A Good Guy

This post started me thinking. I often write about the hypocrisy of certain zealots of feminism and the double standard by which they seem to operate (bear with me, this post isn’t going there). Rather, I’m thinking about a different double standard.

Millions of people object to the status quo believing it limits options and prevents equality for women. Other millions object to a cartoonish, one-dimensional perspective of complex, multi-faceted gender-equality issues that will actually require a stunning degree of cooperation and collaboration to solve.

But let’s talk about Society. The cultural water we swim in – in this instance I’m speaking about North American culture here but the principle applies in every culture. There is much about Society that encourages, facilitates, models, teaches, and enforces the stereotypes so many of us object to. That capital ‘s’ is not an accident. There are very few individuals I know who will admit to espousing cultural norms which perpetuate an unjust or oppressive status quo, and yet, here we are, Society somehow making its presence felt in the most significant ways.

1184206946_3-c504284b-b657-46cc-8b77-18ce411104cdTake the column that started this post. Men, apparently, are bumbling (or ignorant) but well-intentioned, and women are mean. Society will evidently excuse men for inexcusable things because they’re ‘well-intentioned’ or ‘basically a good guy,’ but whatever a woman’s intentions might be are irrelevant, because as soon as she says anything vaguely authoritative, or declarative, she’s a bitch. Again, Society must be perpetuating this issue, because it’s happening everywhere – from the school playground where adults devilwearspradathumbare supervising children, to the boardroom.

So. No stats about women and leadership, or the total unfairness of castigating a woman for being authoritative (“Stop using your ‘mom’ voice”), or the irrefutable data that proves that a man and a woman can say exactly the same thing and he’s perceived as “trustworthy and collaborative,” and she is perceived as “shrewish and difficult.” No. Let’s not go there.

How about we talk about ‘Society.’ You know, you and me? The ones who stand idly by and give this crap a free pass? THAT ‘Society.’

“He is basically a good guy,” confirms one of our most pervasive biases. A colleague who made a sexist remark in a meeting? Well, we think, he didn’t mean it. He’s basically a good guy. The young man who insulted his date in front of his friends? He didn’t think she would take it so personally. He’s really a good guy. 

Being derogatory toward women is not the behaviour of a “good guy.” It is a slip of the tongue revealing values mostly kept hidden.  There may be a willingness to practice humility after the fact and apologize, but this does not change the reality that somewhere, deep in that man’s internal framework, women are ‘less than.’ The source of life’s problems. A convenient whipping girl. Not worthy of respect as an individual. Take your pick. But the rot is there …evidently. Maya Angelou famously stated, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The root etymology of the word ‘violence’ means “with words.” Make no mistake, Fellow Humans. Calling your partner a ‘stupid bitch’ is violence.

I have 54 years’ experience with men. I’ve had a father for that long, brothers for 51 years, and a husband for 35 years. They have done nothing over those years except demonstrate over, and over, and over, sometimes in the most trying circumstances, that women are worthy of the same respect they themselves enjoy. Even women trying really hard to disqualify themselves as worthy of respect were still treated with dignity (not that they appreciated it at the time) by the beloved men in my life. It is normal for good men to have an unshakeable conviction that every human being, regardless of gender is worthy of respect.

Here’s my take (and it is mine). ‘Society’ is you and you and you …x 7.5 billion …and me. When we, that is, ‘Society’ speak up and say, “Good men, real good men don’t refer to women in that way, E.V.E.R,” we become part of the solution and agents for change. The point is, when people don’t speak up, they become part of ‘Society’ which maintains, facilitates, perpetuates, and encourages this behaviour as the acceptable norm. Since ‘Society’ is you …and you …and you …and you …and me, when will you stand up… speak up… IN THE MOMENT when these unacceptable and demeaning behaviours happen?

I suspect that cultural norms would change a lot more quickly if ‘Society’ spoke up often, consistently, vociferously, and implacably.

Be a part of the change you want to see. ~Mahatma Ghandi

Kuwait 2014
Me, and my good man. Photo by Chris Loh Photography

More interesting/relevant stuff here, and here, and here.

