Monday, November 19, 2012

Whats in a word?



This blog is long over due. With all the hootenanny over Feminism: what people think it is and what it is not - the videos and blogs lead me to reflect about the definition of feminism as well as the definition of MRA. 

 Most of my readers know that I do not like the Free Thought Blogger "feminism". I find them a bunch of whiny crybabies who enjoy being victims. I bashed the FTB feminists, PZ Meyers, and posted several troll-y images making fun of them. Today, I went to AVoiceForMen, read some blogs, read some comments and the experience left me feeling icky.  It is time to set the record straight about both of these groups. I am not a fence-sitter, that is a person who refuses to take a side. My position is different from that, I am stating that I do not like BOTH groups. I also reject the idea that one must conform to one ideology or another. I would rather be an individual than be a sheep.




Discourse Should Use Clear Words

Feminism's general definition...and I would like to stress the word general definition, is that feminism is a philosophy that supports the right and equality of women. Over centuries, women have been exploited by men. Today, and all around the world, women live as second class citizens. Therefore, the need for organizations that will defend the rights of women, liberate them, and free them is a real need. Christopher Hitchens once said, that the best way to fight poverty is for the liberation of women. There was a time in American history Westerners needed feminism. This was a time we needed it so that families could be stronger and more adaptable to a changing world. In the process western women and men expanded feminism into various disciplines ranging from sociology, economics, anthropology, gender studies, literature, art, philosophy and psychology. In trying to answer everything, the definition of feminism succeeds at answering nothing.


Feminism is a vague word, it has no clear form, precision or clear thinking.  As a result any self-serving person can mold it into anything they want. These same people will have no qualms about putting us in a high chair, telling us to open wide and swallow their definition of feminism. The problem with the word feminism is that it encompasses everything and lends credibility to an assumption that it identifies will the entire female gender. This a falsehood that should be rejected. An attack on feminism is not an attack on women. Women who attack feminism are not chill-girls.

When I was a teenager, I identified myself as a feminist. My father told me that I was a humanist, not a feminist. I asked him why. He said, "If you are a feminist, then you MUST be a radical." As the conversation continued, and I found myself growing angrier by the minute, I realized that my father was defining the word feminism for me. Being the outspoken kid that I was, I turned around and say, "I have the mental capacity to define feminism for myself - thank you very much. I am a feminist and I am NOT a radical, or a man hater, or any of those things."

As time went on, I started to think more and more about how feminism is defined. I finally realized that the definition, or lack-there-of, is the problem. We must have mutually accepted definitions in order to express the essential nature of something. If we do not use the same words, with the same meaning, we will not understand each other. Imagine if each person could interpret every word in this blog in any manner that they see fit. The message this blog would vary from person to person. 

I am here to communicate a message. If I wanted people to draw their own conclusions about what I mean to say, then I would be a painter or a poet. I do not paint and I do not write poetry. Public discourse must have common words with mutually accepted definitions. Without it, we may as well be a bunch of cavemen grunting monosyllabic sounds to each other. 




POWER STRUGGLE

At the heart of the gender struggles we find between feminists and MRA is a desire to control the other, or protect oneself from 'threats' real or imagined. Feminist groups and MRA blogs sound like a bunch of circlejerks. Sometimes they say things that are right, sometimes wrong, but consistently they congratulate each other on being masters of the universe. It is a weird type of congratulatory group that, at the same time, feeds on the malcontent of its members.

These angry circles offer members healthy doses of perceived threats, resentment, and foamy load of paranoia. The comment sections are a gyration of bitter resentment towards the other gender. They insult, dehumanize, and stereotype the other gender. Oh- and both feminists and MRA's like to accuse the other of imposing their insecurities onto them. For some reason that is a common theme. 

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A long time ago actress Joan Crawford was asked what she thought about the women's liberation movement. This is what she said, "Women's Lib is a lot of hogwash. Women have always had their rights, but they were too dumb to use them. Any woman with intelligence and ambition had always been able to make it in the so-called man's world." 

I happen to mostly agree with Ms. Crawford. Any woman with half a brain can make it in this world. In turn, when I think about the MRAs, I must apply the same logic. Any man with half a brain can make it in this world. Some feminists are too dumb to know what their rights are and to use them effectively. In turn, some men are too dumb to know what their rights are and to use them effectively. The MRA's complain as if women and girls are stripping them of all ability to be the master of their own destiny. I find myself agreeing with arguments raised by both sides, but disagree with how they think of themselves as poor little victims. 

For example, I agree with most of the points A Voice For Men raise about male issues. Please check out the link so you will know what I am agreeing and disagreeing with. 

