Misandry and Ask Metafilter. August 6, 2008 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Misandry and Ask Metafilter.

A few months ago we had a watershed moment here in MetaTalk. We established that AskMe, even perhaps Metafilter itself, was and perhaps still is, a boys club. That misogyny ran rampant here and that it made the women uncomfortable when it reared its ugly head. That was an important discussion and there is no two-ways about it. It's good that we had that discussion and hopefully things have started to change. Now it's time we had another discussion about a less well known topic. Indeed, it is a topic that is described by a word that even my spell checker, which recognizes the word 'misogyny' with ease, dosen't know. That word?

Misandry.

Most of you may be unfamiliar with the word. This is understandable. Google Fight shows that 'misogyny' beats 'misandry' with a score of 1,740,000 hits to a mere 153,000 hits. So just what is misandry? Those of you who did not read the linked Wikipedia article will read that it is a "hatred (or contempt) of men or boys" and that it is "parallel to misogyny - the hatred of women."

I have to say I've not seen much examples of misandry on Metafilter, but Ask Metafilter is full of examples. Far too many to link to here, in fact. But time and time again we see examples in AskMe, mostly in relationship-filter questions, where men are denigrated and put down for no other reason than that they are men and must be, at least in some way, evil.

Jessamyn would (and does) disagree with me. Recently I expressed this feeling to which she replied "I'm sorry a question you asked there once went badly, but I really don't see this as the case generally."

I have the greatest respect and admiration for the job that the moderators do here, but I feel that this is an issue that’s slipping under the radar. And I owe jessamyn a great deal and though we are likely bound to disagree on this topic, I know (hope?) she’ll understand that I hold her in high esteem but also that she’ll understand why I feel this way. As she said, a question I once asked about my own relationship, one which I regret asking and one which I freely admit sounded misogynistic but which was asked when I really wasn’t in the clearest state of mind, turned into a blood bath with most people calling me a misogynist, a claim I still resent and refute to this day. And ironically, the more I recanted, the more I tried to defend myself, the bigger a misogynist I seemed to become. At least according to most of those who participated in the thread.

This is why I’m posting this in my sockpuppet account. That, and a fear that the mere fact I have raised this topic as a matter of concern for discussion will once again paint me as a misogynist.

Back to the topic at hand; jessamyn does not see this as the case but I do and I wonder if the community would do as well, when presented with some evidence (or at the very least the notion in general). For the purposes of this discussion, it is very important to differentiate between those AskMe questions that are misandristic in nature and those that are not, as I have no issue with the latter. Those that aren’t are questions that are along the lines of "My boyfriend is beating me" or "My husband drinks a lot and gambles away all my money" or something similar within which people answer DTMFA. This is an entirely understandable response to that situation and certainly the best course of action as these are quite often clear cut cases in which the man in question deserves to be called out for the loser that he is.

But all too often a woman will ask a question like "I love my boyfriend and he loves me but I have a fear of commitment" or "My husband and I had an argument the other night about money. He treats me well but I think he spends irresponsibly sometimes. How can I rectify the problem?", and the answers will invariably come back as "DTMFA." All to often a man will ask “One of my girlfriends habits is a problem for me. How can I overcome it?”, only to be shouted down as controlling, abusive, passive aggressive and, you guessed it, a misogynist.

In my view, AskMe always seems to come down on the side of women and more often than not seems to imply that men are vile pigs who can't ever be trusted so just don't.

Recent examples include this question, in which a woman explains that she has been with her boyfriend for five years and they get along great but she is freaking out about moving in with someone. She's never lived with anyone before and so its understandable that she'd be a little nervous, right? Well according to some, she should run because the guy is probably being a tad misogynistic in his behavior towards her. Says Lesser Shrew;

"Run. Don't do it. In fact, take a vacation by yourself right now.... If I am reading this right, your need for solitude is a defining feature of you. And your boyfriend shrugs this off as a "quirk," feels free to tell you that what you think and feel about your own thoughts and feelings is less important than his own opinion that "you'll be fine.""

Lesser Shrew repeats this pattern of misandrystic behavior quite often, it seems. In this question, a woman questions her compatibility with her boyfriend. She says "I love my boyfriend but I fear we aren't compatible for the long term. How to know if it these are things that are important enough to justify breaking up sooner rather than later." The questioner goes on to say that her boyfriend is "a lovely man [who] treats me really well, and I love him" Lesser Shrew disagrees, painting this man to be the misogynistic pig his girlfriend clearly dosen't know he is.

"If he owes you any money at all, even eight bucks, get out now. Also, it's entirely possible that he doesn't "settle" so much as he does whatever comes along that doesn't cause him to much trouble and get in the way of the rest of his life."

Another woman asks "I think I've met The One. Or, I thought I had. At the three-month mark, insecurities are plaguing me. I'm a long-time commitmentphobe. Help?" Isn't that great folks? She's met The One! She's happy but afraid of commitment but he's The One so she needs help getting past that. But according to Lesser Shrew, she needs to realise this man is bad news. Seizing upon an admission that The One often comments on the attractiveness of other women, she opines;

"Exactly how and why does he tells you other women are hot? If you are in fact commenting, and saying "do you think she is hot?" Stop. No good will come of that. Men have days when they think the bat wing upper arms of elderly woman who just lost 86 pounds are hot. Let it go. If he is volunteering the information that other women are hot, well, then relax, enjoy this for what it is now, and don't forget to notice other men in case you need a new boyfriend in a month or two..."

So clearly he's not The One. He'll probably be gone in a month or two but in the meantime, accept that all men will have sex with anything that breathes. That's just how men are.

I don’t mean to single Lesser Shrew out, however, as she is not the only person to display such misandrystic behavior. For instance, a woman asks Metafilter about communication problems with her "wonderful S.O" She clearly states she does not want advice that suggests she DTMFA. What kind of advice does she end up getting? Apart from a lot of advice that essentially says "Well, I'd say DTMFA but you've ruled that out", she also gets this pearl of wisdom from beccyjoe.

"i think he is being manipulative by not saying "i love you" - he knows you'd like to hear it. he holds so much power over you by holding back. what's so hard -if he does love you- about saying it? if he has trouble getting the words out he could write it on a card. past traumas my ass."

Clearly her wonderful S.O is a manipulative misogynist! His past experiences in love and life matter naught! He's controlling you! Run! Run now while there's still time!

How about this question, where a woman asks for help about her boyfriend who doesn’t seem to like her dog? Advice in that thread ranges from more examples of "His feelings don't matter and he should get over it", advice that he's a jerk and being passive-aggressive and of course, that old chestnut, DTMFA.

Then there was the question about the boyfriend described as "kind and loving and thoughtful in almost all ways" who, after three years of dating, had displayed some potentially misogynistic behavior. In a conversation he had had with his girlfriend, he had explained a tradition in his family wherein the women serve the men at Thanksgiving dinners. Granted, the tradition sounds entirely sexist in its roots but bear in mind that after three years, this conversation was the first time he had ever displayed any kind of misogynistic behavior, and that it had only arisen in reference to a tradition his family holds, one that he was explaining to his girlfriend to prepare her for what might be expected of her when she visited his family for the holidays. I don't need to link to examples of how that thread went. I think you can pretty much guess for yourself.

I could go on but I won't. The point I'm trying to make here is that in light of our conversation here in MetaTalk a few months ago where we realized that misogyny and sexism are two things that should not be tolerated here on Metafilter (and rightly so!), AskMe allows a disturbing amount of misandry to go unchecked.

If women were being routinely put down in such ways on AskMe, I strongly argue that it would NOT be tolerated. If a man asked "My wife wants me serve her food at Christmas and I feel uncomfortable about it, is she a misandrist?" the answer would be "get over it you baby." If a man asked how he could get his girlfriend to like his dog, the answer would be "dispose of the dog and stop trying to control her, you pig!"

AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

Does the community agree that this is the case? If so, should this change, or at the very least be more heavily moderated than it currently is? If not, why is one form of apparent sexism tolerable in comparison to another that is not?
posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments to Etiquette/Policy at 6:04 AM (462 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

wow.
posted by Perplexity at 6:11 AM on August 6, 2008 [21 favorites]


Telling someone to leave a relationship that isn't working for them is not misandry or misogyny. Telling someone "all men/women are pigs/whores" is more like it. I don't see how the comments that you quote show any pattern of man hating. We see plenty of threads that say both "ditch that guy" and "ditch that girl" and both pieces of advice can at times be warranted.

AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

My assertion, which I will restate for the record, is that this is not happening.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:12 AM on August 6, 2008 [29 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not seeing any site-wide trend towards misandry, I'm seeing a site-wide trend towards there being plenty of MeFites who just want every single person in the world to dump their respective motherfuckers already.
posted by flashboy at 6:16 AM on August 6, 2008 [33 favorites]


This takes the cake for the most over thought out call out about nothing. I suggest taking up a hobby.
posted by boubelium at 6:20 AM on August 6, 2008 [10 favorites]


Hum. I'm getting in early with a measured and respectful "This is not that much of a problem." Men and women often communicate badly or at odds with one another. That's what I see when i read your examples above. I think that's distinctly different from the usual "LOL BOOBS" malarkey from the peanut gallery, (of which I am a proud member.)

Also, should it be "misandrogy". That sounds nicer to me.
posted by Jofus at 6:22 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was going to add a final line that read, if I recall "You're about to be accused of being shrill so choose your next responses carefully." I edited it out, thinking it was too presumptuous.

Actually, looking back, I should have just written "Whatever Jessamyn said/is about to say."
posted by Jofus at 6:23 AM on August 6, 2008


Hi, I'm on Metafilter and I could overthink a plate of beans.
posted by handee at 6:24 AM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


tl;pob
posted by WinnipegDragon at 6:26 AM on August 6, 2008


You felt so strongly about this that you had to post it with your sock puppet account? FFS!
posted by Ivana Shtup de Naparino at 6:27 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

No, no, and no. You have taken several comments about specific relationships and deduced a pattern that simply does not exist. Read the definition that you linked to: "Misandry (IPA [mɪ.ˈsæn.dri]) is hatred (or contempt) of men or boys." The answers you link to are nothing of the sort. They are specific comments about specific individuals in specific questions. They are, to my eyes at least, really quite benign. And they are orders of magnitude more benign than the boyzone comments that have been discussed here in the past.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: one of the hallmarks of male privilege is the need to fabricate completely artificial controversies in order to feel like a victim.
posted by googly at 6:28 AM on August 6, 2008 [50 favorites]


PUNCH 'EM IN THE DICK.
posted by chrismear at 6:29 AM on August 6, 2008 [33 favorites]


This feels like you started with a conclusion, then hand-picked five or six of the worst advice comments you could to support it. I don't think you've touched on any real trend in Ask MetaFilter.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:30 AM on August 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


This takes the cake for the most over thought out call out about nothing. I suggest taking up a hobby.

This, and what jessamyn said. Sheesh.
posted by languagehat at 6:32 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's not a very good jokey comment :-/

But if it leads to all of those annoying relationship questions being deleted from ask.metafilter, I'm all for whatever you're proposing.
posted by cmonkey at 6:33 AM on August 6, 2008


Make me a fucking sandwich already.
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:34 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


> posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments

That's a jokey comment?
posted by ardgedee at 6:34 AM on August 6, 2008


Huh. In your long post, and your links, I am not seeing examples of people being misandrist. What is misandrist about suggesting that someone is manipulative for not saying I love you? What is misandrist for suggesting that a guy in a not-terribly-serious-relationship get dumped because he won't stop talking about how much he doesn't like dogs?

You end with made-up examples like If a man asked "My wife wants me serve her food at Christmas and I feel uncomfortable about it, is she a misandrist?" the answer would be "get over it you baby." If a man asked how he could get his girlfriend to like his dog, the answer would be "dispose of the dog and stop trying to control her, you pig!", and these are absurd - you couldn't find actual answers like this in AskMe, so you had to make them up to support your case that misandry is rampant. That's a crappy way to argue your case.
posted by rtha at 6:36 AM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Advising someone to DTMFA may certainly be bad advice sometimes, but it's not misandry. Saying "DTMFA, he's got a dick, how can he be trusted?" or something similar is more along the lines of being callout-worthy for sexism. It's making a generalization based on the person's sex.
posted by gaspode at 6:38 AM on August 6, 2008


Is this the place where sock puppets come to bitch about dumb shit? Am I in the right place?
posted by Anne Coulter's Butt Plug at 6:39 AM on August 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


But time and time again we see examples in AskMe, mostly in relationship-filter questions, where men are denigrated and put down for no other reason than that they are men and must be, at least in some way, evil.

There are surely some people on the site who feel at least a watered down or conditional version of this. But I don't see much in the way of random unchecked denigration, and boy howdy am I exposed to a lot of askme. Flare here and there—it happens on the other side of the gender aisle too, and I don't think it makes for ideal advice in either case—but I can't really get behind either "time and time again" (if the suggestion is 'constantly' rather than a literal 'this one time, and also this other time', at least) or "must be...evil", from my own experience with the site.

She clearly states she does not want advice that suggests she DTMFA. What kind of advice does she end up getting?

This is pretty much a general phenomenon on askme. Replace DTMFA with "get a mac" and it remains true. Aside from the not-respecting-the-question thing, some people are a lot cagier about relationship prospects than others, and are going to advocate getting out and getting out early on thinner negative leads than other people. I don't think that's anything like misandry in the common case so much as it is, uh, whatever the greek word is for "thinking relationships are doomed".

AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

Personal opinion: relationship questions tend to bring out a lot of strong opinion, including from people who have been burnt pretty badly in the past and let that color their answers. This goes on both sides of the fence—I don't mean to just, WHOOSH, whisk away any question of an imbalance in gendered relationship advice dynamics on the site, but (1) you've cherrypicked answers from specific users (whether you intended to single out Lesser Shrew, you, uh, did so) and (2) there have certainly been questions about girlfriend's behaving badly or making poor choices or presenting as bad long term prospects in which they guy has been likewise advised to do anything from Think Carefully About the Future to plain ol' DTMFA.

You've presented this as what sounds like inherent misandry on the site, and as a dude what I've experienced is more like a pretty wide spectrum of questions and answers from people ranging along a continuum of hopeful to cautious re: relationships and the opposite (or same) sex. That's a huge pile of territory—how much relationshipfilter do we go through in a week?—and I think there's room for a fair amount of confirmation bias to come into play trying to eye it for one thing or another in particular, given the sheer volume, and I feel like that might be a big part of what's going on here, because I don't really see it so much myself.

I think it's fine to ask this and bring it to the table, but you've really kind of unloaded a big one-sided post on it that feels a little grindy, so sympathies in advance if this doesn't go great. Trimming it down to the key issue inside of two or three paragraphs would probably have lead to a stronger and less-combative-than-I'm-fearing discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:40 AM on August 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


It sounds to me as though your position is that sum of these comments ends up being subtle form of saying "men are pigs," which you feel is parallel to the expressed attitudes towards women that others have pointed out makes Metafilter an uncomfortable place for women at times. Is that about right? I just want to get clear where you're coming from.

My take is that what we need to consider as a community is the difference between comments or opinions about individuals and blanket statements or attitudes about a particular gender. Broad generalizations about any identity are harmful to all of us, and ideally should be avoided. I hear that. I'm with you.

The problem is, though, that I don't see what you're seeing. The comments you've cited are about individuals. They're not people saying "All men suck and are manipulative and really, they're just one big cock and no brain and did I mention that men are evil?"
posted by Stewriffic at 6:42 AM on August 6, 2008


In any event, AskMe specifically is where people post problems about their perosonal relationships, so at least one person in any of those questions is going to look bad. There will inevitably be women complaining about men. And men complaining about women. And women complaining about other women and men complaining about other men.

If they didn't have these problems -- if there was nothing about men, or a man, to complain about -- they wouldn't have posted.

Better evidence of misandry or misogyny on AskMe would be responses to questions about automobiles, crafts, or something else that are out of line and sexist. Can you find any of those that aren't meant humorously?
posted by ardgedee at 6:44 AM on August 6, 2008


I have read many of the threads you cite as examples of misandry, and I just don't see it. There are the occasional people who insist on reading the worst into any relationship question, but that happens irrespective of gender (I think you can see this in gay and lesbian relationship-filter questions most clearly).

I do think that AskMe produces way too many DTMFA answers — that's sort of the "go see a doctor" of relationship questions, a safe answer that has no real risk for the answerer, because leaving someone ok is better than staying with someone who is bad, right? Well, I'm not so sure about that, but I think that's the thinking behind all the DTMFA responses. (Personally I'd love it if there was a site-wide script that automatically changed "dtmfa" to "I like puppies" or something — it's become a really over-used acronym that probably hurts more than it helps.)

But widespread misandry? I can't see it. I mean, look at your first example (well, other than your own thread which you don't have the courage to own in your own name):

"Run. Don't do it. In fact, take a vacation by yourself right now.... If I am reading this right, your need for solitude is a defining feature of you. And your boyfriend shrugs this off as a "quirk," feels free to tell you that what you think and feel about your own thoughts and feelings is less important than his own opinion that "you'll be fine.""

This is supposed to be misandry? Maybe misanthropy, maybe just a big emphasis on a certain notion of individual empowerment over collective go-along-to-get-along, and definitely an uncharitable reading of the boyfriend's case combined with an affirmation of the askee's case. I can see a tinge of "you are woman, hear you roar" in it, but it just doesn't even approach the distant outskirts of bias, never mind misandry.

So unless you can find some better examples that are genuinely pervasive, I'm not seeing it. (And the whole sock-puppet thing for this call-out? Classy.)
posted by Forktine at 6:45 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, I'm not throwing my support behind the OP here, but I wanted to interject with my recent (over?)sensitivity to the amount of media (sitcoms/commercials) out there that paint men as insensitive, oafish brutes.

It's weird, because they even use that caricature/stereotype to sell stuff to men.
posted by davey_darling at 6:46 AM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sure, sure, I've been up smoking crank for three days straight, but I have to agree that this is a clear cut case of conspiracy. In fact, jessamyn has a remote sonar device that is causes me to experience anti-male sentiments any time I even see the color green. But she can't exactly show this device to you, because it was very skillfully wired into her teeth by the CIA.
posted by The Straightener at 6:47 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jesus. Seriously, you need to rethink your entire approach to this.

The examples you finally get around to providing are directed at specific men, in specific circumstances, and even then most hardly rise to the level of vitriol. (I confess I couldn't read everything you wrote. It was too much.)

You are confusing "That man is doing something bad" with "Men are bad." Without understanding the difference, you simply aren't equipped to comment on anything like this.

Also, you're a coward for posting from your sockpuppet account. If you care enough to write all that you wrote, repeatedly calling out jessamyn in the process, you care enough to post under your own name. If you want to talk about principles and fairness at least have the decency to stand up for yourself.
posted by OmieWise at 6:47 AM on August 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Am I in the right place?
posted by Anne Coulter's Butt Plug


I don't know if you are in the right place. Where exactly are you right now?
posted by marxchivist at 6:53 AM on August 6, 2008 [22 favorites]


one of the hallmarks of male privilege is the need to fabricate completely artificial controversies in order to feel like a victim.

I think you are thinking of Christians/Republicans/white people/EVERYONE.
posted by ND¢ at 6:55 AM on August 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


(Personally I'd love it if there was a site-wide script that automatically changed "dtmfa" to "I like puppies" or something — it's become a really over-used acronym that probably hurts more than it helps.)

One-shot DTMFA responses—when that string, those five letters, are literally the content of the answer—are something we've nixed sometimes in the past and should probably keep at. I don't think it's an issue of misandry or misogyny so much as just plain too-lazy answering: an acronym is not making an effort to explain yourself, and outside of contexts where there's an explicit element of "should I leave them?" in the question it's probably just not up to snuff as answers go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:57 AM on August 6, 2008


one of us isn't understanding the definition of misandry. and i don't think it's me.
posted by msconduct at 6:58 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"My assertion, which I will restate for the record, is that this is not happening."

That's an interesting comment. Many/most men don't see subtle misogyny when it's right in front of their faces, I'm not sure why we should expect women to have any more success in identifying subtle misandry, especially when society is tuned in such a way than men are often told to "suck it up" and "be a man."

I'm not sure that I agree with the puppeteer, and I certainly don't think the examples are fantastic ones, but I'm not sure that blanket dismissal from a woman (however well respected she may be) should really be the be-all, end-all of the discussion any more so than the male mods should feel it was their place to step in and declare a complaint about misogyny baseless.

If nothing else, I see two things here:

1. More than misandry, the examples above seem to point out AskMe's overwhelming inability to consider the other side of the story. The fact-patterns presented in the questions are often taken as objective fact, and curiosities usually resolved in his or her favor. I'm not sure much can be done here.

2. It's worth, at the very least, paying attention and keeping one's eyes open for misandry on Metafilter and elsewhere. It's something we're not as attuned to as misogyny, and something that goes on far more than is really talked about. Is it rampant in AskMe? Dunno, but it certainly doesn't hurt anything to try to be come more sensitive to all forms of gender prejudice, does it?

I suspect, though, that like most other times when issues like these are brought up, folks who strive for "equality" will dismiss these sorts of comments with defensive tones and sweeping generalizations, as though mistreating men is a central component to treating women properly. See, e.g., googly's comment about "male privilege".
posted by toomuchpete at 7:00 AM on August 6, 2008 [39 favorites]


You'd do well with less typing and possibly enrolling in some Cultural Communication or Women's Studies classes. Or therapy.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:00 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I see perceive some degree (not enormous) of bias, though perhaps not quite in the same way you do. (This thread is an example of what I see - I think a similar misogyny callout, even an overthought or somewhat overreaching one, wouldn't be met with as many "dumb shit," "get a hobby," "therapy"*, and "fabrication" responses and those making such comments would be put down by others.)

I do not think it is anything which can be changed by rules or moderation or which trying to change would have good results.

I would suggest that when you have an answer you believe is better, you provide that answer. Be the change you want to see, as they say.

*If you want a real big Ask Metafilter bias, Therapy is a great example. Also Doctors and Lawyers (and Business Executives?)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:02 AM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Hmmmm, no, I wouldn't say that there's a trend towards misandry, where misandry is defined as a hatred of men. I don't see a lot of man-hating here.

I do think that a lot of issues get a bit of a one-sided treatment, though. People certainly aren't hesitant to throw around words like "misogyny," and if you disagree with them, you'll quickly find yourself in the midst of a very unrewarding argument.

In any case, yes, you're going to get flamed for this. And yes, I do sympathize with you. And no, I'm not going to stick around for the rest of the thread.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:05 AM on August 6, 2008


Your handle is becoming increasingly inaccurate.
posted by Mister_A at 7:08 AM on August 6, 2008


Second Account For Making Jokey Comments - you're a guy, right?

(coz it's obvious that you've bottled those emotions up for way too long)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also don't agree with the 'metafilter is a boyzone and there are no two ways about it' statement.
posted by spicynuts at 7:15 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Relationship questions always feature a lot of solipsistic axe grinding in the responses, and, as someone pointed out above, since they're mostly hetero it's going to be women complaining about men or vice versa.
posted by electroboy at 7:17 AM on August 6, 2008


Many/most men don't see subtle misogyny when it's right in front of their faces, I'm not sure why we should expect women to have any more success in identifying subtle misandry

Well, I'm a man, and I think it's bullshit. And a dozen or so other guys in this thread agree. So your argument ad Iessamynam fails.
posted by languagehat at 7:19 AM on August 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. Honestly?

Look, sorry you had answers to your relationship-filter question that made you feel bad. You say yourself that you weren't clear when you wrote it. That doesn't mean there's a site-wide castrating bitches conspiracy to keep all the good men down.

Maybe you should go outside for a while.
posted by sugarfish at 7:19 AM on August 6, 2008


In other news:

Women be shoppin', amirite?
posted by Mister_A at 7:22 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


the funny thing about conspiracy theorists is that they will ignore massive amounts of proof dispelling their theories and focus solely on the one little bit that backs them up.

I disagree with your notion that ask.mefi is a "boys club" and that the men present, which at least implicitly includes me, hate women. the specific term you wish to apply is irrelevant to me but what offends me personally is that you are painting everyone of a certain sex as one thing or another, which is a massive injustice on your part. that line or argumentation is deplorable.

there are people in this world who hate women, men, members of a specific party, races, foreigners and pretty much anything else that might distinguish one from another. you fail to realize that these kinds of people are tiny minorities, not majorities.

Lesser Shrew repeats this pattern of misandrystic behavior quite often, it seems.
the two cited answers strike me as concerned and (perhaps overly) protective, not hateful at all. I have a feeling Lesser Shrew tried to help as well as he could and didn't live up to your expectations. it seems rather hateful of you to insinuate such a nasty motive as you did. perhaps you owe him an apology?

should this change, or at the very least be more heavily moderated than it currently is?

emphatically no. the individual opinion has a right to exist. we are not lawmakers who decide for others what is right or wrong. there is no primus inter pares here. this is a community in which anyone can feel free to express what they deem to be the most helpful answer.

what answer any person provides to any question is their choice and by no means automatically an indicator of hate for women or whatever else ones cause may be. proclaiming this to be the case means ignoring any and all other information about the poster there was to be had and disregarding their opinions based on your interpretation. it's unfair and it's rude.

how something sounds to you does not automatically prove how something was meant and I am tempted to assume you read their comments with a basic assumption already made. how many

finally: you did not even posses the basic human decency to allow us to read the offending question that lead you to this conclusion but forced us to accept your judgement of the comments it produced. that negates the possibility of a level playing field to base this discussion on and was an especially low tactic of you to chose.

I love women.
posted by krautland at 7:26 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


AskMe allows a disturbing amount of misandry to go unchecked.

Maybe so, but you haven't provided even one good example yet.

AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

No, I don't believe that. I believe AskMeta reinforces the idea that if you are asking a question about a problem in your relationship, it is real, it is not in your head, and you should do something about it. This applies to both men and women.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:26 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


DTMFA is usually the exasperatedly obvious answer to many relationshipfilter questions in much the same way that "get to the ER already!" is to many medicaladvicefilter questions. (There's been at least three of those latter in the past few days that I saw, and thankfully all of them actually did get to the ER already). It just has the feature of having a popularized acronym for it.

I would suggest registering for a Third Account For A Brand New Day account.
posted by Drastic at 7:31 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is a fantastic comment to be made that revolves around the poster misunderstanding this post to be about Miss Saigon.

I am, however, very busy. Could someone make it for me please?
posted by Jofus at 7:32 AM on August 6, 2008


Man, this thread got long fast. Jokey, for what it's worth, I very much agree with you, and hope to have time to process all these words and make a more involved comment soon.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:33 AM on August 6, 2008


Do The MothaFuckin' Algebra?
posted by Mister_A at 7:33 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ivana Shtup de Naparino writes "You felt so strongly about this that you had to post it with your sock puppet account?"

Nothing wrong with that, a policy discussion should be able to be had without it being a debate of personal history. All too often when a concern like this (valid or not) is raised people go trolling the user's posting history for hints of hypocrisy and it derails the discussion. It's unfortunate that examples of the behaviour being discussed can not also be anonymized.
posted by Mitheral at 7:34 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


deny the man's feelings already
posted by pyramid termite at 7:34 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Confirmation bias.

Well, maybe not, but since those two words are probably the most common in AskMe answers after 'Aspergers Syndrome', I felt strangely moved to type them.
posted by jack_mo at 7:36 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think the fact that this discussion is ignoring trans-gendered persons entirely is deplorable. All of metafilter is very obviously transogynandynist.
posted by Grither at 7:39 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is [misandry] rampant in AskMe? Dunno, but it certainly doesn't hurt anything to try to be come more sensitive to all forms of gender prejudice, does it?

Well, except that misogyny, rather obviously, gets its sting from the fact that women as a social group are currently and historically less privileged than men. The ultimate goal is not to become hyper-hyper-sensitive to anything that could possibly be interpreted as offensive to anybody's feelings, which is where all this "OMG the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction" bollocks tends to lead. The ultimate goal is to have a society where privilege on the basis of demographic grouping is so absent that we could all be as sexist and racist, etc, as we liked — because we'd only be poking fun at all the fascinating differences in life's rich tapestry, not hooking in to centuries-old strains of prejudice.

(I'm male if it's relevant.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:40 AM on August 6, 2008 [15 favorites]


Actually, aftert reading the complete dismissal of these concerns from both the site's moderators and from people who insist that thread after thread on the other side of gender coin be taken with utmost seriousness, I've decided to dump you fuckers already. I don't need this shit right now.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I've noticed some subtle misandry here, but as someone upthread commented, it's everywhere in our culture these days. From the idiot man in TV commercials who gets rescued by the woman with the product you need to buy, to the lovingly incompetent husband/boyfriend in sitcoms and movies. Of course, the subtle misogyny is still out there, too...but much more likely to be called out for what it is.
The problem isn't big enough to warrant this MeTa, and I doubt there's much we can do about it except be more aware of it when we see it (on both sides). It would help, too, if those who are 100% sure that it doesn't exist-no way-no how-end of discussion would open their minds a crack.
posted by rocket88 at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sometimes people hear questions and their advice wheels to a worst-case-scenario vision, because people would rather give harsh advice than let a perceived danger slip. Big whoop. I've been guilty of that, too, although not, to my knowledge, with any particular prejudice against men (or women).
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2008


So the consensus sofar is "You're wrong, get over it, also you spent too much time on this get a hobby."

Got it.
posted by Skorgu at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Misandry, hmmm? Is that like reverse racism?

yup.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:50 AM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


women as one social group don't exist and to have "a society where privilege on the basis of demographic grouping is so absent" wouldn't change the fact of class privilege at all - a fact that actually can cause a woman to be privileged over a man in today's society
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on August 6, 2008


"a question I once asked about my own relationship, one which I regret asking and one which I freely admit sounded misogynistic but which was asked when I really wasn’t in the clearest state of mind, turned into a blood bath with most people calling me a misogynist, a claim I still resent and refute to this day."

So... you asked a question that could be read as misogynistic, and people brought it up. And to this day, you resent it.

Now you are clearly calling out Lesser Shrew and others. Have you mefi mailed any of them, perhaps to start a discussion or give them a chance to explain their answers? Why should readers have understood that you were not being misogynistic but believe that several answers out of context were the proof of askme's misandry?

Those that have been put in the spotlight don't even have the benefit of knowing which member is pulling them into Metatalk. I can understand not wanting to deal with the backlash but using a sockpuppet is a little cowardly.


This issue is important to you, and because of that it's possible that you are reading many of the relationship questions with a lens to spot the answers that conformed to your perceptions.
posted by amicamentis at 7:57 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Everyone seems to uptight. Let's go have some pasta with the Hulkster.
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2008


second account for making protracted callouts
posted by Eideteker at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


You could've saved yourself the trouble of a whole super-linked-up MeTa, Second Comment. I was just making the point that misogyny and misandry are mis- and over-used in the condom MeTa.
posted by desuetude at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


You cunts look like you could use a hug.











(British slang, not misogyny)
posted by Mister_A at 8:04 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"DTMFA" is one of those answers that gets trotted out too quickly and too often in AskMe. Which is not to say it's not the right advice some of the time, but it seems that nearly every relationship question has at least one person answer DTMFA. It doesn't even have to be a romantic relationship: see here for a question about a platonic friendship for which a number of people essentially advised the querent to DTMFA--advice which, had the querent followed, a years-long friendship would have needlessly ended. But that said, I'm not seeing any sexist (either misogynist or misandrist) pattern of use. Men and women are both advised--sometimes correctly, sometimes unnecessarily--to DTMFA.

"Confirmation bias" and "supertaster" also get trotted out too easily and too quickly around here without much critical thought for whether they're actually correct or not.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2008


Tell me more about this "Supertaster".
posted by Mister_A at 8:07 AM on August 6, 2008


women as one social group don't exist and to have "a society where privilege on the basis of demographic grouping is so absent" wouldn't change the fact of class privilege at all - a fact that actually can cause a woman to be privileged over a man in today's society

And the reason this is notable at all is that, all other things are being equal, being male does confer privilege in this society.

I wasn't meaning to be dismissive as in "pshaw, your concerns don't matter!" I'm just stating that I don't see it happening the way 2ndacct seems to, and I don't think the examples he is chosing to use advance his case very well. If people really see a trend towards dismissing demeaning comments directed towards all men, it's something we'd care about, certainly. As cortex said, we do delete stock one word "DTMFA" comments. That said, specific advice as far as what people should do about/with specific men doesn't reach the level of being denigrating to all men, at least how I see it.

