Male suicide and the cynical, mendacious trickery of Conservative Woman


If this article about male suicide rates had merely been wrong, I would probably let it pass. If my only concerns were the critique-free mangling of Durkheim’s brilliant but profoundly flawed monograph, or if this were just a straightforward left-versus-right disagreement on policy, then I would wave it away. If the author were just another cheap hack churning out the usual propaganda for the Murdoch-Rothermere-Desmond axis of weasels I might have done something more uplifting with my morning than immerse myself in suicide statistics.

But whatever else she may be, Kathy Gyngell is not ill-informed. She has a first in social anthropology from Cambridge and an M.Phil in sociology from Oxford. Amongst several lines of employment, she has collaborated with Iain Duncan Smith on his Centre for Social justice reports and she is a key member of the Centre for Policy Studies, the thinktank which remains the single most influential ideological seed-bed for the social policy of the modern Conservative party, and therefore the current government.

I will afford Gyngell the credit of assuming she is neither ignorant nor stupid, that she knows how to read data and interpret social statistics, and can only conclude, therefore, that she is deliberately and wilfully mendacious in presenting a grotesquely false interpretation of the new ONS suicide statistics. I can also only presume she is doing so cynically, for reasons of political and ideological advantage and without regard to the potential consequences for some of the most vulnerable and at-risk members of society.

Gyngell, writing on the Conservative Women website, is cross about coverage of the latest official suicide statistics, most of which focussed on the impacts of economic crisis, unemployment, austerity and poverty. This angle was broadly in keeping with the overwhelming consensus of epidemiologists, public health experts, psychiatrists and other professionals. A report last year looked at suicide trends across Europe and North America and concluded that the economic conditions since 2008 had driven an upswing in suicide rates equivalent to 10,000 additional deaths, almost all male.

Gyngell, however, has her own theory.

Last year saw an overall 4 per cent increase. But far more disturbing was the rise and rise of the male suicide rate.The proportion of male to female deaths by suicide has increased steadily since 1981. In 1981, just 63 per cent of UK suicides were male; by 2013 the figure was 78 per cent.

The overall death toll of more than 6,000 people was appalling. So was the fact that more men in the UK died by suicide in the past year than all British soldiers fighting in all wars since 1945. Suicide accounted for over one per cent of all deaths, killing three times more people than road accidents, more than leukaemia, and more than all infectious and parasitic diseases combined.

So trying to explain this away by citing the economic crash is futile.

Yet ‘cost of living’ dominated the responses to this news that I read. None considered the cultural factor. Nowhere did I see, for example, mention of the impact of the feminist revolution, that men have been on the receiving end of, that curiously has taken place over the very same period – the last 30 to 40 years.

[Durkheim] identified three types of suicide relating to different social forces – anomic, altruistic and egoistic. They were all alarmingly prescient of modern 21st century society. The modern social contexts are, I believe , atomisation and disintegration, the decline of Christian values, and the rise of the contradictory forces of individualism, feminism, (aggressive) secularism and multiculturalism.

There are many obvious ways to demonstrate that Gyngell is simply wrong, but the easiest is simply to look at the data published by the ONS last week. Here are the suicide rates (per 100,000 population) for men and women since 1981.

Suicide rates graph

If Gyngell was right, we would expect that as society absorbed ‘the decline of Christian values, and the rise of individualism, feminism, (aggressive) secularism and multiculturalism’ then male suicide rates would have inexorably risen. They have not. What actually happened is that they bobbed along reasonably constantly through the 1980s and 90s, rising and falling year-on-year but ending up pretty much exactly the same place in 1999 as in 1981. They then fell markedly through the 00s and continued to fall right up until the financial crash of 2008, when the trend suddenly began to reverse. The ongoing current rise in male suicides since is a statistical representation of an awful human tragedy. It roughly equates to over a thousand additional deaths, each leaving devastated families, friends, colleagues and communities. But the change in the trend did not coincide with the feminist revolution, no-fault divorce or the Equal Pay Act. It coincided very specifically with the collapse of the financial markets in 2008. This, as Gyngell knows full well, is precisely what Durkheim would have predicted.

Gyngell’s trick (again, I won’t insult her by calling it a mistake) is to consider the male suicide rate in comparison to the female rate, which has tumbled consistently since 1981 (if not earlier). One reason for this is improved medical intervention. Women tend to choose methods of self-harm that are less immediately lethal (overdoses, primarily, but also slow-bleed lacerations) which give paramedics and doctors a greater chance of saving their lives. However we should also accept the possibility/probability that social change and progress in gender equality has had a significant impact on women’s wellbeing, fulfilment and mental health. So if feminism has had an impact on suicide rates, it is not with respect to rising male rates (which despite recent reversals are still lower than they were 30 years ago) but on female rates, which are now considerably less than half where they were in 1981. That is equivalent to around 1,100 women’s lives saved every year.

At the most simplistic level of analysis, what has happened over the past 40 to 50 years is this: We have stumbled upon some kind of formula which works to reduce the levels of suicide in women, irrespective of prevailing economic and social conditions. We have found no such formula for men. The rates at which men take their own lives remains pinned to external social and economic forces and the provision of support in health and welfare.

Over the same period of time, we have seen a remarkable reinvention of what it means to be a woman, what a girl growing up can expect from life and society in terms of rights, opportunities, freedoms, ambitions and personal fulfilment. There has been no equivalent reinvention of men and masculinities. To a great extent we remain wedded to an anachronistic model of man as breadwinner, brute and bruiser, with our self-worth tied up in our stoicism, self-sufficiency and the whole patriarchal, protector-provider mythology.

As a reactionary social conservative, Kathy Gyngell wants to send us back to days of less equality, less social justice, less emancipation and – as it happens – much higher rates of suicide. The party she supports, it must be said, are doing a pretty good job of hitting all those targets.

The explanation for the stubbornly high rates of male suicide is not an excess of social justice, an excess of feminism, an excess of multiculturalism, secularism and atheism, if anything the problem is the opposite. The journey that women have been on for the past half century is one that we should learn from and emulate, not reverse.

Comments

  1. says

    The male:female suicide rate differential was under 1.7:1 in 1982, and the latest available figure is 3.5:1. The government is spending £1.5m on six research studies into suicide, none of them focusing on male suicide specifically. Meanwhile it’s spending £30m encouraging more women into engineering, whilst knowing unemployment is a higher risk factor for men than women, and most unemployed people are men. A lower proportion of female engineering graduates take up engineering careers, a higher proportion quit the profession, and few women return to engineering careers after having children.

    If men had the resilience of women – by ‘redefining masculinity’ or any other such claptrap – the male suicide rate would increase hugely. What’s the point in asking for help – as a man denied access to his children, a man who’s the victim of domestic violence, and in many other ways – when no help (or very little) is available? Men need to be stoic to face the realities of life.

  2. says

    Great article

    One thing that I find noteworthy is that the rise in male suicides after the financial crisis has not been matched by a rise in female suicides. This is not just limited to Britain. The report you link to about the upswing in suicides in North America and Europe says the increase was almost all male. Women have not been immune from what has happened, so why the divergence?

  3. tonylloyd says

    At the most simplistic level of analysis, what has happened over the past 40 to 50 years is this: We have stumbled upon some kind of formula which works to reduce the levels of suicide in women, irrespective of prevailing economic and social conditions.

    And what could that be? It would need to be something that has been increasing over the past 40 to 50 years.

    One contender could be:

    (A)tomisation and disintegration, the decline of Christian values, and the rise of the contradictory forces of individualism, feminism, (aggressive) secularism and multiculturalism.

  4. 123454321 says

    “The explanation for the stubbornly high rates of male suicide is not an excess of social justice, an excess of feminism…”

    But the high rates of male suicide could be a result of an excess of social justice or feminism where social, female-friendly reform energy is clearly and openly directed at a particular gender whilst blatantly ignoring the other, to the point that the ignored gender becomes so deprived of sympathetic attention that they feel completely disenfranchised.
    I agree that the correlation between economic instability and male suicide is strong but perhaps that indicates that where men are stripped of their personal wealth (which, in the main, is usually directed at their families), they probably have absolutely nothing else left to live for. They have no emotional support, and no visible, social support mechanisms to identify and connect with.
    Had feminism, along with other social policies and various campaigns, been all-inclusive with their actions/inactions, men, as a group, may have felt they had something supportive to turn to, even when they hit financial troubles. But they don’t.
    I find anyone (or any group) with influence and power who knowingly ignores or omits a group in favour of supporting another chosen group is partially responsible for the overall lack of welfare of the ignored group.
    So no get-out clause for me. Feminism has acted out its non-inclusive narratives for decades and the end result is that many men feel totally excluded by society and made to feel pretty darned shit, especially when they lose their last penny.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    Mat [2]

    Women have not been immune from what has happened, so why the divergence?

    Yep, that is the key question and I can’t pretend I have a single answer to it. I think one key factor is that male identity, self-image and self-worth is still very much (far too much) tied up with employment status and the protector-provider role while women are allowed to be more rounded in terms of work, family, career etc. I think the old model of masculinity, much admired by Kathy Gygnell and Mike Buchanan, demands that men do not show or admit to weakness, vulnerability, helplessness, even to their friends and loved ones. That means they don’t seek support and help so often, whether from professionals or friends.

  6. Ally Fogg says

    tonylloyd [3]

    Yes, and I said as much in the article. At least part of the reason why the number of women killing themselves has more than halved over the past 35 years is progress on social justice. Women have adapted (and been allowed to adapt) to the modern world in a way that men have so far proven unable to do (for whatever reasons).

  7. Ally Fogg says

    12345…

    But the high rates of male suicide could be a result of an excess of social justice or feminism where social, female-friendly reform energy is clearly and openly directed at a particular gender whilst blatantly ignoring the other, to the point that the ignored gender becomes so deprived of sympathetic attention that they feel completely disenfranchised.

    So how do you explain that male suicide rates are actually lower now than they were in 1981?

  8. 123454321 says

    “Women have adapted…. to the modern world…”

    I think it’s the other way around. Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves, even if it’s at the expense of male lives. I think it’s men who are having to adapt themselves to a greater degree. That’s what feminism has done and is still attempting to do.

    “… in a way that men have so far proven unable to do (for whatever reasons).”

    I agree. But, despite men being completely shit at collectively supporting each other (that’s your reason), at least the internet is providing a platform for men to share their views and encourage change such that they, too, can adapt the modern world to help them for a change, particularly by challenging feminism which is already renown and becoming infamous for, at best, totally ignoring men, or, at worst, toxically attacking men via all channels of everyday life and the media. Why? Because they can!

  9. xyz says

    Over the same period of time, we have seen a remarkable reinvention of what it means to be a woman, what a girl growing up can expect from life and society in terms of rights, opportunities, freedoms, ambitions and personal fulfilment. There has been no equivalent reinvention of men and masculinities. To a great extent we remain wedded to an anachronistic model of man as breadwinner, brute and bruiser, with our self-worth tied up in our stoicism, self-sufficiency and the whole patriarchal, protector-provider mythology.

    Yep, exactly. Kathy Gyngell and her ilk wouldn’t be too happy to see men escaping that straitjacket though, so she has to blame feminism (the same social change that made her education and career possible, hypocritically enough) for ruining male lives. It’s an obvious tactic of distraction isn’t it?

  10. 123454321 says

    “So how do you explain that male suicide rates are actually lower now than they were in 1981?”

    I don’t need to explain that. We’re talking about demographics which are 50:50 split. It’s the relative, comparative disparity which is alarming and requires explanation.

  11. xyz says

    “Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves, even if it’s at the expense of male lives.”

    O…kay… but as Ally just asked, then how do you explain the fact that male suicide rates are going down since 1981?

  12. Ally Fogg says

    12345

    I think it’s the other way around. Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves,

    That is patently bollocks. The driving forces behind change in the world have been globalised neoliberal capitalism, consumerism and technological revolutions, all of which have been driven by profit motives.

    There is a certain strain of liberal feminism which is quite compatible with that (eg neoliberalism likes an expanded labour force, so getting more women into work at all levels is convenient) but the idea that women have changed the world to suit themselves is laughable nonsense.

    I don’t need to explain that. We’re talking about demographics which are 50:50 split. It’s the relative, comparative disparity which is alarming and requires explanation.

    Well that bit is easy. Women’s suicide rates have dropped by more than 50% while men’s have remained virtually unchanged. That explains the entire, relative disparity.

    And it is halfway to a good news story. It is better that women’s suicide rates fall while men’s stay the same than if neither was falling, wouldn’t you agree?

    What we need to do now is work out how men can emulate what has been done for women.

  13. 123454321 says

    xyz – You’re asking the wrong question. You’re asking a question which evades the main question i.e. the question relating to the relative disparity between male and female suicides. There are 50:50 ratio split of male female on this Earth, remember?

  14. says

    @ Ally 5

    “I think the old model of masculinity, much admired by Kathy Gygnell and Mike Buchanan, demands that men do not show or admit to weakness, vulnerability, helplessness, even to their friends and loved ones. That means they don’t seek support and help so often, whether from professionals or friends.”

    Ally, I’ve never said men shouldn’t show or admit to weakness etc., but it’s important to grasp why men won’t (or often won’t). Men don’t seek support because they believe / assume / know it’s not available e.g. only 17 out of 4,000+ DV refuge places are available for male victims of domestic violence, though it’s known from 300+ studies (Prof Martin Fiebert’s bibliography) that women are as physically aggressive towards opposite-sex partners as men, or more aggressive. A man who goes to his Local Authority saying he has to leave his house because he’s being physically assaulted by his partner will be told that if he leaves, he’ll be deemed intentionally homeless. The average homeless person loses 30 years of life expectancy, and about 90% of street homeless people are men.

    An American study – I’ll provide a link if you want – showed that when you add DV-related suicides to DV-related homicides, more men than die as a result of DV. Yet the Home Office takes advice from feminist organisations such as Women’s Aid, who tout the long-discredited male control theory of DV, and resolutely ignores what’s been known for decades by researchers such as Nicola Graham-Kevan, Elizabeth Bates etc.

    Women take about their problems because they’ve learned they’ll get help. Men don’t talk about their problems because they learned they WON’T get help. Until and unless more men in crisis get more support, and until and unless the state stops assaulting the human rights of men (20 such areas n our manifesto) the ‘old model of masculinity’ is one of the few things keeping the male suicide rate down to the level it is – and it’s the #1 cause of death of men under 50.

    The state is brutal towards men and compassionate towards women. William Collins has published a piece showing that if male criminals enjoyed the same sentencing as female criminals, five out of six men n British prisons wouldn’t be there. There are 80,000+ men in British prisons, and fewer than 4,000 women. Only a day or two ago Nick Clegg called for fewer women to be jailed, as did Simon Hughes. The Cortson report was an exercise in extreme gynocentrism.

    The idea that men should talk more is asking them to be more like women. But what good will talking do for a man denied access to his kids by his ex-wife, even frustrating contact orders? Talking will only make the pain worse.

  15. Anne Fenwick says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the drop in female suicide rates was related to control of reproduction and social security for children. There are fewer unwanted, socially unacceptable pregnancies and fewer women with a baby they’re completely unable to raise.

    I don’t know about men, but from anecdotal experience I can say this much. With the economic downturn, along with the possibility of being unable to work or provide, there’s been a horrific assault on the status and dignity of human beings at all levels of society. For various reasons I do think men are currently more affected by the fact that they can be instantly reduced from resources worth only the profit they’re making someone else, to worthless lumps of flesh whose fault it is that they still seem to be taking up space.

    Obviously, women don’t like it either, but they may be starting from a position of lower expectations and finding it easier to derive self-worth from work which admittedly offers neither status nor financial reward.

    We’re not in a good situation, at any rate. Good for you, Ally, for having a go at the despicable Gyngell.

  16. StillGjenganer says

    if anything the problem is the opposite. The journey that women have been on for the past half century is one that we should learn from and emulate, not reverse.

    Your analysis of suicide trends (and of Gyngell) looks spot on. But the journey that women have been is a case of ever increasing opportunities, more possibilities available, more education, more interesting jobs, more choice, a culture that increasingly puts them at the centre and reflects their way of being. Certainly they started from a low base – I do not claim that this is unjust. But just how are men going to emulate that journey? Where are the exciting possibilities that we would jump at getting if we were only allowed to? Who will yield the space that allows us to form the culture ever more in our image?

  17. says

    Ally [5]
    Don’t dispute what you say but if you look at the ONS graph, male suicide seemed to drop slightly in the early ’80s, a time of major economic dislocation and the destruction of manufacturing jobs, and at that time, male identity was arguably even more tied up with employment status

  18. Paul says

    Male suicide rates in the UK are highest amongst middle -aged working class men.Female suicide rates amongst young asian women in the UK are three times higher than the rates for women from other ethnic groups.I’ve provided a link to a report from the Southall Black sisters which includes addressing the latter.

    There are a number of reasons why these two groups have relatively high suicide rates.So obviously a one size fits all approach to dealing with this won’t get to the root causes of the problem.

    http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/sbs/sas-report-copyright-sbs.pdf

  19. says

    Actually, the graph you cite shows declining suicide rates for both men and women since 1981. So if “atomisation and disintegration, the decline of Christian values, and the rise of the contradictory forces of individualism, feminism, (aggressive) secularism and multiculturalism” are having any effect on suicides, it’s to bring them down, not up. Thanks, Ally, for showing how completely full of shit these social conservatives really are, on your side of the Pond as well as on mine.

    Also, I find it frankly amazing that such a decent and intelligent post could attract such laughably asinine comments as this one has…

    Meanwhile it’s spending £30m encouraging more women into engineering…

    Yeah, there’s Mike Buchanan trying to change the subject altogether, with a totally irrelevant and useless comparison of the costs of two totally different activities.

    If men had the resilience of women – by ‘redefining masculinity’ or any other such claptrap – the male suicide rate would increase hugely.

    This blithering is so incoherent it’s probably no use asking for a citation.

    Women take about their problems because they’ve learned they’ll get help. Men don’t talk about their problems because they learned they WON’T get help.

    This statement is so vague and over-generalized that there’s really no use trying to address it. Life is far more complex, for both sexes, than people like Buchanan are able to admit; and their only response is emotion-laden nonsense.

    I think it’s the other way around. Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves, even if it’s at the expense of male lives.

    Yeah, right, everything is women’s fault. Numbers-boy’s BS is on the same level as that other MRA moron who said all of Afghanistan’s troubles were the result of men giving women too many gifts.

  20. says

    …male suicide seemed to drop slightly in the early ’80s, a time of major economic dislocation and the destruction of manufacturing jobs…

    That could be because there were plenty of new jobs being created in the tech sector (not to mention defense, with Reagan and Thatcher both going whole-hog with military buildups), so that men who’d lost high- and mid-skill manufacturing jobs found something else in high-tech relatively quickly.