1. Appalling State of Mens Health - DISAGREE - get off your butts and go to the doctor. Don't wait for your wife to make you go. Men die of stubborness.
2. Health of Boys Needs Attention - AGREED - all childrens health need attention
3. Male Suicide Rate - AGREED
4. Men conditioned to be disposable - DISAGREE - if women cannot use the 'social conditioning argument', as discussed when I tore apart Femanons Blog for saying women have no choice because they are 'conditioned', then the same rule applies to men.
5. Men are more likely to be homeless - AGREED - men need more services than women do. In fact, I would support public funding for men's homeless shelters.
6. Violence against men - AGREED - men are more likely to be victims of Male violence.
7. Male Education - AGREED - boys are not graduating high school or university at the same rate as females. We need to fix this.
8. Lack of Male Teachers - DISAGREE - for two reasons. One: men do not go into education because there is not enough money. Men have to fix this problem for themselves. Two: the article states that the lack of male teachers is a reason for male drop out rates? Bullshit. The boys family is the likely culprit.
9. Custody - NO COMMENT - I am not objective on this matter. I went through my own personal hell in the child custody courts. Money plays a bigger factor than gender, at least in the United States.
10. Fatherlessness - AGREED -
11. Support Fatherhood - AGREED - We must support BOTH fatherhood and motherhood
12. Men lack Reproductive Rights - DISAGREE - it is called a condom. Use it. Do not trust anybody but yourself when it comes to birth control.
13. We need to protect babies from circumcision AGREED - it is a heinous practice that must end.



COMPARE AND CONTRAST

While reading an article on A Voice For Men, namely a specific article published by John the Other, it brought back the memory of that first angry conversation with my father where he decided he would define feminism for me. The featured image below is taken directly from his blog.

Image One





After I read his blog, I had to think carefully about a few things. Unlike other people, I need to sit and think about things for a bit before coming to an opinion about them. The first thing that came to my mind was that conversation I had with my father. The second thing I thought of was, would this comment make sense if took a different spin on it. Sometimes, flipping it around helps us look at something in a new light. 


Image Two







When John the other was putting up posters, stating that men's rights are human rights. Other people started tearing down his posters, claiming that they were hate speech. I saw the posters and do not think that they were hate speech. (I am completely with John on that matter.) During the poster tearing incident I remember a woman saying to John, "you hate women." When she said this, I thought that supporting men's rights does not mean that he hates women.  In turn, just because a woman is for women's rights does not mean that she hates men. 

Hopefully we can see what is happening here. The statements made in both Image One and Image Two are both wrong. Just as it is wrong to call all feminists a bunch of man-haters, it is equally wrong to call MRA all woman-haters. 

I do not call myself a feminist. Not because my father was right in calling ALL feminists a bunch of radicals and man-haters. He was wrong and I want to make that clear. The problem is that feminism encompasses several philosophies, ideologies, and disciplines. Just as feminism cannot have a common definition, it is even more disruptive that people go around defining it for themselves. If we cannot agree on common words and definitions of those words, then we cannot communicate with each other. I say, take the word feminism and throw it in the trash. Woman studies should become gender studies.

When I look at the MRA website, there are some men there who clearly hate women, and think they are a bunch of bitches who spend their lives concocting new ways of falsely accusing innocent men of rape. The image to the right was taken from an MRA article about women's vagina. As shocking, and disgusting as the comment is, one cannot say that all MRA's have this opinion.  I know that there are some men in the MRA who love women. It is not fair to say that some men in the MRA, the ones who love women, should not consider themselves an MRA because they are..."openly giving cover to those who call for the oppression of women."  

DON'T WORRY - BE HAPPY

I am obviously the last person who should be telling anyone to be nice. Although I am admittedly and immature bitch, I can confidently say that I am an equal opportunity offender. In all seriousness, that entire conflict between the MRA and Feminists comes down to a simple principle: do what you need to do to make the world better for you and your family. A vast majority of the problems the MRA are complaining about, they have the power to fix. If things are so bad for them, why not just fix it? I agree that we should be concerned about boys healthcare, suicide rates, education and circumcision. That being said - men need to get up and do something about it. Problem solved. Unless of course, they are claiming that women have so much power that they are controlling everything (media, economics, education etc), which would bring us into major conspiracy theory mode. If a person believes that, they may as well believe that 911 was an inside job and we never put a man on the moon. Just get up and fix the problem you want to fix.

Joan Crawford had it right. If you are smart enough, you will know your rights and exercise them. If you are weak, you will sit around and bitch about them. I wish women and men would stop trying to control each other and just choose to be happy.




10 comments:

  1. " That being said - men need to get up and do something about it"

    They are doing it, and they are getting an incredible level of opposition from "feminists" (in quotes because it's a word that any one can define on their own, so it's meaningless).

    JtO put up posters and they were tore down. A recent conference about boys and boys' issues has faced the defacement of their advertisement and got protested by groups claiming "misogyny", men asking to deal with male victims of rape and DV get drowned with a "women have it worse" chant.

    Being an MRA has become an insult and an synonym of misogynist, rape enabler and harasser. Men are doing something and your feminists are opposing it all the way, and despite what you seem to believe, feminists and women have a great a deal of power in today's social and political spheres.

    Now tell me how would the MRAs for example, start fixing the healthcare problem? I don't think it's an easy problem, but since you think it is, I would like to hear your solutions (not a snarky question, btw, genuinely interested).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm going to address several parts of your post:

    Appaling state of men's health:

    Breast cancer getting a 1000 times more funding and publicity than prostate cancer, lots of campaigns and races about women's health, none for men. Also, every time women don't do something, it's because society or patriarchy or gender roles don't allow them to. Why don't we take a look at the gender roles that force men to be stoic and not pussies?

