31 December, 2006

A Vocabulary for Feminist Criticism

Posted in Feminist Criticism at 1:43 pm by Daran

I was gratified to see my co-blogger on ‘Darain Man’, Hugh Ristik, refer in his last post to the “Odious Comparison“, one of a several phrases I’ve coined to describe some of the objectionable aspects of feminism. Just as feminism has its own vocabulary, including such terms of art as “Patriarchy” and “Rape Culture”, so we Feminist Critics need a vocabulary of our own. Ideally each concept should be described by a memorable word or two word phrase. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Some of these terms I have been using for a while; others, so far, have existed only in my head; still others I’ve coined even as I drafted this post.

Gendersphere: The entire field of philosophy, discourse, and activism that attends to gender, including, but not limited to feminism, antifeminism, Men’s Rights Activism, and Feminist Criticism.

Feminism: A self-defining segment of the Gendersphere. A feminist is a person who is recognised as a feminist by other feminists.

Pro-feminism: Men who are unwilling to call themselves feminists (or who are not recognised as such by some feminists) because they are male, even though their views are indistinguishable from feminism.

Contrafeminism: That part of the gendersphere that is broadly in disagreement with or opposition to feminism.

Antifeminism: Extreme contrafeminism. An essentially oppositionist stance.

Men’s Rights Activism: A movement devoted to improving the position of men in society. While this is basically a positive stance, the movement is infested with antifeminism.

Feminist Criticism: My term for my own philosophical position, and for the similar views of other people. The phrase is deliberately ambiguous: A feminist critic could be a critic of feminism or a feminist who criticises. I want to carve out a position within gendersphere independent of of the other -isms, overlapping with both feminism and MRA, and critical of both. Arguably the phrase “feminist criticism” is obnoxiously gendered (see below), because feminist critics are also critics of antifeminism, however given the hegemonic position of feminism within the gendersphere I think it is justified. The word “criticism” should be taken in its constructive sense, there are many aspects of feminism that feminist critics will agree with. Feminist Critics accept the tools of feminism (gender analysis, etc.,) and apply them to feminism itself.

Typical: I use this word as a term of art, meaning behaviour, etc., which (a) is common among feminists (or some other group), (b) is unlikely to be challenged by other feminists, (c) if someone with otherwise good feminist credentials does challenge it, they are likely to have their status as feminists challenged by other feminists, and (d) those without feminist credentials who challenge it are likely to be regarded as antifeminists/MRAs (or the equivalent opposition group). Typical behaviours within a group are likely to be perceived by outsiders as representative of it.

The ‘Bird in your Garden’ Test: A test for typicality. If all you need do to see a particular kind of bird is look out the window, that’s an indication that those birds are typical of where you live. If you have to travel 200 miles to visit a nature reserve to see them, then they’re not typical. Similarly if you can easily find an example of a particular argument or behaviour passing unchallenged among the usual suspects within the blogosphere, then that’s an indication that it is typical. If you can’t, then it probably isn’t.

Obnoxious Gendering: Refers to the typical feminist practice of equating maleness and masculinity with bad, and femaleness (though not femininity) with good. At its most obnoxious, it refers to the practice of never letting men forget just how lousy they are: “It’s male violence, committed by men, who are male. Just in case you didn’t get that, it’s men who are doing this, etc., etc., ad nauseum“. Obnoxious Gendering has a more subtle aspect in the use of gendered terms like “feminism” and “patriarchy” to refer to things which (in the view of the feminist) are good and bad respectively.

Self-flagellation Obnoxious Gendering applied to oneself. Typical behaviour of pro-feminist men. (Thanks to Hugh for the phrase.)

The Avuncular Arm: A typical pro-feminist response to male victimisation. An avuncular arm slides around the survivor’s shoulder, and he is invited to “consider how we oppress women”. A collective form of self-flagellation, this is victim-blaming at its worst because it casts the survivor into the role of perp. It is one of the reasons why feminism is toxic to many male survivors.

The Odious Comparison: Typical feminist practice of unjustifiably or inappropriately comparing male oppression, suffering, etc., unfavourably with female suffering. If a feminist or pro-feminist wishes to discuss male oppression etc., within feminism, then it is de rigueur to genuflect to the Odious Comparison.

Selective Focus: Typical feminist practice of looking only at those oppressions which (according to the feminist) affect women worse, in order to justify the Odious Comparison. For example, in a discussion about violence, only sexual and domestic violence will be considered. (Note that I do not object to a focus upon these issues. It is the exclusive and frequently innappropriate focus which is problematic.)

Rape Trivialisation: Typical feminist practice of defining rape so broadly that it encompasses the trivial, in some cases even sexual activity considered fully consensual by the person purportedly raped. (Note that this is not to be confused the the antifeminist objection to Koss’s rape study, that many of the raped women did not define their experience as “rape”, but whose experiences were nevertheless rape according to a non-trivialised definition.)

Rape Privilege: The practice of elevating rape and other sexual assaults “the worst”. A particular instance of the Odious Comparison. (This is a typical mainstream discourse. Feminists typically selectively focus on rape, but they do not typically privilege it in this way, in my experience.)

Denial, Dismissal, Minimisation, and ignoring of male oppression, suffering, etc.: I really need a catchy phrase to describe this quadrumvirate of discourses. (The ‘four discourses’?) Note that this is not limited to feminism, but is characteristic of the mainstream. Hence it is an example of feminism embracing and extending a previously existing gendered discourse.

Subordination: The typical feminist practice of presenting men’s oppression and suffering as subordinate to women’s. A fifth discourse related to the previous four.

The Three Techniques, also Displacement, Incidentalisation, and Exclusion: Mainstream rhetorical techniques used to minimise male victimisation, described by Dr. Jones in his paper “Effacing the Male“.

Lachrymosity: The tendency within both feminism and mainstream media to use tearjerkingly emotive language to describe female suffering and comparatively perfunctory language to describe male suffering. Arguably a fourth technique on a par with the three described by Dr. Jones.

Instanciation Not to be confused with “incidentalisation, which would be a better word for it, which is already taken. By “instanciation” I mean to portray instances of male victimisation as incidents rather than as systems of oppression.

Hidden Victimisation also The Other Side of the Mountain, and, in extreme cases, Holocaust Denial: How male victims and male oppression are rendered invisible by these techniques and discourses.

Comments and criticisms welcome, in particular, better terms for some of these phenomena would be greatly appreciated. Clearly many of the terms fall short of the “memorable one or two-word phrase” criterion. Is there anything I should add? Any good “Bird in your Garden” examples of each type of typical behaviour?

Crossposted between Creative Destruction and Darain Man.

Misunderstanding Patriarchy

Posted in Daran, Feminist Issues, Gender Issues, Patriarchy at 5:51 am by HughRistik

I just ran into an interesting essay by bell hooks entitled “Understanding Patriarchy”. hooks argues that patriarchy is damaging to men in ways that not only men themselves, but also feminists fail to recognize. hooks’ analysis makes some important points, but is also limited by some of her assumptions about what “patriarchy” is and about how men experience victimization in such societies.
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30 December, 2006

“Privilege” and “Disadvantage” as sexist framing devices.

Posted in Alas a Blog, Ampersand, Male Disposability, Privilege, Reposts at 11:26 am by Daran

(Originally posted at Creative Destruction.)

Both here, and at Alas, Barry has been responding to criticism of his “Male Privilege Checklist“. Most of these criticisms have been directed at particular items on the checklist, which regardless of the merit of the substantive objection, opens his critics to the countercharge of not seeing the wood for the trees. The most cogent objections, in my opinion, apply to the list as a whole and seem to have been missed by these recent critics.
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Evidence of Male Dispensability Part 1 – the News Media

Posted in Male Disposability, Media, Reposts, War at 11:11 am by Daran

(Originally posted at Creative Destruction. I still haven’t got around to writing part 2.)

In preparing my response to Jeff’s comment to my recent post on Women and the Draft, I seem to have wondered rather far from the topic.
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Denying, Dismissing, Minimising, and Ignoring the Harm to Men

Posted in Alas a Blog, Feminist Issues, Male Disposability, Reposts at 10:28 am by Daran

(Originally posted at Creative Destruction.)

Me (in the context of the war in Iraq):

[F]eminists typically do view the harm solely in terms of its impact upon women, while denying, minimising, and ignoring the harm to men.

I should also have said “dismissing“. I should clarify that by “feminism”, I mean mainstream feminism, as exemplified by the bloggers and typical commenters at Alas. I also mean radical feminism, as exemplified by the bloggers and typical commenters at the Margins. I do not mean to include such individuals as Christine Hof-Sommers, Wendy McElroy, and Cathy Young. I think that’s a fair exclusion, because mainsteam feminism itself appears to reject these people, and their ilk.
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29 December, 2006

Feminism and Media Representation of Gender-Selective Atrocities

Posted in Gender Issues, Iraq, Male Disposability, Reposts, War at 11:06 pm by Daran

(Originally posted at Creative Destruction. Here slightly edited.)

Look at this headline on Boston.com

Men in Iraqi police grab kidnap scores in raid

Notice how the perpetrators are gendered, but the victims are not. In fact there’s no mention of the victims’ sex anywhere on the first page. It’s not until you get to the second that you find out what happened:

The gunmen speedily weeded out the men from the women. The women were taken to a room and locked up, witnesses said. The men were pushed into the trucks and driven away. The kidnapped included employees and visitors to the agency, janitors, and PhDs, even a deputy general director of the agency. Some were blindfolded and tossed into the backs of pickup trucks, said witnesses.

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The Women and Children of Haditha

Posted in Gender Issues, Iraq, Male Disposability, Reposts, War at 10:48 pm by Daran

(Originally posted at Creative Destruction. Here slightly edited.)

In the headline of his Sunday Herald story, Neil Mackay characterised the atrocity as follows:

Haditha: the worst US atrocity since Vietnam … Iraqi women and children massacred by American marines.

After giving a little background, including a comparison with the My Lai massacre during the Viet Nam war, (“mainly women, children, and the elderly”), he gives the following summary of the events in Haditha:

Minutes after Terrazas died, the remaining 13-strong unit of marines went on a bloody rampage, wiping out whole families, killing women, children and an elderly man in a wheelchair, and hurling grenades into homes. In all, 24 Iraqi civilians were murdered by American troops.

Let’s parse the entire story, to see how many of these women and children were actually men.
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28 December, 2006

Ch 1. Bullying in grade school

Posted in Personal Ramblings, Survivors and Survival at 9:44 pm by HughRistik

“Shake on it?”

I couldn’t believe it. Danny was offering me a truce. Maybe he would leave me alone for the rest of the day. I took his hand and shook. And then—smack!—I was on the ground. Danny and John were laughing and high-fiving each other. While I was shaking Danny’s hand, John had run up from behind and tripped me. They had planned it.

When I was younger, I had a bunch of friends, and we played at each others’ houses. One of them had been Danny. Once grade school started, it all changed. I turned out to be relatively unathletic, and I was too good at school for my own good. Nobody wanted to play board games with me, even if I offered to let them win. I became interested in solitary, intellectual pursuits. Then the constant bullying and teasing started.
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Film Review: The Remains of the Day

Posted in Art, Films, Reviews, Stereotypes at 7:27 pm by Daran

Warning: Spoilers.

I don’t have television, so I don’t get to see films except when visiting others, or on the rare occasion I visit the cinema. This Christmas I went home to my parents, and was able to watch some of the films that were part of the seasonal offering.

“The Remains of the Day”, (IMDB, Wikipedia), a 1993 film based upon the 1989 Booker Prize winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, depicts the life of an emotionally repressed Butler, Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), who worked for an English Lord in the run-up to the Second World War. The story is told in flashback, in parallel with a journey he took 20 years later to visit the former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), in the hope of persuading her to return to service in the house.
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24 December, 2006

First Spam Through the Filters

Posted in Blog Status, Content-lite, Milestones at 1:21 pm by Daran

Ironically one of them was for male-on-male rape porn. Also the first bulk spam – 26 in one go. Previously I was getting 1-2 per day. It’s downhill all the way from here. 😦

BTW, I anyone sees any spam in an otherwise inactive thread, please bump it to make sure that we see it. I want to keep this place as spam-free as possible.

Season’s Greetings

Posted in Blog Status at 12:07 pm by Daran

I will be away from home for a couple of days. I don’t know if I will have time to look in, so a happy festive season to my co-blogger, and my readers. All three of you. 🙂

23 December, 2006

First Co-Blogger

Posted in Content-lite, Milestones at 4:02 pm by Daran

Who will introduce himself shortly.

Throwing Rocks at Boys, and Pushing Girls through Windows

Posted in Abyss2hope, Alas a Blog, Antifeminist and MRA Issues, Crossposts, Feminist Issues, Marcella Chester at 7:15 am by Daran

The latest flare up in the gender wars concerns a pair of T-shirts, which, so their respective critics complain, justify and encourage violence against males and against females. In addition, those on the Men’s Rights Activist Side have criticised feminists for failing to condemn the anti-boy shirt, while feminists in turn are questioning the motives of MRAs.
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22 December, 2006

ms_xeno’s Last Post?

Posted in Abbott and Costello, Alas a Blog, Feminist Issues, Flame Wars, ms_xeno, Survivors and Survival at 2:38 pm by Daran


This will be my final post on Alas. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Daran’s behavior is unique on this board, it is pretty sadly representative of all the things on this board that have come to completely outweigh any good it still does my soul.

I’m sorry if you feel you need to leave on my account. It is ironic that the one time I feel you are talking to me rather than at me, you’re probably not going to read my reply.
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21 December, 2006

An Ironic Derailment

Posted in Alas a Blog, Feminist Issues, Richard Jeffrey Newman, Survivors and Survival, toysoldier at 3:32 pm by Daran


One cannot escape the irony considering that it was implied no feminist would ever derail a thread about male rape. However, rather than focus on this interesting contradiction, it is important to examine what was stated.

It is indeed, however as toysoldier has already done an admirable job “examin[ing] what was stated”, it’s worth spending a little time to “focus on this interesting contradiction”, starting with the link he identified:
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20 December, 2006

Excluded Survivors’ Thread

Posted in Alas a Blog, Male Disposability, Privilege, Richard Jeffrey Newman, Survivors and Survival, toysoldier at 7:45 am by Daran

(Note that the original text and title (still visible in the URL) of this thread pertained to male survivors only. However, in the discussions both here and at toysoldiers, I have remarked that feminism’s normative construction of abuse excludes some female survivors whose experiences do not fit into that framework. These survivors are doubly-excluded, since they are both exiled from what is purportedly ‘their’ survivor movement, and not admitted to the nascent male survivor network. In addition, transgendered survivors, whose particular difficulties I do not purport to understand, may also feel excluded. Since I advocate a wholly inclusive approach, it was wrong of me to exclude these people, hence this broadening of the focus.)

This thread is for excluded survivors to discuss issues relating to their exclusion, including but not limited to issues arising from Richard Jeffrey Newman’s posts here, here, and here. A parallel discussion, more narrowly focussed on male survivors of sexual abuse is also taking place on Toy Soldiers.
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18 December, 2006

Abbott and Costello Meet the Living Dead

Posted in Abbott and Costello, Abyss2hope, Alas a Blog, Creative Destruction, Distortions and Lies, False Accusations, Marcella Chester at 4:09 pm by Daran

(They just keep coming at you.)

In response to a harshly-worded update to an earlier post, and an email saying the same, Marcella has updated her post, (also here) which I accept as a sincere attempt to set the record straight. Therefore I have stricken the harsh words. Unfortunately she still continues to apparently misunderstand my position, and consequently to present it in a misleading way.
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17 December, 2006

Commenting in the Blogosphere

Posted in Free Speech, Online Discussion at 3:36 pm by Daran

NYMOM (replying to toysoldier):

Then so be it. It’s almost deception in advertising of some sort to allow people to get away with this…as you do since we’ve discussed this before.

By “get away with this” you seem to mean ‘get away with “only feature[ing] opinions of people that agree with them [on their blogs]”‘.

Where was it advertised, on toysoldier’s blog, or for blogs generally that they would “feature” anything at all, other than what the blog owner wants them to “feature”?
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Nearest Book

Posted in Content-lite, Mathematics, Personal Ramblings at 6:44 am by Daran

This is entertaining.

The idea is that someone tags you. You then reach for the nearest book to you, turn to page 123, then write down the 5th, 6th, and 7th sentences from that page. (The instructions don’t say whether the last part of the sentence that wrapped from the previous page counts as the first sentence, but I assume it does not.) You then tag three other people.

Unfortunately nobody loveshas tagged me, so I have to masturbate on my ownplay withby myself:
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16 December, 2006

First Blogrolling…

Posted in Blogosphere, Blogroll, Content-lite, Milestones at 11:04 am by Daran

…not counting Creative Destruction, which I did myself.

Thanks TS, I’ve alreadly got you ‘rolled.

But my links are way cooler than yours, because I’ve got these nice pop-ups when you hover over them.

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