But, as with the other threads on related topics, I'm happy to hear or be made aware of evidence to the contrary. If it's something that makes people feel bad or weird about the site or that they feel is an ongoing trend not being dealt with, of course we'd care.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


.... popping back in to say that I'm also offended by the degree to which people are just dismissing the OP's concerns. A number of people have done so in a rather insulting manner. And, worst of all - JOKES HAVE BEEN MADE! (gasp!)

Does the OP come off as a bit wingnutty? Yeah, a bit. Do I agree with him completely? No. Do I even read the relationshipfilter questions? Hell no. But is the invective warranted? No, not at all.

If a woman had made a similarly wingnutty post about misogyny, you would not have seen all these 'get a hobby' responses. And I'm sure you'd get a number of viciously angry comments to the effect of, "she's a woman, and her concerns need to be heard, because women are oppressed, and this place is such a boyzone anyway!"

So, yeah. Disagree with the poster. That's what this place is for. But don't say anything you wouldn't say if the shoe was on the other foot.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:10 AM on August 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


We are just frightened of your bulges.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2008


And, worst of all - JOKES HAVE BEEN MADE!

Dude, that's what you do in all the feminism threads. Or is this another one of those jokes?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Markovcortex's plea for peace:

The humungoid meltdown derail here sucks pretty badly. If y'all could cool it a fretboard when there's music going. Sort of riff on Weezer's The Sweater Song aesthetic. I have this horse, and this was not with blood. Good Leonard, make this half-death understood.

posted by Mister_A at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


And, worst of all - JOKES HAVE BEEN MADE!

Dude, that's what you do in all the feminism threads. Or is this another one of those jokes?


Yeah, I was being sarcastic.

And I'm done making jokes in the feminism threads. When people want Earnest Discussion, who am I to deny them that?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2008


(British slang, not misogyny)

Yeah, please don't.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also, you're a coward for posting from your sockpuppet account.

Agreed. If this issue is so important then be an adult and post under your regular account. Stand behind your words.

I do think "something" is going on, but it's more along the lines of women overcompensating for all the shitty treatment they've received over the past, well, forever. So when an AskMe comes up that has a guy seemingly acting like a jerk, it's understandable that there would a strong response of "Don't put up with that shit".

Anyway, here's what I have say regarding your specific examples, here's what I have to say:

" And your boyfriend shrugs this off as a "quirk," feels free to tell you that what you think and feel about your own thoughts and feelings is less important than his own opinion that "you'll be fine."

I was going say something similar because I saw it as an extrovert not understanding an introvert's needs. There's nothing worst then one of those crazy extroverts insisting "oh poo, you don't really want to be alone." These people should be tasered, repeatedly, whatever gender they are.

"If he owes you any money at all, even eight bucks, get out now. Also, it's entirely possible that he doesn't "settle" so much as he does whatever comes along that doesn't cause him to much trouble and get in the way of the rest of his life."

That one was more about two fundamentally different people not being compatible. The genders could be switched and I'd still agree with the answer.

So clearly he's not The One. He'll probably be gone in a month or two but in the meantime, accept that all men will have sex with anything that breathes. That's just how men are.

We do tend to more easily visually stimulated. No big deal and she was telling the OP that it's not big deal.

How about this question, where a woman asks for help about her boyfriend who doesn’t seem to like her dog?

That was just animal lovers tellig the OP (who is an animal lover) to not deal with someone who clearly doesn't like animals. Had the genders been reversed the answers would have been pretty similar and still the correct answer.

Then there was the question about the boyfriend described as "kind and loving and thoughtful in almost all ways" who, after three years of dating, had displayed some potentially misogynistic behavior. In a conversation he had had with his girlfriend, he had explained a tradition in his family wherein the women serve the men at Thanksgiving dinners.

Oh yeah, THAT thread. There I do tend to think that a lot of people flew off the handle, not just women, but it was more of cultural than gender thing. And even the women that were flying off the handle were't berating all men, they were berating a specific man and his families behavior (wrongly IMO, but that's neither here or there).

The women of Metafilter don't hate men, but they do dislike men they perceive as assholes. Sometimes as a group they're wrong or misguided in that perception, but again that doesn't mean they hate all men.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:17 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Like most misogynists, you don't understand misandry (or misogyny).
posted by dobbs at 8:19 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. I think we're being a little too quick. At least one of Lesser Shrew's posts exhibited a sexist claim -- that men as a group as sex-crazed. Bad on that. But, at the same time, I don't think we can see that post as an example of misandry because Lesser Shrew didn't seem to be presenting it as a bad thing. In fact, it was an excuse: "This behavior you're finding undesirable is just a produce of the way men are, so it's okay." Sexist, but I'm not sure that equals misandry.

2. I, too, am growing more and more disgusted by the ways that men are presented through the media. It's just ridiculous. Certain companies, especially fast food chains, seem to be outright trying to strictly define what it means to be a REAL man in a grossly disturbing way.

Also, just yesterday, Feministing put up this youtube video, which I found pretty interesting. It's about how masculinity is presented in Disney movies.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:21 AM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments

EponyWHA
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on August 6, 2008


I would like to praise our moderators for providing careful, serious, measured responses to the OP when it would be easy to wink and nudge and have a laugh. Though I think it's pretty obvious that his concern is unfounded, he's put a lot of time into voicing it and has done so in a respectful manner. The excellence of this community is grounded in the excellence of the moderators.
posted by Kwine at 8:22 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Is this the place where sock puppets come to bitch about dumb shit? Am I in the right place?"

Why isn't anyone paying attention to me anymore?
posted by Britney's Nipples at 8:24 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


a question I once asked about my own relationship, one which I regret asking and one which I freely admit sounded misogynistic but which was asked when I really wasn’t in the clearest state of mind, turned into a blood bath with most people calling me a misogynist, a claim I still resent and refute to this day. And ironically, the more I recanted, the more I tried to defend myself, the bigger a misogynist I seemed to become.

This would happen regardless of what kind of question you asked. If you ask an AskMe question that paints yourself as a jerk, you will get tons of non-answers along the lines of "Why don't you stop being such a jerk, you big jerk?" Coming in and saying "Actually, I'm not a jerk, and here's why..." will always just make things worse. Case in point.

I'm not saying that this is a great aspect of AskMe that should be embraced, but it's completely unrelated to MetaFilter's overall opinion about men.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:27 AM on August 6, 2008


I wanted to interject with my recent (over?)sensitivity to the amount of media (sitcoms/commercials) out there that paint men as insensitive, oafish brutes.

TV Tropes has it covered.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:28 AM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, I can see why this was posted this under a sockpuppet account.

Because it's stoopid.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:29 AM on August 6, 2008


I've behaved worse in my relationships than the women I've been involved with have-- much worse. I'd say my men friends have, too, in about a 4:1 ratio.

How many more men murder their lovers than women do?

I think you're right that men are more often blamed in answers to relationship questions, but that this only reflects an underlying reality.
posted by jamjam at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2008


You make me embarrassed to be male. I mean, I guess it's some sort of back-asswards version of "progress" that we've apparently made enough progress on gender issues for someone to feel comfortable posting this kind of idiocy to the front page of MetaTalk, but, seriously, get your own fucking blog and post this kind of stupidity there instead of here.

Jesus. I can feel my blood pressure going up just reading this extended whine.

I'll make you a deal. When women earn as much as men for the same work, when they aren't routinely derided as "bitches" in popular music and media, when women aren't routinely treated as sex objects because they have the temerity to wear a skirt marginally shorter than the average, when domestic violence against women is no longer an epidemiologically and statistically significant cause of death for women: then, maybe, I'll tolerate a man whining about how he been done wrong by those mean women.

This ranks right up there with white males pissing and moaning about affirmative action because some black woman actually got treated like an equal and they wound up not getting a job: the mere comparison of misogyny and misandry is fundamentally offensive.

Hopefully I've adequately communicated my contempt for this line of reasoning.
posted by scrump at 8:36 AM on August 6, 2008 [25 favorites]


Yeah, please don't.

I'm nailing my fingers to my desk in an attempt to restrain myself here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2008


I went for a walk, and thought about this thread for most of it. Aside from "I need to get a life," here's what I think:

* The examples given do not prove what the poster thinks they prove.

* Doing this from a sock-puppet account is really cowardly. Sure, all accounts are at least slightly anonymous, but I think it's important to have the courage to own your thoughts and ideas whenever possible.

* I really don't think MeFi has a pervasive misandry problem. But I do think that a lot of popular culture (particularly TV and movies, but also some songs, stand-up comedians, and books) use a weird kind of low-grade nastiness towards men as a foundational theme; that becomes part of the background "noise" that informs the humor, imagery, and cultural references used on this site.

The interesting contradiction, and what makes both talking about this and addressing it so difficult, is that this low-grade denigration of men goes along with (and in many ways supports and enables) a society in which men have more privileges across the board. It's sort of like carnival — carnival is the one time a year that the social pyramid is inverted, complete with cross-dressing, the poor crowned king, and all rules broken; on that day, it looks really radical... but in practice it serves to reinforce the ordinary social order. The day after carnival, everything is back to normal and the boundaries solidified.

That's how I see a lot of the denigration of men in jokes and skits and so on — in that moment one can laugh and say "right on sister!", without having to solve the question of how to change the current biased system we have. So the advertisement has the incompetent guy and we laugh, but then we buy more detergent rather than insist that men learn to do laundry (or even perhaps acknowledge that most men do, in fact, know perfectly well how to do laundry, making such gendered ads even more unpalatable).

And it's a particularly corrosive kind of humor, that can really start rankling in the way "I'd hit that!" has started to really rub some people here the wrong way. Sure, it's kind of funny the first time, but the millionth time you are reading an answer to an AskMe and the responder is relying implicitly on these ideas about men not being so great, it gets really old.

Now, I don't see this as a really big deal — it doesn't rub me the wrong way so much. Calling it "misandry" is going too far, too. But there is something underlying this callout that is based on how men are represented in popular culture and how they are sometimes represented here that is worth thinking about. And it's really hard to point to outrageous examples, because it's pervasive and usually not all that extreme. Nor, I think, should we be policing what is said with that kind of intensity.
posted by Forktine at 8:40 AM on August 6, 2008 [26 favorites]

Also, you're a coward for posting from your sockpuppet account.
Oh, baloney. I'm not about to go through the profiles of each person who's posted in this thread, but I'd bet at least 75% of them aren't using their real names, or even a form of their real names, and that at least a third don't have contact information. The condescension and outright mocking that the post has recieved more than justifies him semi-anonymity. And the anonymity is, indeed, only semi--that account has been in use for two years, and, again, without doing the research, I'd be willing to bet that he's posted more comments under that name than some of the commenters here have under theirs.

Agree or disagree, but the ad hominem isn't helpful.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:41 AM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I feel like we keep having this conversation over and over again, and I'm beginning to suspect that I must be completely tone deaf at recognizing when someone is expressing a misogynistic or misandristic point of view, because I just don't seem to see it as often as everyone else does.

For a while I was assuming that everyone was just being overly-sensitive, and taking offense when none was intended, but because of the frequency of these complaints I'm going to have to rethink this opinion.

Instead, I'm going to operate under the view that 1.) people are jerks when dealing with other genders and 2.) I apparently fail to notice when this is happening.
posted by quin at 8:42 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


*adopts best Bugs Bunny voice*

"and so, having re-RE-disposed of the monster, exit Metatalk through the front door, stage right."

by which I mean that we've pretty clearly addressed the guy's concern, virtually nobody agrees with him, and he's not responding. this pileon will not get any better by lasting any longer.
posted by shmegegge at 8:43 AM on August 6, 2008


Data inconclusive. Need more input.
posted by Alison at 8:43 AM on August 6, 2008


Why post this when you made the same lame claim in the other MeTa, without bothering to back it up or engage in the discussion? Good lord, have you been working on this for the last four days? And will you actually come back to this MeTa or just leave it bruised and flaccidly flapping in the breeze, as you did your previous assertion, like a newly-punched cock?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:45 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there is, on average, a statistical imbalance in the gender of askers and/or commenters in relationshipfilter questions, such that a highly sensitive type might begin to notice a real tendency to give benefit of the doubt more on the female side of the equation. I also wonder if there is, on average, a statistical imbalance in the gender of people in relationships who are, in fact, pigs. Such could begin to feel like misandry in the aggregate, though really being little more than the cumulative confirmation biases of the majority of participants. I wonder these things because I honestly don't know, given that I normally avoid relationshipfilter like a plague-ridden rat warren of death.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:46 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, baloney. I'm not about to go through the profiles of each person who's posted in this thread, but I'd bet at least 75% of them aren't using their real names, or even a form of their real names, and that at least a third don't have contact information.

I think you misunderstand me. I don't think anyone here has to provide their real names or contact information, but I think consistency in handles is important for all sorts of reasons. This is a discussion we've had many times here, and about which there is reasonable disagreement. But I do think that when you're doing something that you think will really rile people up, you should have the courage to do it under your standard handle. Otherwise it seems like an abuse of sockpuppets.

You're right, however, that gratuitous insults do not help situations like this. But while I should have perhaps found a better way to phrase it, my insult wasn't simply meant to be gratuitous. It was meant to suggest that the problems with this thread extend even to the level of the poster's convictions.
posted by OmieWise at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


You'd do well with less typing and possibly enrolling in some Cultural Communication or Women's Studies classes.

Yeah, the problem is he just doesn't understand؟ If only he learned the truth about how wrong he is؟

Please tell me this was meant in jest?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Forktine, I agree with you about the role of anti-male stereotypical humor in pop culture–it's definitely a case of "Haha, I'm so big and powerful, a little jape about my gut and body odor will not trouble me in the least!"

I took a crash course on public speaking and business etiquette once (it was public speaking in a business context, and so the etiquette part was extremely important). One of the things that I learned is that, if you are seated at a table where there are refreshments or food, you should never serve anyone–pass them the pitcher or what have you, but do not fill their glass, as you will then identify yourself as the server, lowering your standing in the pecking order. The lone exception to this rule is for older males in a position of power–for them, the act of serving another can actually consolidate the position of power in the eyes of the group. I have followed this advice, and observed what happens to those who don't, and it is startling. People will treat you like "the help", in this setting, if you put yourself in a servant's role, however fleetingly.
posted by Mister_A at 8:51 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What this guy said. Because he said it far more eloquently than I could have.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:01 AM on August 6, 2008


Mister_A, the same is true for depriciating humor. It works better the higher up you are.

As for the callout, meh. I, like many others, don't really see the trend.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:04 AM on August 6, 2008


use a weird kind of low-grade nastiness towards men as a foundational theme; that becomes part of the background "noise" that informs the humor, imagery, and cultural references used on this site

This sounds more class based as opposed to gender based.. The people who dream up popular culture are targeting those stereotypes towards joe (and jane)sixpack and probably don't consider themselves part of that stereotype.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2008


I just wanted to say a few things.

1. I am actually kind of upset by how many stupid jokes are in here. I've been hurt by these same sort of dismissive jokes when they are let loose in past sexism threads here, and exactly these sorts of jokes and attitudes have caused female members of the site to leave before (e.g., Danila). In a way I actually think the behavior in this thread has been sexist, because the attitude here seems to be "man up, and stop being such a fragile flower, dude." We try not to do that to women anymore when they complain about these sorts of issues (though we don't always succeed). Why is it okay to do that to a guy, even if we don't agree with him, if he is being honest about his concerns? In all my participation in all of the past sexism threads, I have never had to face the sort of overwhelming scorn and derision that SAFMJC is facing here. (Were the earliest boyzone threads rampant with these kinds of insults and I've just blocked it? I can't remember.) WTF, Metatalk?

2. I think it was perfectly logical for the poster to make this post under this account name. SAFMJC is the account he has used where he had a previous bad experience with alleged misandry here, which has been pointed out in the past by a mod. That experience is part of this post, and somewhat necessary to understanding where he is coming from. Why should he post from the other account, and thereby tie his two accounts together via this post? I have no problem with him posting under this account name.

3. I do think DTMFA is a common answer in AskMe whether the thread is posted by a man or a woman. I also think it's a common response, even when the poster has been clear to say upfront that the person they are talking about has many fine qualities and is perfect in every way for them except for this one thing. I note that SCFMJC brings up the fact that the posters in question often say their man is great in every way except one, etc., as though that statement makes the DTMFA advice difficult to understand. I've noticed this happening to both men and women, though -- I think people often treat this "perfect in every other way" sort of statement as hyperbole.

That's all I have for now. I wish Metatalk were not such a nasty place. And I hope it doesn't take 30 more threads about misandry before we treat men who worry seriously about this issue with the same courtesy we give to women.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:06 AM on August 6, 2008 [24 favorites]


Wow, I agreed with onlyconnect in a gender thread.

Noted.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2008


This sounds more class based as opposed to gender based.. The people who dream up popular culture are targeting those stereotypes towards joe (and jane)sixpack

Absolutely. If you go through life in modern-day America or the modern-day UK, as a man, with the all-pervasive feeling that society is fundamentally biased against you because of your gender, there is a major failure of understanding or communication somewhere along the line. Either society isn't fundamentally biased against you, or it is, but not because of your gender. These tiresome arguments about 'these days there seems to be a real hostility/derision towards men in the media etc' are never about gender.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2008


"Stand behind your words."

I tried that once, but I was wearing black, so some of the letters were hard to read, and it came out looking like I'd written something dirty. Like that scene in Austin Powers.

I made a joke earlier, but I hope it wasn't read as dismissive. Misandry exists, and it sucks, though I don't know if the examples cited by the OP were the best examples.
posted by Eideteker at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2008


Eideteker: no joking, no dancing, no spitting, no swearing.
posted by Mister_A at 9:28 AM on August 6, 2008


Although I should state that, I, personally, have no problem with seeing jokes in this thread, as long as they aren't mean.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2008


And the reason this is notable at all is that, all other things are being equal

but all other things aren't equal - and it's a little tiresome to see people continue to generalize and play the "you're privileged" card - especially when it's done by people who generally ARE privileged themselves

it's an ad hominem anyway, and not a real argument - it's a device for shouting down a person's statements without actually having to address them

I wasn't meaning to be dismissive as in "pshaw, your concerns don't matter!" I'm just stating that I don't see it happening the way 2ndacct seems to, and I don't think the examples he is chosing to use advance his case very well.

this may be so, but the way others have chosen to respond to this makes me think that there may be something to the complaint after all

but basically this is turning into the usual chicken pecking party discussion that this site loves so well, so ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


SILLY BOY.
posted by quonsar at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The people who are criticizing SAFMJC for using his sockpuppet account to make this callout are misguided. I'm sort of walking a tightrope here, because when I saw this callout I immediately remembered the previous thread SAFMJC was referring to in which he felt he was unfairly attacked, however I now see that question has been switched to Anonymous. I won't link to it, since it's obvious he doesn't even want it associated with his sockpuppet account, except to say I think the criticism he received in that thread was mostly deserved (though I realize if I was on the receiving end of such vitriol I might feel differently, which should hopefully give people who think "tough love" advice is helpful some pause. I think it generally just makes people more defensive).

I don't agree with this callout. As others have mentioned, the "evidence" presented here isn't the damning indictment SAFMJC seems to think it is. Having said that, I agree that if similar concerns were brought up with the genders reversed there would be far fewer dismissive, "Look at this idiot"-type comments, which may actually prove his point in a way.
posted by The Gooch at 9:52 AM on August 6, 2008


Personally I'd love it if there was a site-wide script that automatically changed "dtmfa" to "I like puppies" or something

I like cortex's idea of changing DTMFA to "get a mac."

You'd do well with less typing and possibly enrolling in some ... Women's Studies classes.
IMO this thought should be prefaced by "If you'd like to experience some REAL misandry..."


I agree with onlyconnect and davy_darling.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Misandry? But people don't see it!

on preview: what onlyconnect says. It doesn't matter if it's not equivalent or as bad as misogny. All these "nah, I don't see it, {optional: and I am a member of the concerned gender!}" and "this makes you a sexist" comments are as much bollocks as they were when it was women under fire.
posted by bonaldi at 10:02 AM on August 6, 2008


In a way I actually think the behavior in this thread has been sexist, because the attitude here seems to be "man up, and stop being such a fragile flower, dude."

No, it isn't. The attitude is overwhelmingly, "you failed to support your argument's central idea with examples of genuine misandry." It's been stated and restated over and over since the second post where Jessamyn said it pretty clearly. She went so far as to restate her point after a number of other people stated it, and after that some more people said the same thing.
posted by The Straightener at 10:11 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Could we do something to help out white people while we're at it? Because I don't know if any of you have noticed, but Obama is black.
posted by bardic at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2008


IANNAM and IANASP (I am not not a man and I am not a sock puppet) and I wish the OP had responded to perceived anti-male bias in the way that misogyny has generally been responded to, at least in the best cases--by confronting and educating in the thread.
Even though we agonize over whether the conversation is getting corrosive, I think there's been a lot of learning on askme about gender, race, and to a lesser extent class issues. I wish that had never been at the expense of some who've had to endure casual (or not) sexism, etc. On the other hand, I'm frankly just not that worried if the occasional male sock puppet gets his fingers hurt (wait, do sock puppets have fingers? toes?).
posted by Mngo at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2008


Mngo writes "I wish the OP had responded to perceived anti-male bias in the way that misogyny has generally been responded to, at least in the best cases--by confronting and educating in the thread."

Much better to do it here, this kind of stuff tends to derail the askme threads it appears in.
posted by Mitheral at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2008


The attitude is overwhelmingly, "you failed to support your argument's central idea with examples of genuine misandry." It's been stated and restated over and over since the second post where Jessamyn said it pretty clearly

Yes, and it's still meaningless that people don't see it in his examples. (One case against his examples seems to be that they're all specifics ... so? If there were lots of sexist comments about how hot x particular chick's tittays are, would that not be sexist? Can it only be a problem if people are speaking in general terms?)

OP says people are making answers that stereotype men unfairly, and they're not being challenged on it, and he doesn't like it. It doesn't matter whether or not you or anyone sees misandry here, precisely as it doesn't matter whether or not we saw misogny in the boyzone threads. The issue is that someone does, and we have to establish if others feel like that too. On the boyzone thing, a lot of women spoke out quite loudly and braved a shitstorm to say that they too saw sexism, which sealed the matter, regardless of the opinions of the peanut gallery.

On the evidence of this thread, few feel like the OP, although given the attitude he's been met with, I'm not surprised nobody else wants to pipe up. But whether you or anyone else sees it where he does? Irrelevant.
posted by bonaldi at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is the pervasive misandry on MeFi that has kept me from making front-page posts.

"the pervasive misandry" here meaning "my own laziness".
posted by everichon at 10:22 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a commercial running nowadays for some refrigerator. The kids can't find something because hahaha kids are sloppy, irresponsible and can never remember where to put things. The dad can't find something because hahahah dads are sloppy and aren't smart enough to remember where to put things. Mom of course knows where everything is, just like the new featured organized refrigerator. Which, I mention is the domain of the kitchen. I spy misandry, misogyny and a dab of lame.
posted by yeti at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shocking news: MeFi has many members who say jerky things. Some of them are women.

I'm with scrump. The very nature of this callout is an embarrassment to pretty much everything. Posting it under a sockpuppet account on the pretense that you're afraid of- what?- retaliation or something is just icing on the cake.
posted by mkultra at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2008


My goodness. Ugly.

I agree that the kneejerk negativity being shown the OP is unwise. Perhaps his concerns would be taken more seriously if he would reveal himself. But we should take him seriously anyway, for posterity, progress and preservation of goodwill toward feminists here.

Our culture is highly gendered, and in matters of interpersonal relationships, women are treated as the natural experts. Men are widely treated as greenhorns, and this has some biological basis, sure. The fact is, some women who have nasty dispositions, or traumatic experiences of real misogyny in their relationships, may be unforgiving when judging the behavior of men, even unfairly suspicious of them and the things their difference from us might lead them to do.

But we know that bias isn't right. AND we know that men are still granted privilege in ALMOST EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE ARENA. So, it's hard to make claims of institutional misandry. In relationship filter, it will show up the most.

I will not argue that a lot of people view the world as more definitively gendered (men are like this, women are like this), and when those people pontificate, they come off as jerks. Genderqueers have known that for a long time.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:36 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


On the evidence of this thread, few feel like the OP, although given the attitude he's been met with, I'm not surprised nobody else wants to pipe up. But whether you or anyone else sees it where he does? Irrelevant.

The thread isn't titled, "stereotyping men unfairly and AskMetafilter," it's "Misandry and Metafilter" and the original post levels multiple charges of misandry against a woman community member, so, yes, it is very important that not one genuine example of misandry has been brought forth yet in the thread by group consensus.

Maybe you should start another Meta thread about unfair stereotypes of men on Metafilter? Or can we stick to the actual topic of this particular thread, which is misandry? The crucial difference is that the latter is essentially an accusation of hate speech, which shouldn't be made without some really solid examples to support it.
posted by The Straightener at 10:36 AM on August 6, 2008


The attitude is overwhelmingly, "you failed to support your argument's central idea with examples of genuine misandry."

Agreed. Lest the poster get discouraged, I think it's important to say that misandry is not something we wish to tolerate here, and I for one will be on the lookout for this behavior going forward. I despise when it is assumed that men as a group are lazy, uncaring, stupid, sloppy, or any other negative thing. Particularly when it is assumed in context of the idea that the woman in their life is going to run around cleaning it all up (see yeti's example of the fridge commercial). That's just unfair to everybody. Besides, anyone assuming I'm going to run around after some man cleaning up after him is going to be sadly disappointed. I prefer to be the lazy one in my relationships. I'm just a forward thinker that way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Just strike "I will not argue that," I guess. I'm just waking up.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2008


I see more misandry in remarks such as "Last Monday, my girl told me she had been asked to go out on a girl's night out with a female friend from work and some of her friends. I will admit, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. I know what guys are like and while I trust her, I don't trust a city-full of drunken guys seeing my sexy lady and trying to hit on her.," where "I know what guys are like" imputes negative character to them, those sex-crazed beasts.

Oh, wait, that was 2ndAcct's post? Well, we always hate most what we see in ourselves, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:42 AM on August 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


Maybe you should start another Meta thread about unfair stereotypes of men on Metafilter??
Why would I? I don't see them.

Or can we stick to the actual topic of this particular thread, which is misandry? The crucial difference is that the latter is essentially an accusation of hate speech, which shouldn't be made without some really solid examples to support it.
The OP thinks that the misandry of the women answering is expressing itself via their answers that stereotype men unfairly. But, again, your "you need solid examples" call is besides the point, just as it was when men went "What? That's not sexism, that's just saying that we'd do that hot chick, yo. You need to prove sexism is here."

Someone sees it. Looks like he's alone, but you don't get to judge the validity of how he feels. It's probably not a problem for us right now, but if it later emerges that lots of people feel like him, it will be.
posted by bonaldi at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2008


I will echo the frequent frustration of being portrayed as an absolute moron in the media, even as I grudgingly admit that, especially where cleaning is concerned, I am a bit of a moron.
posted by klangklangston at 10:47 AM on August 6, 2008


Don't worry klang, if you have kids you will become a veritable eight-armed djinni of cleani, at least compared to where you are now. Unless you're a fat lazy beer-drinking softball-playing pickup truck-driving stereotype. Then, not so much.
posted by Mister_A at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2008


In my view, AskMe always seems to come down on the side of women and more often than not seems to imply that men are vile pigs who can't ever be trusted so just don't.

You have two separate claims here: 1) that AskMe comes down on the side of the woman in relationship questions and 2) that there is some sort of misandry involved.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if 1) where true to some degree (though certainly not always). I have no real data, but my impressions is that relationship questions are posted and answered more often by women relative to the general population of AskMe. Not only is there a significant tendency to agree with the poster of the question (and thus more often take the side of the woman)*, but there may also be a tendency for women to identify more closely with another women and thus take her side (see IRFH above). You might consider that unfair, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

Your second claim is entirely different and not at all connected to the first. I don't think you've provided any real evidence to back it up.

*Focusing here on straight relationships.
posted by ssg at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2008


Regarding whether there may be "stereotypes" of men in lieu of actual misandry in play:

In the recent Condom Use Ask and MeTa, the attitude struck by some askers that the girlfriend's enthusiasm to go condomless might be because she was secretly trying to get pregnant against her boyfriend's wishes and was therefore a negative stereotype - The Trickster Girlfriend - was referred to by multiple users as an example of misogyny. So, in at least that level of rigorous word-choice, answers that say "Oh, well your boyfriend is probably doing that because [convoluted sex-crazed cares for no one but his rocks stereotypical shit here]" ARE equally representative of misandry.

Negative stereotypes and bias ARE one way we express misogyny or misandry. But I still think we're a long way from being able to say that negative stereotypes of men reflect a Hatred which can actually be found in our culture.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:54 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think I'm finally getting sick of beans.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:54 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


some answerers, not askers. I'm walking to the coffee shop RIGHT NOW.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:55 AM on August 6, 2008


I know this mindset very well. This is the mindset of the 30 or so men who write into my company, every week, and state that "Every article/question/statement is a bunch of man-hating bullshit! You probably didn't even go to college! Fuck you, I hope you die in a fire!" etc.

So if we happen to run an article called, for example, "Is your date lying?" and use even ONE man's name or an example of a woman catching a man in a lie, we are a bunch of hateful feminists out to destroy the male species with our bullshit propaganda.

Because of people like you, every time I run an article with a female perspective, I have to pair it with an article on the male perspective. I even have to put a fucking HYPERLINK in each article so that you men, with your huge chips on your manly, discriminated-against shoulders, can see that we are NOT just running "women's articles about man-hating and the evils of men in general." Because.... WE AREN'T. STRAIGHT UP. I am sorry for whatever is happening in your personal life that causes you to see everything around you through this "anti-men" filter. If you tell yourself you'll see the number 23 everywhere, guess what? There it is. It's EVERYWHERE. If you tell yourself you'll see misandry everywhere, you will.

There are a lot of us women who try to convince ourselves daily that we're not still living in a man's world, but it's hard to believe, even now, that we don't make the same wage as you do for the same jobs and that we are expected to be nude in PG-13 movies, but a naked penis (even a flaccid one) is a hard R or unrated or X, take your pick. Men still, to me, seem protected and given a certain dignity, in many ways, that women struggle with. Example: Yeah, woohoo, equal rights. Now we HAVE to be perfect employees, working 40-60 hours a week, AND be perfect mothers, competing against every other mother on the playground. Is that fair? I don't know. I chose not to have kids. I can't deal with the pressure.

Some women are horrible. Some men are horrible. Some pets are horrible. I don't believe in blanket statements, and I don't believe all (insert gender/planet/species/whatever here) are bad. Most MeFites are intelligent (if sometimes a bit goading) and know not to do that shit around here.

If you genuinely believe someone is making a statement that borders on or is outright misandry... flag it and move on. Or send a memail. Or both. But you might just think for a second before you hit send. I know I always do.

And on that note, if what I've typed here offends you, I am sorry. Sometimes I just feel like, quite frankly, people protest too much over nothing. And now that I've written Moby Dick: The Comment, I'll back away and check my reader response inbox and see how many hate mails came in today. That should calm me down, but good.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2008 [26 favorites]


A lot of feminists are very concerned with how men and women are portrayed in popular American culture, this has to do with the general idea that feminism is the hope of equality between men and women. The frequent trope of the incompetent, fun loving man is matched up with the competent, boring, nagging woman who spends all of her time taking care of him. Yes, Homer Simpson is a buffoon, but he's a fun buffoon who people like. Marge on the other hand may be responsible and keep everything together, but her favorite food is buttered noodles and her only "friends" are her sisters.

The big defenders of misandry are gender essentialists, those people, male and female, who are convinced that gender alone determines personality, thoughts, feelings, and sex drive. These are the people who say "all men are dogs", "all men want to have sex with everything that moves", "men just don't care about keeping the house clean", "men just aren't good nurturers".

These stereotypes are bad on both sides, and it is common to find feminist bloggers attacking them.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:59 AM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Google gives 65 hits for dtmfa "she is", and 99 hits for dtmfa "he is".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:05 AM on August 6, 2008


Unicorn, I actually thought you were a man til just now. That's not a joke or a criticism, it's just an observation. More to the point, I think you're right on the money on this issue, and even more so on your point about people being too quick to take offense here.
posted by Mister_A at 11:06 AM on August 6, 2008


Take that back!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:08 AM on August 6, 2008




I appreciate that, Mister_A.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:11 AM on August 6, 2008


I think that Unicorn on the Cob should be congratulated for her insightful parsing of the topic at hand and for unearthing in her analysis of how it impacts her professionally perhaps the one piece of common ground we can all stand on, the one demand that unites our voices: More cock in PG-13 movies.
posted by The Straightener at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


As she said, a question I once asked about my own relationship, one which I regret asking and one which I freely admit sounded misogynistic but which was asked when I really wasn’t in the clearest state of mind, turned into a blood bath with most people calling me a misogynist, a claim I still resent and refute to this day. And ironically, the more I recanted, the more I tried to defend myself, the bigger a misogynist I seemed to become. At least according to most of those who participated in the thread.

