Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Transcript of "Hi, Danielle, nice to make your acquaintance..."

Hi, everyone, and hello Danielle Paradis. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for responding to Eric Duckman's challenge to debate him and myself as far as the question of whether feminism is hate. You seem like a really nice person, you seem really sincere and well-meaning, and I don't want you to think of this as a personal attack on you, because frankly, you just seem very nice.

But, there are a few things.

First, you open your video with the quote that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts, and then you went on to say that you would, as a feminist, add "or her" to that quote. I agree. One of the reasons I do is that the primary architects of feminist theory--things like The Patriarchy, Rape Culture and the Patriarchal Terrorism Paradigm of family violence--those architects were primarily women, and they seemed to feel entitled to their own facts, or to something I'll call "selective facts". Given that, adding "or her"? That's a really good idea.

I would also agree with your assertion that a person would be hard-pressed to find any feminist who does not believe that women "have historically gotten the short end of the stick", that is, that women were historically uniformly oppressed by their gender, and men historically uniformly privileged relative to them.

So that's two things we can agree on, right off the bat. I don't think there's going to be a whole lot more that we're going to agree on, but at least there's that.

Now, I wasn't really surprised at how brief your video was. I mean, all it contained was typical feminist talking points framed as axiomatic, self-evident truths, the veracity of which you seem to feel no need to defend or substantiate. You just state them, and assume that any person would agree with both their accuracy, and the conclusions you believe they support.

Myself, on the other hand, well, I don't have 100 years of political activism and media representation of my position to fall back on, nor 50 years of the institutionalization of my viewpoints within schools from Kindergarten to university. So this response is going to be too long for one video. Because, you know, unlike feminists, I don't have the luxury of simply making a bald statement, and then moving on to the next one, without providing rational and empirical support for it. Without actually presenting an argument behind it. See, you can get away with saying, "X is X," without saying, "...because A, B, C."  I can't get away with that because my viewpoint isn't the one that's been swallowed hook, line and sinker by most of society.

So, in this video, I'm just going to address the first few points you made, and I'm going to have to leave the other points for other videos, because otherwise this is just going to run really long. What I'm going to try to do in this video is explain some of the reasons I believe feminism is wrong. Wrong about the power dynamics that underpin society (historically and today), and wrong about men's and women's relative positions in society (historically and today). Hopefully we will then be on our way to demonstrating why I believe feminism is based on hate.

Now, right off the bat, you launch into what is one of the most predictable feminist rebuttals to anything anti-feminism that exists: the question of voter rights. You claim initially that denying a person the vote places them in the position of a second class citizen, that not giving them a say over decisions that will affect them is subjugation, and because this was denied to women, it's subjugation based on gender. If this is the case, then ALL but a tiny percentage of men were in the exact same boat as all women were, through most of human history. In fact, the amount of time between universal male suffrage and female suffrage in the west amounted to a paltry one half of one percent or so of recorded human history.

So under your reasoning, all men but those in charge (under a monarchy) or the most wealthy (following democracy but before universal male suffrage) were also subjugated by their governments in the exact same way women were.

Now, if that government was headed by a woman, would those men have been subjugated based on their gender? I find it really problematic to assume that because a man is in charge or because a woman is in charge, that that person in charge is not going to care about the opposite sex. This is an absurd argument. It doesn't hold water.

On the other hand, even men with no say whatsoever, men who were subjugated by their governments by being denied the vote, bore a greater and more costly obligation and burden of responsibility to their communities and governments, and even to their families, than women did.

It's foolish to even entertain the question of "who had the shorter end of the stick?", during a period of history when men and women had very different sticks to carry, and when there was little to no option for anyone to choose a different stick. The end of the stick that men got may indeed have been longer than the ends of women's sticks, but the stick itself was heavier and more difficult to lift, by a long shot. And while I know feminism is largely anti-science, I can demonstrate that through a simple, biological argument.

When the conditions two animals are subjected to over an extended period of their evolution are very different, one of the easiest ways to determine who had things harder or more onerous is to look at what biology has to tell us. If we look at monogamous primates like marmosets, males and females live nearly identical lives. The only real difference between male and female roles in that species is that females gestate, give birth and lactate, and males don't. Males do, however, collect food, nurture and supervise the young, and are chosen as suitable mates by females based on how well they perform the exact same tasks performed by females. In fact, if you want to get right down to it, marmoset females choose males based on how good those males are at mothering.

And when you look at male and female marmosets, you can't really tell them apart--they're the same size and have the same muscle mass and density. Other than their reproductive organs, they're basically interchangeable, because they do all the same stuff, and they've done all the same stuff for a very long time. They are gender-egalitarians.

Now look at humans. Men have stronger skeletons, higher muscle mass, stronger muscles even controlling for mass, and more red corpuscles by blood volume, than women do. Would these differences exist if women's roles through history were remotely as strenuous, onerous or dangerous as men's? If natural selection pressures on women had been as severe and rigorous as those placed on men?

What our sexual dimorphism tells us is that men had to be capable of doing physically harder and more dangerous tasks than women did, consistently, all through our history as human beings, and that women were not subjected to this kind of pressure. If they had, they'd have evolved to be a lot more burly.

And what I find really interesting is that very little of that strenuous, dangerous work that men did was actually necessary to the survival of individual men.

I mean think about it for a minute--how much more work would it be to provide for a family than only oneself? I could tell you a thing or two about that--if the only person I had to take care of was me, I could live like a queen on a waitress's pay. I'd never have to put off buying something I wanted just because the people dependent on me would rather eat dinner tonight than see me in a new pair of shoes.

How much more work would it have been for a man way back when to provide for a wife less productive than he was, and several even less productive children, than to only provide for himself? How much less safe was he if he chose to protect a woman smaller and weaker than himself, who was often vulnerable due to pregnancy and childbed, and several vulnerable children, than if he was the only person he was responsible for keeping safe?

If men had not been prepared to willingly take on those burdens in order to spare women from them, guess what, Danielle? Women would have sturdier skeletons and bigger muscles than they do, because they'd have had to evolve those things in order to survive. I honestly don't know how it was that more men didn't do what the Buddha did, and just walk away from those burdens--I mean, that guy sure had more time to think about stuff and ponder the nature of the universe, sleep in and get himself fat as fuck once he didn't have a wife and kid to look after.

To further illustrate how men can enjoy higher status than women while simultaneously having more burdensome and difficult lives--you know, getting the shorter end of the stick, the worse deal, all that--let's look at an extreme case of a staunchly and severely patriarchal society--something relatively unheard of in hunter-gatherer cultures: The Inuit.

Now in most hunter-gatherer societies, gender roles are just as differentiated as in any traditional society. BUT, male and female roles usually commanded similar levels of social status, respect and admiration. This was not the case with the Inuit.

But one of the really striking ways in which Inuit societies differed from other hunter-gatherer societies was that in most hunter-gatherer societies, men and women brought in roughly the same amount of food--in fact, sometimes women brought in the larger share. Women may not have become dominant, or have higher status than men, because they weren't expected to risk their lives to bring in the food that they brought in, the way men were expected to in the act of hunting. But the Inuit were very different. Not only did men bring in more than 95% of all the food, they did so at extreme risk to their lives and health, under conditions more severe than the conditions almost anywhere else on earth.

Rates of injury and premature death by injury among Inuit men of the past were horrendous. I mean, here are a bunch of guys who were expected to go out in a damn kayak in -40 weather, and chuck spears at whales 200 times their size, or go out on treacherous ice that if you fell through it meant almost certain death to hunt seals, in order to bring home tons more meat than they could possibly eat by themselves, and share that meat with the women and children who got to stay home, safe and sound.

Now I'm wondering what you think would have happened if you'd convinced those men that their wives needed them like fish need bicycles. What would have been the result for women? What if you'd told those men that this woman and these children are not yours, they don't belong to you, therefore you don't have any right to dictate to them and neither do you have any responsibility to take care of them? Or if you'd said that women are every bit as capable as men, and they're men's equals in every way that mattered? What if you'd actually convinced those men of all that? Heck, what if you'd actually convinced Inuit men that women's work was just as important and prestigious as men's work? You think maybe a lot of men might have taken up sewing? 

You know, those men who could, if they wanted to, just go off on their own, club a baby seal every month or two, and do just fine, since chewing pelts into fur and stitching them into clothes isn't that hard, and they'd have plenty of free time to do it without all those extra mouths to feed? 

Do you think maybe those men would have chosen not to risk and sacrifice like Inuit men did, if all they got was the same rewards and status as Inuit women? Do you really think those men would have, or should be expected to, risk and sacrifice the way Inuit men did, for the same rewards and status as Inuit women? Do you think Or would they have said, "Hey, she's my equal, and she's her own person, and her kids don't belong to me either. Let her get her own food." Because you know what? That's exactly what I would have said, if someone had convinced me of all of that.

I mean, hasn't it ever occurred to you feminists that the most extreme patriarchies occur in the harshest living conditions?

Do you think those women would have been better off--you know, less oppressed--by being seen as equal to their men--equal and therefore in no need of men's provision or protection? You ever wonder what it might have been like to be a pregnant Inuit woman, out on the ice trying to find a seal to jab a stick in so she could eat? You ever think that maybe, just maybe, she might have been perfectly happy to trade something valuable in order to secure the cooperation and support that imposed such hideous costs and risks on him? That her survival in that environment was so dependent on him risking life and limb every time he went out, that she might have thought social status and personal autonomy were really small prices to pay in exchange for what it cost him to give her what she needed?

You ever wonder if marriage wasn't a way to force women to become slaves to men, and bear men's children and provide them with free domestic services, the way so many second-wave feminists portrayed it, but a way to force men to become slaves to women, to support women's children and provide provisioning and protection services to women? You ever wonder if just maybe it was BOTH?

OMG, I think I just blew my own mind...

You never stopped to wonder why the very idea of feminism only occurred to women when economic, political and technological development finally meant that trading places with men would mean trading UP instead of down? That idea probably goes a long way to explaining why feminism originated among the wealthiest and most privileged women first, dontcha think? I mean, even Mary Wollstonecraft was honest enough to call women's privilege exactly that in her claims that it should be eliminated. And I just don't get why she wasn't more popular among the working class women who depended on that privilege for their survival!

I don't know if you realize this, Danielle (being feminist and therefore anti-science as you are), but male provisioning and protection of females and young is a gift and a luxury that few females of any sexually dimorphic species have ever enjoyed. Just ask a female Bonobo, who gets to trade sex with every unrelated male in her community in return for foraging rights and male ambivalence toward her offspring--not for actual food or for assistance in caring for offspring, but for the right to do her own foraging in an area a male might actually prefer to have for himself, and the right to not have her offspring fall victim to competitive infanticide by a male who would rather she produce his kids than his brother's.

Because that's the way most of nature works, Danielle, and it isn't the way human society has worked for a very long time.

One of the reasons human women have been able to remain significantly weaker than men is because men were consistently subjected to more extreme and demanding conditions than women, all through history. And one of the reasons we don't have more in common with Bonobos--why we've become the most dominant and intelligent species on the planet, in fact--is because women and children benefitted from men doing that, from being subjected to those conditions. Because men, unlike Bonobo males, were actually willing to share the benefits and rewards of their harsher survival conditions with women and children, because women, unlike Bonobo females, were willing to individually trade something valuable in return for an individual man's investment.

And I know, the whole thing is so cold and uncivilized. Those Inuit men should have been willing to harpoon whales from a kayak and share the meat with women and children, and give their lives to protect women and children, without any expectation of any extra anything. They should have been willing to do it "Just because". For nothing. THAT would have been "fair" to everyone. It was "oppression" of women that Inuit men were granted higher social status, more respect and a few extra rights in exchange for doing a ton of really difficult shit they didn't need to do for themselves, but did anyway because women and children needed them to. And it was really "unfair" that women weren't given power in those societies, because hey, the one who doesn't have to risk anything, pay anything, or go out on the ice, should be given an EQUAL say in decisions that affect everyone in the community.

And you know, I think it's perhaps that feminist framing--the duty of a man to share his labor with women, to put himself between danger and women, to risk and pay for the benefit of women during a history where the risks and burdens of doing that were so very high (which is why women couldn't be expected to bear them)...that's oppression of women simply because men weren't willing to do it for nothing. I think that was the first red flag I had that feminism is based on sexism and hate. Because you kind of have to hate someone if you're going to tell him that his kind have oppressed women all through history by doing what was necessary--including dying--to keep women safe, sheltered and fed. You kind of have to hate someone to claim that the old system only existed to benefit men at the expense of women's enslavement, when that system is the only reason that women are still around, that women are not like the Bonobos. And it's definitely hate to say that women were not complicit in this system, that they have no responsibility for things working the way they did.But feminists do this all the time.

Like Hilary Clinton once said (and yeah, I'm paraphrasing), men have never been the primary victims of their own deaths in war. It's the women who are stuck still alive and raising the kids alone who are the primary victims of men's deaths.

If I claimed that a woman's husband was the primary victim of her death because he's left alive to look after the children alone, you'd call me a misogynist. And you'd be right.

And I know, it's not the same, because women have always had the short end of the stick, right? They've only gotten out of society what they were required to put into it, and that meant that they got less, and that's unfair. That verse in the Bible about women being obedient to their husbands if they wanted to stay on the right side of the man upstairs, that's unfair gender roles. But the several verses that admonished men that they were 100% responsible for the survival of their wives, their children, their widowed mothers, their unmarried sisters, and any other extended family members who could not be self-sufficient, if he wanted god to approve of him. NO! None of that was unfair. None of that was gender-biased. The Bible was only unfair to women. 

All men got was power. Just power. Cookies for having a penis, no other qualifications required.

You know, for three years I was the only thing keeping myself and three children alive and fed and with a roof over our heads and all of that. And you know what? It fucking sucks. Even now, even today, even in this easy world, it fucking sucks. And it would have sucked even more if this was still an era of manual labor and zero workplace standards, the way things were when men were expected to take on the burden of providing for women and children under The EEEVIL Patriarchy.

But anyway, let's get back to the vote, and how not having a say over decisions that affect you is subjugation.

As an aside, there's currently a campaign to lower the voting age in Canada to 16. Do you believe that Canadians between the ages of 16 and 18 are subjugated, Danielle? Do you support those efforts? If not, why not? How about Canadians *under* 16? Are they subjugated? Would you support efforts to expand the franchise to 14? Or 12? 

Do you assume that because children aren't allowed to vote, that the government has no interest in their wellbeing, you know, their safety, happiness and wellbeing? Do you even imagine that being true?

Regardless of that, the history of the expansion of suffrage is a lot more complex and nuanced than most feminists would lead you to believe. For instance, up until shortly before women's suffrage in the US, the system was not one of secret ballots. Because ballots were public in the early years of universal male suffrage, there had been numerous cases of employers coercing their male employees to vote the way they wanted, and there were real concerns about something similar occurring between husbands and wives, or fathers and daughters. There was a lot of worry that giving women the vote would be the equivalent of giving some unscrupulous men two votes.

On the other hand, if you look at a lot of political campaign propaganda from that time, you'll see a fair amount of "Ladies, tell your men to vote for soandso!" and a lot of stuff like that. I can't imagine with the comparatively minuscule campaign budgets they had back then, and the cost of paper and ink, that anyone would have wasted the resources to print posters like that unless women were seen as fully capable of influencing, or even controlling, their husbands' votes.

And I'm pretty sure you're not aware that some of the most famous suffragette leaders--such as Emmiline Pankhurst in the UK--weren't campaigning for universal female suffrage. What Pankhurst was after was "ten pound suffrage" for wealthy women, and the rest of the ladies of the UK could go fly a kite. How very noble.

It might also interest you to know that in 1917 at the height of WWI, when the US government began sentencing draft dodgers to death, a group of activists brought a constitutional challenge of military conscription. In the Supreme Court's ruling on that challenge, it stated:

It may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty *to the citizen* includes the reciprocal obligation of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right to compel it.”

So, the draft was ruled constitutionally sound and allowed to continue, because it was considered to be the reciprocal obligation of citizens in return for the rights of citizenship granted by government. Indeed, it was largely because of the huge sacrifice of men during the American civil war (some of them draftees) that led to men being offered universal suffrage in the US in the first place--it was deemed unfair to order a man to die for a country in which he had no say. It was felt that if men have an obligation--social or legal--to go to their deaths to protect society, they should really be allowed a say in what kind of society they were expected to protect. I have a hard time arguing with that kind of logic.

So maybe you can tell me, what did women owe society, what kinds of burdens and sacrifices were they expected to take on if necessary, often by force? Was it anything remotely on the scale of putting on a uniform and charging into enemy bayonets? Was it? Really?

In fact, a LOT of women opposed women's suffrage in the late 1800s and early 1900s--so many and so vehemently that it was pretty much the same afternoon that their opposition was overwhelmed by a general consensus among women that they did want the vote, that women actually got it. Why would any woman oppose women's suffrage, you might be wondering. Well, because citizenship rights and citizenship obligations had always gone hand in hand for men, and many anti-suffragette women were worried that might apply to women, too.

Oh, anti-suffragette women, you so crazy. Didn't you realize? Women get all kinds of shit without having to pay for it, not only on ladies' night.

Needless to say, the vast majority of men who fought and died in the Civil war, whether draftees or volunteers, didn't have the vote. The American men who were still alive after that war were given the vote as payment for past sacrifices, and in anticipation of future ones.You might also be unaware that at the time when that constitutional challenge to the draft failed, the voting age for men in the US was 21, but the age at which they became eligible for the draft was 18 1/2. The same goes for every US war for which there has been a draft, up until public pressure was placed on the US government over wounded veterans returning from Viet Nam without the right to vote--how embarrassing for everyone! Only at that point was the voting age lowered to 18.

Now I wonder how subjugated a 19 year old boy might have felt, bleeding to death on a WWI battlefield without the right to vote? I also wonder what that boy might have thought about the women campaigning for female suffrage safe at home, at the very same moment he was dying at the behest of his government, without franchise? And I wonder if he would have felt more or less subjugated, had he been drafted, or had one of those suffrage-crazy ladies shamed him into enlisting by handing him a white feather?

In Canada, 125,000 men were conscripted in WWI, 25,000 of whom were sent to the front lines of a war that killed 10 million men on all sides. Talk about the short end of the stick--ten million short ends of ten million sticks, to be precise. Our government was a little more sensible than those in other countries, and alongside the conscription legislation it enacted in 1917, it passed a law giving voting rights to all those currently serving in the military or who had served, even if they were under 21.

Good job, Canada! And while you, Danielle, are technically correct that women were given the vote in 1917, that vote was only given to military women, or to women acting as proxies for male relatives fighting overseas.

So even in Canada, military service was tied to the expansion of voter rights. 2000 military nurses (none of them drafted, mind you, but all of them admirable in their voluntary service and the sacrifices required for it) became some of the first women with the right to vote in Canada. The rest of us had to wait a whole 'nother year.

By 1920 and 1918 respectively, the governments of the US and Canada had extended suffrage to all white female citizens of voting age, despite women being subject to neither conscription, nor the social expectation, to sacrifice their lives in the service of their countries' decisions.

A second draft occurred in Canada during WWII, and conscription became a norm in the US in 1948, with the Selective Service Act (which remains in force today). Between 1950 and 1953, 1.5 million American men were drafted. Any of them between 18 and 21 would not have had the vote, even though their government was able to coerce them to serve.

In several modern, democratic nations, such as Norway and South Korea, military service remains a mandatory obligation of the citizen. Well, if that citizen is a man.

And what price did women have to pay, in terms of a citizen's obligation to government, to purchase their right to vote? None, you say? Oh yeah, that's right, only men had to purchase their citizenship rights--women just had to finally agree with each other that they wanted them, and then ask.

And in light of that, you know what's really awesome? Men have, at times, though not always, been exempt during a draft if they were married or had children, because drafting a husband or father was considered an unfair hardship to women and children, and was to be avoided if possible. One of the few ways a man could avoid his obligation to society--to die--was if a woman or child would have to help him pay that price. Yep, society sure was interested in giving women the short end of the stick, all right.

I also find it kind of amusing that you mentioned female suffrage in Kuwait. I'm sure you did that because OMG, 2005, right? However, Kuwait's status as a democracy has been consistently inconsistent since 1920, heck, even since their independence in the early 1960s. Moreover, after a very quick and cursory look at the information on that country, I learned that only Kuwaiti citizens are allowed to vote, and the majority of residents of Kuwait--you know, those who'd be affected by the decisions of the Kuwaiti government--are not technically citizens. Even naturalized citizens have to wait for 30 years before being eligible to vote.

Wow. That's a LOT of subjugation, about half of which is going to be male, but you only seem concerned with women, so of course you didn't bother to read further.

Hey, I have an idea--I think I'll read further and see if Kuwait employs conscription....

Wow, what do you know? It does! Kuwaiti men who are citizens are inductable at age 18, and oh my goodness, wouldn't you know it? The voting age in Kuwait is 21. So Kuwaiti men and only Kuwaiti men, can be coerced into giving their lives for a government they have no say over. How very...well, I can't exactly say it's shocking, now can I?

Interesting as well, is that the vote in Kuwait is actively denied to men currently serving in the military. That's right, you heard me. The very people who are risking their lives (by choice or against their consent) based on their government's decisions are explicitly denied a say in those decisions. How's that for subjugation?

Also interestingly, Bedouin volunteers in the Kuwaiti military often enlist because of promises that military service may result in citizenship, and the right to vote. I think this is what's called "pay before you play," and it seems to be what men have had to do right from the get-go.

I suppose what I'm trying to say with all of this conscription/political franchise talk is that the franchise, in its earliest days, was connected to military service. Even the very first women allowed to vote in Canada were given the vote in return for their own military service, or on behalf of their male relatives who were serving.

No, if it's your position that a person is subjugated by having no say over decisions that affect them, then it was men who could be required by their governments to die who would have been more subjugated than any woman by being denied the vote. The draft is a particular decision of government that has NEVER affected women as directly as it has men, and it only stands to reason that in countries where a legal or social obligation to put one's life on the line for the benefit of government or fellow citizens exists, that decision was considered important enough for those directly affected by it to be the first to be given a say. Eventually. Once a whole bunch of them had already died.

I also wonder if you might have considered the inverse of this equation as it stands now--that women today have a say in the decisions of government-- a greater collective say than men in many countries, due to sheer numbers. In any country with universal suffrage and male-only conscription, the female electorate as a unified bloc could conceivably unilaterally make the decision to send unwilling men, and only unwilling men, to their deaths. That's quite the moral hazard, when you think about it.

I'm sure you and your feminist sisters are going to get right on rectifying that--either by actively and tirelessly demanding an end to conscription and selective service in countries where they exist, or by vigorously campaigning to include women.

I mean, you feminists want equality, right? And inclusivity! Or do you only want those things in areas of choice and rights, and not in areas of obligation, expectation, responsibility and government coercion?

So, to reiterate:

Yes, though I believe that all feminists (and most mainstreamers, for that matter) honestly feel that women were historically second class citizens, things are a lot more complicated than that. Women may have been considered different citizens than men, but it's dishonest to use a term like "second-class". That term doesn't address the exemptions from the burdens and obligations of male citizenship that women enjoyed historically, and still enjoy today, or any of the entitlements they received through the enforcement of male gender roles.

The bulk of the "extras and bonuses" that men received--in legal rights and social status--were a result of the greater obligations they had to society, the higher price they were expected to pay in terms of protecting and providing for people other than themselves--especially women and children--and the fact that they were held socially and even legally accountable for other people's survival and wellbeing. None of these burdens were ones women were ever expected to carry. They were burdens women were entitled to expect of others, and they still are, and they would have enjoyed no such entitlement in the much harsher past had they been seen as the equals of men.

So when feminists insist that women got the short end of the stick compared to men, they're only telling half the story. And half-truths are more dangerous by far than lies, because they're easier for people to swallow--so easy, very few people have ever asked you feminists to support your own conclusions by addressing all the facts in the entire context, and not just the facts you cherry-pick.

My next video will address your contention that feminism isn't as powerful as the men's movement thinks it is, and in anticipation of that I want you to ponder this quote from Warren Farrell: "Men's greatest weakness is their facade of strength, and women's greatest strength is their facade of weakness."

And, if you're still listening, Danielle, if I haven't made you slam your computer shut in a huff, I guess I'll see you again in a few days when I post my next video.