Patriarchal Misogynistic TendenciesPosted: September 7, 2012 Filed under: Culture, Politics | Tags: America, culture, feminism, men, misandry, misogyny, patriarchy, philosophy, politics, relationships, women 11 Comments
Recently I’ve been reading a lot more internet chatter about feminism, which I can only take to mean it’s on the rise again. This wounds me greatly, as I had hoped we lived in a Post sort of world. You know, post-racial, post-gender, post-political, Post brand cereals, whatever. But I guess that ship has sailed, and we’re right back to having the same arguments that we’ve been hashing over (and failing to reconcile) for decades.
So what does this mean for me personally? To be honest it means I’ve had to confront my own patriarchal misogynistic tendencies. Yes, I admit that I have them. Of course I have them. C’mon, I was born in the mid-seventies and educated in public schools. I’m lucky I can even spell “patriarchal misogynistic tendencies” let alone admit having them. And I do. But just like paranoid schizophrenics can still have enemies, misogynists can still be right from time to time.
Here’s my favorite example: I’ve had a crazy ex-girlfriend or two. Now don’t get me wrong on this; I actually have several exes, and for most of them I hope I hold the place of “pleasant memory”, and I more likely hold the place of “bullet, dodged.” Most of those ladies I don’t even think of anymore, and while I may have in my callous youth said some unkind things about them I at least have enough class to regret it. But the fact is I do have one or two truly crazy ex-girlfriends. I even have objective witnesses of both genders to back me up. But here’s the problem: everything I’ve seen in the feminist orthodoxy says that’s wrong. That somehow I’m as much to blame as they are, if not more so, simply because I was a willing participant in the relationship. Boy, that’s not blaming the victim much, now is it? Only I can’t be a victim, because of my gender. That’s one.
My next favorite is things like quotas, preferences, and government set-asides. There are plenty of these designed to help women get ahead in school, in business, and in civil service. Setting aside the question of their efficacy, I wonder about their essential morality. Is this just? Is it right to single out one gender and favor them over another? And if so, for how long? Sure you may feel you are correcting some sort of societal imbalance, but when there’s no limit set the assumption is that injustice is either endemic to society or the individuals that comprise it (which are basically one and the same). With women graduating from college at higher rates than men and getting more advanced degrees than men these days, have we reached the day we no longer need these set asides? If not, will we soon? Will we ever? That’s two.
And hey, for the third issue, let’s go for a hat trick of issues that all tie together: divorce, custody, and child support. Despite the great gains that have been made by women in the workplace and men in the home, the default assumption that is near impossible to overcome in any divorce proceeding is that a man should support a woman “in the style she has become accustomed to”, and if there are kids they will almost always go to mom unless dad has absolute iron-clad proof she is a drug-addled child molester. In that case the kids will probably wind up with her parents. Fathers without custody will be tasked with child support (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that) and hunted down like the dogs they are if they miss a single payment (a bit draconian, but hard to argue with), and in the rare event a mom doesn’t have custody she has to… well, how often are they ordered to pay child support? And when was the last time you heard the phrase “dead-beat mom”? And please don’t feed me some line about women being “nurturers”. Remember, we don’t assign gender roles in this classroom. So that’s three.
Last but not least is a real touchy one and the one I expect to catch the most hell over, but I feel the need to say it since nobody else will. First a clarification: I am not taking a stance on abortion here. That’s another post entirely. I do have an opinion, a strong one, but I don’t want to cloud the issue with that argument. Let’s simply take as given that Roe v Wade is the law of the land. So women have the right to decide, once they are pregnant, whether or not they will have a child. What right do men have in this arrangement? If he disagrees with her choice, either way, he is powerless. Completely at her mercy. He can beg, plead, persuade as best he might (and please don’t suggest threatening because I will gladly see a man in jail for that), but he has no recourse before the law. If you believe that is fair, turn the situation around. Put a woman in ANY situation in which she is bound for almost twenty years by a single decision that a man makes on her behalf, even if he is bound by that same decision, and tell me that it’s still fair. Here’s an alternative: let him surrender his parental rights if he doesn’t want the child. It’s not everything, but it’s more than nothing.
