Medway, male violence and invisibilisation


There were a couple of words missing from Panorama‘s shockingly brutal exposé of violent malpractice within the G4S-run Medway Secure Training Centre. The same words were missing from pretty much all the newspaper and broadcast media reports that have picked up on the story since last Friday.

Towards the beginning of the documentary, the BBC’s undercover reporter explained that the residents of the children’s prison (by any other name) were officially referred to as “trainees,” but his script did not stick to that designation. At various points throughout  the 30 minute film he referred to the victims of violent assault, bullying and sadism as “teenagers”, “inmates”, “youngsters”, “young people” and  – most frequently – “children.”

You’ll find all of these words and a few more besides in the accompanying reports in the Mirror, the Guardian, the Independent, the Financial Times, the Mail and, as far as I have been able to establish, every other national newspaper that has covered the story.

The words you will not see in descriptions of the victims of the ugly assaults are these: “boys” or “young men.”

As one solitary BBC report has revealed, all 10 of the victims of the attacks caught on camera were male. Since that one initial report, not a single journalist covering the story has either noticed or thought it worth referring to their gender. Medway itself (at the time of its last Ofsted report) held 59 boys and 11 girls, but all of the incidents recorded happened in boys’ units.

One might imagine that in the casual scrabble for synonyms that every writer employs in the working day, a few of them might have hit upon “boys” by accident, but no.

Though it is rarely noted and barely understood, this is an entirely commonplace phenomenon. Last November the Children’s Commissioner published a report into the detention of young people in solitary confinement. The report refers throughout to ‘children’ and the discussion and recommendations were presented to and through the media in strictly gender-neutral terms. Only in the accompanying data section document was it specified that more than 95% of the young people concerned were boys.

What is happening here is that a heavily gendered phenomenon is being denuded of gender, one form of the invisibilisation of vulnerable boys and men. It is remarkably similar to the passive invisibilisation I described in this post, when teenage boys participated in a research study that revealed large minorities of both girls and boys are exposed to violent or abusive behaviour in their relationships. When the study came to be reported in the media, the experiences of the boys simply vanished.

Recall too how official reports into grooming gangs have failed to mention that a significant minority of victims were male, describing them to the media as “girls.” Also remember that the Crown Prosecution Service continues to describe male survivors of child abuse, rape and intimate partner violence as victims of crimes of ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ – even if they have now been forced to tell people that they are doing so while they do it.

This invisibilisation of male gender issues is not merely widespread, it is not even systematic, it is structural. It is the product of a society that struggles to conceive of men and boys when they victims, when they are vulnerable, when they are in need of help.

There will be those who argue that we do not (or should not) perceive the gender in such cases because whatever the reasons these boys or young men were abused or violated, it wasn’t because of their gender. This could not be more wrong.

The bullying and beating of the boys in Medway happened, in large part, because they were male. That is not to say that girls in similar situations do not also face many risks and violations, but the specific offences shown had an inescapably masculine character, even down to taunting and bullying about which football team they support. The violence was macho and hierarchical. It is also essential to understand that at every stage of social alienation and criminalisation, boys are more likely than girls to see a negative outcome.

From birth, boys are more likely to be exposed to physical beatings, more likely to be abandoned by their parents, more likely to be expelled from school, more likely to be put into social services care. When the behaviour of children begins to run out of control, boys are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be given custodial sentences.

Much of this may well be because boys are perpetrating more and more serious violence, more likely to be committing crimes. The lightbulb, however, switches on when one considers the previous paragraph and realises that the reason boys are more likely to be brutes is very largely because boys are more likely to be brutalised.

Panorama showed this, in grainy, flickering, hidden micro-camera footage but it might as well have been in Technicolor widescreen. As the expert commentary wisely noted, the boys emerging from those horrors will not go out into the world rehabilitated and restored, but more angry, bitter and violent than ever.

So alhough it never identified itself as such, Panorama was a programme about male violence, in an entirely literal sense. It was a programme about how male violence is committed and how male violence is condoned, but perhaps even more importantly, it was a programme about how male violence is instilled.

If this is an issue we care about and wish to address, it is not enough to recognise one side of the coin. The first step is as simple as recognising what is happening in front of our eyes.

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    Towards the beginning of the documentary, the BBC’s undercover reporter explained that the residents of the children’s prison (by any other name) were officially referred to as “trainees,” but his script did not stick to that designation. At various points throughout the 30 minute film he referred to the victims of violent assault, bullying and sadism as “teenagers”, “inmates”, “youngsters”, “young people” and – most frequently, “children.”

    So?

    You draw a distinction between “were officially referred to” and “he [the reporter] referred to” as if it were of more than rhetorical significance.

    (The reporter is not an official, is he?)

  2. Ally Fogg says

    The “so” is that pretty much all the reporters involved (so the Panorama reporter but also all those picking up the story) drew upon a whole thesaurus-worth of synonyms to describe the victims here, – youngsters, young people, teenagers, teens, inmates, residents etc – but all of those were gender-neutral.

  3. EigenSprocketUK says

    The official designation was trainees.
    The reporter referred to this strange official designation but he also chose more appropriate terms – inmates, youngsters, children etc.
    So did other reporters.
    Ally pointed out that no-one said boys / young men.

  4. John Morales says

    OK. Thanks, both of you.

    Had Ally written “and” rather than “but” in what I quoted, it would have been clearer to me… but I get the intent now.

  5. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    Assuming that there will be no changes to the system of locking up convicts in the near future and that funding streams will remain similar to that which exist now, what measures could the MOJ/Prison Service take to prevent damaged boys entering a system and emerging as damaged, and damaging, men?

    Quite frankly, the only thing I can think of is zero tolerance of violence and widespread challenging of toxic masculine norms. The former is (to a degree) uncontroversial, the latter will be seized upon by various right-wing fools as “political correctness gone mad.”

    The prison system, like many less harsh systems (schools etc) rewards male violence with a place in unofficial hierarchies.

    I’m not quite sure how best to address this. To quote Ally, it is structural.

    Scum should be required viewing for all prison staff.

  6. Archy says

    It is no surprise to see men and boys largely ignored and treated poorly in reporting of violence against them. The “women and children” mantra, and especially “women and girls” is designed to treat women as the more important victim when there is such a clear lack of disregard for the harms against males.

    When Boko Haram kidnapped 200 girls, the world seemed to lose it and a huge outcry occurred. Yet the media barely mentioned the gendercide that was going on, with targeted killing of men and boys by the very same group in numbers far exceeding 200, one attack had 4-500 reported deaths where males were specifically targeted. Barely had any mention in the media that I saw, no twitter campaign, I don’t recall seeing it on facebook trending. The MRM seemed to mention it a lot but I didn’t see much mention of it by other groups/movements.

    I guess too many in certain circles might be afraid to dilute the empathy of the world to include males, wanting to have near total focus on female issues surrounding violence. I honestly cannot understand it, it’s as if males truly are disposable and worth less. Or maybe the world is collectively so use to males being the victim of violence that many think it is just normal. There really is no excuse to ignore the suffering of male victims, I’d love to know why it happens so often though.

  7. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    There will be those who argue that we do not (or should not) perceive the gender in such cases because whatever the reasons these boys or young men were abused or violated, it wasn’t because of their gender.

    So these boys/young men don’t have a gender? Or does their gender only come into play when it affects someone else (i.e. women?)? Or do boys/young men have to be defined some other way instead (e.g ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity)? Ally, your comment that ‘the specific offences shown had an inescapably masculine character’ goes to the heart of the matter: it’s the specificity of men’s experience that keeps being overlooked when it comes to ‘gender’, not least because it might not fit the model as developed by and through second-wave feminism (see also the responses to Benatar’s The Second Sexism, which I know you’ve written about).

  8. 123454321 says

    “There really is no excuse to ignore the suffering of male victims, I’d love to know why it happens so often though.”

    Early years indoctrination and encouragement to behave in a certain way – a way that has been demonstrated and proved historically to benefit evolutionary progress. It’s hard-wired, instinctual for many. Behavioural instincts are going to be hard to overcome. Today’s world don’t require the same behavioural mechanisms to be instilled at such an early age (be a fighter and protector, die like a man etc.) and those who can see this will begin to vent their frustration as evolution drags its feet. Thank God for the Internet. It will make a big difference for men and boys – eventually. Nice post, Ally.

  9. says

    Are you familiar with the work of Dr Adam Jones?

    What you are describing here, he called displacement. The phenomenon described in the post you linked to is, in his terminology, exclusion. A third invisibilization strategy is incidentalizing, which he defined as “relegat[ing] an important theme to passing mention in the middle reaches of the article, or to introduce it only at the end, is effectively to render it incidental and inconspicuous, if not outright invisible.”

  10. says

    Here is one of my own posts in which I document incidentalizing (along with displacement) in the reportage on another attrocity perpetrated almost entirely against men.

    A brief and unscientific survey of the first few results returned by google shortly after the news broke showed that most did mention the sex of the victims, invariably in a perfunctory sentence well below the lede. For example, it appears in the fifteenth paragraph of this BBC News report7.

  11. Ally Fogg says

    Daran… yes. Jones comes up a lot in the David Benatar book that redpesto mentions earlier.

  12. Ally Fogg says

    Carnation [6]

    I’ll confess I have little faith in the MOJ doing anything on this unless they are dragged kicking and screaming by the rest of society.

    But there are two separate issues, I think. One is the cruelty and abuse towards prisoners (not only the children) which is tacitly endorsed by the system.

    The other is how we, as a society, conceptualise and understand that abuse.

    I am really addressing the latter here, as it feels like something I can do more to influence in my own small way.

  13. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    The treatment of all prisoners is something which is an indicator of the health of a society. One only has to look at America for a potent example.

    The most violent prison on Scotland is Polmont, the male young offenders prison. This is as scandalous as it is unsurprising. Not too far away from Polmont is the Violence Reduction Unit, which has been reducing violence in innovative ways. The VRU is pretty forward thinking in terms of naming and addressing the types of victim and offender (and how often they are interchangeable) frequently found in prisons as children. And the role that DV has in shaping these victims and offenders, and indeed, offending victims.

    But it isn’t an easy conversation and frankly, if you’re a right-wing nutjob/MRA, you won’t be able to understand or comprehend it. But they get results.

  14. H.E. Pennypacker says

    Nice article, Ally.

    I was thinking about why this is and at first I was thinking along the lines of men being seen as the legitimate targets of violence, the less worthy victims. I think it’s one of the classic criticisms of reports that say things like, “100 civilians dead including 30 women and children,” that it seems to suggest the killing of the women and children was less legitimate or more horrific than the killing of 70 civilian men.

    I think this is partly right, but it misses some of what’s happening here. I think the real sticking point is not with recognising that violence happens to men but with recognising men as victims of violence. There’s no problem with recognising the gender of the “brave men who laid down their lives”. In becoming helpless, passive, victims these men or boys somehow forfeit their claim to a male gender, they have to become genderless youngsters, children, bodies, corpses, people, citizens etc.

    This logic is pushed to its absurd conclusion when male victims of sexual or domestic violence become victims of Violence Against Women and Girls. It’s all so very patriarchal.

  15. Marduk says

    This is horrifying, just awful. I pretty much agree with everything said here.

    We shouldn’t privatise stuff like this. When we imprison people, that is something our society is doing, it is at some level an expression of collective will. Somehow we have to stand behind it and take an interest in it of some sort. This isn’t about being soft, its actually about imposing another order of moral gravitas signally lacking at the moment. I’m struggling for the words really but this is a collective thing done with regret, its a serious undertaking. I don’t know how we do this but I do know it doesn’t start with appointing G4S.

    I can’t help but in part read some of the reporting on this issue as conditioned by that and written not in the language of a society expressing horror at something done tacitly in our names but rather as a technical failure of a business counter-party against contract.

  16. 123454321 says

    Every single one of you who actively encourage ‘Ladies first’ is contributing towards gender differentiation, in a subtle but powerful way. It compounds the notion that women are to be treated in the same way as children. If I were a woman, I would find it deeply offensive and patronising because I would prefer to be treated as an adult. I recognise there are two things going on here: Firstly, the general association amongst women and girls, when presented with this (mostly male) offering, is an association with being protected and cared for, which is nice. This fits with the evolution as historically no one can deny that the male was the protector of the vulnerable and this was a much needed strategy as humans evolved. The second reason is simple. It appears that men are desperate to look good in comparison with other men who they unconsciously see as a potential challenge and are thus programmed to, if not armed with a sword, find other ways to denigrate and possible belittle his fellow males by controlling the situation in order to look great in front of females. So when you’re queuing for food and someone suggests ‘Ladies first’ he/she has been programmed to behave like this and usually has no clue how they are contributing towards an uneven playing field of differentiation. They think they are being nice to women but at the same time knowingly unfair to men. But they don’t give a shit. Bit like the newsflashes H.E. Pennypacker spoke of above. No one is programmed to give a shit about men, only women. Sad.

    Ally – can you please, please watch that pile of shit of a programme on BBC1 at 10:45 last night and write a post about it because watching that made me agree with Carny (shock, horror) about certain MRAs but the programme was completely focussed on making men look like complete shits and hardly focussed at all on broadcasting more critical men’s issues. Neither did they focus on the actions of rad-fems which made the entire programme typically biased. No mention of feminist threats, anger online etc. just knobhead men who don’t represent the majority. Typical BBC/media bullshit and refusal to look at men’s issues in any seriousness. Absolute drivel which will only fuel the anger.

  17. That Guy says

    Strongly agree with H.E @15

    I think the heart of the matter is that society sees ‘boys’ and especially ‘young men’ as incompatible with victimhood or sympathy.

    In a weird way, I think this is probably why the words were avoided, to provide sympathetic coverage of these incidents- as describing the victims as “boys” or “young men” would be seen to promote the (wrong) attitude that they were probably just being little assholes who were in need of a good thrashing and a spell in the national service etc etc….

    Like all problems, ignoring it only makes it worse, as this association becomes more deeply ingrained in our culture.

  18. B-Lar says

    Recently I have been reading various online commentary about another situation, where reproductive advice and service clinics are referring to “people who are pregnant” (and variations thereof) instead of “women” in order to be more inclusive. A great many commenters on this network have argued that this is right and proper, that even if 99.9% of those who are affected by efforts to restrict abortion access are women (in the traditional sense) we should still be inclusive of the 0.1% in our language.

    I can appreciate the differences in these two examples, but would it not be be the case that if you only used the masculine to refer to these, it would erase the abuse suffered by girls within the system?

  19. Ally Fogg says

    12345…

    I saw that Reggie Yates thing when it was on BBC3 first time around. I didn’t think it was great, but won’t be wasting any of my time and energy on it.

    I think its principle problem was that it set out to investigate online antifeminism as a single phenomenon, and online antifeminists as a single group. It’s the same kind of thing as when Elliot Rodger was being described as an MRA by people who did not understand or care about the distinctions between MRM, PUAs, GamerGaters etc etc etc, it is all just a mass of ‘the manosphere’ and the terms are interchangeable.

    But I won’t be writing any missives of complaint because all of those groupings – including the more politically-conscious MRM types have such an appalling history of condoning vile misogyny, they’ve said or shared so many repulsive things that to be honest they’ve brought it on themselves.

    Whether we are talking about the likes of Roosh V, AVfM, J4MB or whatever else, it is too easy to lump them all together as a bunch of repulsive misogynists because all of them have a long and horrible history of repulsive misogyny. You cannot give houseroom to those kinds of shit and then complain when called out on it.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    B-Lar [19]

    I can appreciate the differences in these two examples, but would it not be be the case that if you only used the masculine to refer to these, it would erase the abuse suffered by girls within the system?

    I don’t want to get too deeply into it because it is incredibly complex, but I’m not totally on board with things like referring to “pregnant people.” I’m much more interested in being gender inclusive than gender neutral, which in the case you raise would involve talking about ‘pregnant women and/or trans men.’

    Although in the case we are discussing, it is not really relevant because 100% of the victims were male, so it is actually perfectly accurate to call them boys or young men.

    But if you are talking in general terms about abuse within the juvenile detention system, I would wholeheartedly support using gender inclusive language that acknowledges that both boys and girls are affected. However it is important that we do not do so in such a way that we strip gender issues away altogether. So the kind of terminology I would like to see would acknowledge the gender of those involved (and the significance of that) when talking about girls and/or boys, as opposed to the current practice where the issues are gendered if they involve girls but not if they involve boys.

  21. B-Lar says

    Ally [21]

    Ah, so. Yes, in this particular case where 100% of the subjects are young/adolescent males (in both terms of sex and gender) then “boys” is the ideal descriptor.