    I disagree with your disagreement.

    Male being disposable: it's not about social conditioning, it's about how society reacts to violence or death depending on gender. On the recent Batman movie shooting, several men died protecting the women they loved. Men who didn't do it were portrayed in a very bad and negative light, women were not expected to sacrifice themselves for their men. Violence against women makes everyone jump and cry, violence against men is just another piece of news.

    I disagree with your disagreement there too.

    Lack of male teachers: you say " men do not go into education because there is not enough money" PLEASE PRESENT EVIDENCE OF THIS.

    "the lack of male teachers is a reason for male drop out rates? Bullshit. The boys family is the likely culprit." PLEASE PRESENT EVIDENCE OF THIS.

    Also, when girls are doing bad in school, campaigns and affirmative actions are created to help them, why are there none for boys who drop out?

    I not only disagree with your disagreement but think this point was very badly argued.

    Men lack Reproductive Rights: you say it's called a condom. OK. Women also have a pill and other methods. But women also can decide to have an abortion even if the man wants to have the child. And if she decides not to have an abortion, the father has to pay child support for the next 18 years. So women have a way to get rid of any and all responsibilities of pregnancy, men don't. "You can't force anyone to become a mother" is actually a war cry for pro-choice people, but men can be forced to become a father.

    You obviously didn't do your research on this point, because you don't know what it's about.

    About your example of MRA's hating women.
    Feminists have "Scum Manifesto" Solanas, ""I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth" Dworkin, "Castration Day" Femitheist Divine and the Orange Files from RadFemHub.
    MRA's have ... a man who thinks older women have loose vaginas.
    How does this guy even live with so much hatred in his heart?

    Naomi, the amount of hatred in feminism is not only not in the same league as that in the MRA, is not even playing the same sport.
    Find an MRA who advocates for gendercide, for the public humiliation, abuse and castration of all men, for not caring of baby girls and letting them starve, and I'll give you the "hate" point. Until then, you only have one man who has a specific taste on women, and you treat it as if no woman ever said "you know, size do matter, I like men with big penises and I won't have sex with men with small penises". That's the level of hate you want us to be horrified about.

    (Continued in next comment)

    ReplyDelete
  3. And about your last point, men ARE doing something. They are raising awareness, they are telling men all over the world that things are not OK, that the things they take as normal are not, that the feminist rhetoric and narrative about them and female oppression are not the truth they have been told, that they have issues and that it's ok to worry about them.
    They are also showing the same thing to women all over and that's why the MRA is encompassing more and more people of both genders, which is known as "taking the red pill".

    There are groups that are also doing real life activism, and taking to task and asking for evidence from the feminists and the people who have bought into their view of life and genders. That's also important.

    The fact that they're not doing what you think they should be doing is of no importance. Why do you think you're so important as to define what this movement you don't even agree with should be doing? why should they drop what they believe is worth doing and do what you tell them to?

    It's also funny that you talk about conspiracy theories when the basis of feminism is that almighty shadowy conspiracy known as The Patriarchy.

    Your last point is like saying "if women are tired of being oppressed, why don't they fix it? why don't they fix the supposed pay gap? the supposed rape culture?"
    Because this issues are not that easy to fix, because they require society to realize there is a problem, to change roles, to change the way people think and the way we raise our children and live our lives.

    In this post you really dropped the ball.

    As that XKCD comic put it, the important thing is that you have found a way to feel superior to both groups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness me,

      I do not have time to read any of this. But I approved it anyways.

      How nice I am.

      Delete
  4. Wow.. You put them in their place with your superior intellect didnt you?
    I am sure you can cut down Dawkins and even Einstein to size. After all, you are the FIRST person on youtube who cut down islam to size, and even created the 'Mohd is pedophile' meme.
    Howz that English degree working out for you nowadays? Making lots of moolah?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah... my stalker, how I have missed you.

      I do not have an English degree you ding-dong. You clearly do not know a thing about me.

      And yes, being self-employed is great. I have been able to live all over the US and France. (owned a business there too BTW).

      In fact - I have probably done a lot better than you in the past. Deep down, you know it is true and feel emasculated by it. Don't fret, I am confident your mother still loves you. (presuming she has not killed herself yet)

      Delete
    2. Did you know that in Clifton New Jersey the average per capita income is only $29K per year? Wow, that really sucks. Ten percent of the Clifton population are below the poverty line.

      Hope things improve for you, I really do.

      Delete
    3. Still think I have an English Degree?

      You are an idiot.

      Delete
  5. I'm going to keep this short since I am a little late in reading this and commenting.
    It's nice to see a well written summation of both groups and pointing out that just because you have problems with one group, that you don't have to switch to the polar opposite.

    I've seen quite a few people say some wonderful things in criticism of feminism, then become almost guilty of much of their complains in the opposite direction only days later.

    I know this comment is very vague but the purpose is not to explain in detail why I think this, it is to say thanks for this very enjoyable read that restores some of my better opinions of people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Daniel, the encouraging comments always mean a great deal to me.

      Delete

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