And here, here, here, and here.

A Paradox I can’t reconcile…

I’m much more interested in engaging with a movement that begins with the assumption that men and boys are human beings, and human beings cannot be disposed of, like machinery that is no longer useful or worn down.

Janet Bloomfield writes an excellent essay on why she’s not a feminist anymore and now advocates for men’s rights. It’s worth reading, and I found myself agreeing with everything she writes… until I got to the last paragraph, (quote above). Ms. Bloomfield’s tagline reads – “I’m a pro-abortion, pro-marriage equality, anti-racism, anti-sexism, small “L” liberal, doctoral student, wife, mother and woman and I support the Men’s Rights Movement. Here’s why…

I genuinely do not understand how one can be “pro-abortion” and yet make the statement, “…human beings cannot be disposed of, like machinery that is no longer useful or worn down.”

I get that somewhere along the line, somebody in times past decided that an unborn child is not human, and Ms. Bloomfield agrees with this decision. At least I assume she must as she is pro-abortion.

If only I’d had this lovely graphic when doing my graduate assignment.

Having done some research on cloning for my first graduate degree, one of of the things that happened was that I came to the perspective that from the point of conception, a human being exists. There is nothing, other than time and a safe space that anyone adds to the process of cooking a baby. There is no additional input needed from the point of egg/sperm uniting for that zygote to develop into a human being. Yes, it is supported in its growth by the womb/woman, but she doesn’t add anything to the complex process. From my perspective, that means we have a human being – not a gamete, zygote, blob, sheep, or evolutionary lizard. And humans, according to Ms Bloomfield, are not disposable.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I, of all people, know this is a complex issue which encompasses far more than just a philosophical discussion about when life begins. I’m a psychologist – I’ve had all sides of the story – the babies born of rape; the teen moms; the agony of infertile women/couples; the unexpectedly (or not) profoundly disabled babies; the botched abortions; the backstreet abortions; the abortions-as-birth-control; abortion guilt – there’s hardly enough ink in the world to cover the heartache I’ve seen and heard around this issue. And it’s the same for BOTH sides; whether one has chosen an abortion or decided against it, there is a maelstrom of emotions in the aftermath of that decision (totally contrary to Emily Letts’ assertion that abortion is no big deal. And speaking of paradoxes, how about this one from Miss Letts herself? ‘I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life, I just want to tell my story,’ she concludes.)

I’m really just processing here – Ms Bloomfield is definitely not alone in her position, but I was quite surprised at my own internal response in reading her essay (which, again, I think is exceptional) and stumbling over that last paragraph. I agree – boys/men are not disposable.

Actually,  I believe human beings are not disposable, no matter how inconvenient the fact of their existence may be.

#YesAllWomen is FIRST WORLD Propaganda | Reblog

http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/28/the-ten-most-asinine-things-about-yesallwomen/

As I read all the hype about the shootings (another senseless tragedy) the same crap is happening as it does every time. The special interest groups get all up in arms and use the victims to push their own particular agenda, half the First World takes to social media to play the “Blame Game,” and the rest of the world carries on.

This particular incident started the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which began trending immediately after the shooting, got picked up by the major news media, and promptly deteriorated into a misandric (I may be making up a new word here) and misogynistic hate fest that dishonours and marginalises the victims (the majority of whom were men in this case) and completely hijacks the real business of dealing with the aftermath of senseless, stupid, preventable tragedies like this.

The Federalist article caught my eye – number six on the list of “10 Asinine Things…” puts a whole different ball into play. Which nobody is catching. Apparently, shiny, floaty little soap bubbles are preferable to a real ball (though one would think that this particular “ball” is a hand grenade the way the world in general avoids it). That is, someone is (yet again) whining about #everydaysexism as if there is a causative connection between wolf whistles and sexual assault… or ogling and sexual assault… or sexual innuendoes and sexual assault… and so treats the former with the same degree of gravity as the incidents listed in #6.

No. No. No.

Correlation is not causation, as one can see from this funny little graph.

Correlation does not imply causation

People use statistics to prop up their position, and as Mark Twain famously stated, “There are lies, damned lies, and then there’s statistics.”

News flash.

Women do these sexist things, too. Oh, yes. They do. We stand in huddled little groups at parties, around the water cooler, in the bathroom, on the beach, over coffee… and we’re SEXIST. Yes, yes we are. We discuss pecs, butts, faces, hairlines, abs, six-packs, voices, hands… we dice, we dissect, and we diss or delight in the object of the discussion. Women are just as sexist as men. We just do it differently. Furthermore, we discuss men AND women in this way. We might not wolf whistle at the buff construction workers on the scaffolding across the street, but we surely will have a more-or-less lascivious discussion about that buff dude over coffee.

So my point?

Correlating #everydaysexism with the use of sexual violence (an act of humiliation or power-mongering) is just plain ridiculous. The former is most often an acknowledgment of certain characteristics of an individual (whether appreciated or not) and the latter is a deliberate act of subjugation; dominance of the strong over the weak. This is a HUMAN propensity, not a gender-based phenomenon. A woman will do the same thing – we’re just sneakier. We tend to be underhanded, manipulative, and sneaky – though women DO use violence when it suits them to do so. See the research of Erin Pizzey, for one.

Individuals who do these things are wicked, whether male or female.

I have a two-stringed guitar. The first is that violence is a human propensity, not a gender-based one. And the second is that INDIVIDUALS perpetrate this evilness, not GROUPS. Someone recently posted on Twitter – “Anyone who will not distinguish between ‘man’ and ‘men,’ or ‘woman’ and ‘women’ is dangerous.”

I agree. Out of that consistent habit of tarring the whole group with the same brush this gender war has grown to the point where rhetoric, vitriol, and strident accusations dominate discussions instead of problem-solving, collaboration, and finding points of accord. Men and women are different, VERY different, and expecting one to act like the other is a recipe for disaster. Clearly.

Hatred is hatred. Whether directed from a man to a woman or from man to man, or from woman to woman or from a woman to a man. It is all the same. These are not emotions unique to gender, they are emotions common to human beings.

If we remembered this and dealt with situations as they are – the work of a disturbed individual –  and not as if one person represents half the world’s population, just imagine what we could accomplish together to move forward toward a future where these tragedies don’t happen.

This Feminism Makes Sense

I have, heretofore, eschewed organised feminism with malice aforethought. I despise the strident, fishwife-type “We’re victims of male patriarchy!” screeching, spewing from the feminist movement of today. That is not to say that feminism as an ideal warrants dismissal, only that today’s version, quite frankly, sucks. It represents a splinter group of women who have fixated on hating men, seeing themselves (still) as downtrodden victims of masculine oppression, and who advocate for ridiculous causes or individuals, all in the name of “equality.”

One cannot critique or debate a feminist position or policy without being vilified, trolled, or scornfully dismissed as hating women. Read any post, blog, or article in which someone – anyone, male or female – takes an opposing view to the party line, and watch the jaw-dropping viciousness that ensues in response. Apparently, “equality” has become synonymous with unanimity. The only legitimate thought is ours. (I’ve thought for years that the feminist movement has come to resemble a mental version of ‘Animal Farm.’)

Puhleez.

I, for one, don’t want to be like a man. Furthermore, I enjoy and appreciate men, pretty much the way they are. There are individual males who are cruel, violent scum  just as there are individual women who are vindictive, violent witches. But on the whole, men and women are pretty groovy.

Feminism in its earliest form accomplished much in addressing injustice, advocating for women, and agitating for change. But, like the unions of England’s industrial revolution, as they gained more power, the original vision became corrupted until today when unions are entirely different in scope and purpose. Ditto for the feminist movement. The metamorphosis hasn’t been positive, and in my opinion, the feminist movement no longer represents the average woman, no matter how stridently it insists that it does.

This YouTube by Tammy Bruce from Prager University popped up in my Twitter feed this morning, and I watched it out of curiosity. I think if this is the way feminism as an idealogy is going, I might go along.