Life’s not fair. I get that. But why is it that women get to cry “life’s not fair” and call it a movement? Why do men have to stand by on the sidelines and simply accept the slow chipping away at our dignity and all the good we have in order to make the world an acceptable place? There is injustice in the world, this I understand; that is a fact that is not limited by gender, ethnicity, or politics, and we should all stand against it. But robbing from Peter to give to Paulina does not create a better world; injustice is not the answer to injustice; misandry is not the cure for misogyny.
So, which specific part of feminist orthodoxy are you referring to. It would be good to cite that sort of information because the inclination to build an evil straw feminist is strong when those darn wimmez managed to hurt your feelings somewhere along the lines.
So it was a less than equal relationship, or did you entrust all the icky emotional stuff to the person who had two XX chromosomes? And were you expecting a free pass from responsibility in an adult relationship? Or did the woman who was “oppressing” you take your autonomy and ability to act responsibly as well?
Notice the leaps I’m making since you have not backed up assertion about “feminist orthodoxy. One could speculate because *you* got a raw deal with the ‘uppity bitches’ you now have an axe to grind and are not particularly willing to be charitable to the position you’re attacking.
Wow, dude, This is so deep. Funny how you overlook that patriarchal nature of society (hint: Its been in your favour if you happen to be a dude for hundreds of years) and just focus on quotas. So like, is it right that white males still run the show and are at the top of the power gradient in society? I’ll make you a deal, when Patriarchy is over, then we can stop with all the silly quota-nonsense, for realz.
Because in fuzzy-logic dude-land evaluating progress of a gender is solely based on one aspect – that being on one gender graduating college at a higher rate than the other. Next up, how captain crunch vs. cheerios makes you a real man or not.
You have to look after and take responsibility for your spawn. That’s crazy! Not that you have an axe looking for a grindstone about these damn women and their privileges….
No, society does it from day one. Ain’t heteronormativity great? Whoa, dude, you musta been asleep in your sociology class while they discussed that one. Look it up sometime.
Pining for the day when men were men and women were property (see broodmares). Bodily autonomy for women – contentious topic for you I’m sure.
As soon as men can get pregnant, the stuff you say after this sentence might be relevant. Till then, look up the logical fallacy “false equivalence” and be edumacated!
White male dude oppression is horrible eh? Having the easiest time in society because everything is catered to you and your needs is an onerous burden indeed.
Oh the cruel oppression of the Majority! And notice how the straw feminist you constructed plays so nicely into that inaccurate picture of reality. Feminism is for equality – and if that battle for equality happens to enroach on your dudely privilege that is called levelling the playing field, and clearly not misandry.
If you want to argue against the evils of feminism, I suggest you learn more about what it actually isbefore making your frivolous pronouncements.
First let me say I deliberately provoked this hostility, so I deserve it. There’s a fine line between being intellectually provocative and being insulting, and it’s possible I crossed that line. I don’t necessarily believe I did, but I deliberately came as close as I could to make my points, so if I did cross that line, I want to apologize to anyone who was offended. Does that negate the validity of any points I made? No. So, to address your counter-arguments.
First, you accuse me of creating a straw man while making out of me a straw man of your own (” those darn wimmez managed to hurt your feelings somewhere along the lines”). You’re right, I should provide sources. Fact is, I haven’t made a deep, intensive study of feminism. Nor is this intended (or sold as) a blog on philosophy, ethics, theology, beliefs, or anything other than my own musings, so the fact that I simply stated that everything *I* have seen of feminist orthodoxy should suffice, since it is two layers of context. But here’s at least one source, at least as valid as a wordpress blog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism. There are others, mostly a few mentions in some classes I have taken in college, as well as some readings I have done in various philosophy books, but as I say, I haven’t done a complete and deep study of it.
