David Thompson
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July 09, 2008

Comments

randian

If I do not put myself in danger to save another person, even my own child, I will not be though of as unfeminine or cowardly, nor will I be thought a coward if I ask someone else to do so on my behalf.

I can choose combat assignments in the military, but cannot be forced to accept one.

I have the right to judge a man's masculinity, but woe be unto him if he dares judge me.

I have a much larger set of clothing and grooming choices, and as a bonus I can complain about easy men have it because their choices are so constrained.

When I want your money, it's "our baby". When I want you to disappear, it's "my baby".

Ophelia Benson

Who is this 'I' supposed to be? Everyfemale? Because if so, you've got to be kidding. You do realize there's a world outside Europe and North America, yes? You do realize it's a bad joke to say that in, oh, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Nicaragua your typical female can truthfully say 'If I become pregnant, I and I alone choose whether to terminate the pregnancy or have the baby' don't you? And nearly all the other stuff is pretty absurd in much of the world too.

Peter Risdon

Ophelia Benson is right, obviously.

This does not detract in the least from the relevance of the list to those parts of the world to which it is, equally obviously, meant to apply.

David

Ophelia,

“You do realize there's a world outside Europe and North America, yes?”

I’m not sure who you’re asking and I can’t answer for the people quoted above. But the replies I’ve quoted are, so far as I can make out, in response to claims made by a number of European and North American feminists, many of whom phrase their grievances in much the same - European, North American - terms. Hence the assumed context, i.e. of “privilege” (real and imagined) within a developed society, rather than in the world at large.

Ophelia Benson

David,

Maybe, but that's not self-evident from what's presented, and to me it looks at least as smug as what Julie Bindel said. No, that's not true: it looks a lot smugger.

John Gillmartin

If I find myself in a crowded situation, I will never be expected to give my seat to a man.

If I find myself married and on a tight budget, I will never be expected to do without or with less than adequate tools to perform my assigned chores.

If I am married and am allergic to or dislike certain furry creatures, I will never be expected to "live with it."

Since I'm never expected to get really filthy building, repairing, or installing anything, I never have to hear, "OMG, what a mess. Who's going to clean this up? Can't you be a little more careful? Who do you think I am, your cleaning lady?"

David

Ophelia,

Perhaps I should have made the assumed context clearer, though I thought it - and the spirit in which it’s intended - was fairly obvious. No, that’s not quite true. The context *is* perfectly obvious. And one would have to be quite determined to misunderstand that.

R. Sherman

I was going to post, "I am not required to fold the auto map, after I've told you 'We are lost,'" but then Ms. Benson intervened. I believe the links to which Mr. Thompson refers are attempting to point out, in a humorous way, the benefits which exist for women in our western society. Good Lord, have we lost the ability to laugh at ourselves?

(And I say that, having been married for two decades to a brilliant woman, for whom I would do anything. Yet, her Ph.D. notwithstanding, she still can't fold a map.)

Cheers.

John Gillmartin

Sorry Ophelia, I just assumed this was meant to be a humor break for the guys.

Oh well, it just allows me to add another ...

I can choose, at any time and at any place, to rag on any guy that so much as steps out of line one iota, but I'll never have to walk on eggshells when I'm around those hairy, knuckle-dragging, apes when I write or speak!

Ophelia Benson

A humour break for the guys, oh, sorry, I didn't realize it was segregated.

David

Ophelia,

Your initial reaction surprised me. The post above was intended as a lightweight and slightly mischievous spur to discussion. The context of the listed grievances (and their various levels of seriousness and frivolity) is, I maintain, pretty clear. And as I think you’re familiar with at least some of my comments on, say, women in Islamic societies*, I’d have thought my own intention was fairly obvious and unobjectionable.

Indeed, one could argue that the existence of real and systemic oppression elsewhere makes the mouthings of Ms Bindel et al seem *more* confused and overwrought. Bindel lives in one of the least oppressive societies ever to have existed and she, like many of her peers, seems to be talking primarily about affairs in her own society. Claiming that “men” are “the problem” and that sexual violence by men is “pandemic” and that “women” feel “lucky” not to have been raped is, given the context, absurd. To wildly overstate in this way is, it seems to me, insulting to women in less developed societies whose hardships and dangers are, very often, rather more serious.

* http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/03/for_the_love_of.html

Anna

"I didn't realize it was segregated."

It isn't. Jesus, lighten up a little.

erm

jeezus.
lighten up ophelia!
(who got out the wrong side of her bed today?)
anyways, here's a couple of photos specially for you :)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28438670@N04/

erm

ha Anna!
beat me to it.

Ophelia Benson

David, sure, I realize that's one possible reading. I have to tell you, though, to me it reads much more like typical and quite tedious male locker-room or clubroom hawhawing about silly women and their silly complaints. There are lots of feminists who are idiots, alas, but it doesn't follow that feminism in general is idiotic.

And actually, no, to be quite truthful, your intention is not obvious and (obviously) unobjectionable at least to me. The tone of these lists doesn't strike me as being at all joky (and they're certainly not witty, or funny); the tone strikes me as intending to be joky, in a Limbaughesque sort of way (I don't think you have a Limbaugh-equivalent in the UK, so I don't know how to translate that), but actually being quite contemptuous and aggrieved and whiny. In short it looks to me like standard issue misogynist crap. I'm not familiar with Julie Bindel, or her pieces from last November, but however silly she is she doesn't make any of this stuff any more amusing.

Ophelia Benson

Oh blah blah. I'm light enough, thank you. If the stuff were funny it wouldn't be quite so bad, but there's not one funny line in any of it.

And I got out on the perfect, ideal, couldn't be better side of the bed this morning, it's not a side of the bed exit problem at all; but David pointed this post out to me, so I figure I'm entitled to say what I think about it. I think it's 1) unfunny and 2) unpleasant.

