Feminism and Anti-Feminism

What if I called myself a conservative – but virtually all of my writings on the subject were devoted to passionately denouncing conservatives, and I didn’t actually favor any conservative policies to address any of today’s problems? What if I had virtually never published a positive word about conservatism (apart from “however…” type passages in essays denouncing conservatism?) What if my self-styled conservatism had the practical effect of giving myself a better platform from which to denounce conservatism?

My guess is that, if all that were the case, most conservatives would find my claim to conservatism suspect. Modern conservatism encompasses many different views, but it doesn’t encompass the view that modern conservatism is a terrible idea that ought be done away with.

On a feminist mailing list, I recently called Cathy Young an “anti-feminist journalist.” Cathy has taken issue with this:

I think that labeling me (or, say, Wendy McElroy) “anti-feminist” (1) is inaccurate and (2) establishes a rigid ideological definition of what “feminism” is. I also think that, whether or not Barry intends it that way, “anti-feminist” is a pejorative. Indeed, I would say that Barry himself uses it as a pejorative: the section on his blog dedicated to critics of feminism is called “Anti-Feminist Zaniness,” and in this 2004 thread, he says, in a partial defense of yours truly, “I’m not saying that … she doesn’t say stupid, anti-feminist things…”

Okay, let’s take this a bit at a time.

Is “Anti-Feminist” Always A Pejorative?

Do I use “anti-feminist” as a pejorative – that is, as the OED puts it, as “a word or expression which by its form or context expresses or implies contempt for the thing named”? I don’t think I do. I use it just as I use words like “libertarian” “republican” and “conservative” – terms which describe political philosophies.

It’s true that in the loose talk of a comments section that was (at that moment) pretty much all-feminist, I wrote that Cathy said “stupid anti-feminist things.” In hindsight, I should’ve put that more diplomatically (i.e, “endorses terrible anti-feminist ideas”), but I’m sure I’ve also referred casually to “stupid republican things” at some point in my life – and I bet many conservatives have done the same with words like “feminist” and “liberal,” when they’ve been talking casually among the like-minded. That doesn’t make any of these words pejoratives which can’t be used in a good-faith debate.

What Does “Feminist” Mean?

Before we can define “anti-feminist,” we have to discuss what “feminist” means. And here, we immediately run into trouble: feminism has dozens of meanings, depending on who you speak to. And, clearly, I have no authority (or desire) to define feminism for anyone apart from myself; people who want to think of themselves as “feminists” are free to do so regardless of if I agree.

So I’ll just talk about what “feminist” means to me. Here’s how I’ve put it in the past:

A feminist:

1) Believes that there is current, significant, society-wide inequality and sexism which on balance disadvantages women.

2) Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Cathy would presumably find that a “rigid ideological definition of what ‘feminism’ is.” One of Cathy’s anonymous readers is harsher, writing that “Anyone with whom [Ampersand] disagrees on gender issues is ‘anti-feminist’ and is therefore a complete reactionary bigot.”

I don’t think either of these claims hold up to scrutiny. Far from being “rigid,” my definition of “feminist” is a vast sprawling tent, easily encompassing countless contrary feminist opinions (radical feminist, eco-feminist, liberal feminist, socialist feminist, womanist, cultural feminist, trans feminist, third wave feminist, etc etc). And although I disagree with aspects of most of those views, I’ve never called them “anti-feminist” views – because they’re not.

What is Anti-Feminism?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an anti-feminist as “One opposed to women or to feminism.” Cathy doesn’t oppose women, but you’d have to impossibly distort her work to argue that she doesn’t oppose feminism; virtually all her writings on feminism are attacks on feminists and feminism. The OED offers a second definition: “a person (usu. a man) who is hostile to sexual equality or to the advocacy of women’s rights.” Cathy isn’t hostile to equality (and she’s not a man!), but her writing clearly is “hostile to… the advocacy of women’s rights.” She thinks women already have virtually all the rights they need, and therefore further advocacy is unnecessary.

In the introduction to her book Ceasefire!, Cathy concedes that in one area – the family/work balance – women might still have a legitimate complaint. But virtually all other concerns that justify a “case for continued feminist activism,” she dismisses as illegitimate. There’s a big difference between criticizing some feminist views, and denying that there’s a legitimate need for a women’s movement at all. How can anyone who doesn’t see a need for a movement for women’s equality, be a feminist?

As I wrote two years ago:

My main problem with “ifeminism” and other conservative brands of feminism is that they seem to be premised on the idea that (at least in this country) feminism has already won. The essential message I see in McElroy’s iFeminist columns and books like Who Stole Feminism? is that women are already equal; there is no need to agitate for change in order to bring women’s equality about.

So, for example, conservative “feminists” argue that we shouldn’t worry about the wage gap, because it’s merely a matter of worker’s individual choices, and has nothing to do with discrimination. They argue that the rape crisis is fiction, a result of feminist exaggerations and morning-after regrets. They argue that domestic violence has nothing to do with sexism because (as Christina Hoff Sommers argued) men are equal victims of spouse abuse.

Note the common theme – in each case, the conclusion of the argument is that sexism against women is no longer a problem, and political, activist solutions – that is, feminism – is no longer necessary.

Well, that’s nice – but it’s not feminism. Feminism is and has always been about activism; feminists are trying to change society. In particular, feminism is about changing society so that women, who are unfairly kept down in our society, can at last experience full equality.

If you don’t believe that sexism is an important problem keeping women down today, then you may be a nice person, and you may believe in equality – but you’re just not a feminist.

Why This Matters: Does Feminism Have Any Meaning At All?

The danger I see in Cathy’s views is that, if they were generally accepted, the result would be that the word “feminist” would be drained of meaning. If Cathy is a feminist, then feminism is no longer “an organized movement for the attainment of… rights for women” (to quote the definition of “feminism” Cathy cites). Feminism no longer means fighting sexism against women. Judging by Cathy’s writings, her brand of feminism involves attacking feminism at every turn while generally supporting men’s rights activists.

In Cathy’s view, being a feminist doesn’t require endorsing any feminist policy positions, or ever taking a pro-feminist stand in public, or being part of a movement for attaining women’s equality, or thinking such a movement can do any good at all. In the end, Cathy seems to think “feminist” is a term that can reasonably be applied to anyone who doesn’t explicitly oppose equality. But nowadays, virtually everyone says they favor equality, so that means nothing.

I agree with Cathy that a “rigid ideological definition” of feminism would be a mistake. But the opposite mistake – being so all-inclusive that “feminism” ceases to mean much of anything – is just as bad.

Uppdatering: There seems to be a related discussion going on here. Unfortunately, I can’t understand a word of it Swedish. If any “Alas” readers can read that language Swedish, please let the rest of us know the gist of their discussion. :-)

Uppdatering Uppdatering: There’s a translation, by the author, posted in the comments now. Yay!

This entry posted in Anti-feminists and their pals, Feminism, sexism, etc. Bookmark the permalink. 

296 Responses to Feminism and Anti-Feminism

  1. 201
    Richard Bennett says:

    The term “heretics” isn’t vital to my point, so change it to “people” or “women” if you prefer. I’m not trying to push buttons, really.

  2. 202
    Ampersand says:

    “Mommy track” improves the lives of many women, but the “CEO track” improves the lives of very few. This is the sort of debate that should be possible within the confines of feminist philosophy without anybody getting labeled “anti-feminist”.

    Why should that be possible?

    Let’s ignore the particular idea you’re talking about, which would probably require a separate discussion to fully address (you seem to be implying that feminism faces an either/or choice between supporting “CEO track” and supporting “mommy track.” However, I’d argue that feminism is multifacited, and so therefore can support both tracks. But I also admit it’s possible I’m misunderstanding your case).

    Unless you’re saying that feminism has no meaning at all, and that all ideas are equally feminist, then it must logically be the case that some ideas are less feminist than others, and even that some ideas are not compatable with feminism at all.

    If it is logically the case that some ideas are either less feminist or not feminist at all, why should it not be acceptable to discuss whether or not any particular idea is feminist or not?

  3. 203
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not trying to push buttons, really.

    Richard, I’m not just asking you to refrain from purposely treating me with contempt – although I appreciate that you’re doing that much.

    But I’m asking for more than that. I’m asking you to consciously make an effort to be considerate in how you use language and tone.

  4. 204
    Richard Bennett says:

    Speaking of the empirical definition of feminism Barry offers: NOW, at both of the points in time you’re talking about, would agree with the statement that “there is current, significant, society-wide inequality and sexism which on balance disadvantages women.” In my view, you have to agree with that statement to be a feminist.

    I occurs to me that hard-right masculists may very well agree with this statement, but would add “and that’s as it should be” so I can’t take this as the uber-definition of feminism. Assuming that the conditions postulated by this assertion are remedied at some point, such that the inequalities and sexism are roughly equal, does that mean feminism ceases to exist?

    And who’s to say what the balance of inequalities is? Women live longer than men, but men have higher incomes. To achieve balance, don’t we have to bring both to equality?

  5. 205
    Myca says:

    I occurs to me that hard-right masculists may very well agree with this statement, but would add “and that’s as it should be” so I can’t take this as the uber-definition of feminism.

    And that’s why it’s not. There’s a second part of Amp’s definition: 2) Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

    Incidentally, this is actually in the post that Amp wrote, and fully accessable to you, up there at the top of the page.

    Assuming that the conditions postulated by this assertion are remedied at some point, such that the inequalities and sexism are roughly equal, does that mean feminism ceases to exist?

    There are several different ways that this statement could be taken.

    If you mean the first, best meaning, that we eliminate the inequalities and sexism that currently oppress women (and to a much lesser dregree, men), then yes, I think that would mean the end of feminism, just as the advent of women gaining the right to vote meant the end of the suffrage movement. This meaning has been discussed a whole bunch in these comments, most cogently in Amp’s post #36.

    If you mean the second, more unkind interpretation . . . that we just work to remove the “on balance” part of the equation, by, say, increasing the sexism for men so that it all balances out . . . well, frankly, I think that it’s an asinine question, and not one that should be taken seriously.

    —Myca

  6. 206
    Robert says:

    Amp, I’m not criticizing you. Or at least, I’m not intending to criticize you. (Come on, use some of that white male power, and decline to care what I think.)

    You’re concerned that the word “feminist” will be drained of meaning if you let people who think of themselves as feminist but who you don’t think are feminists sign up. But this attitude itself treats feminism as a club or organization, and asserts ownership over the membership process.