As far as the relationship I specifically had in mind, I don’t want to get into the specific details (as I lack the exhibitionistic nature endemic to the internet these days), but the person I am thinking of cheated on me several times, manipulated me emotionally, used me for money and material favors, and in the end when I finally found the strength to leave her it was a surprisingly tough decision to make. I honestly believe I was the only one of us who was emotionally involved in the relationship; if she was I couldn’t say, because she said a lot of things that have since proved to be factually untrue. Does this mean I was unable to make my own decisions? No. Was I being mind controlled? Hardly. But if a woman escaped from an emotionally abusive relationship in which she was being used for material goods, would you have so harsh a response to her? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you would not.
I don’t expect a free pass from any adult relationship, nor did I ever express a desire for one. Had you read my post you would have seen that, but then a straw man just makes “frivolous pronouncements”. I never said anything regarding “uppity bitches”, and in fact prior to mentioning the one or two bad relationships made it clear I took equal responsibility for the other relationships I had and even (I hope) made it clear I have remorse for having been a callow youth who may said some bad things about ex-girlfriends in the past. But then, you don’t seem to be particularly willing to be charitable enough to the position you are attacking to even read it clearly.
Regarding the patriarchal nature of society, you take it as given; I do not. However, since I seriously doubt I am going to convince a feminist of that, since feminism is by definition based on that assumption (unless I am reading that incorrectly as well), if I am going to make any progress I have to at least try to argue something we can come to terms with. I am not using this as a means of arguing that patriarchy doesn’t exist; if you believe it does that is another discussion. I am arguing the essential justice of certain means of redress, in the same way you can argue the justice of any proposed solution to a perceived problem. I argue they are inherently unethical, that two wrongs do not make a right. You argue that because I am male, of course I am against them, and see nothing sexist in your argument, nor anything unjust or inappropriate in it. You want me to see you as an equal, irrespective of your gender, and yet you dismiss my arguments strictly based on mine.
As far as your assertion that “fuzzy-logic dude-land evaluating progress of a gender is solely based on one aspect – that being on one gender graduating college at a higher rate than the other”, there are many things wrong with that statement. First, I am not evaluating the progress of a gender, I am evaluating the justice and ethical value of a political program. They are two different although related things. Second, I am evaluating several things, not just one, although to be fair in this one specific instance you are only addressing this point so that could be an artifact of rhetoric. Third, no lesser source of unbiased journalism than NPR has addressed the issue that the recent economic downturn has disproportionately affected men over women. All of which is irrelevant to my original point, which is that any sort of preferential treatment based on gender is unethical. Whether it is favoring women over men OR favoring men over women, it is unjust and unethical. The fact that it is imposed by force by the government makes it even more so in my eyes, but that is a matter for another discussion.
As for your next comment, it goes beyond inflammatory, a sin which I have admitted to, into the realm of the insulting. “You have to look after and take responsibility for your spawn. That’s crazy! Not that you have an axe looking for a grindstone about these damn women and their privileges….” Where exactly do you read any such thing in my post? My assertion was that women are given preferential treatment in divorce proceedings, particularly in regards to alimony and child custody. For the record, in regards to alimony, a friend on Facebook in a separate discussion has cited at least one study that has shown my knowledge may be out of date regarding the law, although the application of the law can be different from the written intent (and if you don’t believe that, I can cite examples where women have received the short end of that I am sure you would agree with). I fully agree that men should support their children, and I believe women should as well. What I don’t agree with, as stated, is the notion that women are de facto the better parent to be custodial parents in divorce settlements.
” ‘Remember, we don’t assign gender roles in this classroom.’
No, society does it from day one. Ain’t heteronormativity great? Whoa, dude, you musta been asleep in your sociology class while they discussed that one. Look it up sometime.”
Ah, wit for wit. I deserved that one. Fair enough.
” ‘What right do men have in this arrangement? If he disagrees with her choice, either way, he is powerless.’
Pining for the day when men were men and women were property (see broodmares). Bodily autonomy for women – contentious topic for you I’m sure.”
At last we get to what I think may be what really got you upset, and I can’t help but wonder if you actually read what I wrote rather than just made assumptions based on your own experience or your own assignment of gender beliefs. Let’s delve into what you actually said and see.