Ed

The Big One-

If I wish to alter my partner's behaviour I am not required to put my case rationally and my partner must respect my "feelings". My friends, magazines, television personalities, newspapers will agree that I am right to do so.

If my partner wishes to alter my behaviour, no matter how rationally he puts his case, then he is attempting to control me and I am under no obligation to acquiesce. My friends, magazines, television personalities, newspapers will agree that I am right not to do so.

David

Ophelia.

“There are lots of feminists who are idiots, alas, but it doesn't follow that feminism in general is idiotic.”

I don’t recall anyone suggesting it was.

“…it looks to me like standard issue misogynist crap.”

We’ll have to disagree, then.

An underlying issue, which informed the checklists above, is the tendency of some feminists, including Bindel, to assume collective culpability on the part of men. Hence the notion of “male privilege”. Her articles often insist that the vile behaviour of some men is in some way indicative of men generally, and that not being a sadistic bastard personally, and not knowing anyone who is, isn’t enough to excuse one’s continued male existence and alleged privileges. It is, of course, slightly galling to be told that one’s entire gender is by default “the problem” and that nothing short of complete and emphatic agreement with Ms Bindel and the Sisterhood will correct that. (To reverse that formulation and suggest that the nasty, passive-aggressive tendencies of some women are indicative of, and the responsibility of, all women would, of course, be denounced as misogyny.)

It’s the sweeping, non-reciprocal nature of such arguments that, I think, prompted the checklists above.

Ed

Ophelia - personally I'm all for locker room hawhawing. Its part of our beautifully intricate male psyche and must be affirmed and protected. Now someone pass me a wet towel, that boy has bosoms!

Ophelia Benson

I know what it is - everyone is trying to channel Kingsley Amis. Trouble is, of course, Amis was wildly funny as well as misogynist. Take away the wildly funny and all you're left with is the blimpish sneering. Unfunny blimpish sneering - woo hoo, what a treat.

Ophelia Benson

Ed, well that's funny at least! Makes a nice change.

A. Pendragon

Isn't something being funny or not funny sort of....I don't know....a subjective matter? Humor hardly seems to be determined by pronouncement or decree, although I can see why some would like to conduct themselves as if it did.

Ophelia Benson

No, humour is as objective as arithmetic. Der. Of course it's subjective - and if you think all this stuff is Amisesque in its funniness, far be it from me to disabuse you.

I however will continue to think it's predictable, stale, and unamusing. Until we get to the wet towel.

witwoud

Exactly, it's locker room stuff. But since men-bashing has become such a mainstream activity, since you see it everywhere -- in adverts, TV shows, magazine columns, on T-shirts -- and since it's become axiomatic in popular culture that men are lustful, stupid, hairy oafs while women are smart sexy sassy wonderful, it's inevitable that locker room talk -- which has more than a grain of truth in it -- will sooner or later come out of the locker room. Why should men remain polite about women, while women have free license to be as rude about men as they like?

A. Pendragon

But if humor is subjective and all that, then what exactly does one owe to someone who finds it unfunny, once they've lodged their opinion? What if the someone in question doesn't necessarily understand the humor or (perhaps) lacks more than a rudimentary sense of humor themselves?

Peter Risdon

What a revealing exchange.

I was just listening to Radio 4's PM programme, on which there was a discussion about sex in older people (a study has just been published in Sweden that suggests the over 70s are enjoying good sex lives, at least some of them, at least in Sweden). A female gossip columnist was interviewed by the female presenter, and proceeded to describe - for some reason - the way Viagra-fuelled older men scour the internet for sexual partners, and find them. It was impossible to tell, from this conversation, that there are any women seeking sex on the internet, though how men find partners when they're not available in the same medium in which they are searching was not clear. Moreover, if any female equivalents of male impotence were ever described in such pejorative terms there'd be outrage.

This is the simple asymmetry that saturates our public discourse today. It is straightforward sexism. Quips like those in this post are a reaction to this asymmetry. The quips themselves describe asymmetries that are, on the whole, real.

JuliaM

"It was impossible to tell, from this conversation, that there are any women seeking sex on the internet..."

I guess the Radio 4 audience aren't 'Metro' readers then:

"Fountain concedes the idea of heterosexual 'cruising' is hampered by one obvious fact: there are still far more men involved than women. However, female attitudes are changing: 'There are now far more British female sex tourists,' he says.

'I met a woman out in Egypt who was 48 and on the hunt for young, local men.

She said, “I love it here. The beer's cheap, the men are cheap and they have Emmerdale on satellite.” Some women behave like men on a stag do.' "

Link: http://www.metro.co.uk/metrosexual/article.html?in_article_id=211038&in_page_id=8

And for what it's worth, I enjoyed the quips!

David

Peter,

“Moreover, if any female equivalents of male impotence were ever described in such pejorative terms there’d be outrage.”

Much the same point is touched on here, regarding the Guardian:

“How many pro-feminist pieces, making sweeping anti-male statements that wouldn’t be tolerated were any other group the subject and often containing all kinds of misuses of statistics in support of their arguments, have there been on CiF?”

http://questionthat.me.uk/2008/07/this-comment-has-been-removed.html

But there’s more than a double standard at work. Among some, there’s a quasi-religious fervour. I’ve encountered several hardline feminists who insist that men who disagree with them must *therefore* find feminist theorising “threatening”, when the theorising in question may simply be regarded as opportunist, delusional or morally vacuous. For instance, I was once told that my disagreement with some feminist theorising is, by definition, proof of some heinous and oppressive intent, and that only when I confront my own “invisible privileges” and renounce them publicly will I be deemed free of sin. And I’ve heard formulations of “male privilege” which insist that I – personally, by virtue of being male – contribute to the oppression of women, even to violence against them. I am, apparently, to blame for things I haven’t actually done and can’t readily imagine doing. And, conveniently, any rejection of this claim is proof of my guilt.

