Because boys still matter more: The popularity of anti-bullying campaigns and the erasure of sexism

The relatively recent development of the anti-bullying campaign has been almost universally accepted as something that is unquestionably “good”. These campaigns are politically correct, they are focused on kids (a largely unhateable group), and they are relatively easy to get behind for most people, (with the exception of some religious groups) particularly those who consider themselves to be open-minded, liberal folks.

Support for these campaigns has surged in popularity with celebrity endorsements and the almost immediate, enthusiastic incorporation of anti-bullying discourse into elementary and high schools. Projects like Dan Savage’s It Gets Better, aimed at inspiring hope in alienated and harassed LGBT kids, are hard to criticize, particularly in light of stats around the increased likelyhood of suicide attempts by these youth. But while anti-bullying campaigns grow ever more popular and schools rush to adopt anti-bullying training for teachers and parents, put on anti-bullying events and create anti-bullying programs and policies, generally patting themselves on their backs for implementing these progressive measures, the elephant in the room grows ever more visible.

That elephant is, of course, girls and women.

While incorporating words like homophobia, gender, ethnicity, or the favorite, diversity, into schools’ plans to “tackl[e] the bullying problem,” seems easy for school boards, the media, and the public to swallow, that uncomfortable word, women, remains distinctly absent from the conversation.

We seem able to talk about a number of different ways people can be bullied or harassed in schools, focusing largely on issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity, without addressing sexual harassment or without naming women and girls as a specific target. Sexism starts early. It starts in the classroom. And yet all we can manage to rally around is the neutral “bullying.” Why?

Stopbullying.gov says that bullying can take many shapes and forms and isn’t limited by age, gender, or education level…But can it happen because of sexism? Meh. Who knows!

While we are, apparently, becoming comfortable with language around “challenging homophobic bullying” and “celebrating difference,” our understanding of the ways in which young men learn to view and treat women, which begins very early on, is left, distinctly, off the table.

Explaining to kids that calling someone a “fag” or using the word “gay” in a derogatory sense is happening, which is good. Part of what is missing, though, is the recognition that, generally, boys are called “gay” because they act too much “like girls.” Because yes, being a girl is still a bad thing.

When Lady Gaga got on board with anti-bullying campaigns in school, she said, as part of her message: “It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance. It is important that we spread tolerance and equality for all students…I am going to be working as hard as I can to make bullying a hate crime.”

 

And sure, that’s a pretty good message. Not much to argue with there. Certainly no one believes that anyone else should be harassed because they fail to conform to universal standards of masculinity (Lady Gaga, in the video, is addressing Jacques St Pierre, who “was bullied in elementary school by students who called him a fag for being interested in theatre and drama“) But let’s think about what it is that it means to be a man. What it means to be masculine, as far as avoiding being called a “fag” goes, anyway. It means, not-like-a-woman. It means being tough, unemotional, often athletic (i.e. not into theatre) or physically strong, sometimes it means being violent or aggressive, and often, of course, we understand masculinity in terms of how a man views and treats women. In order to avoid harassment, as a boy, you must be sure to “pass” as adequately masculine. In order to be adequately masculine, you must not only be clearly not-like-a-girl, but you must see women as ‘less than’ while simultaneously trying to fuck them. Being fucked by a man means you are less than. As man, if you enjoy or desire to be fucked by another man, it means you aren’t adequately masculine. And that feminization that comes along with being fucked by men makes you deserving of harassment. This isn’t, of course, the only issue at play when it comes to homophobia, but it certainly is one of them.

In light of the recent sexual harassment claims which have come out around the RCMP, wherein Cpl. Catherine Galliford detailed the years of harassment that eventually led her to take medical leave on account of the stress and emotional toll this treatment had taken on her, one would think a light would have gone off in someone’s head.

“Hey!” One might think. “I wonder when this kind of behaviour starts?” “I wonder how men learn to treat women like sex objects?” “I wonder if there’s any way we could curb this behaviour before it becomes completely normalized?”

Galliford’s experience was not an anomoly. Other women have since come out about the harassment they experienced in the RCMP as well. From men planting pornography in a female co-worker’s desk to propositioning to inappropriate touching, it’s clear that this kind of behaviour, on the parts of men, is both common and acceptable.

But how seriously does the state take sexual harassment? And how willing are we, as a society, to actually address the issue? It feels a little bit awkward to witness the immediate and eager embrace of anti-bullying campaigns while sexual harassment and sexism remain so common, so destructive, so acceptable, and yet, relatively, unaddressed.

For me, the experience of sexual harassment was introduced to me when I was about 11. I remember, very specifically, meeting with a teacher, along with several other Grade 6 girls, because the boys in our class had taken to making comments about our prepubescent (or non-existant) breasts. And while I believe the behaviour was addressed with the individual boys who were doing the harassing, there was never any kind of discussion around sexism or sexual harassment as part of any program or curriculum in all my years at school. For the rest of the boys, for those who aren’t called out by individuals early on (or who don’t have feminist parents), I imagine that sexual harassment just becomes part of the routine of presenting as masculine.

So I was in Grade 6 in about 1991. I imagine this kind of behaviour and sexual harassment has been experienced by many, many girls before me and continues to be a common experience today. Boys learn very early on what girls are for and they learn very early on how men should treat women, in order to be adequately masculine and to be accepted by their peer group.

And yet, as pointed out by a friend who is currently completing a PhD in Education, the concept of sexism and the issue of sexual harrassment remains non-existant in both elementary and high school curriculums. Is it really a mystery that men grow up to sexually harass women on the streets, in the workplace, in bars, and, generally, anywhere a woman might be, when they are never taught that this behaviour won’t be tolerated?

While we all seem to be madly in love with the idea of anti-bullying campaigns and have managed, very, very quickly to start creating programs across North America to address the issue of bullying in schools, we have yet, in all the years of sexism and sexual harassment (never mind rape and assault) that has existed from very early on in schools, to address the issue of patriarchy. We have yet to make a concerted effort to address the ways in which boys learn to treat women as objects that don’t deserve their respect, in school. We seem talk a lot about equality without mentioning the word sexism. We seem able to talk about gender without mentioning the word woman. And we talk a lot about harassment without mentioning the fact that both bullying and harassment are things that women experience, on a fairly constant basis, from the time they are very young. Simply because they are girls in a man’s world.

When we say “gender” today, what we mean is “gender expression” or “gender identity.” It has become a very neutral term and it has become a way for the state and the law to avoid naming “women” as a target. As far as anti-bullying campaigns go, girls are not named as a specific target even though “gender” and “equality” are common terms within this discourse. And while it is good that we are addressing this idea that boys need not fit into this perscribed role of “masculinity,” we seem to be completely afraid to address why that is and what the consequences of a system that views masculinty as ‘good’, simply because it isn’t ‘femininty’ are for women in that culture.

Within the neutrality of the way in which “gender” is used in anti-bullying campaigns and in the distinct absence of a focus on sexual harassment, and an absence of words like “sexism” or “patriarchy,” anti-bullying campaigns appear to remain safely designated for boys.

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68 Comments on “Because boys still matter more: The popularity of anti-bullying campaigns and the erasure of sexism”

  • I never even considered this, but it’s glaringly obvious. I have been hearing lots of ‘gender’ but not in “gender-based” bullying, harassment, or violence. Girls are treated like shit, too…and it often is because they are girls. I recall being in grade 2, so i was 7…and i had a “boyfriend” in my class, and one day he slapped my butt and said “sexy” after. I remember being confused and feeling like that was a “grown up” word that I didn’t understand. Later, I noticed male teachers slapping the older teenage girl’s butts and calling them names and speaking about them sexually to the male students. I was harassed by male students and male teachers at the same time. No one cared. It’s become so “normal” for women and girls to be treated poorly that it’s not even considered bullying or harassment. I think it’s great that there’s campaigns to target gay-bashing, but we can’t forget the issue of sexism and the array of shit that women and girls have to put up with ALL the time. Also, your points about gender, as in “you’re acting like a girl” or when a boy gets bullied by being called “fag” it’s because he’s “acting more like a girl” — it all goes back to hating anything related to, or of girls or females. No one wants to understand that, however. Especially folks like Dan Savage who is a rampant misogynist and rape-apologist in his sex-advice columns. Of all people, he shouldn’t be the spokesperson…

    Great piece, btw. Will share.

       11 likes

    • ned

      Dan Savage is a total misogynist and rape-apologist. He also has a very poor understanding of feminism and gender. I was glad he and his partner adopted a son, not a daughter — those guys should definitely not be raising a daughter.

         2 likes

      • Omnia Vanitas

        Actually, they shouldn’t even be raising a son either, because they will educate him to become another misogynist.

           0 likes

        • Mocha

          I do love the idea of homophobia stemming from sexism, since gay men are equated to subordinate woman, however someone please enlighten me as to how the fuck Dan Savage is a misogynist.

             0 likes

  • Hecuba

    Hooray at last someone else recognises ‘this particular elephant in the room.’ I’ve been constantly engaged in stating ‘bullying’ and even ‘sexual bullying’ are not the same as sexual harassment because the focus is always on boys and protecting boys from being bullied. But here in the UK the term ‘anti-bullying’ has been widely adopted and is very popular. Why? Because it is always assumed the victims are boys and boys must not be subjected to bullying, but meanwhile girls from the time they commence elementary school continue to be subjected to sexual/physical/verbal harassment by their male peers. Anti-bullying campaigns also very neatly invisibilises the fact male harassment of females is widespread, condoned and accepted because women and girls do not exist when anti-bullying campaigns are mentioned. What a neat way of ensuring focus as always is on males and their so-called rights.

    I did not even know the meaning of male sexual harassment because it was not named when I was at elementary school, but I certainly knew I was being targetted by my male peers because I was (horrors) a female not a male.

    Now for the umpteenth time if we cannot name the problem we cannot begin to challenge it and that applies to male sexual harassment of females of all ages because it is not ‘bullying’ it is deliberate and sustained male misogynistic harassment of females because their sex (not gender by the way) is female not male.