” ‘If you believe that is fair, turn the situation around.’
As soon as men can get pregnant, the stuff you say after this sentence might be relevant. Till then, look up the logical fallacy “false equivalence” and be edumacated!”
The classic statement that is brought up as soon as any man offers an opinion regarding abortion by someone who doesn’t want men to have any say in the matter. So let’s reword it slightly once more: “As soon as you can get an erection and get someone pregnant, the stuff you say after this sentence might be relevant.” But I tire of this sort of false equivalency (I am equally familiar with that logical fallacy.) I asserted one thing, and one thing only: that women have a right to decide if they will have a child, and men do not.
Your belief is “my body, my choice.” (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) Fair enough. What about my body? The sweat of my brow, the value of my exertion, the fruits of my labor – are these not mine to dispose of as I will? Or does someone else get to decide what shall be done with them for the better part of the next two decades? I believe you have already given your answer to that: “You have to look after and take responsibility for your spawn.” But they’re not mine unless and until someone else has decided they are. To once again borrow your words: bodily autonomy for men. That’s all I am asking.
“White male dude oppression is horrible eh?” Any kind of oppression is horrible. White, black, male, female, asian, gay, straight, you name it: it doesn’t matter. I demand, require, and insist on the hardest and most satisfying form of equality that can exist: the equality of input, that we may all achieve as much as is available to us given what we have to work with. Does that mean that I believe women have it easy? No, and I never claimed I do. In point of fact, I openly stated: ” There is injustice in the world, this I understand; that is a fact that is not limited by gender, ethnicity, or politics, and we should all stand against it.”
You say I have “dudely privilege”; perhaps I do, and I am blind to it. I will endeavor to do better. But if feminism, true feminism, as you say, is for equality, then I have to ask, what kind of equality? Is it the kind of equality that believes in inputs or outcomes? If it is for equality of input, creating a system where we all have the same fair rules to play by, and everyone gets the same chance regardless of gender, then we can work together. If it is for equality of output, tearing some down in order to raise others up, oppressing some to make up for the oppression of others, then that is a belief system I will continue to fight against, not out of some wrongheaded “dudely privilege”, but out of a moral belief that any oppression is wrong.
Well you are going to make a fine hash of my alternating rule of deconstructing/deriding dudely wisdom I find on the internet. I do blame the infernal wordpress reader (incidentally how I got here) for much of this as it really feeds my SIWOTI syndrome.
Experience is important, but grasping and becoming familiar with a complex topic takes time and a some dedication. Deep study, of course, isn’t necessary but it helps one from staying cringe worthy things on the internet. I have said and will continue to say stupid shit for the foreseeable future, so don’t worry you’re not alone.
Abusive relationships suck. I’m sorry you had to go though that, but glad you found the resolved to DTMFA.
The assumptions made were based on previous experience with the “manosphere”. Now, it was unfair of me to judge quickly, and you do have my apologies for that oversight. However, if you look into the various MRA sites (try searching MGTOW for shitz n’giggles, or don’t its ugly stuff.) one of the patterns is the keen sense of persecution and butthurt felt by entiltled dudes whinging that they are not getting laid or laid enough and it is those bitches, especially feminist bitches fault.
That could be problematic considering the valuable descriptive and predictive power of the theory of patriarchy.
The important idea here is that for justice and equality to work, you need an level playing field. Right now, as it has been forever, the playing field is tilted in your favour. You can acknowledge it or not, but it is not your gender that gets your arguments dismissed, but rather the faulty assumption that there is no power gradient in society.
I don’t. Let’s chalk that straw man up to previous experience with the MRA crowd.
Agreed. But then, patriarchy hurts men too. Forming ideas based on the strict gender binary is shitty for everyone.
And until reproductive technology frees women from the unmerciful grasp of pregnancy, this imbalance will remain. I’m not sure if I understand the case you attempt to make about getting an erection and then pronging someone being the same as female reproductive role. Happy-pants feelings need to be controlled by the brainpan, a statement that applies equally to both sexes.