You know, sometimes, even the opressor hurts. I know you hate that idea and concept. You really dislike being viewed as part of a cultural/racial/ethnic/gender group that participates in the widespread practice of oppressing another group. You view yourself as sensitive, political correct, well-balanced, respectful, understanding and, above all, you view yourself as a decent person. And when a flaw on your part becomes visible and becomes attacked, you react defensively and label everyone else as the problem. You admit that your question was misogynistic but you do not really believe it. You blame your state of mind and others for your misogynistic views. It wasn't your fault; it wasn't your problem. You made a minor mistake but, come on, it doesn't really show who you really are. You shouldn't have suffered (and that is how you view it, you SUFFERED) at the hands of others who attacked you, insulted you, and highlighted your flaw. They exaggereated right? It's not your fault; it's theres! They did this to me. I'm not what they claim I am. I'm better than that.

Everyone, in their lives, have these same thoughts because, guess what? Everyone is an oppressor and everyone enjoys being the victim. You, sir, enjoy being the victim.

This isn't misandry nor is this callout about misandry: it's about your suffering and how it made you feel. You viewed personal attacks and misandry and you've now tuned your body to find it. You are now fine tuned to the problems in our culture where specific groups of people are stereotyped to the point of ridiculousness. You view this community (which, I must remind you, you are free to walk away from at any point which is a level of freedom that most oppressed do not have) as an antagonist. You try to add disclaimers to you comment to seem as if you are above this initial hurt but you still suffer it. You don't like being labeled as a misognist because you don't like having to admit that you can be wrong. Nor do you believe that you can be wrong. And nor do you want to do anything to fix that wrong. Instead, you would like to wallow or get this community to change instead. That is, like googly said, the epitome of male priveledge and you sir, are waving that flag as high as you can.

But you know what? I understand what you're feeling from the site. I understand that little tweak in the back of your brain that, while reading the site, suddenely feels defensive. And I know that, after the last year on the site, how that tweak has a more prominent place in your head than it did before. It's not easy to comfront the reality that your normal reactions and behaviors might, just might, hurt someone else and it's not easy to be labeled as wrong based on things you can't control. You didn't ask to be given a penis; it just happened. It sucks sometimes, doesn' it? But there's a funny thing about that little tweak in the back of your head - you can either confront it or let it embrace and consume you. You have decided to embrace it which, I'm sad to say, is the wrong choice.
posted by Stynxno at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Hmmm. I didn't think the examples cited were particularly misandric, with the exception of maybe the men are pigs and will fuck anything that moves thing. Otherwise you just have people being knee-jerk about what other people should put up with in relationships. It makes me think of the relationshipfilter thread where the OP was worried about her husband's tax debt-- I posted that my husband had a tax problem when we got married and that with my help he has overcome the problem [actually I am pleased to report that the debt is down to only $2800 from almost 30k!], and almost every single other person in the thread said the OP's boyfriend was a bad horrible unredeemable person, DTMFA, etc.

One of the reasons this happens is because there's no room for nuance in the brief exposure you get of other people's relationships' in their posts, so it just makes more sense to say "dump him!" or "dump her" when you don't see the wonderful aspects of the person's character.

Regarding the whole popular media thing, which is a bit off-topic but interesting-- I agree that it's a really upsetting pervasive meme. I do think one of the reasons it's popular is because it reinforces a lot of the existing gender roles where the woman is responsible for everything around the house, and dressing her husband and the kids, because he's just too much of a nitwit to do it "right." So women get to feel a bit put-upon and men get out of doing the laundry. It's almost a coping mechanism.
posted by miss tea at 11:23 AM on August 6, 2008


"Because of people like you, every time I run an article with a female perspective, I have to pair it with an article on the male perspective."

Well, let's hear it for the aggrieved men, forcing you to provide a market for the writing of the rest of us.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


More cock in PG-13 movies.
posted by The Straightener


Uh, penis-terical? Sterile peen... no, wait...
posted by Forktine at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


-Yes, misandry exists.
-Yes, it exists on askme.
-Yes, some of your examples seemed biased. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say misandristic. She's just providing her opinions in response to questions that call for opinions from everyone.
-But in other cases you were overreacting.
-We shouldn't let a rampant misandry problem get by here.
-There is no rampant misandry problem here.

If you come across a comment, answer, question, or post that you feel is misandristic, the best things to do are: a) flag and move on, b) message the offending poster, explaining that you think they are being offensive, c) respectfully note your disagreement with them in thread, without derailing or starting flame wars.

An example of what I think of as "respectfully noting your disagreement", without flaming.

-"Run. Don't do it. In fact, take a vacation by yourself right now.... If I am reading this right, your need for solitude is a defining feature of you. And your boyfriend shrugs this off as a "quirk," feels free to tell you that what you think and feel about your own thoughts and feelings is less important than his own opinion that "you'll be fine."

-"I have to say I think you are coming down too hard on the BF here. The two have been together for five years, presumably successfully, but she still has fears that she will lack space in a common living arrangement. It's extremely common for people to live together after five years, and any healthy relationship of that long should be able to handle it. The boyfriend is just pointing out that he thinks it odd that these worries are unfounded and odd. While worries like that aren't uncommon, and he is wrong there, he is probably right that they are unfounded and that the two can work together to create a happy living arrangement. It seems that you are jumping to conclusions and failing to give the BF any benefit of the doubt at all, and are assuming the worst automatically for some reason."

Of course misandry exists in some cases, even here. But most of the cases you found weren't even very good examples, and were mostly cherry picked from threads that otherwise were going okay. So at best, you've found some isolated cases of misandry, not evidence of a larger problem.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hu-fucking-zzah onlyconnect. I pine for a mega-favorite button. It should dispatch a beverage-of-choice via UPS I think.

I find the "but women are so much more discriminated against" arguments incredibly tiresome. That a greater injustice exists does not absolve us of noting and mending the smaller ones. Women do not get a free pass to be jerks because they are discriminated against any more than men should be castigated for simply being male and, therefore, privileged. I can't even comprehend a worldview that doesn't take these as axioms.

Also, Bechdel's Law.
posted by Skorgu at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


OP says people are making answers that stereotype men unfairly, and they're not being challenged on it, and he doesn't like it.

no he doesn't. OP says, and I quote, "In my view, AskMe always seems to come down on the side of women and more often than not seems to imply that men are vile pigs who can't ever be trusted so just don't."

for real, your description of what the OP is saying is not remotely accurate. He has taken offense at what he perceives as a trend toward man-hating in AskMe that doesn't actually exist. As unfortunate as the pile-on has become, I think it's undeniable that he's completely wrong on this point and the problem in this thread isn't that people are pointing out how wrong he is.

The problem, as I said earlier, is that this has become a pile-on, and I hope it gets closed since the poor guy made his point in earnest, was promptly refuted and has since closed at least his sock puppet account anyway.
posted by shmegegge at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2008


Since the cat's out of the bag now, I'm kind of surprised gratuitous1 hasn't chimed in to defend the OP.
posted by The Gooch at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2008


Second Account For Making Jokey Comments, I have to say I agree with you.

I believe that women have struggled with the housewife/gender bullshit so long, that perhaps they are blinded to their own, what you term as misandry. It's really just "batting for the team" in my view, but whatever. It is present, but I think it is present for both genders. Here's an example.

A long time ago miss lynnster posted some sexist stuff which four panels called out.

It was a good discussion, but nothing really came of it, initially. But, it seemed to enrage jennydiski so much that a man would dare call a woman sexist that she later posted a Metatalk thread decrying the terrible misogny of this site, almost in an attempt to bury the discussion of female-commited sexism. It seemed to be a hit, with well over a thousand comments.

So much so, that Jessamyn even included it in a SXSW power point presentation, glossing over what started the terrible train at the station. Jessamyn seemed to jump to the caboose in a revisionist history sort of way, and declared that the wisdom of crowds had beaten the terrible misogny so inherrant within Metafilter.

And this is my perspective, my progressive, liberal, equality-for-everyone perspective. 40K users will disagree with me, because I think it is just how we are made.

So I guess what I am saying is, you will never win. The gender bias is so innate to our real-life expericences that hashing it out on a website is eyedrops in a volcano.

Just be kind, and let this nuance remain nuance. It is too much for any of us.
posted by plexi at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


What TPS said.

Also, regarding: I know this mindset very well.

Reducing one person's argument to a broad, generic "mindset" is disrespectful, and makes it too easy to generate strawman arguments, and generally ascribe to the OP thoughts and attitudes that are completely made up.

As an example, this post by anastasiav comes up first in a search for "boyzone." Whether or not her complaint is well-founded, in what way would I know this mindset very well (as a description of anastasiav, for having had the temerity to bring it up) have been a good way to start to address her concerns? It would not be.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:35 AM on August 6, 2008


for real, your description of what the OP is saying is not remotely accurate. He has taken offense at what he perceives as a trend toward man-hating in AskMe that doesn't actually exist. As unfortunate as the pile-on has become, I think it's undeniable that he's completely wrong on this point and the problem in this thread isn't that people are pointing out how wrong he is.

Since there are thousands of hard-to-parse words from him, I don't want to get into a semantic battle about what he actually means, but I think I could fairly rephrase to say that "the OP sees a trend towards man hating, illustrates it by examples of what he thinks are unfair stereotypifications, and doesn't like it all" and still mean the same thing.

To be fair to him, he does also ask if the community agrees. We don't, clearly, but it's by no means therefore "undeniable" that he's wrong, because it's what he feels, and he virtually must be correct on that.
posted by bonaldi at 11:40 AM on August 6, 2008


osting it under a sockpuppet account on the pretense that you're afraid of- what?- retaliation or something is just icing on the cake.

And then the sockpuppet took his ball and went home! Second Account For Being A Douchebag.
posted by nanojath at 11:40 AM on August 6, 2008


To all the people responding to my comment, let me add, for years we have had tons of male columnists, we even had a whole section JUST for men and men's advice, and often run articles that address only the male perspective.

We probably receive 10 letters or less per year about these articles being misogynist from women.

However, without fail, EVERY time we run an article that is ONLY from the female perspective or written first-person from the female point of view, we get voluminous hate mail, all from men, all in the vein of what I quoted above.

I know. It's my job to check it and read the comments, every day. I've been exposed to it daily for almost five years. For some reason, occasionally women respond in kind, and I don't mean that to be a blanket statement. But it's about 30 to 1 in favor of all relationship advice being biased towards women, even when we have changed the ratio of men-authored articles to 70/30 in order to prove no gender bias.

So yes, I do think that my comment was founded. I do believe I know that mindset very well; and by that mindset, I mean, the mindset where unless you are given a setup where the exact same number of men and women are asked the exact same question and given the exact same amount of response time/column space, relationship issues are perceived largely to be anti-men in general BY MEN based on reading several tens of thousands of responses. Unfortunately, people tend to only write in when they are angry; the people that love us, or believe that we are equally weighted amongst the sexes, tend to keep it to themselves.

I don't believe in demonizing men, and I don't believe relationship issues in general SHOULD demonize men. That's why I hate books like The Rules for encouraging anything other than honesty in dating by either gender.

I apologize, as I said above, if anything I said offended; I have well over 10 million emails at my disposal to back up my argument, should anyone care to visit and pore through them, amongst the tons of spam, bizarre illegible trash, and random empty emails that come in.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:55 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


And by all means, more cock in movies. Yes. That.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was just animal lovers tellig the OP (who is an animal lover) to not deal with someone who clearly doesn't like animals. Had the genders been reversed the answers would have been pretty similar and still the correct answer.

Thanks for mentioning this. I was called out in this post and don't appreciate you applying your theories to my single comment. If perhaps you felt that my comments AS A WHOLE were misandrist, then I'd be willing to have a discussion about it. But as such, you were wrong in your assumptions - I would have said the same thing to a man about his dog-hating girlfriend.

I understand and appreciate all who are trying to create an atmosphere that is open, unbiased, and non-judgmental. (Un)Fortunately, we are a diverse group of opinionated people who are trying to discuss things are important to us - sometimes intimately important. And that will inevitably lead to people being passionate (which my statement was) and adamant, and sometimes more nasty than they need to be.

I don't deny that people make sweeping generalizations about both men and women (and gays/straights, all ethnicities, etc.). But in terms of mysogynist comments vs. misandrist comments, I personally feel that the consequences for women are more detrimental than they are for men. From being cat-called on the street, to having a man jerk off on the subway while staring at my breasts, to others who have been brutally raped and murdered, there are much more real threats that arise from words and comments thrown about without deeper thought.

I don't want to take away from your (and others') feeling of injustice, but please, just have some perspective on it.
posted by anthropoid at 12:04 PM on August 6, 2008


Since there are thousands of hard-to-parse words from him, I don't want to get into a semantic battle about what he actually means, but I think I could fairly rephrase to say that "the OP sees a trend towards man hating, illustrates it by examples of what he thinks are unfair stereotypifications, and doesn't like it all" and still mean the same thing.

well, you could absolutely rephrase to say that, but it necessarily wouldn't mean the same thing. the point I'm trying to make is precisely that they are so very different.

what I mean is that the original problem people had with his post was not that he thought there was misandry on the site. the problem people had was that he thought it was some terrible trend where people invariably take a woman's side over a man and refer to men as untrustworthy pigs. his own evidence of that trend doesn't support his argument. to my mind this is undeniably true, which is why I said that it's undeniable that he's wrong. I may be overstating it a bit, but ultimately the evidence just isn't there.

now, the comments that resulted from the pile-on, making fun of him and dismissing his concerns about misandry in general, that's another matter entirely. I'll happily agree that that shit is not cool.

hold on a sec while I go back and recheck what I was originally responding to in your comment.

oh right. anyway, yeah I agree with you that the dismissive attitudes toward his feelings are not cool. what I was taking issue with was the idea that it didn't matter whether or not his examples supported his claim. the reason I feel this way is precisely because his claim was so outrageous, and at least that part of his lengthy post merited refutation.

in the end, though, i think the pile-on is weak sauce.
posted by shmegegge at 12:08 PM on August 6, 2008


there are much more real threats that arise from words and comments thrown about without deeper thought.

Should have added:

there are much more real threats for women than men that arise from words and comments thrown about without deeper thought.
posted by anthropoid at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2008


plexi, your "example" contained no misandry. Jennidiski being wrong about the way this community works isn't man-hatred. Try again.

Also? It seemed to cast jerky aspersions on Jessamyn without adequately explaining why.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:28 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like the way you guys treat my penis. However, being single minded optimistic little trooper he can take it.

It's the casual hurtful insults bandied back and forth about my balls that do the damage. What? You think they don't have feelings? Well, they do.

And being kept up every night while they weep to themselves or type out sanguine poetry in their tiny diaries is not making the days pass any faster.
posted by tkchrist at 12:31 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unicorn on the cob, you're reminding me of a study where male college students initially believed that there's "too much emphasis on women" when they first read textbooks that included, say, 3 articles focused on women, out of 10 total. (Can't remember the actual numbers, but you get the idea.)

When faced with the actual page ratio devoted to woman-specific vs general (meaning, most often, "universal" ie male-centred) topics, they realized that the reason they interpreted the ratio as "too much" on women was that they were accustomed to zero (or as good as zero) on women. (This was in the late 1980s, maybe. Things have improved, not as much as they need to, but still.)

No malice necessary in this case, just taking for granted "this is the way I'm used to the world. Put it back the way it was." ("Just" only in the sense of a "benign neglect" kind of resistance, compared to malicious intent. Left unchallenged, still remarkably effective at maintaining the status quo.) Plus "this phenomenon that's challenging how I'm used to the world being, is new to my mind, therefore I'm having difficulty grasping it, therefore it looms larger in my mind than it is in objective reality."

Anybody else remember this? There were a bunch of articles along these lines. I've poked around online before, looking for citations, but haven't found anything.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


But, it seemed to enrage jennydiski so much that a man would dare call a woman sexist that she later posted a Metatalk thread decrying the terrible misogny of this site, almost in an attempt to bury the discussion of female-commited sexism.

-Did a woman business owner ever refuse to hire you because you were a man?

-Did a male teacher ever tell you that you couldn't master a subject because you were a boy?

-Did a girlfriend ever beat you up because you were a "bitch?"

-Did cars of girls ever follow you around when you were a teenager, until you hid in the woods?

-Did someone blame it on your boobs?

-Did you ever discover that you were paid less than the woman you trained and were supervising?

-Were you ever told that no-one would ever love you because chicks don't like fat guys?

These and more have happened to me in the good ol USofA. Imagine what I would have to deal with in Saudia Arabia, or North Africa?

No? Gee - so sorry about the insulting tv commercials. The reason this whole "female sexism" thing is so infuriating is that you guys ARE NOT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST! And every time you complain because someone says something vaguely disparaging about men in general makes me realize that you have no idea what true sexism is like. It's insulting.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


plexi, your "example" contained no misandry. Jennidiski being wrong about the way this community works isn't man-hatred. Try again.

Also? It seemed to cast jerky aspersions on Jessamyn without adequately explaining why.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:28 PM on August 6


This is the sort of hand-on-the-hip, "no she's not, you're a jerk!" sort of reaction that is built in to gender, I think. Men also have it, but in different ways, usually involving a "fat" or "shrew" or "ball buster" sort of posturing.

Really, an excellent movie to watch regarding all this is Carnal Knowledge.



The reason this whole "female sexism" thing is so infuriating is that you guys ARE NOT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST! And every time you complain because someone says something vaguely disparaging about men in general makes me realize that you have no idea what true sexism is like. It's insulting.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:56 PM on August 6


Oh, and now The Light Fantastic has brought out the hop-up-and-down capslock.

I think it may be time to shut this down - it's going nowhere fast.
posted by plexi at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2008


The Light Fantastic- it all has to be exactly the same and equally bad for it to count at all? It has to be worse? Two wrongs make a right? What's the point you're trying to make?

And, FWIW, my guy friends have experienced pretty much all of your examples, or their equivalents.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:05 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


And WTF does Saudi Arabia have to do with anything? Jeez.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2008


Oh, and now The Light Fantastic has brought out the hop-up-and-down capslock.

ooh! Burn!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2008


And, FWIW, my guy friends have experienced pretty much all of your examples, or their equivalents.

I'd be curious to hear the "equivalents."

And WTF does Saudi Arabia have to do with anything? Jeez.

Other than the fact that I would be terrified to go there as a woman? Gee, nothing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:09 PM on August 6, 2008


This is the sort of hand-on-the-hip, "no she's not, you're a jerk!" sort of reaction that is built in to gender, I think. Men also have it, but in different ways, usually involving a "fat" or "shrew" or "ball buster" sort of posturing.

Dude. My hand is not on my hip. Re-read your comment. It didn't make a good argument, and said Jessamyn was a historical revisionist for a polticial cause, without really making that point. Doing that is jerky. Please elaborate.

Do NOT tell me my requests for reasonable and thorough discourse are built into my fucking gender.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:10 PM on August 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


TLF, I see your point, but I think you're taking it one step too far. It would be true to say that women are systematically discriminated against, by a system that is controlled mostly by men. I would be true to say that they are individually discriminated against much, much, much more than men. It would be true to say that men are not systematically discriminated against by a system run by women. But it is over-reaching to say "you guys are not discriminated against!" (as in, ever). Perhaps what you meant is that we are not systematically discriminated against by women. But as worded, your statement is untrue.

I think this is what irritates some men. It irritates me too, and I try to shrug it off, because like I said, women are much, much, much more discriminated against, systematically and individually. A few instances of gender discrimination against me is not a huge deal. Anyhow, it irritates us because to say it's impossible for men to ever be individually discriminated against because they hold more societal power is absurd. Without even delving into discussion of oppressed groups of men, it's still perfectly possible for an individual man to be discriminated against by an individual woman. It happens. Every man can probably think of some instance. Hopefully, most of us (it would be nice if could say ALL of us, but that's a pipe dream) realize that our small handful of instances of being discriminated against because of our gender don't add up to a hill of beans compared to the discrimination women face, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, at all.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I will spare the rest of the board a derail of sexism experienced by my male friends, especially since I'm for some reason certain you'd find some way to dismiss each as "not bad enough," but bringing Saudi Arabia into a discussion of sexism on metafilter and on US television is itself a hell of a derail.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


ooh! Burn!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:07 PM on August 6


I'm truly sorry you believe this to be some sort of contest, or a match, or that anyone here is out to get you.


Do NOT tell me my requests for reasonable and thorough discourse are built into my fucking gender.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:10 PM on August 6


Relax, please.
posted by plexi at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2008


As others have pointed out, my original comment was well, Lame. I was half-joking, half-serious...and it wasn't clear which side was which. Sarcasm doesn't come over well on the internet. Regardless, my intentions were good, just didn't come off that way. Anyways, I guess I was (and still am) floored at the fact that the OP blew right past sexism and into misogyny/misandry* territory. I think others here have summed up the issue(s) and possible solutions pretty well. Personally, I've never felt that you can successfully dictate or change behavior (especially culturally-ingrained and morally-based behavior) with a set of rules or guidelines. It mostly works the other way around. Kinda like that phrase that goes something like, "Laws. Good people don't need 'em, and bad people don't obey 'em."

Some people will be jerks/cunts/a-holes/[preferred derogatory gender-bashing term here]. But there are a lot of people who are f*cking wonderful. I come to Metafilter looking for those guys (and gals).

*Does anybody else keep getting this word mixed up with misanthropy, or is it just me?

Also, there's nothing wrong with therapy (even if it is as ubiquitous as 'DTMFA' around here; there's a reason for that). I'm in it. Or cultural communications classes. I'm in those too. And men. I'm waaay into them–believe me, I could easily write a rave three times as long as this OP's rant explaining why.

posted by iamkimiam at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2008


And, FWIW, my guy friends have experienced pretty much all of your examples, or their equivalents.

I was about to spend some time putting together a reasonable response to this statement, in hopes that you would see how ridiculous it is. But I don't know how to respond to such an extremely ignorant and insensitive comment.
posted by anthropoid at 1:18 PM on August 6, 2008


plexi, kiddo, I'm chillin'.

Now back up your aspersions against Jessamyn without saying I'm just being like this because I'm a girl. That's low.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did a woman business owner ever refuse to hire you because you were a man?

Actually, a male editor once told me that I had "no future in writing" at his particular paper because I was "a white male." His boss, the paper's executive editor, was a female. Does that count? Do you feel better now, or worse?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2008


Do NOT tell me my requests for reasonable and thorough discourse are built into my fucking gender.

But lest anyone pull out the long knives, on this point, I'm in full agreement.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:23 PM on August 6, 2008


anthropod, my point was, singling out specific incidents that happened to specific people is meaningless. In other words, what gauchodaspampas said .

I have a hard time with someone who uses some personal example of wrongs done to them to explain why someone else has no right to complain about anything.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:25 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was about to spend some time putting together a reasonable response to this statement, in hopes that you would see how ridiculous it is. But I don't know how to respond to such an extremely ignorant and insensitive comment.

You know, I don't have much trouble thinking of various men that have had something like those things happen to them, either. It's not a great way to prove that women have it worse.

What does make a meaningful difference, though, is that when men suffer things like this, they are pretty much wholly isolated and memorable incidents in our lives, like Cool Papa Bell's above. Whereas when I think about the women that have suffered them, they're so commonplace to them that individual ones stop standing out and they blur into one big mess.

It's not about what happens, or who says or does what to whom. It's the scale.
posted by bonaldi at 1:27 PM on August 6, 2008


plexi, for what it's worth, even though I'm a dude I think you're being kind of a tool, here.
posted by shmegegge at 1:29 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's not about what happens, or who says or does what to whom. It's the scale.

Bonaldi - I agree - it's what I meant in my previous comment here:

I don't deny that people make sweeping generalizations about both men and women (and gays/straights, all ethnicities, etc.). But in terms of mysogynist comments vs. misandrist comments, I personally feel that the consequences for women are more detrimental than they are for men. From being cat-called on the street, to having a man jerk off on the subway while staring at my breasts, to others who have been brutally raped and murdered, there are much more real threats for women than men that arise from words and comments thrown about without deeper thought.

I don't want to take away from your (and others') feeling of injustice, but please, just have some perspective on it.

posted by anthropoid at 1:31 PM on August 6, 2008


Do NOT tell me my requests for reasonable and thorough discourse are built into my fucking gender.

But lest anyone pull out the long knives, on this point, I'm in full agreement.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 PM on August 6


Everyone is in agreement with this point, but the trouble is no one said otherwise.

A "request for reasonable and thorough discourse " is a far cry from calling me a jerk, and then demanding I atone/defend my position as to why I am not.

But, again, remembering things wrongly/conveniently is built in to the psyche. Facts are generally too much to bear, for men or for women.


plexi, for what it's worth, even though I'm a dude I think you're being kind of a tool, here.
posted by shmegegge at 9:29 PM on August 6


You have consistently brought that up in every metatalk thread I can remember. Do you have a script that posts that line for you, or is there a certain creeping satisfaction that comes to you when typing the word tool over and over and over. . .
posted by plexi at 1:36 PM on August 6, 2008


Also, did anybody else notice how much amusement there is to be had between many of the usernames in this thread relative to their posts, comments, phrasing, etc?*

Second Account for Making Jokey Comments
Lesser Shrew (funny in context of being repeatedly being called out in the OP as a, well, shrew)
Perplexity
Ann Coulter's Butt Plug
msconduct
Mister_A
DevilsAdvocate
...I could go on, but I gotta stop laughing in front of the internet at work.

I LOVE Metafilter.

*Yes, I know there's a word for this. I am not going to use it.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:38 PM on August 6, 2008


I sense that the thread began with a nasty case of "oppression Olympics" and shows no signs of recovering.

One difference feeding into this is that men, on the whole and as a group, have privilege over women (on the whole and as a group) which has the effect of putting a thumb on the scales if we're going to compare stereotyping, mis[andr/ogyn]y or *zone. These things don't exist in a vacuum, and trying to compare them as if they do is missing the point.

Can we still have misanthropy, though?
posted by subbes at 1:38 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't care who has it worse. I think that is a red herring. It seems that we all agree that we would like to see less sexism, and I boldly conjecture that we reasonable adults will remain aware of sexism in all its guises and pay attention to our words and actions, as well as discuss the words and actions of others when they seem to us to be crossing a line in either direction.

As for whether or not AskMe is a haven for misandry, it seems that most people don't see it that way, but I am sure, as reasonable adults, we will be aware of the possibility and keep our minds open.
posted by prefpara at 1:39 PM on August 6, 2008


plexi, for what it's worth, even though I'm a dude I think you're being kind of a tool, here.
posted by shmegegge at 9:29 PM on August 6

You have consistently brought that up in every metatalk thread I can remember. Do you have a script that posts that line for you, or is there a certain creeping satisfaction that comes to you when typing the word tool over and over and over. . .
posted by plexi at 4:36 PM on August 6


I have no idea what you're talking about. cites?
posted by shmegegge at 1:43 PM on August 6, 2008


Wow.
posted by fixedgear at 1:44 PM on August 6, 2008


Let me just clarify what I said.

Your comment about Jessamyn's characterization of the boyzone wars of '07 presented her as a historical revisionist, without going very far to make that argument sound.

So, it read, to me, more like slung mud, a jerky aspersion cast on a respected local authority. I asked you to elaborate, because I'm completely interested in why her response could be seen that way.

So, I said what you said made you seem like just a jerk, could you please do-over, with elaboration about where you're coming from. I was giving you a chance to improve on something that seemed awful, I thought.

I hope this clarification is reasonably accurate. I'm sorry not to have been this clear the first time.

That you decided my first remark made me some kind of coffee klatch caricature, hand-on-hip, defendin' Team Vag beyond all reason, was offensive. I said so.

We cool?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:44 PM on August 6, 2008


This "But Group X has no room to complain since Group Y has it much worse" derail is nonsensical.

I'm pretty confident in stating that African-Americans, as a whole, experience far greater discrimination in America than Jews. Still, if someone called me a "kike" or fired me because I refused to work on Yom Kippur I don't think my right to complain is rescinded just because I'm not part of the absolute most discriminated against group period.
posted by The Gooch at 1:45 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh gosh, now it seems that I just played my own oppression olympics there, rather than interjecting perspective as oil onto troubled waters in the middle of the s_r/TLF/plexi back-and-forth.

Curses.
posted by subbes at 1:45 PM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, this whole line of thinking that "guys don't have it as bad as women have it, so stop your complaining" is particularly toxic. What, you think that Asians don't have the right to complain about discrimination because they don't have it as bad as the blacks?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:45 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't hate people according to their gender, just hate people. Come on, folks, stick with the basics.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:49 PM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Can we still have misanthropy, though?"

For the lovehate of all things eyeballkid, I hope so.
posted by Eideteker at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2008


Why post this when you made the same lame claim in the other MeTa, without bothering to back it up or engage in the discussion?

Ha!! Even when you use a sockpuppet to post on Meta, people dig through the sockpuppets posting history. Whoever called this above, I salute you.
posted by smackfu at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2008


This "But Group X has no room to complain since Group Y has it much worse" derail is nonsensical.

I'm pretty confident in stating that African-Americans, as a whole, experience far greater discrimination in America than Jews. Still, if someone called me a "kike" or fired me because I refused to work on Yom Kippur I don't think my right to complain is rescinded just because I'm not part of the absolute most discriminated against group period.

What, you think that Asians don't have the right to complain about discrimination because they don't have it as bad as the blacks?


These arguments avoid the real gender/race analogy, obviously.
posted by Pax at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think that the comparisons to ethnic/racial groups are fair, because (at least according to the way that most people think) there are two genders. It would be more accurate to make a comparison to white people who are upset because they feel that affirmative action is unfair, as we're not dealing with a situation in which there is one dominant group and multiple oppressed groups (as with race) but with a situation in which there is one (generally) privileged group and one (generally) oppressed group.

To me, it seems that at least some of the disagreement boils down to the definitions of concepts like "discrimination". The way that I use the word "discrimination" (and the way that I think a lot of people do) is to mean exactly what gauchodaspampas was saying above in terms of women facing systematic discrimination. Yes, sometimes men are treated unfairly, and sometimes this happens because a specific individual is biased against men as a group. However, I think it's reasonable and fair and accurate to say that such incidents are qualitatively different than the widespread prejudice and discrimination that women face. In an isolated incident, a man might be paid less simply because his boss thinks negatively of all men. However, it is much more likely for an equally qualified woman to encounter that situation much more often, across multiple jobs, supported not just by one individual's bias but by the weight of history and culture. That difference is real and it matters.

on preview, Pax was reading my mind. :)
posted by overglow at 2:05 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Every time you complain because someone says something vaguely disparaging about men in general makes me realize that you have no idea what true sexism is like. It's insulting."

Because "fake" sexism is what happens to other people -- "true" sexism is what happens to you, amirite?

Equality isn't a zero-sum game. We can work to get rid of "fake" sexism against men and "real" sexism against women. In fact, it seems that if we're actually aiming for equality, this is required by definition.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


just to make sure I get this straight - Second Account For Making Jokey Comments is grapefruitmoon, who asked nearly the same question before, didn't engage in the discussion post accusatory OP and the question we are supposed to talk about without actually knowing which one it may be was Is there anything else I can get you, Master? (only complete with sockpuppet appearance)? did I get that right?

because suddenly I have a real nasty taste in my mouth. you know, like six-week old milk on corn flakes.

jessamyn: being male does confer privilege in this society.

considering your position as a non-boy I have to assume that to be little more than the grass is always greener logic. I'm a non-girl and can't really judge what that's like either but I'm more convinced there advantages and disadvantages to both sides.

there are in deed privileges in being a man in this society. bonding over drinks or at sports games just happens to be more enjoyable to men (the exception proving the rule) and we do get judged less on physical appearances. the whole 'boys club' rhetoric however only gets me to roll my eyes... men rarely bond based on gender and when they do they tend to be a lot more on-guard than you'd expect. we also do miss out on multiple benefits of being a women in this society as well. men generally don't share information in office bathrooms among their gender colleagues the way women do, men don't get to use their appearance to their advantage the way women sometimes can choose to and men can expect some seriously nasty looks if they choose to take a year off to be with their families. these may very well be crappy examples but I trust you understand my point, which is that it's unfair to blankly state they have it easier just because one doesn't belong to a certain group.

posted by krautland at 2:09 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm pretty confident in stating that African-Americans, as a whole, experience far greater discrimination in America than Jews. Still, if someone called me a "kike" or fired me because I refused to work on Yom Kippur I don't think my right to complain is rescinded just because I'm not part of the absolute most discriminated against group period.