    Likewise ‘sexism’ has been co-opted by males with the ludicrous claim men too are subjected to sexism. We must reject using this gender neutral term sexism and instead name male hatred/male contempt for females as misogyny and then men cannot claim ‘but we males are subjected to misogyny too! By the way misandry is a term made up because it does not exist – never has and never will because women do not have the socio-economic power men accord themselves and insulting one male doth not make all men quake in their shoes!

    By the way women-hating is widespread, accepted and condoned because unlike homophobia and racism the targets are females only whereas homophobia and racism affects men and therefore men believe these particular forms of hatred exist whereas male hatred/contempt for women is not ‘hatred’ but normal male behaviour and male right.

       11 likes

  • You’re right on, Megan. Female students are constantly sexually harassed at school. Even female teachers can be sexually harassed by male students, and it’s really scary trying to decide what to do about it. I used to work with a student teacher who was being sexually harassed by a male student in grade 6. He was so young and already trying to put adult women in their place. This isn’t particular to schools though– women are bullied everywhere, even in the home, so naturally it happens at school too.

       5 likes

  • I’m so with you on this. In some ways, it’s similar to how queer-bashing got very little attention until some folks realized that straight kids are affected by it, too. I’m 100% for supporting people of all gender expressions, and I’m really disappointed by how the impact of harassment and assault on girls & women has been folded into bullying. I want to see each of them getting the attention they deserve.

       2 likes

  • Utopia Bold

    The absent referent
    The “absent referent” refers to something without naming it. Mary Daly in her book “Quintessence” wrote, “Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.” As linguist Julia Penelope has shown in her book, “Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Fathers’ Tongues,” “agent deletion is a dangerous and common mind-muddying flaw.”

    Agent deletion is common, concerning MALE violence against women as can be seen in the non mention of males harassing women-or even the mention of women in anti bullying efforts.

    Timid terms such as “sexual violence,” “domestic violence” “gender-based violence,” and “violence” refer to men without naming them, even when describing instances when it was obviously men who raped hundreds of thousands of women in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda and many other nations.

    Even Amnesty International, which calls it “a global scourge,” uses the term “violence against women” and “sexual violence” instead of “male violence against women.” Also, its a direct confrontation to patriarcchy to NAME male violence against women. IN this case, neither the perpetrators (boys) or the victimized ones (girls) are mentioned. Its so nice and safe to tiptoe around the elephant in the living room (patriarchy)

       5 likes

    • Meghan Murphy

      Indeed, Utopia Bold. There are so many who are working to neutralize male violence against women by replacing the word ‘woman’ with ‘gender’. Language is so important and is certainly under attack. some try to frame it as sexist, even, to name violence against women as such, demanding that we say ‘people’, as though male power has nothing to do with it.

         4 likes

      • Omnia Vanitas

        Yeah even recently when there were sexual abuses by UN aid workers (who are supposed to be there to protect these people) against indigenous women, the UN still uses disguising language in their reports like “If he or she is convicted of rape.” Yeah right — “she”. You know all of those rapes were by men against women and girls. Give me a break. Not to mention the UN doesn’t even want to touch these cases to begin with — they use every loop hole of international law to excuse themselves –and their employees– from accountability. They say that what their employees do on their own time is outside of the UN’s jurisdiction, and that’s how they want it. So much for “help” from America. Every time I hear someone hail the UN as some kind of a peace organization I just scoff. Not to mention my transgender friend was basically shamed and shunned out of there by the dickbag douches who work there, despite her being more than qualified to be there doing the same job as them. (surprise surprise)

           1 likes

        • Omnia Vanitas

          I’m sure the UN does lots of good stuff too and has many good people working for it as well; there are so many different departments, etc. My point was just that when the language problem is from the top down (the UN being a sort of “authority” on human rights issues for people) then we can see how entrenched it is and how difficult it is to make it budge.

             0 likes

  • Bonnie

    Terrific points. Thank you, Meghan, and all who commented.

       0 likes

  • pisaquari

    Yes and YES.

    I also think the anti-bullyboy movement has grown in response to school shootings (all done by MEN)–and all the media attention around *bullied killers*. Dejected, socially unacceptable young males (read: females wouldn’t date/sleep with him) in a culture of masculinity being denied the rites of male passage and machismo and popularity and female penetration after dances!! The horror. When men don’t have full access to the promised wonders of masculinity they kill.
    The anti-bullyboy movement is a bizarrely accurate commentary in that it hints at understanding: violence begets violence. And, yet, the real take-home is that MANness should be allotted to every male–Equal Opportunity Guy Code. Thus, the movement (decked in all the typical “hot chicks <3 nerds/gamers/'losers'" PR) will simply result in a strengthening of the good ole boy network. Female sexual harassment can be expected to go up. Oh glorious day.

       8 likes

    • joy

      One time, some dood opined to me that “Women would get raped less, if they dated fewer jocks!”

      To avoid argument, as I was not feeling up to it at the time, I agreed with him — but really, I think women should maybe date fewer *men* in general^. Because any of them can be rapists, jocks are just the easiest to spot. Women (at least of my generation and general cultural class) have been turning to ‘nerds’ and underdogs for years — and guess what, they make just as virulent of bastards as the football-letter-jacket guys.

      Reward socially-perceived nerdboys’ sense of entitlement to ‘hot chicks’, and watch them become jocks in different clothing. It’s already been happening for a long time. Elevating a beta male to alpha status without supplying a simultaneous dose of strong political analysis and awareness is just giving him assistants upon whom he can act out his repressed rage at being on the bottom of the totem pole for so long.

      Also, it further entrenches women in the cycle of paying attention to men (lest these men go on to become rapists).
      “I need to fuck him, or at least pay attention to him, else he will become entrenched in his bitterness as a perceived lonely loser and then start raping people [other than, probably, usually, me]!” is not a healthy basis for a relationship, nor a holy grail or pinnacle of achievement in general. Women can do so much better with their time and energy.

      When will responsibility finally fall on the rapists, the bullies, and the abusers?

      ^ Footnote: Of course, we would still get raped, because what makes rape happen is not women but rapists.

         5 likes

  • joy

    This shit started for me when I was five years old. Five. Years. Old.

    It got worse when I was six years old. Everyone tortured me, because I was lower class and had baby fat, but I had two primary tormentors (both male) and I still remember their names. One of them was already watching porn, which we knew because he and his dad both bragged about it, and it was evident in his behavior. He’s unsurprisingly gone on to become a hockey star and businessman. The other was a godbag son of a local politician; as an adult, he has been very active on the Rick Santorum campaigns and is trying to become a senator. I think those details are very relevant.

    The bullying never stopped until I graduated school, it just changed form, time and time again. No one, other than my mother at home, ever once stood up for me or said that what was happening was wrong. The teachers just told me to shut up or go to the hall for punishment if I began to cry in class. My behavior seemed a complete mystery to them, even when they witnessed overt abuse.

    I first attempted suicide when I was seven years old. Everyone said it was because I must have been born “mentally ill.” So they told me to “stop being so negative!” Meanwhile, the bullies continued to mock and taunt and steal and push and threaten and whisper and pass notes and kick and touch. They were praised as upstanding individuals and hailed as successes for society. Because under patriarchy, that is what counts as success: relentless conformity, and overt violence to keep everyone else terrified into a state of relentless conformity.

    School was where I learned about racism, sexism, classism, and the general and myriad delusions of the populace. Starting from the time I was six years old. And despite the recent preponderance of anti-bullying campaigns, something tells me that isn’t going to change for today’s children any time soon.

       5 likes

  • Hari B.

    Thanks tremendously for this piece.

    I became a feminist in 1969, the year I fought for the overthrow of sexist dress codes in my middle school. We won that battle–mainly because a few young womyn like me simply started dressing the way we wanted to in spite of the school administration’s unwillingness to give us permission. From that point forward I fought sexism everywhere, including classrooms, activist groups and the courts. Of course, in the meantime I was growing up, getting married, having kids and experiencing the world in all the ways that sexism is so deeply institutional.

    I have had some notable ‘victories’ in particular battles, sparing details, and yet by the time I was 45 I realized that regardless of womyn’s gaining of some ‘rights’ within patriarchy, sexism was as alive and well as ever in our culture. It seemed to me that womyn had won nothing so much as the ‘right’ to become more like men in patriarchy–that our identity and reality AS WOMYN is still as erased and despised and ‘merely made use of’, as ever. I’d withdrawn from activism long before, btw, and concentrated my efforts on ‘the personal as political’ in living my life, raising my kids and in my work as a homebirth midwife seeking to facilitate womyn’s empowerment in birth and health care choices.

    It was the Occupy Movement that drew me into activism again–briefly! For the first time in 25yrs, I was engaging with a group composed mainly of men…and it was an extraordinarily painful experience for me. Not only because Occupy, a seemingly ‘universal movement’, was created and is so dominated by men (deeply entitled young white men of middle class background, at that), but even the womyn involved were either completely unaware of the sexism of their brethren, or completely willing to ‘work around it’. That is, to accept the terms of engagement silently–and a few even told me privately that they weren’t about to face alientation and other retribution for voicing their experience of being silenced and even actively intimidated by the men in the group. Some of the womyn actively resisted my efforts to address sexism in the group, feeling deeply offended that I was ‘dismissing their presence and their work in Occupy’ as well as ‘accusing their men-friends wrongly’. The rest remained silent, and in the face of bashing by the macho guys (that bashing met with silence from the few men who agreed that sexism is an issue), I left.

    Lots more I could say, but I will leave it with this story from Occupy: A man came to teach us about NVC, and talked about the importance of ‘hearing people out’. When I raised the issue of abusive comm, and having some internal agreeements about peaceable comm among us, the group (again composed of mainly young white men) raised voice against ‘rules that impose upon our freedom of speech’. The NVC guy repeated how important it is to ‘hear people out’. I mentioned some specifics, which I’d experienced as well as hearing about from a few of the womyn involved–2 of whom were present–being interrupted, outshouted, called names, etc. The 2 womyn remained silent.

