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Book Review: The War Against Boys

By Signal 11 in Culture
Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 05:49:06 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

Short summary: Gender issues in schools, analyzed. Detailed review of feminist political agendas in public schools in the United States, a review of the legal and sociopolitical constructs that have contributed to the present situation. Sommers attempts to provide an alternative ideology to combat perceived negative impact of feminist ideology on society, focusing on young males.


Title: The War Against Boys
Author: Christina Hoff Sommers
ISBN: 0-684-84956-9
Rating: ** (two stars)

Christina Sommers does an excellent job of debunking popular feminist beliefs in american society in her book The War Against Boys. Sommers paints a sobering picture of misguided feminists and educators trying to "regender" boys to be more politically correct (more like girls, often). She also demonstrates that these attempts often cause serious harm to young boys, and studies conducted and taylored by leading feminists cannot entirely conceal the damage that is occuring, both to boys' academic performance, and their morality. Sommers attempts to expose the underlying reasons why feminists today feel the need to resocialize, regender, and reconstruct masculinity today - to chilling effect.

Sommers is also very adept at exposing the flawed methodology of many commonly-cited scientific studies, and argues convincingly that political agendas have corrupted some major organizations, including the Mclean/Harvard group and the US Department of Education. She also touches, but does not detail, the massive amounts of public funding being diverted to further specific groups' goals, such as those of the National Organization for Women.

The picture that emerges from countless workshops, sensitivity training classes, anti-harassment manuals, and other material being sent to educators across the country, detailed in The War Against Boys, is that of a small group of politically active women who feel many (if not all) of society's problems can be traced to men - and a majority of which harbor a general resentment of men. Most stop short of embracing radical feminist ideology - such as that espoused by SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), but who seem nevertheless determined to try to change what it means to be male in today's society, with disasterous results.

However, Sommers' work is marred by frequent logical inconsistencies, and she often extrapolates a conclusion that is not wholly supported by the facts she presents, often resulting in an incomplete argument. Sommers also falls victim to the same logical fallacies she accuses her opponents of; She frequently uses anecdotal evidence to point to a larger problem, although not nearly to the level that many feminists today do. Sommers' work also suffers in that while she is excellent at taking apart the arguments of today's feminist leaders, she provides a poor counter- argument, which is essentially that of a traditionalist. She states modern feminists are "misguided" and demonstrates it well, but leaves only a token and incomplete ideology as a substitute.

Sommers makes a good case against modern feminism, and the facts presented in the book by themselves are a condemnation of much of feminist ideology. Her work also points to a serious academic gender gap - pointing out that boys are falling far behind girls in virtually every academic area, at every level - and the gap is growing. Although Sommers does not say so directly, the reader can easily reach a conclusion that this is because many anti-male feminists seek to "turn the tables", placing men into the role of second class citizens. Based on what is occuring in the american educational system today, this goal stands a serious chance of succeeding (reviewer's opinion). Sommers' conclusion could best be summed up by a quote by Mary Gordon, an ardent and orthodox feminist, who writes "...We must love them [boys] as they are, often without knowing what it is that's made them that way." Gordon finds her maternal love and her feminist ideology at odds, concluding that, in fact, boys and girls are different - and boys cannot be "regendered" or molded into an politically correct image of masculinity. However, Sommers' poor analysis of the facts, and excessive political banter prevents this book from receiving a good grade from this reviewer. If you buy this book, buy it for the footnotes and citations - a veritable goldmine, but avoid its emotive arguments.

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Feminism is:
o "Women's rights" only 27%
o Equal rights for both genders 36%
o a man hating political movement 31%
o a communist plot 4%

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Book Review: The War Against Boys | 83 comments (66 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well written... (3.16 / 6) (#1)
by anthrem on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 10:11:56 PM EST

...but tell me, why do you dislike feminism so much? Or better, why did this particular book interest you?



Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
Replies. (3.33 / 6) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:02:32 PM EST

why do you dislike feminism so much?

It depends on your definition of feminism. I believe in equality of both sexes. Or rather, that they should be able to express themselves socially equally, and be entitled to equal protection (and benefits) under the law. The law should be gender-blind, and it is not. Our society has strong gender stereotypes, which impunge on my ability to express myself as an individual. The modern feminists of today seek to redefine and reinforce those sterotypes. They blame the problems of the world on men, and seek to place them into a subservient role - to "turn the tables", as it were. I find this deplorable, as it will only perpetuate the gender divide, and harm millions. For an ideology which promotes cooperation and empathy, I see remarkably little of either in it. It is an ideology which speaks one thing, and does another. This is why I do not like feminism.

Or better, why did this particular book interest you?

Because the world's going to hell in a handbasket, and I want to know why.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

"It all sucks" (whine) (3.45 / 11) (#8)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:23:06 AM EST

Because the world's going to hell in a handbasket, and I want to know why.

Oh, bullshit. Things are actually improving in almost every important measure.

10-15 years ago, the crime rate was higher, the economy was in worse shape, and we all had to worry about 10,000 Soviet nukes pointed in our direction, so don't give me any crap about how awful it all is. And truly, things weren't all that bad then, relatively speaking.

There has likely never been a better place to be in in space and time than in the US in the first year of the third millenium. I mean, Jesus fucking Christ, a lot of people in this world have problems like "starvation" and "genocidal warfare" to worry about.

"Hell in a handbasket" my ass. Talk to someone who lived through the Great Depression, or landed on the beaches at Normandy if things are really bad now.

As far as the anti-feminist rants go, well, you may well be right, but you are demonhunting in that you ascribe all sorts of power where there is none. Just because some idiot says something doesn't mean it is true. The idea that people "trying to turn the tables on men" have even the slightest bit of real power is utterly ludicrous.

What you need to learn very badly is that YOU are the only thing that stops you from expressing yourself. You need to stop looking for people outside of yourself to blame.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Uuuh... (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by mikael_j on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 12:22:38 PM EST

"There has likely never been a better place to be in in space and time than in the US in the first year of the third millenium..."
You've got to be kidding me! There are lots of places that (at least in my eyes) are more free/equal/whatever and offer a higher standard of living than the US.

/Mikael Jacobson
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Lots? (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 01:32:05 PM EST

One or two? Maybe. Probably Sweden. Maybe a couple of other countries. But only in a matter of slight degree. Somewhat better social services (though often balanced by worse employment) Slightly higher income, maybe.) But lots and to any large degree? Hardly.

Perhaps I should have replaced "the US" with "A rich Western Democracy", which is closer to what I meant anyway. The vast majority of the world can only dream of living like the average American (or Swede or Britain or German).

That's only about 600 million people. Probably less than 10% of the world population.

