Feminist Theory & "Women's Issues" Discussion Thread: All Gender Identities Are Encouraged To Participate

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You're not *even* wrong.

You seem to inhabit this weird fantasy world where male power is not prized and rewarded at every turn, and female power is not demonised and punished at every turn. Where male violence is not *fetishised* and portrayed as noble and good and female violence is not denied in order to keep some wonderful "pure" vision of "femininity" as opposed to "masculinity."

This fantasy world where violent women from Boudiccea to Margaret Thatcher can just be handwaved away.

A fantasy world where structural inequality does not codify "male" supremacy over "female" at every step because the rules were written to keep it that way. These ideas are not reinforced with cultural narrative over and again until ppl believe they are true bcuz other views just don't get presented, or are actively derided by those w the most to lose?

And then you want to turn around and talk about this highly contrived and exaggerated version of "masculinity" as being somehow inevitable, even biological?

And I just call: bullshit.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've been looking for the past half hour to see if I can find any studies that strongly demonstrate even the simple premise that testosterone leads to increased aggression. Can't find anything. And conversely, if you google 'violent women' you get lots of hits about violence against women, a review of a book about Hollywood fetishisation of female violence, and a Daily Mail article about teenage girl gangs.

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration the violence women do against men, the violence women do against each other, and the (sexual) violence men inflict on other men. I'll keep looking for biological underpinnings to the assumption, there may well be something, but I'm inclined to think it'll turn out to be by far the lesser factor.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

I mean let's get this straight. I'm not denying that there's such a * thing* as male violence, or that male violence especially as used as a method of control against women (hello Chris Brown and domestic violence awareness) is not hugely problematic.

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think you're responding to an imaginary person in your head, cuz it sure as hell isn't me.

of course male power is prized and rewarded at every turn. or course female power is demonized and punished i don't wave any counter examples away. but the history of human violence, not just in western culture but in every culture ever known, is predominantly the history of male violence. to my mind, in conjunction with what little we do know about male and female biology, this makes it reasonable (not certain, just reasonable) to suppose that male biology plays a role in male violence.

would say the same of many other ostensibly gendered characteristics and behaviors, that biology probably does play some role. again though, it's impossible to clearly distinguish between the urgings of biology and cultural conditioning. but the fact that we can't know exactly what role biology plays does not mean that biology plays no role. in order to understand such things clearly, we have to accept huge amount of uncertainty. i.e., if you align yourself with either "crew", Cultural or Biological, you're missing the larger picture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

i suspect that both factors play a role, nature & nurture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Zora there's evidence that testosterone is released by men who are victors *after* the aggression is over but little evidence that testosterone causes violence or aggression. It's complicated, as all hormonal things involving humans tend to be.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration...

i don't think you need a starting assumption. i think it's better to look at the available information and work up from there.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

Contenderizer you keep repeating the same things over and over as if you haven't read what I've posted (and certainly none of the books I've referenced) so you are also having a conversation with someone who is not me.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

Has anyone else read this? Should I go home and re-read it for this thread?

one little aioli (Laurel), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

...and A Passing Spacecadet was right. We opened up a discussion of "women's issues" to well-meaning dudes and in less than 1 day it's become all about dudes and testosterone and male violence and we're not even talking about women at all.

Not even Myra Hindley.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

there's evidence that testosterone is released by men who are victors *after* the aggression is over but little evidence that testosterone causes violence or aggression. It's complicated, as all hormonal things involving humans tend to be.

there's also evidence that testosterone inclines humans to competitiveness, and is produced as a "reward" for competing successfully. and violence can be an effective competitive strategy, at least in the sense that beating someone up causes your body to produce more testosterone. violent criminals tend to have elevated testosterone levels relative to the general population, and we can't say for certain that causation is a one-way street in that case.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

That looks great, LaureL (ha! My iPhone just tried to change yr name, it's not me!) but I'm still reading Bitch which doesn't deny the possibility of female violence either.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

Contenderizer you keep repeating the same things over and over as if you haven't read what I've posted (and certainly none of the books I've referenced) so you are also having a conversation with someone who is not me.

i've read all of your posts closely. i'm familiar with the concepts you're discussing. i repeat myself only because you repeatedly respond not to my arguments, but to a straw man that only tangentially connects with what i've said.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm coming in at a tangent right now, because one of the things that's been upsetting me recently is male rape. I've heard reps from NGOs in Africa denying that there is a problem, denying that there is any need to include men in their considerations when setting up services to support victims or even when investigating war crimes. Yes, more women are probably victims. But the numbers of men who've been attacked isn't something anyone even cares to find out about.