    And at the same time this meeting was occurring, some other Occupiers were in the same large room–a fairly equally-mixed group of men/womyn who were making signs for a protest. So, then a young man walks in–he’d become pretty much The Darling of the group, oft-interviewed and photographed, etc. He grabs a chair in the midst of the sign-makers, only several feet from our NVC circle. I watched in a sort of shocked trance while of the 2 womyn in the NVC circle (who’d agreed about the sexism) got up and left the circle to go be near him. Within seconds, a sign-making womyn dropped her task and also went to be near him.

    So there he was, this Golden Boy, sitting on a chair in an open area of floor. There were plenty of other chairs nearby…and the 2 womyn chose to sit on the floor at his feet! Smiling up at him while he regaled them with whatever His Important Self had to say, while they listened raptly.

    I left and did not go back.

    Thanks again, for this piece. You are so right!

       3 likes

    • joy

      One of the biggest red flags for me, as a radical feminist anarchist, was listening to these whiteboys drone on and on about “freedom of speeech!!! it’s in the CONSTITUTIONNNN!!”

      Dude, anarchists don’t care about the Constitution. Not that many of them care about women, either (unless they are radical feminist women), but the smart ones at least don’t base their arguments *on the Constitution.*

      Just the biggest hint that Occupy is simply one long white-liberal-dude ‘mantrum.’ When are we (radical women!) going to have our own revolution?

      Also, your example of The Golden Boy is sad. Sad, sick, and really, really, really common.

         4 likes

  • Hari B.

    Btw–after a few weeks’ of Occupying, I started the linked fb page to talk about the things (without interruption and bashing!) I’d been trying to convey to the local group. If you start with the Info page then scroll to the bottom of the page, you can see something of the Herstory of my involvement expressed as essays on various related topics. I only shared it with the local Occupy group–few of whom chose to ‘like’ it, but the page-stats showed they were certainly reading it. Interestingly enough, of the 2 commenters, one was a gay man who’d always sympathized with me…the other a queer/bi womyn among the most vocal in expressing how offended she was by my suggestion that our group needed more womyn and for the present womyn to be given space to speak more in the group. Her first comment to me (elsewhere) was that by my saying that the group ‘needs more womyn’, I was ‘dissing trans womyn’…which she could not explain when I asked her how asking for more womyn somehow seemed to leave out trans womyn (not like I’d said ‘we need only more straight or FAAB womyn’, after all, just ‘womyn’). She links her website…which gives an accounting of her experience w/Occupy from the start (I joined the group some weeks into it, she was there at the beginning). In her mind, Occupy ‘transcends gender, race, and every other ism’–and what she doesn’t see is that her deep bonding with the start-up group essentially blinded her. The men were her friends, they couldn’t possibly be sexist–her friends whom she must defend, not that they were defending HER (not one man spoke up about how I was ‘dissing the womyn already present’–they were focussed on their own indignation at my ‘bashing them’)….oy.

    Anyway, enjoy.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Womyn-Occupy-Southern-IL/270930182948114

       3 likes

  • I recently learned that much of what is labeled “bullying” is actually sexual harassment. This makes a lot of sense in my experience. However, by mislabeling it, the gendered dynamics of “bullying” are hidden. This includes when bullying is done by girls to other girls. (I was bullied by other girls for appearing unfeminine, e.g. “like a lesbian,” but obviously this sort of bullying only works to keep male supremacy going). Another way girl-on-girl bullying works to keep patriarchy in tact is that it helps support an environment where girls, and then women, come to hate one another. Even outside of school settings, the assumption is that women will tear each other to shreds.

    Why isn’t there an “It gets better” type campaign just to stop sexual harassment against girls? Saying “boys experience sexual harassment too,” assumes that we already live in a gender-equal society. We do not. Men do not get sexually harassed just for being men, but rather for being too much like the girls.

    Thank you for this post, Meghan. I’m not sure I’ve seen a feminist post on this specific topic before.

       6 likes

    • joy

      Maybe there isn’t an “It Gets Better” campaign for sexism because everyone knows, whether we know we know it or not, that sexual harassment and discrimination DOESN’T ‘get better’ as we age.

      Ever. Until the day we die. And even sometimes after that (as in: abuses of, and miscarriages of justice about, our dead bodies; appropriation and misuse of our stories; dismissal of our achievements; etc).

         3 likes

  • Hari B.

    Yes, womononajourney, to all you said. My youngest son, now 13, has been bullied for years for ‘appearing too feminine’ and so forth. He now has a GF–and both have them have been teased along the lines of “You guys need to change roles–she is too manly, he is too fem” And I have been the target of bullying within my profession of homebirth midwifery, by other midwives who saw me as a threat. In essence, I was a threat by being a feminist seeking primarily to facilitate womyn’s empowerment instead of being first, a midwife seeking to promote midwifery as a profession with the same power/care-’management’ dynamics of medicalized birth. Never mind that I didn’t try to push my way any others, and that I duly respected their practice choices. “I’m ok–you’re ok” was possibly the biggest insult I could have levied, it seems, because instead of looking to know the ‘party line’ and how to follow it, I did my own thing without reference to any ‘party’. Very ugly stuff! And the more heartbreaking to know the internalized misogyny driving it.

       2 likes

  • Hari B.

    Joy–yeah, the constitution…sheesh. And golden boys…OMG. Occasionally, I have replayed that in my mind, with a different ending: wherein, in one fantasy anyway, I stand up and whistle loudly (I’m good at the piercing whistle, fingers to lips). And when silence falls, I say LOOK! LOOK AT GOLDEN BOY AND HIS WORSHIPFUL FEMSLAVES! DO YOU GET IT NOW???? THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY MALE DOMINATION IN OCCUPY!!!

    Or instead, I just quietly get up and gather 2 chairs to bring to the young womyn. And I say, quietly, Womyn, please, take these chairs, before I throw up–and before Golden Boy pops from the overinflation of his ego– OK?

       4 likes

  • joy

    Also: according to Meghan’s link, those religious groups who oppose anti-bullying campaigns are mostly objecting to the strawman of “promoting gayness” in school.

    And, naturally, they miss the point spectacularly. “What does [homophobia, which is by extension misogyny] have to do with bullying? Nothing.”

    I suppose they think bullying comes from … ?? … ?? … ? actually, I have no idea what they think. Just that aggressive behavior is totally individualistic, generated from nothing, and related to nothing. Sounds like a pretty *liberal* argument, really.

    Apparently, they also object to schools teaching “that there are six genders.” To be honest, I object to that too, but for different reasons. Why can’t we teach kids that there is NO gender, that gender is a totally made-up and socialized construct designed to sell us things and keep us in our socially mandated place, and that as human beings we can tell gender to eff itself and do what we want regardless of what genital plumbing we have?

    No way, that’s going too far. Without gender, how will capitalism know what things to sell us?! Advertisers will have to fall back on class and racial stereotypes, but those simply do not generate enough revenue. Keeping women terrorized into lifelong artificial feminine compliance, and men arrested in a perpetual state of emotionally stunted boy-mandom, accounts for, like, over half of the global GDP. Possibly more. The world as we know it would collapse without gender.

    Which is a pretty good reason to do away with it altogether.

       1 likes

    • Hari B.

      Seems to me bullying arises first from the dominance/submission (S & M) at the root of patriarchy, creating essential elements of culture: forcing children into tightly-constraining expressions of identity and personal power according to sex-type. The other is capitalism, the natural extension of S&M cultural model wherein humans are dominant over all of life, viewing the planet and everything/everyone as ‘property’ and ‘potential capital’. Yeah, joy, in capitalism gender is “a socialized construct designed to sell us things…” and capitalism is also designed to convince us that the only way to survive is to a) perform gender ‘properly’ and b) view ourselves as both consumers AND commodoties whose place is to swap our time and energy for things to fill the craving for authentic self, for deep connection with life, for satisfying meaning.

      By the time kids enter school, nearly all have been emotionally situated to either be bullies, or to accept bullying. They learned gender and power dynamics at home…in utero, through their mother’s biochemistry as well as through what they could hear and feel of the outside world; through medicalized childbirth and their exposure to western medicine (itself a dominance-submission model of viewing the body/health as well as Dr-patient relations); and of course, through family dynamics, in their neighborhoods, churches and daycare settings.

      I also disagree with schools teaching ’6 genders’–but only because schools cannot teach what has already been taught to children from conception onward. By the time kids reach kindergarten–even by the age of about 3 if not sooner for some–kids already have a strong idea of gender. That said, it would be great for teachers and admiinstrators to model their understanding that people (students, teachers, admins) express gender in a great variety of equally-respectable/acceptable ways. Heck, it would be even better if school itself were not designed along lines of heirarchy! Because inside that heirarchy, teachers and admin hold the power and students have to accept a subordinate role.

      In any event, I agree that misogyny (and by extension, homophobia) is the philosophical underpinning of bullying. And coming back to Meghan’s original point, that misogyny now overlooks (as usual) the sexism and sex-type based harrassment and erasure of girls. Ah, so predictable within patriarchy. Yeah, “the world as we know it would collapse without gender”–but I think this will end only when we stop terrorizing girls into gender compliance and stop agreeing to participate in gender compliance. Easier said than done, of course. But so needed!

         1 likes

      • joy

        Wait, you really think gender is inborn and innate?!

        “Gender” does not exist. It is a repackaging and reselling of the 1950s concept of “socially expected sex roles” — which first-wave feminists recognized as oppressive trash and rightly blasted to eensy-weensy bits.

        The fact that it has resurfaced now as some kind of weird mumbo jumbo that has to do with prenatal biochemistry and limbic neurons and other esoteric stuff we can’t really identify but simply KNOW is there (because otherwise we would have to face the reality of stifling oppression, and how could we all function?! who would clean our toilets?! who would give all the blow jobs?! who would do the drudgery of raising our babies?!?!), is simply a sign of the tremendous antifeminist backlash that’s left us stewing in this ultracapitalist, individualist antifeminist patriarchy.

           1 likes

        • Hari B.

          No, joy, you misunderstand me entirely. What I am saying is that children start learning, while in utero–who knows how early, but certainly once they can hear voices and other sounds in the outer world. And of course, they are experiencing mom’s shifting hormones, for instance in response to stress that might come about from being yelled at. This is too big a topic to cover here–just trying to correct your assumption about my meaning (tho I can kinda see why you jumped there from what I said). Again, I am talking about social learning that starts in utero because babes in utero do have some experience of what is going on out there.

          Btw joy, I agree–’gender’ does not exist except as a social construct. However, sex-types do exist in biological terms. Estrogen-dominance in girl-babies leads to a specifically female brain formation, different in significant ways from testosterone dominance that leads to specifically male brain formation. Now, it is pretty clear that sex-type hormones run along a continuum for people, and even the most testosterone-dom man has some estrogens…and vice versa for womyn, who also have some testosterone. The balance of these hormones in individuals is varied…but if you are by sex-type a girl, then your brain is a little different from those who are by sex-type boys. Again, a huge topic, one (along with the above) that I have studied in depth over a lot of years. Just saying–I agree ‘gender’ as we know it is socially constructed and has been constructed differently in different societies over time. But there actually are biological differences between womyn and men–which do lead to differing ‘tendencies’ in perception, comm, and choices. I believe that patriarchy has capitalized on those differences in the creation of (really twisted) gender as we have it in this culture.

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          • Hari B.

            Should have said, at the end–patriarchy has capitalized on biological differences in the creation of gender….BECAUSE, also by biology, we are a social species. That is, humans are hardwired to need social interaction and to be much impacted by it. This is why ‘nurture’has so much impact on the individual’s formation of identity and on ‘social performance’ such as gender-role assignment.

            I will say, though, that while feminism of the 70s did blast gender from the standpoint of ‘nurture’/socialization–and were quite right in the main–there is now quite a bit more hard science that’s been gathered on human biochemistry on all levels, including (tho not limited to) sex-type hormones and other biological differences between womyn and men. The information on brain-construction/functioning differences, for instance, did not come out unti the 90s, I believe (and has been further studied since then). Behavior and thought-processes are not solely the result of gender-socialization, in other words–biology does play an important part. And while science is a long way from having us ‘entirely figured out’, in fact, huge strides have been made in identifying a vast array of hormones and neurotransmitters, with their functions and interactions as they impact mood and behavior–and are themselves impacted by thoughts and experiences. You might want to look into this, because now, this is hardly in the realm of “esoteric stuff we can’t really identify but simply KNOW is there”.

            anyway– like I said before, patriarchy has mainly just capitalized upon general tendencies of the sexes, in social definition/determination of gender roles that create male dominance and female oppression. In my view, patriarchy’s assigned role for men is every bit as stifling, harmful and dehumanizing for men as is it’s role for womyn (even tho the overt privilege/benefits go to men, obviously).

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            • joy

              The fact that studies on “brain differences” did not come out until the ’90s is pretty important, since the ’90s were a time of tremendous antifeminist backlash.

              I’ve read all the studies too, as a former supporter of “social psychology” and then ‘funfeminism.’ Who is to say the brain differences are not due to socialization? Human brains are so much more plastic than we give them credit for.

              Also, it stands to remember that doctors and scientists once thought different races had different brains (especially brain sizes) too. Do not trust patriarchal science and patriarchal scientific studies, as they have an agenda to uphold.

                 1 likes

              • Hari B.

                I agree 100%–our bodies, including our brains and maybe especially our brains, are incredibly plastic. And in my considered opinion, they are only *so* plastic, at least until you start adding med-chem-and surg into the mix.

                Still–one of the things I consider to be the most damaging to feminism (and for actual living womyn, including feminists) is the rejection of our female selves, biologically. While I do most definitely see real and important differences between womyn and men on a biological basis, know that none of that difference makes me believe womyn are in any way LESS than men. And it is definitely NOT to accept any masculine ideas about what womyn are or what role we must ‘naturally’ play, based on a patriarchal interpretation of female biology. Having done a lot of reading in anthropology, I know that there actually have been egalitarian cultures in which womyn’s identity has been as greatly honored as men’s, understood to be a different and equally important element of human-beingness for group survival and joy.

                And here I want to insert that I’m speaking in broad generalities. I understand that brain-design and sex-type hormones exist along a continuum with many individual variations….there is clearly no ONE way to be or express being female or male. Still, the generalities do apply—in general.

                Patriarchy, which came into being based upon testosterone consciousness (ie, via testosterone’s unmediated aggression), could not possibly have come this far without womyn and what we offer, as womyn. Womyn are co-opted by patriarchy not only by ‘brute force’ (not to minimize the impact of violence on our lives) but by virtue of womyn’s design, biologically. To whit: our biology, that is, the capacities of both estrogen and female brain design, tends to make us valuers and promoters of community. So, being born into patriarchy means that we will tend to uphold that ‘community’–and patriarchy could not survive without womyn to do this—from a biological basis. It goes well beyond our willingness to have babies in captivity and perform the shit-work under threat of battering and rape. Our female capacities/tendencies are every bit as important to life as the masculine, and have been subsumed, subordinated, expressly because men understand how important womyn are, as womyn.

                It is absolutely true that humans are tremendously plastic and quite deeply molded by society/nurture—in body and mind both. Thus we have been able to create a world in which men rule and womyn are oppressed–in part via our complicity, whatever the reasons for that (violence, yes, but not just that). And as far as I’m concerned, there are real and exceedingly valuable differences between womyn and men, biologically, that give us each capacities without which humans could not survive.

                And the saddest, most infuriating thing to me about the direction Feminism has taken–among both the ‘mainstreamers’ and the avowed ‘radicals’–is that everyone seems so intently focussed upon womyn becoming more like men in this man’s world. Because we ARE so plastic, we can attain something like this–and yet because we are also biological beings, we can only go so far. From what I’ve seen, experienced and researched, our trend in this direction is killing womyn faster than ever (a rad fem rhetorical critique of the med literature on auto-immune disorders and depression is one way to get a glimpse of this). Now, it is not just our complicity in doing the shit work out of a perverse mixture of love and terror–it is our complicity with trying to make ourselves just as capable of men of analysis without synthesis, just as focussed on “me” over “us”, that is– “mind” (man, god, self) OVER “matter” (womyn, the body/earth, community). Of attempting, beyond all reason or hope, to become even more assimilated into patriarchally-construed masculine identity. And we do this, even while so many of us still wear high heels, make up, and shave or otherwise torture ourselves into the patriarchally-dictated performance of so-called ‘femininity’! Ah, the greatest ripening of patriarchy in culture…where we willingly torture ourselves—be that through ‘fashion’ or female genital mutilation that is enforced/performed by mothers/grandmothers—for the sake of real or perceived threat to survival. Go read the Huffington Post’s recent article in their Women’s section on electrolysis, for a study in womyn’s willing participation in S&M….

                As far as I can tell, the most insidious kind of co-opting of all has occurred: womyn, too, have adopted a hatred of our female selves so deep and pernicious that we use even our feminism to work at the erasure of womyn. We insist that everyone is just people, and womyn are no different than men in the most fundamental ways—‘that’s all just gender socialization’. We work at being ‘just as important as men’, doing all the same jobs just as well as men or better, and so forth. As if ALL OF THOSE JOBS WEREN’T CREATED FROM PATRIARCHY, dominated by testosterone’s separative/analytic as well as aggressive tendencies! Because we are (biologically) such plastic and such deeply social beings (all humans), womyn born into patriarchy have a fundamental acceptance of our culture with its torturous and deadening fashions, marriage/fam institutions, jobs, architecture, medicine, education, etc…all of which have been molding our consciousness since birth (or sooner). Just as if it wasn’t ALL created by patriarchal mind. All of it tells us ‘what are the most valuable human traits’, ‘what is the model of human success, achievement, status’…and ALL OF IT arises from patriarchy…arises from the glorification of the stunted masculine ideal of ‘personhood’ and ‘a good life’ and it arises from MISOGYNY—which is the hatred of life and nature, not just womyn.

                While in many ways, we *are* all ‘just people’ with numerous human similarities, I absolutely reject–as the bald and lethal lie that it is–the idea that womyn and men are no different at all, except via false gender constructs. We ARE different in important and truly necessary natural/biological ways, and for me the biggest tragedy lies in the fact that neither men NOR womyn understand, embrace or duly honor the realities, the strengths and gifts of womynhood. Men just want to own us and subsume our powers under their banner and for their ideals of ‘living’. Womyn (those not actively agreeing with patriarchal ideals of womynhood) apparently want us to reject our womynhood as a ‘merely mythical/utterly socialized patriarchal gender construct’. I for one celebrate being a womyn (hard as that is to do inside patriarchy, including within patriarchally dominated feminism) for the uniquely womynly powers and gifts naturally/biologically arising from my womynhood. I most certainly reject any notion that my biology is my whole destiny or that it somehow makes me need dominance (at the hands of womyn or men) for ‘my own good’. And I have worked to come to know and embrace my real femininity, my actual biological womynhood—as only *I* can express that in my uniquely personal ways– so that I can have more real control over my own choices, thoughts, feelings and actions.

                In sum, I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’m a feminist who’s been applying rad-fem rhetorical critique to everything since I was 12 and helped get the sexist dress codes in school changed. Since before I even knew what rad-fem critique IS, but I sure as hell knew something was very wrong! I know that in any attempt to erase the differences between womyn and men, what we are doing is participating in the continued erasure of womyn—because the dominant model of ‘personhood’ inside patriarchy is masculine, and is defined by men. We are doing this from our own misogyny, dictated by patriarchy and assimilated by us at deepest levels because we *are* so very plastic and essentially social, and patriarchy is all we can see/hear/feel/experience every minute.

                That is, unless we make a conscious decision to step away from all that—and question *everything*, including any movement’s definitions about who we are and what is ‘proper’ feminist belief and discourse.

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                • Hari B.

                  btw–I seem to have forgotten to explicitly say that our biological differences definitely impact our consciousness–thought-processing tendencies, emotional responses, comm choices, ‘problem solving’, etc. This ‘biological difference’ and the natural gifts of womynhood, goes far deeper than ‘being able to bear/breastfeed babies’ or men’s tendency toward greater upper-body strength (for instance). Just to be more clear, if I wasn’t in all the words I wrote before!

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                  • joy

                    Well, I for one do not think women should “become more like men.” That is an incredibly male-centric form of thinking — that men are the default human, and therefore women should become just like men! It’s common among funfeminists, antifeminists, postmodernists, and privileged radical women too.

                    Along with many other extra-disenfranchised women, I reject male institutions — capitalism, its attendant media, religion, education, science and medicine — and the way those institutions want us to think, feel, and act. I personally think we should all forget about ‘being like women’ or ‘being like men’ and learn how to become *more like humans.*

                    And while ‘embracing our femaleness’ often reeks of the New Agey (and deeply, deeply sexist) concept of “worshiping the divine feminine”, I do think that, yeah, women have a lot of stuff going for us. The term “female intuition” may reek of patriarchy, but we have it — all humans have it, but men seem less likely to use or discover theirs because of patriarchal influences.

                    Which is probably what keeps men acting the way they do: the social ideal of what men (and by default women, who are considered to be “lesser” or “incomplete” or “flawed” men) should be is that of a living robot. To step outside of that boundary is to violate social norms and risk castigation as some sort of unnatural freak. Men and male-invested women are very keen to avoid that fate, which may be why women seem to be (and thus, for all practical purposes, *are*) so much more “woo woo” and in tune with our feelings and such.

                    That being said, I think that things like nurturing behaviors and body strength are not innate. In fact, the body strength myth is particularly privileged and Western. When women grow up doing manual labor (as with many rural and urban poor families), they can become quite strong — as strong as men, perhaps more! Feminist women who undertake strength training for means of self-defense can become quite strong, as well — as strong as men, or stronger. And many men are quite weak.
                    I grew up on a farm, doing a lot of heavy lifting work, and while I lead a more urbane life now, I still know I could beat any one of my male acquaintances in an arm wrestling match. I’d also make a much more terrible parent than a few of them would. No, the exception doesn’t disprove the rule — but I’m not exactly as much of an exception as prevailing thought would have one believe. And it’s definitely not because I’m trying to be more like a man.

                       1 likes

                    • ned

                      I do think I have intuition but I’m pretty sure it has to do with general intellectual development and almost nothing to do with being female. ;-)

                      I think that the anti-essentialism of classic feminism does run into some problems when faced with the data coming in from the present-day sciences, *but* there is quite a lot of work on developmental plasticity and the like that does sit very well with overall feminist claims. The neo-Darwinian synthesis is in general coming under fire lately which means that evolutionary psychology in its classic form is also under threat — newer theories of evolution argue that individual development and culture impact the evolutionary process itself. Books have come out by Cordelia Fine, Rebecca Jordan-Young and Donald W. Pfaff that show that it’s really not possible to make clear-cut claims about male and female natures (although there might be overall tendencies), *especially* in modern societies. Also look out for a new volume coming out soon called “Neurofeminism”. I would personally like to see much more discussion between feminists and the empirical sciences as I think there are now lots of avenues for a synergetic dialogue.

                         1 likes

                    • ned

                      Here is a link to the “Neurofeminism” volume, coming out in March, 2012:

                      Neurofeminism: Issues at the Intersection of Feminist Theory and Cognitive Science
                      http://www.amazon.ca/Neurofeminism-Intersection-Feminist-Cognitive-Science/dp/0230296734/

                      My mouth is already watering. This is making me very happy.

                         0 likes

                    • Hari B.

                      It is hard to talk about this comprehensively-enough without writing a book…which it seems is being done, so great, I’ll check it out.

                      joy, to be clearer, I hope–I do not think anyone is ‘trying to be more like a man’! Thing is, in patriarchy, we don’t have to TRY–the force to ‘be more like a man’ is all around us. One example from my own history is dealing with the courts–where I was dragged on various occasions by men and also, as a midwife, by The Man. The setting, language, required comportment, the entire overview of a wholly abstract, rational, so-called ‘objective’ (all the while being in fact a ‘just-us’ system), adversarial–it all arises from patriarchal constructs of (yes, robotic) personhood and life. But this is true of almost all work settings–designed by and for men, to uphold man’s world. Womyn are supposed to fit themselves into it–and to me this boils down to a social pressure to be more like men.

                      Yes, of course I mean ‘general tendencies’–and there is a great deal of individual variation, and a very great deal of that variation has to do with socialization. I shouldn’t even use the word socialization–because that implies a process one undergoes in childhood. And we do–but we are constantly bathed in socializing forces, and we are constantly in a state of response in terms of biochemistry–hormones and neurotransmitters that impact mood, thoughts, choices. Not to mention biochemical variations arising as a result of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding. Still–if you are (or have been, til menopause) a menstruating womyn, then estrogens are definitely involved, one way and another. Even after menopause, when estrogen declines–and thus one’s testosterone becomes more in balance–we by then are so formed by estrogen in terms of beliefs, habits, etc, that most womyn are still more influenced by estrogen’s properties. Yes, mediated via social forces–but estrogen is still estrogen with its general tendencies that are different from testosterone’s. But again back to babies and social experiences that impact hormones/neurotransmitters–even men will produce more estrogens (oxytocin) if they spend significant time holding and tending to babies.

                      When speaking of body strength, joy, I definitely do NOT mean that womyn can’t be very strong–and obviously, some men are not all that strong. Again, I’m speaking in generalities of our respective forms and disposition of muscle mass. Lots of variations, yes; some of that is genetic variation, some via the work/activities we engage in–still we have general tendencies by sex-type.
                      ned, intuition is about more than just intellectual development. I think estrogen, along with female brain design, plays a part as well. Would that be a bad thing, in your opinion? Not meaning to put words/thoughts on you, by assumption…but in your brief comment on intuition I think I’m hearing 2 things: 1. a definition of intuition that is based on intellect. I think it’s true that the more higher-order thinking we do (engaging in synthesizing as well as analytic thought), the easier it is to make leaps from this to that without direct evidence–one kind of intuition for sure. And I know extremely intuitive womyn who are not ‘intellectually developed’ in the sense of education, being readers of intellectual materials, or partakers of what you or me might call intellectual activities–so your definition of intuition falls short. And for me, confining oneself to rational intelligence–thus defining intuition as solely a matter of advanced intellect as defined by male-created educational/philosophical standards–is essentially a male form. There is more to thought—and intuition—than that… estrogen with the female brain with its ‘irrational capacity’ (so-called by the worshippers of male rationality) has more to offer than our society generally acknowledges.

                      And 2nd—your intuition has ‘nothing to do with being female’? That sounds like a way to deny that being female has any particularly female gifts to offer…another male directive in operation, I think. Why is it so hard to believe that being a womyn involves especially-female capacities? Why is it so hard to believe that we have tendencies/potentials that arise from our biologically female selves? For me–and many I’ve read–estrogen and female brain design is not just about reproduction and childrearing on the physical level. It’s far more than that–in terms of intelligence and our whole selves.

                      The word ‘essentializm’ is yet another label that can be used to squash active exploration and openness to possible truth. I’m old enough–and experienced enough–to have known a huge variety of people, especially womyn. I’m well aware that ‘womyn’ does not boil down too finely to particulars. There are absolutely, way more than 2 kinds of people! And still, the word ‘essentialism’–and I’ll toss in ‘biological determinism’, too–makes me want to scream! Because to me these are words used to avoid exploration of what it is to be a womyn. NOT just a womyn oppressed by men, NOT just a womyn harmed by partriarchy, or fighting for rights inside patriarchy. Feminism has needed to be somewhat reactive and resistant–to be sure. No other way for womyn to break out of prison! Yet I think it’s time for us to start taking a more pro-active, biologically-scientific along with our social-scientific and political look at being female on our own terms.

                      There is a reason that 8 times more womyn than men get auto-immune disorders, at least twice as much depression, and such dis-eases as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. A large part of the answer is estrogen, and the design of the female brain (tho bad food, environmental toxins and lack of exercise also figure in). NOT, as some med researchers would have it (UGH!) because estrogen carries some fatal flaw that makes womyn particularly vulnerable to constitutional or mental weakness. It’s because our estrogen and our brains are simply not entirely adaptable (plastic as we humans are) to life inside patriarchy. Again, our jobs, industries, educational systems, family structure, architecture, medicine, entertainments…it is ALL created within patriarchy, from patriarchy’s dominating mind. NONE of it was created with the equal contribution of womyn and men–it was created by men, and womyn (if we are to ‘succeed’) must try to fit in. The most ‘enlightened’ research I’ve seen on this comes from the Mayo clinic—a leader in biofeedback and stress research. But the best they have done is to posit that womyn’s tendency to ‘ruminate’ on problems, and to have ‘too much to do’ by way of family, work, etc, creates excessive stress for them, which leads to physical and mental dis-ease. Well—addressing that is a whole nother essay…for now I’ll just say that they have barely touched on the tip of that iceberg but as a feminist I have a lot more to say on it. Womyn’s biology tends to grant a holistic, inclusive view in creating a life and solving problems…and in patriarchy, there are too many instances where we simply do not have options to do ‘the most good for the greatest number, including ourselves’. THAT is the problem—the problem is living in patriarchy, NOT being female.
                      And I most firmly believe that until womyn begin to clearly understand and own themselves as womyn, with our unique and needed capacities as womyn, we will still suffer. Once we insist upon not just getting a place at patriarchy’s table, but on creating a new table altogether on altogether balanced terms of estrogen w/testosterone, THEN womyn can really begin to thrive. And the men and children will all do much better as well. Male privilege is killing the men, too, along with the entire planet–they just don’t know it. But we know, and it’s time to take even more radical steps into re-claiming ourselves, biology and all, and re-creating our world.

                      I think we will only have a hope of ending sexism by that work.

                         1 likes

                    • ned

                      Honestly, I’m really not comfortable with the way you’re throwing around terms like testosterone and estrogen. These and other hormones are shared by men and women, although the proportions are obviously different, but the levels of these hormones changes over the lifespan and is affected by experiences and life circumstances. Also the psychological effects of these hormones (e.g. the testosterone-aggression link) are really not 100% established either — Rebecca Jordan-Young has a lot to say about this.

                      Obviously, innate doesn’t mean immutable. If women are innately more, say, emotionally nurturing, which is what we would expect given that women’s bodies have evolved to give birth, that doesn’t mean that men can’t acquire the same qualities and obviously many of them do (as you mention, men who spend time with babies produce higher levels of oxytocin).

                      “And 2nd—your intuition has ‘nothing to do with being female’? That sounds like a way to deny that being female has any particularly female gifts to offer…another male directive in operation, I think. Why is it so hard to believe that being a womyn involves especially-female capacities?”

                      Because there’s no evidence for anything like “women’s ways of knowing.” Human beings are capable of gathering knowledge and acting intelligently using their perceptual capacities to gather sense-data, using their rational intellect to organize, analyze and synthesize both sense-data and abstract ideas, and using creative insights come up with solutions to their problems and to create culture. These capacities are shared by men and women.

                      Last I checked, men have no shortage of creative insight or intuition, which is obvious when you look at how non-intellectual fields like music, etc. have also been dominated by men (the problem of women composers being shut out systemically is a separate issue that’s been getting attention lately).

                      Probably the main thing that women seem to have innately that men perhaps don’t have as much of is the capacity for emotional nurturing and emotional sensitivity. If you want to call that a type of intuition, fine, but when I say intuition I mean creative capacities that form the backbone of knowledge and culture, and I don’t see much difference between men and women on that count (except that women are systemically prevented from developing such capacities under patriarchy).

                         1 likes

                    • ned

                      The reason I’m responding to these claims is because most of this “women’s ways of knowing” stuff tends to paint women as non-rational beings who aren’t capable of sophisticated analytical thinking and philosophical rigor. This is just flat-out false: women are as rational as men, and potentially even more rational given that they have the epistemic advantage of being a historically oppressed class and aren’t blinkered by male privilege. I think that to be anti-intellectual or anti-rationality is to sell women short — scientific empiricism and a rigorous rationality could potentially be two of the most potent weapons in feminism’s arsenal, and it would be a damn shame if we didn’t adopt them.

                         3 likes

                    • Hari B.

                      Well, ned, it is very hard to talk about this stuff in this format…I’ve already made comments that are probably just too long to be a reply to someone else’s post. And it is a very big and complex, highly nuanced topic to be sure; I’ve barely scratched the surface. Indeed, it is very hard to scratch the surface when there are such hair-trigger judgements like ‘essentialism’ being brought to bear–which assumptions are totally incorrect, but as soon as they are assumed and applied, listening stops.

                      And in your most recent post, I see this is not a discussion that will be allowed, unless it be on your terms. Never read John Dupre–because I rarely read what men have to say about stuff anymore. That’s because I’ve heard just as much from men about everything as I’m willing to hear, having been raised on it in a culture so thoroughly and wretchedly steeped in men’s thoughts and dictated by forms created from their ideas and needs. I have come to the conclusion that womyn will never truly know ourselves, or have any truly life-serving impact on the world, until we start listening first to ourselves and then to each other much more deeply.

                      As far as I’m concerned, feminism will only find it’s truest liberatory power when womyn stop believing that the world created by patriarchy is one we want a place in.

                         0 likes

                    • ned

                      “And in your most recent post, I see this is not a discussion that will be allowed, unless it be on your terms.”

                      Actually, in a spirit of curiosity, I invite you tell me exactly what special capacities women have that men don’t. “Women’s intuition” is an utterly vague construct and neither you nor anyone else in this thread has even bothered to define it. What is it? Why don’t I, a woman, appear to have it? What are its applications? Where can we see its tangible effects in culture?

                      I’ve suggested the main differences between men and women have to do with the obvious differences in embodiment and probably emotions. The books I mentioned above go into some details about this. There are also small differences in cognition (men are a little better at spatial reasoning overall; women are a bit better at pattern recognition overall) but these don’t warrant the wide disparities we see in male-female representation in different intellectual fields.

                      Beyond these kinds of obvious points, if you really have evidence that women have perceptual or creative capacities that men don’t have, I’m all ears. As far as I can tell you haven’t given any evidence for that at all. Certainly I’ve seen no evidence of it in the empirical literature that I’m aware of and absolutely no evidence in history.

                      “Never read John Dupre–because I rarely read what men have to say about stuff anymore.”

                      See, this is the sort of thing I can’t even take seriously. And the stuff I’m saying is not just being said by men. Far from it. It’s actually mostly being said by women scientists, philosophers and academicians who realize how much the notion of sex differences is unjustly used to justify inequalities in various realms of human endeavour.

                      “As far as I’m concerned, feminism will only find it’s truest liberatory power when womyn stop believing that the world created by patriarchy is one we want a place in.”

                      How does this even remotely follow from my suggestion that women and feminists should learn and benefit from the tools of empiricism and a rigorous rationality? Empiricism and rationality are very, very good things for individuals of all sexes and races, and for healthy societies and cultures. If you don’t think they’re good things I’m genuinely curious as to why that is.

                         3 likes

                • ned

                  I think it is entirely possible to talk about the effects of male and female embodiment, hormonal differences and so on, without ever falling into the trap of essentialism. John Dupre and others have written about how it is a fallacy to claim that the sexes or races have some kind of literal “essence” (and Dupre is a great writer to get into for critiques of evolutionary psychology). I should probably write about this at some point. I get what you’re saying, but I prefer to use philosophically precise and politically neutral terms like embodiment, etc. rather than using terms like “real femininity” or “biological womanhood” which are pretty politically loaded anyway.

                  I don’t think feminism has ever claimed that men and women are literally identical. Feminism has employed anti-essentialism as a very useful and highly effective analytical, historical-critical and political strategy to expose how patriarchy exaggerates and even invents sexual dimorphism to prevent women’s self-actualization, but that anti-essentialism is not meant to be taken as a literal empirical claim down to the last detail.

                  That said, let’s not invent special (non-existent) capacities for women that could lull us into complacency. Let’s not forget that the very people who didn’t care about politically empowering women at all were also constantly coming up with reasons for why women are somehow better than men (and putting a complimentary face on an injury, to paraphrase John Stuart Mill). As things currently stand, women’s participation in the creation of culture has been and still is much less than men’s, and barriers to women’s self-actualization exist everywhere in the world. I’d much rather we focus on this problem rather than focus on what does or does not make women more special than men, which is something I’m personally not invested in at all.

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                  • Hari B.

                    ned, maybe someday I’ll write the book that’s been rattling around in my brain, developing over 55 yrs in patriarchy as a girl, a womyn, a mother, midwife (and with that, a science-AND-intuitive-arts based researcher or womyn) and feminist rhetorical critic. I don’t have time right now to explain myself as carefully as I did when I was writing lengthy papers for my womyn’s studies and speech comm grad courses–I’m too busy trying to figure out how to survive. Survive in a world where male-dominated/capitalism-and-anti-female-dominated medicine has hegemonic control over womyn’s bodies and the practice of homebirth midwifery. I’m somewhat strapped–just as most womyn are inside patriarchy–with more mundane concerns of getting by.

                    I can’t discuss this because of words being put in ‘my mouth’ (as it were). I never said “womyn’s intuition”–but that is what the leap made. I never said there was anything that makes “womyn more special than men”. I never said there was anything wrong with rationality and empiricism. I simply do not see them as the only way of knowing, understanding, creating-within our world. I am trying to speak outside the boxes that patriarchy imposes, but because patriarchy is all we’re accustomed to hearing it’s hard to hear anything else. If you are ok with believing that womyn have no special capacities (even if they are equal to male special capacities), then ok by me. If you want to stand in reactivity to the likes of John Stuart Mill, and continue to hold other men up as your standard, and otherwise put all your eggs in the patriarchy basket without exploring outside of it, that is your right.

                    I am a womyn. That makes me special in ways different from the ways men are special. I don’t think either womyn or men have much idea at all about what that means in all it’s varied glory along a continuum. Whatever judgements anyone has about my opinion in this, doesn’t reflect on me or deter me in the least. What I know is that womyn will not be free, or safe–and neither will men–until we start listening more within ourselves, and then to other womyn–careful not to buy anything that patriarchy has to say about anything. It’s a really hard job, this work! And I can see we are not helping each other do it in our own chosen ways. Not to mention that this is very off-topic of Meghan’s original post, so I’m done now.

                       1 likes

                    • ned

                      “If you want to stand in reactivity to the likes of John Stuart Mill, and continue to hold other men up as your standard, and otherwise put all your eggs in the patriarchy basket without exploring outside of it, that is your right.”

                      Strawman.

                      I am, by the way, South Asian, not white or Western. I certainly do not think empirical science and rationality are the ONLY ways of perceiving the world, they’re just two very powerful ways that feminism ignores at its peril. I also happen to love phenomenology as a method of inquiry and it’s arguably a non-rational method. I’m also deeply immersed in the Indian philosophical tradition which posits transrational and intuitive modes of perceiving the world. Both Hinduism and Buddhism have extremely sophisticated phenomenological traditions, but of course neither tradition makes any claims about men or women being superior or inferior in these modes of perception.

                      I am not denying that women may have something interesting or new to offer to the many fields of human endeavour, because of both historical experience and because of embodied differences from men. If you read my comments above, I said women actually have an epistemic advantage because they have been, historically, a member of an oppressed class. Feminist epistemologists, philosophers of science and ethicists have done some really great work and nobody in the academy denies that. I just deny that there are any special “ways of knowing” women have that men don’t (and the reverse is just as true).

                      Yes, let’s not derail the thread, sorry for that Meghan. It may also be, Hari, that you and I aren’t really that opposed to each other’s views. But I gotta say, the “women’s ways of knowing” thing, apart from just being false, is as much of a political dead-end for feminism as Afrocentrism is for antiracist efforts. I’m out for now.

