Friday Pot Stirring: Does the term “feminism” mean anything?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I know how everyone has been clamoring for more posts about women’s issues (that was a joke, although those posts have been quite popular),  so after reading a comment posted by maybelogics I’ve decided to post one more.

People can call themselves whatever they want, but the term “feminist” now seems to be nothing but a meaningless badge.  I know of very few women who call themselves feminists without a mile long list of qualifiers.  And yet, I know very few women who are willing to disassociate themselves from the term like Agitator fan maybelogics did in her comment.

Wikipedia lists three broad historical historical groups of feminists:  First Wave Feminists (probaby dead now), Second Wave Feminists (began in the 1960s), Third Wave Feminists (began in the 1990s), and Post Feminist Feminists (seriously!).

Then it names a few more precise divisions:   Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism, Socialist Feminism, Marxist Feminism, Anti-Pornography Feminism, Sex-Positive Feminism, Anarcha-Feminism, Separatist Feminism, Libertarian Feminism, Individualist Feminism, Gender Feminism, Lesbian Feminism, Conservative Feminism (really!), Ecofeminism, Cultural Feminism, Christian Feminism, Islamic Feminism, Jewish Feminism, Wiccan Feminism, Black Feminism, Chicana Feminism, Postmodern Feminism, Post-Structural Feminism, Lipstick Feminism, and “other”.

If that weren’t enough, I’d be willing to bet most readers could add even more to the list. For example, I’ve heard the term “classical feminism” and I know Maggie McNeil uses the term neofeminism.

In a way, I can see how a woman might find it difficult to disengage from the feminist label given that there are so many flavors that it seems unlikely that any woman could claim that not a single one applies to her.   It’s a bit like expanding the meaning of the term mental illness to include everyone on the planet (and no, I am not trying to imply that feminism is a mental illness).

Despite all the different meanings, people still usually use the single word “feminist’ when they discuss the topic.   When I was blogging on sexhysteria.com, I actually disliked using the term feminist because it was too broad, and yet adding a qualifier made it too narrow.

I look forward with some anxiety to the comments, because when a man raises the topic of feminism, it can often be a lot like hitting himself in the nuts with a hammer.  His only thought afterwords is, why the fuck did I do that?

Anyway, here is the question:   Hasn’t the term “feminist” become so ambiguous as to be essentially useless?

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94 Responses to “Friday Pot Stirring: Does the term “feminism” mean anything?”

  1. #1 |  mdb | 

    I really don’t care. People can be feminists or not, it really doesn’t change my mode of operating. The world will never be fair for anyone and right now it is pretty good for all groups in the US. There are many issues that could be called feminist issues over seas, but I would classify most as human rights issues.

  2. #2 |  Leah | 

    Your nuts might be safe, Dave – people might be too shell-shocked to comment at this point. ;-)

  3. #3 |  Abersouth | 

    Assuming the post-modern feminists is a category, isn’t that four? Plus, where the hell are the otters?

  4. #4 |  Abersouth | 

    A little more seriously, I think I would find it hard to keep a straight face if someone described themselves as a feminist of any stripe to me in conversation. I don’t know why. The way I am imagining it is some self satisfied soul just declaring it, like plopping the information in my lap, and I guess it’s supposed to mean something, or something. I don’t know. It seems funny. First world problems I suppose. I consume my time worrying about other things.

  5. #5 |  Leah | 

    I think we should step out of the box and focus on this baby rhinocerous. http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/05/australias-newest-bundle-of-baby-rhino-joy-1.html Everyone knows otters are cute, no one expects the rhino baby.

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    I think “feminism” started out as a positive trend. Okay, women were sick of the starched white blouse homemaker role of Father Knows Best 1950′s. Fair enough. They burned their bras, they wanted equal pay.
    It all went downhill with the anti-male Feminism of Gloria Steinem and her ilk, portraying men as beasts.
    Then came Camille Paglia, railing against the Steinem crowd :

    Let’s get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims, and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catch-all vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses.

    I think Paglia helped redefine Feminism as something a little more
    interesting and thoughtful than by the misguided, hateful “men are pigs” Steinem school.

  7. #7 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    “Hasn’t the term “feminist” become so ambiguous as to be essentially useless?”

    In a word: Yes. That’s why so many of us feel the need to modify it. There’s a world of difference between what I call “archeofeminists” (women who use our sexual powers to our own advantage, such as whores and Heinlein heroines) and “neofeminists” (self-loathing females-in-biology-only who preach “social construction of gender” and want to take over all of men’s social functions while treating males as defective women, psychologically speaking). But others have no patience for this; blogger Furry Girl (http://www.feminisnt.com/) even coined the term “Feminisn’t” to distance herself from preconceptions about soi-disant “feminists”.

  8. #8 |  Abersouth | 

    Sorry for three posts but I just realized I did not explicitly answer the question. I won’t categorically state “feminist” as a completly useless term. But (there had to be a but), I can’t see myself using the term to describe any of the women I admire either professionally or personally or howeverally one wishes to measure.

  9. #9 |  Abersouth | 

    That baby rhino has spunk.

  10. #10 |  Picador | 

    A libertarian blog criticizing feminism as being an incoherent ideology that contains within it multiple mutually contradictory sub-ideologies… that’s my full dose of irony for the day, right there.

    Seriously, if “libertarianism” can encompass everything from pacifist anarchists to “states rights” activists (i.e. advocates for Jim Crow) to first amendment lawyers to shills for corporate feudalism to free-stateless-global-markets utopian fundamentalists to single-issue gun-nut survivalists to neo-luddite goldbug conspiracy theorists to anti-police-state bloggers to nationalist tea partiers calling for endless war in the middle east, then maybe a better question is: Hasn’t the term “libertarian” become so ambiguous as to be essentially useless?

    Or do both libertarianism and feminism each have a coherent unifying principle under all of the internal conflicts: in the case of feminism, the idea of carrying a brief for women; and in the case of libertarianism, the idea of emphasizing individual interests over communal interests?

  11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #3 Abersouth

    Assuming the post-modern feminists is a category, isn’t that four?

    I stand corrected. I was never good at numbers.

    I also repeated the word “historical”, so now I’m going to go fix it, because as guest moderator, we can fix our mistakes, not that I’ve ever seen any Agitator fans wishing they had an edit function or anything…

    nah-nah-nah-nah-nah

  12. #12 |  John C. Randolph | 

    There’s something that happens to reform movements once they achieve their reasonable goals: the reasonable people move on to other endeavors, leaving the dregs behind.

    Once upon a time, the labor movement was about keeping people alive instead of getting blown up in coal mines. Today, it’s just a machine for robbing laborers of union dues to buy hookers and blow for mobsters and politicians.

