women are primarily the one who choose to stay at home with children, so I can understand why much of the rhetoric is phrased that way. But they also acknowledge that it is not always the women who stays at home.

    But nothing that was said indicated that it SHOULD be women who stay at home, or that men should not. Not is there anything said that implies that women should not choose to work outside the home.

    Why do you see it as patriarchal when neither of those two things are present.

  21. 21
    Ophelia Benson

    Oh ffs, Beth – because the Iona Institute is a Catholic organization. Are you not familiar with the Vatican’s official views on “complemantarity”? And “they” do not acknowledge that it is not always the women who stays at home; one of the speakers does. The narrative voice behind that article makes it all about women. Nearly all of the content makes it all about women.

  22. 22
    Beth

    The comments here contain quotes from two different people who mentioned that men are sometimes the parent who chooses to stay at home: Peter Saunders in comment #13 and Breda O’Brien whom you quoted in comment #19, so it’s not just an isolated point by a single individual.

    No, I did not realize that the Iona Institute is a Catholic organization nor am I familiar with Vatican’s official views on anything. I don’t even know what is meant by the term “complemantarity”.

    None of this answers my question though. Why do you consider the article to be an example of stealth patriarchy? What was said that gave you that impression?

    Certainly, the narrative and the content made is primarily about women. It’s talking about stay-at-home parents, which happen to be primarily women. But I don’t think that is sufficient to justify the claim of being patriarchal.

  23. 23
    Ophelia Benson

    Let me put it another way. There is almost nothing in the article about being fair to men who want to stay home with the children as well as to men who want to work. If the Iona Institute were really concerned about making it easier for either parent to stay home with the children, surely it would have said so.

  24. 24
    Beth

    @Ophelia

    I appreciate your rephrasing, which I have no argument with. But that isn’t the same as being patriarchal either. It was that particular description that I didn’t understand why it would be considered accurate.

    I think what you are saying is that, based on your prior knowledge of the motivations of the backing organization, you see it as a way for them to advance their patriarchal agenda while staying within currently socially acceptable guidelines for public policy.

    However, as someone with no knowledge of that background organization, the article does not come across that way to me. Yes, it was geared toward women staying home. The reality is, the vast majority of stay-at-home by choice parents are moms.

    Because of my family’s choice to have dad be the stay-at-home parent, I am particularly sensitive to the fact that not all stay-at-home parents are moms, so I don’t make the assumption that women were all they were talking about, an opinion that I felt was confirmed when they mentioned it also being men sometimes.

    While having Dad stay home was absolutely the right choice for us, I have certainly wished that we could obtain the same sort of subsidies/tax breaks for childcare for having a parent perform that role that we would could have obtained for hiring it out to a stranger. I am glad to see the issue getting some attention.

    Many many working parents, both men and women, would gladly stay at home with their children if they could receive a similar subsidy directly. It is a governmental policy change I would like to see looked at.

  25. 25
    John Morales

    Beth:

    However, as someone with no knowledge of that background organization, the article does not come across that way to me. Yes, it was geared toward women staying home. The reality is, the vast majority of stay-at-home by choice parents are moms.

    Is that a good reason to avoid gender-inclusive language?

  26. 26
    Beth

    No. Certainly the article could have been more gender neutral in their phrasing. I just don’t think that makes it patriarchal.

  27. 27
    John Morales

    Beth, I’ve taken the liberty of doing a touch of search-and-replace in the first few paragraphs:

    Entitled ‘men, Home and Work: towards a policy that is fair to all families’, the speakers highlighted social policies that unfairly discriminate in favour of working men over fathers who wish to spend some or all their working lives at home with their children.

    Keynote speaker Dr Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics told the audience that social policies which assume all men want to work are unfair and act against the actual wishes of most men.

    She said research has shown that on average 20pc of men prefer to stay at home with their children, 60pc prefer to mix part-time work with childcare duties and 20pc prefer to focus on full-time paid employment for their whole working lives.

    Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien said that Irish social policy here had been “shaped by a number of myths regarding men and work”.

    She said: “For example, it is assumed that all modern, educated men aspire to full-time careers outside the home even when they have children, and that the state must provide heavily subsidised childcare to facilitate this desire.”

    Instead, she continued, most men with children want to spend as much time as possible with them, and when they need childcare, favour care by relatives or other people that they know.

    How does that read to you? :)

  28. 28
    Beth

    A bit silly because it’s not how people act. It doesn’t strike me as matriarchal though.

  29. 29
    Ophelia Benson

    Ok, Beth, I get it now. I suppose I assumed you had read at least the previous article on the Iona Institute. I assumed that you had at least a little background knowledge of conservative religious agendas and anti-feminism. I perhaps assumed you’d seen some of the discussion of patriarchy here recently. I didn’t take you as starting from scratch (probably because you’ve commented at B&W before). Therefore I suppose I took your questions as challenges as opposed to requests for information.