    But just how are men going to emulate that journey? Where are the exciting possibilities that we would jump at getting if we were only allowed to? Who will yield the space that allows us to form the culture ever more in our image?

    Gee, I dunno, why don’t you ask the conservative (and decidedly anti-feminist) men who gave us the current economic mess?

  21. bruce bartup says

    From previously published data some tme ago i saw that the suicide rate increase in the US was most strongly corellated with being male, white and aged 45-64. Starting from a high baseline compared to women and black/latino guys, but not of other aged people of their own group.
    https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

    I’m not sure a non-social, purely economic (and lack of consciousness/health awareness) explanation will quite do the job.

    The impression I was left with is that the data is so very delicate, and the potential causes so interlinked and interdependent that not even those at the sharp end, collecting the data, feel that any firm conclusions can be drawn as to causes from that bulk national data. Knowledge seems to emerge slowly from smaller studies, perhaps ( same reference as above – ‘key research findings). Though I will read the ONS report with interest.

  22. says

    But the high rates of male suicide could be a result of an excess of social justice or feminism where social, female-friendly reform energy is clearly and openly directed at a particular gender whilst blatantly ignoring the other, to the point that the ignored gender becomes so deprived of sympathetic attention that they feel completely disenfranchised.

    First, this is nothing but extremely vague blithering, using terms that need a lot more definition and specificity than we’re seeing here before any of it can be taken seriously. And second, your thesis, such as it is, has absolutely ZERO validity unless you can show that male and female suicide rates were closer together before any of the policies you complain about took effect. Do you have a chart that goes further back in time, like maybe to 1900? If not, you have nothing.

  23. says

    The impression I was left with is that the data is so very delicate, and the potential causes so interlinked and interdependent that not even those at the sharp end, collecting the data, feel that any firm conclusions can be drawn as to causes from that bulk national data.

    Yes, bruce, this is complex stuff — but there’s plenty of people who seem able to handle it anyway. We’ll just let them work while you try to catch up.

  24. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    At the most simplistic level of analysis, what has happened over the past 40 to 50 years is this: We have stumbled upon some kind of formula which works to reduce the levels of suicide in women, irrespective of prevailing economic and social conditions. We have found no such formula for men.

    At it simplest the ‘narrative’ appears to be either ‘Don’t Be “That Guy”‘ or ‘more feminism.’ The former relies too much not behaving like a ‘typical’ man (without ever being clear what qualities ought to be embraced instead, not least because those qualities are not ‘female’). The latter relies too much on embracing a politics that isn’t actually designed for men.

    Moreover, ‘There has been no equivalent reinvention of men and masculinities’ is a bit misleading: there have been plenty of attempts at reinvention (e.g. the ‘New Man’) but none of them have ever successfully taken root, perhaps because they didn’t offer a sufficiently better ‘narrative’ compared to ‘keep buggering on.’

  25. 123454321 says

    “And second, your thesis, such as it is, has absolutely ZERO validity unless you can show that male and female suicide rates were closer together before any of the policies you complain about took effect.”

    No, my thesis has plenty of validity based on the metrics we have at hand. No need to go back further in order to find a historical, coherent equivalence. A snapshot of evidence showing a disparity between two 50:50 split groups is enough to justify asking the question and determining an answer.

  26. Paul says

    We haven’t stumbled across any formula to reduce the relatively high suicides rates amongst young asian women in this country.And i think it’s telling that their experiences have been largely airbrushed out of the debate. .Whilst some of the explanation for the relatively high suicide rate amongst middle aged working class men is based on demographics.For 20 years ago the concern was about the relatively high suicide rate amongst young mainly working class men.And 20 years later this generation-which includes a chunk of the 1945-1964 baby boom generation-has simply become middle-aged..

    Working class men are more likely than other groups to be either divorced or seperated ,They’re less likely than other groups to be fully engaged in their childrens lives.They’re the most likely to be unemployed for long periods especially if they’re unskilled.They also well represented in the ranks of working aged adults claiming disability benefits.So like the unemployed they’re also well represented amongst those suffering from the effects of Welfare Reform.

    Disadvantaged and despairing middle-aged men are usually viewed as being less threatening than younger men in similar circumstances because they generally don’t either riot and mash the place or commit the crimes like mugging and burglary which the public fear most.So many are simply left alone to die ”quietly ”in rented rooms,bedsits,hostels or on the street.And those who don’t kill themselves through drinking will simply find a quicker way of killing themselves when they can’t cope anymore.

  27. 123454321 says

    RB – What do you think has happened between 2007 and 2015 to show such a steep rate of incline of male suicides when compared to women?

  28. says

    RB – What do you think has happened between 2007 and 2015 to show such a steep rate of incline of male suicides when compared to women?

    Um…the economic collapse that Ally was talking about in the first place?

    No, my thesis has plenty of validity based on the metrics we have at hand. No need to go back further in order to find a historical, coherent equivalence. A snapshot of evidence showing a disparity between two 50:50 split groups is enough to justify asking the question and determining an answer.

    Excuse me, but if you’re alleging that certain policies caused a thing to happen, then you have to at least show that the thing was not happening before the said policies were enacted. If you can’t show that, then your allegations are unfounded.

  29. karmacat says

    In the medical literature, the main causes of suicide is mental illness, so you need to look at mental illness rates and not just suicide rates. And mental illnesses do include addictions. The decline in suicide rate in 80’s and 90’s is in part due to better mental health treatment and some in decline in stigma about mental illness (there should be no stigma at all). Women are more likely to get help. They are also more likely see their doctor for other medical reasons, such as gyn issues, so their mental illnesses are probably detected earlier. I work with veterans and it is interesting to see the difference between older and younger men. A lot of older men don’t have the language to talk about feelings and are not used to thinking about their mood. Sometimes it is easier to talk to their wives, because women are more likely to talk about mood, feelings. But younger men are better at talking about their mood, which is a good thing.

    Without looking for studies, I can only speculate about the uptick in suicides among men recently. It certainly can be that stress can exacerbate an underlying mental illness. It is important to realize that just because there are reasons to be depressed doesn’t mean you have to be depressed. I do think it is harder for men to get mental health treatment as well as in certain cultures. People still think of mental illness and addiction as a weakness rather than a disease.

  30. karmacat says

    I just remembered that the population in the developed world at the highest risk for suicide is older white men. the uptick may be explained by the fact that the baby boom generation is now in their 60’s and 70’s which puts them in that older population.

  31. karmacat says

    Here are some statistics on the relationship between depression and suicide:

    Depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year. (White House Conference on Mental Health, 1999)
    For every two homicides committed in the United States, there are three suicides. The suicide rate for older adults is more than 50% higher than the rate for the nation as a whole. Up to two-thirds of older adult suicides are attributed to untreated or misdiagnosed depression. (American Society on Aging, 1998)
    Untreated depression is the number one risk for suicide among youth. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds and the fourth leading cause of death in 10 to 14 year olds. Young males age 15 to 24 are at highest risk for suicide, with a ratio of males to females at 7:1. (American Association of Suicidology, 1996)
    The death rate from suicide (11.3 per 100,000 population) remains higher than the death rate for chronic liver disease, Alzheimer’s, homicide, arteriosclerosis or hypertension. (Deaths: Final Data for 1998, Center for Disease Control)

  32. says

    I just remembered that the population in the developed world at the highest risk for suicide is older white men.

    That could be because white men, who have the most and therefore the most to lose, are now starting to lose the most, as a result of both the economic collapse and the loss of white-male power both at home (due to others standing up for their rights) and abroad (due to unnecessary losing wars started by white men).

  33. Carnation says

    Paul, you write:

    “Working class men are more likely than other groups to be either divorced or seperated ,They’re less likely than other groups to be fully engaged in their childrens lives.They’re the most likely to be unemployed for long periods especially if they’re unskilled.They also well represented in the ranks of working aged adults claiming disability benefits.So like the unemployed they’re also well represented amongst those suffering from the effects of Welfare Reform.”

    I don’t doubt you. I’m speculating, but I’m guessing that a lot of men from that demographic experienced various forms of abuse that they haven’t felt comfortable seeking help for. Hopefully this will change. And a sense of economic failure undoubtedly hits men harder.

    The question arises – what could and should be done about this?

  34. Paul says

    I just remembered that the population in the developed world at the highest risk for suicide is older white men. the uptick may be explained by the fact that the baby boom generation is now in their 60’s and 70’s which puts them in that older population.

    @31 karmacat

    Don’t mean to sound pedantic but here in the UK the post -war baby boom generation is usually defined as being those born between 1945-1964 who’re currently in the 49-70 age range.And what i was trying to address upthread was that this particular generation has consistantly registered relatively high suicide rates over time and especially amongst working class men.I haven’t seen any stats to show whether there’s also an ethnic dimension to this although black men have historically registered relatively high levels of mental health problems.

    ps One point i forget to mention upthread was that any fall in the female suicide rate hasn’t been reflected in the suicide rates of asian women in this country.

  35. says

    @ karmacat 30

    “But younger men are better at talking about their mood, which is a good thing.”

    So younger men should be at a lower risk of suicide than men in mid-life? But they’re not. Suicide is one of 20 areas covered in our election manifesto, pp 46-48 https://j4mb.wordpress.com/2015-general-election-manifesto/. 26% of deaths of 20-34yo men (20-34) are attributable to suicide, 13% of 35-49 yo men. Stoicism is a defence for men in pain. Expecting them to act like women is simply cruel.

    So talking about your feelings, emotions etc. doesn’t do for men what it apparently does for women. Why can we not accept that society makes very poor provision of support for men in crisis, and THAT needs to change before we ask men to change. In the case of DV that lack of support is directly attributable to radfems taking virtually all available money since they booted Erin Pizzey out of her Chiswick refuge in the early 1970s.

    Another key driver of male suicide is, of course, lack of access to children following family breakdowns. The family court system has a woeful record of ensuring fathers have reasonable access to their children, and few men – especially men of limited means, the vast majority – can afford the legal fees to even make a fight of it.

    It’s simple. Many more men die than women of suicide because many more men than women arrive at a point where it’s too painful to carry on. If we added in the men who drink themselves to early deaths, or engage in risky behaviours, the gender suicide rate gap would be a damned sight higher than the current 3.5:1.

  36. Paul says

    ….that this particular generation has consistantly…

    Meant to say ”….that this particular generation OF MEN has consistantly registered relatively high suicide rates over time and especially amongst working class men….”

  37. says

    Stoicism is a defence for men in pain. Expecting them to act like women is simply cruel.

    What the fuck are you talking about? The fact that you would equate talking about one’s feelings with “acting like women” is part of the problem in itself (making emotional honestly sound “unmanly”); and calling such an expectation “cruel” makes your bullshit even worse.

    Why can we not accept that society makes very poor provision of support for men in crisis, and THAT needs to change before we ask men to change.

    Why can’t YOU accept that those two changes are interrelated, and have to happen together (in such a way as to reinforce each other), or they won’t happen at all?

    Also, Mike, the link you cited doesn’t say squat about what your “party” would actually DO about suicide (or anything else); you just list it as #12 on a list in some “chronological” order.

    And speaking of your web-site, I also notice that none of the links in that huge black text box go anywhere. Your site looks like nothing but badly-compiled empty bullshit.

  38. says

    Another key driver of male suicide is, of course, lack of access to children following family breakdowns.

    That kinda sounds like you’re supporting a father’s tactic of saying “give me more access to the kids or I’ll kill myself.” Placing a father’s emotional distress above the needs of the children in that particular manner sounds like a really dangerous thing to do in child-custody or visitation-rights disputes.

  39. Carnation says

    @ Mike Buchanan

    Your delusional ramblings about a sensitive subject are really extremely offensive. You are a case study in confirmation bias.

    If you, or your moronic fellow travelers in UKIP, ever achieve political power, far more men will suffer badly and, it follows, take their own lives than they do now.

  40. Carnation says

    @ Raging Bee

    “Another key driver of male suicide is, of course, lack of access to children following family breakdowns.”

    Whilst it has undoubtedly happened, I would estimate this cause to be statistically insignificant. The Mike Buchanans of this world will make this claim with no evidence to support it for their own reasons, pursuing their own agenda – which does not, and indeed cannot, include the emotional and mental health of men.

  41. karmacat says

    Paul,
    you are right about the baby boom generation. It is the same ages in the US. I was being fast and loose with my thoughts. Again there are probably many reasons for the uptick.
    Mike Buchanan,
    you are using different statistics. You are using statistics of the causes of death at each age. Young men are more likely to die from accidents or suicide because they are not dying from other diseases that occur as we get older. The statistics I am referencing is the suicide rate among different ages. So basically, the figures only refer to deaths by suicide and don’t include any other causes.
    My experience with the courts in the US and child custody is that the court are focused on what is best for the child. They often encourage parents to go to mediation rather than having a judge decide.

  42. 123454321 says

    “That could be because white men, who have the most and therefore the most to lose, are now starting to lose the most, as a result of both the economic collapse and the loss of white-male power both at home (due to others standing up for their rights) and abroad (due to unnecessary losing wars started by white men).”

    Fuck me, RB, how did you manage to squeeze so much piping hot horse-shit into one, short paragraph? You have a truly astonishing flair of talent.

  43. 123454321 says

    OMFGG, RB answers this valid point:

    “Another key driver of male suicide is, of course, lack of access to children following family breakdowns.”

    with this kinda stuff:

    “That kinda sounds like you’re supporting a father’s tactic of saying “give me more access to the kids or I’ll kill myself.” Placing a father’s emotional distress above the needs of the children in that particular manner sounds like a really dangerous thing to do in child-custody or visitation-rights disputes.”

    which firmly puts that little gem of a paragraph firmly into dinosaur-shit territory. You’re doing remarkably well today, RB, keep up the good work!

  44. David S says

    @Ally

    They then fell markedly through the 00s and continued to fall right up until the financial crash of 2008, when the trend suddenly began to reverse … But the change in the trend did not coincide with the feminist revolution, no-fault divorce or the Equal Pay Act. It coincided very specifically with the collapse of the financial markets in 2008.

    This argument would look much less convincing if you put the error bars into that chart of yours. The data provided by the ONS give lower and upper confidence limits for the figures for each year. If you want to say that the figure for one year is significantly higher than that for another you need to show, at least, that the lower confidence limit for the latter is higher than the upper confidence limit for the former. Even if you can do this, you still need to exercise a little caution because, when you have a large number of figures, it is possible to cherry pick data to support particular figures.

    Looking at the ONS data, I think I might be persuaded that male suicide rates hit a slight minimum somewhere between 2005 and 2011, but I wouldn’t want to pick out any particular year in that range. Furthermore, even if the local minimum did coincide with the collapse of the financial markets, that would be light years away from saying that it was caused by that collapse.

  45. David S says

    @MikeBuchanan (36)

    So younger men should be at a lower risk of suicide than men in mid-life? But they’re not.

    Yes they are, at least in the UK. ONS statistics show that the suicide rate for 20-24 year olds is 14.3 per 100,00 population (95% CI 12.7 to 15.9). The rate then increases steadily with age until mid-life, reaching 26.8 (95% CI 24.7 to 28.9) for 45-49 year olds.

    26% of deaths of 20-34yo men (20-34) are attributable to suicide, 13% of 35-49 yo men

    I think you have failed to take into account that 35-49 year old men are more likely to die from other things, so even if there are more deaths from suicide they can still form a smaller proportion of all deaths, because they are up against stiffer competition from things like cancer and heart disease. If you want to calculate risk you have to measure deaths from a particular cause as a percentage of population, not as a percentage of deaths.

  46. Paul says

    Basically the main point is that somewhere around 1990, younger men overtook both sets of older ages (45-64 and 65+) and have been the most at risk ever since, so doesn’t really support the baby-boomer hypothesis.

    @44

    The second stage of the post war baby boom generation -those born 1955-1964-and in the years immediately following, when birth rates were still relatively high but falling,were responsible for the rise in the suicide rate amongst young men which peaked in the mid 1990’s.From then on the highest male suicide rate was in the 25-44 age range.And according to the latest stats from the ONS the highest suicide rate is now amongst men aged 45-59.

    The higher suicide rates amongst older men in the 1970’s/80’s perhaps has to be seen in the context of higher death rates in some of those age groups.Relatively high male death rates amongst older male age groups then have been explained in part by the much higher proportion of men who’d been lifetime smokers .Maybe some of those with lung cancer and heart disease -eg- chose to commit suicide especially as they wouldn’t have had access to the treatments which are available now for such conditions.

  47. Holms says

    #8 1234
    I think it’s the other way around. Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves, even if it’s at the expense of male lives. I think it’s men who are having to adapt themselves to a greater degree. That’s what feminism has done and is still attempting to do.

    Say rather that feminism is concerned with improving the genuine problems faced by women, and is doing so quite successfully and with a complete lack of antagonising men in the process; something MRA groups can’t manage to reciprocate.

    …particularly by challenging feminism which is already renown[ed] and becoming infamous for, at best, totally ignoring men, or, at worst, toxically attacking men via all channels of everyday life and the media. Why? Because they can!
    You appear to be through the looking-glass there, Alice.

  48. Paul says

    which peaked in the mid 1990’s.From then on the highest male suicide rate was in the 25-44 age range.And according to the latest stats from the ONS the highest suicide rate is now amongst men aged 45-59.

    Correction

    The male suicide rate for men aged 15-24 more or less peaked in the early/mid 1990’s despite a brief spike in the late 1990’s.It’s the rate for those aged 25-44 -which has always been higher and which became the highest around 1990.And post war baby boomers have been driving increases in that age group and that’s now filtering into the 45-59 age group who according to the ONS are now most at risk.And those currently aged 45-59 were born between 1956-1969 which takes in a big chunk of the second stage of the post war baby boom generation.

    I accept the evidence isn’t conclusive but as i explained upthread the current increases in the male middle age suicide rate may have very different causes than the higher suicide rates for those aged 45+ in the past.

  49. 123454321 says

    “Say rather that feminism is concerned with improving the genuine problems faced by women, and is doing so quite successfully and with a complete lack of antagonising men in the process; something MRA groups can’t manage to reciprocate.”

    Yes, feminism concentrates and uses all of its collaborative power to improve problems faced by women and girls while completely ignoring men and boys who, quite often, face exactly the same problems, and probably worse. You’re also right that MRA groups can’t (YET) manage to reciprocate to the same effect, but the thing is that feminism KNOWS that men and boys don’t stand up for their own rights and that the male species is completely shit at collaborative, self protection , which means that, in a way, feminism is actually quite bullying in its social, tactical behaviour because it clearly takes advantage of the fact that all the money and resource can be directed at female-friendly improvement campaigns, AND THEY GET AWAY WITH IT BECAUSE THEY CAN. And they do this instead of using their power to help EVERYONE, which is what any decent group with any power would do! Just like the bully in the playground – all me, me, me with no conscientious thought towards other groups outside their own sphere of personal gain.
    Where as men, well, they expend their power to bring benefits to their families at the expense of themselves. Which becomes evident in war stats and workplace fatalities, for example.
    So you think this strategy won’t antagonise men in the long haul? If you look across the internet, which is where men are starting to speak out, I think you’ll find they’re feeling a little antagonised already.

