Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christina Hoff Sommers' Pro-Patriarchal Agenda Suits Anti-Feminist Men Just Fine

photo of Christina Hoff Sommers is from here
Chistina Hoff Sommers, to many intelligent women, is a feminist in the sense that George W. Bush is anti-capitalist. In the sense in which Barack Obama is anti-war. In the sense that Nuclear Power is completely safe, especially north of Tokyo. In the sense that Ronald McDonald--apparently about to be retired-- is vegan. You get the point, I hope.

I agree with those many intelligent women. Her scholarship is as flawed as her arguments.

Let's take a look at just how wrong she is. Below are two reviews of Sommer's anti-feminist tract, Who Stole Feminism? The answer is that men stole it and while trying to bury it, women like Sommers and Katie Roiphe came along and dumped dirt on it by the shovelful before the men took over, as usual. Please click on each of the titles to link back to the source website.

The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax
Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes

By Laura Flanders

In her book, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, Christina Hoff Sommers sounds the alarm. "American feminism is currently dominated by a group of women who seek to persuade the public that American women are not the free creatures we think we are," she writes. Such feminists have "alienated and silenced women and men alike." Where once there were Reds under the bed, now there is the Fem Menace by every blackboard: "These consciousness-raisers are driving out the scholars on many campuses."

Unlike the "well adjusted" women of the 19th Century "first wave" of feminism, "gender feminists" (as Sommers calls the modern ones she doesn't like) are manipulating facts, squelching debate and running off with money and influence.

"The gender feminists have proved very adroit in getting financial support from governmental and private sources. They hold the keys to many bureaucratic fiefdoms," Sommers reports, without citing statistics. "It is now virtually impossible to be appointed to high administrative office in any university system without having passed muster with the gender feminists," she asserts.

Even as Sommers berates feminists for embracing "victimhood," she complains that classicists like herself are under personal attack: "To criticize feminist ideology is now hazardous in the extreme."

Sommers, an associate professor at Clark University, is entitled to her opinions. The problem is that her book, published this year by Simon & Schuster, claims to be about facts. The National Review (6/21/94) excerpted a portion under the headline "Why Feminism's Vital Statistics Are Always Wrong." Her book is filled with the same kind of errors, unsubstantiated charges and citations of "advocacy research" that she claims to find in the work of the feminists she takes to task.

Anti-Feminist Folktales

Reviewing the book in the Wall Street Journal (7/1/94), Melanie Kirkpatrick enthused: "One of the strengths of Who Stole Feminism is its lack of a political agenda.... Ms. Sommers simply lines up her facts and shoots one bullseye after another."

In fact, like anti-"p.c." writers before her, Sommers relies heavily on a handful of oft-repeated anti-feminist anecdotes--or folktales. In Who Stole Feminism, readers find again the tale told by Katie Roiphe (The Morning After) and Sarah Crichton of Newsweek (10/25/93) of the rape-on-campus study that included the question, "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" Like Roiphe and Crichton, Sommers exaggerates the importance of the question-- she claims that "once you remove the positive responses to question eight, the finding that one in four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape drops to one in nine."

Mary Koss, the study's author, explicitly writes in Current Controversies in Family Violence(a book Sommers makes reference to) that when answers to that question are removed, the victims of rape or attempted rape fall from one in four to one in five. The one in nine figure related to completed rapes alone, as reported in a newspaper story Sommers apparently misread.

Sommers also retells the story of the English professor at Pennsylvania State University who "took offense" at Goya's The Naked Maja, a reproduction of which was hanging in her classroom. According to Sommers, who sources only the Pottsville Republican, the professor "filed formal harassment charges" and got the painting removed. The professor, Nancy Stumhofer, says she never objected to the painting but to male students' comments about it while she tried to teach. "I never claimed I had been sexually harassed by the painting," Stumhofer pointed out in Democratic Culture (Spring/94). Nor were formal charges were ever filed.

In arguing against feminist claims that wife-beating was tolerated in English common law, Sommers quotes the 18th Century legal historian William Blackstone: "The husband was prohibited from using any violence to his wife...." The ellipsis conceals a Latin phrase that Sommers either didn't bother to translate or decided to ignore. In English it reads: "other than that which lawfully and reasonably belongs to the husband for the due government and correction of his wife" (Linda Hirshman, L.A. Times op-ed,7/31/94). In other words, the complete text says the exact opposite of Sommers' partial quotation.

Even when Sommers spots an authentic feminist foul-up, she makes errors of her own. Naomi Wolf, in her book The Beauty Myth, claims that there are 150,000 deaths from anorexia a year. Sommers points out that this is actually an estimate of the number of cases of anorexia per year. Then she states that the actual number of deaths from anorexia is "less than 100 [deaths] per year." This number is highly dubious, since it is based on a count of death certificates, which rarely list anorexia as a cause of death; anorexia-related deaths are usually listed as heart failure or suicide. Studies of anorexia suggest that the long-term fatality rate maybe 15 percent or higher (The Course of Eating Disorders, Herzog et al, eds.).

As Sommers writes: "Where were the fact checkers, the editors, the skeptical journalists?" Naomi Wolf has long since admitted her error, as has Gloria Steinem who repeated it. Sommers herself seems to have a harder time facing facts and correcting her errors.

'Sea of Credulity'

In her account of a campaign sparked by FAIR to get NBC to play a 30-second public service announcement about domestic violence before its broadcast of the 1993 Super Bowl game, Sommers repeats uncritically one reporter's version of the incident, and adds fresh errors of her own.

Sommers writes that there wasn't "any basis for saying that there was a significant rise in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday." Her book suggests that she never read FAIR's January 18, 1993 news release, which spelled out the grounds for addressing domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. That release stated: "The Super Bowl is one of the most widely viewed television events every year. Unfortunately, women's shelters report that Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the worst days of the year for violence against women in the home." The release cited press reports (New York Times, 1/5/92, 1/22/92; Chicago Tribune, 1/27/91) based on the accounts of those who work with battered women.

In contrast to a "roiling sea of media credulity"-- including at least one journalist who had been writing about the Super Bowl-related violence for years before FAIR's campaign--Sommers praises "a lone island of professional integrity": Ken Ringle, a Washington Post staffwriter. Ringle is hardly to be held up as an ethical model: The American Journalism Review (5/93) found that, in his Super Bowl article, he appeared "to have twisted and used quotes selectively to support his thesis," and noted that the Post's ombudsman had acknowledged "inaccuracies and flaws" in his reporting. Sommers cites the AJR article in a footnote, but declines to quote it.

Sommers claims to be a skeptic who believes in going to the original source, but neither she nor Ringle ever called the national FAIR office in New York to check their stories or get copies of the materials that FAIR distributed. Nor did Sommers consult a calender: Her "chronology" put the Super Bowl on January 30, which was actually a Saturday.

Sommers also claims that around the Super Bowl, "a very large mailing was sent by Dobisky Associates, FAIR's publicists, warning at risk women: Don't remain at home with him during the game." Had Sommers (or Ringle) called FAIR, s/he would have discovered that FAIR has never worked with Dobisky Associates--and had never heard of the firm before Ringle's piece.

In her account, Sommers uses quotes from a psychotherapist named Michael Lindsey that appeared in Ringle's piece. One of his comments she quotes twice, for emphasis. She doesn't mention that the Post's ombudsman had acknowledged that Lindsey's remarks had been taken out of context by Ringle.

Nor does Sommers mention that the views attributed to Lindsey by Ringle--critical of FAIR's Super Bowl efforts and of a link between football and domestic violence--were directly contradicted by accurate quotes from Lindsey in the same day's New York Times (1/31/93): "That PSA will save lives," said Lindsey. "It will give people the permission to call for help. The same way so much violence in football gives people permission to batter."

Right-Wing Feminism?

Sommers claims that she's a feminist, and journalists have largely taken her at her word. She has been identified as such on television, and many of the reviews of Who Stole Feminism? ran under headlines such as "Rebel in the Sisterhood" (Boston Globe, 6/16/94) or "A Feminist on the Outs" (Time, 8/1/94).

Yet Sommers was quoted in Esquire earlier this year (2/94): "There are a lot of homely women in women's studies. Preaching these anti-male, anti-sex sermons is a way for them to compensate for various heartaches--they're just mad at the beautiful girls."

*          *          *

The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men
By Christina Hoff Sommers
Simon & Schuster. 251 pp. $25
Reviewed by E. Anthony Rotundo, who is the author of "American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era." He also teaches at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.
Sunday, July 2, 2000
The era from the 1870s to the 1970s could well be called "The Century of the Boy." Building on the tradition of male dominance far older than their nation, Americans conceived a cultural romance with boyhood that penetrated every facet of American life. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn became iconic figures, boys' games such as baseball and football emerged as men's preoccupations and ultimately as metaphors for work, statecraft and life itself, and figures like the cowboy and the playboy modeled American manhood for the nation and the world. Theodore Roosevelt, whose enduring popularity is rooted in his "boyishness," declared that a man "won't be much of a man unless he is a good deal of a boy." Cultural image influenced daily behavior. Our common patterns of schoolroom practice and our dominant psychologies of childhood were boy-centered.
And so, when modern feminism emerged in the 1960s and '70s, the infatuation with boyhood made a natural target. Feminist critics have brought girls' needs and problems the public attention they were long denied. Now, as the conversation on gender continues, a growing body of commentators – teachers, psychologists, conservative critics and feminists themselves – are calling attention to troubling patterns in the performance of boys.
As parents and professionals struggle for a sense of focus on these issues, Christina Hoff Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a longtime critic of feminism, has published a new book on the subject. The War Against Boys accuses feminists and their fellow travellers in education and government of waging war against American boys. The media have already provided a forum for her charges, with the Atlantic Monthly running excerpts from the book as a cover story. Such widely heralded claims require careful scrutiny.
Sommers's specific accusations fall into two broad categories. One is education. She charges that feminists invented a crisis in girls' education while ignoring major problems in boys' academic performance. She directs her animus especially at How Schools Shortchange Girls, a study funded by the American Association of University Women. The study found a pattern of male-dominated, male-oriented classrooms and linked it to patterns of academic underperformance and low self-esteem in girls. Sommers cites other studies that dispute the AAUW findings and describes an AAUW lobbying campaign to hoodwink the media into accepting those findings. She also details patterns of male underachievement in reading, writing and extracurricular activity, saying that girls are thriving while boys are failing.
Sommers's second area of concern in the purported war against boys is the way in which adults socialize boys, both in and out of school. She objects to the feminist idea that violence perpetrated by boys is a product of male culture or masculine ideals. She also rejects the notions common among feminist scholars that boys need to have better access to their gentler emotions and that they shouldn't be pressured to push away from their mothers at an early age. Sommers charges that these notions lack supporting data and points with scorn at certain attempts (non-competitive games; doll play for boys) to apply these notions to the raising of boys. She says that such ideas about socializing boys differently are harmful because they disregard boys' true nature – and she says that we need to respect that nature because masculinity is responsible for the great achievements of human culture.
Sommers proposes several measures to improve boys' academic achievement, including all-boy schools, lecture-and-drill teaching methods, phonics instruction and more frequent testing. To curb violence among boys, she advocates emphasizing "directive" moral instruction instead of dismantling traditional codes of manhood.
Examined carefully, Sommers's case does not hold up well. She persistently misrepresents scholarly debate, ignores evidence that contradicts her assertions, and directs intense scrutiny at studies she opposes while giving a free critical ride to research she supports. A few examples of her style of argument will have to stand for a much larger pattern.
Let's look first at education. Sommers says that feminists have ignored the educational problems of boys, starting with How Schools Shortchange Girls. This argument runs into the inconvenient fact that the first and best-known study documenting patterns of male underachievement in school was sponsored by none other than the AAUW, in a follow-up to their study of girls' performance. It's an inconvenient fact that a women's organization led the way in studying the problems of boys, so Sommers attacks the AAUW for underpublicizing the study (she cites no data to support this charge). As for Sommers's claim that "girls and young women are thriving" academically, there have been many studies since Shortchange that contradict her, but she does not examine them. She describes studies that support her position but does not subject them to the same critical scrutiny to which she subjects Shortchange. Indeed, the AAUW follow-up study that included boys (and which Sommers strongly approves) reached the following conclusion, as quoted by Sommers: "Inequity can (and does) work in both directions." Sommers's own Table 2 shows that girls lag behind boys in percentages taking calculus, physics, AP/honors chemistry, engineering and astronomy at the high school level. Sommers applies a zero-sum model to gender concerns in education. It doesn't seem to occur to her that each sex faces significant problems that need redress.
Sommers's complaints about feminist proposals to socialize boys differently also rest on weak support. To advance her claim that boys have a true nature rooted in biology, she disregards the inconvenient evidence. When discussing the nature-nurture controversy in matters of gender, Sommers presents only the evidence for biological determinism, as if this were a settled issue among scholars in the field. In fact, the debate on this topic is lively and far from conclusive. Most studies of sex difference in various forms of behavior show no statistically significant difference. The studies that do find differences between the sexes tend to find much greater variation of behavior within each sex than between the averages of the two sexes. In other words, we're far more commonly human than we are male or female. Sommers, however, adheres to a literal-minded interpretation of genetic influence. As she sees it, men have one genetic makeup and women have another. This causes prenatal hormonal differences and contrasts in anatomies, which in turn create sharp differences that endure over the life cycle. Sommers believes in unchangeable, "hard-wired" male and female natures.
She contrasts her position with the constructionist view that attributes sex difference solely to culture. Her thinking allows no middle ground, even though that ground is well-occupied in debates on the subject. In the moderate position, heredity sets a range of possibilities for each individual and then environment determines the variation within that range. Male and female behavior patterns, then, are not set in granite – they vary. This model is consistent not only with the results of sex-difference studies but also with new knowledge about the brain which shows that brain structure and function change in response to experience.
In the context of Sommers's book, the issue of nature and nurture is much more than a matter of idle speculation. Her position that male nature is set in genetic stone is crucial to her argument. She sees the changes in educational method, child-rearing and moral education advanced by feminists and other liberals as violations of true male nature and therefore as a war against boys. But if maleness and femaleness can vary in response to life experience, then a host of feminist concerns must be taken seriously. For example, if boys' behavior can change in response to cultural messages, then the glorification of male violence in entertainment media is indeed a serious problem. Her proposals for improving boys' education and reducing anti-social behavior have limited or questionable research support. The value of phonics instruction, lecture-and-drill teaching methods and frequent testing is hotly debated among education scholars (a debate Sommers does not examine). Her enthusiasm for all-boy schools is based on experiments in Britain that are too recent to be usefully evaluated and on a few glowing anecdotes of questionable generality from the United States. Her advocacy of directive moral education rests on no hard evidence at all. Apparently, ideological enthusiasm is sufficient reason to suspend critical thinking as long as the ideology is the right one.
In the end, Sommers fails to prove either claim in the title of her book. She does not show that there is a "war against boys." All she can show is that feminists are attacking her "boys-will-be-boys" concept of boyhood, just as she attacks their more flexible notion. The difference between attacking a concept and attacking millions of real children is both enormous and patently obvious. Sommers's title, then, is not just wrong but inexcusably misleading. For the claim in her subtitle that "misguided feminism is harming our young men," she does not present a shred of credible supporting evidence but rather advances her position by assertion and abstract argumentation.
Had Sommers written a calm, factual presentation of boys' academic and social problems, this could have been a valuable book. Boys do lag behind girls in reading and writing, and they do trail in extracurricular participation. They are both perpetrators and victims of violence more often than girls are. But Sommers's book is a work of neither dispassionate social science nor reflective scholarship; it is a conservative polemic. Sommers focuses less on boys than on the feminists and cultural liberals against whom she has a long-standing animus. As a society, we sorely need a discussion of boyhood that is thoughtful and searching. This intemperate book is a hindrance to such conversation.
© 2000 The Washington Post Company