                         1 likes

  • NitroGirl

    Sexism is largely a dirty word that no one wants to say outloud (because it makes men feel uncomfortable),or even explain because it would make men feel responsible
    (and we all know how that goes).When you first get your feet wet in being in school as a girl, the boys waste no time letting you know you are a girl,in my experience. Sexism plays a large part in a girl’s life,so she will most likely be bullied because she is female. When I was young all I fought were boys throughout my childhood. I have to say I may not have been able to survive what today’s girls are going through in terms of sexual bullying and harassment. Now they record your humiliation on tape where I am from. It’s a big thing now for boys to shame girls through requesting sexual acts and then recording it for all to see. Or take unsolicited photos of them (upskirts,etc) . These girls are then shamed into either committing suicide or being forced to change schools due to harassment (because once her sexual exploits are out,other boys will think they can get her so they will harass her or heckle her). And all my country can do for these girls is show a stupid commercial blaming them for several years straight and then NOW start to talk about the boys who do these things to girls.

    No one seems to be willing to also tackle bullying by teachers against girls. Time and time again there have been reports of male teachers harassing or molesting young girls . We shame the men,some try to rationalize men’s desire to have a right to the body of girls,and it gets swept under the rug.

    And I agree that Sexism has been turned into a word that’s not gender specific,and it’s so disappointing,because it drowns out the problems that women go through with “What About Charlie?!He’s subjected to sexism,too!”. No,he hasn’t. What he has gone through isn’t even a fraction of what women go through when it comes to sexism. Sexism is like racism to me-only those in power can wield it,and only those without power are victims of it. Any privileged majority who thinks they got a raw deal are just casualties in the game who still at large,benefit from the very thing they think they’re a victim of.

    I think that the reason why hardly anyone wants to tackle sexism and sexual harassment in schools is because it would really make people think about helping Adult Females . Any amount of progression for women and girls comes off as a threat. Because Girls become Women, it’s imperative to lazily address their issues to ensure they won’t become “One of Those Kind of Women”,and to ensure that Male Supremacy remains sturdy as an oak tree.

       2 likes

  • ema nekaf

    I find the notion that boys are raised to view women as sexual objects a bit ludicrous. Other then that though, I agree that its weird this ani-bully movement seems to dance around the issue of sexual discrimination as a form of bullying.

       0 likes

    • Meghan Murphy

      In what way do you find the notion that boys are raised to view women as sexual objects ludicrous?

         0 likes

      • ema nekaf

        Mostly because I see no first hand evidence of it.

        I dont see guys getting called fags for being effeminate, I see guys being called fags because the person doing the calling is to stupid to think of a better insult. I don’t see boys talking down to girls because they have been taught to see women are inferior, I see guys talking down to girls for the same reason they talk down gays and other people they see as different from themselves, their own insecurity. I don’t see boys sexually harassing girls because the have been taught that women are sex objects, but because the lack the empathy to realize what they are doing is wrong and the control to stop themselves from doing it. or they are just douchbags.

        And I guess I just might not be seeing it, but I think I am in a good position to be seeing it, seeing as I work in a middle school, and just recently got out of high school, and wow I overused the word see in that sentence, and wow I see this is a big run on sentence. yay grammer adn speling bad?

        But mostly I find it ludicrous, actually funny would be a better word, because when you say “boys are raised to view women as sexual objects” the first thing that pops to mind (or at least to my arguably strange and crazy mind) is the idea that there is a secret society of fathers and education officials working to propagate the idea that women are sexual objects… and I laughed at my own absurd idea. Although that would make a good plot for a book… hold on I have to write this down.

           0 likes

        • Meghan Murphy

          Men/boys lack the control to stop themselves from sexually harassing women? Well that’s big ol’ can of worms, isn’t it….

          Regarding the ways in which boys are raised to view women as sex objects, I point you towards exhibit A: porn, exhibit B: advertising, and exhibit C: film. Have you really managed to avoid all these forms of media all your life? What a challenge that must have been.

             3 likes

          • ema nekaf

            no, some boys do. I thought we were talking about boys? are we not talking about boys? as in,
            not yet men? because i don’t have much life experience with men. so i am probibly off base when it comes to actual grown men.

            And i object your honor to exhibit A, because to imply that we are raising boys to view women as sex objects via porn is to imply that we as encourage boys to view porn, and i don’t think that is true.

            as for exhibit B and C, while I agree that advertising and film set unfair expectations of beauty for both men
            and women (mostly women) I just don’t see how that translates into viewing women as sex objects, I guess.

               0 likes

            • Meghan Murphy

              It’s what’s referred to as ‘the male gaze,’ which was originally discussed within feminist film theory. This is a good briefer: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/faq-what-is-the-%E2%80%9Cmale-gaze%E2%80%9D/

              So how it works, in terms of advertising / film is that women are presented, and therefore viewed as passive objects – pretty things to look at. This translates into real life and so, for example, a woman walking down the streets becomes an object for men to look at and sexualize. This definition of sexual objectification is useful as well: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/faq-what-is-sexual-objectification/

              In advertising and on film, often, women’s body parts are focused on and sexualized and, rather than presenting them as active or as whole, complex beings, they are reduced to legs, breasts, etc. Women are ‘to be looked at’.

              One could also argue that pornographic images are everywhere, and likely are not missed by boys. Often boys’ forays into pornography happen long before they are men and, therefore, they learn how to view women and learn what women are for.

                 3 likes

              • ema nekaf

                Advertising doesn’t really have a choice in the matter when it comes to portraring women as one dimetinal sexual objects, because it takes time to flesh out human characteristics from one dimensions to two dimensions to three, and their isn’t time in advertising to do so, thus you get one dimensional characters. And sex sells, or rather, beuty sells, and so it only makes logical sense to use sex and beauty in advertisement. how can they not when it makes them money? That doesnt make it right, but I dont think its wrong either, for the same reason male gaze isnt wrong in movies.

                Another thing I said was that using the male gaze (in movies and advertisement) doesn’t encouraging boys to view women as sexual objects much in the same way that seeing people getting murdered in a movie doesn’t encourage murder (actually I used video games but we are talking about movies so I switched it up).

                What you see on a screen (or do while seeing) does not translate into real life.

                And that male gaze is doing is drawing your attention on the sexual aspects of a character. And if we lived in a world where seeing something on screen translates into real life, then all that happens is we start noticing sexual aspects of people in real life. That’s not sexual objectification. Thats just noticing and acknowledging the sexual aspects of the person, and that we find said aspects desirable. Its the difference between “That girls hot butt exists only for my viewing pleasure” vs “That girl has a hot butt”. and again, thats assuming that what you see and do when watching a movie translates into real life, which it doesn’t.

                As for the porn thing, yeah I can see how that sexually objectifies women. Although i am kinda on the wall about whether or not it does, I can see why people make the claim. Im still thinking about it I guess.

                But because Porn is not actively shown to boys, I cant see how it is even relevant to the discussion of “we are raising boys to view women as sex objects”. Because porn is not an accepted part of raising a boy, while seeing movies and ads usually is. Hence the “objection! relevance!” on exhibit A.

                   0 likes

                • Meghan Murphy

                  Yes, you are right. Sex sells and commodifying women and women’s bodies serves the interests of advertisers. To say that this doesn’t translate into ‘real life’ is, though, what is ‘ludicrous’. Look around. Women see themselves the way that that they have been taught to see themselves and men see women the way they have been taught to see women. You are making an argument against socialization and, yes indeed, there is evidence for socialization.

                  What we see on screen both reflects life and shapes culture. Porn has impacted people’s actual lives and the ways in which they understand their own sexualities. I doubt you would argue that and yet…porn is a film!

                  People are impacted by advertisements, yes? In that it makes them want to buy things? And, even more so, to believe that they will become someone (else) if they buy certain products – why would you think that film would somehow escape that analysis? We can still reject that which we see in film and in ads, but it will still impact people and impact the ways in which they view the world around them and relate to others.

                     4 likes

        • Hari B.

          Why actually, there IS such a ‘secret society’–and it’s hiding in plain sight. It’s called patriarchy, and we don’t see it because it’s just the air we breathe. But Meghan has already replied to you in the ways I would have (ty, Meghan) so I’ll leave it at that.

             0 likes

          • ema nekaf

            A patriarchy is defined as “a society in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege”. In the US, a least, there is no patriarchy. If there was a patriarchy, then why are husbands given the shorter end of the stick when it comes to child custody, and child support payments? why are, statistically, women given 40′% less prison time for the sames crimes? Why cant women be drafted? Geez I am sounding like one of those masculinists… bleh…

            The point is if we lived in a patriarchy, none of those things would be true. In fact, you need look no further then most family’s to disprove that we have a patriarchy, most moms have just as much a say as dads in how a family gets raised and decisions in the household.

            Now, if you were to tell me that we lived in an ex patriarchy were some of the social norms that came with patriarchy were still floating around, with that i agree with you. but there is no secret or in the open society, that’s just silly.

               0 likes

            • Meghan Murphy

              Ok. This is actually getting insane. It is universally agreed upon that we live in a patriarchy. As in, like, everyone everywhere in the entire world lives in a patriarchal society / world. ‘We’ as in all of us. If you want to make an argument against that, you’re going to have to take it up somewhere else. You may want to try university or college to further explore how this works. Even academia acknowledges patriarchy, and will help you understand how, exactly socialization works. Try a women’s studies class or even sociology. Really. I think you might find it useful. No one here should be expected to argue about whether or not a patriarchy exists. It is stupid and it is a waste of time. This is troll-like behaviour. Just a warning. And yes, you do sound like an MRA….

                 1 likes

              • ned

                Meghan, don’t bother. People like this aren’t interested in the truth. And this is an MRA troll for sure.

                   0 likes

                • Meghan Murphy

                  “Ema” is actually a man named Carl Weisman. “She” tried “her” troll routine via email too. Dudes need to get a life.