What, you think that Asians don't have the right to complain about discrimination because they don't have it as bad as the blacks?

The difference being that African-Americans, Jews, and Asians are all historically oppressed groups. Women are also an historically oppressed group. Men, as a broad category, are not. They cannot accurately be called a "discriminated against group," even in light of existing misandry, because the average woman is not in a position of professional, physical, or institutional power above the average man, and is therefore not in a position to discriminate against him--at least, according to my understanding of the word "discrimination."
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 2:15 PM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


just to make sure I get this straight - Second Account For Making Jokey Comments is grapefruitmoon

You do not have that remotely right, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:15 PM on August 6, 2008


just to make sure I get this straight - Second Account For Making Jokey Comments is grapefruitmoon, who asked nearly the same question before, didn't engage in the discussion post accusatory OP and the question we are supposed to talk about without actually knowing which one it may be was Is there anything else I can get you, Master? (only complete with sockpuppet appearance)? did I get that right?

I don't understand. Was this revelation made somewhere else? I just did a real quick search of the two threads for somebody saying that grapefruitmoon is 2ndaccount, and I'm not finding it. What makes you think they're the same person?
posted by shmegegge at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2008


krautland, you did notice that grapefruitmoon's other MeTa was about misogyny, the OPPOSITE of misandry, yeah?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2008


If someone sees a pattern of gender-based slights or dismissals, they should definitely speak up.

There doesn't seem to be much agreement that in this post, a pattern has been demonstrated. Like TPS, I'll be on the lookout for it, too. It's not okay to insult an entire gender with generalizations and presumptions.

Insisting on strict gender roles in society cuts both ways and is limiting for both genders. Yes, it's possible for there to be sexism against men, and one reason I'm a feminist is that I want to throw the old gender standards pretty much out the window. It makes me really sad to see how my brother, who was always a sensitive and artistic kid, have to endure some misery growing up becuase he didn't fit the mold of the sports-playing, beating-up, self-segregating tough boy in school. It was lousy and unwarranted and I'm glad he's a well-adjusted adult anyway. Similarly, I absolutely deplore the Doofus Dad stereotype in popular culture. That one has terrible implications in all directions: learned helplessness for the men, who just can't [remember things/find things/keep things clean/cook] and a reemphasis of the caretaking role for women, because they're so much more capable at it [a suspicious compliment if I've ever heard one]. Yes, the stereotypical male gender role in Western culture kind of sucks, and I want it changed, not least because like a lot of other women I want a partner who's not shaped in reaction to them, but someone who's able to express themselves with comfort and confidence independently of all that crap.

So I'm totally on board with not condoning dismissals, belittlement, and sexism against men as a class.

But at the same time, pretty strongly aware that we really haven't achieved gender equality as a culture yet, so as we improve our interactions with one another across the gender line, we should not take our eye off the ball where egregious inequities and ingrained expectations for role compliance are still operating in very powerful ways and still, on the whole, impacting women and their dependents more greatly. Others have pointed out wage issues, the issues of violence against women, systemic bias, etc - these are serious and each reveals a persistent inequity despite centuries of efforts toward gender equality and 40 active years of legislation specifically to correct imbalances. There is a long way to go before we can declare everyone so equal that there really are no privileges adhering to gender status. Again, that's not an excuse to make voodoo dolls out of men, but something to keep in focus nonetheless.

Though in this instance there seems to be some tilting at windmills, it's a perfectly fine reminder to approach discussions with mutual respect. No reason we can't take it that way and move onward.
posted by Miko at 2:21 PM on August 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


The difference being that African-Americans, Jews, and Asians are all historically oppressed groups. Women are also an historically oppressed group. Men, as a broad category, are not. They cannot accurately be called a "discriminated against group," even in light of existing misandry, because the average woman is not in a position of professional, physical, or institutional power above the average man, and is therefore not in a position to discriminate against him--at least, according to my understanding of the word "discrimination."

Ok, you're right, forget everything I said. Since men don't have it nearly as bad as women, there's no reason to be concerned about sexism against men. Feel free to say whatever the hell you want. And if you offend a man because you say something sexist against men, don't worry about it! Just tell him to suck it up and deal. After all, he doesn't have it as bad as women do.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:22 PM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, this whole line of thinking that "guys don't have it as bad as women have it, so stop your complaining" is particularly toxic. What, you think that Asians don't have the right to complain about discrimination because they don't have it as bad as the blacks?

This is not a good analogy, since Asians and Blacks are both discriminated against. As for the "guys don't have it as bad as women have it, so stop your complaining" being toxic...it's not toxic, because it's the truth. It may be an uncomfortable truth, but it's a fact that men have and still do discriminate against women to the extent that it's pretty much universal and part of the "background radiation" of being female. The fact that men can experience being at a disadvantage for being male from time to time will never balance this fact, and any claims of "reverse sexism" is pretty much moot.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:24 PM on August 6, 2008


there are in deed privileges in being a man in this society. bonding over drinks or at sports games just happens to be more enjoyable to men (the exception proving the rule) and we do get judged less on physical appearances. the whole 'boys club' rhetoric however only gets me to roll my eyes... men rarely bond based on gender and when they do they tend to be a lot more on-guard than you'd expect. we also do miss out on multiple benefits of being a women in this society as well. men generally don't share information in office bathrooms among their gender colleagues the way women do, men don't get to use their appearance to their advantage the way women sometimes can choose to and men can expect some seriously nasty looks if they choose to take a year off to be with their families. these may very well be crappy examples but I trust you understand my point, which is that it's unfair to blankly state they have it easier just because one doesn't belong to a certain group.

Do other 'non-girls' on Metafilter agree with this? I don't think the accusations of a boyzone are helpful here either, but this feels really, really off.

So, you are saying, men are privileged to bonding over drinks or at sports games, and not, say, the privilege of safety? Why do we tell women to carry mace and not men? (The exception proving the rule?) There is considerably more violence against women BECAUSE they are women as opposed to men. I am not clear why people are not seeing this.

Again, I am not saying that men are not immune to stereotypes and prejudice. But let's look at the reality of the consequences.
posted by anthropoid at 2:24 PM on August 6, 2008


Ambrosia Voyeur: "krautland, you did notice that grapefruitmoon's other MeTa was about misogyny, the OPPOSITE of misandry, yeah?"

Not to mention grapefruitmoon is female, and 2nd Act is male. Quite a strange accusation, to be sure.
posted by team lowkey at 2:25 PM on August 6, 2008


More generally, the uses of socks and identity is a big ol' discussion that, aside from some surface features here about the choice of posting handles (which I think have been covered more than enough so far at this point), doesn't have much of anything to do with this thread; and burning curiosity or no, I'd really rather not see people chucking out guesses about who is who and potentially muddying shit up further based on a bad guess.

If the guy who had Second Account decides to inject himself back into this discussion under his main handle, so be it, but please use some consideration before you try to pull off some sort of unmasking stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 PM on August 6, 2008


Ok, you're right, forget everything I said. Since men don't have it nearly as bad as women, there's no reason to be concerned about sexism against men. Feel free to say whatever the hell you want. And if you offend a man because you say something sexist against men, don't worry about it! Just tell him to suck it up and deal. After all, he doesn't have it as bad as women do.

Interesting reaction. She said misandry exists, she just meant it's not systematic and that men probably can't claim to be a discriminated-against group. She (or anyone else) never said there's no sexism or that people should be offensive or say sexist things.

But don't let accuracy get in the way of a good, defensive, hissy-fit.
posted by Pax at 2:28 PM on August 6, 2008


team lowkey: Not to mention grapefruitmoon is female, and 2nd Act is male. Quite a strange accusation, to be sure.

Just to add to the strangeness, kerfuffled admitted to being the OP of the link krautland provided and she is female as well.
posted by spec80 at 2:30 PM on August 6, 2008


please use some consideration before you try to pull off some sort of unmasking stuff.

I bet it was dios!
posted by ND¢ at 2:32 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is not a good analogy, since Asians and Blacks are both discriminated against.

You are making an obviously circular argument. Your claim is now, it doesn't matter when men are discriminated against in a particular instance, because men (unlike women) are not discriminated against.
posted by grobstein at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2008


No, we have dios locked in a closet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2008


SUDO "Make me a fucking sandwich already?"



I'm still waiting after 200 comments for a sammich
posted by Debaser626 at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2008


I think that you probably misread my original comment. When I said this :

this whole line of thinking that "guys don't have it as bad as women have it, so stop your complaining" is particularly toxic.

I wasn't speaking specifically about discrimination. I was speaking about sexism, in general.

When I said this :

What, you think that Asians don't have the right to complain about discrimination because they don't have it as bad as the blacks?

I was using discrimination as an example. I wasn't saying that men were necessarily being discriminated against. I was saying that sexism, regardless of the target, is bad. I used the race analogy (which I still feel was apt) to show that, just because groups may be subject to different levels of bias, that doesn't make the bias okay in one case and not okay in the other case.

Anyway, it was a two-line comment, without any further explanation, so I can see how you made the mistake.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:38 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Insisting on strict gender roles in society cuts both ways and is limiting for both genders. Yes, it's possible for there to be sexism against men, and one reason I'm a feminist is that I want to throw the old gender standards pretty much out the window."

Yeah, I remember getting into it with Nola not too long ago for his broad pronouncement about how dudes are always aggressive and chest-bumping and that's just how things are, and how dudes who don't abide those rules will always be less manly or something.

"If the guy who had Second Account decides to inject himself back into this discussion under his main handle, so be it, but please use some consideration before you try to pull off some sort of unmasking stuff."

Looks like he needed Third Account for Making Half-Baked MeTa Posts.
posted by klangklangston at 2:39 PM on August 6, 2008


Do other 'non-girls' on Metafilter agree with this?

Not this one. Sounds to me like your standard-issue clueless-male gripe: "I have no idea what these gals are talking about with their claims about oppression but by god I have problems too." I've been hearing and reading it for almost four decades now, and it hasn't gotten any more convincing.

Yes, men have problems; everybody has problems. No, men's problems are not caused by institutionalized sexism; women's are. If you don't understand the difference or why it matters, educate yourself.
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


This non girl thinks its very, very off. Men not bonding based on gender? Really, I have I been hallucinating all those times in male company when in takes the familiar turn for the worse and starts bonding over a (supposedly) shared denigration of women? A lot of the other examples are crappy, precisely because they are shining examples of the double standard. Sure men don't get to use their appearance, unless its you being physically intimidating or something, but if women do? there are all sorts of easy condemnations waiting, and if they don't? just as likely to attract another sort of condemnation.

Office bathroom gossip? Old boys networks? (and ironically, I have, been dragged into female bathrooms).

The point about paternity leave is spot on, though I would imagine it had rather more to do with sexist assumptions about whose role it is to do the child rearing, that it is discrimination against men per se. The man in the playground syndrome is real too, I've experienced it, but generally as a man doing any kind of childcare, people think you are all kinds of wonderful. I used to do it professionally, and though its a female dominated world all of the women I worked with went out of their way to make me feel included, and none of the mothers ever challenged it either.
posted by tallus at 2:46 PM on August 6, 2008


Your claim is now, it doesn't matter when men are discriminated against in a particular instance, because men (unlike women) are not discriminated against.

How very literal of you. Men are not systematically discriminated against. A climate of constant, pervasive discrimination does not exist for men.

I used the race analogy (which I still feel was apt) to show that, just because groups may be subject to different levels of bias, that doesn't make the bias okay in one case and not okay in the other case.

To equate the differences in experience of discrimination and sexism between men and women with the different experiences of racism by Asians and African Americans is definitely not apt. Sexism and discrimination is not in the individual act - it's cultural. It's atmospheric, even, and this "someone said a bad thing about men and this is sexism" is not a valid argument.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:47 PM on August 6, 2008


Do other 'non-girls' on Metafilter agree with this?

Not this one. That comment reads like something Dave Sim would say, frankly.
posted by shmegegge at 2:51 PM on August 6, 2008


The Light Fantastic : "guys don't have it as bad as women have it, so stop your complaining"

Men are not systematically discriminated against. A climate of constant, pervasive discrimination does not exist for men.

Sure it does: institutionalized prison rape and (potential) mandatory military service are two obvious examples. Are those greater than the discrimination felt by women? Of course not. Does that make them less real? Less deserving of solutions? Less sexist? Less damaging to their victims?

Discrimination is not zero sum, this isn't a middle school "my life is harder than yours" game.
posted by Skorgu at 2:55 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has this thread made anyone wiser, happier, or more sympathetic to the pain of others?

Not everything needs to be edifying happy smiley-face perfect, but it seems that a lot of people are having their feelings hurt here to no good purpose.

It is damn hard to be a decent, loving person, especially when you feel you are under attack. That holds true regardless of gender.
posted by ferdydurke at 2:59 PM on August 6, 2008


There is considerably more violence against women BECAUSE they are women as opposed to men.

I don't know that it's fair to say that there is more violence committed against women. I think the violence that does occur is different.
posted by Doug at 2:59 PM on August 6, 2008


institutionalized prison rape and (potential) mandatory military service are two obvious examples.

All set up by men against men.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can we all just read this balanced, diplomatic, well reasoned, well worded comment by miko, and call the discussion over for now?

On preview, Doug, I think the point of the quote you gave is that violence undertaken because of gender occurs against women more than against men, not that because they are women, there is more violence against them in general.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:02 PM on August 6, 2008


Ok, you're right, forget everything I said. Since men don't have it nearly as bad as women, there's no reason to be concerned about sexism against men. Feel free to say whatever the hell you want. And if you offend a man because you say something sexist against men, don't worry about it! Just tell him to suck it up and deal. After all, he doesn't have it as bad as women do.

I have a hard time seeing how my comment warranted this response.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:02 PM on August 6, 2008


These threads are the worst thing to ever happen to Metafilter. I bet there's some people who think they are the best thing.
posted by smackfu at 3:03 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm not reading this fucking thread but has anybody closed their accounts yet in a huff of righteous whatchamacallit?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:05 PM on August 6, 2008


I bet there's some people who think they are the best thing.

From my point of view, these threads have changed the culture of MetaFilter and I think generally it's been for the better. Change is always hard.
posted by Miko at 3:09 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not reading this fucking thread but has anybody closed their accounts yet in a huff of righteous whatchamacallit?

Yes, both real and double accounts, but that's not really an accomplishment to be proud of.
posted by Forktine at 3:09 PM on August 6, 2008


institutionalized prison rape and (potential) mandatory military service are two obvious examples.

What TLF said. Men control a good part of society, and most institutions. There does exist societal, systematic, institutionalized, wide scale or what have you, discrimination against men, related to their gender. But in most cases it's by other men. That's why in this comment, I said that men aren't systematically discriminated against by a system run by women. Because women don't run "the system". They run fewer institutions than men. So usually when there is systematic discrimination against men, it's perpetrated by other men. There might be some who identify as feminists who would say that their time and resources are better spent combating systemic sexism against women, because it is a larger problem. But I suspect most feminists would not hesitate to ally themselves in some way with anyone combating systemic sexism against men. For example, Miko. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say you could probably count ambrosia, jessamyn, IRFH, and others among those ranks too.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:10 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


But gauchodaspampas, you're right. I rushed through that. But still, if some guy starts a fight with me on a subway, when if I were a woman he might have simply ignored me, isn't that ostensibly an act committed because of my gender? Just think of all the examples of violence that would have turned out differently had the victim been a different gender.
posted by Doug at 3:12 PM on August 6, 2008


But I suspect most feminists would not hesitate to ally themselves in some way with anyone combating systemic sexism against men. For example, Miko. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say you could probably count ambrosia, jessamyn, IRFH, and others among those ranks too.

I don't belong in such a distinguished list, but I'll take that as a compliment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on August 6, 2008


All set up by men against men.

I don't think framing the issue as one of who is doing the oppressing is helpful or accurate unless your goal is to punish someone rather than resolve the problem. That's the same reasoning that leads to imprisonment instead of treatment. Attacking the actors is rarely effective at stopping behavior compared to removing the actual causes of the act.
posted by Skorgu at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's the gender/race comparison that's toxic; it's the different uses of the word 'discrimination'. On one hand there's institutional/systemic discrimination, and on the other there's interpersonal discrimination.

The OP's complaint—I have no clue if it's valid or not, since I don't read much RelationshipFilter—was about the latter. A relationship question gets posted. It contains one person's version of events and perspective on things. With this limited information, according to the OP, some commenters habitually construe the male in the relationship as a total louse. This guy isn't being docked pay, or fired, or oppressed, or disenfranchised, because he's a guy... he's just not being given the benefit of doubt. Conclusions are being jumped to, based on his having a penis.

The systematic/institutional sense of 'discrimination' has nothing to do with it at all, not even in terms of scale. When that sense is brought into play, it smacks of "quit yer bitchin'" even when that's the furthest thing from the intended message. Who has what societal power and/or privilege is irrelevant in this case; we're talking about a bunch of people trying to get along online.
posted by CKmtl at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


But still, if some guy starts a fight with me on a subway, when if I were a woman he might have simply ignored me, isn't that ostensibly an act committed because of my gender?

That is still the result of sexism against women. The "weaker sex" and all that. If a man punches a man, it's not sexism, it's the result of some other influence. Otherwise, all occasions of violence would in some way be sexist, which is stretching to the definition to its most absurd extreme.
posted by shmegegge at 3:17 PM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, Doug. A lot of instances of violence would be different were the genders changed. And when I think of it, it's hard to draw a line and say on this side, you have violence commited against people strictly because of their gender, and on this side, you have violence commited against people for strictly other reasons. I haven't thought about it really ever, but it seems that it'd be more of a continuum. Still, I'd say there are more instances of violence against women that are way over to the end of being largely because of/related to their gender than against men. There are definitely plenty of highly gender related instances of violence against men though, too, like prison rape, and forced military service.

I sort of figured it was just a simple mistake on your part. But as you point out, it's still a complicated matter.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:18 PM on August 6, 2008


Yes, both real and double accounts, but that's not really an accomplishment to be proud of.

Needs to be a tally up the top, like the opening credits of Battlestar Galactica where they tell you what the fleet's population is this episode.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:18 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


OnNoPreview: gauchodaspampas: There might be some who identify as feminists who would say that their time and resources are better spent combating systemic sexism against women, because it is a larger problem. But I suspect most feminists would not hesitate to ally themselves in some way with anyone combating systemic sexism against men.

Well said.
posted by Skorgu at 3:19 PM on August 6, 2008


Ambrosia Voyeur: yeah. I also picked up on the two different genders. that's where the spoiled milk taste came from.
posted by krautland at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2008



I don't know that it's fair to say that there is more violence committed against women.


I don't think the poster is saying there is more violence against women. Men are a more frequently victims of all categories of violent crime except rape/sexual assault (I've previously posted about this here) but rape/sexual assault is targeted against them as women, and they suffer other assaults directed against them because of their gender. Its harder to argue that male on male violence is targeted because of gender.

On preview. Your subway example does involve gender for sure, most violence is male on male, but I don't think its targeting because of your gender. When ever I have encountered unprovoked male on male violence, Saturday night outside the pub style, its always been because someone didn't like the way I looked (this was reasonably common as a teenage punk) and felt able to attack me because I was man. Being male made me a possible target, rather than being the reason I was one. This is of course down to a gender bias that reflects the direction of gender bias generally, but there is, I think, a real claim that this is a real disadvantage to being a man. We can't talk about this fully, however with recognizing that men are a the overwhelming majority of perpetrators, and also our relatively better balance/ability to defend ourselves. In reality I'm 6'4" so most people don't really want to fight me. What they do want to do is provoke me on the basis that I'll see it as a challenge to my male superiority, and respond to them, and that's bound up in a whole lot of sexist bullshit, no. I don't play along and generally managed to walk away form it.
posted by tallus at 3:27 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I suspect most feminists would not hesitate to ally themselves in some way with anyone combating systemic sexism against men.

This bears repeating. In my experience, feminists are not less likely to be concerned about issues like prison rape, mandatory military service, male-on-male violence, and boorish male stereotypes; they are more likely to be concerned about them.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:29 PM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sure it does: institutionalized prison rape and (potential) mandatory military service are two obvious examples. Are those greater than the discrimination felt by women? Of course not. Does that make them less real? Less deserving of solutions? Less sexist? Less damaging to their victims?

Yes, these are less sexist, at least how you mean. These aren't examples of systematic discrimination against men. Women were not drafted because we were considered not up to the task. Prisons are segregated by gender, so yes, only men are the rape victims, and the rapists, and the members of the institution.
posted by desuetude at 3:35 PM on August 6, 2008


Men as a group are not discriminated against. You can see this in aggregate earnings statistics, by looking at who holds high elected office and upper level management positions, and so on.

Groups of men (eg prisoners, gay men, black men, homeless men, mentally ill men, etc) are discriminated against, and individual men are often discriminated against as well, though not for being a man per se. But when a nerdy and slightly effeminate kid is bullied in the locker room until he cries, his gender has everything to do with the violence, even if he isn't being beaten on for the simple fact of being male.

So "men" as a big group are doing ok, but an individual man has a pretty high probability of not doing all that well and of facing real problems related to his gender at various times. The draft isn't an example of discrimination, but every young man knows that it hangs over his head. Men are about four times as likely as women to be murdered in the US (source). Bullying and victimization (boys on boys) is intense in adolescence, and sometimes continues in adulthood.

And people can sit in more than one category — a recipient of male privilege, but a victim of discrimination because of ethnicity, disability, or other factors.

Taken broadly, our society remains deeply biased towards men. But one lives as an individual, not as a representative of a group.
posted by Forktine at 3:37 PM on August 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


krautland, I gotcha. grapefruitmoon is just soo not this person, and I don't think there's any reason to suspect her of batshit dramamongering. ;)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:40 PM on August 6, 2008


I think this whole violence question comes down to a lot of semantics. Prison rape, compulsory military service, or whatever other examples one might think of, are definitely qualitatively different than systematic sexist violence against women. I don't particularly care if it's decided that the right phrasing for that sort of violence is "sexism", "discrimination" or whatever. But they are definitely related to gender. When a man is raped in prison, it could be strictly power related, with gender being a minimal issue, but in some cases it could have much to do with gender traits. And compulsory military service (in the US) sure has a whole lot to do with gender. And it, and other silly military policies, affect both men and women, in different ways. I'm not sure anymore where I was headed. Anyway, discussing semantics is all find and dandy, but count me out of this one.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:45 PM on August 6, 2008


But one lives as an individual, not as a representative of a group.

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, but I have to ask - don't we live as both individuals and as representatives of a group? Those who know us personally will largely view us as individuals, even though their opinion of the group to which we belong can color their personal opinion of us ("very logical for a woman" as an example). Those who don't know us will treat us as a representative - if they have preconceived notions about our group, then this is where we will usually experience discrimination.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:45 PM on August 6, 2008


What forktine said just above. Especially that second paragraph there.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:46 PM on August 6, 2008


I don't agree with the OP, but I can see how his perspective may have been skewed by the general misandry that is in fact fairly common these days. I think a lot of the general misandry originates as a misguided technique for coping with either personal relationship problems or misogyny (the typical "men are such bastards"). It's sometimes perceived as acceptable because it can be claimed as self-defense but it can also be taken too far: for example, the disgusting line of products from David & Goliath called "Boys are Stupid", which would make me embarrassed to be a girl, if they weren't designed by a man! But in the end, I agree with Miko's comments. While misandry should be discouraged, the real and difficult battle still lies in fighting misogyny.

On another point made by cybercoitus interruptus, I was really interested to hear about "a study where male college students initially believed that there's "too much emphasis on women" when they first read textbooks that included, say, 3 articles focused on women, out of 10 total."

In a course that I help teach (but didn't design!), there are 8 mandatory essays that the students must complete. For 7 out of the 8 essays, the topics are all assigned and there is no choice in the matter. But for the one essay on women, an alternate topic is also offered for students who would prefer not to write on the subject. To me this seems a tad wrong, but others have disagreed with me. I just thought it was interesting in light of the study you cited- perhaps sometimes even a little bit of academic focus on women can seem too much for those who aren't used to it.
posted by Kirjava at 3:53 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's important that we take the time to discuss what people see as hateful behavior, but it's unfortunate the OP had make the post he did before leaving without further defending or clarifying his position. I also think some of the jokey comments were unfortunate, as were some of the "men can't be discriminated against!" comments.

But, as others have said, it doesn't make close to any sense to say that this is equivalent to "Blacks are discriminated against, so Asians can't complain!" - that is actually like saying "Women are discriminated against, so transgendered individuals can't complain!" (or vice versa.) Which is not our argument, and is a stupid argument in the first place. I think we should try our best to listen to the complaints of individuals who are being made to feel uncomfortable without feeling the need to rank our discomforts (misandry and misogyny hurt all of us.)

My problems with Second Accont's post are not the examples he provided - I can accept that someone could see harm in something I see as harmless - but the fact that he blatantly made up examples to support his point, that he focused on calling out specific individuals in a really unproductive manner, that he started this thread and then left without another comment, and that he brought up the time he was criticized for what he admits is a misogynist post - as if that should have anything to do with an independent claim that Ask suffers from a long trend of misandry. Terrible way to bring his concerns to light that derailed this thread before it even began.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:02 PM on August 6, 2008


I'd hit him.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:09 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've noticed comments of the sort the OP objects to on the site, but I've always just chalked it up to an individual member having some unfortunate opinions rather than some widespread malaise. "Misandry" is at such a low level that you'd have to go specifically looking for it, or have an internal sensor that's particularly attuned to that sort of thing, which I suspect is the case with the OP -- like there's an open wound there somewhere. Regardless, people post dumb/ill-informed/just plain wrong "facts" and opinions in AskMe all the time about every subject under the sun, and I have yet to see a MeTa post about people being just plain wrong. So what if there are a couple cranks who think men are pigs? They're just plain wrong. Whoop-de-doo.

However, the OP's problem might be that he's so attuned to that sort of thing that he feels all those examples add up to a tacit endorsement of the opinion that men are pigs by the site establishment, much the same way that right-wingers on the site think there's an unstated liberal bias to the site. Personally, I've never felt that way about comments regarding men, and, 2nd Account, I think most of the comments in this thread shooting you down are simply saying that they've never felt that way either.
posted by LionIndex at 4:11 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kirjava: the general misandry that is in fact fairly common these days.

I think I might grant this, but I think early on in this thread there was a conflation between discrimination and representation that might be worth considering. Obviously they connect in numerous ways, but even negative, essentialist stereotypes about men can be part of systematic discrimination against women.

Every time men are represented as essentially violent, that may have some connection to actual violence--which, as has been abundantly pointed out, can involve either women or men as victims (or both). Representing men as emotionally withholding, uncommunicative, etc can shape behavior, even as it can be a reflection of (some) social reality.

So while I strongly disagree with the sock, I think the idea that askme discussions of men in relationships might play into certain negative stereotypes of men is interesting and worth asking. But while I nod and say "of course" every time a feminist wearily acknowledges "men are hurt by sexism, too," I think that even in a hypothetical askme case that more "identity privilege" is likely to accrue to men, and more um, real, discrimination fall to women.

And what Miko said: I think having these conversations (can be) part of what defines a community. [hugs self]
posted by Mngo at 4:18 PM on August 6, 2008


(potential) mandatory military service are two obvious examples.

"Alright, troops, I know it's been a long hard slog, but we gotta take that hill, now here's the plan, we start.."

"Um sir?"

"Jesus christ, what is it Johnson, can't you see wer'e in the midst of war?!"

"My water just broke, sir."

"Now?! NOW, you're going into labor?! Can't you hold it in?!"

"I waited until the hike was over sir."

"Damn that, we had to carry your gear."

"Yes sir, but I was having contractions sir."

"Fine, get the doc and go over in the corner and have your damn baby, alright solider?"

"I'd prefer a midwife sir."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 PM on August 6, 2008


It was about time someone on metafilter asked "what about the menz?"
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:28 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


mandymanwasregistered: best of the web.
Brandon Blatcher: WTF?
posted by Mngo at 4:33 PM on August 6, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim said: "I see perceive some degree (not enormous) of bias, though perhaps not quite in the same way you do. (This thread is an example of what I see - I think a similar misogyny callout, even an overthought or somewhat overreaching one, wouldn't be met with as many "dumb shit," "get a hobby," "therapy"*, and "fabrication" responses and those making such comments would be put down by others.)"

For the benefit of those who believe that we've all become enlightened about misogyny and women posters' concerns with regard to it, I would like to present some statements from an early-July MeTa thread.

In the thread a woman poster asked -- did not state as fact, but opened up for discussion -- whether or not a particular post on the blue was "boyzone"/misogynist/sexist.

I will not attribute each quote individually, but they are all available in the thread.
"Do we have to do this every time there’s a boob post? [...] The next time there’s a kitten-related Metafilter post I’m gonna complain about it. Not because I’ll have strong feelings, but because somebody else might and I just wanna make a call-out because, well, I have no idea. Because it’s something That Must be Done, I guess. Because we gotta complain about every goddamn thing here."

"And can we drop the "boyzone" bullshit? Say "sexist" if that's what you mean."

"Definately not a post to get worked up about, not that that will stop anybody."

"How sexist are you to assume that a post about boobs is strictly for guys?"

"All this outrage is so UNBELIEVABLY tiresome."

"Uhm.... anyone that really thinks that the MeFi environment "discourages female participation" needs to get out more."

"Well at least we found someone who's actually offended by the post... I was worried this was going to fizzle out."

""boyzone always a negative thing?"
Apparently it made a bunch of people leave. Judging by the remaining people who get het up about it that's probably a major plus for it."

"So...wait...people are shocked that guys like breasts?"

"I think it's the endless, repetitive discussion of whether or not there's a sexist atmosphere at MetaFilter that folk are finding tiresome."

"I am oppressing them with my words RIGHT NOW."

"It just seems that, after the many (useful, valuable, enlightening) discussions on this topic to date, there's little to be gained by another thousand-odd comments on the same topic."

"I realize that people are going to talk about and complain about whatever they want, but for whatever it's worth, the "is MeFi sexist" posts are really tiresome to me."

"I don't whine about knitting or kitties or any of the hundreds of other topics that get discussed here that I am not interested in." [* later retracted]

"please will you GO AWAY" [* later retracted]

"I actually enjoy watching people get all hissy about stuff like this. It's an amusing way to cap off the day."

"Yeah, guess I've gotten sick of the complaining."

"[...] I hate prissiness worse than poison and ofterntimes concern takes a sharp left right into that around here."

"yes, dirty words will end the world. Like I said, prissiness, pure and simple."

"A wise man once said something to the effect of "I support feminism, really I do. That dosen't mean I wanna listen to it all the time.""

""This MeTa thread has lowered my opinion of this community. I'm sorry about that."
We'll live."

"Your stereotypes [about men]. You know where to stick them."

"Are you really that dense that you can't see [reverse] sexism when it's staring you in the face?"

"Yes, we're all neanderthals. Yay for enlightened thinking. Good for you. How very progressive."


"Metafilter is a cesspool of discrimination. It must be cleaned... sterilized. Such conduct should be made illegal, along with other anti-social behaviour. No one must ever become offended again."

"We should also add a stronger "thoughtcrime" tag to the existing "offensive/sexism/racism" tag."

"Thoughtcrime tag? Why not just indicate M or F in profile? We can presume the rest, surely."

"oh, christ, this again?"

"can we please have fewer posts & callouts like this, so people can contribute to other threads?"

"OMG I am so outraged. Wait, what are we outraged about this week?"
I apologize, I only got 3/4 of the way down the thread, but I'm really hungry and I need to eat and get working on other things. I think it's safe to make some basic generalizations about how women's conversations about misogyny/boyzone are received currently.
posted by loiseau at 4:38 PM on August 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


In the thread a woman poster asked -- did not state as fact, but opened up for discussion -- whether or not a particular post on the blue was "boyzone"/misogynist/sexist.

But boyzone as a class is taken seriously here, so the attacks on that thread simple did not happen, and you have NO IDEA what a true pile-on feels like.
posted by cillit bang at 4:50 PM on August 6, 2008


krautland: there are in deed privileges in being a man in this society. bonding over drinks or at sports games just happens to be more enjoyable to men (the exception proving the rule) and we do get judged less on physical appearances. the whole 'boys club' rhetoric however only gets me to roll my eyes... men rarely bond based on gender and when they do they tend to be a lot more on-guard than you'd expect. we also do miss out on multiple benefits of being a women in this society as well. men generally don't share information in office bathrooms among their gender colleagues the way women do, men don't get to use their appearance to their advantage the way women sometimes can choose to and men can expect some seriously nasty looks if they choose to take a year off to be with their families. these may very well be crappy examples but I trust you understand my point, which is that it's unfair to blankly state they have it easier just because one doesn't belong to a certain group.

