Sunday, January 13, 2008

a response to Tom

because i hadn't had a chance to get back to it earlier and the thread in question's now well off the front page over at RE's.

specifically, to this:

"I mean, even you have been using the term "moderate feminist," and just--no"

And just--why not? What's wrong with distinguishing between certain feminists who have certain views and certain other feminists who have certain other views? Is it that you dislike "moderate" and "extremist" in particular, or do you object to any such categorizations?


No, I don't object to any categorizations, categorically. The problem I have with this set-up is that it implies, again, a single-axis continuum ranging from "radical feminist" at one end to "MRA" on the other. And, that's just not how it works. This is the same frustration I've had at I suspect many of the same feminist blogs that have frustrated you, albeit perhaps for different reasons:

1) it inadvertently suggests that second-wave (white Anglo-American) radical and/or cultural feminism(s) (which is what's usually meant by what you're referring to as "extremist" feminism) is the expression of "pure" feminism, all other feminisms being merely more reasonable modifications thereof, when in fact it is no such thing.

2) again, it doesn't take into account any sort of intersectionality, which is the same damn problem I have with I Blame The Patriarchy or any number of other places. It's a web, not a line. For me that's particularly true of sexuality and gender; I am -interested- in what het cis men have to say, okay, but the ongoing back and forth between them and het cis women is just -not- what I find of central importance or how I frame all this shit.

and then, beyond that, there's race, there's class, there are...any number of axes. and, this rarely gets covered, the existence of these other axes, let alone how and where they intersect with sex and/or gender; and no, FC is certainly not the only offender in this regard, but it's one more reason I get frustrated and don't stick around.

3) to a lesser extent: I don't find "moderate feminist" a terrible terrible insult, no, but it's not particularly what I call -myself-, especially, and it'd be nice to be asked, first.

More to the point, and in line with 1): this is the problem I've kept having with FC in general: there -are- names for the various branches of feminism already. You don't have to agree with the delineations for every single one--hell, there's no total consensus where the boundaries always are as far as that goes--but at minimum, it's good to be aware that this is out there, yeah?

118 comments:

thene said...

This chimes with a great article I read a while back about the orthodox/moderate tags in Islam: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0423/p09s01-coop.htm

Daisy said...

I got so pissed off at Feminist Critics last time I was there, I had to take a breather. Maybe I'll be back for Lent, as penance.

The constant idiocy of the MRA "What if" bullshit, demanding answers, is just preposterous. What if I win the lottery and a woman took my money? And let's say Oprah agrees with that? And let's suppose Cinderella and her stepsisters all join in, isn't that oppressive of the MENZ???

What if there is life on Mars? And let's say they are MATRIARCHAL, doesn't that prove there could be het rape of males!?!

Um, excuse me, Duane, I'm due back on planet earth now.

When they learn to argue about what happens in REAL LIFE, not just SUPPOSING a buncha starry-assed bullshit, I might take them seriously. As it is, reading their comments is like taking bamboo shoots under the fingernails. NOOOOOoooooOOOOOO!

belledame222 said...

yeah yeah thene, that, thanks.

Emily said...

Daisy, that was totally the quote of the day. Totally.

betmo said...

"When they learn to argue about what happens in REAL LIFE, not just SUPPOSING a buncha starry-assed bullshit, I might take them seriously. As it is, reading their comments is like taking bamboo shoots under the fingernails. NOOOOOoooooOOOOOO!"

one could say that this is a rampant problem in all aspects of this society. how so many people can live in such a bubble is absolutely beyond my ability to reason.

Octogalore said...

Belle, this is a great response and I am eagerly awaiting the return.

My main issue with FC is the playing ground. To me, any discussion of feminism, critical or otherwise, needs to start from a premise that -- holding race, (dis)ability, income, and other factors constant -- there is still an uneven playing ground out there. FC rejects and/or evades that premise, and instead appears to argue that the obstacles are fairly equivalent, just different.

And to me, starting from there, pretty much any discussion is going to lead to friction with any brand of feminist. That's why I personally parted ways.

Octogalore said...

To clarify -- the bit about "holding race, (dis)ability, income, and other factors constant" was not to avoid the intersectionality issue, just to make the "all other things being equal" point. Once that's out of the way, which for most feminists is not debatable, the more complex inquiries should certainly take place.

belledame222 said...

hey Emily! happy New Year!

say, if you get a chance, can you drop me an email? I wanted to ask you something. bel4 AT earthlink DOT net.

belledame222 said...

OG: well, I might be slightly more amenable to the idea that all things are far more likely to be (more) equal precisely when/because those other factors -aren't- in play. trouble is, they rarely aren't. and if it's just a question of, "see! women are/are not totally equal now, lookit Hillary!" as it has been on -not- just there but certain mainstream feminist settings, well? Not That Interested. yeah, and of course even if HC won one could point to the very fact that it's still a big deal in the damn first place; but is that really the main issue? Not to me. and what assery Amanda did or didn't get up to also isn't that compelling.

belledame222 said...

but I mean, like, the complaints that some of the men have there--it's not I don't -ever- think they're legit, okay, or even have nothing to do with gender; it's that when I read most of that shit it's very clear that there's an interaction between, say, the male gender expectations for that -class-; and/or implicit homophobia and sex-negativity playing a big role; and so on, and so on. But, and there have been a few exceptions to this, but on the whole, it's been like: -vas?- Well, back to the main point: feminism, yea or nay? I say nay.

zzzz

belledame222 said...

back to the article thene is citing, yes, again, specifically:

In the aftermath of September 11, much has been said about the need for "moderate Muslims." But to be a "moderate" Muslim also implies that Osama bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence; and, consequently, that if I espouse peace, I am not adhering to my full religious duties.

I refuse to live as a "moderate" Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful.

queen emily said...

From my experience at Feminist Critics, I think they don't have an adequate formulation of power and exhibit no awareness of their own - particularly systemic - privileges. So it ends up being pretty much about Horrible Things What People Said To Me, or Horrible Things What Happened To A Mans Somewhere.

And feminism as the explanatory MacGuffin.

I mean, as a transgendered woman, a fair amount of the shit I've faced has been directed at a body perceived to be male (but aberrant). I know *precisely* the kind of violence men can face. But their ideas, such as they are, have no bloody way to make sense of it.

Kvetching about how straight white masculinity isn't the shiny present they were promised, that they know. But accounting for how and why oppression occurs, not so much.

And yeah, IBTP isn't very helpful either, but that's hardly the extent of feminism. My feminism pwns Twisty's innit.

belledame222 said...

And let's say they are MATRIARCHAL, doesn't that prove there could be het rape of males!?!

okay, but here's the thing, Daisy: actually there's at least one male regular there who's spoken of being raped in a het context. So, no, it's not just on Mars, and I can understand why people would want a place where they can feel safe from that sort of ridicule of a genuine experience.

that is of course a different proposition from suggesting that we are all in danger of becoming an oppressive extremist feminist Matriarchy, if we're not there already; that, yes, would be from Mars. some of the FC'ers have leaned closer to that than others.

Tom Nolan said...

Shit, Belle, term starts tomorrow and you hit me with this now?

You can be a hard woman, really.

It's four in the morning over here and I'm too tired to come up with an adequate response right now, but I'll try and find time tomorrow.

belledame222 said...

i totally did it deliberately, having seekrit psychic Powereses. bwah.

good luck w/beginning of term.

sly civilian said...

"I mean, as a transgendered woman, a fair amount of the shit I've faced has been directed at a body perceived to be male (but aberrant). I know *precisely* the kind of violence men can face. But their ideas, such as they are, have no bloody way to make sense of it."

Yup.

"okay, but here's the thing, Daisy: actually there's at least one male regular there who's spoken of being raped in a het context. So, no, it's not just on Mars, and I can understand why people would want a place where they can feel safe from that sort of ridicule of a genuine experience."

Yup.

That's the thing...it ain't wall to wall. It is possible to get the short end of the stick and not just in a life ain't fair way, but some honest to goodness Crap That Can Only Be Described With Theory and Capitol Letters as a cis dude. Hets, even.

Exceptions don't make the rule...but the totalizing is what makes MRA hypothetical bullshit and heart-style can-do-no-wrongism so repellent for the rest of us.

Yes, that's shit. And it stinks. Please stop making me smell it.

Octogalore said...

"I might be slightly more amenable to the idea that all things are far more likely to be (more) equal precisely when/because those other factors -aren't- in play."

Removing the other factors, though, controls for situations like whether Condi Rice is more privileged than a white homeless guy - which obviously she is. I think Condi is less privileged than a black male in her role would be and the white homeless guy is more privileged than a white homeless woman. This is what I don't see acknowledged at FC.

From that point, you're right, the other factors compound the difficulty and that's where intersectionality comes in.

But I think to understand the compounding, one needs to understand the initial principle. eg, rap lyrics. There are issues concerning race and class and also a level of misogyny. Here's where I don't understand what you said about things being more likely to be equal without the other factors. I don't think the issues of race and class bring out gender issues that aren't already there.

belledame222 said...

euh...I dunno about that. I mean, yes, obviously one can pick out and isolate sexism qua sexism even in a context where race and class are also factors in understanding the entire situation.

but...what I'm saying is: were it not for those other factors, would the sexism be as present as it is in the first place? Or is the sexism, like any number of other "isms" in various contexts, a safe outlet for venting frustration and/or a place to exercise power where power is in short supply? If you see what I'm saying. iow I don't believe sexism is the "primary" oppression, although yes, I believe it can and often does exist in a way that may or may not be intersecting with other axes, but is still a distinct thread in its own right.

Infra said...

Well, just to address the hypothetical issue: it was based on an analysis of court records, comparing them to the way that the testimony was reported and referenced in a post at Alas, and in the secondary sources drawn on in that post. It used one of the author's experiences to illustrate the issue, but was not a pure hypothetical. That said, it certainly could have been done in a better fashion, and should have directly referenced the issue from which it arose.

I agree that intersectionality hasn't been granted the weight that it should; being bi, disabled and under the poverty line myself, it's something that I've remarked upon in the past.

All of this said, I think that the moderation policies at FC are also a factor. I understand the desire to provide as open of a forum as possible, but that comes at the cost of having to deal with an incredible amount of ill-informed snark, anger, frustration and utter bullshit. Which tends to derail and drive people away, and interferes with the ability to point out sources of theory and analysis that need to be considered (or at least would contribute to a better understanding of the overall perspective, and the multiplicity of approaches to a subject).

A certain amount of simplification is an inevitable result of this, I think. Especially combined with the fact that the perspectives being hammered out there are still, more or less, in their infancy.

I can't say that I've always been a shining example, there (in part because I hadn't always refrained from commenting when I've been in aura from the seizures), and that's not something I'm proud of. I can't say that I have the degree of familiarity with theory that some others have, either, or that my approaches always take necessary elements into account. But I do try to correct that when it occurs.

Of course, being someone who considers all ideas and perspectives potentially suspect -- including my own basic assumptions -- I'm sure that there will always be friction, and the appearance that I just don't get it; which reflects on FC just as the comments of certain others there do on me. But that comes with the territory.

Renegade Evolution said...

eh, i started the "moderate feminist" thing, mainly just to show there are differences.

a very public sociologist said...

Ah, a question of moderation. To my mind, when the establishment demands oppositionist movements moderate their objectives, it's telling them to reconcile themselves to power. To be moderate is to play politics on our enemies terms.

But neither can there be a fixed standpoint for determining what is and isn't moderate. For example, I'm a Marxist and to me, my views and those of the organisation I'm a member of are more or less common sense. If you had to my left you enter ultra left territory (or posture politics as I like to call it). Go to my right and the so-called 'moderate' centre is pretty right wing and extreme because of its acceptance of neoliberalism.