One might dismiss such “theories” as ludicrous and unworthy of reply, but similar kinds of thinking have acquired a degree of traction in the less reputable parts of academia.

Ophelia Benson

"But if humor is subjective and all that, then what exactly does one owe to someone who finds it unfunny, once they've lodged their opinion? What if the someone in question doesn't necessarily understand the humor or (perhaps) lacks more than a rudimentary sense of humor themselves?"

What does one owe? What an odd question. Who said anyone owed anything?

However, the sly and witty point is taken: I'm thick and don't understand the humour, and I lack a (more than rudimentary) sense of humour myself. Quite true: I'm well known for that.

(Mind you, that makes it all the more baffling that David bothered to tell me about the post, as he must know that I'm too stupid and too humour-impaired to appreciate it.)

Anna

Ophelia,

"it looks to me like standard issue misogynist crap."

What's misogynist about the items David quotes? They're not all serious (or funny) – but "misogynist"?

Jason

I'm reminded of a joke.

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny!

:-)

Anna

"I am, apparently, to blame for things I haven’t actually done and can’t readily imagine doing. And, conveniently, any rejection of this claim is proof of my guilt."

You're only making things worse for yourself, David. ;)

David

Anna,

Well, quite. And it’s the same self-justifying template (“heads-I-win-tails-you-lose”) that’s found in claims of “white privilege”. See, for instance, the “work” of Dr Shakti Butler and her associates:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/10/soft-student--1.html

Or Dr Peggy McIntosh and Dr Caprice Hollins:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/05/prejudice_revis.html

Behold the new Witchfinders General.

Midget Launcher

Be fair: These kind of idiot "feminists" want to extend most of those female privileges to men as well, particularly the items on Sweating Through Fog's list.

"I'm entitled to the benefits of a safe, orderly society, but no one expects me to risk my personal safety to maintain it."

Find me a lefty, of any sex, who doesn't feel that way.

John Gillmartin

Ooopppsss!!! I stayed away too long! What a revealing exchange indeed!

What began as a kind of lighthearted, tongue-firmly-nestled-in-the-cheek dialog has morphed into a full blown salvation message for men everywhere.

Hawgwash! I for one don't need my male privilege changed, rescued or excised; and I have a wife and three daughters who will tell you they like my masculinity just fine ... in spite of all my blemishes. We accept each other as we are, because we love each other ... all eight of us!

Someone above hinted at the underlying foundation here; even though humor was intended (I believe David said as much) there is actually a shred of truth in what's being said by our "misogynistic" quips.

Feminism has cost some men dearly. Where I come from (California) there are hundreds of men in jail and in anger management classes who don't belong there. They've been put there by trumped up charges by women with agendas, a Cinderella complex, and feminist incontinence.

So, if you want to whine about a few people (mainly men, but not all) needing a moment of levity, then let's change the subject 90 degrees and address all the damage feminism has wrought in this desperately flawed world of ours?

You first, Ophelia!

John Gillmartin

In all fairness, I guess I should add there are thousands of California men in jail and anger management who deserve to have their sorry-selves right where they are.

Wonder Woman

If I systematically drown my five children in the bathtub, one by one, or give birth to my baby in a WalMart toilet and leave it there to die, my plight will inspire sympathy and forgiveness for deeds done in a post-partum haze or overwhelming anxiety about the soical constraints of motherhood.

If a man does it, he's a monster.

bgates

And nearly all the other stuff is pretty absurd in much of the world too.
True. Hard to accuse a woman of thinking with her clitoris in those jurisdictions which routinely cut them off.

Unfunny blimpish sneering - woo hoo, what a treat.
Funny, I was just thinking the same thing for some reason.
Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That's not funny!

Ophelia Benson

"So, if you want to whine about a few people (mainly men, but not all) needing a moment of levity"

I'm not "whining" - I'm commenting. I don't whine. I frequently tease or mock or criticize or deride, but I don't whine. As I said: I feel more or less invited to comment, because David emailed me to point out this post.

It's interesting that David thought I would like the post. I have something of a reputation as a teaser of trendy academics, including some deranged branches of feminism - and I guess that occasionally leads people to think that I like all manifestations of such things.

BC

You know what I find predictably, stale, and unamusing? The propensity of arrogant twits to shriek "Misogyny!" in an effort to preempt even quasi-serious discussion of the protected status that women do enjoy, in a very real sense, in the West.

Jason

It find it ironic that Ophelia objects to the examples mention by citing the status of women in the Middle East.

When and where, exactly, have Western feminists ever declared their solidarity with such women?

David

Ophelia,

“It’s interesting that David thought I would like the post.”

I’m not sure I expected you to “like” it as such; I wasn’t sure what you would think; but I thought you might have something interesting to say. What’s interesting to me is why you took such a pointed dislike to the quotes. It isn’t clear to me why you should think the extracts I used are obviously “misogynistic”.

Ophelia Benson

Oh for fuck's sake - on my (quite influential) website, that's where, every day; I'm writing a book on the subject (with another author); I've argued with the kind of feminist who refuses to declare solidarity with women in the Middle East, but I also know a lot of feminists who do declare solidarity, as well as a lot of feminists who ARE women in the Middle East.

Ophelia Benson

David, I didn't say they were "obviously" misogynistic. On the contrary, I said that the reading you offered me was one possible reading. I said "it looks to me like standard issue misogynist crap" - note the "it looks to me." Saying it looks to me is different from saying it's obvious.