    Cathy (for example) wants equal rights for women – as she understands equal rights. You want equal rights for women, as you understand them. You disagree on what equal rights are, and how to attain them, perhaps, but you both want equal rights for women. You’re both feminists, but you’re not in the same club. But you (the broad, generic “you”) want to say that she’s not a feminist because she isn’t working towards the goals you think she ought to be working towards, in the fashion you think she ought to be doing it.

    If you want to come up with reasons why Cathy’s kind of feminism or wrong or bad or counterproductive (“splitter!”) that’s totally your prerogative. Not how I’d spend my energy, but it’s not my decision to make. If you want to make the fight for the word, rather than the idea, the important battle, well, I respect your judgment. You know what the priorities ought to be for your own interests. I personally think feminism would have a lot more success as a philosophy than as a movement, but YMMV.

  7. 207
    Richard Bennett says:

    Pardon me please, Myca, if I haven’t read all 205 comments on this post in great detail.

    But again, if the definition of the term “feminist” hinges on a particular analysis of society rather than on a set of philosophical principles, the ability of feminists to look at data coldly and objectively is going to be compromized and they’re going to all have chips on their shoulders about their oppression.

    There are some areas of this society in which men are unfairly advantaged over women, and some where women are unfairly advantaged over men. This is offensive to those of us who believe in social justice, and also to those who believe in some sort of ideal of equality, opportunity-wise or in outcome. I suppose it doesn’t really matter in the long run whether feminism is a term held in high repute or in low repute, as the struggle for justice will continue, as it always has, and similarly it doesn’t matter who can call herself a feminist and who can’t.

    I do find it a little ironic that a man is telling women they’re not entitled to call themselves “feminists” when they themselves want to, but that’s not really very important.

  8. 208
    Ampersand says:

    Richard, one of the things Myca was criticizing you for (apparently) not having read was the post itself. Surely it’s not an unreasonable thing to expect you to have read the post with a little care before you began critcizing me for what I said in it.

    I do find it a little ironic that a man is telling women they’re not entitled to call themselves “feminists” when they themselves want to…

    For example, you could have read the bit in the my post in which I wrote, “And, clearly, I have no authority (or desire) to define feminism for anyone apart from myself; people who want to think of themselves as ‘feminists’ are free to do so regardless of if I agree. So I’ll just talk about what ‘feminist’ means to me.”

    Clearly, I think Cathy is entitled to call herself whatever you want. Next time, please try reading what I’ve written before you attempt to criticize it.

    Robert wrote:

    You’re concerned that the word “feminist” will be drained of meaning if you let people who think of themselves as feminist but who you don’t think are feminists sign up.

    Hey, look – it appears that Robert didn’t read it either. Robert, I can’t “let” people sign up, or not, for feminism. There’s nothing to sign up for; no central party organization, no list of members. Nothing I say or do can possibly prevent Cathy from thinking of herself as a feminist, if that’s what Cathy wishes to do.

    And I know that you’ve never read any post I’ve written but this one, Robert; therefore you have no way of knowing that I talk about ideas and policy issues much more than I talk about stuff like who is or isn’t a feminist. However, if you stick around a bit, I think you’ll see that most of my posts aren’t concerned with parsing who I do or don’t think is a “feminist.”

  9. 209
    Robert says:

    Dude, you seem pretty ticked off. (Which someone who didn’t know you well probably wouldn’t notice from your even tone.) Chill. There’s no right or wrong here.

    OK, you aren’t the gatekeeper of feminism. In which case, your worries that feminism will be drained of meaning if Cathy gets to play ball seem out of place.

    Or maybe I’m missing something. What am I missing?

  10. 210
    drumgurl says:

    The statement argues that women are not entitled to lifetime support upon marriage, but NOW lobbies state legislatures for exactly that – alimony without end.

    I think you are right on that point. I am a feminist, but unlike most feminists, I do NOT support alimony.

    But in defense of mainstream feminists who do support alimony, I think it’s unfair that they are labelled “anti-housewife” by many conservatives. In reality, that have fought hard to give housewives privileges such as primary custody and alimony.

  11. 211
    Richard Bennett says:

    When I want to beat up on somebody, I accompany my attacks with a lot of weasel-words because it makes my attack look more reasonable; lots of people do that. But when you write something like this:
    In Cathy’s view, being a feminist doesn’t require endorsing any feminist policy positions, or ever taking a pro-feminist stand in public, or being part of a movement for attaining women’s equality, or thinking such a movement can do any good at all.

    …you’re clearly saying that you believe Cathy’s self-professed feminism is illegitimate, regardless of any other caveats that may be present in your post.

    The dilemma that Cathy and others of her ilk are in is this: they signed up for feminism believing it was about equality of opportunity and a correction of the inequalities inherent in traditional sex roles. But that movement – illustrated by the quote I offered – has been hijacked by a group of people who are simply interested in increasing female privilege. New feminism is simply another special interest group, not an equality group that all fair-minded people can get behind. While NOW in 1966 wanted to reduce sex conflict and increase the sharing of family responsibilities, NOW of 2005 seems to want to increase conflict, to raise the divorce rate and to see more and more children raised in single-parent families. NOW used to be for joint custody, for example, but now they aren’t.

    So what’s a 1970s feminist to do nowadays, try and take back the movement from the hijackers or to reject it outright? Cathy seems to be for taking it back, but to me it’s a lost cause.

  12. 212
    drumgurl says:

    As a classic liberal, or “libertarian”, I agree with Louise’s post (#140).

    In my opinion, there is a big difference between people like Young and McElroy and the anti-fems at the IWF. I have read some of Young’s writings at Reason and I’m very familiar with McElroy. It might surpise some of you that both women are capable of a good ol’ feminist rant.

    The only criticism I have of the two women is that they sometimes make broad assumptions about feminists, but I see Young has already taken note of that.

  13. 213
    Richard Bennett says:

    drumgurl says:

    But in defense of mainstream feminists who do support alimony, I think it’s unfair that they are labelled “anti-housewife” by many conservatives. In reality, that have fought hard to give housewives privileges such as primary custody and alimony.

    Well, yeah, NOW has lobbied long and hard to put divorced women in a comfortable position, but I’m not sure this qualifies as “pro-housewife” for the simple reason that the typical divorced man doesn’t make enough money to fully support two households regardless of how it’s divided. So the best way for women to be housewives is to remain married, and NOW’s not real big on (straight) marriage. A tax credit for stay-at-home moms comparable to the childcare credit would certainly help them, and I haven’t seen NOW seeking anything of that nature.

    This tax credit dilemma is a good example of the conflict between “mommy track” and “CEO track” policies I was talking about earlier.

  14. 214
    Ampersand says:

    Actually, NOW lobbied for tax breaks for stay-at-home mothers, as well as for working mothers, in the late 1990s. They really haven’t done much of that sort of lobbying since Bush took office, possibly because they think it’s pointless, but they have criticized things like the right-wing attack on stay-at-home mothers social security payments.

    …you’re clearly saying that you believe Cathy’s self-professed feminism is illegitimate, regardless of any other caveats that may be present in your post.

    That’s exactly right – I’m clearly saying that I BELIEVE Cathy’s not a feminist. That’s different from what you had claimed before, which is that I had said anything about what Cathy is entitled to call herself. I explicitly deny any authority over what Cathy calls herself.

    Finally, Cathy’s about my age – which means she would have been a toddler when NOW brought out that statement in the mid-60s. To describe her as having joined feminism in the 60 s or 70s seems to be stretching it a bit. Besides, the radical feminism she objects to was, if anything, more prominant in the 70s than it is now.

    By the way, you brought up my being a man and Cathy being a woman. Do you really think that Cathy wants me to withhold criticism soley on the basis of her sex, or that my doing so would be anything other than sexist?

  15. The question of alimony surely depends on what type of a marriage a couple has had. If the marriage has indeed been an egalitarian one and each partner is capable of paid employment then alimony is not needed. If the marriage has not been an egalitarian one and one partner is not equipped to enter the labor force right away, then at least temporary alimony seems necessary.

    I see no paradox between NOW taking the principal stance of an egalitarian marriage but also addressing the problems of women in traditional marriages.

  16. Cathy Young:
    Jack is a classical musician who gives piano lessons and occasional recitals while working toward a career as a peormer; his live-in girlriend Jill is a ceramics painter who works as a secretary on the side. Jill gets pregnant and announces to Jack that while she would like to have the baby, she’ll get an abortion unless he gets a “real job” that will allow her to quit her secretarial job. Jack gives up music, enrolls in a computer course and gets a well-paying job in a bank which he asbolutely loathes (both because it bores him out of his skull and because he has ideological objections to it as a leftist). Two years later, Jill gets pregnant again and insists on having another child even though Jack has serious misgivings about it. After the second child, Jack pretty much accepts the fact that he might as well give up on being a musician (despite the fact that he is widely regarded as a very talented pianist) and continues to slog along in his hated bank job (which also leaves him constantly deprived of the time he’d like to have with his children). Jill, meanwhile, is greatly enjoying being a stay-at-home mom (her own mother, who runs a day-care center, has offered to her discounted day care if she wants to go back to work, but she has refused) while continuing to paint and having her works displayed in exhibitions here and there.

    It’s sort of funny how “Jill gets pregnant” all the time without any help from Jack. Please tell him about condoms.

  17. 217
    Cathy Young says:

    Barry, since the question of my background has come up: As you may know, I came here to this country in 1980 from the Soviet Union (where, despite women in the workforce and official declarations of equality, the culture was extremely sexist and drenched in 1950s-style stereotypes), having barely turned 17, and after discovering feminism I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Actually, one of the first articles I ever wrote (in Russian) was a story for a now-defunct Russian community newspaper in New York about the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment, with a decided pro-ERA slant (in fact, I interviewed the then-president of the New York chapter of NOW for it). I subscribed to Ms. for a number of years.

    Gradually, I began to conclude that feminism as it was practiced was not about the ideals of equal treatment and female autonomy and strength that initially made it so appealing to me. I never changed my mind about the ideals themselves, but I did about the movement.

    And by the way, I don’t have any problem with being criticized by a man with regard to feminist issues.

