28 August 2014

Why am I writing this stuff?

In some of the discussions that followed my last few posts, someone asked what purpose there was to writing it, other than making people angry?

Another pointed out that the belief of women's weakness and vulnerability might be the part of the reason women are victimized less, implying that even if its untrue, maybe we should encourage people to keep believing it since the effect is (presumably) less violence overall.


Well, for one, like it says in the header at the top of the page, I believe truth is inherently valuable.

But aside from that, there's a bunch of specific reasons.

The central one is this:
It seems like it is more important to people to support the ideological narrative they have accepted than it is to create better outcomes in the real world. 


- In discussions several women have said that fighting back would be pointless, because the strength difference between them and their boyfriend or lover is so large.
This makes me really really fucking angry at every rape activist and counselor and everyone else who has promoted false information for the sake of promoting ideology.
The actual research shows consistently that it doesn't matter if the victim is able to physically overpower the attacker.   The mere fact of attempting to physically resist is alone almost always enough to stop rape from occurring.
But this reality conflicts with the story people want to believe about rape being about power and domination and not access to sexual gratification.
This reality makes it more challenging to support the idea that lack of physical resistance isn't consent.  That idea is totally valid!  A woman shouldn't "have to" fight back; if she says "no", and he continues, its rape.
However, in the desire to protect the feelings of people who have already been victimized ("its not your fault just because you didn't fight back") everyone down plays the effectiveness of fighting back - which means there will be MORE victims!
Why are we more concerned with protecting woman's feelings and chances of prosecution after the fact than we are with preventing rape from occurring in the first place?

- The same goes for all forms of female victimization or submission by males.  The more we teach people that men are inherently stronger than women, or that women are naturally submissive, the more predatory men assume women to be easy targets, and the more likely women are to act out learned helplessness and accept it.

- The message that men should not commit violence against women implicitly sends the message that violence in general is ok.  We should be sending the message that violence is never ok.  It doesn't matter who the victim is.

- Intoxicated consent laws make it so that not only does "no" mean no, but "yes" also means no, but only sometimes.  And it is up to men to decide when that is.  Women aren't to be trusted to know how drunk they are, but men can tell for them.  Because, you know, men don't have enough power over women already.  We also need to make it law that only men can decide when women shouldn't have sex - for their own good, of course.

-In one of the discussions on my first post on cultural dimorphism, a woman who had insisted at first that not only did she not think women were weak, she saw no evidence that anyone did, online or in real life - eventually went on the defend the gender based draft on the grounds that (some specific individual) men are stronger than (some specific individual) women.

- Our way of viewing gender and race emphasizes differences. Far more than actually exist.  Those expectations we have then go on to influence our behavior, which cause those imaginary differences to manifest.

 - Our obsessing over what we imagine to be grand categorical differences in how we are treated creates the differences we complain about.

- As I wrote at the bottom of my last post, perpetuating the myth of Blacks oppressed by cops leads to a self-fulfilling prophesy that makes it more likely Blacks get shot by cops.

- The stuff that outrages everyone is almost always a distraction from real issues.  The energy we spend on stupid stuff could be spent, say, working toward making HeadStart universal, or making laws that say employees are entitled to the profit their own labor generates.




27 August 2014

It has to be disproportionate to be racism

The majority of violent crime is perpetrated by men.
The overwhelming majority, when it comes to violent crime done by/to strangers.
This is true.
For once common knowledge is fully supported by all independent data.

The human population is 50/50 male female.
Men are stopped, detained, arrested, and convicted far more often than women are - arrested 3 times as often for assault, and almost 9 times as often for robbery and murder.  This, despite the fact that they make up only half the population.

Yet no one is claiming the cops are showing a bias based on gender.  We can all comfortably admit that the reason for the discrepancy is that men are actually committing more crime.

We also all understand, without even having to say it, that acknowledging this difference is crime rate by gender is NOT the same thing as saying "all men are violent" or "all men are criminals".  We understand and accept that, on average, men are more violent without thinking it implies that any specific particular man is violent.

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I was reading yet another article about how cops are unfairly targeting and profiling Black people, when I came across something unusual: the author had chosen a graphic which actually showed the larger context of the data they were focused on, which completely undermined their own point.



http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-michael-brown-ferguson-black-men

What nearly everyone trying to make the same point would do is take just the first bar - population - and the 4th and/or 5th bar, to show:
hey, look how disproportionately Blacks get shot at by cops!!

But this chart also shows some other relevant stats that put everything into context.

26 August 2014

Protective or patronizing? Framing people as victims is anti-empowering.

A) A few guys, hanging out at the shared apartment of one of them.  Watching the game, drinking some beers - maybe a couple too many, but noone here has to drive anytime soon - bag of chips, maybe order a pizza later.  Talking about girls and work and the latest news during commercials.
A couple of them get into a minor dispute about some stupid thing, and its not the sort of thing that can be settled by checking google, and so the only reasonable way to settle it is with a wrestling match.
There is one dissenting voice - one of the guy's who lives there, who owns most of the furniture and electronics in the room - but everyone else thinks this is a great idea, and helps clear some space in the middle of the living room.  One of the two has the weight and strength advantage, but the other has more experience, and its up for debate which is more drunk, so it seems fair enough.
Everyone is really friends here and no one is seriously trying to hurt anyone, but it's fun sometimes to see who can force the other to say "uncle" and concede defeat, thereby winning not just the wrestling match, but also the original argument as well.



B) A guy walks out of a bar.  He realizes he has had too much to drive, and decides to take a walk. He's stumbling just a little, but he can walk. He first stops in the corner store to get a soda and snacks; he's slurring his words, but its not too hard to get the gist of "I want to buy these items" and the cashier gives him his change and sends him on his way.  But as soon as he leaves he notices a McDonald's, throws out the soda and snacks, and buys a burger and coffee.  Still just as drunk as when he left the bar twenty minutes ago, and out of ways to kill time, he calls a cab and heads home for the night.



C) Your friend has clearly had one too many.  You decide to get him home before he gets into any trouble.  He doesn't want to go, but everyone agrees it's for his own good, and besides, he's in no state to put up any serious resistance anyway.  You bring him to your place because it's closer, you won't have to go through his pockets for his keys, and hell, you're doing him a favor, you may as well not go more out of your way then you have to. You leave him in a pile on the sofa, clothes and shoes still on, and head to your own room to get some sleep.



D) Jimothy needs a ride home.  He knows it.  He asks Robin for a ride.  Robin isn't ready to go just yet, and besides, they live in opposite directions.  Jim offers to pay for gas money, plus a little extra for the favor.  $20 is almost as much as a cab would cost, but he'd just as soon the money go to a friend (and besides, he doesn't feel like waiting a whole 30min for a cab).  Robin gives in, drops Jim off, and heads back out for more fun.  Unbeknownst to Robin, Jimothy was so drunk that he had "blacked out" a while before he wanted to go home, and has absolutely no memory of having asked for a ride, nor of actually getting the ride.
When he wakes up in the morning, he has no idea how he got there.

21 August 2014

Women are not "naturally" submissive

Thousands of years of misogyny has created an internalized narrative of women as inherent victims that we all on some level want to continue to believe, and keeping women weak on purpose helps to keep the illusion alive.

It appears that the potential for physical dominance of men over women has only very small roots in biology, that instead the vast majority of it comes from culture. 
In my last post I showed that, at least in terms of physical differences, male dominance in the modern western world is not something men are forcing onto women, as much as something women are seeking out.


The common explanation for this relies on the assumption that our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in nuclear families with male "bread-winners" (mastodon-hunters?) and female home-makers.
There is no reason to believe this has ever been true.
The one place anthropologist don't see female selection for height and strength in mates is primitive nomadic societies, which is where we should expect to see it the most, if the popular theory were true.
Across all species, sexual dimorphism in size and strength is inversely proportional to paternal investment.  In other words, in species where males are much larger and stronger than females (much more than the naturally occurring 10% in humans), the males never stick around to help raise young.  In more egalitarian species, where both parents invest in the offspring, the males and females tend to be the exact same size.
Sexual dimorphism in size and strength is not a natural result of a predestined male role as protector and provider.  Those roles are relatively modern cultural ones that likely developed tens of thousands of years more recently than the times of our savannah roaming ancestors.  It is more likely to have developed because of our (small) natural dimorphism than in order to facilitate it.

Or perhaps biology is just a convenient excuse, and female preferences for a partner who is able to physically overpower them may be entirely an extension of the misogynistic cultural dynamic of male dominance in general.

Just as women enforce the physical differences within couples, there is plenty of evidence that it is actually largely women, not men, that enforce male dominance in interpersonal relations as well, at least in modern Western society.

That suggestion is, of course, the polar opposite of most normal thinking on patriarchal society.

For most of recorded history, in most parts of the world, civil society has been male dominated.
Given that, it has always been reasonable to assume that the roles of dominance and submission were enforced by men - since, after all, they had the power to enforce roles.

19 August 2014

Women are only as weak as they choose to be

If I had to guess, I would say that you would say that you don't believe that women are weak and helpless by default, by virtue of the consequences of their chromosomes.
However, I suspect you do actually believe that.  You are probably being sincere when you claim not to, its just that you can't see it, because everyone believes it, everyone takes it as a given, so much so that the assumption is invisible, like the water around a fish.

I feel its important for us all to realize that this universal assumption exists because it has a huge impact on the strategies we use in trying to bring about greater equality and egalitarianism, to give people freedom not to conform to constructed gender roles, to enjoy love and sexuality in whatever way suits them (so long as they aren't doing harm to anyone else).
It has a huge impact on the approach to take if the ultimate goal is having all of society, male and female, look at women as being humans.  Not a special subset of humans, just humans, period, just like everyone else (where "everyone else" is assumed to be "men" - even though women make up half of all people).
There is a lot of stuff feminist activists say and do which is counter-productive to that goals - and as a result, to all of the other goals listed before it - because of the unfortunate fact that they, just like everyone else, hold the misogynist view that women are naturally weak, and are therefore inherently victims.

I suspect that some of my arguments are going to come across to some people as sounding like something along the lines of "men's rights" advocacy.  But my point here isn't to say "aw, poor discriminated against men".  My point isn't that we should change anything to make men's lives any easier.  My point is that in each example the way we treat women differently is patronizing to women.  We assume they are physically helpless, or lack agency, or are just plain stupid, and need to be protected (including from themselves) in ways that men aren't.  And that patronizing itself is problematic.  When we make certain assumptions universal and even frequently codify them into law, we are strengthening sexist stereotypes that then go on to influence individual people's opinions and from there their behaviors.

It shows up in literally every aspect of how society views sexuality and gender, and just as strongly among feminists and advocates for women as it does among traditionalists and chauvinists.