However I suppose the tone of the comments has by now firmed up my opinion a good deal.

dr kill

Hahahaha, thank you OB for your comments. They are perfect! Hahahahaha. Oh, the rage. I hope you stamped your foot, too. Women Power! You go, girl.

PS - Try that Activia stuff JL Curtis is pushing. Hahahahaha.

David

Ophelia,

“I didn't say they were ‘obviously’ misogynistic.”

Granted, but you seem to be dodging my basic point – one that’s been raised more than once in this thread. The actual items I quoted range from the fairly frivolous (hugging, work-related injuries) to the serious (abortion), but none of them strikes me as misogynistic in nature. That they should be construed as such, quite readily, at least initially, is… well, interesting.

Jason

"Oh for fuck's sake - on my (quite influential) website, that's where, every day; I'm writing a book on the subject (with another author); I've argued with the kind of feminist who refuses to declare solidarity with women in the Middle East, but I also know a lot of feminists who do declare solidarity, as well as a lot of feminists who ARE women in the Middle East."

Well I've never heard of you and I think you flatter yourself as to your importance. As a faculty member in the humanities I am quite aware of the LACK of influence such a feminist universalism holds. Either way, I admire your efforts and I think you are being quite unfair to Dave. I think he makes a good point that is revealing to the decadence of Western feminism. It was certainly not meant to be a claim regarding the status of women in general the world over, and interpreting it in such a way strikes me as captious.

Ophelia Benson

I said "quite influential," I didn't say "importance" and I certainly didn't say you should have heard of me. I think I'm within my rights to say "quite influential," considering the people who write articles for the website along with some other evidence. I don't think that's a hugely grandiose claim, or even a terribly self-flattering one.

Universalist feminism is possibly somewhat more influential outside universities. It is at any rate by no means completely dead, and I have every intention of continuing to insist on it until I'm carted away.

It's possible that I am being unfair to David, but on the other hand, I think a critique of Julie Bindel (whom I've never read, as far as I know) is one thing while those silly lists are another. To me they read like Limbaugh on a very bad day.

Ophelia Benson

David - sorry, I didn't mean to dodge. It is, admittedly, somewhat intuitive - but then that's partly because it has to do with having seen and heard lots of 'joky' antifeminism over the years. I think female privileges are an interesting subject, in fact, but in this form - not so much. (And with these commenters, really not so much.)

ophelia sucks

Obviously Ophelia is on her period.

Now have a seat and let a big, strong man bring you some cold water and a towel to deal with your bad case of the vapors.

Jason

Ophelia,

I think it's true that universalist feminism is much more influential outside of universities as it represents more of the "popular" feminist attitude. I would also say that it is much more influential in Women's Studies departments as opposed to feminists in the humanities of the social sciences. The problem is that these thinkers are the "theorists" of the feminist movement who write the books that students read, etc.

Might I suggest that your reaction to Dave's post stems from you taking it personally against your own project, when he is, in fact, attacking an entirely different strain of feminism. I think the point he makes against the bromide of "male privledge" are quite amusing, but only because I interpreted the target to be academic feminists who construct every aspect of our society as a product of "male privledge".

Ophelia Benson

Jason, no no, not at all - David and I go way back, and I didn't at all think he was attacking any project of mine. David has written an article for my website in fact. No it's just that that kind of thing has a familiar note, and it's not a note I like very much (the quoted bits, I mean, not David's analysis). It sounds like the kind of thing that appeals to the pseudonymous wit who posted the last comment on page 2. Huh huh huh, she's on her period, hawhawhaw, that's a good one, uh uh.

True enough, about the books. Well, that's one reason we're writing this one!

Doug

Why are you trying to justify yourself to Ophelia? Nothing you do will satisfy her short of an abject apology acknowledging her victimhood.

Here is another addition:
If I work in an office with a clothing policy that says business suits will be worn I can still wear a skirt, loose fitting blouse and sandals while the guys choke on their ties.

Ophelia Benson

Gee, golly, I just can't imagine how I could possibly ever for one second have thought there was the smallest whiff of misogyny about any of this, when everyone who comments on it is so obviously rational and reflective and skilled at reading carefully. And pro-feminist, of course.

NJRob

David,

this is my first time visiting this site. I came from one of those crude, crass sites that uptight people who look for offense in everything in their life would hate. I'm looking around your site and it seems a welcome place to add to my reading list.

Thanks for the humor in a society that sorely needs some.

Howard Roarke

Ophelia,

Really now, dear. You're getting way too worked up over this. Why don't you sit down, have a nice cup of tea and let the men sort it out. Obviously you can't compete on equal footing without getting your dander up, and that's so very unattractive. Men are able to deal with the rough-and-tumble world of the blogosphere without crying themselves into the vapors. Just take a Vicodin and sleep the whole mess off and in the morning you'll be ready to get back into your feminine groove. Now isn't that better?

West

As a woman, I never have to put the toilet seat down. But beware my wrath should a man fail to do so.

As an Ophelia, I get to determine what is humorous or not, and berate any whose tastes do not parallel mine.

Scottybill

Ophelia - So sorry we boorish louts fail to live up to your high expectations of witticism and sensitivity. Perhaps you could give us a better example to follow? A funny, lighthearted example of a female privilege, just to show us drooling misogynistic bastards how it's supposed to be done? Thanks so much for not being the very stereotype of a humorless ball-busting feminist battleaxe.

morbo

The privilege of living longer reminds me of an TV travel show I saw recently where it was mentioned that in a particular 3rd world country women had a shorter life expectancy than men, and that was regarded as prima facie evidence for gender oppression and women being to be forced to do the hard work. The opposite, of course, means nothing for some reason.

