Masculinity: the personal, the political and the economic


There’s an unusually well-balanced feature about the politics and practice of masculinity in the Independent today by Oliver Bennett. Most writing on men’s issues and masculinities takes either an individualist or a political approach. Bennett’s piece is smart enough to recognise that the issues are connected & inseparable.

The article put me in mind of something I wrote a few weeks ago, when I was speaking on a panel at the ESRC academic conference on masculinities & was asked to introduce myself with a few words to set out where I was coming from. What follows is a (hopefully) readable edit of the notes I made for that address.

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When it comes to writing the socio-political history of 2017, I think we can safely assume that masculinity will be filed among the villains, implicated in everything from sexual abuse and harassment scandals to the rise of the alt-right, from the mass murder of spree shooters and terrorists to child abuse or the mundane malice of internet trolls.

And masculinity is not just held responsible for harm to others. Our bookshelves groan with the weight of testimony against masculinity, as writers, actors, comedians, artists, musicians all line up to become witnesses for the prosecution. Yes, the biggest victims of masculinity are often men themselves – emotionally stunted, isolated, lonely, self-destructive.

Our masculine norms can be – and often are – rightly blamed for contributing to the horrific male suicide rates, alcoholism and addiction, our poor physical and mental health, and so on and so on. Never mind what we are doing to others, why are we doing this to ourselves?

I don’t particularly disagree with the prevailing consensus of those debates. And yet, for me, something very important is missing from the conversation, and it is this:

The prescriptions that we hear today, from the Grayson Perrys and the Robert Webbs, from the endless Guardian thinkpieces goes something like this: The problem here is men, and the solution is for men to heal, for men to change.

But there’s a problem. Masculinity is not an individual ailment – it is a political construction.

This narrative around healing and change is an atomised, individualist solution to a structural, societal, political problem. Men are as we are because at a profound level this is how society wants us to be. That is how hegemony works. While well-meaning liberals urge us to step out of the man box, pretty much all of the structural forces of society are shoving us back in and nailing down the lid.

Now there’s a big ideological point there, an analysis that has come down from Engels and Antonio Gramsci. Our cultural norms of masculinity evolved to serve economic interests in the post-industrial society.  In the words of the feminist philosopher Nina Power, the personal is not political, it is always entirely economic.

But it is not just the big picture. Our masculinity today is also shaped by countless small policy decisions, on everything from work, family and fatherhood to housing, health and criminal justice. Let me focus on the detail, how 21st century man is a product of 21st century political decisions, by way of a few examples.

As I am here in a university, let me begin with a familiar problem. Boys and men in the 21st century are falling behind academically at a quite spectacular rate.

If current trends were to continue, a boy born in 2017 will be 75% less likely to attend university than his sister. As many experts have noted, this has calamitous implications for society, for our economy and for the individual men of the 21st century.

Given the extensive – and very welcome – efforts to get girls into STEM and other subjects where they are under-represented, we might ask how many initiatives, how many programmes the Department of Education has funded specifically aimed at addressing boys’ academic underperformance? The answer, is zero. None. Not one.

Girls are assumed to be in need of practical help, support, encouragement. Boys are left to fend for themselves or effectively told it’s their own fault for playing too many video games. That is not toxic masculinity. That is toxic patriarchy – the expectation that men should be self-reliant, powerful, independent at all times.

At the heart of the movement to reform masculinity is the idea that men need to be more caring, more sensitive, more nurturing as fathers and friends.

There is no doubt that we need more male role models in those areas, it would surely help if we had vastly more men working in childcare, nursing, primary teaching and other caring professions.

There can be little doubt that machismo and male gender norms make a huge barrier to that ambition. Here is an area where political decisions could make an enormous difference – this is precisely the other side of the coin to the numerous initiatives aimed at getting more girls into STEM.

And yet not only does the government do nothing to encourage men into those professions, when the topic was raised last year Andrea Leadsom – now Leader of the House of Commons – said it is not “sensible” to employ men as child carers because they might be paedophiles. That is not toxic masculinity. That is toxic politics.

One of the more welcome developments in the field of gender politics in recent decades has been the belated acknowledgement of the unique issues faced by male survivors of sexual, domestic and intimate violence and abuse. The very existence of male survivors challenges the norms of hegemonic masculinity – men are supposed to be the perpetrators, not the victims.

And at a political level, when the government funds projects to support male survivors, when the government, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service collects statistics on sexual abuse of men and boys, they do so within a strategy that is called Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls.

As far as our authorities are concerned, male survivors of intimate and sexual violence are categorised as an awkward subset of Women and Girls. That is not toxic masculinity, that is toxic patriarchy woven into the very fabric of government.

There are endless other examples but I must leave you with one thought to carry away. All the issues you hear about around masculinity, however personal they may appear, are on some level political.

Whatever solutions we come up with must also be political. What I would ask of you today is that wherever there is a suggestion that men should in some way change, ask yourself what we can do as a society to enable that, to encourage that.

Because yes, men do need to change, but will not and can not do that unless and until society changes with us.

Comments

  1. 123454321 says

    ’bout time you wrote an article like this, Ally! Way overdue! But I’m going to reinforce once again that the root cause (note I said root cause) of men’s problems has jack shit to do with politics and everything to do with historical gender-biased behaviour which led to today’s evolutionary outcome – a set of behaviours which were crucial to success but, unfortunately for men, placed far more emphasis on female protection. Men and boys were being pissed over way before politics was invented – the politics came afterwards, taking its usual strategic course of power, greed and exploitation. All politics has done is take advantage of men’s inability to ask for help and reacted to the huge noise women have made. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. Yeah, men won’t retaliate, so let’s just piss all over them while we keep the girls happy.
    No point finding a ‘political’ solution, there isn’t one because politics doesn’t come first, and until there’s a problem for Government, they ain’t going to address a political solution because there isn’t a problem to fix. And you can keep talking and talking about the politics ’til the cows come home but there is no such thing as a political solution for men in today’s climate, yet. You can keep looking, but one day you’ll realise it’s more fucking elusive than the Higgs Boson. The only time a political solution will make an appearance is when there is so much freaking pressure put upon the establishment by the masses that it makes every politician’s greedy little lives so fucking miserable that they are FORCED to find a political solution. Which is why it goes full circle back to my original point that the only way to make this happen is to stop pussyfooting and instead get on with making a humongous racket from every rooftop in the land to raise awareness of men’s issues (and men’s rights) and reinforce that it’s ok for men to think of themselves without fear of reprisal. This is the way the world works and until you realise it you’ll remain very disappointed with your progress. Anyway, nice to see an article that raises lots of men’s issues. Granted, it’s inevitable that you’ll meet the political discussion further down the road over the roundabout and second on your left. For now, try concentrating on getting over the red light!

  2. Feinmann says

    You have a lot to think about:
    – For every woman who commits suicide, three men commit suicide.
    – For every woman who dies in accidents at work, 19 men die.
    – For every woman who dies in war, 36 men die.

    Hillary Clinton said “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat”. Men’s lives didn’t matter to her.

    We live in a misandriatic society, which is very concerned about the problems of women and very little about those of men.

  3. That Guy says

    @123454321

    The only time a political solution will make an appearance is when there is so much freaking pressure put upon the establishment by the masses that it makes every politician’s greedy little lives so fucking miserable that they are FORCED to find a political solution.

    I’m honestly confused here, how is that not a political solution? What do you propose if you don’t think a political solution will work?

    @Ally

    Can I be the Devil’s Advocate (or straw feminist) here?
    A lot of the points raised are self-evidently beneficial, I don’t think anyone would be heartless enough to seriously suggest that male suicide rates could ever be a good thing, and similarly the de-programming of violence into concepts of ‘manhood’ has the obvious benefit that all of society is less likely to be a victim of male violence, but educational attainment is one that doesn’t seem so obvious.

    OK, so it’s unambiguous that men and boys are less likely to succeed in the academic system and while I personally consider this a problem, what if someone was to say, “what’s the big deal”?

    Such a hypothetical person would argue
    The gender pay-gap is still a thing, so if educational attainment for men and boys isn’t as strong, what’s the worst that happens? Men get paid the same as women? You could say that even though women are applying and succeeding at higher education in greater numbers, the end result is that they are loading up on student debt and working in high-stress professions (lawyers and doctors) to be on equal economic footing with men.

    Surely, addressing the education attainment gap would just widen the gender pay gap, and be detrimental to women? (such a person would ask).

    Now, being that I personally consider education to have vastly more benefit than merely economic, I feel everyone should be extracting maximum benifit from the systems in place, but ignoring that, how would you respond to the caricature’s questions above?

    Cheers

  4. Ally Fogg says

    That Guy, to be honest I think you know the answers to your questions & hint at them in your last paragraph, but to be explicit…

    These are not the sides of a zero sum equation. The causes of the gender wage gap are little if anything to do with educational attainment. The causes of the wage gap are primarily family structures after parenthood (women are more likely to stop working or take a gap, go part time, seek less time-demanding career paths etc etc). Beyond that, there are issues like how (supposedly) male & female careers / jobs are valued & remunerated, which again isn’t helped by boys’ underachievement. Changing that requires changing our social & cultural expectations & habits and it is not in any way apparent that this will/would happen as a consequence of boys’ underachievement.

    Beyond that, I think it is a mistake to imagine that it is the same people gaining or losing out on the positives & negatives here. So the statistics on boys underachievement are mostly disguising some massive disparities WITHIN those numbers. Basically the top 10% or so of well-off, upper-middle class, white and privately-educated boys are still continuing to outperform almost everyone else, including their direct female peers. Those boys will grow up to be men who will become the highest earning, most powerful business leaders, doctors, lawyers, engineers etc, so the fundamental social systems of patriarchy etc will remain happily in place. It’s the other 90% who are falling behind.

    And finally, it’s just basic social policy & economics. A society in which (nearly) half the population are undereducated & underperforming will be less prosperous, more socially challenged, less happy for everyone than a society where everyone is getting closer to fulfilling their full potential.

    Does that cover it?

  5. Carnation says

    “And finally, it’s just basic social policy & economics. A society in which (nearly) half the population are undereducated & underperforming will be less prosperous, more socially challenged, less happy for everyone than a society where everyone is getting closer to fulfilling their full potential.”

    Sounds just like Brext Britain and Trump’s America.

    I’m afraid that only radical socialist policies will fix the massive problems that society has at the moment – men and boys need careers to be proud of and to look forward to. When they don’t have these things, profound social ill follows. And it’s different for women and girls, I’d argue.

  6. 123454321 says

    “I’m honestly confused here, how is that not a political solution? What do you propose if you don’t think a political solution will work?”

    I didn’t say a political solution wouldn’t work. I said a political solution isn’t required until it’s required. It’ll be a requirement when people kick up the same level of fuss on behalf of men and boys as they do for women and girls. It’ll be required when Government starts to feels the pain. Currently, they don’t give a shit. We need to make them give a shit. There is no political strategy for men and boys because there is no need for one as things stand. Which part of that don’t you get? What I described was applying pressure to the Government in order to lever a political solution. I didn’t describe a political solution because it’s completely pointless until you press the gas and get over the red light which, it appears, most people are completely incapable of doing for fear of their job or credibility. You’re wasting your time talking about men’s politics, it means fuck all to the Government. They don’t give a shit because they’re just a bunch of greedy, controlling imbeciles with brains consisting of a severely low grade, inferior aggregate mix. They only follow the money on the gravy train and are only capable of doing the absolute minimum work necessary to get by. They’re not going to go out of their way to be innovative or fix something if it doesn’t line their pockets. They wouldn’t know equality if it smacked them in the face. They are too scared to go against the grain of current thinking, they’d rather go with the crowd like dumb fuck sheep.

  7. 123454321 says

    “Basically the top 10% or so of well-off, upper-middle class, white and privately-educated boys are still continuing to outperform almost everyone else”

    So? I mean what are you saying here? That you’d prefer it if they were Asian? I mean what does it matter? Whoever it is is just filling a space in society and doing a job. You’re always going to have rich and poor, black and white, old and young. Just which minority group will you be happy with for being in the top 10%?

    Also, what is this “pay gap” thingy? I understand there is an “earnings gap” because women work less hours. But I thought paying a woman less than a man per hour/salary was illegal if they has same experience, competence, qualifications, same location, same job, same risks etc. Where are these employers in the UK who break the law? Let me know and I’ll call the police.

    “so the fundamental social systems of patriarchy etc will remain happily in place.”

    What? Is this the same happy members of the patriarchy that enjoy being circumcised when they’re 4 weeks old or lose their entire life savings and home to the Mother of his kids who has just shacked up with the milkman? Is it the same joyfully content patriarchal members who enjoy all the public exposure that goes along with false rape accusations? And I presume it also includes those members who have suffered sexual abuse but get no empathy let alone help? And let’s not forget all the members of the patriarchy who have suffered domestic abuse but once again no one, not least the Government, give a toss. Yeah, let’s all talk about the blissfully happy patriarchy – yay!

  8. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    Your comments above are what happens when you read MRA blogs.

    You simply don’t understand basic patriarchal theory and I think you’re too stupid to understand.

  9. D506 says

    @ Carnation

    Do you realize how long it’s been since you’ve made an interesting comment? It’s all just taglines copy-pasted from elsewhere and insults. Are you a bot?

    123454321 might be wrong, but at least I’m pretty sure his comments would still be here if Ally had a captcha.

  10. Marissa van Eck says

    This. Is why. Men. Need. Feminism.

    This is also why I use the word kyriarchy rather than patriarchy: because at the end of the day the gender-and/or-sex-essentialist slant on these things is somewhere between a red herring and an active liability for our cause.

    Feminism has gone intersectional as a response to and recognition–perhaps partly subconscious–of the above. The key realization, the one I think will be the moment of Zen for all the men who need to hear it, is this: unless you are on top of the world and part of the elite, you have more in common with the most fringe woman–think “black gay Jewish disabled trans polyamorous autistic etc etc etc” here–than with the men of the elite. And the elite are dividing and conquering along all those other lines to keep you from realizing that *no one does more violence to men than other men.*

    When men get this, I see the light in their eyes go on. I see them ascend to a higher plane. It is a moment of satori. What follows is usually painful, and sometimes incomplete, but once someone has been awakened to this there is no going back to sleep.

    Does it seem weird for a gold star lesbian to be concerned for our menfolk? I’ve got male friends, I’ve got a brother, a father, uncles, maybe even a nephew soon depending on what my sister and her husband get up to. I can’t help it; we’re all in this together, and I think in the end the only real fight is selfishness versus humanity. Maybe feminism is just one of the most obvious ways of addressing that…

  11. That Guy says

    @Ally and @ Marissa

    Ally, thanks for the response, as I suspected the answer is to treat the issues as more than a simple one dimensional optimisation problem, educational underachievement is only one node in a whole web of problems, and an equality of misery isn’t that great of an equality at all.

    @ Marissa in particular

    Does it seem weird for a gold star lesbian to be concerned for our menfolk?

    I think the man-hating lesbian caricature doesn’t really exist outside the fevered imagination of MRAs. Maybe they just can’t grasp the concept of empathy towards people they don’t want to fuck?

    I’m not so 100% comfortable with the implication of male-specific issues being tackled under the umbrella of feminism- though I can totally see the reasoning- if nothing else, the labelling sticks, the longstanding issue with male victims of sexual crimes being classified as being victims of “violence against women and girls” being an example discussed at length here. That’s not to say that feminism is incompatible with tackling men’s issues. It absolutely is, and should be a complimentary partner. Like you said, we’re all in on this together. (MRAs can get tae fuck though)

    @123454321

    Currently, they don’t give a shit. We need to make them give a shit. There is no political strategy for men and boys because there is no need for one as things stand. Which part of that don’t you get? What I described was applying pressure to the Government in order to lever a political solution. I didn’t describe a political solution because it’s completely pointless until you press the gas and get over the red light which,it appears, most people are completely incapable of doing for fear of their job or credibility

    This hasn’t made anything clearer, I’m just now under the impression that you don’t understand how democracy works.
    You do realise, that “applying pressure to lever a political solution” is how literally every political decision gets made?

    Like, the whole reason we have political parties (in the UK) is through pressuring politicians to align themselves with political solutions stances, Like, did you think that governments just made decisions and passed laws on the whims of individuals?
    Like, to take a concrete example, did you think that woman’s suffrage just spontaneously occurred?

    This isn’t a put down, it just seems that you don’t grasp that men’s issues are in no way unique in requiring political pressure to generate a political remedy.

  12. Ally Fogg says

    So? I mean what are you saying here? That you’d prefer it if they were Asian? I mean what does it matter?