  50. says

    @ RB 38

    “And speaking of your web-site, I also notice that none of the links in that huge black text box go anywhere.”

    I normally make a point of avoiding your comments on Ally’s blog pieces but for some reason I caught #38 which included the above gem. Two words. SCROLL DOWN. Doh!!!

  51. That Guy says

    Ally, Is there any clear reason for the gender disparity in terms of suicide method? The idea of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ suicide sounds bizarre to me- so I’m thinking there has to be something else behind it- are women more likely to have access to medication commonly used in overdoses? or are men more likely to have access to more instant methods?

    Thx

  52. says

    @ That Guy 54

    I’ve spoken to people working in suicide prevention and they’ve been very clear that women more commonly than men ‘attempt’ suicide as a ‘cry for help’ – e.g. taking pills, then calling for an ambulance. Tragically, some die as a result of this. Men are more likely than women to use methods with a certainty or near-certainty of death e.g. jumping from heights, use of firearms, jumping in front of trains… The extent to which they do this because experience tells them support won’t be forthcoming is open to question.

  53. 123454321 says

    Yes, and boys are programmed alongside their surroundings to feel more comfortable, or at least affiliated with firearms. Women are taught to leave that kind of stuff to those smelly, naughty little boys. Every part of social programming leaves men with the shitty end of the stick. Funny that.

  54. Carnation says

    Mike Buchanan writes:

    “So you think this strategy won’t antagonise men in the long haul? If you look across the internet, which is where men are starting to speak out, I think you’ll find they’re feeling a little antagonised already.”

    If you look at specific sites dedicated to resentment against women and/or feminists, then yes, you will find a statistically tiny number of individuals, the vast majority of whom are anonymous, “speaking out” in terms that are easily dismissed as gibberish.

    The real tragedy is that these individuals don’t actually try to help their fellow men. You are included in this. Instead of chasing a political pipe dream, you could have used your very limited platform and resources to help vulnerable men.

    The vast majority of men, thankfully, are absolutely unaware of what feminism has allegedly done to them. This is because feminism hasn’t done anything to them. Where there are drivers behind their actions that are not personal, I imagine it’s the men and women in political and economic power that they identify.

  55. says

    @ Carnation 57

    The sentences you attribute to me were written by 123454321, #52.
    Couldn’t be bothered to read what followed. In contrast, his comments are always worth reading.

  56. 123454321 says

    “…easily dismissed as gibberish.”

    There you go again, going down with the ship with your fingers in your ears whilst spouting shaming, silencing tactics. Shameful. But we won’t despair; you’ll sink soon, along with all the other bigoted, self-centred feminists. I wonder who will get the lifeboats first and I wonder who will save your lives!

    “The real tragedy is that these individuals don’t actually try to help their fellow men.”

    Are you seriously telling me that contributing towards raising awareness of men’s issues on public platforms such that other people will at least have a chance to digest, contemplate and form an opinion based on information they may otherwise not have heard due to the mainstream media being flooded with one-sided, feminist-driven narratives is a bad thing? The truth is, Carnation, that you just want anyone who is seen to support men’s issues to shut up and be quiet because it doesn’t suit your beliefs or agenda. Sorry about that but you have ZERO silencing power.

    “…you could have used your very limited platform and resources to help vulnerable men.”

    And what about the almost limitless feminist platform, what with the sheer amount of resource and power that it has held? Could that not have helped the heaps of vulnerable men out there…. maybe just a little? Nah, don’t be silly, because they’re not interested in the welfare of men and boys, are they! Who gives a shit about men and boys!

    “The vast majority of men, thankfully, are absolutely unaware of what feminism has allegedly done to them. This is because feminism hasn’t done anything to them.”

    Oh, I see. So you think that an established, collaborative group with recognised power and resource, which chooses to exert its energy, exercise its influence and release its power, BY CHOICE, in a publicly and openly visible way, always only ever in the direction towards their own group, for their own exclusive benefit, whilst visibly and openly ignoring the other half of the demographic, isn’t affecting the other demographic one jot? You don’t even want to consider that the feminist supremacy group has ensured that over the last few decades it has, using its biased narratives and collaborative power, soaked up all the public resource such that the other half is left with nothing? You don’t see that as a true example of a well executed application of bigoted power? And you still refuse to link any proportion whatsoever of male suicide with the relentless, over-amplified application of feminism that still operates today, let alone show any proactive intention to help formulate a strategy to make vulnerable men feel more inclusive?

    Oh, silly me, I almost forgot. You can’t blame women for anything.

  57. smrnda says

    123454321,

    I don’t know what planet you are from, but where I am the people who are actually talking about toxic masculinity and ways in which social expectations damage men, and constructive alternatives, tend to be feminists. At the university where I last held a position, the Women’s Resource center held weekly talks and discussions about issues facing men in which both men and women offered perspectives. Questions about how social expectations that men are stoic about pain, the expectation of men to be ‘breadwinners,’ masculinity and violence and firearms, gendered expectations for children, stuff like that. The idea that male norms shape how men experience things like depression and makes them less likely to get treatment. Your lack of awareness of these conversations going on amongst feminists is just an indication that you’d rather rail against strawfeminism which ignoring the real thing.

  58. says

    I normally make a point of avoiding your comments on Ally’s blog pieces but for some reason I caught #38 which included the above gem. Two words. SCROLL DOWN. Doh!!!

    Did you ever notice that NOBODY ELSE’S WEB-SITE has a table of contents that does what yours does? Every other ToC I’ve ever seen (and every one I’ve created) takes you immediately to the link you click on, so you instantly see the page you wanted to see, without having to scroll down or hunt for it afterword. This is a simple function that’s as old as the Web itself, everyone else knows how to do it right, and there’s no excuse for you to make a ToC that functions so poorly. Your Web site is as incompetently built as it is disorganized and dishonest.

    Seriously, why the fuck would anyone want to keep seeing the table of contents, and nothing else, on their screen after they’ve chosen an article to read?

    The extent to which they do this because experience tells them support won’t be forthcoming is open to question.

    Okay, what specific policies do you advocate that could increase the availability of such help? Do you advocate increased government spending — and thus, possibly, higher taxes — to fund such support programs?

    Yes, feminism concentrates and uses all of its collaborative power to improve problems faced by women and girls while completely ignoring men and boys who, quite often, face exactly the same problems, and probably worse…

    The same old hateful fact-free raving from the numbers-boy, with the same old lack of connection even to the OP, let alone anything else in the real world. This is, in fact, the same thing bigots say about minority-rights advocates: “They completely ignore the white people!!!”

    Women are collectively adapting the modern world around them to suit themselves…

    Yeah, look how skillfully those chicks bent the entire Muslim world to suit their own interests, with no regard for those of the men — oh, wait…

  59. says

    So you think this strategy won’t antagonise men in the long haul? If you look across the internet, which is where men are starting to speak out, I think you’ll find they’re feeling a little antagonised already.

    “Already?” Those particular men have been antagonized for DECADES.

  60. says

    I normally make a point of avoiding your comments on Ally’s blog pieces but for some reason I caught #38 which included the above gem. Two words. SCROLL DOWN. Doh!!!

    Translation: you don’t have the guts to address any of my substantive points, so you desperately grab onto any distraction you can find.

  61. says

    You appear to be through the looking-glass there, Alice.

    That’s kind of an insult to Alice, whose looking-glass world had far more direct connection to reality than number-boy’s unending two-minutes-hate.

  62. 123454321 says

    smrnda, please show me evidence of where the outcome of those conversations have resulted in investment campaigns to end e.g. violence against men, or MGM, or male homelessness, or male suicide. Or did the limited discourse (probably 30 seconds lip service at the end of 2 hrs talking about women’s issues) end at the exit door? Because I have had experience of this.

  63. says

    Are you seriously telling me that contributing towards raising awareness of men’s issues on public platforms such that other people will at least have a chance to digest, contemplate and form an opinion based on information they may otherwise not have heard due to the mainstream media being flooded with one-sided, feminist-driven narratives is a bad thing?

    No, he’s seriously telling you that you’re not “contributing” anything — you’re just shrieking the same hateful delusional rubbish over and over, and ignoring anything said by anyone else.

  64. 123454321 says

    No, RB, it is not I that hates, far from it, and I’ve made that clear before as i always support equal rights. I am merely uncovering the covert (and often devious) hatred contained within feminist misandry that CHOOSES to ignore men in favour of advocating female-friendly policy indoctrinate. Sick of being ignored. SICK.

  65. 123454321 says

    “No, he’s seriously telling you that you’re not “contributing” anything — you’re just shrieking the same hateful delusional rubbish over and over, and ignoring anything said by anyone else.”

    Fuck me, I must be a feminist!

  66. says

    Every part of social programming leaves men with the shitty end of the stick. Funny that.

    And who is most responsible for all that social programming? Men, not women. A fact that is painfully obvious to nearly everyone except you. Funny that.

  67. says

    Number-boy, if you’re being ignored, it’s not because you’re male, it’s most likely because you’re a hateful shrieking idiot who has repeatedly proven he has nothing helpful to say. Also, you’re ignoring what nearly everyone else says, and refusing to change your own spiel in response — so what else can we do but ignore you and talk around you?

    Seriously, boy, you’re acting like a child throwing an unending temper-tantrum. Do you really expect the grownups to include you in a conversation when you’re in the middle of a tantrum? Grow the fuck up already.

  68. says

    smrnda, please show me evidence of where the outcome of those conversations have resulted in investment campaigns to end e.g. violence against men, or MGM, or male homelessness, or male suicide.

    Actually, the feminists and feminist-sympathizers smrnda is talking about have been working with other progressive-left groups in campaigning for policies that address all of your stated concerns, and more.

  69. says

    You know, one thing which might shed some light on the whole “feminism is killing men!!!!” debate would be to compare the suicide differential across different nations as well as just across time. If anyone has any source more reliable than Wikipedia I’d be obliged, but just glancing at its page on suicide:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    Male suicide rates outpace female ones virtually everywhere, including countries not known for being particularly feminist, such as Guyana and Greenland. Unfortunately, the data seem to come from a wide variety of time periods (2009, 2011, etc.) so it’s harder to draw conclusions, but if feminism really was to blame for more men killing themselves than women, one wouldn’t expect to see a preponderance of male suicide in so many different countries with so many different cultures.

  70. 123454321 says

    “And who is most responsible for all that social programming? Men, not women. A fact that is painfully obvious to nearly everyone except you. Funny that.”

    Weird, women have spent more time with their offspring over countless thousands of years. Are you suggesting that they aren’t responsible for the early years social programming? Not responsible at all? Oh, geez, nearly forgot again, women can’t possibly be blamed.

  71. 123454321 says

    “Seriously, boy, you’re acting like a child throwing an unending temper-tantrum.”

    Seriously, dude, you need to look in the mirror.

  72. 123454321 says

    “groups in campaigning for policies that address all of your stated concerns, and more.”

    and the empiricle outcome is….?

  73. JT says

    The vast majority of men, thankfully, are absolutely unaware of what feminism has allegedly done to them. This is because feminism hasn’t done anything to them.(Carnation)

    No truer words said. You could probably add this to it though. “The vast majority of men, thankfully, are absolutely unaware of what feminism has allegedly done for them. This is because feminism hasnt done anything for them.” 😉

  74. says

    …but if feminism really was to blame for more men killing themselves than women, one wouldn’t expect to see a preponderance of male suicide in so many different countries with so many different cultures.

    Read the comments, Gunlord — you’re arguing with people who think feminists have conquered the whole planet!

    Weird, women have spent more time with their offspring over countless thousands of years.

    HOW MUCH more time? That statement is a gross over-generalization, based on nothing but an old stereotypical Anglo-American picture of nuclear-family life. Guess what, boy — family structures and dynamics were not the same all over the globe for all that time. Oh, and kids almost never spent all of their time alone with their mothers; they had plenty of other influences from schools, jobs, religious institutions, and sometimes the army too.

    Are you suggesting that they aren’t responsible for the early years social programming?

    Can you show how they’re responsible for all — or even a large part — of the insanely misogynistic beliefs found in so many religious and moral laws? Of course not — you don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s another good reason why people (man as well as women) rightly ignore you.

    and the empiricle outcome is….?

    …far better than anything offered by conservative anti-feminist men (one of whom, at least, can’t even spell “empirical”).

  75. Holms says

    #52 1234
    Yes, feminism concentrates and uses all of its collaborative power to improve problems faced by women and girls while completely ignoring men and boys who, quite often, face exactly the same problems, and probably worse.

    If a women’s advocacy group identifies certain inequalities faced by women, it is entirely reasonable for them to work towards eliminating that particular problem. Since the nature of the problem is inequality, that necessarily means uplifting the people on the disadvantageous side of that equation and not uplifting the other side. An example might be the prominent gender disparity in campus rape statistics, in which men are more often the perpetrators, and women more often the victims. The ‘dudebro’ university culture is the natural thing to target… in that it needs to be totally dismantled, and recourse provided to women. This may seem like an attack on male authority or whatever, but it is actually rectifying a problem in which male dominance over female students needs to be demolished.

    Men’s groups are free to go about doing the same thing for the areas in which men face disadvantage, such as custody decisions tending to favour mothers over fathers. That is not within the purview of the aforementioned campus anti-rape campaigners, so there is no point whining that the feminist group is disregarding that issue. Really, the people you should be complaining about are the MRA groups being so egregiously offensive that they alienate even men from their cause, tarnishing the very concept of men’s rights advocacy by their insistence on being shitheads to women.

    #58 Mike Buchanan
    The sentences you attribute to me were written by 123454321, #52.
    Couldn’t be bothered to read what followed. In contrast, his comments are always worth reading.

    That’s funny, because 1234’s comment quoted by Carnation was rather nicely refuted by the text that followed, even if the comment was misattributed to you. Methinks you did actually read it, but had no rejoinder.

    #73 1234
    Weird, women have spent more time with their offspring over countless thousands of years. Are you suggesting that they aren’t responsible for the early years social programming? Not responsible at all? Oh, geez, nearly forgot again, women can’t possibly be blamed.

    You appear to be ignorant of the fat that it was husbands forcing their wives to stay at home to be the ‘homemaker’, with virtually every skilled (and thus high paying) job reserved for men for all human history until recently. On second thoughts, I should have simply left it at ‘you appear to be ignorant’.

  76. 123454321 says

    “Guess what, boy”

    Aw shucks, RB, such flattery makes me all blushy. Cyberspace kisses for you hun, and thanx for the compliment. Wish I could return the compliment or at least offer real kisses but it would take so fucking long to travel to your planet that we’d all be dead by the time I arrived. An fanks falot for cowwecting mi speling misteaks. Much apresiated.

  77. 123454321 says

    “An example might be the prominent gender disparity in campus rape statistics, in which men are more often the perpetrators, and women more often the victims.”

    Holmes, on average, across the spectrum of universities, what percentage of male students are actually charged with rape?

    “… it was husbands forcing their wives to stay at home to be the ‘homemaker’, with virtually every skilled (and thus high paying) job reserved for men for all human history until recently. ”

    You mean women wanted to go out and do all the shitty, dirty, dangerous jobs associated with building the infrastructure in order to feed their families instead of residing amongst the comfort and protection of the home? Bloody hell, if only they would have said so! Yeah, you’re right though, I guess being forced to stay safe by someone else who offers to risk their life for you is a fucking perversion of social justice. Come to think about it, I suppose extraordinarily high suicide rates for males compared with females is a mere walk in the park when you consider the disparity concerning workplace deaths, war and the fact that they die a decade earlier anyways. That’s it! Now I know why nobody gives a shit about male suicide.

  78. Holms says

    #80 1234
    Holmes, on average, across the spectrum of universities, what percentage of male students are actually charged with rape?

    To quote someone from earlier in this very thread: ” You’re asking the wrong question. You’re asking a question which evades the main question i.e. the question relating to the relative disparity between male and female [rape statistics]. There are 50:50 ratio split of male female on this Earth, remember?”

    Oh, but I see that was you who previously said the the ratio was the only relevant question, rath than absolute numbers… but only back when discussing suicide, a topic where the ratio is skewed against men. Now that the topic has moved to a realm where the ratio is reversed – i.e. against women – you’ve decided that ratios are irrelevant, and absolute numbers are key.

    You are thoroughly dishonest, but I see that is only the tip of the iceberg:

    You mean women wanted to go out and do all the shitty, dirty, dangerous jobs associated with building the infrastructure in order to feed their families instead of residing amongst the comfort and protection of the home?
    In which you imply that all jobs historically reserved for men are dirty / dangerous / unglamorous, completely ignoring the dominance of men in academia, engineering, medicine, government, business and management in all areas.

    (Yes I know that there are also jobs that are actually dangerous that are also historically reserved for men – see below for more on that – the point here is that a vast array of jobs aren’t risky in the slightest)

    You also imply that the few jobs historically reserved for women have been easy / clean / glamorous, completely ignoring the dominance of women in all areas of cleaning, washing, nursing (as opposed to being a doctor, the position with authority), and unskilled labour. Note also the huge disparity in pay and authority inherent to those various jobs.

    Bloody hell, if only they would have said so!
    Women did (and still do) want the freedom to have the same jobs as men, and yes they did tell us. This is what feminism is for fucks sake: the organised act of telling men that they want (among other things) equal opportunity in the workplace. They are still telling us, and have been doing so for over a century since womens suffrage… and even a cursory acquaintance with work statistics tells us they don’t have it yet, despite the inroads made in recent decades.

    I guess being forced to stay safe by someone else who offers to risk their life for you is a fucking perversion of social justice.
    It actually is, and you gloss over the reason why to focus on an irrelevance: being forced, for any reason, on the grounds of gender. Why do men have that authority over women? It doesn’t matter that the control is used for what we believe to be good reasons (for example, blocking women from becoming soldiers), why do we have control at all? Who the fuck put us in charge?

    In other words, it is clear to me that you haven’t given this topic even ten secons of (honest) thought.

    Come to think about it, I suppose extraordinarily high suicide rates for males compared with females is a mere walk in the park when you consider the disparity concerning workplace deaths, war and the fact that they die a decade earlier anyways.
    This entire article is about how the male / female suicide ratio is not correlated with feminism in the slightest (and is thus an argument against conservative, divisive politics), and yet here you are, arguing that the stats somehow implicate feminism. You’ve read this article as saying the opposite of what it says; clearly, conversation is wasted on one as breathtakingly dishonest as you.

