It’s December 6, and casual misogyny abounds

Green-AppleThis morning Canadians on Facebook and Twitter have been calling on us to remember the 14 female engineering students whose lives were taken by a gunman on December 6, 1989, and to pledge that violence against women will stop.

I was particularly taken with this address made by NDP MP Megan Leslie in 2008 and shared on Twitter today. Leslie said, “We live in a culture of casual misogyny…And we don’t do enough to fight it.”

This year, like any year, I would agree with Megan Leslie. But this year in particular, I have been provided (via an argument on Facebook no less, if you want to really talk “casual”) with an example of casual misogyny in action which has proven, beyond a doubt, that we need more than ever, to oppose violence against women, and first and foremost, to vehemently oppose, wherever they arise, the misogynistic attitudes that lead to gender-based violence in the first place.

The argument started with an opinion piece called The war on men, written by Suzanne Venker and published on FoxNews.com. Venker opines that women these days are having a hard time finding a marriageable man these days, and it’s feminism’s fault:

Women aren’t women anymore…

Now the men have nowhere to go…

Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them…

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.

Pretty nauseating stuff. Almost laughably bad, and I was laughing at it. I was laughing at this horrible piece of “journalism” because I didn’t know a single person who actually thought the article had any truth or merit.

Until last weekend when I found myself in a Facebook argument I couldn’t ignore because this man’s opinions were so disturbing to me. A friend had posted the article and we were all having a nice time poking fun at its flaws when for some reason a guy up and decided that this was the day he was going to reveal his true feelings about feminism at last. At first, pretty small potatoes. This guy said that he had met too many “liberal transient single women with zero goals” who problematize masculinity to say feminism was without its problems. I have also met such women, but as was immediately pointed out, perhaps the issue was not the women’s feminism itself but perhaps other aspects of their personality (or, as my friend suggested, “a lack of critical thinking”).

Sounds good to me. But no. The guy then told me that “the line of of thinking” in feminism is not the belief that everyone should have equal value in society, but that feminists believe that society itself is invalid because it is patriarchical. To which I replied:

“As a feminist, I think I know what my own line of thinking is thank you. And I think it’s a bit much to say “THE line of thinking” is or isn’t anything. At its base, it’s about being an equally valued member of society no matter your gender, and this is the line of thinking I hear most often from the feminists in my life. After that, the idea of feminism becomes complicated and I believe personal, affected by where and when I live, historically and geographically. Just as I assume your own beliefs and values surrounding gender, femininity and masculinity are. If YOU personally believe that society is invalid because it’s patriarchal, that’s fine. Either way, you don’t really have the right to paint your particular idea of feminism on me or any other feminist. I’ve been a feminist for as long as I’ve been socially conscious. I’m more than capable of knowing what my line of thinking is.

The issue for me wasn’t really what this guy thought about feminism, it was that he, not I (a woman and a feminist) knew what THE line of thinking in feminism was. Some feminists may very well have this belief about society and patriarchy, but this is not an absolute. Many people joined in at this point to agree that “isms” are flexible and personal, and that there is a whole spectrum of feminism to which a person and their line of thinking can belong. In fact, my friend who posted the article in the first place even stepped in and tried to smooth things over by clarifying that it was the stupid article, not masculinity, that was under attack, and she was sorry if the guy had felt differently.

To which he replied with a bunch of mumbo jumbo no doubt picked up during a philosophy class, about spectrums and how they are “very clearly finite” complete with a mathematical example. Other people tried to shut down this crazy train but this guy was intent to keep on chugging:

“i replied in this manner because i sensed the feeling behind the sheepish bashing of crude right-wing news is coming from a place of pain and darkness. the punches are too easy… are you just externalizing your pain?. so its like hey u kno what? there’s a ton of pain and obscurity and distancing and dissociating within the feminist movement. Inside. if we confront that pain well be 10x stronger in creating the world we want.”

Again, there’s a tiny kernel of truth there. Yes, a lot of women (like a lot of men) experience pain and darkness in their lives. Many of them at the hands of men or at the hands of a gender-biased society. It’s one of the reasons people (both men and women) might become feminists in the first place. But it seems to me that this guy, while pretending he is part of the “we” that needs to “confront the pain” (while so obviously demonstrating he is not on the same team), is experiencing some pain of his own around the idea of feminism that he needs to deal with. Why else would he be trying to prove he is not misogynistic by calling women “sheepish” and essentially saying they just need to deal with their baggage?