    LOL, you’re quite right, what difference does it make?

    So let’s fix things to make sure all of our best paid, most powerful positions, jobs & careers in society go to black women. Doesn’t make any difference to you, right?

  13. Carnation says

    @ That Guy

    Re 12345etc, he is in many ways the MRA’s MRA. He doesn’t actually understand vast swathes of very basic gender theory (or academic terminology) but instead seems to have as the cornerstone of his identity the crudest MRA principles; society is misandric and that feminists caused all of this. Think of a poor man’s Paul Elam (though thankfully not as hateful), who is of course a very, very, very poor man’s Warren Farrell (who is just a fucking idiot).

    So, in the world of 12345… the world is out to persecute men and nobody cares. He claims, with some jusitifcation that *politicians* don’t care about men and then, because he’s stupid, deduces that *politics* can’t work. So there he is, standing there outraged at the constant misandries being committed, on women’s hour, in adverts, in CiF comments, and he feels helpless and angry. And he understands that something must be done! Noise must be made!

    Thank Jah, then, for MRAs! They are fighting the good fight! They are commenting and blogging. They are doxxing. They’re ruining Twitter by co-opting hashtags! They’re joining the Alt Right when their misogynistic ramblings lose the shock value they once had! They are fighting against the misandries far harder than any mere politicians could ever do.

    Just look at their successes… Erm, here they are:

    Yup, that’s about it.

  14. StillGjenganger says

    @Marissa 10

    unless you are on top of the world and part of the elite, you have more in common with the most fringe woman–think “black gay Jewish disabled trans polyamorous autistic etc etc etc” here–than with the men of the elite.

    Not really, I’d say. I expect to have a fair few things in common with even David Cameron: a male culture built around respect rather than intimacy, shared rules for interaction, and some shared experiences, from superheroes, to playfighting, to trying to figure out those maddening, mysterious creatures women. What would I have in common with the most fringe etc. woman, apart from some common biology and living in the same country or continent? And, you claim, being dominated by the elite, but that is a political abstraction not a shared experience. You are not describing reality here – you are trying to convince people to ignore their concerns and join up behind yours.

    the only real fight is selfishness versus humanity

    Regrettably that is not true either. We may all be part of humanity, but we all have our own ideas about how humanity should live. We all want to live in a culture that fits around our ideas, attitudes and habits, where we are normal and other people adapt to us, insstead of us adapting to them. If you do not believe me, see how many would agree that all humanity ought to speak the same langauge – and then see how many would agree to give up their own.

    Would it be fair to say that “Men. Need. Feminism.” in the same way that “Fish. Need. A bicycle”?

  15. That Guy says

    @14

    Not really, I’d say. I expect to have a fair few things in common with even David Cameron: a male culture built around respect rather than intimacy, shared rules for interaction, and some shared experiences

    Aye, I remember when my public school mates respectfully demanded that I smash the fuck out of bars and restaurants, or that common initiation into the ruling class by being felted by a deceased pig.

    I don’t know your background but you’re incredibly naive if you think that big DC’s background and experiences diverge less than women of a similar background to working class men.

    Would it be fair to say that “Men. Need. Feminism.” in the same way that “Fish. Need. A bicycle”?

    Have you seen the state of the coral reefs recently? Seems to me like fish would have benefited massively from more people on bicycles. As established above, you can’t easily isolate elements of a complex interconnected system.

  16. Marduk says

    10. Presents me with a bit of a problem. On the one hand I agree with the sentiment 100%. On the other, I don’t agree (literally) with a single word of it, yet voicing this itself militates against the very solidarity I’d like to see.

    So what I will say is that a while ago, when I was being yelled at for having unpopular opinions about intersectionality and kyriarchy, I suggested that feminism was reconstructing class analysis within its own paradigm and that this was potentially dangerous. Stuff like this is exactly what I meant, its a classic and correct argument about class consciousness but in completely different language that insists feminism must be accepted. Feminism is utterly irrelevant in and of itself, yet somehow everything is to do with feminism anyway.

    This doesn’t prove men need feminism, it proves feminism needs class analysis and shouldn’t have forgotten it. Either way, I don’t mean that in a hostile way and I’ll see you on the same side of barricades.

  17. 123454321 says

    That Guy
    “Like, did you think that governments just made decisions and passed laws on the whims of individuals?”

    No I don’t think that at all. The Government is nothing more than a business in disguise. It pretends it’s acting in the interest of the people but really it doesn’t give a shit about much else other than making money and controlling people. Government is desperate for votes and they’ll piss all over anyone they can get away with pissing over. If you can’t see that then you’re a full on numpty.

    “…did you think that woman’s suffrage just spontaneously occurred?”

    No, it gained momentum because people (women) thought they were being pissed all over and suddenly became all collaborative and started to make a scene. So the Government thought oh fuck we’re gonna lose loads of votes so we’d better react and do something. Enter the political solution, which is what I’m saying: you don’t get a political solution until you kick up a scene.

    “This isn’t a put down, it just seems that you don’t grasp that men’s issues are in no way unique in requiring political pressure to generate a political remedy.”

    Yeah I do grasp it. What you don’t grasp is that men (and women) need to kick up a fuss on behalf of men’s issues before the fat arsed, lazy, good for nothing, greedy bastards in Government will pull their fingers out and actually do something!

  18. 123454321 says

    “So let’s fix things to make sure all of our best paid, most powerful positions, jobs & careers in society go to black women. Doesn’t make any difference to you, right?”

    Yep, happy with that, as long as they’re competent and do a good job. But can you imagine if for example a prominent member of parliament or maybe a distinguished employee of the BBC coming across in an interview expressing their preference for these high paid black women to be kicked out to make way for more white males so as to address an imbalance? No, me neither. I’m all for equal opportunity and readdressing the promotion of STEM careers etc. but i’m not in favour of fucking kicking people out who have a family and have worked their ass off just for the sake of some ‘quick fix’ which isn’t actually fixing anything in line with true meritocracy.

  19. 123454321 says

    Carnation#13

    Every now and then I get a compelling, funny little feeling inside to come on here and call you a fuckwit. There we go, I feel so much better already! And did you notice how I delivered that in one line of pure unadulterated efficiency rather than 30 lines of meaningless horseshit?

    The thing is, Carnation, it’s really noticeable that whenever Ally writes about some of the awful issues that men and boys are enduring in today’s society, you say precisely fuck all. You’re completely oblivious to your own transparency! Unbelievable!

  20. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    Sticks & stones.

    Let’s get back to your point about the need to “make noise.” Fathers 4 Justice made a huge amount of “noise”; got lots of press attention, some sympathetic, and even got some (gullible) politicians to talk to them.

    What have they achieved? Nothing. Why? Because they have not a scintilla of credibility. Why? I’d argue, partly, precisely *because* of the idiotic nature of the “noise” that they’ve made. And, as always with MRA type groups, the awful calibre of activist that they attract.

    What I said about you was and is true, I’m afraid. I don’t dislike you, in fact I feel a degree of affection towards you (and a couple of other people on this blog) but you are stupid. Or at least extremely lazy. You either choose not to understand what is meant and understood by patriarchal theory, or you’re too stupid to understand.

    I actually think that what is generally accepted as patriarchal attitudes, you understand as misandry. But you’re too drunk on righteous MRA blog hyperbole to understand the difference.

    Maybe you’ll pull yourself together one day. I hope so.

  21. 123454321 says

    Hey Carny, I agree F4J were aiming in the wrong direction – very immature and actually quite offensive. They did raise a certain amount of awareness but were ridiculed just as you’d expect, What they did is certainly not my idea of how you should go about raising awareness, at least not with the expectation that you’ll be taken seriously! I’m talking about raising facts relevant to men’s issues, facts that can be raised in public places all around the internet coupled with justified protest where there is obvious bias. As men and women are slowly becoming more aware of men’s issues, I would recommend people getting their voices heard via comments sections, websites, blogs and basically everywhere they can where there is a potentially captive audience open to redressing their already indoctrinated viewpoint. Nothing as offensive and aggressive as the Suffragettes who adopted violent and threatening behaviour!!!!! People, just like you, are stupid. I mean, let’s face it, you’re stupid enough to promote the so-called ‘Patriarchal theory’ – Patriarchal theory! hahahahaha. I’m sure it doesn’t need me to tell you that a ‘theory’ is just that – a THEORY – you know, that little word that means what you’re talking about could turn out to be just a gargantuan pair of fanny flaps. Patriarchal theory is just another pathetic attempt to blame men for fucking everything that goes wrong. It’s a theory taught in gender studies classes where the subject curriculum is designed and approved by….wait for it…guess who….yep, you’ve guessed it – FEMINISTS – feminists who usually hate men. Yes they do, I’ve actually studied Sociology which included plenty of gender-related modules. The class was full of women with just 2 or 3 men. The lecturer (a woman) hated men but she hated me even more because I pulled her up on her cherrypicked, bullshit little factoids which she threw out to the female students knowing they loved it. I can’t begin to explain how deeply sexist she was. She blamed men for fucking everything. She also supported Patriarchal theory, which is nothing more than a postulate, a speculation, pure conjecture, effectively a complete fucking GUESS as to why things are how they are. I passed with top grades haha and she hated it haha. Geez, Carny, move on from your gender studies classes aimed at 19 year olds and get a grip on today’s real world – a world which pisses all over men, a world where men and boys need to say enough is enough and complain from every corner.

  22. That Guy says

    @21

    apologies in advance for this, but I couldn’t resist

    People, just like you, are stupid. I mean, let’s face it, you’re stupid enough to promote the so-called ‘Patriarchal theory’ – Patriarchal theory! hahahahaha. I’m sure it doesn’t need me to tell you that a ‘theory’ is just that – a THEORY – you know, that little word that means what you’re talking about could turn out to be just a gargantuan pair of fanny flaps.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

    A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested, in accordance with the scientific method, using a predefined protocol of observation and experiment.[1][2] Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and embody scientific knowledge.[3]

    As an aside It sounds like you’v taken a lot of this conversation very personally. While I’m sure the demographic makeup of your sociology course and the interactions you had with the lecturer are quite important to you, I’m not so sure what the relevance this anecdote has to the current conversation.

  23. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    You have just proved that you are indeed stupid and/or lazy.

    A very quick Google search revealed this;

    “Feminist theory defines patriarchy as an unjust social system that enforces gender roles and is oppressive to both men and women. It often includes any social, political, or economic mechanism that evokes male dominance over women. Feminist theory typically characterizes patriarchy as a social construction, which can be overcome by revealing and critically analyzing its manifestations.”

    Just in case you missed it; “oppressive to both men and women.”

    Not “Patriarchal theory is just another pathetic attempt to blame men for fucking everything that goes wrong” it’s actually a name given to a system that creates impossible and unjust demands on men and women.

    Because you’re stupid, I’m going to help you understand. At least then you can’t say you haven’t been told.

    You know those TV programmes that feature men being clueless in the household? The ones that really upset you. Those storylines are classically patriarchal; they posit women as masters of the domestic sphere and men as being unskilled and unable to cope with patriarchal gender constructs (woman as homemaker, man as breadwinner).

    You know that sentencing disparity that upsets MRAs? (It’s vastly overstated, but it is a fact.) Again, classical patriarchal theory. Men are assumed to be tougher and stronger, women are weaker and less resilient. Classic patriarchal theory.

    Remember how you got upset about boys and girls being held to different standards? “Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what girls are made of”? Again, classical patriarchal theory. Boys are aggressive, should be tough and shouldn’t cry. And girls shouldn’t be like boys. Gender constructs as per patriarchal theory.

    We could go on and on and on. That Guy illustrated just how crassly idiotic your concept of what a theory is, I have demonstrated just how immature, weak and informed by idiots your understanding of patriarchal theory is.

    If you want to comment on a gender studies blog, then for fuck’s sake understand the absolute basics.

    So, what are you? Stupid, lazy or both? Or are you “man enough” to admit you made a mistake and then continue debating in good faith?

  24. Carnation says

    Merry Christmas to Ally and all HetPat regulars regardless of political persuasion…

    I’m full of red wine and good cheer.

    Normal hostilities can resume tomorrow.

  25. 123454321 says

    That Guy#22

    Look, I haven’t much time but thankfully just enough to tell you your’e talking shit. I mean, Sociology isn’t even a science, well, not a formal or natural science where logic and experimentation can be tested against the laws of, say, chemistry or physics – sciences based on principles where we have no control over their fundamental, universal, mechanical constants. Nah, we’re not talking maths, physics, chemistry or even some the natural sciences like like some of the earth sciences , which are objective, precise, modular and provable via experimental evidence. Here, we’re taking about a second class fluffy bunny with floppy ears science. A social science theory is hardly in the same league as a mathematical or cosmological theory because it’s subjective and riddled with bias. Anyone can dream up a theory for these sciences and then conveniently use their prejudices to eliminate critical facts or observations in order to ‘prove ‘their theory right. Feminists are fucking great at this, fucking geniuses. Patriarchal theory is just an excuse to bash men, it makes no useful, testable predictions which is the whole point of a theory, it shouldn’t even be called a fucking theory based on its extremely shaky postulates, geez, it’s just as easy to argue the matriarchal theory. Patriarchal theory argues that women have been excluded from power but like I’ve said a million times before, it doesn’t matter who holds the power, it’s where and how the power gets applied. So when people moan about the pay gap (which doesn’t exist because actually it’s an EARNINGS gap) it’s more relevant to consider who SPENDS all the money!! Feminists don’t seem to want to talk about that! Anyway, patriarchal theory isn’t in the same league as a formal science theory which you linked to so your post can be ignored, just like you should be.
    By the way, I’m not undermining the importance of social sciences, which I believe are critically important to our evolution and understanding. Just don’t try and compare apples with oranges.

  26. That Guy says

    @123454321

    Look, I haven’t much time but thankfully just enough to tell you your’e talking shit. I mean, Sociology isn’t even a science, well, not a formal or natural science where hubby blurbs roody-poo poo dooo. Rim ram flimmity flam jib jab jazoo. Gurf fluff humble burble blu. Yibble yobble bubble bobble rinky tinky dee. Slib slob slipidee. *wet farting noises*.

    Oh right, OK, cool, my bad.

  27. Carnation says

    @ That Guy #26

    I actually lol’d when I read your reply.

    @12345etc Dude, look, everyone reading this exchange is watching someone (you) flounder around trying to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.

    You don’t understand sociology. You don’t understand social science research methods. You don’t understand the most basic of gender studies.

    You retreat into the comfort of MRA clichés; “Patriarchal theory is just an excuse to bash men” – I have demonstrated to you that this is a lie. You read it. You *know* it’s a lie, but you still repeat it.

    That makes you a liar. That makes you someone who feels better repeating lies than learning.

    That makes you lazy, stupid AND a liar.

    Just to give you a hand, you can still understand basic gender theory AND be anti-feminist. It’s harder to justify, but it’s still very do-able. You’d be taken more seriously as well.

    Take Ally for example. He’s someone who is extremely well versed in feminist theories. He also (justifiably) criticises many feminists and many feminisms. He can do this because he understands the discourse. In fact, one could argue that he’s very well placed to do so because he uses feminist theories to critique feminists and to highlight just how damaging patriarchal structures are to men as well.

    Nobody (except to the feminist equivalents to stupid people like you) says that patriarchy means all men are privileged and everything that goes wrong is because of men. That’s all in your mind.

    One thing popped into my head though…

    You emoted the following; ” Is this the same happy members of the patriarchy that enjoy.. [losing] their entire life savings and home to the Mother of his kids who has just shacked up with the milkman?”

    Surely this has a no net gain or loss to the patriarchy? The milkman gets a house; one man loses a house, one man gains. That’s surely a crude form of wealth distribution?

    PS – women owns houses too

  28. StillGjenganger says

    Hi Guys.

    He is not putting it either nicely or convincingly, but 123454321 is actually right: appeals to ‘Patriarchal Theory’ are rather beside the point for this discussion.

    Sure, a well supported scientific theory (like Quantum Mechanics) gets so strong that even people who flatly reject its basic assumptions (notoriously: Albert Einstein) are forced to accept its conclusions. But no sociological theory has achieved that kind of authority, certainly not in a politicised area like gender studies. I do not doubt that feminists and their fellow travelers think it is true, and authoritative, and profound, just like they think their policies are better for men just as they are better for women. But then, “They would say that, wouldn’t they”? For non-feminists, like 123454321 and me, ‘Patriarchal Theory’ looks a lot more like an ad-hoc construction, designed to lend solidity to an ideological position that is adopted for other reasons. I am sure that it is both consistent and has some useful points to it, but you would only rely on it if it confirms what you already believe. Much like Reaganomics, post-war dialectic materialism, or 19th century racial theories.