When it comes to feminism, it's even more complex. Suppose we take radical, socialist, and liberal feminism and thread it out on a left-right spectrum. Now, for me as you move to the right I would argue you're getting away from anything that can be described as feminist. Go the the left and you encounter the various strands of radical feminism, ranging from Millet and Firestone through to lesbian separatism. Where does postmodern/poststructuralist feminism fit into this?

On the one hand, taking Irigary's call to develop a separate "language" is radical. Butler's analyses of the discursive foundations of sex are radical, and so on. But politically, do they meaningfully challenge the complex of patriarchy and capital? I don't think so.

I'm not sure if this is making any sense. I guess its just to say that one shouldn't really get caught up in what is and isn't moderate because ultimately what matters is how we move the struggle forward. It comes down to action.

Deoridhe said...

I have to admit, my main issue with the men's movement in general is disappointment.

All to often, the mens movement seems to hold on high some image of haclyon days in the past when Men were Men and they didn't have These Troubles. There's a focus on being "real" men which seems predicated on "putting women in their place".

And, you know, that's old. That's boring. That's sexist. And that doesn't actually address the problems many men - who inherently aren't Men's Men - have.

I'd love to see the men's movement opening shelters for men who have been abused and meeting up with women's shelters in order to fund transgender shelters so that the needs of multiple populations can be met.

I'd love to see the men's movement address violence from men against men and the rape of men by men. I'd love to see them address the issue of non-masculine men and broaden out the definition of what "male" means.

I'd love to see the men's movement address the media, and start discussions on how prevelate the jokes are about men (written, more often than not, by men) that are insulting, and then starting to examine why. I know what I think, but I'd like to hear a breakdown beyond "even though there are not many of them in the media, women are somehow to blame".

I'd love to see a men's movement address homophobia and differing labels between topping and bottoming and how these play into the treatment of men by other men, both individually and collectively.

I'd love to see a men's movement concerned with ...men. Not women. Not blame. Not reiterations of "somehow this is a woman's fault". But men, and supporting men to break stereotypes and extend beyond the prejudices within themselves.

I know some men who do this... but most of them consider themselves feminists or are interested in doing this work jointly with women instead in a single gender situation.

belledame222 said...

RE: oops. well--yeah, I still don't think it's a very useful term, although I support anyone wanting to use it for her/himself.

belledame222 said...


I'd love to see a men's movement concerned with ...men. Not women. Not blame. Not reiterations of "somehow this is a woman's fault". But men, and supporting men to break stereotypes and extend beyond the prejudices within themselves.

I know some men who do this... but most of them consider themselves feminists or are interested in doing this work jointly with women instead in a single gender situation.


YES. THANK YOU. THAT.

and for the record: I also understand why some of the male feminists/ism is offputting to a number of men who are concerned with all this shit and aren't sympathetic to MRA's either. I mean, if I thought my options were Robert Jensen or Robert Bly, to say nothing of y'know, I dunno, folks like Byrdeye, well, I'd be a bit nonplussed myself, I'm sure. but, yeah, there can be a certain sort of ostentatious self-flagellation and finger-pointing among especially the more rad-sympathetic male feminists that I also find offputting, for a number of reasons. there are also a number of male feminists I know that are just fine with themselves, thanks, and much more sophisticated about this shit than I've seen throughout most of FC.

but yeah, in either case, ironically enough, my feeling is that there's entirely too much concern with, not just feminists/ism, but -women-. This is not something that one tends to hear from the feminist end of things, no. Please note that I am -not- saying this is true when it comes to being a feminist -ally.- For that, all of the stuff that the feminists and allies talk about still applies: yes, you do need to sit back and listen, yes, you can't be in control here; if you want to help, then help, don't backseat drive. And so on.

But I think what's being gotten at here is that there's a need for a mens'...something...which is -distinct- from, if certainly not unrelated to, all the other branches of gender/sex-related...um, stuff. isms, what you will. feminism as well as queer and trans rights/theory; to me, mens' stuff, I mean men who don't necessarily fit into the gay mens' or any other such movements either, would be one more strand of this. Important in its own right, yes. And as such, I think -my- role would be similar to that of any other "ally," not a central role at all.

The thing is, though, when you call your site "feminist critics," what that says to me is that you're centering feminism (you can't pray a negative). as such, those are mostly the terms on which I'm gonna be addressing it. and as such--well, yeah, I find it problematic.

now, I'm not saying that--I doubt it'd be possible or even desirable to try to totally reinvent the wheel, not -acknowledge- the existence and yes the lacunae of feminism when it comes to this shit. My question is: is that the -central- issue here. Personally my feeling is "no," and no, it isn't because I'm so very very tender of feminism I can't bear any sort of criticism. I'm saying it's reactionary (in several senses, also, depending on who we're talking about in there) and that that rarely gets anywhere useful.

this is, by the way, also something I think has been true of myself, wrt my responses to certain branches of feminism. I'm aware of this tendency, and I'm also aware that, again, it's not realistic to expect that there won't be some reaction involved in the formation of something new; this is dialectics 101, after all. But, I am also aware that sooner or later one needs to move past that, if not leave it behind entirely.

and what I heard Renegade saying with her OP at her spot was that she was feeling like, yep, I've heard this tune before, it really -is- a Small World, is there another ride already.

and it's like: if your female but non-feminist co-host is -also- saying this, well...might be worth considering.

belledame222 said...

hey, infra, good to see you.

Octogalore said...

"but...what I'm saying is: were it not for those other factors, would the sexism be as present as it is in the first place?"

Maybe not, but I don't think absence of those factors creates immunity from it.

Controlling A and B factors to make the point about existence of factor C doesn't deny that A or B could exacerbate C, but is just the only statistically authoritative way to isolate C. Same with if we were studying A, then we'd fix B and C.

I'm not saying C (gender) oppression is the central one, just that since we're talking about gender re FC, the fundamental question wrt that site, to me, is whether there is indeed bias based on gender on average.

So I'm not saying sexism is the primary oppression a la Steinem, just that if a certain "ism" is the focus of "criticism," then it's central to that topic to determine whether that "ism" is legitimately present.

Likewise, if the site were "antiracist criticism" or "anticlassism criticism" (hopefully sites do not actually exist), IMO the first order of business would be to demonstrate, holding gender and other factors constant, that racism and classism do actually exist.

"yes, I believe it can and often does exist in a way that may or may not be intersecting with other axes, but is still a distinct thread in its own right."

that's what I feel is missing in FC. An understanding of what societal issues feminism has sprung up to contend with in the first place.

belledame222 said...

I'd love to see a men's movement address homophobia and differing labels between topping and bottoming and how these play into the treatment of men by other men, both individually and collectively.


yes, absolutely. for that matter...and admittedly this is coming from my own standpoint as a queer feminist as much as anything else: I think that male homophobia is -key-, here, not just a side issue, because it affects straight men in a -number- of ways. The power thing, as you mention, sure; but to me, more key: that homophobia as well as let's call it "femmephobia" or "sissyphobia" are major MAJOR enforcers in policing male behavior. It is a big part of why, I believe, there -is- so much emphasis on not just feminism but -women-, within the MRA's and...related: it has everything to do with the way men are socialized in this culture.

Specifically: that other men aren't safe for one's emotional needs, are a source of competition; and that at the same time, women must needs be approached only in certain ways, relationships must only take x forms (these messages come from all sides, including some aspects of some feminisms, yes), AND--and this is more a message from let's call it mainstream society--that The Eternal Feminine Beckons Mens Upward, and can--and should--save and elevate the beastly mens.

That's an old and seductive one, that last, and yep absolutely, I think radical feminists as well as MRA's often buy into it to a certain degree, albeit they'd spit and swear upndown that no! that's not true at all! for different respective reasons, of course, but all boiling down to pride. and knowing they should ought to know better.

but fact of the matter is: yep, it's there, and it's symbiotic in a weird way, and it's deeply regressive, all the more so when it's not recognized as such. Woman As Moralizing Force; it's seductive to women because it's a source of otherwise-denied power; it's seductive to men for more or less the same reason as going to a domme or calling Dr. Laura is seductive: -everyone- likes the idea of giving up control and responsibility to a certain point, even if they also chafe at the strings.

but this, I maintain, is where a lot of people, and yep het folks in particular because it gets all bound up with actual relationships as well as the expectations around such we've all imbibed (to wit: The One is the answer to everything), get hung up.

and so even the sort of Huck Finnish MRA shit about "screw you womens, don't need you ANYWAYS" and the sort of Twistyite Blaming, I think, is mostly a way of trying to circumvent this trap, although I'd say, again, going about it the wrong way. the women are fuming at the -demands-, darling, while at the same time tacitly accepting yeah y'know what actually there -is- something powerful and attractive about being On The Side Of The Angels; the men are also getting their Oppression Queen For A Day on because -everyone- wants that crown at some point, fuck knows, and also are sulking because goddamit, they were OWED: -now- who's gonna love and take care of them, huh?

...very roughly.

belledame222 said...


Maybe not, but I don't think absence of those factors creates immunity from it.


no, that I agree with.

belledame222 said...


that's what I feel is missing in FC. An understanding of what societal issues feminism has sprung up to contend with in the first place.


well, and/or this sort of, well okay but it's all better now, mostly! now, back to us:

and it's like, well, no, not so much; (white mainstream etc.) feminism in the U.S. and other o all right "Western" countries is in the same sort of sticky place a lot of other civil rights movements are: -legally-, -officially-, we've come a long way, baby, in many important ways. The question is, is that enough. But if the answer is "no," well...now what? What happens when it's not as clearcut as "look, we want and demand the right to vote," say?

belledame222 said...

This article, btw, highlights how intersectionality works viz masculinity(ies) extremely well (thanks, trin, for the heads up)

Louis Mitch ell expected a lot of change when he began taking injections of hormones eight years ago to transition from a female body to a male one. He anticipated that he’d grow a beard, which he eventually did and enjoys now. He knew his voice would deepen and that his relationship with his partner, family and friends would change in subtle and, he hoped, good ways, all of which happened.

What he had not counted on was changing the way he drove.
Within months of starting male hormones, “I got pulled over 300 percent more than I had in the previous 23 years of driving, almost immediately. It was astounding,” says Mitchell, who is Black and transitioned while living in the San Francisco area and now resides in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Targeted for “driving while Black” was not new to Mitchell, who is 46 years old. For example, a few years before transitioning, he had been questioned by a cop for simply sitting in his own car late at night. But “he didn’t really sweat me too much once he came up to the car and divined that I was female,” Mitchell recalls.

Now in a Black male body, however, Mitchell has been pulled aside for small infractions. When he and his wife moved from California to the East Coast, Mitchell refused to let her drive on the cross-country trip. “She drives too fast,” he says, chuckling and adding, “I didn’t want to get pulled over. It took me a little bit longer [to drive cross country] ‘cause I had to drive like a Black man. I can’t be going 90 miles an hour down the highway. If I’m going 56, I need to be concerned.” As more people of color transition, Mitchell’s experience is becoming an increasingly common one...

Deoridhe said...

I've also been thinking, from a psychological point of view, one of the hardest hurdles for an individuals to get over is that our perceptions might not be accurate. The idea that "It seems this way to me" is shaped by what we expect to be in place as much as by what is actually in place is a huge part, I think, of fighting those expectations. I would consider those expectations, when calcified, to be stereotypes which lead to bigotry and hatred based not on who a person is but on who we THINK she is.