More importantly for the post I was replying to, things have never been better. We are all (speaking as a citizen of a western democracy) pretty damn lucky to be living today and not a hundred years ago, whether we are in the US or German or Sweden.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

irrelevant. (3.66 / 3) (#24)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:22:09 PM EST

The entire argument is irrelevant. There's always room for improvement. Don't claim that simply because something is the best, we should just give up and stop moving forward. It's defeatist, and counter to millions of years of evolution.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
That is not my argument (4.00 / 7) (#25)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:38:45 PM EST

Of course there is always room for improvement. I never said there wasn't.

The point is that things are not getting worse, and are, in fact, better than they've every been. Your statement, "things are going to hell in a handbasket" is pure bullshit and comes off as nothing so much as the ravings of an immature, spoiled brat.

And frankly, having lived and worked through the eighties and the nineties, things are getting better, not worse. Statistics back that up. (Ten minutes at any government economic statistics site will show that.)

So yeah, we should always try to move forward, but that said, someone living in a western democracy (especially a white male with technical training) complaining about how crappy things are is, quite frankly, stupid and spoiled.

So yeah, we should try to improve. Just don't expect any sympathy when you whine about how things are "going to hell in a handbasket". Hell is walking ten miles to the aid station for your 500 calories of rice. Hell is worrying about the cruise missile that might land on your house. Hell is being executed with a gunshot in the back of the head because you complained to the governent. That's hell, and we ain't heading in that direction. Things are getting better, not worse. (Not uniformly better, of course, which is why there is work to do. Just don't give me the "things are so awful" crap. They aren't.)


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Suicide (3.33 / 6) (#23)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 02:18:17 PM EST

Oh, bullshit. Things are actually improving in almost every important measure.

How about suicide rates amongst young men? How about the fact that since 1990, inmate populations have almost doubled?

you are demonhunting in that you ascribe all sorts of power where there is none.

NOW admits that it was instrumental in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment - an amendment which would have barred any for of sexual discrimination by the government - and would have eliminated affirmative action and EOE. If defeating the intentions of Congress and dozens of states' citizens is not power, what is?

Just because some idiot says something doesn't mean it is true.

Quite right. That's why I use facts, citations, and books of statistics... unlike you, where your counter-argument is essentially "See no evil, hear no evil".

What you need to learn very badly is that YOU are the only thing that stops you from expressing yourself.

This is patently absurd. Tell that to the gays in the 1950's after Eisenhower issued an executive order in 1953 barring gay men and lesbians from all federal jobs. Tell that to the people who were at the Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969 when the police raided that gay bar. Tell it to Rosa Parks, or ask yourself why Martin Luther King gave his famous speech "I Have a Dream". Ask yourself what the men who fought on the front lines during the world wars were fighting for. Ask yourself about affirmative action, equal opportunity employment, and postpartum depression.

Is your right to self-expression really that well protected? In short, ucblockhead - it is you who are shooting off your mouth with uninformed information, and it is you who are the part of the problem, instead of the solution.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Fun with statistics (3.75 / 4) (#26)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 03:22:07 PM EST

NOW admits that it was instrumental in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment - an amendment which would have barred any for of sexual discrimination by the government - and would have eliminated affirmative action and EOE. If defeating the intentions of Congress and dozens of states' citizens is not power, what is?
What, did you think I wouldn't follow your link? Jeez, that's a nice chronology of the ERA. Too bad it in no way says what you say it does. In fact, it says the opposite. I mean, let's see, they advertised for it, sued in favor of it...uh, how is this supposed to be "instrumental in its defeat".

Quite right. That's why I use facts, citations, and books of statistics... unlike you, where your counter-argument is essentially "See no evil, hear no evil".

Jeez, I'd have thought you'd have learned not to challenge me on things like that last time.

Anyway, I'm sure you noticed the word "almost" in my sentence. I'd direct you to a few little numbers like "The Unemployment Rate" and "The Inflation Rate" and "The Murder Rate" (and various other crime statistics). They've all improved dramatically over the last ten years. (Are you gonna whine about the lack of cites? Go ahead, I will post links if you do.)

So on to the suicide rate. The US suicide rate was at its highest in 1932. (At 17.4 per 100,000 compared to between 12 and 14 per 100,000 over the last decade. Great depression and all, you know.) Though if you check statistics that are a little newer than 1996, you'll see that the suicide rate has dropped a bit. (It fell 5% from 1998 to 1999. 1999 is the most recent year available.)

By the way, the link you provided for "suicide" used data from way back in 1995.

Oh, and here's a quote from your link:

Although the age-adjusted suicide rate has remained constant since the 1940s, suicide rates have shifted for some groups during the period between 1980 and 1992. For example, suicide rates have increased among persons between the ages of 10 and 19, among young black males, and among elderly males. Suicide rates for middle-aged adults declined during this period, but, for the first time since the 1930s, increased among Americans over the age of 60.

This, combined with the fact that the overall rate has dropped since the data your link talks about, is hardly a ringing endorsement of the idea that things are "going to hell in a handbasket". Yeah, the suicide rate is too high for US teenagers, but that is one stat out of many.

And finally, pretending that being a young white male today is anything like being a black women in the sixties or a gay man in the fifties is pure and utter bullshit. Do you honestly think that a gay man in the fifties could speak as freely as you are doing here, now? Hardly!
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Sigh. (1.50 / 4) (#30)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 05:47:36 PM EST

<i.I mean, let's see, they advertised for it, sued in favor of it...uh, how is this supposed to be "instrumental in its defeat".</i>

Read between the lines, please.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Thanks! (3.40 / 5) (#31)
by ucblockhead on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 07:23:22 PM EST

Oh, I get it...I'm just supposed to put up random links, and then claim they mean what I say they mean, even when they don't. I can just claim it is "hidden between the lines", and pretend that anyone who doesn't get the same, mysterious "between the lines" reading is some sort of idiot.

My, that makes research so much easier. Thanks, dude, that'll make life much easier! No more worrying about what something actually means. Now I can just decide that things mean what I want them to and not even bother worrying about thinking about what they actually do mean.

And to think I spent all that time putting up links that actually said what I said they said. Wow, I sure have egg on my face! What I fool I was!


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

um, what? christ, man, have you fallen that far? (2.75 / 4) (#35)
by sayke on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:09:13 PM EST

i remember when you wrote with a refreshingly absurd witty tang - your "points" were often, if not necessarily salient, at the very least, clever. now you seem to have stooped to the level of urging the world to pathetically grope a text in the hope of extorting the same obvious misinterpretation that you choked out of it.

ach. sad. so it goes, i guess... everybody has their off days, etc... but for fuck's sake, snap out of it already!