    Furthermore, I like your distinction between language used inclusively vs neutrally here. That’s the clearest and most balanced position that I have seen written…

    PS, please write more! Your (written) voice is one that I appreciate greatly, and I am often disappointed that I visit FTB and there is no new HetPat post… But I suppose I would prefer quality over quantity if I cannot have both…

  22. Adiabat says

    B-Lar (19): Agreed, I thought the same when I read the OP and was about to make the same point about how it might hide female victims. “Gendering” a certain type of violence often results in hiding the victims and perpetrators that are not of that gender.

    We’ve seen this in action over the past 30 years in DV research, and even longer with the difficulty faced in getting men recognised as victims of rape, doubly so for when the perpetrator is female.

  23. Adiabat says

    Oops, that’ll teach me to refresh before posting. 🙂

    Agreed that in specific situations where all the victims are boys it’s fine to refer to them as boys. But saying that they received a ‘masculine form of violence’ is where female victims and perpetrators end up getting hidden in the general case.

  24. Carnation says

    @ Ally & others

    I think that the ill treatment of male prisoners (or men & boys), by staff and other prisoners is one of the bluntest forms of patriarchal misandry (great phrase, Ally).

    Female prisoners would be highly unlikely to be beaten in a similar manner by male staff (whilst of course victimised in other ways), for a variety of reasons, but definitely in part because it simply isn’t “manly” for men to beat girls. The converse of this is also generally true: male prisoners don’t attack female prison staff as often as they attack male staff, or other prisoners.

  25. WineEM says

    Ally I was just about to congratulate you on the (in my view) very excellent piece above, but this just took my breath away with its utter nonsense:

    But I won’t be writing any missives of complaint because all of those groupings – including the more politically-conscious MRM types have such an appalling history of condoning vile misogyny, they’ve said or shared so many repulsive things that to be honest they’ve brought it on themselves.
    Whether we are talking about the likes of Roosh V, AVfM, J4MB or whatever else, it is too easy to lump them all together as a bunch of repulsive misogynists because all of them have a long and horrible history of repulsive misogyny. You cannot give houseroom to those kinds of shit and then complain when called out on it.

    You and I both know that anti-feminism online goes much, much wider than the ‘manosphere’. (For one thing, a good 60/70% of comments BTL on broadsheet newspaper sites would be classed as ‘antifeminist’ in nature, whenever issues regarding feminism are discussed. And yet most of these people, often angry as they are, are not active in the MRM at all).

    In addition, since the British Broadcasting Corporation consistently breaks its own agreement by actively and self-consciously promoting feminism through its channels, the very least it should do is to give anti-feminism and anti-feminists a fair hearing. (I mean just yesterday, Jo Coburn finished a discussion about feminism being taught in the curriculum by turning to Melanie Phillips, and saying “we’re all feminists now, aren’t we?” No, actually, we are not, and it’s not for the BBC to tell us what most people do or ought to think in this respect.
    A fair hearing would have involved some research and exploration into the legitimate grievances that many people have with feminism and its influence on society and social policy. (Even you have acknowledged that it can sometimes have pernicious effects on areas like government domestic violence strategy, for example).
    To add insult to injury, the filmmakers have been using spurious copyright claims to wipe unfavourable video responses to the broadcast: –

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EyudIDMAQU

    I’m sorry, Ally, this is just bullying, short and simple. I really wish the liberal establishment in this country could be a force for good, but increasingly it’s just becoming like the Fox News of the left.

  26. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    “In addition, since the British Broadcasting Corporation consistently breaks its own agreement by actively and self-consciously promoting feminism through its channels, the very least it should do is to give anti-feminism and anti-feminists a fair hearing. ”

    Melanie Phillips, a fierce anti-feminist (and favoured journalist of the EDL) has been on Question Time nine times (The only non-politician with as many as nine appearances is Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips.)

    “You and I both know that anti-feminism online goes much, much wider than the ‘manosphere’. (For one thing, a good 60/70% of comments BTL on broadsheet newspaper sites would be classed as ‘antifeminist’ in nature, whenever issues regarding feminism are discussed. And yet most of these people, often angry as they are, are not active in the MRM at all).”

    Well, unpleasant anonymous commenters like to leave unpleasant comments anonymously. Trolls will troll anything or anyone to get a reaction. The “manosphere” is indistinguishable from other unpleasant right-wing trolls in that it is a rancid echo chamber of reactionaries, stewing in a weird mix of impotence, rage and faux collective camaraderie.

    Thankfully for humanity and progressives, BTL commenters are ineffectual, they achieve nothing.

  27. B-Lar says

    WineEM [26]

    Do you call out anti-feminists online for bullying, or do you only do that in pro-feminist threads?

    Any “legitimate grievances” that the MRM might have with feminism are being shouted over by the disgusting behaviour of the various flavours of anti-feminists. The MRM proper would get (or at least deserve) a much fairer hearing when they actively disassociate from such shallow thinkers.

    That day will come eventually, but it is not today. MRAs are still blaming women for making them look bad by highlighting instances of their own appalling behaviour. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so depressingly self defeating.

    FYI, I am a man, who wishes that we had a strong MRM, but recognise that we cant actually have one until men stop listening to regressive anti-feminists generally. Have you stopped listening to regressive anti-feminists yet? If not, you are part of the problem that you are trying to fob off on feminists.

  28. Carnation says

    @ B-Lar

    The problem is that anti-feminists are almost always crude misogynists. Theirs is not a supportive philosophy of helping men, it is essentially (badly) organised hating on an interchangeable scapegoat (feminism/women/multiculturalism).

    Such unfortunates can’t be taken seriously. All it takes to become a leading light in the MRM is to use your actual name. That’s it, really. Oh, and hate on women.

    Mike Buchanan gets a bit of air-time, but basically as an object of ridicule.

    Gawd bless him. How are you, Mike?

  29. WineEM says

    The basic problem, here, is that feminism has become a very dominant feature in the media but then also a very dominant strand of thought in politics as well. Which rather leaves a question as to who watches the watchers, and who guards the guardians?

    Ally’s piece above is a very good example of this. The media (especially the BBC) have been very active in taking a specific interest in women’s conditions in prisons, whilst apparently having no awareness or interest about the gender-specific problems relating to men.

    This ties in with a government agenda which has elevated the reform of conditions for women into a priority over and above change for men.

    Money is one thing, but we have very deliberate institutional discrimination against men, which is entirely avoidable. Phillip Davies, for example, recently cited the fact that men automatically have to wear prison uniforms upon entering jail, whereas women do not. Fathers have to earn visiting rights for their children as a ‘privilege’, while women do not. These things are deliberately dehumanising. Davies actually raised the thing about uniforms with feminist prisons minister, Caroline Dinenage, and her answer basically amounted to saying that she didn’t give a damn about it. This is where we are right now.

  30. B-Lar says

    Carnation[30]

    Yes, and that is the take-home point on this tangent… I consider our Ally to be worth 1000 Mike Buchanans because you can see how he (Ally) takes great pains to view complex social problems from multiple perspectives. Mike, by contrast, seems to want to bash empty straw piñatas and have us admire his bravery for willing to do so openly.

    We wont get the MRM we want until we have more “Allys” in play than we have “Mikes”… As it stands we have more “Mikes” than “Allys” and thus we have the MRM that we deserve

  31. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    Your comments are basically a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the MRM:

    “Phillip Davies, for example, recently cited the fact that men automatically have to wear prison uniforms upon entering jail, whereas women do not.”

    This is an injustice. So, do you want women to automatically wear prison uniforms, or do you want nobody to? Or maybe just sentenced prisoners, rather than remand? Or, and be honest, do you only care about this issue because it gives you an example of men being unfairly treated?

    “Fathers have to earn visiting rights for their children as a ‘privilege’, while women do not.”

    No, that is absolute rubbish. It’s a myth peddled by idiots like F4J.

    “These things are deliberately dehumanising. Davies actually raised the thing about uniforms with feminist prisons minister, Caroline Dinenage, and her answer basically amounted to saying that she didn’t give a damn about it.”

    Do you have any examples of Dinenage’s feminist policies being enacted?

    “This is where we are right now.”

    That’s where your overactive imagination is right now. The real world is very, very different.

    A five minute series of Google searches debunks most MRA theory. It’s really very, very pathetic.

  32. Ally Fogg says

    Just a brief reminder to everyone (self included) about keeping on topic and observing the Hetpat first directive!

    Thanks

  33. WineEM says

    ‘No, that is absolute rubbish. It’s a myth peddled by idiots like F4J’

    Erm, Carnation:

    https://twitter.com/AllyFogg/status/673100138286587904

    BTW, Caroline Dinenage is ‘Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice’, you would have thought she would have something constructive to say about men having to wear uniforms in prisons while women do not, but this is the position HM government have put themselves in. They are happy to proscribe the ‘sexist’ language of cowboy films in the playground, whilst enacting the grossest of discrimination themselves. It’s absurd.

  34. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    When you wrote ““Fathers have to earn visiting rights for their children as a ‘privilege’, while women do not.” I assumed, not unreasonably, that you were trotting out the oft repeated MRA myth that loving, caring, capable fathers have their parental rights denied to them. But it seems that you meant visiting rights in prison.

    You haven’t given any examples of Dinenage’s feminist policies.

  35. WineEM says

    Carnation, her interests are spelled out on her “gov.uk page”, which absolutely sums up with all that is going wrong here, (and in the way that Ally has alluded to in this piece): –

    https://www.gov.uk/government/people/caroline-dinenage

    Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice
    MOJ responsibilities include:

    family justice and mediation (including Cafcass)
    female offenders
    mental health
    mental capacity (including Office of the Public Guardian)
    criminal offences gateway
    coroners, burials, cremation and inquiries policy
    equalities
    Women and Equalities responsibilities include:

    women and the economy, including women on boards and reducing the gender pay gap
    challenging cultural stereotypes
    stopping violence against women and girls
    domestic, international and EU commitments on equality including the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
    supporting the Secretary of State on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) policy

    The government’s agenda is simply not designed to include men – it is not accidental by any means at all.

  36. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    Yes, and they were going to create a Big Society, a green economy and an economic powerhouse on “the North” – none of it has happened.

    So I’ll ask, again, where are her feminist policies?

    I’ll give you a hint, they don’t exist. No shame in acknowledging that you were wrong.

    A more interesting discussion is what can we use from feminist academic studies and activism to improve male prisoner’s lives (and therefore wider society).

  37. Lucy says

    So basically, you want to refer to the victims of

    abuse of underage prostitutes (mostly female) as young people.
    abuse of underage criminals (mostly male) as boys.

  38. H.E. Pennypacker says

    @ 123454321

    No one is programmed to give a shit about men, only women.

    I couldn’t quite tell from the context whether you were saying we’re programmed not to give a shit about men in general or if we’re programmed not to care about men as victims. Just to be clear–because you were agreeing with my post when you said this–I think our society does give a shit about men. We clearly, overall, celebrate the achievements of males more than we do females and, in my opinion, this is intimately bound up with the fact we have trouble seeing male victims. As I stated in my post this is all very patriarchal and not about men having it “worse” than women (or vice versa).

  39. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #30:

    The problem is that anti-feminists are almost always crude misogynists.

    Can you name one anti-feminist who is not a crude misogynist ? Or, to put it another way, do you think it is logically possible to oppose modern feminism without simultaneously hating women; and if so, what would such opposition look like ?

  40. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    Erm… Melanie Phillips? She’s relatively sophisticated.

    I think your question is too vague. Oppose what about modern feminism? The activism it does for vulnerable women? The academic discipline? The cringey blogs? The attention seeking columnists?

  41. 123454321 says

    “I couldn’t quite tell from the context whether you were saying we’re programmed not to give a shit about men in general or if we’re programmed not to care about men as victims.”

    Both. Historically, men were considered to be expendable (war, hunter/gatherers). This has now manifested itself in today’s society by rendering men invisible as potential victims whilst remaining open and fine with the predetermined conceptualisation that men can be exposed and blamed for anything associated with wrongdoing. People are accustomed to this notion and act accordingly. They are programmed to not give a shit about men, only women and children (proof via media newsflashes). This belief is literally hard-wired into our brains and it’s only the flexible thinkers out there – those who recognise that adjustment and change is desperately needed – who want to help drive change – most will never give a shit, regardless. It will take all sorts of people like Ally (and Mike Buchanan), using various forms of leverage, coming from different angles, using a plethora of various techniques before the message reaches enough people to make a difference and we begin to see some results for men and boys. You can all argue ’til the cows come home about who has the best methodology but you’re wasting your fucking time at the same time as not wasting your time because the main thing is getting people talking about cultural adjustment in order to create a better world for EVERYONE, not just women and children!!!. So as long as people are speaking out and complaining until their throats (or fingertips) are sore, it’s fine by me. Maybe Ally and Mike should go out and get pissed together and they’d soon realise they’re fighting exactly the same battle from different corners of the field. It will take all sorts before negotiation strikes a balance.

  42. Lucythoughts says

    # 15 “In becoming helpless, passive, victims these men or boys somehow forfeit their claim to a male gender, they have to become genderless youngsters, children, bodies, corpses, people, citizens etc.”

    I think this is a really good point. Male victims of violence aren’t just de-gendered because people don’t care about them or think they have it coming (although they often do), there is a deeper problem which is that to be a male victim is to be emasculated; it cuts against the fundamental concept of masculinity as strong, resilient, independent and above all, dignified. Female victims don’t loose their femininity as a result of being victimised; we can think “oh poor girl, what a horrible thing to have happened to you” and still think of them as the same person afterwards, but with male victims, we see their masculinity as tainted and feel a reflected shame. People seem to cope with it either by politely looking the other way, or in the worse cases, making it a joke.

    I wonder whether there is a parallel with sexual crimes against women in certain countries where chastity is seen as a fundamental of femininity, with the result that the crimes are routinely hidden and almost never prosecuted. When the core values of your gender identity have been damaged by the nature of your victimhood, it is easier for society to hide you away than confront the stigma and deal with the problems.

  43. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “Maybe Ally and Mike should go out and get pissed together and they’d soon realise they’re fighting exactly the same battle from different corners of the field.”

    Mike is an admirer of Thatcher and a supporter of UKIP. Thatcher/UKIP policies did/could do more to marginalise and damage men than basically any other politician or party.

    Mike, Thatcher and UKIP are free market reactionaries. Ally is not. Mike and him aren’t even in the same political world, let alone the same field.

  44. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #42:

    Erm… Melanie Phillips? She’s relatively sophisticated.
    I think your question is too vague. Oppose what about modern feminism? The activism it does for vulnerable women? The academic discipline? The cringey blogs? The attention seeking columnists?

    Thanks, I have never heard of Melanie Phillips before, but I’ll Google her.

    You bring up good questions, and I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few:

    * “The activism [modern feminism] does for vulnerable women”: that depends on the manner of activism, but in general, I think you could find some people who oppose the methods of modern feminists, if not their goals. Actually, IIRC Ally mentioned something in the past about British feminists shutting down men’s shelters, so that’s one example of a feminist goal that I would personally oppose (*).
    * “The academic discipline”: absolutely. There are at least a few academics I know of who oppose feminism in this way; would you classify them all as misogynist ?
    * “The cringey blogs? The attention seeking columnists?”: this entirely depends on which blogs and columnists you classify as “cringey”. As far as I understand, places such as Salon and Jezebel are fairly mainstream, but perhaps I’m wrong in this ?

    It’s sort of difficult for me to narrow down this question, because you said that “anti-feminists are almost always crude misogynists”, but you didn’t specify which anti-feminists you are referring to. You seem to be equating anti-feminism with MRM, but there are plenty of people who are opposed to both of these movements (since, as far as I understand, the MRM in general is a very small radical minority).

    (*) In general, the more I read this blog, the more Dickensian my impression of Britain becomes. Shutting down men’s shelters ? Creating privatized prisons for children ? What next, indentured servitude ?

  45. Holms says

    #39 LucySo basically, you want to refer to the victims of

    abuse of underage prostitutes (mostly female) as young people.
    abuse of underage criminals (mostly male) as boys.

    Say rather that the victims of

    abuse of underage prostitutes can be characterised as mostly, but not unanimously, female.
    abuse of underage criminals can be characterised as mostly, but not unanimously, male.
    this particular incident, the ‘Medway’ abuse revelation, as being unanimously male. Because the victims of this particular event are literally 100% male.

    (Your dishonesty is showing agian.)

  46. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    TBC, but I can’t recall a single incident of “feminists” shutting down a shelter for men.

    Deep and wild paranoia is a hallmark of anti-feminism, so plenty gets blamed on the mythical and all-powerful feminists. Indeed, I believe Mike Buchanan and Melanie Phillips claim (unnamed) feminists have infiltrated the government to wage a war on men.

    Can you think of a single anti-feminist who isn’t a crude misogynist?

  47. 123454321 says

    “Ally is not. Mike and him aren’t even in the same political world, let alone the same field.”

    Which is exactly why I don’t do politics. We’re all living in the same world, Carny, hanging in space, billions of light years away, completely remote. Let’s fuck the internal politics and pull together. Politics is about greed, exploitation and fighting for supremacy. Time to put it politics aside and drive through positive change for EVERYONE regardless of their political orientation. What s stupid hurdle to put in front of oneself! Break down these barriers instead.

  48. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #48:

    TBC, but I can’t recall a single incident of “feminists” shutting down a shelter for men.

    Ally writes a little bit about this here, but this isn’t the specific article I was looking for. I found a similar one through a random Google search.

    Can you think of a single anti-feminist who isn’t a crude misogynist?

    I can think of at least four off the top of my head, but the problem is that I don’t know what your criteria for “crude misogynist” are. This is why I asked you my original question, in fact.

    As far as I understand, many (if not most) modern feminists simply equate anti-feminism with misogyny. For example, Aron Ra famously claimed that “either you’re a feminist, or you’re a sexist”. If that is his criterion, then obviously the number of anti-feminists who are not “crude misogynists” is zero by his definition (unless maybe we want to divide people into “crude misogynists” and “sophisticated misogynists” or something, but I don’t see why we would) . Clearly you have something else in mind, but you still haven’t really described how you decide who is a “crude misogynist” and who isn’t.

    I agree that people who literally believe in some shadowy cabal of “mythical and all-powerful feminists” may be classified as “misogynists”, but a). I don’t know of anyone who actually believes that (IIRC from reading his interviews, Mike Buchanan believes that feminism is a structure of systemic oppression rather than an explicit conspiracy), and b). I think such people, if they exist at all, would be more accurately described as “kooks”. They don’t hate all women, they just hate the feminist lizard overlords or whatever, just like all the other conspiracy theorists.

  49. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “Politics is about greed, exploitation and fighting for supremacy”

    No, *some* politics is all about that. The type espoused by Mike B et al

    @ Bugmaster

    “I can think of at least four off the top of my head” – well, who are they?

    For the sake of this discussion, let’s define an anti-feminist as someone whose core/main belief and/or political activity is criticising/protesting about feminism.

    I suspect you’re attempting some type of “gotcha”, which won’t work. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Most people critical of feminism BTL are the same types of ill-informed buffoons who like to believe the “PC brigade” are trying to ban Christmas, piggy banks etc. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of outrage for the keyboard warriors of the world – deluded interpretations of feminism provide them with an outlet. It some ways, I guess it’s healthy.

  50. 123454321 says

    “Most people critical of feminism BTL are the same types of ill-informed buffoons who like to believe the “PC brigade” are trying to ban Christmas, piggy banks etc. ”

    Just love the way you make these uncredible associations by aligning people who don’t agree with your strategic path (which is a road to nowhere, by the way) with negativity and snark. You really know how to wind people up and that is one thing you can certainly be proud of. People who are critical of feminism (or feminists) are invariably calling out – each using their own style – what they see as gender discrimination (coercive dv posters, BBC Medway terminology…whatever). It’s really that simple, and you’ll find that people will continue to call this behaviour out and find a label for it other than “patriarchy” because people are realising that ‘patriarchy’ is a negative modern-day blame culture manifestation dreamt up by people who prioritise the needs of women above those of men – usually feminists! So regardless of how much effort you put in to try and stop people talking, I’m afraid they will relentlessly continue because they are cottoning onto just how damaging our culture has become to men and boys. A culture of blaming men and boys for everything and rendering them invisible as victims only differentiates the sexes in negative ways leading to never-ending polarisation, and is nothing less than old-fashioned, archaic, cave era segregation. It’s no wonder that young men, who literally have no respect entitlement from their own society, are ending up in prison. Give them some fucking respect and attention and the world will become a better place for women and children by de facto. If you can’t see that you need your head looking at to check for rotten, man-hating, or feminist-indoctrinated brain cells.

  51. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “If you can’t see that you need your head looking at to check for rotten, man-hating, or feminist-indoctrinated brain cells.”

    You are extremely unimpressive. Continue on the other thread if you like, not here.

  52. AJ says

    “What is happening here is that a heavily gendered phenomenon is being denuded of gender, one form of the invisibilisation of vulnerable boys and men.”

    I think this understates the problem, violence is a problem the majority of victims of which are men but society takes a gendered stance focussing on the violence against women. It is not that a gendered problem taht disadvanatges men is treated neutrally it is that it is treated as a gendered problem for women and men ar emore or less ignored. VAWG is teh classic example but the media reporting on the violence against civilians in war is another. Male victims predominate but the focus is entirely on women victims.

    I do not think the comments about MRMs and anti-feminists are very helpful paticularily labelling people as misogynists.
    The term seems to be used for anyone who disgarees with a feminist’s believes about gender and society.

    My interest in gender related issues apart from a general view in favour of equality and that women were generally disadvantaged in society was when I saw an article in the New Statesman reporting on changes in live expectancy for men and women. It had gone up for both but the advantage women had over men had decreased slightly. The article headline and content was that this was a failure of the NHS towards women that was unacceptable and should be adressed with more resources directed towards womens health. A short comment by me that this was a strange way of looking at a situation were men and womens health had both improved and that the disadvantaged group had seen a larger improvement was met by a series of statements that I was misogynist. If you can be accused of misogyny because you think that a goal of health polciy should be to increase life expectanyc for everyone an dnot to maintain an advanatge for women then it is clear that it iss a term used to bully and maintain female advantage and almost empty of meaning.

    A problem is that it is simply not accepted in the mainstream that men can be disadvantaged as men. ANyone who saysthis does tend to be labelled as misogynist as a silencing technique and I do nto think it is a good idea to assist in this.

    I do not agree with Mike Buchanan’s politics or tactics ( whiny feminist of the month!) but has he shown any indication at all of being misogynistic? He critcises men and women who’s views he disagrees with and praises men and women who he agrees with. WHat makes him misogynistic beyond disagreeing with people who describe themselves as feminsit?

  53. 123454321 says

    “A short comment by me that this was a strange way of looking at a situation were men and womens health had both improved and that the disadvantaged group had seen a larger improvement was met by a series of statements that I was misogynist. ”

    Your journey begins. It gets harder.

    “ANyone who saysthis does tend to be labelled as misogynist as a silencing technique and I do nto think it is a good idea to assist in this.”

    Take this to the open thread and watch Carny’s head detonate in virtual cyberspace as he defensively conjures up in desperation an explanation for silencing you.

  54. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #51:

    For the sake of this discussion, let’s define an anti-feminist as someone whose core/main belief and/or political activity is criticising/protesting about feminism.

    This is a bit more hard-core than what I was thinking (which is something more along the lines of “anyone who opposes feminism in its current form”), but I’m happy to use your definition. But you still have not answered my question: how do you determine which anti-feminists are “misogynist” ? I understand that the dictionary definition is, basically, “someone who hates women”; but a). no one (outside of the conspiracy kook community, maybe) is going to come out and unironically say, “I hat women, grrrr”, so we need some other criterion; and b). feminists don’t always use dictionary definitions of words (which is perfectly sensible, since every discipline has its jargon), and I want to clear up any misunderstandings before they arise.

    I understand that you want me to start pointing fingers at specific people, but I don’t want to end up in a situation where I say, “Person X is a sensible anti-feminist”, and you reply, “A-ha ! I knew it ! Person X is the worst misogynist of all !”, without us both agreeing on what that means.

    So, again, what criteria (generally speaking) do you use to determine whether any given anti-feminist is a misogynist or not ?

  55. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    “This is a bit more hard-core than what I was thinking (which is something more along the lines of “anyone who opposes feminism in its current form”)”

    What you were thinking would require a serious breakdown of what constitutes feminism in its current form, would it not? The simple fact is that most anti-feminists don’t actually know anything about feminism/feminisms – they instead are informed by lunatic fringe blogs and a mostly hostile right-wing media.

    So let’s move on to your next question: “So, again, what criteria (generally speaking) do you use to determine whether any given anti-feminist is a misogynist or not ?”

    Now, this is actually quite a good an interesting question. Let me address it by first of all talking about something related but slightly off-topic. It is not quite clear that many hundreds of appalling and terrifying assaults, many of them sexual, were carried out by organised gangs of men who were of non-European backgrounds against women in Germany. Huge numbers of people will be rightly very concerned. Many of them will be racist, and for some their racism will be a defining part of their core identity. Many will be anti-racist but still very, very concerned about such men and their related sub-cultures being part of German society. Racists will employ confirmation bias, non and anti-racists will employ nuance and rationality.

    Getting back to what we are talking about, here are some criteria I would use to determine whether or not a person is a misogynist is a/ whether they believe/espouse negative stereotypes about women as a class b/ whether they infantalise women c/ whether they take obvious pleasure in women being maligned/mistreated c/ whether they in fact treat females as a homogeneous group d/ whether they were part of/supported the “manosphere.”

    Many people are sexist, men and women, against men and women, sexism is related to misogyny – but I would posit that most sexists (against women) aren’t misogynists. And people can use very misogynistic language whilst not perhaps being very misogynistic people (Stephen Fry, for example).

    In terms of this blog and what is discussed within, I would say that anyone who supports or endorses MRA blogs supports or endorses organised and explicit misogyny. That makes them either misogynistic or extremely stupid, or both. Mike Buchanan supports blatantly misogynistic policies but then again, many right-wing people do, too. Nick Langford, on this blog, was a rare example of someone that I thought was ill-informed but whose anti-feminism was *not* driven by a fear or loathing of women as a class. I would also say that the commentator Paul was the same.

    Generally speaking, if someone stridently identifies as an anti-feminist, I will assume that they are one, several or all of the following: stupid, misogynistic, immature, ill-informed, scape-goat seeking, right-wing. I cannot think of many cases where I have been wrong.

    Now, which anti–feminists do you think are, and are not, misogynistic?

  56. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #57:
    Your post was very informative, and there’s quite a lot there to talk about; I’ll do my best to address your points, but if miss something, please let me know.

    The simple fact is that most anti-feminists don’t actually know anything about feminism/feminisms – they instead are informed by lunatic fringe blogs and a mostly hostile right-wing media.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but this is pretty much a “no true feminist” fallacy. It’s not unique to feminism, either. For example, Christians would often say, “Christianity is all about love and equality, those gay-bashers are not true Christians”; Muslims would say “Islam is a religion of peace”; and so on. But the problem is, there’s no official Feminist Pope, so there’s no way of definitively determining who is a true feminist and who isn’t. From my perspective, anyone who identifies as a feminist, and follows most of the tenets of feminism, is a feminist — in the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church are Christians, just for example. I’d be happy to talk about your preferred brand of feminism specifically, but neither you nor anyone else has the authority to declare that your version is right and everyone else’s is wrong.

    Moving on to your criteria:

    a). “Whether they believe/espouse negative stereotypes about women as a class”: I think that most anti-feminists would reject the notion of viewing women as a “class”; in fact, being anti-feminists, they would likely reject that entire branch of feminist theory. I think a weaker statement, something like “they believe that women are inferior to men”, would make more sense.

    b). “Whether they infantalise women”: What do you mean by “infantilize” ? I was very surprised to read this point, because one of the (many) reasons I personally reject modern feminism is its depiction of women as weaker beings who lack agency, and must therefore be protected from the harsh reality that men, being stronger, are somehow able to endure. But it’s entirely possible that the word “infantilize” means something else in this context — can you clarify ?

    c). “Whether they take obvious pleasure in women being maligned/mistreated”: no argument there, anyone who does this on a regular basis is definitely a misogynist.

    c2). “Whether they in fact treat females as a homogeneous group”: again, I am surprised to hear this point from you — isn’t this the entire point of describing women as a “class” ? This tendency to break up people into homogeneous groups based on some criterion outside of their individual control (e.g. gender, race, etc.) is another one of the reasons I do not support modern feminism (and social justice in general). That said, I don’t think that doing so necessarily makes the person a bigot, just a poor critical thinker.

    d). “Whether they were part of/supported the “manosphere”: This is just the fallacy of poisoning the well. I was once a member of the Communist Party (by default, as was pretty much everyone else in my home country); does this make me a Communist spy ? If a member of the “manosphere” (whatever that is) told you that he loves kittens, does that mean that kittens are evil ? But then, you follow up by saying, “I would say that anyone who supports or endorses MRA blogs supports or endorses organised and explicit misogyny”, but then bring up several commenters (Paul, Nick Langford) as people who support MRA points and yet are not misogynist, so I’m pretty sure we can drop this criterion.

    Generally speaking, if someone stridently identifies as an anti-feminist, I will assume that they are one, several or all of the following: stupid, misogynistic, immature, ill-informed, scape-goat seeking, right-wing.

    Well, I personally I identify as an anti-feminist (I didn’t use to in the past, but have begun to do so after educating myself on feminist literature), and I’m at least two of those things, so we’re off to a good start !

    Now, which anti–feminists do you think are, and are not, misogynistic?

    I was actually going to bring up Stephen Fry, but you’ve done this already. It’s also a bit tougher to find someone who opposes modern feminism full-time, as it were (as per your previous comment), so I guess I’ll bring out the usual suspects at this point:

    Christina Hoff Summers: I know, I know, she always gets brought up in conversations like these, but just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Note that she identifies as a feminist, but explicitly rejects the modern incarnation of feminism, which makes her an interesting case.

    Milo Yiannopolous: IMO he is basically a giant troll who rarely says anything of substance, and who engages in clickbait on nearly constant basis; the only reason I know his name id because it’s plastered all over the Web. On the rare occasions when he does take the time to make a valid argument, I disagree with him more than half of the time. However, whenever he does take apart some feminist talking points, he is usually right on the money. In addition, I think he makes for an interesting example, since being a troll is not the same thing as being a misogynist.

  57. Holms says

    …since being a troll is not the same thing as being a misogynist.

    That statement is true enough, the two don’t necessarily go together, but you will have a tough time trying to argue that Milo is not a misogynist.

  58. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    “From my perspective, anyone who identifies as a feminist, and follows most of the tenets of feminism, is a feminist”

    What in your opinion are “the tenets of feminism”?

    Moving onto your points:

    a). “Whether they believe/espouse negative stereotypes about women as a class”: I think that most anti-feminists would reject the notion of viewing women as a “class”; in fact, being anti-feminists, they would likely reject that entire branch of feminist theory. I think a weaker statement, something like “they believe that women are inferior to men”, would make more sense.”

    I expected a comment like that from you. Anti-feminism is usually nothing more than constantly believing/espousing negative stereotypes about women as a class, whether it’s as manipulative harpies looking to exploit a “beta man” in a divorce court, a “thug-loving” woman helplessly attracted to “alphas” or twisted individuals lying about sexual assault. These are fundamental tenets of anti-feminism and they are deeply misogynistic and laughably stupid.

    b). “Whether they infantalise women”: What do you mean by “infantilize” ? I was very surprised to read this point, because one of the (many) reasons I personally reject modern feminism is its depiction of women as weaker beings who lack agency, and must therefore be protected from the harsh reality that men, being stronger, are somehow able to endure.”

    It seems, like most anti-feminists, you don’t actually understand much about feminism. Or “modern feminists” as you described it. You have essentially rejected feminism on the basis of something that doesn’t really exist. To address your point, I’d need to go point by point into your analysis of feminism and frankly, I don’t have the inclination to do that.

    c). “Whether they take obvious pleasure in women being maligned/mistreated”: no argument there, anyone who does this on a regular basis is definitely a misogynist.

    Well, can you point to any blog in the manosphere that doesn’t do this?

    c2). “Whether they in fact treat females as a homogeneous group”: again, I am surprised to hear this point from you — isn’t this the entire point of describing women as a “class” ? This tendency to break up people into homogeneous groups based on some criterion outside of their individual control (e.g. gender, race, etc.) is another one of the reasons I do not support modern feminism (and social justice in general). That said, I don’t think that doing so necessarily makes the person a bigot, just a poor critical thinker.

    See point A.

    d). “Whether they were part of/supported the “manosphere”: This is just the fallacy of poisoning the well. I was once a member of the Communist Party (by default, as was pretty much everyone else in my home country); does this make me a Communist spy ? If a member of the “manosphere” (whatever that is) told you that he loves kittens, does that mean that kittens are evil ? But then, you follow up by saying, “I would say that anyone who supports or endorses MRA blogs supports or endorses organised and explicit misogyny”, but then bring up several commenters (Paul, Nick Langford) as people who support MRA points and yet are not misogynist, so I’m pretty sure we can drop this criterion.