  79. Carnation says

    @ JT #76

    “No truer words said. You could probably add this to it though. “The vast majority of men, thankfully, are absolutely unaware of what feminism has allegedly done for them. This is because feminism hasnt done anything for them.” ;)”

    That’s not true. Feminism brought about a total re-ordering of society and greatly reduced the emphasis on man-as-some-breadwinner. Feminism also heralded a revolution in sex and sexuality, which has led to far more men having far more liberated sex lives. Feminism also started the conversation about gender roles that continues to this day. On a practical level, feminist organisations are the only organisations offering DV provision in England (slightly different in Scotland). The shrill MRA voices will shriek that “feminists stop us from providing DV provision”, but it isn’t true. They know it isn’t true, but it’s more palatable than simply admitting that they are pathetic failures in everything that they do.

    Without feminism having happened, society would be a far worse place. Where feminism has lost its way is in its lack of acknowledgement of its stunning success and the emphasis on rather mundane causes. Feminism is liberalism.

    On a more prosaic level, feminism otherwise mediocre men (and some women) of extremely low calibre something to rail against and get a bit of weird notoriety for.

  80. Anton Mates says

    @Mike Buchanan ,

    But what good will talking do for a man denied access to his kids by his ex-wife, even frustrating contact orders? Talking will only make the pain worse.

    No, it won’t. Lots of people have situational depression; there’s some real, external, unchangeable shitty thing that’s screwing over their life. Therapy still helps. Medications still help. Talking still helps. Doesn’t fix everything, but it helps.

    “But younger men are better at talking about their mood, which is a good thing.”

    So younger men should be at a lower risk of suicide than men in mid-life? But they’re not.

    Even if the latter claim was true–and, as many people have pointed out, it’s blatantly false–it would be a non sequitur. Being good at talking about your mood affects your suicide risk, but there are many, many other factors that also do so.

    Stoicism is a defence for men in pain. Expecting them to act like women is simply cruel.

    Don’t be silly; not all men are stoic. (I’m certainly not.) And while men can’t be blamed for using stoicism as a defense mechanism, it’s not an effective defense. Studies have shown that stoicism increases a man’s likelihood of attempting suicide, when controlling for other psychological and environmental factors. It’s also associated with decreased quality of life in men, and that relationship is mediated by reluctance to seek psychological help.

    Stoicism has its place; it’s quite useful for coping with physical pain. But it’s crap for dealing with psychological distress, because its first law is that you’re a sissy for having any. When stoic men get depressed or unstable, they experience great shame about having that sort of problem. That shame compounds their distress and prevents them from reaching out to others for aid.

    And yes, men do not have all the avenues for aid that they should, largely because patriarchal societies expect them to be stoic, and dismiss or condemn them for reaching out, instead of encouraging them. That’s what’s cruel.

  81. StillGenganger says

    @Holms, Carnation
    Most of this thread has been shrill and uninteresting – on both sides – but you are making a coherent argument that cries out for correction.

    If a women’s advocacy group identifies certain inequalities faced by women, it is entirely reasonable for them to work towards eliminating that particular problem. Since the nature of the problem is inequality, that necessarily means uplifting the people on the disadvantageous side of that equation and not uplifting the other side.
    […]
    Men’s groups are free to go about doing the same thing for the areas in which men face disadvantage

    This is really leaving out too much. First of all, (various brands of) feminism are also telling us that feminism is in everybody’s interest, so the best way for men to improve their lives is to stop thinking about their own needs and loyally work to make things better for women (white ribbons, anyone? HeForShe?). In other words: Feminism is only considering the interests of women and this is ‘good’: 1) because women are disadvantaged so it is right that they gain at the expense of men, 2) because it just so happens women working exclusively in their own self-interest will produce the best result also for men. Not very consistent – or convincing. Much more likely that feminism is obtaining what it is working for – making things better for women without regard for what happens to other groups. If you want justice you need a less blinkered view, and if you want to help men, surely someone should actually consider their interests?

    It is clearly ridiculous to blame the male suicide rate mainly on feminism with the data that we are seeing above. It is also ridiculous to say that men would be asking for help much more if only the government provided the resources and the nasty feminists had not frozen out Erin Pizzey. Not all problems are caused by the opposite sex (something that both men and women ought to consider) and, as feminists have shown, it is possible to work on your own problems without waiting for help

    That said, feminism is working against the interests of men in a number of ways (and why should they not admit it openly?).
    – First because there is only that much attention, and money to go around. If you are a minority like the Muscular Dystrophy Association your part of the cake is so small that you need not consider what you might take from competitors. But women are not a minority they are half the population. If you put the spotlight on female victims of DV or war, you are by the same token putting male victims in the shade.

    – Second because feminists are quite deliberately trying to keep men out of e.g. the DV picture. This makes sure that the available resources are distributed by sex rather than by need (the cake is not infinite) and keeps the political discussion on what women need, and what men must do to help them. It is well accepted politically that women are disadvantaged and need help. The very idea that men are also disadvantaged and deserve help can count on stiff opposition from feminists who would lose their primacy as victims.

    – Third because we are long past removing formal barriers to different professions. The focus is on getting more women into desirable professions where formal equality is not enough to give them 50% of the places. But the need for equal outcomes is never felt when we are talking about less desirable areas (truck drivers, rough sleepers, prisoners), or where women are ahead (all university departments except for STEM subjects).

    In short, men have legitimate interests too, and they are not automatically the same as women’s. At some point we all need to think about what kind of society we want – without disregarding the interests of either half of the population. As for now I do not know what looks worse: leaving the interests of men to the capable care of 123454321 and Mike Buchanan or to a feminist movement that takes it for granted that whatever is good for women is by definition good for everybody.

  82. 123454321 says

    Ah yes very clever, Holmes, but I can sniff your trail. In one of your posts you very deviously turned ‘rape’ culture into ‘dudebro’ culture. But you meant RAPE culture, right,? Because that’s what the feminist narrative propagates. Based on the fact that feminists always make the accusation that we all live in a patriarchal rape culture, it would be interesting to learn the stats relating to Universities being as you brought it up. I’d like to know what percentage of men raping constitutes a rape culture? By the way, I despise rapists and wish they’d all get shipped to an island to live between themselves, so don’t get any ideas that I support rape. I’m just fed up of being fed with the usual tripe that ‘all men are potential rapists’ and ‘we should teach boys not to rape’ baloney.

    So, what are the percentage stats for male on female charged rape in university?

  83. 123454321 says

    StillGenganger 84. I agree with everything you said in that post, which was far more eloquently and thoughtfully written than I could have put it. I know I’m sharp and to the point on this blog but people like Carnation and that dumb-nut, pea-brain, Raging Bee, have no clue as to the importance, power and meaning of perception. In other words, the perception of feminism from the point of view of your everyday man who lives in western society today is pretty grim (apart from the uninformed, disinterested, and white-knights, of course). Also, I acknowledge that most men don’t admit their true stance or thoughts relating to feminism in public due to the continuing stigma associated with disagreeing with a woman! Although that’s not what the mainstream media would have you think because we all know that their key strategies are based around making money and thus keeping their paying audience happy (which always ignores those who don’t complain, which is why Carnation and Raging Bee would prefer it if I’d just shut the fuck up along with all other men who are affected by the relentless double-standards and inequalities they face). The media will be hell-bent on delivering a female-friendly, male-bashing environment until men WAKE UP and start complaining. At least Ally is raising men’s issues alongside some interesting stats and promoting open discussion, unlike most of the feminist bigots out there in the world of media!

  84. JT says

    @Carnation #82

    As we both know feminism isnt a monolith and as such we are both correct in regards to what it has or hasnt done for men. 🙂

  85. Anton Mates says

    Bruce Bartup,

    From previously published data some tme ago i saw that the suicide rate increase in the US was most strongly corellated with being male, white and aged 45-64. Starting from a high baseline compared to women and black/latino guys, but not of other aged people of their own group.

    Actually, there was a big increase in the American black male suicide rate from 1980 to 1995 or so. Depressed black males are now almost as likely as depressed white males to attempt suicide, although depression is still much more common in whites.

    Much of the risk variation is explicable by cultural factors. White males are unusually isolated socially–males in most other ethnic groups have more family and church connections–and suicide is much more acceptable in white and Asian culture than in black and latino culture. (Black Americans are also far more likely to request resuscitation and other extreme medical measures when they’re terminally ill. They tend to disapprove of doing anything to hasten one’s death.)

  86. says

    123,454,321 Shades of Dishonest Hyperemotional Hate blithered thusly:

    I know I’m sharp and to the point on this blog but people like Carnation and that dumb-nut, pea-brain, Raging Bee, have no clue as to the importance, power and meaning of perception.

    Translation: “I’m too emotionally unhinged to deal sensibly with facts, so let’s make it all about perceptions instead — that way it’ll be harder to prove me wrong.”

    And BTW, I do understand the importance of perception — that’s why I spend time here, to help others perceive what a hateful scapegoating fraud the “men’s rights movement” really is.

    In other words, the perception of feminism from the point of view of your everyday man who lives in western society today is pretty grim (apart from the uninformed, disinterested, and white-knights, of course).

    Aaaand, you’re still wrong, even when we’re talking about subjectivities.

    Also, I acknowledge that most men don’t admit their true stance or thoughts relating to feminism in public due to the continuing stigma associated with disagreeing with a woman!

    Right…you know how most men feel, even the ones who don’t say how you think they “really” feel (because you really can read minds, like women expect us to?); and if any men don’t agree with you, that’s part of the Evil Feminist Conspiracy. Just like all those Jews who showed no sign at all of being part of an all-powerful conspiracy.

    And then there’s StilGjenganger, still laying out MRA blather-points in all their obvious cynical fraudulence:

    Much more likely that feminism is obtaining what it is working for – making things better for women without regard for what happens to other groups. If you want justice you need a less blinkered view, and if you want to help men, surely someone should actually consider their interests?

    Ever heard of something called “politics?” It’s when lots of different interest groups each bring their own concerns to a big table, and then start bargaining, each from their own starting-point of self-interest, to eventually come up with a compromise that hopefully addresses at least some of everyone’s initial demands. That’s how EVERYONE ELSE tries to advance their interests within a larger society, so it really shouldn’t surprise you that advocates of women’s rights would do the same thing.

    …feminism is working against the interests of men in a number of ways … First because there is only that much attention, and money to go around. If you are a minority like the Muscular Dystrophy Association your part of the cake is so small that you need not consider what you might take from competitors. But women are not a minority they are half the population. If you put the spotlight on female victims of DV or war, you are by the same token putting male victims in the shade.

    That can be said of ANYONE getting ANY attention for his/her needs or interests, including one woman casually mentioning to a friend how she was mistreated by someone — OMG she’s taking her friend’s attention away from men’s needs!!! This is nothing but a childish excuse to avoid listening to anyone other than oneself. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone with this phony “egalitarian” schtick? (And are you actually saying that it’s bad to draw attention to women’s interests because there’s MORE women?)

    Second because feminists are quite deliberately trying to keep men out of e.g. the DV picture. This makes sure that the available resources are distributed by sex rather than by need…

    Why don’t you take a good look at various parties’ voting records, and tell us who is trying to INCREASE the amount of “available resources” to deal with DV? I think you’ll find the feminists and other liberal groups pushing for more funding of social services, while right-wing MRAs like Mike Buchanan are doing absolutely nothing for such funding. So tell us again who is “keeping men out of the DV picture?”

    This is typical MRA hypocrisy: you won’t do shit to increase social spending, and you mindlessly despise the liberals who want to increase it; so rather than admit your enemies aren’t that evil and work with them, you’d rather keep on choking social programs, and forcing the victims to fight each other over an ever-smaller pie. That’s not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem — for both sexes.

    Third because we are long past removing formal barriers to different professions…

    No, we are not, and we still have plenty of informal barriers to contend with as well.

  87. 123454321 says

    “…that’s why I spend time here, to help others…”

    So you really are deluded.

    “Right…you know how most men feel”

    Yes, many men fucking hate white-knight, knob-heads like you, but they probably wouldn’t say it to your face in public. Sorry if the truth hurts but you never pull any punches, do you, RB!

    “Ever heard of something called “politics?” It’s when lots of different interest groups each bring their own concerns to a big table, and then start bargaining, each from their own starting-point of self-interest…”

    Hmmm, does that mean men’s issues could be funnelled via a minister for men? Oh shit, here I go again, forgetting simple stuff like men don’t get funding or support for such a position in parliament. You talk such shit RB.

    “That can be said of ANYONE getting ANY attention for his/her needs or interests, including one woman casually mentioning to a friend how she was mistreated by someone — OMG she’s taking her friend’s attention away from men’s needs!!! This is nothing but a childish excuse to avoid listening to anyone other than oneself. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone with this phony “egalitarian” schtick? (And are you actually saying that it’s bad to draw attention to women’s interests because there’s MORE women?)”

    Raging Bee – did you even read and digest a single word of what StillGenganger said before you regurgitated the usual bucketload of spit and piffle? How you can argue with the fact that women get all the spotlight and virtually all the funding for their issues, at the obvious detriment of men who get fuck all for their issues, and as StillG said, is the other 50% who get completely ignored as they are left in the shade, is beyond comprehension. You really are the King of fuck-wits and what’s more, you didn’t answer the question I’ve repeated below, posed by StillG, without just rambling about how feminists are pushing for more funding for social services. Well whoopee doo, that sounds promising for men, NOT. Show me the future investment plan and it’s value for the provision of men’s refuges (or something equivalent and exclusively for men) over the next, say, 5 years, alongside the same plan for women and show me evidence of a fair and honest disparity of investment. Go on, show me, King fuck-wit.

    And answer this point from StillG, PROPERLY, without appearing like you’re a little, squirty, intransigent 12 year old who refuses to acknowledge that someone else may have a point:

    “Second because feminists are quite deliberately trying to keep men out of e.g. the DV picture. This makes sure that the available resources are distributed by sex rather than by need…”

  88. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging 89
    I refuse on principle to discuss who is and who is not a dishonest moron. That leaves only one of your points to address:

    And are you actually saying that it’s bad to draw attention to women’s interests because there’s MORE women?

    No. I am saying that it is hypocritical to come the ‘ we are just fighting for single issues like anyone else – you do likewise!‘ without taking into considerations that your size and power allows you to crowd out a lot of competitors. The bigger you are, the bigger the effect of your demands on other groups, and the bigger your obligation to at least consider what those effects are.

  89. says

    @Anton Mates, 88:

    That’s interesting, though obviously disheartening. Do you have any links to those comparisons between black male and white male suicide trends?

  90. mildlymagnificent says

    The article made me look for similar figures for Australia. And they’re quite different trajectories.
    http://www.mindframe-media.info/__data/assets/image/0008/7757/suicide-graphs.jpg

    The rate for women is low – lower than the UK rate – and constant for the whole of the 22 year period reported/ represented and finishes up at much the same point as UK women eventually reach. The rate for Australian men starts out much closer to the UK rate and also shows with a decline finishing up at a rate lower than the UK rate.

    My suspicion is that this is closely tied to employment opportunities and general economic conditions. Australia’s economy was doing better than most OECD countries for most of this period – and noticeably better than just about anyone during the period following the 2008 financial crisis. And we had a mining boom for all but the last few years.

    When it comes to lost job opportunities over the last few decades, the consistent issue comes back to loss of fulltime jobs with partial replacement – if any, depending on local and regional effects – by a fairly different mix of part-time jobs. Women have traditionally been more accustomed to part time jobs and to industries where part time work is common. Men who prefer to identify themselves by their job titles and who also like to think of themselves as breadwinners have fared poorly in these circumstances if they’ve lost their previously stable job.

    When did zero hours contracts become common in the UK? http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/30/zero-hours-contracts-uk-over-one-million-people

  91. says

    How you can argue with the fact that women get all the spotlight and virtually all the funding for their issues…?

    Because it’s not a fact: they DON’T get all the spotlight, or all the funding. Most of the time, they don’t even come close. I don’t have to even give a shit about women or feminism to see something so obvious. If you’re going to bother us with unhinged fantasies about women whipping men into giving them everything they could possibly want, and making us like it, can’t you at least give us a more pleasant set of fantasies?

    The bigger you are, the bigger the effect of your demands on other groups, and the bigger your obligation to at least consider what those effects are.

    That’s nothing but a bullshit “principle” made up for the sole purpose of silencing one particular group — women. You yourself admitted it only applies to the one group making up half the population — and I don’t see you applying the same “principle” to any groups representing (or claiming to represent) the other half. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone here?

  92. says

    I refuse on principle to discuss who is and who is not a dishonest moron.

    The standard excuse to ignore criticism of dishonest and/or moronic things you’ve said.

  93. says

    I think the problem is that we have spent the last 40 years solely looking to ameliorate the lives of women and girls and yet during that same time we have done nothing for men and boys. Is it any wonder that western governments all have health departments and ministries all geared for women and yet none for men? Why is it that the US has 7 commissions on health for Women and girls and yet none for men? The government also set up specific health centered websites to help women and girls… take for instance womenshealth.gov it is a very good website full of useful information. I really applaud that we are encouraging women to be healthy…but what about men? Well there isn’t a menshealth.gov. type it in and see. IN FACT, there isn’t even a boyshealth.gov……YET, we have a girlshealth.gov. Yes, even children aren’t immune to this sexist double standard. Yes, women have enjoyed the fruits of feminism and I believe you are correct in your article to say that female rates of suicide coincide with the rise of feminism……however, I can’t say its helped men all that much.

  94. says

    It’s helped men a hell of a lot more than the enemies of feminism ever did. Seriously, if you don’t see a menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov, it’s not just because feminists never created those sites — it’s also because right-wing men, who oppose any and all government healthcare programs, never created them either.

    (And it could also be because there’s already plenty of private-sector attention to men’s health issues, and sites like womenshealth.gov had to be created by the state to correct a disparity the private sector wasn’t addressing.)

    Which men have done anything good for men’s health? The ones who can’t get female anatomy right?

  95. Holms says

    #84 StillGenganger
    This is really leaving out too much. First of all, (various brands of) feminism are also telling us that feminism is in everybody’s interest, so the best way for men to improve their lives is to stop thinking about their own needs and loyally work to make things better for women (white ribbons, anyone? HeForShe?). In other words: Feminism is only considering the interests of women and this is ‘good’: 1) because women are disadvantaged so it is right that they gain at the expense of men, 2) because it just so happens women working exclusively in their own self-interest will produce the best result also for men. Not very consistent – or convincing

    Unconvincing as you’ve presented it? Sure, but then I would suggest you haven’t presented it well. Feminsm isn’t interested in gaining ‘at the expense of men’ (except at the furthest fringes perhaps; note though that those fringes have sod all traction), unless you happen to think that men deserve to have authority over e.g. a woman’s sex life or career or something. If you think that the husband is the boss of the wife, then sure, it will seem that feminism is attacking men, but I would suggest that that is because the attack is well deserved: the husband should not have that authority in the first place.

    – First because there is only that much attention, and money to go around. If you are a minority like the Muscular Dystrophy Association your part of the cake is so small that you need not consider what you might take from competitors. But women are not a minority they are half the population. If you put the spotlight on female victims of DV or war, you are by the same token putting male victims in the shade.

    Has it occurred to you that if there is more unfairness faced by one gender than the other, it quite logically follows that the issues faced by that gender require more work to bring to parity than the other? It makes perfect sense that women’s issues are recieving more attention. Not to the point that men’s issues are ignored of course, but then it would be nice if men’s advocacy groups didn’t alienate their support by being such unmitigated shitheads to women. The more hostile a MRA group is towards women, the more indirect harm they do to men by eroding sympathy and driving away potential allies. Thus, when lamenting that male issues have far less attention than female, there are two things you have left out of your consideration: the fact that the problems for one are larger than the problems for the other, and also that men’s groups have a habit of being fucking awful.

    – Second because feminists are quite deliberately trying to keep men out of e.g. the DV picture. This makes sure that the available resources are distributed by sex rather than by need (the cake is not infinite) and keeps the political discussion on what women need, and what men must do to help them. It is well accepted politically that women are disadvantaged and need help. The very idea that men are also disadvantaged and deserve help can count on stiff opposition from feminists who would lose their primacy as victims.

    Some feminist writers, activists and the like may well want to hush up the problems faced by men. Those are not the FTB feminists though, nor the FTB allies that I have seen. The fact that they share their platform with Ally Fogg – a writer who spends most of his attention on men’s rights issues for fucks sake – supports that claim.

    – Third because we are long past removing formal barriers to different professions. The focus is on getting more women into desirable professions where formal equality is not enough to give them 50% of the places. But the need for equal outcomes is never felt when we are talking about less desirable areas (truck drivers, rough sleepers, prisoners), or where women are ahead (all university departments except for STEM subjects).

    What a bizarre criticism. Why the fuck would a feminist group advocate for more homeless women?? But since you bring it up, this sort of issue is precisely where MRA groups harm men. These are real issues that probably have less awareness than they should, and at least some of that blame lies sqaurely on those Roosh and Elam types that claim to advocate for men, but actually erode sympathy by abusing women at every opportunity. Complain to them, not FTB writers.

    #85 1234
    Ah yes very clever, Holmes, but I can sniff your trail. In one of your posts you very deviously turned ‘rape’ culture into ‘dudebro’ culture. But you meant RAPE culture, right,?

    No, I said dudebro culture and I meant dudebro culture. In fact, YOU are the only person to have mentioned ‘rape culture’ in this entire thread. Three times in one short post! Thus, I made no such equivalence between the two, YOU did and you are now trying to attribute it to me.

    Since YOU bring it up though, I would consider the university dudebro culture to be a subset of broader rape culture, and are thus not equivalent. A dudebro is likely-to-guaranteed to be a rape apologist, but a rape apologist is not necessarily a dudebro.

    <#86 1234
    In other words, the perception of feminism from the point of view of your everyday man who lives in western society today is pretty grim (apart from the uninformed, disinterested, and white-knights, of course).

    ‘I know the thoughts of all men! All men agree with me! The ones that don’t, don’t count!’ Classic No True Scotsman, and hence an easily dismissable claim even without pointing out that you are extrapolating your personal thoughts to be representative of everyone else.

    #96 Joe Wilson
    I think the problem is that we have spent the last 40 years solely looking to ameliorate the lives of women and girls and yet during that same time we have done nothing for men and boys. Is it any wonder that western governments all have health departments and ministries all geared for women and yet none for men? Why is it that the US has 7 commissions on health for Women and girls and yet none for men?

    This would be an excellent reason to direct your criticism towards the men’s groups that have either failed to be effective, or have actively alienated support through their campaign of shittery directed at women. My heart goes out to those groups that actually are doing good work without antagonising women in doing so; it must suck to have your honest efforts hampered by those claiming to be on the same team.

  96. Lucy says

    “However we should also accept the possibility/probability that social change and progress in gender equality has had a significant impact on women’s wellbeing, fulfilment and mental health. ”

    Having spent the previous several paragraphs slagging off Kathy Gyngell for making spurious connections between male suicide rates and social change, it seems somewhat odd that you would slip in a spurious one of your own about female rates.

  97. Lucy says

    “Women tend to choose methods of self-harm that are less immediately lethal (overdoses, primarily, but also slow-bleed lacerations) which give paramedics and doctors a greater chance of saving their lives.”

    Yes, this and only thus accounts for the drop in female suicide rates. The female suicide attempt rate remains four times higher than the male, Doesn’t speak if a successful social strategy, it speaks of a crisis in femininity.

  98. Lucy says

    “Over the same period of time, we have seen a remarkable reinvention of what it means to be a woman, what a girl growing up can expect from life and society in terms of rights, opportunities, freedoms, ambitions and personal fulfilment. ”

    She can expect it, but she’s sorely disappointed when she tries it.


    “There has been no equivalent reinvention of men and masculinities.”

    There has been, there was the whole attemp at forging a new man, New Romanticism, then the metrosexual, paternity leave, marketing household chores, stollers, man bags, crying when you win (or lose) at sport, sarongs and makeup at him. The man of today bears little resemblance to his grandfather.

    “To a great extent we remain wedded to an anachronistic model of man as breadwinner, brute and bruiser, with our self-worth tied up in our stoicism, self-sufficiency and the whole patriarchal, protector-provider mythology.”

    Hardly. More like wedded to a perpetual teenager dressing up as comedy parodies of women at fancy dress parties, playing table football and computer games and air guitar and jazz drumming and other games, games! well into adulthood. I’ve financially supported all of my past boyfriends, put a roof over their heads, helped them with their CVs, chivied them along to stop arsing about building mini stone henge on their work desks out of tictac boxes, on binge holidays with the lads and Internet porn.

    A protector and provider sounds flipping marvellous, we women have heard tell of them but never meet one.

    It’s so refreshing going to Europe where men are grown ups, actually get married before the age of 45 to women of their own age.

  99. StillGjenganger says

    @Holmes 98
    You are shooting at the wrong, target, I think. I am no particular friend of MRAs – I think they fixated on feminism, whiny, and unable to get beyond their resentments, justified as those may sometimes be. That is why I write things like

    It is clearly ridiculous to blame the male suicide rate mainly on feminism with the data that we are seeing above. It is also ridiculous to say that men would be asking for help much more if only the government provided the resources and the nasty feminists had not frozen out Erin Pizzey. Not all problems are caused by the opposite sex (something that both men and women ought to consider) and, as feminists have shown, it is possible to work on your own problems without waiting for help.

    Surely we have some common ground here?

    Unlike MRAs I do not think that anything women get, men need too, or that women are out to take things from men. Feminists are just trying to make things better for women, without asking the question whether in any given field they are victims of injustice or doing quite well already, think you. The point is that with the power and heft they have, they should be asking themselves that question. Or admit openly that like a trade union their purpose is to get the largest possible slice of the pie for their side, and that the rights of the counterparty are none of their concern.

  100. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucy 101

    There has been, there was the whole attemp at forging a new man, New Romanticism, then the metrosexual, paternity leave, marketing household chores, stollers, man bags, crying when you win (or lose) at sport, sarongs and makeup at him. The man of today bears little resemblance to his grandfather.

    Good point. We have not reached any usable and consistent new role for men, but it is not for want of trying.

    I’ve financially supported all of my past boyfriends,

    You have had boyfriends? I am proud on behalf of my sex. Men are supposed to be brave, but those men deserve the Victoria Cross.

  101. Holms says

    #99 Lucy
    Having spent the previous several paragraphs slagging off Kathy Gyngell for making spurious connections between male suicide rates and social change, it seems somewhat odd that you would slip in a spurious one of your own about female rates.

    Except it isn’t spurious at all when compared to the data presented in the OP, which shows a decrease in female suicides. The possibility exists that this has been brought about by the general trend of progression made by feminism, but note that that possibility does not exist for male suicide, as explained by Ally. But I get the feeling that you did not read the OP, but only skimmed it thanks to the following:

    #100 Lucy
    Yes, this and only thus accounts for the drop in female suicide rates. …

    You’re clearly being snide here, as if to criticise Ally for being to simplistic… except he also suggested that there are other contributors to the trend beyond merely preferring ‘slow death’ forms of suicide. Maybe read the article you are replying to before replying?

    #101 Lucy
    Hardly. More like wedded to a perpetual teenager dressing up as comedy parodies of women at fancy dress parties, playing table football and computer games and air guitar and jazz drumming and other games, games! well into adulthood.

    Oh and it seems you are not above stereotyping.

    #102 StillGjenganger
    You are shooting at the wrong, target, I think. I am no particular friend of MRAs – I think they fixated on feminism, whiny, and unable to get beyond their resentments, justified as those may sometimes be.

    If you are suggesting that I criticise you out of some ‘everything an MRA says must be attacked’ reflex, you are wrong. Not only for the plain fact that I don’t know if you are a MRA or not, but it should also be obvious that I explained my reasones for disagreeing with you each and every time. And yet further down in #102 I see you are repeating the same old point with zero regard for the reasons I have already given you for why I disagree:

    Feminists are just trying to make things better for women, without asking the question whether in any given field they are victims of injustice or doing quite well already, think you. The point is that with the power and heft they have, they should be asking themselves that question. Or admit openly that like a trade union their purpose is to get the largest possible slice of the pie for their side, and that the rights of the counterparty are none of their concern.

    Why the hell would it be up to an advocacy group working towards say, increasing female representation in STEM careers, to also work towards reducing male homelessness? To be frank, it is simply not their problem. That group formed out of a shared desire to end or reduce Problem A; there are certainly more social ills in the world than just the selected one, but they have chosen to work on A and not B because they are free to do so.

    As I’ve said before, the people to complain about here are not the female-oriented groups for being female-oriented, but the male-oriented groups who are dropping the ball. Where are the MRAs on actual male issues? Most likely alienating potential allies (and thus harming men that need them) by slagging off more women on twitter.

  102. 50ShadesofFogg(WhineyMalone) says

    All right, so …

    “The explanation for the stubbornly high rates of male suicide is not an excess of social justice, an excess of feminism…

    The journey that women have been on for the past half century is one that we should learn from and emulate, not reverse.

    Oh dear, I do think this is pretty hilarious, Ally – that you’ve been writing for a very long time for the Guardian newspaper, and even in this context, you wish to present feminism as being this benign force which is mainly just sweetness and light. 🙂 It’s a bit similar to the idea that someone who’s been a columnist for the Daily Mail for a period of 10 years might suddenly pen an article telling us how the right of British politics, in journalism and in parliament, is essentially so pure and noble in spirit. You’d have to think that a) they had the fingers of one hand crossed behind their back or b) they were just spectacularly deluded.

    Of course to be fair, it’s not the Guardian on its own that has made its sneering derision towards men such a dominant narrative in the public sphere, but rather the way that it has teamed up with the BBC in putting this world-view across. (Naturally, those who point out that the BBC does this kind of thing are sometimes dismissed as ‘conspiracy theorists’, yet if the Carnations of this world wish to question that this is the case, I would be more than happy to provide a long and detailed list of how and when the Beeb has treated men as a group with utter and open contempt over the years, a particularly egregious incident with a dunce’s cap being at the forefront of my mind, here).

    Getting to the suicide issue, I’m sorry Ally but I do think this is such a naff examination of Gyngell’s piece.

    She does not claim after all to provide a scientific analysis of the situation, but rather a diagnosis based upon her knowledge and experience. For starters, why should the rise of feminism and male suicides need to coincide chronologically in a completely precise way for there to be a strong link between the two things? Taking further the metaphor of a diagnosis, it’s a well established concept in medicine that a disease may be caused by one factor and then masked by another. The worst symptoms appearing may coincide with the masking factor being removed, but of course that is no proof that it caused the disease in the first place. Similarly, it would be incredibly daft and foolish to think that the societal damage caused by Thatcherism over the years would only match those exact years she was in power. Malign political forces can cause aftershocks for years if not decades to come. For me, this is so blindingly obvious that it should hardly need pointing out!
    And if you look at Labour’s track record over their 13 years (described by one senior frontbencher as ‘the most feminist government in history’), it would be surprising if their approach to social policy had not
    seriously undermined men’s well-being.

    We know now for a fact that they ran down manufacturing at double the rate as under Thatcher (for a supposedly ‘left-of-centre’ government how shameful is that?), neglected vocational training, and let most of the wealth be generated by the city, to pour into a mostly female dominated public sector. Since your newspaper, the Guardian, Ally, relied heavily on public sector advertising at that time, it is perhaps hardly surprising that that feminist publication said shit-all about this state of affairs as well.

    Men’s increasing social vulnerability had been well documented in a popular film like The Fully Monty, and yet the 40 million pound ‘gender specific’ skill training schemes were directed uniquely at women.

    In short, the discrimination by feminists in public life has been brash and it has been open, and it is very likely indeed that it has been a significant influence in these sad phenomena we are witnessing now.

  103. StillGjenganger says

    @WhineyMalone 105
    Now, now. It is quite true that different factors interact on anything as complex as suicide. Maybe feminism is causing more male suicides, but something else is masking the effect. Maybe anything. We do not understand the causes well – and Ally was appropriately cautious in his comments. But the original article complained about the increase in suicides being attributed to conservative politics, and used a very misleading version of the data to blame it on feminism instead. And Ally called her on the data analysis and pointed out that for the single graph we are looking at, conservative politics are a more likely explanation than feminism. It is not hard to decide who is more right in that argument.

  104. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 104

    If you are suggesting that I criticise you out of some ‘everything an MRA says must be attacked’ reflex, you are wrong

    I am not. You clearly understood what I was saying and disagreed with it. I just thought that the way you put your argument sounded like you were arguing against some other opinions as well.

    For the rest we simply disagree. I think that you have a moral responsibility for the consequences of your actions. More powerful groups are generally expected to consider the effects on other groups too – which is why the usual white males are quite rightly expected to consider the interests of minorities together their own. Your obligations change when you go from weak protector of a highly discriminated minority to being as powerful as feminism is today. You disagree with my moral judgement, my analysis or both. At least we have made our points.

  105. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 104

    As I’ve said before, the people to complain about here are not the female-oriented groups for being female-oriented, but the male-oriented groups who are dropping the ball. Where are the MRAs on actual male issues?

    Thinking about it, that is one more thing we agree about. Men need to go about sorting out our own problems (I wish I knew how). Not just because we cannot expect women to do our work for us. Also, in my opinion because we cannot assume that the interest of women are identical – or even compatible – with the interests of men. By all means let us all work together, but we had better decide for ourselves first where we actually want to go.

  106. WhineyM says

    Ally @ 5 :-

    “I think the old model of masculinity, much admired by Kathy Gygnell and Mike Buchanan, demands that men do not show or admit to weakness, vulnerability, helplessness, even to their friends and loved ones. That means they don’t seek support and help so often, whether from professionals or friends. “

    Oh by the way, Ally, you might want to read this story from Mike’s homepage, which garnered one of the greatest numbers of social media shares of any of the pieces he has printed on his website so far:

    https://j4mb.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/a-homeless-man/

    So may I just kindly suggest that you do a small amount of research, before you go about creating
    fictitious truths for polemic purposes and smearing people left right and centre! 🙂

  107. Anton Mates says

    @Gunlord,

    That’s interesting, though obviously disheartening. Do you have any links to those comparisons between black male and white male suicide trends?

    Sure. The paper I was thinking of was “Ethnic and Sex Differences in Suicide Rates
    Relative to Major Depression in the United States,” by Oquendo et al., from the October 2001 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

    There’s a PDF of it here.

    @Raging Bee,

    Seriously, if you don’t see a menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov, it’s not just because feminists never created those sites; it’s also because right-wing men, who oppose any and all government healthcare programs, never created them either.

    Absolutely. For instance, Medicare doesn’t cover erectile dysfunction drugs, thanks to a Part D amendment pushed through by Republican lawmakers. The (male) senator who introduced it mocked “Grandpa” for wanting to have recreational sex. Rich conservative men do more to sabotage other men’s health than the angriest feminist ever could.

    (And it could also be because there’s already plenty of private-sector attention to men’s health issues, and sites like womenshealth.gov had to be created by the state to correct a disparity the private sector wasn’t addressing.)

    That’s unlikely. The private sector doesn’t pay much attention to any health issue until the basic research is done and the opportunities for near-term profit are obvious. That first phase is almost always down to the NIH and other public funding sources. This is doubly true for most men’s health issues, since men tend to spend less money on health issues and are less likely to be insured.

    So we really do need more governmental attention to men’s health, I think.

    @Lucy,

    The female suicide attempt rate remains four times higher than the male

    That’s a bit off. Past research has found that the female self-harm rate is up to four times higher than the male, but a) not all self-harm is a suicide attempt, b) that ratio has tended to drop in more recent studies, and c) to my knowledge, the female suicide attempt rate hasn’t increased over time in the US or the UK. Currently females are about twice as likely as males to attempt suicide–which is absolutely a problem worth addressing, but so is the fact that males are 2-3 times as likely to actually commit suicide.

    Now, if you want to talk current crises, the adolescent self-harm rate has gone up recently–for both genders, I believe, and for reasons that are not entirely clear.

    There has been, there was the whole attemp at forging a new man, New Romanticism, then the metrosexual, paternity leave, marketing household chores, stollers, man bags, crying when you win (or lose) at sport, sarongs and makeup at him. The man of today bears little resemblance to his grandfather.
    […]
    More like wedded to a perpetual teenager dressing up as comedy parodies of women at fancy dress parties, playing table football and computer games and air guitar and jazz drumming and other games, games! well into adulthood.

    Wait…so the typical modern man is a metrosexual, a househusband and superinvolved father, a weepy sensitive cross-dresser and and an overgrown adolescent who obsessively plays games and watches porn? You just stacked about four conflicting stereotypes into a single awkward, lurching Personality Voltron.

    I’ve financially supported all of my past boyfriends, put a roof over their heads, helped them with their CVs, chivied them along to stop arsing about building mini stone henge on their work desks out of tictac boxes, on binge holidays with the lads and Internet porn.

    Your past boyfriends sound like they sucked. My condolences.

    It’s so refreshing going to Europe where men are grown ups, actually get married before the age of 45 to women of their own age.

    Um, men do that everywhere in the Western world. British men first get married around 33, which is pretty typical for Europe, and the women they marry are about 1.5 years younger, which is a smaller age gap than you find in most other European countries. (FWIW, American men first marry around 29, to women roughly 2 years younger.)

    Have you maybe been living in Afghanistan without realizing it?

    StillGjenganger,

    Good point. We have not reached any usable and consistent new role for men

    Oh, sure we have. Sensitive weepy modern men have a lower suicide rate and a higher quality of life, because they’re more willing to seek help from others than stoic traditional men. Stay-at-home fathers report more relationship and life satisfaction and lower levels of stress than other men, particularly when they don’t conform to traditional masculine norms. Men who don’t conform to traditional masculine norms also report higher relationship satisfaction, and so do their partners. Straight women also report less depression and anxiety when their partners don’t worry about measuring up to traditional norms. In fact, we’ve known for about forty years that men and women tend to be more satisfied in relationships when both partners act more feminine! (DOIs for articles supporting the above claims: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.07.016; 10.1037/1524-9220.9.1.17; 10.1037/1524-9220.6.4.254; 10.1037/1524-9220.5.2.147; 10.1080/01926187908250338)

    In other words, the New Man is doing fine. It’s the traditional model that’s experiencing most of the problems.

    (No offense intended to traditionally gruff stoic manly men reading this post, or the men & women who love them. Do whatever works for you!)

  108. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton Mates 110

    we’ve known for about forty years that men and women tend to be more satisfied in relationships when both partners act more feminine!

    Well, I do not want to move back to the 1950’s either. But I really think the jury is still out on that claim. Be that as it may, I refuse to accept it, because:
    – Men and women are biologically different enough that the role that is optimal for women will not be quite optimal for men.

    – Women have a couple of capabilities that make them special and give them particular roles, ahead of men. If men have nothing that gives them any special role, we will end up as ‘lesser women’ – equal in most things but inferior overall.
    – The obvious one is children. Just from pregnancy and breastfeeding, women will start out with a closer bond and a greater authority with respect to childcare. That means 1) that the role of primary caregiver is the woman’s to keep, if she wants it, and 2) that women as a group will be attributed particular strength and authority in the area of caring for the next generation.
    – The proof is less certain, but I firmly believe that the current situation where men seek and women permit sex has enough biological foundation to persist. A man without a woman will never be as well off as a fish without a bicycle.

    – The male role is the one that I grew up with, and the tradition that I fit into, back in time. Everything changes, sure, but whatever the advantages, I would not want it all to be just thrown in the trash and replaced with the superior female culture. Much, I presume, like Aboriginal Australians would not want their stone-age culture to be just thrown in the trash and replaced with the superior post-industrial 21st century alternative.

  109. Holms says

    StillGjenganger, you are disagreeing with data solely because you don’t want it to be true. Too bad. As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough already, you then directly compared encouraging men to be more open with goddamn colonialism its attendant horrors, such as the stolen generation. Amazing.

  110. Anton Mates says

    StillGjenganger,

    There’s a lot of stuff to disagree with in your post at #111–women don’t seek sex? being pigeonholed into the role of child-rearer makes women socially superior? men are like indigenous Australians?–but I’m not sure there’s any point. What’s the relevance of all this to the claim you were disagreeing with?

    The studies I cited indicate that most men are better off (higher quality of life, less psychological distress, less risk of suicide) if they don’t follow some of the traditional male norms in Western society. That’s it. Nobody’s saying that men can or should become statistically identical to women in all aspects of their psychology and behavior. Why are you bothering to argue against that strawman?

  111. StillGjenganger says

    The studies I cited indicate that most men are better off (higher quality of life, less psychological distress, less risk of suicide) if they don’t follow some of the traditional male norms in Western society

    As long as we stick to ‘some’, I agree with you – I am not living like my grandfather either.

    Why are you bothering to argue against that strawman?

    Thanks for asking – many would just have shouted.

    One (female) journalist with interest in these things used to ask audiences to mention some behaviour or characteristic that was clearly male and that was clearly positive. She was always met with a long silence. That described the proposed new ‘gender roles’ pretty well. Women are all kinds of good positive things that men ought to emulate. There is nothing in popular progressive opinion that is both male and good, that men can use to say ‘this is what we have to bring to the table’. So, to the extent men can become ‘identical to women in all aspects of their psychology and behaviour’ they will be as good as women. To the extent that they can not, they will be inferior. As it happens I believe that the sexes are different enough that they would do better under separate social roles. But – that is the point of my comments on childbearing – even if we disregarded past history and culture completely and tried to build a new, fully equal unisex social role, we would still have two sexes. Differences in anatomy and sexual attraction would still make men and women distinct groups with different identities. And even the most thorough social engineering could not get rid of the point that women had things that were necessary and uniquely female, whereas men would have nothing comparable. Women would be ‘the sex that can bear children – and also does everything else’. Men would only be ‘the sex that killed sabretooth tigers back when we still had them’. Being ‘the fair sex’ and ‘the weaker sex’ was no boon to women, even though they did have their own unique contributions to make to daily life. Just being part of ‘the obsolete sex’ is not something I would wish for my grandsons.

  112. Holms says

    Again, you’re not arguing that the data is wrong, only that you want it to be wrong because you see gender roles as being zero-sum. But consider this: there truly is nothing that is uniquely male or female in behavior, hence men aren’t being asked to be ‘less male’ but rather ‘less unhealthy’. Remember, there is no particular reason to be stoic other than that we are taught to be stoic out of social expectation. Erode that and men have not been ‘reduced’ or whatever, we just no longer have unhealthy behaviors expected of us.

  113. beaker says

    So I have a question. Could someone explain to me which tasks in the household I am supposedly not able to do, as a man with a three-year old stepdaughter? Or in which my girlfriend is supposedly automatically inferior. Because so far, I haven’t encountered any.

    In fact, it seems to me that this talk of gender roles only serves to infantilize men into babies who cannot take care of themselves and dysfunctional three-year olds who cannot care for or empathize with others. And I mean this very literally.

  114. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 115
    Gender roles are not ‘zero sum’ (though adapting society to the two sexes may well be, at times). It is just that 1) abandoning the culture you grew up with as inferior is a loss, even if you are better off with the replacement – that holds for men and Aborigines both. 2) if there are two groups it is not much fun to grow up as part of the one that is inferior at some things and superior at nothing.

  115. StillGjenganger says

    @Beaker 116
    You do not have much respect for other men, do you? Tell me, does it feel nice to be part of the rational minority and look down on all the idiots? Or have you internalised some female opinions somewhere along the way?

    As for your question, it is the wrong one. People of either sex are (unavoidably!) formed by the roles and expectations of those they grow up with. And the roles are not just historical accidents, but also formed from the average (not individual) properties of men and women. So, even if it is not that much easier for a woman than for a man to go full-time into bonding with a baby, changing nappies and talking in gurgles, it is something that by virtue of the different biology she will likely have thought more of as she grew up and may see as more of a life goal than the average man. That does not make every woman either a better or a more interested parent than her husband, but between the preparation of her social role and the physical closeness of pregnancy and breastfeeding she will have a head start.

  116. Holms says

    Well then StillG, if that is the basis of your worry, you can rest easy, as neither gender is inferior. Crisis averted, and I confidently expect your objections to vanish without a trace…

  117. Anton Mates says

    StillGjenganger,

    One (female) journalist with interest in these things used to ask audiences to mention some behaviour or characteristic that was clearly male and that was clearly positive. She was always met with a long silence.

    Well, hang on; what does “clearly male” mean? If your journalist was asking for a positive characteristic that is exclusively possessed by males, I’m not surprised that nobody responded. I don’t think either gender has a monopoly on any virtue.
    If, on the other hand, she asked for a positive characteristic that is traditionally associated with masculinity, there’s a zillion of them. Strength, courage, confidence, ambition, leadership, protectiveness, responsibility, emotional control, abstract intelligence….if her audience couldn’t think of any of those things, they were either asleep or dead.

    Women are all kinds of good positive things that men ought to emulate. There is nothing in popular progressive opinion that is both male and good, that men can use to say ‘this is what we have to bring to the table’.

    That’s obviously not true; progressives have acknowledged what men bring to the table for centuries now. One of the main goals of first- and second-wave feminism was to take traditional male virtues and make it socially acceptable for women to express them as well. The “modern woman” speaks her mind, focuses on her career, serves in the military and law enforcement, excels in sports and academics, takes the lead on dates, etc., etc. All of that is emulating the good parts of masculinity, isn’t it?

    Conservatives certainly believe that liberal women are trying to imitate men. Feminists have been condemned as “mannish” and “unfeminine” since the 19th century, what with all their suit-wearing and bicycle-riding and bra-burning and stuff.

    Differences in anatomy and sexual attraction would still make men and women distinct groups with different identities.

    Considering that gay, asexual, trans and intersex people exist, and that intragender variation exceeds intergender variation on most psychological measures, I’d be interested to know what differences you think could define those groups as distinct.

    And even the most thorough social engineering could not get rid of the point that women had things that were necessary and uniquely female, whereas men would have nothing comparable. Women would be ‘the sex that can bear children – and also does everything else’.

    Three points:
    1) It’s not as if men don’t have some physical advantages over women, on average. Yes, most women can bear children at some point in their life, and most men can’t. On the other hand, most men can lift more and run faster on average, can father children, and don’t have to contend with periods or unwanted pregnancy. Those advantages aren’t going away anytime soon.

    2) Having a specific and unique role does not, in itself, grant you social superiority. African-Americans used to occupy the unique and economically important role of unpaid, involuntary manual laborer. That wasn’t exactly an honor for them.
    Does the child-bearing role make women socially superior? Hardly. It grants them a certain amount of protection (whether they like it or not) under the norms of chivalry. In exchange, they lose physical autonomy because contraception and abortion would interfere with their natural baby-making function. They experience hiring, promotion and wage discrimination, because employers assume that women (even childless ones) will eventually prioritize raising children over doing their jobs. They pay higher insurance premiums, because they’ll probably get pregnant and pregnancy means medical expenses Any mother in a position of power is criticized for neglecting her children, and any childless woman in a position of power is criticized for doing femininity wrong.
    In short, the main result of women being assigned the “child-bearing and child-rearing” role by society is that they get to be considered inferior candidates for almost every other role. How envious I am of their good fortune.

    3) Yes, women do have a distinct social advantage in one particular area: if they want to have children and be their primary caregivers, they’ll get more social support. But that’s not just because most women have breasts and a uterus and most men don’t; after all, wet nurses and surrogate mothers don’t get primary caregiver status either. It’s also because of–you guessed it–the traditional masculine norms that say fathers are supposed to be lousy caregivers. When men are expected to be emotionally distant, career-obsessed, competitive, and sexually and physically aggressive, then of course it’s assumed that women will be better at doing the actual hands-on work of raising a child.

    So if you’d like to help erode this totally unfair edge that women enjoy, why not support progressive ideas like paternity leave, stay-at-home dads and models of masculinity that let a father bond as closely as possible with his children?

  118. StillGjenganger says

    Considering that gay, asexual, trans and intersex people exist, and that intragender variation exceeds intergender variation on most psychological measures, I’d be interested to know what differences you think could define those groups as distinct.

    Come on! Humanity divides into two distinct sexes, and the classification is actually very good. It is immediately visible to children, and it is crucial for ‘mate selection’ – also for gays. Hence ‘which group do I belong to’ is and will remain a crucial part of identity. The fact that the groups are not different on all possible parameters, or that there are some rare cases that do not classify well, does not mean that it makes sense to stop thinking in terms of two distinct groups. Cars are also made to look good, and some individual cars cannot drive, but cars and statues are still two distinct groups. Cars and boats are two distinct groups, even though there is such a thing as the DUKW. Etc. The situation where we neither know nor care which of our colleagues are male and which are female is realistically not going to happen. Ever.

    ‘Clearly male’ means neither ‘traditionally associated with masculinity’ (which is a sociology question) nor ‘possessed solely by men’ (which is a strawman). It means ‘characteristic of men more than of women’. Something you could use in the sentence ‘It would be good to have more men in this area, because …’. And here it is not so surprising that audiences could not find anything. The ‘traditionally male’ characteristics have been redefined, either as positive and unisex (courage, leadership, …), or as negative and male (aggression, single-minded focus, …), or are just irrelevant in modern society (ability to lift things).

    Progressives tend to see social roles only as unfairly limiting your possibilities. But we are not born with our personalities and desires fully formed, rather we form as we grow up and interact with people around us. You see that you are either male or female (see above), and you actively try to learn to become the way that people like you are supposed to be. For the vast majority of people, social roles are both a trellis for you to grow up against, and a source of secure identity.

    Traditionally men and women had clear and different roles, both social and practical. They were not equal, but each sex had a territory, and both were necessary to make a household work.
    Now we are in a transition period; the power and work distribution in society partly reflects old norms, even as the new ones are being cemented, so you cannot argue from the current situation very well. The question is where we are going to be. My preference would be that each sex had a distinct role, something that it was considered better at. It would be much less extensive and much less rigid than in the past of course – the rigid division does not maximise human happiness, and modern society does not encourage early specialization the way it did once. Different roles would lead to ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs – not exclusively, but maybe 8:2 or 9:1, so the particularly motivated and gifted would ignore the gender role stuff, but the average youth would drift towards or away from certain professions. Maybe medicine would be female, surgery and engineering male. Men would tend to have a more active role with their children than they did once – it is both nice and useful, after all – but it would still be seen as a female speciality. And each sex could think ‘we are better at this’ about something.

    There are surely costs to this, but what is the alternative? We cannot do away with social roles, any more than we can do away with schooling and expect each youth to reproduce the work of Pythagoras, Darwin and Karl Marx independently and unbiased by indoctrination from society. We cannot replace the male/female distinction with a single amorphous mass of ‘humanity’, biology is in the way. And while we may make leadership and courage, engineering and war, equally female, we cannot make nurture and childrearing equally male – biology is in the way. The only socially valued and clearly male roles would be sperm donor and sex object, physical strength and mammoth hunting not being in demand. Not a place I would want to go.

  119. beaker says

    StillGjenganger @118
    “You do not have much respect for other men, do you? Tell me, does it feel nice to be part of the rational minority and look down on all the idiots? Or have you internalised some female opinions somewhere along the way?”
    Right back at you. It is you who has little respect for other men. I think men can aspire to more than the limited social roles you want to hold them too. And in fact, the research shows (as Anton Mates and Holms have already pointed out) that this is to their benefit. It is you who limits the potential that other men, to their detriment.

    In the household, there is nothing that limits men from contributing an equal share. And if both partners are working, a situation that is common for most households in Western society nowadays, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. Research shows that women still do most of the work in the household, even when both partners are working equal amounts of hours. What’s worse, they often do more work even if their partner is working less hours or not. A situation that has occurred more often in the US in recent years due to the recession hitting traditionally male jobs harder than traditional female jobs. Research shows that couples that decrease this disparity have more quality time together and a happier marriage. Which is logical, given that for quality time together you both need to be available.

    Similarly, men can bond very well with their children if they don’t let themselves be cowed into thinking that child rearing is this hard and complicated practice. The tasks involved aren’t rocket science, you just have to do them a couple of times. For the rest it is just spending time with your kids, and I haven’t met a single father yet who doesn’t like to do that. And I have talked to too many men from my fathers generation who regret not having spend more time in raising their kids to think this is something men don’t want to do. They just have to step up to the plate and do it. This is especially important in the discussion of “men’s rights”, because if men want to have a high chance of maintaining their parenting rights or (better) gaining equal coparenting arrangements (as the MRA’s advocate), they need to step up to the plate before a possible divorce when all is hunky-dory, not only afterwards. Furthermore, the research I have found on the issue seems to indicate that emotional closeness between father and child as well as a parenting style that sets limits for the kids, responds to their emotional needs and reasons with them leads to the most successful outcomes for the child, so this is not just important for the father, it is very important for the children as well.

  120. StillGjenganger says

    @Beaker 122
    And so? Social roles, in modern society, means that childrearing is something that women choose to concentrate on more often than men do. It does not mean that men do not or cannot do their share, or interact with their children. It certainly does not mean that any man who does not compete for the role of main nappy-changer deserves to be compared to a three-year-old.

  121. says

    “You do not have much respect for other men, do you? Tell me, does it feel nice to be part of the rational minority and look down on all the idiots? Or have you internalised some female opinions somewhere along the way?”

    One of the many problems men face these days is having our masculinity questioned whenever we even mention the fact that life is a bit more complex than “traditional” pictures of simple male and female roles and stereotypes admit. And Gjenganger’s quote above shows, once again, that the MRAs aren’t part of the solution, they’re part of the problem.

    We cannot replace the male/female distinction with a single amorphous mass of ‘humanity’, biology is in the way.

    Really? We can’t change our societies or social roles until our biology changes? I won’t insult my genitalia by calling that “bollocks” — we’ve been changing our societies throughout written history without changing our biology.

    And while we may make leadership and courage, engineering and war, equally female, we cannot make nurture and childrearing equally male – biology is in the way.

    Really? Please explain exactly how “biology” prevents men from taking a greater role in child-rearing than we had in, say, our simple picture of Victorian England. I know men can’t breast-feed babies, but breast-feeding — while important and good all around — is not that huge a part of child-rearing as a whole.

    Biological-determinism is a thought-killing attitude that too many MRAs seem to share with the most ignorant and uneducable racists.

  122. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging
    We can change our gender roles, but we can not abolish them. They are too well founded, biologically to abolish.
    Men can sure take a greater role in child-rearing, but with pregnancy and breast-feeding they can not change child-rearing away from being deemed a particularly female field.
    As I have said several times, now. Do you actually read the posts before you slag them off?

    Go ahead, call me a moron.

  123. says

    We can change our gender roles, but we can not abolish them. They are too well founded, biologically to abolish.

    Please explain, in specific biological terms, why this is so, and which known biological processes or factors impede men’s ability to play a greater role in child-rearing. A cite to an actual biologist would help here — in fact, it would be necessary, since without any actual scientific authority to back it up, your sciencey claim is nothing but empty brown air.

  124. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging 126

    Please explain, in specific biological terms, why this is so, and which known biological processes or factors impede men’s ability to play a greater role in child-rearing

    From my post 125: “Men can sure take a greater role in child-rearing

    You do not read the posts before you slag them off

  125. says

    When I asked you to back up your vague generalizations, all you did was refer back to the same generalizations. You admit have NOTHING to back up your assertion that “biology” impedes our ability to change, or even abolish, sexual roles as currently defined. Maybe you should read your own posts before others slag them off.

  126. Anton Mates says

    @StillGjenganger,

    Come on! Humanity divides into two distinct sexes, and the classification is actually very good.

    Yes, you already asserted that. I asked what differences you’re basing that assertion on. You said “anatomy,” so what anatomical differences can sort intersex and trans people into two distinct sexes? You said “sexual attraction,” so what pattern of sexual attraction distinguishes straight/gay/bi/asexual/cis/trans men from straight/gay/bi/asexual/cis/trans women?

    It is immediately visible to children

    Right, like when my friend’s nephew was convinced she must be a boy because she had a buzzcut. Despite her having a DD bust and otherwise being “obviously” female. This is why we don’t generally rely on toddlers to map out the full spectrum of human biological variation.

    and it is crucial for ‘mate selection’ – also for gays.

    Lessee…knocking around on Google Scholar, I find a 2005 study on the sexual behavior of men in New York City. Roughly 9% of those men either identified as bisexual, identified as straight but had sex with a man in the last year, or identified as gay but had sex with a woman in the last year.

    So much for “crucial.” And trans panic aside, I’m not sure most people even need to sex-categorize the people around them before they select a mate. Hot is hot. If you’re straight, the people you find hot will mostly be of the opposite sex, but you don’t need to consciously sex-classify them to feel the attraction.

    The fact that the groups are not different on all possible parameters, or that there are some rare cases that do not classify well, does not mean that it makes sense to stop thinking in terms of two distinct groups.

    Actually, it kinda does when those cases are people in your society, because otherwise you’re treating them as invisible and/or nonhuman, which is both unkind and inaccurate.

    Cars are also made to look good, and some individual cars cannot drive, but cars and statues are still two distinct groups

    It’s not often I get to disprove a claim by linking to pictures of carnival floats, so I appreciate the opportunity. 😛

    Etc. The situation where we neither know nor care which of our colleagues are male and which are female is realistically not going to happen. Ever.

    Do you make a habit of reading your colleagues’ minds or looking down their pants, then? Because you don’t know whether most of them are male or female in the ways that you’ve vaguely defined above. You just know who’s wearing pants or a dress and what pronouns they use.

    The ‘traditionally male’ characteristics have been redefined, either as positive and unisex (courage, leadership, …),

    Huh. So when men are encouraged to cultivate traditionally female virtues like gentleness and emotional openness, that’s bad because men are being forced to imitate women. But when women are encouraged to cultivate traditionally male virtues like strength and courage, that’s bad because male virtues are being redefined as unisex. Men just can’t win, can they?

    How about looking at it this way? Progressives tend to view pretty much all virtues and vices as unisex. Courage, kindness, strength, curiosity, honesty, etc. are good things to have whether you’re male, female or other. That doesn’t mean that men and women have to score exactly the same on every virtue, of course. Diversity is a good thing, and if there happen to be more extremely courageous men and more extremely kind women (or vice versa), that’s no problem. But there’s no need to direct different genders toward developing different virtues.

    or as negative and male (aggression, single-minded focus, …)

    Aggression and focus are valuable assets in many jobs, and “traditionally female” characteristics like passivity and fragility are usually considered negative as well.

    Or if you want Big Five personality characteristics that have been empirically observed to be sex-biased in our culture, men tend to be less Agreeable but women tend to be more Neurotic. I think most liberals would say those are both negatives (although of course there are individuals who leverage their disagreeableness or their neuroticism in productive ways.) Men aren’t perfect and neither are women.

    or are just irrelevant in modern society (ability to lift things).

    Considering that around 20% of the US labor force works in manual labor, and that’s not even counting unpaid housework and labor-intensive professions like nursing, I’d say the ability to lift things is still in high demand. We’re not quite living in a robot-staffed utopia yet!

    Progressives tend to see social roles only as unfairly limiting your possibilities.

    No, they don’t. Progressives think social roles are great, as long as they aren’t prescribed and prescriptive: “You were born as X, so you must behave as X.” Social roles should be a map to your possibilities, not a cage.

    For the vast majority of people, social roles are both a trellis for you to grow up against, and a source of secure identity.

    But when a trellis constricts your plant’s growth instead of supporting it, you change or abandon the trellis. (Also, of course, people have stronger opinions about the direction of their own growth than plants do.)

    See, here’s the thing: Psychologists have actually done a fair amount of research into social identities, and we know something about what makes a social identity “positive” (i.e. secure, comforting, beneficial to psychological health, etc.) Among other things, role accumulation is usually a good thing–that is, people do better when they have several overlapping roles rather than one big one. People do better when they feel that they are in their role by choice and could exit it if they wanted to. People do better when they feel positively toward others who share their identity/role, but do not feel bound to share a common fate.

    Put simply, people do well when they feel free to take on any set of roles that they choose, and shape those roles to their liking. And traditional gender norms don’t satisfy that need. I don’t think your proposed norms would either.

    Different roles would lead to ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs – not exclusively, but maybe 8:2 or 9:1, so the particularly motivated and gifted would ignore the gender role stuff, but the average youth would drift towards or away from certain professions. Maybe medicine would be female, surgery and engineering male.

    I think it’s interesting that you choose surgery and engineering–two extremely high-paying, high-status fields that are rather legendary for their hostility towards female “invaders”–as your examples of fields that are just naturally suited to men….

    And each sex could think ‘we are better at this’ about something.
    There are surely costs to this, but what is the alternative?

    The alternative, of course, is to leave all fields open to all genders. So that each individual can choose a job based on their aptitudes and interests, and then think “I am better at this than most people,” without worrying about whether they’re letting their gender down by not being good at the “right” things.

    We cannot do away with social roles, any more than we can do away with schooling and expect each youth to reproduce the work of Pythagoras, Darwin and Karl Marx independently and unbiased by indoctrination from society.

    No one is suggesting that we do away with social roles, We are merely noting that specific roles contain unhealthy or harmful aspects, and attempting to prune them away.

    And while we may make leadership and courage, engineering and war, equally female, we cannot make nurture and childrearing equally male – biology is in the way.

    You cannot make leadership, engineering and war equally female without making nurture and childrearing equally male. There are roughly equal numbers of men and women, after all. If women predominate in child-rearing, men are going to predominate in those careers which make child-rearing difficult–not just the dangerous jobs, but the high-status jobs that require large amounts of time, energy and education. And employers will continue to favor men when hiring or handing out raises, on the assumption that men are less likely to prioritize their families over their jobs.

    We can change our gender roles, but we can not abolish them. They are too well founded, biologically to abolish.

    As a biologist (if a mere grad student), I gotta say that’s horse puckey. “Biologically well-founded” is meaningless; everything we do is biological, because we’re made of biology. I think what you mean to say is something like “genetically determined,” but that’s not a real thing either because all behaviors are produced by the interaction of genetics and environment.

    The only way to know whether gender roles can be abolished is to examine human behavior within the full range of social environments that could feasibly exist; of course, this has never been done. But considering how many societies have recognized three or more genders, and considering the incredible plasticity of human behavior in many other areas, I would be very skeptical of any claim that a genderless society is practically impossible.

    That said, I’m not particularly interested in abolishing gender roles; just in removing social support for the negative aspects of any given role. People can construct as many roles as they want.

  127. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton 129
    Thanks for bothering to keep arguing – I appreciate it. I shall have to answer in instalments, though, to keep the length down.

    First of all, we are looking only at the biological sex of your body only, not at gender or gender identity. So, how would I classify people into men and women ? Well, not by looking at a single feature only – as a scientist you should appreciate why I would make use of all available information. For a start, anyone who and any time in his life is able to impregnate a woman without medical help is a man. Anyone who can produce a fertilizable egg and bear a baby to term without medical interventions is a woman. That is the majority of the population sorted. There are so few hermaphrodites (try 0) that it does not matter, but of course many people are infertile. For the next step you measure all relevant parameters for the entire population (chromosomes, internal sex organs, hormone levels, secondary sexual characteristics, … and look at the resulting multivariate distribution. Conceptually you could plot all the data in a very large 26-dimensional coordinate system – in practice you would use some kind of statistical tool (principal component analysis, for instance). You would get the result that people were split fairly clearly in two distinct clusters, one with the men one with the women, and a formula for the combination of parameters that best discriminated between the two groups. In more hand-waving terms, a fair few people would be atypical on one or two parameters, but they would mostly be clearly more similar to the male group than to the female one (or vice versa). There would still be people who were so far from the normal development pattern that it was hard to say whether they should be classified as men or as women, and here your classification would break down, There would be really few of them, though.

  128. says

    First of all, we are looking only at the biological sex of your body only, not at gender or gender identity.

    Actually, YOU were making (unsupported) assertions about sexual roles, which are connected to gender identity. Now you’re saying we’re only talking about anatomy and biology?

  129. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton
    Next instalment. I worded it a bit badly (as Raging unerringly pointed out) – the first part was on biological sex only. I shall get to the social roles in due course.

    You are misunderstanding my car comparisons in a rather revealing way. The point is not that every possible object can be clearly and uniquely put in one or the other group – indeed in my next example I mention the DUKW, that is both a truck and a boat. The point is that the distinction is a good and sensible way of dividing up the world, even if there are a few edge cases that fit badly. Cars require licenses, insurance, ownership registration, can be parked at the kerb for free, … Boats need a different set of licenses and have different rules for mooring. Statues do not need a license, but cannot be legally parked at the kerb. The existence of DUKWs and parade floats is not a good argument for rewriting our laws in a ‘vehicle-neutral’ or ‘object-neutral’ manner. You do not get the right to permanently occupy a kerbside space with a statue just because you claim that your statue is really a car, and the two are not different anyway. Nor do screws and tiller become ‘car parts’ just because a DUKW has them. The exceptional cases are treated – as you would expect, as exceptions.

    It is certainly true that if everybody thinks in terms of humans having two specific sexes (or genders), those who do not fit will be worse off, sometimes a lot worse off. But that has nothing to do with them being treated as ‘invisible’ or ‘non-human’. The word is ‘non-normal’. Which is certainly an unpleasant thing to be, but that is a curse that they share with lots of other people, from the autistic to the deaf. And, as I will come back to, any kind of classification, any kind of behaviour norms, will disfavour those who do not fit in the same way as they make life easier for those who do fit. Either you accept that, or you do way with norms and classifications altogether.

    As for the sexual attraction, this is certainly a continuum in a way that biological sex is not. But your claim is effectively that everybody is really bisexual – and you support your claim by dismissing anybody who is upset or repulsed at finding the wrong set of genitals when the hot one undresses as pathological, suffering from ‘trans panic’. I could similarly decree that everybody was strictly heterosexual (or monosexual, at least) by saying that those who were not, suffered from some kind of gender confusion sickness. Surely a fairer rendering of reality is that probably a majority sticks to partners of one sex only, and most of the rest have a fairly strong preference. Far from being irrelevant, biological sex is very important for sexual preference.
    More another time

  130. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton contd.
    Being male, (resp. female) means having a male sex and a male gender and a male gender identity – as is the normal case. When the three do not match we are outside the normal situation, and the normal words can become misleading. That is why your answer is beside the point:

    Do you make a habit of reading your colleagues’ minds or looking down their pants,

    When you are dealing with your colleagues, what matters is the gender, not the sex or the gender identity. And gender, unlike sex, is not simple or objective to determine. There is ample evidence that it is possible to deal with people as male and female (by gender) without knowing or caring what they have got in their pants. What I do not believe is that we can get to the point where gender is no longer an important variable – or where you can know people as individuals without knowing or caring about their gender, which amounts to the same thing.

    Put simply, people do well when they feel free to take on any set of roles that they choose, and shape those roles to their liking.

    I can well believe it. You would certainly be happier if you could tailor a role that exactly suits you, and then expect the world to provide a me-shaped slot where you fit in. . The problem is that what you are proposing is not possible. I do not claim any particular authority for saying this, but it misunderstands the nature of social roles. Social roles are, well, social. They include expectations of how you should behave in the role, conventions for how others should behave towards you, and conventions for who are appropriate for each role. The ‘tantrummy toddler’ role is not open to adults, for example. That has several consequences. First, by claiming a role, you are demanding that other people behave towards you in a certain way. That makes it also their decision what roles are allowed and who is allowed to take them. You might want to have a social role as a dog, but it will only work if people are willing to react appropriately when you piss on their fenceposts and sniff their asses.
    The point of social roles is that they are pre-existing templates for interactions. Since people know what to expect and how to behave, interactions are much easier, and you can interact without first doing a lot of careful negotiation of what to expect and what behaviours mean. That gives a lot of practical benefits, but it can only work when there is a limited, well-known set of roles that people can choose from. And those roles cannot help being both prescriptive and limiting to some extent. If you want the benefits of easy interaction, you have to adapt to one of the available templates, and other people have to accept you in your role. If you insist on being treated outside all the pre-existing roles, you will be much harder to deal with (and much less popular as a result). In individual cases it becomes a matter of who should do how much of the work of adapting. Should the deaf learn lip-reading, or should everybody else switch over to sign language, as it were? People in close, individual relationships can go through the long and slow effort of understanding and adapting to the precise individuality of each person. But it is too much to expect for everyone you might run into at the coffee machine.

    Gender roles are in fact no more prescriptive than other aspects of social behaviour – they are just special in that we have two (or more) alternative sets. A lot of social roles are simply enforced on all members of a society. You may prefer the Italian style of open and loud disagreements, physical interactions between strangers, and competitive queueing, and as a system it is in no way inferior to the UK alternative. But if you live in the UK you are not free to give harsh, direct criticism, hug and kiss strangers, or jump queues – not if you want to get along with your neighbours.

  131. says

    You would certainly be happier if you could tailor a role that exactly suits you, and then expect the world to provide a me-shaped slot where you fit in. . The problem is that what you are proposing is not possible. I do not claim any particular authority for saying this, but it misunderstands the nature of social roles. Social roles are, well, social.

    Yes, and social roles are NOT determined by biology. If they were, we’d all still be roving tribes of hunter-gatherers. Social roles can change, and individuals can choose to change their places within a society. It’s HARD, yes, but not “impossible” (which is the word you used). Social roles are determined by biology only to the extent that the people making the decisions SAY they are; and it’s always possible for them to change their minds.

    Gender roles are in fact no more prescriptive than other aspects of social behaviour – they are just special in that we have two (or more) alternative sets.

    This statement is utterly meaningless. Practically ALL aspects of social behavior have “two (or more) alternative sets” to choose from. Gender roles are not at all special in this regard.

    But your claim is effectively that everybody is really bisexual…

    No, Anton never made any such claim.

  132. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging
    Sigh.
    I never thought or said that social roles are determined by biology – just that biology, too, gives some input in what roles are plausible and what groups are likely to get different roles.
    Nor did I ever say, or think, that men can not get a greater role in child care – hell, I have that myself – just that as a group they are not going to be considered equal to women.

    If you want to discuss something, try attacking what I said, instead of something that sounds sort of similar but is much easier to rubbish.

  133. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton 129 – last one.

    You make even more arguments that it would be interesting to disagree with, but I shall stop it here. It is too long, for one thing. And if we cannot reach any agreement on the stuff so far – if you really think that everybody is effectively bisexual and each individual can have his own, custom-designed social role – we are just too far apart to be able to talk meaningfully about the rest.

  134. Holms says

    …if you really think that everybody is effectively bisexual and each individual can have his own, custom-designed social role – we are just too far apart to be able to talk meaningfully about the rest.

    No, the fact that you arrived at the above conclusion from Anton Mate’s post is the actual reason why you can’t meaningfully discuss this. If you confuse gender roles with sexuality, there is no talking to you on this subject.

  135. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 138
    We seem to be misunderstanding each other quite actively, here. If we want to go on with this, we need to clear some of it up. I do not believe I am confusing anything with anything. What I do say is that whether you are hetero or not, the sex (not just the gender) of other people is very important in deciding who you want to sleep with.

    As for Anton, this is what he said:

    trans panic aside, I’m not sure most people even need to sex-categorize the people around them before they select a mate. Hot is hot. If you’re straight, the people you find hot will mostly be of the opposite sex, but you don’t need to consciously sex-classify them to feel the attraction.

    In plain English he seems to be saying that the sex of their bedmates is in itself irrelevant for most people, (‘hot is hot’ whatever is in the pants), except for ‘trans panic’, which is by definition a pathologic condition that needs to be cured. If that does not mean that everybody is effectively bisexual, in their attractions if not I their practice, what does it mean?

    You are now the second person telling me what Anton did not mean. I am happily awaiting a clarification – that is how you learn things through discussions – but it would take somebody who could say what he actually did mean, and it really would be simpler if he answered that one himself.

  136. says

    StiliG: for the second time, Anton did NOT say “everybody is effectively bisexual;” he merely said that people’s sexual arousal does not follow from the conscious act of classifying someone as male, female, or whatever else — whoever turns you on, does so regardless of how your conscious mind classifies that person. The only people who are “effectively bisexual” are the ones who happen to be turned on by people of both sexes.

    Seriously, you don’t really have to “await a clarification” on this — you just have to read the original comment more carefully.

  137. says

    So you misrepresent the meaning of someone’s words in public, but you’ll only answer for your public misrepresentation to one person?

  138. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging
    If I have misrepresented Anton (how? I quoted him directly) I have a duty to answer for it – to him. Not to you.

    I am not here only to hear my own voice (not that I mind that, of course). When these discussions go well, you or the other guy can learn something, you understand better what is happening, you get a clearer feel for where you agree or disagree, at worst you learn at least where the holes in the arguments are on both sides. With you I feel that the discussions do not go well. Nobody learns anything, nothing gets clarified. I get nothing from it, and I doubt that the spectators do either. I will answer enough not to let your more egregious claims go unchallenged, and to acknowledge when I feel you have caught me in error. Beyond that I prefer to abstain. If you ask me to, I shall be happy to give an analysis of what I think is wrong with your debating style, and what you would have to do to become more interesting to debate with. But I could think of better ways to pass my evening, and I am sure you could too. How about leaving it there?

  139. Anton Mates says

    @StilGjenganger,

    Thanks for bothering to keep arguing – I appreciate it. I shall have to answer in instalments, though, to keep the length down.

    No problem. For my part, I can respond only rarely–things are busy this quarter!

    First of all, we are looking only at the biological sex of your body only, not at gender or gender identity.

    Well, we’re looking at both, no? You were saying that “Differences in anatomy and sexual attraction would still make men and women distinct groups with different identities,” which I took to be a claim that gender identity mirrors biological sex.

    And for that reason, while your idea of creating a discriminant function around mutually exclusive subpopulations and then using to divide everyone into “male-ish” and “female-ish” is perfectly feasible, it’s not really what I was asking about. I was wondering what specific aspects of anatomy and sexual attraction you would propose, that could sort people into the social groups of “male” and “female” that we actually have. People don’t wait for a discriminant analysis before constructing an identity, after all!

    Thus, for instance, defining everyone who can bear a child without medical assistance as “female” doesn’t really work. My little brother and my best friend from high school are trans men–they look male, walk male, talk male, dress male, sit male, and use the men’s restroom. But they could bear children if they wanted. So, it’s not child-bearing that makes men and women distinct groups with different identities.

    Again, I’m not arguing that we need to abolish “male” and “female” as descriptors or identities. I identify as male, and I’m perfectly happy for you and Ally and my brother and my friend to do so as well. But our shared maleness isn’t defined by anatomy or orientation.

    Statues do not need a license, but cannot be legally parked at the kerb.

    Pretty sure you do need a license to drive those statues which are also cars…such as parade floats. You can probably park ’em, too, unless they’re too big. Likewise, I would guess that DUKWs are expected to obey car/truck regulations when they’re being used on land, and boat regulations when they’re being used on water.

    Now, certainly, the law often does divvy up objects and people in mutually exclusive ways. You’re a minor in England if you’re under 18, a legal adult if you’re over 18, no argument, the end. But the law can do that precisely because it doesn’t have to match any preexisting natural or culturally-defined boundary. Some people over 18 are, in terms of their actual maturity, still children. Their immaturity does not undo their legal adulthood, but neither does their legal adulthood erase their immaturity.

    But your claim is effectively that everybody is really bisexual

    No. Raging Bee interprets me correctly; my claim is that most people don’t need to make a conscious sex/gender assignment before finding someone attractive. If you’re a straight man, then you tend to find women hot and men not. But you’re not primarily attracted to women because you think “Ah, this is a WOMAN I’m looking at;” you’re attracted to women because women tend to have the appearance and behavior that you like.

    Again, if you get someone’s pants off and are upset because they have the wrong set of genitals, that’s usually because those genitals just don’t turn you on. It’s not because they flip the person into the conceptual category of “the sex/gender I’m not attracted to.”

    I suggested “trans panic” as an exception, because if you’re the sort of person who actually flips out and beats up a date for having the wrong stuff in his/her pants, maybe your libido really does depend on conscious gender judgements.

    Being male, (resp. female) means having a male sex and a male gender and a male gender identity – as is the normal case. When the three do not match we are outside the normal situation

    I think “normal” must mean different things for you and me. I don’t think trans or intersex people are abnormal; they make up a small fraction of the world’s population, but on a normal day I’m still quite likely to encounter one. (Although I may not know it, since lots of people are closeted.)
    There aren’t many Hasidic Jews either, but meeting one doesn’t put me in the Twilight Zone.

    When you are dealing with your colleagues, what matters is the gender, not the sex or the gender identity.

    Hmm, then I must have misunderstood you. I was responding to something you said in a paragraph beginning with “Humanity divides into two distinct sexes,” so I figured you were saying that you knew your colleagues’ biological sex, not just their gender.

    What I do not believe is that we can get to the point where gender is no longer an important variable.

    And I disagree; I think it’s possible. I don’t think we will get to that point, though. Rather than disappearing from Western society, gender appears to be broadening into a multidimensional continuum. (And I’m fine with that.)

    The problem is that what you are proposing is not possible…The ‘tantrummy toddler’ role is not open to adults, for example.

    Well, yeah. I was talking about choosing and shaping a role within the constraints of what’s socially acceptable for anyone to do. It’s not possible to choose the role of “supervillain and crazed arsonist,” but it is possible to mix and match elements from the roles of “woman,” “tough protector” and “ambitious lawyer.”

    Provided your society permits you to do so. Which brings us to:

    People in close, individual relationships can go through the long and slow effort of understanding and adapting to the precise individuality of each person. But it is too much to expect for everyone you might run into at the coffee machine.

    Understanding and accommodating other individuals certainly doesn’t come naturally to everyone, that’s true. But then, lots of abilities don’t come naturally. That’s why we have parents and teachers to help us develop them. In fact, part of training for most social roles is learning how to deal with people outside your niche.

    And at the scale we’ve been talking about on this thread, it really isn’t that difficult. A lot of it’s accomplished simply by asking people about themselves, instead of assuming you already know about them. That can actually make things easier, since you don’t have to memorize a long list of gender norms. Confused over whether surgery is a “male” or “female” job? Don’t worry about it! Just ask that lady at the coffee machine, “So, what do you do? …Surgeon? That’s cool.”

    Gender roles are in fact no more prescriptive than other aspects of social behaviour – they are just special in that we have two (or more) alternative sets.

    They’re not really special in that way either; we’ve had separate prescribed roles for different races, socioeconomic classes, and so forth. Most of those role sets are in the process of fusing together as well, though.

  140. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton 144 (still answering in installments).
    This is making a bit more sense of our disagreements

    No, I do not think that biological sex clearly determines gender, let alone gender identity. There is ample evidence to the contrary. I do say that sex, gender, and gender identity go together in the great majority of cases, so that the statement ‘people can be divided into men and women’ really fits quite well with most people’s experience. Also that with obvious and visible differences in anatomy and function, and with the fact that the majority only seek their sexual partners within one of the groups, the difference is too important to simply ignore. The question ‘which one am I, and what does that mean about who I am’ seems pretty unavoidable to me. Exactly what behaviours and traits are attributed to one or the other gender role is a different kettle of fish. The gender roles are mostly socially set, and therefore infinitely changeable, though I do think that biological differences in nurture, aggression and mating behaviour have enough influence to at least indicate that certain gender role splittings are rather likelier than others. But seeing that men and women form two distinct groups in practice, those groups will tend to be attributed different roles one way or the other.

    I can agree that sexual attraction does not follow from ‘ a conscious sex/gender assignment’ at least to the extent that if I see someone as male and unattractive, my opinion would not change if she showed me that she was listed as female on her passport. But I think that the ‘conscious’ part is beside the point. Sex/gender assignment is generally not conscious. We do not make a decision based on a deliberate probability judgement, or treat people as neuter till we are sure – we simply notice that x is (fe)male and act accordingly. The fact that we see someone as female is part of the whole picture that we get attracted to. So if the hot one lifts up her skirts and has a penis underneath, it is not just that we do not find penises attractive (on the lines of ‘I am really turned off by bushy pubic hair’) but that this is not the (kind of) person we were attracted in the first place. Certainly there will people who continue anyway – because it makes no difference to them who they shag, because they were really attracted to her beautiful mind, because they see can her as female regardless, or because they feel a delicious frisson at doing something perverted. But it is not the general case that the sex of your bedmate does not matter. I see ‘trans panic’ much like the reaction you would get from your (European) invitees when you tell them that the delicious stew they are eating is not made from lamb after all, but from beagle puppies. You can tell them as much as you want that the taste is the same as before, that it is no worse killing puppies than lambs, and that it is perfectly healthy food – they will not take it kindly.

    I was wondering what specific aspects of anatomy and sexual attraction you would propose, that could sort people into the social groups of “male” and “female” that we actually have.

    That is clearly impossible, no matter what you mean by ‘the social groups that we actually have’. The biological sex can be divided quite cleanly into male and female, with ‘undecidable’ (or ‘developmental abnormality’) to take care of the remainder, but that is not any help when we are talking about people who fall in the latter group, or whose gender identity does not match. The gender identity is for practical purposes random – which gender you feel like and why is all about your individual personality. And the gender is a social matter, and ultimately decided by social norms and negotiation. In fact for people that do not have matching sex/gender/identity it is not practical to have an absolute male/female division – it can lead to bizarre consequences like the ‘cotton ceiling’ concept. It makes more sense to say that people are whatever they are, but are treated as male resp. female for a given purpose, and leave it open what to do in other contexts

    More later.

  141. Holms says

    As for Anton, this is what he said:

    trans panic aside, I’m not sure most people even need to sex-categorize the people around them before they select a mate. Hot is hot. If you’re straight, the people you find hot will mostly be of the opposite sex, but you don’t need to consciously sex-classify them to feel the attraction.

    In plain English he seems to be saying that the sex of their bedmates is in itself irrelevant for most people, (‘hot is hot’ whatever is in the pants), except for ‘trans panic’, which is by definition a pathologic condition that needs to be cured. If that does not mean that everybody is effectively bisexual, in their attractions if not I their practice, what does it mean?

    It means attraction is a visceral reaction to appearance, and need not take into account their actual gender identity. For example, a male-identifying person that looks strongly female may easily trigger attraction in people that find women desirable, because the visible evidence says ‘female’ immediately, while the identity is not yet evident. Or hey, how about a pre-op woman born to a male body being wooed by a bunch of heterosexual men who didn’t realise that she still had a penis? One of the worst pieces of shit to ever hit the airwaves, but message was clear: the outward appearance was the determining factor for attraction.

    This is a far cry from saying that all people are bi.

  142. says

    The ‘tantrummy toddler’ role is not open to adults, for example.

    Of course it is. Haven’t you ever heard of the Republican Party?

  143. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 146
    Anton and I both said ‘sex’ – I was being careful, and so, I assume, was he. Sex is about biology. We disagreed (as I understand it) whether sex and gender by themselves mattered for sexual attraction, or whether you just got attracted to a pretty face, and the genitals under the clothes are irrelevant, even once you find out what they are. If he meant that attraction was not primarily determined by the unknown and unknowable identity feelings of the other person, I can only agree with him – well duh!. But I suspect it is not that simple.

    In these debates you do not simplify things by presuming that being male and female is ‘really’ about how you feel inside and everything else is by the by. It is highly counterintuitive for anyone who does not share your politics (and maybe for some of those who do as well).

  144. says

    Sex/gender assignment is generally not conscious. We do not make a decision based on a deliberate probability judgement, or treat people as neuter till we are sure – we simply notice that x is (fe)male and act accordingly.

    Wrong — the sex/gender assignment is indeed conscious, just like every other conscious decision we make based on what we see at a given moment. It’s the conscious mind that thinks things like “lumps on chest, long hair — must be female.” And as Anton said, that’s a separate and distinct mental process from the sexual arousal reaction or lack thereof — THAT is done well below the conscious level, independent of conscious assignments and labeling.

  145. StillGjenganger says

    @Raging 149
    We have different definitions of ‘conscious’ then. I do not make a conscious, logical argument to decide whether someone is male or female – except in the rare cases where I notice that I am in doubt. I just ‘know it’ and behave accordingly. Just like I do not consciously decide that the floor in front of me does not contain a large hole – I just put my foot down and keep walking.

    Anyway, unless you believe that sexual attraction is independent of the actual person we are attracted to, you must admit that I have to know about the ‘lumps on the chest. long hair’, etc. before I become attracted. Why is it a problem then that I know ‘woman’ (or rather ‘attractive woman’) just like I can know ‘attractive’ – without conscious thought?

  146. says

    Actually, yes, those are conscious, rational decisions you are making. The fact that you make them quickly does not make them less conscious; just as your quick and uncomplicated decision to pay for what you want to take from a store, rather than run out with it, is a conscious decision. In all of those cases, you are using knowledge and training you remember consciously, and applying your skills as you learned to apply them. They’re called “conscious” because they’re decisions you make consciously, with awareness of what you’re thinking and what information is informing your decisions.

    If, say, you find yourself jumping over a hole BEFORE you know there’s a hole, that could be considered an unconscious process. Sort of like a fear reaction that precedes your actually knowing what’s causing it and why you should be afraid. But that’s not what happens when you see a person and use visible features to judge his/her sex.

  147. says

    Here’s an example of a person UNconsciously identifying another person’s sex: If I’m facing in a particular direction, and a person gets close to me from behind, I might smell her before I see her, and the smell would both tell me she’s female, and trigger immediate sexual arousal. And such things do happen, but they’re not the norm as far as gender identifications go. And even that isn’t all that unconscious: it’s just another way of determining one’s sex based on things I know about smells. So maybe that’s not that great an example after all…

  148. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton 144
    Then there is the question of roles. The maleness that Ally and, I, your little brother and your friend share is determined by the fact that we conform to the male social role, that we ‘ look male, walk male, talk male, dress male, sit male’ and are permitted/expected by society to use the men’s restroom. Note the ‘permitted/expected’, social roles, being social, are defined and attributed by society. That includes the question how far you can move away from the behaviour (and anatomy) normally associated with maleness and still be accepted as male. My take would be that if you have the anatomy and the gender identity you are unassailable. No one will dispute your gender no matter how much you flout your gender role (and how much they might dislike you as a result). If you do not have the anatomy and also do not follow the role people may well decide not to accept you as belonging to your chosen sex.
    More later

  149. says

    I’m beginning to suspect this debate is pretty much over. StillG’s original idiotic claims, around #111, which several of us were disputing, are not at all reinforced by anything he’s said since; and his recent long rambling comments are just getting more and more vague, and his assertions about the immutability of gender roles are getting more and more qualified under scrutiny, to the point of being effectively abandoned altogether. (Also, comparing people’s gender roles to the differences between trucks and statues is amazingly silly, not to mention literally dehumanizing. Citing photos of parade floats, while amusing, was more response than such nonsense deserved.)

  150. StillGjenganger says

    @Anton. Last one for this round

    Gender roles may not always be limited to two, or strictly defined by biological sex. But without being an anthropologist, I would claim they do have some defining characteristics:
    – Each person has one, stable gender, that is seen as part of his identity.
    – The roles come with defined rules for what behaviour is expected both from and towards the person
    – There are only very few roles, that everybody get to know instinctively as they grow up.
    – The system is strongly correlated with biological sex and reproduction.
    – The gender is signalled by behaviour, clothing etc. so that each person can be classified at a glance.
    Given that, gender functions both as an organising principle for people and their identities, and as a simple way of managing behaviour and interaction with strangers. You classify people without conscious effort and automatically know something about how to deal with them.

    So whatever the entry requirements, gender roles only function when each person gets one, whole package. Changing it to a multidimensional continuum where you are free to choose what gendered behaviour you want that day means abolishing the roles – as roles. The roles no longer fulfil their function – rather like the institution of chivalry is dead as a doornail even if people remain free to buy a horse and prance around with armour and a lance. It may well be that noble/commoner and master/slave distinctions once had more or less the same status, and we are doing quite well without those. And it is certainly both true and positive that gender roles are nowhere near as narrow or prescriptive as they used to be. But I do think that sex/gender distinctions goes rather deeper and is nowhere near as arbitrary.
    As for ‘understanding and accommodating other individuals doesn’t come naturally’ so you just have to learn it, that really is rather sanctimonious of you. Life is much more stressful if the (social) world does not conform to your image of it, if your automatic behaviour is not taken as it is meant, and if other people act in ways that your reflexes find weird and offensive. That is why each society builds up behavioural norms, and why it is rather more stressful living in a foreign country. Getting rid of prescribed roles and stereotypes may make it easier for the minorities that would not fit in, but it also makes life more difficult for those who would have fitted in, if there was still a cognitive system to fit into instead of ‘everyone is different and everyone must be treated as unpredictable and unknown’. Insist on the change if you want, but do not just shrug off the costs.
    Summing up, our difference seems to be that I see the male/female distinction as a natural kind. It reflects something real in the world, it matches roughly to biological sex (which is real) and it fits well with a human tendency to seek identity in groups of people similar to you. You, as I understand it, see the male/female distinction as an arbitrary socially determined differentiation of what is essentially undifferentiated humanity. Either would make for a consistent system I guess. It is a point in your favour that sex, gender and gender identity are not a perfect match – but then nothing to do with humans is ever simple. It is in my favour, I think, that child-bearing, nurture, and mate selection are more fundamental to the human sense of self, and more plausibly linked to hardwired biological differences, than land ownership or work roles. In your model something like sexual orientation, which many see as fundamental to their sense of self, seems to rather weird. Some prefer blondes and some prefer brunettes, but they rarely make much of a song and dance about it and are mostly willing to try the other one too. If sexual orientation is just a matter of ‘some prefer male and some prefer female’ it is rather weird that people attach so much importance to it. In fact we get close to the ‘cotton ceiling’ argument, which is that lesbians ought to be sexually attracted to trans women, who are after all women, and that being repulsed by the mere fact of male genitals is a sign of some psychological weakness.

  151. says

    Given that, gender functions both as an organising principle for people and their identities, and as a simple way of managing behaviour and interaction with strangers. You classify people without conscious effort and automatically know something about how to deal with them.

    This is true to the extent that everyone in a society SAYS it’s true. It’s not an immutable physical law — people in a society can change what they say about such things. Also, sex is not the only way in which we “classify people without conscious effort and automatically know something about how to deal with them.” We also tend to classify people by ethnicity, skin color, economic class, and whatever other characteristics people BELIEVE to be “important” (subject to change without notice). The importance of all of these classifications relative to one another (and what people “automatically” “know” to do in response to them) is dictated by society’s values, not by biology; and all of that can change, and has changed, and is changing, all over the globe.

    Seriously, what you’re saying about sex and gender, is the same thing a lot of bigots — oops, excuse me, “race realists” — say about skin color and race.

    As for ‘understanding and accommodating other individuals doesn’t come naturally’ so you just have to learn it, that really is rather sanctimonious of you.

    Tough shit — it’s a fact, and it’s well known to anyone who at least remembers their own childhood socialization experiences.

    Getting rid of prescribed roles and stereotypes may make it easier for the minorities that would not fit in, but it also makes life more difficult for those who would have fitted in, if there was still a cognitive system to fit into instead of ‘everyone is different and everyone must be treated as unpredictable and unknown’. Insist on the change if you want, but do not just shrug off the costs.

    False dichotomy. Who, here or anywhere else, has ever said “everyone must be treated as unpredictable and unknown?” That does not automatically follow from educating people to understand that people are more complex than the “roles” “assigned” to them.

    Summing up, our difference seems to be that I see the male/female distinction as a natural kind. It reflects something real in the world, it matches roughly to biological sex (which is real) and it fits well with a human tendency to seek identity in groups of people similar to you. You, as I understand it, see the male/female distinction as an arbitrary socially determined differentiation of what is essentially undifferentiated humanity.

    You are misrepresenting this debate. We’re not disputing that the male/female distinction is “natural;” we’re arguing that the “natural” distinction is nowhere near as deterministic as have earlier asserted it is. Just like different skin colors are natural, but deterministic thinking based on such natural differences is bogus.

  152. says

    …I think, that child-bearing, nurture, and mate selection are more fundamental to the human sense of self, and more plausibly linked to hardwired biological differences, than land ownership or work roles.

    ARE they really linked to biology? You seem to believe they are, which is why you keep on repeating it; but you’ve never cited any evidence or scientific authority to back it up. Sorry to repeat myself, but there are people who say exactly the same thing about the “hardwired biological differences” between whites and blacks, which any kid can easily pick out.

    If sexual orientation is just a matter of ‘some prefer male and some prefer female’ it is rather weird that people attach so much importance to it.

    Why do people attach so much importance to their sexual orientation? Because some of us are under attack because of our orientations, and are forced to respond to these attacks. If the bigots would stop making such a big deal out of other people’s private lives (and hopefully stop KILLING PEOPLE over it), maybe the rest of us would be able to relax and say that sexual orientation isn’t that big a deal.

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