• 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.

  • As someone who has been resistant to the omni-tentacled powers of social media, I am pleased with myself for noticing something that social media does with more audience consideration than mainstream media.

    As with all topics, this one can be best understood by travelling far, far away and backwards in time to the Star Wars galaxy. I recently watched a documentary, Rogue 1: A Star Wars Story, which examines the events just before the historical time period of Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope.

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    Worry not, I am aware that these characters are living in a fictional galaxy, but I jest because I am obsessed. I adore my Star Wars, so when new episodes arrive to fill in gaps in my favourite patch of fictional history, I am as excited as a Sith lord finding a new apprentice.

    But there is one tiny chink in my Darth Vader armour: the movie reviewers that I observe in mainstream media are often disrespectful of movies, such as these, that are meant to entertain.

    First, as I’ve discussed before, many reviewers are only capable of appreciating films that match their deep and dark genre sensibilities. If you’re not depressed or confused by the end of a screening, they’re not loving it. Consequently, they fail their movie reviewing duties because not all of us go to the cinema solely to cry and deconstruct opaque symbolism. There are other genres we like to imbibe, and many reviewers are unwilling to examine those movies’ abilities to live up to their genre requirements. For instance, if I’m looking to see an action film, and my reviewer treats Die Hard (an obviously brilliant offering in its category) and The Matrix (not so much) as equally “brainless collections of violence, stunts, and special effects,” then they will not have aided me in selecting between the two.

    Second, and more importantly in this case (since I do not need a critic’s help to inspire me to see Star Wars), many of the mainstream reviewers, with whom I have a begrudging one-sided relationship, have an annoying a penchant for spoiling the movies they discuss by giving away too much plot in their critiques. As in my first criticism, I think the leading causes of this aggravating habit are that the reviewers are arrogant and inconsiderate. Notice that, as they babble freely about the plots they’re exposing, they enunciate their unwelcome delivery with a patronizing tone of voice that implies, “Come on, in a movie like this, obviously that character was going to turn out to be that character’s dad. And, then obviously…”

    This condescending inconsideration is amplified by the reviewers’ distance from their audience. When my Friday afternoon movie reviewer, Katherine Monk, gives away too much of a movie in her Friday afternoon reviews on CBC Radio, she is not aware of me yanking my head phones out of my ears to protect myself.

    In contrast, then, after a trilogy of viewings of Rogue 1—which is a fantastic companion to A New Hope, and a superior installment, in my opinion, to its most recent rival, the pleasing, but troubled Episode VII: The Force Awakens—I craved more contemplations than my own about the new addition to the family. And, while I no longer had to fear the spoiling tendencies of the mainstream media, I was also aware that they were not going to consider my hobby with the nuance I was seeking. Therefore, I cranked up my internet, and dove into the wild space of Youtube, where I was greeted by individual and group conversations, featuring humour, intelligence, and appreciation for the subject. These youtubers were reviewing this Rogue 1 movie because they loved the Star Wars franchise, and even if they didn’t positively perceive this Star Wars story and collection of characters as much as I did, they had gone into the film—quite in contrast with our mainstream movie rebukers—hoping to like it. As a result, where it failed to delight them, I was open to their critiques because they hadn’t treated the movie as intrinsically irredeemable before they’d starting watching it.

    Now, I had visited in Youtube before, so I should acknowledge that I reviewed these reviews anticipating this level of respect. However, what I wasn’t expecting was that every Youtube reviewer that I surfed upon expressed concern about spoiling the movie for their audience, and so offered both a “non-spoiler” and a “spoiler” analysis of the film. In the latter service, every youtuber that I encountered reminded their audience at least twice that they were about to unleash vital plot details, so, if the viewer hadn’t yet seen the movie, they were invited to leave then or forever hold their complaints.

    I assume that this sort of consideration was motivated initially by the democratic nature of Youtube, wherein one starts with a tiny audience, which one can diminish or increase rapidly with every right or wrong turn of phrase. Regardless, the result is that such respect-for-audience has for now become a feature of Youtube culture: even the large, popular Youtube channels that I took in offer this same spoiler protection service.

    While Youtube has its vices (never read the comments: the many anti-social creatures who ply their crassness there will leave your belief in humanity scarred), this fantastic, spoil-resistant result has me pleased with the You-niverse. They have achieved a compassion for their audience that many mainstream reviewers have not even sought. In short, they have gone Rogue, and I like it.

  • SETHICS 31.08.2016 6 Comments

    In the first episode of ORWELLING UP—which I wrote while I was reading George Orwell’s 1984I questioned the notion of excommunicating artists for behaviours in their personal lives. Now, upon finishing Orwell’s dystopian imagining, I’ll peak in on what I increasingly perceive to be CBC Radio’s Orwellian policy on “thought crimes” against their patron ideology, feminism.


    ORWELLING UP: CASE II:

    In George Orwell’s 1984 “nothing was illegal,” but, if you were caught doing something aberrant (i.e. outside the undefined but easily inferred Party lines), “it was reasonably certain that it would be punishable by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced labour camp.” Similarly, CBC Radio never speaks of a feminist policy. However, the consequences of drifting from CBC feminist party lines are undeniable:

    (1) If you are have incorrect opinions you will generally be excluded from this grand, publically funded conversation. And

    (2) If you do Houdini your way through that first barrier, but you nudge a toe out of feminist line, you will be challenged by the normally gushing hosts.

    Meanwhile, the benefits of colouring neatly between the feminist lines are equally obvious:

    (1) If you never question feminism and always treat individual feminists as infallible equality-seekers, you will have a much greater chance of being promoted to valuable hosting and guest roles, regardless of your talent and intelligence in the areas you are discussing. And

    (2) If you say something that is evidence and/or decency free, you will be supported with adulation, so long as it supports the orthodoxy of feminism.