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

No thank you... (3.50 / 4) (#38)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 09:03:34 PM EST

Read between the lines? Signal 11, you were doing so well before you said that. It's the same thing Catholic priests used to tell me when I offered evidence that their Bible is less plausible than the average Mercedes Lackey novel.

Either an article says what it says, or it says nothing at all. If I were to talk to you face to face, would you read between the lines and speculate on what my words implied, or would you consider my words themselves and decide if they made sense?
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

I'm tired, ok? (1.00 / 1) (#42)
by Signal 11 on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:56:01 AM EST

Look, I'm tired. ucblockhead consistently lives up to his name. I really didn't feel like putting any effort into my reply, mm-kay? Now goodnight, I'm going to bed. =)


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
Please explain... (none / 0) (#50)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 05:50:44 AM EST

Your link on the NOW being instrubmental in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment points to a page listing NOW work from 1923 to 1996 on promoting the ERA. I don't understand your point.

[ Parent ]
Lying with links. (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by ucblockhead on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 11:05:18 AM EST

He was counting on the fact that most people don't bother to read links. They just assume that those links contain what the poster says they do.

It is a great tactic, though it makes you look really foolish if you get caught at it.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Blimey! (none / 0) (#57)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 12:58:16 PM EST

People think they can get away with a stunt like that?

[ Parent ]
The world is moving in both directions. (4.33 / 3) (#40)
by tzanger on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 09:40:15 PM EST

Oh, bullshit. Things are actually improving in almost every important measure.

Now I'm Canadian but I feel what is happenning in the U.S. pretty strongly. How are things improving on things like patent and copyright law? How about the entire crooked insurance industry? How about corporations who seem to have more rights than people?

I agree; things like crime and poverty are declining. The people who consider themselves minorities are being recognized/treated as equals. We can buy practically whatever we want and most of us have reasonable access to food, shelter and medicine.

Unfortunately the people's freedoms are being raped becuase they feel it's not as important as 500 channels on their satellite TV. The government is in the hands of the extremely wealthy and the corporations instead of the people, but the people either don't see or don't care. The special interest groups (including the feminazi, gay ultrapride and groups such as Greenpeace) are creating discriminatory practises, completely legally, and one of the targets is the white, heterosexual man.

I'm a pretty straightforward guy. I'm secure in who I am and I express my opinions often. I don't go out of my way to piss people off and I don't try to convert people. I take responsibility for where I am in life and give credit where due. But to say that white men are not discriminated against is ludicrous. High schools are forbidding white males to form groups while allowing "black clubs" "gay clubs" and "women's clubs". You have bullshit programs such as "equal opportunity" hiring practices in which companies can't hire one over another based on ethnicity for fear of losing "quota". Hell even before I was 25, the insurance companies discriminated against male drivers!

This post is kind of disjoint and I have rewritten it a couple of times trying to separate two issues: discrimination of the young male (the basis of the article) and loss of freedoms. Both of these are examples of the world (er... North America) going to hell in a handbasket. Signal 11 has some points, and so do you. The answer lies somewhere in the middle, not at the extreme. My own little point I'd like to interject is what is so good about having it this good and yet not having the freedom to do things you like to do? I love taking things apart. I'd like to watch movies or listen to songs any way I want. I'd rather not have to pay large sums of money for treatment to a biotech company because they discovered how my genes work. I want the ability to do what I please with products I buy. My basic securities are taken care of; that doesn't mean that everything is peachy-keen.



[ Parent ]
Atlantic article (4.33 / 9) (#3)
by rbeier on Fri Oct 05, 2001 at 11:08:46 PM EST

Hoff Sommers's article in The Atlantic is a summary of her book's argument.

I don't respect feminism... (3.83 / 12) (#13)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:50:35 AM EST

I used to, at one point; it seemed that women like Gloria Steinem sincerely wanted to ensure that society got out of the way and allowed women to achieve whatever men could achieve, if they wanted.

These days, feminism smells more like another strain of collectivism to me; it seems to claim that just because a person is female, that person is somehow better, more virtuous, more entitled than a man. It seems to me a reversal of the kind of thinking that led to feminism in the first place.

If I told you that I was entitled to special priveleges because I was male, you'd call me a sexist pig, and rightly so. But if a woman says that she deserves special treatment just for being a woman, you give her respect. I smell a double standard here, and it doesn't smell good. BTW, I voted +1 Section
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

You sir.. (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by Desterado on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 07:51:19 PM EST

You sir, kick total ass. I am glad SOMEONE finally said this. This of course, applies to everything from feminism to racism, to ANYTHING. People try to manipulate shit, and it pisses me off, amen.

You've got the flag, I've got your back.
[ Parent ]
Bare-assed Emperors. (4.00 / 4) (#36)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:51:16 PM EST

Thanks. I'm surprised nobody else said it, but I suppose it's politically incorrect to point out that the Emperor is naked these days. Then again, there are a lot of bare-assed Emperors running about these days, and just about all of them are flabby and useless.

Of course, this is liable to get worse before it gets better -- these poor fucking humans have a tendency, whenever something is wrong, to get together in a group called "us" and point their fingers (and eventually their swords and guns) at a group called "them" (who usually swords and guns of their own). With any luck, they kill each other off and enough rational people are left to pick up the pieces.

Muslims against the West, Christians against "secular humanists", liberals against conservatives, blacks against whites, Hispanics against whites, Israelis against Palestinians, Objectivists against the world (heehee) -- as a species we love big dramatic conflicts between herds of people. If two people were to disagree and settle the disagreement with pistols at dawn, it'd be front page news for a day, if that. But if two thundering herds of irrational humanity start brawling, it's war and it spawns months of newspaper coverage, movies, history books, and manages to turn whole cultures upside down.

And the best part is that it happens so often. In fact, it's happening again. Count me out, please. I didn't make this mess, and I really don't feel like helping with the clean-up. Not when I'm capable of making my own messes.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Now that I think of it... (3.33 / 3) (#37)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:55:02 PM EST

It might be pretty cool to start a punk rock band and call it the Bare-assed Emperors. Then again, most people won't get the reference.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

It is an agenda, dont kid yourself (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by ganglian on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:47:40 PM EST

tune in to the local news tonight and watch for how subtle nudges there are by the "PC" police, subtle references to push perception in a given direction, and just try to see how much subtle hypocracy there is in it. Go ahead, I dare ya.
You heard me.
[ Parent ]
I don't respect feminism... (2.33 / 9) (#14)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:50:56 AM EST

I used to, at one point; it seemed that women like Gloria Steinem sincerely wanted to ensure that society got out of the way and allowed women to achieve whatever men could achieve, if they wanted.