    The civil rights movement used to be about demanding equality before the law. Today, it’s nothing but a shakedown racket to scare businesses into wasting their shareholders’ money on nonsense like “diversity training”.

    The feminist movement used to be about ending discrimination against women by the government, and recognizing that women are capable of all kinds of things that were formerly assumed to be beyond their reach. Today, it’s just a veneer for useless left-wing academics to get do-nothing jobs as “gender studies” professors in tax-funded institutions.

    -jcr

  13. #13 |  BSK | 

    The problem with language is that we can’t control it. Feminism once meant something very specific and meaningful. It has since become diluted, both by people within the movement and from without. So, now we think it is meaningless. Something will rise up in it’s place (once we move beyond hyphenating the term), which will initially be specific and meaningful but will ultimately fall away as well.

    If someone wants to describe them as feminist, so be it. It is not my place to limit someone else’s ability to self-identify. However, I generally don’t deal in labels. You might be a feminist, a democrat, a capitalist, etc, etc, and I still don’t really know that much about you because of how much variance there is within those terms. So, if someone were to tell me that he/she was a feminist, I would ask him/her how they defined the term and go from there.

    To single out the term feminism seems a little silly when the same argument could be made about just about any categorization.

  14. #14 |  emily | 

    The reason why there are so many qualifiers or different types is the same reason there are so many types of libertarians. Not everyone believes the same thing. Feminism has to do with women’s interests but there are so many types of interests that everyone has their own kind of feminism. Just like libertarianism has to do with freedom but there are so many ways freedom can be limited that everyone can have their own type of libertarianism. Its why people like Glenn Beck say “I’m a libertarian” and people like myself cringe – its a word describing a huge history and philosophy, there isn’t a checklist of things to “be”, its difficult to define.

    Feminism has been around hundreds of years and influenced by hundreds of women AND men, its not really surprising that there are so many “types”.

  15. #15 |  Libby Jacobson | 

    As a man, you have no justification in speaking about feminism. ;P

    (Just kidding)

    I consider “feminism” to be a broad, murky term that basically means something like “minimally sexist” or “sexist only up to a culturally-acceptable degree.”

    I like to consider myself individualist/libertarian first and foremost, with feminism as just an aspect of that label. I believe I co-opted the F-term after reading enough pop psychology reports on gender and behavior. Just because 55% or 60% or 70% of men or women behave in a certain, predictable, stereotyped way does not mean that they’re the only ones worth consideration. I like to push back against stereotypes and ideas that treat women as a class of essentially interchangeable people, rather than as individuals. I try to do the same with ideas about men that do the same thing.

  16. #16 |  Reginod | 

    “Feminism” is both a social movement and a philosophy, much like “libertarianism”. When a person tells me they are a “libertarian”, I have a very vague sense of what they believe, but without further specification I don’t know much about them. I know libertarians who vote Libertarian, libertarians who vote Republican, and libertarians who vote Democratic. I know libertarians who support the war in Afghanistan and those who oppose it. I know Libertarians who are anarchists and those who support some government just not much. Some who support open boarders and some who support increased boarder security. Some who are pro-choice and some who are pro-life. The list goes on.

    Broad social movements and philosophies founded on a fundamental principle often split (I suspect they always split). If you are trying to use the broad label as a shorthand to describe your beliefs it becomes useful to have modifiers. When I am talking to other libertarians I describe myself as a left-libertarian which I find is usually enough to let them know where I’m coming from. When I am talking to other feminists I describe myself as a sex-positive feminists, which is usually enough to let them know where I am coming from.

    That I need a modifier to let people within the group know where I am coming from doesn’t mean the group label is meaningless, it just means that the group is large enough to encompass a number of views and there is a need to distinguish among them. In the case of both libertarianism and feminism I think that is a good thing.

  17. #17 |  ricketson | 

    As suggested by JCR (above), for a lot of people the term “feminist” simply means “anti-patriarchal” or “anti-sexist” (with the premise that females were the main victims of sexism). Some people take it farther, to mean “female supremacy” of some sort or another… but most people recognize that to be kinda silly.

    Anyway, I agree that the term is kinda muddled these days. It’s just the residue of our explicitly patriarchal history.

  18. #18 |  Cyto | 

    Feminism, like most “isms” is a word that means “I am superior to you and any thought you have in opposition to me is because you are morally inferior and evil.”

  19. #19 |  capn_amurka | 

    My understanding of “feminist” is someone who believes in and acts to advance equal rights and opportunities for everyone regardless of their sex.

    I’m a father of one boy and one girl, I love my wife, my mother and my sister. I believe it’s wrong to treat a person as socially or politically different just because they are testicle-challenged. I work to make sure that my daughter/wife/sister/mother are treated as well as their male counterparts and vice versa.

    You can call that whatever you want, but it can be called “feminist.”

  20. #20 |  Curt | 

    @ #10… I think you’re on the right track.

    If you take any large group of people sharing an ideology, you’ll find about as many different versions of that belief as you find members… conservatives, liberals, progressives, libertarians, tea-partiers, environmentalists, Christians, NRA members, abortion rights activists, team Jacob, etc… oh yeah, and feminists.

    In theory, the adherents all share a core belief, but I think that core gets more vague as the size of the group gets larger. That’s why I can’t even remotely describe the core belief of republicans, but I make a better guess at describing the core of tea-partiers. Unfortunately, the smaller a group and the clearer its belief… the more politically irrelevant.

    So, to answer the question, yeah, the term is useless. But so are most terms that describe huge, informal collections of people. If I hear someone describe themselves as a feminist, it tells me a lot more about their personality than their beliefs.

  21. #21 |  Matt | 

    It’s simple: labels are just a rough proxy for what someone believes, whether it’s liberalism, conservatism, pacifism, feminism, or whatever. You can’t assume you know what they think until you speak with them in detail (and even then, political debate largely consists of people talking past each other). The “-ism” label just tells you the ideology means something to them, not necessarily what they think about it.

  22. #22 |  sam | 

    I’m a bit surprised by this, honestly. I know a lot of people (myself included) who would self-describe as feminists. I’m a cis-gendered man, and a feminist. I don’t hate myself or think women are ‘better’ or whatever, I just acknowledge that people who aren’t cis-gendered hetero white men historically have gotten pretty hosed, and are still largely being frozen out of a lot of conversations (compare the number of, say, 17-year-old single parents from the South Bronx who have been brought to congress to testify vs the number of, say, non-sentient proto-babies). I think that’s a problem that deserves addressing. That’s all.

  23. #23 |  MikeZ | 

    “and in the case of libertarianism, the idea of emphasizing individual interests over communal interests?”

