Friday, April 06, 2007

Looking-glass world

Exploited whites, oppressed heterosexuals and endangered English-speakers should take heart from an article in today's Ottawa Citizen.
"Men, Misogyny and Misandry," written by an appropriately gender-balanced duo from McGill University (that august home of Margaret Somerville and assorted animal torturers), sets out the thesis that men are "a silent class of victims" in need of liberation.

Hostility towards women may be increasing among young men, the authors suggest. And this is directly connected, they argue, with a one-sided approach that emphasizes mistreatment of women, but ignores or ridicules what they deem to be the equivalent mistreatment of men. Why is the latter so underreported? Because men are reluctant to admit their vulnerability, and unlikely to be taken seriously if they do complain. Men, too, after all, are victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape.

Popular culture plays a large role in targeting men, making us look stupid, or brutal, or maybe both. We suffer from double standards by which we are censured for comments and behaviour that would be perfectly acceptable if we were women. Movies and commercials make fools of us: "Ridiculing men, but not women, is politically correct."

And then, from these two McGill-based folks, this gem: "The elite culture of academia... routinely relies directly or indirectly on the belief that every major problem is due ultimately to 'patriarchy' (and therefore to men as a class)." Somehow these academics have avoided the elite culture in which they live and breathe, a classic example of the Ishmael effect. But this may simply be because they aren't very good academics, caricaturing, in a single breathless assertion, decades of social, political and economic thought, little or none of which is so absurdly reductionist. Another example, no doubt, of targeting men, in this case straw ones.

The authors go swiftly on to bemoan "statistics abuse" that indicates (through tendentious manipulation) that women are victims in this society, or in danger of becoming victims. The courts, thoroughly brainwashed, are now part of the problem, doing their bit to victimize men. Why, there aren't even any affirmative action programs for men, the authors declare, somehow managing to keep a straight face. And the laws are continually interpreted to the detriment of men.

No examples of "statistics abuse" are provided, so let me assist. In a recent article (
"The Hidden Face of Violence") in an Ottawa giveaway magazine, one Suzanne Schmiedel Lapointe resuscitates the canard that women are just as violent towards men as vice-versa. Let's look at the unmanipulated facts.

Statistics Canada reported in 2000 that, of those who have experienced spousal violence, 55.7% were women and 44.3% were men [ed. note: h/t to "2Sheds" in the comments for this clarification]. When the degree of violence is factored in, however, those figures change dramatically: 40% of the assaulted women experienced actual physical injury from their partners, while only 13% of the men did.

More generally, the author would have done well to consult the exhaustive survey of the ‘equivalence literature’ to be found in Dobash et al., "The Myth of Sexual Symmetry in Marital Violence"(R.P. Dobash, R.E. Dobash, M. Wilson, M. Daly, Social Problems, Vol. 39, No.1 [1992], pp. 71-91), which finds it methodologically flawed as well as contradicted by a veritable mountain of research.

Take the myth, repeated in Lapointe's article, that men underreport assault by their wives because of embarrassment and social stigma--an echo of that claim is found in the Citizen article. M.D. Schwartz analyzed U.S. National Crime Survey data from 1973 to 1982, and found that 67.2 percent of men and 56.8 per cent of women called police to report an assault.(Schwartz, M.D. "Gender and injury in spousal assault," Sociological Focus, 20 (1987), pp. 61-75). This finding is replicated in several other studies (Dobash et al., 1992: 76). So much for "statistics abuse"--and its effective debunking.

(As an aside, it was particularly offensive in the earlier piece to read once again of Warren Farrell’s glib comparison of the Montreal Massacre to the murderous rampage by Chicago resident Laurie Dann that took place around the same time. In the former case, Marc Lepine deliberately separated men from women at the Ecole Polytechnique, made a number of references to "feminists," and shot fourteen women dead for daring to pursue what was then a non-traditional occupation. On the other hand, we have no idea about the ideological motivations, if any, of Laurie Dann, a disturbed individual on dangerous psychotropic drugs. It would be more prudent to ask, What percentage of serial or mass killers are women? For every Laurie Dann there is a host of individuals like Ted Bundy and Richard Speck and Clifford Olsen.)

But back to our McGill researchers. The problem, they claim, is misandry, a "word which most people don't even know." These intrepid opponents of academic elitism have not managed, it appears, to shed the arrogance and condescension that accompany it. Misandry "is a form of sexism or even racism (given that maleness is a biological classification)," they state. I'm still scratching my head over that one--are they arguing that race is a biological classification, a grossly antiquated Gobineau-like notion still pushed by their marginal academic colleague Phillippe Rushton over at Western? Are they suggesting that men are a race?

The authors proceed to explain away the income gap between men and women in predictable fashion--women simply lack the qualifications, or they deliberately avoid promotional opportunities, or they prefer to be at home with the young'uns, "and so on." (I enjoyed the last bit--it was as though they had become bored with their regurgitation of these stale clichés.) In any case, women are fast closing the gap, but only because of evil
"equity" programs (their shudder-quotes, not mine) and the "downward mobility of men."

As for male dominance of the political scene, it's not only men who vote these guys into office, and besides, women exercise their power through lobby groups and government agencies like Status of Women Canada. Those sneaky broads implement their policies indirectly, "through bureaucratic fiat behind closed doors instead of public discussion in legislative assemblies" --"and so forth." (See "and so on," above.)

Certainly, the authors concede, the women's movement has greatly improved the lives of women, even if by underhanded means. Laws are being interpreted in their favour, while men are simply not seen as victims of discrimination, they assert indignantly, even though men alone were once conscripted into the armed forces. I'm not making this up.

To imagine that men oppress women is just "the conspiracy theory of history," the authors aver--a bit like imagining, I guess, that whites have ever oppressed blacks, or that rich folks have ever enjoyed the fruits of their employees' labour. In any case, it's a bit late at this point to decry conspiracy theorizing, given the prominence of it in this very article.

It's males who are in deep trouble now, the authors claim: their high school drop-out rates are higher (12% as opposed to 7% for girls), and they are now a minority in Canadian university classrooms (although males, it seems, continue to enjoy a comfortable edge in full-time graduate studies, something they fail to note). It's the beginning of the end: the inevitable result will be "an undereducated and impoverished male underclass." Yet men are afraid to speak out, for fear of being labeled misogynists. "It's time to wake up," the authors conclude. Now, where have I heard that before?

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