These days, feminism smells more like another strain of collectivism to me; it seems to claim that just because a person is female, that person is somehow better, more virtuous, more entitled than a man. It seems to me a reversal of the kind of thinking that led to feminism in the first place.

If I told you that I was entitled to special priveleges because I was male, you'd call me a sexist pig, and rightly so. But if a woman says that she deserves special treatment just for being a woman, you give her respect. I smell a double standard here, and it doesn't smell good. BTW, I voted +1 Section
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

Aw crapola. (1.00 / 2) (#15)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 08:52:37 AM EST

Opera barfed, and I ended up posting the parent twice. I wonder if somebody will delete the repeat...
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Our schools are anti-mammal! (2.80 / 5) (#27)
by dr k on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 04:20:02 PM EST

I mean, why did I have to wear pants at all? Look at monkeys, they don't wear pants!

When is someone going to write a book about how we discriminate against the other primates in our schools? And for that matter, how are the other primates going to learn how to read if we don't teach them?

I demand equal rights for every nippled creature!
Destroy all trusted users!

A sensible solution (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by Ialdabaoth on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 09:11:14 PM EST

<satire> I've a better idea -- teach the kids to read at "college level" by the time they're ten under penalty of death, and then dump them in libraries. We can eliminate special education by killing off the defective children and using their meat to feed the poor. </satire>
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Your poll (3.40 / 10) (#34)
by itsbruce on Sat Oct 06, 2001 at 07:57:15 PM EST

Is very incomplete. What it omits is the core of any rebuttal to your "argument": that feminism is an attempt to address a real and continuting imbalance. So many feminists don't feel the need to campaign for everybody. So what? Does everybody have to caompaign for everybody? Some people take up one issue, others another.

This story reminds me of your confused rant against anti-racism. Get a grip. You are one of the most priveleged people on the planet. You don't need to get all antsy every time somebody critices a white male somewhere.


--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.

Question.. (4.00 / 3) (#58)
by eightball on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 02:51:51 PM EST

Why wouldn't "Equal rights for both genders" cover your concerns. That does not have to imply "campaign for everybody".

If you have a scale and one side is heavier than the other (we will assume that weight = power/rights/etc.. for this), you are probably going to add weight to the 'light' side until both are even. (btw, this is regardless of whether you take from the 'heavy' side or have extra weights)

[ Parent ]
That slogan is usually a cover (1.50 / 2) (#73)
by itsbruce on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 11:07:45 AM EST

For simply talking down any anti-sexism proposal, in much the same way people suddenly raise the concept of "Colour-blindness" to try and avert anti-racism campaigning. Show me someone crying "Why can't we all just get on" and I'll show you someone desperately trying to make the issue go away.

Because the range of gender issues is now so huge, most feminists campaign on specific issues. Trying to fix concrete problems is a far more realistic way of working than making worthy statements about the whole of humanity. Responding to these campaigns with "Why aren't you doing anything for men?" is at best a trite inanity and more often an issue-dodging cop-out.


--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.
[ Parent ]

Hmmm.. (4.00 / 2) (#74)
by eightball on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 12:26:04 PM EST

I wasn't speaking of anti-feminist slogans. I was referring to your statement that none of the poll topics "attempt to address a real and continuting imbalance". Or in other words, how does 'make things equal' mean 'dont do anything, make this thing go away'?
Also please point out where I suggested that feminists must do something for men.

I appears as if you are responding to stuff I did not say.

[ Parent ]
a point that needed to be made (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by jessek on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 03:12:52 AM EST

I like the basic idea of what feminism used to be about, the equality of both sexes, but somewhere along the way it got mislaid and turned into villification of all men.

Not to say that a fair ammount of men past and present don't deserve this, but this whole "men are evil and want nothing more to repress women" belief is stupid, and more so, an affront to what I believe feminism's goal was at first.

I think the first thing we need to do is accept that there will always be differences in how men and women both behave and learn how to work together to understand each side. But with the current rhetoric of groups like the N.O.W., I don't think such dialog will be possible soon, if ever.

:: Street Justice, Mr. T Style! | http://www.infocalypsenow.org ::
feminism isnt what it says it is (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by ganglian on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 12:43:51 PM EST

It sounds very noble to push for equality, but as already observed, that isnt what feminism is anywmore. It's about pushing one more facet of the political correct agenda that is subtly forced on us by conventional media every day.
You heard me.
[ Parent ]
yeah... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by NovaHeat on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 09:03:13 PM EST

Yeah... somewhere along the line, feminism came to mean 'men are pigs,' and frankly, I find it pretty insulting. Somewhere along the line, it became un-PC to be proud of being a man. Being proud of being a woman is fine, but if you're proud to be male, then you must be some kind of chauvanist pig, bent on subjugating women and perpetuating patriarchy, or some such nonsense.

Of course, that isn't to say there aren't what I would call "true feminists" out there... the ones who really beleive that men and women ought to have equal chances in the workplace, in the home, etc. I don't think that kind of feminist need necessarily be female. But, just like any other movement, the rational voices get drowned out by the loud screaming fanatics, and the whole issue gets twisted into "us vs. them" instead of trying to adress the real problems.

-----

Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

In Sweden (3.50 / 4) (#46)
by murklamannen on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 01:04:21 PM EST

Same thing in Sweden.
I hear lots of talk about how terribly oppressive schools are on girls. And tons of money is put on various projects for helping girls.
But, i ask you, how come boys have much lower grades than girls in pre-high school?
It's interesting to note that in swedish pre-high school the majority of teachers are female. And there girls have higher grades. In high school there are about as many male and female teachers and there are no differences in grades between boys and girls.
To me it seems that the boys are the ones who are opressed.

Feminism: a word with many meanings (4.44 / 9) (#47)
by Macrobat on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 02:25:40 PM EST

Look:

Feminism means different things to different people. A lot of people seem willing to condemn anything labeled with the tag "feminist" just because there are [a few | some | a lot of] feminists out there who oppress men and boys. As for me, I've never been fond of the term itself because it implies an in-group and an out-group based on essentialized sex differences, but that's not how everyone takes it.

There are pro-porn feminists, pro-life feminists, feminists who use "he" generically, feminists who take the surname of the man they marry, and (many) feminists who love their sons. (About the only kind of self-styled feminist I've never run into is someone who doesn't believe in women's suffrage.) It's like using the blanket term "Judaeo-Christian" and presuming it means the same thing when referring to Orthodox and reformed Jews, Quakers, Baptists, Catholics and Unitarians. Well, it doesn't, and while a discussion of what "feminism" means might be productive, in this case it seems like using it as an inflammatory label is useless for the discussion.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.

The inverse applies (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by epepke on Mon Oct 15, 2001 at 12:35:56 AM EST

Because some feminists may be fine, it doesn't mean that all are all perfect and incapable of error, or even spite.