    So, if you want to discuss with me or 123454321, you must first convince us that ‘Patriarchal Theory’ is actually reliable. Or you must fall back on arguments that do not require it. One does not need to understand ‘Patriarchal Theory’ to participate in the gender debate, any more than one needs to be a high level Scientologist to debate whether Scientology is a profound faith or an exploitative cult.

    Either way there is no point in scolding us for our ignorance. If you only want to debate with people who are ‘with it’ and share your basic beliefs, just get Ally to say the word and we shall move away and leave you to it.

  29. That Guy says

    @ StillGjenganger

    I refuse to engage with you until you prove to me that Quantum mechanics is reliable and not a middle-class luxury inflicted on the hardworking masses by misguided oxbridge graduates and holier-than-thou Guardian readers.

  30. StillGjenganger says

    @That Guy

    That is perfectly OK. On general principles you cannot force me to believe in Patriarchal Theory, you to believe in Quantum Mechanics, or an atheist to believe in the revealed word of God. For any kind of debate, you are limited to using the pieces that both sides believe in. They will never be 100%, but there are enough of them you can get somewhere, and if there are not, you cannot, so you just stop.

    Theories like Quantum Mechanics have a couple of advantages over sociology and politics: they generate precise, testable, and highly non-obvious predictions, which confirm the theory when you prove them true; and (broadly) people who believe in Quantum Mechanics can design computer chips, whereas non-believers cannot. But if I had a point to prove to someone that did not know of (or believe in) quantum mechanics I would not rely on the theory to prove me right. I would give it a try without it, and probably just fall back on “You would expect this-and-this to happen, but if you try, you will find that such-and-such happens instead”. Ordinary observed facts (unmediated by theory) tend to be universally usable, even if they do not generalise.

    Up to you if it is worth your time to argue your point to the unbelievers, or if you prefer to let it drop.

  31. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    The thing is, 12345 simply doesn’t grasp the concept. He literally doesn’t understand – it’s not that he disagrees, it’s that’s he’s too stupid or lazy to grasp what the theory means.

    It’s like an atheist saying the theory of the Christ’s resurrection is just a theory to support the cocoa industry.

  32. 123454321 says

    “You know those TV programmes that feature men being clueless in the household? The ones that really upset you. Those storylines are classically patriarchal; they posit women as masters of the domestic sphere and men as being unskilled and unable to cope with patriarchal gender constructs (woman as homemaker, man as breadwinner).”

    No, they exist for a number of reasons, all of which have fuck all to do with patriarchal theory:
    the media and entertainment industry’s marketing/production departments know men don’t complain.
    they want to be popular and make money.
    they know women DO complain.
    they want to be popular and make money.
    they know women enjoy poking fun at men.
    they want to be popular and make money.
    society has no boundaries that restrict the media from besmirching and ridiculing men.
    the same can’t be said for women.
    they want to be popular and make money.

    Nothing to do with your fluffy bunny patriarchal theory which is based around a bunch of ‘all men are evil and women are great’ prejudices, dude. Your postulates are flaky, unfounded, biased and have absolutely no rigour other than in the fluffy bunny floppy eared scientific world. Patriarchal theory is nothing more than a belief, a religion, a desperation to make up for a lack of true understanding. Give up on it, it’s flawed, out of date and has no firm roots from which to grow. I’d even go as far as to say that it”s dangerous as it preaches to young, stupid people via an official curriculum using a deep and worrying methodology of toxic indoctrination.

    But then again, I can’t really blame you for your sheeplike flock behaviour. Even Einstein’s main postulates remain intact against the rigour of empirical experimentation and continue to be scribed across every physics text book in the land, despite being absurdly wrong in terms of underlying principles. There is nothing mysterious about the quantum world, the speed of light constant, wave/particle duality or the unification of gravity and quantum once you adjust the postulates. Even the formal scientific world has hit a humungous barrier and its refusal to rewrite the text books is seriously hampering further progression. So what chance have you got, dude? None, I’d say. Asking you to adjust your ‘all men are evil oppressors’ postulate to an ‘all men are natural protectors’ postulate is as likely to become reality as asking the Church of England to recognise Jesus as a magician – a campaign that would be more painful than pulling teeth.

  33. 123454321 says

    “The thing is, 12345 simply doesn’t grasp the concept.”

    Err, yes I do, well, at least I did… until, that is, I decided it was load of codswallop with a steamy dog turd topping and decided to drop it, wash my hands and move on quickly.

  34. 123454321 says

    “Surely this has a no net gain or loss to the patriarchy? The milkman gets a house; one man loses a house, one man gains. That’s surely a crude form of wealth distribution?
    PS – women owns houses too”

    Apart from being plain wrong, I’d like to see you say that to the face of one of the thousands of men who lose their homes each year due to biased family laws that favour Mothers over Fathers. That’s if you managed to retain your face following such a nasty and truly absurd statement. In fact, your statement above helps me understand how the beliefs you formed around patriarchal theory as part of your gender studies classes help reassure you that your warped, misandric viewpoints are somehow acceptable. Furthermore, you’re too stupid to understand that one man loses a full half of a house that he owns, along with limited access rights to his own kids and often ends up with nothing. The wife or girlfriend loses nothing, so comparing the two males, eliminating the kid variable and making a statement that the patriarchy is balanced without comparing the net gains/loses of the male/female is as predictable as one can expect from your regular dimwitted fuckwit on the street. Happy Christmas, dumbo.

  35. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 32

    I still think you are right in your criticism of Patriarchal Theory.

    But, no offense mate, your comments about physics leaves me with two alternatives:
    – Either you are a genius who understands things that the best scientific brains over the past 100 years simply have not grasped.
    – Or you have some exaggerated ideas about your own abilities and understanding, which makes you a less than reliable witness in general.

  36. Marduk says

    This is a bit asinine. The quality of a scientific theory is proportional to the clarity with which the grounds for it can be clearly stated, the conditions for falsification can be clearly stated and enumerated and the degree to which it can be clearly (and ideally, easily) shown that these conditions are not met. For theories that cannot be tested empirically there are some other games that can be played that still circle the logic of contradiction (i.e., mathematical proofs).

    Clearly this is not what anyone means by ‘theory’ in the context of patriarchy anyhow.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_theory

    This gap between “theory” and theory is actually the problem, by adopting the lens we cant help but manufacture the evidence for the existence of said lens, its circular, but the value of the exercise doesn’t rest in the ontological status of the lens, its in the value of what is seen through it. All PoMo fun and games, useful for art I think, maybe some types of ethnography… As long as you remember right at the start you set the rules to generate the endpoints so you can’t generalise from it to reality, just within your little game subset. But people do because they’ve confused theory with “theory” and means with ends. Just pick any lens you like, say anti-Norman, anti-1066. Its an interesting exercise, maybe you will find something out worth noticing (look at Cameron’s cabinet, its kind of striking if you want to see it, a fucking French coup, Dave and Ozzy both have faces you’ve seen in a million national trust oil paintings behind ruffs and wearing tights…isn’t it interesting how history resounds through the millennia, whatever). But I’m not seriously suggesting banning surnames and marching half the population back through the chunnel. Its funny that fans of things like patriarchy theory then attempt to use the rhetoric of confirmation bias, its like deciding to pick up the ball and run in the final of the Football World Cup.

    Unless of course you can state accurately the conditions under which patriarchy theory would be falsified which would be interesting. The burden for defining these tests lies with the person promoting the theory, not the critic, precisely to avoid all the “thats not what I meant” wriggling around. So, for example, if you have a problem with thermo, just create or destroy some energy (i.e., violate conservation). Its should be really easy to demonstrate if it can be done (it can’t, but if it could be done, you’ve got the means to sort it out permanently in the average child’s toy box). So, under what conditions could patriarchy be said not to exist and how would we know, or what would be impossible if patriarchy did not exist such that if it were found to exist in any form, anywhere, it would falsify the theory.

    Also, not all feminists define to include anything other than men acting basically like pigs in shit and its disingenuous to claim otherwise based on wikipedia. Again, the lack of clarity in definition is how you know it isn’t really a theory at all, its just a point of view in fancy clothes.

  37. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 36

    By and large I agree with you – but then I had better. You know more about this than I do. Even so, I think the emphasis on falsification is a little askew, as it were. Using that term makes it sound liike there are only two kinds of theory: those proved false, and those (all fully equal) not yet disproved. It is the same thing we are talking about, but I think you understand it better in terms of Bayesian rasoning. What yould you predict from a given theory, and how well do the predictions come about (no theory fits 100%, once you take error into acount, especially in socialo sciences).

    The result is the same: What states of the world does “Patriarchal Theory” suggest are likely, and what states of the world does it suggest ar highly unlikely? And if it can be made to fit equally well to all possible outcomes it is not a throey, but an empty tautology.

  38. lucythoughts says

    Well I agree that it’s asinine. Obviously “patriarchy” isn’t a scientific theory, and I don’t suppose anyone ever claimed it was outside of an off the cuff comment here. It’s irrelevant anyway as a criticism: sociological or philosophical concepts don’t need to be falsifiable, or “true” in an empirical sense, they only need to be useful. Is patriarchy as it is generally understood, conceptually useful? A lot of people find it to be. If you don’t then feel free not to use it, or to criticise it on the basis that it is not useful as an aid to understanding; that it explains nothing, predicts nothing and informs nothing that cannot be better understood, explained or predicted in other ways. But saying effectively, that you shouldn’t t try to create a conceptual framework in which to understand the relative positions of men and women within social, political and economic structures unless you can frame it as a hypothesis that can be tested experimentally is just plain garbage. It is disingenuous garbage as well because I can’t believe anyone would apply the same misplaced scientific rigour to concepts they do find useful.

  39. Carnation says

    @ Ganger, Marduk (and 12345etc if he has opened a book)

    Lucy is right, of course. Patriarchal theory is sociological and sociology is the study of society and societies. I think it was Durkheim who said that sociology was the study of social facts.

    Now, I will give a little ground here. Let’s take, for example, the social fact that there are more male prisoners than female prisoners. That’s really the only fact that’s available.

    Now, let’s interpret that fact with some available theory. MRAs would likely claim that gynocentric sentencing means more men and fewer women go to prison (let’s leave aside the small fact that far fewer women than men are arrested for crime and the crimes they are more often arrested for are considered more serious).

    So, how do we explain that? “Boys will be boys”? Oops, bit of patriarchal stereotyping there, no? Men are more violent? That’s a fact – but why? Well, it’s manly, isn’t it? And it’s unladylike to be violent.

    I think that Marduk, Ganger (and the numerical village idiot) are so blinded by resentment against feminists that they just simply can’t adsorb the fact that from feminist academia came a compelling and compassionate theory that interprets these social facts.

    So, you can all retreat into your sadsack “it’s not real science” ghettos and… and what?

    Why do you think most suicides/prisoners/junkies/homeless/criminals/alcoholics are male? Why do you think men don’t seek professional help for mental and physical health problems as often as women? Why do you think almost all serial killers (and terrorists) are men?

    Theorise these social facts? What makes sense to you?

  40. 123454321 says

    No offence taken, StillG. I don’t consider myself a genius, more like a contributor, a challenger, a pain in the arse if you like, but definitely someone who understands that we’re all on a journey where change is a part of life and we must keep pushing in the right direction, often swimming against the tide, fighting against the crowd effect, but hopefully coming out a little bit wiser than when we entered the room. Re my comments about physics and Einstein, I do passionately believe that Einstein’s work (with the help of some friends in high places) was a brilliant piece of problem solving but, in effect, (and this is my opinion) it was nothing more than a few postulates derived from basic observation and some deep thinking (guessing) thrown together and churned up along with some hefty algebraic manipulation. The result: a fantastic (but necessary) tool used for the purpose of prediction such that humankind can move forward with more accurate and highly complex systems – just what we needed. What it doesn’t do is EXPLAIN what is actually going on in the universe in terms of reality, and it certainly doesn’t attempt to uncover the truth behind the mechanisms or forces at work. The reason why I’m so interested in feminism (men’s issues) and the state of play with respect to our understanding of physics (and cosmology as a whole) is down to the crowd effect phenomenon which accompanies both aspects to a startling degree. I am truly astonished and often outraged at how people get dragged along for literally decades based on postulates which often turn out be complete bullshit e.g. men are violent and therefore must be evil, or…. (Einstein and his clan) I’m struggling to understand what the fuck is going on with this light bending shit so I’ll invent some sort of spacetime concept and hopefully people will buy into this bollox notion because there is currently no other explanation. StillG, I have no idea what your understanding or passion is for physics etc.and it’s unfortunate that we can’t really discuss them here. If we were to go on that journey together, I would be challenging you on some of the most basic fundamentals – perhaps stuff that you may not expect to be challenged on because you’ve been told so many times via the physics text books that what you read is gospel and unfalsifiable. I would probably begin with the bullshit notion that time actually exists at all. From there, we would move to the bullshit spacetime concept and the dark matter bullshit would follow closely. That would get us started. We’d create some new postulates and suggest that Minkowski’s efforts to incorporate length contraction and time dilation were indeed useful in terms of mathematics, but completely fucking wrong in terms of concept and reality. Then we’d move to the speed of light constant bullshit and slam the Lorentz equations. We’d discuss in detail how light doesn’t actually travel at all (although it’s a quantum transfer of energy) and how it only manifests itself as energy at the point of observation, which is why it’s always viewed as a constant – doh. We’d explore the idea that nothing exists until you look at it (think quantum cats) and transpose that idea into discussions about energy transfer, black holes, Maxwell’s field equations (used Einstein’s stupid postulate) and the creation of the universe, which doesn’t exist at all because it is actually made of nothing. We’d completely ridicule the Michelson-Morley experiment as being even more stupid than Carnation, in particular, for dismissing the potential idea of a dynamic and variable density field, which could account for gravity and the red/blue shift of EM waves. We’d then conclude that nothing means nothing and we might as well agree to disagree at the same time at a quantum level of insignificance and merely sit down and enjoy a good malt while we watch all the feminists flap around trying to tell everyone that all men are evil and all women are victims of oppression. Ironically, despite time not existing….maybe another time…it would ben fun!

  41. StillGjenganger says

    @LucyThoughts 38

    Yes and no. Dismissing all of social science because it is not as testable as physics is indeed asinine, just like dismissing selected bits is disingenious. But I still do not agree that ‘sociological or philosophical concepts don’t need to be falsifiable, or “true” in an empirical sense’. It all depends what you mean by ‘useful’.

    If you mean ‘useful to describe and understand the real world’, I think the rules are pretty much the same for all kinds of science. Formally:
    The probability that your theory is true, given the data
    is proportional to The intrinsic probability that your theory is true
    times The likelihood that you would get those data, given the theory
    In other words, a set of concepts, a ‘theory’ (small t), is useful to the extent that it gives a correct description (‘prediction’) of the world. And it is also true, to pretty much he same extent. That can be judged for the theories of feminism or economics (or racial theory) too, you just do not get the overwhelming precision and authority you can get for experimental science in a favorable subject area.

    If you mean ‘useful to rationalise my political stance and gain new converts’ (you probably do not, but that is the alternative), relationship to the real world is rather coincidental, but then we are in the area of fake news.

    So, ‘Patriarchal Theory’ is certainly capable of being found true, if it is seen to give a good explanation for the way the world is. But it gets tricky when some theory is, explicitly, both descriptive and political, as in “Feminist theory defines patriarchy as an unjust social system that enforces gender roles and is oppressive to both men and women” (my italics). Getting to something true requires (in the absence of testable predictions) a lot of respect for the correct description of your subject matter and a willingness to refrain from weaselly redefinitions and cop-outs. If your main preoccupation becomes how a new example can be used to support your obviously correct theory and thus your politics, as opposed to how your theory can help to best explain your example, whatever comes out can quickly lose any claim to be true. And at least anecdotally, there are certainly feminists whose approach seems to be “We already know that the answer is ‘male oppression’, we just need to decide how. Now what was the question again?”

  42. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    Rather amusing that it took me calling you stupid to start calling me the same thing! Anyway dude, you write;

    “I don’t consider myself a genius, more like a contributor, a challenger, a pain in the arse if you like, but definitely someone who understands that we’re all on a journey where change is a part of life and we must keep pushing in the right direction, often swimming against the tide, fighting against the crowd effect, but hopefully coming out a little bit wiser than when we entered the room.”