And this point I just couldn’t ignore the conversation anymore and had to step back in:

“Here’s the thing. When _____  first shared this article, we were laughing at the stupidity of it, making jokes like “good thing you’re a great cook” and having a fun time with a poor piece of journalism. The butt of the joke was always the ARTICLE (which was, incidentally, written by a woman), never men themselves. Somewhere along the way things went way off the tracks. I’ve no doubt we’ve all met a feminist or two we didn’t like. I have. But was the problem their feminism or that maybe they just weren’t very nice people? Keep in mind, for example, that _____, a wonderful intelligent person I respect and admire, is a feminist (I make this assumption based on the 20+ years of conversations we’ve had). I assume we’re all friends of _____’s or we wouldn’t be on her Facebook wall. Does anyone truly believe their friend _____ blames her problems on men or indulges in “sheepish bashing”? Or enjoys how crazy this has gotten? If you are her friend, you know she doesn’t. Don’t let bad experiences with a “feminist” or two in the past colour your opinions of the kick ass feminist who shared this post in the first place. For my part, I’m out now before things start to get more nuts, though it’s been an interesting conversation.”

And foolish as I am I truly thought that might be it. I tried to be diplomatic. I didn’t single this guy out. I didn’t use his name or try to make the attacks personal, though I just wanted to scream, “Listen to yourself, you f**king misogynist!”. I thought, surely no rational twenty-something educated Canadian man would want to both insult his friend and appear misogynistic by continuing his kamikaze mission of crazy talk. But he DID:

ok, two last things and this can all roll under the bridge forver if u like ……
i. The handful of women i’m thinking of are lovely intelligent gorgeous human beings, consciously feminist. i personally find them adorable and fun. i see a part of their being is a terrible sadness. a fundamental radical source of negativity seems to be the undercurrent of their choices, shaping a life to be flighty transient and obscure. negating something very primary about the universe: wielding energy over objects is control. so going thru life rejecting this immutability of using masc. power-over, whilst simultaneously relying on others doing it for survival. Weird adolescence without end. seeing giant industry and going NOpe not real ZOOOOOOOoooom.

ii. (my cultural view) by being unable to accept power-over in any form, relationships suffer since the natural dance & ebb and flow of (u>me + me>u = meu) is stifled into oblivion. any decent man versed in feminist thought undeniably recognizes Woman possesses of her Being her own kind of creative power and nonrational wisdom distinct from his, but from which he may borrow. In union, let man go out face the world with his devices (fights for what’s his) and let woman freedom to apply & refine her creation, her genesis at home, in the private realm; or if she decides to leave it, it is her complete choice and not obligation for survival. (you decide what these entities are, ‘Woman’ ‘man’ maybe they are aspecst of your own self, yet this motif comes up again and again). If this basic concept of ‘home’ isn’t satisfied then it is replaced with a series of ugly public conventions, a myriad way of contending with REEEELING against the flow of dominion of men over nature.

I don’t respect this as multiculturalism. It’s simply degradation of the feminine in the name of misdirected freedom. good luck

I just. I just don’t know. I just don’t know what the hell this guy is talking about. I mean, he uses disclaimers like “you decide what these entities are ‘Woman’, ‘Man'”, etc. but hold the phone… “adorable”? The feminists he knows are adorable but have a terrible sadness (and this sadness is somehow feminism’s fault)? And women possess their own kind of “nonrational” wisdom? And that as a woman I am free to express myself in my home and in the private realm? (Or leave my home, if I choose, but don’t worry, he’s told me I’m not “obligated” to do so.)

I have never read anything more patronizing in my life. Like capitalizing the word “Being” just for us feminists (because you can’t be a feminist without also being New Age, apparently). Like admitting to our  “nonrational wisdom” but declaring “power-over” (whatever that is) to be a distinctly and irrevocably masculine power. Like kindly admitting women’s dominion over their homes and private lives, allowing them to enter public life, but assuring women they are not obligated to (assuming, I suppose, because their masculine counterpart is already out there, makin’ the bacon). The whole thing was like getting a huge “F U” wrapped in an ugly bow.

To really really give this clown the benefit of the doubt and say he’s using the words “Man” and “Woman” in symbolic rather than literal terms, I still find his argument sexist: to infer that the power which is public and shapes the world must always be a masculine power, and that the feminine power is wielded in the private realm. I don’t buy it. If I were to divvy up my own yin and yang, I would say it is actually my more stereotypically feminine qualities (my sociability, my rapport, my organization and attention to detail) that allow me to be very good at my job, to support myself, and to get what I want in my public life.