I seriously studied feminism from the years of about 1987 to 1992. I went through on the order of 80 books by feminists per year during that time. I did find a wide variety of viewpoints, so wide in fact that every single definition of what "feminism" is that I have seen fails to apply to a large group somewhere.

The closest to a single common priniciple is a kind of 11th commandment. This has resulted in a situation where it is impossible to criticize any action of any feminist under any circumstances. If you do, you will be accused of implicating all feminists, and in only half a breath you'll be accused of being a pig or Rush Limbaugh.

There is no way around this, ever, anywhere. Hoff-Sommer self-identifies as a feminist, and her first book was about making a distinction between different types of feminists, asserting favor of one branch and not the other. You would think that would prevent her from being accused of lumping all feminists together, but nooooo!

Of course, the people who make such assumptions aren't really suggesting that feminists should be distinguished from one another. They're just reacting according to the idea that to criticize a woman is taboo.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
That's not been my experience... (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by Macrobat on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 09:00:17 PM EST

...and I've known quite a few women (and some men) who call themselves feminists. Even academics, who aren't, as a rule, known for tolerating dissent :)

Because some feminists may be fine, it doesn't mean that all are all perfect and incapable of error, or even spite.
I never said they were. Take a look here for what I've said about that. But neither has any feminist I've ever met. Granted, there is a gap between what people say and how they act, and I'm sure there are a lot of women out there who will act as though the slightest criticism is an attack on themselves or their beliefs. But look at some of the postings here on K5 (or better yet, Slashdot) and tell me that men don't.

This has resulted in a situation where it is impossible to criticize any action of any feminist under any circumstances. If you do, you will be accused of implicating all feminists, and in only half a breath you'll be accused of being a pig or Rush Limbaugh.
It's not impossible. I've criticized dubious feminist statements before, even to the women who've said them. If you have a modicum of tact and have a good reason for disagreeing, you'll find that, even if you don't bring someone to your point of view, you can disagree without feeling sore at one another.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I've run into the militant feminist type before, too. Typically, this has been at college, where people explore adult issues without actually having to be adults. And sometimes there's no telling when you'll be ambushed for some innocent, well-meaning statement that someone else takes the wrong way. But that happens with both men and women, and I haven't noticed a significant difference between the two in terms of how often it happens.

There is no way around this, ever, anywhere.
You can't really mean this. I'm guessing you're exaggerating for rhetorical effect, but if you really believe it, I feel a little sad for you. Absolute, always-this or always-that statements usually come from people who've been hurt bad at some point in their lives, and I'm not about to get all touchy-feely and sensitive about it, but if you live with a pain that skews your world-view that seriously, I sincerely hope you find a way to get better.

On the other hand, if it really is a rhetorical flourish, you need to add subtlety to your bag of tricks. Hyper-exaggeration has a way of weakening your credibility, and is usually only effective when taking an ironic stance.

But I digress. My short point is, there are lots of feminists out there who can take criticism, as long as it's reasonable, constructive, and polite. Which is how most discussion should be anyhow.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Preaching to the choir + assault on strawwomen (3.50 / 10) (#49)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 03:07:47 AM EST

Of course, presenting kurobots with pretty much any book that says "feminists are evil" (in nicer words) is like telling Stalin that capitalism is bad. (Sorry for the horrible analogy; in the future I'll stick to the unimaginative cliché "preaching to the choir.")

Simply put, most kurobots are too deeply immersed and committed to the mainstream ideology of western societies to grasp contemporary feminism, and their comments fully reflect this: all the talk about "man haters," "feminazis," "feminism should be about people being equal, not about women being on top," and so on, simply brushes aside the content of essentially all contemporary feminist theory.

The biggest strawwoman here, of course, is the identification of the feminist attack on institutions with attacks on people ("man hater"). If you can't recognize this distinction, frankly, you have not only failed to grasp feminist theory, but also basic social science.

Most of the people in this discussion need urgently to (a) learn said basics and (b) actually *read* feminist literature (and not pop media distorsions thereof) before making fools of themselves in a public forum like k5.

--em

Don't paint all of us with that brush. (none / 0) (#54)
by ucblockhead on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 11:18:13 AM EST

Some of members of this choir are atheists, here to practice our singing.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
At least part of the problem is the name (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by Macrobat on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 04:13:21 PM EST

As I've pointed out on another thread, "feminsim" means a lot of different things to different people.

One case in point: my best friend's brother started unexpectedly getting low grades in one particular English class in high school. When his mother inquired why, she was told point blank by the female teacher: "In my class, boys are going to learn what it's like to work harder and get less for a change." (I'm paraphrasing; it was over a decade ago.) Needless to say, his mother made an unholy stink and got him out of that class (and eventually out of that school, but that's another matter). I'm pretty sure that teacher (who, yes, was eventually canned) called herself a feminist, and I know my friend's mother does, but they were not speaking the same language here.

The problem with the name "feminism" is, IMHO, that it implies an in-group and an out-group based on essentialized sex differences. A word like "communism" or "capitalism" implies an in-group and an out-group based on beliefs, not physical differences. Now, I know that most feminists don't take it that way, but enough do that it becomes a sticking point.

Also, many self-styled feminists attack institutions solely because they were created by men, which becomes an attack on men by proxy; the most glaring example I can think of is calling science and logic themselves "phallocentric" and "patriarchal" just because they were created (chiefly, but by no means exclusively) by men. Most notably, Sandra Harding referred to the Principia Mathematica as "Newton's Rape Manual" (a statement which, to be fair, she later said she regretting putting in print, but which nevertheless triggered a wave of anti-science rhetoric at universities across the country).

No, most feminists don't really talk that way. But a vocal and sizeable minority does, and because mainstream feminism doesn't actively refute such argument, it becomes sullied by association with it.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Errata...oops (none / 0) (#60)
by Macrobat on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 04:49:18 PM EST

Well, I thought I checked my spelling. Also, it's not the Principia Mathematica, that was Whitehead and Russell. But the point still stands.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

sex vs. gender (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 08:55:54 PM EST

The problem with the name "feminism" is, IMHO, that it implies an in-group and an out-group based on essentialized sex differences.

No, it doesn't imply anything of the sort. And why, may I ask, do you use the word "sex" and not "gender"?

You're making a simple mistake: taking issues of gender (social institutions) to be issues of sex (biological endowment). "Masculinity" and "feminity" are social categories.

Also, many self-styled feminists attack institutions solely because they were created by men, which becomes an attack on men by proxy; the most glaring example I can think of is calling science and logic themselves "phallocentric" and "patriarchal" just because they were created (chiefly, but by no means exclusively) by men.