    No, we cannot drop this criterion. The manosphere is a collection of blogs written by misogynists, nothing more, nothing less. Some worse than others, but all of them based on, or supportive of, crude stereotyping of women and reveling in harassment of women. Can you give any examples of blogs that don’t?

    Paul and Nick Langford are more from the “father’s rights” side of things and Nick is openly critical of MRAs. Their issue, in my opinion, is a misreading of feminism, rather than an imbecilic stereotyping of women. Nick was involved with F4J, a group with a high percentage of idiots (look at their Facebook page) and definitely some MRAs.

    CHS and MY both endorse and support hysterically misogynistic blogs and individuals. Your examples prove my point, rather than yours.

    And trolls and MRAs (and anti-SJW types in general) and basically interchangeable. I actually think that because of the unhinged nature of prominent bloggers in the anti-feminist “community” trolls find an outlet to get the negative attention and camaraderie that they crave (assisted, of course, by the hypersensitive nature of the Tumblr feminist community). The trolls are still misogynistic even if they are only engaging in misogynistic abuse for trolling reasons (see GamerGate).

    You are still attempting a “gotcha”, and whilst I’m finding this quite interesting, to answer this fully we’d have to explore your understanding of feminism and mine, and that’s a conversation that would derail this thread further.

    I’m guessing Ally has allowed this through either because he hasn’t been about, or because it’s somewhat interested and being conducted civilly. Nevertheless, if you want to continue, cite exactly what it is about feminism with examples, so that I know where you are coming from.

  59. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #60:
    It seems like you’re equivocating between the following positions:
    1). Every member of the “manosphere” is an anti-feminist as well as a “misogynist”.
    2). Some anti-feminists are members of the “manosphere”; those who are, are “misogynists”.
    This is problematic, because I personally have no idea what the “manosphere” even is, other than some fringe online minority. Thus, I can neither agree nor disagree with (1) — it basically falls into the “don’t know, don’t care” category for me. However, this creates a problem, since a). whenever I bring up some specific anti-feminist, you can simply say, “a-ha, this person belongs to the manosphere and is therefore misogynist”, without offering any further arguments, and b). if you use the word “misogynist” simply as a synonym for “belongs to the manosphere”, then the word (and most of this argument) basically loses all its meaning. For these reasons, I suggest we focus on the actual positions espoused by various anti-feminists, instead of focusing on their membership in some group.

    Speaking of which:

    What in your opinion are “the tenets of feminism”?

    Brifely, the belief that our society is organized around the oppression of women by men (i.e. “patriarchy”); the notion that all men and all women belong to two distinct social classes that are based primarily on their gender; privilege theory; plus the assortment of common tropes such as safe spaces, microaggressions, etc.
    For example, you say:

    Anti-feminism is usually nothing more than constantly believing/espousing negative stereotypes about women as a class

    But I absolutely reject the notion that men and women can be organized into two distinct, homogeneous classes. Unlike feminists, I do not see women as interchangeable; they are all individuals, and, as such, they are bound to have very different sets of skills, experiences, beliefs, etc. (same thing applies to men, of course). Thus, any statement along the lines of “all women are bad/good at task X” is bound to be false; even the weaker statement like “most women are bad/good at task X” is probably false (unless it is backed by prodigious mountains of evidence).

    It seems, like most anti-feminists, you don’t actually understand much about feminism. …To address your point, I’d need to go point by point into your analysis of feminism and frankly, I don’t have the inclination to do that.

    Yeah, I hear that from Christians a lot. “Your Bible does not make sense” — “How typical, an atheist who’s never read the Bible” — “Actually I’ve read it all, twice, so can you explain what I’m missing ?” — “No, I don’t have the inclination to do that”. And yet, I’m still an atheist, go figure. I mean, yeah, some politicians can pull off this sort of rhetoric, but most people just end up looking intellectually weak when they try it. If you can’t back up your own arguments, then why should I listen to anything you say ?

    Case in point:

    CHS and MY both endorse and support hysterically misogynistic blogs and individuals.

    Take a look at the top of my post. I typed it before reading the rest of your response. Looks like I was right.

    That’s the same tactic that Trump uses when he says, “Mexicans are all criminals, let’s build a wall !”. A statement like that is worthless unless you back it up with something more substantial than just fervent belief.

    Nevertheless, if you want to continue, cite exactly what it is about feminism with examples

    Er… cite what ? I literally could not parse that sentence.

    You keep accusing me of attempting a “gotcha”, but, so far, your entire argument boils down to saying, “I am right because I said so”. I cannot argue against your positions, because you have not presented any arguments yet, all you did was “gotcha” me with your weird manosphere fixation.

  60. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    You are “anti” something that you simply don’t understand. You say you’re anti-feminist, are you against Women’s Aid? Are you against the Equal Pay Act? Are you against the introduction of DV laws? Are you against Marital Rape legislation?

    Do you believe that women should be allowed equal access to all spheres of civil and professional life?

    Because that’s what feminism achieved.

    What you wrote about feminism is a childish misreading of patriarchal theory. If you were better versed in it, you would understand that patriarchal theory is about far more than “feminists say all men oppress all women.”

    You appear to be a bog standard anti-feminist, “anti” something that you basically don’t understand.

    Instead of being an anti-feminist, why can’t you just be an advocate for men? What’s more important to you, the denial of rights to women, or the provision of services for men?

  61. Marduk says

    #62

    I see everyone else is wrong again and once again you won’t and don’t need to explain why. Whether you are right or wrong can be debated but you are certainly a very rude person who argues dishonestly and seems to be on some sort of crusade to label strangers on the internet (what motivates this titanic waste of time I can’t even begin to imagine).

    “It seems, like most anti-feminists, you don’t actually understand much about feminism. Or “modern feminists” as you described it. You have essentially rejected feminism on the basis of something that doesn’t really exist.”

    “Victim feminism” is described by Naomi Wolf in “Fire with fire” and formed part of the third wave critique of the second wave’s inadvertent essentialist tendencies. Although populists like Wolf and Roiphie got attacked for this, the fact is that since that time the critique has been treated more seriously (once safely obscured behind discussion of “ressentiment”) by mainstream feminist academics, for example Brown’s “States of Injury” and the writings of Joan Cocks, Rey Chow, Gunew & Yeatman’s edited volume “Feminism and the politics of difference” is probably a landmark here etc.

    Note: four more citations than you have chosen to provide and I don’t claim your vast expertise.

    Since that time it seems unfortunately that the state of play has significantly regressed rather than progressed. The main driver seems to a combination of online activism (which are arguably more about establishing and maintaining identity than they are about action of any kind) and the growth of identity politics itself where feminism (and female identity) is just one of many that has fight its corner in a marketplace against not just a growing recognition of other identities but the continual invention of new victim identities.

    In conclusion modern feminism can certainly be criticised on the grounds suggested. An expert like you might disagree but you’d have to state the precise grounds on which you do this, not just claim others are ignorant while discounting a vast feminist discourse on the subject.

  62. Archy says

    Are they anti-feminists or simply critics of feminists?

    I myself am glad for the early progress of feminism and some parts of modern feminism, other parts I do object to such as duluth model style influence. My base desire is all people to be equal regardless of race, gender, age, etc. I’ve always wondered why someone would be anti-feminist vs anti-somepartsoffeminism.

  63. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “Online activism” is almost exclusively an oxymoron.

    I have criticisms of feminists and feminisms but also see the huge gains for society that the feminist movement brought. Only the obtuse, stupid and/or hateful choose don’t see this. Conspiracy theorist nutjobs apply in these groupings.

    @ Archy

    Anti-feminists seem to relish the title they give themselves. It seems part of their fragile identity. Criticism of the Duluth model is perfectly reasonable. Claiming it’s part of a wider feminist strategy to wage war on men is so intensely stupid that one wonders how the keyboard warriors espousing it manage to turn their computer on.

  64. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #62:
    This is why I specified “modern” feminism, exclusively. I have no problem with most things that feminists of the past have achieved — starting with the right to vote; the people who fought for that right and won it were heroes.

    What I do have a problem with are the feminists of today, who are fighting for safe spaces, replacing clapping with jazz-hands, banning common words, and so on. CHS calls them “Fainting-Couch Feminists”, but I think that the term masks the darker side of modern feminism.

    As Marduk already mentioned, rather than fighting to improve the lives of all men and women, modern feminists fight to improve the lives of feminists, by damaging everyone else. They treat women not as individuals, but as some sort of a fragile, homogeneous subspecies of humanity who is uniformly oppressed by the cruel and bestial men. While feminists of the past fought for the right of women to join society as equals, modern feminists keep trying to cocoon women away into their own special bubbles; and to ruthlessly suppress anyone, of any gender, who dares to disagree.

  65. Bugmaster says

    @Archy #64:
    I completely agree with what you said. My base desire is for all people to be seen as individuals, and to be treated on their own merits, rather than on the basis of their gender or whatnot.

    However, from what I’ve seen, the mainstream feminism of today is explicitly opposed to that idea, so IMO the “anti-feminist” label makes sense. Furthermore, since modern feminism is IMO built on a flawed epistemology, the “anti-feminism” label is analogous to the “anti-religious” label: i.e., I consider myself “anti-religious”, but that doesn’t mean that I somehow hate religious people. Rather, I reject the very notion of faith on which all religions are based, regardless of the specifics.

  66. 123454321 says

    “starting with the right to vote; the people who fought for that right and won it were heroes.”

    Well, kinda, but a more serious leap towards equality would have seen them fight for compulsory conscription too. I guess there are different levels of heroes in my book.

  67. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    CHS is pathetic. She supports some of the most foul misogynists on the ‘net.

    “What I do have a problem with are the feminists of today, who are fighting for safe spaces, replacing clapping with jazz-hands, banning common words, and so on. CHS calls them “Fainting-Couch Feminists”, but I think that the term masks the darker side of modern feminism.”

    And you call yourself an anti-feminist and have no problem with that. How about the “darker side of modern anti-feminism”? How about GamerGate, harassment, psycho-sexual fantasies and the putrid racism and bigotry that permeates the blogs and websites that play host to these wretches?

    You’ve cited CHS a couple of times now. She supports AVfM. The only people that don’t believe that blog is a cesspit of hateful nonsense are misogynists.

  68. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #69:

    CHS is pathetic. She supports some of the most foul misogynists on the ‘net.

    You keep saying stuff like that, but you never back it up with anything. You might as well be saying, “CHS is a poo-poo-head”. Yeah, I get it, you feel really strongly about CHS, but I’m not a feminist, so I don’t place an extraordinary high value on feelings alone.

    You’ve cited CHS a couple of times now. She supports AVfM. The only people that don’t believe that blog is a cesspit of hateful nonsense are misogynists.

    That’s just more name-calling, and yet another fallacy of poisoning the well. If CHS said she likes kittens, would you assume that kittens are evil ? No ? Then perhaps you should focus on what people are saying, and not who they are.

    On the other hand, you are a feminist, so I understand why you’d focus on superficial things; as I said above, the feminist epistemology compels you to do so. But, well, that’s another reason why I’m not a feminist.

    How about the “darker side of modern anti-feminism”? How about GamerGate…

    Yep, it’s a thing that exists. You’d have to be more specific if you want a more informative reply.

    …harassment…

    I am categorically against harassment and doxxing of anyone, by anyone, for any reason. This, once again, puts me at odds with modern feminists, who believe that such tactics are absolutely justified and even encouraged — assuming that they are aimed at the right sort of people.

    …psycho-sexual fantasies…

    I am not in the business of policing people’s fantasies; or the sex lives of consenting adults, for that matter.

    …and the putrid racism and bigotry that permeates the blogs and websites that play host to these…

    You can keep saying stuff like that, but without examples, that’s just another way of saying “CHS is a poo-poo-head”. Furthermore, “my opponents are exactly as bad as I am” is the kind of argument that is not only ineffective, but also paints you in a rather unflattering light.

  69. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    I have not identified as a feminist, that’s your own label. You identified as an anti-feminist despite the despicable ramblings and foul actions of those who also claim that identity.

    It isn’t name-calling to describe CHS as pathetic for supporting AVFM. AVFM is a blog with such badly written, intellectually stunted misogynistic garbage on it that only a pathetic person would support it. Those who visit that site and decide “I support these people” are either extremely stupid or misogynistic, or both.

    Gamer Gate, as you should know, is a gaggle of online trolls/misogynists/anti-feminists/opportunists. They indulge in harassment of people, usually women, in the name of anti-feminism. This is literally the only activism that anti-feminists engage in.

    Who mentioned policing people’a sex lives? But many of the most prominent anti-feminists, including those with links to CHS, write long, violent, psycho-sexual screeds about women/feminists.

    Now, as a self-declared anti-feminist, I’d already assumed that you’re fairly stunted, and your last message hugely reinforced that. So why don’t you explain fully, with examples, what about feminism is so terrible that you look the other way at the idiocy, vile antics and immaturity of your fellow anti-feminists?

  70. Bugmaster says

    @Carnation #71:

    It isn’t name-calling to describe CHS as pathetic for supporting AVFM. AVFM is a blog with such badly written, intellectually stunted misogynistic garbage

    Yes, yes, I get it, CHS is a poo-poo-head, and so is AVFM. However, I personally don’t read AVFM, so I don’t really care — in the same way that I don’t care about other fringe blogs, like Obama birthers or whomever. Now, is there anything specific that CHS has actually said that you find objectionable ?

    They indulge in harassment of people, usually women, in the name of anti-feminism. This is literally the only activism that anti-feminists engage in.

    How would you know ? You obviously haven’t read anything that your opponents say, because they’re all evil AVFM readers, right ?

    But many of the most prominent anti-feminists, including those with links to CHS, write long, violent, psycho-sexual screeds about women/feminists.

    What is this “with links to” business ? That’s going beyound guilt by association; now it’s guilt by implication. Furthermore, let me repeat myself: I really don’t care what kind of sex acts people fantasize about. It’s not my job to police people’s thoughts, nor is it yours.

    Now, as a self-declared anti-feminist, I’d already assumed that you’re fairly stunted, and your last message hugely reinforced that.

    Oh no ! I am a poo-poo-head, too ! Woe is me. But hey, at least I’m in good company.

    So why don’t you explain fully, with examples, what about feminism is so terrible…

    Well, one thing you could do is scroll back through the thread, and take a look at all the examples I already gave, when I explained some of the reasons why I’m not a feminist. Or you could read some of the stuff anti-feminist academics write (took me 15 seconds on Google to find this) about it. Or maybe you could explain to me why feminists insist on treating men and women as separate classes engaged in zero-sum warfare; or why they place such a high value on personal experience; or how privilege theory differs from other kinds of quasi-postmodernism; or why doxxing, harassment, and censorship are all such wonderful things, as long as it’s feminists who are dishing them out. Or, come to think of it, maybe you can explain why modern feminists so rarely (if ever !) back up any of their claims, choosing instead to resort to name-calling and public shaming…

  71. Carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    You are an absolute idiot. Debating with you is pointless.
    Enjoy your mediocrity as an anti-feminist – you will blossom in the bosom of other mediocre bullies.

    Because you’re an anti-feminist, you will childishly view having the last word as a “victory” – have at it cupcake.

    Toodle loo xx

  72. 123454321 says

    “So why don’t you explain fully, with examples…. ”

    Says Carny, the person who never had the decency to answer any questions or provide examples of his thoughts relating to the dv posters or the disgusting female pediatrician who said it would be great to cut off a penis for the hell of it. Nah, because that would show women/feminists in a bad light, wouldn’t it!

    Bugmaster, you’re wasting your time with Carny. He’s successfully derailed yet another thread doing nothing more than calling anyone out who speaks up about men’s issues or anyone that challenges feminism a misogynist whilst in the very same breath telling us all that we don’t properly understand feminism and that we should shut the fuck up and listen to him about how wonderful feminism really is and how crap and pathetic men’s activists are. So we are branded misogynists by de facto for having an opinion about feminism, but Carny, apparently (bless him), can’t possibly be a misandrist despite the sheer number of attacks he launches at men in virtually every single one of his posts!!! And he still refuses to see the hypocrisy of his pointless plight to nowhere! This persistent behaviour is definitely aligned with trolling. Well done for derailing another thread, Carny (lots of pats on back included for free). And guess what, dude, you most likely make people hate feminism even more (another pat on the back and even a high-five for that one) – bugmaster just annihilated your reasoning.

  73. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    You’re lying. Give me a single example of me posting “an attack on men”?

  74. Bugmaster says

    @123454321 #74:
    To be fair, I don’t think that Carnation is being dishonest. I think he (she ? I forget, sorry) truly does believe all the things that he says. Nor do I think that he’s a “misandrist”, just an ideologue — or, if you wanted to avoid that term, you could call him a “true believer”.

    Modern feminism and theism share essentially the same epistemology (though few, if any, other core beliefs); and, within the bounds of that epistemology, Carnation is being entirely consistent. I may disagree with him on, well, pretty much everything; but I do want to render credit when it is due.

  75. Carnation says

    “Modern feminism and theism share essentially the same epistemology”

    Now it’s obvious Bugmaster is lying. That’s an absolute article of faith among the cretins on the blogs you deny reading.

    Anyway, getting back on topic, and having watched the documentary again, a couple of things became apparent.

    The first is that the “trainees” were crying out for positive interaction with the guards – even the most problematic ones were given to moments of jokey highjinks, and I think what was obvious was a large degree of “vaterhunger.”

    The second point is that the men employed as guards could easily have provided that, and a positive role model – if their mindset was entirely different. Some of them were fit, confident men – but the example they were setting was pretty much the opposite of what it should have been.

    In a nutshell, we had macho guys behaving sadistically towards vulnerable damaged and damaging young people. One thing is pretty certain – the “trainees” will have their form of revenge, barring a miracle, and it won’t be against their tormentors.

  76. WineM says

    BTW, Ally, I imagine you’re probably aware of this already but they had an especially dedicated debate on this subject last week in the form of an ‘urgent question.

    https://hansard.digiminster.com/Commons/2016-01-11/debates/16011114000003/PrisonsAndSecureTrainingCentresSafety

    Not surprisingly, you had exactly the same patterns repeated there, where every linguist device and trick in the book were made use of in order to avoid any pronouns or nouns that would identify the victims as male.
    It was also mentioned that the problem of male suicide has now become so bad that “a prisoner has taken their own life every four days. ” Grim. I just can’t believe that the G. has put all its faith in Neo-Con Micheal Gove to put this all right.

  77. WineEM says

    (Sorry, of course they said ‘suicide’, not ‘male suicide’, but we all know that’s implicit in the subject matter).

  78. 123454321 says

    It’s a consequence of years of indoctrination being rammed down everyone’s throats while they are growing up – what else could it possibly be! The narrative is pretty much hardwired and we’re now left with an obvious, underlying fear associated with deviating from the norm. Politicians, journalists, businesses…they’re all shit scared of being seen to empathise with men and boys as victims simply because they are men and boys. All a bunch of stuck-in-their-ways luddites who do nothing other than block evolutionary progress. The media, especially the BBC, which advertises itself as supposedly completely impartial, is a pathetic disgrace beyond words. This is why I am in favour of men speaking out about these inequalities using the internet, hopefully with a view to getting the world to wake up and recognise what is now becoming inordinately cringeworthy and a complete embarrassment considering this is now 2016! Nothing is going to change until people start raising the inequalities, complaining, complaining and complaining. Plain and simple, nothing else will work. And there’s nothing misogynistic about men and boys speaking up for the rights to be recognised as victims. But to try and silence those people raining the inequality across the net would be a strategy riddled with misandry because EVERYONE has a right to negotiate their position.

  79. Carnation says

    Oh, hi, 123454321

    Still waiting for you to give me a single example of me posting “an attack on men.”

    You will be unable to find one, and I am therefore 100% confident in calling you a liar and pointing out that nothing you can say can or should be taken seriously.

  80. H.E. Pennypacker says

    @123454321

    “Historically, men were considered to be expendable (war, hunter/gatherers).”

    I don’t quite understand what this means. I can see how war can be seen as being based on males being disposable (although I would say this is a simplification) but what’s the connection to hunter-gatherers?

  81. Anton Mates says

    Yeah, if anything, hunter-gatherers tend to be less interested in war than agricultural societies, and their men are less disposable. Not (mostly) because they’re nicer, but simply because no one has the time, wealth or power to force men to serve as cannon fodder.

    Also, women and children are more likely than men to die in hunter-gatherer intergroup conflicts. The men meet in open battle, and have a chance to flee or defend themselves if things go badly; the women and children are massacred in their homes. Men tend to die in individual conflicts instead: fights over a woman, or over insults, or over past wrongs.

    Most of the behavior we associate with patriarchy–women as property, poor men sacrificed to benefit rich men, and so forth–only appeared after the development of agriculture, AFAIK.

  82. Carnation says

    Re #82, #83

    About the only political system that *couldn’t* be described as blatantly patriarchal that enacted conscription, is the Vietnam era US Govts. And then, as is generally accepted, poor and non-white men were more likely to be drafted into dangerous combat roles.

    This isn’t to diminish the horrors that conscripted men face, but to assume it’s some societal misandry is inanely stupid.

    “Male disposability” is an article of faith among anti-feminists, but it’s ridiculously parochial in concept.

  83. 123454321 says

    “but what’s the connection to hunter-gatherers?”

    I’m merely suggesting that taking on the role of hunter is more risky than having your food/essentials delivered to you. Successful evolution will see that the least expendable and/or more vulnerable groups are protected from risk. That’s how evolution works. If you can draw the conclusion that women and children were more vulnerable (or less expendable) during human evolution, you ought to be able to make the distinction that men (as hunters) were more expendable. There is little point in complicating any further.

  84. 123454321 says

    “Yeah, if anything, hunter-gatherers tend to be less interested in war than agricultural societies,”

    Male expendability was necessary, embedded and apparent way before the political complexities of war between higher stages of civilisations began, and even the first developments around basic agriculture. The distinctions and segregation between men and women that we see today, although not necessary, are still apparent and in full throttle from when they were hard-wired and naturally embedded yonks ago. This is why there is room for a better all round new-world rework of the evolutionary path we are heading down. It just doesn’t fit any more.

  85. 123454321 says

    “described as blatantly patriarchal”

    Carny, if I had a penny for everytime you said the word “patriarchy” or ” misogyny” I’d be minted. This patriarchy nonsense is a scapegoat, bullshit, blaming tactic which is going to get rapidly out of date as time progresses. We could just as easily start blaming the matriarchy for all the inequalities we see in life. But I won’t do that because it would make me look as stupid as you. I admit I am prepared to blame feminism for some of the issues we face (just as you blame MRAs), simply because I have seen plenty of lies and manipulations (CPS, VAWG, Coercive posters etc.) coming from people who define themselves as feminists and these lies attempt to manipulate the system in order to seek preferential treatment, better funds, more privilege for women over men etc.. But for you to blame the patriarchy, just as virtually every other feminist does, only demonstrates that your factual logic toolkit is wearing thin. Cut out the patriarchy shit, matriarchy is hard at work too, and always has been!

  86. 123454321 says

    For the study:

    “women are involved in hunting and honey collecting and while there is still a division of labour, overall men and women contribute a similar number of calories to the camp”

    In other words men still did the hard labour and dangerous, risky jobs such as tracking and bringing down wooly mammoths, while the woman doesn’t. Also, the study talks more about the influence women had on where the tribes lived rather than what I’m talking about which is risk and expendability. I suppose it supports the matriarchy in action.

  87. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “But for you to blame the patriarchy”

    No, dude, what I *am* doing is to point out that patriarchal attitudes, then as now, absolutely screw over most men, due to their hierarchal nature.

    What I *am* doing is pointing out that rich men were sending poor men to kill/murder/colonise/loot and then keeping the spoils from them.

    What I *am* doing is trying to demonstrate that blaming feminism for what’s wrong with society is so mind-numbingly stupid that it continues to amaze me that you can’t see it.

    In a nutshell, patriarchal theory refers to the sociology of a society in which a hierarchy exists, that is gendered and arranged around class lines.

    And I don’t blame MRAs for any “issues we face”, they are almost totally powerless, I do blame them for rank stupidity and poisoning a narrative that could be positive.

  88. 123454321 says

    Carny regurgitates his feminist gender studies text books and refuses to let go of patriarchal theory indoctrination and conveniently mixes up class and gender time and time and time and time and time and time again. Boring yawn Zzzzzz.

    “MRAs for any “issues we face”, they are almost totally powerless”

    Really? So the conversations/discussions/noise/programmes we’re just starting to see filter through on mainstream media is a result of what?

  89. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “Really? So the conversations/discussions/noise/programmes we’re just starting to see filter through on mainstream media is a result of what?”

    1 – What are you talking about? You’d need to do a comparative analysis of before and after to make this claim.

    2 – In what way do these alleged “conversations /discussions /noise /programmes” translate to power?

    3. How will this power translate into action?

    The difference between you and I is that *I* understand patriarchal theory, and that *you* don’t and/or can’t. That’s because you’re extremely unsophisticated and easily duped and, I suspect, literally don’t understand complex or critical theory.

    I’ll give you a clue – even the most unhinged MRA will generally accept patriarchal theory, they’ll just blame women for its manifestation. Sadly, for you, you just don’t have the tools available to understand this.

    Oh, and you’re a liar – you still haven’t given an example of me “posting an attack on men.”

  90. 123454321 says

    “Oh, and you’re a liar – you still haven’t given an example of me “posting an attack on men.””

    Hang on a sec while I get up off of the floor………hahaha…..I can hardly contain myself…..you just spent an entire post supporting patriarchal theory (which effectively attacks and blames men for oppressing women, which it doesn’t, by the way, because the word “oppressed” should really be replaced with “protecting”) and then asked me to provide an example of you posting an attack on men…..hahahahaha hehehehehe lol lol…..back on floor rolling around. You are too funny, dude.

  91. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    Oh dear.

    1/ How did I support it?
    2/ You don’t understand patriarchal theory, you are clearly quoting a blog
    3/ Did you miss the part where I talked about how patriarchal hierarchies screw men over?
    4/ You accused me of posting attacks on men prior to that post, so give me an example?
    5/ Serious question, do you act stupid? Is this a debating tactic?

  92. Anton Mates says

    @123454321,

    I’m merely suggesting that taking on the role of hunter is more risky than having your food/essentials delivered to you.

    Taking on any role in a hunter-gatherer society is more risky than ordering out for delivery pizza, sure. But the role of hunter/warrior is not more risky, on average, than the role of gatherer/mother.

    Successful evolution will see that the least expendable and/or more vulnerable groups are protected from risk. That’s how evolution works.

    No, it’s not. Natural selection favors behaviors that increase the inclusive fitness of the individual, not behaviors that benefit the group. (Unless you have a particularly weird relationship between group success and your own fitness, as bees do.)

    Everyone is expendable unless their survival significantly contributes to your own reproductive fitness. That’s why females tend to sacrifice more for offspring and other relatives than males do, because they physically invest more resources per child, and because maternity is more certain than paternity.

    Most of the risky behaviors a male animal engages in do not serve to protect females or young or anybody else. They function to improve the male’s reproductive access to females, either by making him a more attractive mating partner to females or by reducing the competition from other males. That’s how evolution works.

    And it seems to work that way for most hunter-gatherer societies. After disease, the most common causes of adult male mortality are spontaneous violence between individuals, and accidents when men do something risky like climb too high in a tree. The men aren’t sacrificing their lives so that the women may live, nor are they doing a job society demands of them. They’re taking risks to satisfy their personal interests, and sometimes they fail.

    (Which is not to say that hunter-gatherer men, like hunter-gatherer women, aren’t altruistic. In many ways they’re more generous and communally-oriented than we are. But they’re also good at reining in their altruism before it gets them killed.)

    For the study:
    “women are involved in hunting and honey collecting and while there is still a division of labour, overall men and women contribute a similar number of calories to the camp”
    In other words men still did the hard labour and dangerous, risky jobs such as tracking and bringing down wooly mammoths, while the woman doesn’t.

    Um, the very passage you quoted says that women hunt too—and do you really think that collecting honey from wild bees isn’t dangerous? Bees kill a lot of people.

    In fact, hunting is not very hazardous for most hunter-gatherer tribes; deaths from animal attacks are far less common than deaths from other causes. Hunter-gatherers don’t go after really dangerous game like elephants unless the deck’s stacked in their favor. And predators of humans, like leopards, would rather target a woman or child busy gathering berries than a bunch of armed men looking for a fight.

  93. Lucythoughts says

    85. “I’m merely suggesting that taking on the role of hunter is more risky than having your food/essentials delivered to you. Successful evolution will see that the least expendable and/or more vulnerable groups are protected from risk”

    Not at all. Evolutionary theory in no way suggests that males are likely to be more expendable than females, that sounds like the most far fetched kind of group selectionism. As far as gene selection goes, no individual is expendable, unless you happen to be a bee of course in which case All Hail the Queen.

    Why do men do most of the hunting and women most of the gathering? Possibly because a fit adult woman would be pregnant or breastfeeding pretty much all of the time and in nature humans are carry mammals, i.e. they carry their babies about and rarely put them down. Tracking and hunting game requires certain skills, such as stealth, speed, accuracy and the ability to lug a big heavy carcass several miles back to camp, all of which, I would postulate, would be considerably less efficient with a baby on your boob.

  94. StillGjenganger says

    @LucyThoughts, Anton Mates, 12345431
    Let me back the others up, 123…. Men are not more expendable in a primitive society, for the reasons they give. It is very easy to get this kind of argument wrong, because we do not know that much about even modern hunter-gatheree societies, and nobody knows much of anything about prehistorical ones. So it bcoems almost unavoidable to picture those societies in a way that confirms the ideas we had in the first place.

    A biological difference that does matter, if not in exactly the same way, is that men have more uneven mating chances, and more incentives to take risks to get them. .A man can have essentially unlimited children, at very little individual cost, which could translate as ‘shagging is always good’. A woman has only a few slots in a short life, so the best way of getting lots of grandchildren is to give those children the best posible start, One way of doing that is to get them the best possible genes, which leads to females all trying for the males with the best genes. And that feeds on itself: if peacocks with the longest tails get a dispropotionate number of offspring, the best way to having a lot of grandchildren is to have a long-tailed son. Which means preferring long-tailed dads. Anecdotically it does seem that high status, for males, gives more success in the mating game, nowadays. I have seen reference to a historical study that found the same for medieval Portugal – women had the same number of children regardless, but rich men had clearly more and poor men had fewer.

    What this mainly does is to give biological backing to the old saw that ‘girls can get it any time they want’. But it does promote risk-taking and competition among males. Fighting is pretty much for fools, in a world without hospitals, unless it is done five against one (whiich does seem to be the way chimapnzees fight with members of dfferent bands). But the risk of diablement or death becomes worth it if the winner can count on all the girls swarming around him – and if not taking part means that you end up ignored and childless.

  95. 123454321 says

    “They’re taking risks to satisfy their personal interests, and sometimes they fail.”

    Your entire post is insular. Individuals are designed (via evolutionary process) to behave in a way that supports the evolving species. End of.

    “Most of the risky behaviors a male animal engages in do not serve to protect females or young or anybody else.”

    Tell that to the men who go out doing the dangerous jobs that their family won’t do, men who potentially account for 93% of workplace deaths. They do it for their family unit (including themselves, obviously) and when they can’t do it they might contribute towards the male suicide facts and figures.

    “They function to improve the male’s reproductive access to females, either by making him a more attractive mating partner to females or by reducing the competition from other males. That’s how evolution works.”

    Yes, but they are judged by how well they can provide, and providing as a male is likely, on the whole, to involve doing far more risky, dangerous jobs than their female counterpart. It’s all in the stats.

    “The men aren’t sacrificing their lives so that the women may live, nor are they doing a job society demands of them. They’re taking risks to satisfy their personal interests, and sometimes they fail.”

    This is just bullshit, can’t see outside of the box, nonsense. People are conned into seeing themselves as individuals. Ther’re not. Media e.g. magazines might want you to think this because you will quickly become interested and buy into the philosophy, but you’re just a number in the whole scheme of things, acting out a role in order to fit with what evolution requires. Men do the risky stuff for their families and the workplace death stats support that statement.

  96. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321
    If you are looking at biology, it really is generally accepted that traits are selected if they promote the survival of that trait, or in other words of the individual(s) that carry it. A gene that made all bearers sacrifice themselves for the community before they had time to procreate would die out in a single generation, no matter how beneficial the actions were for the community. It may well be that men are judged by how well they can provide, work for their family, etc., but if so that is a matter of culture and values, not of their biological instincts. At least you would need some fairly hard evidence to put it down to biology, and (as I said above), that is really hard to provide, for anythying. As a natural conservative I would personally be inclined to think that attitudes that have been around since humans began (if any) have a claim to legitimacy however they arose and should not be discarded willy-nilly, but we can not claim that these things are biologically inherited. And humans are formed to a very large extent by transmitted culture rather than just by biology.