Old Pal

Boot the humourless value-subtracting harridan. She's a pylon. And you still reek of Trotskyism.

David Gillies

Someone's been dealt a poor hand in life: her Shakespearean namesake drowned herself for the sake of star-crossed love - not the most auspicious of angry feminist role models.

philanthropist

Feminist reverence for white males is very complimentary, but not really deserved. White males are super human according to feminists, these men organize, conspire and control everything from a women's place in this society to the decisions made by millions of non white people half a world away. And it's not just the suits, feminists look up to every white man - but they do breathe easier when a white guy in a suit is in charge, everyone seems to.

Perhaps feminists are correct about the greatness of white guys, if the proof of reaching a higher plane is being able to laugh at yourself, white men have reached it while no other identity has.

chris

- I can at times of my choosing, interject my opinion into matters in such a strong and forceful manner as to make said matters completely miserable for everyone else involved. even if everyone else involved is having fun with the matters at hand, my opinion is the one that counts and since i am not having fun, no one else should, even if i am not having fun because i do not understand the humor of the situation...

there ya go, now you arent left out Ophelia

David

Morning all. Maybe we could steer this back to the original subject - of alleged male and female “privilege” - rather than barking at Ophelia or making quips about periods? Don’t make me flick the lights on and off.

Horace Dunn

Ophelia

What Jason said -

"Either way, I admire your efforts and I think you are being quite unfair to Dave. I think he makes a good point that is revealing to the decadence of Western feminism. It was certainly not meant to be a claim regarding the status of women in general the world over, and interpreting it in such a way strikes me as captious."

- seems to me to hit the nail on the head.

When you say
"the tone of the comments has by now firmed up my opinion a good deal."

I wonder what you are getting at. I understand why you might take exception to the TONE of many of the comments, which were often expressed in a pretty salty manner. But would your opinions be better influenced by the CONTENT of the comments? I mean to say, most people here seem to concur broadly with Jason's view quoted above. David himself has responded courteously, and with clarity, to your objections. To put it bluntly, no-one else seems to have interpreted this thing in the way that you did. Nonetheless you are still not willing even to consider that you might possibly have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Quite the contrary, in fact. Your opinions have been firmed up.

Horace Dunn

David

Sorry, our comments "crossed" I think.

Ophelia (and everyone else), please ignore me.

(I've just realised that our comments couldn't have crossed - I missed all the comments after the next >> link - sorry David. I'm going to lie down now).

David

Horace,

What I was getting at earlier, in a roundabout way, is that the term “misogynist” (like “racist”, “homophobe” etc) has been devalued by inappropriate use and, as a result, rendered somewhat suspicious. One might, of course, take issue with the checklist points above, but to regard them as misogynist seems odd to me. If the statements I quoted are deemed misogynist, what word can people use for, well, actual misogyny?

A. Pendragon

David - this topic has apparently attracted the notice of the folks at Ace's site, where the regulars are doing their thing with it. (Dave in Texas had a particularly good one, I thought.)

erm

the left always do this, with every single subject.
they are a tunnel-visioned context-free zone.
perverting the meaning of words, so that they lose value.
case in point...
even OB is infected to some degree with her use of *misogyny*.
she may be a clever lefty, but she's still a lefty, and it shows.
too intense and humourlessly over-earnest, sucking the life out of stuff like some energy-vampire.
(no offence dearie :)

David

I should point out I have a lot of respect for Ophelia. I just think she’s wrong about the misogyny. So maybe we could continue with a little less of the baiting and the “dearie” business.

Skip

To quote a friend of mine: "Life's rough. Wear a helmet."

erm

David...
not sure OB should have protection from baiting for her apparent one-eyed feminism
(surely she can give as good as she gets, and its all done in the best possible taste).
but, no problem...your gaff, your rules.
and you did ask nicely.

Herr Morgenholz

Q. "How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?"

A. "That's not funny."

bud

And women wonder why men want nothing to do with marriage. Youing men whisper about getting lifetime stuck with the Ophelias.

QuestionThat

Hi, thanks for the link. I'm going to post about feminism and feminists again later in the week, and if it's OK I'd like to incorporate a fair amount of what you have said here.

Ian

David

Ian,

By all means.

pit

Ophelia needs to meet the perfect man.
Dimitri. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acERZQIAjUk

Jesse in South Florida

If a man cheats on me, disrespects me, or even if a stranger makes a crude remark to me, I have every right to slap the hell out of his face. But it is never, EVER acceptable for man to backhand a woman, even if she's been banging all of his friends and coworkers behind his back while secretly not paying the bills with HIS money and instead stashing it away so when she decides to leave for some guy she met on the internet she'll have enough money to travel on.

If a man cheats on me, it is NEVER justified and he will always be the scumbag in everybody's opinion, but if I cheat, it's okay as long as I use the tried-and-true "You were never there for me" line, even if he was never there because he worked two jobs while I was working to contribute a whopping 75 bucks to the monthly income by buying and selling beanie-babies during re-runs of Oprah.

I always be able to use child-birth as my trump card. Even though God or nature designed it so that I am the one to bear the children, I will always milk it for all it's worth as if it's something we BOTH could do, but my man is just too weak and stupid to do it, so I'll do it myself. I'll ridicule my husband and tell him that he's not as mentally strong as me and he has a lower threshhold for pain. Then I'll spend the rest of our lives holding it over his head, as if I've done something special that no other person in the history of the world has ever done.


