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July 12, 2007

Comments

Joey

Harvey,

I'm not exactly sure what this means:

"This inequity is not a feature of political or economic systems. It's a trait of men."

These statements seem a little vague and underestimate the patriarchal discourses at play within existing political and economic systems (and there are many - both sanctioned and unsanctioned).

It also seems simplified that the inequalities that are globally pervasive are limited strictly to a notion of a priori "male-domination" rather than a patriarchal discourse that impacts, affects, and flows through both women and men. Viewing domination as a singularly male trait is akin to perceiving women as naturally inclined towards nurturing behaviour (or sewing, for that matter).

I certainly can't disagree with your motives, but there are subtleties and complexities to these discourses that can get easily complicated by generalizations.

Harvey

Hi Joey,

Thanks for the input. You're right, this is a very complex subject distilled to a 50 word blog and thus results in generalizations.

I think domination is inherent to every human regardless of sex. But it just happens that 99.9% of the world is dominated by men (the old hunting and gathering matriarchal societies are probably long gone)and within this reality, women are subordinated.

Hence, theoretically, every sex has the ability to dominate but in our real world, its been vastly men.

To really understand this, as you suggest, we need to get beyond generalizations. Which I fully agree. But as we chew this over, a girl would have been castrated, another stoned and one more horrbily exploited.

Life can be very distorting.

Harvey

Joey

Hello Harvey,

I understand that generalizations can happen in a 500 word blog. I was simply trying to make some points of clarification.

That being said, you should be careful not to use the suffering of others as leverage in an argument:

"But as we chew this over, a girl would have been castrated, another stoned and one more horrbily (sic) exploited."

This form of argumentation is inflammatory, and ultimately, a cheap shot. You could use this sentence as a way of ending any number of debates. If it wasn't clear in my previous posting, I'm equally appalled that these things happen, Harvey.

If you weren't expecting disagreement (even the finer points) in your blog, you shouldn't have taken it on.

This comment doesn't necessarily need a reply.

Yuri Vitovsky-Remi

Harvey,
I must agree with most of what Joey has said. I respect your motives but you are telling a certain demographic that they are caged and then encouraging them to break free. In today's workforce (at least in developed countries) Women comprise half the workforce and if they all walked off the job, irrespective of their motives or demands, their power would be felt and would need to be dealt with. Such are the workings of pluralist societies. And yes, sadly you are quite right; while I wrote this post some poor girl somewhere is suffering in ways I could not begin to imagine. I wish it would stop. I am willing to help, but it is not because she is female or because I wish to progress women's rights. It is because she is human and I wish to progress human rights. Framing the issue this way (at least in my mind) creates unity, whereas Women's Rights, as I understand them, seek to blame men for their (perceived?) status and creates conflict, further perpetuating the cause of women's rights activists, but I wonder if that helps women?

Just my 0.02. I am with you in Spirit, Harvey.
-Yuri

Lorraine

I'm inclined to agree with you, Harvey. While generalizing can be dangerous, or at least it can obscure the whole truth, sometimes generalizations are quite simply true. Then again I guess we haven't had a chance to see what would happen if the majority of people in power around the world were women. Maybe it would be just as bad? Somehow I doubt it. Or maybe that's just me generalizing.

David Peacock

Posts like this make me sick and only serve to counter their own message. I look to a time when there is gender equality around the world, but this post made me incredibly angry. Please see the following key facts:

1) My boss is a woman. I see no gender in-equality in the western world - I just looked around my office.
2) The prime minister of the UK was a woman for 11 years, very recently
3) In the USA and Canada it is STILL common practise to perform GENITAL MUTILATION by way of male circumcision. No one seems to mind that.

thomas vikander

Harvey....give me break !
What's with this denigration of men stuff coming from you, a male ? Have you forgotten that males have moms, sisters, daughters, aunts and nieces ?
Furthermore, what makes you think you can get away with this kind of hate against men? You wouldn't do it to women, Jews, or blacks, now would you ?
Lastly, you know better than to present a partisan view of the world as seen through a feminist filtered lens !

You have much to say about the problems WITH men and absolutely nothing to say about the problems OF men. So much for any balanced review of the literature available !
But then, you are not alone; the vast majority know very little about the perilous condition of men. We are some thirty years behind women in analyzing the societal roles and the overall state of the male sex.
The sooner we realize we're all on the same sorry planet and stop playing the blame game, the quicker the sexes (and economic classes) can co-operate to create some real equality and enjoy some social justice.

Your denigration of men is misplaced.
Our world seems to be one of "them that has, and them that hasn't doodlesquat", and amongst "them that has" there are just as many females who are supported by and who work in concert with all those allegedly 'bad' men. And amongst "them that's got but doodlesquat" there are just as many men as there are women slaving away at deadly jobs with not a hope in Hades of a better life.
Your suggestion that females in the first group are oppressed and men in the second group are priviledged, is readily challenged.

Some measures of wellness of Canadian males:

Suicide (all age groups) averaged 2000-04
Males: 18 per 100,000
Females: 5.4 per 100,000
[and we thought suicide was mainly females overdosing on sleeping pills]


Life Expectancy at Birth
Males: 75.4 yrs.
Females: 81.2 yrs.
[were the rates reversed we would have heard about it from women a long time ago][financial sections tell sad stories of widows running out of savings, never the stories of their husbands who died 6 years too soon][by the way, in 1920 women lived only one year longer, yet today we are very likely to read how women's health is underfunded]

Age-standardized mortality rates by all 31 selected causes:
Males: 710.0 per 100,000
Females: 465.6 per 100,000

in the above mortality tables we have
HIV:
Males: 1.9 per 100,000
Females: 0.4 per 100,000
[do the news stories have it reversed, then?]

Prostrate cancer, Males: 23.4 per 100,000
Breast cancer, Females: 23.1 per 100,000
[when will we see a Blue Ribbon Run for the Cure?]

Accidents (unintentional injuries):
Males: 33.8 per 100,000
Females: 16.0 per 100,000
[women cannot get ahead when they don't do the mean dirty noisy fulltime work.] [at home, it's males on the roof and under the car]

Assult (homicide):
Males: 2.4 per 100,000
Females: 0.9 per 100,000
[a male is about 2 and a half times more likely to be murdered than a female] [if the stats. were reversed we would have heard about violence against females a long time ago !]

These findings from Stats Canada are sobering. And we thought men had it so well in this first world nation. There are myriad reasons why we are culturally innured against accepting what they show us about men's lives and deaths.

Let's see what the next 30+ years of men reconsidering their status, through their own eyes brings us. All aboard, Harvey !

Yuri

David,
1) How can you extrapolate the condition of the western world from observing your office?
2) http://www.terra.es/personal2/monolith/00women3.htm
All women prime ministers/presidents from all over the world. You may notice that for many of them, their terms lasted much less than a year. Kim Campbell, the only female Canadian PM had a lengthy term of 3 months. You may even find that half of the listed countries are also heavy human rights violators. The point I (and Harvey, I believe) am trying to make is that yes, there are female PM's, but there are only a tiny handful in comparison to males. This conversation is about equality, not superiority. I could just as easily give an endangered animal the PM's seat for 5 minutes and claim that animals are well represented in our society.
3) No comparison. Look up the definition of mutilation and try to apply that to male circumcision. The female variety would be equivalent to cutting off most of the penis in terms of nerves lost. In some cases, the girls are "stitched shut" and all of these things lead to a high chance of complications, infections, and death. So - no comparison.

Harvey

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for your comments.

I understand and agree with your list of stats on the higher mortality rates of men over women.

Men are dying younger then women from a whole bunch of causes that are often independent of the female gender. This is also different from men castrating women because they believe women should only exist for a man's pleasure or that a woman should do exactly the same work as you or me but be paid 66% of our salaries.

Actually, I don't hate men (or myself). Let's really ask ourselves, what's causing this gender inequality. Some portion can be attributed to women themselves, some to the extraneous forces of society and a whole lot to the powerholders in government, business, religion and etc. Coincidently, the vast majority of powerholders are men.

Harvey

Hi Joey,

I believe you are equally appalled at the injustice women face. My reply was not questionning your judgement.

Part of me also believes that a whole lot can be achieved through dialogue and less via "us versus them" tactics (which is the gist of your first commment I believe).

My point is this, as we pursue change through dialogue, a lot of nasty things are going on in the world (e.g, genocide in Darfur). Sometimes, we just go to do something to stop the injustice.

I think we would all support that.


David Peacock

Yuri,

1) Because I was told to by the article. "They typically earn less, hold few positions of authority (look around your office) and are of lower status than their male peers." I did as asked. My female boss who earns significantly more than me, was there.
2) Thatcher ran the UK for 11 years. Hardly five minutes. I am not going to insult your intelligence by listing (and citing) countless females in extremely high positions all over the western world. Do not pretend that this is inaccuate, you are only deceiving yourself.
3) In keeping with the tone and language of the (absurd) article, "a girl is being forcibly circumcised (genital mutilation)", I applied this to Jewish families *forcibly* removing their son's foreskin without anesthetic. I applied this to people forcibly removing their son's foreskin for dubious medical 'reasons'. Which part of circumcision am I mis-understanding? Why do you think it's ok to circumcise a boy, but not a girl? Why do you allow the label of 'genital mutilation' to be applied to circumcision of a girl, but not a boy?

Sharon

As a woman who is offended by feminism's blatant oppression of men, I found this article a little insulting.

You cannot place western standards of 'equality' on developing countries. What is considered proper treatment of women here simply wouldn't work in many third world countries where the systems aren't in place to support women who would have to fend for themselves.

Especially given the recent election of Pratibha Patil as India's president, I hardly think that this country, second largest in the world in terms of population, is oppressing women.

That genital mutilation happens to either sex is proof that we should not be focusing on the impact of this horror only on females. It is a very real human rights violation, for males as well as females. The forcible mutilation of any person should be banned.

Why must we always stop at feminism and ignore the atrocities that are committed to men across the world? Who defends them?

When will we begin to look beyond the societal definition of gender?

Harvey Chan

Hey Sharon,

I actually find feminism quite oppressive too because it lumps all men as they are one homogenous group. They aren't. Within the male gender, there is a pecking order where ethnic minorities are typically hovering at the lower rungs (this is another topic).

In spite of the discomfort I find with feminism, I think it’s absolutely necessary because the world just doesn't move fast enough for the oppressed.

One comment I would like to make about genital mutilation and all related similar comments is this. Being circumcised for religious or supposedly health reasons is HUGELY different than circumcising girls and women in parts of the world. When women are circumcised it’s typically to:
A. protect/preserve their virginity for their groom
B. deprive them of physical pleasure to ensure their faithfulness
C. re-create virginity

In other words it's done solely for the benefit of man/groom. To compare it to male circumcision softens the sickening violence behind it. If fact it almost makes it appear acceptable and respectable.

This is not a feminist issue. This is an issue for all of humanity.


Alex

Hey,

I'm not sure if even posting is going to make any difference in anyone's mind really, this is just a blog after all. Regardless of this, your arguement is well presented and makes a good point, no matter what some people feel about how you argue it, everyone views things differently. If you believe that women are placed at a lower value in society, I think that you may only see one side of the equation, or at least not the whole thing... From my experience there are women in damm near every field a man is in, and if the quantity isn't neccesarely the same, then it's really up to them to change that. I've heard women being more sexist and vulgar than any man I've ever met (well, maybe), and I've seen men behave in completely reprehensible ways as well. Honestly, men are more accident prone because we're stupid, we feel we have something to prove, and we're generally only impressing ourselves.
Women as I've found it mostly don't need to do any impressing in a physically dangerous manor, but those roles are older than society itself. The most sobering realization that you can have, is that before we had words, we behaved the same way, just less organized and without all the luxeries. People have been stupid and smart, strong and weak, attractive or not and many other traits since time immortal. To say that women are valued less in society should be taken under a close light, as far as I'm concerned, we're all people and as long as we notice our differences, we will never embrace our similarities.

Harvey

Hey Alex,

Good insight. I agree there are inherent flaws and weaknesses to every human, gender and race. They're common traints to our species.

Blog's won't save the world. Oppossing ideas do. We're extremely lucky to live in a society that safeguards our right to express our ideas.

Cheers

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