    Thing is, because you endlessly recite the same unsubstantiated bullshit, you just dumb yourself and anyone reading your drivel down. If we edit out the Einstein stuff that you’ve gleaned from elsewhere in a very vain attempt to make yourself look interesting, we are left with this;

    “The reason why I’m so interested in feminism (men’s issues) … is down to the crowd effect phenomenon … I am truly astonished and often outraged at how people get dragged along for literally decades based on postulates which often turn out be complete bullshit e.g. men are violent and therefore must be evil, or…. and merely sit down and enjoy a good malt while we watch all the feminists flap around trying to tell everyone that all men are evil and all women are victims of oppression.”

    So, 12345etc, we’re back to correcting you, again, on your inability to understand the most basic gender theory. Wanking off theories about Einstein that you’ve copied from somewhere doesn’t mask the fact that you are too stupid and/or lazy to talk with any degree of sophistication about gender.

    The only thing you contribute is MRA bullshit with a dose of your own paranoia.

    The only person in this conversation saying that “men are violent and therefore must be evil” is you. You must surely have noticed that? Literally, the only person in this conversation saying that is you. So you’re arguing with yourself and with the MRA fantasy of a feminist that lives in your head.

    So, stop arguing with yourself and start addressing the points that are being made. If you don’t, then reasonable people will conclude that you’re incapable of doing it. My position is that you’re simply too stupid to understand. But, let’s try…

    So, 12345etc, why is the overwhelming majority of violence perpetrated by men in the UK? Let’s keep it local. Just try and answer that question. I’ll give you a tip – mentioning feminism will make your look weak, lazy and stupid.

    Are you a gambling man? I’ll wager anyone you’re simply incapable of tackling that question with anything approaching the necessary nuance and compassion.

    PS – malt is a drink for wankers who like it makes them appear distinguished – it doesn’t. It just shows a person who can’t appreciate good cognac.

  43. 123454321 says

    Oh come on, Carnation, we all know you’re a shandy drinker. Although thinking about it, perhaps your passion for a regular cognac could go some way to explaining your consistent, repeated, unwavering display of ineptitude and your unremarkable ability to grasp only fluffy bunny theories (sorry, beliefs) that have no scientific merit, no universally agreed, meaningful postulates, and can make no useful, testable predictions in the real world. Then again, I still reckon you’re a half a shandy twat with all the above having manifested by natural means!
    By the way, the ‘all men are violent and evil’ narrative has woven its way into society in so many ways that I don’t know where to begin. It’s everywhere, dude, everywhere across the media, rampant, sometimes subliminal, sometimes obvious. To say that I’m the only one saying this means only one thing: you’ve had too many shandies again. Don’t you think it’s time to start your dry January?

    “So, 12345etc, why is the overwhelming majority of violence perpetrated by men in the UK?”

    Because violence, competition, aggression,…whatever, is a necessary requirement of successful strengthening of the gene pool and essential to evolution. It’s an unfortunate byproduct from days gone by where survival had a different set of requirements (today it’s much the same but with some tweaks – the aggression is still there but lies surreptitiously in Government politics, religion and business). Unfortunately, the behaviour is still firmly lodged and hard to shake off, particularly in men who don’t ‘achieve’ or ‘fit in’ with the newly emerging world. I would like to remind you, Carny, that women have rarely discouraged their Sons to get stuck into dirty and dangerous jobs or indeed go away to fight. Mothers have huge amounts of influence over their children, more so than their Fathers, particularly at a young age. Funny how women never seemed to want to volunteer to fight or do all the life threatening jobs where power and control was perceived (incorrectly) to be. Yet, now the world has emerged to a point where the perception of power resides at floor 36 of a skyscraper in New York or London, suddenly women (ok with me) want to get involved. Funny that. Anyhow, I blame the matriarchy and I’m going to derive my very own Matriarchal theory that will blow you and your fellow feminist theories out of the water. I think my first postulate will be ‘women love to bash men’. Yeah, that’ll do, can do a lot with that as a starting point because it’s so fucking true and the evidence is literally everywhere. Now go sink half a Carling shandy cuz I know you must be seething.

  44. Carnation says

    @ 12345

    So, you’re an evolutionary theorist? And you’re saying that men haven’t evolved in, what, millennia? That’s very misandric, isn’t it?

    Are you also saying that men don’t possess enough agency to control their evolutionary contrived destinies?

    “I would like to remind you, Carny, that women have rarely discouraged their Sons to get stuck into dirty and dangerous jobs or indeed go away to fight.”

    What are you basing this on? To prove this point, you’d need something robust, not just a few idiotic anecdotes.

    “Mothers have huge amounts of influence over their children, more so than their Fathers, particularly at a young age.”

    Based on? And how young? And what wars are you talking about here?

    “Funny how women never seemed to want to volunteer to fight”

    Why is this?

    “I think my first postulate will be ‘women love to bash men’.”

    Prove it?

    Hilariously, calling me a “shandy drinker” is patriarchal praxis. You’re just too stupid to understand it.

  45. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321 40

    You are right, we should not go there, coz we would never get out again. But just for fun, here is how I skipped around that one.

    I am not a physicist, but I did study some physics once. And I hated relativity. You have some idea of how the world works (which you rather cherish) and here comes this theory that you are obliged to believe in, but that flies in the face of common sense *) and that means that anything you think you know is all of a sudden unreliable. Not to mention that it made all my favourite SF novels impossible.
    I did a lot of those ‘proofs’ that relativity led to nonsense results. In the end my teachers managed to get me to ‘reproduce myself the silly arguments that the relativity people would use ‘ (i.e. do the calculations properly). And I got to where I was actually capable of doing the textbook toy problems in a way that did not lead to paradoxes and, importantly, got a feel for where your common sense still applied and where you had to use the tricky calculations to get through. All of a sudden this was something you could at least live with. And I was faced with a choice:
    1) I could accept (with some irritation) relativity as a true physical theory, and keep studying.
    2) I could refuse to accept relativity and undertake, singlehandedly, to learn how it worked and devise and execute the experiments that proved 80+ years of physicists wrong. Which was a little ambitious for an undergraduate.
    3) I could refuse to believe it and stop doing physics.
    In the end I chose 1). I still think that 3) would have been a perfectly valid choice, nobody can force you to agree with bunch of physicists, but in order to be part of the community of science you must play by the rules, and that means choosing either 1) or 2). But even with 3) I would not have the right to tell physicists that all their ideas were rubbish (assuming I was stupid enough to want to), because that requires some (actually: a lot) of credibility inside the system. All I could have said was that I had opted out, and refused to be convinced by their arguments.

    Just to head off an obvious counterattack: In physics the scientists have been so phenomenally successful in mastering the known world that they pretty much have a monopoly on their area. You can refuse to believe them, but you cannot get listened to or get through with incompatible proposals unless you can prove that they work (and if you can, physics will expand to include you). In social science no single group has been successful enough for their theories to own the field. Refusing ‘Patriarchal Theory’ will exclude you from one clique, but not from the entire science – and certainly not from political debate generally.

    *) It does. Einstein said so. Unfortunately it is relativity that is right and common sense that is wrong.

  46. 123454321 says

    Yep, agree with everything you say there, StillG. Don’t get me wrong, the mathematics supporting relativity and the standard model are rigid in the most part and it’s pretty much impossible to argue against. But, as you know, there are gaping holes and significant parts that just don’t add up, so we don’t yet have a grown up, mature, coherent theory of everything. No need to list all the problems as I’m sure you already know them but there really are some very obvious flaws that are now being uncovered. I honestly believe from what I have studied and researched myself (not via any orthodox text books I might add!) that we’re on the brink of a complete revolution meltdown in the physics community, probably within the next decade. The mysteries around the SoL constant will be uncovered, gravity will be unified with quantum (gravity won’t turn out to be a force after all, I can almost promise you lol – it will be considered a manifestation of quantum fluctuations whereby the energy field creates a side effect on the mass taking up its precious room even at vast distances thus mass is ‘forced’ together but without force if you know what I mean), quantum entanglement will be understood, time will no longer feature in the equations because it will have to be renamed because time doesn’t exist and dark matter will be kicked into oblivion as one of those silly little mishaps, you know, the ones invented when you need to cheat the equations cuz you don’t have a fucking clue as to what else to do in order to fudge things. Oh yeah, and Carnation gains a brain and becomes a fully fledged MRA. Can’t wait!

  47. Ally Fogg says

    Happy New Year everyone.

    Gosh, haven’t you been busy.

    Just a quick point, mostly aimed at 12345 & StillGjenganger.

    If you have ever asserted or agreed that misandry exists as a phenomenon or a problem then you have endorsed a sociological theory & accepted the basic tenets of sociology.

    If you have ever asserted or agreed that feminism is – for example – a hate movement which exists or functions to dominate men & reorganise the basis of society then you have endorsed a sociological theory & accepted the basic tenets of sociology.

    If you have ever asserted or agreed that there is something called the Apex Fallacy which explains why there are more men at the “top” and “bottom” of society then you have endorsed a sociological theory & accepted the basic tenets of sociology.

    If you have ever argued or agreed that female privilege exists as an identifiable phenomenon then you have endorsed a sociological theory & accepted the basic tenets of sociology.

    If you have ever argued or agreed that gendered behaviours within a social context are entirely (or partially) evolved traits and therefore inevitable and or unchanging, then you have endorsed a sociological theory & accepted the basic tenets of sociology.

    Etc etc etc.

    The basic point is that the entire Men’s Rights Movement & all other assorted manosphere theories of society are pure sociology. They might (or might not) be really dumb, ill-considered, ill-informed, poorly evidenced, unreliable & invalid sociology, but sociology they remain.

    If you are constructing theoretical explanations of how and why society works as it does – from any perspective – then what you are doing is sociology.

    The game is not sociology versus science, or sociology versus psychology, or sociology versus evolution. The game is sociology versus sociology, it is all about who has the more convincing, persuasive, well-evidenced & practically useful theory.

    Hope this helps.

  48. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 47

    If you think I need reminding of this, I must have expressed myself very badly. So , for the record:

    Sociology is a science like any other. It deserves the same respect for serious practitioners, the same attention to validated results, and the same critical scrutiny of methods and statements. And the practitioners have the same obligation of faithfully reflecting the reality they are working on, of checking their theories and their predictions (/descriptions) against observations, and of giving correct and unbiased accounts of their achievements. As a mainly non-experimental science whose field is the ever-changing collective human behaviour, its conclusions are likely to be less securely supported, less widely ranging in space and time and harder to establish consensus on than more straightforward fields like physics, but that unfortunately cannot be helped

    Now when people like Carnation and That Guy tell me that ‘Patriarchal Theory’ is a ‘Scientific Theory’ and as such as authoritative as quantum mechanics. or that understanding and accepting its basic tenets is a minimum qualification for participating in a gender political debate, then I do think I am justified in pointing to some of the limitations of sociology.

    More importantly I think it is quite problematical to have any (sociological) theory that doubles as the blueprint for a political ideology. There is a high risk that you go from a descriptive theory, justified to the extent that it fits with reality, to a prescriptive theory, justified by the ideology it carries, and rejecting disagreement with its technical conclusions as politically incorrect, or treasonous. Which is why I think it deserves a challenge when sensible and thoughtful people like LucyThoughts claim that ‘sociological or philosophical concepts don’t need to be falsifiable, or “true” in an empirical sense’

  49. Ally Fogg says

    Good post Gjen, but let me pick you up on a couple of points

    Now when people like Carnation and That Guy tell me that ‘Patriarchal Theory’ is a ‘Scientific Theory’ and as such as authoritative as quantum mechanics. or that understanding and accepting its basic tenets is a minimum qualification for participating in a gender political debate, then I do think I am justified in pointing to some of the limitations of sociology.

    I don’t think that is quite what either of them are saying, but I’ll let that ride.

    From my own POV, I don’t believe there is such a thing as “Patriarchal Theory” with capital PT. Rather there is a theoretical model of society called patriarchy, which would have a basic definition something like “a society which systematically empowers men over women.”

    Most people would agree that such a society can exist. Most people would agree that a place like modern Saudi Arabia or pre-20th century UK / US / Anywhere would match that description pretty closely.

    The debate that we have here is largely about the extent to which 21st century UK etc can be fairly and accurately described as patriarchal – not really whether or not patriarchy exists, it is whether (or to what extent) THIS is a patriarchal society. Agree so far? There are also numerous sociological theories, mostly but not entirely feminist, which to some extent assume the existence & function of patriarchy. We could call them patriarchal theories, if you like. But there is no one Patriarchal Theory.

    Now, again speaking for myself & no one else, I don’t think you need to agree that Britain is a patriarchal society in order to debate gender politics. Of course not. BUT in order to have any kind of constructive conversation or debate, we do at least need to agree on what the terms we are using actually mean, otherwise we will always be at cross purposes.

    I probably shouldn’t have name-checked you above, apologies, but when 12345etc talks about patriarchy or “Patriarchal Theory” he is insisting upon applying his own definition which doesn’t even approximate to what it actually means in any useful sense. (see comment 25.)

    So no, you don’t have to agree about patriarchy to discuss gender, but you do need to understand what it is you are disagreeing with. OK?

    More importantly I think it is quite problematical to have any (sociological) theory that doubles as the blueprint for a political ideology. There is a high risk that you go from a descriptive theory, justified to the extent that it fits with reality, to a prescriptive theory, justified by the ideology it carries, and rejecting disagreement with its technical conclusions as politically incorrect, or treasonous.

    No, this is a non-sequitor.

    All political ideology is and must be sociological. It arises from an analysis of how society is and a vision of how we would like it to be. Libertarian free-market capitalism is a sociological theory. Liberalism is a sociological theory. Social conservatism is a sociological theory. Marxism, socialism and social democracy are directly, overtly and proudly sociological theories.

    Economics is inextricable from sociology, indeed there is a very good argument that it is nothing more than a branch of abstracted sociology – it is all about predicting how people and their social constructions (money, finance etc) will behave under different conditions. Everything that flows from economics is sociology.

    Fundamentally the business of political argument and debate is all about comparing our analyses of how the world works, comparing our visions for a future society, developing strategies to bring those visions about. That is what politics is.

  50. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    “Now when people like Carnation and That Guy tell me that ‘Patriarchal Theory’ is a ‘Scientific Theory’”

    Right. It’s just that I definitely didn’t, and I don’t think That Guy did either, you know? I also don’t think anyone said it was “as authoritative as quantum mechanics.”

    And understanding what is *actually* meant by patriarchy and patriarchal theory is, I’m afraid, understanding and accepting its “a minimum qualification for participating in a gender political debate.”

    This is really very simple. There is a theory, known as patriarchal theory, which offers and understanding of how society is structured around gender norms. That theory is beyond the grasp of those too stupid and/or lazy to learn it. Idiots and misogynists take comfort in paranoid readings of what patriarchal theory is. These idiots should be excluded from sensible debate on gender.

    The truly staggering thing is that anyone with even the remotest interest in the wellbeing of men should be leaping onto patriarchal theory as a framework for the oppression wrought on men by masculinity. But then, that would at a stroke expose the acutely, embarrassingly ridiculous lie that men’s problems are because feminism.

    As it stands, the numerical village idiot claims patriarchal theory is something that nobody else (except MRAs) claims it is. Could you sensibly discuss road safety with someone who maintains that a pavement is actually for cars driving on it?

  51. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 50

    What I was reacting to is That Guy’s post 22, which used a dictionary definition of experimentally testable science to rebut 123454321’s description of ‘Patriarchal Theory’ as essentially nonsense (which would seem to imply that ‘Patriarchal Theory’ deserves the same respect). And your words in post 23:

    We could go on and on and on. That Guy illustrated just how crassly idiotic your concept of what a theory is, I have demonstrated just how immature, weak and informed by idiots your understanding of patriarchal theory is.
    If you want to comment on a gender studies blog, then for fuck’s sake understand the absolute basics.

    But admittedly, words do get a bit imprecise when you are discussing who is an idiot (which is why I try to avoid those discussions) so I will not hold it against you. Should we let it drop?

    BTW, I refuse to discuss whether I am an idiot, but I am, by progressive standards, definitively a misogynist. So “smile when you say that, pal!”.

  52. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    Quickly (I sometimes ought to work):

    It may be that all politics are sociological, but it does not follow that all sociology is political. Just as well, because if it was it would be all ideology and no science, and there would be no way for differing schools to debate. The problem is not limited to the left, BTW. When you read e.g. the Economist it is hard to separate the idea that free competition gives the best outcome for society (which is partly falsifiable, to the extent that you can compare different outcomes and argue which is best), from the idea that the best outcome is defined as the one that results from free competition (which is an ideological tautology).

