Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Feminism is NOT about ending ALL inequalities....

...especially when it comes to men's issues.

This might be something regular readers of this blog already know, however as this turns up in a debate with feminists annoyingly often, this will be the answer I'll be giving. A link to this post. Feel free to do this as well if you like.

For beginners in discussions between feminists and MRAs something like:
- Feminism is about ending all inequalities
- Feminists are fighting all stereotypes
regularly pops up. Sometimes with the slight undertone that a Men's Right Movement is not needed as all MRAs could just join feminism as if "equality between the sexes" (which by far most MRAs want as well) is an equivalent to feminism. It is not. I am starting with some examples.

Father's rights

One thing which feminists should be interested in is, without a doubt, father's rights. If women want an equal workforce, equal pay etc. it makes sense to push for father's rights because when dad takes care of the children mommy can work. The following is something father's rights activist Glenn Sacks wrote
“In my view, the feminists did a lot of good things during the sixties and seventies, and since then, they’ve done some good things, and I think they still occasionally do good things, but I think that they’ve also jumped the rails, and a lot of the stuff they do, particularly in family law and domestic violence, a lot of the stuff they do is very destructive and unfair,” he says.

“I think that in a lot of ways it’s a betrayal, because in the seventies, the feminist thing was: women are going to have their careers, and men are going to spend more time at home, and men are going to have more time with the children, and men will have the time to be more involved fathers because they’ll no longer have the burden of supporting the family themselves.

"And now, whenever there’s any kind of legislative attempt to try to make it so that fathers can have more time with their children after divorce, or fathers can have joint custody after divorce of fathers could have shared parenting after divorce –the feminists, all the time, right down the line, they fight it like crazy! And, to me, that’s just a total betrayal.” - from here
Two recent examples also from Glenn's blog
The Feminist Family Law Movement claims that abusive fathers often employ Parental Alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court. They push for reforms which will make it easier to deny fathers shared custody or visitation rights based on unsubstantiated abuse claims. They also push for laws to exclude evidence of Parental Alienation in family law proceedings.

The FFLM has promoted several cause celebre cases in recent years as a way to garner public sympathy and political support for their agenda. - from here
The same is happening in Canada with
[t]he National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is a feminist non-profit organization that has worked to promote the equality rights of all women in Canada since 1974. - from here

A take on an article by the NAWL can be read here. This part fits well into this post.
the whole point of the paper is to oppose a legislative initiative that would encourage and allow fathers to take up more of the childcare burden, thus freeing mothers to work and earn more.

Rationally, if feminists really wanted equality and to better women's lives, they'd support the presumption of equally shared parenting. Equalizing childcare will tend to equalize earnings, savings, employment, promotions, etc. Astonishingly, feminists don't want that.
And, *surprise surprise* the same is happening in Australia, too. Of course, one can argue that only radical feminists or a minority of the feminist movement fight against father's rights, but then again mainstream feminism is very silent when it comes to condemn such actions or father's rights in general. I don't doubt that one could find single feminists that support shared parenting if one is willing to look hard enough, but apparently that does not fall under the inequalities feminism is willing to fight.

NOW

The National Organization of Women, the biggest feminist group in the world, and arguably the political arm of feminism has a lot of political power. A recent example. Consider this.
Of the 5.7 million jobs Americans lost between December 2007 and May 2009, nearly 80 percent had been held by men. [...] Men are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis because they predominate in manufacturing and construction, the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost more than 3 million jobs since December 2007. Women, by contrast, are a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care, which gained 588,000 jobs during the same period. Rescuing hundreds of thousands of unemployed crane operators, welders, production line managers, and machine setters was never going to be easy.
When put in a graphic this looks like this.



A devastating loss, not only for men, but also for the families, wives and children, those men are supporting. To counter this, there was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 investing $787 billion.
The president-elect's original plan was designed to stop the hemorrhaging in construction and manufacturing while investing in physical infrastructure that is indispensable for long-term economic growth. It was not a grab bag of gender-correct programs, nor was it a macho plan--the whole idea of economic stimulus is to use government spending to put idle factors of production back to work.
This sounds like a good idea right? The feminists of NOW disagreed.
The National Organization for Women (NOW), the Feminist Majority, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and the National Women's Law Center soon joined the battle against the supposedly sexist bailout of men's jobs. At the suggestion of a staffer to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, NOW president Kim Gandy canvassed for a female equivalent of the "testosterone-laden 'shovel-ready' " terminology. ("Apron-ready" was broached but rejected.) Christina Romer, the highly regarded economist President Obama chose to chair his Council of Economic Advisers, would later say of her entrance on the political stage, "The very first email I got . . . was from a women's group saying 'We don't want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.' "