In the absence of an awareness of these psychological forces, I think it's clear where "They're not doing what I want them to do" is cast as a loss of privilege, and "stereotypes are both wrong an inaccurate" is cast as "they're not doing what I want them too". Both of these shifts are inaccurate, of course, and in the place of keeping those stereotypes (and the bigotry based on them) in place.

Tom Nolan said...

Belle (referring to "moderate" and "extremist" as subcategories of feminism)

"it inadvertently suggests that second-wave (white Anglo-American) radical and/or cultural feminism(s) (which is what's usually meant by what you're referring to as "extremist" feminism) is the expression of "pure" feminism, all other feminisms being merely more reasonable modifications thereof, when in fact it is no such thing"

I don't believe that, and I regret it very much when people whom I regard as feminists - Ren, for example - feel they have to cease to identify as such just because they are too far away from what is regarded as the start- and endpoint of legitimization. I don't think that that's where feminism's "true north" lies, but an awful lot of feminists seem to. You will have noticed that the stripping of feminist credentials always happens from the extremes and towards the centre, never from the centre towards the extremes. Honest to God, Belle, you're arguing with the wrong person here.

"again, it doesn't take into account any sort of intersectionality, which is the same damn problem I have with I Blame The Patriarchy or any number of other places. It's a web, not a line. For me that's particularly true of sexuality and gender; I am -interested- in what het cis men have to say, okay, but the ongoing back and forth between them and het cis women is just -not- what I find of central importance or how I frame all this shit"

Well that's fine: FCB can't be everything to everybody, and if you find the sort of conversation that goes on there a bore and an irrelevance it really would be pointless to read it or contribute to it. We're not at odds about this, either.

"to a lesser extent: I don't find "moderate feminist" a terrible terrible insult, no, but it's not particularly what I call -myself-, especially, and it'd be nice to be asked, first"

Have I ever called you, - you who are feared as one of the Terrors of the Gendersphere - have I ever called you "moderate"? Interrogate as I will a life spotted with disgrace and infamy, I cannot accuse myself of such a crime.

Tom Nolan said...

Octo

"To me, any discussion of feminism, critical or otherwise, needs to start from a premise that -- holding race, (dis)ability, income, and other factors constant -- there is still an uneven playing ground out there"

"Removing the other factors, though, controls for situations like whether Condi Rice is more privileged than a white homeless guy - which obviously she is. I think Condi is less privileged than a black male in her role would be and the white homeless guy is more privileged than a white homeless woman. This is what I don't see acknowledged at FC."

These two quotes make more or less the same argument: if you exclude all other forms of privilege from the equation, then the privilege which accrues to members of the male sex gives men an advantage. But it won't do at all, Octo. One can make exactly the same argument for any kind of privilege.

For example, as a member of a respected profession and, in all probability, with clothes and bearing to match, you will quite definitely enjoy certain privileges which I, a penniless student who buys his clothes at Oxfam, do not. If we exclude all other privileges from the equation (for example, the privilege which, as you believe, I enjoy because of my gender) then you are privileged over me. But what does that prove? Only that I set up a thought-experiment in such a way as to give me a desired outcome (i.e. that I am less privileged than you). And nothing of interest has been demonstrated.

If you wish to demonstrate that man A is indeed privileged over woman B, then you have to take into account all the factors which increase and decrease their privilege, not just insist that only one kind counts.

As to your affirmation that a homeless man is privileged over a homeless woman, in my experience (which is fairly extensive in this matter) that isn't true at all. Homeless women (in Europe at least) generally find it far easier to access help of all kinds and tend to stay on the streets for shorter periods before finding accommodation than men in the same position do.

Queen Emily

"I think they don't have an adequate formulation of power and exhibit no awareness of their own - particularly systemic - privileges"

What do you know about the FCB bloggers, QE, to be able to say what "systemic privileges" they enjoy? Perhaps you believe, though, that you don't have to know anything about their particular circumstances and lives, and that the proposition "males enjoy systemic privilege" is a cardinal truth requiring no support in the form of evidence?

I really don't think I'm the commenter on this thread who needs to take Belle's strictures regarding "intersectionality" to heart.

belledame222 said...

fair enough; maybe we're both preaching to the choir a bit.

belledame222 said...

slip

belledame222 said...


What do you know about the FCB bloggers, QE, to be able to say what "systemic privileges" they enjoy? Perhaps you believe, though, that you don't have to know anything about their particular circumstances and lives, and that the proposition "males enjoy systemic privilege" is a cardinal truth requiring no support in the form of evidence?


consider QE's standpoint v. that of the FCB bloggers. yes, I think the proposition that they have privileges that QE for instance does not is fairly straightforward, unless there's something I -really- don't know about the lads.

belledame222 said...

btw, "privilege" can be a problematic term, I find, but in any case "enjoy" wrenches it farther still from what's meant by it. it doesn't mean "your life is a bed of roses, clearly you have a key to the Bank of Patriarchy and so on and so forth"

belledame222 said...

if you exclude all other forms of privilege from the equation, then the privilege which accrues to members of the male sex gives men an advantage. But it won't do at all, Octo. One can make exactly the same argument for any kind of privilege.

well, yes, that was my point originally. thing is, what I believe Octo is saying is that she experiences at FCB the general impression that many of the commenters do not believe that there's any such thing as "male privilege" at all; or that it's at least equalled if not outweighed by "female privilege."

Personally, I believe that yes, it -is- possible to talk about such a thing as "female privilege," or males at a disadvantage -in certain contexts-, which in and of itself would be let's say not well looked upon in many if not all feminist circles. funnily enough I could swear I saw you, Octo, naming an example of such somewhere, recently, although I'm damned if I remember the context and i suspect it was not a public conversation.

and yes, it's a sticking point as long as this is considered an -impossibility,- yes.

but that's not the only issue; the issue at FCB, as I see it, is that they also reject more-or-less the systemic framework(s) feminism(s) has/have employed to account for such things, whether using those exact terms or not. And it's not at all clear what the alternate framework is, which is also what I think QE was getting at. I understand that one doesn't develop such things overnight and that this may indeed be one of if not the goals of FCB; trouble is it's barely if at all even articulated as such.

Instead, what happens is, the commenters seem to fall back on, variously, a sort of hazy McElroyian conservative libertarianism; or a yep MRA-flavored and reactionary sort of ev psych (this more from the commenters from the hosts, but it's definitely been there). Beyond that, one gets the impression from reading some folks there that feminism itself is a formidable Structure roughly equal in power and influence to the, if you don't want to call it a Patriarchy, whatever you want to call the myriad structures that have been in place over the past x millenia; or that those structures never were all that problematic for women in the first place, or simply didn't or don't exist, or are at best no longer relevant on account of how -very- powerful feminism is and how Enlightened we all are now anyway. this is what I think Octo is saying as well, correct me if I'm wrong.

belledame222 said...

as per the "class and gender" thing vs. what happens in for example the street: y'all might be interested in this little semi-autobiographical sketch I wrote for a cabaret once:

here

belledame222 said...

anyway, Tom, to get back to your example: the thing is, yeah, but context matters. You're quite right, talking in such glittering generalities viz who wins Systemic Oppression Queen For A Day doesn't do squat (and that is also something that happens a -lot- at FC ime, and it's not just Octo or those who'd sympathize with her who play that game).

that said however, what I -do- get a lot is a sort of, not even just, "feminism fails to address why I am poor/lacking privilege in some other axis and you are now," but "it's feminism's FAULT that I am lacking privilege in this other axis and you are not." again, I get this more from some people there than others, but it's pervasive enough to have put me off, yes.

Cassandra Says said...

"that said however, what I -do- get a lot is a sort of, not even just, "feminism fails to address why I am poor/lacking privilege in some other axis and you are now," but "it's feminism's FAULT that I am lacking privilege in this other axis and you are not." again, I get this more from some people there than others, but it's pervasive enough to have put me off, yes."


Yeah, that's pretty much where my lack of interest in FC comes from. The argument that men face some systemic problems that need to be addressed? That I agree with. What I don't see is how those problems can be addressed by complaining about how mean feminists are. Apart from anything else, a lot of those problems existed before feminism did - feminism isn't the cause. Society is the cause.

Most of what I see on FC looks less like "OK, here are problems that men face, what are we going to do about them?" and more like "How Women As A Group Have Done Me Wrong" with a side order of "PS, It's all because feminists hate men". Which is A. pointless - sure, kvetch if you want, but it doesn't change anything, the same way that IBTP is pointless and destined to have no social impact whatsoever - and B, kind of missing the point. System problems are not caused by Women Being Bitches, and more than sexism is caused simply by Men Being Evil. The actual situation is far more complicated.

Also, the moderate vs extremist formulation is unnacceptable in that "extremist" and "moderate" aren't just descriptions, they're judgement. It's positioning some forms of feminism as reasonable and others as unreasonable. And, as others have pointed out, it's a lot more complicated than that and if one wants to engage in a discussion with someone one generally uses the labels which they use for themselves. Reframing things as extremist vs moderate implies that the person using those terms has the right to decide what is and is not reasonable, and who gave you that right exactly? And it pretty much guarantees that the response of most feminists, even the ones being labelled moderate (the category I would fall into, BTW), is going to be "bite me".

Cassandra Says said...

"System problems are not caused by Women Being Bitches, and more than sexism is caused simply by Men Being Evil."

And apparently I've forgotten how to type. That should be SYSTEMIC problems.

Infra said...

belle:

Thanks for the wave. It's been a while since I've dropped by, but it has been on my list of things to rectify this year. ;)

but that's not the only issue; the issue at FCB, as I see it, is that they also reject more-or-less the systemic framework(s) feminism(s) has/have employed to account for such things, whether using those exact terms or not. And it's not at all clear what the alternate framework is, which is also what I think QE was getting at. I understand that one doesn't develop such things overnight and that this may indeed be one of if not the goals of FCB; trouble is it's barely if at all even articulated as such.

I'd agree that the frameworks as such haven't been addressed or investigated in any depth. There's some frustration in trying to bring that up from time to time, too (wow, a link to the postmodernism generator and a mention of Sokal; how unique of a retort), and I think that the result been a piecemeal approach overall: does this description match with these experiences, is this overstated, do these terms seem appropriate given such and such, etc.

But in a way, I'm not sure that this is entirely a bad thing. By which I mean: I'm not sure if a men's movement -- a healthy one -- can arise from anything other than a mentoring, small group, cell type structure. Leading by example, rather than framework, as it were. A certain amount of theory is out there and could be profitably employed in developing this, even if people don't want to go with anything specifically feminist for whatever reason (I tend to drill on Foucault, Agamben, Feyerabend and James for this); but I've gotten the feeling over the years that the attempt to create an overall movement is one of the reasons why nothing much better than the MRA groups and the mythopoetic approach have surfaced.

Which may be one of the reasons that there's such an emphasis on getting feminists to recognize such and such, and join in on the effort: the suspicion that a large-scale men's movement, formed of men only, would inevitably backfire, or become corrosive. Because, going on gut feeling and anecdote here, I think that the only way that such large-scale groups coalesce is through strife and the identification of an enemy -- actual, possible, or manufactured.

Not to say that men can't get involved in any large-scale projects, of course. This is more about a specific kind.

Rather than a movement that attempts to redefine manhood or masculinity as a whole, I'm inclined to see an approach that's more situational, direct and personal as more likely to succeed. (Flawed as they are, the SC "lair" and "wingman" structures embody this, and they've achieved a level of propagation that existing movements haven't been able to touch. I think that similar ones could be used to spread more refined, appropriate and beneficial ideas than those currently promoted. And hell, even Fight Club used that sort of thing.)

Which, I think, only underscores the irony involved when intersectionality is considered. Though a situational and issue-specific approach might (emphasis there) lead in such a direction. Eventually.

Cassandra Says said...

Infra said..."Because, going on gut feeling and anecdote here, I think that the only way that such large-scale groups coalesce is through strife and the identification of an enemy -- actual, possible, or manufactured."

I'm not sure that's necessarily true. From personal experience, the feminist groups I've been involved with that are NOT built around the idea of men as the enemy have tended to be the ones that succeeded. The ones that are built around the idea of Man as Enemy tend to implode quite spectacularly, as do most movements built on similar premises. I mean OK, so neo-Nazis are such a movement and they're still around (and will be for all time, probably, like cockroaches and rats), but note that they remain marginalised for a reason. Not just because they're flat-out wrong, but because hatred is offputting to most sane and well-balanced people.

Octogalore said...

Tom -- as Belle says, "what I believe Octo is saying is that she experiences at FCB the general impression that many of the commenters do not believe that there's any such thing as 'male privilege' at all." This is not the sum total of my issues with the blog, but it sets the foundation for the others.

Also, I'm a bit confused by: "as a member of a respected profession and, in all probability, with clothes and bearing to match, you will quite definitely enjoy certain privileges which I, a penniless student who buys his clothes at Oxfam, do not."

Isn't that the very point I was making? Why cannot women who are, for example, attorneys, expect to have equivalent privileges to similarly situated males, not male students? Just as black attorneys should not have to be grateful for privilege over white students. Black and white attorneys, just like male and female attorneys, should have equal privilege, all other things being constant. If you're expecting me to cave under lefty guilt, you're beaming it at the wrong gal, friend.

Also, to set the record straight, I'm not currently practicing and the two professions I've had since I practiced have featured work clothes consisting of (1) my current wardrobe of workout togs on a regular basis and the occasional suit for meetings, and (2) Strings by Judith. While both these professions have been more lucrative (for me) than law, they are not particularly "respected" so I'm at a bit of a loss why you believe I have some sort of professional privilege.

As to "bearing," what can I say. Some of us, like me, Belle, and Queen Emily, are just naturally fabulous.

Cassandra Says said...

"Why cannot women who are, for example, attorneys, expect to have equivalent privileges to similarly situated males, not male students? Just as black attorneys should not have to be grateful for privilege over white students. Black and white attorneys, just like male and female attorneys, should have equal privilege, all other things being constant. If you're expecting me to cave under lefty guilt, you're beaming it at the wrong gal, friend."

We have a winner! The fact that some women have situational privilege over some men does not mean that male privilege in general does not exist. The argument that it does is so profoundly stupid that it makes my head hurt every time I see someone making it in an unironic manner.

queen emily said...

>>>What do you know about the FCB bloggers, QE, to be able to say what "systemic privileges" they enjoy? Perhaps you believe, though, that you don't have to know anything about their particular circumstances and lives, and that the proposition "males enjoy systemic privilege" is a cardinal truth requiring no support in the form of evidence?

Well that was a very polite "no *you* are." Sophisticated.

I read and posted on FC for quite awhile, until I got the shits with the very definite boundaries on critical thinking. I saw a lot of writing about "men" and "women," a smattering that acknowledged class, and very little if any attention to race, sexuality, disability or cis-gender. So yeah, I don't know everyone's exact circumstances but the concerns speak volumes. It is generally a sign of clueless privilege when you can afford to speak in such broad terms without considering other axes of inequity besides gender.

So threads like "Is Demonising Men the Goal of Feminism" speak volumes as to the general short-sightedness. I'm sorry, but I Blame The Matriarchy just doesn't cut it as a way of discussing inequity. And it tells me nothing about inequity is produced through institutions (you know, those highly uninfluential things like the Army, the education system, legal rights) in systemic ways. How insitutions - as the article belle posted shows - target specific groups as "suspect populations." And yeah duh, they include rather a lot of men, but these are only mentioned in so far as it advances an idea of men as the ontologically *wronged* class (which is on a Heart level of solipsism. I'm sorry but sometimes the personal really is just the personal. *Do* let me know when as a group you move beyond it).

And yeah, I saw no awareness or discussion of multiple inequities, or discussing - wait - how different identity markers are used to secure each other. How masculinity can be secured through race, or how most sexualities rely on an unproblematic gender identity. That is part of what we mean by intersectionality.

But I probably shouldn't complain too much, after all, cluelessness is rampant on the mainstream feminist blogs too--of which you have the distinct misfortune to appear to be the inverse of.

Now, my lack of awareness of intersectionality is going to prevent from reading this thread any longer, and I need to call my beautiful (bisexual, disabled, pagan, Southern) girlfriend. Laters.

Tom Nolan said...

Octo

"Isn't that the very point I was making? Why cannot women who are, for example, attorneys, expect to have equivalent privileges to similarly situated males, not male students?"

Pure obfuscation.

Whoever suggested that female attorneys, who have to work hard over many years and display an exeedingly high degree of professional competenc, should't enjoy more advantages than a lowly student? I certainly didn't. I only brought up the "student" angle to show how fallacious your "all other things being equal" line of argument was. That's the one you originally advanced, you recall - that "all other things being equal" male privilege means that unfair advantages accrue to men. There are all sorts of privileges in operation, however, any of which can be made to "prevail" if we make the choice to ignore the others. It's not a justification for giving the privileges associated with belonging to the male sex any special status.

As to the right of, say, a female lawyer (I was under the impression that you were such, perhaps I'm misremembering) to enjoy the same advantages as a similarly positioned man - of course she should. And if the female head of a law-firm receives fewer benefits than a man does in the same position, then it's not for want of moral support from me. You go girl.

belledame222 said...

So yeah, I don't know everyone's exact circumstances but the concerns speak volumes. It is generally a sign of clueless privilege when you can afford to speak in such broad terms without considering other axes of inequity besides gender.

"What she said."

also what Cassandra sa(ys).

and before more feathers are ruffled at the implications of "clueless" now as well as "privilege," I would just like to cheerfully point out that this -exact- conversation, but I mean -exactly-, has been happening in just about all its particulars on or deriving from, as QE notes, any -number- of feminist blogs; only difference is in that case it's the (mainstream, white, etc. etc.) feminists who're all upset on account of whaddya -mean- we're privileged?! We're all women together aren't we?? Plus also, you DON'T KNOW ME, MAN. I have tsuris! I have major oppression as a ____! I have bunions. How can you be so UNFAIR TO ME...

forgetting rather conveniently that as a matter of fact, what they are demanding that the long-suffering WoC/transwomen/etc. give them is exactly what they currently aren't offering in return. Consideration as individuals. Careful attention to what they're actually saying. "Slack." And so on, and so on, and so on, world without end, etc. ad nauseum.

belledame222 said...

You go girl.

Camp doesn't suit you, Tom.

Infra said...

cassandra:

I'm not sure that's necessarily true. From personal experience, the feminist groups I've been involved with that are NOT built around the idea of men as the enemy have tended to be the ones that succeeded. The ones that are built around the idea of Man as Enemy tend to implode quite spectacularly, as do most movements built on similar premises.

I don't disagree on any particular point. I was talking more about men's groups, specifically. I'm not saying that it's an inevitable thing, nature-wise or anything like that -- probably more just how things work out given current conceptions of masculinity. So it's a matter of working with the material at hand.

I suspect that one of the reasons the evil feminist conspiracy rhetoric comes up so often is in this, but that's just a guess.

Octogalore said...

Tom -- obfuscation would mean deliberately confusing the point, whereas it appears here that only you are confused, and I didn't deliberately set out to make that happen -- honest! Come on now, IBTF 24-7 is a little over the top.

I certainly did make the "all other things being equal" issue, which would include things like career status. In fact, "making the choice to ignore the other [factors]" isn't some whimsical frivolity of mine, it's an actual statistical method of analyzing variables.

"It's not a justification for giving the privileges associated with belonging to the male sex any special status."

I laboriously argued above that there are many privileges that should be given status, and that my issue wasn't that gender is the predominant one, but that it is in fact one of them.

"I was under the impression that you were such, perhaps I'm misremembering" -- as I said above, I was, but am no longer actively practicing, having moved into the search area. If I had to bill hours, I'd never get away with this amount of blogular time.

Tom Nolan said...

Belle

"Camp doesn't suit you, Tom"

Oooh, you bitch!

Cassandra Says said...

Infra...
"I suspect that one of the reasons the evil feminist conspiracy rhetoric comes up so often is in this, but that's just a guess."

??? I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at there. May just be my having drank too much coffee today, but could you clarify?

belledame222 said...

You know, as much as Robert Bly makes my teeth ache, I had had the idea that well, at least going out into the woods and drumming and bonding in deep brotherly masculine...bonding is, y'know, something -positive,- a step in the right direction.

otoh I also thought the same thing about Heart's brand of feminism.

or, well, look: I still have a certain soft spot for the woo woo goddess-sisterly shit sometimes; the fact that a particular person who at this point could tell me the sky was blue and I'd want to run screaming is...perhaps at least somewhat beside the point. although I do think there are particular problems to the whole "mythic" approach, yes.

belledame222 said...

"talk to the hand."

Cassandra Says said...

BTW, I really do think that there's a need for some sort of environment in which men can talk to each other about masculinity and what it means and how it's constructed and how non-conforming men are supposed to deal with the crap that gets fired at them from all sides. I really don't see something called "Feminist Critics" as being a good venue for that to happen in, though, because the very name seems to be centering, well, WOMEN. Which doesn't really make sense if what needs to happen is men talking to each other about what it means to be men. Also, the framing lends itself to "it's all the women's fault" thinking. It doesn't lend it itself to deep self-examination, is what I'm saying. It's an answer looking for a question.

There don't seem to be many (or any) other channels open for men to talk about that stuff, though. Radfem spaces are...not conducive to that conversation, really - I know if I was a man I'd run like hell from Robert Jensen or anyone like him. And MRA groups are almost entirely focused on the Women Are Bitches angle, so for a guy who wants to talk about this stuff without either slant framing the discussion, is there anyplace that he can go?

Tom Nolan said...

Octo

"I laboriously argued above that there are many privileges that should be given status, and that my issue wasn't that gender is the predominant one, but that it is in fact one of them"

Then we really have been arguing at cross-purposes, because that's not something I'd want to dispute, and have not in fact disputed. Nor would Daran, Ren, Hugh and ballgame - rather, their position, as I understand it, is that there are privileges associated with membership of both sexes and that it is difficult do decide the balance of advantage. Ren, Hugh and ballgame feel that women have the worse of it, by and large (as I do, by the way), Daran would be more sceptical.

Cassandra Says said...

Also, just have to say that this made me laugh.

"Maybe I'll be back for Lent, as penance. "

Yeah, I know how you feel. And David Bowie reference FTW!

Infra said...

cassandra:

Oh, it isn't the coffee. (Coffee's just too good to ever be at fault.) If there's one thing I hear a lot, it's "um, what?" So: par for the course and all.

??? I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at there. May just be my having drank too much coffee today, but could you clarify?

I think that the "we need a common enemy to bond over" element is one of the reasons why a number of men coming from critical or hostile positions use a lot of rhetoric that portrays feminists as evil, power-hungry spawn of the Great Old Ones. Sometimes it's difficult to tell if they think you're quoting bell hooks, Mary Daly, or the Necronomicon -- even though you haven't said anything yet.

(Hunh. I did put that awkwardly the first time, didn't I?)