    I think it is crucially important to keep the description of how the world is – which is open to rational argument and persuasion – separate from our visions for a future society and our plans for getting there. Otherwise we will end up with a description of the world that is, plainly, wrong, but that supports our political goals.

  53. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    Happy to drop it, but just to recap, you accused me of saying that I simply did not say or imply.

    “I refuse to discuss whether I am an idiot, but I am, by progressive standards, definitively a misogynist.”

    I don’t think that I’ve ever described you as an idiot. I do think you’re embittered and that that informs your world view/

    What progressive standards define you as a misogynist?

  54. lucythoughts says

    48. Gjenganger

    Which is why I think it deserves a challenge when sensible and thoughtful people like LucyThoughts claim that ‘sociological or philosophical concepts don’t need to be falsifiable, or “true” in an empirical sense’

    Thanks for the compliment, however I would appreciate it even more if you had absorbed what I wrote a bit more thoroughly. What I said was:

    criticise it on the basis that it is not useful as an aid to understanding; that it explains nothing, predicts nothing and informs nothing that cannot be better understood, explained or predicted in other ways

    I would think that gives a fairly clear notion of what I think a useful theory, or model, looks like. And I stand by what I said, models are not true in an empirical sense, they are good enough as long as they adequately explain phenomena. When they no longer do so, they are refined or sometime totally overturned and that is how knowledge evolves.

    There are a couple of other points I’d like to go into and I hope I’ll have time later… bye for now.

  55. That Guy says

    I read a book recently featuring a female pedophile ‘protagonist’. I feel that people who frequent this blog will have strong (and occasionally interesting) feelings on this matter. What is the best thread to put my thoughts?

  56. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    Another quick one: I do not think that ‘patriarchy’ actually exists, in the sense that you sometimes see it used in political debate. Compare three adjectives: patriarchal, patrilinear, patrilocal. These refer respectively to societies where decisions are taken by men, where family inheritance is through the male line, and where young couples move to the father’s family. You can discuss to what degree a society is described by either. Now look at the nouns: patriarchy, patrilinearity, patrilocality. The last two simply reference the concept that something is patrilinear/patrilocal. ‘Patriarchy’, on the other hand, is not just a reference to the degree to which men take decisions in our society. It not only a description of all society (‘we live in a patriarchy’) it is an active agent, ‘Patriarchy imposes’, ‘patriarchy decrees’. And in that sense it is no longer a descriptive term, that can be evaluated for how well it fits; it is an ideological determinator that carries with itself a huge set of ideological consequences, and that you must either accept or reject a priori.

  57. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts 54

    usefulas an aid to understanding

    (my italics). OK, I accept that that is the same thing that I was getting at. Our disagreement was with your form of words rather than with your actual intentions – I suspected as much but thought it was worth a check.
    Whether it makes more sense to say that models are not, in themselves, true (correct), or that a model is either true, false or useless when applied to some reality (also correct, I think), we can leave as an exercise to the reader.

  58. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 53

    Well, I am an antifeminist, and I hold various opinions against reverse discrimination (as I would call it), in favour of the right to say a lot of things that certain groups find offensive, and against the concept that all minorities should have am inalienable right to feel as comfortable in society and its norms as the majority. Opinions that I accept as very similar to mine keep getting called out as racist, misogynist etc. even if I do not get hit myself. And I find it profoundly objectionable that anyone with non-progressive opinions keep getting branded as something-ist, something-phobic, or other words that mean he is either borderline evil or borderline insane. So I have decided to reclaim those words, much like other groups reclaimed words like ‘gay’. Much that progressive people call misogynist, racist, etc. I see as fairly acceptable opinions, so I not only accept, but expect them to apply to me as well. Then we can avoid discussing which epithets apply, and hopefully get on with more interesting things

  59. 123454321 says

    “which would have a basic definition something like “a society which systematically empowers men over women.”

    I’m sorry, Ally, I just can’t agree with this on first principles, although I agree that it’s a popular presumption and a view held by many. It’s a sad state of affairs for all those men going back hundreds and thousands of years who have put their lives on the line to protect and provide for their families and to evolve and shape the world to where we are now, just to be told that the consequence of having led and made decisions is that they, despite the huge amount of suffering they have endured, are merely a bunch of evil oppressors. Fucking ludicrous at best. Maybe it’s because you focus mainly on female suffering or at least recognise female suffering to a higher degree than male suffering. You wouldn’t be alone. Just sit in any cinema and watch a guy get smacked in the mouth and endure the shrieks of laughter. Watch a woman get smacked in the mouth and hear the ooohhhhs and aaarrrrs from all around the room.

  60. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    Much like 12345etc hears people telling him that men are evil and everything is their fault, you seem to be hearing people calling you a misogynist.

    The truth is that nobody is saying either of those things, but you and him choose to believe that they are.

    The problem is your respective persecution complexes; not “political correctness gone mad.”

    @ 12345etc

    In the name of the Goddess, you’re offensively, spectacularly, beautifully stupid. You actually delight in your own ignorance.

  61. 123454321 says

    “Fundamentally the business of political argument and debate is all about comparing our analyses of how the world works, comparing our visions for a future society, developing strategies to bring those visions about. That is what politics is.”

    Yes, but you’re missing a critical point or two. Humans have effectively evolved based on two evolutionary progressive behavioural factors: a sense of belief and a sense of purpose, one preceding the other as a matter of intention. These are the drivers, for want of a better word. From here there is a requirement to exercise a level of applied control and governance and this is where politics begins but its foundations are formed around beliefs (often completely fucked up, stupid beliefs, probably because many people, incidentally, are actually fucked up and stupid – why did I just think of Carnation…hmmm never mind). Anyway, politics is exactly what you say it is BUT with a big fat tumour on the side comprising of misguided beliefs and a purposeful level of control designed to fulfil desires of power and greed. I have noticed that MEN in high political places appear to have firm beliefs in supporting and empowering EVERYONE, but especially WOMEN. However, whenever I hear a WOMAN in high places speak of her beliefs, her politics, whatever…she usually applies her support to specifically mention WOMEN, often dissing men with impunity.
    This is why I hate politics, because it’s corrupt, formed on squashy, fluffy, misguided beliefs and operates underhandedly for all for the wrong reasons. Your statement above makes it sound all very harmless and professional. It”s not!

  62. 123454321 says

    Carnation, bless you and your uninteresting, pointless little posts. Now go fuck off and be carful not to drown yourself in half a shandy.

  63. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation.

    So I am not an idiot, nor a misogynist. I am just embittered and suffer from a persecution complex. OK, that does make it a lot clearer.

    On my side, let us just say that I choose to stand in solidarity with 123454321 and other people on my side of the fence who are, apparently, paranoid idiots and misogynists.

  64. Ally Fogg says

    That Guy (55)

    Sounds interesting.

    Happy to run a guest post with your thoughts if you’d like to do it that way?

    ally @ allyfogg . co . uk

  65. Carnation says

    @ Ganger

    You talked before about feeling rejected physically in your relationship(s). I was quite touched. So, yes, I think you’re embittered.

    I also think that the narrative that informs your points of view is based on not much more than the political agenda of reactionaries and their noisy anecdotes that basically coalesce around “political correctness gone mad.”

    That you choose to stand with racist, misogynistic pseudo-fascists like Milo and dullards like 12345etc is just a demonstration of how much you’ve been conned.

    It’s a pity, because the path you’re on with just heap hurt and anger onto your bitterness.

  66. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    The word is careful.

    How quaint that an angry, stupid internet man who claims that patriarchal attitudes don’t exist tries to insult another man by calling him a “shandy drinker.”

    I’ve thought of a hashtag for you; #ThickAsFuckAndProud

    Although, Brexiteers might have co-opted it.

  67. Ally Fogg says

    12345

    I just can’t agree with this on first principles, although I agree that it’s a popular presumption and a view held by many.

    You don’t have to agree with it. You just have to accept that this is (in very rough & ready terms) what the word means.

    “…are merely a bunch of evil oppressors.”

    You see this here is the exact thing we’re talking about. I didn’t say that patriarchy means men are a bunch of evil oppressors, did I? I said something very, very different to that.

    And yet you reacted to something I didn’t say, not something I said. That makes it very, very difficult to have a grown up conversation.

  68. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 65

    It cannot be helped. We can’t all match your amazing intellect, your deep and sincere empathy, and your profound understanding of the thoughts and feelings of random strangers. I could never aspire to the level of superior beings like yourself, so you must leave me to follow my path among my fellow unfortunates.

  69. Ally Fogg says

    [61]

    Humans have effectively evolved based on two evolutionary progressive behavioural factors: a sense of belief and a sense of purpose, one preceding the other as a matter of intention. These are the drivers, for want of a better word.

    I would say there is a big fucking citation needed here, to put it mildly.

    I have noticed that MEN in high political places appear to have firm beliefs in supporting and empowering EVERYONE, but especially WOMEN. However, whenever I hear a WOMAN in high places speak of her beliefs, her politics, whatever…she usually applies her support to specifically mention WOMEN, often dissing men with impunity.

    Yes, that happens because we live in a society which has systematically empowered one group over another. The powerful speak on behalf of everyone, the disempowered can only speak on behalf of themselves.

    You find similar processes where working class people tend to stick together while the bourgeoisie and ruling class claim to rule on behalf of everyone. You see it where there is racial supremacy & those who are discriminated against tend to show solidarity with their own ethnic group while the dominant groups claim to be colour blind.

    Sociology in action, see?

    Now, you don’t have to agree with what I wrote above. But you do have to understand that if you put forward an alternative explanation, what you are doing is offering a sociological thesis.

  70. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 69

    Yes, that happens because we live in a society which has systematically empowered one group over another. The powerful speak on behalf of everyone, the disempowered can only speak on behalf of themselves.

    Very interesting and widely applicable point, that.

    Mind you, my reaction is that men had better start speaking for themselves pretty soon, because we are not going to remain powerful for much longer.

  71. 123454321 says

    “You see this here is the exact thing we’re talking about. I didn’t say that patriarchy means men are a bunch of evil oppressors, did I?

    Ally, you are correct, you didn’t say that. I apologise. I’m probably overreacting with my words. However, I still think your definition and thoughts on what empowerment means in reality is a stunted argument because you only ever talk about those who wields the power as being empowered and not much about the objectives behind why the power is wielded and to whom it benefits overall. Do you at least see what I’m saying, even if you don’t agree?

  72. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    “Ally, you are correct, you didn’t say that. I apologise. I’m probably overreacting with my words.”

    You’re overreacting to words that you think you’ve heard somewhere, somewhere you can’t quite place. It’s almost like you’ve heard other people have heard these things and paint a picture of oppression and persecution that chimes with you, causing you to overreact to what you think you might have heard.

    It’s like Ganger and the term “misogynist” – I don’t think anyone has ever called him it, yet he feels that they have, to the extent that he self-identifies as one as some kind of “gotcha.”

    Fellas, a lot of this is in your mind…

    Relax, breathe. Open your minds.

  73. 123454321 says

    #68

    Hey, StillG, don’t worry, remember I’m not only embittered but also stupid, can’t understand anything let alone basic principles or academic terminology, lazy, a liar, a misogynist, a fucking idiot, paranoid, unsophisticated, not man enough, weak AND ,what’s more, Carnation, apparently, has PROVED it. He/she (or maybe it’s some kind of God-like super artificially intelligent supercomputer programmed with a perfect set of morals that has hijacked the Internet via Ally’s blog) is a true genius to be inspired by as we walk together with tail between legs. But what’s apparent is that Carnation really must work on his/her (trying to be gender neutral here as I have no proof of gender) own feelings because the poor little thing doesn’t like being called a shandy drinker even having thrown the first punch as usual and come up with all the above insults. Me, it’s like water off a duck’s feathery arse as I stride on ignoring the pathetic little outbursts of anger as Carnation defends feminism and the fluffy bunny theory.

  74. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    Maybe another three? From the past year?

    As it is, you’ve gone for an 11 year old Julie Bindel article. She’s paid to be controversial and also, although you won’t have actually read this, said this;

    “I will say loud and proud, yes, today I hate men, and will tomorrow and the day after. *But only the men who perpetrate these crimes against my sisters, and those who do nothing to stop it.* Are you in either one of those categories? If so, then I despise you.”

    This is really very pathetic dude…

    This isn’t the first time that I’ve posted this article, and I’m no fanboy of JB, but she is capable of very nuanced and thoughtful work; https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jul/16/ukcrime.gender

    Anyway 12345etc, explain to us why you constantly hear “all men are evil and oppressors”?

    Do you just read and reread the same article from 2006?

  75. StillGjenganger says

    @All 69; 123454321 74

    I started out mostly on your side, palindrome, but Ally did make a rather good point. I think there is something on both sides.

    I would say that people who identify with society as a whole not only speak on behalf of everybody, but also accept that ‘we’ should act on behalf of everybody. At least they accept the principle, though it may often be in the breach rather than the observance. Of course, as Ally reminded us, those tend to be the dominant group, who generally tend to organise society in a way that suits themselves. I tend to think in terms of majority v. minority, where the dominance seems justified, but (again as Ally reminded us) you get the same thing with a (minority) upper class. So, it would be fair to say that patriarchy has not been a straight men-over-women dictatorship, and that women had both rights, a place in the system, and their own measure of power. But you cannot extend it to say (as some have done) that women are as well off, or better, under a patriarchy. I am sure the women of Afghanistan would be better off running things themselves rather than depending on the chivalry of their menfolk.

    I think this ties in with a point that Marduk has made, that we are moving from a discussion based on universal rights, ‘this is right for everybody, so marginalised groups have some right to it too’, to group-specific rights (‘I am a woman, / gay / black / trans/ .. we are oppressed, we have a right to this, and you, oppressor, can get stuffed’. It makes sense, also in Ally’s terms, if you identify as a group of victims in opposition to society, it is not your society. It is your group, and other groups can look after themselves . Like the dictatorship of the proletariat, you might say.

    Where it does get interesting is where us cis/white/men are about to lose our position of power to competing groups. We will then be where we are not only no longer running the show, but where the people who are running the show do not see any reason to even pretend that they should care about what we want. So I’d say it is high time that we, too, stopped relying on universal rights, and started to unapologetically promote the rights and desires of our own sex. Like the women do, basically. It will not bring us back to the 1950’s, let alone the 1750’s (and I do not think I would like to live in that kind of society anyway). but at least it gives us a better chance of having some kind of input in making the society of the future.

  76. StillGjenganger says

    @1234543121 76
    Saying that Me, it’s like water off a duck’s feathery arse gets a bit undermined when you write an entire, angry post telling how much you do not care. It does grate (with me it is the arrogant condescension more than the insults), but the best answer would be to ignore the nasty bits as much as you can and stick to answering any sensible points they make. If nothing else that reduces the noise level on the blog. Anyway, do you really care about the respect or otherwise of people like Carnation?

  77. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    I never said you were “not man enough”, neither did I say you were a misogynist.

    Why do you constantly and consistently tap into a narrative that doesn’t exist outside of your own imagination?

    Why?

  78. Carnation says

    @ ganger

    OK mate, here’s a very serious question.

    Nobody has called you a misogynist. So why do you have a complex about being called one?

    And why do you think 12345etc constantly thinks he hears people going on about men being evil?

    Be honest… What is feeding this?

  79. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger [79]

    Again, that is a really thoughtful comment, thank you. I almost agree with it, too 😉

    Not really as a rebuttal, but to continue our point, I think one of the ways in which this debate gets messed up is that people confuse and conflate arguments about gendered power, gender-based well-being and gender issues. They are actually three separate discussions but people talk about them as if they are interchangeable.

    So at an extreme you can get people like Karen Straughan arguing that women are actually better off than men under the extreme patriarchy of the Taliban, as a rebuttal to feminism. But her argument is entirely about material well-being – it may be true that women are less likely to have to do horrible jobs, less likely to be blown up in a war, less likely to be a victim of violent crime etc etc if they’re locked in the home & can’t go outside without a burqa & a chaperone. However that is applying a wellbeing argument to an issue about autonomy and power. People have done the same in arguing that black people were actually better off under apartheid or slavery. Same issue. Arguments about political power and authority presuppose that an overwhelmingly important element to human existence is to have control over our own destiny. That applies personally (as in being able to make our own choices & not be the chattel of another) but also politically – that individuals should have equality of political power & agency.

    Then a similar mistake is made from the other side where you’ll get feminists who argue that if men are systematically empowered over women then there cannot be a need to discuss or address male-specific issues because that is irrelevant to the broader question of patriarchal power. This is equally fallacious, because it is applying broader power arguments to gender-based issues where they don’t necessarily apply.