                     3 likes

                • Omnia Vanitas

                  Yeah I was going to say something awhile ago — this is obviously a troll. You hear the same spouted shit from them all. And they often use that manipulative tactic of pretending to be kids so that you are nicer to them. Then if you aren’t and call their bullshit right away they try to shame you for shitting on a kid. I’ve seen it a million times These people seriously need to get lives.

                     1 likes

  • Bonnie

    Yeah, I have to agree w/ Meghan here, as a I usually do. We live in a patriarchy. I’m especially distraught that anybody thinks that “husbands are given the short end of the stick in child custody and child support payments.” Maybe some subsequent wives support men’s rights groups on this, but I see it quite differently.

       0 likes

  • Hari B.

    Anybody notice that “ema nakef” is Fake Name, backwards? With the space btwn n and a…

    Gosh Carl, aren’t you just so clever!

       2 likes

    • Meghan Murphy

      Clever boy! Next move: Get out yo parents basement.

         6 likes

    • Carol O.

      Actually, it is an anagram of fake name, not fake name backwards. That would be “ema nekaf”. (Irrelevant to existant discussion, but just thought I would throw it out there). :)

         0 likes

  • marv wheale

    Carl, every institution in society has been male conceived and built: pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment, rape, battering, homophobia, racism, colonialism, capitalism, socialism, speciesism, the military, the state, religion, school, the family, competitive sport, etc. I could go on for hours. Male imperialism is not only still omnipresent and supreme it is growing in size and force. It is the most insidious and entrenched system of power in the history of humanity. You would have to be sleepwalking through life or completely belligerent to deny the totalitarianism of patriarchy. As a male I find such denials to be reprehensible and comtemptible. It illustrates that male supremacy pisses on women, but the men say, “It’s raining”.

       2 likes

    • ema nekaf

      Marv, I don’t see how who creating what instantiations in the past is relevant to the existence of a patriarchy today. Even if what you say is true about men creating ever single institution in human existence (by your logic that includes feminism), that doesn’t mean we are still in control of said institutions. Plenty of creations have run afoul of there creators, for better or worse.

      Also, just for future reference, my name is not Carl, its Cass.

         0 likes

      • marv wheale

        Cass I’m not sure of your motives for wanting to engage in this discussion. At one time I was skeptical of feminism too so I am deeply suspicious from experience of male apologists for a reformed patriarchy. For instance you implied that patriarchy isn’t what it was and that institutions often stray from their original intentions for good or for bad. Does that mean patriarchy today isn’t as male controlled as in the past? Also was the original aim of patriarchy to become “better” but it took a turn somehow for the “worse”? Your points seem to contradict one another and are quite convoluted.

        Any claim that male dominion is somehow fading away flies in the face of observable evidence. I think you mistakenly see patriarchy through a liberal, individualistic lens. Instead male power gave us social hierarchy as a structural model to organize society long ago right up to the present. All the institutions I mentioned in my earlier comments are incarnations of that male framework. Radical feminism came along as a movement much later in (his)tory (unless earlier accounts were destroyed by men). Radical feminism sought and seeks to overthrow these domineering forces. But it exists as an oppressed group on the margins of society, hardly a mainstream institution. It’s status and power is kept down by the established order of male supremacy (so far). Pornstitution like other forms of violence against women by men is contemporary and systemic much more than it was years ago. It is growing in part due to the mass media and social networking. On the other hand women can now assimilate in varying degrees to male roles and structures in the state, capitalism, the military, education, science and so on. The underlying problem though is that they have to accomodate themselves to these male hierarchical forms. Women don’t have the choice (and neither do most men) to work within equality (flat) structures, unless you think most of us can live and work outside capitalism and the state. Good luck if you have that fantasy. We live on earth, not in an alternate dimension of it. In addition women have disadvantages that men don’t have in the System. They are routinely sexually harassed at school and work making these places hostile environments to survive in and excel. Also they are the primary caregivers of children because of sexism which makes it constraining to advance in the workforce as well. Overall society still favours men in power over women in power also because of sexism. Nevertheless even if women had equal representation to men in economic and political institutions and experienced no sexual harassment and assault there, the System would still be racist, classist and ableist among others injustices. Does extending the right of men to be politicians and CEOs of corporations to women, solve all these other inequalities or even women’s own home and street inequalities? White patriarchy is much more comprehensive than usually recoginized. Just ask people of colour and Aboriginal people who have been colonized by it.

        Male supremacist contrarians are likely more common than climate change deniers. I urge you to take the step from supporting domination and subordination to embracing egalitarianism in your thinking and then put it into action. If not then there is nothing further to say between us.

           1 likes

  • joy

    “The reason I’m responding to these claims is because most of this “women’s ways of knowing” stuff tends to paint women as non-rational beings who aren’t capable of sophisticated analytical thinking and philosophical rigor. This is just flat-out false: women are as rational as men, and potentially even more rational given that they have the epistemic advantage of being a historically oppressed class and aren’t blinkered by male privilege. I think that to be anti-intellectual or anti-rationality is to sell women short …”

    Although I disagree with a lot of modern science (since it was invented and run by men), and I feel that philosophy is another way of claiming that unemotional, uninvolved, robotic (stereotypically male) ways of experiencing reality are superior to emotional, impassioned, (stereotypically female) ways therefore prioritizing and promoting ‘male’ experience over ‘female’ experience — I have to admit that ned summarized my position pretty well. Thank you.

       0 likes

    • ned

      “Although I disagree with a lot of modern science (since it was invented and run by men)”

      I don’t mean to derail the thread further, but I’d like it if you or someone else with this view could have an e-mail dialogue with me on this topic ( geeky (dot) elf (at) gmail (dot) com ).

      I think to the contrary it is not I who is reacting, but rather a certain section of the feminist movement that just hasn’t been able to deal with the simple fact that most of the best cultural achievements in history were carried out by men. I think the solution to that problem is not to say, let’s not be like men or hold ourselves up to male standards (though that applies in at least some realms like military service and athletics). I think the solution is to say that there was *nothing* male about those cultural achievements or about those standards to begin with — that the only reason women’s participation in those achievements was and is much lower than men’s is because they have been and are systemically shut out from participating in them. Also, personally, I have pretty much zero problems with having male role models … I’m a meritocrat, if someone has done good work and has a good work ethic, I’ll be inspired by them and I won’t even notice if they’re male or female. I’m uncomfortable with what I perceive as a strain of petty misandry running through some of the feminist literature though I could be misinterpreting this.

         1 likes

      • Hari B.

        Well that is where we differ in a really fundamental way…because there is nothing of ‘cultural achievement’ that I think is so great as to be worth what it cost to make it happen. Nothing. I believe that every single element of life could have been done far better, hugely way better for humans and the rest of life, if womyn and men had had equal input into it–that is, if humans together had never developed the idea that the planet and all of life was ours to dominate, use and destroy at our whim. Every element of partriarchal culture is toxic.

        I’m not an essentialist–but I am most certainly grounded in natural science. Through my study and observations both, I understand that estrogen and testosterone convey general tendencies that go beyond reproductive tasks. It’s a big and highly nuanced topic, and one I can’t cover with any justice here. Nor will I try, because your fundamental beliefs are so utterly opposed to the notion that for you it is ‘loaded’ (your word), too triggering of negative emotion to allow truly openminded exchange. And to be perfectly honest, your viewpoint is just as triggering for me–not to mention how deeply I object to your assumptions and the name calling you resort to so readily when challenged (yet another in ‘petty misandry’). In my opinion, this is dominating and disrespectful comm tactics I refuse to engage with–so it’s best if we agree to disagree.

        For me, that ‘sophisticated analytical thinking’ held so high by patriarchy, is too often mere sophistry. That ‘philosophical rigor’ is all too often merely rigid and stultifying to a damaging degree. Patriarchy does not tell me how to think and what to value, or what the proper standards of evidence are, period.

           0 likes

      • joy

        Dude, if you use the words “petty misandry”, I am not going to engage with you.

        Also, OBVIOUSLY male achievements are not innately male, and that for centuries women have been shut out of every aspect of life other than the home. That’s like Feminism 101. Where have you seen any commenters here, especially me, claim otherwise? Claim that women are underrepresented in, say, the arts because the dominant narrative is correct — that women actually *cannot* achieve in these areas?

        (In fact, one of my many sidelined blog projects was writing about this very thing, in relation to women in the literary and artistic canon. silencedcanon.blogspot.com. It hasn’t been updated in a long time, because there are so many talented sidelined women that I got exhausted trying to write about them.)

        So no, feminism = / = misandry. Especially “petty” misandry. And, again, this is 101 level stuff, in fact it’s the point of recognition wherein many women discover and enter feminism. That moment when we realize that, yes, we ARE as capable as men, if not more, but are being disregarded and passed over. When we look around at history, and see the scores and scores and scores of other talented women who have been pushed to the side and shut out as well. When we put these things together and start to notice, hey, maybe there’s a pattern here! and begin to learn more instead of just accepting the status quo and carrying on with our heads held down.

        Are you sure you understand feminism at all? It was starting to seem like you did!

           1 likes

  • Hari B.

    Yes, well again, I never said anything about ‘womyn’s ways of knowing’ making womyn “non-rational beings who aren’t capable of sophisticated analytical thinking and philosophical rigor”. The problem lies in being unable to think outside patriarchy’s box. For anyone to engage in name-calling such as saying any of my words on this topic somehow represent an “anti-intellectual or anti-rationality” stance, is “flat out false”. Making assumptions, putting thoughts on people without trying to understand what they are trying to say, is no way to expand one’s consciousness. And shutting down the conversation with reactive judgements that have very little to do with anything I’ve said is, as far as I’m concerned, selling YOURSELF short as a womyn.

    As long as womyn keep trying to prove that they are ‘just as good as men’ and keep trying to ‘succeed’ inside patriarchy–all of which is created from men’s thinking and actions–they are stuck in reaction. They are stuck seeing everything, including themselves and ‘success’ in terms dictated by patriarchy. And thus, sexism will continue to thrive.

       1 likes

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