Can Enemies Become Allies? A conversation between James Huff and Julian Real, Part 3: Questions await Answers about Truth and Consequences

image is from here
If you're reading this after 10:30pm/2230 GMT on 2 June 2011, then cool. If you've read it before then, it's changed in two sections. Portions have been expanded and clarified--well, I hope they have been. ;)

What follows is the latest correspondence from me to James. I may post his reply here as well or put it into the next post in this series. This is what has happened thus far. Someone named Mastenship showed up on my blog, posting comments--in conjunction with my responses to him--at this post *here on men and rape*.

He also contacted me by email and welcomed respectful correspondence. We have begun that.

*Here's part one*
*Here's part two*
Below is part three.

Central to so many US MRA's beliefs is the anti-feminist nonsense put forth by too many men to name, and a few women too. *Here's a recent post about that*, titled Hearsay and Heresy: Katie Roiphe's Patriarchal Logic is Riddled with Distortions in Katha Pollitt's Classic Feminist Essay, Not Just Bad Sex

His book lists are referenced below.

Hi James,

With regard to information you share with me from the net, it comes across to me as all so speculative or anecdotal. It's not at all what I thought I'd be engaging with; you sent me a link to a piece from Fox News. That network isn't even regarded by serious reporters to be a legitimate source of "news": only propaganda. I can link you to careful analysis of what Fox News does that is not news and that is shoddy propaganda, if you'd like. Let me know.

I've asked you some questions and am hoping you'll respond to them. Obviously it's your decision as to whether to do so and I'm not wanting to rush you. I know that I've written a lot to you in the last days. I'm only asking you to take the time you need to respond directly to the questions that follow in this post.

I also wanted to express that some of what you put forth as logic comes across to me as an exercise in intellectual abstractionism.

My work is not abstract or theoretical, at heart. At heart it is a constant effort to expand consciousness about who feels what sorts of pain and why The feminists I know seek to make women's liberation from men socially existent and solid.  I seek here to carry women's knowledge from around the world to my blog and beyond; to make women's realities as intellectually, emotionally, and viscerally real to men as I can. I'm severely limited in my ability to do this work but I've got great connections to truly amazing and wonderful feminist-identified women worldwide. They are fighting such brave and strong battles against racist and patriarchal injustice. I am so thankful for all they do for humanity.

If I didn't make these connections with women globally I wouldn't know what was going on. I wouldn't know, deeply, what is happening to women in South Africa, Uganda, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Malaysia, Japan, China, North America, Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and in the UK, across Europe, and in Australia. James, if you're not speaking intimately with women in these places there's no way you'd know what their experience is; extrapolating from selective (and very few) Western news stories wouldn't be wise to do, in my opinion.

I hope you read the post about Katie Roiphe and Katha Pollitt (the link to it is *here*), and took to heart and mind what Katha detailed was really messed up with Katie's work. Seriously flaws in logic and argumentation. Seriously unowned and unrecognised biases and anti-woman views being put forth as objective truth. I don't see why Katie's work is valued by you: it's truly shoddy. It is or ought to be an embarrassment to anyone who values intellectual rigour and truth, honor, and wisdom.

I am wondering how many books by Vandana Shiva have you read?
How many by Catharine A. MacKinnon? They've each written a lot.
How many by Patricia Hill Collins?
By Alice Walker?
By bell hooks? She's written around twenty books--each one dealing with sexism, racism, classism, social analysis and cultural critique, or all of that together.
Have you read the account of the US invasion in Afghanistan by Malalai Joya, who must change where she sleeps most nights to avoid being killed for speaking out against the male supremacists in her country and those invading her country from NATO and the US?
Does her experience matter as much as your Katie Roiphe's? If not, why not?

Malalai and Vandana, and my friend Avi who is Indigenous and is currently living in Sweden, and Andrea Smith who is Indigenous living in North America, are far smarter and wiser than is any Men's Rights writer I've ever encountered. To pay attention to MRAs and Katie and to ignore writer-activists like Malalai, Vandana, Andrea, and to ignore the stories and struggles of women worldwide is to choose to not know much about what's going on with women globally.

Why would someone not wish to know what's happening to women globally? I'm asking you that and ask it often of other men. I hope you'll answer that.

Women are being killed by men across the globe for the "crime" of being a woman. Men are not being killed the world over by women for being men, And women are not killing men around the world who commit crimes against women, who violate women's human rights and human bodies. White men, particularly but not only from the US, are raping and enslaving girls and women across the globe. Is protecting men's rights more important than ending sexual slavery and rape, to you?

How does one purporting to care about human rights not care about that?
What does one have to focus on to not have the pain girls experience register in their own bodies and haunt their minds?

I don't understand your political priorities. At all. You haven't described anything to me that isn't anecdotal or speculative, or, in the case of Roiphe--who is on your favorite authors list, wrong. Just plain wrong. You haven't, as yet, respond to the study on the rape of Indigenous women in the US. You haven't, as yet, responded to my questions. I do not seek to work to place written ads for our respective positions on one another's blogs. That's not something I would consider to be valuable work.

I have come to witness over the last thirty years that white women and women of color are the central activists working around the world for human rights for everyone and for all life. Men the world over are destroying the world and all life. Not all men. But men-not-women.

Women participate in systems of atrocious destruction, of course. White women and rich women especially. But men designed those systems and men still rule those systems.

I hold to bring awareness to the people with the most power and privileges, not those with the least. I hold in highest regard those with the least power and privileges not those with the most. I do not see in your work the recognition that women of color even exist. Or poor men. Or most humans on Earth. Your work appears to me to be directed at only a small segment of society but a segment with extraordinary wealth and unearned entitlements, relative to every other demographic of people on Earth. I don't understand your choice to represent and advocate for only that population. It perplexes and saddens me. It calls forth grief in my heart.

You have indicated to me that you don't know much about what many gay males experience, systematically, that most het men do not. This tells me we live in different realities. Yours is very privileged indeed, which is not to say you haven't know deep pain, wounding, and suffering. I believe you surely have experienced all of that, and hopefully many joys and blessings too.

As far as I can tell, you argue for justice in the courts, without seeming to realise that most men and most women around the world have no access whatsoever to those courtrooms: most humans on Earth cannot afford an attorney and do not find justice in courtrooms even if they should get good legal representation and appear there. The court systems in most places on Earth--including in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Australia, is stacked against women in so many dreadful and horrific ways--putting women in harm's way; not protecting women from men's violence; not protecting children from men's sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuses. It appears you would like me to believe the exact and precise opposite is true. Correct me if that's not the case.

But so you know, to do that I'd have to pretend I never spoke to a woman in my life. I'd have to ignore most of what I know to be true, and ignore most of what reality demonstrates. I'd have to choose to be willfully ignorant and steeped only in my own privileges to not know what's going on. I don't think life is rosy for white people. I don't think life is just a breeze for men. But to only focus on what white men experience--as virtually every single MRA I know of does--is to relegate to their unconsciousness the pain and suffering of all people who do not look like them.

James, most people living in this region of the world are not structurally positioned in Western society as we are. And because you and I are male and white we receive so much that most people in the world will never have. (Read *this* for more.) Some call this placement in society "a matter of luck". I call it a direct consequence of us living in a society that unfairly and dishonorably institutionalises economic, political, social, and environmental injustice and terrorism. There's nothing accidental going on if we look at the big picture along with the smaller ones. The small ones build to create the larger one, and the institutional forces show up in interpersonal and intimate ways. Overall, if not always individually, white men in the West benefit more than any other group of humans. For me that's about as obvious as the clear daylit sky being blue and the Great Lakes' waters being wet.

I don't understand well-sighted people believing the sky is orange and well-feeling people believing the water is dry. To believe that white men suffer structurally the most, not least, is a delusional indulgence most people around the world cannot afford to invest in.

Other questions are as follows.

Why, in your opinion, are so few men (those who despise feminists and feminism) so unable to seriously discuss social justice issues?

Why do you think there's so much homophobic and misogynist lingo tossed around among US male soldiers and in civilian life?

Why do you think military training officers use derogatory language about women--calling men "girl" and other terms to degrade and humiliate them, for example, during the training period?

Do you believe that feminist women ought not be castigated, stereotyped, and pigeon-holed by men? Do you believe that men organising against feminist campaigns to achieve human rights is a dishonorable pursuit?

You wrote to me:
I was an avid role-player at the time, and a very prodigious reader.  I studied everything from cooking to quantum physics.

Did you read non-fiction work by women of color, about their experiences in the world? If so, can you tell me what books and authors you read?

I ask you this because I am reminded of a friend I once had who was white and heterosexual and male. He loved science and math. He was into science fiction. He loved frisbee also. And he had walls of books he'd read, in his apartment. I remember looking for anything at all written by a woman of color. There was not one book among his hundreds. He assumed he was VERY well-read. I argued, very politely, that he was not. I argued that he knew very little about the world if he'd never read anything by women of color--and very little by white women either.

Women of color are, by far, the world's majority of people, relative to men of color, white men, and white women. How it was he thought reading the work of mostly white men, along with some Asian and Black and Mexican men was informing him about "all of humanity" was something I knew he'd learned to assume in an educational system (K through 12 and throughout college) that was geared toward building up an idea that has an ideology attached to it. The idea is this: white men are great. White men are geniuses. White men make history. White men write the best writing that has ever been written. No one in his education taught him that women of color are the world's majority of people, who have the most knowledge of what is happening in the world. I doubt anyone told you that either. But you tell me if your professors and teachers told you that without knowing what women of color experience, your life will be starved of knowledge and wisdom.

You have written about qualities you look for in allies--a sort of character check-list. I don't look for that so much in my allies, although I do in my close friends. What I look for in global allies is connection to the real world, not living in denial, not being delusional, not hiding in privilege, and being knowledgeable and wise more than informed and trained. I look for people who are working to assist the most dispossessed and demeaned and degraded humans in their efforts to build humane community and political, economic, and social structures from which humanity can arise wise and sustainably engaged with the rest of the world. How each group of oppressed people figure out how to do this is not for me to say: they know their conditions and choices far better than I could.

While modified, you appear to hold a rather abstract and absolute value of a term that is culturally relative and politically loaded: that term is "logic", or, alternately, "rationality". This is part of a philosophy that is often unconscious of its own hidden values. Usually this type of thinking is accompanied by a belief that ideas equal actions, and abstraction isn't problematic.

You similarly seem to demean or downgrade things like "emotion". Do you realise you are playing out some really old and inaccurate dualisms by expressing yourself this way? Not to mention misogynistic ones. Do you realise that when the emotion-centers of the brain aren't functioning, rational and logical thought isn't possible? You seem to be pretending one can think without feeling. I sense that what you mean is to not be misled by feelings. I'd argue, however, that you are being misled by unexamined dualisms, by cutting yourself off needlessly from emotion, and that you assume the kinds of thinking that result when doing this lead one to find greater and more solid truths. And there are unexamined suppositions and assumptions as well in your writing, about human nature, about how the mind works, about what "human" means, and what corrodes or degrades the human soul. For you emotion appears more toxic than rationality. I'd argue that one without the other produces disorder and deadly outcomes.

I encourage you to become more conscious of these things, and note how your value of them is steeped, very problematically, in Western white male privileges. This is consistent with much of what you write: it demonstrates the extent to which your thinking is shaped by value systems that are pre-determined to find Western white men superior, or smarter, than anyone else. In my experience Western white men are among the least intelligent people I know, because they are structurally positioned to know so little about the world, and because they mistake information for knowledge, and logic for wisdom. I see you doing this regularly, without awareness.

You would learn a lot about how your privileges and power is wed to your values and assumptions by reading many sections of Yurugu, by Dr. Marimba Ani.

You wrote:
Individuals can be very “wrong” or very “right” in their outlook depending on the perspective of the world.  This is why I do not castigate individuals so much as the ideas that they stand for.  I think it folly for any group to do that to another.  It creates a spiral that draws others into logical fallacy and sucks the whole thing into a common playground brawl.

Do you see how you construct meaning from abstract ideals? I construct meaning from human suffering and endurance, from reality. When I shared with you a story about men being humiliated by being made to wear pink uniforms in prison, you told me you laughed a lot and felt they should get far worse than that. I disagreed, arguing, in part, that that form of "punishment" could only work as a deterant to committing future crime if pink was associated with women, and if women were associated with something very degraded in status, and very attached to stigma.

What do you think about that analysis?

You wrote:
Unfortunately, you may be right about me seeing people as an object of study.  Given what I have told you about my experiences, you can be assured that I do that with EVERYONE....including MRAs that I work with.  I had to do it to myself when I rebuilt who I in truth it is simply a modus operandi that comes naturally to me.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t care....far from it.  It just means that the entire universe comes under this objective lens in search to uncover what I think is the truth.
Even my personal relationships are flavored by this.
I do love though....I do cry.  I have cried over the simple things, so I do understand what it is to PART of the world.  I have cried over a moving piece of music, over a beautiful sunset, over the happiness of a child on Christmas morning.  I have cried over the pain of others. (I had a hard time keeping it together as I wrote those posts to you). It certainly does NOT make me less of a man to FEEL.

I am glad you can feel vulnerable emotions deeply. But this sentiment is betrayed by other values and statements you make, such as the statements that reveal the very considerable value you place on logic and rationality, which you appear to see as in some sort of [false] opposition to emotions and feelings. Can you clarify where you stand on this?

And I want to know if you've cried for women being so badly beaten by boyfriends and husbands that their bones break and never heal properly. Over women who are terrorised in their own homes, by men who promised to love and honor them. I want to know if you've cried over girls being sexually abused, and over children and women being trafficked by men. I want to know if you've cried about all the hundreds of thousands of women locked inside systems of prostitution having semen dumped on their faces, flesh torn internally, being raped by their traditionally male pimps and by their male procurers. The women who have survived these things, and misogynist atrocities, are my closest, dearest friends. They are all radical feminists. And not one of them hates men.

This is my answer: I have not cried. I don't cry much and I go for years without crying. I learned to be distant in myself, far from my feelings, even while I have very intense feelings and experience other people's pain quite intensely. How I do that is to dissociate quickly from what I feel. I don't recommend it as a way to live unless one's life necessarily involves enduring atrocities that no human should have to endure.

I wrote this to you:
I'll share this with you: I think how I use the terms "white" and "man" on my blog are frequently misread and misunderstood, with someone's own preconceptions being layered on top of the meanings I'm wishing to communicate. Or, I'm just terrible at communicating. lol

When I use a term like "white" or "man" I'm speaking not so much of a kind of "being" but rather a kind of doing-in-a-location. The location is one atop a social hierarchy. The doing is such that the hierarchy is reinforced, not dissolved, by the behaviors of those atop the hierarchy. I view those atop a hierarchy as having more power, relative to those on the bottom. This doesn't at all mean I feel or thing or experience people on the bottom as not having agency or power, or will, or anything else. We're all human, to me. But rich people have more opportunities and privileges than do poor people, in my experience. And they have different experiences with being shamed and/or statused for one's economic status. I don't know many poor people who get the best seat in a restaurant for being poor. But merely being rich might afford one this privilege. That's a minor example of what I'm getting at. So the action of whiteness would be to take advantage of the privileges one has for being white, or a man, or rich. Or heterosexual.

I want to know: Does that clarify anything for you about why I do the work I do and with whom I do it? Does that illuminate anything for you about how power operates in the world?

You wrote:
While I may not have had your experiences in the matter, I certainly felt moved by your description of them.  I can only say that my religious views are.....different than most...and have come under attack.  That is really the extent of my personal experience with prejudice.

I am curious to know:  What is your religion or what are your religious views?
You wrote:
Here we stand, each seeking desperately to end anger and pain...each having separate methods and ideologies to to so.  Each of those ideologies are antithetical to each other.  We each consider ourselves knowledgeable in the subjects we want to openly discuss.

I do not seek to end anger and pain, James. I seek to encourage anger at injustice, to illuminate where, how, when, and to whom it happens. I seek to make specific forms of pain felt by those who don't know anything about it, but not by inflicting it, but rather by describing what it is, with hope that someone will find a way to feel it, and join in working to stop not the pain, not the anger, but the systems of great harm, the systems of gross exploitation, the systems of oppression and human subjugation and slavery.

You wrote:
People stand on a set of beliefs, or by logic.  Keep in mind that we know not what the future will bring in the long run in our talks, and we may very well find more common ground than what you think, especially as concerns admitting that there are issues we agree on that need to be addressed, and being able to dissect the cause of those issues.

As I hope you know, there are more slaves now than ever before. This, in my view, ought to be opposed by anything deeply thinking/feeling person. As should rape. As should genocide. Do you agree with that? I don't think people stand on beliefs and logic only. I think people stand on their spiritual connections in the world, to the world, with the world. I think people stand on love, on their hope for loving relationships, on hope for liberation from organised forms of enforced suffering. That's beyond logic for me. It's beyond the mental realm, spilling into the emotional one. This is partly to say: I don't value thought more than feeling. I don't think intellect is worth a damn if one's heart is bitter and closed. I think Hitler and his Nazi troops were highly logical and rational people. And sociopathic and very evil too in what they did with their logic systems. Logic and rationality, alone, has no particular value to me, for me. But their sociopathy was normal in the middle of the last century, across Europe. There are other ways to be human. Feminists practice those other ways of being human and a few hateful people online who you and some other men seek to turn into "all of feminism" don't speak for anyone but themselves. I encourage you to read Alice Walker's The Color Purple, for one great example of feminist (and womanist) writing and being. And to read bell hooks. And to read Patricia Hill Collins' books. There you will find feminism.

You wrote:
Just a note, I did tone down some of the rhetoric within my own blog.  It is an MRA resource, and of course the military note is still there (because of it's identification with my background), but I have removed much of the type of language that may alienate people coming in.  Of course I don't want to be part of the problem.  Please check it out, and you will see what I mean.

Thank you for doing that.

I wrote to you:
And, please keep in mind--it's not the individual tactics; it's the
whole of the experience across one's life--from the bullying in school
to the sexual abuse to the messages in media, to the messages within
the family, to the messages in religious institutions, to the messages
in education, to the way one is treated everywhere one goes, to how
lovers treat you, and on and on. It's the whole bundle of experiences
which have meaning in that context, never as isolated experiences.

hat most men I know don't get is how many experiences women
have [of misogynist mistreatment, of terrorism by men, of gross
assault by men] that men don't have and have no clue about.

Is that also your experience of the men you know?

Will you consider doing this?

1. Ask all the men you know what they do, over the course of a day and
over a week, to avoid being raped. Then ask all the women you know.
Make a list each time. You'll be shocked at what you find out if you
speak, say, to one hundred men and one hundred women.

2. Ask men what they most fear from women.
Ask women what they fear most from men.

Ask women how many times have women experienced scary situations on
the street? Not only disrespectful situations, but scary ones.

I wrote to you about what many women I know experience often on the street.

It included this:
The women say things like, "Can't you tell I'm on the phone?" Or,
"Please leave me alone." The [male drivers who are stalking the women]
don't care. They do whatever they want.
They feel very, very entitled to behave this way. Often. Regularly.
Many women have these experiences every day they are out in public.

Can you imagine what this is like, when added to the experience of being
raped earlier in one's life?

Do you think men raping women is honorable?

Do you think men terrorising women as common practice is
honorable behavior?

Do you think men joking about raping women is

You wrote:
   I say both sides because I have seen women come onto MRA boards
and get so flaming mad they threaten to castrate people.  I mean,
people like Erin Pizzy and Evin Rubar had to go underground for years
because of the bomb and death treats they received for speaking their

I looked up both people online. I found this:

Pizzey reports that she has been the subject of death threats and boycotts due to her conclusion that most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally as capable of violence as men.

Does this indicate to you that women around the world, including in North America, the UK, and Australia, are not being terrorised by their husbands and severely beaten by their boyfriends? I accept that women are capable of violence. I wish they'd use it more against the men who terrorise and assault them.

I have known heterosexual domestic violence situations where woman and the man were very abusive to one another--usually with him being verbally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually, and physically abusive, and her being verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abusive. I don't know of one case of a woman terrorising a man, however. Or of a woman murdering a man who was not abusing her. I do know of many, many cases of women who were murdered by men after doing this: leaving them. Not living with them any more. Breaking up with them because of their rage and their wrath. I have known women who live with men who rape them several times a week. (The women never rape the men in retaliation.)

You also mentioned someone named Evin Rubar, who made a film in Sweden called The Sex War.

Did you know, James, that it is frequently mistranslated to English as "The Gender War", which is not accurate?