    Echidne: I find it interesting that when the issue is whether men should have any say in a woman’s choice to have an abortion, we’re constantly reminded that it’s women who get pregnant. Yet in this case, it’s somehow un-PC to say that “Jill gets pregnant”? (Actually, as much as I favor equality for fathers, the phrase “we’re pregnant” is a pet peeve of mine — I don’t like it when language is used in a way that overrides biological reality.) “Jack and Jill” are friends of a friend, and I certainly don’t know them well enough to inquire about their birth control methods, but as you are well aware, condoms do fail. Furthermore, the fact is that while she certainly didn’t get pregnant by herself, as long as we have legal abortion it’s ultimately her decision whether to have the baby or not.

  18. 218
    jaketk says:

    ginmar, starting off with an ad homenim is bad form. and since i know you do not care about my experiences, attacking them is pointless.

    the word “access” means: the ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of. that’s a lot different from ‘shutting down’. where is that argument coming from? and if you are unwilling to look at the article or do any research on efforts of men’s groups to help male victims, what are you basing your argument on? i’m geniunely curious because all i did was type in male abuse and male abuse victim and i got a list of resources provided largely by men’s groups.

    here’s an interesting thing about your position. you have no problem having men ‘shut down’ gay/lesbian shelters. do you consider gays and lesbians less important or less victimized or more deserving of the ‘harrassment’? as you probably know, there are far fewer gay/lesbian shelters and men’s shelters than women’s shelters, so the male victim would still have to go far out of his way to get help. and even then the shelters might be full. it makes no sense to tell a person that he must go twenty miles to get help when help is literally a couple of blocks away and there is available space. it just sounds like you are advocating for and justifying discrimination against male victims, assuming you believe males can even be victims.

  19. 219
    The Countess says:

    Cathy Young: “Is that why the National Organization for Women passed a resolution a few years ago comparing men who seek custody of their children to batterers?”

    Do you mean this resolution?

    NOW wasn’t comparing men who seek custody to batterers. It was acknowledging that batterers are over-represented in custody cases, and that they should not be permitted to have custody of their children. That is a far cry from claiming that all men who fight for custody are batterers.

  20. 220
    Richard Bennett says:

    NOW wasn’t comparing men who seek custody to batterers. It was acknowledging that batterers are over-represented in custody cases, and that they should not be permitted to have custody of their children.

    NOW seeks to imply that all men who seek custody should be presumed to be “batterers” because such a supposition would make things more smooth for the women. The logic is, as Trish says, that an alleged batterer should never have any form of custody.

    The problem with this smear is two-fold: 1) most men are not batterers, but most men want some form of custody; 2) many, many women who claim to be victims of abuse are actually abusive in their own right toward the children. Lenore Walker’s “The Battered Woman” said that battered women are just as likely as abusive men to abuse children. In her study of 100 battered women, a third had abused their children, and a third of the men had abused the children.

    So this whole “battered woman” thing is used in custody disputes to deflect the court’s attention from the “best interest of the child” determination which is supposed to be their job.

  21. Echidne: I find it interesting that when the issue is whether men should have any say in a woman’s choice to have an abortion, we’re constantly reminded that it’s women who get pregnant. Yet in this case, it’s somehow un-PC to say that “Jill gets pregnant”? (Actually, as much as I favor equality for fathers, the phrase “we’re pregnant” is a pet peeve of mine … I don’t like it when language is used in a way that overrides biological reality.) “Jack and Jill” are friends of a friend, and I certainly don’t know them well enough to inquire about their birth control methods, but as you are well aware, condoms do fail. Furthermore, the fact is that while she certainly didn’t get pregnant by herself, as long as we have legal abortion it’s ultimately her decision whether to have the baby or not.

    My point was that the particular individual story is written up to show a case where the patriarchal assumptions favor the woman and hurt the man. All societal systems have some who like the way the rules are set and benefit from it, even the most unfair ones. Even something like Greek slavery had the advantage for slaves that they didn’t have to fight wars.

    That’s why anecdotal evidence is not very useful. When you imply that “traditional feminist” analysis would argue that Jack has the power here because he’s the one with the money you appear to imply that the analyst would totally ignore everything else you reveal. This is not at all likely. In any case, the correct level of feminist analysis is about the classes of men and women, and in that case it is correct to say that the group that has more money in general has more power attached to money.

  22. 222
    ginmar says:

    Once again, Jake, you’re being so dishonest it’s rediculous. Why should women do more work for men? You keep avoiding that question. Why should women do anything for men? Why don’t you form your own damned sh elter and your own dmaned blog and whine about feminists there?

  23. 223
    Ampersand says:

    the word “access” means: the ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of. that’s a lot different from ‘shutting down’. where is that argument coming from?

    Presumably, she feels that a lawsuit is, in effect, an attempt to shut down shelters. If that’s what she meant, then I think she was exaggerating, but I can cetainly follow the chain of thought. It’s undeniable that small organizations have sometimes been forced out of business by baseless lawsuits. I’m sure that the MRAs who sued realized that one possible outcome of their lawsuit, if it went through a series of appeals and wound up with damages being awarded, would be to bankrupt the people they were suing and thus shut them down.

    Anyhow, I assume that’s what Ginmar meant by “shut down,” and I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong. If I’m right, then it’s inaccurate of you to imply that she thought that gay/lesbian shelters should be shut down, since she never suggested those shelters should be sued.

    it makes no sense to tell a person that he must go twenty miles to get help when help is literally a couple of blocks away and there is available space.

    Many shelter workers believe that it severly compromise their security if they had to give out the location of their shelter to any man who called with a story about being battered. I think that’s a reasonable concern.

  24. 224
    Ampersand says:

    Why should women do more work for men? You keep avoiding that question. Why should women do anything for men? Why don’t you form your own damned sh elter and your own dmaned blog and whine about feminists there?

    Given how rare male victims who need the assistance of a shelter are, I really doubt that a parallel network of battered mens shelters is a practical option. No one’s going to fund houses that sit mostly empty most of the time.

    I do think that all victims who need help deserve help. As I said earlier this thread, what I’d like to see is MRAs lobbying to create grants to fund hotel voucher programs and other assistance for battered men, for shelters which would like to provide such a service to battered men. And although I don’t want any shelter to be forced by outsiders to alter their services, I do think MRAs should work on noncoercive persuasion (i.e., talk, not lawsuits) to try and convince shelters to apply for such grants.

    In other words, I do think that shelters should help battered men, because who else is going to? But the help has to be sensitive to shelter’s legitimate security and other needs, and it has to come with a funding mechanism attached, so that “helping men” doesn’t become a zero-sum game in which battered women are hurt.

    As for Jaketk posting on this blog, I like having some opposing views posting here, and for that reason I’m okay with JakeTK posting here.

  25. 225
    Robert says:

    Why should women do more work for men? You keep avoiding that question. Why should women do anything for men? Why don’t you form your own damned sh elter and your own dmaned blog and whine about feminists there?

    Ginmar, the shelters in the lawsuits in question take tax dollars. Accordingly, it is entirely fair to ask you – why should men do anything for women? Why should male taxpayers pay for women’s shelter?

    The answer, of course – both to your question and to mine – is that we’re in this together as a society. Telling one sex to go and be separatist and to pay their own freight is entirely appropriate – in libertarian world, where we don’t live.

  26. 226
    Mendy says:

    Where I live I can’t even call a shelter. I have to first call either the hotline or go through the police to be put in touch with a worker who will then get me the help I need (if I needed it). That is how serious the women’s and children’s shelters in my area take security.

    I often donate both money and goods (clothes, toiletries, toys, etc) to the shelters through third parties.

    I agree that any victim of domestic violence regardless of gender should be helped, but for many shelters security is a very real concern. I work with a gentlman who was in an abusive relationship, and when she finally put him in the hospital with a concussion and four broken ribs, the cops finally arrested her for assault. I believe our local Y found him a spot in a shelter until he could get on his feet enough to get his own place.

    There are resources for male victims of domestic abuse, but they have to speak up and ask for help just as femal victims do.

  27. 227
    The Countess says:

    I’ve written on my blog before about unsuccessful attempts by men’s rights groups who have attacked domestic violence shelters. Mark Angelucci and The National Coalition Of Free Men has been behind the attacks I’ve posted about. As I wrote in this first post, “Free Men and other men’s/fathers’ rights groups and individual men have engaged in similar attacks against domestic violence services and laws in other states. Men’s/fathers’ rights groups like Free Men are not interested in establishing services for battered men. They are interested in preventing battered women from obtaining help. The few battered men out there that do exist get no help from men’s rights groups.”

    I understand that Angelucci is spearheading yet another attack on a California shelter. I have no further information on that case yet.

    Men’s Rights Attack Against Domestic Violence Shelters Dismissed

    Another Attack By Men’s Rights Activists On Domestic Violence Shelters Unsuccessful

    Domestic Violence Shelter In Maine Under Attack By Men’s Rights Activists

  28. 228
    silverside says:

    One thing I find baffling about the shelter debate. The notion that housing services (as opposed to general services) can be separated out by age and sex is well established and hardly controversial. I couldn’t get into our local homeless shelter for men. Nor could I get into our shelter for runaway youth (being well north of 18. sigh). Nor could I get into subsidized senior housing, being still south of 62 and over 80% of area median income or whatever the requirements are. At least in my region of the country, even residential drug rehab programs are single-sex. How come the MRA’s don’t complain about that? No, the venom is strictly channeled at residental services provided to battered women. Interesting.

  29. 229
    jaketk says:

    Ampersand writes:

    I’m sure that the MRAs who sued realized that one possible outcome of their lawsuit, if it went through a series of appeals and wound up with damages being awarded, would be to bankrupt the people they were suing and thus shut them down.

    Just as I am sure feminists who have sued various small organizations have realized the same thing. But I thought the principle here was to end discrimination, not continue it because the money involved.

    Many shelter workers believe that it severly compromise their security if they had to give out the location of their shelter to any man who called with a story about being battered. I think that’s a reasonable concern.

    Would it not also be reasonable to screen women who use the shelter to cover up their abusive behavior, not just at their partners, but at their children, particularly since women commit the majority of child abuse? If you are going to automatically dismiss a person’s story, why would you assume that women would be less inclined to lie, particularly when they know they are more likely to get your support?

    As I said earlier this thread, what I’d like to see is MRAs lobbying to create grants to fund hotel voucher programs and other assistance for battered men, for shelters which would like to provide such a service to battered men..

    As a male survivor, I would rather not have to go through any misandrist groups to get assistance. I do not think the assumption that male victims are rapists/abusers (potential or otherwise) is at all helpful, and I would rather not send an abused boy or man to any such group in much the same why I would be extremely hesistant sending a gay/lesbian person to a church for counciling. They deserve better treatement than that.

