One common complaint about feminism is that it is inherently anti-male. “It’s right there in the name,” say critics “you should just call it humanism if it’s not inherently gender biased!” As tedious as I find arguments over semantics, I will allow myself to be drawn into this one long enough to say that the reason it is called feminism is because it came as a response to the prevailing misogynist culture. The fact that it has grown and developed since then doesn’t require the existence of a new word, it simply requires our understanding to grow along with it.
But there is something besides simple semantics to the complaint. Feminism, at least as popularly practiced, tends to focus on issues relevant to cis women when compared to cis men. To an outsider’s view, it would certainly seem as though feminism is based on the overriding axiom that women are always treated as lesser than men. Cases in which men suffer are thus dismissed as either of secondary important or simply illusory complaints by people who have all the privilege anyway.
It certainly raises the question of why any man would self-identify as a feminist, considering that he will spend his entire life having his complaints ignored and dismissed. Lurid fantasies about the intentions of male feminists bubble to the surface – they (we) must be working an angle to be accepted by women feminists in order to have ready access to the orgy tent or something. While that is certainly a parsimonious explanation (especially when passed through a filter of bitter resentment), it is a particularly odious (and internally incoherent*) lie.
But the question remains, why don’t feminists care about stuff like this: … Continue Reading
Part of the problem with starting a new blog (or joining an already stellar one) is hitting on the right tone for the first post. Come on too strong and the writing appears forced (“ALRIGHT EVERYONE! HERE ARE MY WORDS AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM ALL AND YOU WILL KNOW HOW AWESOMEANDWITTYIAMBYTHETHIRDSENTANCEBLAKJSRSR!!!”), but exercise too much restraint and the blog post may read more like a detailed analysis of proper moisture content for haylage (yes, it’s a real word, and it’s 30-50%, by the way). I had originally written a fairly lengthy article about the current state of research on masculinities in the social sciences is but, you know, haylage. So here’s the plan: I’ve scrapped the post and written a new one, and done my best to lighten the tone a bit while keeping the core argument intact. I probably won’t have too many links contained in the body of the post, but I will absolutely put a small bibliography at the end (complete with Amazon.com links) for some of the more important works in the field.
The study of men and masculinities in the social sciences has been taking place since the very birth of the social sciences. Of course, back in the day just about everything that could be talked about with regards to society and social institutions was about men, by men, and for men. It wasn’t until the arrival on the scene of those uppity wimmenz with their ‘rooms of one’s own’ and their radical demands to be allowed to vote – or even be considered ‘persons’ under the law in the first place – that the analytical lenses of sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, etc. began to swivel to scrutinize women and women’s lives. And what they found was that women had it pretty bad. Horribly bad, in fact and perhaps it would be wise if some small amount of time was devoted to trying to understand why they had it so bad, don’tcherknow? … Continue Reading
There have been few times in my life where I have had a single-race group of friends. Living when and where I have, there have even been few examples where I was the only person of colour (PoC) in my immediate social circle. Part of it came, to be sure, from the fact that my high school was ludicrously multicultural, and I went to university for the next 6 years of my life before moving to Vancouver, a city with a huge PoC population. Simple probability theory dictates that you can’t really put together a monoracial group without more than a little bit of intentionality behind your friend selection.
Which is why shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and How I Met Your Mother annoy the living shit out of me. Well, to be fair to HIMYM, they eventually cast Kal Penn, so now the only thing that annoys me is the terrible writing. Anyway, these shows somehow manage to be about a group of white people living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world who only have ny kind of meaningful contact with other white people. Sure, PoCs occasionally pop into existence on these shows, but it’s almost always as either one-off characters or as “hilarious” jokes based on stereotype.
Last week I invited you to think about privilege as a pair of coloured goggles that prevented you from being able to see certain parts of the spectrum. Of course, if it were simply the case that privilege caused you to ‘miss out’ on things, it wouldn’t be much of a privilege, would it? Here’s the thing – that kind of selective blindness has consequences: … Continue Reading
My Blogathon efforts left me far more drained than I thought it would. By the time 6 hours of recording was up, I didn’t have much left in the tank for blogging. All is not lost, however, because a friend of mine from Vancouver has been engaged in some truly impressive local activism, so I asked Jamie to sum up the events for you all to take a look at:
I’ve been writing a lot about demonstrations, protests, nearly frothing at the mouth while yelling profanity, and taking my top off, all in the name of exercising bodily autonomy as a person who has two X-chromosomes. I mean a lot. This entry concerns a summary version of what is contained in all those posts, with links to the original writing.
The inciting incident concerned a woman in a sun dress, who felt particularly brave one afternoon while approaching a pro-life group that appears at the same intersection every weekend, to the Great Annoyance of the entire neighbourhood and virtually all passersby. She said “If a woman is raped and conceives from it, should she be forced to carry the child?” and was answered with “If she’s dressed like you, she should.” When I found out she wanted to organize the community to hold them accountable, I flipped all my shits. Read about it here.
Read Jamie’s epic saga; it’s really impressive.
I will be back to normal tomorrow, I bet. Plus I still owe a bunch of people cover tunes, so that’ll happen.
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*Trigger warning for misogyny.
Sometimes the world does your job for you.
