Men’s Rights and Women’s Rights

I was reading something online and now I can’t find it -but it mentioned the MensRights forum at Reddit – so I wandered over there to take a look.

 

While there may be a couple of points worth making – for the most part – I see the MRAs as clueless. Take, for example, the idea of “Men’s Studies” – as a corollary to “Women’s Studies”. That is such an obnoxious suggestion. Why? Because 98% of school already is “Men’s Studies”. While it has gotten somewhat better in the last decade or so – the vast amount of what people learn in school is about what Men have done, has been written by Men, created by Men, etc. It would be great if there were no need for “Women’s Studies” – because all of the subjects included as many viewpoints / contributions by Women as Men. We are nowhere near that.

It seems to be that the Men there complain alternately that women are dependent on Men And that women are better off than Men. I don’t think that both are possible.
Our topics are generally about divorce laws, custody laws, equal treatment under the law, false-rape accusations, domestic violence, gender double-standards, feminist hypocrisy.”
It is interesting to see what these particular men think about sexism, etc. as it is pretty much opposite to my ideas. I don’t think that they are interested in considering ideas from a women’s point of view. I am Very aware of a multitude of ways that Men are favored in society – like 97% of the art in many art museums being by Men, Men automatically being seen as “Authority Figures” while women are minimized. A large percentage of CEOs are Tall Men, for example. Look at most legislatures – large majorities Men, most upper court judges – Men, etc. The men still hold most of the power – so it seems pretty lame when they complain. And esp. when they suggest that women have more power than men and are being “sexist”.
These Men like to way over-exaggerate false-rape claims and way under-estimate actual rapes and the effects rape and the fear of rape has on women.
These men generally deny and minimize abuse by Men and maximize any negative actions by Women. They would probably deny or minimize the fact that most churches have Male Authority figures – or perhaps not notice or merely take it for granted that GOD is considered by most to be a Male or have the attributes of a Male. This gives men the privileged archetype which, by itself, implies authority and power is Male.
These Men’s Rights advocates complain about how various media models – such as what one sees on TV shows – minimize Male empowerment and empower Women, instead. They resent that some Men are shown to be weak and will do whatever the woman wants – and don’t even get upset if the woman has multiple partners, etc. I myself, am quite aware of how women have traditionally been presented by the media – including going back to at least Aristotle – who said that women should not be shown to be brave or clever (only Men should be portrayed that way) – and who thought women were inferior and wanted everyone to think that. I don’t see it as really a serious problem if some Men are shown to be slightly weak sometimes. The vast majority of TV executives, directors and producers are men. It would seem pretty obnoxious if Men never showed any men as weak – and I have a sense that it is done to make Men seem better than they would seem otherwise – by the fact that they are not All powerful.
Are women more likely to get custody of children? Yes – I’m sure they do. I am sexist to the extent that I think that for the most part, unless the woman is a drug addict or alcoholic, or has some other problem, that women are generally better parents when it comes to paying attention to and responding to children’s needs. I’m sure that there are plenty of exceptions.
When it comes to single parents – I think that both Men and Women need as much social support from society and friends as possible. And men probably find that to be in less supply because it has been unusual for Men to have the main custody. It wasn’t that long ago that Men assumed that they could not raise children alone at all and would find someone else to raise their children if the mother died. Partly that would have been because society was not set up for working parents of either sort. Lack of Day Care, etc. Mother’s are still discriminated at work (with less pay or not getting jobs) because it is assumed that they will want more time off – want to leave more, etc. It is my understanding that in similar cases businesses are more likely to give Men a break – because Men are not expected to have to do both – have a career And raise children.
I think that some of all the ill will by the MRAs goes to underlying feelings that either they feel inferior – or that they don’t feel as privileged as they expect Men to feel – or that they have mother issues (such as they think their mother did not love them enough or something). Basically – they have no understanding of feminism and see themselves as the main victims of society. And, of course, with their groups, they reinforce their mostly erroneous beliefs and try to shield themselves from opposing viewpoints.

Equality & Life & Environment Vs. Male-supremacy (Tradition & Control)

Jonathan Heidt has an article in the New York Times Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness, where he tries to simplify the left and right. I have a feeling that he leans right because of they way his simplifications lead.

Haidt writes, for instance, “For the American left, African-Americans, women and other victimized groups are the sacred objects at the center of the story.” While that may be true to some extent – it implies that anyone who is not a woman or black or victimized does not count. Which is not true. And his summation does not follow the quote that he posts from Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith.

It is a more positive description to say that Equality is the sacred object in the center. And Life (actual life, not unborn life). And yes – the Environment is sacred as well. Equality (non-discrimiation, equal-opportunity to go to college, to access health care, etc.), Life (& health), and the Environment. That is more encompassing than being about women, blacks and victims. And it also describes the left better.

For Conservatives, (white) Male-supremacy and their control of the world is the sacred element. It is referred to in terms of “religion and the traditional family” – but the religion they speak of – conservative versions of Christianity is all about Male-supremacy and control. The “traditional (white) family”, “strict father” ideas are all a part of that – so of course women and minority groups are especially going to rebel against that.

Haidt does not mention the (white) Male-supremacy aspect of the conservative message (possibly because he is a white male) – and without that aspect – the parts where Conservatives see Liberals as “Devils” makes less sense. As does the part where Liberals are upset with Conservatives – which is more understandable when you know how and why Conservatives are against equality.

Conservatives also against concern for the environment – because they think that their religion expects them to dominate the earth and they think that means that they have free-reign to do whatever.

The Conservative leaders are also very much about control. Where Liberals understand and accept that people are different, have different or no religion, have different sexual preferences, etc., Conservatives do not. Liberals would be happy to accept Conservative lifestyles as long as those Conservatives were not trying to control and restrict everybody else.

So yes – it may be a “Holy War” of sorts as Haidt says – he just doesn’t understand the sides.

War on Sex & BIrth Control = War on Women

This – mostly Catholic – but also Fundamentalist – idea that women should not have access to birth control as part of their health insurance and that women should be harassed if they want to get an abortion is anti-sex and anti-women. The message is essentially the old Original Sin thing.

The idea that sex is bad and that women are responsible for every ‘bad’ thing  – esp. for men’s “passions” – the temptresses, etc. is so archaic. If the church put it in those terms – and came out and said they thought sex is ‘bad’ – most people wound not accept it. But to say that birth control is evil – even for married people is essentially to say that married people should not be having sex. And here I thought when conservatives wanted to teach abstinence in schools that they were talking about BEFORE marriage – not ones entire life – including marriage.

If couples do the suggested Catholic method – (avoiding sex around the time of ovulation – to avoid pregnancy) then they are not having sex when women are the most likely to enjoy it. For men – it doesn’t matter – they don’t have monthly cycles and ups and downs. So it’s mostly a problem for women – it’s a matter of saying that women shouldn’t expect to enjoy sex. Although men enjoy sex more when women enjoy sex.

It is all so absurd – the idea that sex is bad – that ‘passions’ are sinful. For Pete’s sake – sex is how life continues. I cannot reconcile the idea that sex is bad – but life is good. Life is good and sex is good – or at least sex can be good. Sex is a lot better when women are allowed to have agency and control over their bodies. Sex is bad when men expect to control women and have no sense about women’s feelings. Sex is bad when men think that it is all about them.

It’s odd when priests can’t let go of the idea of controlling women sexually – including being consumed with being anti-abortion & anti-birth-control.

Nobody in their right mind (at least nobody who enjoys sex) could think that it is reasonable for adults who enjoy sex to NOT use birth control…. and/or to think that people are going to spend their entire adult lives only having sex when women are NOT aroused (except for the 2 times when their children are conceived). It’s delusional, non-rational, and basically insane.

Morality – Public & Private

I noticed 2 articles today – one by Robert Reich

The Difference Between Private and Public Morality

and the other by George Lakoff

Why the GOP Campaign for the Presidency Is About Guaranteeing a Radical Conservative Future for America

(The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of voters.)

Reich’s take is that there is public morality – that relates to the laws we are governed by and whether they are enforced or not. In the case of the US, Reich used examples where the excess and abuse by the rich created the need for the government to step in to fix the situation:

Twice before progressive have saved capitalism from its own excesses by appealing to public morality and common sense. First in the early 1900s, when the captains for American industry had monopolized the economy into giant trusts, American politics had sunk into a swamp of patronage and corruption, and many factory jobs were unsafe – entailing long hours of work at meager pay and often exploiting children. In response, we enacted antitrust, civil service reforms, and labor protections.

And then again in 1930s after the stock market collapsed and a large portion of American workforce was unemployed. Then we regulated banks and insured deposits, cleaned up stock market, and provided social insurance to the destitute.

Reich contrasts that with private morality – such as sexual orientation, birth control, abortion, etc. And, of course, the decision for Roe v. Wade was based on the right to privacy. So Reich certainly has a valid point. In this election cycle, like so many others in the past couple of decades, the Republicans act all preachy about private morality issues and ignore the public morality issues – as if they do not exist.

So while that is odd – it is understandable to the extent that we know that the rich are subsidizing the debate and they are happy to keep things off topic. Off of the topic of public morality as it relates to money and their excesses. The Republicans fabricate problems – this has become obvious to many liberals and progressives – but many Republicans fall for it. Bush and his terrorism colors was a big distraction – Obama’s birth certificate and the business about Obama being a Muslim (such idiotic non-issues). These things that are not worth spending any amount of time on – but the “base” gets worked up about it and distracted about actual problems and the role the Republicans have in them.

On the other hand, Lakoff sees that all of this private morality is a distraction – but he also sees how it keeps conservatives “conservative”. Lakoff likes for people to see the overall picture – the Conservatives and their predilection for the strict father figure model for the family and for how they like to see government run. And the Liberal model that encourages a shared authority between parents and the way government is run.

So Lakoff’s main point is this:

Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems. Conservative language, even when argued against, activates and strengthens conservative brain circuitry. This is extremely important for so-called “independents,” who actually have both conservative and liberal moral systems in their brains and can shift back and forth. The more they hear conservative language over the next eight months, the more their conservative brain circuitry will be strengthened.

So his idea is that there is more going on than Santorum and Romney being stupid about birth control. He is afraid that while Obama will be get re-elected the conservative mindset will spread allowing more Republican CongressMen to get elected.

The idealized conservative family is structured around a strict father who is the natural leader of the family, who is assumed to know right from wrong, whose authority is absolute and unchallengeable, who is masculine, makes decisions about reproduction, and who sets the rules – in short, the Decider.

You can see how the Pope would be popular. Even if someone was a Fundamentalist – the idea of the Pope as a Strict Father figure telling millions of people what to do is presumably appealing. But these ideas are extended to other areas of life:

…a view of the market as Decider with no external authority over the market from government, unions, or the courts; and strictness in other institutions, like education, prisons, businesses, sports teams…Control over reproduction ought to be in the hands of male authorities.

…Conservative populism — in which poor conservatives vote against their financial interests — depends on those poor conservatives having strict father family values, defining themselves in terms of those values, and voting on the basis of those values, thus selecting strict fathers as their political leaders.

While Lakoff writes that the Democrats need to talk more in a positive way about what they think instead of talking about what the Republicans get us talking about – he does it too – staying more focused on Republicans.

When it comes to the anti-women message that Republicans are promoting – even many Republican women are not liking it. Independent ones, esp. But I do think that Lakoff’s point should be well taken – a good amount of time needs to be spent on women’s equality and promoting liberal causes of the “private” as well as “public” variety. Because, like it or not, the private issue views affect people’s political views.

15 Bible Texts that Malign Women

I noticed this post on Alternet – that is from the Blog Away Point (by

Valerie Tarico) – 15 Bible Texts Reveal Why “God’s Own Party” is at War with Women.

The essay is a relevant collection of Bible quotes that malign women. Some such as these have been used in modern day fundamentalist types of churches to keep women from teaching and taking an active role in church.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 1 Timothy 2: 11-2

&

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

These and other such quotes are no doubt how Catholics justify their all-male hierarchy.

Also from Away Point:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17

If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. Exodus 21:7

… As futurist Sara Robinson has pointed out, traditional rules that govern male-female relationships are grounded more in property rights than civil rights.

… Some people don’t welcome change. Since the beginnings of the 20th Century, fundamentalist Christians have been engaged in what they see as spiritual warfare against secularists and modernist Christians. Both of their foes have embraced discoveries in fields such as linguistics, archeology, psychology, biology and physics – all of which call into question the heart of conservative religion and culture. Biblical scholars now challenge such “fundamentals” as a historical Adam, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the special status that Abraham’s God gave to straight males. Fundamentalists are fighting desperately to hang on to certainties and privileges they once saw as an Abrahamic birthright. If they can’t keep women in line; it’s all over. The future ends up in the hands of cultural creatives, scientists, artists, inquiring minds, and girls. It’s horrifying.

____

People are admonished not to condemn other’s religions – but what about when other’s religions condemn them – certainly we have a right to condemn that. I think so, anyway.

This business about respecting other’s religions would be different thing if those religions respected women and considered us equals. To respect such a misogynist religion is to respect misogyny, itself.

Limbaugh and Priests Against Women

“…Limbaugh has a decades-old persecution complex about women who hold any power in our society, and he feels no compunction about attacking them in extremely personal ways — even sexually — when they make him angry.” – Media Matters (“Meet The Three Women Rush Limbaugh Has DegradedSince Sandra Fluke”)

It doesn’t seem to take much – or anything – to make Limbaugh angry at women.

Here he has had a platform on Radio and TV where he can spew his hate against women. He has thousands or millions or listeners and then complains because of the influence of the “mainstream media.”

There is a Catholic priest who, as a response to Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood suggesting that women “Have a Say” about birth control – posted his own video. He tries to suggest the Catholic Church has little influence – and that the “mainstream media” is against them and for Planned Parenthood.

He rails against what he says are the lies of Planned Parenthood – without being specific. Meanwhile – he drops lies of his own – such as linking abortion and breast cancer. He characterizes the Catholic Church as a “Sleeping giant – no longer content to remain silent”.

It was not my impression that they have been silent. They have been protesting away at Planned Parenthood for awhile. Their vitriolic and polemic attacks stir up people who end up encouraging the idea as well as the result of abortion providers being murdered. This suggesting that abortion (and apparently birth-control, too) is murder is the way to get people riled up against something – paint the opposition as some exaggerated form of evil.

The priest considers this to be “the great battle of our age”. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting a lot of positive attention from right-wing extremist groups.

The Vatican got Hacked

Anonymous, the hackers, took it down.

In a statement on its Italian-language website, the collective accused the Catholic Church of being responsible for a long list of misdeeds throughout history, including the selling of indulgences in the 16th century and burning heretics during the Inquisition.

“Anonymous decided today to besiege your site in response to the doctrine, to the liturgies, to the absurd and anachronistic concepts that your for-profit organisation spreads around the world.

“This attack is not against the Christian religion or the faithful around the world but against the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church.”

It also accused the Vatican of being “retrograde” in its interfering in Italian domestic affairs.

It is interesting because the ‘Vatican’ can seem to be untouchable, so powerful as to be omnipotent – so it’s nice to see signs of weakness. The Vatican, et al, could use some humility.

Animals

I think one of the main problems with the Patriarchs (the writers of the Bible – the creators of Western religions) is that they had too high of an opinion of themselves  – and of humans – relative to the rest of the world.

It is common knowledge that people went from thinking that humans and the earth are the center of the universe to the relatively recent understanding that we tiny specks living on a bigger speck somewhere in a vast universe. Most figure that it is likely that there are other planets with life and we have little way of knowing how often this could have occurred.

The Bible was, of course, written when people had little understanding of the physical world and how it worked – relative to our knowledge today – which is still limited.

Fundamentalists who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible know that it is premised on the idea that humans are special. If humans were not created by God – in “His” image – to be special, dominating creatures – as is proclaimed in Genesis – much of the Bible falls apart. When you accept that human life is a somewhat random development that happened as our features worked better than some other possibilities – it means that people need to get down off their high horse and have more humility.

Basically we are just lucky. And yes – some are luckier than others and some are more ruthless than others. Some are better at hoarding – some are better at enjoying life. Theoretically – religion ought to offer some guidance in understanding life. I think that many religions – especially the God-based ones, must be suffering a crisis because –  so many religions are not keeping up with our scientific understanding of the world. Some do – the ones not based on God.

Liberals are ahead of the game and sensibly choose those things from whatever religions are compatible with our current knowledge about relationships and the universe. Kudos to those who can make a religion that is compatible with the real world instead of a world as it was understood 3000-4000 years ago.

 

More about Sex

Ruth Bettelheim, Ph.D. makes some good points here: 

The War on Sex: The Contraception Controversy’s Hidden Agenda

This controversy has been described as a war on women. It may be that, but it is also, and perhaps more effectively, a war against sexuality itself. To the degree that social denigration and government-imposed restrictions are successful in inculcating shame and fear, they foster sexual inhibition both in the marital bed and outside it. People who are ashamed of their bodies and sexuality, or fearful of the potentially dire consequences of sex, are not likely to be relaxed, uninhibited, or enthusiastic in the bedroom…

Until we recognize that the true victims of this crusade include not only women but also sexuality itself, we are unlikely to end it. Both sexes suffer when women are subjected to puritanical standards, public humiliation, and the private belief that the very sexuality they desire is “slutty” and shameful. If we are to overcome what ails us in the bedroom, we will have to address what happens in the public arena and end sanctions on female sexuality.

It’s like I suggested recently – that these right-sing extremists encourage homosexuality. The male leaders of the Catholic hierarchy, along with rL and the Republican candidates definitely are not helping relationships between men and women with their words and actions. 

It seems reasonable to speculate that the people who are quick to get on the rL bandwagon of “slut” shaming, etc. must not enjoy sex very much themselves.

So Much Sex!

Charles Blow has an OP-ED in the New York Times (3-2-12),  Santorum and the Sexual Revolution, where he quotes Santorum saying:

“It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex.”   &  …“Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.” & …” It’s a, in my opinion, a hedonistic, self-focused world that is, in my opinion, anti-American.”

&

“You’re a liberal or a conservative in America if you think the ’60s were a good thing or not. If the ’60s was a good thing, you’re left. If you think it was a bad thing, you’re right. And the confusing thing for a lot of people that gets a lot of Americans is, when they think of the ’60s, they don’t think of just the sexual revolution. But somehow or other — and they’ve been very, very, clever at doing this — they’ve been able to link, I think absolutely incorrectly, the sexual revolution with civil rights.”

Mr. Blow summation of Santorum is this,

“It’s a war on sex beyond the confines of traditional marriage and strict heterosexuality in which women, particularly poor ones, and gays, particularly open ones, are likely to suffer the greatest casualties.”

While that is true – I think it is so much more. And Civil Rights is very much tied to the Women’s movement which allowed more ‘freedom’ and vice-versa (which Santorum denies)/

The rights of women and the rights of blacks have developed in parallel. Starting in the mid 1800s. Harriet Beecher Stowe writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin – women had a lot to do with advocating the freeing of slaves and thinking of blacks as people. Many of the same people were abolitionists and suffragists.

The common denominator was creating a country / world where people besides white males were able to have control over their lives – to vote – to own property.

It seems to me that Republicans would like for all of us to think that our country has arrived – or that we never should have embarked on this journey to begin with. The journey of equality. They are still fighting it. Fighting against affirmative action. Fighting against voting rights – making it more instead of less easy to vote. Fighting against anything that helps to even the playing field.

The acceptance of Blacks, Asians, Latinos into the mainstream of society – a process that continues – has changed our society. Of course it would. And that is not a bad thing. The past was very influenced by a Puritan outlook. Englishmen & Germans. And yes – many came for religious freedom – the Republicans seem to like to forget that. They want to think that there is a particular type of Christianity that we all agree on – that was always agreed on. But it never was so.

Our country will continue to evolve. In the last 100 or so years, ideas about religion and spirituality from India have inspired Thoreau, Emerson, and many others who have been influential. The revolution did not start with Woodstock.

Early in the 20th century, many conservatives were very threatened by Modernism. They were afraid modernism was going to undo Christianity, then. Modernism, was a reaction to many changes. The industrial factory, workplaces – science, wars, trains, cars, planes. The world must have been seen as shrinking and coming together. Feminism was a big thing then, too – with women getting the vote in 1920. Socialism was influential – labor laws were passed.

Compared with Victorianism, even sex probably seemed loose. Women were wearing shorter dresses – showing ankles and arms. In the late 1880s, women were diagnosed by doctors as suffering from “hysteria” and treated with massage (and orgasms – though not recognized as such). VIbrators became a common appliance advertised in women’s craft magazines until it was figured out that there was a sexual association.

What is absurd – what Limbaugh does not seem to understand as he rants about women wanting “So Much Sex” is that our stupid society has been deaf to women’s needs for centuries. At various times, I expect people’s awareness waxed and waned. Some people figured it out, some didn’t.

The society that I grew up in – in the 60s and 70s – outside of the youth movement and feminism – was one where promiscuity was condoned for men and not for women. Men “sowing their oats” and hoping they didn’t have to pay for the oats to grow. White men who could discriminate against blacks and women in hiring. Where the good old boys network had not been broken – and was just starting to break as I was entering college.

Women, on the other have – in the 60s and before – were shamed and sent away if they got stuck with some man’s oats growing inside of her. I know a couple women who were sent away as late as the 70s. Freedom had not arrived everywhere. Freedom from ridicule, and from the fear of what such a thing would “do” to a family, that is.

That is what Limbaugh, Santorum, and Romney would have us return to. Shame for women. As welI as shame for homosexuals and anyone who does not play by the patriarchal rules – rules that are stacked for white men who already have more power than others. I hope to Goddess that that genie cannot get back in that bottle again – now that she has been out for awhile. That is not what is best for our society.