Maureen

Ophelia - this woman will say it then - you are the silliest woman on the face of the earth and your words and attitudes are what makes my life and work as a woman more difficult. If women are facing discrimination and harrassment in the workforce and elsewhere they need to 'cowboy up', get a backbone and stand up for themselves. I have faced harassment and discrimination in my life and work - my reaction - I confronted it and a dealt with it - guess what - problem solved. I didn't rely on some busy body in human resources to 'mediate' the problem and make everyone go to sensitiviy workshops and develop new policies to ensure a balanced workplace. Those guys know how I feel about something and no big surprise it ended (for me and for other women in the workplace). I thought these observations were absoluately funny and a true commentenary on the bias of women who want everything nice.

Old Pal

A man will be as good as he has to be, and a woman will be as bad as she can get away with. Ophelia has correctly calculated that she can get away with a lot without you soft touch cryptobolshies calling her on it.

I don't blame her; like a cat or a dog, she doesn't know any better. I blame you guys, for enabling her. In any case, what a depressing thread.

David

Some music, methinks.

http://fp.ignatz.plus.com/onepiece.mp3

lordsomber

"I'm not 'whining' - I'm commenting. I don't whine. I frequently tease or mock or criticize or deride, but I don't whine."

Saying it three time makes it whining.

John V

I dunno, I think the world ran better when women were chattel and didn't vote. They just don't seem to handle their privileges smartly. The very think veneer of civility we have enjoyed in our society is slowly peeling off and at some point the weaker sex will be looking at the stronger one for protection. Since the womens movement has turned our society so pink and there are so many girly men running around with latte on their breaths that there many not be enough real men to put the veneer back on.

The above comment was for sheer provocation. Our society just doesn't appreciate men anymore and that pisses me off.

Abraxas

Well Ophelia, if you have that many problems with the subject matter, allow me to suggest that you a) stop reading or, b) get thee to a nunnery.

(Was that unfunny? Maybe. Chock full of symbolism about "the sisterhood"? Yep.)

Not only will you "...continue to think it's predictable, stale, and unamusing," but you'll continue to tell us so as well, thus presenting and reinforcing the very archetype of the unhumorous, scolding nag with whom many men have had a passing fling, and *to* whom are so thankful they are not now married.

Congratulations! You've actually contributed to the humor quotient of this page ... albeit unintentionally.

Paul A'Barge

Heeeere's Julie!
http://www.pfc.org.uk/node/1544

Dr.Dawg

I'm glad the comments are open again. I came to this party rather late, but I must say that Ophelia Benson, with whose resolute anti-post-modernism I do not agree, has stuck it out admirably here, and is in the right.

It's all very well to make joking lists of how women have it good, at least in the West. But none of those comments addresses the actual imbalance of power between the genders in our society, and so they fall irritatingly wide of the mark. Hence, I suspect, Benson's asperity. I share it.

Years ago I wrote a satirical piece in response to an op-ed by a woman decrying feminism. It was about slavery, and how the slaves had a good thing going. One can imagine the list one could compile: guaranteed employment, food and housing, for you and the children; no more cannibals or cruel Arab slavers; the trip of a lifetime across the Atlantic; you get the idea. What did abolitionists offer except an uncertain future on the dog-eat-dog job market, and hatred instead of (admittedly self-interested) care and feeding?

I am sure that descendants of the slaves might react tartly to this. "It's not funny" they might well say. They'd be right. And (without being accused of making invidious moral equivalence arguments) it's not funny in the instant case either.

To deny the existence of male privilege is to be wilfully blind. I don't worry about being anywhere in my city unaccompanied after dark. No one tells me that I'm unsuited to higher mathematics or science because of my gender (in my case, I suggest that it's ability, or at least motivation). What I choose to wear is not the subject of a constant barrage of adverts and collective clucking. If I were in the public eye, no one would begin a news story by talking about my clothes. There is no glass ceiling for me to challenge, no hostile pharmacists to tell me of the evils of birth control, no worries about pink-collar job ghettos, no assumptions that I "asked for it" if I am unlucky enough to be homosexually raped, no assumptions that I am not capable of high office because I couldn't handle crises if it were my time of the month. I am less likely to be seriously assaulted in my home, and I've never been sexually harassed at work.

David, you are likely too civilized to hold any of those assumptions yourself, much less indulge in any of the objectionable behaviours just noted. But I think you're downplaying their fairly wide prevalence among those less enlightened than yourself.

I'm with Bindel. To her considerable credit, she's been provocative enough to re-start the debate. This isn't the 'sixties, but women haven't come nearly far enough, baby.

David

Dr Dawg,

“It’s all very well to make joking lists of how women have it good, at least in the West. But none of those comments addresses the actual imbalance of power between the genders in our society, and so they fall irritatingly wide of the mark… To deny the existence of male privilege is to be wilfully blind.”

It’s my understanding that the female privilege checklists were largely intended to show just how absurd, selective and condescending claims of “male privilege” and the “imbalance of power” can be. That’s what initially interested me. The ideologues who advocate “male privilege” checklists tend to live in the least oppressive societies on Earth and their concerns are usually about those same societies, not the wider world. The quest for grievance and redress is therefore quite often suspect. Many of the grievances they describe don’t seem to match the experiences of any women I know. “Male privilege” isn’t something I’ve ever heard them grumble about. Who, exactly, are the women who are being told they’re “unsuited to higher mathematics or science” because they happen to be female? And when people resort to invoking “invisible privileges” – proof of which is, it seems, equally intangible – I think some scepticism is in order.

It seems to me that so-called “privilege” is found among men and women in various forms to varying degrees - and is certainly not monopolised by men, let alone by all men by virtue of being male. And I’m not sure all of the points listed above are entirely flippant. The item on abortion, for instance, seems quite serious, at least in its implications. Over at Protein Wisdom, Jeff suggests the following: “Consider this. Women have choice. Suppose men had choice, then a husband or boyfriend could terminate his parental responsibilities by filing paperwork with the courts during the same period a woman could legally have an abortion…” As a thought experiment, it’s not entirely trivial.

http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=12817

“Hence, I suspect, Benson’s asperity. I share it.”