I did read and reread this guy’s comments, wondering if they truly are as sexist as I felt they were. And they are. I am also aware this kind of not-so-thinly veiled “philosophical” misogyny is not the same as committing violent acts against women, and that this guy probably has no idea, in his heart of hearts, that what he was saying makes him appear incredibly incredibly sexist.

Which is why it scares me so much. Just like when someone says, “I’m not racist, but…” before making a gross racial stereotype, a person who claims not to be sexist but simply rational (unlike, apparently, “nonrational” women) is the worst kind of sexist. It is hard to change their minds because they believe they are realists, rationalists, and it is feminists or people who agree with feminism that are crazy and out of touch. And it was all so casual, the way this person just lay these ideas out there as if he was having a drunken philosophical argument with a roommate with no real-world implications. As if all that matters is winning the argument, rather than the repercussions those arguments (as widely held beliefs) have on women, real women, in real life. As if there aren’t people out there, people less in control of their impulses, who come across these so-called “rational” arguments against feminism and use them to justify discrimination and violence.

The misogynists I have had the misfortune to encounter in my life (and not all through the screen of Facebook, unfortunately) all seemed to labour under the misconception that there is a finite amount of success/happiness in the world, and that women wanting to achieve success and happiness means that they want to take this success and happiness away from men. So I want to make something very VERY clear:

When I say I am a feminist, I am saying that I believe all people, regardless of gender, should have equal rights, equal worth, and equal regard in the eyes of the law, society, employment, and any institution or organization they are a part of.

When I, more specifically as a woman, say I am a feminist, I am saying that I believe I have the right to equal opportunity to go out into the world and try to get what I want. I don’t want to take something belonging to a man away from him. But if I want something out of my life, I believe I should have just as much opportunity to try for it as any man has had to achieve his dreams. Dude, I don’t want your dreams. I want mine. And I don’t want the biggest thing standing in my way to be the fact that I am a woman.

When I say I am a feminist, I am saying that I believe that gender-based violence is a hate crime. I am saying that the man who shot and killed fourteen women at the Montreal Ecole Polytechnique 23 years ago because he felt they did not belong in a place of higher education, committed a hate crime, and as Megan Leslie calls it, an act of “gender terrorism” designed to keep women out of traditionally male spheres of life.

And I am saying that gender-based hate crimes begin with attitudes. Begin, as Leslie says, with “casual misogyny”. Begin with the idea that feminism is a threat to men and to masculinity. Begin with the belief that women in the public sphere give men “nowhere to go.” Begin with the idea that there is something tragic, flawed, or simply unnatural about pursuing something outside of traditional gender roles. Begin with the idea that women and feminists are a fringe group, not representative of a large number of people possessing intelligence, practicality, and reason. Begin with the idea that it okay to tell me, a rational intelligent adult, what my “line of thinking” is, as if my deeply held beliefs are up for debate.

No gun kept further generations of Canadian women from going to university. Does anyone really think their high-flung philosophical misogynistic rhetoric is going to shake me?

But it does make me sad. Because it proves that we have so, so very far to go.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “It’s December 6, and casual misogyny abounds

      • Really Rick? I have met only one person in Canada (now three I guess, if I count our virtual meeting and the virtual conversation I had which prompted this post) who think about feminists that way. In fact, most of the women and men in my life (my father and my fiancé for example, my professors, most of the men at my job) believe that men and women are equal, should be treated equally, and are very supportive of feminsm’s main goal: equality.

        I notice you have called my post crap but have not identified what you think is untrue. Perhaps you simply don’t like that it exists, in which case you are on the wrong blog.

        As for the link you sent me, it’s useful I suppose to know that group is out there, however I am confident they represent a minority of Canadians, just as the feminists who rip down lecture posters, etc represent a small minority of feminists. Remember, over half of Canadians are women, and Canada, even with a Conservative government, is relatively progressive when it comes to women’s issues, ergo, a lot of men must be fans of gender equality as well. I highly doubt most Canadians identify with your beliefs though it’s interesting to know they do exist.

      • I am surprised you don’t embrace Emma Clarie as one of your own. I am sure she thinks she is as much a feminist as you are. I would agree with her but of course since I am not a feminist nor a female my opinion on this doesn’t count right?

        What part of your article is crap? Why the title of course. It isn’t causal misogyny that we have today, it is causal misandry that is prevalent throughout our society.

        It is evident right from the beginning of the modern feminist movement. When the suffragettes were protesting for the right to vote, not one of them stood up and said “as well as the right to vote we would also like to shoulder our share of the responsibility of conscription and go to war in Europe”. I bet it never even crossed their minds.