This stuff: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men

I feel like this is a onsequence of stereotypes of both men and women but I accept that's not where this conversation is at right now. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

Contenderizer viz the quote you took out of my statement; your response is exactly the approach I think should be taken - to any subject - I was expressing my frustration that I couldn't find anyone doing that. Everyone writing about this stuff, including policy wonks at the UN, is trotting out the same lazy set of assumptions.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

onsequence = consequence, obv

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

As for discussing testosterone and male violence &c &c, I don't see how these can be things people-identifying-as-women-with-or-without-biological-determinants should ignore.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

We opened up a discussion of "women's issues" to well-meaning dudes and in less than 1 day it's become all about dudes and testosterone and male violence and we're not even talking about women at all.

in my OP, i talked about a number of things, not just male violence. when you argued with me (IN ALL CAPS), i narrowed things down to male violence in the hopes that it might provide a generally agreeable example of a gendered behavior with some relation to biology. maybe this is too "controversial" for this thread, i dunno.

anyway, the thread that this primarily expands out from, the feminist blogs & communities thread, was always open to guys, right?

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

You seem to inhabit this weird fantasy world where male power is not prized and rewarded at every turn, and female power is not demonised and punished at every turn.

This rhetoric may be emotionally accurate, but it is ott when compared to mundane reality. How so? Because it leaves no wiggle room for so much as one neutral male-female interaction at any time.

Let's say I invent a board game where men players take alternating turns with women players who compete for a share of power. To make this fair (though not realistic) at the start of the game both sides will have a million units of power. The rules will be your rules. At every turn men will be rewarded and women will be punished. We will do this by taking away one unit of women's power and giving it to the men.

After exactly a million turns the men will have two million units of power and the women will have zero.

But it wouldn't matter how many units were involved to start, or what tiny fraction of a unit changed hands at every turn, the end result would always be that the men become omnipotently all-powerful and the women will be utterly, completely, nakedly, and absolutely powerless. This may feel true to you, but this is not the world I live in.

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

Zora it's not that I think ppl should ignore it, it just can veer perilously into "but what about teh mens!!!!" territory.

You're right, that this enforcement of "men as perps, women as victims" is a narrative that is deeply dependent on patriarchal and harmful views of both women and men.

It is worth looking at, in that sexual violence (especially as war crimes) is an everyone problem, not just a woman problem.

But one of my problems is, so often when women gather to talk about their problems and the narratives of their own lives, so often that narrative gets hijacked by men who want to substitute their own narratives about women, and I'm deeply tired of that.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

P.S. If the idea is to change how men act or think, then such ott venting is self-defeating, because we're not getting any recognition or reinforcement for right actions or right thinking. Whatever we do could not be enough, so why begin?

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

Being a tad too literal there Aimy, imho. "At every turn" may be hyperbole, but it's not hard to see that if you replace it with 'frequently' you get a world many of us would recognise.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

i suspect that both factors play a role, nature & nurture.

i feel like you're talking in circles, perhaps. I think it's important to examine what's at stake in insisting on a distinction like Nature/Nurture.

in almost every case I'd argue it's about preserving access to "nature" as a privileged or objective point of view. The idea of the distinction itself is something culturally given. Which is to say that the distinction nature/nurture always takes place on the side of nurture.

it's not that "nature" or an "outside" to culture doesn't exist (how could culture exist otherwise?) but that we only have access to it, as I said above, as a kind of negative capability. we can't really climb out of the hole, only dig deeper.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Gendered behaviour with regards to biology is *not* "controversial." it's the absolute ur-narrative most cherished creation myth of all time!

What's deeply controversial is to actually say hey, maybe the similarities outweigh the differences, let's look at the science and numbers and find out how much of this is actual fact (not that much) and how much is narrative?

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

And that game gets played every day, Aimless. It doesn't end up with men: 2 million women: 0 but it does end up with men: £1 women: £0.70 that we've had to fight and march and claw to even get that high.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Being a tad too literal there Aimy...

It has always been my approach that people ought to be given enough respect to take them at their word, to start out by assuming they said what they meant to say. When this approach leads me to a conclusion that seems, shall we say, off kilter, then my approach is to point out where it veered off kilter, as best I can make out. Then that person has the option of either confirming that they said just what they intended to say, or else rephrase things nearer to their intended meaning.

I know this is weird, but it is the best way I know to get at what people are trying to tell me.

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

How about this: is the lack of female-on-male violence (or female-on-female violence), or the perceived lack thereof, purely the result of cultural constructs and received culture?

valleys of your mind (mh), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

xxxxxpost

OK, Myra Hindley. I can only work up a perspective on violent women by starting with science and building forward, which is why I was looking at testosterone and aggression. I started off by looking for studies on causes of violence so that I could rule biological factors out or in before moving on to social factors. Testosterone is the easy target, being the main biological driver for aggression, according to received wisdom.

Ultimately I would like to understand why this dichotomy of men = x, women = y is what it is, accept I will probably never get there, but I really feel like it has to start off as a gender-blind investigation otherwise it gets too hard (for me) to separate science from conjecture, nature from nurture, and so forth.