    I’m reluctant to put words in his mouth after earlier exchanges, but I’d cautiously suggest that 12345etc often talks at cross-purposes to me because he is talking about issues or wellbeing when I am talking about structural and systemic power, and vice versa.

  80. 123454321 says

    “I’m reluctant to put words in his mouth after earlier exchanges, but I’d cautiously suggest that 12345etc often talks at cross-purposes to me because he is talking about issues or wellbeing when I am talking about structural and systemic power, and vice versa.”

    Yes, you’re probably quite right there. But then isn’t the measure of wellbeing a result of post implementation of structural and systematic power?

  81. 123454321 says

    What I’m saying is that that, yes indeed, men appear to put themselves in a position of power (going to war, building skyscrapers, whatever), creating structural systems as they go – whether they be rudimentary or complex – designed to support the wellbeing of their wives, children and women as a group, but often to their own detriment i.e. they don’t appear to look after themselves at all (When did you ever hear a male politician speak about men’s issues?). StillG talks about men losing power. I agree. But from what I can make from women’s collective behaviour, they collaboratively look after each other all good and proper, and their children, but not men as a collective group, who they believe can look after themselves because they “hold all the power”. I have no problem with anyone getting into power as long as they get there via equal opportunity, hard work and competency, but women don’t appear to me to really care that much about men collectively (remember the Phillip Davies/Jess Phillips International Men’s Day discussion – she just laughed!) so I see this as a big problem for men and boys going forward. The outlook is bleak. And getting back to the point of the thread, I can’t see a political solution being derived any time soon, mostly because as far as the government is concerned there is no need for one. Men won’t collaborate to help each other and women don’t appear to care that much either.

  82. lucythoughts says

    83. Ally
    It is impossible to say what people’s well-being is like when their lives are kept hidden. When suffering happens behind closed doors it is easy and comfortable to assume that no suffering exists. I don’t know what life is like for a woman under the Taliban – no one does, and that is the point. I wouldn’t dare presume that their biggest concerns are a lack of opportunities for self-expression.

    Reading this prompted me to go and dig out a fascinating book which I haven’t read for a few years: it is a collection of letters by married working class women compiled by the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1914, describing their lives, particularly in reference to their experiences of producing and raising their families. It is a very unusual historical source because these were stories that were simply never told and frankly, many make very grim, sometimes upsetting reading, but are instructive as to the attitudes and conditions of the time. I will include a little quote (edited by me) from the introduction:

    “The cry of a women in travail has become a commonplace of literature and the notion that pain and motherhood are inevitably connected has become so fixed that the world is shocked if a woman does not consider the pain as much a privilege as the motherhood. And this attitude of the world towards the pain of travail had been extended to all the sufferings attending motherhood…. if it be folly to kick against Nature’s pricks, what is more foolish is the facile fatalism with which we resign ourselves and other people to unnecessary and useless suffering. And a very short consideration of the suffering disclosed in these letters will show that it is both unnecessary and useless.
    … It is perhaps inevitable that the mother should have been publicly overlooked, for the isolation of women in married life has, up to now, prevented any common expression of their needs. They have been hidden behind the curtain which falls after marriage, the curtain which women are now themselves raising.”

    This was an era when women were told that they didn’t need women to represent them because men could represent everybody. It was nonsense. It was the work and campaigning of the Women’s Co-operative Guild in fact that lead to the institution of the first family benefit in 1911, 30 shillings to the mother to pay for maternity expenses. It didn’t just reduce suffering, it saved lives. I could go on with example after example of this, but the point is that men failed abjectly to represent the needs of women either at work or at home. Not because they were horrible oppressors, but because it really wasn’t a priority for them. Women’s work in industry or in the home, maternity and childrearing were not their business or their concern. No reason to think it would be. What they had no right to do however, was to actively prevent women representing themselves or addressing their own problems.

    So, on a related issue, universalism is largely a myth. When Marduk goes on about the how the great universal values of the left have been undermined by identity politics I always think the same thing: it never happened. Liberal and Labour governments did a great deal but there was always a big discrepancy between the rhetoric and the reality. Why do you think it took until 1970 to pass equal pay legislation? These were labour governments and unionists who kicked it into the long grass time and again. Totally in favour on paper, totally uninterested in practice. Public pressure forced it through in the end, not solidarity or the principals of universal justice. The once impressive socialist women’s movements gradually died off and that was largely because they were left out in the cold. We get the politics we deserve.

  83. Ally Fogg says

    Lucythought, yes indeed.

    I probably should have been clearer that I think Straughan’s argument about the Taliban is the biggest pile of unmitigated bollocks I have ever read. My point was that even if it was possible to make such a judgement and conclude that it is somehow true that women there are more materially comfortable or safe or whatever, it still wouldn’t say anything about their autonomy, liberation & power.

    12345

    What I’m saying is that that, yes indeed, men appear to put themselves in a position of power (going to war, building skyscrapers, whatever), creating structural systems as they go – whether they be rudimentary or complex – designed to support the wellbeing of their wives, children and women as a group, but often to their own detriment i.e. they don’t appear to look after themselves at all (When did you ever hear a male politician speak about men’s issues?).

    Yeah you’re doing it again. “To their own detriment.”

    You are not thinking about this in terms of relative political power – political power meaning the socially-afforded authority to make decisions, the social hierarchy of obedience to enforce those decisions and control of the resources to implement them. In terms of power, they do these things to their own advantage, even if it is not always to the benefit of their own health & wellbeing or that of other people like them. which is an entirely different matter.

    In fact, in practise, I would argue that society is indeed organised by powerful men to the benefit of people like them, but the difference is powerful men do not think “people like me” are other men. They think “people like me” are other aristocratic men, or wealthy men, or men who went to my school, etc etc etc, so their decisions do in fact lead to greater material benefits for a certain type of man. Just not all men.

    The next crucial point you are missing: Patriarchy (like other structural power systems) is relative not absolute. It means, very simplistically, that the most rich & powerful men (generally) have more power & authority than the richest & wealthiest women, and the poorest & least powerful men still have more power & authority than the poorest & least powerful women. It most certainly does not mean that all men have more power & authority than all women.

    The other thing I think you are missing is that when social scientists talk about structural or systemic power, they are not talking about material objects, wealth, buildings, that kind of “structure.” They are talking about the social structure of society, meaning how society is organised. Because we are utterly embedded in social structures they look ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ to us even when they are completely arbitrary. So all that (apparenly trivial) stuff which feminists bang on about like pink pram toys for girls and blue tractors for boys – those are the building blocks of social structures, they teach people how they are expected to behave. So then 20 years down the line the boys feel “naturally” more comfortable going into engineering and the girls might genuinely believe that they are better, more ‘natural’ parents than men are. Likewise, if boys are being subtly taught from a very young age to feel that their voices & opinions are more important and relevant than those of girls, then they are more likely to feel ‘naturally’ inclined to go into politics or management. Those are the mechanisms of social power structures, like patriarchy.

    (Please, I don’t want to have another argument today as to whether the above para is true or not, I’m just explaining what the concepts mean, OK?)

    Finally, and by way of light relief, it occurs to me that if we apply your logic to its natural conclusion, the people who really rule the world are dogs and cats. After all, they get all the advantages of human civilisation, they get to live in nice warm houses, get fed twice a day, get to cuddle up in front of the fire all day long, they rarely have to do any work, go to war.

    And yet (notwithstanding the evidence of Twitter) most people would probably agree that the idea that cats & dogs are actually ruling human society is an absurd joke. Even if my dogs and cats would disagree.

  84. StillGjenganger says

    @LucyThought 87

    universalism is largely a myth […] Totally in favour on paper, totally uninterested in practice.

    You do have a bit of a point (“honoured as much in the breach as in the observance”, as I put it), but I would much rather a system that pretended to care about people like me, and could be induced to give some limited concessions on the base of it, rather than one that openly announced that they could not care less about people like me. If nothing else, if it is each group for himself, the only logical course of action is to grab as much power as you can and do your best to keep the competition down – as they would surely do to you if they got the chance.

    BTW, one reason it took till the 1970s to pass equal pay legislation would surely be that the prevailing model up till after the war was still one of families with a male breadwinner?

  85. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 83

    Thanks.

    I would agree with this post (if not necessarily with other ones) and take it a bit further:
    If we have well-being and political power as separate issues, the moral judgement on a society should not be based on the differences on one particular issue, but on the value to each group of the entire package. The point is not whether cats and dogs rule the world (they obviously do not) but whether the current social arrangements are unfair and exploitative to dogs and cats (are they really? Even if cats do not have the vote?). If it really was true that women were much better off under the Taliban, or blacks under slavery, that would have to be weighed against the lack of power in the situation. In reality the powerful will of course tend to get things their own way, but with less extreme imbalances the answer is nowhere near as obvious. (And, Lucythoughts, I would not make general conclusions from your 1914 records until I had at least compared them with stories told by men of the same era. Even excluding world war I, I am not convinced that women were the only people living grim lives back then).

    Historically that means that various patriarchal societies are not simply the results of a power grab by the strongest group but – more or less reasonable, more or less imperfect – solutions to the problem of building a society in a violent and lawless world, where housewifery was a skilled and crucial occupation that needed training, where there was neither contraception nor abortion, and where the bringing up of a child (and consequently the how and when of its conception) was the business of an entire family, not an individual.

    Nowadays, when most of those limitations are gone, it would suggest that a society with somewhat different gender roles, with some division of labour between the sexes, is not necessarily unacceptable or unjust, and that a preference for a society where the sexes are indistinguishable is just that, a personal preference. It is not a moral imperative.

  86. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    Historically that means that various patriarchal societies are not simply the results of a power grab by the strongest group but – more or less reasonable, more or less imperfect – solutions to the problem of building a society in a violent and lawless world, where housewifery was a skilled and crucial occupation that needed training, where there was neither contraception nor abortion, and where the bringing up of a child (and consequently the how and when of its conception) was the business of an entire family, not an individual.

    Yes, absolutely correct, except in so far as NO ONE is seriously suggesting that patriarchal societies are (solely) a result of a power grab. Social structures emerge and evolve for a wide complex network of reasons, which include many that could best be described as convenience or necessity. But what happens is that as systems of political, economic and military power emerge, those social structures are then steered and controlled in such a way to preserve the power of those at the top – who didn’t necessarily ask to be there – but who nonetheless have a natural human desire to preserve the access to power, wealth etc which they find themselves with. So the system develops mechanisms by which those with the power can steer society & prevent it evolving further in such ways as will deprive them of that power. That’s basically the evolution of conservatism – people with power wishing to preserve & retain what they have.

    Nowadays, when most of those limitations are gone, it would suggest that a society with somewhat different gender roles, with some division of labour between the sexes, is not necessarily unacceptable or unjust, and that a preference for a society where the sexes are indistinguishable is just that, a personal preference. It is not a moral imperative.

    This is broadly true but it is also mostly a straw man misrepresentation. I don’t advocate for a society where the sexes are indistinguishable and there is no division of labour between them, and nor does anyone else whose opinions I respect.

    What I do argue is that social division of labour (amongst other things) should not be an imposition or an obligation and that society will/would be better and people more contented, fulfilled and liberated if we can remove those impositions and obligations.

    In very rough and simplistic terms, I’m saying I have no problem at all if little boys want to be mechanics and little girls want to be nurses. I do have a problem with the mechanisms of society telling/teaching/bullying them into believing that they should and should not choose one of those paths over the other.

  87. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 92

    Conservatism is also people without particular power wishing to preserve and retain what they have – and wishing the rules and norms of society to remain the way they are used to and have incorporated into their identity. Changing the way you see the world, the way you feel, the way you behave, has a significant cost (just see how reluctant some of us are to change over to a new screen editor) – you do not need to be particularly powerful to decide that the gains may not be worth it.

    For the rest I think that is is a logical fallacy to speak of a society where there is a division of labour between the sexes, but no mechanisms to direct the people of those sexes towards their specific path:
    – The idea that little babies decide on their path spontaneously and with no input from society does not make sense – tastes and desires only form as a consequence of (and after interaction with) input from the society around us.
    – The very term ‘division of labour’ implies established roles where some tasks are preferentially associated with one sex or the other. These roles would be socially transmitted, thus ‘directing people to choose one path over the other’.
    – If hypothetically you start with a society without gendered expectations at all, and then find that one sex has gravitated spontaneously towards certain tasks and away from others (which is surely the minimum you need to have a ‘division of labour’), subsequent generations will see some tasks as predominantly male and some tasks as predominantly female, and will thereby direct people towards the activities that match their sex, and away from those that do not.
    – In the Damore debate you mentioned that it was discriminatory to treat men and women on their individual merits, since the very fact that the sexes came with different attitudes and states of preparation were evidence of structural discrimination. Which obviously needs to be countered. Whatever you may agree to in theory, I cannot even imagine a society with any ‘division of labour’ where you would in practice accept that the differences should continue.

  88. Marduk says

    92.
    “In very rough and simplistic terms, I’m saying I have no problem at all if little boys want to be mechanics and little girls want to be nurses. I do have a problem with the mechanisms of society telling/teaching/bullying them into believing that they should and should not choose one of those paths over the other.”

    Yet this tendency is the worst in social democratic Scandinavian countries, marked in Western Europe but far less prevalent in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. I mean, I agree with the values being expressed there but what are you actually going to do about it in reality. There is an inverse relationship between patriarchy and occupational distributions (this is probably because they are both just consequences of the level of economic development). This is an easy subject to virtue signal about but a harder one to actually address in a way that doesn’t involve forcing people to do things that they don’t want to do. The situation is far more complex than anyone wants to allow.

  89. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 94

    From memory, that is a tendency to higher participation of women in the labour force being correlated with higher concentration of women in ‘women fields’, right?

  90. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally

    We have been here before, and I could understand if you do not want to keep redoing the same arguments.But if you have time to waste, I would like to ask not for an argument, but for clarification. Because I simply cannot make sense of your position, to the extent that I do not know what I am supposed to disagree with 😉

    The most compact statement of my own position is that these three go together: gendered outcomes, gendered expectations, and social pressure to live up to those expectations. Accept one, accept all. The only ways around it I can see rely on either hypocrisy or pretense.

    How about you, then? Are we close enough that you can say where you disagree, in my terms? How do you imagine it working, that society where there is a gendered division of labour but no pressure on anyone to chose a specific path? And more specifically:
    – If it turns out that most of the boys (is some school class) want to become mechanics and most of the girls nurses, what do you tell them?
    – If one of them says that such-and-such a job is for girls (boys) what do you answer?
    – If the child is precocious enough to point out, correctly, that the people who do that job are indeed mostly women (men), what do you say then?
    – And if the gendered division of labour results in some jobs, say in computer science, systematically having 80% of the qualified candidates of the same sex, do you accept that the people you employ reflect the candidate pool, or do you systematically favour the underrepresented sex?

  91. lucythoughts says

    Gjenganger

    90.

    BTW, one reason it took till the 1970s to pass equal pay legislation would surely be that the prevailing model up till after the war was still one of families with a male breadwinner?

    Yes and no. The great majority of women worked for at least some part of their lives and a lot of families had more than one income source. The fact that women could only get very low wages was both a cause and a consequence of the continuation of the male breadwinner / dependent family model through the industrial period. I’ve seen references to the campaign slogan “equal pay for equal work” being used a hundred years previously, and that wasn’t by women’s groups but by unions (these particular ones were male dominated but admitted women). As you might guess, these were in the textile industry which was one of the few places where men and women were both employed in the same skilled process, weaving, so women’s wage exploitation had the capacity to deflate men’s wages too – bad for everybody. Nevertheless, the moral argument was accepted by socialists of that period. Later on labour governments and unionists made commitments to enact it, but when in power they displayed a strange lack of interest in making good on their promises.

    That wasn’t really my point though. The point is that you (and Marduk, and me indeed) say you want a women’s movement that espouses universal principles: well they existed. Maybe if they had been treated as equal partners, with an equal claim to the public interest we would have a different political landscape now. Instead they were treated at best as junior partners, humoured in principle and ignored in practice, at worst they were actively undermined. We are reaping what we sowed.

    91.

    (And, Lucythoughts, I would not make general conclusions from your 1914 records until I had at least compared them with stories told by men of the same era. Even excluding world war I, I am not convinced that women were the only people living grim lives back then)

    Yes indeed. Some of the accounts of the lives of men of the same era are really harrowing, some are heartbreaking, others are just really fascinating as historical records, because not all men worked in awful dangerous occupations. But again, I never said otherwise did I? The point is that while most people have some level of appreciation for the horrors endured by men in the industrial era, at least by miners or navvies for example, people still largely view women of the same era as pottering around the house doing a lot of tedious housework, which is very far from an accurate picture. I don’t claim women “had it worst” but I’m not the one claiming the reverse either. It isn’t for us to judge. People’s lives then were as varied as they are now and the bottom line was infinitely more brutal for everyone.