Not "just because one doesn't belong to a certain group." It's because our society is structured to advantage men in big ways and little, and has been for centuries, and a critical mass change away from that has happened only relatively recently (30 years or so). Misandry and disparaging, belittling stereotypes of men exist, and should be called out, absolutely. The system does disadvantage men in significant ways, eg pressure to workaholism at the expense of family time, contempt for men showing emotions (except for anger), breadwinner expectations, among others.

That doesn't neutralize the fact that there are huge areas, such as education, occupation, medical treatment, financial literacy, etc, where girls and women are at a particular disadvantage for making the most of their lives in as many dimensions as possible. There is a ginormous literature documenting the permutations of the history and continuing effects of these structural advantages. Most of the benefits of being female in this society that you cite, are the very recent (ie 20 years old, at best) product of at least 150 years of people's efforts to get the system to incorporate women, in non-pigeonholy ways, at all.

I get the impression that you haven't read much about this history and the ways that entrenched attitudes keep on coming back today in different forms. If you haven't, then that suggests male privilege. The privileged are never in a position to need learn about their subordinates' views or experiences, so typically, they never do. (Subordinates, on the other hand, know all about privilegeds' views because 1. those views structure our society, and 2. contravening them inadvertently can get you ostracized, stuck in a dead-end job, etc. Obviously this applies to pecking orders generally, not just gender, so men at a disadvantage for class, sexual orientation, race, etc, experience this in different contexts.) It's analogous to what Desmond Morris wrote about in one of his books on body language: high-status people stay where they are and let lower-status people come to them. Think monarchs on thrones, whose supplicants have to walk up to them. Or bosses in their corner offices with gorgeous views of the city, whose peons wait in the waiting room before being called in.

If I'm wrong and you have made an effort to learn about the multidimensional ways our society has historically and still disadvantages women, and you have a pretty good grasp of how this plays out for some of the areas listed above, I apologize for making wrong assumptions. To me, your comment implied that men and women in this society start from a level playing field. It never was, and it's still not. People who care about this issue have read enough about it to know this. People who don't, haven't. Many people who don't, have never had experiences inflicted on them (or people they love), at both personal and institutional levels, on a regular basis, for years, that motivated them to learn what's happening today? how did we get here? How long has this been going on? why is it still going on? That's privilege. (Not saying this is you, just that it strikes me as a possibility.)

To continue the analogy, one way for the privileged to renounce that privilege, is to reverse that order. Instead of making the peasant come to the throne room, the monarch shifts him/herself out of the castle and goes to the peasant's hut. The very act of taking the trouble to shift out of the castle = coming down to the peasant's level, temporarily at least. Conversations are much more productive when the monarch has looked up information on peasants for Himself or Herself, because then, peasants don't get tired and snappy from having to explain "Peasants: Why We're Getting Uppity" to every member of the gentry or nobility who, deep down, is so uninterested in the topic that they can't be bothered to look it up any of several hundred books at the library or articles online.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:51 PM on August 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


"While misandry should be discouraged, the real and difficult battle still lies in fighting misogyny."

If the "easy" battle is the one against misandry, why not just take care of it first?

While it would be impossible to argue (successfully) that men (as a group) are more put-upon than women (as a group), the perception that misandry is a back-burner issue is, itself, a nice example of misandry.

Again, it's worth pointing out that one doesn't have to choose which version of sexism to fight -- fight them both. Will we erase centuries of oppression against women overnight? Of course not. But it's also not trivial to get rid of the ingrained notion that if a man complains he's somehow inferior... an underlying emotion that seems common in many of these "women SO have it worse, so shut up about it" comments.
posted by toomuchpete at 5:10 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm beginning to think that some you actually enjoy these stupid threads. me, I've got bigger fish to fry. Quite frankly, I have suspicions that 2ndacct is actually playing 'armchair sociologist' (which could be a very sophisticated way of trolling, I guess) to see if people answer the way he expects them to. I say we all start discussing ice hockey or the Flintstones just to flummox his ass.

Also, one will encounter stupid people, people with axes to grind, smug jerks, dimwitted meadowmuffins and rigid ideologues on MeFi. Sometimes they will be male, sometimes they will be female, sometimes they could be amoebas for all I know. Gender is not the dividing line.

(Also, I have two unexplained wounds on my body (a bruise on my arm and a nasty gash on my knee that have been there since Sunday night). and today at the Famous Used Bookstore we were visited by a few policemen because of an incident a few weeks ago, since there have been similar ones nearby. Aparrently one of our security guards caught some dude jerking off in the store. If he did it in the art or photography section it would kind of make sense, but knowing this city, he was probably in engineering or botany)
posted by jonmc at 5:13 PM on August 6, 2008


WTF?

Poking fun at the notion that men being pressed into combat is a form of discrimination. It's just practical, as men tend to be physically stronger and women might be busy having or raising kids.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:23 PM on August 6, 2008


There is a clear double standard. Good for you for posting this.
posted by Zambrano at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2008


just to make sure I get this straight - Second Account For Making Jokey Comments is grapefruitmoon, who asked nearly the same question before, didn't engage in the discussion post accusatory OP and the question we are supposed to talk about without actually knowing which one it may be was Is there anything else I can get you, Master? (only complete with sockpuppet appearance)? did I get that right

UM. WHAT.

Excuse me again. WHAT.

I'm sorry, I've been at work all day and I'm afraid I might have to go back and borrow the baby and ask her to explain to me where in the hell THAT came from.

I do not have any sockpuppets. Never have. If the mods have the ability to run any IP address checks to confirm this, I happily welcome it.

The only thing I have to say about this as a topic is that it's really hard to believe that we've gone from the sexism threads of '07 (where yes, it did feel that SOMETHING was being accomplished) to this. I started the other thread because it seemed like there was an actual issue in the AskMe that was going to seriously derail the poster from getting any kind of response. That's gone from misogyny to the viability of male abortions to child support and back again. But this? THIS? I fail to see what can come of this that is productive for the site as a whole. Recognizing that women can be jerks too, I guess. But I failed to see where "ending sexism" translated to "automatic sainthood for all women."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:32 PM on August 6, 2008


(And Ambrosia Voyeur: Thanks for having my back!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:33 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do not have any sockpuppets. Never have.

Yeah. She uses marionettes. Told you she was hardcore. ;>
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2008


I say we all start discussing ice hockey or the Flintstones just to flummox his ass.

Fred and Barney were portrayed as bumbling dimwits, which proves that televised misandry has been around since the stone ages! But Betty and Wilma were totally oppressed housewives (and when they were expecting Bam Bam and Pebbles, they were barefoot and pregnant!) so I guess it all evens out.
posted by amyms at 5:44 PM on August 6, 2008


While it would be impossible to argue (successfully) that men (as a group) are more put-upon than women (as a group), the perception that misandry is a back-burner issue is, itself, a nice example of misandry.

Again, it's worth pointing out that one doesn't have to choose which version of sexism to fight -- fight them both. Will we erase centuries of oppression against women overnight? Of course not. But it's also not trivial to get rid of the ingrained notion that if a man complains he's somehow inferior... an underlying emotion that seems common in many of these "women SO have it worse, so shut up about it" comments.

These discussions would be a lot easier if the *dries were kept separate from the *isms.

Men as a group have suffered less pervasive institutionalized sexism than women. In prioritizing Things That Benefit The Human Race, I'm not the only one who positions fair access to superior health care, equal wages for equal work, and discouragement of flatly discriminatory housing and hiring practices, for example, to be higher priority issues than attempting to discourage negative stereotypes in popular entertainment (be they of men or women.)

Advocating for better, fairer treatment of women does not equal advocating for poorer, meaner treatment for men.

Misogyny or misandry are shitty ways to treat our fellow humans. I don't think I'm making a controversial statement here when I say that everyone should avoid hatred.
posted by desuetude at 5:50 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I guess that should be the *ies from the *isms.
posted by desuetude at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2008


Fred and Barney were portrayed as bumbling dimwits, which proves that televised misandry has been around since the stone ages! But Betty and Wilma were totally oppressed housewives (and when they were expecting Bam Bam and Pebbles, they were barefoot and pregnant!) so I guess it all evens out.

They spell 'Bamm-Bamm' with two m's. and he was adopted, remember? You need to brush up your Hanna-Barbera, lady. Plus they were all under the thumb of that capitalist ogre Mr. Slate.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on August 6, 2008


These discussions would be a lot easier if the *dries were kept separate from the *isms.

*separates the sundries from the jisms*
posted by jonmc at 5:54 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


You need to brush up your Hanna-Barbera, lady.

Stop oppressing me with your superior cartoon knowledge, jonmc!
posted by amyms at 5:57 PM on August 6, 2008


pipe down and make me a brontosaurus burger. and grab me a cactus juice while you're at it.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on August 6, 2008


If you're still struggling with the problem of "men are oppressed too!", it goes something like this: the patriarchy hates women, but the kyriarchy hates everyone. Which is to say that male oppression at the hands of other males is not misandry and it's absurd to claim that it is, as others have pointed out. That doesn't mean that it isn't oppression, and it isn't worth talking about, but it does mean that it isn't a form of sexism, even if it appears to apply to only males. It isn't sufficient to be male to be subject to the systems of oppression surrounding and which give rise to the phenomenon of prison rape; you must be a certain kind of male. The same goes for military service; the male children of the rich and powerful do not worry about getting drafted. If they are drafted, their connections will generally keep them out of whatever parts of the military they don't want to get into. Both of these are tied up in classism, with a lot of other issues going into the prison rape thing, including effemiphobia and racism. All of that gets applied to women too, it just gets applied in somewhat different ways, because of the way in which our society constructs and segregates either side of the gender binary. Oppression is intersectional, it's not static, and no one gets away unscathed. That doesn't make men an oppressed class.

Also: bonding over drinks or at sports games just happens to be more enjoyable to men

what the fucking fuck. For serious dude?
posted by Arturus at 6:04 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also: bonding over drinks or at sports games just happens to be more enjoyable to men

what the fucking fuck. For serious dude?


Yeah, cause none of us have ever seen a woman in a bar. where do you drink, a monastery?
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


(I'm agreeing with arturus there, just to be clear)
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on August 6, 2008


How could this possibly matter less? Are people really going to change their behavior because of a MeTa thread? I think not. Some people will look out for these 'inequalities' and call them out more often, which will lead to more stupid trainwrecks like this.

I've noticed a small amount of double standard, but shrugged my shoulders and said 'Meh'
posted by schyler523 at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2008


I HAS PURPERTRADED MISANDRYS.

My best friend was at Rollercon this past weekend selling Roller Derby gear. Tees, tights, whathaveyou. Her top seller, above "Talk Derby To Me," or "Don't Be a Pussy, Skate Derby" was my slogan: "You Skate Like a Boy."

haaaa, haaaaaaa.

And yeah, I will drink any of you motherfuckers under the table and you buy the tickets, I'm at the game (though I'd rather be playing than watching.) wtf are women "predisposed to bond" doing - shopping and manicures? Wevs.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:15 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I will drink any of you motherfuckers under the table

*arches eyebrow*

you sure about that?
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on August 6, 2008


I've noticed a small amount of double standard, but shrugged my shoulders and said 'Meh'

Exactly. There's the occasional sort of 'men suck' attitude seeping through, but we've earned somewhat and if I'm going to ask people to take a jke, I've got to ante up and do it, too. If people suggested running the world based on those kinds of attitudes, it'd be a different story, but those kind of people are few and far between and generally lousy company.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what - if anything - this reveals, but I note that my ironic, sexist, throwaway line "you're a guy, right? (coz it's obvious that you've bottled those emotions up for way too long)" didn't attract one jot of criticismn that I saw, and even scored a favourite, when an almost exactly structurally analogous one "hardwired for hysterical overreactions" in another thread caused a pile-on.

My best guess is that it's OK to employ that kind of offensive, ironic schtick against men, but not against women. Presumably, this must be because systematised misandry is not actually a problem, so, paradoxically, one can be as misandronystic as one likes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:25 PM on August 6, 2008


My best guess is that it's OK to employ that kind of offensive, ironic schtick against men, but not against women.

Eh. It just requires a deft touch, like a lot of humor about sensitive subjects. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don't.
posted by jonmc at 6:27 PM on August 6, 2008


My best guess is that it's OK to employ that kind of offensive, ironic schtick against men, but not against women. Presumably, this must be because systematised misandry is not actually a problem, so, paradoxically, one can be as misandronystic as one likes.

It also depends who you are, whether the useless dude jokes or the feminist/lightbulb jokes will go over better.

It's like, you can make fun of your mom, but if I point out her flaws you won't be laughing.
posted by Forktine at 6:29 PM on August 6, 2008


Second Account For Making Jokey Comments is grapefruitmoon

This really is the weirdest case of mistaken identity I've seen on Metafilter. I'd try to make a similarly bizarre comparison, but I'll refrain from associating anyone else's name with such wildly off-base WTFosity of speculation.
posted by desuetude at 6:30 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Poking fun at the notion that men being pressed into combat is a form of discrimination. It's just practical, as men tend to be physically stronger and women might be busy having or raising kids.

Tangentially related: my little brother--who is vocally opposed to the idea of women serving in the military--is over in Iraq right now. I talked to him on the phone the other day, and he went off on a rant about a female superior who "accused him of sexual harrassment" just because "he wore some short-shorts." I paused for a moment. "Exactly how short were these shorts, Paul?"

"Yeah, my dick was hanging out of them," he admitted. "Pretty much all the way."
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Did this just turn into a drinking contest? Awesome!
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2008


I am presently oppressing you drinking you all under the table with my thoughts.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:37 PM on August 6, 2008


Damn, Turgid Dahlia must've made me drunk with his thoughts. A guy making a sexist joke about guys is *not* structurally analogous to a guy making one about girls. I give up now. Another drink, barkeep!
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:40 PM on August 6, 2008


I think you've had enough, mate.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:41 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm not sure what - if anything - this reveals, but I note that my ironic, sexist, throwaway line "you're a guy, right? (coz it's obvious that you've bottled those emotions up for way too long)" didn't attract one jot of criticismn that I saw

I completely misread that line and came away with something like "it's obvious that you are a guy because of how worked up you are over what are, in reality, not very good examples of misandry"

Not saying that I would have called it out had I read it properly, though, since 'hysteria' and 'bottled up emotions' are nowhere near similarly loaded terms.
posted by Arturus at 6:43 PM on August 6, 2008


I don't think anyone has mentioned this, but I think the main reason that you see so many dopey, inept, or buffoonesque guys (pretty much always white, or if they're not, they have to be rich or someone's boss) on comedy shows and commercials is that it's the only way to do that type of humor without perpetuating some heinous stereotype or another. White dudes are the default - they can have fun poked at them without making a comment about an entire race, ethnic group, or women. Have you ever noticed that every criminal in a commercial is white dude, and often blond? They're just playing it safe and trying not to make a statement.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:46 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think there is actually a vague aura of "men are pigs" in relationship-filter answers, but what are you gonna do.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:46 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm a 19-year-old chick raised in Connecticut (how less "manly" could you get?) and even I love me some football and alcohol. Have we discovered the metafilter unifier? To the sports bar!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:49 PM on August 6, 2008


As copyright owner of the epigram, trademark and brand "Second Account for Making Jokey Comments" I must compel you to cease and desist from using said epigram, trademark and brand as a username.

Unless you make me laugh.
posted by loquacious at 6:54 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm a 19-year-old chick raised in Connecticut (how less "manly" could you get?) and even I love me some football and alcohol.

Maybe you should spend more time studying and less time drinking, lest you end up an underemployed alcoholic pounding out typo-ridden rants in Metatalk.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:58 PM on August 6, 2008


Maybe you should spend more time studying and less time drinking, lest you end up an underemployed alcoholic pounding out typo-ridden rants in Metatalk.

You say that like it's a bad thing. What's your excuse, then?
posted by loquacious at 7:00 PM on August 6, 2008


You say that like it's a bad thing. What's your excuse, then?

I'm an overemployed alcoholic. Happens if you study too much. It's important to find the happy medium.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:04 PM on August 6, 2008


even I love me some football and alcohol. Have we discovered the metafilter unifier? To the sports bar!

Your favourite football team sucks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm not sure what - if anything - this reveals, but I note that my ironic, sexist, throwaway line "you're a guy, right? (coz it's obvious that you've bottled those emotions up for way too long)" didn't attract one jot of criticismn that I saw, and even scored a favourite, when an almost exactly structurally analogous one "hardwired for hysterical overreactions" in another thread caused a pile-on.

Honestly? I thought it was a stupid, gratuitous jab and wished you hadn't posted it, but I had neither the time nor the inclination to jump down your throat about it and potentially blow things up even worse. I love you to death 95% of the time, dude, but that was pretty much just bog-standard ignoring-of-the-troll in this case, and I'd be surprised if the same wasn't true for a lot of other people who didn't dignify it with a response.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2008


jonmc: beer or shots? What do you think you can put away? I'm good for quite a bit, and if my ocassional, forseeable, but not exactly deliberate puke 'n' rally is allowed, I'm unstoppable.

and Ubu, you're being thick. We already knew he was a guy, so it was just BS.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:20 PM on August 6, 2008


ACK!

On immediate reflection, calling you thick for that is rude. Didn't mean to tease about it at all. Just like "Well, duh he's a guy. Moving on."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2008


Your favourite football team sucks.

Nuh-uh. Mine won the Super Bowl last year! Suck it Haters!

jonmc: beer or shots? What do you think you can put away?

Boilermakers. I usually get Xmas cards from the cities of Milwaukee and Lynchburg.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 PM on August 6, 2008


jonmc: beer or shots? What do you think you can put away? I'm good for quite a bit, and if my ocassional, forseeable, but not exactly deliberate puke 'n' rally is allowed, I'm unstoppable.

You kids can have your fun, but let me know when this is going down so I can give you both pre-emptive 24 hours timeouts.

Also: webcam.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 PM on August 6, 2008


Mine won the Super Bowl last year! Suck it Haters!

Well, mine are bunnies! No arguing against that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:55 PM on August 6, 2008


Wow. Ok. Yeah, what a lot of others have said. AskMe is pretty axe-grindy. People bring all their baggage -- and borrow their friends' -- and toss it into their answers. The Golden Rule of Askme -- no jokes -- is met by its opposite Silver Proviso -- you don't need to be objective, so long as you are striving to answer the question.

Yes, guys bear the brunt of some kinds of humour. And you may have not been around long enough to appreciate the genesis of why that is first hand. (I'm not sure I am) But the ill effects suffered? Not so much. Yes, there is a "thickness of skin" double standard. As evidenced by this thread. If women are feeling hurt, there is a problem. If men are feeling hurt, well let's see whether they're overreacting. I'm not saying the latter attitude is a problem. I think that attitude should apply to both groups. You want more sensitivity here? I'm not really on board with that, dude.

I will say that I've gotten a certain vibe from many MeFites that... how shall I put this? No man, or certainly not men as a group, can be discriminated against, because it's just so outweighed by what women suffer on balance. But of course justice (and injustice) doesn't work that way. We could enact a law tomorrow that screws men generally, or men in particular situations, nine ways from Sunday. Some would cheer out of spite, but most people apparently were brought up on the two-wrongs adage. And the comments in this thread have given me faith that there are far more people here that belong to the latter group than the former. Forktine's comments, in particular, well. If I could favorite them again I would.

So I feel better. Anyone for a Guinness?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:57 PM on August 6, 2008


Uh, well except for the penis-terical comment, but that's because I absolutely loathe that meme.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:58 PM on August 6, 2008


Also: webcam.

and possibly the jaws of life.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on August 6, 2008


Your favourite football team sucks.

Who cares about football? Me, I'm currently taking bets on the Puppy Games.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:09 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Light Fantastic, what the hell do you know about North Africa? Have you been there?
posted by Liosliath at 8:39 PM on August 6, 2008


oh good, since i last checked, the thread has turned into a drinking contest now. i've been up past my usual bedtime drinking booze and playing rockband, so i'm all set to get drunk under the table.

i was going to try and pull my thoughts together be all "yeah, misandry pisses me off, but not as much as misogyny", but Miko was far more coherent than i could manage and probably more sober. so, um, yeah, what Miko said.

i am not happy with many of the messages that (american, at least) society send to men, particularly to boys and young men, these days -- solutions through violence, negotiation is for pussies, who ever heard of de-escalation, and boy howdy but prison rape is funny... but i am convinced that working on really reducing misogyny through reducing that kind of sexist behavior is also going to help reduce misandry. i think misandry is inexorably linked to misogyny, and that the ideal is a middle path where both are reduced to noise.

also, my ideal will include a pony. and another drink.

well, at least i can get another drink. (although at this point maybe i should be hydrating with water)
posted by rmd1023 at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also: webcam.

Well, jonmc already HAS one, which makes this idea fishy from the get-go, but moreover, knowing my tendencies, and the internet's, this is, for me, BAD TRAP STOP SCRAM THINK OF YOUR FUTURE AND YOUR POOR MOTHER. So yeah, let's do it!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:54 PM on August 6, 2008


So I feel better. Anyone for a Guinness?

And later...?
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:03 PM on August 6, 2008


I wish i could afford to join in your drinking game. I currently have had a magnum of wine and 4-5 PBRs...and i'm out of booze. Keep me posted for when you're getting toasted.
posted by schyler523 at 9:07 PM on August 6, 2008


I call winner.
posted by jtron at 9:10 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I currently have had...4-5 PBRs...and i'm out of booze...

You were already out of booze before you drank those, you hipster freak.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:10 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


well, if men are really happy in this society, why the hell are we drinking so much?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 PM on August 6, 2008


DTFFA
posted by Deathalicious at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2008


well, if men are really happy in this society, why the hell are we drinking so much?

Because we're always being scolded.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:25 PM on August 6, 2008


Also, sounds like Lesser could do with a little "Taming"...if you get my drift.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:32 PM on August 6, 2008


Who cares about football? Me, I'm currently taking bets on the Puppy Games.

!!!

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

The goldfish judges are the best thing ever and they better be on the actual show.

My money's on the westies. There are four of them, so one of them is bound to win something. Or possibly Pugsley, because that is the best name you could ever give a pug.
posted by Arturus at 10:02 PM on August 6, 2008


Ha!! Even when you use a sockpuppet to post on Meta, people dig through the sockpuppets posting history.

Naw, I just remembered making fun of that comment four days ago, these days I'm usually too lazy to go trawlin' for MetaMud to sling.

Whoever called this above, I salute you.

Hi MetaFilterianites, this is Alvy's mom typing here.
Please don't encourage him.
Thanks kids, and play nicely.
-Ma'Ampersand.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:42 PM on August 6, 2008


I didn't bother to read any of the comments. I only read the original post. I'm female, and I agree that men tend to get trampled on unfairly in AskMeFi questions. It's just something I've noticed. If a girl has any tiny bit of trouble with her SO, it seems like people blow it out of proportion and can get a bit shrill in their insistence that she DTMF immediately.

For what it's worth, it does go both ways, depending on the question. In most relationship questions, whether it's warranted or not, the overwhelming answer is that people should break up. I don't think people make an effort to understand other people in relationships, and they tend to think of things in terms of, "If I was displaying this behavior, this is what it would mean" instead of remembering that other people are entirely different. A lot of people seem like they will only be happy the day they're dating themselves. People make women out to be raving bitches on AskMeFi sometimes when it's ridiculous, to be sure. Not nearly as often as men are made out to be horrible people though.

Granted, I don't have statistics or anything to back that up, and it's subjective anyway, but that's just the vibe I've gotten. On the whole, AskMeFi has always seemed more unforgiving towards men in relationships than women IMO.

Also, I could completely see how the atmosphere on AskMeFi would make men hesitant to post answers to relationship questions. I think that's unfortunate. I think I've only felt reluctant to comment on AskMeFi because of my gender once, and I really do believe it would be a more frequent feeling if I were male. I've definitely felt a lot more sympathetic pangs for guys when reading AskMeFi.
posted by Nattie at 10:44 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.

Does the community agree that this is the case?


No.

If so, should this change, or at the very least be more heavily moderated than it currently is?

N/A

If not, why is one form of apparent sexism tolerable in comparison to another that is not?

It isn't.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 1:42 AM on August 7, 2008


In most relationship questions, whether it's warranted or not, the overwhelming answer is that people should break up.

I'd say it's a really common answer, and an easy and not especially compassionate one, but not overwhelming exactly. Usually there are at least a few other people taking a more considered approach, and that's enough to balance out the one-line DTMFAers.

But it's still worth noting that when people are posting to AskMe about their relationships, often the problem is already pretty bad, or they wouldn't be taking it to strangers on the internet for a head check. In this situation there are bound to be a few more isntances where DTMFAing might be in someone's best interest than in a random sample of the general population.
posted by Miko at 6:55 AM on August 7, 2008


I am beginning to suspect we don't discriminate against women or men per se but _____women and _____men, whereas you may fill in a plethora of different attributes in those blank spaces.

Men as a group are not discriminated against.
yeah, right. that only happens to women and there are no gay people in iran.

Ambrosia Voyeur/grapefruitmoon
good. I'm kinda glad to have misunderstood that. mea culpa.

cybercoitus interruptus It's because our society is structured to advantage men in big ways and little

I deal with this issue pretty much every other day myself. I have let go people and I have had to deal with the instance of someone claiming this to be based on their gender when it wasn't. I have heard a person complain she made less than her coworker because of her gender when in the negotiation she happily accepted my first offer while said coworker negotiated aggressively. (I have had situations in which this happened the other way around as well and in one such case I later got to hear "women have to fight harder to get the same." she obviously didn't realize she made more.)

this kind of argument is a no-win situation. people decry you loudly because of a perceived injustice but no matter how hard you try you'll never earn the approval you'd expect to get for it and if you try too hard you're sure to be accused of being biased towards someone as well.

there are advantages to being a man, you are right, but I maintain that there are different advantages to being a women in this society as well and that you simply cannot weigh them up against each other without being overly polemic. I am not negating that there are huge injustices for both but the simple assertion that "I have it worse than you" is one I am unwilling to sign off upon.

The privileged are never in a position to need learn about their subordinates' views or experiences, so typically, they never do.

that sentence makes me want to groan. that's the man rhetoric. most of the showrunners I worked with and for (as well as I myself, though I consider myself second tier at present) have had to consider others more the further they advanced. suddenly they became responsible for not just their immediate output but hiring, firing and general piece and performance in their whole office. I know dinosaurs in my industry who have famously and publicly flamed out (neil french being a google-worthy example) but consider them the exception in my industry. granted - I don't work in the financial industry, from where I have heard quite a few intense anecdotes recently, but I am in advertising, an industry filled with egos.

the only level I know of that doesn't have to concern themselves with others is the level that doesn't have to deal with anyone.

examples cited above relate to a position I have since left
posted by krautland at 7:08 AM on August 7, 2008


I have heard a person complain she made less than her coworker because of her gender when in the negotiation she happily accepted my first offer while said coworker negotiated aggressively.

Has it not occurred to you that this is an example of institutionalized sexism? Allowing workers to negotiate for unequal wages for the same work is not a neutral action.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Women aren't exempt from practicing sexism; people who have been oppressed aren't exempt from oppressing others. We see it all the time, historically. So it never hurts to check ourselves often, whoever we are, whatever our experience has been.

I have to admit that I have an tendency to roll my eyes when guys complain about inequality issues... Yet, when we were the U.S., I feared for my husband around kids, because the affection and attention shown to children by adults, male and female, that he was used to and grew up with in his culture was at odds with the man-terror of the U.S. (over 10 years ago - which has only become worse, I gather). I was always telling him not to kiss or hug or pick up (or talk to, really - if he could help it) any child that wasn't from his ex-pat group of friends... and that made me feel sick and sad.

Is this something imposed on men by women? Not really. But not really not, either. This one maybe comes the closest to the bizarre yet somehow ingrained sorts of sexism that women experience about so many things, from boob size to math proficiency - whatever the data is, it doesn't matter: you are subjected to this utterly insane yet immovable preconception. The idea of every man who likes kids as predator paedophile is odious and ridiculous, and women, especially, could try to bring that back to some sort of sane level.

Aside from that really horrid example, there are all sorts of expectations and limitations imposed on men... but most of those are really coming from other men, it seems to me. Likewise, the prison rape and military draft scenarios... are still issues that have to do with men subjecting other men to violence, humilation, subjugation - which are also things that women have always been and continue to be victim to. I think every female feminist needs to do a self-check today, and next week, and the week after, to keep from becoming in any degree what they hate, and to always avoid creating by your expectations the monster we are trying to overcome.

But I also have to reiterate the usual feminist reality check here: When men complain that women aren't fighting for their (men's) rights, but only for their own... I just go all twisty inside. I want everything to be even-steven, we're-all-people, etc., but it's not that way. Not by a long shot. Not for women, not for ethnic minorities, not for GLBT/gender-busters of any kind, among others. But for the most part, men don't generally get all worked up because black people don't become activists for white rights, or that gay men don't demonstrate for straight guy-issues, or that poor people don't work for the betterment of rich people... but there are an awful lot of guys who seem to demand that if women are going to fight or argue for female equality, they damn well better think of men's possible inequality issues at least as much, and preferably first. This is wack.
posted by taz at 7:25 AM on August 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


Men as a group are not discriminated against.
yeah, right. that only happens to women and there are no gay people in iran.


Dude, why do you do this? Did you not read the very next paragraph I wrote? Here, let me quote it for your convenience:

Groups of men (eg prisoners, gay men, black men, homeless men, mentally ill men, etc) are discriminated against, and individual men are often discriminated against as well, though not for being a man per se. But when a nerdy and slightly effeminate kid is bullied in the locker room until he cries, his gender has everything to do with the violence, even if he isn't being beaten on for the simple fact of being male.

Then you say:

I am not negating that there are huge injustices for both but the simple assertion that "I have it worse than you" is one I am unwilling to sign off upon.

What would it take to convince you that women are not the privileged gender in our society? Earning statistics? The persistence of the "glass ceiling? What?

Really, I'm completely with you about the ways that groups of men, and individual men, can have it really tough. I'm with you about individual women having privileges that are not available to individual men. But you lose me when you shrug and say that these things are in fact not comparable.

Sure they are — we can measure career earnings; educational attainment (being won by women at the moment); access to health care; percentages affected by poverty, violence, and other issues; representation in popular culture; and on and on and on. The details are nuanced and complicated, and outlier cases will always exist. But it isn't actually all that hard to say something like "on average, white men will earn the most, and then white women, and then black men," and so on (source).

This isn't a new discussion, and was most recently in the news during the democratic party primary.

And the issue of men as a group doing well, while male sub-groups and individuals do poorly, is not a new discussion, either. I really liked reading Susan Faludi's Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man when it came out for that reason — she captured a moment when a set of men who had been doing very well had their lives come off the tracks, without that being to the clear benefit of, for example, women.
posted by Forktine at 7:31 AM on August 7, 2008


I think there is actually a vague aura of "men are pigs" in relationship-filter answers, but what are you gonna do.

That's okay; it's nicely balanced out by the aura of "women are whores" in relationship-filter answers.

There does seem to be a contingent of people who's answer to any Ask relationship question is "DTMF." I always considered those people to simply be individuals working through their own relationship bitterness, but I've never done a gender analysis on the people who give those answers. It would be really interesting to see some stats on how it breaks down between the gender of the askee, the gender of the dumpee, and the gender of the DTMF answerer, though.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have heard a person complain she made less than her coworker because of her gender when in the negotiation she happily accepted my first offer while said coworker negotiated aggressively.

Has it not occurred to you that this is an example of institutionalized sexism? Allowing workers to negotiate for unequal wages for the same work is not a neutral action.
posted by Miko at 10:18 AM on August 7


I don't understand this argument. Is it because women are raised not to negotiate as well as men so allowing negotiation to enter into salary determinations is sexist? Isn't negotiating, advocating to get the most out of a transaction, inherent to capitalism? Therefore it seems that claiming that allowing people to negotiate for their salary is sexist is kind of naive.
posted by ND¢ at 7:53 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it because women are raised not to negotiate as well as men so allowing negotiation to enter into salary determinations is sexist? Isn't negotiating, advocating to get the most out of a transaction, inherent to capitalism? Therefore it seems that claiming that allowing people to negotiate for their salary is sexist is kind of naive.