So one of the most fun aspects of male privilege is that I can look at stupid bullshit like this and laugh. First of all, Ian Adelstein isn’t a member of CFI Amherst, he’s just a douchebro with a big mouth. But hey, that’s one of the hallmarks of douchebroism – a ludicrously inflated sense of self-importance. Because I’m a guy, I get to look at words like ‘cunt’ in purely anthropological terms and pick apart the various types of ignorance and privilege that would lead someone to make that word choice. Of course, Mr. Adelstein immediately disavowed any sexism in his tweet: see, there are a lot of things he could have meant by ‘cunt’. He might have been calling her an old old wooden ship from the civil war era! Words can mean anything! I guess he’s relying on the assumption that we’re all as stupid as he is. … Continue Reading
Sometimes stuff comes up in the news and I just don’t bother going after it. There are low-hanging news stories that are so silly or frivolous that I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say about them. Sometimes I file them away for a rainy day when I don’t have a lot of time or energy, or on the off chance that I’ll be able to link to it later in a more substantive piece. So when I read about Sweden’s “racist cake” incident, I figured it was worth taking a pass:
Sweden’s culture minister is facing calls to step down after she was photographed cutting a cake shaped in the form of a naked black woman. The incident involving Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth happened at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. According to Radio Sweden, the museum said the cake was supposed to highlight the issue of female circumcision. But the Association for African Swedes said it was a crude racist caricature and called for Ms Liljeroth to resign.
A few people asked me to respond, but I thought it was a waste of time. After all, it’s a very silly story about an art installation that, as is often the case, was provocative and not in the greatest ‘taste’ (sorry for the pun). Avant garde art is, by definition, ahead of public opinion and designed to shock to prove a point. The involvement of the Swedish culture minister was a regrettable move on her part, but what would you do if asked to cut into a living cake at an art gallery? Staunchly refuse and launch into a tirade against the artist? It was the result of really shitty staff work and a questionable piece of art.
But damn if that confection didn’t have staying power. I guess it’s true – chocolate just doesn’t come out! So here’s a brief issue-by-issue breakdown of my thoughts. … Continue Reading
Here’s a chance for you to make your own Friday movie.
Just take any two commercials, and swap the audio from the ‘boys’ commercial with the video from the ‘girls’ commercial (or vice versa). Hit ‘mashup’ and enjoy!
And then cry, I guess. If you have kids, maybe show this to them so they know how stupid advertising executives think they are.
h/t Radical Bytes
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One of the most frustrating arguments I encounter when talking about feminism is the various double standards. Women are portrayed as the passive recipients of actions, and yet are the ones who must take responsibility for their marginalization (either by “grow(ing) a pair”, “get(ting) a sense of humour”, or not “dress(ing) like a total whore”). There is rarely the corrolary pressure put on men to moderate their (our) behaviour, at least not by non-feminists. Of course when feminists do say “hey guys, don’t do that”, they (we) get piled on for being a castration-hungry horde of groupthinkers who are just trying to get laid (if you’re a straight man) or who just need to get laid (if you’re not).
Not too long ago, I talked about an experience I had when I was doing undergrad orientation, where the women in my residence were taught a number of ways to safeguard themselves against date rape. Oddly (or, rather, not oddly at all), there were no accompanying instructions for the guys. Safeguarding people from date rape was a ‘victim-only’ responsibility. In that same post, I lauded a program that is seeking to shift the conversation away from that kind of blame-based advice and toward a “personal responsibility” *twitch* model. The idea seems to be picking up steam in some unlikely places. … Continue Reading
So as I get more immersed in the literature of anti-racism, feminism, class structure and sociology, it becomes harder and harder for me to enjoy jokes. For example, I used to find this video hilarious:
And it is funny – it’s a comedically exaggerated version of an interaction that happens between men and women all the time. Here’s the thing though: knowing what I know about sexual harassment and the pressures put on women to be “nice” to men who are overstepping their boundaries, it’s hard to laugh. Knowing that women are often “nice” because there’s a risk of violence if they aren’t, it’s hard to laugh. Knowing that some clueless dolts interpret anything that isn’t a clear and brutal “no” as an invitation to try harder, and that those same dolts will react to a brutal “no” as though it’s the woman’s fault for being a “stuck up bitch”, it’s hard to laugh.
Knowing that Darrel’s social awkwardness is exacerbated by his race, and that the same approach (modified for dialect) from a white guy would likely seem less obtrusive, it’s hard to laugh. Knowing that even if Darrel were successful in getting Yvonne’s number, the two of them have clearly different social backgrounds and would struggle to find acceptance in their respective communities, it’s hard to laugh. Knowing that Darrel could possibly face violence for walking down the street with Yvonne in the wrong neighbourhood or town, it’s hard to laugh.
Basically what I am saying is that thinking about things ruins jokes. So… I’m sorry I guess?
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This may end up being yet another one of those kind of posts where I end up in a crouch against one of my fellow FTBorg. Today’s bone is picked with Matt Dilahunty of The Atheist Experience. I am similarly terrified of dueling with Matt, but I would be remiss if I let his comment pass unchallenged.
On Sunday’s episode of The Atheist Experience, a caller asked Beth and Matt for their opinion on ‘honour killings’, in light of the recent conviction of Mohammad Shafia. Beth and Matt were, in the least shocking plot twist imaginable, opposed to them. No big deal – killing is wrong, killing because of something as misguided as patriarchial, misogynistic concepts of “honour” is even more wrong. I’ve said as much before:
There’s no honour in murder. It is the weak-willed act of a coward who lacks any human decency. One might be able to persuade me that there is honour in the suicide tradition of Bushido, in which failure to act honourably moves the samurai to take his/her own life. I’m generally against the idea of suicide, but a person’s life is their own to do with what they want. What he is not entitled to do, however, is murder someone else to restore his own sense of ‘honour’. Any society in which one person’s mental state or social status trumps another’s right to the security of their person cannot stand.
Matt then pivoted from what was essentially a good point about the intolerability of murder in a sustainable society into a terrible point about religion. His argument, as best I could understand it, was that Islam provides a context in which honour killings are permissible. The implication of this statement is that Mr. Shafia’s Muslim beliefs fueled his decision to murder his three daughters and first wife. I’ve also expressed my objection to this concept:
… Continue Reading