Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Feminism and me

So, I mentioned previously that I am trying learn about feminism.  My wife is taking a minor in woman’s studies for her associates degree because (aside from the fact she is truly interested) it’s a study path that gives her the most credits transferable to her bachelors in political science. So, I’ve been reading her textbook and some of the recommended supplementary reading.

So, here (at my currant level of ignorance) is my opinion of feminism.  First off, I think feminism makes a lot of valid points.  It asks questions that it wouldn’t occur to most people to ask.  For instance, most people are probably aware that women, in general make about 75% of what men make.  Some people are aware that women primarily make less because they work less hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes.  Adjusted for this, you would find that women make 93% of what men make.

Feminism, looks to the fewer hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes and says, but why? Because we have a two tier job market: One tier for people who have no other imperative responsibilities but servicing the job (most of whom are men), and a second tier for people who might need to change hours, or be absent from time to time (most of whom are women).  Now, lest you think the first tier exists to provide good employment, it doesn’t.  The high wage earning man can be fired at any time.  No, the first tier exists to service the industry, and the second tier exists (with poor wages) to subsidize the industry of  first tier and not the people in it.  Factories can’t keep churning if the (predominately men) on the line have to nip off to pick up sick kids.  Nope, thats the woman’s job.  Women make less because if they don’t take crappy jobs that let them take care of the kids in addition to work, their husbands will get fired.

Bravo feminism! I would have never noticed that on my own.  The perspective of women showed me something I, as a man, would have never thought of.  It turns out that there is a lot more flexibility of hours (and far less hours all together) in Germany and France, and better social protection (ie, getting paid even when you can’t go to work) yet according to the UN and CIA those countries have as-good-or-better a standard of living as the US.  So, a system with less hours, more flex, and more social protection doesn’t even have to hurt.

But then, I randomly run into these perspectives, under the umbrella of feminism, that are just bat-shit insane. Notably, that Marxism could fix everything if it was just given the right chance, that the phrase “blaming the victim” is a magic spell that can be invoked in any context to absolve the victim of any responsibility whatsoever* and that a the media, and not a person’s choice to believe all outlets of the media are a fount of truth is the cause of bad self image.

*I note here, there in some cases the victim has no responsibility; Rape is such a case. Child abuse is such a case.  Poverty is not. Poverty has many causes, some are systemic but some are personal.  The people of the US, and the government they elect has not even scratched the surface of the systemic causes of poverty, but that policy failure does mean that we can ignore the personal issues.

I am glad there are feminists out there, and their probably needs to be more.   I think feminism is imperative to the healthy functioning of democracy. If I had a sum of money to give away, I could give it to some feminist agencies with clear conscience.  I support the goals of the movement.  I support the spirit of the movement.

But if Marxism is the answer, what was the question?

October 18, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boobies and Feminism.

Several months ago, I was reading an ongoing message-board about feminism.  A lot of the guys were saying things that I found reasonable, and a lot of the women were pretty distraught with the guys’ statements.  One women, a self proclaimed feminist, made a point that went something like this…

“You have no idea what you are taking about.  You aren’t even entitled to an opinion because you don’t even have the facts to form one.  You are reacting to what you think feminism is, instead of what it is.  Take a single semester class in women’s studies.  Read a single book on feminism.  At the least, go to feminism101.  Just please, don’t ask a feminist to take the time to argue with your strident ignorance of the most basic principals of feminism.  Know what the hell you are talking about, and we will go from there.”

I was offended, and yet…Did I really know anything about feminism besides what I had heard from Rush Limbaugh and my pastors?  I had no real facts, instead I had my feelings, about second and third hand “facts”.  So, I sat down and read through the Wikipedia article on feminism, read through the feminism101 site, and took a cursory pursing of women’s studies.

The majority of expectations feminism holds for society and the individual strike me as both reasonable and moral, so I make an effort to meet these expectations.  Most of them are very simple, like “Women should have the same value as men.” or “Rape is caused by the addition of a rapist.”  Some are more complicated, like “Don’t view women objectively”, the subtleties of of which are little difficult at first. Observe the following images…

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In this image, the woman’s breasts are the center, the focal point.  The eye naturally goes to the central portion of an image.  In fact, if you draw an imaginary line from the top left corner to the lower right, and another from the upper right to the lower left, you will see the lines cross almost perfectly in her cleavage.

Now, compare that to this image.  Again, the cleavage is perfectly centered in the “cross” of the image.  The total focal point of the image is the breast. It’s superficially similar to the first, except something uniquely subtle and horrifying has happened in this image.  It’s not a woman anymore! The first image is a naked woman, and breasts are the focal point.  The second is just a picture of breasts, completely divorced from the human being that is them and the sum of all her other parts and thoughts.  There is no mouth to speak, no eyes to communicate subtle emotional state, no hands to suggest ability, and little body to express body language, age, or strength.  The breasts are completely dehumanized, an independent object with no humanity.

