Posts Tagged ‘double standards’

Feminism and Chivalry

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Can feminism and chivalry co-exist? Apparently this is a subject that some feminists are struggling with, since they want to be feminists and still have chivalry be part of their lives. There’s even a suggested solution of how to combine the two apparent opposites:

In order to have a healthy, happy relationship, there needs to be equality in all aspects, including the chivalry.

Equality in the chivalry? If we have equality in the chivalry then it is no longer chivalry, it is simply ordinary politeness or thoughtfulness. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s keep our labels straight. The very point of chivalry is that it is the man’s way of showing respect for a woman by taking care of her physical safety, whether by fending off an attacker, or simply pulling out a chair. For a woman, the traditional way to repay chivalry is not by being chivalrous back, but to repay the man by being sweet or cooking some food for him. Chivalry is therefore an intrinsic part of traditional gender roles, and the concept is impossible to preserve it if you are for a society where men and women have exactly the same roles.

Does that mean that chivalry is dead in a society with gender equality? Not necessarily. If a society equates gender equality with gender sameness, then chivalry is indeed dead. Contemporary feminism usually claims that all differences between men and women are socially constructed, and that these difference need to be torn down. This ideology is completely incompatible with chivalry, however much young feminist women might want to combine the two concepts. If you are truly for gender sameness, then women do half of the dangerous jobs and take on as many physical risks as men, but this is routinely forgotten in our current gender discourse.

On the other hand, in a society where gender equality is a given, but where men and women are free to choose the livestyles and roles that they like, chivalry is still possible. Any couple that enjoys gender differences can preserve some differences in roles, and also acknowledge any innate differences that they feel are present. This means that some aspects of chivalry can exist, without being forced to accept the full package of past gender roles.  Traditional gender roles were strict, inflexible and unconsciously adopted. Consciously adopting some differences in roles in a romantic relationship is a whole different ballgame, but one that can be crucial for maintaining the spark and polarity needed in a successful long term relationship.

At the end of the day, if you want full equality between the sexes but want to retain some differences between yourself and your partner, then you can have the experience of chivalry to the extent that you are ready to accept those differences. However, if you want a gender equality that is based on gender sameness, then chivalry is out of the picture. Any young feminist who disagrees, is trying to have her cookie and eat it too.

Circumcision

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Circumcision (male and female) is a controversial subject in many places around the world. Female circumcision is generally considered to be a barbaric practice in the West, and it is often referred to as female genital mutilation. Personally I feel that this is a great label to put on the practice of female circumcision, since it emphasizes that it is an irreversible change to the female genitals, one that often is performed on young girls who have no say in the matter.

So what exactly takes place at a female circumcision; what pieces of tissues are cut off? As you can see here, there are at least three different ways of circumcising a girl/woman. Type I removes either the clitoral hood or (part of) the clitoris itself, whereas at the other range of the spectrum, type III removes most of the external sexual organs. All three types of female circumcision are considered to be wrong and illegal in many different Western countries.

So far so good. So what’s the deal with male circumcision? Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the foreskin of the penis. As such, it is similar to type I female circumcision, described above. However, male circumcision is not illegal, nor is it generally regarded to be barbaric in the West. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Male circumcision is an integral part of the culture in some Western countries, most notably the US where 75 percent of the boys are circumcised
  2. Male circumcision never reaches the level of mutilation that type II and III of female circumcision do

Even though male circumcision is never as brutal as the most invasive procedures performed on girls, there is a logical inconsistency at play here. We do not accept any removal of genital tissue in girls, while we accept and condone it in boys. Can this be related to the general tendency of society (and humans) to protect women while considering men to be more expendable?

There is much controversy about whether circumcision leads to an increase in sexual dysfunction in men. More research is needed to conclusively prove or disprove this thesis, however, what we do know is that circumcision removes tissue that contributes significantly to sexual pleasure in males. Here is a quote from a research report:

The amount of tissue loss estimated in the present study is more than most parents envisage from pre-operative counselling. Circumcision also ablates junctional mucosa that appears to be an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis.

As far as I’m concerned, this information alone is enough to question whether parents should have the right to remove part of their child’s penis. I believe that every child, boy or girl, should be protected until they reach adulthood, and then they will be free to decide for themselves whether they want to have surgery on their genitals – for personal or cultural reasons.

Opposing female genital mutilation is an honorable stance. The question that remains is: when will we start protecting our boys?

Concerning Single Young Men

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I have long argued that the strong influence of feminist ideology on Western societies has had profound influence on young men. Growing up with feminism, if you’re a boy, can easily lead to being shamed, having poor self-esteem and being confused about what role you are expected to play in society.

The fact that gender roles evolve is inevitable, so from that perspective the confusion seen in young men of today couldn’t have been avoided. On the other hand, I believe that feminism has unnecessarily put the blame on men for the gender roles of the past, instead of realizing that both sexes co-created the past, and we can co-create new gender roles in the future.

Anyhow, the point is that men have been deeply affected by the change in gender roles and by the influence of feminism on young men and women alike. This is finally starting to be acknowledged in the media, and the other day I came across a very interesting text dealing with this phenomenon. I don’t agree with everything being said in the article, but several of the observations made are interesting, and worthy of discussion.

The article starts out with the following observation about SYMs (single young males):

Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.

The anger of these SYM is palpable:

“Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.”

“Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.”

When young men actually enter the dating scene, they find that the rules have changed, and that double standards abound:

But when they walk to his car, he makes his first mistake: he fails to open the car door for her. Mistake Number Two comes a moment later: “So, what would you like to do?” he asks. “Her idea of a date is that the man plans the evening and takes the woman out,” Straus explains. But how was the hapless social worker supposed to know that? In fact, Doesn’t-Open-the-Car-Door Guy might well have been chewed out by a female colleague for reaching for the office door the previous week.

The cultural muddle is at its greatest when the dinner check arrives. The question of who grabs it is a subject of endless discussion on the hundreds of Internet dating sites. The general consensus among women is that a guy should pay on a first date: they see it as a way for him to demonstrate interest.

It’s understandable that SYM become confused. The current dating scene is a mixture of new ideals (women own their own sexuality and have casual sex, often earn just as much money as young men, and will cry foul if you use chivalry on them) and old ideals (men should pay for the dinner date, be chivalrous, etc). Is it any wonder that young men become bitter if women expect the new ideals when it suits them, and the old ideals when those are more advantageous?

Kevin from Ann Arbor writes. “They want to compete equally, and have the privileges of their mother’s generation. They want the executive position, AND the ability to stay home with children and come back into the workplace at or beyond the position at which they left. They want the bad boy and the metrosexual.”

SYM also feel disillusioned when they discover what kind of men are successful in the dating scene. After having been taught by their mothers and by culture that girls are fragile, kind, moral and non-aggressive (i.e. the opposite qualities that feminism ascribes to traditional old-fashioned men), SYM are in for a brutal awakening when they discover how things really work:

This attraction to bad boys is by far guys’ biggest complaint about contemporary women. Young men grew up hearing from their mothers, their teachers, and Oprah that women wanted sensitive, kind, thoughtful, intelligent men who were in touch with their feminine sides, who shared their feelings, who enjoyed watching Ally McBeal rather than Beavis and Butt-Head. Yeah, right, sneer a lot of veterans of the scene. Women don’t want Ashley Wilkes; they’re hot for Rhett Butler, for macho men with tight abs and an emotional range to match.

On Craigslist, one guy posted a succinct, albeit somewhat bitter, analysis of how nice guys fare in contemporary culture (post-sexual revolution):

According to a “Recovering Nice Guy” writing on Craigslist, the female preference for jerks and “assholes,” as they’re also widely known, lies behind women’s age-old lament, “What happened to all the nice guys?” His answer: “You did. You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy.” Women, he says, are actually not attracted to men who hold doors for them, give them hinted-for Christmas gifts, or listen to their sorrows. Such a man, our Recovering Nice Guy continues, probably “came to realize that, if he wanted a woman like you, he’d have to act more like the boyfriend that you had. He probably cleaned up his look, started making some money, and generally acted like more of an asshole than he ever wanted to be.”

Ouch.

Carrying on, it seems that many men have made similar observations to what I sometimes address on this blog:

Adding to the bitterness of many SYMs is the feeling that the entire culture is a you-go-girl cheering section. When our guy was a boy, the media prattled on about “girl power,” parents took their daughters to work, and a mysterious plague seemed to have killed off boys, at least white ones, from school textbooks. To this day, male-bashing is the lingua franca of situation comedies and advertising: take the dimwitted television dads from Homer Simpson to Ray Romano to Tim Allen, or the guy who starts a cooking fire to be put out by his multitasking wife, who is already ordering takeout. Further, it’s hard to overstate the distrust of young men who witnessed divorce up close and personal as they were growing up. Not only have they become understandably wary of till-death-do-us-part promises; they frequently suspect that women are highway robbers out to relieve men of their earnings, children, and deepest affections.

I’ve never understood the “take your daughter to work” concept. Why discriminate so blatantly against young boys? Wouldn’t the natural impulse be to take you child to work, regardless of gender? Feminism has indeed been successful in the US educational system.

As the article carries on, it becomes obvious that a substantial portion of young men are ready to pull out of the dating game:

As the disenchanted SYM sees it, then, resistance to settling down is a rational response to a dating environment designed and ruled by women with only their own interests in mind. “Men see all of this, and wonder if it’s really worth risking all in the name of ‘romance’ and ‘growing up,’ ” a correspondent who calls himself Wytchfinde explains. “After all, if women can be hedonistic and change the rules in midstream when it suits them, why shouldn’t men? Why should men be responsible when women refuse to look into the mirror at their own lack of accountability?”

Every action has a reaction. The action taken by feminists during the last few decades, is now eliciting a reaction in SYM; a reaction that can easily lead to men becoming hyper-masculine and more irresponsible:

So, men like Wytchfinde conclude: No more Mister Nice Guy! They will dump all those lessons from their over-feminized childhood and adolescence. They will join what the Boston Globe has called the “Menaissance.” And they will buy titles like The Alphabet of Manliness (K is for Knockers, Q is for Quickies), The Retrosexual Manual, Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants, and actor Jim Belushi’s recent Real Men Don’t Apologize.