  97. 123454321 says

    If men aren’t more expendable, why have Governments enforced compulsory conscription for males only?

    Put it another way, let’s play God and put 1000 men and 1000 women on a distant planet. If 990 men die as they desperately struggle to survive, we have the potential of 1000 babies created by 10 lucky men. However, if 990 women died, we would only get 10 babies for the first generation.

    Who on our planet would you consider to be more expendable when the chips are down?

  98. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 101
    It may well be that men are more expendable, but if so it is a mater of culture, NOT of evolutionary biology. As I said, genes that are bad for the survaval of the bearer do not themselves survive (unless the death of the bearer benefits other bearers of the gene, but that does not change the main point).

    On conscription that could be anything, from a cynical calculation that women are needed to provide future soldiers for the nation, to young men being most footloose and easiest to get ot fight in most societies, to a by–product of the division of roles and labour in society, to men being stronger physically, and unlikely to get pregnant at the wrong moment. Up until post-WW2 there would have been plenty of specific reasons in society to keep fighting confined mainly to men. Anyway, are you arguing that is is ‘natural and right’ that men are more expendable (in wich case we have nothing to complain about), or that it is an artificial invention to put us down (and if so, who invented it)?

  99. 123454321 says

    “but if so that is a matter of culture and values, not of their biological instincts.”

    “you would need some fairly hard evidence to put it down to biology”

    “but we can not claim that these things are biologically inherited. And humans are formed to a very large extent by transmitted culture rather than just by biology.”

    Oh, come on, you and your entire body, how you behave, what you do, how you think, your strengths, your weaknesses, your expectations, your desires, your motivations, ambitions, susceptibilities…..they are all inherited through and using biology. This applies to individuals but only if those individuals can collectively support the wider group using their pre-evolved conditioning. Yes, cultural and social experience has a massive input during a lifetime (i’m the first to agree with that because the concept is extremely powerful in terms of how the frontal lobe of the brain (biology) inputs, processes and outputs in order to survive as an individual) but much of this is passed down over many generations into medium, long-term memory and finally into the instinctually-driven part of the brain and that will only happen on a mass scale if it benefits or gives advantage to the wider species (not just the individual) as a whole. It’s our brains at work here, supporting the individual ONLY if it supports the wider group effectively through successful evolution, and that is biology at work (your brain) as far as I can tell.

  100. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 103
    I disagree with pretty much everything you say in this post. AFAIAC biology does not determine my ambitions or motivations etc., and even more cultural and social experience is NOT converted to biologically inherited instincts coded in your genes. But we disagree so much on the basic facts here that the best we can do is to register our disagreement and move on.

  101. 123454321 says

    Ok, we’ll agree to disagree. if you’re right, I’m not sure, other than biological genes, what mechanism has managed to evolve us from single-celled creature incapable of all but the most basic of instincts through to humans equipped with a complex array of deep-rooted instinctual behaviour.

    “biology does not determine my ambitions or motivations”

    If it’s not your highly evolved biological brain that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, what does? I thought it was down to sleep patterns which have evolved based on our environmental conditions over millions of years, now hardwired into your brain. And I’m pretty sure my brain is made of biological mushy stuff passed down to me from my parents with a wish-mash of their hard-wirings. it’s all in the DNA, and some of that DNA I think you’ll find is adjusted based on experience.

    I think where we differ is that you are looking at an individual over a single lifetime. Where as I am looking at the evolution of a species and suggesting that over a long period of time, somehow, cultural and social experiences that affect a wide proportion of a continually evolving species will become embedded.

    http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/early-experiences-can-alter-gene-expression-and-affect-long-term-development/

  102. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321

    If we compare people to computers, I would say that biology determines the hardware and the basic operating system kernel. The window managers and disk drivers, not to speak of the programs that actually do things people see, are programmed in by experience and by input from other people.

    There is actually a fair amount of flexibility in the system to respond to events. The brain rewires according to how it is used just like the body does (London taxi drivers learn the London street map by heart, and parts of their brain become visibly bigger as a result). There is speculation that some hormonal system settings are fixed in early childhood, so that your normal state and response to stimuli is influenced by your childhood environment. Gene expression can be up- and down-regulated more or less permanently – there are even data to suggest that famine can cause both children and grand-children to become shorter than they would otherwise be. Personally I wonder if the link between experiencing violence as children and being violent as an adult could be an adaptive response – it would make sense that your level of violence varied depending on the amount of violence in the world around you, much like the size you grow to depends on the availability of food.

    The thing is that the amount of flexibility allowed is also part of the system. And, crucially, there is no mechanism that can change the basic hardware specification. The genes do not change in response to experience, only by random variation and culling. Famine may cause us to have smaller offspring, but only between the limits allowed by the system, and no matter how many weights you lift, this will not give you stronger grandchildren. If we go back to the computer analogy, a sufficiently smart program could change the power mangement settings or the amount of memory dedicated to different tasks depending on how the machine was used. But no amount of use could shrink the numeric processor and expand the graphics processor, or make the graphics cooling fan larger – no matter how often you played ‘Call of Duty’.

  103. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321
    I would add that because humans are hightly flexible and changed by culture, that is transmitted through your family much like your genes, it is nigh on impossible to prove how much a given behaviour is biologically determined. This goes especially for gender differences in behaviour, because you need a very strong and sustained push from differences in environment to cause genetic differences. And we just do not know enough about prehistoric environment to lift the burden of proof. My preference, partly lifted from others, is to say that biological gender differences would mainly be limited to things to do with mating and reproduction, that we should stick to differences that we are very sure of (there is no doubt that only women get pregnant), that we should limit ourselves to differences that have a plausible biological mechanism to support them, and that we should expect the underlying differences to be a matter of fairly non-specific tendencies, with specific efffects being the result of interplay of culture and experience with the differences in basic drive.

  104. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    You mentioned men “waking up” and “making noise” to effect positive outcomes for men.

    You also mentioned the disproportionate number of men who die in the workplace.

    Could you explain exactly what this “noise” is doing to address male workplace deaths?

    Among the noisiest awoken man is Mike Buchanan. Mike supports free market capitalism.

    Just how is this “noise” helping?

    Oh, and still waiting for a bona fide example of me “posting an attack on men.”

  105. 123454321 says

    “And, crucially, there is no mechanism that can change the basic hardware specification.”

    Based on that premise how did we get from fish brains to humans?

    “and no matter how many weights you lift, this will not give you stronger grandchildren. ”

    I agree, but that is different. I’m talking specifically about the biological brain and its potential to pass experiences to your genes (which in turn embeds the experiences as behaviour deeper in the brain). it’s perfectly doable and we have the evidence – consider our fear of spiders whereby fear has become genetically embedded in our dna

    http://www.bustle.com/articles/74520-why-are-we-scared-of-spiders-blame-our-ancestors-science-says-its-evolutions-fault

    Your comparison with computers is flawed because computers are not biological and they can’t self replicate or reproduce – humans have to make them from bits of stuff each time. There is no way computers can evolve without external, human physical interaction. Quantum computers will be the game changer here as they can be constructed using biological tissue (feed them with energy and devise a mechanism for self replication and then we might start to see the behavioural/experience evolution effect, but not before computers become biological/quantum. Our brains are most likely operating on the quantum level and that would go a long way to explaining consciousness.

    “I would add that because humans are hightly flexible and changed by culture, that is transmitted through your family much like your genes, it is nigh on impossible to prove how much a given behaviour is biologically determined.”

    So you’re kind of starting to agree somewhat that biological processes can be responsible for our evolutionary progress with respect to both our physical characteristics AND our behavioural characteristics. In fact there is literally NO other way other than biology that our physical OR mental characteristics could have evolved. As an individual, yes, but as a species, no way. It HAS to be biological – passed down in the genes. No other way.

    “This goes especially for gender differences in behaviour, because you need a very strong and sustained push from differences in environment to cause genetic differences. ”

    Have you considered how many generations time has had in order to instil the genetic differences required between the sexes in order to drive a successful species? There has been plenty of time and today the evidence is apparent. Male and female brains are wired differently and it’s becoming well understood in the scientific community. It’s evolved that way in some part due to various social, cultural behavioural experiences translating via biological genes. Granted, there are other reasons too but this is most definitely a factor not to be ignored.

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/02/men-women-brains-wired-differently

    Perhaps this is why women can’t read maps and don’t know their left from their right. I’ll get my coat….

  106. 123454321 says

    Carny, I’m not going to be around for a while so you’ll have to stew in a pot of your own bum gravy for a bit…:-) Re attack on men….doing a search for every time you use the word “patriarchy” should give you a starter for ten.

  107. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “Re attack on men….doing a search for every time you use the word “patriarchy” should give you a starter for ten.”

    Weak, petulant and pathetic. You’re a liar and everyone can see you for what you are.

  108. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 110
    This is one of the oldest debates in evolutionary theory. Various people have proposed the idea that acquired traits could be fixed and inherited – and it has always been rejected by the scietific consensus. The wayevolution supposedly works is through random variation and culling. Evey now and then you have a mutation that changes a crature. Mostly the mutated creatures are worse off, but if the changed creatures do better, they take over while the descendants of less well adapted are outcompeted or die. It may sound weird that this could actually work (which is one reason why some prefer crationism), but it is the scientific consensus. The best contemporary example is antibiotics resistance in bacteria – it is not that bacteria accumulate memories of penicillin that eventually get settled in their genes. Rather antibiotics kill off all the susceptible bacteria, so any bacterium that just happens to get a mutation making it immune will multiply enormously.

    I am not ‘starting to agree’ about anything. I always thought that there was some kind of biological basis to behaviour, but with a creature as flexible and culture-driven as humans I have to admit that the basis is probably mostly indirect, not the whole story, and at best damnably hard to prove. For instance it is often thought that our criteria for sexual attraction are partly innate, and evolved partly to identify the most healthy and fertile partners. But, all you can say for sure is that you see the behaviour, and it maybe fits with what you might expect from evolution. Take that spider-phobia example you linked to. It may be that spiders were dangerous enough during evolution to drive a genetic spider-fear response. But we can hardly be sure. Anyway, how would such a specific fear be transmitted through the rather messy genetic machinery? Why spiders, and not beetles, or scuttling mice, or creepy-crawlies in general? What in our brain is causing this fear, and how might it be transmitted? Does the same mechanisms apply to fear of heights, or open spaces, or any other phobia? If not, why not?

    Take the classic that men are better at 3D spatial navigation whereas women are better at navigating relative to landmarks. For a start, even the data are disputed, with political bias on both sides, and it is a statistical difference, that does not apply to everybody. Then, if boys play more with balls and moving objects and girls play more with dolls, the different experience with moving objects could in istself cause the difference. But, next step, why do boys and girls play differently? Are boys more restless or aggressive, or more attracted to large or moving objects, or more primed to move into unknown spaces than girls are? That again is the kind of thing that might be under gentic control, but it is rather different to say ‘men are genetically better at navigation’ than to say ‘boys are more interested in moving things and the rest follows’. Or is it just that girls identify more with mothers, who use to move about less (when the children are small)? WIth this level of uncertainty, how sure can we be of anything?

    The general mechanism of gentically transmitted behaviour is obvious in animals and surely can happen in humans as well. But in any specific case we need a lot more than hand-waving to establish that it is actualy happening.

  109. Anton Mates says

    @Lucythoughts & StillGjenganger

    Thanks, and I agree with most everything you two have written on this thread. So, uh, there.

    @123454321,

    Individuals are designed (via evolutionary process) to behave in a way that supports the evolving species.

    No, they’re really not. What you’re describing is a theory known as group selection, which has very little support within the scientific community. (In the few cases where group selection is accepted as a plausible explanation for a trait, it almost always turns out to be mathematically equivalent to individual-level or gene-level selection.)

    As StillGjenganger says, natural selection does not favor traits that support the species at the expense of the individual. Natural selection favors traits that increase differential reproductive success—traits that let you have more kids than your neighbors. The overall success of your species simply doesn’t matter here. In fact, it’s theoretically possible for a trait to drive a species to extinction, even as it spreads throughout the dwindling population because the critters with that trait are still outbreeding the critters without.

    Tell that to the men who go out doing the dangerous jobs that their family won’t do, men who potentially account for 93% of workplace deaths.

    You’re not talking about hunter-gatherers anymore. Yes, our society expects and forcibly pressures many men to risk or sacrifice their lives for the greater good. But most modern hunter-gatherer societies do not, and there is little reason to think that things were different 100,000 years ago.

    Yes, but they are judged by how well they can provide, and providing as a male is likely, on the whole, to involve doing far more risky, dangerous jobs than their female counterpart.

    That is one way in which females judge males in some animal species, yes. But males also do risky things in order to demonstrate superior health/genes, to drive away rival males, and to force females to mate with them. And none of this really equates to their societies deeming them “expendable.” Frankly, most governments make an effort to stop young men from doing suicidally stupid things in order to impress girls.

    Put it another way, let’s play God and put 1000 men and 1000 women on a distant planet. If 990 men die as they desperately struggle to survive, we have the potential of 1000 babies created by 10 lucky men. However, if 990 women died, we would only get 10 babies for the first generation.

    This is absolutely true—and it demonstrates quite clearly that evolution does not follow your “expendable” logic.

    What sex ratio has evolved in humans, and in most other vertebrate species? Roughly 50% male, 50% female. Almost all of those species could reproduce much faster if they were 90% female instead. But it is individually advantageous to have children of whichever sex is rarer, because you’ll get more grandchildren that way; the rarer sex has more offspring per capita than the more common sex. So if a species is mostly female at the moment, traits that make you have more sons will quickly spread throughout the population. Thus the sex ratio stabilizes near 50/50.

    Evolution does not send millions of young men off to die for the sake of the folks at home. Governments do that. And patriarchy encourages it.

    And I’m pretty sure my brain is made of biological mushy stuff passed down to me from my parents with a wish-mash of their hard-wirings. it’s all in the DNA, and some of that DNA I think you’ll find is adjusted based on experience.

    Not adjusted in the way you imagine. Epigenetic inheritance is a real thing, but there is still very little evidence that it’s stable over evolutionary timescales. (We know it can persist for one or two generations, but that’s an eyeblink compared to how long it would need to last). Furthermore, there is no known mechanism that could write epigenetic traits into the genome. Even if your descendants inherit a particular pattern of DNA methylation that promotes arachnophobia or something, that’s never going to morph into a gene for arachnophobia.

    it’s perfectly doable and we have the evidence – consider our fear of spiders whereby fear has become genetically embedded in our dna
    http://www.bustle.com/articles/74520-why-are-we-scared-of-spiders-blame-our-ancestors-science-says-its-evolutions-fault

    Notice that there are three different potential explanations of arachnophobia offered up in that article. One is ordinary evolution: people with random mutations that make them more afraid of spiders live longer, so those traits are favored by natural selection. The second is cultural evolution: people learned to be scared of spiders and taught their children to feel the same way. The third is what you propose—people learned to be scared of spiders and somehow this knowledge got written into their genes—and this explanation is mentioned only in passing, without any favorable commentary from an expert. There’s a reason for that. So no, this is not sufficient evidence for your claim.

    Our brains are most likely operating on the quantum level and that would go a long way to explaining consciousness.

    Everything operates on the quantum level. There is no particular connection between “evolvable,” “biological” and “quantum”; programs on ordinary computers are perfectly capable of evolving if they’re allowed to replicate and undergo random mutation.

    In fact there is literally NO other way other than biology that our physical OR mental characteristics could have evolved. As an individual, yes, but as a species, no way. It HAS to be biological – passed down in the genes. No other way.

    Of course there’s another way: culture. We’ve passed down behaviors like writing, agriculture, etc. for many thousands of years. That’s not because we have special genes to enable writing and farming; hunter-gatherers can learn to farm and write just fine. They just don’t, because their parents and peers don’t teach them.
    Some cultural traits, like the use of fire, predate our species. Use of wooden tools may predate the appearance of the entire clade of great apes. Culture can pass things down for a very long time.

    Many modern states have either abandoned military conscription or made it apply to women as well as men. The citizens of those states aren’t mutants; they’ve simply undergone a cultural change. Societies can learn to treat men as less expendable.

  110. StillGjenganger says

    @BecomingJulie 115

    Or without a mention of the works of Simon Baron-Cohen.

    Not that I have read either, but surely you will admit that the jury is still out on this one, as far as science is concerned.