I agree with feminist ideology that objectification harms the objectified and the objectifier.  That said, I love me some boobies.  Often, I make eye contact with women not because I want to, but because my desire to stare at their breasts reminds me to.  I find breasts captivating.

There is no real reason to be captivated by them.  I haven’t been in middle school for a long time.  Seeing something I enjoy no longer produces any fantasies about it.   Nor am I in high school anymore, I have no urgency to see women I don’t know, in any state of partial undress.  If the opportunity provides itself to glance, I take it, but I’m not out looking for it.

In fact, it’s mildly frustrating.  I wish I could turn it off sometimes.  Today we were at the grocery store and a woman was going up the same isles we were, but from the opposite directions.   Her breasts were just really interesting.  I successfully didn’t ogle, stare, ect., but the amount of effort it took not to was irritating. It wasn’t a sexual thing, but a bouncing bosom is simply more fun to observe then rows and rows of nearly identical consumer food products.   Why? I dunno.   Some people say evolution.  Some people say sin.  All I know is that for two swinging sacks of mostly adipose tissue, they sure get my attention.

Ultimately, that relates to my greatest disappointment with feminism (and several other ideologies, for that matter).   For most males, the female breast, in almost any context, is more fascinating than any other viewable item in that context.  When feminism seeks to teach society acceptable and unacceptable ways to act upon that fascination, everyone wins.  When it seeks to pathologize that fascination, everyone loses.

My apologizes to the vast majority of feminists who respect the makeup of both sexes and merely seek to see women valued equally to men, you folks are not whom I am referring to.  Thanks for reading, all.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Male Privilege and me

Privilege.

Hello, I am a white, straight, male. This means I am the privileged member of the Patriarchy.  When I first started reading feminist blogs the whole Patriarchy thing really pissed me off.  It seemed this whole bugaboo with really bogus standards of existence: “Don’t believe in the Patriarchy? It’s because you are the Patriarchy!” I mean, I’m not sure that there isn’t a conspiracy which that couldn’t be applied to.  “Don’t believe in the Reptilians? It’s because you are one!”  “Don’t believe that Elvis is alive and the truth is being suppressed by a conspiracy? That’s because you are part of the conspiracy.”

Several (male) posters made this argument.  A lot of the responses were vindictive, cruel, and not particularly helpful.  With time, though, I heard some good data.  First of all, that the concept of the Patriarchy is the most misunderstood concept in feminist thought.  The Patriarchy as visualized is bunch of old white dudes with mutton chop side burns and full beards.  They’re these semi-immortals that have been locked in a boardroom since 1885.   They’re wearing old suits, sitting in overstuffed leather chairs.  There’s mounted endangered species everywhere from antelope to zebra.  The guy at the head of the table leans back in his chair and pulls a long drag on his huge, expensive cigar.

mutton1

“Boys,” he says with British accent, “we gotta do something about these feminists!”

General “Harrumphs!” ensue.  The men smoke cigars and drink bourbon from crystal glasses as they control and manipulate the whole world, sliding little brass tokens across a sepia world map.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated.   There is no boardroom.  This is not a conspiracy of the grand sort, this is a conspiracy of peers.  Friends take care of friends.  People feel most comfortable with people that look like them, act like them, value what they value.   That’s the basis of a whole lot of ‘isms, racism and sexism most obviously.  It’s not a purposefully conspiracy, it just happens.  Life is series of choices.  When we don’t force ourselves to think about, we make choices that are helpful to people like us.  The people that aren’t like us don’t quite advance as fast as we do.  With time, people think the backwardness of the people who “aren’t like us”, is accepted, a given.  It’s the way it was meant to be.  Then come moral statements.  They’re like that because they are morally inferior.  They don’t advance because lack the moral fiber it takes to succeed.   Because we don’t hold them down on purpose, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for their failure is themselves.

The Patriarchy is the end result of this advancing people just like us.  The tiny, top of the pyramid of exploitation. The reason that most people in charge of the world are white, straight, and male.  I am member of this privileged class.  I get that now, and I accept it.

But it would wrong to feel guilty for it.  I didn’t choose to be born the straight, white, male child of two college educated parents.  That which I did not chose, I will not apologize for.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Now, if I use this position of privilege that fate granted me to fatten myself at the expense of others less fortunate, then I have done something wrong.  I have become the exploiter.   But on the other hand, I did not make this world.  I am not the person who said a white, straight, male’s opinion was more valuable than other peoples’.    And I will not take my “bully pulpit” and ignore it.  Me not using the position of privilege I have as the person I am to make the world a better place,  would be as wrong as me refusing to walk just because there are people out there who can’t.

I admit it.  Society privileges me.   And I vow to use that for good, and not evil, and never to feel guilty for it.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments