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My Thanksgiving Rant – Gender Edition (With Profanity)

November 24, 2010 by and tagged ,

This …

… got me riled up.

This is what it’s all about:

“The revelation in the news yesterday of an IMF proposal to lower the income tax rate of Irish women returning to the workforce by five percentage points, was greeted with bemusement swiftly followed by derision.

A number of angry men were quick to cry foul, branding the initiative “sexist”. One popular daytime radio presenter described it as a “tax cut for the girls” and went so far as to speculate that any additional take-home pay resulting from what he branded a “sexist law” would be spent on “shopping and hair”.”

Here goes: why does any measure that might benefit women be systematically have to also benefit everybody else in order to be seen as legitimate? Why isn’t it enough that it benefits women? How many pages have we read stating that educating girls in the periphery would is great because it benefits society as a whole? Isn’t educating girls a good in and of itself? Do we ever ask these questions for policies that mostly benefit men?

I mean, look at the article above: an inequality exists that benefits men, then a measure is proposed to correct it and it’s called “sexist”, then a columnist has then to justify it as “no, really, it’s ok, it won’t just benefit women, it will benefit everybody.” Because benefiting women is considered just not enough, not legitimate.

When Tenured Radical discussed the importance of women’s colleges, commenter flooded the comment section arguing that these womanly concerns were elitist and that class / race issues needed to be resolved FIRST, then, only then, would tackling gender issues be a legitimate concern.

Screw it, I say:

Educating girls everywhere in the world is a good thing in itself.

Reducing all kinds of gender inequalities is a good thing in itself.

Empowering women with their bodies through reproductive freedom is a good thing in itself.

These things do benefit society as a whole. But they would be no less good and legitimate if they benefited women and girls exclusively.

The flip side of this, of course, is that women-only suffering and exploitation and exclusion tend to be ignored and not dealt with as seriously.

Example the first (Women the human mules of Congo’s gold mines):

Women of Congo

And that’s on top of the mass rapes that these women have to endure.

Example the second:

“An Indian village has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones for fear they will arrange forbidden marriages that are often punished by death, a local official said today.

The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision, said one council member, Satish Tyagi. Local women’s rights group criticised the measure as backward and unfair.

Marriages between members of the same clan are forbidden under Hindu custom in some parts of northern India, where unions are traditionally arranged by families. In conservative rural areas, families sometimes mete out extreme punishments, including “honour killings”, for those who violate marriage taboos. In some cases, village councils themselves have ordered the punishments, though police often intervene to stop them.

The Lank village council feared young men and women were secretly calling one another to arrange to elope.

Last month, 34 couples eloped in Muzaffarnagar district, where Lank is located, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police said. Among the couples who did so, eight “honour killings” have been reported in the past month, police said.

“Three girls were beheaded by the male members of their family after they eloped,” said the police assistant director general, Brij Lal, in the state capital of Lucknow.”

So, angry dudes in Ireland: THIS (above) is sexist. Reducing gender inequalities is not. And until I hear you guys complain about all the large and small forms of sexism that women endure around the world, day in and day out, F!@# Off!

Posted in Gender, Rant | 7 Comments »



7 Responses to “My Thanksgiving Rant – Gender Edition (With Profanity)”

  1.   Philip Says:

    I don’t think it’s necessarily uncommon that when one group gets something and another group doesn’t people try to make appeals to the bigger group (or the power group) in order to explain why it’s beneficial for everyone. In fact, I think that’s the “natural” outcome of the populism of democracy. If you’re going to successfully sell something to society, you need to appeal to the power group to explain to them why it’s OK.

    A great example of this is dealing with shelters for men in Sweden. Feminists have really taken over all policy surrounding abuse in Sweden, which means that violence in the home is not discussed as something that can go in both directions, but instead as “men’s violence against women”. In fact, when people try to discuss that men are indeed abused and that men who abuse should get help psychologically, they are openly smeared in the press and in academic circles by feminists who have a mythology about abuse that it is just men who have a big conspiratorial patriarchy that subjugates all women and that when men abuse women, it cannot possibly ever be pathological—neither can it be a system in a relationship and HELL NO it cannot be that a woman is the abuser in a relationship. But as you see, it still means that men and advocates for men have to frame their requests in a way that reveals who actually has the power in a situation.