    The money would be better spent providing separate assistance and/or combined assistance (where both genders would be equally treated and welcome). Most of the adovocacy groups I know of focus on providing male-oriented, male-only assistance.

    As I said above, when you assume that people who advocate support for male victims do nothing because you are not falling over results, you imply more than you probably intend. All of this takes time, and with feminists groups opposing anything that includes male victims, it will take even longer. This still confuses me since most feminists impede any attempt to get assistance for male victim passed into law, even when it is merely an inclusive measure, like with adding male victims into VAWA. You do not want to help me, but you don’t want anyone else to help me either. It’s just very odd.

  30. 230
    jaketk says:

    Silverside, the difference in the instances you mentioned is that other facilities are generally available. For instance, when I was in foster care, there were boys-only group homes. If I had wanted, I could have pleaded with them to send me there. I certainly felt safer and more comfortable around other boys my own age than I did adults or females. But there were also girls-only group homes. The same with homeless shelters, housing, senior citizen care, etc. Something else exists that corresponds to the excluded groups’ needs. Such is not the case with male victims. Outisde of doing nothing, doing drugs, or physically harming ourselves/suicide (which would bother few people so long as no one else is harmed), male victims do not have many opinions.

  31. 231
    silverside says:

    Unfortunately, we come back to the needs issue. And I have been back and forth with MRAs on this. With limited funding resources, how can I construct a grant application for men only when I can’t document their numbers? What I hear again and again is that dv program occassionally hear from a few male victims, but hardly any are in need of residential services because the nature of what they experienced has not rendered them homeless. From what I hear, in that case, they are put up in hotels with vouchers. The same happens to women when the shelters are at capacity, which happens frequently as many homeless dv persons are not at a point where they can access permanent housing on their own. As a result, I recently completed an application for transitional housing for dv victims so that we could move some of the women who are overstaying in emergency shelter out. There is nothing theoretically to keep men who need transitional housing out of these units. Of course, they are just regular scattered site units, so the same security and capacity issues do not come up. The fact is, in most locales, men made homeless by dv are going to be a tiny special p0pulation. In fact, in the general studies of homelessness, I have never seen dv mentioned even once as a cause of male homelessness although it is a major cause of female homelessness. Where a male homeless shelter is not appropriate (presence of children, etc.), a hotel voucher may the the most appropriate solution. The same could be said for any other special population. For example, in my poor rural area, gay youths made homeless by abuse might well be put in a special situation out of the area too, because there are no facilities around here that specialize in serving them. We have enough trouble serving the major groups of homeless, much less highly specialized, tiny ones.

  32. 232
    alsis39 says:

    Countess wrote:

    The few battered men out there that do exist get no help from men’s rights groups.

    And as usual, the MRA’s here seemingly have no interest in calling their brothers on this. Their brothers mustn’t be disturbed. Oh, no. Battered men, having been –in patriarchal eyes– symbolically feminized, or even further demoted to the status of children, should be tended to by women. The men still at the top of the heap have better things to do, like harassing feminists. That’s because feminists run everything: The corporations, the grant foundations, the Unions, the House and Senate, the major religious organizations, the major media outlets, the– Oh, wait…

    Same old, same old…

  33. 233
    silverside says:

    That’s because feminists run everything: The corporations, the grant foundations, the Unions, the House and Senate, the major religious organizations, the major media outlets, the”“ Oh, wait…

    DANG! That’s why I’m so tired. World domination really tuckers a gal out.

    Seriously, I do find this to be true, that there is not real interest on the part of the MRA’s to be part of the solution. Just as an experiment, I offered my technical services as a grantwriter, gratis, to anyone who wanted help in preparing one of these applications for funding, which are quite complicated. No takers. Am I surprised? Plus, if you point out some of quite real and documentable problems facing males, such as the shocking number of mentally ill/addicted men sleeping on the streets as opposed to this phantom population of men rendered homeless by violent girlfriends and the lot, they are totally uninterested. (Note that I said phantom population, not phantom individuals). With limited resources, it behooves people to pursue the major issues effecting the population you’re trying to work with, not tangents.

  34. 234
    piny says:

    >>As for the “Jack and Jill” example: I find it amusing that while most people here presumably think there’s nothing wrong with mothers with young children working outside the home, now we’re seeing arguments that a woman can’t possibly take care of a small child and paint at home. Maybe you didn’t notice that I said that before they had a baby, “Jill” worked as a secretary while painting? (I have another friend who has a full-time office job and also paints and has occasional showings.) Now she takes care of children while painting. It’s not really a “career” … she makes maybe $500 a year selling her stuff. And who says that “Jack” never considered staying home? My experience is that today, most men under 35 are at least aware that that’s an option. To have him stay home was not an option TO “JILL.” By the way, I also didn’t say that grandma had offered to take care of the children “for free,” I said that she offered discounted day care. (And if someone thinks it’s implausible that a woman with kids would live close to her mother who runs a day care center… all I can say is, my former next-door neighbor had her two kids in a preschool run by her sister.) The point is … “Jill” is leading exactly the kind of life she wants, while “Jack” is not.>>

    First of all, you didn’t say painting. You said ceramics.

    (btw: the daycare thing wasn’t “implausible,” merely uncommon. It’s like an anti-single-payer scenario wherein the hardworking single mom with the autistic child just happens to have a local cousin who specializes in treating autistic kids. That situation is not the one most parents find themselves in, and therefore not part of a reasonable argument.)

    Is that the artistic life you envision for Jill? Five hundred dollars? In other words, far less than she would need to break even on supplies? In other words, selling three small works _per year_? Then you should have been more specific: Jill’s ceramics are relegated to a hobby she has no time for at all. That’s definitely not a career. A career is not the equivalent of the part-time secretarial job; it’s much more time-consuming and demanding.

    Look, your ignorance regarding basic time/material requirements for producing, exhibiting, and selling art is beside the point.

    My problem with your scenario was not that Jill was able to sustain her creative life with children. It’s possible, if extremely difficult. The place where your scenario fell apart completely is where you decided that Jack would have to give up his musical aspirations, but Jill would not have to give up her art. If she can nail down two kids and occasional exhibits in galleries, he can handle a dayjob and a music career. You gave the impression that Jack would never pick up a guitar again, whereas Jill neither loses her art nor suffers from the lack of it. That’s illogical.

    I’m saying that Jack never offered to stay home just as Jack never made any suggestions, demands, or decisions at all in this scenario. According to you, all of this just happened to him. He doesn’t even help conceive his own damn kids; she just “gets pregnant.” You omit, “Do whatever you want, sweetie, but I choose music over starting a family right now.” “One child is enough for me, snookums.” “Loveydove, I’m getting a vasectomy.” “Why the hell can’t we take your mother up on the cheap daycare, sugarcheeks?” and every other thing that Jack could say, everything a real live human man would say.

  35. 235
    jaketk says:

    The few battered men out there that do exist get no help from men’s rights groups.

    And as usual, the MRA’s here seemingly have no interest in calling their brothers on this.

    This is actually untrue. Men’s groups, such as the Men’s Center, do in fact provide assistance to male victims. Most survivor forums and groups for male victims are run by men, ususally victims themselves or professionals, and they are indeed men’s groups. I suppose the point of contention here is that you want an extremely narrow definition of what a men’s group is. I define it as a group that focuses on the needs and issues facing men. If I followed your narrow definition, then women’s charity groups are not “women’s groups” because they are not specifically addressing a right, but rather offering assistance to various groups of women.

  36. 236
    jaketk says:

    Face it, there are more male abusers than female abusers.

    Though you admit you have the slighest idea how many males are abused, and (I assume) you realize that women abuse children far more often than men. Yes, of course…

    If there is any abusive behavior on the part of a woman … whether towards children, other women, or staff, they are required to leave immediately. And if the abuse is happening towards children we report them to DHS.

    I’m curious, do you report them before or after you allow them to leave?

    I’m not asking for equal number of homeless shelters for women.

    Amazingly, probably due my wanton, misogynistic male stupidity, I cannot recall ever stating that there should be an equal number of men’s shelters or that any women’s shelter should be shut down. I know I have been making up fake issues like “male abuse” and “male rape”, but I would think I would recall making such a bizarre statement.

    Here’s a thought (assuming my male brain still functions): how about providing the services for the amount of male victims we know of and then seeing what happens? It’s crazy, I know, but in Britain, they opened a shelter for men assuming 300 spots would be enough, and they got well over a 1000 requests within the first couple of weeks. Granted, 617 of those 1000 were probably just lying, and the 49 of those that got in probably thought it was a women’s shelter. But just maybe if we actually provide the services instead of preventing them because it “hurts women”, more male victims (is it okay if I use “victim” or would you prefer “future abuser”), will come forward. It’s just a thought.

  37. 237
    mousehounde says:

    jaketk:
    It’s crazy, I know, but in Britain, they opened a shelter for men assuming 300 spots would be enough, and they got well over a 1000 requests within the first couple of weeks.

    Link please?

  38. 238
    alsis39 says:

    I define it as a group that focuses on the needs and issues facing men. If I followed your narrow definition, then women’s charity groups are not “women’s groups” because they are not specifically addressing a right, but rather offering assistance to various groups of women.

    Oh, please. How is the right to a safe and comfortable shelter separable from the assitance that brings it about ? Or is this your nonsensical way of claiming that most women who go to shelters for assistance have no right t0 it (or need of it) .

    If I followed your definition, I guess that professional football teams are also “men’s groups.”

    Mister, go play the Obfuscation Olympics with somebody else.

  39. 239
    The Countess says:

    Jaketk, when I talk about men’s groups not doing anything for male victims of violence, I’m talking about the men’s rights groups that sue the women’s shelters or complain about them. I know that there are a few men’s groups that do provide services for abused men. Women’s shelters also sometimes assist abused men, as Bean has said. The National Coalition For Free Men doesn’t provide any actual services for abused men. It complains about alleged discrimination of men by women’s shelters, sues them, and loses the cases. It doesn’t actually do anything to help abused men. It attacks women’s shelters.

  40. 240
    jaketk says:

    bean, the only argument i have made is that men should be given asstistance now because so few services are available for male victims. once available, there would be no need to use women’s services. you seem to be under the belief that i think no services are provided for males and that i am speaking only of domestic violence. i am not. but that does not change that there are not a lot of services out there to address the issues of male victims.

    the issue of money is moot because the funding is primarily from tax dollars, and no one group can claim access to tax dollars to the exclusion of others. since i have not heard of any groups literally taking funding from women’s shelters, i still do not see where this point is coming from.

    likewise, why would you assume that i do not assist male support services in my area? just because i think it is still a problem does not mean i do nothing.

  41. 241
    Q Grrl says:

    Jaketk: honest question from me… are you even a taxpayer yet?

  42. 242
    alsis39 says:

    and no one group can claim access to tax dollars to the exclusion of others

    Oh, that’s a relief. I’ll get right on the horn to the Pentagon tomorrow morning and tell them that I want a modest 25K to live on next year. As one from that famed and fabled group: The Artists, I find the NEA’s cut quite horribly stingy relative to –say– Lockheed Martin’s . I think it’s high time that other famed and fabled group, The Weapon-Builders, stopped hogging all the big bucks for themselves. After all, nobody has a right to exclude my group from the federal feeding trough. You all heard it here first.

    Gevalt.

  43. 243
    Q Grrl says:

    Oh alsis, how you do go on about the obvious. ;)

    I suppose those over 65 don’t count as a group and that their SSN benefits are just different kinds of tax monies. Or what about public schools? Don’t they count as a group? DOT’s… now there’s a doozy. Since I choose not to drive, I’d like a, oh I don’t know, 10% cut of their tax monies.

  44. 244
    maureen says:

    jaketk,

    Once upon a time – but well within my lfetime – there were no shelters for women.

    Then women got together, they listened to eachother, they worked out what form of service would help and, in the case of shelters, that some sort of building would be needed to provide both physical safety and emotional respite. No fairy godmother came dashing in with buckets full of cash – it was raised penny by penny in all sorts of ways. They scrounged furniture, dyed old sheets to make curtains and lived from hand to mouth, sometimes for years.

    Only after the women had proved that a problem existed and that they had devised at least part of the solution were they in a position to ask that, for instance, the police take domestic abuse more seriously and that the courts act to protect women and children in danger.

    Now many shelters and other services have some support from the taxpayer but the women involved sweated blood to arrive at that stage. In many cases such funding is insecure, requiring repeated applications for small amounts and quite likely to disappear. No woman running a shelter is exactly rich or believes that she has a job for life.

    Your fellow citizens keep telling you that some services for abused men exist. They may not be exactly what you need. If that is the case, then you’ll have to do what the women did – get out there, talk to people and create whatever it is you do need.

    Stage one would be to admit that you could use some help, stage two to accept that trying to derail the discussions on this blog is not going to produce it for you.

    I’m pretty sure that among this blog’s readers are many who could offer you practical help based on experience. The big question is this – can you be courteous enough just to ask and could you, in the meantime, stop rubbing salt into the wounds of those who have shared their experiences here?

  45. 245
    Robert says:

    Jake, I think your history is tragic and worthy of commiseration; you have my sorrow on your behalf. But I also think your position is untenable.

    If men want shelters, men need to build shelters. If that takes money, well, grant applications are difficult but not impossible. Grant writers don’t work free but plenty work at reasonable rates. Or you could fund a private shelter on a payback system, or fundraise from hippie comsymps like Hugo. Hell, I wouldn’t be averse to supporting the right men’s shelter, and as a good Republican I hate all non-victims for reminding me of my humanity. There are a lot of options. This is America. You’re free. Go do it.

    I’ve seen a fair number of self-styled “advocates for men” come wandering through here, and a lot of them have taken feminists to task for being dismissive of their experiences, obnoxious towards their goals, and so on. Some of those criticisms have been very fair. There are some feminists who are nuts, and others who are just assholes. Well, life is full of nuts and assholes. Deal.

    What I’ve never ONCE seen is for a men’s advocate come through saying “wow, that’s an interesting discussion. Hey, if anybody is interested, I’ve built a website over at TucsonMensShelter.org. We’re trying to raise seed money for a regional battered men’s shelter and it would sure help us to raise awareness if some of you feminist type people could come over and read our posts and give us ideas and maybe kick in a little dough.”

    Not once.

    Sure, there are marginal figures on Alas! and other places who would respond with the abuse and ignorant immaturity that explains the peripheral place of their views on the American stage. But there are also women and men of good faith whose response to such a plea would, at minimum, be positive to the tune of “sure, I’ll check out what you have to say on your soapbox over there.”

    But I haven’t seen such a pitch.

    Odd, isn’t it? Kind of makes you wonder about motives.

  46. 246
    ginmar says:

    Yeah, 247 is pretty much what I have to say to Jaketk.

  47. 247
    RonF says:

    Qgrrl, consider how one might define the term “taxpayer”. If a 12-year old boy mows a lawn for $20 and then goes and buys a CD at Best Buy, he’s a taxpayer the minute he gets charged sales tax.

  48. 248
    RonF says:

    While it’s a legitmate argument that a publicly funded facility should not discriminate on the basis of sex, some common sense has to be used. If you have a facility for a bunch of women that have been beaten by men, maybe it’s not a good idea for it to admit men. Now, if you want to bolster a grant application for a men’s shelter by pointing out that the government is funding women’s shelters and that to refuse to fund men’s shelters might be viewed as discrimination, I’d support that logic. But as you’ve been told, put it together.

    We had a young man who wanted to do a repair project for a women’s shelter as an Eagle project. One of the complicating factors was that the people running the shelter wanted only female workers (carpenters, etc.) inside the building. Once people heard why, there were no objections from anyone. I’m not even sure if the Eagle candidate himself (who would be a boy around the ages of 14 to 16 in this particular case) ended up going into the shelter.

  49. 249
    RonF says:

    I’m sure that the MRAs who sued realized that one possible outcome of their lawsuit, if it went through a series of appeals and wound up with damages being awarded, would be to bankrupt the people they were suing and thus shut them down.

    A tactic that is being used by political and social activists of all stripes these days. Instead of trying to carry the day on the merits of their case as expressed by the electorate, they go for “victory at all costs”, regardless of the effects on the people involved.

    But I’ll go further than what you state, Amp; those who pursue such actions often don’t even worry about whether they would ultimately win or lose. Even a winner can go bankrupt defending their position, or at the very least have to strip valuable funding from their primary mission. This then keeps the defendants from furthering their primary mission, which is the ultimate objective of their opponents.

  50. 250
    silverside says:

    “Now, if you want to bolster a grant application for a men’s shelter by pointing out that the government is funding women’s shelters and that to refuse to fund men’s shelters might be viewed as discrimination, I’d support that logic.”

    Lemme give you some free advise as a grantwriter of federal, state, and foundation grants for 15 years. NEVER tell a potential funder, in petulant prose, that “you people funded organization x on their project. If you don’t give us money for our project, we consider that discrimination, cronyism, corruption, or just plain meanness.” That is a surefire way to never get a single penny, and not only that, to guarantee that your application will be thrown in the circular for years to come.

    You want to do an application? You got to have solid English skills, answer the questions they want, know how to create a workable and believable budget, get letters of support (if applicable) and you HAVE TO DOCUMENT THE NEED FOR YOUR PROJECT. If you are serious about pursuing a shelter for men (not that I think you are, but let it not be said that nasty feminists with grantwriting experience won’t help you, ’cause that’s what I am doing right now), I suggest that you have to build a CORDIAL relationship with the providers of domestic violence services in your area as well as various counseling agencies and men’s homeless shelters. Ask them to start including questions about domestic violence when they interview male clients. Start seeing if you can document a case where you can justify building a shelter or rehabilitating an existing structure with all the expenses that would be incurred (staff, overhead, construction or rehabilitation funding), or whether in fact, a voucher program would in fact be easier to deal with and just as effective for the numbers you will probably be able to document.

    Frankly, in my opinion, the entire emergency shelter concept, as a concept, has its ups and downs. It’s good insofar as there is supportive staff right there at the location 24/7, and that it’s easier to conduct group support meetings. There is often better security for the inhabitants, through sometimes not. But I have often heard it said by shelter inhabitants (not to criticize the fine work that Bean and other shelter workers provide), that living in emergency shelter, like living in any emergency shelter, means losing your privacy, having to live by rules that often seem intruding and coldly institutional, and leaving the comforts and familiarity of your own home and belongings behind. Living with other people in crisis is not always conducive to your own mental health either. Sometimes I think there is something to be said for letting victims stay in their own homes and remove the abusers to another location. I have heard of victims returning home, partly because their children were doing so poorly in an unfamiliar environment, that they figured they might as well go back home and deal with the crap that’s familiar. Frankly, if I were in crisis (think Katrina here), I’d much prefer a motel room where there’s peace and quiet than a noisy emergency shelter with other people’s traumatized kids running around. So I wouldn’t be so quick to buy into me-tooism. Vouchers are a very workable solution in areas where there is a small population in question, whether that’s in remote, very low-populated rural areas, or among specialized relatively small sub-populations of homeless persons, such as men, heterosexual or homosexual, who are rendered homeless and without resources, due to domestic violence. (It should be noted here, that abused women with resources–better paying jobs, family resources, etc., generally do choose other options other than emergency shelter. It is generally the solution of last resort. That’s one reason why men, who tend to have more money relative to women, would seldom choose to go into a shelter. You would not only have to have a male who was beaten by an intimate partner and afraid to stay in his home, but so devoid of resources (unemployed?) that he couldn’t go elsewhere. Apart from who hit who and how hard, the domination and control cycles that battered women experience also affects their ability to earn a living and be economically independent, something I have never seen claimed about abused men.

    Examples: According to one study, 37% of women who experienced domestic violence reported that it had an impact on their work performance in the form of lateness, missed work, keeping their jobs, or promotions (EDK Associates, 1997). In addition, batterers often block access to the education and training that would help their partners become self-sufficient. According to a survey of women enrolled in an AFDC Job Readiness Program, nearly 20% of those currently in a relationship stated that they were being abused physically. Of those currently abused, 40% reported that their partner tried to prevent them from obtaining education and training (Passaic County Board of Supervisors, January 2000.)

  51. 251
    mj says:

    “Feminism is and has always been about activism”

    Funny, it always claimed to be about equality.

    Tautological definitions sure ease the subsequent arguments.

  52. 252
    Ampersand says:

    “Feminism is and has always been about activism”

    Funny, it always claimed to be about equality.

    Because goodness knows, it’s absolutely impossible for a social movement to have more than one trait.

  53. 253
    mj says:

    Please, you defined it.

    You excluded Young based on your definition, and now you want to claim feminism means more? Maybe you should give us the full definition and then reexamine whether she fits.

  54. 254
    Ampersand says:

    MJ, I can’t be bothered to debate with people who can’t be bothered to read the post they’re allegedly debating with.

  55. 255
    CatharticConfusion says:

    Ampersand – thank you for hosting this thread, and for your blog in general.

    This debate has been absolutely fantastic. It has really stimulated the mental juices.

    I know certain people got a bit shirty at times, but generally it has maintained a damn civil tone.

    Everyone should be aware that on many other blogs real debate is not encouraged at all, and is in fact stamped out as it begins by either the blogger themself, or the common cohorts!

  56. 256
    silverside says:

    This citation from the family law prof blog also provides good data on how dv affects the ability of the victims to support themselves through employment (and thus why they have difficulty securing permanent housing away from their abuser, at least without temporary assistance, and hense why the need for emergency shelter exists):

    Arkansas Study Says Domestic Violence Carries Dramatic Implications in the Workplace
    The results of a recent Arkansas study say that domestic violence carries dramatic implications in the workplace. The University of Arkansas researchers found that individuals who have been abused by intimate partners miss work for health-related reasons and are tardy more often than other employees. It also showed that 20% of threats and 72% of stalking incidents occur at work, potentially putting other employees, and even customers, at risk. The study also showed that employees abused by an intimate partner are exhausted more frequently and have more difficulty concentrating at work than employees who aren’t abused by an intimate partner. Females who said they had been victimized in the previous 12 months reported that they had been distracted, missed work, and were often tardy. Source: Karen E. Klein, news.yahoo.com. For more information, please click here (last visited December 11, 2005, reo).

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  58. 257
    Hershele Ostropoler says:

    I have no … idea what I’m talking about, basically, but I don’t think the reason men aren’t allowed in women’s shelters is because the shelters are run by man-haters. Nor do I think it’s because the people in charge think that if a woman who’s been abused by a particular man espies any man she’ll make like a stereotype who sees a spider.

    In fact, I believe the fear is that, since abusers have been known to say things that don’t accord 100% with objective reality as best we can perceive it, someone might claim to be a victim when he or she is in fact a victimizer

  59. 258
    Nick Kiddle says:

    since abusers have been known to say things that don’t accord 100% with objective reality as best we can perceive it, someone might claim to be a victim when he or she is in fact a victimizer

    Can I get this printed on a T-shirt please?

  60. 259
    Daran says:

    Hmmm. I’m not sure I like it when an old comment of mine pops up again in the sidebar because someone linked to it. See my comment here for a more nuanced view.

  61. 260
    Zoe says:

    I think a woman who refuses to identify as a feminist is often simply an individualist rather than a collectivist. I personally am in no way being oppressed or victimized. To bitch and rant and rave about the oppression of women and call myself a feminist is to vicariously make “other women’s victimhood” my own.

    I’m nobody’s victim. I disempower myself when I insist I’m being “oppressed” by virtue of the fact that I’m a woman. If that makes me an antifeminist, simply because I don’t wish to lay around and bemoan the fact that I have a vagina, so be it.

    You may all get indignant and freak out on me now.

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  63. 261
    Brandon Berg says:

    Ampersand:
    Your argument about McElroy and Young is valid for some definition of feminism. I don’t object to that definition. However many feminists in your camp (though not you specifically, to the best of my recollection) claim that feminism is “the radical notion that women are people.” I don’t object to that definition, either.

    What I do object to is the equivocation. As long as feminists are going around claiming that feminism is “the radical notion that women are people,” then people like Wendy McElroy and Cathy Young are perfectly justified in calling themselves feminists.

  64. 262
    Nick says:

    Nick, the question of if Wendy McElroy is a feminist is probably not on-topic for this thread, but in my opinion — which of course carries no authority — she is not. You can read my argument in this post, and respond to my argument there, if you like.

    Ah, so your problem with Wendy is that she does not meet your first definition of feminism?

    1) Believes that there is current, significant, society-wide inequality and sexism which on balance disadvantages women.

    Hmmm. So where in America does this current disadvantage exist? Because I don’t see it.

    1) Women have the same right to vote as men do and are exercising it.

    Overall, women are voting in elections at the same rate as men in proportion to their population with one exception.

    In certain minority communities, women actually vote at a much higher rate than their population. There is a 20% gender difference in minority voting districts in favor of women in Louisiana’s minority districts. That’s a lot of missing men.

    2) Women have the same right to run for office as men do and are exercising it.

    Currently Louisiana has a woman governor; We only have seven senators (~18%) and eighteen representatives (~17%) and rising each year;

    Three of the seven Supreme court justices are women.

    3) Women have the same right to work in the executive branches of government.

    Just about all of the top Department of Social Services (DSS) positions are filled by women.

    The DSS Secretary is a woman.

    As are the Deputy Secretary; the Under Secretary; the Deputy Under Secretary; the two Assistant Secretary’s; the Bureau of Audit services director; the Bureau of Civil Rights director; the Bureau of Licensing director;

    The offices held by men are the Director of Rehab services; the Press Secretary; and the Bureau of Appeals director and the Bureau of General Counsel.

    (thats 8 women to 4 men)

    For the offices reporting to them:

    The Office of Management & Finance Directors (OMF) is run by seven women and one man – with the top two positions both being run by women.

    The Louisiana Rehabilitative Serivces (LRS) office is equally split 4 each.

    The Office of Community Services (OCS) is split 20 women to 5 men.

    The Office of Family Services (OFS) run by 27 women and 7 men.

    Perhaps the ratios are different in other departments, but this is the branch I am most familiar with.

    4) Well how about local judgeships.

    In my parish, the local district court has three judges. Two of these judges are women and One of these judges is a man – he barely beat out the woman he was running against.

    5) Engineering jobs.

    Years ago, when I worked for DuPont, at that particular plant, they hired in 75% women 25% male engineers. My boss was a women as was her boss.

    Oh, and yes the women engineers were hired in at a slightly higher salary than the men. This was because the market population was about 55-60% male and 40-45% female – so to hire more women, they had to pay them more.

    6) All the studies I have seen show that women are going to college in higher numbers than men.

    7) At my daughters high school, which is the magnet school for Orleans parish females comprise the majority of the students.

    71 females to 48 males in 9th grade; 91 females to 79 males in 10th grade; 83 females to 85 males in 11th grade; and 100 females to 59 males in 12th grade. So the overall ratio is 345 females to 271 males.

    8) If I want to hire a top professional divorce lawyer about half of them are women. Oh, and the hourly rate that they want to be paid at is the same as what the male attorneys want to be paid at, so no, I can’t hire a female attorney for 75% of what I can get a male attorney for.

    ==================================================

    So just where is this CURRENT imbalance in AMERICAN society?

    There used to be one, but that imbalance has largely disappeared you have to look hard to find it.

    In point of fact, in schools, the most recent studies are saying that now boys are being neglected and discriminated against which is why they are doing worse in school than their female counterparts.

    I also know a number of young children who are not much interested in relationships or marriage after seeing the hell that their parents have been put through in the divorce courts.

  65. 263
    Ampersand says:

    Nick, I don’t mind talking about where I see an imbalance. But first, I’d like to feel that you’ve actually addressed my post. And you really haven’t done so here.

    Do you think I’m wrong to think that someone who sees no problems for women in our culture, and no need for feminist activism to oppose sexism against women, can’t legitimately be called a “feminist”? If you do think I’m wrong, why?

    Do you think I’m wrong in saying that there has to be some limit to what the word “feminist” means, or else the word is in effect meaningless? If you do think I’m wrong about that, why?

  66. 264
    Robert says:

    Your position seems to be linguistic essentialism, Amp.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  67. 265
    Mandolin says:

    “Your position seems to be linguistic essentialism, Amp.”

    As opposed to, what? Linguistic relativism?

    OK, after a brief googling, it seems to me that linguistic essentialism is being used to criticize a dogmatic relationship to dictionary definition which excludes the flexibility of connotation. It does not seem to mean the suggestion that words mean things.

    It seems to me that Amp is suggesting words mean things. It would therefore not be an exercise in linguistic essentialism to point out to someone that they are incorrect to call a frog a “desk.”

  68. 266
    Robert says:

    Well, a dogmatic relationship to definition, whether dictionary or otherwise. Linguistically speaking I guess I’m a wishy-washy moderate; I see elements of truth in the essentialist position but I also see the point of a more descriptivist approach. If a billion people decide that “feminist” means “noble hero of the people” or “ballbuster” or “socialist” and the other five billion shrug, then that’s what it starts to mean.

    The difficulty (for Amp) is that if he takes a somewhat essentialist position – and the “words mean things” camp is intrinsically somewhat essentialist – then his definition founders on some very real political issues. If feminism is just “the radical idea that women are people”, then it cannot simultaneously be Amp’s laundry list of perspectives that must be maintained, which includes a specific opinion about a set of cultural and political conditions. It’s easy – trivial in fact – to find people who genuinely and in good faith believe that women are people, and also that the political and cultural situation doesn’t match Amp’s view of it.

    In other words, if one wants the rhetorical flexibility of being able to make feminism both a broad and easy church, AND a specific and narrow doctrine, then you need some linguistic flexibility. But an essentialist position makes what you’re saying logically untenable. If one believes that words mean things, then one has to classify the claims made by feminists (or others) about what feminism is, and decide which ones are hard-and-fast valid according to the real definitions, and abandon the ones that aren’t – it can’t be both A and not-A.

    It’s a required choice, in other words – if words are tightly defined, then you have to be rhetorically rigorous in order to make sense. If words are loosely defined, your rhetoric can be similarly vague. You can have rigor and a narrow claim, well defended, or you can have generality and broadness, but where folks like Cathy Young can set up camp. I personally tend to find the latter approach superior, but it isn’t my word.

  69. 267
    Robert says:

    It would therefore not be an exercise in linguistic essentialism to point out to someone that they are incorrect to call a frog a “desk.”

    True. But if the person defines a frog is “anything with four legs” and “leg” as “a supporting pillar or column”…then they have left themselves open to the amphibian invasion of our offices. By that definition, a desk is a frog.

  70. 268
    Robert says:

    I’m not Nick but I’ll take a stab at Amp’s questions:

    Do you think I’m wrong to think that someone who sees no problems for women in our culture, and no need for feminist activism to oppose sexism against women, can’t legitimately be called a “feminist”?

    Yes, you’re wrong. Just because someone wins a war, doesn’t mean that their side of the conflict ceases to exist. I see no indication that Germany is re-arming for world conquest and domination, and no need for hypervigilance against the recurrence of same – but I’m an anti-Nazi all the same.

    (I’d have used the Russians and anti-communism as my example rather than risk Godwin’s wrath, but it’s starting to look like those worries are waking up again.)

    Do you think I’m wrong in saying that there has to be some limit to what the word “feminist” means, or else the word is in effect meaningless?

    No, you’re right. (Because a moderate linguistic essentialism is in fact the correct position to have.) The question is how much “spread” there can be between varying but still broadly accepted definitions, and also, who gets to make the determination of where the word’s limits are. (Correct answers: some but not much, and “everybody”.)

  71. 269
    Mandolin says:

    Okay, you seem to be speaking from a philosophical rather than anthropological understanding of linguistics. That’s not surprising, but will probably interfere with us conversing to some extent, since I of course speak (to the extent that I can speak at all about linguistics) from an anthropological POV.

    What I see here, is a need for more flexibility, not less. It’s functional to allow people to hack out their own individual definitions of feminism, most of the time. It’s also appropriate to point out when people are cynically using the word feminism in order to coopt the movement and accomplish anti-feminist goals; therefore, it is appropriate to criticize Wendy McElroy on this basis. It’s a matter of situational adaptation.

  72. 270
    Robert says:

    I broadly agree with that. I have no problem with “Wendy McElroy isn’t what I mean when I say “feminist” and I think she is undermining what me and mine actually want and work for”.

  73. 271
    Myca says:

    Nick, I don’t mind talking about where I see an imbalance. But first, I’d like to feel that you’ve actually addressed my post. And you really haven’t done so here.

    Additionally, Nick, it would be nice if you could keep an eye on this, since I think it’s pretty much what happened over in the “abortion is murder” thread too.

    —Myca

  74. 272
    Nick says:

    Additionally, Nick, it would be nice if you could keep an eye on this, since I think it’s pretty much what happened over in the “abortion is murder” thread too.

    With all due respect, I have addressed the first point of his thread directly. He posited two requirements to be a feminist, and his basis for excluding Wendy from being a feminist is based on the first point of his definition. I am addressing that specific point.

    Do you think I’m wrong to think that someone who sees no problems for women in our culture, and no need for feminist activism to oppose sexism against women, can’t legitimately be called a “feminist”?

    I would agree with you there. However, in my opinion, I don’t think that description applies to what little I know about either Wendy or Cathy. I think that you are both actually substantially in agreement with the problems that women face in current society, but have different ideas on how to obtain those goals.

    I believe that they see a number of problems for women in our culture.
    I believe that they see the need for feminist activism to oppose those problems.
    I see them writing and taking actions to fix the problems that they see for women in our culture.
    Therefore, I conclude that they are indeed feminists.

    Do you think I’m wrong in saying that there has to be some limit to what the word “feminist” means, or else the word is in effect meaningless? If you do think I’m wrong about that, why?

    I would agree with you there absolutely. The Wikipedia has a nice article on feminists and it chose to include them as a branch.

    I think you have already agreed that Wendy would meet your second definition of a feminist.

    Perhaps you would also agree that they would meet the first definition if it was worded:

    there are current, significant, society-wide inequality and sexism IN THE WORLD which on balance disadvantages women”

    There are clearly a lot of disadvantages facing women in many foreign countries. My mother and step-dad lived in Saudi Arabia for seven years. So they had plenty of tales to tell. I had to reteach my mother how to drive when she got back.

    Horrors such as honor killings, FGM, being required to wear potato sacks, not being allowed to drive or be out in public alone, being stoned to death for adultery, planned/forced marriages, etc.

    and similarly if it was worded thus, it would include them:

    there WERE significant, society-wide inequality and sexism IN THE US which on balance disadvantages women, AND SOME OF THOSE PROBLEMS STILL ENDURE”

    Many of the issues that have been recently resolved in this country are issues such as the right to vote, the right to work certain jobs, the right to equal pay for the same job, etc.

    And a number of issues that are being resolved but are not yet resolved. Issues such as gender inequity in sports, in divorce, etc. Your entire blog essentially lists most of them, so it would be redundant for you to relist them.

    I don’t often agree with Wendy’s opinions but she seems more liberated that most feminists. She is willing to tackle the new problems that are cropping up in society as a result of the changes our society has gone through. One example being your post on “Pedophilia Fears Contributed to Child’s Death”

    in any case, I am not sure exactly how you should refine your definition so as to include them, however I think you should do so. They are a positive force for the feminist movement.

  75. 273
    Myca says:

    With all due respect, I have addressed the first point of his thread directly. He posited two requirements to be a feminist, and his basis for excluding Wendy from being a feminist is based on the first point of his definition. I am addressing that specific point.

    Well, sure, but you’re quibbling with the definition, rather than admitting that she doesn’t meet it.

    Like Amp said, it’s fine to discuss whether or not the definition is a good one, but, according to the definition as it stands, she’s excluded, and I think that’s right.

    in any case, I am not sure exactly how you should refine your definition so as to include them, however I think you should do so. They are a positive force for the feminist movement.

    Anti-feminist thinks feminists should redefine feminism to include anti-feminists.

    Film at 11.

    —Myca

  76. 274
    Eva says:

    Since we’re already using semantics in this discussion, I thought this definition of a feminist might add something to the conversation;

    “Ensuring women’s freedom and equality of opportunity in all spheres of life is a crucial priority.”

    I particularly like it because it assumes positive momentum for change, when it’s needed, and an opportunity to celebrate freedom and equality where it currently exists. Also, it’s open ended in self-defined gender-identity, race, class, ethnicity, rural or urban, and location on the planet.

    And, if one is a self-defined man and one agrees with these ideas, one can consider oneself a feminist without any quibbling that I can come up with (at 11:30 at night when I’m generally in bed by 10pm)

  77. 275
    Nick says:

    Anti-feminist thinks feminists should redefine feminism to include anti-feminists.

    Film at 11.

    —Myca

    Now that wasn’t called for. I am far closer to a MRA than an anti-feminist.

    Lets use a religious analogy. I would be more akin to a Buddhist.

    Looking over at the two groups, I would say that one of you would be Methodists and the other would be Baptists. You have almost identical beliefs except for one small part of the doctrine. Now that makes a big difference in your practices, but it makes neither of you anti-feminists. But to anyone on the outside looking in, y’all are both different sects of the same group.

    So perhaps you could call them neo-feminists or i-feminists or some other name, but anti- does not fit the bill because anti- means opposite.

  78. 276
    Mandolin says:

    I’m sorry, are we differentiating between MRA and anti-feminist now?

    Similarly, what you’re talking about is the phenomenon of parallax. E.g. to you, there looks like a difference between MRAs and anti-feminists. From here? Not so much.

    The fact that you can’t tell the difference between the feminist and anti-feminist viewpoints of, eh, me and Wendy McElroy doesn’t mean you aren’t totally wrong. It just means your parallax is sufficiently weird that we look like we’re in the same camp. Fair enough. I think Daran’s an atheist, and Robert certainly isn’t, so there are certainly some major differences going on between them, but I don’t much bother to differentiate between their politics. To me, they look the same.

    However, I acknowledge that I have little if any role in trying to redefine the movements that they use to describe themselves.

  79. 277
    Robert says:

    I don’t think Daran and I agree politically about anything.

    We’re both opposed to the divine right of kings, I suppose. But then again, I’ve been known to make the argument for feudalism, so…

  80. 278
    Brandon Berg says:

    Mandolin:

    I think Daran’s an atheist, and Robert certainly isn’t, so there are certainly some major differences going on between them, but I don’t much bother to differentiate between their politics. To me, they look the same.

    FWIW, Daran’s political views seem to me to be a lot closer to yours than either of you let on. Certainly closer to yours than to Robert’s.

    I guess you could take that as another illustration of your point, but I think your views are pretty close in an absolute sense. Other than the relative oppression levels of men and women, and you maybe being a bit further to the left on some issues, is there really that much that you disagree on?

  81. 279
    Mandolin says:

    You know, I have really little idea of what Daran thinks outside of the civil rights issues that tend to come up on this blog. So, it may be that we’re positioned closely on other issues; I couldn’t say. I’ll take the both of your word for it.

  82. 280
    Ampersand says:

    So perhaps you could call them neo-feminists or i-feminists or some other name, but anti- does not fit the bill because anti- means opposite.

    Anti can also mean “opposed to.” For reasons I argued in the original post (waaaay at the top of this thread), I think it’s reasonable to call someone like Wendy McElroy opposed to feminism.

    I do think there’s a tendency for lefties to lump all opposition together; it took me a long time to notice the idealogical differences between the marriage movement and the MRA movement — even though the marriage folks and the MRAs hate each other, for the most part.

  83. 281
    Mandolin says:

    (what’s the marriage movement?)

  84. 282
    Sailorman says:

    yeah, do tell. I’ve never heard you mention them and I’m curious too…

  85. 283
    Nick says:

    Similarly, what you’re talking about is the phenomenon of parallax.

    ROFLOL – an fellow astronomy buff. Quick, what galaxy are we in? Did you read the latest claim that we are not in the Milky Way? That we are actually in a Sag. Dwarf galaxy being eaten by the Milky Way…

    I can see the differences between the two groups very clearly.

    Anti can also mean “opposed to.”

    Yes, but that doesn’t effectively describe y’alls relationship. To me, the word anti-feminist should be reserved say for the likes of the ayatollahs in Iran. Now they are died in the wool anti-feminists. If each of you were in their power, you would both be stoned.

    Y’all are very close.

  86. 284
    Myca says:

    Nick, the fact that the Nazis would have killed both Andrew Sullivan and Noam Chomsky doesn’t mean that they’re ideologically close to one another.

    That’s a very silly standard.

    —Myca

  87. 285
    Mandolin says:

    I have just realized that I’m ideologically similar to every other Jew on the planet!

    Oh, wait. No. That’s bullshit.

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  89. 286
    Ampersand says:

    Nick, you might as well say that we should use the same word for Republicans and for Democrats, because from the point of view of the rulers of Iran the two parties pretty much look the same. That’s not a useful standard. And “opposed to” absolutely describes the political relationship Wendy McElroy, Christina Hoff Sommers, etc., have to feminism. If I’m wrong, point me to a single substained essay by either of them in which their argument is net in favor of feminism (by which I mean feminism that exists in the real world, not a mythical and idealized past).

    If I called myself an MRA, but in all other ways opposed every policy and view of MRAs, would you agree I was an MRA? Do you really think “Men’s Right Activist” has no meaning other than “someone who calls himself one”?

  90. 287
    Ampersand says:

    The marriage movement are the folks who believe that there is a terrible marriage crisis that needs to be addressed, and that the worst social problems in the wealthy countries today is that not enough children are being born to married parents. Family Scholars Blog and IMAPP are examples in the blogosphere. (Of those two, IMAPP is more virulently anti-gay.)

    Not everyone in the marriage movement is anti-marriage-equality, but a huge amount of the leadership of the anti-marriage-equality movement comes from the marriage movement. Pretty much anyone who isn’t overtly religious and is anti-SSM is going to be someone coming from a marriage movement perspective.

    The marriage movement folks are more likely to be religious Christians than MRAs are, and less likely to be libertarian. They’re not as often anti-feminist, although a lot of them are. And they are very, very against the idea of “choice for men,” which MRAs of course generally favor. On the other hand, although many MRAs are homophobic bigots, the homophobia isn’t as central to the MRA movement as it is to much of the marriage movement.

  91. 288
    Nick says:

    Example of an anti-feminist.

    Unable to scrounge together the $165 he needed to repay a loan to buy sheep, Nazir Ahmad made good on his debt by selling his 16-year-old daughter to marry the lender’s son… “He gave me nine sheep,” Ahmad said, describing his family’s woes since taking the loan. “Because of nine sheep, I gave away my daughter.”

    Nick, you might as well say that we should use the same word for Republicans and for Democrats, because from the point of view of the rulers of Iran the two parties pretty much look the same. That’s not a useful standard.

    Actually, that is a great example. We live in a great democratic republic. The Republicans and the Democrats heartily disagree with each other on a host of issues. Yet if either one obtains complete control of the government we would still be living in a democratic-republic. Neither group could realistically be labeled as anti.

    However, if the group currently running Iran can be labeled as anti-. They would replace our current form of government with an Islamic republic. Women would be required to wear potato sacks. Laws would be passed allowing the stoning of women for adultery. A religious police would be established and we would all be required to pray five times a day.

    If I called myself an MRA, but in all other ways opposed every policy and view of MRAs, would you agree I was an MRA? Do you really think “Men’s Right Activist” has no meaning other than “someone who calls himself one”?

    This is a free country. You certainly would be able to call yourself a ‘MRA’ if you so chose. Would it have meaning? Probably so. You are after the second part of your definition.

    2) Advocates for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

    means that when you find that men are at a disadvantage, to maintain your credentials as a feminist as based on your definition, you would be advocate a solution to that problem.

    That your proposed solutions might be different or in opposite directions of where certain other MRA’s wish to head would not really be relevant.

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  95. 289
    Feminist Blog says:

    Wow, what a debate! I think I just spent 20 minutes reading these comments!

  96. 290
    Schala says:

    I agree with Nick with what I think is his main point:

    Advocating for an ideology or idealist state of affairs, can be done in very different, even opposed ways, depending on how someone thinks that idealist state might be achieved.

    Kiuku said on FC a few years back, in her guest post, that she could achieve peace, order and reduce violence significantly, by advocating separatism of women from men (on a smaller scale than the world).

    Most feminists reject the idea of separatism as either unfeasible, or it’s goals as not following from the premisse (ie women would still be violent even without men around, would wage wars, and hierarchies would still form themselves within that country/state/place), yet the idea is not anti-feminist in itself since it has, as a principal aim, the equality of men and women and/or reduction of problems affecting them (though in this case, women only).

    Criticizing a way of doing things, while aiming at still doing those things (just differently) is not being anti, imo.

    I aim at full equality between men and women. I don’t consider de jure equality to be enough. I want both problems men and women face to be solved, gender attributes to become more descriptive than prescriptive (at the very least, if not outright becoming neutral), no one to be forgotten in the dust.

    Yet because I don’t think women, on the balance, face worst problems in Canada (or even Quebec province itself, with it’s tiny 7.8 million pop) *necessarily* (I’m agnostic about who has it worst and don’t think it matters as to how to fix things), then I’m not a feminist? What am I?

    I want problems to be identified, and promptly fixed. For the good of everyone. I’m not of the opinion that a council of the status of women would look for problems affecting only or disproportionately men (probably saying it’s not in its mandate, which is true) and the government as a whole generally doesn’t look either.

    If an idea is unpopular (male victims of DV) then it gets ignored, because it won’t get them voted back in office. Which brings lack of research on it by the government, because it doesn’t perceive a problem…it’s a full circle and back to square one. The government doesn’t perceive a problem because it doesn’t look for any, thus the government sees nothing to fix. And the government perceives MRAs who want to bring attention to it (there are some groups in the province, like “L’Après-Rupture”) as whiners. Provincial blogs who identify as feminist also call it whining, like the Rondeau report (detailed report made in 2004 identifying problems faced by men in the province, no follow-up AFAIK).

    I have to wonder how hard it was to convince researchers to look up DV statistics initially to then deduct that DV shelters were necessary for women’s well-being and/or security.

    Given women often are viewed as victims, and were at the time, probably not too hard for them to consent to look at the problem…the situation is the mirror of men’s there: Men aren’t seen as victims, so those who claim to be victims…well they either aren’t really victims, or aren’t really men (gay men may be included in the latter by some, trans women often too). Tough deal there. Women have hundreds of organizations, financed by government grants, to defend their rights or provide help where needed.

    Same deal with trans issues: Until lately, surgery wasn’t financed, name change *still* is a darn maze to navigate (It got legally changed in May 2010, and my social security isn’t changed yet and my medicare card has the right name embossed but the wrong signature), the vast majority of public service providers refuse to prescribe hormones, or to even inform themselves (thus forcing many to get them illegally). Few organism or people have either weight or financing to change the situation, and the problems are mostly ignored. The government doesn’t care. My endocrinologist is one of 2 in the province who officially treats trans people with hormones. 2 for 8 million is a small amount (of which about 8000-16000 would be transsexual).

    I’d love if the government worked for the good of its people, but I’ve long learned that the government works for those who have political or financial weight (big organizations and corporations/companies…or itself). It doesn’t care much about the poor, the working class, or the homeless, but it loves to prop up Bombardier (a provincial company in aeronautics) or Ubisoft (should be known in the US as well, they are a well-known videogame company).

    So how can I, a lowly citizen, ask for all issues to be looked at, considered and fixed, if the government doesn’t care about unpopular ideas?

    Props to Canada though: Combat positions in the army are for all, no selective services or military service as a matter of course (all voluntary) and if a draft occurred, women would be drafted (but it’s unlikely, the last draft was 1943). Abortions legal as a matter of course (not sure about its financing, but I think its at least partly covered), male circumcision not financed or promoted and free general public health (high taxes though).

    I don’t want to negate feminism, I think MRAs (even the one group I cited) are too aggressive and abrasive (they use snark a lot from what I’ve seen), I doubt I can go it alone and have any impact for male victims (at best, I could help trans people if me and my boyfriend started an organism, but with us two, we couldn’t start an organism big enough to support men who may need help). I think feminist groups are doing more than enough to address problems targeting female people, victims or not, though if I saw it was lacking in an area, I would try to remedy it (trans women are part of it, and I can at least do something there).

    I will critique feminist groups who use cissexism, or who claim men have no problem whatsoever. I will also critique MRAs who use cissexism, or who claim women have no problem whatsoever. I will critique the government for doing the same. I can’t and won’t sue an organism (or the government) unless they are actively trying to deny my needs (if I sue someone, it’s because it’s the last resort – so I doubt it will ever happen). Like say, if the government had refused my name change, or refused my eventual sex marker change.

    I won’t allow bigotry or discrimination to stand, whatever name it claims to be for. But I don’t have the resources or patience to go on crusades about it, unless they definitely affect me, unlike Micheline Montreuil who seems to have sought lawsuit grounds (she is a lawyer) in Quebec. She sued the Registrar of Civil Status (to allow name change without surgery), the Canadian Army (for discrimination in hiring based on trans status), National Bank of Canada (same as army), her old college as a teacher (for being fired for cross-dressing off-hours off the job) and more. Won many of those and set precedents. Doesn’t seem to mind controversy or being a public figure…I prefer grassroots and anonymity.

    I think Kimberly Nixon was right to sue Vancouver Rape Relief for being denied the position of volunteer due to her trans status (ftr she was legally female at the time). I think it is wrong that she ultimately lost. The feminist group in question was definitely reinforcing gender norms, in as much as they mainly critiqued Nixon’s masculinity, present and past (that’s how they ‘guessed’ she was trans) – I consider them to have been anti-feminist in their actions. They think that something like an angular jaw or a pronounced brow ridge are qualities unfit for a woman. They based their main argument in “being born and raised as a girl”, but it was a facade for their anti-masculinity-cues bias. Many “women-born-women” from Michfest, would similarly be considered masculine, but their childhood would magically make it acceptable, even if they called themselves boi or wore army boots.

    Those actions have either been applauded or considered appalling in the femisphere I know of. Radical feminists applauding it and mainstream ones being ‘on the fence’ or considering it appalling. None of them considered Sheila Jeffreys (linked many times on VRR’s site, speaking of this) or VRR to be anti-feminist.

    Problems I refer to are rarely if ever caused by feminism. Feminism might forget them, but rarely makes them worst (unless they try to downplay men’s real problems, which happens sometimes). I know full well that the culprit is society and attitudes tied to it.

    I want to change things for both sides, because while problems are interdependant (expectations of men to provide is tied to less childcare from them), they won’t be fixed by only trying to fix one side of the equation. Trying to force men to do more childcare for equality’s sake without counter-balancing the role of provider will simply break it (many will abandon the idea as unfeasible). Ignoring male victims of DV and sexual assault probably creates emotional and mental problems for those males, who later may lash out because they were ignored. If they are made to feel worthless, they might think it is true, and worthless people need no morals, at least that’s my theory – and the lashing out bit is backed up by statistics, it just isn’t all male victims who do.

    Well, that’s about a novel’s length…

    Feel free to critique my post, I might be insensitive or forgetful. It’s 3 am, Asperger syndrome, and I’m rather inexperienced in life for many issues (I’m 27 and lived hell for many years, but not everyone’s hell…only mine).