When you say "men", do you mean human beings of the male sex, or subjects socialized in the "male" role of the social system of gender differentiation? Because it is *critically important* to make that distinction when you discuss feminism.

Most notably, Sandra Harding referred to the Principia Mathematica as "Newton's Rape Manual"

If you take just one statement from just one person inside a large field, which is controversial even inside that field, and cite it out of context, as representative of thought in that field, can you hope to be taken seriously? If the field is feminism, and your goal is to discredit it in the eyes of mainstream USian ideology in the early 21st century, the answer, sadly, is yes.

--em
[ Parent ]

Balderdash (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Macrobat on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 11:03:46 PM EST

This kind of doublespeak is why more people don't take feminism (or radical linguistics) seriously.

...why, may I ask, do you use the word "sex" and not "gender"?
Because the former is a biological term, and the latter is a grammatical one. I'm sure you don't feel that way. Let's just agree to disagree on that one.

You're making a simple mistake: taking issues of gender (social institutions) to be issues of sex (biological endowment).
No, that's what I'm saying the people I disagree with are doing.

When you say "men", do you mean human beings of the male sex, or subjects socialized in the "male" role of the social system of gender differentiation?
I don't know what you're saying, but if you would provide me with an example from each category, I'll tell you which one I mean in this context.

If you take just one statement from just one person inside a large field, which is controversial even inside that field, and cite it out of context, as representative of thought in that field, can you hope to be taken seriously?
Which part of "most feminists don't really talk that way" didn't you understand? Or did you deliberately choose to ignore that part? And in any case, that phrase has been widely circulated in academic circles; it's not like I had to dig deep into the literature to find it.

My point is, and has been, that feminism means different things to different people, and unfortunately, because "isms" imply in-groups, the word implies sexual dichotomies in a way that "Wollstonecraftianism" or "Seneca Fallsianism" (betcha didn't think I knew what those were) wouldn't. And, as a (mostly unwanted) consequence of this, some women view some social institutions as bad or oppressive not on their own merits, but solely because they were constructed by "male humans".

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Only strenghtens my point. (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 12:52:37 AM EST

This kind of doublespeak is why more people don't take feminism (or radical linguistics) seriously.

I must remind you that "doublespeak" was a fantasy rhetorical and cognitive device whose function was to *prevent* the apprehension of distinctions that existed in reality. Contrary to this, what I'm accusing you of is of failing to grasp a *real* distinction, that of sex vs. gender. If there are grounds to accuse somebody of doublespeak here, it is you. Claiming that there is no sex/gender difference is just not evidently absurd than "Oceania is at war with Eastasia; Eurasian has always been at war with Eastasia." It is merely false.

Because the former [sex] is a biological term, and the latter [gender] is a grammatical one.

"Gender" is also a term in *tons* of work in the social sciences. The sex/gender distinction is of crucial importance, simply because biology has at best a limited role in determining the particular forms of gender differentiation in a society.

Actually, the term "gender" is better entrenched in social science than in grammatical theory. "Gender" is universally regarded by grammarians as a really bad term we're stuck with, applied to what is more properly referred to as nominal inflection class systems. These systems *can* reflect the sex of referents as in Indo-European languages, but for scores of languages in the world which show "gender", the category has nothing to do with sex. And even in those languages where it does, typically there are systematic exceptions.

Thus, your response that "gender" does not refer to a system of social differentiation of the sexes, but rather that it is a "grammatical term" is quite unfortunate for you. Not only you show youself to not even be aware of basic work in the social science, but also to not be very up to par in grammatical theory.

Which part of "most feminists don't really talk that way" didn't you understand?

And which part of "If you take just one statement from just one person inside a large field, which is controversial even inside that field, and cite it out of context, as representative of thought in that field, can you hope to be taken seriously?" did *you* not understand? Rather, which *parts*:

And in any case, that phrase has been widely circulated in academic circles; it's not like I had to dig deep into the literature to find it.

Which shows that you did not understand my point, to such a large degree, that it even proves my point. Thank you.

(Hint, in case you still don't get it: grabbing "widely circulated phrases," with absolutely no "digging into the literature" to find out what, when, how, under what circumstances, preceeded by what and followed by what, somebody said the phrase in question, most certainly qualifies as "citing out of context".)

some women view some social institutions as bad or oppressive not on their own merits, but solely because they were constructed by "male humans".

Given that you don't show any understanding of the basic sex/gender distinction, I must take any attribution of belief to any feminist on your part with a *big* chunk of salt.

--em
[ Parent ]

First I thought you just didn't get it... (none / 0) (#66)
by Macrobat on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 02:20:59 AM EST

...now I believe you are either deliberately obtuse, or simply intellectually dishonest.

I must remind you that "doublespeak" was a fantasy rhetorical and cognitive device...
No, that's newspeak. Doublespeak's been around as long as people have been willing to prevaricate.

And I did not, anywhere, claim that there was no sex/gender difference. That's why I use the term "sex" in places where other people might be tempted to use "gender" because I do see a difference. And, contrary to your assumption, I am at least passingly familiar with the use of "gender" as a sociological term, I simply choose not to use it when I mean "sex". Get it through your head: just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I don't understand what you're saying.

As far as context goes, I have read Donna Haraway; I've read Foucault and Derrida (and his Nazi-sympathizer student, Paul DeMan, although that's another issue: suffice it to say that those who believe that one's socio-political leanings are inexorably tied to their epistemology have a hard time rationalizing that one away); so I understand (if not agree with) their strategy of decentering scientific inquiry as a priveleged mode of discourse, which was an intellectual precursor to Harding's work; and I understand that the issue of women's role in the heirarchies of scientific thought raised the question at least two decades prior to the publication of The Science Question in Feminism, of how deeply "gendered" one's epistemological framework can be. I very well understand the context within which Harding's writing arose, and it changes nothing about my interpretation. I maintain that my presentation, brief as it may have been, was a fair one. But here's a perfect opportunity for you to explain what you think she meant.

Moreover, you still haven't answered my question: what part of "most feminists don't really talk that way" did you have a hard time with?

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Jeez. (none / 0) (#71)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 10:31:08 PM EST

Moreover, you still haven't answered my question: what part of "most feminists don't really talk that way" did you have a hard time with?

Since you insist in being so literal, let me spell it out clearly: I understand every part of that sentence.

With that out of the way, the ball is back in your court, so to speak. It is up to you now to explain why you insist in highlighting words and actions that, by your own admission, are unrepresentative of feminism.

--em
[ Parent ]

Trying to sum it up (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by Macrobat on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 03:27:38 PM EST

Because, as I mentioned here, feminism has lots of meanings, at least some of which, as I mentioned here, will lead some women to discriminate unjustly against men and boys. The fact that such people are in a minority does not mean their influence is insignificant, because this very plurality of meanings means that nobody can authoritatively say, when something like that happens, "no, that's bullshit, that's not what feminism is." Let me state that again, in slightly different form, because it is the answer to your question: even though this attitude is in the minority, it nevertheless has influence. A vocal minority can tarnish the reputation of their peers to the point where even women who believe the majority of feminist ideas hesitate to call themselves feminists. A stong proponent of an idea also has the unfortunate burden of refuting the (mis)application of that idea's impostors, not only from without, but also from within.

But why does that impostor appear in the first place? Well, let me restate what I said before: any political ideology marked with the suffix "-ism" implies an in-group and an out-group. You may disagree with this, but it seems to me to be a pretty well-established phenomenon, regardless of what the "-ism" is. The root word that it modifies, in this case, is "feminas", which means woman. I understand your point about the difference between the biology of maleness and the social construction of masculinity, really I do. But that doesn't stop the fact that often people blur the lines between the two, sometimes deliberately, to advance arguments that would otherwise be shown up as obvious sex-based prejudice or bias.

So, given that "-isms" tend very frequently to divide people, this phenomenon continues. Like I said, it's a problem inherent in the name, not the ideal, and feminism is not the only movement to suffer from it.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Feminism in a nutshell (5.00 / 3) (#68)
by bugmaster on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 02:26:41 AM EST

Discussions like these are precisely the reason why feminists get a bad rap. It's easy to win every argument if you keep changing the meaning of the words. It's also a lot easier to shout down your opponent rather than actually make a logical argument. Such actions, however, ultimately weaken the position of the attacker - because the attacker eventually starts looking like a fool.

As I see it, feminism boils down to a simple statement:

  • In our society, women are not treated fairly
Note that I used plain english in the above statement; nor did I cite obscure sociological works. And yet, I would be hard-pressed to find a feminist who disagrees with this.

Now, what is causing women to be treated unfairly ? There are at least 2 possibilities:

  1. Unfortunately, our culture was created mostly by men. Thus, no provisions were made for treating women fairly.
  2. Most men see women as mere objects to be exploited at their whim; thus, most men are actively working to subjugate women - and succeeding.
Position #1 acknowledges that we have a problem, and outlines a solution: we need to change our culture so that women are treated fairly. Position #2 is a giant ad hominem attack that can have no constructive solution, since it only serves to perpetuate the mutual hatred.

Unfortunately, position #2 currently gets much more exposure. Hence the public perception of feminists as man-hating harpies.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

feminism (none / 0) (#72)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 11:10:10 PM EST

It's easy to win every argument if you keep changing the meaning of the words.

Please indicate where my definitions of "sex" and "gender" have departed in any major way from contemporary definitions used in the social sciences.

As I see it, feminism boils down to a simple statement: In our society, women are not treated fairly Note that I used plain english in the above statement; nor did I cite obscure sociological works.

I don't happen to believe that (a) the standard definition of "gender" in social science is "obscure", nor (b) that anti-intellectualism gains you any sort of points.

And yet, I would be hard-pressed to find a feminist who disagrees with this.

Sure. That'll do as the motivation behind feminism. But try to find a feminist who will accept that as a summary of feminist theory.

Now, what is causing women to be treated unfairly ? There are at least 2 possibilities:

1. Unfortunately, our culture was created mostly by men. Thus, no provisions were made for treating women fairly.

What does it mean to say "our culture was created mostly by men"? Who was this committee of dead white males that sat down together and decided to create our culture? No such thing ever happened.

More importantly, you are taking the categories "man" and "woman" to be prior to culture. However, as I'm tiring myself of stating in this thread, what it means to be a man or a woman in a given society is underdetermined by sex; culture itself plays an undeniable role in it. Thus, "men" and "women" (as opposed to merely "human beings with penises" and "human beings with vaginas") are, in a sense, created by culture. Thus, your statement enters into an chicken-and-egg problem-- how can our men have created our culture, when our culture created our men?

And ignoring precisely this point is one of the easiest and most common strawwoman arguments against feminism-- "Feminists blame men for everything, but it's not men's fault what men in the past did, nor is it their fault to have been brought up in the kind of culture that makes men sexist." Which is perfectly true-- except for the statement "feminists blame men for everything"; the key point of feminism, as a study of gender, is to identify which cultural practices "create" (in the above sense) men and women, and to change or replace them.

Howver, feminism as you present in in your point #1 succumbs to the attack I outline-- it puts blame on men without identifying the cultural system that defines the category "man".

The "obscure" technical vocabulary is there for a reason, which is that these issues are complex. You need to explicitly recognize the distinction between gender differences due to culture, and sexual differences due to biology. You need to distinguish between individual organisms with their biological endowment and social subjects who occupy a certain set of roles relative to each other in a system of social institutions. Otherwise, you end up attacking people instead of institutions, confusing the forms gender takes in our society for natural biological systems, and countless other mistakes social scientists have fought to overcome for well over a hundred years.

Position #1 acknowledges that we have a problem, and outlines a solution: we need to change our culture so that women are treated fairly.

The problem is that, if you don't understand what culture is in the first place (e.g. if you can't grasp where biology ends and culture starts), you're not going to get very far.

--em
[ Parent ]

And here's the crux of the problem (5.00 / 2) (#77)
by JetJaguar on Sat Oct 13, 2001 at 02:07:45 AM EST

The problem is that, if you don't understand what culture is in the first place (e.g. if you can't grasp where biology ends and culture starts), you're not going to get very far.

I know a great many people working across a number of different fields that would argue quite strongly that there is no clear place where that line can be drawn. And the people that attempt to draw that line appear to do it on a very arbitrary basis, which also explains a lot of the heat being expended here. It's not just a lack of understanding of the underlying issues, as you seem to think. It is also a question of exactly where the line between biology and culture, nature vs. nurture gets drawn.

A lot of feminist theory seems to reside very strongly on placing that line at a very particular place, but there isn't a whole lot of evidence to suggest, that this placement is correct, just a lot of conjecture. Don't get me wrong, this is a very hard thing to do, and you have to start somewhere. But it seems disengenuous to a lot of people that this point is rarely acknowledged (if at all) in feminist theory.

[ Parent ]

On Sex & Gender (2.50 / 2) (#75)
by Robert Uhl on Thu Oct 11, 2001 at 02:53:51 PM EST

You're making a simple mistake: taking issues of gender (social institutions) to be issues of sex (biological endowment). "Masculinity" and "feminity" are social categories.
Nope--sex==gender, except in those unfortunates who suffer from certain psychological conditions. Masculinity and femininity are most assuredly biological characteristics of men and woman, respectively. Actually, I don't know if characteristic is the best word to use. There are a large number of continua; men tend to inhabit certain parts of these and women certain parts of these, with a not inconsiderable overlap on some.

[ Parent ]
Happy To. (none / 0) (#61)
by Bear Cub on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 05:25:19 PM EST

Actually, this is something that I've been meaning to do for quite some time now. I've read the obligatory "Reviving Ophelia", and more recently "What Our Mother's Didn't Tell Us", but I have yet to get a grip on the history of the feminist movement, or on modern feminism. I was thinking of diving into Susan Faludi (she recently spoke at my college), and "The War Against Boys".

I guess what I'm asking is, where should I start? What are three or four books you'd suggest for a good picture of feminism? (Alas, that's all I really have time for.)

Cheers,

-Chris

------------------------------------- Bear Cub now posts as Christopher.
[ Parent ]

Faludi (none / 0) (#64)
by ucblockhead on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 12:12:24 AM EST

It is ironic that you mention Faludi in this context, given her last book.

(And yes, she is a feminist, and yes, the fact that she wrote a book like this undercuts a lot of the arguments here.)

Suffice to say, I think Faludi is a lot closer to the truth than the author of the book reviewed here, though I don't buy her entire argument.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

In the real world (3.50 / 4) (#51)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 06:22:47 AM EST

In the real world the modern feminist movement was set up at the end of the 60s/beginning of the 1970s to deal with real discrimination.

    Some examples:
  • In the UK before the Sexual Discrimination Act, University Medical Schools operated quotas whereby women could be 25% of the student body. Now they are over 50%
  • In the Republic of Ireland the Government (then the larged employer) operated a marriage bar until 1973 - any woman who worked for the government got fired when the got married.
  • etc, etc
Application of the rest of this argument to the US is left as an excercise for the reader.
  • The number of Female Presidents of the US is?
  • Vice Presidents?
  • % congresscritters (my current favourite americanism)?
  • CEOs of Fortune 500 companies?
  • % of university professors?
  • ratio of salaries for women and men with the same qualifications working in the IT industry?
  • blah-blah, woggle-woggle


Yes, but... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by ucblockhead on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 11:14:29 AM EST

Yes, but they can have all-female clubs in highschool!</sarcasm>
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Now you put it like that... (none / 0) (#56)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 12:56:09 PM EST

...I can see that this might just be the thin end of a very, long and painful wedge (snigger)...

[ Parent ]
Oh, and I forgot (4.00 / 5) (#55)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 11:43:45 AM EST

What kind of "review" is this? Since you're claiming to be reviewing a book which argues a certain position, you should recapitulate at some level the argumentats in the book and the evidence cited to support them. Similarly, if you are claiming the author has made "logical inconsistencies," you should give an example of one.

I came around too late to vote this -1, but as a book review, it's simply pathetic.

--em

What is a feminist... (4.00 / 6) (#67)
by Karmakaze on Tue Oct 09, 2001 at 11:34:11 AM EST

I like this quote so much I generally use it as my .sig:
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." -- Rebecca West, 1913
I consider myself to be a pretty strident feminist. Do I think women are inherently better than men? No. Do I think that women deserve to be treated better than men? No. Do I think it would be really nice if I could make as much money as an equally trained man in my field instead of $.70 to the $1? Damned straight!

I don't have a problem with men (or boys). Fact is, on most personality test I run across, I show more "masculine" than "feminine" traits. (I suspect this has to do with the fact that confident speech and strong opinions are considered to be "masculine" since nobody's ever accused me of being butch in person - only online.)

I'm even (gasp) pro-porn. (I do have issues with the objectification of women, but the objectification in (most) porn is really just an extension of the objectictification in mass media in general. Why pick on one sub-category?)

I think the word "herstory" is one of the stupidest locutions I've ever run across.

Thing is, it's easier to refute the extreme positions of a few people and call them "Feminazis" than to actually ackowledge that there are still severe problems. Discounting feminist ideas because of the ideas of the extreme would be like discounting the entire civil rights movement because of Farrakhan.


--
Karmakaze

Hurray for femnazis ... (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 05:24:01 PM EST

... They're the best I've out there at making male chauvenist pigs show their true colors.

Somebody's gotta make 'em squirm.

On topic: I haven't read the book and the review doesn't really set out any specific arguments it makes, but my knee-jerk reaction is that this book is absolute crap -- mostly because I'm extremely comfortable with most feminist ideology and even agree with much of it.

does that make me less of a man?

*grin*


Oops, strike the 'I've' (none / 0) (#70)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Oct 10, 2001 at 05:25:22 PM EST

I really ought to get back to work now.


[ Parent ]
extremely comfortable with feminist ideology (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by vectro on Sun Oct 14, 2001 at 11:30:47 PM EST

I rated you two because I didn't think your comment added much to the discussion. But as another poster pointed out, "feminist ideology" is rather vague. What do you mean when you say you're comformable with feminist ideology? It could mean anything from beliving in woman's sufferage to mandatory castration for all men.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Rhetorical Problems (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by MrAcheson on Mon Oct 15, 2001 at 12:18:33 PM EST

Alright my big problem with modern organized feminism is that its is directly advocating an untruth. Now when you read what I have to say next, it is going to sound really chauvanistic until I clarify myself. I apologize. However, the fundamental untruth being championed by organized feminism is:

Men and women are the same.

And the truth is:

Men and women are different.

Men and women are genetically, physically, and mentally different. We think, act, and develop differently from each other. Aside from the obvious reproductive differences, men have more muscle and less skeletal mass per unit mass. Men and women's brains are structured differently because of a hormone cascade in male fetal development which severs links between the hemispheres of the male brain. Look at your significant other (if you are heterosexual and have one) and think about it. How can anyone who has been in a significant relationship with someone of the opposite sex say that men and women aren't different?

This is not to say that men and women should be paid differently for doing equal work. Or that women (or men) should be an inferior member of society because they are different. Or that women should be kept "home with the babies." This is to say that there are differences between men and women which need to be addressed by society and many feminists stand directly in the path of this societal progress.

By championing the untruth of sameness and refuting the truth of difference, modern organized feminism is doing society and quite often women a great disservice. This treatment of boys in schools is just a symptom of the madness.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


If you're looking to see how stupid feminism is (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by exa on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 02:26:56 PM EST

Read a paper by a "feminist philosopher"

I have seen a few of those papers and I laughed my ass off. It's stuff like saying logical analysis is bad/discriminating against women because women "don't have to be" logical.

serious bullshit.
__
exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

No, not really... (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by Macrobat on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 03:58:21 PM EST

...that's more a problem with philosophy papers in general.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Book Review: The War Against Boys | 83 comments (66 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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