    So I agree with you, but I also see why it happens. Justifying a position is a way of getting a dominant group on your side, which in all movements for equality is a necessity (where would the civil rights movement in the USA have ended up if it hadn’t been for the white people who believed that African Americans were right?). And those framings and arguments show off the power structures clearly.

    Also, let me say for the record that while there are absolutely inequalities in the West, I think a new dominant perspective needs to develop within feminism that begins to accept that the gender structures are not the same thing 50 years ago when women began fighting these battles. One thing that has happened is that young men are being left behind. This is going to be an issue in the future, and this is going to be a time when men are going to need help in areas where women are NOT going to need help in order to even out some of the balance. It will be an interesting time to see the reactions of feminists who have fought so long and hard to see whether what they’re interested in is a more nuanced discussion of gender, or whether these discussions will be met with a bunker mentality.

    Also: the last thing Ireland needs is the IMF pushing MORE neo-liberalism on them. Don’t they already have enough?

    Reply

    •   Philip Says:

      And let me clarify something: I didn’t mean to turn this into a discussion of feminism because I don’t agree with you. In the cases you mentioned it is clear to me that women should be the focus of policies that push things into an equal direction. Certainly the abuses of women in Congo and India are things that everyone needs to help to stop and I have no issue with tax cuts, or wage increases to increasingly give women more economic equality (and therefore freedom).

      I was reared in a family where my mother broke into an incredibly male-dominated profession and was an outspoken feminist who taught me that feminism was about trying to get equality with men, not about trying to fight some kind of “War of the Genders”. As I’ve come further in sociology I have realized that much of feminism is the War of the Genders and not even remotely concerned with gender equality. So I guess my gut reaction to a post like this, despite agreeing with your point about explicit programs for women being a *good* thing, is to launch into a bigger discussion about something that I see as a problem—because explicating that policies for women are OK, but policies for men are not (if men need those policies for one reason or another—see: above example about shelters) is a pretty darn tough position to defend, in my opinion.

      Reply

    •   SocProf Says:

      Actually, it is not really “one group gets something and another group doesn’t”, it’s more “one group gets something the other has had for a long time”.

      The domestic violence against men issue is a red herring that pops every time and it has been debunked over and over.

      “Justifying a position is a way of getting a dominant group on your side”: true enough but we never make that case when policies are passed that benefit mostly children. That argument seems to always pop when it comes to women.

      And yes, inequalities are not the same as 50 years ago, but mostly, progress has been on the individual discrimination front. As we all know, structural inequalities are much harder to get rid of because they tend to be invisible so that providing equality is actually perceived by the dominant group as “sexism” or reverse discrimination, which is nonsense.

      Reply

  2.   Jennifer Says:

    And, right on time, along comes a man to explain to the poor wee girlies that, because “X” happens in “Y,” it completely negates “Z” — “Z” being the actual topic of discussion — and besides, over the last 50 years, “you’ve come a long way, baby.”

    Which just, you know, makes SocProf’s point.

    Reply

  3.   Philip Says:

    And right on time comes “positionality” in as an ad hominem attack instead of looking at the stated points and discussing them. Thanks for giving me a fair shake on the topic because of my gender. I guess from now on I’ll have to post with a female name so that people take me seriously.

    You obviously didn’t read my post, in any case, since I wasn’t trying to invalidate the claims that were made. I was actually pointing out that her claims were valid and that they happen in a variety of different situations. Including happening to abused men in Sweden; a topic that I have a particular personal investment in.

    But since you were so quick to get hostile with me instead of looking at the bigger claim that I made: this is a power issue and framing debates frequently happen in such territory (whether or not they should).

    Finally, I believe that I said about feminism that a more “nuanced debate” was needed. I believe your response is proof of that.

    Reply

    •   Philip Says:

      Usch. What I meant to say was this: “But since you were so quick to get hostile with me instead of looking at the bigger claim that I made (that is, that this is a power issue and that framing debates frequently happen in such territory regardless of whether they *should* happen or not), it is clear that you didn’t even bother to give my claims any thought.”

      In other words: I did none of the things you said that I did. I put the thing in a larger context and then emoted about something that has been bothering me in my studies but still get discredited because I am a man, not because of anything that I actually wrote. Rank hypocrisy.

      Reply

      •   SocProf Says:

        Well, references to feminism were not mentioned in my original post, and putting things in the larger context is precisely what I think I did.

        Reply

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