        Men pay more than 50% of the taxes in this country but receive a far smaller portion of the healthcare spending. Now this might not be an issue but for the fact that men die for all reasons on average 6 or 7 years sooner than women and are obviously in need of more healthcare. (When is the last time you saw a men’s health clinic? Compare how much money is raised for breast cancer research to money raised for prostate cancer.)

        Men and boys commit suicide at a rate 4 or 5 times higher than women and girls. If the shoe were on the other foot a national emergency would be declared, royal commissions would be set up, billions of dollars in taxpayer’s money would be thrown at the problem. Instead of all that, what we have is silence. Why is that Lauren?

        Boys are dropping out of highschool at a much higher rate than girls. Why? And more important, why isn’t something being done.

        Homelessness is a male problem, not a female problem.

        The vast majority of victims of violence are male, not female. (please don’t give me that tired old line, “but the perpetrators are male too!” I am sure that is of great consolation to the victims families)

        Over 90% of work related deaths and injuries are male, not female. I would love to see equality here, it would be great to see the number of men dying from work decline to equal that of women.

        The Forced Labour Convention of 1930 specifically exempted abled bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 from the ban on slavery and forced labour. It has been eliminated but still exempts soldiers (which as you can guess are almost exclusively male, over 90% world wide) I would gladly give up this particular male privilege.

        Misandry is as serious as the above and as trivial as tshirts meant for girls that say such things as “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them”. I would never let my son wear a tshirt that said the reverse.

        Yes I agree with you, I am all for equality and I do what I can to see men and boys are treated as well as women and girls are. Let us hope some day we will be truly equal.

        Remember half the population is male. It is our world too.

  1. “A Voice for Men” clearly illustrates the “lack of critical thinking” mentioned in this blog. The “featured offenders” column reads like an eerie hit list, with questionable evidence for how these women wound up on the list. You’d have to live under a pretty big rock to believe that these women are seriously committing hate crimes. Damning individual women and blindly misinterpreting their “agenda” is infinitely more hateful!

  2. I am both Canadian and a man, and I totally distance myself from Rick’s comments.
    Dude, you might want to think twice before posting a website which associates itself with Warren Farrell, who has made some, shall we say, questionably supportive comments about incestuous child abuse in the past.
    http://nafcj.net/taboo1977farrell.htm

    Anyways, Lauren, I hope life provides you with situations, events, people, etc. that showcase a less backwards perspective. Some of these negative structures may be internalized but that just means, like anything parasitic, it is a little harder to kill them off.

    PEACE OUT. Happier Holidays!

    • I believe Warren Farrell was a founding member of NOW and was at the time of these questionable comments a feminist so yes I would take anything he says with grain of salt. I don’t know what he identifies with these days and I don’t really care.

  3. Rick, your opinion on why I should embrace Ms. Claire as one of my own isn’t valid not because you are a man, but for the following:
    1. You are not me, and have no way of knowing what I think and feel about anything, feminism included. Just as I have no real way of knowing what YOU think or feel. I have to base my opinions on the information you’ve provided in your comments. You appear to be basing your opinions of me on the mere fact that I said I am a feminist.
    2. You don’t know me at all. If you did, you would know that I do not align myself with approaches that involve vandalism, ridiculous exaggeration, or that threaten violence in any way. I am also not a misandrist, and certainly would not condone having the word “misandry” tattoed on one’s knuckles.
    3. You seem to equate feminism with misandry. The two are not the same and never have been. Given that this is the basis of your opinion of me, I can’t possibly consider it valid because it rests on a completely erroneous basis in the first place.

    Based on the example I outline in the body of my post, below the title you find so problematic, casual misogyny does exist. The attitudes I outlined in the post (i.e. the attitude that women truly belong in the private, rather than public realm, that their wisdom is “nonrational” rather than rational, etc.) are casually misogynistic attitudes. The attitudes outlined by MP Megan Leslie (linked to in my post) are also casually misogynistic. As for the attitudes and opinions you have expressed in these comments–there is nothing casual about them. They are overtly misogynistic, especially in your willful misunderstanding of the statistics you provided me, casting them as somehow the fault or responsibility of the feminist movement, when in fact, these statistics have very very little to do with feminism.

    Your evidence of misandry is not evidence at all. Here’s why:

    The suffragettes protested for their right to vote, and only become persons under the law in 1929. Participation in armed conflict is not a prerequisite for voting rights. By your logic, the elderly and those with disabilities should be barred from the right to vote because they do not fight for Canada. Besides, the issue at hand was not fighting in the army, it was voting. Of course the women back then didn’t think about being conscripted. The men didn’t think about conscripting women either. The cultural and societal norms of the day, the male government included, did not view women as able to fight in the army. When men did go overseas to fight in the Allied forces in WWII, many women did, in fact, enlist in the war effort: working as nurses, dispatchers, etc. Many of these women put themselves in harm’s way. Many more women flooded the workforce. With young men in the trenches, the Canadian economy could not have continued without these women workers. Nowadays, due in large part for feminists’ fight for equality, women are able to perform military service and see battle.This right, to put ourselves in harm way and fight for Canada, is something women ASKED for. I can’t see evidence of misandry here.

    The gap in life expectancy has nothing to do with misandry, and everything to do with how men and women take care of their health, and how each gender uses the healthcare system. Happily, the life expectancy gap is closing: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/07/30/finally-mens-lifespans-are-catching-up/ Men are beginning to pay more attention to their health, and women are beginning to live the slightly more dangerous lifestyles that had contributed to men’s lower life expectancy in the first place. As for the spending on healthcare, every single Canadian contributes to our healthcare system, regardless of their gender or their state of health. Why should men contribute equally to the healthcare system even though they get less spent on them? For the same reason that I, a young healthy physically fit person, must contribute the same amount as an elderly person with obesity, who is using far more healthcare services than I am. In our healthcare system, we take care of each other, regardless of our individual health status.

    Breast cancer research earns a lot of money because the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is very good at marketing and very good at raising awareness. Fun awareness and donation campaigns such as “Movember” are beginning to turn this trend around in men’s favour. Again, this has nothing to do with misandry.

    If you knew anything about me, you would know that I care very deeply about suicide in young men, particularly in young men who work in dangerous workplaces such as Fort McMurray:
    https://niftynotcool.com/?s=everything+is+not+okay
    https://niftynotcool.com/2012/04/06/invisible-suffering-and-what-we-can-do/

    I absolutely believe something should be done about this and I encourage you to pressure the government to look into this alarming statistic. But as for its connection to misandry….I can’t see one.

    The fact that boys are dropping out of highschool at a faster rate than girls is a complex issue that has less to do with misandry and more to do with the school and employment systems. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, for example, many boys drop out of high school simply because there are high-paying jobs available in the oil industry. These jobs don’t require higher education and so boys may not see the point in continuing their studies. When fishery jobs were plentiful in the Maritimes, they saw this same issue.

    I work closely with educators in both my private and public life. I can safely say that in BC at least, educators are aware of this issue and are taking steps to confront it. Sometimes it means having all-boys PE or dance classes where they feel more comfortable. Sometimes it’s men who go into teaching elementary (a traditionally female dominated profession) so that they can provide positive male role models early on. Macleans actually provided some coverage of the topic in this year’s University issue. A university out east (the name escapes me at the moment but I can look it up for you if you like) is actually providing tuition vouchers and workshops for groups it considers “at-risk” of not going on to university. One of the groups they were specifically trying to target were young men.

    Is it enough yet? No. But it’s a start. Canadian society is trying. Their failure so far is not misandry.

    “Homelessness is a male problem”? Perhaps only if you look at what you can see with one glance. The poverty, desperation, and trauma that leads to homelessness in men leads to homelessness and prostitution in women, often when they are still children.

    Any feminist I know would find any violence, whether it’s women against women, men against women, women against men, or men against men, to be a tragedy. Where violent acts by women are directed against men, I can see a grounds for calling that misandry. But violence perpetrated by men against men? I cannot see how anyone would reasonably attribute that to misandry, feminism, or women. Of course the fact that men are often perpetrators is of little consolation to victims or their families, but I am certain that when a man is violently harmed by another man, neither he nor his family think even for a moment that feminism is to blame, because the idea is absolutely ridiculous. If you are trying to prove misandry, I can think of nothing farther from the mark.

    Men suffer work related injuries and deaths far more than women because they typically work in far more dangerous and physically intensive jobs than women. Obviously if you are working on an oil rig or building an ice road your likelihood of an accident or injury is far greater than if you are working in an office or a kindergarten classroom. I too would like to see this statistic even out. I believe this will happen as workplaces become safer, as men enter traditionally “female” workplaces, and as women enter traditionally “male” labour-intensive jobs. I see feminism as assisting this shift, not as encouraging these unsafe working conditions.

    As for the Forced Labour Convention, as women were not involved in politics in 1930, its creation cannot be blamed on them. This does seem like a valid concern and I encourage you and any concerned men to start a petition, contact your MP, and push for change. In today’s political climate, governments won’t do anything unless it is politically expedient for them. Concerned parties need to make it an issue for anything to be done about it. Misandry cannot be blamed for an article of Canadian law that is almost 100 years old, especially if no concrete democratic steps have been taken to correct it. As for the gender breakdown of the Canadian Armed Forces today, the men and women who enlist do so by choice. The difference in genders speaks more to the Army’s inability to appeal to women than it does to any misandry on feminism’s part.

    Misandry is certainly serious where it arises. However, none of your examples are caused by misandry, and certainly not by the existence of feminism. I see your point about the “Boys are stupid, throw rocks” t-shirt though. I remember seeing this shirt in a store and though I simply thought it was tongue-in-cheek at the time, I agree completely that a shirt like that is not appropriate. Should I have a daughter, I will not allow her to wear any clothing that promotes violence against another group (even in jest). So we agree on that point.

    Misandry is NOT feminism, and feminism is NOT misandry. I am not a feminist because I hate men, or because I have some kind of chip on my shoulder about men. I didn’t really even “become” a feminist. I was raised to believe that every person, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, was equal. Gender equality was not discussed much in my family, it was simply practiced in the way my parents treated each other and the expectations they had of us. When I was old enough to know what feminism was, I realized the values of equality were my values. I realized that feminists’ concerns about wage gaps and reproductive rights were my concerns. Ergo, I am a feminist. I am not angry at men, I do not hate men, with a few glaring exceptions all my interactions with men have been positive (or at least neutral), but I am a feminist. I am also a multi-faceted person who has many varied interests and causes. None of these interests or causes involve hating men. Because I don’t hate anybody.

    And I will not allow myself to be labelled misandrist because it is not true.

    • Oo, Lauren, you got there first. Welp, I do think I have some things to add regarding some of your points Rick.