    I’d disagree that this is a good one sentence summary of libertarianism. I’d stick to the limiting the scope of government. I’d say that libertarianism any any other political ‘isms’ are primarily focused on solving ‘communal’ problems. Certainly I don’t consult any libertarian/republican/democrat guidebook before arguing with my wife. I think the libertarian belief is just that government isn’t the best answer to solve all the communities problems, with one of those reasons perhaps that it sacrifices too much personal freedom, and we’d be better off solving them ourselves.

  24. #24 |  Leah | 

    #10, 13, 14, and 16 – +1

  25. #25 |  Cyto | 

    #5 | Leah |

    no one expects the rhino baby.

    “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

    Feminist proof of concept: Only men and female genetic outliers do Monty Python references.

  26. #26 |  Kristen | 

    Honestly, I didn’t even think the term was used all that much anymore. Even my uber-liberal concerntroll friends don’t use it.

  27. #27 |  bcg | 

    The “problem” with feminism is the basic premise, revolutionary at the time, was so obviously superior to the alternatives that the idea landscape has shifted to all but exclude anyone who rejects its premise. The premise is “Women are people, too.” The next question is, “What is a person?”

    I know people who would vow up and down to be as anti-feminist as possible, yet who, when confronted with basic violations of the personhood of women get upset.

    What we’re left with are the subtle violations of women’s personhood, where we’re getting down into borderline-biological bedrock of status inequality among humans (in that humans will always stereotype people into status tiers). Feminism is the effort to remove gender as a dimension used in sorting people into these tiers. (This is my understanding, anyhow.) Some people don’t feel this is warranted.

    Because of this, it is not a useless word.

  28. #28 |  Deoxy | 

    #12 really nailed this one. That also gives me a hope that eventually, feminism (as it currently exists, in post-success mode) might lose support, just as Big Labor is finally losing support now… 50+ years after it ceased being useful. So, only 30ish years to go (if we’re lucky).

    Somehow, that’s not very encouraging.

  29. #29 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #19 capn_amurka

    I believe it’s wrong to treat a person as socially or politically different just because they are testicle-challenged.

    Testicle-challenged. Not a term I would have used, but ok. :)

  30. #30 |  Xenocles | 

    Labels don’t mean anything. Tell me what you believe.

    I believe women have the same rights as men. I think that makes me a feminist, but I don’t go around talking about the label everywhere. The feminists who do probably don’t agree with my self-characterization.

  31. #31 |  PeeDub | 

    As a man having to deal with them, I’d say that I am testicle-challenged. They get sweaty, y’know? And itchy.

  32. #32 |  Abersouth | 

    @#28 Maybe we won’t have to wait so long. We have the intertubes now.

    @#31 Should that really be called a challenge? I don’t think I think of my testicles the same way you think of yours, as a challenge. I want to go on, but the inanity stops me.

    Thanks a lot Dave, for stirring the pot.

  33. #33 |  ChicagoSucks | 

    As a man, you have no justification in speaking about feminism. ;P
    (Just kidding)

    Why is nobody jumping down Libby’s throat for this? Libby, is it possible for you to write anything that isn’t derogatory towards men? Serriously? You can’t make a statement like that (one that you obviously hold to be true) and then slap a “jk” at the end to make it all right. If I were to write something like “As a woman, you have no justification in speaking to a man. ;P (Just kidding)” or “Rape is not a crime. ;P (Just kidding)” I would get a verbal beatdown from nearly everyone on this board. Get your shit together.
    I like to push back against stereotypes and ideas that treat women as a class of essentially interchangeable people, rather than as individuals. I try to do the same with ideas about men that do the same thing.
    No, no you don’t.

  34. #34 |  Abersouth | 

    #30 I wonder what your and others here thoughts might be about the selective service. Only for males now. Ought it be for females too? The well worn rights and responsibilities go hand in hand phrase.

    Personally I am more akin to a person owning their own life, not the government. But more often than not this area is left unsaid (at least where I have looked) by self styled feminists. Would it be self-serving to insist on equal rights but be silent on other hooks that males get stuck with (Selective Service). I realize the selective service isn’t active right now, but say our dear leaders get us embroiled in a few more wars and they need more bodies to sacrifice to a worthy cause. I’m asking for an in principle sort of response from all the ladies. Is this something worth fighting for?

    I admit fully to an attempt at a thread hijacking (as pathetic as the execution is).

  35. #35 |  ducey | 

    I like girly-girls who can flash a cute smile and effectively and willingly play the part of a stay at home mom because I cling to the archaic view that such a situation is preferable, but I’m all for individual liberty. Even for women!

    …. So, am I a misogynist or a feminist?

  36. #36 |  Abersouth | 

    How the hell can we know ducey. You didn’t divulge if you were a man or a woman. Sheesh.

  37. #37 |  ducey | 

    Xenocles your point in #30 is spot on.

    I couldn’t be a bigger fan of a woman’s right to do anything she darn well pleases, with the standard minarchist caveats and restraints. That makes me a feminist, I think.

    But I also believe that broads are born with a unique type of insanity that is not present in myself or most (possibly all) men that I know. That probably makes me a misogynist.

    The point is, that these terms are so lacking in nuance that they most likely don’t apply to any of us.

  38. #38 |  ducey | 

    I’ve got two tremendous testicles.

  39. #39 |  Cheryl Lemur | 

    I got excited when you said “pot” but than I read “stirring” and I got disappointed. This guy’s article has got me all worked up on weed not being legal yet: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2011/05/12/the-endless-medical-marijuana-debate-continues/

  40. #40 |  Abersouth | 

    Ducey. I’m laughing. And I’m crying. Who writes this stuff? I give you a +1. Maybe you can spare one of the tremendous duo to one of these guys.

    http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2011/04/12/i_am_a_man-puss.html#comments

  41. #41 |  maybelogics | 

    #33, Your first comment is a misjudgment. I think Libby is replying to something Dave said in a comment from the other post. Your second comment is not a misjudgment.

    Good questions, Dave. I briefly commented on this in the other post, as a reply to qwints (a self-proclaimed feminist who advocates for women’s rights because the women in his life have experienced discrimination, and because it’s the right thing to do). I’m lazy, so here’s that:

    I have no personal dislike for anyone who calls themselves feminists (even you!). But my whole point is that what if by calling yourself a feminist you’re doing more damage than good? The term is dried up, worn out. It’s been tied in the basement, whipped and f*ked by so many people for so many reasons that it’s useless as a unifying catalyst for attitudinal change. You say you treat the people you love the way they should be treated and when you see someone treating them or anyone else unfairly you speak out–these are good things. Keep doing those. But don’t believe that anyone else will be moved to do the same b/c an ideology says it’s the right thing to do. They won’t. They will only be moved by *you*.