Perhaps I need a new thread for Totally Neutral Exploration of Gender Issues.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've just invoked the 70p rule so I lose bcuz we're back to Feminism 101 again.

The nature/nurture argument is important because it always comes back to "can these structures be changed?" and if you are someone who is getting some benefit from those structures, you see no reason to *have* to change. While if you are someone being oppressed by those structures, you HAVE to believe change is possible otherwise you'd put rocks in yr pockets and walk in a river.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's not that "nature" or an "outside" to culture doesn't exist (how could culture exist otherwise?) but that we only have access to it, as I said above, as a kind of negative capability. we can't really climb out of the hole, only dig deeper.

― ryan, Monday, February 13, 2012 11:11 AM (6 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah, but i've been saying exactly that all along, only inverted. just because we cannot directly perceive nature, can only see a construction from the constructed position of our own awareness, does not mean that nature is not perceptible, not real, not worth considering.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

How about this: is the lack of female-on-male violence (or female-on-female violence), or the perceived lack thereof, purely the result of cultural constructs and received culture?

what counts as violence? can any aggressive or dominance seeking behavior count?

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes, more women are probably victims. But the numbers of men who've been attacked isn't something anyone even cares to find out about.

why are you bringing this up in this thread though? are you suggesting because sexual violence(primarily towards women by men) has been discussed that we must also acknowledge that men have also been raped? why is this an equivalence that needs stating?

every single time there's a conversation about this topic in a space, this (or something similar) comes up. i used to be on another, much smaller forum, where every time there was a thread about rape or something, the few female participants ended up getting pushed out of the conversation by male participants, who outnumbered them (though that wasn't the determining factor) by a long shot. eventually we just stopped posting in those topics.

if you want male rape to be discussed, then yeah, there's a conversation to be had about that, especially wrt to your point about stereotyping and assumptions. i'm just saying, is this the right place for it?

gyac, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

What lack of female on female violence? Anyone who was ever 12 at an all girl school (I.e. me) will call this statement for the fantasy it is.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

But one of my problems is, so often when women gather to talk about their problems and the narratives of their own lives, so often that narrative gets hijacked by men who want to substitute their own narratives about women, and I'm deeply tired of that.

this seems a bit unfair, at least as applied to this thread, which was specifically constructed to be open.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

Gendered behaviour with regards to biology is *not* "controversial." it's the absolute ur-narrative most cherished creation myth of all time!

i meant controversial wr2 this thread

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

WCC, if the game doesn't end up men 2 million and women zero, then the rules are different than you expressed them. Also, if clawing, fighting and marching have yielded an improvement, then at some point somewhere men have ceded some amount of reward to women, as opposed to punishment at every turn.

Again, if men are to be denied any credit for ever taking any positive actions in regard to assisting women to overcome this state of power inequality, or for ever allying themselves with justice for women, or for being anything but right bastards who break women's bones to bake their bread, then... I think you're missing an essential trick in getting where I assume you want to go.

From comments you've made already in this thread, I suspect your reaction will be that, just like a man, I am whining to be patted on the head and given credit for being a good boy, while I ought to be inflamed with anger at the INJUSTICE of it all, and if I'm not 100% with you, and can't do right without appreciation, then to hell with me.

The problem with that line of thinking is simple enough. If I must be 100% with you, and if that means I must necessarily think that all men are nasty, unfeeling, power-hungry dealers of injustice who stand on privilege at every turn, then... sorry. I'm a man and there is something unacceptable in that definition of me. Something of a catch-22 you might say.

But, hey, suit yourself.

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

Con, this whole "biology is destiny" thing is something that many (maybe most?) women experience, constricting the size and shape of our lives, on an almost daily basis.

It's this hydra-headed thing that no matter how many times you chop off one head, it sprouts another to bite you. So not wanting to engage with that, not wanting to argue it down yet again, is often due to sheer exhaustion rather than a lack of engagement.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

Aimless I don't argue with ppl who put words in my mouth. Just carry on having your discussion by yourself coz I don't see where you need me in it, considering you've already decided what I'm gonna say.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

What lack of female on female violence?

Well, the relative lack of women convicted of violent crimes would be the obvious reference point.

While if you are someone being oppressed by those structures, you HAVE to believe change is possible..

What's sad is the dialogue involving female-on-male violence in relationships has nearly completely been drowned out by so-called "men's rights" people with claims like "when a woman hits a man it's no big deal, but when a man hits a woman it's domestic violence!" I don't think yelling about where blame is placed is helping anyone.

valleys of your mind (mh), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

nasty, unfeeling, power-hungry dealers of injustice who stand on privilege at every turn, then...