You don’t own your children. They share your genetic material and thus for the sake of keeping your genes going, it is wise to be responsible and take care of them. I’m pretty sure you did not mean “own” in the pejorative slavery type sense here, another patriarchal nugget of wisdom if you’re keeping track.
Generally speaking men have it. No one usually takes your body to be a public space available for consumption. Autonomy over your body ends well… with your body. Not to be overly semantic,but with regards to procreation, once the sperm leave your body that case for your bodily autonomy extending to wherever you ejaculate is rather thin. So, if no one is forcing you to share your genetic material then it would seem to me that your bodily autonomy is intact.
The point you seem to be addressing is the male say in what goes on inside the uterus of another. Can I have one of your kidney’s then if I need it? The uterus is only the womans despite what the religious right has to say about it. Women’s autonomy, unfortunately, is still a contentious issue and worth another post at the very least.
I have it too. I can’t get rid of it, but I work to minimize the harm I do to those that do not possess it.
Both. Evening the playing field and giving everyone a fair chance are both goals of feminism.
Understanding patriarchy and what it does, addresses what you are saying very well. I’m not sure how you frame tearing down to raise others up because by definition the dominant class cannot be oppressed as they hold power in society. A more tangible example would be affirmative action against racism, would you perceive that as tearing down to build another up? That’s kind of a gross position to espouse, if that is indeed what you mean.
Reverse discrimination, reverse racism do not exist – they are merely the cries of people who are resisting having their privilege impinged upon because the system that unjustly provides preferential treatment for them is being torn down around them, and they tend *not* to like that. Consider what Tim Wise has to say on the topic.
“Experience is important, but grasping and becoming familiar with a complex topic takes time and a some dedication. Deep study, of course, isn’t necessary but it helps one from staying cringe worthy things on the internet.”
Very true. Alternating between writing comedy, politics, and philosophy doesn’t make it any easier.
“I have said and will continue to say stupid shit for the foreseeable future, so don’t worry you’re not alone.”
I appreciate that. I think it’s the human condition.
“The assumptions made were based on previous experience with the “manosphere”. Now, it was unfair of me to judge quickly, and you do have my apologies for that oversight. However, if you look into the various MRA sites…one of the patterns is the keen sense of persecution and butthurt felt by entiltled dudes whinging that they are not getting laid or laid enough and it is those bitches, especially feminist bitches fault.”
Due to enough direct personal experience, I am all too familiar with these sorts of people and their opinions. I appreciate the apology, but I can understand how being exposed to enough of this can make anyone gun-shy.
“That could be problematic considering the valuable descriptive and predictive power of the theory of patriarchy.”
There have been many theories over time that have been predictive but ultimately proven wrong, or led to false conclusions (for example, the theory that the sun and planets revolving around the Earth led to some seriously flawed models to account for the retrograde motion of Mars). I am not saying I have proof that patriarchy is absolutely wrong as a theory or disproven as such; only that I do not take it as given in the way that you do, and so we will naturally draw some very different conclusions.
“The important idea here is that for justice and equality to work, you need an level playing field. Right now, as it has been forever, the playing field is tilted in your favour. You can acknowledge it or not, but it is not your gender that gets your arguments dismissed, but rather the faulty assumption that there is no power gradient in society.”
Once again, I think you are making an assumption. While I do not accept the theory of patriarchy as such, I do accept that there is inequality in society. I don’t think there is any way you can seriously pull out a calculator, tabulate it all and say, “on balance, it favors men over women”, or one race over another (although Caucasians do seem to maintain a slight edge in the US), or one age over another. Society writ large is far more complex than that. You can look at a given situation and try to determine if it is just or unjust. That’s about it. That having been said, you say two things: “Right now, as it has been forever, the playing field is tilted in your favour.” Really? Why is that, exactly? “You can acknowledge it or not, but it is not your gender that gets your arguments dismissed…” Are you sure about that? “…but rather the faulty assumption that there is no power gradient in society.” You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. Again I have to ask, if I were a woman making the same arguments, would you dismiss them out of hand? Or try to engage them?