Like I wrote earlier, this is hunch and observation... but it seems like the wider the men's group seems to be, and the more orthodox its perspective (whether religious, political or philosophical), the more likely it is to rely upon the characterization of an enemy to hold itself together. Whether or not that enemy actually exists.

That gets reflected in the rhetoric that comes out -- and if it's severe enough, the reactions will feed back in as proof, to them, that they're right.

Conversely, though, the more issues are involved (orientation and gender issues, race, class, ability, etc.) the more this could probably be mitigated. Because with those issues that are more easily identified as commonalities within the group, there's less of a need to find, or manufacture, something outside of it.

Cassandra Says said...

Infra - Makes sense. Although surely these guys know that a lot of feminists think Mary Daly is batshit crazy? But yeah, I understand the dynamic by which "fighting" an external enemy can be used as a bonding tool. Problem is, the bonds thus created are pretty fragile, and it requires continual reminders of how awful the enemy is to sustain the bond.(Can you tell I used to be involved in Marxist politics?)

It rather amuses me to be thought of as a minion of Cthulu though. If someone wants to see me that way far be it from me to stop them. I'll be over here in the corner chuckling and having some more coffee.

belledame222 said...

Ren, Hugh and ballgame feel that women have the worse of it, by and large (as I do, by the way), Daran would be more sceptical.

and then there's TS.

leta said...

I'd love to see a women's movement concerned with ...women. Not men. Not blame. Not reiterations of "somehow this is a man's fault". But women, and supporting women to break stereotypes and extend beyond the prejudices within themselves.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

Oh, hello there.

All I can say is if you think this blog and its regulars are particularly fixated on men, whether to praise or blame, then oy, have you got the wrong number. I'd say something more substantial but I find myself suddenly very tired.

Deoridhe said...

leta: Congratulations, then, you're in the right place.

Tom Nolan said...

Belle

"and then there's TS"

Toy Soldier is a case apart. He is, indeed, far more hostile to feminism than the other posters.

DBB said...

You know - that is a very good point brought up here - where is it men can go to talk about issues just for men, without any baggage of other stuff - (i.e. not MRAs, not Promise Keepers, not any crap like that). I don't know of any.

I sometimes wonder if men who would be inclined to do such a thing are reluctant for fear of being lumped into one of the not-so-nice categories above. There seems to be an automatic aura of misogyny or privilege or some other "bad word" stamped onto groups of men who get together to discuss mens issues. Or perhaps if such a group formed, because of the above, it would attract MRAs or others as members and then devolve. I don't know. That would be my worry about a group like that. That was really my main beef with feminism - that in being all about women, you can't be about equality because equality is more than just 'promoting one side' - even if it is the case that that one side is at a disadvantage (I've discussed this at length elsewhere). (Yes, yes - subtle distinction between a group that promotes women because of inequalities and one that promotes equality, but I think the distinction matters).

But then that still shouldn't preclude making a safe space for men to talk about issues affecting men and even promoting men in the same way feminism promotes women. I would not call such a group an 'equality' group, either. But how to do that without attracting the wrong element? A charter? Start a blog with that charter indicating that women will not be discussed as a topic? I don't know. I suppose that would be one idea. If it were done, who wants to start it? And who will give me 10-1 odds that as soon as it is noticed by the blogsphere that a few hundred feminist sites won't immediately label it as a misogynist blog? heh. Well, i guess that's a chance they'd have to take - and why should they care? If such a group only talks about men, not women or feminism, then they can safely ignore what feminist sites say as being outside the charter.

I'm mostly thinking out loud here. And to FC - I don't think that FC has as its goal something like that - which is why it is unsurprising it doesn't do a very good job of that. I've always taken FC to be what it claims to be - a place where feminism and feminist theory is critisized. And I think, for all its flaws, it is good for that purpose because any movement needs criticism to keep it honest, to keep it from stagnating and turning into a cesspool of misandryst hatred (for instance - like IBTP). And some of that criticism needs to come from the outside. I mean, I've seen plenty of criticism from people who call themselves feminists, or used to, and that is a good thing also.

I don't agree with much of what is on FC, but I think it is a good thing to have. I do think it is problematic that dialogue with feminists doesn't happen much because of them being driven from the site - I think that needs to be addressed.

I agree with Octo that it would be hard to take a denial that being female gives many disadvantages, all other things being equal. Much like I'd find it somewhat hard to deal with a site that, for instance, denied that being an atheist gives many disadvantages. I'd have one small quibble in that what Octo says isn't entirely true - it isn't that if you hold all things equal, a man is always advantaged over a woman - it is that this is true MOST of the time. Context matters. In some contexts, all things being equal, being a woman gives you an advantage over a man. And as everyone acknowledges, there is intersectionality - in many cases, gender as a factor is beside the point. For instance, I'd say the most important, overriding factor is class/wealth. (Obviously there are other factors as well that have been mentioned.)

If you know someone's gender, you really can't say much else about a person's overall level of advantage compared to anyone else in society. But if you know that they're wealthy (like Paris Hilton wealthy) then that's all you pretty much need to know. And so on with other factors of lessor, but still significant importance...

So, any volunteers to start a place for men to discuss men, as outlined above? What would it be called? How would the haters be kept out?

belledame222 said...

Tom: yeah, I have often gotten the impression that he'd be just as happy if no feminists, possibly even no women, were posting there at all. it's frustrating, because in some ways I think he has the most substantial stuff to say, but the very subject matter of his let's say expertise may be what's causing the hostility, and I just don't know how to breach that. I feel sort of the same way I do about some of the more let's say brittle feminists: okay, you're hurting, I get it, but--you frame this as a debate space and then at the same time there are all these buttons--I just, I can't breach it, I don't think you want me to, I'm stepping back now.

he also really can put the "ass" in "passive aggressive," I have to say.

DBB: well, again, and your mileage may vary, obviously, but from an observer's perspective, I think part of the barrier for that has to do with the deeply ingrained homophobia/taboos against male-male intimacy in this culture. Because fact of the matter is, one has to at least -allow- for the possibility of an erotic or tender aspect coming up in order to really connect, I think?

and it's like, for straight men especially, often, I think, even if they're not overtly homophobic in the sense of won't have gay friends on a casual basis or anything like that--there's this deeply ingrained sort of, "danger! danger Will Robinson!" if the bonding seems to be straying outside the boundaries delineated as "acceptable" masculine bonding activities/styles.

this is also why I think so many of the "male movement" groups have been so reactionary. It's -not- just because they're freaking out about losing control over teh women--that, I think, is the mistake some feminists make in their own interpretations of this phenomenon; they also recenter themselves. Although I suppose it's a part of it: basically it's trying to have one's cake and eat it too. Genuinely, to one degree or another, want to escape the very real disadvantages of traditional masculinit(ies), while at the same time unconsciously clinging to...are they always even privileges? maybe it's just, even, a comfort zone.

and yes, I would say the same for a number of feminists/isms. They tend to be a lot bigger on the "EXAMINE yourself" thing, but imo a lot of times the whole, "and now I/we must divest myself/ourselves of the Bad Outside Things" is still missing the point. It can be subtle, that, though, and that's another discussion.

Daisy said...

Belle, I didn't mean to sound disrespectful of their experience, so I apologize for that. My point was more in how convoluted their points are, and at WHAT point in any given discussion they bring up het male rape, which makes little sense to me. An actual in-depth discussion on the topic would be welcome. Most seem unwilling to be that emotionally vulnerable, however, which I think is one of the main reasons they dislike feminism. Feminism demands men be honest, and therefore vulnerable. That would include discussing feelings of male inadequacy. Most men run like hell from any such discussion. IMHO that is one reason certain men dislike feminism so much; they find the emotional demands of feminist women (in particular) difficult to impossible. They do the laundry, and that, by God, should be enough. And no, for FEMINISTS, it simply isn't.

I think these FC men/some MRAs want strong women, but they don't really want to pay the necessary emotional price to have one.

Daisy said...

And btw, Belle, that was an awesome play.

leta said...

A convoluted argument that criticizes feminism is intolerable.
Its a good thing that feminist arguments are never convoluted then.

Deoridhe said...

dbb: I fully support your decision to try this, though obviously my gender precludes me helping internally. ;)

So, any volunteers to start a place for men to discuss men, as outlined above? What would it be called? How would the haters be kept out?

I don't know about called, but personally I'd be inclinded to used the "haters" to make points and moderate heavily. Perhaps start with a 101. Like... "This is about men discussing issues within and about treatment of other men. Discussion of prejudice against men based on different characteristics (race, romantic orientation, birth sex, country of origin, skills and abilities) is on topic. So is the experience of masculinity and femininity within men. We want to challenge [insert various beginning topics here]. We want to support [insert other topics here]." I'd also recommend making it as positive as possible and perhaps have a thread outlining rules and levels of moderation so those are overt and open for re-examination later. Coming up with ways of dealing with the various "-isms" as they rise up is good as well - racism, homophobia, and male-aimed misogyny are likely to come up a lot.

Take it for what it's worth - be it much or little.

belledame222 said...

leta: can you play "Melancholy Baby?"

belledame222 said...

dbb, others: fwiw, the host of this site, Charles Knight, has been interested in trying to create such spaces for a while now. "other and beyond real men." looks like he hasn't updated in a bit, tho'. maybe I'll give him a shout.

Deoridhe said...

Infra: I think that the "we need a common enemy to bond over" element is one of the reasons why a number of men coming from critical or hostile positions use a lot of rhetoric that portrays feminists as evil, power-hungry spawn of the Great Old Ones.

I think this is common outside of that context, too; it certainly seems to inform a lot of the racial tension in feminism, whereby WoC stand in as Spector of the Day even though the spector bears no resemblance to the woman. It seems to be a result of feeling under seige and, in my opinion, of feeling under seige when one knows one really isn't. There's a loss of perspective that seems to require even more extreme rhetoric (see Godwin's Law for a perennial favorite).

One of the things I've kind of started seeking out are those things which make me feel under seige, because I rationally know I'm not and so I need to understand where the emotional *twang* is coming from. If FC inspired that, I'd hand out there to read even if not post... but my response to FC was boredom. I'd heard the arguments before, many of them drunken with an "except for you, Deo" tagged on the end. In a friend they disturbed, because I knew how easy it would be for me to slip from "except for you" to "that money-hungry, shallow bitch", but in strangers I just find them dull.

Octogalore said...

"I agree with Octo that it would be hard to take a denial that being female gives many disadvantages, all other things being equal. Much like I'd find it somewhat hard to deal with a site that, for instance, denied that being an atheist gives many disadvantages. I'd have one small quibble in that what Octo says isn't entirely true - it isn't that if you hold all things equal, a man is always advantaged over a woman - it is that this is true MOST of the time. Context matters."

Um, context is EXACTLY what I'm suggesting needs to be fixed to analyze this. And IRL, it typically is whenever someone has a legitimate complaint. eg, in successful sex discrimination cases, the plaintiff is making a comparison to similarly situated males. As is true for discrimination cases based on other variables.

"in many cases, gender as a factor is beside the point. For instance, I'd say the most important, overriding factor is class/wealth."

Well, as I stated above, all kinds of factors can play a role, but that doesn't mean we ignore their individual merits. Just as my black attorney/white student example doesn't mean we ignore racism.

And as to wealth making "gender as a factor beside the point": is that why the news sources are decorously avoiding mention of Jamie Lynn Spears' baby's father?

Cassandra Says said...

dbb - Hey, why not give it a try? For any group to form, someone has to step up and get it started. Which is hard, but someone has to do it.

As far as keeping out the people you'd rather not have around - IME having some sort of a mission statement (excuse the corporate speak) helps. It works better if you define things in a positive rather than a negative sense usually - ie. "We are going to focus on X" rather than "Don't you dare talk about Y!". Once the group is actually started, people who are not sticking to the spirit of the thing can be weeded out as you go along. I've been in more than one group where that process worked basically by someone saying derailing, pointless things and everyone else either changing the subject or, if that doesn't work, telling them to STFU because that's not what everyone else wants to talk about. It can be a fractious, combatative process, but once you work through it you end up with a group that can actually talk about thing. Also, in terms of how feminists can help...well, lots of us have experience participating in those kinds of groups and making them work. If you want to know something about the minutae of making groups work, there are plenty of us who you can ask.

Belle's point is vital too, though - no such group will work unless the men in it are willing to trust each other. If you're not willing to be vulnerable, to put your cards on the table and risk being hurt or embarrassed or haing people yell at you, then you'er not going to get anywhere. That may well be the hardest part, since men get a whole lot of programming telling them that they must never, ever expose their soft underbelly in front of other men.

belledame222 said...

but my response to FC was boredom. I'd heard the arguments before, many of them drunken with an "except for you, Deo" tagged on the end. In a friend they disturbed, because I knew how easy it would be for me to slip from "except for you" to "that money-hungry, shallow bitch", but in strangers I just find them dull.

tangentially reminded of a disconcerting experience I'd had, hanging out with a couple of male buddies in college. yer basic dudes, you know, not horribly out of the way sexist or prejudiced, not particularly politically aware or enlightened either (at least by liberal arts undergraduate/theatre standards). we were in a few classes together, specifically and most recently this class, I guess was the closest I came to actual Womens' Studies in college, women in performance art, heavy on the queer theory and yams up grannies' asses analyzed in words of five or six syllables, that sort of thing. teacher was a fairly typical sort of the genre I expect: perhaps a bit Ann Robinson-esque in appearance and demeanor (also the German accent may have been a factor), if not actual personality so much. earnest, though, you know.

so we're sitting in the pub or coffeehaus, talkin' about the class, which I also had some issues with, the material and the ways in which we were supposed to be talking about it, when one of the dudes blurts to the other, viz the teacher,

"Can you imagine having sex with that?"

...or something along those lines, you know. with some hostility.

and I was like...blink. okay, I didn't then and I suppose still don't object to mm ojectification per se, let's say; but was that really the issue? We were talking about her as a professor, of womens' studies, no less; suddenly it's about how fuckable she is? -Really.-

I think this sort of thing is, you know, not rare. It's not something I experience from women so much. Talk about fuckability of various people, yes, sometimes, depending on the women. Talk about it as a way of dismissing the person in some other context--not so much. It was telling.

belledame222 said...

If you're not willing to be vulnerable, to put your cards on the table and risk being hurt or embarrassed or haing people yell at you, then you'er not going to get anywhere. That may well be the hardest part, since men get a whole lot of programming telling them that they must never, ever expose their soft underbelly in front of other men.

*nods* and while I think there's something to be said for different flavors of spaces, particularly public ones, and not everything has to be this deep touchy-feely process-y space, I did see some of that playing out at FC: even the stuff about, who's got it worse (competition), or the framing of it as some sort of -debate-, or -statistics-...you know, in a way, this shit is relatively -safe.- Not saying there isn't a place for it, (although even on its own supposed terms, formal logic and so on, there was a -lot- to be desires), but I'm not at all sure that that's sufficient, especially if one is going to be talking about such things as sexuality and abuse.

Daran and Hugh did open themselves up a bit on a personal level in some self-started topics; those were actually the topics I found most interesting.

in a way, I think it's the same thing as happens in feminism: there's this idea, "the personal is political," which is valid in the sense of, I tell my story from the "I" and other people are free to go "say, I can relate to that" (or not, but "huh, that's interesting, I never thought of that before").

what's less valid is the universalizing from personal experience, which way too many people all over the place do anyway.

Cassandra Says said...

OK, to be fair and in the interest of honesty and all that...I've done the "you're unfuckable, why should I listen to you?" thing to men. Not because I really mean it, but as a means of winning an argument. Women can generally only pull it off if they're conventionally attractive themselves, but if you are...shuts just about any man up, because it comes as such a shock.

Not saying it's a nice thing to do by any means, just saying that yep, I've done it. Online, too. And I'm not sure if when men do it they're doing it the same way I was - as a means to win an argument by hitting the other person where it hurts. Or if there's some wierd entitlement thing going on - I don't actually think that all men are required to meet my physical standards. I suspect that some men really do think that, but I'm not sure. They may just be hitting at women's looks because they know it's a sore spot.

belledame222 said...

hm. that's interesting. i don't remember ever doing that; then again my own confidence in judging anyone else fuckable, let alone expressing such, was...complicated, and another whole set of issues.

in this case though, they weren't arguing with her or even with me; they were talking -about- her. and for me sitting with them it was like...I felt like I'd had one of those moments where I'd been just one of the guys without really being conscious of it, and then suddenly been jolted back into "oh. THAT'S what you talk about. oh. huh."

belledame222 said...

but yeah, it was a way of hitting at a sore spot, in absentia, as it were, most definitely. and I did think in fact it had everything to do with the subject matter of the course, the fact that she was this sort of cliche'd womens' studies professor...it felt like a sort of, "we're here! we're men! we're heterosexual!" to me at least. it was sort of an unpleasant surprise.

Cassandra Says said...

When I think about it, I do the "ew, he's ugly, so totally unfuckable!" stuff with my female friends, and gay male friends, all the time. Usually not as a way to dismiss a professor's teaching style, though. How is that even relevant? Is he/she disrobing in front of the class as part of the lesson?

I wonder if your guy friends were specifically trying to send a "just remember that you're only one of the guys up to a point" message, or if they were just too clueless to grok that the category "woman" included you. Or if they thought that the fact that you're a dyke somehow meant that you would be OK with it and willing to join in.

belledame222 said...

I think they were clueless. It was a long time ago, though. also, I wasn't out, then, so it wouldn't have about that; in that sense they probably did think I was an insider.

Alon Levy said...

When I think of moderate feminists, I think of people who really are moderate about it - i.e. people who agree with most but not all of the feminist movement's agenda, and often disagree with it from the right; who sometimes criticize the way the mainstream feminist movement acts or high-profile feminists, again more from the right, but still agree with the basic goals; who may think feminists alienate men, or women who don't have the exact same experiences as Kim Gandy, but doesn't care much for men's rights or ifeminism.

For example, take Gloria Steinem's op-ed, "Women are Never Front-Runners." There's a lot there to criticize. For example, Steinem discounts racism, by ignoring smears against Obama based on his foreign-sounding name or his admitting to having used drugs when he was young. If that's your only problem with the article, you're probably not a moderate feminist, since that's an attack from the left: Steinem isn't paying attention to another oppressed group.

A more moderate criticism would be to note that she has a shrill writing style. When the writer is a leftist, noting that is attacking from the right. But perhaps the most moderate feminist attack is that Steinem is clueless about women, too. Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner almost up until the day of the Iowa caucuses. The pundits talk about her as Hillary Clinton, not as The Female Candidate. They went too far with discussing her crying, but that was due to an understandable perception that Hillary Clinton will do anything to get elected, a perception that isn't aided by the fact that she's been running for President since 1993.

That's moderate feminism. I'm not sure I identify that way - people who hear me talk about gender say I'm a feminist, not a moderate feminist - but the standard for moderation isn't "doesn't support a revolution." Of the mainstream US feminists - Steinem, Pollitt, the people in charge of NOW - every single one would tell you this society's a basically good one that just needs its sexist ideas uprooted. And even they are far enough to the left to recognize they're not moderate.

Alon Levy said...

Okay, please ignore the change from plural to singular in the first paragraph.

I shouldn't post comments at 4 am.

DBB said...

Octo - To clarify - when I mentioned context, I was not talking about it as a floating variable, I was talking about the fact that there are FIXED contexts - situations where all other things being equal, including the context, a woman has the advantage over a man. There are more contexts where the reverse is the case, of course. But is is not the case that if you hold all variables as equal, including context, that a man always has the advantage. That was all that I was saying.

And as for all the other suggestions about a men's group - thank you everyone - there are some good ones in there, though I am not sure I'm the one to do such a group. I'm someone who has always been on the periphery when it comes to social things - I don't do much 'men' stuff - I have no interest in sports - I don't have a wide circle of friends - but I suppose that shouldn't preclude me from trying something online. I was hoping more that someone else would do it. But I suppose I could try.

I like the idea of keeping it positive - I think that is important, though I think it probably would at least bear mentioining in a 'charter' that the point really isn't to talk about women at all just to nip that in the bud. Though I suppose that may be hard if the discussion turns to relationships. One could, perhaps, focus such discussions to a man's feelings in a relationship rather than what the woman is doing.

I don't know about the homophobia problem - I am not homophobic, and I sometimes wonder if it is because I really don't have any attraction to men at all. I mean, I could understand having fears there if you were attracted to men and then felt tempted if you 'went there' or whatever. That makes a certain degree of sense.

I have a reluctance myself to share certain things, even anonymously onilne. I think always in the back of my mind I keep the notion that one could be revealed and then I would have to own up to everything I've ever said online - so perhaps I don't say anything more than I would say if my full name were prominently displayed. Some things would be rather difficult to talk about - heck, I once thought about discussing how I lost my virginity, but decided not to share that - not that it was all that bad, but it was very personal. Other things, like when my wife and I lost her pregnancy a year ago, that was so hard I think I had to share it.

I'll have to check out that site - though if it isn't updating... well, maybe I will start something. I don't know that I'm the best person to do that, though. To be frank, there is much about what is probably considered 'male culture' that I don't participate in nor particularly understand, though I probably have a better chance at understanding it than a woman does.

Deoridhe said...

dbb: don't do much 'men' stuff - I have no interest in sports - I don't have a wide circle of friends - but I suppose that shouldn't preclude me from trying something online.

Actually, I think that you don't do a lot of "man" stuff is a great place to start.

I mean, what is "man" stuff? You list sports as one think about it - where else can men have physical contact with each other without accusations of being homosexual? WHy must physical contact (that is, affection) be run parallel with violence in order to show up at all?

I knew a guy once who wanted to date me because he could have deep conversations with me. He had a male friend I also had these conversations with, and when it was the three of us we could have these conversations, but according to my other friend they never had them alone. I always found that dynamic weird, and my guess is something male was going on that required me as an "excuse" for him to connect with another male. (To take this to it's violent, horrible extreme, the theory that gang-rape is about male bonding springs to mind, but that's a huge, HUGE, FREKING HUGE leap, so please take it as such.)

In other words, as someone outside of what you yourself have tagged as 'men' stuff, you're in a better place to approach it as something alien and strange and thus begin to take it apart.

It is through the outsiders to stereotypes that we learn the edges, and the inaccuracy, of the stereotypes.

DBB said...

Deoridhe - that's a good point. Though I should mention that the sports I was thinking about was more of the "watching on TV" variety, though it is true I don't participate physically either.

I mean, I don't bond with the armchair quarterbacks, either because I don't watch sports on TV.

It is interesting the dynamic you mentioned with your two friends - did you ever ask them about that?

I must say, meeting a male I don't know, I often feel like I don't know what to say because the usual topics for something like that (sports?) I just don't talk about, know nothing about, and am not interested in. In that respect, I may find it easier to talk to a woman I don't know than a man. In large groups of men growing up, I generally felt excluded and so did stuff on my own.

Infra said...

dbb:

And as for all the other suggestions about a men's group - thank you everyone - there are some good ones in there, though I am not sure I'm the one to do such a group. I'm someone who has always been on the periphery when it comes to social things - I don't do much 'men' stuff - I have no interest in sports - I don't have a wide circle of friends - but I suppose that shouldn't preclude me from trying something online. I was hoping more that someone else would do it. But I suppose I could try.

I've been thinking along somewhat similar lines; in fact, I've been toying with the idea of doing a post on whether or not I would try to start one. On that point, I'm not sure.

I suppose that a major reason for this is that I'm more of an intentionally accidental facilitator than anything else. (I'd like to further develop my Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce DNA segments, but they're not that influential yet, I'm afraid.)

I'm not a sports person in the normal sense, either, being only a fan of, say, gymnastics; and some of my history seems to have had an inhibitory effect on my ability to fit into group dynamics. I'm aware that people generally feel certain things with that, and I can get it conceptually, but I haven't felt it myself. (That being one of the reasons that I'm not such a sports fan, I think.) But neither of those is the main reason.

There are two films that I think reflect things that can, and possibly must, be utilized to produce changes in how men conceive of masculinity. One was Tape, which I think deals well with the issue of reevaluating and coming to terms with one's actions (something I also see reflected in the character of Valmont in Dangerous Liasons). This seems to be dependent on the notion of suffering the punishment that one feels one deserves, even if it isn't actually carried out. Which might explain a part of the phenomenon in which guys get into fights over something only to become friends afterward.

I also wonder if that feeds into things like gang rape: if you can't be punished, the next best thing is to engage in escalating crimes with similar minds. Because that carries an increasing risk of suffering it.

The other was Sex and Death 101 -- which, by the way, I think is a great portrayal of het men's sexual issues in general, though not the homophobic aspect. I highly recommend it. (It also has the punishment aspect, though not as pronounced as in the other mentioned films.)

As far as that film goes, I'd say that a valuable point is reflected in these lines:

"How could being the answer to all of my problems not be enough? If a friend of mine had been going out with Hope, I'd be so proud of him. Guess that's the problem. I'd be proud, but I wouldn't be jealous -- and a man would rather have another man's jealousy than another man's respect."

So I tend to think that the best way to go about this is personally, either incidentally or in conversations with friends. Maybe it's riffing off of something that someone says in a bar, or making a comment about a film or show that we're watching. ("It's weird. Dexter, I mean -- yeah, he's a badass, in that superhero vigilante killer kind of way. But he's great with the kids, too, and I wish I had that kind of wit and sense of humor. How do you not let that kind of life get to you?") The important thing seems to be to jog things off of the normal track, in a way that makes the guy think, "Man, I wouldn't have thought of that, but it makes sense. Why didn't I think of it?"

Or to help him basically follow his own thoughts in a different way, so that he comes out of it with a dual impression: that he should have come to that conclusion earlier, and that it was still his own idea.

I'm not sure how that translates to large groups, or an on-line forum.

Deoridhe said...

dbb: It is interesting the dynamic you mentioned with your two friends - did you ever ask them about that?

Friend A said he could never talk to anyone other than women about "those things". I have to admit, it came off as rather sexist of him, which definitely influenced my interest in him.

Friend B said there might be something about intimacy and being intimate with males which tweaked Friend A, but was a bit baffled as to where it came from. He and I used to talk about it in those "why is my friend strange" sorts of ways now and again.

It sounds like you have some internalized prejudice against men (I run into this a lot with women against women, when what they really seem to not like is the common stereotypes of women and the women who buy into those as How They Have To Be). That's a good place to start, too, I think; when it comes to examining prejudice, sometimes it's easier to start where you're in the category you're prejudiced against becuase you inherently know there are exceptions.

DBB said...

D- I was not treated well by males growing up, probably because I didn't share male interests and because on top of that, I was also terribly shy, which tends to make any social difficulties that much worse. So it makes me somewhat reluctant in approaching men in ways that I am not in approaching women (not that I go and talk to random women all that much either).

I don't know that I'd call that prejudice as much as a learned response based on (bad) experience. I don't have anything in particular against men. I do, however, admit to an anti-sports-culture-worship prejudice. It always irked me how much attention atheletics got in school when I thought the primary point was to learn (i.e. academics). Of course, books aren't everything, as I figured out in College, where I learned 80% of what I learned outside of the classroom - life learning stuff.

Still, the sports stuff does still irk me. So I probably have prejudice against sports in that regard.

Cassandra Says said...

"I don't know about the homophobia problem - I am not homophobic, and I sometimes wonder if it is because I really don't have any attraction to men at all. I mean, I could understand having fears there if you were attracted to men and then felt tempted if you 'went there' or whatever. That makes a certain degree of sense. "

I've wondered about this. It does seem that in a lot of the men I've met who've been really homophobic, the vibe I've gotten from them has been not quite het somehow.

I wonder if homophobia functions as a form of male bonding in the way trash talking about women does? If so it would probably be something that any mens group would have to keep an eye out for.

belledame222 said...

(still reading, need to reread, just snatching at bits and pieces here and there)

yeah, and maybe "homophobia" is one of those loaded words like "racism" wherein, y'know, it's not an on-off switch or even necessarily should have to be a stigma in itself, like -so and so is ___, unlike most people, and that makes hir a Certified Bad Person-. I go back and forth about the semantics.

But anyway: well, again, I didn't necessarily mean that y'know it's the presence of actively homophobic individual men, it's built into or interwoven with the structure we're all part of, this whatever you want to call it that declares this that and the other thing -taboo- for men, these other things more or less compulsory. A number of them have to do with sexuality, which I think is an axis in itself, sex-negativity; and a number of others have to do with "a man is defined by not being 'feminine,'" which can and does mean a whole -shitload- of things, from not bottoming sexually to not getting too emotionally attached to another man, to not wearing pink or purple to not crying to not dancing too well to not making this or that -gesture- to...well, you can probably fill in a bunch more, no?

btw, I run a large online group of mostly-women-and-queer/trans folk; if you want to talk about the logistics of how this sort of thing from a potential mod's view, feel free to email me. bel4 AT earthlink DOT net.

belledame222 said...

I wonder if homophobia functions as a form of male bonding in the way trash talking about women does? If so it would probably be something that any mens group would have to keep an eye out for.

I think that would be even more complicated, because whereas the women can at least be safely "othered," the homophobia often serves as, in my observation as well as experience (women do it too, albeit to a lesser degree ime), it's a sort of "Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" thing, you know: it's not just -bonding,- it's -policing-; you're only safe as long as you're not revealed as one of THEM, which is always a possibility.

R. Mildred said...

I wonder if homophobia functions as a form of male bonding in the way trash talking about women does? If so it would probably be something that any mens group would have to keep an eye out for.

well the feminist and queer informal canon has this thing called "fragile masculinity", which everyone but me has clearly forgotten, wherein the way the psycho-social conception of "masculinity" - as it is set up and trained into men - requires men to both constantly reaffirmed to continue to have, via homophobia and misogyny and the usual cismale social conflicts, as well as something which can be taken away due to a wide variety of circumstances, such as not being homophobic, or not being homophobic enough, to counter the effects of say a pass from another man, or not being misogynistic enough to counter what the man in question views as a slight against his masculinity from a woman, which are many and varied.

Which leads to escalation, and therefore violence - including rape and its eponymous culture.

I've been meaning to go research Freud's whole castration phobia thing in case he inadvertantly identified fragile masculinity way back when and the whole vagina dentata thing was itself a product of freud protecting his own fragilities - of if its just a weird coincidence.

Also: "I'm afeared of being thought of as a girly man by assholes" is not a good reason to not do something.

I cannot stress that enough.

R. Mildred said...

I should also point out that the whole "fragile [noun]" complex actually extends beyond mere masculinity as well - the thing about systems of oppression are that they behave in a rather darwinian fashion, and so you tend to get things like that being produced in other systems wihtout a real causative relationship, simply becuase it's a thing that works to reaffirm that system more than systems that don't - which is why you get regular flavor hardcore misogyny in subsections of the gay community, which people have probably seen displayed by Trex and John Avarosis though there are apparently whole subcultures springing up around the idea now, as well involved in the whole trans and bi hatred from other sections of the queer and feminist communities.

the trouble is that most of these groups are largely based around scratching together a sense of validity for the identity they've created and which their membership hoves to, and so ego monkeys find it easy to shift the internal and theoretical politics of these groups towards Othering a group that is already screwed over by society in some way - because obviously in a society that already takes validity from one group so it can give it out to another group like scooby snacks, then it's always gonna be easier to go with the flow and shit downhill.

as it were.

It's that whole fascism thing, ego monkeys + identity politics = cannibalistic pedophilic necrophiliac nazi lacrosse* players.

Which is a bad thing.

A healthy dose of democratic or sociocratic organising can keep the ego monkeys in check or piss them off so much (because things that decentralize groups does tend to annoy the poo flingers somewhat) to make them move elsewhere.

* all I know about lacrosse is that rapists do it, therefore it must be objectively bad.

belledame222 said...

well the feminist and queer informal canon has this thing called "fragile masculinity",

"poor old Hem[ingway] the fragile one." nope, didn't forget the concept, although yeah the term didn't come to mind, thanks.

HughRistik said...

Hi belle. I've found this a really interesting discussion, because I'm always interested in feminists' perceptions of what we are doing over FC.

To briefly clarify my position on gender, power, and privilege in society, I believe that:

Both men and women suffer from unjust oppressions and enjoy unjust privileges in different contexts, and given different intersections with race, class, and sexual orientation. I think that it is impossible to compare the magnitude of these oppressions and privileges without making certain value-judgments. Depending on what exactly we judge to be oppression and power, we could conclude that men are better off than women, or that women are better off than men. I personally think it is more likely that women are more oppressed, than that men are more oppressed (though some of my co-bloggers disagree with me), or that the oppressions and privileges are "equal", or mutually justifying. My current view is that the oppression and privileges of men and women are probably incomparable because they are so qualitatively different (which is different from saying that they are equivalent).

Some posters here have suggested that discussing feminist must start from the premise that all else being equal, women are more oppressed and less privileged than men are. Octogalore and I have hashed this point out and (I believe) agreed to disagree; however, I do have to say that this view sounds like "discussion with us must start with you agreeing with our premises." While many feminists believe that the premises of feminism are so solid that they need no more justification and are tired of engaging in what they view to be tedious rehashing, I disagree (after taking women's studies courses and exposing myself to plenty of Feminism 101 material). At FC we hope to dialogue with feminists from the starting point that feminism's premises are in need of defense even if they turn out to be true.

The argument that women are more oppressed (or less privileged) than men when all else is held equal is pretty easy to refute:

So yes, men are always privileged over women, all else being equal… except in evacuations, conflict zones, media coverage of victimization, nightmarish experiments, genital integrity in the U.S., police brutality, and many other contexts. In this post, I didn’t even get to drafting/conscription, incarceration, male workplace death, and availability of resources for survivors of sexual abuse.

It's possible that all else held equal, greater female oppression is the rule, while contexts with greater male oppression are exceptions. However, I think this type of analysis would only make sense in a white middle-class Western context. The best argument I think feminists can make is that most of the time, when all else is held equal, women are more oppressed and men are more privileged. This claim isn't immediately refutable, and it may even be true in the Big Picture. However, I don't know what the Big Picture is, and I don't think feminists do either.

Tom Nolan said...

Oh, Hugh's decided to show up. At long last.

Bloody Americans! Always late for the war.

And I suppose he'll be chairing the peace-conference?