No matter that those burly men were the ones who had lost most of the jobs.
[...]
The senior economists listened attentively as Gandy and Smeal and other advocates argued for a stimulus package that would add jobs for nurses, social workers, teachers, and librarians in our crumbling "human infrastructure" (they had found their testosterone-free slogan). Did Furman mention that jobs in the "human infrastructure"--health, education, and government--had increased by more than half a million since December 2007?

"The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" on January 10. They estimated that "the total number of created jobs likely to go to women is roughly 42 percent." Lest anyone miss the point, they added that since women had held only 20 percent of the jobs lost in the recession, the stimulus package now "skews job creation somewhat towards women."

[...]

In her March "Below the Belt" column on the NOW website, Kim Gandy could not contain her elation over "this happily-ever-after 'stimulus story.' " When she and her allies saw the final recovery package, they were amazed to find "over and over" versions of "very specific proposals that we had made." More than that, the programs NOW had proposed had vast sums of money next to them--"numbers that started with a 'B' (as in billion)," Gandy said gleefully. "It's impossible to convey just how many hours we put into this issue during December and early January and how fruitful it really turned out to be."

Right again. It is now four months since the bill was signed into law. A recent Associated Press story reports: "Stimulus Funds Go to Social Programs Over 'Shovel-ready' Projects." A team of six AP reporters who have been tracking the funds find that the $300 billion sent to the states is being used mainly for health care, education, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other social services. According to Chris Whately, director of the Council of State Governments, "We all talked about 'shovel-ready' since September and assumed it was a whole lot of paving and building when, in fact, that's not the case." At the same time, the Labor Department's latest (June 5) employment report shows unemployment rates of 8 percent for women and 10.5 percent for men. "Unprecedented" is what Harvard economist Greg Mankiw called the new 2.5 percentage-point gender gap. "It's the highest male-female jobless rate gap in the history of BLS [Labor Department] data back to 1948," said Mark Perry.

[...]
Within living memory, the American feminist movement was a valiant, broad-based vehicle for social equality. It achieved historic victories and enjoys continuing, richly deserved prestige for its valor and success. But it has now harnessed that prestige to the ethos and methods of a conventional interest group. - from here
The whole article is worth reading, not only the words I borrowed. Another conclusion.
The stimulus plan, in it's feminist incarnation, channels about 42% of its funds towards women's jobs and 58% towards men's.  Given that only about 20% of jobs have been lost by women, that means women are getting over twice the benefit men are getting.

[...]

The feminist stimulus plan promotes jobs in sectors in which there's been little-to-no job loss while under-stimulating jobs in sectors where there's been plenty.
Does this sound like an equal approach? And again mainstream feminism didn't argue against such a policy.

EDIT: We have information on the effect of the stimulus money
The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.

On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.

Although the stimulus was initially sold in large part as a public works program, only about 80,000 of the jobs that were claimed Friday were in construction.

But it gets worse.


Domestic Violence

And here is one for the "feminism is about fighting all stereotypes" crowd. Domestic violence is a highly politicized topic. According to feminist theory there is just patriarchal violence. Men batter their wives to control them. Patriarchial tyranny to keep women down. This all cumulates into the Duluth Model.
According to the Duluth Model, "women and children, and some men are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society."

The Duluth Model is based on a strict "patriarchal violence" model and presumes that all violence in the home and elsewhere has a male perpetrator and female victim. The model explicitly rejects any concept of mutuality or symmetry in abusive relationships. The Duluth Model originated the Duluth Power and Control Wheel. - from Wiki
And don't get me started about VAWA. However there is a lot of evidence showing us that a huge chunk of DV victims are men.
This bibliography examines 256 scholarly investigations: 201 empirical studies and 55 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.  The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 253,500.  - from the Fiebert list of course
Now one of the most cited feminist source about DV is the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVWS). This study actually found, of all DV victims in that year 40% are men. Seing this number we can conclude that the view that DV is mostly men beating women is indeed a stereotype, but apparently not a stereotype worth fighting against.

If you look at the statistics NOW is citing you will find the NVWS and frankly no word about battered men. It could have been worse as the National Coalation against Domestic Violence (NCADV) show us on their fact sheet. They cite the NVWS (remember 40% of male victims) yet use a different study which much less male victims to minimize male victims, and that is the only use they had for this study. They cherry picked data to show us a twisted view of reality (why the crime study they cited had less male victims is something I talked about in the DV section alot, especially in my response to Barry Deutsch).

Again one might say that NOW does not represent most feminists so I was arguing on feministing the largest feminist blog there is (where else should I go? Do all the other feminists who really fight against all stereotypes hide in caves or something?). Cherry-picking the worst of the worst from that thread.
It is mainly done to women you dumb fuck!!! A quarter of U.S. women are killed, abducted, and raped by men! A quarter of men aren't killed, abducted, and raped by women!
I reported that post, but apparently to get a reaction, the post must be a personal attack AND against what the author of the site is thinking. Overall what I learned from the reaction on feministing is that feminists do not seem to care much about male victims. Or are not willing to fight that stereotype.

That stereotyping hurt is something feminist should be very aware of as they are fighting stereotyping of women/girls every day and night. This time stereotyping also leads to victims not comming forward and that includes not only men, but victims of lesbian DV as well.

The Silence of the feminists

More importantly it is not only what feminism is doing it is also what feminism is not doing or not talking about.

For example:
- The high male suicide rate coupled with the fact that depression is far less likely to be detected in men (infact more men kill themselves than the numbers of killed women, women killing themselves and women dieing in car accidents combined)
- More men living on the street / addicted to drugs
- Men leading in the top 10 reasons of death -> lower male life expectacy
- Prostate cancer that gets far less funding than breast cancer although the mortality rate is similar
- Testicular cancer prevention (most common cancer in the 20 year old age group)
- Men receiving harsher punishment for the same crime than women
- Boys falling way behind girls in schools (reading apprehension, school drop outs, ritalin drugging etc.)
- Male DV and Rape victims / female rapist and batterers
- Father's rights
- Workplace deaths
- Unequal support by the gouvernment (Vawa, Womens health etc.)
- False allegations
- The draft / conscription (in some countries)
- Negative media portrayal of men (70% negative)
- etc.
These are all topics feminists do not loose too much sleep about. Prove me wrong and show me a mainstream feminist blog/organisation etc. that dedicates a huge chunk of their efforts on men's issues (and no Ifeminists do not count as they get bashed all the time for being anti-feminist. Feminists can't attack them on a regular basis and then hide behind their backs).

Feminism101

Now what do feminists themselves say? I searched the feminism101 blog for answers. The goal of this blog is to provide answers on the topic of feminism and while the quesiton on the definition of feminism was shaky at best (we again learn that everyone who wants equality is a feminist, yep that would include me again, hooraay!) we can read between the lines of other questions. For example, "can men be feminists" included that one.
there are also men and women who are ideologically uncomfortable with men calling themselves feminists, because it seems to be a co-option of movements built by and for women. These groups express a preference for the terms pro-feminist or feminist allies when speaking of men who support and advocate feminism. - from here
We learn 2-things. One, men, be careful with the label feminist because some other feminist wouldn't see you as a "first class feminist" and two, and more importantly we learn that feminism is a movement "built by and for women".

Now we come to talking about mens problems on feminist spaces.
No one is saying that discussions on men and masculinities shouldn’t go on. It is absolutely important to have dialogue on men’s issues, including discussions on violence done towards men. The thing is, a feminist space — unless the topic is specifically men’s issues — is not the place to have that discussion and neither are spaces (feminist or otherwise) in which the topic is specifically focused on women’s issues. - from here
Again we learn two things. One, feminism is specially focused on women's issues and two, a feminist space is not the place to have a discussion about men's issues (unless the topic is specifically men's issues which happens how often? Check feministing (the biggest feminist blog) for men's issues and you will know how often).

We also learn that there is no sexism against men just benevolent sexism (against women), that men as a class have an institutional power over women and that there is no female privilege.

Of course one can argue that the group who has most voting power, controls most wealth, has better health, education and longlivety is the oppressed group while the group with the worse working condition, more homeless people, more people that commit suicides, is more often victimized, is disadvataged in courts, expected to die in wars and expected to give up their lives for the other groups when disaster strikes is the privileged one, but this post certainly isn't the right place to discuss this.

What's my name?

The most obvious at last. Feminism implies that this is a women's movement. Heck it is even called the women's movement. Looking at the workbook definition the Oxford English Dictionary tells us (according to feminism101, I don't own such a dictionary) the following:
FEMINISM: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of sexual equality
Nothing more to add.

