Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Men, Women, Feminism and the elusive "Patriarchy" hobgoblin. (Part 1)

As a near-lifelong Christian who's now in my 50's, I've sort of outgrown and gotten burnt out on committing myself to any one particular church body, but I still have a couple of them that I alternate between every now & again. One local church here in Portland that I visit 2 - 3 times a month recently launched a group with a topic you don't hear everywhere: "Patriarchy." And guess what? It's not open to anyone but women, although it's apparently open to any woman, even regardless if they are or are not a Christian (not sure about that, though.)

I have to wonder about a group titled "Patriarchy" that excludes men from attending. Makes me tend to think that you are going to say something about me that you wouldn't normally say to my face. In any case, you can view a short blog post written by one of the pastoral staff of this church titled "The Curse of Patriarchy" by Angie Fadel by going here. Angie and her husband Todd are also the worship music leaders at this church, and have tirelessly kept up writing, arranging and producing progressive church music for several years now, over and against at times untenable circumstances.

I'd like to respond to Angie's piece on patriarchy, but that's a bit difficult to do. To be brutally honest, it doesn't contain much of a logically coherent argument, and instead kind of rambles on, touching on different topics that obviously touch her temperature control. There are however, a few presuppositions inherent in what she's written that I think could be addressed at length

Now I'm going to go ahead and upfront state what will become obvious in due time: I believe Patriarchy Theory is an inherently flawed and fallacious way of looking at history, and that it is not helpful for understanding anything, save for the political agenda some wish to drive with it.
. I'll unfold my reasons for doing so over the course of these 2 blog posts (perhaps more?) But for those unfamiliar with the topic and who want a good crash course can read Wikipedia's attempt at comprehension here. Not surprisingly, the neutrality of the article has been disputed (in Wikipedia politics anyway.) You can also get a brief one-paragraph synopsis of the concept from an online Feminist Theory Dictionary here.

Before launching into the bulk of this post, I'll give the following thesis statement or statements so that what I'm saying in regards to Patriarchy Theory will be made crystal clear. Everything I will say that follows will be in support of these statements:

1) Using the term "Patriarchy" implies that the history of oppression has been largely about Gender conflict, when in fact much of the time it's been more about class struggle than gender. 

2) Women have not necessarily been "held down" by Patriarchy. In fact, to a large degree women have accepted and benefited from it. This is true both in terms of attaching themselves to men of power, but also in terms of general preferential treatment and of occupying a place in society that asks them to take less responsibility overall. (PS: Feminism has done nothing to correct this problem either. but has served to reinforce it.) 
3) In keeping with the previous statement, Men have by and large responded to wonmen's inequality by going out of their way to empower women,  They have done so in terms of passing a great deal of legislation women have asked for, but also in terms of creating safe spaces for women with technological and construction innovations that have brought this about.   

4) The current push for equality by much of politically organized feminism has resulted in untenable circumstances for men and for society in general. There does not need to be a "gender balance" in every single sphere of life, and failing to recognize this has caused economic hardships, has forced people to support things against their conscience, and have resulted in inequlity for men in many verifiable instances.

5) Most (if not all) of politically active Feminism has not been about achieving equality for both men and women, despite what is often claimed. Most of the women's movement has actually resulted in a perpetual net gain of inordinate female privilege   

I will also state upfront that i have spent much time drinking at the wells of many pro-male and counter-feminist bloggers & vloggers, written by both men and women, as well as websites dedicated to the issues of false rape accusations and legal imbalances in our society as they relate to men.

I say all this as a heads up: If you already have your mind made up about the nature of patriarchy, feminism, and gender-equality, then you most likely will not like most of what you are going to encounter here. Choose your time, interests & battles wisely.

For an introduction to some of the Men's Issues thought and philosophy that I've been absorbing, I'll post some recent videos by some the vloggers I read and listen to, particularly as it relates to Patriarchy Conspiracy theory. Be forewarned also, there will be plenty of external links posted on this blog entry of mine, although you can feel free to consider them supplementary material, and just focus on my writing for the time being if you prefer. But if you come  away from all of this wondering why I take the positions I do, don't say I didn't warn you there was more to absorb.