Not only are women not raised to negotiate, when they use the same tactics women who do negotiate are perceived differently then men negotiating, and women negotiating for salaries are less likely to have a positive result than men. Negotiating skill looks like "bitchiness". Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive. This is actually a huge area of research.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know, this reminds me of the reaction of Iraqi Sunnis to not being in charge any more. No recognition that they'd been unfairly lording it over the Shi'a for centuries, just a bitter resentment of every perceived slight and a refusal to accept that the Shi'a had a right to both their historical grievances and their new power. "It's always 'oh, poor Shi'a, how they've suffered'—what about us Sunnis? We suffer too! We are discriminated against!"
posted by languagehat at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has it not occurred to you that this is an example of institutionalized sexism? Allowing workers to negotiate for unequal wages for the same work is not a neutral action.
posted by Miko at 10:18 AM on August 7

I don't understand this argument.
...
posted by ND¢ at 10:53 AM on August 7


Yeah, I don't understand it, either. I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm just hoping for a clarification, because it doesn't immediately make sense to me.
posted by shmegegge at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2008


I skimmed the titles of those articles hydropsyche, and obviously this is an area on which many intelligent people have weighed in and of which I am pretty ignorant, but it seems like the answer to this problem would be to treat people equally when they negotiate, not to ban negotiation.

I mean, say that the employer that Miko was advising currently negotiates with potential employees in a gender-neutral way, but stops allowing people to negotiate for their salary because he has been told that allowing people to negotiate for their salary is sexist. His competitor down the block does allow people to negotiate, thereby reaching a better balance of interests than the first employer and becoming a better place to work. The competitor consequently attracts a higher class of employees and outperforms the first employer, and the first employer goes out of business. Now there is one less non-discriminatory employer in the marketplace because he was advised to do something irrational as a means of ending discrimination, rather than being advised to act rationally and in a non-discriminatory manner. I think one can do both, especially since discrimination is inherently irrational.

If you run a widget-making business, you want to employ individuals who make widgets better than anyone else. If that is your sole hiring criteria, then you will hire the best employees and prosper. If discriminatory motivations enter into your hiring process, then you will hire people based on criteria other than who makes the best widgets, and therefore your will not hire the best employees and you will not prosper. Therefore, were human beings rational economic maximizers, discrimination would not exist. However, they are not, that is why people who believe in nothing but market-based solutions are silly and why we need anti-discrimination statutes. But these statutes require people to be treated equally, not activity in which discriminatory animus tends to enter into to cease. That seems over-reaching and impractical.
posted by ND¢ at 8:41 AM on August 7, 2008


Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive

Women need to be pushy and aggressive (when warranted) and let anyone who gives a shit suffer with missing out on half the workforce.
posted by Skorgu at 8:47 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


His competitor down the block does allow people to negotiate, thereby reaching a better balance of interests than the first employer and becoming a better place to work.

How is a place that would pay a man and a woman different starting rates for the same work a better place to work? That's the institutionalized sexism Miko is talking about- the willingness to do so.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:47 AM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


I feared for my husband around kids, because the affection and attention shown to children by adults, male and female, that he was used to and grew up with in his culture was at odds with the man-terror of the U.S. (over 10 years ago - which has only become worse, I gather). I was always telling him not to kiss or hug or pick up (or talk to, really - if he could help it) any child that wasn't from his ex-pat group of friends... and that made me feel sick and sad.

Ooooh, taz, I'm right there with you on that.

For logistical reasons, I needed to have my male partner bring one of the girls I nanny to her camp program. And because he's a man, and not just a man, but a long-haired darker side of white man, I called ahead to the program to let them know ahead of time that Schmoopy would be coming to school with some strange man that they'd never seen.

And it made me sick that I had to do that. As a former preschool teacher, I knew that this was the smartest thing to do, because they would definitely ask a few questions. Not in any sort of accusatory way, but still, it would be off-putting to my partner to arrive and immediately undergo the third degree. Not to mention disorienting to the kid, giving her the message that this guy shouldn't be bringing her to school.

And the sickest part is that I knew that if I had called a female friend to help in the same way, no one would have batted an eye. I myself started bringing her to school and no one ever asked who I was or what happened to her previous babysitter.

It's definitely a gross double standard.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2008


How is a place that would pay a man and a woman different starting rates for the same work a better place to work?

If employer #1 wants to pay $10 an hour to someone to make widgets and says "Take it or leave it" no matter what applicants counteroffer with, but employer #2 wants to pay $10 an hour to someone to make widgets, but if someone walks in the door, male or female, and has ten years of widget-making experience and a degree is widgetology and says "I believe that my education and experience warrant being paid $12.50 an hour" and employer #2 is willing to pay him or her $12.50 an hour in recognition of that education and experience, then employer #2 is going to be a better place to work and therefore hire better employees and perform better than employer #1. It is a better place to work because it is willing to find the area where its interest and its potential employee's interest intersect. If you just say $10 an hour take it or leave it, then you are unwilling to pay those whose education and experience make their labor worth $12.50 an hour what they are worth. If you are unwilling to pay an employee what his labor is worth then you are not going to get quality employees and your competitor who is willing to do so is going to be a better place to work and therefore hire better employees and therefore outperform you.
posted by ND¢ at 9:01 AM on August 7, 2008


it seems like the answer to this problem would be to treat people equally when they negotiate, not to ban negotiation.

This presumes that "negotiation" is something that can be sanely and transparently codified and regulated, but negotiation in the context of interviewing and offers is almost by definition an undocumented, interpersonal black art. It's a game played between people according to unwritten rules that belong to the hiring negotiator; it's opt-in, and sufficient social or cultural pressure on folks to not do that opting short circuits the fairness right there.

If the interview process just literally involved a game of Mao, for money, with a couple extra secret rules that apply along gender lines, then the situation would be fairly similar but the weirdness would be a lot clearer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive

Women need to be pushy and aggressive (when warranted) and let anyone who gives a shit suffer with missing out on half the workforce.


Well, yes, of course I agree with you. The problem is that our culture tends to disagree and the thus people who are so indoctrinated are still hiring women they perceived as bitchy, just paying them less than men who negotiated in the same way.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:09 AM on August 7, 2008


If you are unwilling to pay an employee what his labor is worth then you are not going to get quality employees and your competitor who is willing to do so is going to be a better place to work and therefore hire better employees and therefore outperform you.

Unless of course you make that kind of competition illegal somehow.
posted by grobstein at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2008


If you just say $10 an hour take it or leave it, then you are unwilling to pay those whose education and experience make their labor worth $12.50 an hour what they are worth.

So pay everybody $12.50 right off the bat. How can you tell from interviews how much workers are going to be worth, anyway? If you're paying more for good interview and negotiation skills, how does that make sense if the job is to build widgets? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring in everyone at the same rate and raise wages as it applies to that individual's performance?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


How is a place that would pay a man and a woman different starting rates for the same work a better place to work? That's the institutionalized sexism Miko is talking about- the willingness to do so.

Are you sure that's what Miko was talking about? Miko was responding to a comment about two people getting different pay because they negotiated differently. Presumably, if the story had involved two men the pay would have been just as different between them if one had negotiated for better pay and the other didn't. It's my understanding that equal rights is about both genders being treated the same way, not that women should get the higher pay without the negotiating a man would have to do. I think hydropsyche's comment made a better case.

Negotiating skill looks like "bitchiness". Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive. This is actually a huge area of research.

Now, I understand this. I also know that a lot of women in positions of authority are thought of as bitches precisely because they are aggressive in ways that it's supposedly okay for a man to be. On the other hand, despite (or more likely because of) that aggressiveness, they're in a position of authority. Frankly, I'm inclined to think that aggression from women is something that should be encouraged, since it seems to be such a vital characteristic of business and leadership success. The idea that we should not allow salary negotiations so that we don't have to put women in a position of being aggressive seems to me, and this is just my opinion, to be another instance of saying that women CAN'T do what men do: namely act aggressively in their own interest.
posted by shmegegge at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2008


wow, this thread is moving way faster than I type.
posted by shmegegge at 9:16 AM on August 7, 2008


I also know that a lot of women in positions of authority are thought of as bitches precisely because they are aggressive in ways that it's supposedly okay for a man to be.

Because a male boss is never thought of as being a prick or asshole for being aggressive.

So pay everybody $12.50 right off the bat.

That doesn't make sense if one person has no widget making skills and the other person has ten years of widget making skills.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:21 AM on August 7, 2008


it's opt-in, and sufficient social or cultural pressure on folks to not do that opting short circuits the fairness right there.

Agreed. That was my first assumption about Miko's comment, that negotiation was inherently unfair because women are raised not to negotiate, but hydropsyche then said that the real reason is that women are treated differently when they negotiate. That is why I think that the solution is to treat people equally when they negotiate, not to just refuse to do something that is kind of the bedrock of capitalism. As for women being brought up to think that negotiating is wrong, I can tell you that that practice ends here as far as my daughter is concerned.

To all little children reading this, girls and boys: when you do business with someone, they want to get the most out of you possible while paying you the least amount for it. When you do business with someone, you want to get the most out of them while paying them the least amount for it (in employment situations, that payment comes in the form of labor). When both of you pull as hard as you can in your respective directions, then the outcome lands somewhere in the middle that we call "fair". When they are the only one pulling, then the outcome is going to be way on their side of the line and that is unfair. Therefore, when you go to transact business, do your homework. Know what it is that you are selling or buying, and know what it is valued at in the marketplace. If the person across the table from you wants to charge you or offers you less than that amount, then be prepared to counteroffer or go down the street to somewhere that will.

As a side note, that is why society tells us that discussing how much we make or what we pay in rent or what we paid for our car is "rude" because the more information workers/consumers have, the better we will be able to pay or charge the market price for something. Of course society would tell us that exchanging that vital information with each other is taboo. Cause that knowledge is powerful and they want power to stay exactly where it is.
posted by ND¢ at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2008


negotiation in the context of interviewing and offers is almost by definition an undocumented, interpersonal black art.

Disagree most strongly. Most of the time a position has a salary range, from say 50,000 to 53,000. Anyone passing the interview will be offered the lowest level (obviously). Simply asking if there is any room for negotiation in the offer will usually get you offered more money, it's rarely any skin off of the interviewer's back to give you money that's already allocated. And a small change plus 2% raises over ten years is a substantial difference in final income.

People, even women people, have to be responsible for their own self interest, and that includes negotiating even if people think you're a bitch.
posted by Skorgu at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2008


The point is, women's socialization leads us, less than in times in the past, but still, to fail in competetive arenas against men. Men's fail to give them, as a whole, relationship skills. There's misfortune in either case, leading to the disproportionate impoverishment of women and imprisonment of men.

So, while examining a fantasy case of hiring practices may be fun, it's pretty pointless, because there are a thousand unspoken variables.

Can we get onto the same page that The American Dream is fantasy, and this life is not a pure meritocracy?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:24 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


So pay everybody $12.50 right off the bat. How can you tell from interviews how much workers are going to be worth, anyway? If you're paying more for good interview and negotiation skills, how does that make sense if the job is to build widgets? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring in everyone at the same rate and raise wages as it applies to that individual's performance?

The way I understand economics (poorly), this is a bad way to do business. Gathering intelligence on a potential job candidate's ability to fit within a company and perform well is a tricky art, and that's part of why HR guys get paid so well. But the idea of just constantly upping the flat rate for everybody and refusing to negotiate just means that the next guy who comes in and is an excellent worker will try to negotiate anyway, for an even higher price, and when you refuse to negotiate will just go somewhere else that does, even if it's for the same amount you would have paid right off the bat. This isn't because he just loves to negotiate, or because you'd be paying for his negotiation skills. It's because he knows how much he's worth, even if that just means "I'm worth more than that other guy you've already got working here."
posted by shmegegge at 9:25 AM on August 7, 2008


His competitor down the block does allow people to negotiate, thereby reaching a better balance of interests than the first employer and becoming a better place to work.

it's definitely not a better place to work, and I say that having worked in such places. In fact, it's the reason finance magazines so often run articles about "Best Places to Work for Women." Fair hiring and wage practices are one of the great attractions of a good company. A job is worth what it's worth, and the fact that salary negotiations are private, personal, and rather arbitrary usually does not work in women's favor for the reasons clearly stated above. It doesn't make sense as a budget or workplace management practice (speaking as a manager), and it's just a tradition, not necessarily a best practice. If an employer cares about fairness, fair and clear wage standards -sure, with merit increases as TPS says - are one of the hallmarks they'll publicly tout.
posted by Miko at 9:25 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because a male boss is never thought of as being a prick or asshole for being aggressive.

No, they are. that's beside the point.
posted by shmegegge at 9:25 AM on August 7, 2008


when you refuse to negotiate will just go somewhere else that does, even if it's for the same amount you would have paid right off the bat. This isn't because he just loves to negotiate, or because you'd be paying for his negotiation skills. It's because he knows how much he's worth, even if that just means "I'm worth more than that other guy you've already got working here."

This doesn't quite make sense. If he's willing to settle for that wage, you're offering the right wage in the first place. His need to play the negotiating game doesn't need to enter into it. He knows how much he's worth? Apparently, the wages you're paying.

When I hire, if someone gives me trouble about the set flat starting wage in the interview, I don't hire them. I don't want them; I set the budget and wages, and that's the deal. If you don't want to work here, that's mutual; I don't want you here with an inflated sense of self-importance or need for external approval and possibly resulting bad attitude. In almost every workplace, everyone is replaceable.
posted by Miko at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2008


I guess what I'm saying is that being an aggressive negotiator and being a good employee aren't the same thing. I do have people come in to say they aren't paid enough, and usually they aren't the same people I'd be offering a merit increase to spontaneously.
posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like others, I don't believe you've built a successful case for the existence of pervasive misandry on Ask Metafilter that is in need of moderation. I visited the threads you linked to, and I just don't see them as supportive of your argument.

I think a case could possibly be built that some commenters' answers in Ask Metafilter have a bias along the lines of what you describe. I think it's a risky assumption to translate a tendency or bias into a consciously held, and absolutist, position. We all have biases, and they affect how we communicate with others. For example, I can usually be counted upon to advocate against a relationship's end; this is because I have a very idealized (and I daresay unrealistic) view of what romance is, and as such I tend to think that love lost is always tragic — when, in fact, it's sometimes the healthiest option. This idealized view is due to elements in my own history, and they affect my opinions as to situations.

But I don't think the threads that you cited support your argument. Indeed, I think Ask Metafilter has a range of opinions that's very useful in its diversity, and I don't feel that misandry is a regularly appearing bias in most of its contributors.

This thread, the first you cited, has off the bat a number of wise (and even non-DTMFA) suggestions about approaching her boyfriend with her concerns, suggesting how space might affect the emotional balance of the situation, and so on.

At most, I think you might have laid the beginnings of a potential case that some of the commenters you quote have a misandristic bias. If this is indeed the case, I think it's a somewhat unproductive disservice to call them out publicly on it in this forum. A private exchange might've been more useful and, if that proved unproductive, when disagreeing with them in future threads, quietly noting the bias in a response.

and the answers will invariably come back as "DTMFA."

I don't think that "DTMFA" responses are indicative of misandry. I think that they are indicative of the human tendency to feel good about absolutes. Terminating a relationship is a binary answer; it's black or white, not a shade of gray. I think that makes it feel better, "more right" to the human psyche. It is an answer that clearly resolves the question in one way or another, in the same sense of "we burned the village in order to save it." Applying a solution that is more a shade of gray doesn't have that same satisfactory sense of resolution for the problem, and thus doesn't feel as viscerally good a response to the mind. That's all my amateur, layman's opinion of course.

All of this having been said, I'll side with others who have criticized others' reaction to your comments. It's possible you may be in the wrong. That doesn't change the fact that you took the time to lay out your concerns rationally and to try to explain your argument. In return, your argument was called "overthought", an "artificial controversy", and so on. And I very much dislike the idea that the mere act of discussing a concept can be considered fundamentally offensive and worthy of contempt.

There's a lot of unuseful extremism going on in this thread, such as how Scrump will "tolerate" the original poster's opinion only given a series of massive societal improvements. And, Unicorn, I am wondering if you see the inherent conflict in your post. You say you don't believe in blanket statements in the fifth paragraph of your post, but you are blanketing the original poster in with the men at your work ("because of people like you") and making a blanket statement about men ("you men, with your huge chips ... ") in the second paragraph.

Honestly, I think forktine nailed the key to the entire issue in her comment: "'Men' as a big group are doing ok, but an individual man has a pretty high probability of not doing all that well and of facing real problems related to his gender at various times."

You can try to empathize as best you can with the problems inherent in the life of someone outside your skin, but barring extremely unusual steps, you usually can't directly experience their problems. It is extremely likely I will never directly experience misogyny or racism. I can comment on it using an intellectual understanding of the concepts, but not from a visceral, firsthand experience of it. The two discussion styles clash, as we've seen here.

But I think the situation is reversed here: women can comment on misandry with an intellectual understanding of the concepts, but not from a visceral, firsthand experience of it. I'll instantly qualify that, however, by saying that it's my guess that the visceral, firsthand experience of misandry doesn't hold a candle to the visceral, firsthand experience of misogyny. (Not having experienced misogyny firsthand, I can't compare the two firsthand experiences; transwomen who can "pass" might be able to.)

What I find rather unpleasantly ironic, however, is this: in the original misogyny threads, there was a recurring thread in responses of "misogyny doesn't exist on Metafilter; you are making it up; you do not have a right to bring it up; it isn't real." Looking over this thread, it appears as if these very same arguments are now being echoed back by those who previously advocated the need for male Mefites to be much more aware of misogyny on Metafilter. "Misandry doesn't exist on Metafilter; you are making it up; you do not have a right to bring it up; it isn't real." The arguments which were offensive when used against people in the misogyny threads are evidently acceptable enough to be employed when used to speak against the existence of misandry.

I live in Chicago, which has been called the most voluntarily self-segregated city in America, and so I can definitely think of quite a few interactions where I've been treated differently by African-Americans simply by virtue of me being white. And there are various interactions over the years where I've been treated differently by people simply because of what is expected from the "traditional" male gender role.

Misandry and reverse racism do exist, and they do create a negative impact on the lives of white men. And all white males are not all part of the "power hierarchy" of the world. But, and here's the key part, the degree of negative impact on our lives is far, far less than the degree of negative impact experienced by women from misogyny, or experienced by African-Americans (and Latinos, etc.) from racism.

I don't think it's a useful course of action to deny the existence of misandry or reverse racism, nor to treat people expressing concerns about same with contempt, or deny their basic right to express themselves. Arguing it doesn't exist at all is, I think, a losing game.

But I also think that those who are concerned about misandry have to acknowledge that the degree in which their lives are affected is by a far smaller amount, and to a far less severe degree. Certainly that's the case on Metafilter. I'm not so sure of the supposed pervasiveness of misogyny on Metafilter, but if misogyny does exist on Metafilter, for it to have engendered the discussions it has, it would be hundreds of times more severe than the trace elements of misandry referred to by the original poster.
posted by WCityMike at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


That doesn't make sense if one person has no widget making skills and the other person has ten years of widget making skills.

Does the position call for ten years of experience or not? If the job could be filled by someone with no experience, why would someone with ten years experience doing it even want it? That would make me question what the person with ten years experience is after- a position where they can slack off all the time? Career advancement with minimal effort? A position is going to have a set role of responsibilities (in theory, anyway; I've seen positions balloon), so why not a set starting salary?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:32 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Unless of course you make that kind of competition illegal somehow.
posted by grobstein at 12:10 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


Yes if you did away with competition and the state set wages that all employers had to pay then nobody would be paid more or less based on their skills or ability and that may decrease instances of men being paid more than women. I believe that you would kind of be throwing the baby out with the bathwater though.

So pay everybody $12.50 right off the bat. How can you tell from interviews how much workers are going to be worth, anyway? If you're paying more for good interview and negotiation skills, how does that make sense if the job is to build widgets? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring in everyone at the same rate and raise wages as it applies to that individual's performance?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:10 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


If an individual's labor is worth $10 an hour and you pay them $12.50 an hour then you are going to go out of business pretty quickly because you are not making cost-effective decisions. The goal of a negotiation is to pay someone what their labor is worth, not based on how good a negotiator they are. I mean, if you are just out of high school and never worked a day in your life and you tell WidgetCorp that you want to be made vice-president and be paid $500k a year, that does not make you a good negotiator. Being aggressive does not make you a better negotiator, knowing what the commodity that you are buying/selling is worth and advocating to pay/be paid that amount is good negotiating. It is more a mindset than a skill.
posted by ND¢ at 9:36 AM on August 7, 2008


Does the position call for ten years of experience or not?
If it calls for 5 years of experience someone with 7 or 10 would indeed likely be worth something extra. Salaries and requirements are (and should be) starting points not absolute requirements. Someone with 4 years who is willing to work for less might be a perfectly good substitute.
posted by Skorgu at 9:40 AM on August 7, 2008


Disagree most strongly. Most of the time a position has a salary range, from say 50,000 to 53,000. Anyone passing the interview will be offered the lowest level (obviously). Simply asking if there is any room for negotiation in the offer will usually get you offered more money, it's rarely any skin off of the interviewer's back to give you money that's already allocated. And a small change plus 2% raises over ten years is a substantial difference in final income.

All good stuff, but it's a little like me saying "making a consistent jump shot is a black art" and you saying that's all about keeping your knees under and following through on your release. That may be fine advice, but there's a hell of a lot more to playing competitive ball than hearing those words. On the bright side, most people don't have to make a living off basketball; landing a dayjob, on the other hand...but I've dug myself into as sports metaphor. Dammit. Anyway:

Doing your homework is a practical question, but it does fuckall to address the general unspoken psychological weirdness that is actual face-to-face negotiation between actual people. It may well be that the majority of such interactions are weirdness free, or that the per-incident effects of gender bias are slight enough that the effect only becomes obvious in aggregate, but the idea I was responding to—that the solution is to Make Negotiation More Fairr—doesn't seem viable in the face of the actual sticking point, which is that negotations take place between living, breathing human beings who are acculturated to respond to negotiation behavior differently depending on the person presenting said behavior. "Make everyone act fairly" is a really hard thing to enforce, and "do your homework" isn't anything like a complete solution to the problem.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2008


This doesn't quite make sense. If he's willing to settle for that wage, you're offering the right wage in the first place. His need to play the negotiating game doesn't need to enter into it. He knows how much he's worth? Apparently, the wages you're paying.

It makes a certain sense, but not a whole lot. Nevertheless, as I understand it, it's the truth. If someone says "I'm sorry, but I believe I'm worth $106,000, rather than just $100,000." and you say "I'm sorry, but that's not an option" some people, who may very well be worth that extra money, will leave the interview. A couple of days later, they may encounter another company whose policy is to pay $95,000. They'll go into the interview and say "I'm sorry, but I think I'm worth more than $95,000," and then that company may say "well, we can offer you $100,000, but that's the most we can offer." Then that dude may just take the job, and tell himself "well, it's not MORE money, but it's certainly not less. At least these guys are open to the idea that I'd be a valuable employee." Maybe it's sour grapes, maybe it's after-the-fact rationalization. Maybe it's whatever you want to call it. But it happens.

When I hire, if someone gives me trouble about the set flat starting wage in the interview, I don't hire them. I don't want them; I set the budget and wages, and that's the deal. If you don't want to work here, that's mutual; I don't want you here with an inflated sense of self-importance or need for external approval and possibly resulting bad attitude. In almost every workplace, everyone is replaceable.

ha. what does your company do? I'm sure this is the case for what you guys do, but it's not universally true, and I wouldn't believe that it's even mostly true outside of retail. Do I understand correctly that your point is that what works for you should work for everybody?
posted by shmegegge at 9:46 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


cortex makes good points, which is why I think what is best is simply clear, public wage standards and a stated goal of fair hiring practices as company culture and principle.

rarely any skin off of the interviewer's back to give you money that's already allocated. And a small change plus 2% raises over ten years is a substantial difference in final income.

Depends on the interviewer, though. In my field, it's kind of a big deal to hire at a $3000 difference. We have to zero out each year and not show a deficit on the books, and in a not-for-profit, this amount makes a noticeable difference in program allocation, too. If I were in HR in a big company and it really wasn't my ass answering for the bottom line of the budget, I might play free and loose with the salary range too. But I'm in a much tighter budgeting world than that. Similarly, if/when I'm the owner of a business, I'm going to offer a flat starting wage I can afford commensurate with the position and the field, and have a merit ladder after that, with documentation for each increase specifying the evidence for it. If practices like this were more common, a lot of workplace inequity would evaporate before too long.
posted by Miko at 9:49 AM on August 7, 2008


I wouldn't believe that it's even mostly true outside of retail

What's not true, that workers aren't replaceable? I think you're wrong about that. I think that's pretty much true across the board, at the industry or experience level.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:50 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, I'm not sure that made sense, so let me try again without all the double negatives: I believe workers are generally replaceable, in most industries and at most experience levels.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:51 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The goal of a negotiation is to pay someone what their labor is worth, not based on how good a negotiator they are.

That's what the goal of negotiation should be, rationally, yeah, but except in the case of someone interviewing for the position of Good Salary Negotiator, it's not an identity function. To which the answer may in fact be, well, tough shit and life goes on. That sucks, but so do a lot of things in life.

But if it appears that by whatever complex gestalt of systemic and cultural effects it actually consistently means "well, tough shit ladies in particular", it doesn't just suck but sucks in a pervasive gender-biased way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on August 7, 2008


"but the idea I was responding to—that the solution is to Make Negotiation More Fairr"

Cortex, was that double rr a typo? I might be crazy, but humor me, please.
posted by agregoli at 9:55 AM on August 7, 2008


My first job was as a gopher for an architectural firm -- they were just looking to hire a high school graduate for minimum wage and just have them run errands and not have any room for advancement. When I interviewed for that position, I made a point of having just gotten out of architecture school, and I would like to eventually move up in the firm and start doing actual architectural work. In addition, I'd have a better idea of what the architects at the firm were looking for without being told, and better general knowledge of how to do things. I got the job at my specifications, at almost double minimum wage at the time. How could the firm possibly make that offer to everybody else that was applying for the job? As someone just out of school with relatively limited options, why shouldn't I have negotiated that out of the job? They were willing to hire me on my terms, and I was willing to work on those terms. Everyone came away happy--why turn each other down out of hand just because we were both initially looking for something a little different?
posted by LionIndex at 9:56 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Heh. Totally a typo; I had somehow typed "For" originally, and that's what happened when I 'fixed' it. Not a great week for typing for me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:58 AM on August 7, 2008


I believe workers are generally replaceable, in most industries and at most experience levels.

Ok. I disagree. I believe there are a lot of cookie cutter jobs out there, but I don't believe that all employees are replaceable. I think there are jobs that require skilled and dedicated labor and there are people with skill and dedication who are valued in any number of fields, even the cookie cutter ones, because they'll do the cookie cutter work so much better than someone who doesn't give a fuck. I believe most jobs value that type of person, and that (while some industries and jobs are the exception) most jobs require that type of person to work best.
posted by shmegegge at 9:59 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got the job at my specifications, at almost double minimum wage at the time. How could the firm possibly make that offer to everybody else that was applying for the job?

They couldn't, because they hired you for a different job than the one they had planned to hire for. That's a different situation than having two gophers, a male and a female, and paying one more to do the same job just because they asked.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:01 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe most jobs value that type of person, and that (while some industries and jobs are the exception) most jobs require that type of person to work best.

Right- and there are a lot of people out there like that (skilled, dedicated, hard working), making no one person irreplaceable.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:03 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks, cortex, I wasn't trying to pick on your typing but I didn't want to proceed with a false assumption without asking. Thanks!
posted by agregoli at 10:08 AM on August 7, 2008


But if it appears that by whatever complex gestalt of systemic and cultural effects it actually consistently means "well, tough shit ladies in particular", it doesn't just suck but sucks in a pervasive gender-biased way.
posted by cortex at 12:51 PM on August 7


But it sucks because people are raising their children not to negotiate and treating women unfairly when they do so. It may seem pie-in-the-sky, but I think telling people "Treat people fairly when they negotiate or else" which is what Title VII and the Equal Pay Act are supposed to do, combined with raising children unafraid to say "I believe I am worth x, I would like to be paid that" is a better solution than just doing away with negotiation, which serves a valuable purpose: finding a common ground where two parties' interests intersect.

there are a lot of people out there like that (skilled, dedicated, hard working), making no one person irreplaceable.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:03 PM on August 7


You live in NYC right? That may be true there, but I deal with a lot of South Carolina employers and one of their biggest issues is that they can't find skilled educated workers that are dedicated to doing their jobs and not showing up drunk. So, they are willing to pay more if someone walks in the door and has good qualifications and work experience and asks for it.

Now I have to go to lunch, and I am pulling a Miko the manager here, because that shit is non-negotiable.
posted by ND¢ at 10:09 AM on August 7, 2008


Right- and there are a lot of people out there like that (skilled, dedicated, hard working), making no one person irreplaceable.

But that depends on the job and the person, doesn't it? I mean, sure a fry cook at mcdonald's is replaceable - no matter how bangin' those fries turn out - but that's because McDonald's is fine with selling shitty fries and there's a massive minimum wage work force out there. But when you start getting out of retail and into skilled labor, that situation changes. bearing in mind that the statement I originally responded to is "In almost every workplace, everyone is replaceable," I just don't see this as being true. Sure, maybe my workplace can find another video editor, there are enough of us out there. But they won't be quite like me. I am, ultimately, replaceable if I make myself a burden to the company, but if I'm doing my job I'm really not that replacable. Maybe the next guy would be someone who doesn't care about the material I edit as much as I do, or whose work ethic is worse, or whose design sense is different or whatever. Sure, in the sense that my position can be filled by SOMEONE I'm replaceable, but in the sense that the workplace could replace me without any detriment to the end product? not remotely. again, there are jobs where this is true. I imagine that glass sorters at a recycling plant are largely one and the same once you get above the level of "total lazy shitbag." But again, I don't believe that represents most of the workforce, and certainly not -as Miko said- everyone at almost every workplace.
posted by shmegegge at 10:13 AM on August 7, 2008


Now, I understand this. I also know that a lot of women in positions of authority are thought of as bitches precisely because they are aggressive in ways that it's supposedly okay for a man to be. On the other hand, despite (or more likely because of) that aggressiveness, they're in a position of authority. Frankly, I'm inclined to think that aggression from women is something that should be encouraged, since it seems to be such a vital characteristic of business and leadership success. The idea that we should not allow salary negotiations so that we don't have to put women in a position of being aggressive seems to me, and this is just my opinion, to be another instance of saying that women CAN'T do what men do: namely act aggressively in their own interest.

Being thought of as bitchy and aggressive would be fine if it was merely a side-effect of a successful negotiation strategy. The problem is that it often backfires. Not only do you not get the job/raise/promotion/acknowledgment, but you're ALSO branded as "difficult to work with," "emotional," or otherwise lacking in "leadership qualities." Even when you point out inconsistencies in logic. The fact that this is ass-backwards and often manifests as a laughably obvious double-standard is apparently beneath the large invisibility cloak of justification.
posted by desuetude at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


But it sucks because people are raising their children not to negotiate and treating women unfairly when they do so.

this is ultimately the crux of the issue to my mind. I don't quite agree with NDcent that we should somehow teach people to treat negotiations more fairly. As he said, I think that's kind of pie-in-the-sky. But I think that the problem isn't negotiation, it's how we're raising our women to think of themselves. Like I said earlier, if we act like salary negotiation is taboo, then the ultimate message we're sending is that women can't be aggressive in their own self interest, even though men can, and that they need special treatment. This isn't the same as saying that women and men should be paid the same for the same job. It's saying that because there are women in the workforce who can't handle the aggression a man can apparently handle, we have to change the workforce. But women CAN handle that aggression, and saying otherwise is a disservice to women. What needs to change is how women perceive themselves, and how men perceive women. Frankly, it's like saying that because women were raised not to vote in the 1800s, the solution was to eliminate voting.
posted by shmegegge at 10:20 AM on August 7, 2008


Sure, in the sense that my position can be filled by SOMEONE I'm replaceable, but in the sense that the workplace could replace me without any detriment to the end product? not remotely.

I disagree. You, and I, could be replaced, and ultimately, the bottom line of the companies we work for would not suffer greatly. As much as you don't want to hear it, there are other video editors who could do your job just as well as you. There are people who could do my job just as well as me. It is a mistake to ever think of yourself as indispensable, it only feeds into the idea that we should all be married to the companies we work for.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:21 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does the position call for ten years of experience or not?