    In this blog, I have criticized what I perceive to be examples of CBC’s unstated but relentless pro-feminist slant, and how its hosts never question feminist dogma. Such yielding to this particular Big Sibling is understandable given both the risks of being pushed out of CBC for “thoughtcrime,” and—if I may offer a matching Orwellian term—the benefits of demonstrating virtuethink.

    But these pressures to conform are never officially acknowledged. Indeed, if questioned, the host would likely say they were always expressing their own opinions. And they’re very convincing. Many of them probably are sincere (they were, after all, chosen for that apparent sincerity). But, if the feminists are right that their excommunicated hero, Jian Ghomeshi, was a long closeted misogynist, then they must admit that any of these other beloved feminist personalities might also be faking their commitment to the faith for the benefits of such conformity.

    This unstated but ever-present thought policing is a disservice to both critics of feminism, as well as proponents, who are able to release morally and intellectually inept statements into our public airways without challenge. And, while that surely feels good to them and their congregation at the time, it deprives them of the scrutiny we all need to improve our thinking. Meanwhile, those outside of the margins of correct feminist opinion are nearly always dismissed as sexists and/or misogynists because they hint at opinions that feminists have already deemed incorrect. CBC Radio thus treats intellectual debate as unnecessary (and potentially harmful) in such cases.

    In this episode of ORWELLLING UP, I consider a June 20th CBC Q interview in which both the throughtcrime and virtuethink styles of silent feminist influence took turns leading a discussion. The conversation starred the ever warm, eloquent, and feminist-flavoured Gill Deacon interviewing Ali Wong, a rant-and-dirty-joke-wielding comedian who had both pleased and displeased feminist pastors.

    Wong’s correct thinking was itemized first. A clip of the comedian’s special, Baby Cobra, was played of the then 7.5 months’ pregnant comic noting that male comedians just having a baby can merrily “get up on stage a week afterwards, and they’ll be like, ‘Guys, I just had this baby. It’s so annoying and boring. And all these uppity dads in the audience are like, ‘That’s hilarious. I identify.’ And their fame just swells. Because they become this relatable, family funny man all of a sudden.” Meanwhile, Wong hollered, just-becoming-mom comedians are a little too “busy!” producing and nursing the baby to return to the stage so quickly.

    I thought this was a fair diatribe, which seemed to me not so much a hostile complaint about men as much as playful, old-style, battle-of-the-sexes teasing of them.

    CBC interviewer Gill Deacon, though, helped herself to a feminist reading of the comedy, marking the rant down in her Approved Feminist Grievance column as she celebrated it as a “fairly spot on” identification of a “double standard.”

    I heard no evidence, nor claim, from Wong that she had been accosted by a double standard. A double standard implies that she was being dealt with by a different standard than her male rivals. That would mean her business and/or audience was not open to her pregnancy-or-post-pregnancy comedy in the way they would be if she were male. She made no such argument. As far as I can tell, she’s just claiming that it’s extra difficult for soon-to-be or just-become mothers to do stand up comedy. Fair enough. That doesn’t mean that there is sexist discrimination going on in this case; it might just mean that pregnancy and nursing needs can be hard on one’s comedy career. And, given that women are more often pregnant and nursing than men, they have that burden more often.

    Curiously, then, after Deacon rewarded Wong for a feminist claim that she had not made, she scolded the comedian for some decidedly unfeminist material. Consider this interaction:

    DEACON: You are a very professionally accomplished woman… You also joke a lot… about wanting to be a house wife… Is that really a fantasy of yours? You kind of make it seem like housewives are the geniuses of our time.

    WONG: …I’m joking, because I obviously really love doing stand up. The desire, though, to not work anymore is real…

    DEACON: And there’s no bells of concern that go off for you at all when your mind starts to go there?

    WONG: No, I mean I think that’s real. I think a lot of my other friends, who are professional women, are like… “What the Hell am I doing?” when they see women who have super rich husbands… It’s all a fantasy…

    DEACON: You say that feminism’s ruined it for us. Now we’re expected to work. Have you heard any complaints from women in any of your audiences with jokes like that?

    WONG: Not really. I think most women understand that I’m joking…

    DEACON: It doesn’t come across that clearly that you’re joking, I have to say. I found myself going, “Hmm, does she really think this? It’s hard to tell.”

    WONG: Um, yeah.

    DEACON: It sounds like I wasn’t all wrong. You kind of… do believe in the fantasy.

    WONG: Yeah, part of me believes in the fantasy. But part of me also knows that it’s a fantasy. And the reality of it comes with consequences…

    DEACON: ….At the end of your special, you do twist things around a little bit to sort of prove that point. But do you worry that men in your audience might think that they’re seeing what women actually secretly think?

    WONG: I don’t really worry about that. I’m worried about if they’re laughing. I’m not worried about what really they’re thinking. …I’m not a teacher. I’m not a politician. I’m a stand up comic.

    Notice that Wong had not only committed the speechcrime of joking about having blasphemous thoughts, but, with a little prodding, Deacon detected that Wong was doing more than just joking. Wong was admitting to taking genuine pleasure in imagining something unfeminist. She had committed a thoughtcrime: she had coveted an unapproved feminist lifestyle! If this weren’t bad enough, she had allowed men-folk to overhear her forbidden dreams.

    So, far from being a freeing ideology that allows people more choice in their lives, this version of feminism is telling women not that they can be career-oriented if they choose, but that they should be. And not only should they be, but they should never enjoy dreams of greater leisure. That would clearly be fantasycrime! And, if you’re going to have these evil fantasies, the least you could do is not let the drooling men hear about it: men are too simple to understand that one woman’s favourite imagining neither means it automatically overpowers her simultaneous desire to have a career, nor does it represent all women at all times.

    Next, Deacon “pushed [Wong]” for telling her audience about sexual desires that were also not feminist approved.

    Wong responded to these shake-of-the-head questions by pointing out that her comedy is not a TED TALK: her goal, she said, is to just make people laugh.