    It might be a good idea not to start from scratch, really. It might be a good idea to get a sense of what kind of background knowledge is in play before asking very basic questions.

    And I still think your reading of that article is just off, for the reasons John Morales hinted at. People who make big fusses about women’s ability to stay home with the children tend to have a more or less patriarchal agenda.

  30. 30
    Beth

    No, I don’t recall reading about the Iona Institute previously. While I do check your blog somewhat irregularly, it’s not every day and I don’t read every article. Have you considered linking to relevant previous posts when they contain information you assume that your readers are familiar with?

    I’m a person who has made a lot of non-traditional choices in my life. I’m certainly grateful to the women’s movement for having shaped a society such that I could pursue a career in a male dominated field and a male dominated profession. The career I have today would not have been possible for me if I had been born ten years earlier.

    But any interest I had in the feminism ended back in the eighties, about the same time that Andrea Dworkin rose to fame. In general, feminism at that time because so closely associated with male bashing and anti-sexuality that I was repulsed by it.

    I don’t spend any time checking out the conservative religious agendas. I occasionally bump up against them when my interests intersect with theirs, but other than that, I pay no attention to them. I was raised in such a church and was quite glad to leave it when I became an adult. I found the traditional female roles ill-fitting.

    I draw a very distinct line between advocating making it easier for families to make the choice to have a full-time stay-at-home parent (either sex) – which is how I read the article – and advocating that all women should make a particular choice – which I did not perceive the article to be doing.

    You said:

    People who make big fusses about women’s ability to stay home with the children tend to have a more or less patriarchal agenda.

    You certainly make a lot of assumptions about what other people know and what their motivations/agendas are. While it’s true that people with a patriarchal agenda often make a fuss about the ability of women to stay home and tend children, the opposite does not hold. Many people who feel that it’s important for parents to be able to be full-time caretakers of their children do NOT also have that agenda.

    I think it’s important simply because I think it’s better for children to have a full-time parent home with them. If I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t have encouraged my husband to do so nor would we have made the financial sacrifices that it required. I would certainly like to see it become less of a financial burden for families with young children to make that choice. No patriarchal agenda is required to hold that value.

  31. 31
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    A bit silly because it’s not how people act. It doesn’t strike me as matriarchal though.

    No, Hakim is more libertarian.

    The last paper I read by her held forward Italy as the beacon of equal rights in Europe – I’m just saying…

    And if I remember correctly, her latest book critiques feminism for “robbing women of their sexual capital” in the workplace.

  32. 32
    John Morales

    Beth,

    A bit silly because it’s not how people act.

    Is that because society mirrors people, or because people mirror society?

    (Hint: there have been many different types of society; people, not so much)

    It doesn’t strike me as matriarchal though.

    But there is an asymmetry; that’s why it’s looks kinda silly to have men being put into the societal role that women occupy.

    I’m not gonna repeat the little exercise, but easy enough to remove gender altogether from those paragraphs; how do you think that would read, then?

  33. 33
    Beth

    Better

  34. 34
    Ophelia Benson

    Beth – You’ve ignored my point and re-written it to match your point, again. Behold:

    You said:

    People who make big fusses about women’s ability to stay home with the children tend to have a more or less patriarchal agenda.

    You certainly make a lot of assumptions about what other people know and what their motivations/agendas are. While it’s true that people with a patriarchal agenda often make a fuss about the ability of women to stay home and tend children, the opposite does not hold. Many people who feel that it’s important for parents to be able to be full-time caretakers of their children do NOT also have that agenda.

    See it? You changed “women” to “parents” – which negates precisely the point I was making. Let me try to make it even clearer:

    People who make big fusses about women’s ability to stay home with the children tend to have a more or less patriarchal agenda.

    Women’s, not parents’. I said women’s, which was obviously central to my point, yet you bothered to inform me that “people who feel that it’s important for parents to be able to be full-time caretakers of their children do NOT also have that agenda.”

    That’s rather exasperating, frankly.

    You’ve now explained that you have a (slightly misinformed) distaste for feminism, because you have the mistaken idea that it’s all Dworkinesque – so your questions to me were indeed challenges after all.

    In other words you’re being kind of obnoxious, and you’re doing it without bothering to understand the context I’m writing about. That’s just a little bit trollish.

    Have you considered linking to relevant previous posts when they contain information you assume that your readers are familiar with?

    No. Here’s why. That would be a lot of trouble, and it would be tedious for people who are already familiar with what I’m writing about.

  35. 35
    Beth

    Women’s, not parents’. I said women’s, which was obviously central to my point, yet you bothered to inform me that “people who feel that it’s important for parents to be able to be full-time caretakers of their children do NOT also have that agenda.”
    Yes. Because I think your assumption is going the wrong way. People who talk that way may not have a patriarchal agenda, they might have simply allowed their language to reflect the current social reality. You are assuming a malicious motivation to the speakers without sufficient reason, at least not from the article alone. I prefer not to do that.

    That’s rather exasperating, frankly.

    Sorry. I long ago gave up worrying about what other people thought of me when I asked what they considered ‘dumb’ questions. When I’m asking someone why they feel the way the do – like why did you consider the article “stealth patriarchy” it’s because I don’t know and would like to understand why.

    You aren’t required to answer if you don’t want.

    In other words you’re being kind of obnoxious, and you’re doing it without bothering to understand the context I’m writing about. That’s just a little bit trollish.

    My apologies for coming across as obnoxious. I’m not a terrible socially astute individual. Btw, do you realize that you’re complaining that I’m not bothering to understand the context when that is exactly what I have been asking about in order to better understand your position. That’s not what I consider ‘not bothering’.

    What it is that I’ve said that you consider obnoxious? I’ll try not to repeat it and ask my questions in a manner more to your liking if you’ll tell me what style you would prefer. Perhaps with a salution of ‘oh great and wise guru, can you please explain….’? ;)

    That would be a lot of trouble, and it would be tedious for people who are already familiar with what I’m writing about.

    Yes, it’s such tedium to read posts with phrases of different coloration or font indicating a link to more information.

    Certainly up to you what is or is not too much trouble though. IMO, it does come across as a bit obnoxious to say it’s too much bother to link to past posts with supporting information while also complaining about a non-regular reader not understanding the context, asking what you consider stupid questions, and being irritated that she didn’t find your conclusions supported by the evidence you presented in your post.

    However, if you just want your blog to be a place for people to support your opinions and really prefer not to converse with people who don’t share your background, I can find another blog to check in on in my spare time.

  36. 36
    Ophelia Benson

    “Perhaps with a salution of ‘oh great and wise guru, can you please explain….’?”

    I thought you’d never ask!

    But seriously folks; ok, sorry, I misread you then. I thought the questions might be more like needling than asking for context, and I thought what you said about feminism confirmed that. No, I really don’t want this to be just a place for people who agree with me – I want it to be a place for people who will agree with me once I convince them.

    But seriously folks.

    I disagree with you about people who talk about women and women only staying at home with their children; I think it’s worth at least suspecting an agenda, because there often is one. There is a great deal of conservative religious opposition to feminism (not feminism-via-Dworkin, just feminism), even more than I’d realized. A Catholic organization – a conservative Catholic organization at that – is unlikely to be offering disinterested sociological expertise on the subject. For more see Does God Hate Women?

  37. 37
    Beth

    I think it’s worth at least suspecting an agenda, because there often is one. There is a great deal of conservative religious opposition to feminism (not feminism-via-Dworkin, just feminism), even more than I’d realized.

    Assuming somehow has a patriarchal agenda just because they support the same overt agenda as a Catholic organization doesn’t seem appropriate to me. According to Gnumann in #31, it isn’t an appropriate label for at least one of the speakers quoted.

    Personally, I prefer to make no assumptions of that nature than make incorrect ones. OTOH, I’m less concerned about missing such hidden agendas that other people seem be.

    A Catholic organization – a conservative Catholic organization at that – is unlikely to be offering disinterested sociological expertise on the subject. For more see Does God Hate Women?

    Oh, you don’t have to convince me the Catholic Church is evil. Their organizational tolerance of child molestation and rape did that already.

  38. 38
    NathanDST

    it would be tedious for people who are already familiar with what I’m writing about.

    As a mostly regular reader, who quite likes you, “o great one,” ;) I wouldn’t find it tedious.

    Whether you would find it troublesome is totally different.

  39. 39
    Ophelia Benson

    Beth, it would help if you would stop using the words “assume” and “assumption.” I’m not assuming; I have reasons.

    Assuming some[one] has a patriarchal agenda just because they support the same overt agenda as a Catholic organization doesn’t seem appropriate to me.

    I’m not assuming, and I didn’t say that individual speakers have a patriarchal agenda, I said the article did, the conference did, the Iona Institute does. Individual speakers don’t need to have the same agenda, but they are chosen because their work is useful to the organizers’ agenda. The speakers are unlikely to participate if they disagree with the organization’s agenda.

    Personally, I prefer to make no assumptions of that nature than make incorrect ones. OTOH, I’m less concerned about missing such hidden agendas that other people seem be.

    As I said, I’m not making assumptions (and I’m not making the claims that you’re attributing to me, either – see above). And yes, you clearly are very unconcerned about missing agendas, including agendas that really can’t be described as “hidden” – this one is right out in the open. I, obviously, think it’s a mistake to ignore obvious agendas (as well as hidden ones).

    I’ve misread you before, so maybe I’m wrong about this, but you seem to be rather proud of your determination not to see an agenda that is pretty much spelled out by the organization in question. I think that’s a strange thing to be proud of.

  40. 40
    Ophelia Benson

    Nathan – really? I always find it irritating when places like the Guardian provide links to their own background articles on words like “religion” and “feminism” – as if I’m going to interrupt reading an article to go find out what religion is.

  41. 41
    NathanDST

    Ophelia @40: Really. I suppose links to definitions would be silly, but links to background information or blogs that you’ve provided –such as who/what the Iona Institute is– is the sort of thing I find useful. Even if I’m all caught up on reading your blog, it doesn’t seem to interrupt the flow in any way. But, I’m not always caught up. You’re a very prolific blogger, and I can’t always keep up with the reading (especially if I want to read the comments as well). Off the top of my head, I can think of two other bloggers I read that do provide links –Greta Christina and Hemant Mehta– and I’ve found it very helpful at times to be able to click that link straight to the relevant background.

  42. 42
    Beth

    @Ophelia,

    I did feel that you were implying the speakers had that as their agenda, so I read you wrong if that was not what you were implying.

    But if you actually felt the agenda was right out in the open, why did you refer to as ‘stealth’ patriarch?

    And yes, I try hard not to impugn unsavory motives or hidden agendas to other people’s actions. It’s a common approach that I see people taking all the time, both in media and in personal conversations. I find it inappropriate and hugely annoying.

    Whether or not something is a good idea should stand or fall on it’s own merits regardless of the motivations of the people supporting it. In this case, you were dismissing what I would consider to be a policy improvement, calling it “stealth patriarchy”. Whether or not you are correct about the motivations of the supporting institute, I think it should be irrelevant in assessing whether or not the policy change they were advocating was a good idea.

    That I support such a policy position is why I was drawn to both read the article and to comment on your post because I did not find the article itself to be indicative of that view.

  43. 43
    Ophelia Benson

    Nathan – hmm. Ok, I’ll try to do more of that.

    Beth -

    Whether or not something is a good idea should stand or fall on it’s own merits regardless of the motivations of the people supporting it.

    No it shouldn’t; not necessarily. Not for instance if it’s the first or softening up step in a larger (and bad) agenda. Not if it’s a good idea in the hands of the right people but a horrendous one in the hands of the wrong people.

    As I said, it’s not something to boast of that you avoid imputing (not impugning) agendas to people or organizations. It’s just naive to think that agendas are never veiled or disguised or dressed up.

    Here’s a news flash: the people who advertise for McDonalds or Burger King don’t really care what kind of day you have or want you to be happy; they want you to spend your money on their product, as often as possible.

    Enough with the self-righteousness. I find it “inappropriate.”

  44. 44
    Beth

    Ophelia

    “Whether or not something is a good idea should stand or fall on it’s own merits regardless of the motivations of the people supporting it.”

    No it shouldn’t; not necessarily. Not for instance if it’s the first or softening up step in a larger (and bad) agenda. Not if it’s a good idea in the hands of the right people but a horrendous one in the hands of the wrong people.

    I agree that who is implementing a policy change does make a big difference when getting into the details about how to accomplish a policy change.

    But when discussing policy changes in abstract, such as in the article referenced, that argument is nothing more than an ad hominem fallacy. The idea being discussed should stand or fall on it’s own merit, not the reputation of the organization behind it.

    As I said, it’s not something to boast of that you avoid imputing (not impugning) agendas to people or organizations. It’s just naive to think that agendas are never veiled or disguised or dressed up.

    You misunderstand. I’m not claiming those agendas don’t exist nor saying they I don’t think that people disguise or veil them. I’m saying that I try not to assume such agendas without further evidence because my experience is that making such as assumption based on the policy position is frequently incorrect.

    While having a given agenda, such as supporting patriarchy, may be useful in making reasonably accurate assumptions about that persons support of a given policy, making the reverse assumption – that support of a given policy implies a particular agenda – is not.

  45. 45
    Ophelia Benson

    I’ve already told you that “assume” and “assumption” are the wrong words. I’ve already told you that I’m not “assuming.”

  46. 46
    Ophelia Benson

    Ad hominem isn’t the right fallacy, either; it’s more of a genetic fallacy.

    In any case you’re missing the point of the post altogether. It’s not about tax policy. It’s about the Iona Institute’s agenda. The particular hook it chooses to hang its agenda on is not what I’m interested in here, I’m interested in the way organizations like the I.I. use such hooks to further their anti-feminist agenda. Since I’m not actually evaluating the merit of the tax policy itself, I’m not making a mistake by talking about the I.I. agenda instead. You’re deeply interested in the tax policy; I’m not; we’re at cross-purposes.

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