Conclusion

The believe that supporting feminism and empowering women will magically make all problems men have disappear somehow is not new. You know what, that is what Gloria Steinem was promising in 1970 and quite honestly not much has happened.

But we know now via
- the name feminism
- the textbook definition of feminism
- the actions of feminists
- what feminist say about feminism
- what topics feminists are avoiding
that feminsim is not about ending all inequalities and that feminism is not about fighting all stereotypes. Yes, this is something many people (feminists including) already know.

To put it this way equalism or humanism is a coin with more than a feminism side. Is there something wrong with fighting for a special interest group? No, it isn't. Heck this is what the MRM is doing -> "the advocacy of men's rights on the grounds of sexual equality". It is however wrong to act as the great equalizer and ignore half of the population. Or as the Animal Farm quote goes.
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"
So please stop pretending feminism is the only solution for every group there is, especially when you offer no solution for men's issues.

5 comments:

  1. I agree with you, especially on the custody issues. 50/50 should be the starting point, not the point fathers need to fight for. Moms say they want it, but fight it.

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  2. I agree that feminism has gotten off track and become an end in itself. From my 30 years of watching it the trajectory has been to do good things for access to education and pay equity and then to do bad things bad-mouthing men in general and mistrusting commitment and love. ALong the way it also bad-mouthed any traditional women's roles like caregiving as if taking care of kids was lesser, of no value, selfish or even' not working'. Many western governnments went along with this to sound progressive and actually harmed women's rights by pressuring them not just permitting them to leave the home. When governments took away family allowance and child dependent benefits in Canada in the 1990s and when they whisked away the very generous family benefits in Quebec, child poverty soared. When the funding then went only to paid work of women, mat benefits based on paid work, pensions based on paid work, child benefits based on use of daycare plus paid work, of course many women left the home to earn but some did it with great regret. Anxiety and depression levels soared among women and kids and marital tension skyrocketed. It turned out feminism to give women 'choices' did not permit the option of being home with the baby. Those who refused to leave the baby and stayed by it to raise it ended up poor and the fall guy for all this was not the state, which it accurately should have been, but men. Men were now deemed the required funder both of women at home and of women if the marriage ended. Instead of the state kicking in the funding for all kids that it used to give, it forced men to do this and of course this was very hard for men. Instead of permitting income splitting as recommended by a 1960 royal commission or funding for every child as recommended in a royal commission in 1970, it said every person for themselves and refused to recognize that osme households share income. It made divorces bitter and made men look like the bad guys if they balked.
    The real solution is to value care roles so women or men, whoever wants to, can do them. The funding government gives should be generous and universal and should 'flow with' the child. In that way not only would child poverty end, not only would stress and depression be hugely reduced for women, men and kids but family finances would be better in general and marital tension would lessen. When big brother tells us how to live and only funds one way, men have the right to speak up. They should not blame women just as women should not blame men. They should both blame government policy that all along should have been valuing all roles adults have - either paid labor or the unpaid roles, both. In Australia this insight is happening with birth bonuses across the board. In Japan it is happening with universal funding per child and in Russia and Sweden, Norway and Germany, the crisis of marital tension, child poverty and huge cost of daycare has led government to looking at more reasonable options. FUnding now goes to all parents not just those who earn and use daycare. Income splitting is used in a dozen countries including the US and France. We don't even give mat benefits to self-employed or employer mothers. We don't give funding for care of the dying to anyone who last year was caring for someone dying. Our criteria to value unpaid work are all based on paid work and we see the lunacy of that when we get to personal crisis. Blaming men has never been the answer.
    I have always though a women's rights advocate had a soft spot for the men's movement, especially that part of it that reasonably asks for shared custody, equal access, and that respects women and tries to do its best for kids. We have to unite to lobby for children and for better funding for kids at least to age 18., As it happens with recession and with the huge costs of daycare, with the greying of the population and the eroding of the tax base for health care, pensions and education - even government which is slow to learn is noticing. Something must be done.
    http://workisee.tripod.com

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  3. When it comes to unpaid work -> child care, I see the problem that this motivates one parent "not" to work. The flow with the child model might be one reasonable step for the future.

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  4. Maybe the government should pay for most of the child expenses in poor families, after all, the child is not to blame for being born into poverty. After they reach adulthood it could tax them and get its many back with interest.

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