“And until reproductive technology frees women from the unmerciful grasp of pregnancy, this imbalance will remain. I’m not sure if I understand the case you attempt to make about getting an erection and then pronging someone being the same as female reproductive role. Happy-pants feelings need to be controlled by the brainpan, a statement that applies equally to both sexes.”
I was making a point about the emotionally charged statement “until you can give birth, you don’t get a say.” It’s problematic for me on several levels: first, it’s a deliberate conversation stopper, which is fine, but I turned it around to show how meaningless it is with something equally meaningless based in biology. Second, it is based in the idea that men should have no say on the laws, cultural, or social mores that govern the lives of women, even as women live in society with men. Okay, I can live with that. Yet I doubt that any person who has ever uttered that phrase had any intention that women should have no say in the laws, cultural, or social mores that govern the lives of men. So it becomes a double standard. “I get a say over you but you get no say over me.” You can’t have it both ways. Either one is fine by me: we each get a voice in the entire society, or neither gender gets a say in the other gender’s society.
“You don’t own your children. They share your genetic material and thus for the sake of keeping your genes going, it is wise to be responsible and take care of them. I’m pretty sure you did not mean “own” in the pejorative slavery type sense here, another patriarchal nugget of wisdom if you’re keeping track.”
I agree, you don’t own your children in the sense of possessions, and anyone who does care about keeping their genes going (or simply has a shred of humanity) should be responsible and take care of them. However, you have inadvertently hit on one of the reasons I disagree with the theory of patriarchy (so far as I am familiar with it), as it is inherently sexist: it is inherently deterministic in defining artifacts of language and culture that have been used, supported, and perpetuated by both genders in a masculine sense, thus perpetuating and creating what it merely purports to study. Again, I have not made a deep study of the theory, so there may be something I am missing here, but the a priori case seems to make itself.
“Generally speaking men have it. No one usually takes your body to be a public space available for consumption. Autonomy over your body ends well… with your body. Not to be overly semantic,but with regards to procreation, once the sperm leave your body that case for your bodily autonomy extending to wherever you ejaculate is rather thin. So, if no one is forcing you to share your genetic material then it would seem to me that your bodily autonomy is intact.
The point you seem to be addressing is the male say in what goes on inside the uterus of another. Can I have one of your kidney’s then if I need it? The uterus is only the womans despite what the religious right has to say about it. Women’s autonomy, unfortunately, is still a contentious issue and worth another post at the very least.”
The point I am addressing is that life is more complicated than slogans, and that sometimes men really do get the raw end of the deal. Is it too much to ask that we consider the entirety of the situation in order to find, if not perfect justice, the point of least injustice? I can’t help but notice you never addressed my second point; that a man who never wanted a child has no choice. As soon as a woman has his child that he didn’t want, his body DOES become “public space available for consumption”, to the extent that his labor is subject to someone else’s use against his will. If your answer to that is “Happy-pants feelings need to be controlled by the brainpan, a statement that applies equally to both sexes”, how does that inform your beliefs on abortion? Regarding my beliefs on abortion, I still haven’t mentioned them, and I think they might surprise you, but they will be forthcoming in a future post.
“Understanding patriarchy and what it does, addresses what you are saying very well. I’m not sure how you frame tearing down to raise others up because by definition the dominant class cannot be oppressed as they hold power in society. A more tangible example would be affirmative action against racism, would you perceive that as tearing down to build another up? That’s kind of a gross position to espouse, if that is indeed what you mean.”
And here at last we get to the meat of the difference in how we perceive the world. I see people as individuals, or attempt to; you appear to perceive them as groups. I strive to build a world that provides opportunity based on merit, and you strive to build a world that corrects for past injustice by creating what I perceive to be current injustice. Yes, I am against affirmative action for anyone on any terms, be it gender, race, or anything else. The results can be predicted through game theory: when you set aside twenty jobs for people of a certain race, those who are the best of that race will get those jobs that they would have gotten anyway, but they will have the taint of “they only got it because of affirmative action”. If there are not enough qualified individuals to fill those roles, they will either go unfilled, or people who are unqualified will fill the positions and will struggle, making their lives that much worse.