    Deacon did not seem impressed to hear it. “So it’s just going for the laughs?” she asked.

    Wong had clearly once again committed both a thoughtcrime (the desire) and a speechcrime (talking about it).

    I’m not objecting to Deacon questioning anyone’s moral justification for their creative renderings. If Deacon wanted to explore the social implications of an artist’s material, that would be fine. However, my greatest trouble here is that Deacon and her fellow feminist interviewers at CBC are incapable of nuance both in their support and condemnation.

    First, there is rarely exploration into the details and/or veracity within feminist—or, in this case, feminist-seeming—arguments. I have little doubt that pregnant women and new mothers have a particularly daunting time in stand-up comedy, but a good interviewer might have explored why the comedian thought that was so, and whether it was, as Deacon diagnosed it, a double standard, or an unavoidable consequence of biology, or something in between. Instead, in CBC Feminism’s world, any claim that a woman is treated worse than a man is approved without question or contextual consideration. Essentially, You have said something that confirms the Party doctrine, therefore I agree.

    Then, on the disapproving side of the conversation, if ever someone says something that doesn’t coincide with the correct feminist opinion, the blasphemer is first given the option to renounce the position, and when, in this case, the comedian held onto her incorrect thoughts, there was no exploration of whether the comedian was nevertheless morally justified in her comedy. Instead, Deacon simply pointed out that Wong really did seem to be sincere about her wrongthink, and moved onto the next question.

    This lack of nuance suffocates these conversations. We are left with vacant approvals and accusations without any moral foundation to hold them up. Instead, CBC Feminism (intentionally or otherwise) relies on fear of Party excommunication to keep their members from diverging too far from virtuethink.

  • I have been enjoying the Star Trek “reboot”* movies.

    *I think the films in this new series are more aptly described as “requels,” since the previous stories still “happened” in a prior timeline, but—after an incident with a wormhole and its resulting butterfly effect—those iconic tales are now being recorded over with new adventures of the same people.

    As I previously argued (against an eloquent but confused New Yorkerian attack), the first effort, Star Trek, was a brilliant combination of humour, adventure, and homage to the voyages that brought it. And the sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness, continued that charming work well.

    I have now taken in the third, Star Trek: Beyond, and while I once again had a nice time hanging out with it, I think it was a small step for mankind less brilliant than its prequel requels, and I have a thought about why. As with most current big movie writers, the authors of Beyond (Simon Pegg and Doug Jung) fell into the unnecessary compulsion to always go bigger than anyone has gone before. For Star Trek writers, that means, if you’re not saving the world, your story’s not worth telling. In both Star Trek and Into Darkness, that was fine since the world-saving fit reasonably well into the larger plots.

    However, in many movies these days, the convention to go big is a narrative-distorting forced add-on to a smaller story that is (or could have been) thrilling on its own. Consider, in contrast, Die Hard, one of the greatest action movies humanity has ever conceived. The plot took place almost entirely in and around one skyscraper, where our hero, and the innocent building dwellers he was trying to protect, battled bank robber invaders. Had the Die Hard makers insisted on adding an attempt by the villains to blow up the earth, I think that would have undermined the smaller story that grabbed us.

    In Beyond, the crew is in year 3 of its 5-year mission to explore strange new worlds (i.e. they’re at lest few light days away from home), so it seemed Captain Kirk and crew were destined for an adventure that would not involve earth-saving tasks. Early on in the movie, though, we discover that they are making a scheduled stop at a Federation base (“Starbase Yorktown”).

    Yorktown is an atmosphere-containing orb city, which is both awesome (literally) and confusing. As someone who likes to imagine human-made civilizations in space, this one is as impressive and imaginative a rendering as I’ve seen. Nevertheless, upon first meeting it, my Spock-wannabe eyebrows rose up in confusion because Yorktown (circa 2263) seemed—to my uneducated, 3D-glasses-wearing eyes—to be more technologically advanced than the Federation would be producing more than a hundred years later in its base-based spinoff, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (circa 2369). Despite my confusion, I was enjoying myself too much to realize that this amazing civilization was to be playing the role of the world-in-distress that would need saving during the end-of-movie chase scene.

    I’m not intrinsically opposed to movies about saving space stations, but, in this story, this extra task is of the variety of forced add-on, which cuts into the compelling smaller project of Kirk and friends. Nearby the station, there is a bermuda-triangle-like nebula that has recently captured a ship, so Kirk and crew warp in to investigate. Once inside the nebula, our enterprising team is ambushed by a voracious hive of mini-ships, and so are forced to crash land on a nearby planet where the hive’s leader has imprisoned crews from various ships over many seasons.

    It’s a wonderful idea for a Star Trek story, with lots of opportunities for creative uses of technology and moxie as our stars try to escape the bad guy’s evil plans. Sadly, though, in order to shove in the requirement of saving the nearby space-city into the overall plot, the writers had to shorten and simplify that brilliant adventure. And the subsequently squeezed in world-saving finale is so rushed that it was difficult for some of us in the audience to follow. Indeed, the complicated climax could have been stretched out to an entire movie on its own, but because it had to be packed into the final 10 minutes of the film, it is instead a jumble of frantic energy.

    Beyond is, I think, a fine movie overall, but its insistence upon limiting itself to the current “Go Bigger or Go Home,” trend is disappointing. For all their futuristic imagination, the creators of this film were unable to go beyond contemporary convention. Hopefully, in twenty years, when they three-boot this franchise, they’ll resist that temptation.

  • SETHICS 30.06.2016 8 Comments

    The warnings of George Orwell play a significant role in the official philosophical anxiety of Sethblogs. I am currently reading Orwell’s most famous contemplation of a thought-controlled society, 1984, and as I read about Winston Smith and his work at the Ministry of Truth, I find myself increasingly perceiving Orwellian thoughts and policies around me.


    ORWELLING UP: CASE I: 

    On the May 1st “Stepping up and speaking out” episode of CBC radio’s Unreserved, Rosanna Deerchild interviewed Deejay NDN (Ian Campeau), who says he now restricts the content he plays (and listens to) on the basis of two moral maxims:

    (1) If the lyrics are “oppressive,” and/or (2) if the musician is “oppressive” in their personal life, then Campeau will not play the associated tunes for his audience, nor will he keep them on his personal playlist.

    For instance, when it comes to sexism, Campeau says, “I guess it was kinda just like waking up to the idea of misogyny, and how I fit into the role of perpetuating it… And, you know, playing specific artists who have [been] known to have been misogynistic or have been harmful to women. I just choose not to promote them anymore. And it’s just kind of, you know, I just don’t align with those ideas anymore.”

    Maxim 1 is, I think, an understandable rule of play. I can appreciate why a DJ would not want to lend their volume to content they believe is unethical.  Yet I think this is a delicate and potentially damaging code of curation; if we’re not careful we may find ourselves excommunicating music that seems unethical, or tiptoes near the promotion of harmful ideas, but is actually commentary that is morally and/or artistically beneficial. As Campeau says:

    “I try to not listen to any music that’s oppressive in any sort of way… it’s been a real learning curve and real, you know, prioritizing of values.” For instance, “…you have things like Kendrick Lamar’s last album, which was incredibly racially advanced in the way he was discussing topics… but he was still misogynistic within it, so as much as he was trying to elevate his community, he was still oppressing half of it.”

    I see a few moral quandaries that will be difficult to solve here, but ultimately I think it’s reasonable for a private curator not to propagate art to which they are morally opposed. Regardless, my concerns are doubled in the second maxim, so I’ll focus my criticism there.

    Maxim 2 calls for the DJ to assess the moral merits of people whose artwork they would otherwise endorse. For instance, Campeau says he’s “not going to play Chris Brown anymore after what happened with Rihanna, that was a really easy choice…” (Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats towards Rihanna, and he pled guilty to “assault with intent of doing great bodily injury.”) But, Campeau says, this culling of his playlist “…gets really, really tough when you start realizing how all of your heroes are not exactly what they appear… There are so many… things like David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Africa Bambaataa… like, there’s all these people who have done harm, it seems that everybody seems to be okay with that as long as they make good music?”

    Campeau’s  (hereafter DJ Morals’) code of ethics calls for a purity of artistic souls, which—if it catches on as an ethical maxim—will unduly limit the art we’ll be able to experience.

    BILL: Are you going to see the new Hamlet production?

    TED: Haven’t you heard? It’s been discovered that Shakespeare once said something sexist, so he’s officially been removed from the Approved Artists List.

    BILL: Seriously? Damn, I liked him.

    TED: I know. So did I. But we can’t very well endorse that kind of sexism by enjoying his so-called art.

    BILL: Of course. You’re right. To be sexist, or not to be sexist, that is the question.

    TED: Um, even alluding to one of his quotes is kind of sexist. Sorry, I can’t be friends with you anymore.

    BILL: Fair enough.

    Now, dear DJ Morals, I’m not saying you shouldn’t criticize behaviour that you think is harmful (I’m doing so right now ;). I’m arguing that, unfortunately, artistic and moral merit are not always linked. And so, to limit your catalog of musicians to those who have lived perfect moral existences will clip the wings of the music you play.

    There may be enough “moral” musicians (or at least potentially “immoral” ones who haven’t been caught yet) for individual DJs to still put out good stuff, but since DJ Morals is making a moral argument (he said he’s aiming to “end racism in Canada” and “to change society…” such that his “daughters [feel] safe walking home alone at night”), he’s arguing others should follow his lead. And, since he is clearly a member of the movement of so-called “social justice” which currently dominates popular media, his policy could conceivably be confused for good ethics and become the common moral code of music appreciation.

    Consequently, as our ethics become more nuanced over time, there may be increasing numbers of artists (including the next Beatles or Wayne Gretzky) who will be ineligible to perform for us. And, if it’s the case that historically oppressed cultures are more likely to be uneducated, perhaps they’re more likely to be caught on the wrong side of the moral law, and so DJ Moral’s policy may disproportionately affect the artistic output of the very communities he argues need “elevation.” Moreover, while our ethics may be improving over time, our public moral consensus is still fallible, and so if we limit ourselves only to the artists who are currently morally correct, we may be closing our minds to new moral considerations.

    This moral purity requirement for performers isn’t a far-fetched fantasy/fear. As I discussed in THE SEPARATION OF WORK AND STATE, there are many popular pundits who already demand that sports leagues suspend players who are accused of crimes. Blasphemously enough, I don’t think workers should be suspended for anything outside of work that doesn’t make them a danger to their co-workers, but at the very least, I am baffled that even those who are still legally presumed innocent should be excommunicated from their profession on the grounds that they are believed by the public to be guilty.

    Even more drastically, recall that Jian Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC, not for illegal acts, but for admitting to his bosses that he took part in consensual sexual behaviour that they deemed immoral. If the rumors are true that, along with being a doubleplus sexual wrongdoer (to use Orwell’s “newspeak”), Ghomeshi was a workplace bully, then that would have been an understandable reason to fire him. But the CBC has no place in the bedrooms of its hosts.

    Nevertheless, the CBC and DJ Morals are burgeoning Big Brothers. They seem to believe it is their duty not simply to discuss morality with their audience, but to punish those they believe have crossed moral lines in their personal lives. This would be dangerous enough if the CBC and DJ Morals were infallible ethicists, but what if they’re moral morons? The CBC daily demonstrates their eligibility for such a description with their sexist policy on all gender discussions. Meanwhile, DJ Morals is an admitted former enjoyer of misogynistic rap music. (I have always despised such lyrics, so, by his moral math, it seems I get to announce that I am a better person than he is.)

    Our ongoing attempts to improve our ethics have potential for much good. But we must be careful in our zeal to promote good behavior to avoid becoming thought police who not only challenge the ideas and behaviours with which we disagree, but also vaporize anyone who disagrees, or is accused of terrible actions or words outside of their artistic life.

    ORWELLING UP: CASE II coming soon to a Sethblogs near you.

  • SETHICS 19.05.2016 8 Comments

    You’ve probably heard by now about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fall from parliamentary grace yesterday. I accept the general criticism that he was brazen in his behaviours. However, I think the criticism was inflamed by his own feminist philosophy. I’d like to focus here on how his principles boomeranged on him.

    THE THEORETICAL BACKSTORY:

    In a previous essay, I described the distinction between Definition Feminism (the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes) and Action Feminism (the advocacy work of those who call themselves Definition Feminists). Given that we humans are fallible, we cannot be surprised that Action Feminists sometimes make mistakes and advocate for policies that are beyond the purview of Definition Feminism, and sometimes even contradict it.

    Nevertheless, Action Feminists who call for sexist and/or Orwellian policies in the name of gender equality are able to shield themselves from critics by calling themselves Definition Feminists. This invariably frightens away mainstream critics, as nobody wants to disagree with a Feminist who insists they’re doing gender equality’s work.

    One such Action Feminist is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He calls himself a Feminist, but he is known for non-egalitarian policies in the name of gender equality.

    For instance, before he was Prime Minister, and two of his male MPs were accused of personal misconduct towards two female MPs, Trudeau suspended his team members before the investigation, explaining that “I am aware of how difficult it is for people to come forward.” This aligns with the Action Feminist philosophy of “Believe Women” (which is both sexist, in that it treats one gender as specially worthy of consideration, and Orwellian as it dismisses due process).

    For additional instance, Trudeau promised and delivered a gender balanced cabinet by promoting one in three of his female MPs (compared to one in 9 of his male MPs). Trudeau’s policies and procedures to achieve that result were once again consistent with Action Feminism, but not Definition Feminism. That is, he treated women differently from men (in a speech to the UN, he described how he actively recruited women in particular to join his party), and he utilized an evidence-free assumption of systemic sexism in Canadian politics to justify his discrimination against men.

    THE INCIDENT:

    But yesterday, in the House of Commons, Mr. Trudeau felt the wrath of the Action Feminism for which has been advocating.

    [Note: all of the quotes and descriptions I provide below are taken from the CBC National report on it, and so are not necessarily exhaustive.]

    As described on CBC’s The National, it all began with MPs gathered and talking before a vote regarding Canada’s “physician assisted dying” laws. Members of the NDP were in the way of Conservative whip, Gord Brown, who seemed to be struggling to get past them to get to his station.

    Whether or not the NDP were trying to physically filibuster or not, Prime Minister Trudeau apparently thought they were, and so he walked at a fast clip into the NDP assemblage to retrieve the Whip from the blockade.

    Now, this is where all Feminism broke loose. In his process of taking the Conservative Whip’s arm, the back of Trudeau’s elbow seemed to bump into one of the female NDP MPs, and she reacted with an expression of pain.

    The bumped-into MP, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, reported Trudeau’s contact with her to her colleagues, who—led by Thomas Muclair’s “What kind of a man elbows a woman?”—began shouting at the Prime Minister.

    It appears that Trudeau’s first action upon hearing the accusation was to attempt to go directly to the MP and to apologize to her, but before he could get to her, she left the room because, she says, she “was overwhelmed.”

    THE REACTION:

    If Trudeau had merely taken a male politician by the arm, he might have survived his brash actions in this case, but his accidentally bumping into a women was not to be stood for by the other Action Feminist sympathizers in the room.

    Once parliament came to order, Prime Minister Trudeau received the following accusations:

    Peter Julian (House Leader for the NDP): “He elbowed [Brosseau], and he manhandled [Brown]. Physical force in this house is never permitted, is never welcome, and it is entirely inappropriate.”

    Peter Van Loan (Conservative MP): “…the Prime Minister physically grabbing people, elbowing people…”

    Niki Ashton (NDP MP): “…not only was this the furthest thing from a feminist act…”

    Ruth Ellen Brosseau (NDP MP): “I was elbowed in the chest by the Prime Minister. And then I had to leave. It was very overwhelming. And so I left the chamber to go and sit in the lobby. I missed the vote because of this.”

    And later (after Trudeau apologized):

    Peter Van Loan: “I will move that the physical molestation of [Brosseau] be referred to the standing committee on procedure and House Affairs.”

    As you can see, many of these accusations were laced with Action Feminist philosophy.

    For instances:

    (1) LANGUAGE RECONSTRUCTION:

    In keeping with George Orwell’s imaginings in 1984, Action Feminists often like to change language to suit their political purposes. (For instance, whereas “assault” used be a physical crime, Action Feminists now describe trolls on the internet who say obnoxious, sexual things to women as guilty of “sexual assault.”)

    Similarly, notice here how the Trudeau accusers have used words such as “manhandled,” “elbowed,” and “molested” to exaggerate his actions. 

    (2) FAITH:

    Action Feminists are known for their faith in women’s testimony regardless of evidence. In this case, despite the video footage that shows that Trudeau did not raise his elbow towards Brosseau, Action Feminists still cheered on the silly implication that he threw his elbow towards her.

    (3) SEXISM, Style A:

    Action Feminism is ever celebrated for its ability to illuminate female victims while ignoring male ones. In this case, Trudeau intentionally took a male MP by the arm, but the Action Feminists in the room (including Trudeau, himself, in his apology) focussed their rage on him accidentally bumping into a woman.

    (4) SEXISM, Style B:

    In spite of Feminists’ insistence that they just want equality, it’s clear by their greater concern for female victims over male victims that they actually want special equality. In this case, accidentally bumping into a woman is worse than intentionally handling a man.