  111. Lucythoughts says

    One more word on epigenetics.The link supplied by 123454321 on this subject (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/epi_learns/) is a perfectly good little summary of DNA modification through signalling, but nowhere in it (despite the rather deceptive title) does it suggest that our actual personal experiences affect our genes. DNA methylation events and other modifications certainly alter gene expression in individual cells, that is how cell differentiation works, and that can happen in response to external signally and it can even be passed on to our offspring. But here is the crucial point, DNA modifications can only be passed on if they affect the germ line. No amount of modification of your somatic cells is going to be heritable and that includes the somatic cells in your brain. Thoughts cannot affect your germ line. Social conditioning might affect the way your brain develops, it may alter gene expression in your brain, but not in your sperm or ova. No way.
    The things which could cause permanent DNA modification in the germ line cells are systemic signals, like toxins or stress hormones and generally when occurring before puberty. Severe stress in childhood, environmental or emotional, could potentially result in heritable DNA methylations but there is absolutely no way that your offspring would know what you were stressed about.

  112. 123454321 says

    “Thoughts cannot affect your germ line.”

    Thoughts ARE your experiences. Experiences ARE your thoughts. Same difference. Sensory received inputs, internal processes (such as retrieval of memories), sensory, communicative outputs. Thoughts are merely a combination of a reaction to inputs, the consequential processing of, and the decisive outputs. Thoughts = experiences in the context of what we are discussing.

    “Social conditioning might affect the way your brain develops, it may alter gene expression in your brain, but not in your sperm or ova. No way.”

    Not true. The way your brain develops (which can be a result of social conditioning, as you say) is dependant therefore on experiences and this will alter the brain architecture via epigenetic changes as an individual lives. Genes get turned on and off, proteins restricted etc. due to chemical activity in the brain, especially when they are young. The key is that epigenetic changes, due to chemical activity (which can often be a reaction to experience), are prone to error (those errors wouldn’t have occurred had the experiences not have taken place). So via methylation, as someone mentioned above, for example, genes can accidentally get turned off or silenced or altered and this gets passed down to the offspring through sperm or ova. If those genes are responsible for brain architecture, the changes will manifest in the next generation as, potentially, behavioural changes due to the architecture redesign of certain parts of the brain. Brain architecture is most definitely stored in our DNA and it’s not surprising that male and female brains are wired differently due to the various experiences they have been subjected to over millennia. What I see in today’s world is exactly what I’d expect to see. The evidence surrounds you and the scientific community is catching up.

    “absolutely no way that your offspring would know what you were stressed about.”

    They wouldn’t need to know what you were stressed about. They just tap into (or utilise) the redesigned architecture you have passed down, which is likely to get passed down as a characteristic trait enveloped within the input/process/output cycle.

    Summing up – experiences CAN affect brain architecture and CAN get passed down via DNA.

  113. StillGjenganger says

    @1323454321
    No go. Your biology does not hold. I am not sure just how far experience affects epigenetics in the brain, but OK, it is possible, to some extent at least. What is NOT possible is that those genetic changes then move down to egg and sperm cells, or their precursors. Which they would have to in order to pass to offspring. And even if it could, those changes would a) only be possible with a limited range of options, b) only last for a few generations (they are not long term stable, as Anton Mates pointed out). Epigenetics corresponds to the settings buttons on an appliance. You can tune things up or down, change the contrast or luminosity, but only within the limits set by the architecture. Changing the basic structure of the appliance requires changing the blueprint and building a new one, which means changing the genes, not the epigenetics. And that is not possible.

  114. 123454321 says

    StillG, forgive me but you’re still preaching textbook biology but, just as history repeats itself, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that our current understanding of the nature of genetics will be challenged by new evidence and completely redefined. I find this a really interesting subject (I have followed it in the past) and I have my own opinions and theories which I don’t expect you to agree with if you only follow the text books. If you’re interested just have a quick read of this link, in particular from about quarter way down at the “Substantial Changes” section. Work carried out by Washington State University back in 2005 shows rats altered DNA methylation lasted for at least another four generations:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1392256/

    Then take a look at this link:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/10369861/Epigenetics-How-to-alter-your-genes.html

    Text from the link:

    “Scientists used to think that these little epigenetic instructions would be left off your DNA before it was passed onto your children. That when a sperm and egg combined, the embryo had a “clean slate”. Alas, no. New research has found that about one to two per cent of our epigenetic tags cling on. And thus your worst habits – smoking, overeating – are the ones that can be passed onto your offspring, and even further down the hereditary line. Or, put another way: your grandfather was making lifestyle decisions that affect you today.
    In biological terms, the idea is heretical. After all, Darwin’s central premise is that evolutionary change takes place over millions of years of natural selection, whereas this new model suggests characteristics are epigenetically “memorised” and transmitted between individual generations. And yet, slowly but surely, the evidence is mounting.”

    And this just in case people can’t be arsed to read the whole thing:

    “There are social implications to these results,” says Marcus Pembrey, emeritus professor of paediatric genetics at University College London, who collaborated on the Överkalix research. “In the sense that you don’t live your life just for yourself but also for your descendants”

    And this:

    “However, the biggest excitement – and, indeed, controversy – surrounds growing research that suggests it’s not just physical characteristics or illnesses we might be passing onto future generations. Instead, our DNA might be affected by behavioural epigenetics too.”

    Anyway, I have my view on where this is going and I’m convinced there is a connection between past behaviour/life experiences and future generation architectural rewiring.

    The reason why I think this subject is so important is because if we keep ignoring men and boys, disrespecting them, refusing to acknowledge they can be victims, only viewing them as resource providers and protectors, evil monsters, unemotional, uncaring, tough guy, man-up you wimp and get out there and do a dirty, dangerous job etc. whilst thinking (for example) feminism is good and always right simply because every fucking media outlet you tune to tells you it is good and always right, we are only going to get ourselves deeper and deeper into a rut as each generation comes along because it’s really, really hard to change nature’s physical hardwirings which have become embedded via behaviour-related experiences. What you are told and how you are made to feel would literally be written into your DNA, even all the crap, and that, I suspect, is exactly what is happening. We’ll wait for science to do its thing.

  115. StillGjengage says

    @123454321
    We’ll agree to differ, then. I would say that there is nothing in your last post that goes against what I think, or the arguments I have already come up with, but we are both free to speculate about what will be found out in the futurre. I have been known ot do it myself.Just a couple of parting thoughts:
    Whatever your ideas on this, you need to distinguish between epigenetic changes in the brain and body cells, which can be cause by all kinds of things including what would count as ‘experiences’, but can not be inherited. And changes in the germ cells, which can be transmitted to offspring, but which can only be caused by influences that actually reach those cells (drugs, starvation, …) and which would happen in the womb, and certainly before puberty.
    The ‘effects lasts for at least fpur generations’ tidbit was a single study which had not been repiicated. They said so. That serves as an indication in an op-ed piece (that is what that article is) alonside hundreds of similar but less impressive data. Quoted on its own without the qualifying data itips higly misleading.

  116. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    I’m still waiting on your to point out one of my “attacks on all men.”

    Just to remind everyone, 123454321 is a liar. Watch him try to deflect from this latest and most obvious lie by misunderstanding patriarchy and not being able to directly quote me.

    So, come on, liar-boy. Put up or shut up x

  117. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 122
    I am profoundly uninterested in discussing whether I, 1234543231, Carnation, or anyone else is a liar or not. Why do you guys find that so interesting?

  118. Carnation says

    @ GJGanger

    I wasn’t talking to you!

    However, 123454321 made an hysterical and unfounded allegation against me and I called him out on it.

    I view my role as a commentator on this blog to reign in the worst excesses of buffoons. Exposing 123454321 as a liar is part of that.

    I bid you a good day, Sir.

  119. Lucythoughts says

    I think this has run its course as well but I will just reinforce what Gjenganger said above. Not all epigenetic changes can be passed down to your children by any means, only the ones occurring in the germ line. You say “experiences are thoughts” but starvation is also an experience, poisoning is also an experience. What matters in terms of the epigenome isn’t how your mind interprets those events, it is the chemical environment they create. Thoughts don’t create systemic signals that can affect the germ line; changes in synaptic plasticity don’t either. Just because epigenetic regulation of gene expression occurs in the developing brain in response to early experiences doesn’t mean that the same methylation events are mimicked in the sperm or oocytes. This is the point I attempted to make earlier about the difference between local conditions, affecting the brain, and systemic conditions occurring at vulnerable stages in gametogenesis which might be heritable.

    Currently there is a lot of fairly convincing evidence about regulation of gene expression via epigenetic changes in somatic cells but still very little conclusive about heritable features. I also think that this field will produce interesting findings in the future but I don’t think they will include anything like what you have in mind. Some aspects of diet and lifestyle may well prove to produce heritable epigenetic markers; interuterine conditions have already been shown to have the potential to do so. But thoughts and social attitudes? No, I can’t see it. There’s simply no mechanism for it.

  120. 123454321 says

    “….I view my role as a commentator on this blog to reign in the worst excesses of buffoons.”

    Hahahahahaha, more laughs, and completely free of charge to boot. You asked:

    “I’m still waiting on your to point out one of my “attacks on all men.””

    And everyone on here knows I’m still waiting for your answer to MY age old question relating to the pediatrician – but you wouldn’t answer my question, so I designate YOU as the original king buffoon.

  121. 123454321 says

    “I also think that this field will produce interesting findings in the future but I don’t think they will include anything like what you have in mind.”

    I’ll bet you a pint on that.

    “There’s simply no mechanism for it.”

    What you meant to say is that they haven’t discovered a mechanism for it.

    “You say “experiences are thoughts” but starvation is also an experience, poisoning is also an experience. ”

    I could talk all week about this but I don’t think Ally would appreciate it. I maintain that thoughts and experience are intertwined as part of consciousness – same thing. You can be poisoned when unconscious in which case you have no awareness of the situation and thus no thoughts or experience of it until you regain consciousness. Up until the point you wake, you can’t even process the thoughts to recognise you have experienced poisoning – it would merely be a bodily chemical reaction. Also, when I’m starving, I bloody well know about it because I can’t stop thinking about it. You can detach ‘reaction’ from both ‘thought’ and ‘experience’ but the latter two are effectively the same thing.
    Experience = an occurrence or event that leaves an impression on someone, or something that happens to you that affects how you feel and the only way an experience becomes valid is if it is directly perceived, interpreted and registered via a thought. Experience is literally thought. You can’t have one without the other.

  122. Carnation says

    @123454321

    ““I’m still waiting on your to point out one of my “attacks on all men.”
    And everyone on here knows I’m still waiting for your answer to MY age old question relating to the pediatrician – but you wouldn’t answer my question, so I designate YOU as the original king buffoon.”

    By not giving an example of me “posting an attack on all men, you’ve once again exposed yourself as a bumbling idiot, a liar and an extraordinarily ineffective debater.

    In order to deflect from the fact that you’re a liar, you actually brought up a previous deflection attempt.

    The answer, in case anyone cares, to 123454321’s question about the pediatrician, is that I don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about – I didn’t follow the link he was getting excited about.

    You said “Carny, apparently (bless him), can’t possibly be a misandrist despite the sheer number of attacks he launches at men in virtually every single one of his posts!!! ”

    From this “sheer number” in “virtually every single one” of my posts, you cannot give a example. Not one. You are a fool.

  123. Adiabat says

    Bringing it back to the ‘Male Disposability” claim: my understanding is that this is simply the claim that the male gender role in hunter gather societies generally involved taking on more risk to personal safety than the female role, which doesn’t really seem to be contested by anyone here, and has a lot of support in Anthropology.

    I suppose it’s possible to quibble over whether the word “Disposability” is the most apt one to describe this (maybe “Expendability” is better?), but then we can say the same for the terms such as “Patriarchy”, “Wage Gap”, “Rape Culture” and so on, which are discussions people generally wave away (I suspect to maintain the Motte and Bailey tactics the use of these terms provide).

    Anton:

    “Put it another way, let’s play God and put 1000 men and 1000 women on a distant planet. If 990 men die as they desperately struggle to survive, we have the potential of 1000 babies created by 10 lucky men. However, if 990 women died, we would only get 10 babies for the first generation.

    This is absolutely true—and it demonstrates quite clearly that evolution does not follow your “expendable” logic.

    What sex ratio…Thus the sex ratio stabilizes near 50/50.

    Evolution does not send millions of young men off to die for the sake of the folks at home.

    Yes the ratio will equalise, but I think that is missing the point. If you put two groups of 1000 men and 1000 women near each other, and one follows the first scenario of 990 men dying and the other follows the second with 990 women dying, then a generation later when they come into contact with each other which group, and their corresponding customs, continue and which don’t?

    Group selection doesn’t select for traits, so has no effect on evolution, but it seems to that it can affect culture, customs, ways of living etc. And population growth. In this scenario it seems clear that a society that encouraged risk taking among men will ultimately be more successful than vice versa, and will pass on this custom over societies that don’t.

    Instead of arguing over the mechanics of evolution, a stronger argument could be made that the indirect effect of evolution on humans has given rise to conditions which support male disposability in the societies it creates and which ones ultimately survive.

  124. 123454321 says

    “And population growth. In this scenario it seems clear that a society that encouraged risk taking among men will ultimately be more successful than vice versa, and will pass on this custom over societies that don’t.”

    Yes, but the sad part being that the disposability/expendability/dispensability (I have no clue which word fits best) of men is, at best, an ‘expectation’ put onto them by their families and peers and, at worst, a ‘necessity’ in terms of serving the interest of evolution.

    “Instead of arguing over the mechanics of evolution, a stronger argument could be made that the indirect effect of evolution on humans has given rise to conditions which support male disposability in the societies it creates and which ones ultimately survive.”

    Nicely put.

  125. 123454321 says

    “The answer, in case anyone cares, to 123454321’s question about the pediatrician, is that I don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about – I didn’t follow the link he was getting excited about.”

    Well you could be lying about that, regardless, you could still go and click on it.

  126. Anton Mates says

    @123454321,

    If those genes are responsible for brain architecture, the changes will manifest in the next generation as, potentially, behavioural changes due to the architecture redesign of certain parts of the brain.

    So, there are three big problems with expecting this to happen in any systematic fashion.
    First, we know that learning and memory formation in the brain are not purely the result of epigenetic changes anyway. There are also permanent structural changes in the physical morphology of each neuron; synaptic connections growing or being pruned, dendritic spines appearing or disappearing. These features persist even when changes in gene expression do not, and they would not be preserved in descendants who inherited only your gene expression patterns. Even directly copying them into another individual’s brain wouldn’t work, because their effect depends on your individualized arrangement of neurons.

    Second, for a somatic epigenetic change there has to be a mechanism for transporting information on that change from your brain (or any other parts of your body) to your gonads. Such mechanisms do exist in some species—locusts in particular—but so far as we know, they’re very rare and very specific. This is why, as Lucythoughts said, heritable epigenetic changes are usually produced by system-wide stressors like starvation and toxin exposure.

    Third, changes in gene expression are mostly local, and they’re supposed to be that way. If the cells in your liver or lungs or gonads mirrored the gene expression patterns of the cells in your brain, they would become brain tissue, or something very similar to it. Likewise, a learning experience causes different changes in gene expression in different parts the brain—they might upregulate a certain gene product in this hundred-neuron region, but downregulate the same product in that hundred-neuron region right next door.

    So the scenario you’re envisioning would require the brain to send the details of thousands of neurons’ epigenetic profiles to your sex organs, where that information would somehow be compressed and stored in the epigenetic profile of a single sex cell, even as the same sort of information from every other cell in the body and brain is somehow filtered out, so that your sperm/egg will pass on your brain’s experience of feminism and not your liver’s experience of Red Bull or something.

    This is very, very unlikely.

    Summing up – experiences CAN affect brain architecture and CAN get passed down via DNA.

    Yeah, but that’s not enough to support your idea. You’re claiming that experiences that affect brain architecture but don’t have much effect on the rest of the body, get passed down via DNA with reasonable regularity, to have the same effect on the brain architecture of your descendants.

    If you wear a plutonium jockstrap for a few months, I guarantee you’ll have brain-changing experiences. And your sex cells will definitely experience changes to their DNA. But the horrible mutations that pop up in your children won’t give them the experience of wearing a plutonium jockstrap.

    StillG, forgive me but you’re still preaching textbook biology but, just as history repeats itself, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that our current understanding of the nature of genetics will be challenged by new evidence and completely redefined. I find this a really interesting subject (I have followed it in the past) and I have my own opinions and theories which I don’t expect you to agree with if you only follow the text books.

    FWIW, I don’t only follow the textbooks. I’m a grad student in animal behavior; that doesn’t make me an expert on behavioral epigenetics, of course, but I’m reasonably familiar with the current state of the field. (I took a human behavioral genetics course last year, which drew heavily on current literature, and I still browse the literature from time to time for my own edification.) I really don’t see the field going in the direction you imagine.