Doesn't necessarily matter. The point is that you have an experienced work and a non experienced work and a advertised salary. There's no reason why they should be paid the same salary, especially if the position is why that could reduce expenses or increase revenue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:21 AM on August 7, 2008


I believe there are a lot of cookie cutter jobs out there

I want that job.

Actually, I had a ccokie-scooping job once. First day, at so much cookie dough that I can't even look at it now.
posted by Pax at 10:22 AM on August 7, 2008


Being thought of as bitchy and aggressive would be fine if it was merely a side-effect of a successful negotiation strategy. The problem is that it often backfires. Not only do you not get the job/raise/promotion/acknowledgment, but you're ALSO branded as "difficult to work with," "emotional," or otherwise lacking in "leadership qualities." Even when you point out inconsistencies in logic. The fact that this is ass-backwards and often manifests as a laughably obvious double-standard is apparently beneath the large invisibility cloak of justification.

I'm probably posting too much right now, but I just want to say that I agree that this is the case, and that that's a bad thing. I don't want desuetude thinking that I was somehow saying that thinking of an aggressive female as bitchy is ok. Again, I think the problem is how we perceive women, not how we perceive negotiations.
posted by shmegegge at 10:23 AM on August 7, 2008


If every worker was replaceable, then workers would never be able to negotiate higher wages. You have negotiation power only insofar as you are not completely replaceable. The fact that workers can sometimes negotiate higher wages proves without more that some workers are not replaceable.

In some labor markets, though, there is little or no negotiation. This may indicate (though it does not guarantee) that those are markets in which workers are replaceable.
posted by grobstein at 10:23 AM on August 7, 2008


They couldn't, because they hired you for a different job than the one they had planned to hire for. That's a different situation than having two gophers, a male and a female, and paying one more to do the same job just because they asked.

Granted, but my point was that taking negotiation completely out of the hiring process doesn't universally solve problems. I could have taken a lesser job -- I didn't really have a whole lot of other options at that point. They could have taken a someone to do exactly the job they advertised for in the paper and not spent as much on salary. But I made a case for myself and we both ended up better off for it. Banning negotiation in that case wouldn't have helped anybody. Of course, that's just one case, in one industry.
posted by LionIndex at 10:23 AM on August 7, 2008


Being thought of as bitchy and aggressive would be fine if it was merely a side-effect of a successful negotiation strategy. The problem is that it often backfires. Not only do you not get the job/raise/promotion/acknowledgment, but you're ALSO branded as "difficult to work with," "emotional," or otherwise lacking in "leadership qualities."

QFT. Abrasive, shrill, etc.

Another unexpected side-effect: My boss (Very Senior Female #1) made a comment to me the other day that Very Senior Female #2 "doesn't support women," and went on to describe some behaviors/personality traits that sound a lot like what I imagine the hypothetical Successful Aggressive Female Employee to be (being cutthroat, not discussing antiquing with my boss, to name a few).
posted by Pax at 10:31 AM on August 7, 2008


On the other hand, my boss, Very Senior Female #1, often makes disdainful comments about how the Very Senior Black Employees band together. Hmm, that never struck me until now.
posted by Pax at 10:32 AM on August 7, 2008


krautland: "The privileged are never in a position to need learn about their subordinates' views or experiences, so typically, they never do."

that sentence makes me want to groan. that's the man rhetoric. most of the showrunners I worked with and for (as well as I myself, though I consider myself second tier at present) have had to consider others more the further they advanced. suddenly they became responsible for not just their immediate output but hiring, firing and general piece and performance in their whole office.

the only level I know of that doesn't have to concern themselves with others is the level that doesn't have to deal with anyone.


ok, we're talking about different contexts. Yours is your industry, about which I know nothing, so won't presume to contradict your objection to my generalization. The context I'm talking about is social trends in Canada and the US from the late 1800s to the present. In this context, my generalization stands. What was on my mind specifically, was a discussion I had on another board about white privilege, but the same principle is at work in discussions about gender. I mean, most self-identified white people (would you agree that whites generally speaking have better access to greater privileges in our society? or is this something else you're not willing to sign off upon?) have no reason to take an interest in ongoing or historical grievances of, say, Afr-AMericans or First Nations. Those grievances have never affected them personally, so why would they? Perfectly understandable human nature. But:

"Unlike a person of color who has no choice but to see and feel it every day, I actually do have to “go looking for it”; my privilege could otherwise allow me to go through life believing it doesn’t exist. Because I care about being anti-racist, I do go looking, do make an effort to educate myself about patterns of racism I wouldn’t automatically recognize–and to question myself when my kneejerk reaction is, “Oh, come on–I’m supposed to believe that’s racist?”

But because I’m white, I also have the option of not looking any time I don’t feel like it. That’s what privilege is. It’s the option to ignore nasty shit that doesn’t directly affect my own life, my career, my relationships, my bank account, my social standing, my housing situation, etc."

Similarly, if you're uninformed about historical and ongoing forms of nasty shit circumscribing girls/women "that doesn't directly affect [your] own life, [your] career, [your] relationships, [your] bank account," etc, then why are you so sure that the disadvantages and advantages that affect men collectively, and women collectively, balance out? That's the impression I get from reading

I maintain that there are different advantages to being a women in this society as well and that you simply cannot weigh them up against each other without being overly polemic. I am not negating that there are huge injustices for both but the simple assertion that "I have it worse than you" is one I am unwilling to sign off upon.

also, I'm NOT arguing "I have it worse than you". As many have already said, individual men's experiences can indeed be godawful, and individual women's can be pretty darned privileged, and yet the histories and experiences of men as a group and women as a group can be assessed, has in fact been well documented, and not found to have resulted today in a 50-50 balance.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:33 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


One reason we bought a Saturn is that there's no bullshit about negotiating prices. You walk in, there's a price on the car, that's what you pay. No worry about "if I'd played harder to get, they might have knocked another thousand off."
posted by languagehat at 11:39 AM on August 7, 2008


Has it not occurred to you that this is an example of institutionalized sexism?
no, please explain. are you suggesting I should offer someone more out of the kindness of my heart when I can get the result for less? (if so, please confirm you are sober.)

What would it take to convince you that women are not the privileged gender in our society? Earning statistics? The persistence of the "glass ceiling? What?

I didn't say women were the "privileged gender" and I didn't say men were either. read my statement again if you misunderstood that. earning statistics were something I addressed as well and the glass ceiling is something I can see on a personal basis but generally we do have female leaders.

I don't put any weight into career earnings statistics as they leave out so many details on individual members. did a person choose a lesser-paying job or were they paid less on a scale, there are so many other options...

"on average, white men will earn the most, and then white women, and then black men,"
that statement is unequivocally true but your average salaryman identifies himself much more by job status and income than the average comparable female. I don't know why that is and it's debatable if that subjective impression is even correct but I don't see that as only an indicator of outside forces oppressing women.

Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive
says who? what is this, medieval japan? cosmo?

the not supposed logic implies people should throw women an extra bone. that's not my understanding of equality.
posted by krautland at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2008


one more thing on the glass ceiling: getting to the absolute top is incredibly tough. it's impossible by definition for the vast majority but that's true for men and women. glass ceiling is a term I find true in individual cases (and I know one where two board members decided they didn't want the business to be represented by a woman, which came out and resulted in the most massive golden parachute I have ever seen) but when you throw that around as a general problem in our society I'm just repelled. that sounds like a cheap excuse -- a convenient way of not blaming oneself.
posted by krautland at 11:44 AM on August 7, 2008


How am I going to blame myself for the fact that women are not paid as much as men? That women don't make up even half of the top executives in major companies? And on and on and on? What did *I* do to cause that to happen? Be born a woman? Whoops.
posted by agregoli at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2008


Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive

says who? what is this, medieval japan? cosmo?

I believe I've already responded to this exact point, but I'll try again. This is the message our culture tells us every day of our lives. The fact that so many people in this thread see that particular message as bullshit is a big improvement, but at the end of this thread we still live in a world where this is a dominant cultural message.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2008


You have negotiation power only insofar as you are not completely replaceable. The fact that workers can sometimes negotiate higher wages proves without more that some workers are not replaceable.

Not exactly. Workers can sometimes negotiate higher wages usually because they organize, and the employer is threatened with the inconvenience and work interruption of having to replace them all at once. YOu can tolerate some work-flow interruption in normal job changeover, but it's a bear when it's all at once. Really, just about everyone is replaceable.

no, please explain. are you suggesting I should offer someone more out of the kindness of my heart when I can get the result for less? (if so, please confirm you are sober.)

Why are you paying someone more when they or someone equally good would work for less? Because they asked? Where's your business sense? What are you, some kind of pushover?
posted by Miko at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not exactly. Workers can sometimes negotiate higher wages usually because they organize, and the employer is threatened with the inconvenience and work interruption of having to replace them all at once. YOu can tolerate some work-flow interruption in normal job changeover, but it's a bear when it's all at once.

This is a fair point, but I think it pretty much vanishes for the case of employees who have not yet been hired.
posted by grobstein at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2008


You, and I, could be replaced, and ultimately, the bottom line of the companies we work for would not suffer greatly. As much as you don't want to hear it, there are other video editors who could do your job just as well as you. There are people who could do my job just as well as me. It is a mistake to ever think of yourself as indispensable, it only feeds into the idea that we should all be married to the companies we work for.

This is true, but to my mind we're not talking about "can this person ultimately be replaced if they die or go on a kill crazy rampage and must be made redundant?" To my mind we're talking about "is everyone an identical replaceable part so that there's no reason to pay any given job candidate more than another based on the ability he brings to the table?"

Take, for instance, Jessamyn and Cortex. Being a metafilter mod requires a specific set of skills and talents, and though the job is fairly unique they are not skills unique to metafilter. Cortex or Jessamyn could, if absolutely necessary, be replaced. But if you were to ask mathowie what he thought, I strongly believe he'd say that they're both irreplacable. Not because no one else could work with the moderation software, or because no one else could moderate effectively, but simply because they are who they are. They both bring certain characteristics of their own to the job which are theirs alone and which could not be replaced simply because whoever might replace them would not be them. Although metafilter would survive, it would not be the same. This, to my mind, is true of most jobs. There is always room for someone to bring some part of themselves to the job in a beneficial way. This doesn't mean they could become the petty tyrants of their tiny personal kingdoms without risk of losing their job, but it does mean that it's not as simple as swapping a cog out of a machine.

Of course, maybe I'm reframing the debate, here. If you think we're talking about whether anyone can physically be replaced if absolutely necessary, then sure. you're absolutely right on that one.
posted by shmegegge at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2008


Women are not supposed to be pushy or aggressive
says who? what is this, medieval japan? cosmo?


No, it's here, and now. See the examples above -- the EXACT SAME behavior as "assertive men," when demonstrated by women, is interpreted as shrill and undesirable.

This is what we mean when we talk about sexism being pervasive. Not that every instance of sexism is perpetrated by someone who is actively trying keep women barefoot and pregnant and submissive to their husbands, but that sexism is so commonplace that it is absorbed and justified and excused.
posted by desuetude at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2008


It seems like there are a lot of people saying "but what can I do on an individual level" in here.

It's simple: you can speak up, loudly, where you have the chance to. And sometimes you're going to have to make that chance. At my workplace, women are underrepresented in our engineering group. Because I've worked with a lot of very talented female engineers, I know that the problem isn't that they're not out there.

So every so often I have an excruciatingly uncomfortable conversation with my management chain about why we tend not to have female engineers, and what we can do about this. Am I making a concrete difference? Who the hell knows? What I do know is that I've put the issue on the radar as something that's important to me, that I'm not dropping the issue, and that hopefully we'll do something about it.

Do I enjoy it? Christ, no. I hate it. Which is one of the reasons I do it, because the only way to get comfortable with calling out either institutions or individuals is to do it. The same skillset comes into play as the one you need to use when someone starts telling a racist joke: you confront the issue, and you take your chances, because the longer we all wait around for someone else to take on an issue, the greater the chances nobody will.

It's not easy to confront ignorance. It's especially not easy to confront it when you live in a society that's basically telling all of us 24x7 that there's no point in trying to change anything because our voices don't really matter. But the fundamental fact is that change only ever comes when enough people stand up for a principle, one by one, that it accidentally becomes a movement.

I'm not advocating being a contrarian to be a contrarian. God knows, nobody likes that one guy who is conspicuously convinced of his own magnificence and pointing out how everyone else is wrong all the time. But if you see inequity, speak up. That's one way you can make a difference, every single day. If you see someone being treated unfairly, say so. If you see a problem, open your mouth. "Doing the right thing" isn't some epic moment where the heavens part and you have a total conviction that this is the morally pure thing to do. In fact, it's almost never like that. Doing the right thing is more often you making a small choice, and one where you have no idea whether it's going to have larger ramifications. You just make the choice because you believe it's the right one, and you agonize over it later, and then maybe a few years down the line you realize "oh, hey, that was one of those lifechanging thingies".

But you're not going to get anywhere if you never act, and your thoughts never get out of your head.
posted by scrump at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


he'd say that they're both irreplacable.he'd say that they're both irreplacable.

Of course he would, and in a lot of cases hiring and retention decisions are sort of emotionally colored in that way. The truth is that mathowie might not want to replace them (and I definitely don't want them replaced!) - yet (all due respect and appreciation) they are replaceale. They do their jobs with a certain individual flair, they have penty of experience and great judgement, and they do their jobs efficiently and with little need for micromanagement or ongoing training. So fabulous! And that may well be worth more money, based on merit, which they've demonstrated.

But as far as the job function? Others have the necessary skills. If one of them decided that their life had changed, they had a new important project demanding their time, and it was time to move on, then it's likely that someone would replace them. And that person would do the job with a different flair and probably more oversight and more mistakes for a while, but they'd fulfill the function.

Mathowie's funtion? Much harder to fill, as owner/operator.

But I think this is an important lesson I've learned over my career: never believe you aren't replaceable. It might be more work for someone to manage you, but there are times when it's worth it, or necessary. Few jobs are so uniquely matched to the person filling the job that there can no longer be the job when the person leaves. Any long career includes times when you're a newbie learning the ropes at a new place and times when you're the seasoned veteran who's halfway mentally checked out. Any career as a supervisor involves times of intense supervision and times when your team runs smoothly without much intervention. But when you have a job needing doing and apprpriate money to pay, you can usually find someone to fill it.

Note that I'm not against paying people more if they're more experienced, talented, or skilled. What I'm against is paying people more just because they asked for it - especially when they might not even be equivalent in experience, talent, or skill.
posted by Miko at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2008


Actually, we had a small remote-detonated explosive implanted in Matt's brain a while back, so we're pretty much set for life.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2008


ixnay on the ainbombbray, ippie, hey?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, there's irreplaceable and then there is a person who comes out on the better end of a cost-benefit analysis when their employer asks herself "What would cost more? Replacing this person (advertising, training, etc.) or just giving them the 5% raise they are asking for?" Yes anyone is replaceable, but some employees are worth more to their employer than their current wage and some applicants are worth more than the advertised salary. Negotiation is not just asking for more money, it is knowing when you are worth more than you are being paid and then asking for that and explaining why you deserve it.
posted by ND¢ at 12:29 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I think this is an important lesson I've learned over my career: never believe you aren't replaceable.

and it's an important one. but another lesson that other people need to learn (people for whom the lesson you're talking about is certainly not an issue) is not to undervalue themselves. Employers may want to pay people what their worth, but they all ALSO want to cut down on overhead where they can to maximize their profits (unless they operate in a non-profit as you do, obviously.) and part of how that can be done is to lowball salary offers. This will always be true, even if salary negotiation is made against the law. The reason negotiation exists is not so they can give someone more money just because they asked for it. It exists so that employers, no matter how well meaning they may be, can pay people less than they're worth if they don't negotiate. As has been said, this clearly has the side effect of costing women who don't feel comfortable aggressively negotiating money they could be earning. I appreciate that you guys have explained why that results in unequal pay between genders, so thanks for that. What I don't see is that eliminating salary negotiations solves the problem. I don't know what NGO you work for, and you don't need to tell me, but if it's anything like what experience i've had with small NGOs (I have no experience with large ones) chances are you're paying an overworked staff too little, and you have precious little choice in the matter. But as I said earlier, that doesn't apply across the board, and the attitude of "everyone's a replacable part, so fuck negotiations" doesn't work most places outside of minimum wage retail.
posted by shmegegge at 12:29 PM on August 7, 2008


the attitude of "everyone's a replacable part, so fuck negotiations"

That's not my attitude. My attitude in hiring is not to play a negotiation game; we have a set starting salary. My attitude in ongoing employment is to have a regular review and merit increase process, and to undertake the responsibility as a principled manager not to tolerate unequal pay conditions on my staff.
posted by Miko at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2008


This discussion reminds me . . .

Dear Matt, Jessamyn, Cortex, PB and that other dude,

I feel like my contributions to Metafilter currently outweigh the compensation I receive from the site. I believe that my comments, insight and general joie de vivre add a great deal to the appeal of the site, and bring in many new viewers and advertisers. Based on this, I would like to request a 5% increase in the number of favorites I currently receive. I understand if this may take awhile to go into effect, or if it is simply not possible. I should note; however, that Fark has been making overtures indicating that they may wish me to join their website, and that the compensation may be greater were I to do so than I currently receive here. I of course would hate to leave a website that has become like a home to me, but I have to do what is best for myself and my family. I hope that you will consider my request and get back to me when you get a chance. Thank you.

ND¢
posted by ND¢ at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's not my attitude. My attitude in hiring is not to play a negotiation game; we have a set starting salary. My attitude in ongoing employment is to have a regular review and merit increase process, and to undertake the responsibility as a principled manager not to tolerate unequal pay conditions on my staff.

Ok. I guess I got the wrong impression. Honestly, when you said this:
When I hire, if someone gives me trouble about the set flat starting wage in the interview, I don't hire them. I don't want them; I set the budget and wages, and that's the deal. If you don't want to work here, that's mutual; I don't want you here with an inflated sense of self-importance or need for external approval and possibly resulting bad attitude. In almost every workplace, everyone is replaceable.
I guess I took that to have that "fuck negotiations" attitude I used to paraphrase you. Sorry if I'm mischaracterizing you.

Now, when you say "and to undertake the responsibility as a principled manager not to tolerate unqueal pay conditions on my staff," that sounds to me like a condemnation of the idea of salary negotiations. Am I misreading you? It sounds to me like you believe that any time someone negotiates for a higher salary, the result is an unequal pay condition. What a lot of people here are saying, though, is that if someone is doing a better job, it's not unequal to pay them more for it, and that it's pretty unfair to force someone with better skills and more experience to make the same as a fresh faced newbie.
posted by shmegegge at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2008


additionally, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not criticizing your hiring practices. whatever works for you, works for you and more power to you. I do, however, feel compelled to ask you again: is your basic point that what works for you should work for everyone else?
posted by shmegegge at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me like you believe that any time someone negotiates for a higher salary, the result is an unequal pay condition.

I don't see much of a place for negotiation within my organizations. We have COLA increases, which everyone gets, and we have merit increases with review, which you get on a schedule.

What a lot of people here are saying, though, is that if someone is doing a better job, it's not unequal to pay them more for it, and that it's pretty unfair to force someone with better skills and more experience to make the same as a fresh faced newbie.

Absolutely, and that's true. But I think that it's very important to codify the means by which you pay the better people more, and that is the essence of fair wages in the workplace. Using a merit system - set it up however you want - works to do this. It's public, it applies equally to everyone, and it has a mechanism for regular review and increase. It generates a document, where the reasons for the positive review go on record. If it's a negative review, the reasons for the negative review go on record, and no increase. The pay isn't an identical amount, but the access to the pay is equal, depending on whether you're doing the job to the criteria that get you a good review. Whatever the outcome of the review, there is a demonstrated reason why the outcome happened, and everyone is offered the same chance to get the maximum increases for the job description.

In reality, sometimes you create a new position for a specific person and you develop the position with them - and you negotiate the starting wage with them. But that hasn't happened to me very much. And if I went and interviewed for an exec position, I'd negotiate my starting wage because I know it's flexible, but also on the table would be vacation time, an executive discretionary fund, and other nonsalary privileges. But we generally follow a government-job model beyond that: every position has its established salary range, and motion within the range is governed by performance-based standards. It's not perfect but it's fair. When someone comes to me and says "I need a raise or I have to leave," I regrettably have to say "you're not eligible for a review until May and then your raise would be X much; I'm afraid I can't do anything about salary until then." Quite often you can do other things they see as just as good - make schedule changes, for instance - but always something out in the open. "Why does Nicole get to go home at 4:00?" "She has to pick up her kids, so she comes in at 8:00. Let me know if you need a similar adjustment."

is your basic point that what works for you should work for everyone else?

Um, that's a reach...I don't know the conditions of every field and I certainly have no power to dictate how things Should Be. But I don't see much widespread need for salary negotiations. We've seen some arguments here that they make workplaces more competitive for talent, or workers more motivated. But is there any evidence that allowing salary negotiation results in better company performance overall? I'm not sure it's anything other than a tradition, a cultural holdover from the time of precash economies when prices and wages weren't relative to any standards and preindustrial conditions when there weren't enormous numbers of people all being hired for the same job descriptions in the same types of institutions.

All I would hope would be for people to realize that salary is frequently a point of gender disparity and have some way to manage the fairness of it.
posted by Miko at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2008


If employer #1 wants to pay $10 an hour to someone to make widgets and says "Take it or leave it" no matter what applicants counteroffer with, but employer #2 wants to pay $10 an hour to someone to make widgets, but if someone walks in the door, male or female, and has ten years of widget-making experience and a degree is widgetology and says "I believe that my education and experience warrant being paid $12.50 an hour" and employer #2 is willing to pay him or her $12.50 an hour in recognition of that education and experience, then employer #2 is going to be a better place to work and therefore hire better employees and perform better than employer #1. It is a better place to work because it is willing to find the area where its interest and its potential employee's interest intersect. If you just say $10 an hour take it or leave it, then you are unwilling to pay those whose education and experience make their labor worth $12.50 an hour what they are worth. If you are unwilling to pay an employee what his labor is worth then you are not going to get quality employees and your competitor who is willing to do so is going to be a better place to work and therefore hire better employees and therefore outperform you.

But those aren't the only options! What about employer #3 who pays people without much education or experience $10, and people with ten years of widget-making experience and a degree in widgetology $12.50? What about job descriptions and salary scales? What about paying people based on their qualifications and skills, rather than their willingness and ability to negotiate? Yeah, you might end up overpaying people (especially but not only women) who deserve $X but were willing to take less, but you might also save money on people (especially but not only men) who only deserve $X and would be willing to take $X but who will haggle and bluff their way into more if given a chance to negotiate.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2008


I'm not sure it's anything other than a tradition, a cultural holdover from the time of precash economies when prices and wages weren't relative to any standards and preindustrial conditions when there weren't enormous numbers of people all being hired for the same job descriptions in the same types of institutions.

that's certainly possible. As i've said here and elsewhere I have virtually no decent understanding of economics. For what it's worth, though, I'm inclined to see salary negotiations as more of a naturally occuring process: the result of an Employer wanting to save money and an Employee wanting to make more of it, and a willingness on both parties to talk about it, even if nothing is done. But honestly, you can fit what I know about the history of salaries and economics inside a very small thimble that has shrunk in the wash.

All I would hope would be for people to realize that salary is frequently a point of gender disparity and have some way to manage the fairness of it.

a point I think is well made and worth repeating.
posted by shmegegge at 1:27 PM on August 7, 2008


And just to highlight some of the research hydropsyche mentioned, and the fact that it's not only that women are more likely to dislike and be less skilled at negotiating but also that it may be a rational response to a lose-lose situation:

A few years ago, research by Carnegie Mellon University economics professor Linda Babcock grabbed headlines when her findings showed that women tend to accept whatever salary is offered, without questions. Based on this, Babcock wrote a book, "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide" with Sara Laschever, an educator and Massachusetts-based author, that was published in 2003 by Princeton University Press.

A subsequent study, recently completed and with the working title "It Depends Who is Asking," revealed that should a female candidate negotiate for a higher salary before a job offer is formally extended, it's likely she won't be hired. But that doesn't hold for male counterparts -- haggling to up the ante has no impact on hiring, Babcock found.

posted by EmilyClimbs at 1:41 PM on August 7, 2008


Based on this, I would like to request a 5% increase in the number of favorites I currently receive.

Mr. D¢,—can I call you N? N, I'm glad you came by my office. The answer is no, by the way, but I had been meaning to call you in anyway to discuss some concerns I have about your use of mefimail during the workday. Specifically your use of it to send crude ascii drawings of what has been described, in the complaints HR has relayed to me—there have been a number of complaints, N—as "apparently breasts or something?", "a poop monster", and "kirby with a very large penis that is also a sword".

Now, we all like a good sword-penis-videogame email now and then, but this is looking like a recurring problem, and one that I can't just flag and move on from. In addition to which, your name has for the third week running appeared near the top of the Noise Flag report, something that we've talked about previously and which I'd hoped you were making a real effort to avoid. Now I see that I may have been overly hopeful.

I'm afraid you've left us no choice but to suspend your favorite privileges indefinitely, until such time as you can demonstrate your ability to engage in responsible and productive metafiltering. You have thirty days to turn this thing around, N, or it's off to Fark indeed, whether you like it or not.

And for the record? That was Mr. Curtis on the phone with when you walked in; he's seen your resume, and he appreciated the laugh.

Now get back to work. And if you see mediocre standing around, tell him to punch his dick in here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:43 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


But that doesn't hold for male counterparts -- haggling to up the ante has no impact on hiring, Babcock found.

Wish I'd known that once upon a time. In all seriousness I'm precisely the kind of person who never haggles for fear that it will result in me not being hired.
posted by shmegegge at 1:45 PM on August 7, 2008


The discussion about salary negotiations is very interesting to me, because the glaring issue I see with flat, non-negotiation compensation discussions is that it assumes good faith on the part of the employer.

I can't speak to nonprofits or, really, any sector outside my own, but it's an article of faith within the internet industry, and particularly within the startup sector of the internet industry, that the employer is always, always trying to cut cash costs, and will therefore always attempt to lowball you. But even that's at one remove from the real message, which in recent years has become
Your skills are a commodity, and your negotiation with an employer is a business transaction in which you are selling your skills to a purchaser.
It's basically assumed that the potential employer is going to look out for their own best interests to the exclusion of all other considerations, up to and including your compensation and general happiness, so you are effectively acting as your own agent, and negotiating as hard as you can for as much as you can, because nobody else is looking out for your interests.

It seems to me that having a compensation discussion with Miko would require a level of trust in her that's just inconceivable in my industry: that she was acting in good faith. Unfortunately, in this industry, at least, assuming good faith on the part of your employer is viewed in much the same way as believing in unicorns.
posted by scrump at 1:45 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess the culture in my field is that you just generally assume your boss isn't screwing you too hard. No one's getting insanely rich in NPFs, and the budget is a matter of public record, so you can see everything anyway. In that situation, where secrecy is at a minimum, it doesn't pay to have glaring inequities. I see the reality of the dynamic you mean, scrump. I think it's at least as important for women to get better at self-advocating, and for people to learn to receive that better, as for companies to get more fair. There's a lot of ground in the middle that both ends could move toward.
posted by Miko at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2008


THAT WAS KIRBY WITH BOXING GLOVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Q('.'O)
posted by ND¢ at 2:01 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have the email right here. So don't (Q^_^)8====D==> on my leg and tell me it's (Q'.')Oing, buddy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


The discussion about salary negotiations is very interesting to me, because the glaring issue I see with flat, non-negotiation compensation discussions is that it assumes good faith on the part of the employer... It's basically assumed that the potential employer is going to look out for their own best interests to the exclusion of all other considerations, up to and including your compensation and general happiness, so you are effectively acting as your own agent, and negotiating as hard as you can for as much as you can, because nobody else is looking out for your interests.

Well, of course, the fix for this problem (at least for non-management employees) is to organize a union and collectively negotiate the salary scales and job descriptions... then employees are all looking out for eachothers' interests, getting as much as they can together (probably better than they can get alone), counteracting the employer's tendency to be as cheap as he can possibly get away with, but people still end up being compensated based on fair objective criteria rather than whether they think negotiating is like playing sports (most men) or if they think it's like going to the dentist (most women.)

(Even if you can't/don't organize a union, though, it seems like other forms of collective action-- even if it's just a bunch of people sitting down together with the boss and saying "We all think that this standard pay scale we have is too low"-- could work somewhat similarly.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:16 PM on August 7, 2008


It's basically assumed that the potential employer is going to look out for their own best interests to the exclusion of all other considerations, up to and including your compensation and general happiness, so you are effectively acting as your own agent, and negotiating as hard as you can for as much as you can, because nobody else is looking out for your interests.

Yes, exactly. And as someone who has been in the legal profession, with an internet startup (me too, scrump) and now in sales, I would also add that one's negotiating skills are crucial to being successful. I think my (female) boss would be surprised if I didn't try and negotiate my salary.

I would go even further and say that life itself is a negotiation, from what the plumber's going to charge you to what you pay for the HDTV at the big box store to getting my four year old to the dinner table ("Yes, you can watch Spiderman, again").

If it's a skill that women don't have, or women are treated differently than men because of it, those are problems that should be dealt with. But the answer is not to eliminate negotation.

For what it's worth, the majority of people that I deal with in the Trade Show industry are women and most of them seem to have no problem at all in negotiating with me (Clearly not about salary, but the skill set is there.)
posted by cjets at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, the majority of people that I deal with in the Trade Show industry are women and most of them seem to have no problem at all in negotiating with me (Clearly not about salary, but the skill set is there.)

Of course most women know how to negotiate. It's a required skill in certain parts of even the most regressive society. But even in our supposedly progressive society, when it comes to salary most women "choose" not to negotiate, which is to say they feel forced into not negotiating both because of the perception of women who negotiate and because of the likely net detriment of negotiating a salary (i.e., not getting the job).
posted by hydropsyche at 3:39 PM on August 7, 2008


I'm not advocating being a contrarian to be a contrarian. God knows, nobody likes that one guy who is conspicuously convinced of his own magnificence and pointing out how everyone else is wrong all the time. But if you see inequity, speak up. That's one way you can make a difference, every single day. If you see someone being treated unfairly, say so. If you see a problem, open your mouth. "Doing the right thing" isn't some epic moment where the heavens part and you have a total conviction that this is the morally pure thing to do. In fact, it's almost never like that. Doing the right thing is more often you making a small choice, and one where you have no idea whether it's going to have larger ramifications. You just make the choice because you believe it's the right one, and you agonize over it later, and then maybe a few years down the line you realize "oh, hey, that was one of those lifechanging thingies".

I'm repeating this because scrump is totally my new hero for saying it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:50 PM on August 7, 2008

I guess the culture in my field is that you just generally assume your boss isn't screwing you too hard. No one's getting insanely rich in NPFs, and the budget is a matter of public record, so you can see everything anyway.
At my own considerable peril, I wonder if this is an example of the negotiations fitting the industry: perhaps there's more of a "we're all in this together" attitude in NPFs than the fundamentally antagonistic "I'm going to get mine and you're going to get yours" attitude of the for-profit world.
posted by scrump at 3:55 PM on August 7, 2008


I'd just like to say that I hate men and boys.
posted by jewzilla at 4:23 PM on August 7, 2008


The idea of every man who likes kids as predator paedophile is odious and ridiculous, and women, especially, could try to bring that back to some sort of sane level.

This is very unfortunate, and makes me very sad. I doubt it can be countered, though, simply because our society is so deeply steeped in every kind of fear.

Aside from that really horrid example, there are all sorts of expectations and limitations imposed on men... but most of those are really coming from other men, it seems to me.

...which are also things that women have always been and continue to be victim to.


No question. I don't think (most) guys are looking for special snowflake status, here. The important thing to remember is that guys are not a pack, nor usually a "side". There are plenty of artificial divisions that men will seize on to discriminate amongst themselves, from race and class to compliance with gender norms. So to discount male-directed violence, say, from other males, in policy considerations, can have dire consequences. Particular example: the "safe stop" public transit program, where women (and I think the elderly) can request an irregular stop at late hours to facilitate their safe journey home. Excellent idea. However, street violence is disproportionately directed at males. From other males? Well, yes. But that doesn't exactly help you out, if you're the sort to be singled out for whatever reason, for example -- a personal one that springs to mind -- being racially out of character for your neighbourhood. Asking that consideration of factors which weigh against men -- even if male-caused, and regardless of whether they weigh against women as well -- be taken into consideration is not some kind of attack on protections for women. It is recognizing that men do not occupy a "side" from which they launch attacks at the opposite sex while standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. Likewise, am I expecting women to take up that fight on our behalf? Uh, no. I expect you not to argue that the numbers (say in this case, of street violence against males) shouldn't matter because women are the "real" victims here. They definitely comprise part of the vulnerable group in question, and the service should certainly exist for them, but the vulnerable group shouldn't be determined by stereotypes, which is exactly what happened here. Yet as I mentioned earlier in this thread (a hundred comments ago?!), to suggest that men -- some men, any men -- are in some situations "victims" (I feel I need to include the quotes even though a victim of violence is surely an appropriate use of the term) sets some women ablaze, like their special snowflake status is being taken away. Well no it isn't. Things just aren't always black and white, is all.

