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, 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 |  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.

  2. #2 |  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.

  3. #3 |  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.

  4. #4 |  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).

  5. #5 |  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.

  6. #6 |  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.

  7. #7 |  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.

  8. #8 |  Abersouth | 

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

  9. #9 |  André | 


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

  10. #10 |  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.

  11. #11 |  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.

  12. #12 |  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!

  13. #13 |  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.

  14. #14 |  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.

  15. #15 |  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.

  16. #16 |  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. :)

  17. #17 |  maybelogics | 

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

  18. #18 |  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.

  19. #19 |  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.

  20. #20 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

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

  21. #21 |  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?

  22. #22 |  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.

  23. #23 |  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.)

  24. #24 |  RomanCandle | 

    “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.

  25. #25 |  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.

  26. #26 |  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?

  27. #27 |  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.

  28. #28 |  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.


  29. #29 |  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?”


  30. #30 |  gottabeKiddingme | 



    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,


    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.


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

  31. #31 |  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


    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!

  32. #32 |  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.

  33. #33 |  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.

  34. #34 |  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.

  35. #35 |  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.

  36. #36 |  RomanCandle | 

    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?

  37. #37 |  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.

  38. #38 |  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.

  39. #39 |  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.

  40. #40 |  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.

  41. #41 |  Acksiom | 

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

  42. #42 |  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.

  43. #43 |  Mannie | 


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

  44. #44 |  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.