  42. #42 |  maybelogics | 

    #39 Whining is not becoming of a goiter of your status.

  43. #43 |  Abersouth | 

    #41 just made me fist pump for humanity. Thanks.

  44. #44 |  Xenocles | 

    @Abersouth-

    Personally I think Selective Service ought to be abolished, but if it must exist then it ought to draw from both genders. Conscription amounts to raising a slave army.

    @ducey-

    I believe there are biological differences between that have a real or measurable impact in the distribution of all sorts of attributes. Where I stop short is in using the “typical woman” to judge individual women. For example, women on average are physically weaker than men, but there are women who physically qualify to do demanding labor and should be afforded the chance to do so if they desire.

  45. #45 |  EH | 

    Hasn’t the term “feminist” become so ambiguous as to be essentially useless?

    Sorry, but this is a stupid question. Nice click-bait, though.

  46. #46 |  ducey | 

    #39 it is probably unfair to hold ANYONE to the lofty standards that Radley has set. Seriously. The man operates on a completely different level. That said, it is sort of a letdown to see what has happened around here while he’s been out. Seems like the entire tone of the blog has changed.

  47. #47 |  ducey | 

    @Xenocles Agreed. And along those lines it is CERTAINLY a good thing that people have stood up in the past, and continue to stand up now, to preach that sort of equality. That said, at this point it seems that everyone (mostly, anyway) is already on board. So maybe the “feminists” need to take a back seat to the great mass of people who believe that everyone deserves a shot to rise or fall on his or her own individual merits.

    The term really is dated at this point.

  48. #48 |  Abersouth | 

    I guess a comment got deleted so now I have fist pumped myself. That just sounds dirty. I meant to fist pump maybelogics (and not in the dirty way).

  49. #49 |  Danny | 

    Add ‘feminist’ to the other terms which are definitionally inclusive but politically polarizing:

    ‘liberal’,
    ‘conservative’,
    ‘socialist’,
    ‘capitalist’.

    One can actually be all four of these things at once, but no one would admit falling into such an overlap in today’s political climate.

    Same with feminism. We’re all feminists now. Only a small ultra-religious fringe would have the audacity to deny any of the basic precepts of feminism. But the word is loaded with some vague pejorative connotation, so people shy away from it anyhow.

    This doubt about the meaning and merits of the ‘feminism’ category is specific to countries like ours. In much of the world — perhaps most of it — the treatment and status of females makes “Mad Men” look like some kind of an arch matriarchy. Women are daily killed and abused to such a degree that they have become grossly imbalanced numerically to the male population. They are treated as something beneath draft animals. Under the circumstances prevailing in those parts of the world, the concept of ‘feminism’ could suffer no confusion of its very basic, clear, and compelling meaning.

  50. #50 |  Irving Washington | 

    Is it an ideology from which policy positions descend, or is it a basket of policy choices shared, more or less, by women? Which is as polite a way as I can ask the question of whether it means anything other than abortion and Title VII.

  51. #51 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If you’ve noticed posts disappearing (and the comment numbers changing), it’s because I’ve been deleting posts about how you miss Radley.

    If you want to participate in the topic, fine, but if you’re just going to whine about how the choice of topics doesn’t meet with your particular requirements, please keep it to yourself.

    When Radley comes back, I’m sure he will be very receptive to your chewing him out for his selection of guest bloggers as well as his lack of discipline regarding what he permits to be posted on his blog.

    For those fellow Agitator fans who have been unhappy about the variety of topics posted while Radley has been gone and have refrained from complaining, please know that I do appreciate it. I can’t speak for the other guest bloggers, but I assume they appreciate it as well.

  52. #52 |  EH | 

    Just so I can make this about me, I have had little problem with the choice of topics. If anything, though, I’d say the guest bloggers haven’t been opinionated enough, which is natural when you’re a guest. Plus, y’know, Radley’s kind of a known-quantity, so I think people got used to that.

  53. #53 |  gottabeKiddingme | 

    What if you are a rough, tough mountain dude who’s always been told he’s “feminine” or that I have “a lot of woman in me”?

    Hells, I’m not gender confused but I guess society finds me gender confusing. Not like I talk with a lisp either. I just take care of folks, kids come first, the sick and injured are a priority and I listen to folks. Try to cheer them up a bit. I guess folks associate that with “feminine qualities”.

    Call me Bettie Crocker you’ll get more than a spoon across your knuckles boys. I didn’t exactly learn what I do in nursing school.

  54. #54 |  Matt | 

    Krueger’s gone mad with power!

    (J/K – I’ve got no beef with the guest bloggers and appreciate a different mix of postings. The person who complained it was a rant against ‘feminazis’ was not making sense; that’s not how I read the post at all).

  55. #55 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #44 Abersouth

    I guess a comment got deleted so now I have fist pumped myself. That just sounds dirty. I meant to fist pump maybelogics (and not in the dirty way).

    Sorry. The numbering also changes when I approve posts from new posters that wind up being inserted in the middle of the thread.

  56. #56 |  Abersouth | 

    I’ve liked the guest bloggers. I think I will follow some when their trial here is done. I’m typically a lurker at the agitator when Radley is running it. The topics generally run sorta hardcore and I don’t have much to add input wise to comments. I read them all, but rarely if ever have anything to add.

  57. #57 |  Mannie | 

    #15 | Libby Jacobson | May 13th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    As a man, you have no justification in speaking about feminism. ;P

    (Just kidding)

    Then no man has any business listening to or caring anything about Feminism. I presume you were poking at rabid Feminists, but some people do use that argument.

    AFAIK, it doesn’t mean nuthin’ as long as you don’t take yourself too seriously. If you do, then you’re an ass, and deserve to be laughed at.

    Some of the greatest fun I had was driving truck in the Pride Parade for a gang of rabid man-hating feminist lesbians (Their self identification) because they couldn’t drive their own truck. There was a good reason for that, but the irony was too great to pass up, and we all had a good time.

  58. #58 |  Abersouth | 

    Thats a funny anecdote Mannie. You lived up to your name.

  59. #59 |  André | 

    OT: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43018489/ns/world_news-asiapacific/

    If anybody wants a feel-good story instead of a Friday nutpunch, look at this.

  60. #60 |  Highway | 

    It may not be that the term is useless, but it may be more that it loses so much impact because everyone has to equivocate exactly what branch of belief they have. And how many of those equivocations are ‘inside baseball’? So you’re using multiple words to try to label a philosophy, and people may not understand what that means.

  61. #61 |  maybelogics | 

    #45 Abersouth, I appreciate the gesture.

    #50 gottabeKiddingme, those are actions that reflect human qualities. In every Cartwright family, there’s gotta be a Hoss. Hoss ain’t no Betty Crocker.

  62. #62 |  Peter | 

    Neither the qualifiers nor the basic term is the problem. The trouble starts when the definition “feminist=asshole” is invoked. This situation arises when there is a disagreement between two individuals and the female portion of the argument accuses the male participant that he’s a) sexist, b) misogynist and/or c) ‘a tool of the patriarchy’ for refusing to agree with her.

    Ladies, be feminists! Stand up for yourself and others! But please, for the love of the Almighty, DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE!

  63. #63 |  Ken | 

    Labels rot the intellect. Labels encourage tribal thinking: we say (1) I’m a member of group X; (2) people in group X think Y; (3) therefore I must agree with Y — if I don’t, I have to examine whether I belong in group X, which is too scary. Thus everyone spends far too much time arguing whether position Y belongs in Group X rather than arguing about whether position Y makes sense.

    I believe in promoting the social and legal equality of the genders. I’m interested in the ways that law and society thwart actual equality, though I don’t agree with every claim of inequality that every “feminist” voices. I’m interested in, and willing to discuss, how law and society should or could address gender inequality.

    But I could give a shit about whether that makes me a feminist or not. It’s a fundamentally mastubatory question.

  64. #64 |  Mannie | 

    This situation arises when there is a disagreement between two individuals and the female portion of the argument accuses the male participant that he’s a) sexist, b) misogynist and/or c) ‘a tool of the patriarchy’ for refusing to agree with her.

    That’s when it’s time to metaphorically put on your “Wife Beater” shirt and Skoal ball cap and pretend to be a bigger asshole. Being an asshole can be fun.

  65. #65 |  maybelogics | 

    For clarification purposes since the comment gnomes are on the move: my comment in #41 is now a reply to #34 by Chicagosucks, and my comment in #42 is a reply to a nonexistent comment by a prestigious goiter.
    Knowing is half the battle.

  66. #66 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #65 maybelogics

    For clarification purposes since the comment gnomes are on the move:

    Yeah, my mistake. I “unapproved” those comments instead of trashing them. The automated comment approval system started re-approving them, so some came back. So, I this time I went back and trashed them which may now invalidate your clarification. My apologies.

    On the bright side, you can always tell yourself what I tell myself when things seem to be going badly: None of this will matter after the earth crashes into the sun a hundred gazillion years from now. :)

  67. #67 |  maybelogics | 

    No worries, Dave. I like any excuse to blame gnomes for things. ;)

  68. #68 |  RomanCandle | 

    Alot of guys are really resentful of modern feminism because we feel we have to walk on eggshells to avoid being called a misogynist or rape apologist (or, ahem, get your posts deleted on The Agitator). And, even then, it doesn’t always work.

    When Jezebel can claim that Jon Stewart has a “woman problem”, what chance do the rest of us have? Why even bother?

    That’s why alot of us have given up walking on eggshells. And I think that’s why these posts are so “popular”…not because they’re so well-written, but just because lots of us here really want to call BS on this whole thing.

  69. #69 |  Jim | 

    Yes the term feminist is worthless at this point and at this point in the US is nothing more than a cheap word play from the professional womens group to inflate their influence. Just about everyone in the west at this point believes that women are equal under the law, have the right to equal access in schools and other public accommodations the small group that does not believe this are powerless and are not going to change there mind anyway. So the generic definition that feminism meaning equal rights pretty much means you are a person living in the West.

    The problem comes that there are groups that want to either increase or hold on to their power and use the label feminism mostly to make it seem that they have a wider base of support than they do. Thankfully most people (but unfortunately not as many people in power) see though this shit and the number of young women calling themselves a feminist is decreasing every year despite these women liking having equal rights. The professional feminist believe they can change culture via the state instead understanding that culture is the individual choices of 300 million people.

  70. #70 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    Um. How about ‘feminist’ = ‘humorless’? Except for Paglia, of course.

  71. #71 |  Mary | 

    OK, Dave, I’ll try to stay on point. (I actually did give props to the guest bloggers the other day!)

    Nothing I hate more than women complaining about ‘women type things’. No wonder I prefer the company of men. And no wonder the vast majority of men, when not trying to get laid, also prefer the company of men.

    Most women are boring. And this topic proves it. Women – just get the fuck out and live your lives.

    Is that on point enough?

  72. #72 |  Stick | 

    In my job, (driving trucks and other plant in a coal mine) I don’t see any of this alleged discrimination against women. The girls who do the same job as me get paid the same rate, do the same overtime if they want to, get pissed at the pub, own 4wd’s (I think you yanks call them SUV’s?), go shooting and all the other shit that makes life fun.
    I just wonder, is feminism a ‘city girl’ thing or is it ‘daddies little girl’ all grown up but still stamping her foot to get what she wants or maybe just a warped sense of entitlement?
    Men who identify themselves as feminists come across as weakling betas or just plain gay.

  73. #73 |  JOR | 

    My thoughts on “gender issues”: Traditional masculine ideals, at least those of traditional warrior/political elites, are stupid and evil (and unlibertarian); there’s no getting around that. But most men, of the past and present, did not live up (or down) to those masculine ideals, settling instead for fairly peaceful home lives where they able (however ignoble they might have, mistakenly, felt as a result). Feminism, if it was ever anything else, is now just a tribal cult that advocates for the interests of a select class of women (largely by promoting more ideally masculine behavior among that select class of women). The “men’s rights” movement, and antifeminism generally, is largely a collection of dishonest hacks.

    As for ordinary men and women, they are mostly decent to people they care about personally, and inconsistent in their attitudes towards strangers: The same person might empathize with a cowardly, trigger-happy cop and demand capital punishment for a robber who kills his victim for largely the same psychological reasons (and an arguably more innocent goal); he might insist a prostitute who got raped “brought it on herself” and become genuinely murderously outraged over the rape of a nice middle class white girl; etc.. (Feminists are partly right about “rape culture”, in that we have a culture of general victim-blaming, depending on the status of the victim. The callousness and bigotry that underlies this culture is the largest enabler for statism, which makes it frustrating to observe among many libertarians. But then, most libertarians are statists, so go figure.)

  74. #74 |  RomanCandle | 

    #72
    “Traditional masculine ideals, at least those of traditional warrior/political elites, are stupid and evil.”

    That’s basically modern feminism in a nutshell right there.

  75. #75 |  dhex | 

    Alot of guys are really resentful of modern feminism because we feel we have to walk on eggshells to avoid being called a misogynist or rape apologist (or, ahem, get your posts deleted on The Agitator). And, even then, it doesn’t always work.

    don’t be such a pussy.