    Work carried out by Washington State University back in 2005 shows rats altered DNA methylation lasted for at least another four generations:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1392256/

    This is exactly the sort of effect Lucythoughts was talking about. Yes, if you dose rats with the right toxins, you can damage their cells—sex cells included—in ways that will heritably alter their gene expression. But this is indiscriminate, system-wide damage, and the effects have nothing to do with the rats’ psychological or behavioral response to the pesticides.

    we are only going to get ourselves deeper and deeper into a rut as each generation comes along because it’s really, really hard to change nature’s physical hardwirings which have become embedded via behaviour-related experiences.

    But according to your ideas, haven’t we got ourselves into, like, a 200,000-year-old hardwired rut of male-disrespecting already? It’s hard to see how a few decades of feminism could add much to that, nor how a backlash against feminism would have any noticeable impact on it in your lifetime.

  127. Carnation says

    @ 123454321 #131

    Why would I lie about such a thing?

    But you did lie, and continue to lie, about me launching attacks on men.

    Why, considering that you are a liar, should anyone take you seriously?

    “Instead of arguing over the mechanics of evolution, a stronger argument could be made that the indirect effect of evolution on humans has given rise to conditions which support male disposability in the societies it creates and which ones ultimately survive.”

    Would you find it objectionable to describe the “disposable male” as the “colonialist male”, the “imperialist male”, the “blindly and stupidly patriotic male”, the “genocidal male”, the “male lackey for richer males”?

    Because the entire “disposable male” trope only works in the way it’s intended if the sacrifice they’re “disposed” for is a noble one (see WW2).

  128. StillGjenganger says

    (I took a human behavioral genetics course last year, which drew heavily on current literature, and I still browse the literature from time to time for my own edification.)

    In that case, will you let us exploit you a little bit? Can you give a lightning summary of what is believed, disputed, and considered impossible in terms of genetical determination of gender differences in human behaviour?

    I know you are not paid to teach us, but it would be greatly appreciated if you have time.

  129. 123454321 says

    Not much time sorry…but I read your post and mostly agree. Just quickly….

    “they’re very rare and very specific.”

    …as are cosmic rays interfering with my PC memory by corrupting a single BIT. But it happens, right? Yep, and t’s enough to erroneously alter a next generation computer dump and completely screw up your work. They reckon approximately one cosmic-ray-induced error affects your computer each month for every per 256 megabytes of RAM you have. Most times you notice no difference. But it happens, all of the time. Once you’ve been zapped once, the chances of being zapped again increases massively. Of course, having error correction has eliminated the problem but even with ECC, every few million years you will get an uncorrectable bit flip. My point? Evolution has a very long time to take advantage of rare and specific occurrences.

    “But according to your ideas, haven’t we got ourselves into, like, a 200,000-year-old hardwired rut of male-disrespecting already?”

    Yes, but it’s been relentless due to the nature of evolutions fundamental requirements and there has been no specific way to get out of the rut.

    “It’s hard to see how a few decades of feminism could add much to that, nor how a backlash against feminism would have any noticeable impact on it in your lifetime.”

    Let’s forget the argument about epigenetic for a minute. It only takes one person a few minutes to hypnotise someone else, to change their behaviour, the way they react and think. It takes a master of indoctrination only a few weeks to turn someone into an extremist. It only takes parents a few years to mould their child’s behaviour, with certain aspects you can change their way of thinking in minutes using the right tactic. David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher and many other politicians can influence your way of thinking to such an extent that you change your direction. Friend and family have similar powers of influence, as do the media. Feminism is great apart from the lies, misdirection, ignoring of men and boys and other associated expectations relating to self entitlement. It’s those aspects which in the last few decades have successfully indoctrinated a new generation using the collaborative tools available to them in the modern world. Men are useless at collaborating in order to protect themselves – they are great at protecting women and children, but not themselves as a specific group. Men haven’t taken the opportunity to specifically utilise modern media, as women have done with feminism. Men, as boys a few decades ago have merely soaked up what they have been taught. Like I say, feminism is great apart from the not so great parts and undoing the not so great parts is perfectly doable by using the same platform feminism used in the first place.

    Now reread your sentence:

    “It’s hard to see how a few decades of feminism could add much to that, nor how a backlash against feminism would have any noticeable impact on it in your lifetime.”

    …and come back to me. I think if it’s doable, it’s undoable.

  130. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 136
    Your cosmic ray analogy falls down because the update-genes-in-germ-cells effect requires a complex and highly tuned piece of machinery, not something that just happens. Compare, say a computer chip factory. They are rare (not many of them), and they are very specific (tuned at great cost and expense to take specific kinds of input streams and produce very specific kinds of chip). That is what it takes to move from a chip spec to a finished product. Cosmic rays do random damage, and once in a rare while they can modify a complex system in unpredictable ways. But random damage will not turn a chip specification into a working computer chip – or a brain configuration into a set of genes that reproduce it.

  131. 123454321 says

    StillG, I agree with what you just said but bear in mind that Anton wrote about the transport mechanism for somatic epigenetic change transfer to your “gonads”, specifically that such mechanisms do exist in some species but “so far as we know” they “are very rare and specific”. My cosmic analogy wasn’t meant to demonstrate anything other than the fact that strange and rare things occur which have the power to ‘change’ the parameters of a predefined system, whether or not the change makes the system more complex or less complex as a result is irrelevant. Just the fact that rare and specific things CAN occur and that many of these occurrences are as yet undiscovered in terms of the mechanism at work and that these mechanisms could be random OR they could be by design. And that these mechanisms, whether discovered or proven by science have had millions of years to evolve and could be working in weird and wonderful ways that we quite simply do not understand – YET.

    “But random damage will not turn a chip specification into a working computer chip ”

    Agreed. On the other hand, we should bear in mind that apparent randomness in the universe has worked entirely against the laws of entropic disorder to create the world we live in today and even the most impressive and complex biological feat of nature, the human brain, has been created by the progressive development of much simpler entities working together through evolutionary process to create the biological masterpiece we see today. Like I say, some of this will be down to random mutation but I believe there are other processes at work, and epigenetics has only scratched the surface. More startling discoveries are to come, I’m sure. By the way, even the latest text books endorsed by the mainstream scientific community are usually ten to fifteen years out of date. You have to look elsewhere for the real earth-shattering, groundbreaking, pioneering studies. Far more fun to traverse the turbulent and contentious outer frontiers than the boring fart libraries of dull text book hell (been there done that), especially as life is so short. That’s partly why I don’t support feminism any more. It’s had it’s day; it’s on it’s way out; boring seen it all before. A new revolution of TRUE equality will surpass in every way the failings of feminism and its vehement passion for purposefully ignoring half the world’s population. We’re on the brink of the backlash and it’s well overdue. Bye bye feminism as it moves into the distance, hello true equality I can see you coming. That’s evolution, that’s where my money lies, and that’s the door I’m going through.

  132. Lucythoughts says

    #129 Adiabat
    “Group selection doesn’t select for traits, so has no effect on evolution, but it seems to that it can affect culture, customs, ways of living etc. And population growth. In this scenario it seems clear that a society that encouraged risk taking among men will ultimately be more successful than vice versa, and will pass on this custom over societies that don’t.

    “Instead of arguing over the mechanics of evolution, a stronger argument could be made that the indirect effect of evolution on humans has given rise to conditions which support male disposability in the societies it creates and which ones ultimately survive.”

    This is an interesting point but as far as hunter-gatherers are concerned I don’t think it is a valid model. The survival of hunter-gatherer tribes is fragile and the population sizes tend to be quite static. The limiting factor in population growth is high levels of infant and childhood mortality; adult mortality is much lower so if you survive into adulthood there is a good chance you could live and work into your seventies. The women bring in a fairly steady supply of food through gathering while through hunting the men sporadically provide large amounts of meat, enough to give everyone a big high protein meal. The difficulty of keeping everyone fed means that there aren’t really any disposable adults.

    Male risk-taking could be good for the community if it meant better resources but only if they were calculated risks that nearly always paid off. Bluntly, dead men don’t bring home the bacon. In this context your disposable or expendable males would be better thought of simply as risk-taking males. If the risks caused occasional injuries and very rarely deaths then they might benefit the community but a risk that regularly killed fit, healthy skilled-up adult men would be a risk not worth taking.

    Equally, if resources are scarce then it might be worth the risk of attacking a neighbouring tribe to try to grab some extra territory but only if you thought you had a very good chance of winning. If you lost you would seriously deplete your potential hunter population and the reprisals might even wipe you out. Where your basic survival is precarious, it’s really only ever worth picking a fight you are pretty damn sure you can win.

    This seems to me to be a wholly different mind set from the one which sent thousands of men “over the top” in the First World War for example, and founded on very different cultural attitudes. Through history there have definitely been groups of people who were considered expendable. An extreme example would be the plundering of Africa for slave labour. It didn’t matter to the slavers how many of those people died in transit, or were worked to death or hanged “as an example to the others”. As far as they were concerned they had an unlimited supply of disposable humanity. Equally, the soldiers taken from the poorest strata of British society were very much considered disposable, or even “cannon fodder”. If you look at something like the Boa war, the utter contempt that the Military commanders displayed for the lives of the rank and file fighting under their command was chilling. That attitude was pretty common in civil society as well as far as I can see. The poor were seen as at best an unlimited resource and at worse a “surplus population”, as Scrouge called them. The fact that Dickens was sufficiently familiar with that attitude to think it was worth eloquently condemning it in his novels says something about how common it was.

    For my money, I’d say those attitudes are a more modern invention than hunter gathering, probably post agriculture, at a time when populations were large enough and there were well formed social class structures. Poor men have undoubtedly been seen as expendable through most of British history, with poor women and children a close second. On the other end of the spectrum however, no one was considered less expendable that the eldest son and heir of a rich family, so the picture is complex.

  133. StillGjenganger says

    @LucyThought 139

    Can I add a couple of bits?

    From a talk I heard once on the history of violence:
    Apparently, the rate of death by violence among (the studied) hunter-gatherers was way higher than it was in 20th century Europe – world wars included. But it was not a matter of battle. When prepared, armed men met in equal numbers they threatened and rattled their spears, and refrained form fighting. The risks are simply too high, especially in a world without medicine. The dying came through raid and ambush. Half a dozen men moving out, and falling on isolated enemies, where the odds are excellent. Of course next time you were isolated it could happen to you, so the deaths add up. As it happens, groups of cimpanzees fight in much the same way. Just for my own speculation, capturing women for concubines could be one goal of such raids.

    Unlike ‘disposability’, risk-taking among men (good way of putting it) is likely genetic. I would argue that reproductive success for men (only) was correlated with wealth and status, and that the rewards are very unequally distributed. A woman can always find someone to make her pregnant, so she gets as many children as she wants (or more, of course). Pregnancy being expensive and the opportunities limited, it is a matter of who she chooses for the father, and when. For men, being one of the high status men who get lots of children is an extremely valuable prize, genetically speaking, and a low status man runs a very real risk of producing no offspring at all. It makes sense, genetically, for a young, unpaired man to run even quite high risks of dying if the reward is getting a woman (or more). And the number of offspring that the winners get can more than make up for the genes that are lost when then losers die. A similar logic could apply (genetically or culturally) among families. One very successful son (and three dead) might be worth more to the family than four scraping by. Which could be an argument for spending more resources on the boys (where the rewards to strength are greater) and encouraging risk-taking.

    On the ‘contempt felt for the men fighting under them’, I would like to hear more. Surely the way the officers lived was vastly more comfortable, and I do not deny the attitudes you describe. But war was always an extremely bloody business, and officers risked and died as much as the men in battle, certainly up to WWI (and even there junior officers risked as much as the men?). I might mention that sickness was a bigger killer than bullets, and that having people stand up in close ranks to be shot and killed was a military necessity – not only in that you otherwise lost, but in that breaking ranks and covering could get even more people killed. Or I could remind you that the American civil war was about as bloody as WWI, even with citizen soldiers and presumably a less ingrained class structure than in European society.

  134. Lucythoughts says

    #140 Gjenganger
    “On the ‘contempt felt for the men fighting under them’, I would like to hear more”

    Perhaps this was unfair. Many officers took a great deal of pride in the men under their command as you can see in their letters but I question the overall culture within the command structure.

    Wellington famously said that his army were comprised of “the scum of the Earth”. By all accounts he was a hard, ruthless man he was also a brilliant strategist and he didn’t squander his men. Later Generals, I suspect, shared his view of the common soldiers but combined it with complete logistical incompetence. It is difficult to see sometimes where incompetence ends and contempt begins. For example the Crimean war was a managerial disaster. Was the failure to ensure basic necessary supply lines, for example, more to do with inexperience and stupidity or overconfidence and wilful disregard? I don’t know. Sometimes impressions form in your mind and it is hard to pull out the pieces of evidence that lodged them there. The impression that I have is that too often soldiers’ lives were wasted because a very low value was placed upon them.

    You are quite right that illness was a massive killer in warfare and a lot of it was probably not preventable. For example, when you bring a lot of people together, infection spreads. Also, you have exposure to diseases which are endemic, such as malaria. But where you have massive numbers of deaths from dysentery and exhaustion for example you have to wonder how many lives were being squandered unnecessarily. You expect a high death toll during military engagements but the levels of suffering and death in an encamped army is more surprising to most people I think. Sieges were hated far more that battles.

    I’d like to include a few quotes from the letters of Captain Colin Campbell relating to the siege of Balaclava in the Crimea, which I think give an impression of the scale of preventable illness and death. This was one of the low points of the war because no sensible preparation had been made for the encamped army to survive the Crimean winter, even down to proper supply lines for food for the men and provender of the horses. For example, in November they sent orders back to Britain for extra tents as a matter of urgency; the first ones started to arrive in March. Perhaps more incompetence than contempt on the part of the command structure, but I’m not sure those things can be teased apart so easily. They make interesting reading either way.

    “The work for the English troops here is dreadfully hard, and is killing the men; what is most trying is what are called covering parties – large bodies of men are marched down every night to the entrenchments and remain there 24 hours, to prevent the Russians from entering the batteries and spiking the guns. Whatever the weather may be there the men have to stay, and, as their clothing is very insufficient, the men are sometimes half dead with cold. Nothing like a fire can be lit, as it would immediately bring upon us the fire of the Russian batteries… The state of the trenches in rainy weather surpasses all description; the thick sticky mud is nearly a foot deep, and in it the men have to lie, as the sight of their heads above the parapet in daytime would be the signal for a shower of shot and shell… We are losing four or five a day by what is put down in the returns as cholera, but is nothing but cramps brought on by lying in the wet and cold.”

    “The want of transport has destroyed more lives and caused more misery than all other mistakes put together. I have seen our men after having come back from the trenches, and having barely time to eat some biscuit and coffee, sent off to Balaclava to bring up rations, warm clothing, blankets, etc. They would return at night after their 14-mile tramp through the mud, and throw themselves down on the floor of their tents as if they were dead, so exhausted, that even if their dinners had been got ready for them, many of them could not have eaten a morsel. Next morning probably one third of them would be in hospital, and the remainder for the trenches the following evening.”

    “If I were to try to write about all the mistakes and blunders made in our different departments here, I should fill a tolerable volume. They are endless. Those in the medical department, though not worse than others, are more dreadful in their consequences. Doctors will tell you how they have been suddenly ordered on board a ship to take 300 men across the Black Sea; how the men would lie on the hard boards in every form of cholera, dysentery, and fever, with not one atom of medicine to give them, and two or three drunken pensioners to attend on them. In the morning the doctors and pensioners would go round picking out the dead from the living, and throwing them overboard…”

  135. Lucythoughts says

    Thanks. If you are interested in a bit of human colour concerning when snobbery and incompetence come together with devastating effect, check out the Earl of Cardigan. He is most famous for leading the Charge of the Light Brigade and if you look at his Wikipedia page I think you’ll appreciate his comment about not “fighting the enemy among private soldiers” in relation to his failure to allow his men to collect supplies during the subsequent siege at Balaclava, while he himself resided on his private yacht. The mismanagement of the Crimean war finally sparked the debate on the sale of commissions, although they weren’t actually abolished for another decade or more.

  136. says

    Faye, from Selhurst, there’s emerging and indeed growing data, especially since the midish 1990’s, that the overall quality of our microbiome health, is likely to be a considerable impact on the overall standard of our physical wellness and that has very considerable implications, for the standard of our overall immune system, impacting therefore professional lives, travel experience and all lifestyle enjoyment!

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