Deoridhe said...

dbb: I don't know that I'd call that prejudice as much as a learned response based on (bad) experience.:

In my experience, a lot of prejudices are based on experiences with some members of a group that has been generalized to all members. You know your experience best, though.

Re: the whole sports thing - in my experience with men, fewer are interested in sports, and sports and machismo don't necessarily go hand in hand. Some of the most irritating Nice Guys (tm) I've known have been gamer geeks who didn't like sports, and my mom is dating a wonderful, nurturing, self-aware man who loves football. The role that sports plays in maintaining and enforcing 'masculinity' as a concept associated with teamwork and violence is, I think, a fertile field for exploration, especially by someone who internalized a hatred of the phenomena while trying to avoid it; you're enough outside to examine without too much defensiveness and enough inside to be aware of all of the nuances.

This half out/half in position is, I think, a really powerful position from which to separate your experience from the experience posited by the stereotypes in play (I suppose at this point you could call them archetypes rather than stereotypes) and thus learn new things instead of replaying old patterns.

Octogalore said...

"Octogalore and I have hashed this point out and (I believe) agreed to disagree"

Correct.

"I do have to say that this view sounds like 'discussion with us must start with you agreeing with our premises.'"

Also correct, for me.

"While many feminists believe that the premises of feminism are so solid that they need no more justification and are tired of engaging in what they view to be tedious rehashing, I disagree (after taking women's studies courses and exposing myself to plenty of Feminism 101 material)."

I've read a substantial amount of material about race and have close family members of a different race, but don't believe I can hold forth accurately on the premises of anti-racism without deferring to people of color.

"At FC we hope to dialogue with feminists from the starting point that feminism's premises are in need of defense even if they turn out to be true."

How's that working out for you?

Infra said...

octogalore:

Not saying that this applies specifically (or at all, given the specific mission of the blog) to FC, but: would an acceptable starting point for discussion be, instead of "discussion with us must start with you agreeing with our premises," "our discussions will start with the assumption that feminist theories on these issues are currently the most persuasive?"

I think that there's a fine line between the two, but that the slight distinction there is of substantial import. It's the difference between "accept" and "consider in good faith."

Just musing over some ideas, regarding potential things to do (or not; depends on whether it would be an open forum or one run on, say, an invitation or probationary period basis). We've had our differences, but that's precisely why I think that your opinion on this would be valuable.

Namely: as something to consider in good faith.

Alon Levy said...

The role that sports plays in maintaining and enforcing 'masculinity' as a concept associated with teamwork and violence is, I think, a fertile field for exploration, especially by someone who internalized a hatred of the phenomena while trying to avoid it; you're enough outside to examine without too much defensiveness and enough inside to be aware of all of the nuances.

My guess: it's just that people view interest in sports as correlated to other types of expression of masculinity. Spectator sports involve competitiveness and rooting for the home team, which are core parts of modern masculinity (P.S. not just in the West - the Middle East is the same, and I think that so is East Asia). Playing sports involves physical activity, which has underlain masculine superiority for a couple of millennia.

Obviously, you don't have to do any of these to be considered masculine. Baseball is about finesse, not aggressiveness. But as soon as you have something that's perceived as being enjoyed by most men and few women, not doing it will be perceived as being less masculine.

Infra said...

@dbb and whoever else might want to weigh in:

I've put up an outline for a prospective forum here -- just some rough thoughts on it, and it might be too broad in scope; that would probably depend on how many people would decide to participate (and on how much time I could dedicate to it). It would probably run vanilla as the forum backend, and unless it gets over 100GB/mo in transfer, the admin's fine with it.

If only we could be so fortunate, right?

Anyway, let me know if you think that this might be useful. (If you have any problems posting comments there, let me know about that, too. The server's running some pretty severe security and anti-spam protocols.)

Octogalore said...

infra: I appreciate the intent behind that, and it's certainly better than an assumpion that feminist theory isn't persuasive.

It's not that I don't think it's worthwhile to have discussions in which some of the basics of feminist theory are still up for "consideration." It's that for me, it isn't. With a full time gig, a family, and various other things on my plate, I find online discussion that accepts general feminist principles as starting point to be the most useful, not to mention enjoyable.

That doesn't mean that if folks want to go in with a friendly but not wholeheartedly accepting attitude towards feminism, I'd react as negatively to that as I would to a site whose definitional aim was to criticize feminism. On the contrary. Just not a good use of time for me personally.

Now, were a blog to accept the basic principles of feminism as given but debate various schools of feminism from a critical perspective, eg radical feminism or socialist feminism, that would be something in which I'd be honored to participate.

I appreciate your raising the questions and trying to find some areas for dialogue.

Infra said...

octogalore:

I definitely understand and appreciate the issue of personal focus. I've become more... aware, shall we say, of its value lately.

Now, were a blog to accept the basic principles of feminism as given but debate various schools of feminism from a critical perspective, eg radical feminism or socialist feminism, that would be something in which I'd be honored to participate.

If the forum proposal I linked to above seems worthwhile, the first section listed there could allow for that kind of thing, while providing a high quality of analysis upon which other discussions could draw.

Not trying to sway you, of course. ;) Just saying that if it gets set up and you turn interested, as far as I'm concerned, the invite's in the mail.

I appreciate your raising the questions and trying to find some areas for dialogue.

And I appreciate the response.

One of the things to which I've been giving thought over the months is that I argued some things with you that I simply hold as general moral principles, but I didn't make that clear; and I'm not sure of the propriety of having doing so, in hindsight. I just apply them to myself with a fierceness, so a lighter version sometimes escapes the keyboard before sense sets in.

For that, you have my apologies.

DBB said...

Deoridhe,

I think that is an interesting point - the half in/out perspective. I think I saw the value of that in another context when I was in undergrad going to an arts degree program after having started in a very technical/gear-head program. I ended up with friends who were both extremely "artsy types" and some extremely non-arty engineer types - and occasionally I'd end up with someone from one group and I'd bump into someone from my other group of friends and it was almost like introducing foreigners who don't speak the same language - pretty much none of the people I knew in the two groups ever "mixed" except by accident through me. (Obviously not everyone is quite so an extreme, but in this case, these particular people I knew were). I never really felt completely artsy nor completley techie, but I think I understood a fair bit about both and could act as a "translator" or whatever you want to call it, between them. Ok, this probalby hasn't facilitated this discussion that much, but you triggered a memory in me, so it just came spilling out.

I also want to say that while I used to really disdain people who were totally into sports (when I was a teen), I really don't care anymore - it just isn't something that interests me. Plenty of my friends are big sports fans. I just don't talk with them about sports because they know I'm not interested.

I do think sports are emphasized out of proportion to what they should be (and other things, like academics, are underemphasized), but I'm really not up for tilting at that windmill, so I pretty much just leave that be and don't think it would be worth the (wasted) effort to try and change that.

Octogalore said...

Infra: it looks interesting. As you say, an ambitious set of topics. Appreciate the invite, and would be happy to participate.

Infra said...

octogalore:

Great to hear. When it starts is going to depend on the response, but I've started to broach the subject with people I know, including some women who have felt somewhat inclined toward masculine roles (or don't consider themselves trans, but not exactly cis, either). Hopefully they'll be interested -- it should balance out the explorations somewhat, in terms of developing a sense of masculinity that isn't directly tied to sex.

I do wonder if my involvement at FC makes some people cynical about this, though. It would be a different approach; but I understand that some skepticism could arise.

belledame222 said...

Hey, Hugh, good to see you. I'm not ignoring what you have to say wrt privilege and so forth, just not currently able to engage it properly. hopefully later in the week.

Hey, infra,

Really interested in what you're proposing: it sounds like a great idea. I particularly like that you're looking to also have transmen & women who tend toward the masculine end of the spectrum.

Listen, if/when you get a chance, drop me an email? bel4 AT earthlink DOT net.

Cassandra Says said...

Infra - Your forum idea is potentially interesting, but I share Octo's concerns. Also (and I'm not sure if anyone else is sure about this either) - when people talk about either questioning or accepting basic feminist theory, what exactly does that mean?

To me, the basic premise of feminism is very simple and can be summed up thus.

1. Women are people
2. Women are also generally disadvantaged as a group compared to men in a number of ways.
3. This is A Bad Thing and ethically unnaceptable.
4. Therefore we should change it.
5 With the goal being a situation in which no group is systematically advantaged over another (which is where feminism ties into other social justice movements, at least in theory).

And that's pretty much it. My biggest problem with FC (other than that a number of people there are unpleasant in general and Do Not Play Well With Others) is that most of the posters seem to be assuming that all kinds of other things are intrinsic to feminism in a way that just isn't accurate. There seems to be an assumption that if one feminist said something, ever, whatever she said is then Official Feminist Theory, and that's nonsense.
Also, I'm not at all sure that most people there are on board with the whole "in theory equality would be a good idea" thing, and I have no desire at all to waste my time talking to people who are coming from that position.

Alon said...

I once offered something similar to your first five points as a working definition for feminism. I'm agnostic on just how important the fifth is in practice, though in theory, everyone respects it.

What feminists actually let pass for feminism is different, of course... for example, there are informal rules on what you should consider to fall under 2. Some of these things, like pay equity, are obvious. But others, like sexual assault and even abortion, aren't, and yet many feminists consider them litmus tests for whether you're a feminist.

Infra said...

belle:

Will do, hopefully within the next day or so. (There are a couple of pressing concerns at the moment, but those should be taken care of shortly.)

cassandra:

Also (and I'm not sure if anyone else is sure about this either) - when people talk about either questioning or accepting basic feminist theory, what exactly does that mean?

I have no real argument with the Five Points; my approach -- and this is what I would hope would come out of any debates and discussions on theory, and out of the forum as a whole -- is to look at the various approaches and ask, "how can we expand this from the particular to the general, without invalidating our current observations and concerns?" (I have to admit that I'm strongly influenced by Bataille's idea of a general economy on this point.)

Then, from there, to ask, "how can we change our particulars to work with the general, and benefit the whole?"

Some examples of my personal approach are in the "sis:stems" category over at my place (the masculinity approach, one of only several applicable ones, I'm sure, being in "mascs & theo(r)i"); skimming those might help provide some context. They're just musings, and likely flawed (the day that I stop suspecting flaws in my ideas is the day I suspect I will become a true villain), but that's one of the reasons that I would find in-depth discussions of theory to be immensely valuable: they would inform further discussions and explorations, and, possibly, lead to more and more workable solutions.

With regard to what you wrote about FC, I generally agree, and think that those things limit its potential. So while it shouldn't be draconian, I do think that there would need to be some standards for participation in the forum, in order to make sure that the discussion stays civil, informed and productive. Those standards (or maybe a sponsorship/vouch-for structure?) would have to be thoroughly hashed out, though.

Infra said...

cassandra:

Considering that no. 2 on the list is usually the one that causes the most contention, I've put up a post on the subject that might address some concerns. Or raise new ones. Who knows? Anyway, thought I'd note it, since it's relevant.

belle:

E-mail's on its way.

Ampersand said...

This is a really good discussion.

I've lately been frequently dreaming with starting what I'd consider to be a real and worthwhile men's rights blog myself, which would be more-or-less similar in approach to a lot of what's been discussed on this thread. The main reason I haven't is that I'm currently trying to use the vast majority of my free time working on my comic book, rather than working on other stuff.

Hugh, perhaps in the post you were quoting the word "always" was fair to put in. In this context, however, you've significantly misstated the argument you're trying to refute by sticking in the word "always." I don't believe that, all else held equal, women are "always" disadvantaged relative to men. I think relatively few feminists believe that, particularly on this blog.

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