  76. #76 |  Athena | 

    I want absolutely nothing to do with the term “feminism” for, within my circles, it is largely a derogatory label. Yes, the definition is ambiguous and varied. As a result, I have no choice but to base my opinion of current feminism upon my interactions with self-ascribed “feminists”. That, in and of itself, is part of the problem with the term.

    I had my first child nine months ago, and, damnit, I decided I was going to stay home for the first year (at least). For this, I have caught flak from more than one “feminist” who has berated me for choosing to stay at home (working mothers may be the most judgmental creatures on this earth). Dumb broads… The fact that I *had a choice* was the whole point of original feminism. Or am I wrong?

    Similarly, I have been told by “feminists” that my affinity for makeup equates to modern slavery. SLAVERY. Really?!? Because I’m pretty sure those who have been owned in the past didn’t enjoy (insert forced chore here) nearly as much as I love applying makeup.

    From my potentially limited perspective, feminists want to KILL feminism. And I say this as a women who would not be described as particularly feminine. If my experience is any measure, today’s feminists do not want me to be myself… they want me to be their perfect little Soldier XX.

    To give it some perspective, there are a handful of self-ascribed labels that make me tentative. These labels would include (but are not limited to) things like, “conspiracy theorist”, “born-again Christian”, “supremacist” (white, black, etc.), and certainly, “feminist”. I don’t discredit you automatically if you consider yourself one of these, but I’d be lying if I said you wouldn’t have to work harder than others to gain my trust and respect.

    All that said… Dave, I’ve found your topics in Balko’s absence to be particularly engaging (no more engaging than Balko’s, but solid within their own merit). If you ever start a blog of your own, let me know, huh?

  77. #77 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #10 Picador

    A libertarian blog criticizing feminism as being an incoherent ideology that contains within it multiple mutually contradictory sub-ideologies… that’s my full dose of irony for the day, right there.

    I have to admit this would be hard to deny.

    Wikipedia lists a number of flavors of libertarianism, including libertarian socialism, which I think is an oxymoron. I also tend to think of anarchism as being different from libertarianism, but they are commonly grouped in with libertarians.

  78. #78 |  John C. Randolph | 

    >more than one “feminist” who has berated me for choosing to stay at home

    On one occasion, I heard someone try doing that to a friend of mine who had recently given birth for the first time, and the “feminist” was shocked into silence by the force of my friend’s response. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

    Don’t mess with mama bear. Just, don’t.

    -jcr

  79. #79 |  John C. Randolph | 

    they couldn’t drive their own truck.

    You know, it really would have been hilarious if you’d just driven the truck off the parade route, gotten out, and walked away. “What? You don’t need any man’s help, do you?”

    -jcr

  80. #80 |  gottabeKiddingme | 

    OK GUYS I MIGHT HAVE TO USE SOME ROUGH LANGUAGE HERE AND ALL REGULARS KNOW I’M A NEWCOMMER, NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE THESE PAST FEW DAYS:

    WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THIS LEFT-LIBERTARIAN BLOG? WHATEVER YOU HAVE DONE WITH THE BALDIE, I, ME, I WILL, I AM HOLDING YOU PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE.

    BECAUSE I simply cannot suffer to watch this site turn into another centrist apologist site. This is an iconoclastical site. DAVE KRUEGER, I DON’T CARE WHAT BADGE OR PATCH YOU WORE WITH HONOR, I WILL ACCEPT YOU WORE IT HONORABLY but is this site turns into another sweet-talking, honey-dripping, let’s all remember cops are people too site,

    THIS BLOG JUST RAN OUT OF REASONS TO EXIST. I CAN OOH AND AH AT PUPPIES OUT MY FRONT DOOR M*THERF*CKERS.

    And people call me Betty Crocker and Florence Henderson…until they are hurt real bad. Then they make wimpering sounds.

    Guys, it’s not your sense of humor, it’s not your blythe dismissal of the true human condition but as soon as you start to normalize violent behavior or to equivocate one form of violence with another, I’m not sure you know what the potential consequences will be.

    Because you got guys like me in the desert fully armed with AKs and food and medical gear and right now we’re thinking anybody that comes from the East or West is probably gonna be YOU. And guess what? We don’t like whom you have portrayed yourselves to be. You tough-talking, intolerant fagot wanna-be men are scaring us.

    SO YOU, DAVE KRUEGER AND YOUR PANSY PARTY TAKE A DEEP LOOK INTO YOURSELF AND REALIZE WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO.

    Cause you ain’t as think as you tough you are there winkey.

  81. #81 |  gottabeKiddingme | 

    Go tell ma, go tell pa
    the mule is in the corn
    the mule is in the corn

    Johnny tell Jake, johnny tell Jake
    the fox is in the henhouse
    the fox is in the henhouse

    and go tell daddy that the water’s getting high
    we all will surely die
    we all will surely die

    And then we told mammy she better come along and she said
    who’s got grandma
    who’s got grandma

    Now Johnny who’s got the eggs and who’s got the legs
    the river’s getting long
    the river’s getting long

    And who’s taking care of people down on the farm and it’s
    not Johnny law and it’s
    not Johnny law.

    Now when trouble comes, here’s what you do.
    You grab your guns and tell Johnny Law to screw,
    He’ll take your guns, water and property too,

    Saw it in New Orleans, that’s what they’ll do
    See Johnny law
    Tell him to screw

    They have the badge and the gun and they’re allowed to lie.

    You trust to them and you just miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

    And I say you just might and I say you just might

    Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee yeah babies oh yeah gitting down on the microphone now kick it wit me now….with the drum roll now y’all know what I’m a-saying and all together now…

    trust in the cops and you just might die, die die die dieyippiekayeheeyo, heep deep a doodle and in your face your muderous m*thertrucker ya

    BOOM!

    Ah thank you thank you thank you, you guys been great, see you in Memphis with the SCUBA gear! We love you people! Good night!

  82. #82 |  gottabeKiddingme | 

    Hi there, I’m gonna change character and pretend to be somebody I’m not.

    Friends, the cops are there to help you. They wear the badge of honor for our communities. They are understanding and compassionate and you can always trust them. Tell you kids, if they are ever in trouble, they can always count on a cop to help them in spite of the fact that the only value a child has to a cop these days is to inform on their parent’s social behavior. Tell the kids if they are really lucky, they might be remanded to foster homes at state expense after a long and traumatizing experience in a CPS facillity where everybody that works there goes home to their own safe, comfortable and predictable home while you shiver in your nightie and wonder where daddy and mommy went and when they are coming to get you. Parents, encourage your kids to be honest with cops, CPS and prosecutors who will conflate your story into something they can make their careers off of and know kiddo, that your destroyed future means a nice lifestyle for bloated PAs, judges and their pitiful minions, the cops, who get psychologically scarred for life and become instruments of punishement for little kids just like you kiddo.

    Because, little lamb, you are not just some kid who got born into circumstances you had no control over, you are necessary fuel to a fire that keeps our economy going. So your life is not in vain little one. Some vile person gets to take charge of a blog and tell people how necessary it is that people like him put people like you onto a fire and burn you for heat.

    Great news too, in today’s “everybody is a winner” society you get a medal. Gods rest ye children.

  83. #83 |  David McElroy | 

    The word “feminist” means just as little as words such as “conservative” and “liberal” today. Most people who use all three of those words believes that THEIR interpretation of the word is the One True Faith and others who use the word to mean different things are all wrong. People end up having conversations in which nobody really understands anybody else, because they’re using the same words to mean different things.

    Whether feminism was ever a good thing or not, it’s not _A_ thing now. It’s a bunch of incompatible things. As far as I’m concerned, the word is meaningless, but that’s not going to keep a bunch of different groups to claim to be the rightful heirs to ownership of the term.

  84. #84 |  Acksiom | 

    I already explained this. Feminism is the theory and practice of prioritizing women’s interests ahead of those of men and children, and of institutionalizing that prioritization.

    That’s the proper definition, because that’s what feminists consistently and reliably do. Feminists are bigoted chauvanists because they consistent and reliably engage in chauvanistic bigotry.

    Feminism is as much about gender equality as caucasianism is about racial equality or christianism is a about religious equality. I.e., not at all.

    Feminists don’t just ignore issues of discrimination against men and favoring women; over and over again they not only support the sexist status quo on such matters, but actively seek to increase the disparities.

    As I said, decide for yourself what the three most important issues of discrimination against men and favoring women are, and then look at what feminists have actually done about them. Effectively nothing.

    Warren Farrell pointed this out years ago. When feminists act, it’s to preserve women’s options while limiting men’s options. We see it over and over and over again.

    We’ve had selective service registration mentioned. There’s also genital integrity rights. Must-arrest domestic violence legislation. Bias throughout the justice system, and particularly in family court. Suicide — how many of you know that the majority of tragic, senseless firearm deaths in this country are male suicides? 50.13%, to be more precise, from 1981-2007 according to the CDC’s online data.

    We don’t have a gun violence problem in this country; we have a male suicide problem, primarily via firearms. How many feminists do you think are active in gun control versus how many are active in male suicide prevention?

    Now combine that disturbing suicide factoid with the feminist pressure to alter Obama’s “job-stimulus” bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) to favor women. Unemployment is a well-known trigger for male suicide.

    I put those facts together, and “contempt” for feminists doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. How many more men killed themselves because of that particular example of feminist chauvanism and bigotry?

    Feminists are not heroes fighting against repression. Feminists are gender supremacists, just like caucasianists are racial supremacists and christianists are religious supremacists.

    Because feminists don’t just ignore issues of discrimination against men and favoring women; over and over again they not only support the sexist status quo on such matters, but actively seek to increase the disparities.

    Women, throughout history, have been found at the highest levels of society, ruling over peasant men and women alike and exploiting them. All those “men in power for 4000 years” that people talk about? They had wives and mothers and daughters and aunts and nieces and female cousins and concubines and so on and so forth who were born or married or “uplifted” into the aristocracy and benefited from ruling over the oppressed masses just as their male peers did.

    Consider the massive historical gap in autonomy and security between the aristocrats and the peasants throughout the great majority of human civilization. Call the difference between the average aristocrat and the average peasant “X”. The difference between the average peasant man and peasant woman? Some miniscule fraction of X, perhaps a few hundredths. Likewise, the difference between the average aristocrat man and aristocrat woman? Another miniscule fraction of X, perhaps a few more or less hundredths.

    The difference between the average aristocrat woman and the average peasant man? That’s almost all of those hundredths of X. Fifty to one, a hundred to one, maybe a million to one ratio in the case of actual slaves. Male and female slaves oppressed and ruled over and used and abused — by women; the women of the aristocracy. Where is the female accountability for that?

    Feminists point at the differences in autonomy and security between men and women within a particular social class, and claim it’s proof that women have superior victim status today.

    Rational people point at the differences in autonomy between men AND women from the aristocratic class versus men AND women from the peasant class and instantly invalidate feminists.

    Men have more power and success in life for one simple reason: we assign the responsibility for appropriate violence to them. That’s what gives men the edge in success over women in general, not unfair discrimination. Men have more power because men accept more responsibility. The comic-book adage has it backwards; with great responsibility comes great power.

    But ultimately, feminism is chauvanistic bigotry, because that’s what feminists actually do.

    Feminists don’t just ignore issues of discrimination against men and favoring women; over and over again they not only support the sexist status quo on such matters, but actively seek to increase the disparities.

    As I said, decide for yourself what the three most important issues of discrimination against men and favoring women are, and then look at what feminists have actually done about them. Effectively nothing.

  85. #85 |  maybelogics | 

    #83 Acksiom, What you mean when you claim men have more power/success because “we assign the responsibility for appropriate violence to them”?

    The rest of it I understand, but that paragraph I don’t. It’s interesting.

  86. #86 |  RomanCandle | 

    #74
    Heh. Well, that’s my point. That’s why I DON’T walk on eggshells. I’d rather be an asshole than a pussy.

    Also, why are most of our insults anatomical? What dick thought that up?

  87. #87 |  Acksiom | 

    Maybelogics, I mean that training people to apply force appropriately (who, what, where, when, why, how, how much, etc.) better equips them with certain fundamental abstract resources (attitudes, beliefs, habits, perceptual filters, prioritization skills, etc.) than almost any other method, which in turn leads to superior performance in other areas of life.

    Much of men’s greater power and success is simply the result of being subjected to harsher treatment and higher expectations from an early age throughout life. Men are more likely to receive more responsibility — and consequently, the power and success that result from it — than women because men are more likely to be better equipped to handle it. Men are more likely to be better equipped to handle it because men are more likely to have more experience with doing so under harsher conditions.

    And men are more likely to have more experience with doing so under harsher conditions because we assign the responsibility for appropriate violence to men much, much more than we do to women. When members of both genders are present, which one gets up to investigate the strange noise in the middle of the night? Which gender is more likely to step into the line of harm to protect a stranger? Which gender is more likely to put themselves at physical risk for the benefit of others?

    And therefore, which gender do you more likely want in charge when and where it really matters? The one that more likely has more experience with making the best quick decisions under the pressure of getting the crap kicked out of you, if not outright crippled for life, if not outright killed dead on the spot.