    (By the way, did you just dis me with a parenthesis? Shame on you)

    But, I can’t agree that you can separate wellbeing from the power to influence and improve your own conditions of life. People aren’t pets, but to continue the analogy anyway, pets live at the whims of their owners and consequently they are frequently mistreated, abandoned, or left to suffer needlessly, just ask the rspca. This is where the claim that patriarchy is / was a logistical solution to environmental conditions doesn’t stack up. A division of labour in which women rear children and do the necessary work which is most readily compatible with childrearing made sense logistically. Women denied equal rights to the franchise, to property ownership, education or equal wages was not logistical, it was the exploitation of an imbalance of power that extended women’s dependency far beyond what was of practical use to society or the family. In fact it was detrimental, which is one of the points I was making before, because it was women who were best placed take the decisions and the actions necessary to improve the health and living conditions of the family, that was their work, but their lack of access to structural power prevented meaningful progress being made on issues like infant mortality for generations longer than was necessary.

    One last tangential thought: patriarchy refers to structural power, not to division of labour. It should be theoretically possible to have a truly egalitarian society with a gendered division of labour, what it would seem to me to require would be that there was no net difference in status and material rewards associated with the work done by each sex, and no difference in the authority of each sex to represent the unique difficulties associated with their respective work loads and responsibilities, or to access society’s resources in order to effect solutions. That is not the society we live in of course, and never has been, and I haven’t seen any plans to restructure our entire economy such that care workers and hairdressers get an hourly rate comparable with plumbers or mechanics, caring for children and the home becomes a paid occupation and, on the flip side, male victims of intimate violence can access as much support as female. In many ways, aiming to create a more equal society by reducing the division of labour and making gender roles less rigid is the simpler and less radical solution of the two.

  92. 123454321 says

    “…Why do you think it took until 1970 to pass equal pay legislation? These were labour governments and unionists who kicked it into the long grass time and again. Totally in favour on paper, totally uninterested in practice. Public pressure forced it through in the end…”

    which is exactly what I’m saying is required before men and boys will be noticed and politically represented – public pressure. But lots of people around here seem to think that strategy is only good for women.

  93. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger

    Happy to go over it again.

    As lucythoughts says, “It should be theoretically possible to have a truly egalitarian society with a gendered division of labour, what it would seem to me to require would be that there was no net difference in status and material rewards associated with the work done by each sex.”

    Il’ accept for now your division of the issues into 1. gendered outcomes, 2. gendered expectations and 3. social pressures which produce or arise from 1 and 2.

    1. I don’t really particularly care either way about the gendered outcomes, providing they are arising from egalitarian, non-oppressive processes. If we end up with more male engineers and more female nurses, say at a 60:40 ratio, I am not going to lose any sleep. However, if we are finding that 95% of engineers are male and 95% of nurses are female then I would be worried – not about the statistics themselves, but as a signifier – they would almost certainly be telling us that something more troubling or unhealthy is going on, because men & women really aren’t that different and wouldn’t normally comfortably organise themselves that way without being, to some extent, forced & bullied into it.

    2. I do worry about gendered expectations, as you call them, but this is deceptively complex & it very much depends whose expectations, on what basis, what terms & with what influence behind them. By and large though, I mostly worry about them inasmuch as they lead on to 3…

    3. This is where my issue is, this is what I care about. It is my fundamental position that the social pressures necessary to squeeze human beings into socially ordained gender scripts is psychologically toxic and socially corrosive. It is one of the greatest causes of human misery, and always has been. Just sticking to men & boys for now, all the stuff we talk about on this blog – men’s mental health, male suicide rates & interpersonal violence, the minimisation & invisibilisation of male victims of abuse, the social acceptability of violence against men, etc etc etc, almost all of it can be traced back to a greater or lesser extent (and usually greater) to those pressures being exerted to adhere to the gender scripts.

    I think you are suggesting in your comment (paraphrasing you accurately, I hope) that as human beings are social, imitative animals, we will always follow the herd to an extent, we copy people like us, children learn to be adults from imitating those around them and that includes gender identification. I think this is probably true, and it could be as harmful to try to bully people out of that as it is to bully them in the opposite direction. No argument from me there. This is why (to return to the quote from Lucy above) I can easily imagine an egalitarian society which still ends up with some degree of gendered ‘sorting’ or ‘division of labour’ as you call it. This touches on the point Marduk makes, that in more egalitarian societies like Scandinavia you can end up with (pockets of) gender patterning. I have no argument with that.

    However, this is not what our society does. Society goes way, way further than that. It doesn’t just allow people to imitate others like them. It actively punishes them for deviating, using all sorts of shaming, social sanction etc. Everything from ‘manning-up’ to slut-shaming. That is the problematic part.

    On top of that there is an even bigger, ideological point, which is that the gender-scripting, gender-policing, gender-enforcement that our society imposes upon us is not random or neutral, it is entirely wrapped up in social power structures. The gender scripts which our society has accepted and encouraged are (to a large extent) inextricably tied up with hegemonic power, they act to support and sustain existing power systems of authority and wealth – i.e. I’m arguing that patriarchy is indulged and sustained not so much because it is to the advantage of men as a gender, but because it is to the advantage of the economic ruling class. (On that, I diverge from a lot of feminist theory, for what it is worth, & throw my lot in with Engels & Gramsci.)

    I could say more but I think I’m exhausted & I’m sure you are too.

    And yeah, you did ask 😉

  94. 123454321 says

    “You are not thinking about this in terms of relative political power – political power meaning the socially-afforded authority to make decisions, the social hierarchy of obedience to enforce those decisions and control of the resources to implement them. In terms of power, they do these things to their own advantage, even if it is not always to the benefit of their own health & wellbeing or that of other people like them. which is an entirely different matter.”

    Ally, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree because we’re coming from completely different angles. I agree that men have shaped the world, made the decisions, formed the structural conditions from which society has evolved, controlled the politics etc. But you and I differ in that your premise infers a historical intention to deliver male advantage outcomes as a priority over women and mine infers that all intentions were to support positive outcomes mainly on behalf of their women and children. So no, I’m not thinking about this in terms of relative power at all. I don’t give a shit who holds the power and that’s always been my stand point. I care about where the power is applied and who benefits. If a CEO or Managing Director of a company does a grand job of looking after the health and safety of his/her workforce, delivers all the right messages, controls the direction of the company, represents it well, sets up the right values, applies proper governance, treats the employees fairly and without prejudice, enables a great environment etc….seriously, who cares what colour or gender the CEO is, or which group they belong to? I really don’t care. I care more about the welfare of the workforce. I think men have had it even rougher than women historically speaking but no one cares that much, they just focus on who was in control at the time and continually focus on how bad women had it. Like I say time and time again, men seem to get blamed for everything that goes wrong.

  95. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts.

    I’d mostly agree with that. It looks like both sides are to some extent arguing against shadows. I am arguing against the idea that patriarchy was simply a power grab and that women were supposed to have uniquely horrible lives – because I sense they appear in the debate. Even if nobody has actually said it. And you are arguing against the idea that men had terrible lives and women were just a bit bored at home, which I did not say. Some MRAs say similar things but, again, I think they are mostly doing so as a defense against the idea that men are uniquely well off. Etc.

    I’d say that the logistical practicalities and the power grab aspects were both present, in patriarchal systems. Though a lot of the things you mention – the franchise, wages, education, maybe even seeing societies as made of individuals rather than families,would only have become really relevant after 1800 or so. The division of labour aspect would have come thousands of years earlier, back when the power differential, while real, worked differently.

    I take your point about equality of power v. division of labour, but your practical examples have problems that are separate from just the equality aspect. For one thing, wages depend on offer and demand, skills and training needed, and the hardship of the job. More specifically, a single plumber or car mechanic can fulfill the needs of quit a few families, and live well off a small share of their incomes. Care workers, child minders, cleaners, and house servants can only service quite few people at a time. That is why only the very rich can afford paid nannies and house servants, even at current wages – a house cleaner with the same pre-tax salary as myself would be prohibitively expensive for me to employ. So, who would be paying the wages for those home carers – would marriage become an employment relationship?

    (I use parenthesis to frame comments that are peripherical to the main thrust of the story – parenthetical, you might say. Is that disrespectful?)

    Anyway, it may be that we are reaping what we (or rather our ancestors) sowed. But the interesting bit is what we do now, as always. Offer a society built on some kind of universal principles, and the cis/white/men can see a way of remaining part of it, of it being also their society. Offer a position as “not partners but competitors, ignored in principle and doubly so in practice”, and the Saudi Arabian model starts looking like a preferable alternative.

  96. StillGjenganger says

    @123454321

    You are going too far for me too, here. I would quite agree that in a social system the power given to certain groups, combined with norms for how they should behave and treat other groups can give results that are in many ways good for all. But I still think that the people with the power will have a little unavoidable tendency to think of their own interests and desires first. As a case in point, would you not agree that it is educated, cosmopolitan city dwellers that form the culturally dominant group nowadays? And that they tend to take decisions that favour people like them more than, say, country dwellers or the less educated?

  97. Ally Fogg says

    12345

    I don’t give a shit who holds the power and that’s always been my stand point. I care about where the power is applied and who benefits.

    Has it occurred to you that this is a really easy thing to say when you *do* hold the relative power?

    Can you conceive of the possibility that you might be far less sanguine about men holding power over women if you were a woman, just like you might be less than sanguine about white people holding power over black people if you were black?

  98. 123454321 says

    Well ok, I can somehow visualise a world where men work in care homes where they shower or bed wash the residents and where women regularly drop the exhaust off of a Ford Mondeo, I think.. I can imagine how we refuse to allow multimillion pound companies to promote pink dolls to little girls and I’d definitely be in favour of banning all of the ridiculous wrestling merchandise that promotes violence amongst young impressionable boys.

    “However, if we are finding that 95% of engineers are male and 95% of nurses are female then I would be worried – not about the statistics themselves, but as a signifier – they would almost certainly be telling us that something more troubling or unhealthy is going on, because men & women really aren’t that different and wouldn’t normally comfortably organise themselves that way without being, to some extent, forced & bullied into it.”

    From all the people I know and from what I can recall, every single one of them were happy (and that’s a big word, to go into the field they chose. What is there to be worried about? Surely you risk making them unhappy by changing the way the world works? I also beg to differ, in my experience, that men and women aren’t different. They’ve had tens of thousands of years to evolve into roles that suit their genetic and physical makeup and you come along and want to change the way they behave? I’d say it’s easier to ban the sale of wrestling toys to 7 year olds to make a point that encouraging violence is bad than to change the career paths of millions of people. Just saying.

  99. 123454321 says

    StillG, there are groups that favour themselves, yes. Cosmopolitan City Dwellers, maybe, feminists, definitely. I’m talking about the power structures created my men which I believe help women and children more than men.

  100. 123454321 says

    Ally, I really wouldn’t care if all black women held the positions of your so-called power structure as long as they looked after the interests of everyone. How can we prove this? From what I’ve seen of feminism, clearly it doesn’t demonstrate its intentions in that way. I see a lot of talk about history, blaming men etc. an very little about strategic direction and policies other than women, women, women. Sorry.

  101. Ally Fogg says

    LOL, mate, you’ve been sharing your opinions here for a long time.

    At the first hint that a woman might have some some kind of influence or control over your life and what you do you shit your pants & practically have a breakdown.

  102. 123454321 says

    “LOL, mate, you’ve been sharing your opinions here for a long time.”

    Well it is a freethoughts blog! We all have different opinions. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t. Sorry about that.

    “At the first hint that a woman might have some some kind of influence or control over your life and what you do you shit your pants & practically have a breakdown.”

    Nope, you got that wrong, for the same reason once again that we look at opposite ends of the problem. I don’t care whether men or women or even furry fucking little green aliens are in control at the top – no shitty poops there. I only shit myself at first signs that they are misrepresenting, taking advantage of, discriminating against, ignoring etc. a specific group that THEY reckon I belong to i.e men and boys. Based on the evidence I have seen so far, I see little hope of ‘women in power’ supporting men and boys as a group.
    I think a lot of people are paying too much attention to history and not concentrating on the present and future. So yes, I do have my little breakdowns but absolutely not for the reason you just said.

  103. lucythoughts says

    101. Gjengager

    It looks like both sides are to some extent arguing against shadows…. you are arguing against the idea that men had terrible lives and women were just a bit bored at home

    Not really because I never was arguing about who had it better / worse / the same – it was you that brought that up. The point I was making was totally different, I have explained this at length twice but as you still seem to think I was saying something else I will have one more shot: you and Ally were engaged in a discussion about the difference between power and welfare; you can both envisage a society where one sex had high welfare but no structural power. I believe that cannot happen. The reason I think this is not, as Ally said, because self-determination is a basic human need (although I’m sure it is), but because without representation and access to resources, the level of welfare which society considers acceptable for the powerless group will stagnate at something close to the lowest common denominator and cannot advance from that point. Ally used the example of women under the Taliban, I used the example of women in industrial Britain, but the point is the same. Some individuals will be well off, but the fact remains that no general advancement in welfare will come about because the people most concerned have no resources with which to make improvements and no platform from which to lobby for those resources. Clear now?

    (It was a joke. Because you were directing a post to Ally but inserted a parenthetical remark to me into it just in order to imply that I was talking crap. I’m afraid my sense of humour doesn’t always translate)

    I take your point about equality of power v. division of labour, but your practical examples have problems that are separate from just the equality aspect

    That’s the point though, isn’t it? We have essentially evolved a society based on principles of capitalism derived from a historically patriarchal system, and have arrived at a system now which, however much more egalitarian in every respect, nevertheless depends for its functionality on the economic exploitation of women’s labour. Very much like the exploitation of the working classes by those who hold capital, this has been baked into the system, and working class women are hit by the double whammy. It is so deeply ingrained that it is hard even to imagine how it could work any other way, let alone transform it, even if you wished to rock that boat. Nevertheless, it is worth considering as a thought experiment.

    the interesting bit is what we do now, as always. Offer a society built on some kind of universal principles, and the cis/white/men can see a way of remaining part of it, of it being also their society

    Okay. I think the whole idea that white men are on the brink of being displaced into oblivion as the feminists take over is wholly spurious TBH. All the same, I’m interested to know, what exactly do you see a society built on universal principles as looking like? Because you specifically want to keep the gender roles and division of labour we already have, which is fair enough, after all a lot of people are pretty comfortable with them, but you also acknowledge the relative advantages that gives to men over women. Therefore is this a case of “what we have now is universal enough for me thanks” or would you like to see it improved upon in any way?

  104. StllGjenganger says

    @Ally 99

    It strikes me that you are making a distinction between social outcomes that arise naturally, and those that come about only as the result of force and bullying, and then distinguish the kinds of outcomes you can get through one or the other process. I know these are bold words coming from me to you, but I think that reflects a complete misunderstanding of the nature of social roles. Social roles are like languages. How to talk is not something each person chooses for himself, depending on who he wants to imitate. It is meaningless to ponder what language people would speak if they were not forced into the straitjacket of talking English (or Tagalog), and you cannot transmit a language. or a social role, without giving negative feedback to deviations from the norm (‘bullying’). So, it makes sense to argue whether it would be better to have different or less rigid social role for men (or for all of us), but not to object to social pressure per se.

    If you believe that social roles are more or less deliberately imposed by the ruling class, I guess it is tempting to imagine that just removing the imposition will bring you to a healthier state. But it does not work like that. At most you can try to take over the power and, being the new ruling class, impose a better set of roles. In reality social roles and social organisation are coordinated and mutually reinforcing. So if the organisation of society tends to reflect the interests of the powerful (well, duh!), social roles will too. A bigger effect IMHO is that social roles carry a big emotional and practical investment – changing them requires hard work and gives insecurity. So people will legitimately prefer to stick with the devil they know, and only those who clearly have something to gain will be interested in changing it all around. Conservatism is not only for the powerful.