Canadian Men's Rights Vlogger Typhon Blue on "Why Feminism is wrong about patriarchy theory:

Another Female Men's Rights vlogger, Girlwriteswhat, addresses the question of whether violence against women has ever really been "socially acceptable" and comes up with some surprising historical evidence often not considered:

Self-described "Counter-Feminist" vlogger Fidelbogen asks: "What is this thing called Patriarchy?":

And finally, vlogger Rocking Mr. E talks bout why so-called Patriarchy is largely a Conspiracy Theory:  

I'm going to unpack my views on this topic by focusing on one section of Angie's essay, respond to that, follow up with some historical notes not often considered by most people, and pull back the curtain hopefully on the larger picture of where I think things are today in Gender-related issues. 

Near the end of the blog post "The Curse of Patriarchy," Angie Fadel writes the following:

"I have watched too many women and girls crushed by a culture and society that wants to make them victims. Sexualized them, while not allowing them to call there viginas what they are, VAGINAS! Gives them impossible standards of beauty, then is surprised that they are starving to death and going under the knife. Tells them they have a future, but is only willing to pay them 70 cents to every $1.00 made by their male counterparts. No matter what her qualifications."

I will leave it to Angie to explain exactly what, where and how women are being kept from calling their "viginas' as such. As far as I can see, most women don't have any real problem doing so in an extensive, ad hoc & ad nauseam fashion. 

What I want to focus on here is the implied issue of the so-called Gender Wage-Pay Gap, to what degree does it or doesn't it exist and what I really think it means.  Are women really earning less than men in America, and is this the result of some kind of conspiracy on the part of men, either consciously or unconsciously, to keep women out of  better living & earning circumstances?

Hear out the 2011 report "Women In America: Indicators Of Social And Economic Well-Being" prepared for the White House Council on Women and Girls by the US Department of Commerce.  The report spells out the scenario as it is today with the following evidence: 

*"More women than men work part time, and women and men have roughly equal access to flexible work schedules." Wait. What? Did I just hear that right? Men and women have the same access to flexible work schedules as men? Yet women are working part time more than men? No way!

But isn't that because men are keeping women out of the work force, expecting them to stay in the bedroom and the kitchen? Well frankly, no. The same report cites Bureau of Labor stats that show female participation in the labor force has steadily risen, while male participation has declined:

*"Unemployment rates for women have risen less than for men in recent recessions."
Amazing! We are supposed to be living in a Patriarchal society where men have their boot heels on women's necks, holding them down, and yet men are the ones getting more and more unemployed in a recession? Yep.

*"Women and men (gasp!) continue to work in different occupations."Mmmhmm.  Like construction, coal mining, front lines in a war zone, and many other dangerous jobs that men are more likely to take - or even physically be able to perform - than their female counterparts. Gee, I wonder if those particular jobs might demand more pay & benefits, since they are seen as life and injury threatening?

In fact, who do you think makes up about 90% of all work-related injuries unto death? Think it might be the men? I think so! And aren't jobs that are considered a high risk of life-changing and life-ending physical injuries usually the ones that we consider worth the most pay? Well so far, yes. We could argue that there should be as much construction of buildings on land that was once inhabited by nature, and that there shouldn't be all these wars. Somehow, I think it will always be incumbent on men to do the heavy lifting in most life situations, no matter how you slice, dice or ice it. 

Just a thought: What if women were the ones getting most of the work-related deaths? I bet we'd all know about it, because Feminists have an incredible knack for turning things that are really more of a human imperfection issue into a "Woman's Rights Issue." But, I digress.

*Female-headed families have the lowest family earnings among all family types. Because  employers are all mean, evil men who would rather pay them less? No, it's because "In 2008, female-headed families with children earned 30 percent less than their counterparts without children, although their earnings grew faster (43 percent) than the other family types between 1988 and 2008."
So let me see if I can sort this out: Families where the woman is the main breadwinner (probably largely single moms) are not being discriminated against in terms of their actual earnings compared to other family types, because they have gained 43% over a 10-year period! So the reason they earn less than other family types... must be because's hard to take care of the kids by yourself and easier to work part time, or just go on welfare? I think so!

*"In families where both husband and wife are employed, employed wives spend more time in household activities than do employed husbands." Aha! Here we finally have a smoking gun. Women are expected to stay barefoot and pregnant. It's men who are allowed to get out and work the cool jobs and ride the gravy train, right? 

No, I think it's because women have that option. They can still bear children and still are not looked down upon by society if they choose to be stay-at-home moms. Or they can choose to balance homemaking and the workplace. As such, their share of the total income pie is going to be smaller by default.  

*"Women are more likely than men to do volunteer work." In the churches, schools, youth services and other non-paid areas of work, women outnumbered men 30 to 23 per cent.

For a clearer picture of what we've just seen, check the Business Insider article8 Reasons Why The 'Gender Pay Gap' Is A Total Sham."  For more information, check the multi-video series by Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More." Dr. Farrell is a former head of NOW in New York, who started to write his book to try and prove the existence of the wage gap. Only one problem: He discovered it doesn't exist. 

So in summary, what can we say about the place a woman has in the work force, in terms of lifestyle choices, and how much she is allowed to advance herself? 

*Women are more likely to go back to school later on in life, rather than stay out in the workforce.
*Women are more likely to choose part-time work.
*Women are more likely to  choose less dangerous, life & injury threatening jobs,  often at less pay.
*Women are more likely to be the stay-at-home parent.
*Women are more likely to balance being a homemaker & a job.

*Women are more likely to do work for no pay at all.

And if that's not enough, one can also point to areas where the picture is not even so bleak for women based on their own choices. There is an are where women do make more money and land better jobs than men, and it's in the Computer Sciences, according to Business Insider. It's amazing what you find when you don't assume you already know everything and begin looking for real evidence. 

That's just one area where I feel the whole construct of Patriarchy is often a one-sided  conjecture based on a lot of assumptions that look for information to back up its' claims, but ignores a ton of other stuff that runs against it.

It's a matter of comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. One would be hard pressed to come up with any serious evidence of a "Gender Pay Gap" when comparing women of the same talents and qualifications, and the same aggression level being applied ot the same job. Where women actually do the same work as a man, we find that her ability to "bring home the bacon" is remarkably equal to that of her male counterparts.

As such, I gotta say this: I'm not too keen on an exclusive cabal being held in the church where young girls and women are being told that the reasons for their failures in life are because we men are conspiring to keep them out of certain aspects of the job market, Not when myself and most of the male friends of mine have experienced assault and abuse - mental and even physical - at the hands of a woman And some of us still bear the scars of it to this day. Some of us are even on disability and taking medication for it..

What's that you say? All of us are sinners and are capable of injustice? Now, you're ...talking.

One could reasonably ask: "Well that's all good and well for today. Society has advanced, right? There's still centuries of history to be considered where women were systematically held down by men and kept out of the better aspects of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, eight?" 

In my 2nd part to this blog post, I'll deal with at least part of that question in terms of the history of voting rights in America, as it relates the place of women in society, and point out some things often not talked about or considered. 

For a partial answer that you can sink your teeth into right now, you can familiarize yourself with another side ot the story by viewing Anti-Feminist vlogger Girlwriteswhat's excellent video "The Invisible Man Riding the Donkey Backwards." As with much of history, the Coverture laws have only had one side told to most people, and mostly by Feminists. 

For now, the following links that were for Girlwriteswhat's video, and read up on stuff that most likely never occurred to you, if you've gotten a lot of your education in today's Universities. Thanks goes to Girlwriteswhat for providing this info:

The 'Rule Of Thumb' Has Nothing to do with Wife Beating by Christina Hoff Summers.
Sommers debunks a common Feminist myth that there were codified laws that allowed wife beating in the past. References cited. (For example, Massachusetts Bay passed a law prohibiting Wife Beating as early ad 1655.)

Women and their forgotten role in Slavery by Nigel Sadler They were slaves, for sure, but they were also among the Slave Owners and Slave traders. 

Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men As The Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence by Malcolm J. George "In post-Renaissance France and England, society ridiculed and humiliated husbands thought to be battered and/or dominated by their wives. In France, for instance, a "battered" husband was trotted around town riding a donkey backwards while holding its tail."  

Institutional Resistance to Acknowledging Intimate Male Abuse "Although the men's advocate groups participated actively and diligently across Alberta, the larger all-important process of government consultation lacked openness, collaboration and transparency. Thus, the province-wide roundtable failed to acknowledge explicitly the extent, nature and gravity of women's physical and psychological violence against men." IMPORTANT: SEE ALSO the following REFERENCES EXAMINING ASSAULTS BY WOMEN ON THEIR SPOUSES OR MALE PARTNERS:AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

From the blog "The Unkown History of Misandry," read this post titled: "Society’s Acceptance of Domestic Violence?" and see examples of just now intolerant the laws were on Wife Beating! 

Wikipedia entry on Coverture

My hopefully soon upcoming blog post will deal with the untold side of Women's Suffrage in US History: The fact that not all women were for it.

Til' then, don't be a mushroom for the Feminists: kept in the dark and fed a lot of bullshit.

Ciao for now~!

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