I found this online:
'Könskriget' is a two-part documentary televised by Swedish national SVT in 2005. The title is most often translated as 'The Gender War' but can more appropriately be translated as 'The Sex War': for this isn't just about man versus woman - this is about woman against sex.

The women involved in this 'struggle' - something they themselves call
'a universal civil war' - aren't merely disappointed with their previous relationships - they want men gone completely, they hate men, they want the male of the species literally eradicated - wiped out.

'Könskriget' was researched, narrated, and produced by Evin Rubar. Both 'Könskriget' and Rubar won several awards for the documentary.

So you are mentioning to me a film made in Sweden that is not available in English to make what point exactly? Are you trying to do what so many MRAs (or, well, faux MRAs) online are doing: stoking an MRA flame-war about those feminists--especially over there in SWEDEN--where men actually get accused of rape when they rape women. Where women actually have HUMAN RIGHTS. Where men cannot get away with raping women and girls around the world. Do you see feminists as less diverse a population that, say, socially unconscious, male supremacy-protecting men? Do you observe contradictions in feminism that don't exist in "your" group? Or, in any groups of human beings working towards complex social-political goals?

Are you mentioning this to me because it proves that women are liars, James? Or just hypocrites? Do you "win" if we can show that some feminists contradict each other? If we show that some feminists don't uphold feminist values 100% of the time? This would appear to assume that anti-feminist or pro-patriarchal men are somehow less hypocritical and less contradictory in their actions and stated beliefs and values. I've seen no evidence of men's integrity, James. Perhaps this is not why you sent me those links. I'll await you telling me why you sent them--what points do you feel get reinforced by the information they provide? And, how do you interpret the information they provide? That would give us a lot more information about your hidden values and unconscious motives.

Are you citing her and the other woman to prove to me that women only lie and that's all they do when they speak of things like atrocious, heinous crimes men commit against women? Are you telling me about these two women because you'd like for me to go "Wow! I guess feminism really IS all wrong!"Or are you just wanting something on your blog and mine that makes MRAs cheer that?

I'm not really sure what you were wanting me to do with that information about those two women. This, to me, is typical, though, of US and UK MRA intellectual tactics. To scour the Earth, in this case all the way to Sweden, to dig up stories that reinforce misogynist, antifeminist men's beliefs that serve to protect their privileges, power, and status, while reinforcing the stigma of women-as-liars and feminists as "crazy". This very common tactic cleverly--or not--diverts attention well away from WHAT MEN ACTUALLY DO TO WOMEN THAT IS ATROCIOUS. And wrong. And immoral. And criminal. And violating, degrading, abusive, violent, harmful, humiliating, subjugating, and oppressive. Are you hoping I'll read up about those two women and neatly forget what men actually do, the world over, to girls and women because they are girls and women?

I won't be doing that any time soon, James. And you even bringing their names into this conversation demonstrates to me the weakness of your arguments about feminism and feminists.

You have demonstrated absolutely no familiarity with feminism or feminists--including what they believe and do. And I don't mean the one thing they believe and do. I mean the hundreds of things they believe, and the thousands of things they do to better humanity the world over--to make it better for women, for men, and for children, and for the Earth and for animals that are not human. You list very few feminist books in your reading list [readers: please see the comments section *here* for that]. You do, however, put Hitler, Marx, and Dworkin on "the same side" of your reading list. Do you understand the ideological differences between those three people? Can you detail those differences to me? If not, I'll conclude you've not read any of those books... carefully and thoughtfully.

What is Andrea Dworkin saying in her work, exactly? Please summarise her work for me. In your own words, from your own reading of her work, not from what MRAs, FR activists, and various ranting-and-raving men have to say, without much intelligence, about Andrea Dworkin. You indicate you are familiar with her work. So am I. I also knew her. So please do tell me what she was saying in her work and I'll offer you my own take on what she's addressing.Most MRAs cannot read her work intelligently at all, and instead feel she hates men because she dares to name what it is men do, and how it is men do, that is the opposite of honorable. And she did so without kissing men's asses and without apologising to men for naming their CRAP.

You have stated that men online who rant and rave against feminists are not MRAs. You do not, as yet, say that the women represented in the film The Sex War do not represent feminists in the US and UK. Why is that? Why the double standard?

I see so many double standards in the arguments of MRAs and, honestly, I don't see much else. I see lots of anger about when something unjust happens to a man, but no regard or concern at all about what happens that is unjust to women. I could argue that if one has integrity, one cares about "injustice"--regardless of who experiences it. The MRAs do not indicate this humane value--against all injustice, for all liberation. They insist, instead, that men are victimised by women, and women's claims of victimisation are greatly exaggerated. They never quite say that men do not systematically rape women. They don't quite declare that men do not oppress women institutionally and interpersonally. Well, some do.

They deny reality in favor of centering their own pain as if no other pain is real or important to attend to and understand. These men come across to me as very emotionally immature, psychologically insecure, and spiritually bankrupt. I honestly don't know what you see in them. Their bigotry is palpable whenever they speak.

And you deal with this by saying those aren't MRAs. MRAs are doing legal work. I know some of those MRAs, James. They are not much more than bitter bigots either.

These are men who hate various groups of men, and most women, but don't admit to doing either. These are men who like to laugh at men's humiliation but who blast feminists for "shaming" men. Do you see the double standard here?

I wrote this to you:
I again want to be clear about this: I have known of many emotionally
abusive parents--emotionally abusive mothers and fathers. What I
haven't known was mothers who also, in addition to the emotional
abuse, sexually abused their sons from age three to thirteen. I know
of too many cases where fathers or surrogate fathers did that, and
also fought for custody, and were granted it, when the women found out
and left the guys. Is that justice?

Is that justice?

What is it that prevents MRAs from acknowledging this rather obvious and glaring truth?

[I]n many many countries, to this day, women and children are still
men's property. As was the case, of course, in the US until after the
turn of the last century.

Do MRAs you know realise this:

The opposite of patriarchy, and what every single activist woman I
know is working for, is a world where NO gender rules the other--the
goal is to dismantle the hierarchy, not reverse the genders in it. I
know of not one woman who is working to create a world in which women
treat men the way men, currently, across the globe, mistreat women.

I'm wondering right now: do you think we don't live in a patriarchal
society? Do you believe the world is not primarily and predominantly
patriarchal? (Meaning, that men rule society and fathers rule in the

I'd appreciate knowing your answer to that question.
And to these:
Do you think you and I do not live in a patriarchal, male-ruled society?
Do you think patriarchy isn't globalised?

I wrote to you:
Most women I know are caring, loving people. Not bitter. Not mean.
Most feminists I know are among the most humane, caring, loving people
I know. They care about men being raped and about women being
raped--they truly could just care when women are raped. But when MEN
joke about prison rape, these women do not laugh. Because they get
that rape is awful, humiliating, violating, degrading, traumatic,
tearing the flesh. It's not a joke to any woman I know, and it's not a
joke to me either. I see such inhumanity in men about violence and
humiliation--as if it's funny. Who gets to find it funny? Privileged
people who aren't survivors of it.

I wrote to you:
[M]ost men don't have money, and the world's poor are women and
children--who won't see $200 in a whole year. I know you were
referencing the Monopoly game, but no matter what that amount, it isn't
money most women who divorce a man will see. And you and I both
know how many men never pay child support
or alimony, even (and only) if they are ordered to do so by a court.

How honorable are those men, who don't wear a condom and then complain
because they have a child they have to be responsible for? Who forced
those men, such as with gun against head, or a knife against the
throat, to have heterosexual intercourse, as an adult, without a

I would surely appreciate you succinctly answering those questions, just above.

I wrote:
[M]en are still paid more than women, dollar for dollar. And the only "profession" where women
are paid much more than men is the one where women are most at risk of
being gang-raped repeatedly: performing in the pornography industry.

What do you make of these forms of sexism and misogyny embedded into our economic system?

I wrote:
[T]he women I know
are fighting to get their abused children away from the
father-husbands who battered the women. And the judges ruled that
information ought not "bias the court" as if whether or not a man is
violent in his own home ought to be "beside the point" of whether he
might be a good father. Huh? The women I know are the poor ones
without the resources to get the best attorney.

Perhaps you are referencing the few women in the world who have gobs

of money. But that's not most women. Most women across the globe are
very, very poor.

Do you agree that most men and women do not have money to fight about anything in courts of law?

Do you acknowledge that the men you represent and assist are among the most privileged men on Earth?

You wrote and I responded:
   I know you might find this offensive in my approach...but I
laughed my butt off when I heard about the pink prison attire.

That doesn't surprise me.

 I followed that story in the way-back days.  To tell you the truth, I
think they got what was coming to them.

What? Being humiliated by having to do something they viewed as "feminine"? Do you get how this news story is insulting to all women and girls? What is your daughter to think about that story, if she likes pink? What does she learn about her own value in the world from that story? I'm not sure if you have children, James, but would you want your sons or your daughters learning that things that are "girlie" or "womanly" or "feminine" are so degrading that to make a man wear something that's pink is considered "cruel and unusual punishment"? See, you get to laugh, because for you it's not degrading. For me it is part of that whole: of heterosexual men having more status and less stigma, socially. And that is used against gay men and against women across sexuality. A lot. Daily. In media those messages are ubiquitous--what's associated with women is "lesser" than what's associated with being a manly man.

So, to clarify: I don't find it offensive. I find it predictable and also rather sad. Not really offensive, per se. I find it typical of heterosexual men to laugh at other het men being humiliated by being made to do something "womanly" or "girlie". And that violence--that violence of being seen as "a degraded thing" doesn't visit you, apparently. It visits me a lot. And women a lot. So that's a kind of privilege too. To be able to laugh at things that really do hurt some people a whole lot. To be insensitive to that kind of suffering. To not know who is suffering and why. To not get how thoroughly woman-hating and girl-hating that story is.

Do you see the punishment as grossly misogynistic and sexist--reinforcing an idea that things associated with  women and girls as inferior to men and bring down men's "superior" social standing? If that's not your understanding of what's going on with that punishment, I'd love to what you think is humiliating about wearing pink. Why are the men upset by having to wear that color. What does it represent to them or signify? If not "women", does it signify being "gay"? Don't gay males get called terms that mean "like a woman" often?

You wrote (and I responded):
 In my opinion they should have added purple polka dots to it, too.

Why? To what end? Why can't the men be regarded as human and be shown how to be humane if their crimes were those involving inhumane actions?

 It comes down to my belief in harsher punishments for certain crimes
becoming a deterant to those who would think to commit them.  Make
them walk in someone else’s shoes for a while, ya know?

Those men were not made to walk in women's shoes. They were made to wear pink. They may have been at risk for rape because they were in prison where men rape men a lot--because there are no women to rape. And when they rape men they call the raped men "their bitch". Why? Why does a raped person get called something that is used to further hurt, insult, degrade, and humiliate women?

I'd surely appreciate considered answers to each of those questions.

You wrote (and I responded):
   This does two things.  It creates an identity that draws the lines
in a legal fashion.  It also allows us (both of us) to know when we
are speaking to a true representative of the Men’s Rights Movement.

I am troubled by this, James. Because, for MRAs, whoever calls themself a feminist *is* a feminist, aren't they? Or do the people you know in that group distinguish between women who call themselves feminist and women who *are* feminist? And what means do they use--what methods do they employ--to tell the difference?

 The haters are thrown in the junkbin and can be safely ignored,

Will you, personally, throw them in the junkbin? What I want to know, James, is what are you going to do to stop them from acting out their hatred? What specifically are you going to do? Because they speak in
your name, using a term with which you identify, and if they don't speak for you, how will you distinguish yourself from them, in name? And to whom are they safely put away? Where are they going? In an abstract dustbin which you can pretend is real? It's not real for me because it doesn't exist.

I see this as further evidence of argumentation that rests on abstractionism, not on what is actually happening in the real world of oppression, privilege, terrorism, and murder.

You wrote:
   and it will allow for the type of discourse needed between TRUE
members of the movement, and not these “Johny come latelys” and
“ignorant fools”.

I'd appreciate you detailing the means and methods you'll employ and get other men to employ while you call men to arms, to stop spilling their hatred and and misdirecting the pain of their wounds out onto women in truly despicable, repugnant, inhumane ways.