Is it any wonder that young men become more narcissistic and less interested in being responsible family fathers and citizens, when Western culture has marginalized the voice of young men?

Conclusion

I believe that the feminist revolution has missed its target for a few different reasons:

  1. Men’s needs, wants and perspectives were ignored
  2. Biological differences between the sexes were ignored, which is a terrible oversight when discussing career choices and partner choice
  3. Feminism focused on changing the negative aspects of the female gender role, while being all too happy about keeping the positive aspects

You ignore biological differences between the sexes at your own peril, as the author of the article notes:

Most of the women interviewed by Jillian Straus say that they’re looking for a man who can be the primary breadwinner. A June 2008 New Scientist article reports on two studies that even suggest that women are biologically attracted to “jerks”; researchers speculate that narcissistic, risk-taking men had an evolutionary advantage.

So women want a man who is a risk-taker and a primary breadwinner? Those wishes certainly go against what feminism has taught young men that women want, and also what young women have been told that they are supposed to want.

If they did similar research on young men and what they desire in women, I’m pretty sure that the response would be that they want a woman who will be the primary caretaker of the children, and only focus fulltime on her career once the children are a bit older. And just like women enjoy men who are confident and risk-taking, many men want a woman who can be loving and feminine. This is extremely politically incorrect, but if there is truth to these claims, do we not need to include them in any movement for gender liberation?

Personally I don’t believe that biology can explain the whole male-female sexual dynamic, far from it. We always need to include cultural and psychological factors, in addition to what biology can teach us. But it is clear that due to the three reasons I listed above, feminist reforms have misfired in a number of important ways, and it is up to us to develop a new, more robust version of gender equality. We need a version that defends the equal value of women and men, without claiming that men and women are essentially the same – while also offering a clear path to success for both genders that does not involve a total absence of moral development.

Abusing Men in Public

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

This ABC segment about women abusing men is very enlightening. It’s interesting that they would even bring up the subject of women abusing men, since it normally gets very little media exposure.

What Is Discrimination?

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Discrimination is a word that is used extensively in discussions about gender issues and gender inequality. However, the word discrimination is often used indiscriminately these days, so there is a real need to reclaim the correct definition of the word.

How is discrimination defined? Discrimination simply means judging someone by their race, gender, religion, sexuality, age, etc – instead of judging them for their competence. If you apply for a job where you are the most qualified candidate, but you do not get the job because you are gay, then you are being discriminated against. This kind of discrimination, which we can call authentic discrimination, is something that has no place in an evolved society and legislation should make sure that this kind of action is illegal.

Nowadays we sometimes hear the claim that women are being discriminated against because they don’t have as many positions of power in the public sphere as men do. As we all know, women are generally underrepresented in corporate management, political positions and leadership positions in general. However, we cannot automatically draw the conclusion that women are being discriminated against simply because there are more men in these domains! Doing so represents an incorrect use of the word discrimination.

If we want to determine whether women are being discriminated against, we need to investigate how the positions we’re interested in were filled. Was the most competent and suitable candidate for the job hired? If this is the case, then there has been no discrimination, period. We can have 70 percent men in a certain workplace, or 80 percent women in another workplace, without having discriminated against either gender. As long as the most competent and suitable people are being hired, we’re rewarding excellence and dedication, and those factors are gender neutral.

In many countries, feminist lobbying is influencing policy makers to support affirmative action for women. One example is Norway, where recent legislation has enforced that 40 percent of board members in corporations should be women. Spain has passed a similar law, forcing companies with more than 250 employees to appoint women to 40 percent of board seats within six years. While these kinds of actions may be seen as efforts to promote gender equality, they are actually a form of discrimination.

If a company that needs to recruit a new board member already has 60 percent men on the board, it will have no choice but to hire a woman, regardless of whether it’s a woman who’s the most qualified candidate. This means that the laws that are now in place in Norway and Spain, and that may spread elsewhere, can actually discriminate against men. Furthermore, the women on those boards will not know whether they got the job because of their qualifications or because the company simply needed another woman to avoid breaking the law. If I were a woman I’d detest being in that situation, I would much prefer knowing that I got the job (or not) based on my qualifications alone.

The rationale for having affirmative action for women is the claim that women have a hard time being taken seriously in competitive careers. Regardless of whether this claim is true or not in a certain country at a certain point in time, the answer is not affirmative action. The solution to a gender problem can never be to make discrimination legal, and affirmative action means legalizing a subtle form of discrimination. If stereotypes are hindering women from succeeding in the workplace, or if stereotypes are preventing men from developing close connections to their children, then the solution is to transcend those stereotypes, and promote a worldview where each individual is allowed to make his or her own choices, regardless of gender.

We need to create a society where every child and every person is given the opportunity to pursue the career or family life of his or her dreams. This means transcending stereotypes that expect every man to be a certain way, and every woman to be a certain way. But it does not mean making discrimination legal, however alluring that option might seem.


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