Ophelia’s “asperity” seems to me a serious, if atypical, misstep. It took me several attempts to discover that the accusation of “misogyny” was, in fact, “somewhat intuitive”. Which, given the preceding vehemence, really won’t do.

Dr.Dawg

David:

"Who, exactly, are the women who are being told they’re 'unsuited to higher mathematics or science' because they happen to be female?"

I was thinking of prospective Harvard students (http://www.slate.com/id/2112799/). But that was, of course, only one example of many.

"Suppose men had choice, then a husband or boyfriend could terminate his parental responsibilities by filing paperwork with the courts during the same period a woman could legally have an abortion… As a thought experiment, it’s not entirely trivial."

This thought experiment is actually the subject of a long-running Usenet group, alt.abortion.inequity. It seems to me that the argument is of the apples and oranges variety. One involves bodily autonomy; the other, financial responsibility. But that's a long (and, as I discovered years ago when I participated in the group) inevitably fruitless, not to mention rancorous, discussion.

"It took me several attempts to discover that the accusation of 'misogyny' was, in fact, 'somewhat intuitive'. Which, given the preceding vehemence, really won’t do."

I wouldn't be so quick to discount intuition. In any event, as you know from having to do the editing of this thread, in some cases intuition wasn't required. Overall, the haste to use the "tu quoque" stratagem sets my own intuitive alarm bells ringing. It seems to me to be missing the whole point of unequal gender relations, perhaps deliberately.

Are you suggesting that the battle for equality has been won in the West? Or simply that women here don't realize what a soft perch they have compared to their sisters under the Taliban?

Horace Dunn

Dr Dawg

“Are you suggesting that the battle for equality has been won in the West? Or simply that women here don't realize what a soft perch they have compared to their sisters under the Taliban?”

I’ve seen nothing in this thread, or on this blog in general to suggest that David would hold such a view. One has to wonder, therefore, why you felt the need to ask the question.

I would say that a more appropriate question for this thread would be:

Do you agree that male privilege is ubiquitous throughout western society as Lucy Gillam maintains? Or would you say that women enjoy some measure of privilege in certain circumstances – that it to say that male privilege might be predominant but it is not ubiquitous?


Dr.Dawg

Horace:

I thought that such assumptions might be inherent in a comment like this one:

"It's my understanding that the female privilege checklists were largely intended to show just how absurd, selective and condescending claims of 'male privilege' and the 'imbalance of power' can be. That's what initially interested me. The ideologues who advocate 'male privilege' checklists tend to live in the least oppressive societies on Earth and their concerns are usually about those same societies, not the wider world. The quest for grievance and redress is therefore quite often suspect. Many of the grievances they describe don’t seem to match the experiences of any women I know. 'Male privilege' isn’t something I've ever heard them grumble about. Who, exactly, are the women who are being told they're 'unsuited to higher mathematics or science' because they happen to be female? And when people resort to invoking 'invisible privileges' – proof of which is, it seems, equally intangible – I think some scepticism is in order."

The suggestion appears to be that male privilege doesn't exist, although no one could argue that it didn't, say, in the 1950's (I choose that period as a kind of limit case). That would mean that male privilege has, over time, been overcome--the battle has been won, in other words.

I took the "Taliban" notion from the comment about societies like ours being "the least oppressive...on earth."

But to your own question. I don't think that there's a simple answer to it. There are all kinds of privilege--race, class, gender--that intersect, and sometimes trump each other or cancel each other out. Hence I would agree that male privilege is salient in some instances, but not others.

David

Dr Dawg,

“I was thinking of prospective Harvard students…”

You and I discussed the Larry Summers saga at tremendous length some months ago. It was pretty clear then that there was quite a gap between what Summers actually said and what you thought that meant. Let’s not do that dance again.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/09/diversity.html

“In any event, as you know from having to do the editing of this thread, in some cases intuition wasn’t required.”

The claim of misogyny was made at the start of the thread regarding the items I quoted in the post and the likely motives behind them, not the subsequent comments here. One shouldn’t confuse the two. I’ve posted articles on, say, Islam that have attracted dumb-ass comments which in no way reflect my own views or those of the people I quoted. Likewise, I see no reason to assume that reactions to one commenter here should define the intentions behind the original post or the people I happen to quote. And the point remains that if one is going to dismiss something as misogynist, it helps to have some clear explanation why. As I said, the currency of such terms has been cheapened by careless and opportunistic use, which may in part explain some of the reactions.

“Are you suggesting that the battle for equality has been won in the West?”

I said nothing of the sort. But framed in this way, the notion of a “battle” for “gender equality” is somewhat tendentious. As is the notion of “male privilege”. Men and women are not always interchangeable, which matters in some important respects. Again, what interested me was how the “female privilege” checklists highlighted the selective and condescending tenor common to claims of generic “male privilege”. Apparently, it’s okay to mock and question one, but not the other.

Dr.Dawg

David:

Is there any way of getting directly to this page rather than hitting "Next" a few times?

I didn't intend to re-open the Summers discussion. I was simply responding to your question. I try to put myself in the place of members of a group of young people told by pillars of the academic community that they don't have the stuff to do science and math. Summers is far from alone even today in being discouraging in that respect.

On the question of misogyny, once again I don't have a problem with intuiting it. Benson seems quite level-headed in that respect. I was drawing attention to explicit instances of it in this thread (including one or two comments that remain up) as an indication that misogyny is generally at play when one creates lists of alleged female privilege out of the context of gender power relations.