You cannot legislate away bigotry; you cannot change hearts and minds through laws. You may as well try to pass laws that restrict free speech because you don’t want people using certain words, or painting certain images, or making certain films. It won’t change what they think; they will simply hide behind hoods an sheets. I would much rather the Todd Akins of the world make themselves plain as day so we can know who they are so that we can vilify them, shame them, mock them, and let them know that their time has passed. The answer to bad speech is more speech. The answer to bad business is good business. The answer to bad laws is not good laws, it is to repeal them and let people learn to make a proper society.
I have blogging responsibilities to tend to first. So, some links to sites that provide more evidence for my particular set of normative assumptions.
Firstly, Shrub blog – A primer on Privilege.
A great writer on feminism and feminist issues – Fannie’s Room
And of course, slendermeans who keeps her finger on the patriarchal pulse of our society.
I did mention finally feminism 101, but it is worth perusing as it hits many of the topics we have been discussing.
Oh and finally Sociological Images – Evidence in almost every post over there about the things you question exist.
This is demonstrably wrong. Remember that thing called slavery yah..that was all about legislation changing heats and minds. You guys fought a war over whose set of laws would win. That is the first example that comes to mind. The second example would be leaded gasoline which was in fact, legislated away changing the behaviour of *everyone* that drove a car, hearts and minds changed. Thirdly, the clean air act, again legislation changing how we thought about the air and stopping the behaviour that was responsible for creating a good deal of acid rain, hearts and minds changed.
As for legislating away bigotry it is working, it is now socially unacceptable to express openly racist sentiments. That is a step in the right direction. It explicitly is not curtailing free-speech if you’re thinking of rebutting my assertion down that avenue. Social criticism and ostracism of poor ideas is not an infringement on one’s right to say stupid things. Furthermore, do you believe that women should be referred to as bitches or c*nts? It is Free speech, no? That should be fairly difficult position to defend. Relate this back to how legislation somehow doesn’t work against bigotry.
And how exactly to you measure merit when one group gets to start 50 meters ahead of everyone else, while others have grain sacks tied to their ankles? No really, this idea of some platonically-ideal meritocracy is exactly that; a platonic ideal and does not work in the real world. (Just like libertarianism. Oh, the opprobium I have for liberturdian bullshite.
You ignore current and historical evidence and pine not for equality as you say you do, but rather, for a continuation of the status-quo because it benefits you implicitly and explicitly whether you accept it or not. It is easier to dump on women for not working hard enough, or those people of colour “creating a culture of entitlement” or rallying against affirmative actions “reverse discrimination” because all of those things are easier than admitting your privilege and the bias society shows toward you (and yes you said only one of the three, but I’m making educated guesses on the first two assumptions).
Feeling defensive? You should be. No one lies being called out on their privilege but it is the first step to understanding how society works (and yes, I do believe this is the correct interpretation because of the empirical evidence that supports it). The link to the Tim Wise video was not a supercilious action on my behalf, it is an important video that crams a lot of education into a tight 57minute package.
What is also difficult is someone having the audacity to tell you that you’re wrong about your fundamental assumptions about society and providing reasoning as to the how and why with terms you don’t get to argue (rationally) against (I know I did). Rail against the idea of white privilege, but as of today it still the most parsimonious answer to why western society runs the way it does.
Equality does not exist…cannot exist within an inherently unequal societal structure.
Dammit, there I go again, attempting to (pedantically) educate white dudes. *sigh* But if wonder why you see some people roll their eyes when you talk about the equality as you describe; it is most likely because of what I just mentioned.
(meta) I have similar arguments with people who sincerely believe that the media has a liberal bias, when if anything, the bias is a solidly right-wing conservative one. Different post material for sure. Arguing the minority position is always a such a joy.(/meta)
Apologies if necessary, I get all optimistic and hopeful sometimes.
I suspect we’re not going to get much farther on any issues till we clear up the idea of equality in society and how to frame it.
I also have other blogging duties to attend to, so I shall have to keep my reply as short as possible.
At the end of the day, any fruitful discussion has to rely on agreement on base principles and axioms. We obviously disagree on base principles on most everything, so there can be no agreement, and inevitably we will talk past each other instead of to each other, which is regrettable.
” ‘You cannot legislate away bigotry; you cannot change hearts and minds through laws.’
This is demonstrably wrong. Remember that thing called slavery yah..that was all about legislation changing heats and minds. You guys fought a war over whose set of laws would win.”
You have actually made my point here; there can be equality before the law, but it does not change hearts or minds. And changing the law is a process that can only come from the very people you claim are in power; those who have privilege; historically, as you say, “you guys” who “fought a war” for (and against) equality before the law. Legislating behavior does not necessitate a change in belief or attitude; if it did there would be no twenty-first amendment to the Constitution, and the War on Drugs would not be an epic failure.
“Social criticism and ostracism of poor ideas is not an infringement on one’s right to say stupid things. Furthermore, do you believe that women should be referred to as bitches or c*nts? It is Free speech, no?”
On the contrary, I believe that people should be accorded the respect they earn, and I believe that social criticism and ostracism, rather than legislation, is the way to achieve social change. The answer to bad speech is more speech, and shaming people for bad speech is some of the most powerful speech of all. Legislating against bigotry simply encourages people to hide their bigotry, making the cockroaches scurry into the darkness so they are harder to find.
“And how exactly to you measure merit when one group gets to start 50 meters ahead of everyone else, while others have grain sacks tied to their ankles?”
In the same way I measure my merit against a Kennedy, or against a Rockefeller, or against anyone else who is born wealthier, or with other advantages I don’t start with. Or perhaps in the same way I would measure my ability to play basketball against Michael Jordan, or my ability to act against Tom Cruise. The options we have are to either make the rules the same for everyone, or else have some arbitrary standard of “fairness” by which some are raised up and others pulled down. I prefer having the same rules for all, and if that is “liberturdian bullshite”, so be it.
I do not “ignore current and historical evidence”, I interpret it differently than you do. I do not “pine…for a continuation of the status-quo” but seek different change than you do. As for the rest, I won’t even dignify it with a response.
As for feeling defensive, are you? Have I challenged you too much? Or are you too certain in your interpretation of “current and historical evidence” to see that there may be other interpretations of societal trends?
One thing we can agree on is that “[e]quality does not exist…cannot exist within an inherently unequal societal structure.” The difference is our perception of what is inherently unequal.
I am deeply confused, you call for more research and less assumption, yet you admit in your own post that you attacked claims that weren’t even vaguely mentioned in the original post?
I have no interest of going through every individual point you made, but doesn’t your response fit the bill of a knee-jerk reactionary? I have often felt that those who are deeply involved in a movement could benefit from some perspective, it may help to take a step back and judge items on their own merits in lieu of the sins of their perceived peers.
Okay, I lied, this is a pet peeve of mine. The power gradient argument is logically poor, and in many ways unfounded.
The argument goes-
This part is fine and dandy logically. You can make arguments about what assistance should entail, and about what exactly the lingering benefits are, but all in all, it is very cogent. However it is often extended to-
This is poor logic. Via reductio ad absurdum you can see that Group B could be completely beholden to Group A without recourse. I don’t think that is happening here, but denying the voice of anyone due to factors beyond their control is in no way just or right. It is unfortunate that discrimination has ever occurred, but further discrimination is not the path to equality.
As far as it being unfounded, well unfounded is not quite correct, but exaggerated, or misinformed may be more correct. distribution across the “power gradient” is not solely due to race and gender. Heck, things like height (http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/standing.aspx) have a drastic impact in earnings. Birth in a first world country is far more important that gender and race on any “power gradient”. Are there privileges due to race and gender? Sure! Does this mean that they are the only factors or that is possible to accurately judge them? Nope!
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