    Getting more theoretical, social roles (and languages) are existing social objects, rooted in and defined by the community that uses them. The rules for normal and appropriate behaviour exist in the community, and people learn them, adapt to them, use them and thereby reinforce them. Or break them, and thereby infinitesimally change them, again like languages. The purpose is social coordination, and community formation. For instance each country tends to have its own rules for how to talk, what to assume about others, what is and is not appropriate to say and do, and as long as you know the system you can navigate it easily and without conscious effort. Not having such a set of rules would be immensely complex and time-consuming. Imagine that each new colleague could use the normal social interaction pattern of either the Xhosa, Japanese, English, Swedish, Italians, Thai, …? And that you did not know in advance, and were not allowed to push for the person to adapt to a common style. because that would be ‘bullying’? Gender roles are special because they give different roles to people who live in the same community, and indeed the same families, but who (vide Deborah Tannen) effectively belong to different cultures. But the hardship and pressure needed to force somebody into the male role is no different from that needed to enforce the normal rules for polite behaviour in Italy or Japan, and the mechanism is exactly the same.

    Because social roles serve for coordination, somebody who breaks the norm is more stressful and difficult to deal with. That in itself will cause a reacition that serves to push the person towards understanding and adapting to the norm. It is unpleasant to be weird, freakish, outside the group. Children and young people especially are tremendously sensitive to any signal of exclusion and actively search out what the local norms are and try to adopt them. But because the norms serve to signal membership of the community and a shared understanding of the world, people who break the norms also have the effect of calling into doubt your understanding of the world and your sense of self. WHich gives you nother motivation for signalling your disagreement adn displeasure openly – and thereby maintaining the norm.

  105. StllGjenganger says

    @Lucythoughts 109

    I think our disagreeemnts on power v. welfare are mostly a matter of degree. I quite agree (unlike, I think, 123454321) that a powerful group will tend to look after its own interests over those of other groups, to a greater or lesser extent. You cannot rely on other people’s altruism. But then lots of groups have various kinds and degrees of powerr (the rich, men, doctors, the urban, educated elite that predominantly fill the civil service and cultural institutions,the police, …) and you need to look at not just power but also welfare, shared and opposing intetests, the network of power groups etc. in order to judge and compare real (and unavoidably imperfect) societies. The only poweless but well-protected group I can come up with is chilfdren, but I would say that e.g. immigrants from New Zealand are pretty safe, even if they have neither the UK vote nor a powerful government to protect their interests.

    I would say that our society is mostly built on universal principles, but is starting to lose that. But I still would not talk about ‘a society built on universal principles’. You could have all kinds of different societies without abandonig universal principles – the one thing you cannot have is a society based on group rights where women, or nobles/workers, or blacks/whites or Marobnite Christians have individual or collective rights based solely on their group membership. If you wonder how I reconcile that with e.g. gender-based division of labour, I would say that it is wrong to refuse someone just for being of the wrong sex unless there is a practical reason – but that it does not follow that you have to change the way everybody talk to make the one woman feel at home as much as the 99 men.
    To me the point of sticking to universal principles is that it puts some kind of limit on what actions you can take – and in practice on how fast things can change. I will not deny that this also has the effect of prolonging the advantages that my own group has, but apart from that it also guarantees us some kind of share in tomorow, even in the case that women take over as the dominant group.
    Damore gives a good example: If you want more women in Google, he says, you can do that without (positive) discrimination, if you either give a concrete business reason why the sex of the workers is important for a given group of jobs, or if you limit yourself to intervantions that are not explicitly gender-based. You could for instance give more possibilities for part-time work and coming back after career breaks, restructure meetings so that you are less dependent on dominating the discussion, take measuures to explicitly help certain personality types, avoid emphasis on 14-hour working days,… Which would help mostly women, but also any men who happened to have the same problems. Beyond that you should hire people on their individual merits, and if that gave you a mostly male workforce (reflecting the candidate pool) you would have to work on enticing more women to study computer science, choose the appropriate specalties etc.
    Or, if you think too many women, go to prison even though they are mentally troubled, non-violent, and have family responsibiilties, or that too many women are victims of violence and have no place to turn, you could target your interventions according to gender-neutral criteria, and still end up helping mostly women, to teh extent that mostly women had those kinds of problems.

    I wouold not be extremist about it. Oxbrdge favours people form state schools and non-academic backgrounds to some extent. In part that is because experience shows that these people tend to do better at Uni than would otherwise be inferred from their presentation – which is an objective criterion. In part it is also to give a push towards equality (even at the cost of not taking the best qualifired cnadidates) to make up for the massive over-representation of public school pupils. Both of which are fine. The general emphasis on having at least a few women as scientific speakers, members of commkttees etc. does soetimes give the available women an exposure and some chances that they would not necessarily deserve purely on their merits. But up to a point this is justified as an effort to make role models and avoid single-sex professions. It is when you get the idea that women have a right to half the good jobs in any field, and that difference are ipso facto illegitimate (as Ally in practice seems to think) that you are abandoning universally shared principles in favour of competing self-promotion groups.

  106. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    “Based on the evidence I have seen so far, I see little hope of ‘women in power’ supporting men and boys as a group.”

    But you’ve also said that men have no intention of supporting men and boys as a group? So, what’s the difference?

    Also, given that there is a raft of equality legislation, why aren’t men and their advocates using that to counter the discrimination that they encounter?

    The gender regime status quo was interrupted and challenged by feminists. That’s led to actual laws being passed that guarantee nobody should be discriminated against because of their gender.

    Since, you claim, men *are* being discriminated against because of their gender, you should extend your gratitude and thanks to those that lobbied for and achieved laws to prevent this discrimination, no?

  107. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger (110)

    I think you are being far more absolutist about this than is necessary.

    First of all, I think we should differentiate between internally and externally imposed social pressures.

    We all have internal social pressures, some of which are conditioned but many of which arise inevitably from principles of social psychology.

    As we are growing up, we all want to be like the people around us. That’s particularly true in childhood when we are still learning how to be a social animal, but never goes away. As I said above, we are an imitative social species, so we have an innate urge to conform to social norms. If we grow up & see all the people like us wearing nothing but polka dot, it is actively stressful to wear something that isn’t polka dot. That is part of the human condition.

    However, we are also a curious, innovative, experimental species with a tendency to diversity and divergence. From time to time, an awkward soul will come along who decides to wear stripes instead.

    Now, at this point two things can happen. The healthy thing is that all the other human beings look at Stripey over there, think ooh, that’s a bit odd & funny, why’s he wearing stripes? A few people might decide they quite like the stripes & decide to give it a go themselves. Or more usefully, they might notice that when weird old Mr Stripey goes hunting, he blends into the long grass more effectively & brings home a bit more bacon. Hmmm, interesting, they think, and before long everyone is wearing stripes.

    All of the above is perfectly healthy. There are still social pressures at play, but they are not restrictive & not oppressive.

    The second thing that can happen though, is that when Mr Stripey first wears his stripes, the leader of the Polka Dot tribe announces that wearing stripes is obscene, unacceptable & that anyone who does wear stripes must be executed for heresy, or otherwise punished.

    Or, more subtly, the wise man of the tribe declares that stripe-wearing is a sin against the natural order of things & that stripe-wearers are bad people who should be castigated or mocked. He tells the tribe that stripe-wearing is indecent and corrodes the very fabric of decent society & that people who wear stripes are the enemy of the tribe.

    You then have externally imposed social pressures. (As an aside, of course it is entirely coincidental that the leader of the tribe and the wise man of the tribe just happen to be the joint owners of the local polka dot weaving business.)

    My position is that I accept that there are always social pressures. People might find diversity & changing mores a bit confusing. But it is only when you get to the externally imposed social pressures that these things become a problem, in my eyes.

    To be a bit less Dr Seuss about the whole issue, let me give you a very pertinent, very real world analogy (it’s not a perfect analogy, for various reasons, but go with it.)

    Homosexuality in the UK was, within living memory, criminally sanctioned. If a man had sex with another man he could have his entire life destroyed. We then moved on to a few decades where it wasn’t illegal but it was very heavily socially policed. Gay men were persecuted, mocked, abused, bullied, socially excluded etc etc etc.

    In 2018, we still live in a heteronormative society. A child growing up gay will still feel like an outsider. He (for convenience, assume he) is likely to still have a stressful adolescence, might well cry himself to sleep at night wishing he was straight like the other kids. All of those social pressures to be straight, to have a girlfriend etc, are still there. But at least he won’t face prosecution and it is much, much more likely that he would be able to come out to his family & friends without being banished or kicked out of the family home.

    Of course there is still a lot of oppressive homophobia, still homophobic violence, not everyone has an easy time coming out etc etc, BUT we can probably all agree that first, it is much easier for someone to be gay in 2018 than it was in 1948, and second, that this is an unequivocally good thing.

    It seems to me that your position precludes this happening. You seem to be arguing that if we remove homophobia from society, some other oppressive force will come along and take its place. But that is very, very clearly NOT what has happened, is it?

    I would also argue that our adherence to gender scripts have followed a similar pattern over the same time frame. It’s more subtle, but it has happened – most obviously with feminist advances, women in the workplace etc, but also changing patterns of fatherhood for men, that kind of thing. I would argue that all that progress has only got us some of the way down the line, we still have a lot further to go.

    My position is that the progress we have made in dismantling oppressive gender scripts over the past 70 years is also an (almost) unequivocal good. It is not the case that whole new forms of oppression have taken over to replace them. All that has happened is that we have all become a bit more free.

  108. 123454321 says

    Carnation:
    “But you’ve also said that men have no intention of supporting men and boys as a group? So, what’s the difference?”

    The difference becomes apparent when you don’t cherrypick a single part of the statements I’ve made in favour of the whole.

    Men as leaders collaborate to support everyone but specifically recognise, consider and focus on women as a group.
    Women as leaders collaborate to support everyone and specifically recognise and support women as a group, but don’t appear to recognise men as a group let alone consider them. Like I said, they can laugh with impunity.

    Clearly, there IS a difference in outcome because women are being treated as a group deserving special consideration (that’s fine) but men and boys are not (that’s not fine), which is exactly what we see out there when it comes to genital mutilation, domestic violence, free drinks in bars, objectification, whatever. You really want to get me started?

    “Also, given that there is a raft of equality legislation, why aren’t men and their advocates using that to counter the discrimination that they encounter?”

    Because people like you try to shut down their voices.

    “The gender regime status quo was interrupted and challenged by feminists. That’s led to actual laws being passed that guarantee nobody should be discriminated against because of their gender.
    Since, you claim, men *are* being discriminated against because of their gender, you should extend your gratitude and thanks to those that lobbied for and achieved laws to prevent this discrimination, no?”

    Carnation, when MPs who stick their head above the parapet to speak out on behalf of men, specifically calling out Bills, for example, that purposefully omit men and boys whilst intentionally highlighting women and girls, it seems they face a garage of abuse and belittlement. Call that the type of success you ought have gratitude for?

  109. Marduk says

    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/01/angela-rayner-on-education-and-white-working-class-culture/

    “The UCAS tables have them literally at the bottom of the heap. A real problem.

    I think it’s because as we’ve tried to deal with some of the issues around race and women’s agendas, around tackling some of the discrimination that’s there, it has actually had a negative impact on the food chain [for] white working boys. They have not been able to adapt. Culturally, we are not telling them that they need to learn and they need to aspire. They are under the impression that they don’t need to push themselves in the way that maybe the disadvantaged groups had to before. I think that is why there is a bit of a lag there. I think we need to do much more about the culture of white working class in this country.”

    Interesting if a little bit all over the place. Full marks for finally noticing one of the most pressing problems in society, not quite sure about blaming the victims (which she then more or less takes back in the next answer in my reading). Also, potentially, a bit dangerous to deal with from a messaging perspective. I think you’d have to be very careful telling young white working class men that they are at the bottom of the barrel and now need to struggle to make a life for themselves in the country of their birth given the intense competition for jobs, access to services and homes that they now endure. Its probably a fair (if bleak) assessment but historically and elsewhere in the world (e.g., Myanmar) people tend to respond by removing the competition rather than competing harder, especially if they don’t remember voting to have to “adapt” as does occasionally happen (e.g., West Germany, and places like South Korea).

  110. Carnation says

    @ 12345etc

    “Men as leaders collaborate to support everyone but specifically recognise, consider and focus on women as a group.”

    Oh. I must have missed that. When did all of that happen, in any meaningful way?

    “Women as leaders collaborate to support everyone and specifically recognise and support women as a group, but don’t appear to recognise men as a group let alone consider them. Like I said, they can laugh with impunity.”

    Oh. I must have missed that. When did all of that happen, in any meaningful way?

    “Because people like you try to shut down their voices.”

    So, people “like me” manage to force the non-compliance of legal directives? Explain?

    “Carnation, when MPs who stick their head above the parapet to speak out on behalf of men, specifically calling out Bills, for example, that purposefully omit men and boys whilst intentionally highlighting women and girls, it seems they face a garage of abuse and belittlement. Call that the type of success you ought have gratitude for?”

    This is pretty much unintelligible. But if you’re talking about Philip Davies, he cares as much for men as he does for poor people; not a jot. He is anti-feminist and anti-equality, nothing more. He thinks more men should go to jail, not fewer.

    This is the trouble when an angry man reads, absorbs and doesn’t engage in critical thinking; he finds other angry men blogging on the internet and regurgitates what he’s written and it falls apart when challenged. But the angry man felt so much better when he read the other angry man’s blog – he felt like someone else understood, and he doesn’t want that to go.

  111. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 113.

    First, thanks for spending the time. This is interesting (for me, at least).

    The point is (obviously) not that if you remove homophobia, some other oppressive force will just appear. It is that socialising people to the current gender roles, or a single unisex role, or the national behaviour codes of any nation you care to name involves about the same amount and kind of pressure. I am not sure where you draw the line for external pressures, in your definitions. If you are talking about laws, prohibitions, systematic boycotts etc. I would say that those are mainly in the past. And what you do see is at least as likely to be against conservatives (see Damore). For what it is worth I am against those, on either side. If you are talking about actively communicating that you regard some particular role or stance as inappropriate (well short of “I will keep hounding you till one of us is fired”, of course), that is an integral part of having social roles, that you cannot be against without being against the concept.

    A major part of the current gender roles could be described as:
    – Men: see interactions and self-image through lens of status and respect; focus on shared activities and interacting with things
    – Women: see interactions and self-image through lens of closeness and belonging; focus on companionship and interacting with people.
    A lot of your list of woes (increased suicide, not asking for help, … ) could be brought back to things like this. And so could the gender imbalance in software engineering. The boys and girls we are talking about absorb those gender roles quietly and probably actively, as part of learning who they are (supposed to be). They freely choose interests and study directions based on their sense of self – and on how many role models of their sex they see in the various fields. And you end up with only 20% of software engineers being female without explicit pressure being applied at any point on the trajectory If you define this as ‘unacceptable social pressure’ and grounds for positive discrimination to remedy things, I do not see how any kind of social roles could pass muster.

    It is interesting that you should choose clothing for your toy example, because one of its important functions is as a social signaling device. I used to work in a research-heavy company, where all groups used the same canteen but did not otherwise interact. And the clothing codes were noticeable, even though nobody ever said anything (well, one top manager did upbraid me once for my one, discreet ear-ring, but not having corporate ambitions I just ignored him). Anyway, the sales and marketing types wore dark pinstriped suits or elegant dresses. Over in science people wore trousers, shirts and pull-overs in varied but muted colours, while managers and group leaders wore relaxed jackets and ties. The only other people there to wear ties was 1) wannabe managers, signaling their self-understanding, 2) a couple of Brits who stuck to the dress codes of their homeland and did not care about local customs. Jeans and a heavy-metal T-shirt (we did not have any of those) would have signaled “I am hard-core computing, I do not have to care about fitting in”. And the first effect of your Mr Stripy would probably be that he was seen as deliberately positioning himself as different and not really belonging. The point is that even if you find this silly, you cannot chose what to wear without caring what it signals about you to people around you – any more than you can call somebody a cunt without caring whether she will take it as a gross, sexual insult or not.

    When we get to homophobia etc., I see that as a question of 1) how rigid we are about our roles, and how much space we can give to other groups with different norms. 2) how many differences we can encompass before our roles dwindle into nothingness. We have become much better at allowing space to different groups, which is good, and our roles have become less rigid, which is also good. I do not long for 1950’s gender roles. But what is the end goal? That everybody feels equally close to the main social role? As I see it, straight and gay, cis and trans, men and women, hearing and deaf, are in important respects different groups. If you really want everybody to feel equally belonging, you would have to get to where we are in principle all bisexual, we are all non-binary, and we all speak sign language. Which does not sound realistic. Failing that you end up like bilingual or biracial societies like Tirol or Malaysia, where there are several competing sub-societies with different norms that rigidly police their right to influence the whole and keep the competition at bay. Or you remain where it is not good to be different from (most) other people. And where, with the best will in the world, you can not expect the majority to all of the adapting so that the various minorities are always equally well off.

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