Monday, January 20, 2014

Two Stories About Gender Politics

First Story:   Misogyny

The UK Telegraph posted an opinion column on misogyny in 2013.  One could criticize it because of the great difficulties of measuring misogyny on a global level or changes in it or whether horrible gang rapes in India, the rising gender gap in wages in the UK or the hostility shown towards women on the Internet can even be made commensurate on some easily interpreted scale.

But it IS an opinion piece, and it DOES point out that anyone who is a woman can face that thing JUST because she is a woman and for no other reason.  "That thing" could be misogyny, as in hatred of women, or perhaps just mild contempt towards women or perhaps the objectification of women as mere providers of sexual and reproductive services or as creatures who are supposed to be confined to the homes and not seen or heard outside it.  But whatever it is, it is real, among some fraction of people, both men and women, though probably more commonly among men.  And whatever it is, there is an element of ranking in it, and the ranking is based on one's gender, nothing else.

Here's where the fun enters the picture:  Guess what the most common topic of conversation in the comments attached to the piece are?  If you guessed misandry (the hatred of men) you get a very large box of chocolate truffles and a position as one of my priests or priestesses.  That's because the comments seem to have been astroturfed by certain groups of MRAs.

And yes, I know I shouldn't read comments to any articles about feminism or misogyny etc.  Is there a twelve-step support group for comment readers?

We also need a twelve-step group for those who don't understand that discussing one topic doesn't mean that the opposite topic should also be discussed (or that it is obviously, and without evidence, an equally large or larger concern) or that such an omission is tantamount to misandry.  We need a twelve-step programs to teach people about why how often something happens does matter.  We need to teach people that omitting all the data which doesn't support your position while presenting anecdotal evidence to support it is not the proper way to generalize about something.  And we need to find a way for me to ultimately accept that none of this is likely to happen, because the debate is about power, not about facts.   Sigh.

Second Story:  The Emasculation of Men

And power is the proper framework for understanding why Fox News runs a script saying "The Wussification of Men" while interviewing an Australian writer who has come out with the book about the death of manly men and what it means.*   :

Australian author, Nick Adams was the guest for this segment and he basically said that feminism (and for some reason, the government) is purposely emasculating men. And apparently, this isn’t happening in just the United States!
Even in Australia, we’ve gone from wrestling with crocodiles to wrestling with lattes.
Presumably the number one hobby of all Australian men once was wrestling crocodiles.

But more importantly, Nick Adams believes that what being a man means is stuff like wrestling crocodiles and  although he also believes that men are like that in an innate sense, the society still manages to turn them into wussies!  Feminists are all-powerful!  Feminists can even overpower the "natural" definition of manliness.   That is pretty illogical.  Either the "natural" definition of manliness is not natural at all or what Adams talks about is rubbish.  Well, both really. 

But there's more!  Is feminism a threat to national security?  Adams:

Absolutely, without a doubt. I think it has wide-ranging implications. Weeps and wussies deliver mediocrity. And men win. And what America’s always been about is winning. So I think it’s pivotal to the health of the country.
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!  It's men who win, not weeps and wussies, and weeps and wussies are men which make Nick Adams think about those other kinds of humans, women.   Who naturally should be weeps and wussies.

And even more:  The other guy in the video asks if all this is about "whitewashing" the differences between genders and about trying to make everyone be neutral!  Let's return to those innate sex differences.  Except then the same guy asks how do we teach boys to be boys and girls to be girls to fight this wussification tendency.  So we are right back in that same confused thinking where manly men and wussy women are innate categories but we have to worry about how to create them  in child-rearing.

I could do a proper analysis of all this but it's not worth it, because the story is not about facts.  It's about who is allowed to be on top in the societal power ladders, applied to the question of gender.  And that Fox News has this story is just another arrow in their quiver in the war against women.  Because whatever evil things one might wish to assign to feminism, it's not feminists who attack men talking football or who attack hunters or who insist on banning crocodile wrestling.
*And the reference to doing the dishes at the beginning of this section is very illuminating, because it implies that manly men don't have to care about doing the dishes.  This is intended as humor, but it's inserted for a reason.  If we take it as part of the whole message, then we are told that men are innately unable to care about doing the dishes, whereas women somehow are assumed to be the reverse.