      I’ll give you that Warren Farrell association’s to the ridiculous website you linked to was an easy mark on my part. Also, just because he called himself a feminist doesn’t mean he was one, as is clearly demonstrated by his behaviour in the intervening time. I can call myself an astronaut, but that won’t help me get to the International Space Station.
      I agree with you on a lot of points. I think many males are treated poorly in our culture and many of the disparities you cite are indeed present. However blaming feminism, as MRAs and A Voice for Men does, is, to use your terms, total crap. It is completely reductionist as well as a case of misplaced aggression.
      You bring up the fact that men are disproportionately killed in the workplace and in the military. The reason for this is that many of the occupations involving high rates of workplace death (primary resource extraction, firefighting, policing) are ones where women are either formally barred from entering or informally discriminated against. I have worked in the forestry industry and witnessed the rampant sexism on display firsthand. Cases of consistent sexual harassment within the RCMP have been exposed in the news lately. These are but two examples of many. Additionally, the reports cited for these statistics only cover legal and formal occupations. Prositution is excluded (which I think you would agree is an extremely dangerous occupation), as is the ‘traditional’ occupation of women, being a wife, which means that deaths from domestic violence are not counted.
      To address women’s roles in the military specifically: first of all, you are completely ignoring women’s historical and continuing contributions to the Canadian Forces. Women served as nurses with the Armed Forces as early as 1885, and were given paramilitary training in small arms, drill, first aid and vehicle maintenance in case they are needed as home guards during the First World War. They supported the war effort just as much as men but were barred from active duty because of policies enacted by men.
      In 1989, after decades of campaigning for equality, women were finally allowed regular combat roles (such as infantry positions) in the Canadian Forces. In most parts of the world they are still banned from serving, and even in those countries that allow women into the military they are generally barred from combat duty (here I refer you to the US Combat Exclusion Policy, as well as the policies of the Greek, Turkish, British, Indian, and Israeli militaries).
      Feminists have, in fact, advocated for equal opportunities within the Army throughout their history which you should know if you claim to have any knowledge of the movement. It is not feminists that have caused women to be excluded from most national militaries. Quite the opposite, countries with more successful feminist movements tend to be the ones where women are allowed to serve.
      Additionally, one of the reasons women are less likely to serve in the military might be its awful record as an environment for encouraging rape. I highly recommend watching ‘The Invisible War’, a recently released documentary. It is specifically about the US military, but if that is what female soldiers face in a ‘developed’ country I cannot blame them for not wishing to work in a job with these kinds of conditions.
      And yes, the suffragettes didn’t campaign for the right to serve in the military, but in case you don’t have a dictionary handy the definition of suffrage is: “the right to vote gained through the democratic process”. Sometimes,  suffrage and its synonyms are sometimes also used to mean the right to run for office. This was a hard enough struggle for the 19th Century! As I have shown, there is still unequal opportunity to serve in the military today, in the 21st Century!
      You bring up the Forced Labour Convention of 1930. Canada did not ratify The Forced Labour Convention of 1930 so we are not beholden to it. This Convention was enacted in Portugal, under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar a fact which I will return to later.
      Finally on the topic of the military, I will point out that women are disproportionately underrepresented in political leadership positions around the world.  A little more than 20 countries currently have a woman holding office as the head of a national government, and the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is just below 20%. Therefore, women have had very little power over starting these wars in the first place.
      When it comes to healthcare (the unequal distribution of tax payment is easily explainable as men make more money on the whole) yes, men definitely do have lower life expectancies, but for many different reasons. Possibly, it is simply a biological difference (like menstruation or who gives birth) which would make it hard to take care of with a change in health care policy or public perception. Much of this fact, however, can be attributed to a higher rate of male mortality at earlier ages. 
      A death at an early age has a large impact on the life expectancy figures, and men are more likely to die early due to accidents (especially car accidents) and homicides. This is not some misandrist plot against men, and neither are men required by feminists to engage in reckless driving or to be the victims of violence. 
      The difference in funding for treatment of prostate cancer and breast cancer does exist, but let’s put that into perspective, shall we?
      Prostate cancer kills relatively few men under the age of 70.  Bearing in mind that the average life expectancy for men in the Canadian population is 78.3, that means that you have to almost reach the average life expectancy before this particular cancer will be much concern.  Breast cancer, on the other hand, kills many women who are in middle-age (40-60 yrs old).  These differences in population level mortality statistics stem from a difference in survival between the two cancers.  If you contract breast cancer at age 25, you have approximately a 10% chance of dying and  by age 50, this chance rises to 15%.  In contrast, mortality rates are very low (<5%) for prostate cancer until men pass 70 years of age.
      Now please do not misinterpret me. I am not saying the elderly men are not important nor that prostate cancer does not affect young men. However the numbers are clear. More people (because breast cancer affects men too) are cut down in the prime of their life by breast cancer. Allocating more funds towards prostate cancer is an obvious solution. Perhaps other expenditures could be cut in order to fund more prostate cancer research. Military expenditures perhaps? It is not an 'either-or' thing. As Lauren mentions, the breast cancer research industry has a very successful marketing campaign, but things like Movember and the Blue Tie Project have gone a long way to increase public awareness of prostate cancer recently.
      Yes, there is also a disparity in high school drop out rates. As of 2009, the rates for young women was 6.6% compared to 10.3% for young men. Statistics Canada also found that, while rates have declined for both sexes, the rate of decrease was faster for men, narrowing the gap between the two. So something IS clearly being done, despite your claims.