I think it's important to realize that men stand on privilege at every turn whether they are nasty, unfeeling, or power-hungry or not. Even ones who are allied with women, working to help women, etc. Like if you can't get that then you will always be having the wrong discussion.

Melissa W, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's a numbers game, mh, and it's difficult to say "yes this exists. But can we please not let the narrative of the one place where women are unfortunately in the majority and men in the minority be written exclusively by that minority?"

Exclusively being the operative word there.

Also let's not even open the can of worms that is male on male violence which doesn't even need to be inside a relationship. Intra-sex violence as a real thing in this world.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

WCC, you are steering by your own compass and you are locked on to the course it has set for you. Good luck. Just realize that if you place a chunk of ferrous metal near a compass the needle is attracted to that instead of to magnetic north. If you don't notice this you can get pretty far off track.

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

WCC, that makes sense, and i'm not trying to get you to engage w it.

fwiw, and i hope this isn't offensive, myths abt "biological masculinity" are another kind of prison. they're a power-granting prison, which may seem like an oxymoron, but they can be brutally rough on men who don't conform. and like i said at the top, we all "fail" to conform (succeed at not conforming!) in various ways.

just so we're clear, i'm NOT in any way, shape or form trying to compare my struggles with supposedly "natural" masculine identity with the awful history of female oppression. i'm very aware that i was born to a position of unfair privilege in this and other respects.

re our differences in this discussion: i'm just kind of a fence-sitter by disposition. i'm the type to try to see merit on both sides of an argument, to find common ground rather than to "take a side". maybe that's annoying to those with more clearly defined positions...

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

Aimless, Melissa has answered you pretty comprehensively.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

It would be cool if people who don't actually want to examine their ideas about gender would do something other than post here, thanks!

one little aioli (Laurel), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

Melissa, you are completely right and it makes me feel kind of like crap every time this point is articulated, because it's a privilege that I'd like to escape in some ways, because there are so many things that I'd like to do or change that it doesn't help with.

That and I would like to believe that there is something to meritocracy, but there are some points in my life where I consciously know it's not personal merit but personal privilege that's influencing things.

valleys of your mind (mh), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's important to realize that men stand on privilege at every turn whether they are nasty, unfeeling, or power-hungry or not.

Yes. I would agree with that. Since the privilege is built into the society, the only way off it is to stand outside society. I do that from time to time, but only because I sometimes go wander around the wilderness where there aren't any other people. As soon as I return, I'm back on privileged ground.

Explain to me how I can alter this state and I will attend well to your words. But if there is nothing I can do, then please do not blame me for doing nothing.

Aimless, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

You could stop coming into discussions about sexism and telling women that they're wrong-headed and that you have a clearer view of things?

Melissa W, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

fwiw 2 all my male-identified brothers, you dont have to post in this thread. the world will be okay if you dont share your take on all of this. you will be okay, too. it can be hard to take a step back and just be quiet for a while but sometimes its really worthwhile.

max, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

if you want male rape to be discussed, then yeah, there's a conversation to be had about that, especially wrt to your point about stereotyping and assumptions. i'm just saying, is this the right place for it?

― gyac, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:23 (29 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I guess you skimmed over the bit where I said "not for this conversation, I just wanted to get it off my chest" and "perhaps I need another thread."

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 19:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Con I recognise that the myths about biological masculinity are another kind of prison - I keep repeating that patriarchy hurts men, too line and I deeply believe it.

If you're a natural fence sitter, I understand. And so long as your argument is and/both I'm prepared to accept that and/both intersection of nature and nurture is the most likely explanation of most human behaviour. So I think I understand yr viewpoint a bit better now?

But it's unfortunate that "nature" argument is something I get hit in the face with repeatedly while nurture isn't slapping me, I'm likely to be a bit partisan.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 19:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

I have never moved, nor had the need to move, a refrigerator

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:21 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

I mean seriously terrible example, that's like one thing you virtually never move. You get it delivered, that's it til the day it dies! Most places you move into already have one! You are in television guy, think of a better example!

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:21 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

He's crazy, I move the fridge every time I sweep the floor. They SCOOTCH, you know. No one is picking them up with one hand like a super hero--not even MEN.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:22 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

he is disgusting
no families without men? tell that to bazumpteen thousand single moms, asshole. he sucks.

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:24 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

He's terrible.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:25 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

hope he gets crushed while trying to move a fridge

Ƹ༑Ʒ (imago), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:31 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

It's Impossible to Prevent Someone From Eyefucking You

We asked 10 women in eight countries to record every instance of street harassment -- every catcall, every ass-ogle, every creepy look -- for an entire week. The results? A strong argument for just becoming a shut-in.

mookieproof, Tuesday, 7 October 2014 23:35 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/10/ugly-as-i-want-to-be

mookieproof, Saturday, 25 October 2014 02:43 (Yesterday) Permalink


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