Suppose we were talking about race instead of gender, offering up a list of alleged Black privilege vis-a-vis whites (because such lists are always composed in reaction, to contest or even nullify the original claims). That would first of all appear to challenge the notion that whites have any more power and privilege in their dealings with Blacks than vice-versa. It could be seen as somewhat mischievous in that respect--even, by some, as racist, in denying the lived experience of Black people.

David

Dr Dawg,

“Summers is far from alone even today in being discouraging in that respect.”

I suggest you re-read our lengthy exchange, linked above. Despite the length of the thread, you failed to establish that Summers actually said what you took him to be saying, yet you go on as if it were obvious that he had.

“On the question of misogyny, once again I don’t have a problem with intuiting it.”

Well, I certainly expect claims and insinuations to that effect to be supported. Intuition just won’t do, for fairly obvious reasons. And, again, you’re presuming motives you cannot, as yet, establish. The readers’ comments here do not define my motives or the motives of the people I quoted, some of whom may be female for all you or I know.

“Suppose we were talking about race instead of gender…”

No, let’s not. You do have a habit of shoehorning race into discussions. It’s not always helpful and often confuses the issue with misleading connotations.

“Is there any way of getting directly to this page rather than hitting ‘Next’ a few times?”

Ah. Apparently not. Clicking on the name of the latest commenter *should* take you to the latest comment. But it doesn’t. Possibly some glitch in the new comments format, with them split over several pages.

Dr.Dawg

"'Suppose we were talking about race instead of gender…'"

"No, let’s not. You do have a habit of shoehorning race into discussions. It’s not always helpful and often confuses the issue with misleading connotations."

I'm afraid I don't understand this objection at all. I'm arguing by analogy. Sexism and racism are both forms of oppression: unequal relations between groups of people. I fail to see how observing this and making a point about consistency is "shoehorning" anything into a discussion.

Racism is far less acceptable in certain genteel circles than is sexism. I think it's quite reasonable to point out that we can be inconsistent in our views of two practices that we explicitly eschew. In the instant case, it seems perfectly acceptable to draw up lists of ways in which women in our society are privileged; but the very suggestion that we might, in the same semi-joking fashion, draw up such lists for visible minorities raises hackles. I can understand the hackles, but not the objection to the line of argument, namely that an intuition of racism in my hypothetical case might not be so easily dismissed as an intuition of sexism in the case under discussion.

Incidentally, I can't get your "Remember personal info" thingie to work either.

David

Dr Dawg,

“I can understand the hackles, but not the objection to the line of argument, namely that an intuition of racism in my hypothetical case might not be so easily dismissed as an intuition of sexism in the case under discussion.”

I wouldn’t accept an unsupported “intuition” on either basis. I’d expect something more substantive. If we do accept “intuition” or “feelings” alone as a sound basis for complaint and compensation, we then run the risk of legitimate grievance being defined as whatever the person complaining loudest says it is, regardless of their motives. It would, of course, be unfair if those who claim to be aggrieved are the ones who automatically get to decide whether something is actually, in reality, offensive or malicious.

Moral judgment and objectivity shouldn’t be surrendered to whichever members of a favoured group happen to be shouting loudest. The denial of objective criteria in such matters is, frankly, a little sinister, because injustice is then defined, unilaterally, by feelings, or claims of feelings – and by opportunist leverage. Phobias, prejudice and oppression become whatever the Designated Victim Group or its representative *says* they are. And the basis for apology, compensation and flattery becomes whatever the Designated Victim Group *says* it is. The practical result of this is egomaniacal license and the politics of role-play: “Feel my pain, now do as I say…”

“Incidentally, I can't get your ‘Remember personal info’ thingie to work either.”

It doesn’t work for me either. Imagine the indignity.

GPE

"Others can wait?" "Others to intervene?" Others?

We are no longer men, it would seem. We are "others." It's the language of radical feminism. It is easier to defeat the "enemy" once they have been dehumanized.

Anna

David,

Have you seen this?

The Victim Privilege Checklist: http://sweatingthroughfog.blogspot.com/2008/07/victim-privilege-list.html

"7. I can be sure that when I get angry, it isn’t for selfish reasons, but rather because the experience of my people has fostered in me a keen sensitivity to injustice. When others get angry, it is yet another sign of their hatred."

"8. I can be sure that when others tell me I'm wrong about something, it means they lack insight, perspective and empathy."

"9. I can be certain that any negative views of my people aren’t due to anything we've done. After all, my people have a long history of this sort of bigotry from others."

"10. I can be certain that any negative views of me personally just reflect hateful stereotypes promoted by others."

;)

David

Anna,

Heh. It does capture the self-justifying thinking that we’ve come to know and love. Sort of “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose.” As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been told more than once that my rejection of certain claims of “privilege” is itself a sign of “privilege” and thus compounds my innate male wickedness. And the more I have the temerity to argue, the more my wickedness grows. Fiend that I am.

Brian H

erm;
Jest for U:

The PC brain is a black hole: no light escapes. Anything that goes into orbit is torn asunder. A jet of near-lightspeed destruction blasts anything that is unfortunate enough to be in line with its axis. All information is extinguished, except for mass. Which grows inexorably greater. At the core may be a link to alien universes where other incomprehensible laws of physics apply.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here! is written in deep furrows on the forehead of the carrier.

Jean K.

The party's obviously over here, but I do have to wonder...

Say these were lists representing "black privilege"? Stuff like "I get to do badly in school and still get into a great university." Then would the Rush Limbaugh-isness of it be obvious? (As in, the completely doltish right wing US radio guy.) And to complete this thought experiment, let's say black commenters were saying "dumb, not funny." Would they then be told to go back to their plantations? Would they be told to lighten up? Just wondering...

Yeah, there's some female privilege, but the thing is, women still get the short end of the stick by a wide margin. So poking fun at female privilege ain't that bright.

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