An excerpt from Dale Spender’s book “Women of Ideas & What Men Have Done to Them”

I keep running into rude, arrogant feminists on YT recently, which has inspired me to pull out the last feminist book I attempted to read by Dale Spender titled Women of Ideas & What Men Have Done to Them (1982). Selecting a page at random, let’s go with page 82 and take an excerpt from the author’s discussion of a pamphlet titled Women not Inferior to Man (1743) that’s been attributed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu though was authored under the pseudonym “Sophia, a Person of Quality”:

‘Sophia’ was perfectly aware that men made up the meanings of society, and, while she does not use the terms double standard or double-bind (which are the product of exclusive control by one sex, arranging the world in its own interest, these concepts are articulated throughout her book. ‘When they wish to stigmatize a Man with want of courage’, she says, men ‘call him effeminate, and when they would praise a Woman for her courage they call her manly’, for men have ensured that they and the characteristics they have appropriated are perceived positively. ‘Sophia’ recognizes the operation of the double standard and the double-bind for women are rated negatively if they do not have courage, as it is a quality prized in males, but rated negatively if they do have courage for their ‘womanliness’ is called into question — they are manly, and this is intended disparagingly. She rejects this value system. She proposes instead to reverse it, to make women the positive reference point, and men the negative (a process she has implicitly engaged in throughout the book), to give them a taste of their own medicine and to see how they like it. ‘When a Man is possessed of our virtues he should be called effeminate by way of the highest praise of his good nature and justice’, she asserts, ‘and a Woman who should depart from our sex by exposing the injustice and cruelty of Man‘s nature, should be called a Man‘. Maleness and femaleness are not biological constructs but social ones in Sophia’s analysis. Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) made the same point about ‘masculine women’ (in Kramnick, 1978, pp. 80-1), and today terms such as ‘male identified’ are still used to make this point. We have not come as far as some would have us believe.

If there has to be a value judgement about which sex is the better sex (and today we may be more sophisticated in our understanding that difference does not necessarily mean deficiency), then ‘Sophia’ has no hesitation in declaring it to be the female sex, for, she says, ‘I believe no one will deny but that at least, upon the most modest computation, there are a thousand bad men to one bad woman‘. And in her book, it is power that is to be held responsible.

In her analysis it is male power which is the root of evil and injustice, for men have gone to evil  and unjust lengths in the attempt to protect that power and to preserve their primacy. It is clear, she argues, that men have created ‘superior’ men and ‘inferior’ women by women do not have to accept the organization and the values that men have created — they are not immutable but can be undone and replaced. When she demands education for women, however, as a means of ‘deconstructing’ what men have done, it is by no means just a demand to share in the education men have designed for themselves; she is not arguing for the ‘right’, as women were to do later, to have access to the institutions men had created (the right to enter their laws, to participate in their political structures). She is demanding that women be free to develop their own reason, their own logic, their own intellect, free from abuse and harassment and on the basis of their own experience. What value is the right to equal representation if men continue to count more than women — for after all, women are equally represented in the population and yet are inferior. She demonstrates that women’s ideas, women’s ways of making sense of and explaining the world are qualitatively different from men’s while women are subordinate — and that men’s will be qualitatively different if and when women are equal and must be taken into account. They would no longer be the sole authorities, they only arbiters. They would have to partake of the experience of not being able to impose their meanings on the world (an everyday part of women’s existence) without reference to those on whom they were imposed. ‘Sophia’ argues for a different view of the world in which men are not superior (and for institutions which will reflect this) and then the social structure which she has described in her pamphlet — patriarchy — would no longer prevail.

‘Men,’ she says, ‘by thinking us incapable of improving our intellects, have entirely thrown us out of all advantages of education: and thereby contributed as much as possible to make us the senseless creatures they imagine us’; their beliefs have ‘come true’ by means of the social system they have arranged, so that the reality of patriarchy is superior men and inferior women. ‘If the truth be spoken’, she states in her conclusion, ‘the blame lies chiefly and originally in the Men’.

‘Sophia’s’ book could be published today and with the aid of a few minor editorial changes could pass as a contemporary feminist analysis of patriarchy. Inside feminist circles it could be perceived as radical — outside them as ‘outrageous’ and cause no doubt for the abuse and harassment typically heaped upon women who dare to assert such reasons in a male-dominated society. Her sanity would be called into question before her intellectual contribution was acknowledged.

Be it philosophy, sociology, psychology, or any of the other branches of the humanities or social sciences, which have since been shaped in modern mould, not one of them has incorporated into its framework the fundamental intellectual questions and perspective introduced by ‘Sophia’. None has incorporated women’s ideas on power, and its inherent sexual dimension into the stock of accumulated wisdom and transmitted it from one generation to the next. Education is still male controlled, the seats of learning still occupied by men, the disciplines still owned and operated by men, the ideas generated still justifying the interests of men, despite the gains in access to institutions and in many respects women are no more free today to assert the authenticity of their own experience, and the validity of their reasoning, which emerges from that experience. The male version of the world is still passed off as the human version and women are still deviant, still required to deal daily with the double standard and the double-bind, and are still the scapegoats, being blamed for the actions of women and men, over which they have no control. It is a mark of male control that Woman not Inferior to Man is not a basic text in educational institutions, for it could be such empowering knowledge for women — but in present (patriarchal) terms it would be ’emasculating’ for men.

[All emphases and punctuation hers, only in reverse since the original text got italicized thanks to this blog theme’s defect. [Update 5/24/2016: This blog’s theme has since been updated and now, once again, italicizes everything in quotations. Haven’t figured out how to fix it yet.]. Quoted in full except where I removed the ibid citations.]

Let’s stop there on page 85.

Books such as this should stand as a testament that I’m willing to consider all sorts of food for thought, though I admittedly stopped reading that book on page 188 a few years back and have yet to pick it back up (other than today to supply transcribed material for this blog today). Spender’s writing proved to be tough to stay engaged with, for a variety of reasons.

Feminists obstructing free speech (thoughts on disrespectfulness and the future)

Feminism’s been on my mind again, so I went looking up videos watched months back that bug me.

Ok. Pausing at 4:15. Goddamn it, that’s so disrespectful on the part of the protesters. Way to obstruct people’s rights to speak and peaceably assemble (not being familiar with the laws in Canada, but still). That was rude as fuck.

This is something that really bugs me about what feminism has devolved into. Concerns about rape are rooted in the question of respect, for one another’s humanity, for boundaries, for individual autonomy and volition. Yet here is an example of obstruction and disrespect running in the other direction, instigated by people who would be screaming about victimization if the tables were turned. This is hypocrisy-in-action.

If we do not treat each other with more respect than this, these fights will just continue escalating.

But who am I fooling? It appears plenty of folks no longer consider maintaining freedom a top priority, and certainly not above safety concerns. The many who tolerate this push without pushing back in any way are enabling this, but how do you stop this trend? Especially when the power of the State seems to be operating with a bias as well? I’m thinking one way to combat this is to stand up to injustices where witnessed and to connect with enough sense of humanity inside that we’re driven to uphold and protect certain basic principles for ourselves and others so that cooperation stands a chance. All these divisions are distracting us in having to deal with oh-so much bullshit, and along we’re swept downstream as we squabble, funneled further into new ways of life that are proving unhealthy for humans.

It’s a wonder if we’ll ever make it out of this maze. What’s taken for granted as “progress” appears to me to be just another bunch of lessons to learn.  Crazy time to be alive. We’re looking pretty fucked right about now on a lot of levels, and hating on each other certainly isn’t helping anything. It’s one thing to bicker and disagree, but it’s another to just mindlessly antagonize one another. What good is that?

But then again, I look around and listen to people (in this case, mostly young people) speaking as though they want to aid bringing about the crash of civilizations in a dramatic fashion. It’s a pipe dream since society itself will probably remain intact for at least another century to come (that’s my bet), so in the interim we’re just making conditions more miserable and likely ensuring future generations will have less of a chance to cope with whatever lay in store.

The desire to sadistically torment one another stems from a sense of powerlessness that’s been increasingly sweeping the land. We’re taking shit out on one another because 1.) it’s convenient and tempting to lash out at those who are easily accessible, and 2.) we’re experiencing drama directly among those we’re closest to here on the ground. Can’t so readily take our grievances to the public square and receive redress — life’s gotten too complicated for that. We have a corporate-dominated political sphere and a society chocked full of interest groups with lobbying power. Damn near impossible to make a dent tangling with that nightmare branch of the American system. So what can a person or a group do when faced with this situation?

This is where I keep being forced back to pondering the power of the individual and the importance of our social ties and bonds, because I’m not seeing a top-down approach being any kind of real solution but rather at this point is guaranteed to serve interests counter to what most people truly do dream for. And I’m not fully convinced there is a way out anytime in the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t free us up to drive on another nuts in the meanwhile. That still makes life insufferable, which is no good. We have enough bullshit to content with without adding to it unnecessarily.

But so much is easier said than done.

Another example of why feminists aggravate me so

Now done with work for the day and in for the night. Cold as hell out, so it’s good to be back inside with my space heater and cat.

Have plenty on my little mind recently, including some drama I stumbled into in a male feminist’s YT comment thread, plus the follow-up video addressed to me that one of his feminazi academic buddies created. The point of contention between all of us centered around Dr. Warren Farrell and their support of the protest against him speaking on the University of Toronto campus (the clip follows for anyone who hasn’t seen it).

Notice in that video that the feminist protestors blocked the doors to deny people entry to even listen to what Dr. Farrell had to say, requiring police assistance to put a stop to their attempts to obstruct the event. One woman even went so far as to berate a man she didn’t even know by calling him “scum,” all because he was curious to hear what Dr. Farrell had to say. Seriously uncool in my book, and lots of others have taken issue with this footage since it came out.

The issues I wound up having with the man who goes by the name Captain Andy and his feminist pals is that they are adamant that Warren Farrell has no right to be on any campus across the world, even to speak after-hours to students interested in listening to various opinions and claims on gender issues. No, they simply are convinced that his kind of content doesn’t belong there and a couple folks in the comment thread linked above even went so far as to argue that college students don’t possess the skills needed to critically assess whatever someone like Dr. Farrell might state. That’s rather funny, if it weren’t damned depressing, because if not college-trained students then whom? Next they’ll be arguing that NO ONE possesses the brain power needed to see through any biases and therefore all information released to the public should be carefully selected by a team of academics who supposedly have all of our best interests at heart. Huh. Gestapo bullshit that is.

Can’t reason with them though. Proves impossible. They believe they’re right and will hear of nothing else, so I burnt out quickly on dealing with them. Reminds me of the many feminists I argued with in the past and why I finally walked away from all of that. It’s condescending rudeness like that that will bring down their cause faster than anything else, and if they keep it up the baby may wind up thrown out with the bathwater as well, which would be a shame. There are good aspects to feminism in terms of what it’s drawn attention to in certain cases and how it’s questioned gender roles and the prevailing power structures. But then the “third wave” just went too far and jumped for a power grab, and that’s wound up doing more harm than good, IMO.

But, once again, it’s impossible to reason with people who are so completely set on believing they hold the truth and that all naysayers are bigots deserving to be taken down or drummed out. And yet they refuse see the bigotry in their own ways, even when presented with a mirror image.

It’s amazing the extents the human mind can go to in protecting itself from reckoning with reality. None of us are free, and it’s our own damn faults, because as soon as we get someone’s foot off our necks we start looking around for whom we might stomp on, wrongly thinking that somehow elevates us in social status. It’s ridiculous, unproductive, mind-boggling foolery, and where does it ever end?

“The Secret of Oz”

A film recently recommended to me by Jurij:

Never read the book, but I appreciated the overall content in that video. Provides even more reasons for not wanting to join the rabble in clamoring for a return to gold standard — doesn’t address the root concerns, and therefore enacted alone won’t change a thing, at least not for the better. That’s been my general understanding, which created a rift between me and Libertarians who’d been infected with neoconservative economic ideology.

Anyway, great film that I’m sure others will get something out of as well.

Damn. Contention again over at AVfM. (Plus my backstory with that site thus far)

Why do I care? Because it’s interesting. This is a fascinating movement to behold since it’s all laid out here online for any of us to read and observe. The internet’s changed so much since I began following feminist sites and blogs online over a decade ago, having cooled off on that all quite a lot between 2005-2007 (meaning my past involvement with internet feminism came prior to the advent of youtube, so it was mostly about following blogs of interest and reading editorials and essays — in the early 2000s I read some stuff on Feministing and similar sites, but mainstream feminism never did much for me so my interest rapidly waned there) before abandoning the feminism inquiry nearly entirely (up until last year when I ran across GWW’s videos and the Atheism+ forum).

Who I am talking to here? The universe. And whatever niche appeal I draw. That’s what this blog project appears to be about. So, on to examining the internet and the neo-tribes created by it…

To other newbies and rock-dwellers like myself who don’t already know, the AVfM (A Voice For Men) is a site and forum created by Paul Elam. To lay out the extent of my involvement there, a bit of backstory is called for. Continue reading