• “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
    ― Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first movie in my childhood viewing experience in which a happy outcome failed to punctuate my viewing enjoyment. Instead, collective bigotry overpowered justice, and Tom Robinson, a black man in an anti-black time and place, was found guilty of a rape that his lawyer, Atticus Finch, provided compelling evidence he did not commit.

    As I grew up, I came to believe that this cautionary tale, while profound in its rendering, was unnecessary in our bigotry-fading times. Mob justice was something of which our fore-parents were guilty, not us moderners. Indeed, as I further learned about long-ago alleged witches subjected to drowning tests to see if they were witches, I recall feeling relieved that I had chosen a more just time in history to be born.

    What I did not realize was that, even though our culture had come through an impressive collection of enlightenment, we still carried the same genetic disposition towards mob justice. It is in our nature to judge others by the instructions of our emotions, assumptions, and most powerful of all, our group consensus. Most of us want to believe ourselves to be morally righteous, and so when our friends, neighbours, and activists all have their fingers pointed in the same accusatory direction, it is not easy to resist the pull of their conviction. In turn, I suspect that the many mob jurists who once convicted real life Tom Robinsons in that anti-black time and place did so not because they were amoral, but because their peer pressure and prejudiced emotions had manipulated them into believing they were protecting their society (women, in particular) from evil.

    Today, I believe the #MeToo style of justice being called for by advocates and pandered to by pundits and politicians utilizes the same emotional trickery, whereby those countering it with calls for due process are accused of being complicit in “rape culture.”

    It is not an easy charge to allay. After all, due process necessarily means that some violent criminals will not be found guilty. Until, that is, humans acquire omniscience, our justice system will forever be unable to prove every case of evil it encounters.

    Nevertheless, I thought our society was settled on the notion that it is better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be sent to prison. And, consequently, to be considered criminally guilty of a crime, a person must be found so beyond a reasonable doubt. I believe in such a system of justice not because I don’t care about victims, but because I think our society has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it cannot be trusted with a lower standard.

    For those with faith in our modern brains, I refer you to the curious cases of Jian Ghomeshi and Brett Kavanaugh, both alleged sexual predators, and both presumed guilty by mob jurists. In Ghomeshi’s encounter, not only was there no corroborative evidence that the former CBC pontificator was guilty of the crimes of which he was accused, the communication between Ghomeshi and his accusers post “incidents” strongly indicated that he was innocent.

    Undaunted by reason, though, a feminist mob chanted outside the Toronto courtroom (and on the streets of my own far away city) that the accusers should be believed, because, after all, they were members of a gender too pure to ever lie. And, yes, I know, mobs will be mobs: surely the society at large was not so deluded by the sexist rantings of evidence-resistant protestors. Maybe so, but many influential journalists, pundits, and celebrities (including literary legend, Margaret Atwood, and Ghomeshi’s own former bandmates) publicly helped themselves to a presumption of Ghomeshian guilt. And, even though Ghomeshi was found by the court to be not guilty, two years on, the fired radio host continues to be in public exile for crimes he is assumed without evidence to have committed.

    Meanwhile, during the recent Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for his spot on the US Supreme Court, the Senate called Professor Christine Blasey Ford to testify that the judge had sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. Now, even if we were to adopt the feminist standard of justice where one automatically believes the sincerity of female accusers, the case would still be a daunting one to prove. While Kavanaugh and Ford evidently spent some teenaged time in nearby circles, there is no corroborative testimony from either’s friends that they knew each other. So, it is perfectly possible that the 15-year-old Ford met someone who looked like the Kavanaugh she may have seen in passing and mistook him for the genuine Kavanaugh.

    Even so, if the police were able to find credible evidence to verify Dr. Ford’s accusation, then the justice system should be free to pursue a conviction.

    However, what happened here—senators asking their questions of Kavanaugh and Ford, mixing in partisan, faith-based pronouncements of justice—was trial by political peer pressure.

    It is a token victory for due process that the Republican partisanship overruled the Democratic partisanship and approved the accused judge. But neither side, not even Kavanaugh, himself, pointed out that it was unjust for them to be guessing at the veracity of a criminal accusation.

    As many have already said, Kavanaugh seemed rather unjudgely in his avoidance-testimony of  Democratic senators’ questions about his teenaged drinking habits, and whether he was ever drunk to the point that he might have unknowingly done what Ford had claimed. His response was to ask a questioning senator if she had ever gotten black-out drunk. While this obfuscation was unfitting of a judge, the spirit of Kavanaugh’s evasive manoeuvre is understandable. It is already difficult to prove any negative—that one didn’t do something—but it is especially daunting to prove that approximately 36 years ago at an unnamed place and time, one did not do something. There was no good answer for Kavanaugh. Given that he admits he drank a fair amount in those years, he likely does have a compromised memory of the parties he attended, but if he admits that, then he’s acknowledging it’s theoretically possible that he committed the assault. That, of course, is not actual evidence that he was a sexual assaulter, but faith-based jurists don’t care. In their emotion-led minds, failure to disprove a negative is proof of guilt.

    By contrast, in courts of law where due process is in effect, there is no requirement of the accused to prove their innocence; instead, the state is obligated to prove guilt.

    So, instead of obfuscating these questions, I wish Judge Kavanaugh had answered his senate interrogators with a soliloquy on due process. That asking him to prove that it was impossible for him to have committed the crime of which he was accused was like asking a witch to prove she was not a witch. That even though alleged victims of violent crime deserved access to justice, faith in accusation without due process and corroborative evidence was a dangerous precedent that he would not stand for. That he would not answer their questions regarding accusations of a crime that should be brought before a court of law or not at all. And that if this refusal disqualified him from their confirmation, then so be it, but he would not sacrifice his or anyone else’s due process for personal gain.

    As it was, by answering the senators’ unjust questions, Justice Kavanaugh legitimized them. And so the mob jurists outside, and in the media, continued without resistance to pronounce their verdict that the system had “failed women.”

    I am envious of these advocates for faith-based justice; unlike childhood me, #BelieveWomen activists can witness To Kill a Mockingbird with a smile as Tom Robinson’s conviction grants them a happy preview of the sort of justice they are seeking.

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XVI

    My argument in the DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS is that mainstream feminist academics, advocates, and journalists are adept at pointing out possible double standards against women, but they are not as keen to discuss equally as compelling and numerous cases where men might be encountering a double standard.

    In this essay, I shall illustrate that phenomenon by pointing out what I perceive to be a chief feminist strategy that allows this double standard of double standards to go unscrutinized. The feminist policy is simple: when you’re searching through our many layers of human social interaction, stop any time you find data that could indicate a glass ceiling (or glass wall), and then claim that this single level of inquiry tells the whole story.

    Consider the woman’s legal advocacy group, West Coast Leaf, which argued in 2017 to the BC Supreme Court that the use of solitary confinement was unconstitutional because it “disproportionately affected female inmates.”

    CBC Radio’s feminist-hugging show, On the Coast, was eager to hear about that, and so host Gloria Macarenko asked WCL’s Director of Litigation, Raji Mangat to tell us more.

    “Obviously,” Mangat said, “prolonged solitary confinement has a negative, deleterious impact on anyone. The focus of our group is on the gendered impacts of solitary confinement, and that’s because disproportionally to male inmates—who make up the vast number of the population of people in prison—…women are at an increased risk of being put in solitary confinement for their numbers.”

    Now, some might think that, given the greater total population of men in solitary that maybe it is men who are more significantly harmed by the policy than women.  But, if you’re a feminist advocate who comes across a layer of data that makes it seem like men have it worse, you must keep digging. Thus, WCL ignored the surface level of information which would have pointed their concern at men, and dug until they landed on their per capita finding, at which point they immediately stopped the search. They had the glass they were looking for.

    “Part of that [the overrepresentation of per capita women in solitary confinement],” Mangat continued,  “comes from the fact that many women who find themselves in prison in Canada are folks that have had some traumatic experience, some history of physical, emotional, psychological, violence in their past, and that’s only exacerbated and made worse by placement in solitary confinement.”

    The gendered implication here is that, whereas men in solitary confinement are cold-blooded villains with no excuse for their evil deeds but their own psychopathy, the women are victims of those same men, and so eventually resort to crime as a coping mechanism.

    I doubt that the distinction between villain-without-a-cause and victim-turned-villain is as gendered as Mangat implies, but let’s assume that women-inmates are much more likely than men-inmates to have been abused into their life of crime. It is still likely the case—given how many more male inmates we have—that a higher number of men than women in solitary confinement are former victims of the sort for which WCL is expressing concern.

    In fact, sociologists tell us that the highest per capita population of Canadian inmates in solitary confinement are First Nations men. As a “progressive” organization, I wonder if West Coast Leaf is comfortable with their implication that those indigenous men are all born anti-social psychopaths with no trauma that nudged them towards criminality. But, worry not, Mangat didn’t have to answer that inconvenient question, because her interrogator didn’t ask it.

    Indeed, without any resistance from her gentle interviewer, our glass-seeking advocate was able to triple down on her gendered outrage by attempting to prove that those women in solitary confinement are suffering psychologically more than their isolated male counterparts.

    “Women,” Mangat said, “also have higher incidents of self-harm and suicide ideation in prisons. Again these are factors that result in an exacerbation of pre-existing conditions to be put into solitary confinement knowing that there is this makeup of the female offender population.”

    I don’t distrust Manga’s data here; after all, women outside of prison are also more likely to self-harm and report suicidal ideation. But our noble pundit neglected to point out to our admiring interviewer that, in spite of women’s higher rate of reported suicidal ideation, is it men who complete 80% of suicides. Indeed, if our advocate weren’t so blinded by her search for glass, she might have noticed the obvious conclusion that it is the men (with their higher suicide rate multiplied by their higher solitary population) who are most likely to die while in solitary confinement. But that was not the data we were looking for.

    Meanwhile, during a BBC debate on how women are treated in the workplace, a sociologist was asked for verification of the feminist claim that “manterrupting” (i.e. men interrupting women disproportionately) is a problem.

    “Well,” our feminist expert said  (approximately, as I haven’t yet been able to find the debate on youtube), “in terms of raw data, women interrupt men more than the reverse, BUT what we found was that men interrupt women more often when women are saying something important.”

    So, while technically the assumption of men-us interruptus wasn’t true, that spirit of it—that men are talking over women too much—was, by our researcher’s estimation, valid.

    Now, I don’t know how this researcher defined what counted as important conversation points that should especially not be interrupted, but let us assume that she had made a cogent distinction. The results of her findings, if she were an objective examiner of them, ought to have been one of ambivalence, wherein she pointed out that both generalized genders might have a beef with their counterparts depending on where you focussed your lens. But once again our researcher skimmed over the level of analysis that seemed to vindicate men, and didn’t stop digging until she found the glass for which she was searching.

    Clearly, feminists prefer to identify general results—and not details—when those meta-facts match their accusations. So, since there are more total men than women in STEM, politics, and board rooms, feminists know that those places are all currently societies of unmitigated anti-female sexism. No further study required. However, any time the numbers go the other way, and women are more populous on the happy side of a distinction (university participation, the medical profession, longevity), we must dig for nuance until we find something—anything—that could show that women are the victims in those arenas. As Hilary Clinton infamously put it, “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.”

    Moreover, if men are more likely than women to do something positive for society, the feminist glass diggers will begin calling for intervention even if there is no evidence that those men are excluding women along the way. For instance, our friends at CBC Radio have reported to me a few times on the “problematic” fact that Wikipedia writers (who are volunteer contributors) are more often men than women; this, according to CBC Radio, is a troubling result that requires intervention to support women to feel more included in the work.

    In contrast, if it were women who were leading this voluntary project—and even if they had openly discriminated against men in the process—they would have been lauded as heroes for their inspiring work. In fact, CBC Radio recently celebrated a story of exclusively women scientists going to the North Pole to figure how to save the environment. This baffling feminist double standard would be amusing if it weren’t so successful.

    Indeed, given that most Western media (save for the occasional right-wing outfit, such as the National Post and Fox News) treats feminist advocates as impartial bystanders on our society’s goings on, we have little defence against their one-thinking-fits-all.

    When women-first feminist pundits are interviewed, for instance, on CBC Radio (a daily occurrence), I do not recall any of them ever receiving a single skeptical question about the premises or conclusions of their arguments. Instead, it is assumed by both “expert” and interrogator that we are living in a society that desperately needs gendered recalibration, and that the negative imbalance is always in the direction of women.

    In contrast, in the last few years I can only remember hearing two critics of feminism on CBC Radio, (A) Camille Paglia, a second-wave feminist who criticizes third-wave feminism for what she claims is man-hating and female infantilization, and (B) Cassie Jaye, who—as a feminist—created what she intended to be a documentary hit piece on her natural enemy, the men’s rights movement, only to discover along the way that their arguments were niggling away at her sense of fairness to the point that she renounced her feminist label, and is now a friend to men’s rights advocates. Now, I’m proud of CBC Radio for talking to these two critics of feminism, but notice that—far from receiving the unlimited agreement that women-first feminists are treated to—these two pundits each encountered a bounty of critical questions from their interlocutors.

    And that’s good. Skepticism, as I’ve argued many times, is the best nutrition for our arguments. However, the lack of similar skepticism for women-are-always-victims feminists is dangerous.

    This not to say that such feminists are incapable of presenting us with concepts fit for consideration. If, for instance, there is evidence of a significant sexual harassment problem in Hollywood, that’s worth investigating. But, by virtue of its no-critical-inquiry-allowed principles (such as #BelieveWomen), the #MeToo movement has become an anti-due-process, faith-based, guilt-by-association, misandrist, nuance-resistant mob (or a collection of “MeCarthyism” as pundit-comedian Bill Maher described it).

    As ever, in order to stop women-first feminists and their narrowly-focused ideology from overtaking us, our media, academia, and governments must be willing to openly question them. And one way to do that is to occasionally ask feminists about the other items they find in the area while they are searching for glass.

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XV

    I watched Wonder Woman last week, and I’m pleased to admit that I enjoyed it. The film featured plenty of humour (albeit standard, fish-out-of-water comedy, as in Wonder Woman being awestruck by her first encounter with ice cream), back story (which is my favourite kind of super hero story), 3-Dimensional characters (although, I saw the movie in 2D), and an unusually clear rendering of action (in fact, Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazonians had an inventive fighting style that was entertaining to my non-video-gamed eye).

    Most impressive of all, the movie was not overrun by an infestation of “Girl Power.” This may sound like a contradiction since Wonder Woman is a girl with lots of power. However, by “Girl Power,” I mean the “Because I’m a girl” attitude that is exhibited increasingly often in movies (and advertising) these days where a person of female persuasion is treated as extra powerful by the very definition of her being a girl, as opposed to her particular circumstance and character having led her to that powerful place. In the case of Wonder Woman, her position of power is not parachuted in by her gender, but instead is explained by her supernatural back story and training.

    And, while the film occasionally panders to its feminist godmothers (comparing a 1910’s female secretary to a slave), it is not as blatant in that gendered agenda (“agender,” if you will?) that so many rival mega action franchises are today. Consequently, I found it to be relatively refreshing.

    Nevertheless, the media portrayal of this movie has been much more Girl-Powered than the movie, itself. For instance, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin Texas decided to have a women-and-girls only showing of the film on opening night (and women-only staff of it), and when a few equal-gender-defenders criticized the policy, they were dismissed by many mainstream pundits as sexist simpletons.

    I believe the following soliloquy from a Mashable.com commentator fairly sums up the pro-women-only argument:

    “Sounds like a good idea, right? Women getting together to celebrate a strong, empowered, three-dimensional female superhero on the big screen. Of course. It makes perfect sense. But, as we all know, we can’t have nice things… The Drafthouse received hundreds of comments from angry men who felt ‘excluded’ from the event… Of course there were also many people who loved the idea who understand that this film is a celebration of women finally being included in the world of superheroes and finally being represented on the big screen. Let’s hope these dudes can get themselves together…”

    I’m happy to hear arguments in favour of the discriminatory screening, but it is daunting to listen to such smug commentary, which seems to imply this controversy is merely about whether countering perceived injustice is worthy or not. Such “of course it makes sense” pundits are either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility that direct discrimination based on sex, no matter how noble it may be in intention and platitude, is an ethically dicey enterprise.

    It’s not obvious to me whether men or women on average deal with more real-world discrimination in the West today, but it is indisputable that men are the only sex that is currently the victim of open discrimination for which there is no recourse. I recently attended a BC Human Rights workshop in which I learned that it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace against a person on the basis of sex (and other irrelevant traits), unless of course you’re working on a special project to uplift a group that is historically disadvantaged. And, since we all know that the official gender policy of our society is that it is only women who have ever been disadvantaged (forget about wars, coal mines, and parental custody disputes), that means you can discriminate against men so long as you provide clear evidence that you stated that you were empowering women in the process.

    Political parties are doing it, too. From Justin Trudeau’s quota-based promoting of women to cabinet positions “Because it’s 2015,” to the BC NDP limiting the number of men allowed to run for office, it is clear that our society not only wants to ensure equal access to powerful positions, but also to discriminate against men along the way. The defenders of such policies, as well as those defending the Women-Only screening, seem unable to consider the possibility that a principle of discrimination might be dangerous even it is supported by a pleasing symbolic message.

    Indeed, my neck hurt from shaking my head as the hosts on a local Vancouver radio show, “Steele and Drex,” could apparently not comprehend why anyone would have any issue with a fun opportunity for women and girls to celebrate their potential.

    Thus, I penned the following letter to those local pundits, but as ever, I did not get a reply, so I am posting it here. Some might see my argument as melodramatic and overstating the impact of a tiny incident, especially as I ponder a hypothetical autistic man who might’ve been excluded from the theatre. However, as our modern, anti-“privilege” discrimination unveils new examples each day, I think it’s vital that we at least consider the possibility that by leaving people out because of their sex, race, or sexuality (even if they are of the demographic that is presumed to be advantaged), we are playing with ethical fire. Despite our best intentions, when you tell any person that they are less worthy because of what they are, instead of who they are (to paraphrase Youtube star, Sargon of Akkad), we are setting a worrisome precedent.

    As it is, not only do our mainstream pundits not consider the downsides of “affirmative” discrimination, but also, when they do learn of dissenters, they accuse such skeptics of being cranially-challenged bigots. So the counter conversation is not just ignored, it is ostracized. Perhaps I’m wrong in my assessment that the current level of popular discrimination is dangerous, but if we do not openly discuss this delicate subject now, how will we know when such exclusion has gone too far?

    And, with that, I give you me in epistolary form:

    Some friendly wonderings about the Wonder Woman Policy:

    Dear [guest host] Jody [Vance] and Drex:

    I wonder if you would consider a friendly counter argument to your analysis yesterday regarding the appropriateness of having a women-only screening of Wonder Woman (hereafter the “The Wonder Policy”).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you both seem to be arguing that a business restricting its audience to women for one occasion is benign, and just a fun thing to do given the circumstance of the movie being about a female superhero.

    Personally, I dislike the Wonder policy on principle, not because I’m opposed to fun and creative ways to take in movies, but because I’m opposed to discrimination based on sex (even if that sex is male). I suspect that most defenders of the Wonder policy would be less willing to support a men-only screening of Superman, and the distinction they would likely make would be that it’s okay to discriminate against men in this way because they are the historically privileged group.

    For the record, I do not think that assumed truth is as clear cut as we’re told; it seems to me that both men and women have been discriminated against in multiple different ways for a long time. For instance, women got the vote later than men, but it is only men who were drafted into wars.

    Nevertheless, even if it were clear that women have been significantly more oppressed than men throughout history, are you so sure that is still the case today? There are many categories today in which men are more often doing worse in North America than women (for instances, homelessness, workplace death, suicide). That does not necessarily mean those men are oppressed, but it does mean that the question of “male privilege” is more complicated than most gender scholars will allow, especially given how many more resources, advocacy groups, and scholarships are currently focussed first on women.

    But, even if I were to stipulate that in North America today, men are privileged, I still find the women-only movie viewing to be ethically suspect. The Wonder Policy is not just saying, “Yay, girls!” It is implying that the experience of seeing Wonder Women for the first time would be losing something if the boys were there, too. Every time you say, “X People Only,” you are saying, “Y People are NOT welcome.” And, while it may seem fun and benign in the moment because we generally don’t think of men as victims of discrimination, if you look for it, you can see male-excluding language and sentiment has become ubiquitous today in politics, advocacy, academia, and even the media (examples available upon request). The Wonder Policy is just one more pronouncement that it’s okay to discriminate against men because, well, there’s something different about them that makes it okay to exclude them.

    Maybe there’s an autistic man who’s loved Wonder Woman since he was a kid, and wants to attend the movie on opening night with his best friend in the town where the Wonder Policy is in place, but he’s going to be turned away, because he has the incorrect gender for that viewing. Are you sure such a scenario doesn’t make you question for a tiny moment whether the Wonder Policy is morally correct?

    I don’t anticipate that I have convinced you, and that’s fine if we have differing moral codes on what constitutes unethical discrimination. But I wonder if you would be willing to consider the possibility that, just because someone has an ethical objection to the Wonder Policy, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a sexist. Maybe some of us, on principle, think the policy is sexist, and would equally object to a hypothetical Superman Policy.

    Yours in Wonder,
    Seth

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE V

    A CASE STUDY: HEADS YOU’RE SEXIST; TAILS I’M NOT SEXIST

    Last month I heard on my local Vancouver radio a discussion about allegedly low male parenting expectations wherein we celebrate dads for standard parenting behavior. While it was a gentle and playful prodding at men, it was ultimately still a criticism of men for having it so easy.

    It struck me as a poignant example of our society’s double standard in the way we interpret double standards (which I first pointed out in THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS). In most mainstream conversation, when there is a perception that we expect less of women, that’s called sexism against women; meanwhile, as in this case, when there is a perception that expect less of men, that’s also described as sexism against women.

    Thus I keyboarded the following letter to the lead host of the show. I did not receive a reply, so I publish it here now. I’m not identifying the hosts (one male and one female) of the broadcast because I do not want to make it seem like I think those two people, in particular, have ill-will towards men. Instead, they seem like good-natured people who have trouble seeing the feminist lens that informs their viewing of double standards.

    Here, then, is my letter to an anonymous lead radio host, mildly redacted:

    Dear [Radio Talk-Show Host]:

    I was intrigued by your discussion on Thursday February 9 in which you asked, “Do we expect too little from dads?”

    Nevertheless, I wonder whether your parenting philosophy duo is over-simplifying this matter.

    I must acknowledge I was startled to hear about your (and your callers’) observation that men are treated like overachievers when they’re just out being parents; if this indeed occurs frequently, I agree that it is a double standard, but—correct me if I’m wrong—you seem to be implying from the tone of your conversation that it is evidence that our society treats women unfairly (because we have lower expectations of men, thus putting greater demands on women).

    Another way of looking at your observed result, though, is that it is an indication of sexism against men that we don’t expect them to be as capable parents as women. That is, maybe we see men as inferior in this arena. So—as when we see a 4-year old doing something beyond our expectations—we pat them on the head and say, “Good job!” for something that would be simple for a female parent.

    It’s also possible that this double standard is unfair to both genders. Maybe it’s condescending to male parents, while simultaneously contributing to a higher demand for female parenting perfection.

    For comparison, consider how we view similar double standards in the workplace. If one looks at popular media discussions these days, it would be difficult to dispute that we often celebrate female professionals’ achievements disproportionately to men’s. For instance, a female scientist in a high-percentage male field is viewed by most pundits as doing something exceptional because she has been outnumbered by the opposite gender. But, women also outnumber men in the stay-at-home parenting role, so why do we object to the “You go boy” remarks in the parenting case, but think it’s okay to cheer “You go girl” to women who achieve success in a high-percentage male workplace?

    Now, one might argue that there’s a difference here: women, one might say, are actively discriminated against in STEM fields, while men are not actively discriminated against in parenting.

    However, there is lots of evidence (available upon request) that today’s gender disparity in professions is not the consequence of gender discrimination, but instead is primarily the result of the different career choices the genders tend to make based on their personal preferences and aspirations. (For instance, while there are more men than women currently graduating in engineering, there are more women graduating in medicine.)

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the comparison, I see several ways in which male parents are treated worse than female parents:

    (A) In family court, women are still assumed to be best parent for the job.

    (B) While perhaps not given as many pats on the head, single moms are provided more resources than single dads. Recently, for instance, the YWCA and the city of Vancouver opened a new shelter for “single moms and their children,” yet I did not hear any Vancouver media pundit ask why single dads and their families were excluded. Even if the majority of poor, single parents are female, imagine a similar on-the-books exclusion of women in the workplace (or any other arena). Would the media have been equally as accepting of that kind of official, government discrimination?

    (C) To my perception, the emotional connection between mothers and children is given more deference in our society than any other bond: for instance, other than creating a poignant acronym, why do we have an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, instead of all parents equally opposing the early demise of their children?

    (D) Note that you talked about “macho” male culture, which one of your callers said used to cause some men to fear being seen taking care of their kids. And maybe that was and is sometimes the case, but notice how the blame goes towards men for giving into pressure to be “masculine.” But when there is perceived pressure on women to be more “feminine,” we blame society, and never the women themselves. Why this double standard?

    I do not mean to suggest that double standards only hurt men. However, with every double standard, both genders are being treated differently, so I think it’s worth considering the benefits and disadvantages for everyone in each case. As it is, our public discussion tends only to see the benefits for men and disadvantages for women any time a double standard is observed.

    Consider one of greatest movies of all time, The Princess Pride. Its lone imperfection, to my eye, is the scene in which Wesley is attacked by an ROUS (rodent of unusual size), and his true love, Princess Buttercup, seems only to care about her own safety. Although she grabs a stick to protect herself, she doesn’t help Wesley fight the beast until it approaches her feet. I would bet my entire argument that you, [Radio pundit, who’s a child of the 80s], are also a fan of this movie, but were equally as annoyed by this scene as I was, and that like me, I suspect you found this female characterization to be evidence of sexism towards women (that the writers thought her incapable of both courage and action). But, if we’re right that that was sexist towards women, then why do we see similar condescension towards men (in the form of low parenting expectations) as sexism towards women as well?

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XIV

    Imagine you’re a reporter for your public broadcaster covering this story:

    During the recent fentanyl overdoes epidemic, the BC government has been criticized for not doing enough to combat the suffering. On January 24th, the province, along with Vancouver Coastal Health, announced that they were making available 38 new beds exclusively for women looking for help with their addiction.

    With those facts, you might be wondering why beds were being opened up to just one gender for a problem that affects both. The answer given by CBC reporter Farrah Merali was this: in 2016, of the 914 British Columbians who died because of overdosing on drugs, 176 were women.

    Now, maybe the government-funded discrimination is justified: perhaps there is evidence that one or both of the genders fare better in segregated addiction support; and perhaps there are an equally proportioned number of men-only beds.

    But, if you were a reporter for the CBC—i.e. the taxpayer-funded broadcaster that’s supposed to represent all of us—might you not quickly ask why the group who is making up a minority of sufferers seems to be getting special treatment?

    If so, you would be the rarest of all CBC commentators. In my many years of listening to CBC radio, I have discovered that it is standard procedure never to question the word of women’s advocates.

    In keeping with this tradition, Merali did not mention the men who would be ineligible for the new treatment spaces. After all, we have a crisis affecting women 19% of the time, so it makes sense to create beds exclusively for women.

    Sometimes, I’m sure, journalistic skepticism is daunting when the claim being made is subjective, such that bias and evidence are difficult to disentangle. However, in this case, our reporter had objective information that men were dying at four times the rate that women were, yet women were now getting exclusive treatment opportunities. The skeptical question should have written itself:

    “Why are we segregating?” And, “If segregation has been shown to be beneficial, what are we doing for the other 81%?”

    Again, I am open to the possibility that the government’s gendered plan is justified by the science. But there is no excuse for a reporter from our national broadcaster failing to look into the counter-intuitive discrimination.  Such critical questioning could have illuminated whether the politicians and advocates might have missed a few people in their consideration.

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    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XIII

    I argued in THE NEW CENSORSHIP: FEMINISM vs. FEMINISM that there are two types of feminism, Definition Feminism (which is the theoretical pursuit of gender equality), and Action Feminism (the practical representations of it). My contention is that, while Definition Feminism is a noble goal, Action Feminists are—like all of us—fallible (both intellectually and morally) and so should be subject to scrutiny like all of us.

    However, I believe that Action Feminists have been masterful in silencing criticism via the simple technique of hiding under the noble definition of the movement they claim to represent. (Who, after all wants to criticize a person who assures us they’re helping the disadvantaged people of our world?)

    I listed there eight ways in which Action Feminists intimidate dissent with appeals to their moral superiority, and I would like to expand here on perhaps their most hostile means of self-protection, their use of the term “male privilege.”

    Proponents of the all-encompassing phrase “male privilege” often insist that it is not an insult to men: instead, they say, it is merely meant to ask men to “be aware of” and “acknowledge” that they have certain privileges over other people.

    Well, considering that we all have privileges that not everyone has, it’s difficult to decline the invitation. But, in their gentle description of the alleged intentions of this phrase, Action Feminists are hiding its multiple powers. Consider these five roles it takes on:

    (1) “PRIVILEGE” THE INSULTER:

    I think we should acknowledge that telling someone they are privileged (especially in today’s discussions of identity) is not innocuous.

    As I argued in MEET THE MISANDRY, it seems self-evident to me that, by the mathematics of achievement, most egos will be more chuffed by a personal success acquired in spite of a disadvantage than with the aid of an unearned advantage.

    So, requiring that every member of a particular gender group “acknowledge” that they, by definition, are advantaged over non-members is demanding that they admit that they are not as worthy of their achievements as they would be if they had a different gender. It’s essentially saying, “You’re not as good as you think you are.” Even if that’s true in particular cases, let’s admit that it’s not a friendly statement to make to someone. 

    Similarly, people who are officially in the catchment area of affirmative action sometimes complain that people assume that they have received special treatment. I can understand their annoyance: to be consistently diagnosed as having benefited from a quota system when, in fact, you might have gotten there on your own is surely annoying. Well, that’s what it’s like for so-called privileged men constantly: all of their successes are treated by Action Feminists as the work of privilege.

    And yet, by denying the derisiveness of the term, Action Feminists are having their cake, and throwing it in their adversaries’ faces, too.

    (2) “PRIVILEGE” THE ASSUMER:

    It’s hard to doubt that some people (both men and women) will have been given undue, gender-provoked advantages in their career and/or personal lives, and perhaps more men benefit from “boys’ club” thinking than women do from “progressive” hiring policies. But how can we know who gets more automatic benefits in our current one-sided conversation? 

    As I argued in THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to identifying privilege in mainstream media, politics, and gender studies courses: perceived male advantages are highlighted, while possible female advantages are ignored. In such a setting of one-sided analysis, how can anyone be confident of the current state of gender opportunity gaps?

    (3) “PRIVILEGE” THE SEXIST:

    Even if it can be established that men, on average, are privileged, it’s still sexist to assume that all men benefit while all women suffer. To demand that every man acknowledge his privilege is ignoring the possibility that a particular man might have had a “lived experience” that is different from the alleged average. 

    Nevertheless, the term “privilege” is often applied liberally to individual men that Action Feminists disagree with. Without knowing a particular man’s degree of privilege, Action Feminists are not shy about dismissing his argument on the grounds that it comes from a “privileged white man.” 

    But surely shouting down an individual man for committing the crime of “speaking while male” (Sargon of Akkad) is a sexist slur which presumes things about him based purely on his gender without knowing his story. If such gender generalizing to an individual is not sexism, then what is?

    (Although, of course, some definitionally-deprived Action Feminists will argue that women can’t be sexist against men, because men have all the power. How wonderfully circular of them. They have redefined sexism to mean male mistreatment of women, thus proving there’s no reason for examples of the reverse to be entered into evidence.)

    (4) “PRIVILEGE” THE SILENCER:

    A brilliant strategy employed by Action Feminists is to point out that it’s difficult for those with gender privilege to recognize it in themselves. I don’t doubt that’s true. But such skepticism of privilege doesn’t prove its existence either. After all, female Action Feminists also deny their own gender privilege.

    Therefore, grandly stating both that an entire gender is privileged over the other, and that privilege-skeptics amongst that gender are not allowed to argue back (because they are blinded by said privilege) will not do.

    While we cannot take the accused’s anecdotal evidence as proof that they are not privileged, we cannot universally discount their arguments either. Instead, we should—as ever—measure each sides’ claims by their evidence and reasoning.

    Instead, Action Feminists have helped themselves to the sexist double standard of treating dissenting male voices as definitionally damaged by their so-called privilege, while elevating feminist female voices as automatically made authentic by their alleged disadvantage. There appears to be no Action Feminist mechanism of sorting privilege from disadvantage other than by the faith-based claim that men always have privilege over women.

    For instance, if a discussion panel is made up primarily of men, it will be criticized by feminists for doing so even where there is no evidence that the men were invited because they were men. Meanwhile, when all-female panels are convened expressly to be all female, they are celebrated by feminists as opportunities to hear female voices.

    In neither case is the quality of the arguments assessed; instead, simply the act of speaking while male (i.e. dominating the discussion) is represented by Action Feminists as intrinsically less valuable than speaking while female (i.e. providing a voice to a disadvantaged group). And, if a male critic objects to this grand claim, well that’s just his privilege talking.

    Maybe a case can be made for the value of gender diversity in speakers and politicians (although, I would argue instead for diversity of thought and let the genders fall where they may), but the misandrist consequences of enacting a policy in that direction are serious, and so require genuine evidence and caution before being employed.

    More importantly, when someone is speaking, we should never discount their views by definition of their gender even if we think they got to the podium because of it. If their ideas are as bad as the alleged system that elevated them, we should be able to show their flaws, instead of attacking the gender of the person espousing them.

    Nevertheless, because Action Feminists have been so successful in treating privilege as a universal systemic aid for the male gender, those who are skeptical of such automatic advantage (both generally and individually) are described as part of the problem, and thus are to be ignored.

    (5) “PRIVILEGE” THE HARMER:

    The term privilege has the (easily foreseeable) effect of diminishing our compassion for the group of people accused of it, and it allows Action Feminists to justify the sending of fewer resources their way.

    Yet, as much as feminists assure us that men are privileged, there is lots of evidence in the West that it’s actually men who—in general—are more disadvantaged (in criminal court, family court, hiring policies, shelter availability, medical research, and more).

    Perhaps those conclusions are falsely-arrived at in the same way that critics accuse the Action Feminist stats of being manufactured, but my point (as ever) is that our collective media—terrified of and/or hoodwinked by Action Feminists—refuse to examine these issues objectively, and so the myth of universal male privilege is allowed to run free without objection. Consequently claims of “privilege” are a weapon that surely hurts vulnerable men. 

    I don’t think that all feminists use these privilege accusations with hate in their heart, but it’s hard to doubt that it has damaging consequences for humanity, and so I think they ought to recognize the harmful power of the term, and not apply such a sexist generalization so cavalierly.

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    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XII

    Last month, I attended a screening and panel discussion of a “documentary,” The Mask You Live In, which claims to compassionately examine serious issues facing the male people in Western society. I arrived in my seat with no expectations of an unbiased examination; instead, I was aware of the trend of such analyses not to be done by neutral social scientists, but by feminists, hoping to incorporate into their patriarchal-society-ideology the seemingly contradictory facts and figures that indicate that the “privileged” men have some struggles, too. Nevertheless, my resolve to be unimpressed was tempered by the MC’s opening remark that the issue was woefully underrepresented in our public discourse. But the tempering of my temper was tempered as I watched a brilliantly subtle 97 minute feminist editorial. If one squinted one’s eyes, the filmmakers seemed to care about their subjects, but, as they turned their gaze to solutions, it was clear that their answer was, as ever, feminism.

    Now, I don’t object to applying one’s ideology to an issue, but I think it is disingenuous to claim to be a documentary, only to sneak in one’s entrenched philosophical perspective as the panacea. A simple subtitle such as, “A Feminist analysis of the struggles of men and boys” would have done the trick. As it was, neither the film nor the panel that discussed it acknowledged the feminist elephant in the room. In response, I sent the following letter to the organizers as well as the panelists of the film.

    Two of the panelists have replied to me, but since the organizing agency has not responded, and it has now been over a month since I sent my letter, I offer it here for the record:

     

    To whom it may concern at The UBC Men’s Depression and Suicide Network:

    Thank you for putting on your free screening and subsequent discussion of the film The Mask You Live In, which purports to contemplate men’s and boys’ issues. I appreciated the enthusiasm with which the panelists were discussing this topic.

    Nevertheless, I think the ideological makeup of both the film and your panel is an affront to intellectual fairness.

    I think it should be noted that the film was written through a feminist lens.  Many familiar feminist talking points are ever-present in the film’s narrative, from the wild and unproven assumption that gender is purely a social construct, to the further controversial claim that video games cause violence, to the startling assertion that we live in a “rape culture,” and the supporting myth that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted (see philosopher Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers’s critical analysis of this specious statistic), to the notion that men are, by definition, privileged: “We must use our privilege [to forge change]…” was the common mantra of the male role models on screen, who seemed to have just taken language training from a gender studies course.

    However, while anyone familiar with feminist theory would recognize that the film was written from a feminist perspective, neither the film nor those who presented it at UBC acknowledged its ideological bias. Instead, the film claims to be a documentary, an objective analysis of these issues. That is either intellectually dishonest or ignorant. If the filmmakers had said, “We’re feminists, and we see that men are struggling, too, so we’re going to try applying our feminist theories to men’s issues,” then so be it. I would still want to criticize their feminist conclusions, but they would have honestly represented their project as a partisan analysis, which may be smart and well-articulated, but which is by no means an objective investigation offered by a neutral party. The audience, who is perhaps unfamiliar with feminism’s dominance over most modern discussions of gender, would then be aware that they are witnessing an opinion piece from a particular philosophy that views the world through the lens of patriarchy theory and the notion that gender is entirely a social construct.

    Moreover, each member of your expert panel seemed to be viewing the movie from either a feminist or, at best, neutral perspective, but there was no one up there to criticize the privileged feminist point of view. Indeed, when Dr. Jennifer Berdhal (a gender and diversity professor at the Sauder School of Business, who at least seemed to admit that that she was a feminist) explained that the phrase “Don’t be Mama’s boy” is one that tells boys that women shouldn’t be their bosses, there was no one to suggest that the expression might instead just be implying (and understood by most to mean) that male people are expected to be tough and not go metaphorically crying to their nurturing mothers when they’re struggling. (It’s not a nice expression, for sure, but from my perspective, it is much more misandrist than it is misogynist.)

    There were some subtle criticisms from the audience of the feminist leanings of the film and panel, but the feminist panelists either intentionally or unintentionally reinterpreted those questions to fit their feminist narrative. And again there was no one on the panel willing or able to critically respond to that bias.

    For troubling instance, consider the argument from Kyra Borland-Walker (of UBC Speakeasy) that the reason that males kill themselves significantly more often than females is because boys and men are socialized to use guns, and therefore, if girls played as much with guns, they would kill themselves just as frequently. This implied that the comparatively high rate of male suicide is not in any way related to men’s particular suffering, but instead is simply and solely the result of them having a greater kinship with a deadly weapon. No one in the panel pointed out that that there could be other reasons that men choose to use more lethal means. Perhaps, that is, men choose guns because they are more determined to kill themselves as they feel they have fewer options. Some suicide attempts are cries for help. And so maybe, in a society that seems to care more about women’s suffering than men’s*, men more often use guns because they don’t think anyone will help them if they do cry out.

    *By the evolutionary necessity of sending our boys into dangerous terrain (from fighting lions to going to war to working in coal mines), it is hard to deny that humans have come to value male life less than female life. How often do we hear news reports referring to victims of war, “including women and children” as opposed to civilians in general? Why are calls to “stop violence against women” ubiquitous, even though (according to men’s rights activists) men are equally if not more often the victims of violent crime? (Why not just, “stop violence”?) Why is more medical research spent on women than men even though women tend to live longer?

    Perhaps the men’s rights’ notion of “male disposability” is inaccurate, but a panel discussing men’s issues ought to be aware of it, and equipped to discuss it from a neutral perspective, instead of one that assumes that men are universally privileged. As it was, Borland-Walker was able to reach for her unsubstantiated claim that women would kill themselves as much as men if they had the weapons, and thus protect the notion that men are privileged, without a single counter argument from her fellow panelists.

    The imbalanced discussion is not Dr. Berdhal or Ms. Borland-Walker’s fault. They have their perspectives, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t provide them when invited. But it is once again intellectually egregious to have a panel, claiming to speak about men’s issues, without anyone there to criticize the feminist orthodoxy, which has a lot of misandry on its resume to answer for.

    “Man-splaining,” “Man-spreading,” “male privilege,” “male gaze,” “male entitlement,” “male violence against women,” “teach men not to rape”: these are all gendered insults brought to you by feminism. The same feminism whose perspective dominated this “documentary” that claimed to want to help boys be themselves. I’m not saying that the film was all bad: there was some interesting exploration of the pressures that many boys feel to be tough and aggressive, and to neatly fit into gender roles. However, the film’s biased interpretations of the cause and effect of these troubles demanded a sober response. There is research, for instance, that suggests that children who grow up with single fathers tend to be more empathetic than children who grow up with single mothers. Researchers don’t know why that is, but psychologist and meta-researcher Dr. Warren Farrell offers a compelling argument that men’s tendency to safely roughhouse with their children actually helps children better understand limits, and the distinction between assertiveness and violence. Another common hypothesis is that, because fathers tend to comfort children when they fall less than mothers do, and instead tend more often to encourage their offspring to get up and try again, children with significant fatherly involvement tend to be less self-involved, and in turn more empathetic.

    I don’t know if those hypotheses are correct, and by pointing them out, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t also emotionally nurture our children in the ways that mothers seem to more often, but the notion that the sole solution to boy troubles is for traditional dads to be more like traditional moms is simplistic. (More likely, I suspect that children do best with a healthy dose of both comforting when they fall and encouragement to get back up and try again.) Moreover, as Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers argues in The War Against Boys, part of the problem may be that we demonize common boy behaviour and pathologize their generally more rambunctious play from a young age: maybe that’s part of the reason that boys seem to be losing interest in school much more often than girls (because “they are treated like defective girls”).

    Again, perhaps Dr. Hoff Sommers is wrong in this assessment, but it would have been nice if the film and/or just one of your expert panelists had discussed her significant research on this subject.

    The film, I noticed, was written, directed, and produced exclusively by women (at least their names were traditionally female). I don’t have a problem with that in theory: if they were the best people to create a movie about men’s issues, then so be it. But I wonder: would a movie about an alleged problem of “toxic femininity” (that discussed how women needed to use their “privilege” to influence girls to be better people and treat boys better) that was written, directed, and produced solely by men have inspired such a supportive panel to convene at UBC? Or would such a film have been dismissed as sexist propaganda?

    I can understand the motivation, when looking at men’s issues, to utilize a feminist perspective in doing so. After all, when men’s issues clubs have attempted to form in other universities, they have been denied ratification on the grounds that they “do not centre female voices” in their discussions. However, I think we must resist such an autocratic notion that men’s issues can only be seen through a feminist lens, or not at all.

    Sincerely,
    Seth McDonough

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    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XI

    “Offensive, inappropriate, completely unacceptable.” —-Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

    “I’m at a loss for words on the chosen verbiage that the General used… It is not something that I agree with and it’s not something I appreciate, not in senior management.” 
—-Lisa Raitt, Canadian Transport Minister.

    “Completely wrong and totally unacceptable… the military brass simply don’t get it.”
 —-Thomas Mulcair, NDP Leader of Canada.

    “General Lawson should be immediately dismissed.” 
—-Justin Trudeau, Liberal Leader of Canada.

    Recently Canadian media, politicians, and feminists harmonized their outrage because the Canadian Chief of Defence, General Thomas Lawson, gave a controversial answer to a question regarding why there is apparently still a significant problem with sexual harassment in the Canadian Military.*

    *The problem is asserted in a report by retired Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps.

    Lawson’s uproar-provoking comments landed during an interview with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge:

    MANSBRIDGE: It’s 2015, why is [sexual harassment in the military] still an issue?

    LAWSON: First of all, it’s a terrible issue. It’s one that disturbs the great majority of everyone in uniform, and yet we’re still dealing with it. It would be a trite answer, but it’s because we’re biologically wired in a certain way and there will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others. It’s not the way it should be.

    MANSBRIDGE: What do you mean by that? Biological?

    LAWSON: What I mean by that, is that we are men and women in uniform. Much as we would very much like to be absolutely professional in everything we do, and I think by and large we are, there will be situations and have been situations where, largely men will see themselves as able to press themselves onto our women members.

    During the rest of this almost 18-minute interview, General Lawson articulated that he wants to stop sexual harassment in the military, and has taken steps toward that end (such as requesting from Justice Deschamps the very report that provoked Mansbridge’s question, and then accepting her recommendations); nevertheless, Canadian media, politicians, and feminists have attacked his metaphor of “bad wiring” as offensive, behind-the-times, and proof that Lawson doesn’t think sexual harassment is a serious issue.

    “General Lawson,” said Julie Lalonde an advocate against sexual assault who claims she was harassed by soldiers when she was invited to give them a workshop on sexual assault “…is giving this really weak response saying we don’t have a problem and, when we do, we can’t do anything about it because it’s biologically determined.”

    That’s a grand assumption of Lawson’s meaning there, and one that is contradicted throughout the interview in which General Lawson expressed repeatedly that it’s a problem he is attempting to tackle.

    So what’s providing the foam for these outraged mouths? What’s gotten Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau calling for the General to be fired even though the undeniable content of his message was aimed at reducing sexual harassment in the armed forces?

    On first pass, it seems that the offence is derived from a belief that General Lawson is denying the moral responsibility of harassers (i.e. they can’t help how they were wired, so how could we hold them accountable for their actions?). But such an interpretation can’t stand the light of scrutiny. We don’t have control over the environmental factors that influenced the construction of our characters either. Every person is a collage of biological and environmental influences. Morality is a measure of the decisions each human makes regardless of the relative percentage that ingredients versus cooking played in forming them.

    Thus, I suspect that the true source of feminist angst here is derived from the fact that General Lawson hinted at being on the politically no-longer-acceptable side of the nurture vs. nature debate.

    It is a dispute that has a long and intriguing history in literature and science; we don’t know for sure exactly what percentage Mother Nature and Father Nurture have in creating our personalities, so we’re all entitled to our best guesses on the subject just as so many philosophers and novelists have before us.

    Unfortunately for Lawson, though, he may not have realized that it is currently intellectually illegal in Canada to hold nature to account for bad acts whenever feminism has a stake in the discussion. You see, on the question of nature vs. nurture, most feminists argue that the nurture of our allegedly patriarchal and misogynistic society (see “rape culture”) is to blame for any mistreatment of women, as well as all general gender differences in wealth and power. 

It doesn’t matter to the media or the politicians that both Lawson and feminists assume that harassing behaviour is ingrained by a particular force, and that both argue that the resulting harassment is immoral and harmful, and should be condemned and combatted. Given that Lawson seems to think that the ingraining happened earlier than feminists assert, his remarks have been designated irredeemable.

    Of course, if one digs past the precariousness of holding an opinion on psychological causes that differs with the feminist autocratic line, one can see that, regardless of nature and nurture’s relative influence, sexual harassment is equally as immoral and harmful. But, for most politicians, digging past said precariousness would have been precarious itself, so they stuck (as vaguely as they could) to their favourite phrases of outrage. No politician that I heard was willing to take on the task of telling us why a “nature” over “nurture” explanation for the existence of jerks was philosophica non grata.

    Instead, they relied on the general population and feminists to fill in the blanks in their anger. And, since the media is either too indoctrinated or terrified to ask why the politicians were so offended (for fear, I suspect, of then being accused of not being offended enough, themselves) the politicians were able to hold vapid in their responses to General Lawson’s remarks.

    Moreover, after General Lawson officially apologized for what he called his “unhelpful comments that were conjecture that really did serve no purpose, and, in fact, clouded the very strong efforts that we have going forward” and reiterated that he was in no way suggesting “there is any excuse for any sexual misconduct by anyone in uniform,” the politicians still didn’t believe they could safely accept his contrition, and so continued to condemn him without providing content for their condemnation.

    Liberal Defence Critic Joyce Murray stated, “I thought it was very disappointing that he just repeated some lines several times that didn’t get to the heart of the matter. And from my perspective he has an unfortunate, very archaic belief that, it sounds like an excuse for why there is sexual harassment and abuse in the Canadian armed forces.”

    (This confuses me. The General retracted the offending claim, and said it was supposition that he shouldn’t have said. He focussed directly on the problem language and said that it was not useful in the discussion of harassment, a problem which he stated he was committed to tackling. Moreover, he explicitly said that there is never an excuse for harassment by anyone under his command. What more was required to count as dealing with “the heart of the matter”? I can’t help wondering if Ms. Murray had her rejection ready before the General attempted his apology.)

    NDP Defence Critic Jack Harris went further: “I don’t really think it was an apology. I think he obviously had to try to backtrack on what was said because it was so outrageous and perceived as being such by every woman in the country I can guarantee you, but also by most men.”

    (Wow, Mr. Harris, you don’t mind speaking for all women? Regardless, note how Harris is relying on the audience to fill in the details of his undefined outrage. Harris says all women and most men are offended? Well then it must be offensive!)

    The nature (or should I say nurture?) of how this story played itself out is concerning. The CBC radio reports I heard only quoted the problematic “biological wiring” passage, providing almost none of the content which would have demonstrated the progressive heart of Lawson’s message. The reports then jumped to the “offended” politicians describing how upset they were, without ever apparently being pressed to say why. It was a scary example of group think. Since none of the media or politicians were willing to stray from the Politically Correct party line, we the observers were expected to assume that they had all vetted Lawson’s interview, and unanimously found him morally wanting, thus leaving us with no reason to be skeptical.

    Western society is aware generally, I think, that political correctness subdues the language one can use in public if one wants to have a career in public. However, I don’t think we’re realizing how scary the implicit feminist censorship has become. Feminists will march not just against politically incorrect language (i.e. against those making “offensive” word choices), but politically incorrect facts (i.e. against those “offensively” quoting studies that disagree with feminist conclusions), and now politically incorrect opinions about human psychology.

    As much as feminists may feel they have the answer on the nurture vs. nature debate, would the media mind asking scientists if the facts are as clear as feminists insist? Even if it is, I see no evidence that General Lawson drew problematic human resources policies from his “unacceptable” belief.

    (If Lawson’s claim about biological wiring could be shown to link up with an unwillingness to act on the problem—-perhaps he might have said something like, “You can’t fight nature!”—-then I think the feminist critics would have had a case to ask for his removal, but instead, based on his entire testimony, the “biological wiring” comment was essentially a placeholder to represent people who are predisposed to bad behaviour—-bad behaviour which he clearly stated he was intent on attacking.)

    Most scary of all is that the media and government are now complicit with the feminist policing of thought and language. As I’ve argued many times, most professional media in Canada are either afraid or ideologically unwilling to criticize feminist “research” or ideas. Even their most baffling claims—-such as arguing that general safety advice from police during a crisis is a form of “victim-blaming”—-go unchecked by the media. (I am not suggesting the media should disagree with the feminists—-that’s not their role either: I’m only asking that they occasionally check the feminist “facts” and opinions with some critical questions.) Meanwhile, the politicians, wafflers by nature, rarely stand up to the Feminist Ministry of Propaganda either, and in this case are joining in on the furor in a rare instance of all-party consensus. (They can’t agree on reducing pollution to save the planet, but when the leader of our military has an unpopular opinion about how jerks are formed, they all chant in the same direction.)

    The only way we can have adult, content-heavy conversations about these important topics is if we allow our leaders (media, political, and otherwise) to explore them without fear that scarlet letters will be thrown at them every time they utter a sentence that sounds like it might not match politically correct dogma. If feminists are right about an issue, then surely they can win the argument with content instead of demonizing their opponents by leaping to the most inflammatory interpretations of them. Meanwhile, if feminists are ever wrong (or even partly wrong), then the only way we can expose their erroneous ideas is if the rest of us are allowed to freely join their settled conversations.

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    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE X

    Rape culture” is a feminist theory which suggests that our institutions and social mores tend to tacitly (and sometimes explicitly) condone and/or normalize rape. I don’t object to naming an alleged cultural phenomenon as shorthand to identify a collection of forces (real or perceived) that one is trying to illuminate. The trouble with rape culture rhetoric, however, is that acceptance of the term’s validity has been treated by “with us or against us” feminists as a morality test, wherein you either agree to the scary assertion without question or you’re “a rape apologist.”

    Recently, Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely apologized for not following standard journalistic practice before publishing a spurious article (that has since been retracted by the magazine) regarding an alleged gang rape in a fraternity house at the University of Virginia.

    “The past few months,” she said, “since my Rolling Stone article ‘A Rape on Campus’ was first called into question, have been among the most painful of my life. Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience. I want to offer my deepest apologies: to Rolling Stone’s readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues, to the U.V.A. community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”

    (Erdely’s full statement.)

    As some critics have pointed out, she did not apologize to the fraternity house and its members who likely suffered in her undue process. I submit that this imbalance in her apology is consistent with the sort of journalistic biases that might have inspired her troubled article in the first place: we live in a “rape culture” culture. That is, we live in a philosophical world where “rape culture” is all-too-often assumed to be ubiquitous, which in turn causes the notion of “believe the victims” to be celebrated as the mantra of the virtuous, while due process is discarded as a weapon of the patriarchy.

    Notice, for instance, that feminists condemn skepticism towards the terrifying and widespread feminist claim that approximately one of five American students will be sexually assaulted (critics argue the number is closer to one in forty). As I discussed in my post FREE SPEECH FROM FEMINISM – PART 1, when critics of controversial feminist data have attempted to speak at Canadian universities in the last few years, they have been protested as hate-speakers, and in some cases their talks were disrupted by feminist demonstrators pulling fire alarms.

    “I don’t agree with the fire alarms pulled,” said feminist and motivational speaker Rachel Décoste in regard to attempts to mute Dr. Janice Fiamengo and her blasphemous criticism of modern feminism, “but when somebody says that the statistics that we’ve been based on forever are wrong, and therefore rape is not as much of an issue as it should be, I think that draws laughter, if not crying, because it’s just so preposterous. So, if [Dr. Fiamengo] wants to speak, that’s fine, but she doesn’t get to have the forum of our publicly funded universities, paid for by my and your taxes to disseminate that information that’s just not right.”

    (See the full discussion.)

    Décoste (along with all-too-many feminist advocates) seems to want the controversial one in five statistic to be cemented into law and never questioned. This kind of aversion to criticism is “rape culture” culture. If you don’t agree with feminist conclusions, you apparently deserve what you get. Thus, for many journalists, politicians, and academics, the notion of criticizing assumptions of rape culture surely feels like a career-endangering maneuver. Indeed, it seems to me that most such professionals tend to play it safe and not criticize feminist “research” and advocacy, which in turn allows feminists to reside unfettered in a special branch of study that, like “Christian Science,” moulds the data to fit their theories instead of the other way around. (Who, after all, is going to stop them?)

    I believe the key to releasing Western society from “rape culture” culture lies in the hearts and pens of the press. Journalists must reclaim their right and responsibility to critically report on settled feminist topics.

    Philosopher and critic of what she called “gender feminism” and its supplanting of “equity feminism,” Christina Hoff Sommers previewed the problem of journalistic credulity (in regard to gender feminist assertions) in her 1994 work, Who Stole Feminism?

    In the preface, she describes a variety of credulous reporters who apparently cited dubious feminist claims without checking the sources behind them. For instance, after several notable publications reported a false feminist assertion that battery was the leading cause of birth defects in the United States, Sommers contacted, among others, a hoodwinked reporter from Time Magazine.

    Says Sommers: “The first thing she said was ‘That was an error.’ She sounded genuinely sorry and embarrassed. She explained that she is always careful about checking sources, but this time, for some reason, she had not” (page 14).

    In Who Stole Feminism?, Sommers asks her readers a vital question: “Why was everybody so credulous? Battery responsible for more defects than all other causes combined? More than genetic disorders such as spina bifida, Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell anemia? More than congenital heart disorders? More than alcohol, crack, or AIDS—more than all these things combined? Where were the fact-checkers, the editors, the skeptical journalists?” (pages 14-15).

    Sommers’s description of otherwise earnest reporters relinquishing their journalistic training when encountering feminist dogma should have warned us of the “rape culture” culture we are surrounded by today.

    In her apology for the Rolling Stone article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely says, “Over my 20 years of working as an investigative journalist—including at Rolling Stone, a magazine I grew up loving and am honored to work for—I have often dealt with sensitive topics and sources. In writing each of these stories I must weigh my compassion against my journalistic duty to find the truth. However, in the case of Jackie and her account of her traumatic rape, I did not go far enough to verify her story. I allowed my concern for Jackie’s well-being, my fear of re-traumatizing her, and my confidence in her credibility to take the place of more questioning and more facts. These are mistakes I will not make again.”

    “Ultimately,” the story’s editor, Sean Woods confirms, “we were too deferential to our rape victim; we honored too many of her requests in our reporting. We should have been much tougher, and in not doing that, we maybe did her a disservice.”

    (See the ninth paragraph of the “Failure and Its Consequences” section of the Columbia University report.)

    I don’t doubt Erdely’s and Woods’s explanation that their compassion overtook their journalistic objectivity, and that they weren’t intentionally fabricating a story that could deeply hurt a lot of people. Let’s assume that, on topics not related to rape, Erdely and Woods have always proceeded with due diligence. We should be asking them what, then, was the distinguishing factor in this case (as opposed to other situations where their compassion might have also been piqued) that made them forgo their training and experience? Is it possible that they were influenced by “rape culture” culture to the point that they were less inclined to question and verify their source’s claims than they would have been when dealing with any other topic?

    The good news is that Rolling Stone asked Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist, Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, to investigate “what went wrong” in the reporting of this story. Such a willingness to open one’s process up to independent scrutiny is progress, I think. In that analysis, Coll, along with co-authors Sheila Coronel and Derek Kravitz, point out a series of apparent failures of verification by Erdely, along with the fact-checking and editorial teams at Rolling Stone. More importantly, they include in their analysis a possible inciting cause that might have fueled these mistakes.

    “The problem of confirmation bias – the tendency of people to be trapped by pre-existing assumptions and to select facts that support their own views while overlooking contradictory ones – is a well-established finding of social science. It seems to have been a factor here. Erdely believed the university was obstructing justice. She felt she had been blocked. Like many other universities, UVA had a flawed record of managing sexual assault cases. Jackie’s experience seemed to confirm this larger pattern. Her story seemed well established on campus, repeated and accepted.”

    (See the seventh paragraph of the ‘I had a faith’ section of the report.)

    The confirmation bias in this case strikes me as a symptom of “rape culture” culture.

    The report concedes, however, that “Of all crimes, rape is perhaps the toughest to cover. The common difficulties that reporters confront – including scarce evidence and conflicting accounts – can be magnified in a college setting. Reporting on a case that has not been investigated and adjudicated, as Rolling Stone did, can be even more challenging.”

    (See the first paragraph of the “For Journalists: Reporting on Campus Rape” section.)

    Hopefully, Rolling Stone’s humiliating failure here does not dissuade the magazine and other publications from pointing their gaze at all aspects of campus culture (including daunting subjects such as rape and sexual assault). But, when they do, I hope they report the stories they find, instead of the narrative they’ve been taught to expect.

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE IX

    Recently, I have noticed several public service announcements (for instance, The White Ribbon Campaign and my own BC Lions’ “Be more than bystander” offering) calling on male bystanders to defend potential female victims of crime.

    I applaud the notion of encouraging people to look out for each other, but I find the moral framework for these campaigns to be problematic, especially when compared to our society’s current opposite expectations of victims.

    The current bystander imperative is that, when someone (particularly a woman) is in danger, then you have an obligation to help by intervening (particularly if you’re a man) and/or contacting the police.

    In contrast, the current victim expectation is that, when you have been a victim (particularly if you are a women and your assailant a man), you have no obligation to help future victims by telling the police about the crime.

    Notice that, in the second case, feminist advocates suggest that asking female victims to come forward immediately after a crime occurs (giving police the best chance of catching the assailant, and reducing the violent criminal’s opportunities to repeat his evil) is a form of victim blaming. After all, say feminist advocates, “Women have the right to choose” whether they want to come forward, especially considering that “the justice system is so hard on female victims of crime.”

    Of course women have the legal right to decide whether to come forward, but bystanders also have the legal right to decide whether to dive into a dangerous situation to help a stranger.

    The more interesting and relevant question, then, is whether victims and bystanders have a moral obligation to help. I submit that, in both cases, the answer depends on the context of each individual situation.

    I imagine five general moral categories:

    (1) Morally supererogative*
    (2) Morally right.
    (3) Morally neutral.
    (4) Morally wrong.
    (5) Morally awful.

    *Supererogative, meaning essentially to go above and beyond one’s duty, has been taken out of some dictionaries because it is considered an archaic term that is no longer in regular use. I hope it’s not also an archaic behaviour.

    Where we locate both passive and active bystanders on such a moral ladder should be a function of the circumstances of each case. If the level of potential harm to the victim is significant, and the risk to a bystander who might intervene is non-existent, then not helping is, I believe, morally awful. For instance, if you’re on the fifth floor of your apartment building and you see someone being assaulted outside on the street, and you merrily watch without calling the police to help, then you’re likely not a good person. However, if you put yourself at risk by running down to fight off the assailant, then, in that case, you may be morally supererogative. Or, if you were to witness a mob hit, and you testified against the killer and consequently put yourself in mortal danger, then taking such a witness stand would also clearly be a morally heroic act.

    Thus, I think it is encouraging that current bystander theory is asking people to aim for higher on our moral decisions. Instead of ignoring those in trouble, let’s try to help. At the very least, let’s alert someone or some agency such as the police who might be able to make a positive difference, and if you feel up to it, then intervene yourself. However, as I argued in ATTACKING MEN, it makes me nervous that we seem to be expecting men to climb higher on this ladder as an obligation of our gender; that is, men are told they should intervene directly; if they don’t, they are often treated as complicit in the crime. This is dangerous talk. While I think it’s laudable for those who are most physically capable to try to help those less physically fortunate in an altercation, let us not forget that, when bystanders try to help, they can and have been injured or killed in their heroic efforts.

    The aforementioned white ribbon campaign (which my BC Lions endorse) tells men: “Don’t walk on by if you witness harassment or assault on the street or anywhere: assess the risk, then intervene and confront or diffuse the situation. If you need to, ask for help. Call 911.”

    It turns out that not all men are experts in dealing with violence: many men don’t have the training to accurately assess risk, nor the skills to diffuse a situation; moreover, my BC Lions may be surprised to learn that not all male people are elite athletes possessing the physical aptitude that might make a confrontation with a potentially violent criminal a safe activity.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate those who do put themselves at risk for the sake of a stranger, but we ought to be careful to differentiate such moral heroism from obligation.

    (Often I hear stories where a man has attempted to assault a women, and male bystanders have intervened; they are rarely celebrated for such actions, but instead are treated as people simply doing their duty.)

    In contrast, note how we treat female victims who are, in a sense, bystanders of future crime by the same assailants. (We know that most violent attackers victimize more than one person, so when victims don’t tell the police what has happened, they are leaving future victims to fend for themselves.) In the Jian Ghomeshi case, women who say they waited many years to come forward with accusations against the former talk radio superstar were described as “courageous” by many observers. It is a strange label for a group who (assuming they are telling the truth) did nothing for a decade to help possible ongoing victims.

    One such belated accuser, who was interviewed on CBC’s As it Happens, said she didn’t present her case initially because she’d seen an alleged victim of a different crime severely criticized on the internet, and she said, “That would have happened to me.” However, she explained, she was now presenting her case because she was angry that current alleged Ghomeshi victims were asked why they waited so long to make their accusations.

    If she’s telling the truth, then on her own testimony, she’s a significantly selfish person (especially if we use bystander expectation theory to asses her). She refused to help other potential victims because she didn’t want to be criticized (that is, she valued (A) her own reticence to receive a negative reaction from trolls on the internet, over (B) other women’s physical safety); and then, she only decided to testify because she was offended by a politically incorrect question—not because she wanted to help the alleged victims, nor to bring justice to the alleged assailant so that he couldn’t hurt anyone else, but because she was affronted by someone asking a simple “Why?” question.

    And note that As It Happens host, Carol Off, did not venture a single hard question towards this self-centred approach to justice. I don’t mean to demonize the alleged victim in this case. Lots of people are as self-interested as she appears to be, but we clearly have a double moral standard where alleged female victims are treated as heroes even when they testify so late in the timeline that their alleged evidence is corrupted beyond usefulness, while we treat men who risk their safety to intervene as simply doing their duty.

    Why don’t we ask everyone to at least do the morally right thing, and if they’re up for it, the morally exemplary thing? That is, if you’re a bystander, then it would be morally right to help as much as you can without putting yourself in danger; and if you are willing to risk your safety to help someone else, that would be morally great of you. Similarly, if you’re a victim, it would be morally right to come forward, unless such help would put you in danger, in which case testifying would become morally wonderful of you.

    Admittedly, where we draw the line as to what constitutes danger, or at least harm, in coming forward may be tricky: a female victim—who has been taught by feminists that all female victims will be re-victimized by the justice system—may sincerely believe that her life will automatically be ruined if she testifies. So I do not mean to suggest that all silent victims are morally culpable, but we need our media investigators to start considering the possibility that in certain cases even a victim might be morally troubled if they don’t try in any way to help future victims.

    I don’t know how daunting it is for female victims of violence to come forward. We know, from feminists’ previous work in propaganda, that feminist victims’ advocates cannot be trusted to draw an accurate picture of police/victim relations; after all, it is an intrinsic aspect of their ideology and best interests (for future funding) to always tell the most bleak tale they can.

    From feminists we only have their often anecdotal assurance that female victims of crime are “up against it” when they go through the police and justice system. No member of the Canadian media that I’ve heard has ever challenged the assertion, not just that police abuse victims sometimes, but that every female victim will suffer any time she pursues justice. And, as this wild fire accusation against our police and legal system has spread, it has become an unassailable fact as opposed to a shocking indictment that demands an impartial investigation.

    Nevertheless, even if, as I suspect, modern police mistreatment of female victims has been greatly exaggerated, this does not mean that some female victims have not been traumatized by police and/or the justice system; moreover, given that feminists so constantly and dogmatically tell victims (via the media) that going through the process is “as bad as” suffering the violent crime itself, it is understandable that some women, persuaded by these terrifying claims of ubiquitous police misogyny, are tempted to leave justice to fate.

    Thus, I think it’s time to resist this unwavering narrative that the justice system hates women, and in turn, the corollary notion that that we ought not to expect any help from victims, especially female victims, in our pursuit of violent criminals.

    Recently, on a metro Vancouver Skytrain, a man allegedly groped a woman. A second woman says she checked on the alleged victim to see if she was okay, but didn’t receive a reply. So the bystander took a picture of the alleged assailant, and reported the alleged crime to the police. The police were then able to apprehend the alleged assaulter, who apparently they had met before, which seemed to give credence to the bystander’s claim. The police, however, were not able to find the alleged victim, and so, given they needed her corroborating testimony to charge the suspect with a crime, they have gently but publicly asked her to come forward (letting her know she will be treated respectfully).

    This seems to me to be a case in which, if the incident happened as the bystander describes, she should be considered to be someone who was morally heroic, because she tried to directly help at the time of the alleged crime (putting herself at risk), while the alleged victim seems morally wrong for not coming forward to help future potential victims. Nevertheless, the bystander has been treated by the media as a neutral character in this story, whereas the police have been condemned by victims’ rights groups for expecting a victim to speak up.

    “It’s her choice whether she wants to come forward,” is the common feminist mantra. “She has the right not to speak up if she doesn’t want to.”

    Again, yes, of course, she has the right not to defend future victims, but that doesn’t make it morally right to be unwilling to help. One feminist victims’ advocate explained again that women have many obstacles to overcome in the justice system, and so it is wrong to pressure any woman to talk to the police. And so once again the feminist advocates are encouraging victims not to help each other, and instead to demand that police and bystanders do more. In this case, if the crime happened, the victim would have had an ally, via the bystander’s testimony, that would surely have made a persuasive case for the justice system to seriously consider. So does she really have any moral justification not to help the police put away this alleged bad guy? Is the risk to her anywhere near the level of good she could do for society if she were to stand up?

    Perhaps, as I’m sure many feminists would say, I just “don’t get it.” Maybe female victims suffer in the justice system as consistently and terribly as feminist advocates insist. But how can we know that if our media continue to shirk their responsibility to investigate such a claim? At present, most Western media simply do not ask feminist advocates critical questions; on the contrary, instead of recognizing that such feminists are devotees of a particular ideology (that, like any other, is fallible), they treat such biased sources as scientific experts whose startling statements need no skepticism.

    Yet, if my suspicion of feminist exaggeration has any veracity, these so-called victims’ advocates are protecting assailants as much as they are their victims. By scaring victims into thinking that Western society and the justice system is out to get them, they encourage victims not to stand up for other victims. Who’s the bystander now?

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