      One of your most offensive claims is that “Homelessness is a male problem, not a female problem.” 64% of homeless youth (under 25) in Canada are male. Do 36% of homeless youth not count? What about 26% of all the homeless people (staying in shelters and on the streets) in Toronto? In Vancouver, the street homeless comprise 31.5% of the population, and those who are street homeless are more likely to be female and under the age of 19 years. The demographic profile of Canada's homeless population is also changing. While in the past men used to comprise the vast majority of homeless persons, now women and children represent the fastest growing subgroup of the homeless population, followed by youth. This changing demographic is indicative of something else which you completely fail to mention: women are much more likely to be impoverished in Canada. They are more likely than men to experience extended periods of low income and greater depths of poverty.
      In 2003, there were approximately 1.5 million adult women living in poverty.
      In the same year, the average pre-tax income for women over the age of 16 was just 62% that of men. As of 2009, approximately 19% of all women in Canada are living in poverty. This number increases considerably depending on whether they are senior women, women with disabilities, women of a visible minority, newcomers or Aboriginal women. Indeed, any analysis of more international data only supports this picture. Women are the majority of the global poor, for example.
      There are many other things that factor into homelessness in addition to gender, for example, mental health issues, which ties into your mention of suicide rates.
      Males commit suicide at a rate of around 17 people per 100,000, whereas females commit suicide at a rate of around 5 people per 100,000. Suicide is a tragedy, on that I think everyone can agree. Citing this one statistic, however, fails to take in the whole picture. Although males are more likely to die from suicide, females are three to four times more likely to attempt it. Furthermore, females are hospitalized for attempted suicide 1.5 times more frequently than males. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that females tend to use less fatal methods, such as poisoning—the most common cause of self-harm hospital admissions—whereas males tend to use more violent methods such as hanging and firearms.
      Another thing which I think we can all agree on is that pretty much all violence is deplorable. But the 'tired old line' you mention is a very important fact to keep things in context. Where else should the responsibility fall than with those who perpetuate violence?
      You mention it but then proceed to completely blow it off. The fact is that the perpetrators of these issues are disproportionately wealthy, powerful men. Are they promoting misandry? Maybe, but you are misdirecting your anger towards feminists who should be your allies instead of the actual people promoting said misandry. That trivial t-shirt you mention? “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them”? The designer, Todd Goldman, is a man. António de Oliveira Salazar was a man. This is not an example of women oppressing men it is an example of a false narrative being perpetuated in order to divide the genders. Look elsewhere for someone to blame.
      It is not feminisms' fault for these issues. Rather the reverse. Any societal influence on the tragic early deaths (from car accidents, violence, or violent suicide) you mention is likely to come from traditional masculine cultures and the traditional male role models, the very kinds of values that many feminists question. So why are you attacking feminism, which tries to expand the opportunities of individuals irrespective of their gender? Why not work with young boys to make them less likely to end up dead in a traffic accident or as a victim of violence? Male relatives of mine have struggled with depression and suicide, yet there weren't any champions of men's rights around to help them then. And they never, not once, thought that they were the target of misandry. Men and women both reached out to help them. Instead of attacking Lauren's post for being feminist, why don't you protest unequal distribution of wealth? Do you volunteer to help those with mental health issues? That would help individual cases of homelessness or suicide at least. Have you built homeless shelters or volunteered in soup kitchens?
      Why is it that you chose feminism to be the enemy? You should be looking for allies.
      These issues are not really targeted at men, except from a very self-centred, warped perspective. These are examples of greater systemic problems, that affect all classes, genders, and ethnicities. Intersectionality is a word you would know if you knew anything about the contemporary feminist movement. It means the point at which all these things (race, gender, class) converge. By identifying how these issues affect everyone, not just men or women, we can begin to push back.
      An examination of your comments clearly shows that you are not “all for equality”, or at least you have had little to no critical engagement with what equality means or how to get there.
      I think the answer to many of your problems is to become a feminist, not to oppose them. If the term 'feminism' puts you off might I suggest the Men's Liberation Movement as an alternative to the ineffectual Men's Right's Movement. Some readings you could begin with are Michel Foucault's and Rosi Braidotti's as both offer critiques and, in Braidotti's case, alternative solutions. They offer much more than A Voice for Men does. The article you posted is a pathetic example of the way that MRAs are so blinded by their need to blame women that they will demonize a misguided individual who said some silly things. Haven't we all said stupid things when we were young? Don't we all say stupid things now that we are older? She is just one girl with the platform of modern social media which millions of others have access to. The real enemies, those that are actually creating the issues you find problematic have the momentum of industries and media conglomerates. They are the dangerous ones. They are the ones deserving of your anger.
      I am not unrealistic. I realize that one or two comments on an internet blog are unlikely to change your mind. I do ask you, however, to think about working together with those who share your struggles. I get it, it is easy to point fingers. But, as you know, these are very serious issues and we need to do something about them.

      *If you'd like me to send you the links to the statistics I cite I would be happy to do so. I didn't want to make a long post longer.

  4. Well said, Lauren. I see no reason why feminism (which is really a fight for gender equality) should be equated with misandry.

    The lovel Ms. Claire is much more closely aligned with the misogyny movement we’ve been discussing, than feminism, in my view. Feminism is not about punishing men – it is about allowing all of us to make our own choices in life and reach our own potential rather than having to fill gender roles that others have deemed more appropriate or “natural.”

    I do share many of the concerns that Rick outlined earlier, but, as you said, they aren’t rooted in feminism. I think Lauren outlined many of the reasons why these complex issues exist.

    Also, I would like to point out that Canadian women soldiers now do go into combat, and American women soldiers are fighting to fulfill the same roles. It was covered on The Current this morning.

    And as a feminist and concerned wife, nothing would make me happier than seeing men’s health clinics or something similar. For the love of God, please someone start these up!

    • You’re right Lisa, I forgot to mention men’s clinics. I would love to see them. I think everyone should have access to medical care in a place they feel comfortable and that is tailored to their physiology.

  5. Pingback: To speak up or shut up, that is the question | niftynotcool

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s