    The more likely you are to get beaten up plus get punished afterward if you don’t choose correctly, the more likely you are to get a lot better at making the right decisions faster and more efficiently than someone who isn’t.

    And that means men end up being more powerful and successful than women are. Because men get superior training in how to be effective, and that happens because we assign almost all the responsibility for appropriate violence to them, and that causes them to be better equipped for taking on and fulfilling responsibilities, because they’ve had to do so under harsher conditions with higher expectations.

    If you have further questions or thoughts of your own, please post them.

  88. #88 |  dhex | 

    We don’t have a gun violence problem in this country; we have a male suicide problem, primarily via firearms. How many feminists do you think are active in gun control versus how many are active in male suicide prevention?

    isn’t this just a variation on “the state may overreach but what about poor people, huh?”

    you can’t expect everyone to give a shit about everything. it’d be the same as giving a shit about nothing.

    I’d rather be an asshole than a pussy.

    pinker’s last book had a bit on why our curses and insults are the way they are, cross-culturally.

    me, personally, though i’d rather be neither. it’s, like, a false choice and shit.

  89. #89 |  Acksiom | 

    Dhex #87, no, it isn’t. It’s a variation on the “WTF actually are my goals, as explicitly defined as possible, and how well is what I’m doing actually helping me to achieve them?” Which is pretty much the diametrical, mutually exclusve opposite of expecting people to care about everything.

    So I have no idea how you managed to come to that assesment, let alone shove State interference in there as well. It doesn’t rationally result from anything I’ve posted; in fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of my views.

    I simply believe the serious violent crime rate would go down if we did more targeted outreach to men and boys most at risk of committing suicide. Because I’ve been there myself, and worked with suicidal males, and I find that they tend to share my views: the more I don’t want to live anymore, the less I care about what I do to other people.

  90. #90 |  dhex | 

    point being that criticizing feminism for not focusing on the suicides of young men is a lot like when someone elbows into a discussion on the size of the state to yell about poor people. it is a non sequitur.

  91. #91 |  Acksiom | 

    No; actually it’s quite relevant and apposite. The problem lies in your grade-school level errors of reading comprehension.

  92. #92 |  Mannie | 

    #78 | John C. Randolph | May 14th, 2011 at 12:38 am

    they couldn’t drive their own truck.

    You know, it really would have been hilarious if you’d just driven the truck off the parade route, gotten out, and walked away. “What? You don’t need any man’s help, do you?”

    Nah. It was more fun ribbing them about it. We all had a pretty good laugh.

  93. #93 |  Mannie | 

    THIS BLOG JUST RAN OUT OF REASONS TO EXIST. I CAN OOH AND AH AT PUPPIES OUT MY FRONT DOOR M*THERF*CKERS.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the arse. And consider increasing your medications.

  94. #94 |  maybelogics | 

    @Acksiom- Sorry for just now getting around to reading this. I’ve been busy this weekend, and completely forgot. And first of all, I want to say your comment on male suicide is interesting… how you associate the existential desperation experienced by suicidal persons with the desperation that leads to violent crime. If you can tell me where I can read/learn more about this, I would appreciate it.

    As you know, I’m no fan of feminism either, though not for exactly the same reasons. But I agree completely with you when you claim “training people to apply force appropriately…” leads to all those things you say it does. Now are you talking specifically about physical force? What about communicative/verbal force? Do you think that women have not been trained (conditioned) to apply physical and communicative force in certain ways as well? I think one of the things that peeves some people is the fact that many men tend to overlook or undervalue the kinds of force and the knowledges that women have been trained to apply. Self-restraint, for example, is a kind of force, isn’t it? And communicative dexterity is a kind of knowledge.

    For the most part, you’re right. From an evolutionary perspective, it has been beneficial for men to assume the roles you’ve mentioned (executor of force, protector, decider, etc). And there is probably some evidence from studies in evolutionary psychology that might be more effective (read: more insightful and less abrasive to womenfolk and womenfolk sympathizers) to use when making claims about stuff like this (eg. why certain applications of force have been valued in different cultures for different genders in evol/historical periods). If I could remember the names of book titles I’d give you some, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read the material.

    Anyhow, many of these people interested in advocating for gender equality would argue that because we’ve evolved in a male-dominated society, the kinds of knowledge and power that women have always executed (eg. self-restraint & communicative dexterity)–in superior ways to men–are devalued and ignored. In contrast, the kinds of knowledge and power that men have executed (eg. physical, economic, etc.)–in superior ways to women–have been rewarded with the role of defining what it *means* to be successful and powerful.

    On top of that, they’d likely point out that just because men have traditionally been the ones with the experience of performing under pressure, making quick decisions, and putting themselves at physical risk, that doesn’t mean they are the only ones who *can* do these things. Women can do them just fine (even though fewer women than men perhaps want to or, as you say, are expected to). For example, I would much rather be “in charge” myself “when and where it really matters” because I have more faith in my own communicative dexterity than I do in most of my male friends’ knowledge of effective fisticuffing techniques. Likewise, I’ve usually been the one to investigate the noises, set the mouse traps, and intervene when I’ve seen someone mistreating someone/thing else (I say thing, because the most recent incident involved a very stupid, angry man and a very frightened dog).

    Putting myself at physical risk is something I’ve never minded, and I have had to, on at least one occasion, appear impressively fierce to avert physical abuse. So I’ve made those decisions under pressure of getting the crap kicked out of me, under pressure of being robbed, etc. that it seems you think only men have had to make. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a man checking that noise for me, I don’t mind doors being opened for me, and I don’t mind getting flowers or in general being made to feel like a lady. But that doesn’t mean I am not also just as good as you at being effective and powerful in the ways you value.)

    Women get “harsh treatment” as well in ways similar and different to men. Why don’t we value the ways they have learned to survive, preserve their autonomy, and be successful? Or do we…if so, in what ways? And, anyway, might it prove more useful in most cases to judge someone based on their individual qualities and merits?

    All that said, I recognize fully how difficult it is for a man to figure out what it means to be a man these days. How hard it is to find a way to perform your masculinity that isn’t gonna catch you shit from the ladies in one way or another. Yeah, I think that’s bullshit too. And I’ve lost several female friends because they heart their ideas more than they heart being challenged. I’d never call them “chauvinistic bigots” though, because it’s easier for me to convince them they’re wrong if I don’t piss em off and that’s easier to do if I understand that they’re merely ignorant of one part of the issue… blind to some shadowed corner of the room.

    I bet you have an interesting story. If you’re in the MidSouth or Midwest, we should have a beer sometime.

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