I don't have much to say about income negotations, except that it's a widely observed fact of my workplace that our (female) director is ruthless when it comes to HR, and no one, male or female, that doesn't fight tooth and nail for a pay increase or promotion gets it. Ever. It's probably why she's the boss.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:30 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, there's a petition circulating on that particular issue, so I know I'm not the only one to have that concern.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:37 PM on August 7, 2008


Ugh. Not a petition about the pay/promotion issue. The bus thing. Long day.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:58 PM on August 7, 2008


This is very unfortunate, and makes me very sad. I doubt it can be countered, though, simply because our society is so deeply steeped in every kind of fear.

I think it can be countered, using just the same technique scrump said. Say something! Since I work in history, when this topic comes up ("things are so dangerous for kids nowadays") I try to point out that they were actually more dangerous in previous generations. Child molestation and abduction aren't new; what's new is the amount of out-in-the-open information we have about it. We know it happens now. We can take sensible precautions. I don't like to see us overprotecting kids or assuming the worst of men who genuinely enjoy children or want to work with them. We have great ways to take all reasonable precautions, and great ways to help our kids learn to protect themselves, even somewhat creepy ways to gauge risk (like the fact that every sex offender who lives in my town has a photo posted at the police station). In terms of kid safety and response to any incident, we're better off than at any time in history.

There's legitimate concern and then there's hysteria; we can refuse the hysteria and demonstrate a different way to react.
posted by Miko at 6:04 PM on August 7, 2008


Kirjava: But for the one essay on women, an alternate topic is also offered for students who would prefer not to write on the subject. . . . perhaps sometimes even a little bit of academic focus on women can seem too much for those who aren't used to it.

Yes, that's exactly it. Thanks for contributing this. It doesn't surprise me, and yet every time I read or hear about these things, I'm still taken aback by how many people including some academics (who supposedly know better) continue to enable the myth that "discrimination's over! Why should I have to learn about [insert name of subordinate group here]?"

I looked for that article online, again. Didn't find it (if I ever do, I'll MeMail the citation and money quotes to those of you who've expressed interest), but found this:

Despite the fact that (with the exception of the gender and education course) the foundations courses have less than 15% of their content focused explicitly on gender issues, when asked what could improve the courses, students state, often vehemently, that what is needed is less content dealing with such issues:

Less time spent on gender issues.

Less feminist points of view!!
by Titus, Jordan J., "Engaging Student Resistance to Feminism: `how is this stuff going to make us better teachers?'" Gender & Education, Mar2000, Vol. 12, Issue 1

and several articles about college students displaying the same kinds of disproportionate objections to woman-centred topics, that Unicorn on the cob talked about.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the message our culture tells us every day of our lives.

let me be more clear in my reply then: the culture is men and women, not just one gender and if you listen to what they say over yourself you have nobody else to blame but yourself for your actions of lack thereof. you're a human being, not a lemming.

Why are you paying someone more when they or someone equally good would work for less?
not what I said at all. person one accepted the initial offer, person two did not. person two did not want to work for that pay and negotiated. I wanted to keep person two more than the salary increase hurt. basic negotiation.

the EXACT SAME behavior as "assertive men," when demonstrated by women, is interpreted as shrill and undesirable.
bullshit. it's not the exact same. a lot depends on how you do things.
posted by krautland at 11:27 PM on August 7, 2008


Let me be more clear in my reply then: the culture is men and women, not just one gender and if you listen to what they say over yourself you have nobody else to blame but yourself for your actions of lack thereof. you're a human being, not a lemming.

So, at what age does this kind of total self-possession commence? Because I, and many others, can paint a pretty convincing picture of institutional and individual sexism negatively affecting my development as a child. Children don't know what their choices are. They are told, they are cued, by the culture at large. That time lost being sorted into blue and pink bins limits us all to an extent.

This is not a pure meritocracy. It's a cooperative, pan-gendered venture. Please stop insisting that we are only the sum of our own choices.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:37 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I blame the second law of thermodynamics.
posted by minifigs at 12:57 AM on August 8, 2008


Ambrosia Voyeur: you have never questioned the status quo, challenged authority, made a decision contrary what was commonly accepted as 'good' - if such a thing really still exists in a society as fractured into tiny groups with different ideas of morality as this?
posted by krautland at 2:17 AM on August 8, 2008


the EXACT SAME behavior as "assertive men," when demonstrated by women, is interpreted as shrill and undesirable.
bullshit. it's not the exact same. a lot depends on how you do things.


Ohhh, right. How you "do"..."things." Good example. Of bullshit.
posted by desuetude at 6:10 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread has had me thinking a lot about The Invisible Backpack of privilege. (And hey! It's even been discussed in AskMe!)

It's helped me a lot in thinking about situations of race/gender/class/etc to think of things in this way - that privilege exists and no one ever ASKS for it, it's just there. And yes, men as individuals can be discriminated against and men as a group can be marginalized, but the fact remains that the simple act of being male is privileged in our society. Men need to be aware that they have this privilege whether they like it or not.

Likewise, everyone who would like to work for equality needs to remember their own privileges when interacting in the world. And everyone has some. NO ONE is entirely marginalized, and likewise, nearly no one is entirely privileged. Everyone has some privilege - which they need to recognize - and everyone is lacking some privileges.

In theory, white upper middle class college educated heterosexual married Protestant men are the MOST privileged, but actual indivduals who fit this specific mold are few and far between.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:42 AM on August 8, 2008


Wouldn't white upper class college educated heterosexual married Protestant men be more privileged than white upper middle class college educated heterosexual married Protestant men?
posted by ND¢ at 8:07 AM on August 8, 2008


*pulls out a "nuts and gum" mixture, starts chomping*
posted by ND¢ at 8:10 AM on August 8, 2008


the EXACT SAME behavior as "assertive men," when demonstrated by women, is interpreted as shrill and undesirable.

bullshit. it's not the exact same. a lot depends on how you do things.


So is what you're saying that when men negotiate, it just so happens that they tend to do it in a pleasant way, and when women negotiate it just so happens that they do it in an unpleasant way, and so it makes perfect sense to think less of women for it? And our perceptions and evaluations of them have nothing at all to do with the way we're all socialized to view men and women?

So you must have some other explanation for why researchers found that women were rated more poorly for negotiating, in ratings based on identical resumes and written interview notes as well as ratings based on taped interviews performed by trained actors that were designed to be identical:

Four experiments show that gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations may be explained by differential treatment of men and women when they attempt to negotiate. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants evaluated written accounts of candidates who did or did not initiate negotiations for higher compensation. Evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations. In Experiment 3, participants evaluated videotapes of candidates who accepted compensation offers or initiated negotiations. Male evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations; female evaluators penalized all candidates for initiating negotiations. Perceptions of niceness and demandingness explained resistance to female negotiators. In Experiment 4, participants adopted the candidate’s perspective and assessed whether to initiate negotiations in same scenario used in Experiment 3. With male evaluators, women were less inclined than men to negotiate, and nervousness explained this effect. There was no gender difference when evaluator was female.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:21 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread has had me thinking a lot about The Invisible Backpack

Curious, has a male ever outlined this from the dominant position i.e. the male invisible backpack? A quick Google search didn't bring up anything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on August 8, 2008


Never mind, found one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2008


In theory, white upper middle class college educated heterosexual married Protestant men are the MOST privileged, but actual individuals who fit this specific mold are few and far between.

Well, this individual isn't exactly a rare bird, especially in affluent suburbs of any major urban area.

posted by desuetude at 8:33 AM on August 8, 2008


In theory, white upper middle class college educated heterosexual married Protestant men are the MOST privileged, but actual individuals who fit this specific mold are few and far between.

Well, this individual isn't exactly a rare bird, especially in affluent suburbs of any major urban area.


Are they all able-bodied? Neither under or overweight? Have they all always enjoyed the privilege of being in a higher class?

I suppose I over-stated the point that those who carry the most privilege are not the majority of the population, but my point was simply that the people who are privileged in ALL aspects of their life are far outnumbered by the people who lack at least *some* privilege.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:42 AM on August 8, 2008


the culture is men and women, not just one gender and if you listen to what they say over yourself you have nobody else to blame but yourself for your actions of lack thereof. you're a human being, not a lemming.

While there's something to be said for recognizing that sexist pressures come from both men and women and affect both men and women, there's also a fair amount of blaming the victim in this statement. As AV already pointed out, these societal pressures come to affect us as soon as we begin being able to identify language and imagery. It is not possible to completely distance one's self from all indoctrination since we begin being impresse by it at an age where our autonomy is not yet developed.

To add to AV's point, though, it's also unreasonable to assume that reasonable and mentally developed adults are even capable of elminating all outside societal pressure from their self image. We're raised to accept these messages and images as important, and to value ourselves based on what others think of us. Are we powerless to resist this influence? No, of course not. Will some measure of it still creep into our psyches? Yes, of course it will. The fact is that even your "you have no one to blame but yourself" self-determination idea was given to you by a society that says that, as a man, you are nothing if not self-reliant and that your value as a man begins and ends with your ability to get what you want for yourself.

The truth is that these "you're not a lemming" declarations, while not totally false, are too simple and narrow. The world is just more nuanced than that. I can admire the sentiment, but it's unfair to the people you're addressing.
posted by shmegegge at 8:52 AM on August 8, 2008


Ambrosia Voyeur: you have never questioned the status quo, challenged authority, made a decision contrary what was commonly accepted as 'good' - if such a thing really still exists in a society as fractured into tiny groups with different ideas of morality as this?

Ermm, sure I have. Often. This shouldn't be an examination of me, though. I'm a loner, krauty. A rebel.

What do my successes have to do with fundamental disadvantages to the development of the individual that sexism and heavily-handed binary gendering contribute to our society? Because change is possible, there's no problem in the first place? Balderdash.

Let me try and make this clearer, and trot out my innocuous example.

Adult me loves science fiction. I like the fictionalized exploration of ontologies: what it is to be human, what technology means to humanity, what the nature of consciousness and memory are. Child me was very bright, often called "weird" by my peers, a challenge to my teachers and parents. So, who's responsible for the fact that I had 42 Barbies I didn't really care about, and dolls I never mothered, and My Little Ponies, and no robots, spaceships, transformers, green grody aliens, etc? Was it me, trying to just figure out how to be good? The television commercials, clearly showing good little girls enjoying Barbie? The adults in my life who never sleuthed into my interests more deeply?

It doesn't matter. Our choices are heavily gendered, and as any queer or genderqueer person can attest, these models more often than not stifle and retard our achievement. We fight back, but we have handicaps, baggage. I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to be a respectable SF nerd, because I spent Saturday mornings keeping my dolls nice, and not playing with toys that encouraged scientific inquiry and ontological imagination. My toys encouraged fashion sense and feminine role-play.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:08 AM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


the culture is men and women, not just one gender and if you listen to what they say over yourself you have nobody else to blame but yourself for your actions of lack thereof. you're a human being, not a lemming. . . . you have never questioned the status quo, challenged authority [?]

"I once had a student write an exam on inequality in the workplace in which she correctly cited all the appropriate theories and data and then concluded by stating that things really couldn't be as bad as the course readings and discussion indicated. This type of reaction on the part of students is not uncommon and indicates a need to deny the reality of women's condition in order to maintain a belief in an individual ability to overcome such conditions."
from Turkel, Kathleen Doherty, "Teaching about Women to Male-Identified Students,"
Teaching Sociology, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul., 1986), pp. 188-190

I quote this not due to blind worship of anything someone with a PhD publishes, but because it's part of a ton of research from the past two to three decades that explains why individual actions are a necessary but not sufficient factor in changing social inequities. You could look this stuff up yourself if you were really interested in the complexity of the forest we all live in (that you're insisting you already know the whole of, based on your knowledge of your local tree patch).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I mean by pointing at 3 decades of research is not "Look, PhDs write this, so STFU about your experiences."

What I mean is, that it's a resource to contextualize and enrich and better ground what any of us already believe.

We've all got our own life experiences. These experiences teach form each individual's beliefs about how the world and life works. Each individual's personal experience is valid.

Each individual's experience cannot encompass all the multifaceted experiences are society offers (or inflicts upon) people depending on the different facets of their identities (as identified by both self, and perceptions of strangers: race, ethnicity, class, wealth, age, height, weight, sexual orientation, physical "attractiveness" generally).

Reading about other peoples' experiences that are far away from our own, gives us more information about other ways the world works, that we may not have had a clue about.

If somebody takes in more information about a topic, it's possible that he or she may change his or her mind, a little or a lot, because the new information sheds light on an angle she or her hadn't previously been aware of. Yes?

That's all I'm suggesting.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:53 AM on August 8, 2008


Ohhh, right. How you "do"..."things." Good example. Of bullshit.
you call bullshit, I call bullshit. hey, we're getting somewhere.

So is what you're saying that when men negotiate, it just so happens that they tend to do it in a pleasant way, and when women negotiate it just so happens that they do it in an unpleasant way

not at all but thanks for putting that into my mouth. what I would say is that there are men who behave in such ways that you end up thinking of them as pricks and men who manage to achieve results without antagonizing the whole office. the same is true for women.

researchers found that women were rated more poorly for negotiating
no, but I have examples for the above stated theory. not that examples from my professional life would mean anything.

The truth is that these "you're not a lemming" declarations, while not totally false, are too simple and narrow. The world is just more nuanced than that
you are correct, the world is more nuanced than that. that's pretty much what I am trying to say the whole time. seems like that sentiment is rather unpopular among certain people though.

Ermm, sure I have. Often. This shouldn't be an examination of me, though. I'm a loner, krauty. A rebel.
hey ambrosia? go on match.com ... yeah, I know but seriously, take a look around. how many profiles can you find within ten minutes in which a person describes themselves as unique, different, special, nonconformist, thinking, not the usual and whatnotelsetheycouldusetoarticulate just what you just did? everyone customizes their starbucks drink and everyone chooses what they do after work. people are individual.

Our choices are heavily gendered
fine, no contest. but let's say you chose to achieve something and fought hard to get it. who are you to say if you did get it that it was tougher than it would have been for a man? isn't that cheapening the result? or if you don't get it - how can you really know why unless someone tells you straight to your face? I accept -and always have- that there are pricks in this world who discriminate, that has happened to me as well, but I maintain that they are the exception and not the rule. I believe that if you want something you have the chance to get it. you may fail, you may succeed and it may depend on gender. but to say that is the main reason in a majority of cases strikes me as utterly wrong.
posted by krautland at 10:33 AM on August 8, 2008


krautland, first you deride my assertion that the playing field isn't level with by asking if I've never stood up to the status quo, then when I assent that I sure have, you deride me for my self-delusion that I'm special. The picture of invdividual agency within society that you're drawing is bleak and non-cooperative, imo. The starbucks line has me laughing out loud though, as I sincerely hope you're not saying, with a straight face, that all people are consumer drones with the same limited choices, yet somehow not lemmings.

If discrimination is the exception and not the rule, why are there more black in prison and why do women earn less? Institutional Racism and Sexism.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:03 AM on August 8, 2008


not that examples from my professional life would mean anything.

No one's saying that they're meaningless, just that they're not representative for the "majority of cases" across society. They're representative for your profession. Besides "this strikes me," what persuades you that your experience is representative for the whole of our society?

(and if your first impulse is to turn the question back on me, I'm persuaded about what constitutes "the majority of cases" by the hours I've spent reading about the history and sociology of Cdn and US women in business, sports, leadership and management, and science and academe generally, all of which also involves seeking out and digesting conventional ie men-focused analyses enroute, to contextualize the "women" stuff properly.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:27 AM on August 8, 2008


what I would say is that there are men who behave in such ways that you end up thinking of them as pricks and men who manage to achieve results without antagonizing the whole office. the same is true for women.

Oh. "Behave in such ways."

This is not much more specific than "do things."

I do not understand the point that you are trying to make.
posted by desuetude at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2008


what I would say is that there are men who behave in such ways that you end up thinking of them as pricks and men who manage to achieve results without antagonizing the whole office. the same is true for women.

Well, yes, I agree with you. I would in fact hazard a guess that pretty much everyone on earth agrees with a broad statement like this. However, how does that back up your calling bullshit on what desuetude said? How does it address the evidence that men and women are often viewed differently when acting in the exact same ways?

[desuetude: the EXACT SAME behavior as "assertive men," when demonstrated by women, is interpreted as shrill and undesirable.

krautland: bullshit. it's not the exact same. a lot depends on how you do things.]
posted by EmilyClimbs at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2008


Just one final comment from me here, which is off-topic at this point. But the initial treatment of the OP in this thread makes me want to consider whether what some of what I have interpreted to be "boyzone" or semi-sexist behavior on this site in the past is really just general misanthropy. Not the gendered stuff like the boob threads or "I'd hit it" jokes, but the personal insults or intended-to-demoralize-jokes made in Metatalk threads against people who complain about the former. Maybe this is just the way people on the Internet treat one another, whether we are posting about misogyny, misandry, or apologizing for our past behavior. I wish it was not like this, but it's something I will try to keep in mind going forward. So thanks for that, SAFMJC.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2008


I was serendipitiously pointed to this essay by a friend, and it fits in well with the discussion being had here: How Not To Be That Guy.

(The general gist of it has to do with male privilege and interacting with women.)

To make it go both ways, it's easy enough to just say "People of genders! Don't be an asshole!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Linked in the "Don't be That Guy" essay, this editorial provides a glimpse at a specific aspect of male privilege: Men Who Explain Things.

(Again, this can go both ways. People of genders! Don't assume that you know more than someone else!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:47 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


from "Men Who Explain Things": the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant

(Not directing this at you, krautland, at all. Just thinking of other exchanges I've had with people who were blindingly, totally, belligerently ignorant about the subject they were pontificating about)

This is brilliant!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:36 PM on August 8, 2008


you deride me for my self-delusion that I'm special
not my intention at all. I was trying to show you that more people think independently than you'd think.

The picture of invdividual agency within society that you're drawing is bleak and non-cooperative, imo.
yes.

that all people are consumer drones with the same limited choices, yet somehow not lemmings.
I wasn't but that's actually not a bad interpretation. we all want a little bit of choice and a little bit of individuality but too few rules and we run scared. I suppose that's the reason for ankle-tattoos.

why are there more black in prison and why do women earn less? Institutional Racism and Sexism.
see, that conclusion to this question is where we differ. I do maintain that's the exception and not institutional. but we're running in circles now.

what persuades you that your experience is representative for the whole of our society?
I made conclusions based on patterns. the claim just doesn't gel with my experiences. look to school segregation in the jim crow era. you could find the policies, you could point your finger at people and it would be understandable that yes, they were the reasons the statistics were the way they were and that needed to be changed. hearing the "because I am a woman" ten times and looking to the people who got blamed and knowing this wasn't true, couldn't be true, had not to be true makes it difficult to blindly accept the claim. it sounds like a fail-safe excuse that's being overused by ten when one has a case.

EmilyClimbs: How does it address the evidence that men and women are often viewed differently when acting in the exact same ways?
I am suggesting that the reputation you acquire depends on your behaviour, not your gender.
posted by krautland at 1:47 AM on August 9, 2008


Amazing. Even when shown evidence to the contrary. Institutional sexism and racism DOES exist. To say otherwise strikes me as something that could be taken as racist or sexist itself - so all those women who didn't get the same advantages as men doing the exact same thing - they were doing something unknown the wrong way (Even if that's true, and it's shown it's not - why would all these people be acting in a way that results in their own oppression? Maybe they were taught/cued to act that way in the first place?) That seems more unlikely than the institutional explanation.
posted by agregoli at 8:58 AM on August 9, 2008


I'm sorry, I'm honestly not trying to come off snotty or anything. I think my brain is beginning to hurt from this discussion. Apologies.
posted by agregoli at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2008


I made conclusions based on patterns. the claim just doesn't gel with my experiences.

Your experiences are representative of the whole spectrum of society's.

Gotcha.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2008


I am suggesting that the reputation you acquire depends on your behaviour, not your gender.

This is true, to a point. However, different genders model different behaviors because that's how we were socialized. Females are encouraged to be passive, males encouraged to be aggressive. Behaviors that don't fit within this model are treated as aberrant - thus giving aggressive females and passive males "negative" reputations whereas the same behaviors exhibited in the other gender appears normal.

Yes, there are plenty of people who are just an asshole - nothing gendered about it. But there are also women who are assertive who are seen to be "bitchy" when the same behaviors in men are tolerated. There are also plenty of passive men who get flak for being "sissies" or "girly-men" when the same behaviors in women are considered normal.

Identity is a very complex construction and we can't help that part of identity formation and the reputations that we aquire through it have a gendered component. It's how we work, as humans. We place value on gender from a *very* young age and it is one of the lenses we use to evaluate behavior.

In a discussion focused on gender issues, claiming that gender plays no part in how you are viewed by others is just flat out not true.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:22 AM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gotcha.
yeah, you're not even trying. or you can't.

Behaviors that don't fit within this model are treated as aberrant
or assets. at least where I live people hire the best, not the average candidate.

I also don't think it's fair to say 'people do this' or 'people are expected to be that' ... we are not just a bunch of moronic lemmings who do as some rulebook tells us to do. we make independent and individual decisions. your argument is "I couldn't xyz because I am a woman and I was programmed not to." I on the other hand say "You are capable of shaping your own luck" while providing the occasional exception for a prick. we all run into them but they are the exception.

But there are also women who are assertive who are seen to be "bitchy" when the same behaviors in men are tolerated.

I agree with the first part of that statement but once again differ with the when the same behaviors in men are tolerated part no matter how often you repeat the exact same statement. it is a gross oversimplification like "newspapers will die" (yes but no, it's just not that simple). I think certain things are unacceptable from women as are certain from men. whether they are the same of different things does not automatically say that one party has it easier or more difficult and trying to make it such an argument is polemic like a politician at a square dance fundraiser. such statements only serve to make people who already agree with them feel better.

There are also plenty of passive men who get flak for being "sissies" or "girly-men" when the same behaviors in women are considered normal.
yes, lumberjacks better not publicly proclaim their affinity for celine dion but there are also tons who don't catch that flak. try libraries, universities, cafes - you might be surprised how many there are. hey, I even know three male classical dancers. last time I checked their friends didn't think of them as girly.

one more? okay, one more: I can't recall the last time I have caught flak for refusing to crush beer mugs over my head while growling rock tunes or watch american football.

did I establish adequately how you're not proving anything with that sentence? that this isn't 1950s Iowa? good.

In a discussion focused on gender issues, claiming that gender plays no part in how you are viewed by others is just flat out not true.
okay, you misunderstood me for the third time, so I'll gladly explain the exact same thing once more: IT IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU MAKE IT OUT TO BE. I keep on saying it exists but is the exception. I don't claim it doesn't exist and I resist you for saying that it's the prime reason.
posted by krautland at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2008


Yet you ignore all attempts to show you research that proves there are institutionalized biases. Your opinion is just that - it's not jiving with real examples of why it's unlikely.
posted by agregoli at 2:56 PM on August 9, 2008


I also don't think it's fair to say 'people do this' or 'people are expected to be that' ... we are not just a bunch of moronic lemmings who do as some rulebook tells us to do.

Actually, from a societal standpoint, we are. If you're looking at gender as it plays out over an entire society - we are no different from a pack of lemmings. If you're trying to argue that we should be focusing on the trees and not the forest, so to speak, then yes, we have free agency. But. As a whole. As a culture - there are rules, there are norms, there are guidelines.

The "rulebooks" of culture tell us how to fit in, how to belong, what is tolerated and what isn't. To argue that there is no gendered bias in our culture, or that there are no expectations for men and women to behave in certain ways, is to completely shut your eyes and yell "LALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" to the messages that pervade our society.

Watch TV. Watch ads for tampons. Watch ads for men's shaving cream. Notice how marketers try to use different tactics to appeal to each gender. This is because on the whole each gender responds to different messages. It's a perpetuating loop - we're trained to respond in different ways, so those behaviors are re-inforced through cultural messages all the time.

Children are socialized from a very young age to respond to cultural cues. How do you think that you learned to eat with a fork (and not, say, chopsticks) or read from left to right or say "bless you" when someone sneezes? You were taught to. You were taught to by your parents and by the culture around you.

This is also how you were taught to dress yourself, use a toilet, and wash your face. Children learn these things. And there ARE rules. Young children especially are obsessed with gender and play out their gender roles in over-the-top fantasies - and sure, there are girls who hate Barbie and boys who hate toy trucks, but on the whole, the reason that children get obsessed with gendered toys is that they are obsessed with creating their own gender identity and respond to the cues given to them by society as to "what it means" to be a boy or "what it means" to be a girl.

Gendered behaviors follow this pattern. Girls see women in their lives, and women in the culture (on TV, on the street, etc) act in certain manners and they observe what behaviors are positively and negatively rewarded. Boys do the same thing with men. Children try to "mirror" the behaviors that they see exhibited by adults around them as it helps them to create their own sense of self. And adults play into this by positively or negatively rewarding each interaction. And that's not to say "oh, you put on lipstick, you get a gold medal!" For a kid, a positive or a negative reward can be as simple as a smiling or questioning facial expression. Over your life, the sum of all of these small interactions adds up to create your experience of your gender. It is directly shaped by the society/culture that you live in.

Over the course of your life, this gender identity that you have constructed plays a part in every interaction you have. No, it is not the be all and end all of all interactions. Of course not. But it does play a part all the time. You can not say that gender is never considered - one of the first things that you notice about someone, probably the first thing that you notice is whether they're a man or a woman. Why is that? Well, because that's your first cue as to how to talk to this person. You may claim that you never do that. That you never respond differently to anyone based on their gender, but on the whole - everyone does.

If you're talking online with someone - do you automatically assign a gender to them? If you find out that your hunch was wrong, do you then alter your opinion of that person to fit their actual gender? Gender plays such a huge part of who we are as people, that I would wager that for most people, they do put a gender to a name and their opinions of what that person says are informed by that gender. I know that I do it, though certainly not consciously.

No, this is not 1950s Iowa and I am not talking about lumberjacks as the epitome of masculinity, but I am talking about the very real fact that gender is an inherent part of our identities as humans and plays a crucial role in our interactions with other humans.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:42 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I asked: what persuades you that your experience is representative for the whole of our society?

You replied: I made conclusions based on patterns. the claim just doesn't gel with my experiences.

What other interpretation of your reply is there, besides Your experiences are representative of the whole spectrum of society's
?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:37 PM on August 9, 2008


Yes, there are plenty of people who are just an asshole - nothing gendered about it. But there are also women who are assertive who are seen to be "bitchy" when the same behaviors in men are tolerated. There are also plenty of passive men who get flak for being "sissies" or "girly-men" when the same behaviors in women are considered normal.

You've described four distinct behaviors. Bitchy is not assertive, and neither is passive effeminate.
posted by gjc at 7:51 PM on August 9, 2008


why are there more black in prison and why do women earn less? Institutional Racism and Sexism.
see, that conclusion to this question is where we differ. I do maintain that's the exception and not institutional.


Please explain how the fact that incarceration rates among people of color are vastly larger than the incarceration rates for whites, even in areas like drug use, which has been shown to be the same across racial groups, is "the exception". What is it the exception to, and how does it being this exception prevent it for being staggering evidence for the existence of institutional racism in this country?
posted by Arturus at 8:23 PM on August 9, 2008


Yes, there are plenty of people who are just an asshole - nothing gendered about it. But there are also women who are assertive who are seen to be "bitchy" when the same behaviors in men are tolerated. There are also plenty of passive men who get flak for being "sissies" or "girly-men" when the same behaviors in women are considered normal.

You've described four distinct behaviors. Bitchy is not assertive, and neither is passive effeminate.


I put in quotes the "perceived" behavior behind the actual behavior. So, to spell it out:
assertive = "bitchy"
passive = "sissy"

I was trying to be concise and not overly descriptive since the point I was trying to make had to do with behaviors being tolerated in one gender and being perceived negatively in the other.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:03 PM on August 9, 2008


okay, you misunderstood me for the third time, so I'll gladly explain the exact same thing once more: IT IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU MAKE IT OUT TO BE. I keep on saying it exists but is the exception.

Disagreeing is not "misunderstanding." Your assertion that this "isn't important" doesn't jibe with a commonly-understood, commonly-experienced circumstance.
posted by desuetude at 11:40 PM on August 9, 2008


okay, you misunderstood me for the third time, so I'll gladly explain the exact same thing once more: IT IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU MAKE IT OUT TO BE.

Yes, it is.

I keep on saying it exists but is the exception.

No, it isn't.

the funny thing about conspiracy theorists is that they will ignore massive amounts of proof dispelling their theories and focus solely on the one little bit that backs them up.

Ditto for people intent on believing that male privilege isn't deeply ingrained in western cultures and isn't something women come up against every. single. day. There is massive evidence of this, but it seems like you just don't want to accept that.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:07 AM on August 10, 2008


you ignore all attempts to show you research that proves there are institutionalized biases.
no, I addressed them all right. they don't deliver enough background for me.

Actually, from a societal standpoint, we are.
fiiiiiiine. we're all victims. nothing we can do. death is imminent.

Watch TV. Watch ads for tampons. Watch ads for men's shaving cream.
ahem... I have made ads for tampons (one... and actually one I am very happy with). very simple proposition in all those ads (and the same across both genders): this will make your life easier.

I am talking about the very real fact that gender is an inherent part of our identities as humans and plays a crucial role in our interactions with other humans.
it's one part among many. not the end to all decision. you're putting way too much emphasis on this.

You've described four distinct behaviors. Bitchy is not assertive, and neither is passive effeminate.
agreed.

this "isn't important"
isn't AS important. we're not just all victims first, all things else second.

There is massive evidence of this, but it seems like you just don't want to accept that.
and vice versa.
posted by krautland at 4:08 AM on August 10, 2008


very simple proposition in all those ads (and the same across both genders): this will make your life easier.
Isn't the point of advertising to make money, yes? And to make money, you have to appeal to someone to get them to part with said money. Unless you're being intentionally obtuse, it should be fairly obvious (and also, see the irritation upthread about the "neanderthal men" trend in commercials) that you want to make your product seem undeniably attractive. That means different things to men and women.

it's one part among many. not the end to all decision. you're putting way too much emphasis on this.
I'm not saying it's the end-all to to decision. I'm saying that it's an important part that shouldn't be overlooked, not that it is the ultimate decider of everything. You're putting words in my mouth.

isn't AS important. we're not just all victims first, all things else second.
I am not talking about anyone being a victim. I'm talking about a societal structure in which we are observed and evaluated by others based on many factors, one of those factors being gender. And gender, as something that is inherent to us and not something that we can consciously change, is an important factor to recognize as our only way of dealing with negative interactions is to change the perception of others - which is a long and arduous process being as it is such an ingrained part of our culture.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2008


That means different things to men and women.
less than you think. a lot less. there are certain things you wouldn't do based on your target audience (which is more complicated than gender) but hey, I only do this day after day. why would you believe me.

I'm saying that it's an important part that shouldn't be overlooked, not that it is the ultimate decider of everything.
fine, we've been saying nearly the same thing for days. wait, remind me .. how many times has it happened to you vs. hasn't happened to you? (substitute you at will as long as you know the person in question personally.) yes, I am really curious.
posted by krautland at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2008


you ignore all attempts to show you research that proves there are institutionalized biases.

no, I addressed them all right. they don't deliver enough background for me.

"Enough" would be...? Twenty studies in this, thirty on that, fifty on this that and the other? The research that's been cited and linked in this discussion are just examples, fractions, of what's publicly available in libraries and online.

But of course, if they don't jive with your experience, then hundreds of links and meticulous documentation wouldn't matter.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


less than you think. a lot less. there are certain things you wouldn't do based on your target audience (which is more complicated than gender) but hey, I only do this day after day. why would you believe me.

I've only taken classes in Gender Development and worked within the queer community as a trans-gendered ally, taken workshops with Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg and lived my whole life as a woman in a society that privileges men, so why would you believe me that I know that gender DOES play a very crucial part in every day interactions?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older ?   |   Why wasn't the Timecube theory of finance question... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments