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The Equal Treatment Fallacy

I’ve heard it said that the root of all religious and secular morality is contained in the Christian dictum: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a seductive and simple message, and will get you through day to day interactions better than the average Facebook meme aphorism, but it is not a solution to social injustice.  The belief that the route to social justice is to treat everyone equally is dangerously flawed.

First, a rather violent metaphor. Imagine you have two Roman gladiators squaring up in the Coliseum. One is dressed in full body armour and helmet and armed with a slingshot. The other is barehanded and wearing a loin cloth. Under those circumstances a rule to say that the two combatants could only fight by throwing stones at each other would make anything but a fair fight.

In socioeconomic terms, the fallacy is best illustrated by Anatole France’s brilliant observation. “In its majestic equalitythe law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”  To treat rich and poor alike is to treat them entirely differently.

The fallacy appears often in gender debates. It crops up in discussions of sexual harassment and even sexual abuse, where hard-of-thinking members of my gender often splutter “But I’d love it if someone sexually harassed / sexually abused me!”

In recent weeks I have seen it applied often to the debate around misogynistic abuse on Twitter, where the ‘do unto others’ dictum has been viciously inverted. “I wouldn’t give a shit if someone threatened to rape me, wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, so you have no grounds to complain if I do it to you.”  

At the heart of the fallacy is an obliviousness to both individual and collective differences. No two individuals will react identically to a threat of violence, but since we are socialised into gendered phenomenology and face different real world risks, stresses and pressures, the impact on the typical man and the typical woman will be different. This is not to say a threat of physical or sexual violence against a man is acceptable or even that it is less unacceptable. It is to say that the difference is not quantitative, it is qualitative.

As you may have noticed, last week I wrote about penises in the Guardian. I took a fair bit of grief in the comments, and even from some valued friends on this blog, because I didn’t write the piece that most readers (at least most of the male readers) wanted me to write. They wanted a storming rebuttal of Suzanne Moore’s rules for managing you penis or a turning of the tables – a man to write the equivalent rules for managing your vaginas. I had tried to satirise both that demand and Moore’s article in a quick, snarky blog-post on this site, but I had no wish to take that particular point any further.

Critics were quite right to say that the Guardian would never publish the same article written by a man about women. However this misses the point that it would be impossible for a man to write the same article about women. Even if the genders (and genitals) were reversed while leaving the rest of the words in place, it would still be a very different article because of the surrounding cultural and political culture. With hindsight, my Guardian piece didn’t explain this very well, but this is what I was trying to say when I pointed out:

Our culture, media and politics have, for thousands of years, positively bubbled with men telling women what to do with their reproductive organs, whether it is instructing against using them too often or too rarely, using them too young, leaving them until they are too old, or medically intervening in their natural and/or God-given functions. Pertinently, many of those voices have been backed by the machineries of state, politics and religion.

I don’t think the Guardian should have published Moore’s article, because it was patronising, needlessly insulting, divisive and, above all, just a very poor article by her standards. It was self-contradictory, muddled and switching awkwardly between irony and sincerity. (Whatever political and ideological differences I have with her, I do believe Suzanne is one of the most brilliant polemicists in the British media. I’ll often accuse her of having a bad argument, rarely of writing a bad article). However that is not the same as arguing that an organisation such as the Guardian should only ever write about men in the same way they (or we, if you like) write about women and vice versa. Equal treatments do not have equal impacts and effects.

What is the alternative to ‘Do unto others…”? I’m not being entirely mischievous when I suggest that it is contained in a very different kind of dogmatic canon: “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

That was intended as an economic principle, of course, but I think it very much applies to social policy and even interpersonal communications. “To each according to their needs” is a good working definition of respect at both individual and policy levels.  I also believe it applies strongly to those issues where men face gender-specific issues and disadvantages. Do male victims of violence or abuse need the same interventions, services and framework of understanding that female victims do? No, often they don’t. Their situation is likely to be different in key respects, and so too should be the response – to each according to his needs.

One of the points raised repeatedly by campaigners for men’s physical and mental health is that services are built on assumptions of patients’ needs, which in practice often mean women’s needs. One explanation proffered for boys’ underachievement in school is that the education system has in recent decades shifted from treating every pupil equally as if they were male towards treating every pupil equally as if they were female. Neither option is truly fair. It seems to me that men’s activists too often routinely demand whatever they perceive women to be getting (not least victimhood) and too rarely analysing and demanding what it is that men actually need.

The logical endpoint of the Equal Treatment Fallacy is the belief that if we treat everyone equally, then everyone will become equal. The truth is that in an unequal system, if we treat everyone equally we maintain the unequal status quo. That’s why you’ll never get me to agree to follow the modern trend to claim to be an equalist, rather than a feminist. I’m neither.

None of this is to excuse or justify rudeness, hypocrisy or negative stereotyping. Arguing that misandry is not the mirror image of misogyny does not mean that misandry is OK or politically constructive. It just means it is qualitatively different and should be understood differently. I don’t blame the 2000+ commenters on Suzanne Moore’s piece for reacting angrily to her trolling. I’ve reacted similarly to other provocations plenty of times. She was being insulting and I don’t blame anyone for feeling insulted. I would caution against using the saga as an argument for false notions of equal treatment. There is really no such thing.

Comments

  1. smrnda says

    This reminds me of hearing a white person say he didn’t care if he got called a ‘cracker’ or ‘whitey’ or ‘honky’ so he didn’t get why other groups were so sensitive about racial slurs. The slurs have differing levels of consequence – it’s quite likely that a white person in a position of influence might choose not to give a (insert slur here) decent treatment, but rarely is there a person of color in power who decides to take it out on ‘honkies.’

    The white guy who doesn’t care if a Black person calls him a ‘cracker’ is not really in a position where that word is going to lead to any negative discrimination, so it’s a luxury he can afford. The tolerance of anti-Black or other slurs does lead to worse treatment of minority groups.

  2. B-Lar says

    “Do unto others 20% better than you would do unto yourself, in order to correct for subjective error”

  3. redpesto says

    “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

    I’m surprised that this isn’t used more often to rebut (or offer an alternative to) the ‘equivalence’ argument, since at least it would recognise that men – as well as women – actually have needs (or problems, or whatever). It’s a better option than Moore’s assumption that she can come up with any amount of trash-talking nonsense about men (as if their masculinity makes them ‘bulletproof’ or something or because men already ‘have everything’ – i.e. the men are just meant to stfu and ‘take it’) and might allow men to have a more nuanced response than claiming ‘sexism’ or ‘misandry’ in a ‘sauce for the goose’ manner.

    But then the phrase is from Marx, and socialist feminists – working at the (ahem) intersection between gender and class – seem thin on the ground these days.

  4. Montana Wildhack says

    Even if the genders (and genitals) were reversed while leaving the rest of the words in place, it would still be a very different article because of the surrounding cultural and political culture… but this is what I was trying to say when I pointed out:

    Well, some of us got that. I was, and then again I wasn’t, surprised by how many people didn’t get it. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people are just willfully obtuse. Part of them knows and understands this, but they’re just more comfortable pretending not to.

    Perhaps, though, my perceptions are coloured by the fact that I’m living in a country where (mostly) middle-aged white men are trying desperately to take away women’s reproductive rights, telling us we can’t get pregnant if we’re raped and where a panel to decide what to do about sexual assault in the military can be convened and every single person on the panel is male.

  5. Montana Wildhack says

    But then the phrase is from Marx, and socialist feminists – working at the (ahem) intersection between gender and class – seem thin on the ground these days.

    We exist. We just don’t get published in the Guardian much.

  6. redpesto says

    Montana Wildhack:

    Well, some of us got that.

    In the case of Moore, I thought it was a case of ‘obvious ATL troll is obvious’. The responses (rightly or wrongly) assumed a ‘reciprocity’ (‘Do unto others…) would apply (‘If I’m not supposed to be insulting to women, how come Moore’s writing this stuff?’) which is connected to equality.

  7. Ally Fogg says

    smrnda [1]

    Yes, absolutely. Should really have included that in the OP as another example of the exact same fallacy, thanks.

    B-Lar [2]

    Love that

    copyleft

    No, quite the opposite. Equality is very much the goal, I am saying we won’t achieve it by pretending it already exists when, in so many different ways, it doesn’t.

    redpesto

    Yep, Karl needs to employ a new PR manager, I think.

    redpesto & Montana

    Yes, I have to say my initial reaction was more of an eye-roll than anything. The ‘don’t feed the troll’ maxim was one reason I opted not to do the full rebuttal thing. Although SM did tweet about me as if I did, something like “good grief, they commissioned a serious response to my article?”

  8. Schala says

    In recent weeks I have seen it applied often to the debate around misogynistic abuse on Twitter, where the ‘do unto others’ dictum has been viciously inverted. “I wouldn’t give a shit if someone threatened to rape me, wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, so you have no grounds to complain if I do it to you.”

    Then we should also apply it to reframing of male disadvantages as actually being male privilege. For example, being judged as “strong enough to go at war” is not necessarily an advantage if you don’t want to go at war. So someone saying “but I would love to be considered strong enough to go at war” is simply wanting it both ways (both not going at war, and being presumed strong anyways), since they rarely want to make women bear the burden that goes with the presumption.

    Our culture, media and politics have, for thousands of years, positively bubbled with men telling women what to do with their reproductive organs, whether it is instructing against using them too often or too rarely, using them too young, leaving them until they are too old, or medically intervening in their natural and/or God-given functions. Pertinently, many of those voices have been backed by the machineries of state, politics and religion.

    1) Men STILL do not have reproductive rights, nowadays in 2013. They can opt out, or hope and pray a child is not conceived. Like middle ages, but now with rubber. No marriage obligation attached, only the providing part (which was essentially how it was before, too).

    2) Both men and women were stuck in the “between a rock and a hard place” conundrum of sex having consequences that THEY CANNOT PREVENT once too late. So society took measures to pre-emptively address the problem. This meant slut-shaming women and praising virginity, and heaping responsibility on men, should they make a woman pregnant (got her pregnant, marry her now, and pay for her and the kid while you’re at it).

    This was SOCIETY, I repeat, SOCIETY, doing it. This wasn’t men alone. If men alone had decreed “women are slaves, men are gods”, there would have been riots, and revolutions and bloodshed. Everyone (or at least enough people to reach critical mass) agreed with the social contract. Women were to have babies only within officially-sanctioned relationships, and men were to pay for any babies they fathered and be forced into said officially-sanctioned relationship if one was forthcoming (shotgun wedding anyone?).

    The whole “men work, women stay home” is recent middle-class business. More than 100 years ago, it was rare for women to not work. And outside affluent white women, it was also rare for women to not work. Just go ask Native American women and black women of the 1950s and earlier, about how they were oppressed staying home and being bored out of their mind. They’ll look at you funny.

  9. other dave says

    I certainly haven’t seen society for thousands of years telling men what to do with their cocks, nosiree I have not!

  10. smrnda says

    On equality as a goal – there’s tremendous value to the word, but it’s often used to gloss over the fact that people aren’t equal in any meaningful way just because nobody is assigned to second-class status by official law.

    An example would be people with disabilities, who most likely have restrictions on what types of jobs they can do and who would likely need special accommodations to do different jobs. No law needs to exist restricting what a person with a disability can do for work in order for their ability to work to be restricted.

    I find many people I meet who oppose protections for people with disabilities argue that it’s giving the disabled ‘special rights’ that other people don’t get. They’re failing to acknowledge that the non-disabled population has special rights to begin with, so it’s only a correction. Can we make people with and without disabilities equal? Probably only by offering special protections to the disabled.

  11. Copyleft says

    “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

    The problem, of course, is who gets to decide what other people ‘need’ if we’re not going to pursue simple equality.

  12. Montana Wildhack says

    redpesto:

    In the case of Moore, I thought it was a case of ‘obvious ATL troll is obvious’.

    Oh, yeah. But then, Ally seems to have a lot more respect left for her than I do. I think she’s been phoning it in for a long time. She’s decided she’s big enough that making an effort and being criticised are beneath her now.

    For the record, it makes me a bit crazy every time a woman writes an article like Moore’s penis thing or I hear of something like that Facebook page everyone was in a lather over about periods & men getting kicked in the groin. I tend to think, “Really? Is this your version of equality? Being as vile about men as some men are about women?” It certainly isn’t the sort of equality I want. (And not that you really asked, but where my class & my gender conflict, class comes first.)

    Ally:

    Although SM did tweet about me as if I did, something like “good grief, they commissioned a serious response to my article?”

    Like I just said to redpesto, I think Big Suze has decided she’s too big to be criticised now.

  13. Montana Wildhack says

    Oh, by the way, one less Marxian* version of the “from each…” that is often thrown around in education is “Fair isn’t each one getting the same. Fair is each one getting what he needs.”

    *Not that there’s anything wrong with being Marxian…

  14. carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    Some excellent points, pragmatic and realistic.

    “To each according to their needs”

    This should be the starting point for social interventions and policy. The greatest challenge facing vulnerable men is, clearly and obviously, not feminist conspiracy, but instead a lack of cohesion about how best to tackle the current and forecasted problems faced by men as a sex.

    I had previously said that, if MRAs were serious about assisting men, they would not oppose female only quotas and sex based affirmative action/positive discrimination, for obvious reasons, particularly in higher education. I remain convinced that this is the case, but your article got me thinking.

    Maybe join me in a thought experiment… A purposefully non PC one. Patriarchal assumptions and attitudes, in my opinion, impact harder and deeper on men than women. Yet despite this, I would wholeheartedly support and endorse government subsided heavy industry being developed in former mining town, with a view to increasing male employment. I know well that this would essentially be engineering a patriarchal society. But frankly, former mining towns need a throwback patriarchal society more than they need to be the detritus of postmodern societal failure.

  15. carnation says

    @ Schala

    “1) Men STILL do not have reproductive rights, nowadays in 2013. They can opt out, or hope and pray a child is not conceived. Like middle ages, but now with rubber. No marriage obligation attached, only the providing part (which was essentially how it was before, too).”

    And men will never have the “reproductive rights” that you so earnestly and repetitively endorse. It’s interesting that you have the audacity to being this up in a thread that is about the inability and I’ll advised nature of striving for a notion of equality in all circumstances. The end result is the inane, unenforceable, vulgar, crude and cruel fantasy legislation that you, and other MRAs, are so fond of.

  16. bugmaster says

    Ally’s post, as well as his gladiatorial combat metaphor, rest on one implicit assumption: that women and men are intrinsically different. Specifically, men are strong, and women are weak. Therefore, we should treat women with more care than we show in treatment of men; after all, men can protect themselves, while women cannot. The poor dears.

    Hmm, where have I heard that sort of reasoning before ?

  17. thascius says

    @17-I think Ally’s point was more that men and women are at different places and may have different needs-therefore treating them the same may not be real equality. In the US, right now, there are (mostly male) legislators passing laws to limit what women can do with their reproductive organs. There is nothing similar going on to regulate men’s reproductive organs, (And no, Suzanne Moore’s attempt at humor doesn’t come close. Unless she’s somehow become dictator of the world she cannot restrict what men do with their genitalia)

  18. says

    @17: I don’t see where intrinsic comes into it. He’s saying that men and women are treated differently by society, so saying the same thing to a man and to a woman will be interpreted differently and you can’t just wish this away.

    @Ally: Can you please do an article on male abortion? If nothing else, it would give a place to send people who try to turn every thread to that topic.

  19. Schala says

    In the US, right now, there are (mostly male) legislators passing laws to limit what women can do with their reproductive organs. There is nothing similar going on to regulate men’s reproductive organs,

    You’re right, US laws regarding male reproduction don’t limit what can be done. They punish after the fact for what couldn’t be avoided.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    bugmaster [17]

    Ally’s post, as well as his gladiatorial combat metaphor, rest on one implicit assumption: that women and men are intrinsically different. Specifically, men are strong, and women are weak.

    No, neither does. Notably the gladiator analogy does not in any way depend upon one being stronger, more competent or anything. They could be identical twins. The difference is that one is starting with a bunch of advantages that the other doesn’t have.

    Same goes for the rest of the post.

  21. carnation says

    @ Schala 20

    I vowed not to be party to you derailing a thread to pursue a pet topic, so will limit myself to a final comment on your oft repeated spiel about “male reproductive rights”

    For those unaware, when Schala says “they are punished after the fact for what couldn’t be avoided”, what she is talking about is the father of a child making financial contributions to to the raising of that child. This, to Schala, represents a form of slavery.

  22. bugmaster says

    @Allly Fogg #21:

    Notably the gladiator analogy does not in any way depend upon one being stronger, more competent or anything. They could be identical twins. The difference is that one is starting with a bunch of advantages that the other doesn’t have.

    I understand your point, and in this respect I agree. However, you appear to be treating this lack of starting advantages as an immutable fact. I disagree with this.

    The disadvantages women face are due to social pressure. Societies are made of people, though (of all genders), and people can change. By prescribing different behaviors toward men vs. women, you are cementing the social attitudes that exert the very social pressure you are attempting to correct, thus preventing any positive changes from taking place (or, more likely, merely slowing them down).

    Naturally, I’m not talking about cases where there are real, biological differences between men and women. For example, women need obstetricians, men do not, and that is perfectly fine.

  23. bugmaster says

    @thascius:

    In the US, right now, there are (mostly male) legislators passing laws to limit what women can do with their reproductive organs. There is nothing similar going on to regulate men’s reproductive organs

    Do you believe that there should be similar regulation targeting the male reproductive organs ?

    Personally, I think that the better solution would be to say, “all people can use their organs in whatever way they see fit with whomever they want, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, and all parties are consenting adults”. As far as I can tell, though — and I could be wrong, so please correct me if I am ! — Ally would disagree with such a statement, insisting that we have separate rules for men and women.

    (And no, Suzanne Moore’s attempt at humor doesn’t come close. Unless she’s somehow become dictator of the world she cannot restrict what men do with their genitalia)

    As far as I can tell (and again, I could be wrong), Ally claims that Suzanne Moore should have a voice (even though her article is in bad taste); whereas a hypothetical Steve Roome, a man who wrote a similar piece with the genders reversed, should be silenced.

  24. says

    carnation,

    For those unaware, when Schala says “they are punished after the fact for what couldn’t be avoided”, what she is talking about is the father of a child making financial contributions to to the raising of that child.

    Can you give me an argument why a father who did not consent to the child’s conception and took all reasonable measures to prevent the conception of a child, should be held responsible for it? If your argument goes along the lies of: “This is best for the child” I would like to ask whether sperm donors should also pay for the children they fathered? If not why not? Further I would like to ask why we would consider the obligation of doing what is best for the child to be fulfilled by him and no by the state as it is clearly a state interest?

  25. Sasori says

    “bubbled with men telling women what to do with their reproductive organs…”
    But is that quote even true (I mean more than men and was it men doing the telling), it’s just passed off as an axiom and the whole article is hung from it. In a similar unsubstantiated way I would say that similar advice was (and still is) given to almost everybody in society about what to do with their genitals and Moore was just perpetuating the same thing for pageviews. How do you know what the surrounding cultural context is for the audience, that makes Moore’s article ok but one about vaginas offensive, there is a good chance that a lot of the audience are under 25 and live in a very different world to the one both authors grew up in.

    /smrnda. #1.
    An interest ing thing from the last round of the gender debate (Suzanne Moore etc vs trans activists) is that the anger of people deemed to have less privilege is seen as more legitimate in stuff like this. I think there are a number of problems with this. Generally (imho) who has more privilege starts to disappear when you start looking at individuals.
    Another problem,
    “a white person say he didn’t care if he got called a ‘cracker’ or ‘whitey’ or ‘honky’ so he didn’t get why other groups were so sensitive about racial slurs.” I think that offence to racial slurs is essentially contextual; I’ve known a number of people who’ve been offended/hurt by ‘honky’ ‘white boy’ etc in a context where somebody has sown genuine hate, violence or they were a visible minority. But, according to cultural convention this is not considered offensive. At the level of individuals this lets people get away with being hateful and bigoted and excusing themselves by saying ‘I can’t be racist because I’m black.’ etc.
    I think it’s good to be against rudeness across the board, especially if the rude person has the power to set the tone in a debate.

    Boys (on average and after a fashion) are less bothered by falling down and hurting their knee than girls, does this mean that you should treat girls better because they are more bothered. I’m guessing that if you did this more it would make the difference worse, but if they started to be treated equally the difference might disappear. I’m not sure that the ‘each according to need’ maxim works in this circumstance, sometimes equal treatment across the board might be a good thing, sometimes not. I can think of reasons that it might be in this case, one of which might be that baseless anger and vituperation against ‘men’ is one of the things that has led to gender debates being so polarised and poisonous.

  26. says

    Ace of seven,

    I anticipated this response in my comment in two different ways. Reading comprehension – it is a feature.

  27. says

    @sheaf: If you have a plan to get the government to start paying stipends to people raising kids, as is done in several European nations facing demographic collapse, I’m all for it. It sounds like a political impossibility when you can’t even get non-emergency health care or decent food covered.

  28. says

    Ace of Sevens,

    I am not sure if the government needs to pay this. A priori children seem not to be entitled to money from two adults. I know I was not. But I think if people are of the opinion that a child has this entitlement (I agree), then I see no reason what so ever why the father should be obligated to be the one providing it. It seems to be that the ones thinking this are stuck in some strange traditionalist framework.

  29. smrnda says

    @27 Sasori “Boys (on average and after a fashion) are less bothered by falling down and hurting their knee than girls” I’ve worked with kids for years (in addition to designing software) and I don’t really see a consistent gender-based difference in reaction to injuries kids under 6. Haven’t compiled statistics, but if there really was a really high gender disparity, I think I would have noticed. This might be that I went into the situation doubting that the conventional wisdom ‘girls cry more’ was true, but I will go look for any real data on this though. I just worry this i some true-ism people have been saying for years without any evidence. There’s also a possibility that society has changed, and that there may have been more differences in these reactions between boys and girls in the past. There’s also a question of how many kids you encounter. I know of parents who freak out over behaviors that are really pretty typical just since they aren’t around many kids and only can compare their own to other siblings.

    On privilege, I hear you since I fit a few non-privileged categories (female, lesbian, disabled in several ways) but in terms of education and as a consequence) class, I have massive amounts of privilege. Which is relevant depends a lot on the situation. I also detest the “I cannot be racist because I belong to Minority Group X” – I usually find that such a statement is usually followed by some bigoted remark against another minority group. With terms like ‘cracker’ and such, I knew a few white guys who would talk about ‘ignorant crackers’ and I told them that it’s just a bad idea to use the term or anything like it since it isn’t going to persuade anyone. There are ignorant white people, but calling them ‘crackers’ isn’t going to make them take a step back and reflect.

    I’ve actually never encountered much anti-male hatred in discussions on gender issues, but this could be an age deal (I missed second wave feminism and am decidedly under 30) or just what sources I’ve been using. On the other hand, there’s some pretty misogynistic shit out there, but I think men like that are in the minority, but thanks to their attitudes on gender issues they *believe* they are typical men. An issue I find with that is everybody says that men should educate other men or call them out for sexism, but I find men who hold highly misogynistic views and those that don’t are part of nearly totally separate social worlds that rarely intersect, so this doesn’t seem like a practical solution.

  30. Schala says

    This might be that I went into the situation doubting that the conventional wisdom ‘girls cry more’ was true, but I will go look for any real data on this though

    The disparity in ease of crying and general stoicism levels of men vs women (as adults) is true to an extent (we exaggerate it to the extreme as a society). It’s caused by hormone levels, which are vastly different in adult cis men and cis women, absent medical issues (ie over 99.99% of cis people).

    Children who are pre-pubertal would have very low levels of hormones, and next to no difference between the sexes. So neither child would feel the urge to cry more. And until they have enough willpower to control it (hold it in at least) and have absorbed the negative social impact of not conforming will do, they’re old enough (probably over 6).

  31. Sasori says

    > thascius # 18.
    “right now, there are (mostly male) legislators passing laws to limit what women can do with their reproductive organs”
    I find your framing of this odd. Those men are responding to a unisex movement, women are not exactly under-represented in grass roots anti abortion activism. ‘Women centred’ organisations like the Susan B Anthony list and Americans United for Life are amongst the backbone of the movement in it’s political context. Looking at the latest Gallop polls, there isn’t very much difference (a couple of points) between the percentages of men and women who are against abortion. What does the sex of the legislators matter.

    Also, in the UK (other countries and lots of US states) there is no chance of anything similar happening, does that make Moore’s article more silly for people reading in those countries.

  32. Sasori says

    smrnda # 31 and schala # 32.
    It was a bit silly, I meant that as a hypothetical unsubstantiated axiom like the ones used in the OP, it could have been about feeding the most vocal/favourite baby bird or something, but I think it might have some truth to it, especially in the US (in my experience). I know from my school days that it was fairly obvious. I agree with Schala about this probably happening after 5 or 6 or so, I can see it with my nephew at the moment who is around that age (but obviously I’m not certain and happy to be corrected). I wonder why your experiences are so different.
    I also remember from the Lise Eliot book, (debunking the idea of major hard wired gender differences in male/female brains) that boys are more likely to be left alone more often and girls get more one on one time with patients and more physical contact. I cannot say for certain either way though. iirc, men also under report violence (both by them and against them) in a way that makes me think that they have been made less sensitive to it (on average). Also in the Swedish survey of journalists, women reported feeling worse about the abuse they had to put up with than men.

    I am male, but in terms of ethnic group and social background I don’t rank very high on most privilege scales. imho although there are cases where they’re applicable, they don’t reflect the world with a great degree of accurately (but what does).
    I agree with you that your what your friend said was counter-productive. For me, generally, arguments where white privilege, male privilege etc or ‘each according to need’ are used to play down unpleasantness or bigotry are counter-productive; calling people crackers/white trash is a good example of this. Most groups of people have chauvinisms I think it would be good to be aware of them and that excusing it is dependent on projected empathy and is a little bit dehumanising to both groups. The OP was attempting to draw an analogy with giving a millionaire and a beggar £5 and calling it fair treatment, but I don’t think this works with insults, they are rude dependent on intent and context not necessarily social position.

    Although stuff like the Moore article (that would be considered hateful if written about almost any other group of people and is only justified by flimsy social context that may not even exist) is fairly common, I don’t think that there is hatred. It is a kind of pronounced lack of empathy from (especially prominent) people that I find extremely common in gender debates from more than one side. I think there are explanations for this that don’t involve people hating each other.
    I am also under 30 by a few years and cannot say that I’ve seen more male than female chauvinism in internet gender debates (although this takes different forms), I acknowledge that we probably have different definitions and sensitivities, it’s annoying for everybody. Weirdly this wasn’t true in most of the gender studies modules I took at university, although that could just be the difference in language and rhetoric.

  33. Adiabat says

    First, a rather violent metaphor. Imagine you have two Roman gladiators squaring up in the Coliseum. One is dressed in full body armour and helmet and armed with a slingshot. The other is barehanded and wearing a loin cloth.

    And let’s say that one of these gladiators is a man and the other is a woman: Which one should receive extra aid from the Emperor, the male gladiator or the female gladiator?

  34. Ally Fogg says

    Bugmaster [23]

    However, you appear to be treating this lack of starting advantages as an immutable fact. I disagree with this.

    Nope, I’m treating them as social realities in our present societies.

    The disadvantages women face are due to social pressure. Societies are made of people, though (of all genders), and people can change. By prescribing different behaviors toward men vs. women, you are cementing the social attitudes that exert the very social pressure you are attempting to correct, thus preventing any positive changes from taking place (or, more likely, merely slowing them down).

    I’m not prescribing different behaviours towards men vs women. I’m saying that prescribing identical behaviours towards men and women is no guarantee of securing social change. In practice, on a day to day basis, the best and fairest way to treat men and women, boys and girls is usually equal treatment. However that does not mean that equal treatment will produce equality within an unequal system so treating men and women differently is not always a bad thing. .

  35. Ally Fogg says

    bugmaster

    As far as I can tell (and again, I could be wrong), Ally claims that Suzanne Moore should have a voice (even though her article is in bad taste); whereas a hypothetical Steve Roome, a man who wrote a similar piece with the genders reversed, should be silenced.

    Not really no.I think both Suzanne Moore and Steve Roome should have a voice, however we should be aware that Steve Roome’s piece could potentially be more socially harmful and unjust than Suzanne Moore’s. Or possibly less, depending what they wrote. My point isn’t really that one article is acceptable and the other is not, my point is that they would be two different articles with different contexts and different impacts.

  36. Jesse says

    You know Ally Fogg, I agree with your article 100%. You have presented a very convincing case for traditional patriarchy. The whole idea of gender equality is fallacious; there is no such thing and there can be no such thing because men and women are different. If you purport to treat men and women the same or “equally” you are being highly discriminatory against men in some aspects and highly discriminatory against women in other aspects. The only way to treat men and women in a truly fair way, “fair” in the sense of meeting the needs of both genders and giving each gender an equal opportunity and potential to succeed in life, is to explicitly and intentionally discriminate on the basis of gender. Discriminate in favor of women in ways that empower women’s relative strengths and discriminate in favor of men in ways that empower men’s relative strengths. This is exactly what traditional patriarchy is all about. Men lead, provide for, and protect women so that women can focus on what they are best at; the family or private sphere. Men are discriminated against in the sense of having to make money and facing danger and women are discriminated against in the sense of being kept out of and excluded from the male realm (at least if they’re married) where they don’t belong anyways. This is positive discrimination; discrimination that serves a collective social purpose and allows both men and women to focus on their natural strengths as men and women.

    So you are totally right Ally. Men and women should not be treated the same or “equally” without first looking at what the conditions of men and women actually are in reality. Once you take the different circumstances and characteristics of men and women into account the inescapable conclusion is that traditional patriarchy is the best way to meet the needs of both men and women and to provide for a good environment for children; the next generation. I agree, this whole foolish idea of gender equality should be scrapped.

  37. Ally Fogg says

    Schala / Sheaf / carnation

    Just a quick word on the male reproduction thing, but I would be grateful if we could all avoid getting sucked into that again, because it is very much on the verge of off-topic.

    In applying my suggestion above, “to each according to their needs” in this situation requires a balance of the needs of the man, the woman and the child.

    In my view the party with the greatest needs in this situation, and therefore the party that should dominate our concerns, is the child.

    I reject the idea of paper abortions or whatever you want to call them because they would be catastrophic for the needs of children, and incredibly harmful to society at large. It’s basically a recipe for the dereliction of responsibility. .

  38. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    And let’s say that one of these gladiators is a man and the other is a woman: Which one should receive extra aid from the Emperor, the male gladiator or the female gladiator?

    Neither. I’m just pointing out it is not a fair fight. If you want equality in this metaphor, you provide both gladiators with similar armour and weapons.

  39. Ally Fogg says

    Jesse [38]

    You know Ally Fogg, I agree with your article 100%. You have presented a very convincing case for traditional patriarchy. The whole idea of gender equality is fallacious; there is no such thing and there can be no such thing because men and women are different. If you purport to treat men and women the same or “equally” you are being highly discriminatory against men in some aspects and highly discriminatory against women in other aspects.

    Well this stands or falls on the claim of how different men and women might be. In a handful of respects, eg reproduction, this is obviously true, which is why I reject Schala’s idea of providing the financial equivalent of abortion rights to men. That’s an attempt at equal treatment which would, in effect, produce vastly unequal impacts.

    However what I’m trying to unpick is that in a society which treats men and women (and even more so, a society which raises boys and girls) in such a way as to amplify and exaggerate differences, which force people into rigid and restrictive gender roles, you cannot leave the big inequalities in place and then, having created structural and systemic injustices, hope to solve the problem by treating everyone equally when society has already given them different status, position etc.

    Discriminate in favor of women in ways that empower women’s relative strengths and discriminate in favor of men in ways that empower men’s relative strengths.

    But are you talking innate strengths or socially constructed and assumed, illusory strengths?

    My position is that other than some basic physiology and physicality, there are very few strengths that are innate to men and women.

  40. Jesse says

    My position is that the natural inherited innate differences between men and women are covered over and suppressed in modern feminist culture. Boys and girls are not naturally the same or nearly the same with society “imposing” gender stereotypes upon them; instead boys and girls are naturally very different and artificial sameness is being foisted upon them by the false paradigm of gender equality. Natural differences between genders are suppressed by the culture; they are not enhanced or promoted by the culture. Of course just saying men and women are “equal” doesn’t make it so regardless how many times it’s said. This is why feminism will never work and the closer feminist defined gender equality comes to reality the worse relations get between men and women. Patriarchy acknowledges the real inherited unchangeable differences between the sexes and makes the best of it. All this social engineering stuff feminism is engaged in will never work and can never work and should not even be tried; instead men and women should be allowed to be who they want to be and the end result of men and women reverting back to their natural strengths and desires is patriarchy.

  41. says

    This is a really interesting article, thanks Ally. I’ve both been reading a lot of Bourdieu recently and playing a lot of board games. I’ve started to think about gender in terms of men in every field having a +1 card that be played at any time. It doesn’t always work, and who knows how the dice will fall and what other cards the player will have, but it’s a nice card to have in your hand. Have you read Masculine Domination?

  42. Adiabat says

    Ally Fogg (39):

    I reject the idea of paper abortions or whatever you want to call them because they would be catastrophic for the needs of children, and incredibly harmful to society at large. It’s basically a recipe for the dereliction of responsibility.

    I’d be happy to drop the OT yet you’ve failed to show why the man even has a responsibility to derelict and you, and everyone who agreed with you, dodged this point in the thread where we discussed this (also telling people to drop a subject while getting the ‘last word’ in seems a tad unfair, but hey, it’s your blog). As sheaf said in #30 “But I think if people are of the opinion that a child has this entitlement (I agree), then I see no reason what so ever why the father should be obligated to be the one providing it. It seems to be that the ones thinking this are stuck in some strange traditionalist framework.” Do you have a counter-argument?

    (41):

    That’s an attempt at equal treatment which would, in effect, produce vastly unequal impacts.

    I think you’ll need to explain your reasoning for anyone to accept this. What I see is that we currently have inequality that produces vastly unequal impacts, and providing equal treatment, in the manner that the state has provided for every biologically-caused inequality that negatively impacts women (through legislation and taxpayers money), would resolve them. Any ‘provision for the child’ argument is a damp squib, as it is easily resolved by provision by the state.

    Ally (40): How about if we knew that in 70% of cases the well-armed gladiators are male and the unarmed gladiator is female? Do we advocate for the emperor to provide aid to female gladiators in that case?

    Do you not think that such aid to female gladiators would br tantamount to state-sanctioned oppression of those 30% of unarmed men facing a well-armed opponent (who has just been given extra help by the state to make killing him even easier).

    I’m not just being awkward. I’m just trying to get a grip on your moral framework as what you seem to be arguing is a completely alien moral framework to me.

    P.S Your metaphor is failing to work because you are equating an inequality between two individuals to inequality between classes of people. The moral principle shown in the metaphor, to help the disadvantaged individual regardless of gender, race etc (in other words: treat people equally) does not back up your wider claim to provide aid based on gender lines.

  43. N4M says

    36. In practice, on a day to day basis, the best and fairest way to treat men and women, boys and girls is usually equal treatment.

    Well if that’s your belief, then I really think that should actually be your main emphasis . The concept of ‘equal but different’ sounds wonderful in theory, but it can very quickly provide a get-out clause to those in power to treat groups in radically separate ways, such that it damages equality, as opposed to working towards it.

    Who could forget, of course, the way that Nick Hardwick and Baroness Corston talked of equality not meaning treating everyone the same, and look what came out of it: a grossly inequitable state of affairs, where reform for one group has been all but forgotten about and abandoned.

    So in this context, when you say “It seems to me that men’s activists too often routinely demand whatever they perceive women to be getting “, is this really so surprising? When you yourself, Ally, apparently think that “the best and fairest way to treat men and women, boys and girls is usually equal treatment ,” and that’s so clearly completely different to what is happening now? When you have actually admitted yourself that commissioning editors in the media still generally regard gender as being a ‘woman’s thing’ by default, and the ‘Minister for Women and Equalities’ and ‘Women and Equality Questions’ still follow a similar line?

    I really believe that now, in the 21st Century, we should be working towards a situation where the needs of women and men should be given equal thought and consideration in all areas of life. This means combating many aspects of the status-quo, not just blithely shrugging our shoulders and turning a blind eye. And above all else, it means the very notion of ‘Women and Equality’ needs to be scrapped and discarded, and then replaced with the challenging idea of ‘Genuine Equality For All.’

  44. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    I wasn’t trying to have the last word on this, just attempting to keep posts anchored to the OP if possible. You’ve done that, I think, and I’ll try to do the same.

    I think you’ll need to explain your reasoning for anyone to accept this. What I see is that we currently have inequality that produces vastly unequal impacts

    Let’s ask what equal treatment in reproductive responsibilities would look like. Until we get to Brave New World baby factories, we’ll assume that the man’s role in creating a baby is impregnating a woman. A woman’s role in creating a baby is being impregnated, carrying the foetus to term, then giving birth.

    Prior to that, men and women have both have opportunities to abstain from sex or employ contraception. Yes, there are more and better contraceptive opportunities for women, but that is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans. Hopefully the male pill/implant won’t be long, but it’s not here yet.

    Now, treating the man and the woman identically at this point is a classic example of producing unequal results. Suppose we give both the man and the woman the right to abort the foetus against the wishes of the other party. To the man, the foetus is (literally) external and remote. It is her body that would be invaded, her endocrine system being interfered with, it would literally be a part of her that is being ripped out of her against her will. So the results would be very unequal.

    Supposing we gave men and women equal rights to abandon financial and caring responsibilities at that stage? It is still the woman that is forced to carry an unwanted baby for 9 months, still the woman’s body that is being flooded by hormones, still the woman who will go through childbirth (or significant invasive caesarian surgery). So equal rights would again not have equal effects.

    , and providing equal treatment, in the manner that the state has provided for every biologically-caused inequality that negatively impacts women (through legislation and taxpayers money), would resolve them. Any ‘provision for the child’ argument is a damp squib, as it is easily resolved by provision by the state.

    But what would be the effect of telling men and women alike that they have the right to relinquish responsibility for an impending baby? What effects would impact upon men as a consequence of that? With the possible exception of later regret, pretty much none. There would be nothing to stop men trying their utmost to impregnate as many women as they can and simply walking away. Women, in contrast, have the whole physical experience of pregnancy and childbirth – pain, trauma, associated illness, or the whole physical and (sometimes) emotional trauma of abortion. Again, equal rights would have grossly unequal consequences.

    When we have these debates, it often seems as if you, Schala et al think that babies are dropped into the mulberry bush by a stork, as if babies were just a financial liability or a consumer good. it can sometimes be like that for men. It is never like that for women.

    In fact what we are looking at is a situation where ‘equal treatment’ is a literal impossibility. You are trying to square a circle which will not and cannot be squared. It seems to me that the only meaningful solution to all of this is better male contraception. A reliable implant will solve all of this at a stroke. Until then, we have to face up to the fact that there is no such thing as equal treatment for men and women on the issue of reproductive choices.

  45. Ally Fogg says

    N4M

    Who could forget, of course, the way that Nick Hardwick and Baroness Corston talked of equality not meaning treating everyone the same, and look what came out of it: a grossly inequitable state of affairs, where reform for one group has been all but forgotten about and abandoned.

    You’re missing the main point of the article. The problem with the Corston agenda is not that male and female prisoners are treated unequally. the problem is that while we have started treating female prisoners (slightly more) according to their needs, there is absolutely no will to treat male prisoners according to theirs.

    This is a point I have made repeatedly.

  46. Ally Fogg says

    Also, N4M, my point that “In practice, on a day to day basis, the best and fairest way to treat men and women, boys and girls is usually equal treatment” was meant to say that, most of the time, men’s needs and women’s needs are pretty much the same.

    However we should be wise to those situations and circumstances where they are not.

  47. karmakin says

    @Ben 44. It’s a good analogy, but it’s somewhat flawed. First, it’s not every field. Second, it’s not uniform. Women have an advantage, a large one at that in some fields..nursing, primary education, child care, and so on. Men have a large advantage in things such as construction and corporate structures. (Note: If you think that the advantage in corporate structures is so much better than everything else, you are part of the problem)

    The other part of the problem, to continue the analogy, is that a +1 on a dice tells us nothing without knowing the parameters. Are we talking about a D4 (a four-sided dice, for the non-gamers among us), a normal D6? A D12? or a D100? This is actually very important to tell how much of an advantage it is. Is it very slight? or is it something massive?

    The second part of that, is let’s assume that it’s a D6. That it’s a pretty significant advantage. If that’s the case, then look at your intersectionality. What are the effects of class? Of race? Personally I’d say they are much larger than a +1 bonus. Maybe like a +4 bonus.(My argument is that race and class are essentially linked) Why are these things pretty much ignored?

  48. Sans-sanity says

    @Ben Litherland
    Nice analogy, but the man card, while useful in some situations, is activly harmful in others (more likely to go to prison and for longer than a woman who has comitted the same crime, for example). While the woman card itself can be very useful (see previous example). Both genders get a card, useful in some situations, harmful in others*, and you don’t get to choose when to play it, it’s always in effect.

    *The relative frequency of useful and detrimental situations as well as their comparative meaningfulness’ for each card being the source of the ongoing cluster squabble that epitomises gender discourse ;)

  49. karmakin says

    @Ally: 50, Outside of reproduction, where there’s obviously a huge dichotomy that can’t be avoided, that’s why we should focus on the circumstances and not the identity. A male in situation X and a female in situation X require the same help, so the focus should be on the situation and rectifying that and not the identity…even if one gender or the other are far more often in situation X.

    The example that comes to mind is the wage gap. You want to make it so people get the paid the same amount for the same position. Seems fair and reasonable. Several things you have to do to get there. You have to drastically reduce the number of salary workers to only very high up very essential 24/7 staff. If you’re off the clock, you can be paid hourly. This allows us to pay workers on an equal per-hour basis. Also, raises have to be based not off of individual performance, but off of team performance with everybody given the same raise. These are steps that can be taken that addresses the problem, but does it in a gender neutral fashion.

    The problem with doing it in NOT a gender neutral fashion is that it reinforces the notion that there are severe differences between the genders, and all the social ills that come with it. It can’t always be helped…again, reproduction is the big one…but it can be minimized.

  50. Ally Fogg says

    Ben [44]

    Have you read Masculine Domination?

    The only honest answer I can give to that question is I’ve tried, god knows I’ve tried ;-)

    In all seriousness, Bourdieu’s ideas are brilliant. His prose is painful.

  51. Ally Fogg says

    karmakin

    I have a bit of an idiosyncratic take on the wage gap – I couldn’t give a shit about it.

    I do care about people’s labour being valued as it should be, so I care about careers considered to be typically female being paid less than careers considered typically male.

    I care about unfair discrimination in salary and promotion, and where that occurs it should be challenged and changed.

    I care about traditional gender role enforcement which decrees that it should be women not men who take time off work, go part time or whatever after a baby.

    However I can see no reason why, when people are making individual free choices within an unbalanced system you should end up with men and women earning the exact same salaries, unless you are going to attempt to engineer society so that exactly equal numbers of women and men do the same educational courses, exactly the same jobs, work the same hours etc etc etc.

    Using the gender pay gap to measure inequality at work is like using a ruler to measure temperatures.

  52. karmakin says

    @Ally: Didn’t really expect that response, to be honest.

    For what it’s worth, I’m kind of sliding in other causes and concerns into this discussion, although to be fair, I can’t see how one can’t do this from time to time. I support those things not just because of the “wage gap” but because I think that corporate structures and the focus on internal competition creates an environment that results in a LOT of bad external behavior.

    Jobs these days are so intertwined, for the most part that it’s impossible to tell where one ends and the next begins. It’s a reason why I think that individual performance reviews are basically a fool’s game and open the door to all the worst kinds of abuses.

    Sorry for the OT-ness, just wanted to explain myself. .

  53. says

    Ally [48],

    You seem to frame this as an issue of equality under the law. I do not think it is at all. The whole argument seems to be completely detached from the power of methods of prevention, I therefore wonder why you bring it up as well. I dont want to force a squared circle, I want to completely change the topology of how we view this issue.

    The issue was about: “why men in ths situation should be forced to pay . I dont see a reason”.

    You give an utilitarian argument, seeming to imply that there would be no incentive for men to stop fathering babies left and right. I dont know what motivation they could have, but given the variation that exists among humans, I am sure a few idiots are running around with delusions of being Genghis Khan. Or individuals who are just extremely careless. Assuming that such individuals exist in large enough numbers and are not discouraged by stds or similar and at the same time successful at impregnating a large number of people (who also do not use protection) et cetera, there is no reason at all not to create a more humane incentive structutre than having people who did not consent to having a child forcible pay for 18 years. A few of them seem very easy to think of, others are more complicated. I am really not sure what kind of argument this is supposed to be.

  54. says

    @Karmakin. Sorry, should probably have made clear, in the Bourdieu’s wider work class (and to a certain extent race) is a central concern: so he talks about economic capital, social capital, cultural capital, symbolic capital and various other capitals that are all deployed in the game. Capital can be converted to other forms of capital (trading up, trading down). Plus, there are the rules of the game (doxa) which are agreed upon and then reinvested for the next generation. The rules of the game favour men as well as the +whatever card.

    @ Karmakin @sanssanity I’d agree with that to a certain extent. The only thing I’d add is that, for Bourdieu at least, fields are much larger than the nursing field. So we’d have to look at the field of medicine and the subfield of nurses in relation to other agents and institutions in the field (doctors, big pharma, hospital cleaners etc). If we look at those who control the field, and the rules that structure the field, masculinity still poses an advantage. It’s not the ultimate advantage (first one needs a medicine degree, a fair bit of money, a platform to give one’s views and so on), but being a man helps all these other things.

    With regards to the military, to play the game one needs to place stakes. For masculinity to be secured there need to be sacrifices. Men going to prison and men dying on the battlefield are part of the tactical losses needed to secure the continued power of the +whatever card. The military hold quite a high rank in the field of power.

    There is a point, of course, where the analogy begins to break down (of course there is!) and there is also a point where it becomes easier to explain the theory away from the analogy (when the rule book for Risk Legacy is as big it is, there aren’t many people who will need a Bourdieu explained via board game)!

    @AllyF Yes, he can be hard work. It’s amazing how lucid he is when talking (Invitation to reflexive sociology, On Television)!

  55. Adiabat says

    Ally (48):

    I wasn’t trying to have the last word on this, just attempting to keep posts anchored to the OP if possible. You’ve done that, I think, and I’ll try to do the same.

    I agree with keeping to the OP. I was just observing that telling people to stick to the OP, while replying to their OT arguments will make people want to reply to you and keep talking OT.

    Prior to that, men and women have both have opportunities to abstain from sex or employ contraception. Yes, there are more and better contraceptive opportunities for women, but that is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans. Hopefully the male pill/implant won’t be long, but it’s not here yet.

    Yes, prior to conception the responsibilities and rights are equal. And I agree that men get no say whatsoever on actual abortion. It’s this I disagree with:

    Supposing we gave men and women equal rights to abandon financial and caring responsibilities at that stage? It is still the woman that is forced to carry an unwanted baby for 9 months, still the woman’s body that is being flooded by hormones, still the woman who will go through childbirth (or significant invasive caesarian surgery). So equal rights would again not have equal effects.

    Firstly she chooses to “carry an unwanted baby for 9 months, still the woman’s body that is being flooded by hormones, still the woman who will go through childbirth”. That is a choice that she has. I find your phrasing misleading. His rights in no way affect her rights, whatever he decides she can keep the baby or not. The effects on her are unchanged from the current situation. The only difference is that he has been given options that are similar to the ones she has.

    The woman doesn’t have to carry an unwanted baby to term; there are several options available to her, with the morning after pill being just the first option. At this point she has a right the father doesn’t have; with very little inconvenience she can abandon all financial and caring responsibilities. In this case the effects would be exactly equal. Even if we get to a later stage, abortion or adoption, and the mother is inconvenienced more: yes this is unequal to the father’s paper abortion. Though I would argue it’s more equal than what we have now. At least she still has a choice.

    There are several biologically-caused inequalities that are similar to this, such as maternity leave. Because of biology there is nothing we can do to cause working mothers and fathers have exactly equal effects on careers, yet we don’t throw our arms in the air and give up trying to make things more equal like you are doing here. We introduce parental leave, we can try and make it have an equal impact on careers by giving the option to spread it equally between mothers and fathers, so mothers careers aren’t hampered too much more than fathers. Yet the effects still aren’t equal. If we went by your approach the solution would be to discard maternity leave altogether (it’s “squaring a circle”), because we cannot achieve exactly equal effects. But of course we do it anyway when the biology adversely affects women, screw those men when it adversely affects them, we shouldn’t even try to make things more equal, amiright?

    There would be nothing to stop men trying their utmost to impregnate as many women as they can and simply walking away.

    I find this argument just as contemptible* when it’s used to claim that abortions and morning after pills will cause women to be irresponsible and fuck as many guys as they want without contraception. You made a similar argument in the other thread and I wondered then how you can make it without experience a high level of cognitive dissonance. Also, do you realise that you are using a “patriarchal” stereotype of beastly men. I’ll say it again, just like most women, a paper abortion option will not cause most men to suddenly lose all morals and standards, to claim otherwise is just sexist and holding them to a different standard than you hold women. It’s claiming that men need to be under a greater level of coercion than women in order to do the right thing.

    *I don’t mean that to be insulting to you personally.

    When we have these debates, it often seems as if you, Schala et al think that babies are dropped into the mulberry bush by a stork, as if babies were just a financial liability or a consumer good. it can sometimes be like that for men. It is never like that for women.

    And it seems to me that you are willing to move heaven and earth to tackle any inequality that affects women, but don’t give a damn about men’s equality. To many men, men who either do not consent to have children or are prevented by the current system from being a father to their child, a child is just a financial burden. Not only is it a financial burden but you still haven’t shown why a father who did not consent to the child’s conception and took all reasonable measures to prevent the conception of a child, should be held responsible for it? Due to the mothers available choices post-conception she should, by any measure of responsibility, be considered to be more responsible for the care of the child. We don’t generally hold people responsible for situations where they had no power to stop it, and in fact someone else has all the power. It just seems to me that your basis for thinking he should is based on nothing but traditionalist norms.

    As for “It is never like that for women” that is patently untrue. It can be even less than that with the morning after pill: nothing more than a brisk walk to the chemist. With abortion it can be, now what’s that colourful language Amanda Marcotte used again, oh yes, a cancerous ‘parasite’ to be excised and disposed of. Even after birth it can be… nothing at all, and the source of severe postnatal depression because people constantly go on about how ‘babies mean so much more to mothers’. The only reason women never think of babies as just a financial liability is because as a society we move heaven and earth so it never is for them, we pay millions out of taxpayers money, either directly or through chasing who she’s named as the father, so that she never has to think of the child as a financial burden.

    P.S I agree with you that they will likely regret it later, just like some women regret having regular abortions.

  56. Adiabat says

    Ben: The game analogy I would use is that while you may get +1 to resources you also obliged to build your wonder in ’7 Wonders’. This represents the more rigid gender role as well. You can still win the game but you will just as likely lose to those who can choose several different ways to accrue points.

    What’s interesting with your analogy though is that if you choose to play a different game (stay at home parent for example) that +1 will be the death of you if the game require low rolls to win (such as shooting in GW games).

  57. Adiabat says

    While I disagree with Jesse with regards to the extent of innate differences I also think he made the greatest contribution to the thread. The conversation between him and Ally highlighted just how easily any policy of treating groups differently could be corrupted by ideologues on both sides, using scant evidence and dogma.

    While Ally’s link to the book in his post upthread would be fine in an normal discussion about innate differences, a good example of providing sources even, in the context of a discussion about treating groups differently linking to it without acknowledgement that it actually is a hotly debated subject in neurobiology took on worrying overtones for me. (not that I think Ally would be a problem :), but I can think of many others who would be).

    We’ve all seen dogma being pushed by dodgy statistics and even dodgier “theory” on both sides, and it’s worrying that the treatment a group receives could be subject to fads and the whims of those in academia. This stuff fuelled the scientific racism of 100 years ago.

    It’s much safer to just take a more equal-treatment approach imo.

  58. ildi says

    We’ve all seen dogma being pushed by dodgy statistics and even dodgier “theory” on both sides…

    ,,,like 40 percent of rapists are women…

  59. Ginkgo says

    Ally @ 41 – “Well this stands or falls on the claim of how different men and women might be. In a handful of respects, eg reproduction, this is obviously true, which is why I reject Schala’s idea of providing the financial equivalent of abortion rights to men. That’s an attempt at equal treatment which would, in effect, produce vastly unequal impacts. ”

    Why is reporduction to be treated differently from anything else? You can’t have it both ways without being incoherent. And anyway, isn’t civilization basically about getting around the limitations nature imposes?

  60. Ginkgo says

    idli @ 64 – “,,,like 40 percent of rapists are women…”

    So you don’t think nonconsensual sex is rape?

  61. Jacob Schmidt says

    like 40 percent of rapists are women…

    There is, at the moment, at least 1 study using valid methodology that came to the conclusion that 40% of rapists in the year 2010 were women. That’s where it comes from.

  62. bugmaster says

    @Ally Fogg [36, 37]

    Sorry Ally, but your answers sound really vague to me, to the point of seeming evasive. I am pretty sure you’re not doing it on purpose, but still, I can’t figure out what your point is. You say:

    I’m not prescribing different behaviours towards men vs women. … In practice, on a day to day basis, the best and fairest way to treat men and women, boys and girls is usually equal treatment.

    But within the very same paragraph, you say:

    … I’m saying that prescribing identical behaviours towards men and women is no guarantee of securing social change. … However [treating men and women equally] does not mean that equal treatment will produce equality within an unequal system so treating men and women differently is not always a bad thing.

    So, which is it, then ? Do you oppose or support the equal treatment of men and women ? You have expressed both ideas in the same paragraph. In your original article, you spoke out strongly against the notion:

    That’s why you’ll never get me to agree to follow the modern trend to claim to be an equalist, rather than a feminist. I’m neither.

    Are you now changing your mind ?

    Of course, no social situation is so simple that it can be addressed by a general prescription such as “always do X” or “never do Y”. I’m not trying to trap you into some sort of a false dilemma; instead, I’m trying to understand the underlying principles that motivate your prescribed actions. Do you have some sort of a procedure that you follow in order to determine how a given person in a given situation should be treated ?

    In the hypothetical case of Suzanne Moore vs. Steve Roome, you say:

    Not really no.I think both Suzanne Moore and Steve Roome should have a voice, however we should be aware that Steve Roome’s piece could potentially be more socially harmful and unjust than Suzanne Moore’s. Or possibly less, depending what they wrote. My point isn’t really that one article is acceptable and the other is not, my point is that they would be two different articles with different contexts and different impacts.

    On the one hand, I agree with you. If Steve Roome wrote a low-grade troll piece like the one Suzanne Moore did, its impact could potentially be more negative. But… now what ? If we decide to treat both the authors equally, we would publish both their articles, ideally on the same page. If we treat them unequally, then we publish one article and squash the other. What, specifically, do you propose that we do in this situation ?

    And what if both authors published an article that said, “you can use your reproductive organs in whatever way you see fit, as long as all participants are consenting adults” ? Do we treat those pieces the same, or differently ?

  63. Schala says

    But what would be the effect of telling men and women alike that they have the right to relinquish responsibility for an impending baby? What effects would impact upon men as a consequence of that? With the possible exception of later regret, pretty much none. There would be nothing to stop men trying their utmost to impregnate as many women as they can and simply walking away. Women, in contrast, have the whole physical experience of pregnancy and childbirth – pain, trauma, associated illness, or the whole physical and (sometimes) emotional trauma of abortion. Again, equal rights would have grossly unequal consequences.

    But this is an extremely right-wing argument!!

    Especially, this part:

    What effects would impact upon men as a consequence of that? With the possible exception of later regret, pretty much none. There would be nothing to stop men trying their utmost to impregnate as many women as they can and simply walking away.

    Fuck, do you have so little faith in humanity that you think a significant minority of men would do this? And that you need the full strength of patriarchy’s “Provide for your baby” edict to prevent it? In 2013? Really. This is misanthropy at its worst.

    I though *I* was cynical. Shit.

  64. says

    I’m really only familiar with Suzanne Moore from this and the transphobia. Does she occasionally write good articles?

    On male abortion: The whole argument only makes sense if you view abortion as solely a birth control method and therefore a woman’s option to have an abortion is no different than her option to use a diaphragm. That’s not how things are seen by lots of women, perhaps a majority, so the argument doesn’t acknowledge social reality.

  65. Schala says

    That’s not how things are seen by lots of women, perhaps a majority, so the argument doesn’t acknowledge social reality.

    It acknowledges physical reality. Baby isn’t born, you don’t pay for it. Baby is adopted, you don’t pay for it. Baby is abandoned in a place accepting abandoned babies, you don’t pay for it.

    Regret, even profound regret, is just too bad. I regret lots of things in life. But I deal with it. No special case.

  66. Tamen says

    40% of rapists are women are based on real numbers from NISVS 2010 plus two hypotheses:

    That means that this is not a fact. It is possible that CDC have collected the perpetrator for the last 12 months, but not reported them. CDC have however not collected perpetration data. In short I personally take care to not report this number as a fact/finding of NISVS 2010 and when I do mention this number I point out the two hypothesises underlying the calculation.

    I am aware of at least one person who currently have a FOIA request pending to obtain the full datasets underlying the NISVS 2010 Report.

    A short summary of he two hypotheses used:

    H1:The gender distribution of perpetrators of making someone penetrate someone else are equal for lifetime numbers and number for the last 12 months.
    If the respondents have answered with internal consistency between then the respondents who answered that they have been “made to penetrate someone else” in the last 12 months (1.1%) are a subset of those who answered that they have been “made to penetrate someone else” in their lifetime (4.8%). And it’s a quite large subset – 22.9%. A working hypothesis that the gender distribution of perpetrators in the last 12 months category is similar to the one for the lifetime category when the last 12 months category makes up 22.9% of the lifetime category seems like a reasonable hyopthesis to me.To the extent men underreport incidents further back in time it seem not unlikely that they then are somewhat more likely to underreport victimization by women. Other research into childhood sexual abuse indicate this.

    H2:Male and female rapists on average have the same number of victims.
    I don’t know of any research indicating either way here so this is the weakest of the two hypothesis in my view.

    Neither of these hypothesis is in my view outlandish, yet they give such an astounishing result.

    All the above is based on the last 12 months numbers and turned around to focus on rapists rather than victims. If we however only look at the actual reported findings in the NISVS 2010 Report and look at the lifetime numbers because the gender distribution for perpetrators for that is given (and to fend off the often used argument that the lifetime numbers are more important which invariably props up when the last 12 months numbers are mentioned) then we find that:

    1 in 5 (appr. 20%) rape victims alive is a man raped by a woman

    Does anyone think the rape discourse seen in media, rape prevention programs, society at large reflects this finding?

    That number is calculated by using the numbers (percentages) given in NISVS 2010 and lowballing the number by assuming no overlap between men raped and men being made to penetrate (as this is reported as two distinct categories by the NISVS2010). Here is how it’s calculated: Assuming a total population of 100 with 50 women and 50 men we get 1.95 ((50*0.048*0.792) + (50*0.14*(1-0.933))) men raped by women, 1.15 ((50*0.048*(1-0.792)) + (50*0.014*0.933) men raped by men and 8.98 (50*0.183*0.981) women raped by men as well as 0.17 (50*0.183*(1-0.981)) women raped by women. Which makes 1,95 of 10.3 (1.15+9.98+0.17) which is 1 in 5.28 (18.9%) which I have rounded up to 1 in 5 (just as CDC rounded up 18.3% into 1 in 5).

  67. says

    Ace of Sevens,

    I struggle to see how that is an answer to the male abortion argument. Even if abortinon is not an easy option for women, how is that in any way an argument for forcing non consenting fathers to pay for the child.

  68. ildi says

    What the data in the study show is that 98 percent of men and women are raped by men (including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration). If you add in made to penetrate someone to the rape statistics, then the percent comes to 83 percent men; that is,17 percent women.

    Most perpetrators of all forms of sexual violence against women were male. For female rape victims, 98.1% reported only male perpetrators. Additionally, 92.5% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape reported only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown). p. 24.

    It’s interesting that the study doesn’t discuss the results that a significant number of men report being coerced into unwanted sex by women. I think this is more interesting than the “40 percent of rapists are women” meme.

  69. John Austin says

    Ally, as a Socialist, how do you propose to treat men and women differently to arrive at equality (of opportunity I trust?) given there are such huge issues of class in the UK (and race to a lesser extent)?
    (Specifics, not just “read Das Kapital”, I mean).

    I agree about Suzanne M on reflection. The one thing I’m sure we’d all like to see is an apology, with a statement on the lines of, “apart from the 5% or so of men who are rapists/ street harassers/ violent fucks, the rest of you guys are basically OK.” You know we’ll never get it.

  70. Schala says

    If you add in made to penetrate someone to the rape statistics, then the percent comes to 83 percent men; that is,17 percent women.

    If you count the 12 months stats, where 50% of victims are male and 50% female, 80% of perpetrators of male rape are female. Coming to 40% overall. More than the 0~1% society estimates.

  71. ildi says

    If you count the 12 months stats, where 50% of victims are male and 50% female, 80% of perpetrators of male rape are female. Coming to 40% overall. More than the 0~1% society estimates.

    More of that dodgy statistics. You’re using 2010 data (convenient since there is insufficient data to determine how many men were raped by penetration) and lifetime percentages.

  72. Schala says

    More of that dodgy statistics. You’re using 2010 data (convenient since there is insufficient data to determine how many men were raped by penetration) and lifetime percentages.

    Consider how come they arrive at 99% male perpetrators for female victims.

    Note that they require penetration of the victim. What if there isn’t penetration? What if the female abuser abuses in other ways than penetrating, and doesn’t make them penetrate her? Clitoral stimulation would be one part of it, regardless of which party was stimulated, the abuser or the victim.

    And the parameters they employed put it out of the rape category, and into some lesser “other sexual assault” category, but non-specified, unlike made to penetrate, which was.

  73. Tamen says

    ildi @75:

    What the data in the study show is that 98 percent of men and women are raped by men (including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration).

    Perhaps this is nitpicking, but after I calculated this in detail in my comment #73 I have to point out the mistake you made while pondering why you didn’t use my result rather than making an erronous calculation yourself. Did you think there was something wrong with how I calculated it?

    Here’s the mistake you made. Saying that 98% of male and female rape victims are raped by men is wrong and your result of 17% are consequently wrong as well. It is wrong because 98.1% of female rape victims are raped by men. 93.3% of male rape (as defined by CDC) victims are raped by men. With 4.8% victmization rate for men and 18.3% victimization rate for women this cannot be 98% combined. Check the text from CDC you quoted yourself.

    The correct number is 18.9%. ~1 in 5.

    It’s interesting that the study doesn’t discuss the results that a significant number of men report being coerced into unwanted sex by women. I think this is more interesting than the “40 percent of rapists are women” meme.

    First I have to correct your use of the word coerced here. “Being made to penetrate” as defined by CDC isn’t being coerced into sex (they have a separate category for that called : sexual coercion) – but rather it’s when “the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm, or when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
    A bit more serious than the word coerced implies. For lifetime numbers men were 1/3 of victims of sexual coercion – almost half (3 in 7) for the last 12 month figures. 83.6% of the male lifetime victims of sexual coercions reported a female perpetrator.

    You are right about the high rate of male victimization not being discussed in the report. And consequently it wasn’t discussed or even mentioned in the mainstream media articles about NISVS 2010 and only rarely mentioned in any feminist blog-posts about the NISVS 2010. The last 12 months prevalency numbers which showed 1.1% victimization rate for both men and women were certainly not mentioned or acknowledged at all. When it was brought up in comments it was dismissed: “lifetime numbers are more important because”, “I’m more inclined to believe the lifetime numbers”, “MRA-speak” etc.

    It’s reminiscent of when a national survey of child abuse in India in 2007 found that boys were slightly more at risk for childhood sexual abuse than girls. The “Major Findings” section had a gender breakdown of the numbers for physical abuse and for emotional abuse and neglect while the paragraph on sexual abuse did not have a break down by gender.

    The use of the “40 percent of rapists are women” meme is an attempt to jar people out of their belief disconfirmation paradigm. Whether it is working, or it is just creating more noise without opening people’s eyes remains to be seen. It certainly get’s a discussion going.

  74. Paul says

    I agree that equality between the sexes can’t always be translated into equal treatment for any number of reasons. But i absolutely reject the idea that within the context of UK society ALL men have a whole bunch of advantages over ALL women. Which is why i believe that relatively privileged women like Suzanne Moore have no right to any special consideration based solely or primarily on the fact they’re female.And that they must face the same vigorous scrutiny as their male counterparts.

    Suzanne Moore is undoubtedly a good journalist who can write interesting stuff on a wide range of topics.But such is her sense of entitlement nowadays she has no qualms about using her relatively privileged position to subject ALL men and trans women to sexist,patronising and offensive diatribes which the Guardian would never allow a male journalist to subject ALL women too.In other words the Guardian operates a double standard which favours female journalists because it in effect allows them to attack ALL men and trans women — some of whom are far more disadvantaged and oppressed than they are.

    Historically feminists have been absolutely right to challenge those double standards which favour males in our society. For instance those using the adage that ”boys will be boys” to justify or explain male behaviour which is totally unacceptable. But gender equality has got to be seen to cut both ways. Which means that the discrimination and abuse that males and trans women can face from both sexes has got to be taken seriously .And when relatively privileged women like Moore clearly don’t take it seriously and use their relatively privileged positions to pour scorn on ALL of them they can’t complain when they face a backlash.

  75. ildi says

    Perhaps this is nitpicking, but after I calculated this in detail in my comment #73 I have to point out the mistake you made while pondering why you didn’t use my result rather than making an erronous calculation yourself. Did you think there was something wrong with how I calculated it?

    No, I was busy doing my calculations and didn’t see yours until after I posted. Here’s my math:

    98.1 percent of 21,840,000 women raped by men = 21,425,000.

    93.3 percent of 1,581,000 men raped by men = 1,475,000

    21,840,000 + 1,581,000 = 23,421,000 (total number of women and men raped)

    21,425,000 + 1,475,000 = 22,900,000 (total number of women and men raped by men)

    22,900,000/23,421,000 = 97.8 percent

    First I have to correct your use of the word coerced here. “Being made to penetrate” as defined by CDC isn’t being coerced into sex (they have a separate category for that called : sexual coercion)

    I was actually talking about the other two categories: sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact.

  76. smrnda says

    @Sasori My experiences might be different since working with young kids (birth through 6) for about 10 years in an area with a very diverse population might mean that I get closer to a representative sample than most people, and also might be that I’m only working with relatively young children, who haven’t had as much social conditioning – I might see much more gendered behaviors in kids who were 11 or 12. If someone told me ‘boys don’t run screaming from spiders’ I can think of lots of times when I saw boys run screaming from spiders. If someone told me ‘girls don’t hit or engage in a lot of play violence’ I can think of lots of times when I saw girls do exactly that.

    and @Jesse – working with young kids I don’t see these clear cut and dried gender differences, which leads me to believe a lot of this is socialized. When you’re telling me that traditional patriarchy would be best for me as a woman because it makes use of my ‘special abilities’ – you’re assuming without any reason that my abilities don’t include say, mathematics and software design. I’ve been programming since 11 or so. I always wanted to work in AI for a living and here I am doing exactly that right now. The reason? My left a book on Scheme sitting around and I read it one day. Yeah, I can work with kids, but so can a lot of men too and it isn’t such a rare talent. Proponents of traditional patriarchy would have ripped the Scheme book out of my hands and told me not to do what I turned out to be good at. I may be marginally better than the average man at working with kids, but I’m massively better than average at software design.

  77. Old At Heart says

    Perhaps a re-wording of the original metaphor, I thought up a bit as some complained on the gladiators’ roles and nitpicking:

    Two gladiators still. One gets leather armor, javelins, nice sandals, and a large hat that shades most of the light away from their eyes. The other gets platemail layered on chain, large broadsword and kite shield, but head totally exposed.

    So… Which is a better gladiator? If it is high noon, the one with shade off the bat, but at night, the other’s clear sight would be superior. If the goal is to kill each other, platemail will deflect a thrown javelin, but if the goal is to kill a lion, the leathers and ability to bleed it out with several spears will bring them much more victory than a lumbering pre-industrial version of canned meat.

    …What if the contest is to run an obstacle course, and isn’t combat at all? Gladiators did that too. Platemail is awesome, but not when hopping around walls and nets.

    That is much closer to how some view the situation upthread, I think. The combat is ranged thrown weapons in the example, but were it a few other things, the advantage would be strongly reversed (a race for an example).

    This is not to say “If you don’t have armor, don’t enter the ring”, of course. The ideal state is that the State gives armor to both gladiators. And if one already has armour, oh well, a second breastplate has plenty of other uses… A big soup bowl, maybe. And of course the main issue is, to push the metaphor even more, that we must question how many events featuring these gladiators are combat against each other, and how many are about making their own way in life? Those worrying about too many rights on one side will view the gladiators as beings only half fighting each other, if that, while those worrying about not enough rights on the same side view it as only combat, ~100% of the time, and only a freak bit of midday sun light-blindness might change the predicted outcome. (And of course, to totally run the metaphor in the mud, the 50/50 crowd thinks the 100% crowd aren’t trying to give heavy armor to the unarmored, but to instead dial up the sun, while the 100% crowd thinks the 50/50 crowd is muddying the issue by saying that races and lion fights take place inside the colloseum as well as duels.)

  78. Tamen says

    ildi @82:

    Ok, you rounded 97.8% up in your fist comment. Your calculation here seem valid. My math was based on the percentages given by CDC and you did it by the “Estimated number of victims” given. That may explain any discrepancy.

    I was actually talking about the other two categories: sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact.

    Ok, I thought you were talking about rape and made to penetrate since that was the topic at hand. And yes, it’s strange that that isn’t discussed at all in the paper. But even more strange is the startling finding that an equal number of men reported being made to penetrate as women reported rape in the last 12 months isn’t mentioned at all. I’ve tried to query CDC directly about the last 12 months number not being mentioned/discussed and also asked them whether “made to penetrate” will be categorized as rape in any future papers. The answer was that there isn’t space for everything in the report/summary and that no, “made to penetrate” is not rape and hence won’t be categorized as rape in future reports/surveys. I wonder why the finding that run most the counter to the common belief (that women are forced to have sex at a vastly higher rate than men and that the vast majority of perpetrators are men) were not consider interesting enough to provide space for in the press releases and executive summary.

  79. mildlymagnificent says

    Sorry Ally, but your answers sound really vague to me, to the point of seeming evasive. I am pretty sure you’re not doing it on purpose, but still, I can’t figure out what your point is.

    I think this is mainly because Ally’s trying to talk to one topic at a time – quite strictly. And it’s appropriate as well.

    My own view is that the greater part of any disadvantages men perceive is due to economic and political causes, along with some social baggage. But for the purposes of this OP, that’s irrelevant. If there’s no way to deal with some problems short of a revolution or waiting for the diehard opponents to die, then you have to do what you can with what you’ve got as things are currently.

    As for children being innately inclined to clearly defined male and female interests or roles? Not in my world. Had 2 daughters, know lots of neighbours’, family kids and others, taught some of them. Most importantly, had a child-related business for 10 years where I could see from my desk into the playground of the childcare centre that shared the building as well as dealing with some of the families involved. It’s very hard to see any consistent differences between little boys and little girls.

  80. Ally Fogg says

    Everyone, can I call a moratorium on this thread on discussions of:

    1/ Male reproductive rights
    2/ Rape statistics / CDC research etc.

    Unless you can make a very strong link back to the OP, I shall delete any future discussions on this thread. Thanks.

  81. Ally Fogg says

    bugmaster [68]

    So, which is it, then ? Do you oppose or support the equal treatment of men and women ? You have expressed both ideas in the same paragraph. In your original article, you spoke out strongly against the notion:

    As I said in the OP, the ‘do unto others’ thing is a pretty good tactic to get you through the day, but it is inadequate as an answer to social injustice.

    Not every conversation or interaction is a political engagement. You don’t have to stop and think about whether your every word or deed contributes to the struggle for social justice.

    My point here is not that ‘do unto others’ or treating people equally is a bad thing to do. My point is that it is not the be all and end all or a trump card. Saying “But I’m treating everyone equally” isn’t necessarily a trump card in a debate about inequality.

  82. says

    Hi Ally

    Your gladiatorial analogy is horribly flawed because everyone can agree that the body-armour is an advantage in combat (if not hurdles, as Old at Heart notes.) But the concept of male privilege is forever open to debate, yes? So I work on the presumption of equal treatment until there is an incontrovertible case for inequality (eg it’s evidently nonsensical to offer gynaecological services to men)

    Experience shows that if you open the floodgates to equal-but-different arguments, even a fraction, what you end up with is Barbara Ellen arguing for female exceptionalism in a child-abuse case, based on woeful hand waving, viz

    Once we accept this difference [between boys and girls], the justification for the equality of punishment starts blurring. In Martin’s case… she has effectively been punished exactly the same as a man. What we have to ask ourselves now, is, knowing what we do about teenage boys, do women like her always commit exactly the same crime?

    (My emphasis)

    At the time, a fine, upstanding, principled chap calling himself AllyF responded

    What a revolting exercise in ignorance, misandry and rank double standards.

    You and your 781 recommends were absolutely right.

    Yes, rigid egalitarianism can be a bit of a blunt instrument, but it is at least a principled blunt instrument. It’s infinitely better than the open-ended hypocrifest that keeps insisting female paedophiles ain’t so bad (Ellen), women should be spared prison (Joan Bakewell) or murderers-with-slender-waists-and-good-calligraphy must have been provoked (Libby Brooks). We need a strong defence (strong stomachs, too) against such odious double standards and equality-before-the-law is our best hope.

    Regarding the Moore piece, the Guardian’s editorial team could easily have said :- “How would this sound the other way round? Hmmm – pretty offensive. True, it wouldn’t be a perfect mirror-image due to umpteen millennia of history but just to eliminate any doubt over double-standards, let’s not sink to this ATL trolling level.” That would have been a really simple decision to take. And, sometimes, simple is good.

  83. Lucy says

    “This was SOCIETY, I repeat, SOCIETY, doing it. This wasn’t men alone. If men alone had decreed “women are slaves, men are gods”, there would have been riots, and revolutions and bloodshed.”

    It’s no coincidence that we farm and eat the docile animals.

  84. Copyleft says

    “Saying “But I’m treating everyone equally” isn’t necessarily a trump card in a debate about inequality.”

    Correct… treating everyone equally WELL is.

    HIGGINS. My manners are exactly the same as Colonel Pickering’s.

    LIZA. That’s not true. He treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess.

    HIGGINS. And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl.

    LIZA. I see. The same to everybody.

  85. carnation says

    @ Norman Hadley

    Good points, and I agree with AllyF’s sentiments vis a vis double standards.

    However, Barbara Allen’s sentiments probably reflect the general consensus, so it’s not just a case of her being “misandric”, it’s a case of widespread ignorance on this subject.

    Teenage boys want romance, fall in love, get infatuated. Society isn’t comfortable with these notions, and your average teenage boy wouldn’t dare show them.

    I believe a certain AllyF coined a useful phrase – patriarchal misandry.

  86. Sasori says

    /smrda/ #83
    That was really interesting thanks for explaining, I guess there is enough variation in how people are treated to explain our different experiences (when you add in different confirmation biases). You may be interested in reading ‘pink brain blue brain’ or ‘delusions of gender’ two recent books that attempt to explain that there isn’t all that much evidence for major innate gender differences hard wired in the brain.

  87. says

    Hi carnation (12:38)

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Barbara Ellen’s sentiments probably reflect the general consensus” because I’d characterise the thread response as near-universal hostility, from both memory and re-reading. Whether she’s more in line with wider society, beyond Comment Is Free, I couldn’t say.

    Where Ellen goes adrift is in remembering teenage boys through her own teenage eyes “when [she] was supping Vimto in the 5th-form common room” rather than drawing on her adult perspective. To illustrate, suppose I made the same mistake..

    When I was a teenager, my female peers seemed (let’s repeat that word cos it’s the crux… seemed) impossibly confident, rarefied minor deities, freshly endowed with the appearance of womanhood by nature and Rimmel alike. Now imagine (and given your much-mentioned contempt for the MRM maybe you don’t have to imagine) I had preserved in aspic that view of females. What manner of man would I be now?

    Fortunately, age has brought (some) perspective. When I hear about the prevalence of eating disorders and self-harming among young women, I can only conclude that the unattainable self-assurance I perceived as a boy was pretty superficial; those girls were stumbling blind through adolescence all along. As were we.

    Now I’m neither a social commentator nor psychologist; I’m just some guy. If I can figure that out, is it not possible that somewhere among Britain’s womenfolk, the Guardian can find someone who can write about teenage boys beyond the obvious bravado? OK, besides Deborah Orr, two women.

    We’d better pull this back to the OP or Ally will savage us with his censor’s pen. If I could condense this down to a golden rule-sized maxim, I’d say that one-and-a-half wrongs don’t make a right. It’s immaterial that the two wrongs are of unequal magnitude – they’re both wrongs.

    That’s why I think the Guardian should summon the integrity to avoid insulting men just as assiduously as it tries to avoid insulting women. Yes, it’s true that insulting women carries more historical baggage than insulting men, but that’s not the point.

  88. says

    …Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a seductive and simple message, and will get you through day to day interactions better than the average Facebook meme aphorism, but it is not a solution to social injustice. The belief that the route to social justice is to treat everyone equally is dangerously flawed.

    Wait, what?! Where do you get the link between “Do unto others…” and “treat everyone equally?” They’re not the same thing at all, and one does not lead to the other. I, for one, do not expect to be treated the same as everyone else — I obey the laws, therefore I expect to be treated differently from a criminal; I have some education, therefore I expect to be treated differently from an ignoramus; and when I’m sick or injured, I expect to be treated according to my specific condition. And that is how I deal with others.

    Seriously, where did you get that link? It sounds ridiculous on its face.

  89. says

    Ah, good old Schala, the troll whose axe-grinding wheel goes from zero to tiresome in the first paragraph of his first comment here.

    1) Men STILL do not have reproductive rights, nowadays in 2013.

    When did men lose their ability to chose not to fuck? And last I checked, condoms were still available in drugstores — unlike birth-control pills, which our Texas Taliban pharmacists now have an inalienable right to refuse to sell to women, because CONSCIENCE or something.

  90. Schala says

    It’s no coincidence that we farm and eat the docile animals.

    And that we tame men to serve the interests of others, almost a gunpoint, their whole lives, right?

  91. Schala says

    @Raging Bee at 96

    Fun that YOU call me a troll. You only post to be contrarian to me, bring no argument, dismiss all mine as nonsensical. But hey, you’re not a troll, you’re just someone who is looking to anger people on the internet and who thinks men suck.

  92. Ginkgo says

    Ally @ 86 – “As I said in the OP, the ‘do unto others’ thing is a pretty good tactic to get you through the day, but it is inadequate as an answer to social injustice. ”

    It is a start but if you don’t take the next step, the first step can lead to grief. That next step is actual empathy.

    I am not Trayvon Martin and I am not Tracy Martin.

    But I do have a son and I do know what it would be like to lose him, and in that way. That’s the first step = cathexis with Tarcy Martin.

    But the next step is to remember that I am not Tracy Matin and my son wis not Trayvon. My son is white and chances of the same thing happening to him are pretty small. The grief would eb the same but the fatc is the chance is small.

    If you don’t take that second step and respect the other person’s individuality and recognize their experience for what it is, different from your own, you just appropriate them to your own ego needs.

  93. Ginkgo says

    Raging Bee 2 96 – “When did men lose their ability to chose not to fuck?”

    The Religious Right called. They want their anti-choice talking point back.

  94. bugmaster says

    @Ally Fogg (#87)

    Saying “But I’m treating everyone equally” isn’t necessarily a trump card in a debate about inequality.

    Sure, but that’s a much weaker statement than the one you made in the OP, where you called equal treatment a “fallacy”. In fact, it is a rather trivial statement, seeing as no single maxim could possibly work as a trump card in all circumstances.

    So, please allow me to press you for additional details, once again.

    It sounds like you’re saying that, in our personal lives, we should strive to treat people equally, based on their actions as individuals. Thus, for example, if I overhear my friends making dirty jokes to each other, I’d either ignore them or ask them to stop (depending on how much their jokes bother me, how close our friendship is, etc.), regardless of their gender. Do you think that this is a good approach ?

    Moving on, what should we do in matters of social justice policy (and policy in general) ? How do you determine which laws and policies should apply to all people, and which should apply solely to men or solely to women ? Obviously, we should have separate policies for men and women as far as biology is concerned; providing pregnancy-related medical care to men would be futile. But, for example, should we allow both men and women to publish trolling articles about vaginas and penises, regardless of who publishes which article ? What principle guides your decisions in such cases ?

    In the OP, you say that the principle is “to each according to their needs”. Setting the existential dread that every former denizen of a Socialist country (such as myself) experiences upon hearing these words aside, how do we decide what any given individual’s needs are ? Who gets to make that decision ?

  95. Lucy says

    “And that we tame men to serve the interests of others, almost a gunpoint, their whole lives, right?”

    I’m not sure the docile farm animals would agree their interests are being served.

  96. Schala says

    I’m not sure the docile farm animals would agree their interests are being served.

    Yes, just ask men if Barack Obama, or Stephen Harper, or whoever is the male prime minister of the UK, are serving specifically-male interests.

    The answer is a resounding no.

    They don’t care one bit about their “common maleness”, there is no brotherhood when you’re a world leader. At least not with the common man. Maybe with the Rich Man, with capital letters. Provide tax cuts and don’t prosecute tax evasion.

  97. says

    They can’t have their talking-points back until they learn to use them correctly and stop breaking them!

    Yes, just ask men if Barack Obama, or Stephen Harper, or whoever is the male prime minister of the UK, are serving specifically-male interests. The answer is a resounding no.

    Well, yeah, that’s because only half of the people they’re paid to serve are men. Your point…?

  98. mildlymagnificent says

    and don’t prosecute tax evasion.

    What kind of anti-social nonsense is this? Pensioners who steal a warm coat or a few chocolate bars from a person or a business can expect prosecution, but don’t prosecute people who defraud everyone?

  99. Schala says

    What kind of anti-social nonsense is this? Pensioners who steal a warm coat or a few chocolate bars from a person or a business can expect prosecution, but don’t prosecute people who defraud everyone?

    Then explain fiscal paradises existing for places like even the US, already having low taxes as is. I’m not saying not prosecuting it is good, I’m saying that even leftist leaders don’t really prosecute it because they’re in league with (and get their financing from) the 1%. And the 1% are the most likely to do tax evasion.

  100. Jupp says

    Ally,
    this is an interesting discussion, so I will chime in and try to defend the non-discriminating approach with respect to gender.
    While it is true that disregarding gender in your interactions with other people, will not necessarily lead to gender equality, the non-discriminating aproach has some important advantages:
    1. It is relatively easy to do.
    2. It is fair, as it removes personal bias, it is not arbitrary and transparent, and it gives other people obvious arguments to criticise you, if you fail to non-discriminate.

    On the other hand a discriminatory approach to gender equality has some problems:
    1. As men and women are very heterogenous groups, how do you do just by an individual man or woman?
    2.How do you find out, what impact a particular harm has on somebody (some people complain more, some less etc.)?
    3.How do you deal with the “Princess on the pea”-effect?
    4.How do you check your own bias?
    5.In which way can other people check whether your actions match your ideals?

  101. mildlymagnificent says

    While it is true that disregarding gender in your interactions with other people, will not necessarily lead to gender equality, the non-discriminating aproach has some important advantages:

    The biggest problem with this approach is that constantly repeating behaviours on this basis can lead you into behaving as though perfectly obvious problems of previous or continuing discrimination outside your own personal actions and scope of view have no impact. And then you can find yourself wondering why “this”, whatever this might be, doesn’t seem to have the equal effect you expected.

    We’re very rarely the sole party affecting whether or not a person is discriminated against in a workplace or a contract so we need to be alert to the whole of the situation and our place within it rather than treating it as a series of isolated, unrelated, personal interactions.

  102. says

    Ally, you say:

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you does not mean treat everyone equally, quite the contrary.

    And you assume this is some kind of equality message. But it isn’t.

    So when you suggest:

    “The logical endpoint of the Equal Treatment Fallacy is the belief that if we treat everyone equally, then everyone will become equal. The truth is that in an unequal system, if we treat everyone equally we maintain the unequal status quo.”

    Isn’t this based on a misunderstanding of the Scripture and long before it, what made us what we are today?

    Doesn’t it mean – take a beating to save someone else having to take one?

    And isn’t that the essence of leadership?

    You might never receive your reward for the beating you’ve taken, but having taken it, you can feel mightily content about the world around you, and be in a rather better position to offer advice and even give orders?

    Maybe that’s why Suzanne Moore wrote her piece?

    And maybe what we have today is too many people wanting to deliver beatings and not enough prepared to take one?

  103. Jupp says

    109 mildlymagnificient:

    The biggest problem with this approach is that constantly repeating behaviours on this basis can lead you into behaving as though perfectly obvious problems of previous or continuing discrimination outside your own personal actions and scope of view have no impact.

    Yes, the non-discriminating approach with respect to gender isn’t perfect and sometimes its effects might be adversary to equality. The question is whether there is a better (which would actually have to be defined before we can compare) approach that is realistically implementable and acceptable for a big enough portion of the population. We already have a discriminating approach when it comes to gender and I understand that Ally wants a different discriminating approach, he hasn’t described explicitally how his approach would work.

  104. says

    Ah, just what the world needs — more vague blathering about an unspecified “non-discriminatory” approach to unspecified policy areas…

    … the non-discriminating aproach has some important advantages: 1. It is relatively easy to do. 2. It is fair, as it removes personal bias, it is not arbitrary and transparent, and it gives other people obvious arguments to criticise you, if you fail to non-discriminate.”

    Point 1 above is irrelevant — just because something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s right or the best thing to do. And point 2 is pure question-begging: you can’t say whether a policy is “fair” until you can show it by the speicific consequences of specific actions.

  105. redpesto says

    Fogg (@56):

    I care about traditional gender role enforcement which decrees that it should be women not men who take time off work, go part time or whatever after a baby.

    However I can see no reason why, when people are making individual free choices within an unbalanced system you should end up with men and women earning the exact same salaries, unless you are going to attempt to engineer society so that exactly equal numbers of women and men do the same educational courses, exactly the same jobs, work the same hours etc etc etc.

    Using the gender pay gap to measure inequality at work is like using a ruler to measure temperatures. [my emphasis]

    Q: If there is a fallacy as regards equal treatment, is there a danger of a related intellectual error in assuming that the gender balance of men and women re. the population somehow ‘ought’ to be reflected in every aspect of public, private and economic life? In other words, there is a significant difference between a feminism that campaigns for equality of opportunity and/or treatment (as required/enforced by law) and one which argues for equality of outcome (which the law – at least in the UK – does not require)? Or does the ‘equal treatment fallacy’ cover the need to make more effort to get more women studying ‘Stem’ subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths) than getting men studying English or dance?

  106. Copyleft says

    @113: Actually, that point was addressed last year in a Pharyngula topic. The consensus was that an exact 50/50 representation of genders across all academic majors and disciplines was indeed the goal, and that anyone who questioned it was an obvious misogynist.

  107. says

    And maybe what we have today is too many people wanting to deliver beatings and not enough prepared to take one?

    What the hell does that even mean?

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