    (5) ASSUMPTION:

    When Action Feminists are criticized, their favourite response is to accuse their critic of misogyny. That is, they presumptuously argue that anything negative that happens to an individual woman, must have been done to her because she’s a women. In this case, Trudeau bumped into a women, and so he was accused of being a failed feminist. It doesn’t matter that it was an accident: his micro-aggressive misogyny is showing.

    (6) SAFE SPACE NEEDS:

    Action Feminist philosophy teaches women to celebrate any perceived victimization, and to demand and make use of “safe spaces” to help them cope no matter how minor the alleged offence.

    In this case, the NDP member left the room after the incident because, she says, she was “overwhelmed” by it. While I’m skeptical that she was as traumatized as she implies, I can understand why one would feel out of sorts after being bumped into by an aggressively-moving Prime Minister, and then being the subject of a political shouting competition.

    However, I think it is hard to excuse Brosseau’s willingness to miss the vote because of what happened. For a member of parliament to abstain from such an important duty so that they could tend to their emotional needs strikes me as the entitled inactivity of someone who believes with all their heart in safe space culture.

    THE APOLOGIES:

    Now, even though Justin Trudeau has supported the very Action Feminism that attempted to destroy him yesterday, I still feel sorry for him. He apologized twice for his actions (and again twice today). To Brosseau he said:

    “I want to take the opportunity, now that the member is okay to return to the House right now, to be able to express directly to her my apologies for my behaviour and my actions, unreservedly.”

    And one can understand why Trudeau would be so contrite. As an Action Feminist, Justin Trudeau has given up his right to defend himself. By his own philosophy, arguing in his own defense would have been sexist and victim-blaming.

    But Trudeau’s unequivocal apology is also scary. If Action Feminists are able to shame a politician into doing what is antithetical to their soul (providing a spin-free apology), what else can it do?

    MAY THERE BE HOPE?

    However, I did see one reason for hope that 1984 is not in our future. Confessed Feminist, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May defended Trudeau.

    “I have to say that I saw the Prime Minister approaching and following [Brosseau], trying to reach her and saying how very sorry he was. He had not seen her behind him. That is the truth.”

    So maybe May’s testimony, and the silliness it undermined, will persuade other feminists that Action Feminism isn’t the perfect, egalitarian movement that they’ve been promised. It’s a long shot, but it’s all I’ve got.

  • SETHICS 13.04.2016 8 Comments

    Before the Jian Ghomeshi trial, I criticized those who seemed willing to convict Ghomeshi in public without a fair trial. Now I am depressed to see how many people are still convicting him after a fair trial found him not guilty. In response, I offer this open letter to those confident adjudicators of justice, asking them to reconsider.

    Dear Believers:

    Outside the courtroom where former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of sexual assault and choking charges, you held up signs stating, “We believe Survivors,” and “Stop Victim Blaming.”  I understand that you are defenders of victims and justice and that you’re confident that both were failed in this instance. You are not alone. In my city of Vancouver, not long after the decision, a traffic-stopping march was organized to protest Ghomeshi’s freedom.

    You also have some support from your friends in the media. I’ve heard pundits on TV and radio lamenting the failure of our system in this case. While they haven’t said as directly as you have that Ghomeshi is guilty, I have heard many of them state that this verdict is a symptom of a system that is unfair to female victims.

    “Well you see those messages on the signs rights there…” said Riaz Meghji of City TV Vancouver’s Breakfast Television, referring to the protestors outside the Toronto courthouse. “The idea of stopping victim blaming, the idea that violence didn’t happen: these are powerful sentiments surrounding the conversation of sexual assault of what we’ve seen over the last few months of women having the courage to step up and tell their story.”

    Nevertheless, despite your confidence that justice failed in this case, I wonder if you’ve considered some unintended consequences of what you’re advocating.

    For instance, what do you have in mind when you instruct us to believe women?

    I can understand that if someone you care about were to tell you they’d been assaulted, then—unless you knew them to have an adversarial relationship with the truth—I think there is an appropriate social expectation for you to believe them.

    Presumption of truth-telling becomes trickier, though, for those in powerful roles such as  journalists, police officers, crown attorneys, and judges, who can significantly disrupt the lives of the people described in the untested “truth.”

    To avoid the catastrophe of innocent people being convicted of crimes they did not commit, Canada has a justice system in which there is burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) required of the state before our society will agree to put a person in prison. There are various types of evidence that can help to build such a case, and certainly complainant testimony can contribute to that. However, since we know that people sometimes lie, distort, and even misremember, surely there must be a means of scrutinizing their testimony.

    If we were to follow your demand of automatically believing women we would have to put people in prison whenever women accused them.

    Are you sure that’s what you want?

    As Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, put it in an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge:

    “It is pretty significant that in one of the highest profile cases… Where people expressed opinions not having heard a word of evidence. That you knew that you could walk into court and that there would be an impartial person that would decide on the evidence that is heard… That’s something that we should be incredibly proud of in this country… You can tweak the system. You can criticize the system in a knowledgeable way. And it does, it constantly gets re-calibrated as it should. But slam-dunk results? Guaranteed results? Presumptions? That’s not what a fair system is about.”

    Are you so certain that the burden of proof isn’t something special that protects us all from human rights violations that we have witnessed in other countries and other times?

    A neutral observer might assume I’m straw-manning you (i.e. representing the least persuasive interpretation of your argument instead of the most compelling), and that by “believe victims,” you just mean that, when we meet people who say they’re victims, for compassion’s sake, we should err on the side of believing them.

    However, the fact that you’ve maintained your loyalty to your “believe women” maxim even in this case is telling. Even, that is, in a case where all three witnesses were caught deceiving the courts in their testimonies, you still chant your faith-based slogans.

    In contrast, former crown prosecutor, Sandy Garossino, said on CKNW:

    “It’s not about, say, misremembering the make and model of the car; it’s about having the make and model of the car be part of your narrative… So then’s it’s about, well how truthful are you as a witness? Are you telling the truth? Because that’s not just a fuzzy memory, that’s actually an invented memory. And these kinds of problems were all through all of these witnesses’ testimonies. That same witness insisted that she had had no further contact with Ghomeshi. She insisted—she was swearing on a stack of bibles that she didn’t make any email contact with him… And then when confronted, ‘Well, here are your emails. You did reach out to him. You did try and contact him. And here’s your photo of yourself in a bikini.’ She just said, ‘Well I was just trying to trap him so I could confront him.’ Well that’s just not believable.”

    Yet, dear believer, you still insist that believing these women is a moral imperative.

    And again you’ve got some support from your friends in the media who believe in your “believe the victims” signs. Consider Global TV news anchor Chris Gailus in another interview on CKNW:

    “It just points to how heavy the burden of proof is on the crown. This was really all about judicial process and the legal system. It really is troubling no doubt for a lot of women who were in positions where they have been abused, but in this case, based on the legal system that we live with, there just wasn’t enough proof, and the judge simply didn’t believe to a great enough extent that the women were honest and sincere in how they reported what happened to them, so we’re left with a decision that is baffling to a lot of people.”

    Actually, Mr. Gailus, there was no proof that Ghomeshi committed the crime. Proof implies incontrovertible facts that demonstrate the guilt of the accused. We have no such evidence. All we have are statements made by people shown to have deceived the court within those very statements.

    As Garossino put it:

    “You can’t come to the court and mislead the court, and deceive the court, as the judge found that they did, and still be believed. I mean, the judge just couldn’t accept it, and I don’t know any criminal lawyers who would.”

    Even if a presumption of truth from female complainants were the best standard for acquiring justice, is there not a point at which a reasonable person should reverse those first assumptions?

    Please imagine for a moment that you were a jury member in this case. I ask you to reconsider the following three issues before deciding how you would decide.

    (1) My and your first inclination is likely to assume that, if three people are making similar but separate accusations, that any coincidence of obscure details is, in itself, evidence. (How likely is it that three people would have independently invented the same story unless there was a pattern of behaviour by the defendant?)

    However, my belief in the unlikeliness of coincidence was shaken when I learned that the three complainants did not come forward at the time of the alleged crimes, but waited until (A) after Ghomeshi was fired from his CBC job for bedroom behaviours that it deemed unacceptable (but admitted they had no evidence was illegal or nonconsensual), (B) one of the complainants then came to the media to make her accusation before going the police, and (C) similar alleged victims were then encouraged to come forward by both the police and the media (who called any such accusers “courageous”).

    So I know you still believe the women individually, but do you agree that the overlap in their testimony is no longer evidence itself? Apparently, in the legal system, the judge cannot consider what is called “similar fact” evidence as supporting evidence when there is information (beyond guilt) that could easily explain the similar facts. (Clearly, in this case, we can reasonably say that the first complainant’s statements to the media could explain the similarity in testimony from someone who might have heard those statements). Therefore, the judge was required by law to look at each of the charges independently, and not as evidence for each other.

    If that sounds wrong to you, please imagine that you were on trial for a crime. Would you think it was okay for coincidence to be counted as evidence when the coinciding testimony arose after one of the accusers made her case to the media? Before you answer, keep in mind that, in court, Ghomeshi’s lawyer was able to demonstrate that two of the accusers communicated with each other about their testimony in a long email exchange before they went to court.

    (2) It was shown in court, by their email exchanges, that after allegedly being assaulted by Ghomeshi on dates with him, the complainants maintained flirtatious contact with him.

    Now, I know that the “believe women” movement tells us that we cannot put any expectations on how women will behave after abuse. But before you yield to that contention, please consider that the allegation here is not that Ghomeshi was in ongoing abusive relationships with these women, who felt powerless to leave their shared home or didn’t want to lose access to their children. These women went on dates with Ghomeshi, where they were allegedly, and non-consensually assaulted, and then continued to seek his company. While their stories could be true, is it reasonable to think they’re likely true? Would you, as a jury member, be willing to send a man to prison for decades based on such testimony? Can you truly expect a judge to think it’s reasonable that, after going on a date with someone and being seriously assaulted, that—instead of going to the police—a person would continue to try to date their attacker?

    (If you’re interested in considering this argument in more detail, see Janice Fiamengo’s case against the reasonableness of such a belief.)

    (3) It was shown in court that all three complainants told significant and relevant falsehoods under oath. Among their lies was claiming to not have had further contact with Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults.

    So, taking into account that these complainants waited to make their accusations until after Ghomeshi was publicly humiliated, and two of them discussed their testimony with each other in advance, and all three hid (and lied about) the fact that they continued to try to date Ghomeshi after they were allegedly assaulted, do you think it’s appropriate to apply your “believe women” faith in this case?

    If so, then any suggestion that I am straw-manning must be put to rest: it really does sound like you’re arguing for a blank “believe victims” cheque.

    And, forgive me, but do you have any worry that your commitment to faith over evidence is analogous to witch trials of the past?

    If you (and your equally virtuous friends in the media) were not aware of the above facts of the case, then I can understand why you might have assumed that Ghomeshi was probably guilty. (I too have a bias towards thinking the police and the crown have good reasons for bringing people to court.) However, if you’re going to protest a verdict as unjust, surely you have a moral obligation to learn a little about the case first, and whether the judge might have had a reason not to trust the complainants.

    Admittedly, some of you have said you did follow the case, but you still say the trial was unfair because it turned into an interrogation of the complainants.

    Consider the argument of one of your allies in the Vancouver march who said:

    “I feel there was a series of events where women were being put on trial versus listened to. That it was never really Jian Ghomeshi’s trial. It was actually about the women. And I think that got flipped around in very manipulative and deceptive ways.”

    And one of your signs outside the courthouse expressed the point this way:

    “The harsh reality is that once a sexual assault survivor is put on trial and not the alleged perpetrator, the public can no longer expect the court to be a trusted source of justice.”

    I agree that it’s unfortunate that alleged victims’ claims have to be tested in court. I have no doubt that it’s a painful experience. But, for those of us who do think we need to prove guilt before putting someone in prison, can you suggest an alternative?

    Ghomeshi, in fact, is the one who was on trial (that is, he’s the only one in court who might have gone to prison for a couple decades if convicted). The prosecutor presented the best evidence it could find against him. There was no circumstantial and physical evidence available, so the trial consisted solely of the testimony of the complainants. Yes, we should listen to them, but do you not think we must also be allowed to examine the veracity of what is heard in court? Otherwise, once again, we are yielding to the notion that complainants, by definition, tell the truth. 

    CKNW talk-show host Lynda Steele asked, “I want to know, though, how did this become about the women? I mean wasn’t this supposed to be about what Jian Ghomeshi did or didn’t do?”

    Yes, the trial is about what he did or didn’t do, but again the only basis we have for thinking he did do something criminal comes from the testimony of the complainants. The judge’s only means of assessing whether Ghomeshi assaulted them is exclusively derived from whether the accusers could convince him that they were telling the truth. Therefore, the defence attorney’s use of their own emailed words to demonstrate their difficulty with honesty in these very matters, is not putting the complainants on trial: it is testing their reliability in this case (the very reliability that you’re asking the judge to take as unassailable).

    If such testimony-contradicting evidence weren’t allowed in Ghomeshi’s defence, then what would be?

    Even if your intuitions are to believe women, are you sure that’s what you want from an impartial justice system? Would you want that standard of “justice” applied to someone you cared about if they were accused by a woman of assault?

    If so, I admit that your faith is unshakeable. In honour of your unwavering belief, you are hereby given a lifetime pass from taking part in jury duty. Simply bring your “Believe Women” signs to court, and you will be excused.

    Sincerely,

    Seth McDonough

  • I realize this is a first-world-fan problem, but the 2016 World Cup of (men’s) Hockey isn’t technically the “best on best” tournament that it advertises to be. Don’t get my grumpiness wrong, I’ll be watching as I have every true best on best tournament since I could crawl up to the TV, and (hopefully) cheering another victory for Canada (as I celebrated in KEEPING THE TORCH).

    Best on Best tournaments are a rare prize for hockey fans, because unlike the World Championships and pre 1998 Olympic tournaments, all hockey players from the top 6-8 hockey nations are made available by all hockey leagues. It has only happened twelve times before—

    Canada Cups: 1976, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1991

    World Cups of Hockey: 1996, 2004

    Olympics: 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014

    —and so has exciting significance to hockey fans (especially, he grins, Canadian Hockey Fans, who have seen their heroes skate around with the trophy eight times while the Soviet Union, USA, the Czech Republic, and Sweden, have won the Best on Best face off once each).

    But this year will be slightly different: along with the top 6 hockey powers (Canada, Russia, USA, the Czech Republic, and Finland), the NHL and NHLPA godfathers of the tourney have also invented two amalgamation groups, Team Europe, and Team North America. The former will be a collection of the best European players not born in the big four European countries that qualified, whereas the latter will be made up of the best Canadian and American players under the age of 24.

    It’s a brilliant idea (as it intriguingly expands the flavour of the competition), but it means that Team Canada and Team USA will not have automatic access to their best players, but instead, they will only be allowed to choose from their top players who are 24 years and older. This will not hurt Canada too much because they are rich with talent in that age group; in fact, I suspect the only one of the young stars who might have made the senior team would have been super rookie, Connor McDavid. The USA, meanwhile, is not as wealthy in the over-23 category, but is greedy of talent amongst the younglings, and so may be losing out on three or four names that could’ve improved their chances.

    Meanwhile, all five European Teams have been given access to their full age range of talent. Any holes in their 23+ pool can be filled in by newbies.

    And, even though, in this case, Canada is not significantly hampered given its unmatched depth of 24 and older stars, the European countries are not being punished for their lack of similar depth.

    Meanwhile, I think the Team Europe idea is masterful (it’s great to give fans from non-powerhouse countries a chance to watch their favourites in such an elite battle), and that collaboration team in no way hurts the other European squads, as they won’t lose any players to it.

    However, the tournament’s set up of a young stars team that draws its membership only from North America is clearly a disadvantage to Canada and especially the United States.

    One possible solution to this disparity would have been for Canada and the US to be given first dibs on those young stars, but then (A) the young stars team might not be competitive enough, (B) Canada might just grab McDavid when they otherwise wouldn’t to lessen the chance of North America beating them, and (C) it would have been awkward for North America to wait for their betters to pick their entire team before selecting theirs.

    Thus, the only way to make the under 24 team an equitable offering would be to make it a true young stars team comprised of players from anywhere in the world.

    That solution would have at least leveled the playing surface such that each national team (as well as Team Europe) was limited to the same elderly demographic of talent.

    But I still see two problems there:

    (1) It would still cease to be a Best-on-Best tournament as lots of stars from around the world would be relegated to the kids’ team (even though the loss of talent would be shared, certain countries, like the US, would lose more of their best players than others), and (2) it seems strange to me to force players to compete for an age-based team instead of their national squad. Most young hockey players watch their national heroes and hope to join them one day. But this young stars offering puts athletes like McDavid in the position of potentially eliminating his own country from the competition.

    The solution to me, then, would have been to quash the young star idea, and instead to have two “Team Europe”s made up of two separate geographical amalgamations of players who grew up outside the big six countries.

    And, if it was really important to the World Cup organizers to get young stars like McDavid involved, they could require every team in the tournament to have at least one player under a certain age on their roster.

    As it is, if either Canada or the USA doesn’t win, they have something to complain about.

  • 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 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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