25 March 2015

Conversations on gender and sex

A collection of 4 emails I wrote to different people within the last year or so.


[Written to my future sister-in-law, after she emailed a link to a Ted Talk on gender by a friend of hers]

...The real problem has nothing at all to do with sex or gender.  The root issue is the expectation of conformity.

If, instead of moving between archetypal roles, we simply reject archetypal roles completely, this entire issue becomes moot.

A transsexual is a person who has (or would like to) actual physical sex reassignment (whether surgery, or just drugs), one who feels that their actual body is wrong.
The term "transgender" doesn't really mean anything - in fact, it confirms and reinforces the idea that gender is actually a valid concept to begin with, when in reality it is a social construct.

Sex -male or female - IS a binary.  Contrary to what lay people commonly believe, sex is not defined by testosterone v estrogen levels, secondary characteristics like beards or breasts, or even genitals.  It isn't even defined by chromosomes, which differ from one specie to another.
The universal characteristic that defines sex among all sexual species (almost every multicellular life form) is the precesnse of either testicals or ovaries.  Males produce sperm, females produce eggs.  This part isn't social.  Its basic biology.
That part isn't "assigned" by culture.  And there is no spectrum - no one, not even "intersex" born people, produces both eggs and sperm, and there is no hybrid or in-between reproductive cell.

People who reject our mainstream system (such as Carly) still talk about gender as though it were a real thing, as though it had some underlying validity.  
Gender - masculine or feminine - is no more than "that set of characteristics which a particular culture tends to associate with one sex or the other"
Since by definition it is associated with a sex, and sex is binary, gender is also binary.

There is no reason for any individual to accept the roles of gender in the first place!
One needn't be a transexual (pre or post op, with or without drugs, in body or purely in desire) or transvestite to reject gender roles!

I am male, and I feel fine with that.  But I reject ALL forms of socially enforced conformity.  As such, sometimes I might wear stiletto heels, and it doesn't imply I'm either trans or gay.  I just like how they look with certain outfits and in certain situations.  If not for those societal assumptions, I'd wear skirts much more often - I just don't feel like everyone around me constantly assuming I'm making a statement.
I am attracted to women who are strong and capable and independent, and I always prefer any new partner do most of the initiating and escalating in the realm of affection and sex.  According to the BBC Science's "brain sex" quiz, I'm just about perfectly neutral

there's all kind of fascinating research on which parts of personality and preference may be biological and which parts learned.
In does seem like a fair amount of the differences between the sexs may have a biological component to it.
the problem is when some people make the unjustified conclusion that if it is "natural", therefor it should be enforced.
Its interesting, but as with most things about something as complicated as a human, a population trend has nothing to do with individual experience, and there's really no reason it should.   

My solution, rather than encouraging individuals who feel strongly enough to switch roles, would be to eliminate all and any forms of government or socially enforced roles altogether.  I don't believe that any of them serve any valid purpose, as far as improving the daily lives of actual people.
So, for example, we would come up with gender neutral pronouns.
Make all restrooms unisex
Make it illegal to have different dress codes by gender (if anyone is allowed to wear a skirt, everyone is.  If anyone is allowed to go shirtless, everyone is)
Separating by gender or sex is no more valid than separate but equal by race. It doesn't matter if it is genuinely equal, the mere fact of separation validates and reinforces this idea that we are somehow profoundly different, when in reality our sames are much stronger than our differences.
People are people.  In the real world almost no one fits a pure version of their assigned "archetype". 


[To a good friend, who sent me an article about "gender dysphoria", to which I responded with a request for her thoughts on what she sent, to which she responded:
"So I used to have opinions, but over the past few years, i've lost confidence in my opinions and the ability to express them, so I just send articles.
Regarding gender: I feel like I don't understand gender. I'm confused about transgenderism for a variety of reasons, and I'm also confused about what I see as some contradictory ideas in the gender-activist community."]

I think one of the biggest reasons for apparent contradictions and confusions is that people - activists, as well as random normal people - are all just people.  They aren't strictly logical, they are certainly not scientific.  Even the best scientists and psychologists and anthropologists have biases and misperceptions; activists are none of those to begin with.
So, the best place to start understanding gender and activists is (in my opinion), human natural irrationality psychology.
I've become much more understanding, even tolerant of, human kind's stupidity, since I've started seriously focusing on learning about the limitations of human observation, perception, memory, and most of all rationality.

but better yet is my sources: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, and the books, blogs, and podcasts by David McCrany, You Are Not So Smart http://youarenotsosmart.com/

So, ok, I don't actually expect you to read all that, at least not right away.
I do think you would both enjoy, and learn a lot from them.  That last one, You Are Not So Smart is my new favorite thing. 

Regarding gender:
there is not really any such thing.
Gender is merely that set of characteristics which a given human society tends to associate with a particularsex.
Nearly everyone mixes up which parts are sex and which are gender.  Even the activists.
Sex is binary, and absolute.
Most of the confusion people have about it is conflating human physical characteristics associated with sexas actually being defining characteristics of sex.  Intercourse (and, obviously, breasts) is specific to mammals.  Our dimorphic characteristics, hip/waist ratio, facial hair, height, all that stuff is human specific.
Every specie has 2 sexs, but no other uses the same chromosomal pattern.
But sex isn't limited to humans or mammals or animals or even vertebrates.  It is universal to eukaryotes.  It is how all multicellular life reproduces, and even protists (single celled eukaryotes like yeast and amoebas) - basically everything besides bacteria and archaea.
And all of them, all of them have one single thing in common:
females produce egg cells (which are large and pass on mitochondria to the offspring), males produce sperm (which are small and mobile and only pass on nuclear DNA).
In animals sperm are produced in testes, eggs in ovaries.
In some life forms one individual produces both, in which case they are true hermaphrodites.

A human's sex isn't determined by hormones, genitals, or even XX or XY chromosomes. XX / XY chromosomes are specific to humans. 
Either your body has testes, or ovaries, but (except in the very rarest of exceptions, a tiny fraction even among transgender people), no one produces both.

This scientific fact alone undermines a whole hell of a lot of queer activist arguments.  Its not that they are particularly foolish or anything, they just don't understand enough about biology.  Really, its not at all limited to them - doctors, researchers, scientists, everyone conflates sexual characteristics (like chromosomes or genitals) with actual sex.
In reality, there is no such thing as a "transsexual", because medical science can not create functioning ovaries or testes.  No person born with a female body can ever produce their on genetic sperm, and vice versa.

But then again, "transgender" doesn't really mean anything either. Rather than justify that claim, I refer you to Jennifer Diane Reitz: http://transsexual.org/What.html 

"A recent term in usage is "Transgenderism", essentially an empty word conjured up as a neutral label for any individual not conforming to common social rules of gender expression. The term was created to help unite very disparate individuals under a vague commonality of interest in gender, in order to provide a basis for mutual benefit and support within an often violently antagonistic society.
Transgenderism can refer to those who crossdress, those who are intersexed, those who live in the opposite societal role of their physical sex, those who play with gender expression for any purpose whatsoever, and transsexuals as well. While there is potentially great survival benefit in this mutual association labeled as 'transgenderism', the primary function is social and political, and not clinical, despite the efforts of some to legitimize this essentially meaningless term."

There are some people who feel that their actual physical body is wrong.  This is usually (not necessarily always) associated with also feeling that their (culturally) assigned gender role is wrong, but that is secondary to feeling one is the wrong sex.  And (while I don't know the percentage of exceptions, if any) that is most often biologically based - people who were born intersex, (who may not have been aware of it, if parents and doctors made a choice to "correct" it as an infant), people who have XXY chromosomes, people who developed under abnormal neonatal hormonal levels.
This is in contrast to the full-time crossdresser, who may be perfectly happy with their body, but unhappy with their culturally assigned gender role.  Most transvestites wouldn't get sex reassignment surgery even if it were free and safe, because they feel like their body is right already.

But of course, cultural gender is just stuff we made up, and it isn't even the same between one culture and another.  When an individual rejects a culturally assigned role, they aren't rejecting their own body. Rejecting a social role has nothing to do with sex.  At issue here is the idea that society has the right to force conformity on people.  Some men are soft and submissive and like shoes.  Some women like math and logic, or boxing, or construction.  These people may be heterosexual, and they may enjoy intercourse, and they may want children.  So what?  Who cares?
Sure, there is some scientific evidence that some aspects of gender may be biological in origin.  Statistically.  Across large population samples.  But it can't be applied to individuals.  Its like saying "people of African origin have higher rates of diabetes", doesn't mean any particular person is more likely to get it.  And it most certainly wouldn't mean other people should externally enforce that trend.  
There is no justification for the external enforcement of any population trend.
That is the real issue in all cases of gender non-conformity - hell, its right there in the term - "conformity".
If we removed the expectation of enforced conformity, most of these social issues simply disappear.
If I want to wear a skirt and make-up, that's really no one's business but my own.  If a woman wants to volunteer for front line infantry, the only relevant question is whether she can pass the physical fitness test required in infantry school.

We (humans) have this obsessive desire for differentiation.  The genders have different clothes, different bathrooms, different soaps, different hairstyles.  None of these things are biological in origin.  They just help justify rigid gender roles.  Roles, heck, the entire concept of identity, they are human cultural inventions with no meaning outside of our own minds.  Other species don't have roles or identities.  They just are.  They just exist.  Humans are obsessed with all things social, so we focus more on what we imagine other people think of us than what we think of others. But then that gets back into the general human psychology question, which is just too big for here.

now I can't remember where I was going with all this.
but, does any part of it help any?


[To a woman I was dating, who interrupted my story about the summer camp for kids of alternative families that I went to, to tell me I shouldn't use the term "alternative family"]

Growing up, I was the Black kid who talked white, who looked poor (even by my neighborhoods standards, because other people prioritize looking a certain way even if they can't afford it), who didn't eat meat, who didn't believe in God, and whose mother way gay.
In other words, I was the freak. Of the entire school.
I mostly tried to keep that last part a secret - since I already had enough freakish things about me, I already stood out a lot - which was made easier because she didn't have a partner most of while I was growing up, but she didn't keep it a secret, and rumors travel fast in school.
Even if a particular person who was talking to me or who I overheard didn't know about my own family, I still knew, every time they used the word "gay" or "fag" that what they were really talking about was my mother, what they were really talking about was my family, and indirectly, what they were really talking about was me. Every time. Sometimes it wasn't indirect. 
This is the whole reason Camp Lavender Hill was created. Compared to most of the other kids there, I had it easy. Most of them had parents who were in active relationships, and so keeping it secret wasn't even an option. Being there was a way for us all to be able to relax. It wasn't that we spent all week talking about it (although of course we did some), it was that for once it didn't matter, it was just the norm, and we could think about other stuff, like running around and being kids, paddling canoes, playing pranks on the other cabins, telling camp fire stories and dirty jokes, and flirting with girls - or, in some cases with boys, and the great thing was it didn't matter.
When you interrupted me, I wasn't talking about something abstract, I wasn't talking about other people's experience, I was talking about MY family. I was talking about my own personal experience.
And you correcting - lecturing me - about it feels like if I self-identify as Black and you think it is your responsibility to "correct" me and teach me that "African American" is the term I should use. It is patronizing and disrespectful. I didn't choose that term arbitrarily or thoughtlessly. That is how I identify based on my own experience, and when I think about it more deeply, I find it is the most appropriate term.
I didn't come up with it originally.  Nor did some religious group or conservative politician. Pro-rights activists came up with the term, and they did so deliberately.
What it is displacing is
1) the idea that there simply are no alternatives to the mainstream, they just don't even exist, complete invisibility,
2) that if some other arrangement than the norm exists it isn't really a "family", because "family" is defined as one man one woman and some non-zero number of (biologically related) children, and
3) if it is some form of family, it is freakish, twisted, immoral.
Those 3 are the default ideas that heteronormative society holds
The term "alternative family" counters all of those ideas, automatically without having to go into a deeper explanation. It is a short-hand abstraction for "alternative, but equally valid family". It inherently implies that the defining features of family are child rearing, love, togetherness, and commitment. 
And you may not personally think it is the best phrase to change minds, but the reality is it has been and is working. It IS coming more and more into the mainstream lexicon, and that IS helping more and more people to look at it differently and thereby become more able to accept it. In fact, the increased visibility of alternative families has helped to bring more acceptance of all LGBT people, because the stereotype was always that they only cared about meaningless sex, and didn't feel love or commitment, and deliberately raising a child together undermines that idea.
The key word is not alternative. Its family.
The thing is, no matter how much you want to, no matter what words you use or what arguments you come up with, you are never ever going to convince people that being cis and straight is not the default. Because it actually is, and it is obvious. Even in societies where being anything other than straight is generally socially acceptable, 95% of people identify as straight (and only 3% as bi - only 0.5% as trans). Heterosexual attraction is a prerequisite for the existence of multicellular life forms, and that is the root of its being the default.
That's not a judgement, its just biology.
Its obvious from a scientific standpoint, and its obvious from observation of real human behavior. 

That makes trying to convince people that its really only social conditioning that makes being straight the default, or that its really just as common to be anything else, a very ineffective strategy to try to change minds. When you insist on something to someone that they can plainly see is false on the face of it, that person's response is to write you off entirely. When people outside a particular sub-culture hear arguments that are developed entirely within that sub-culture, they tend to stop listening - even if the rest of what the person is saying may be entirely valid. 
In this case, what the terminology does is acknowledge the reality of the default arrangement, and say, hey - this is still a family, even though its different. The difference doesn't invalidate the aspect of being a family, this is just another way to do it. Its an alternative way to the mainstream, but the end result is still the same - parents who love and take care of their children. 
And it encompasses everything that isn't the norm - it is much more widely inclusive than, say " LGBT family" would be. It includes an inherent demand for acceptance of hetero-couple who choose to adopt (who also face intolerance and discrimination - esp when they are both physically fertile and make a deliberate choice); it embraces families headed by a single parent, or by an aunt or uncle. It embraces poly-relationships that include children, which are so rare and marginalized that it doesn't even occur to most people that they exist at all. And it can even couples who choose not to have children at all. They are all different from the model of one man one woman and one or more children they produced biologically, and they are all families. Just the existence and use of the term helps people who aren't exposed to the alternatives in real life to begin to understand that, and that is the first - and largest - step to accepting it.
And it has been working. This is one issue that the average American's mind has changed on over even just my own lifetime. Reframing it from "freak" to "alternative" has been part of "normalizing" it, in a way, to the point where there are now prime time TV shows that include families with two dads where that's not the focus of the show, it just happens to be the background of a character. That is huge. That would never have happened when I was a kid.
Hopefully, even if you still disagree, you can at least see that there is another side to this than you saw before, and that I actually have a real - and entirely personal - reason for defending my choice of words in describing my own experience. It is not just me being argumentative or academic or "poking holes" for its own sake. I genuinely believe you are wrong on this, and not only that, but that if your position were to be widely accepted it would be tangibly counter-productive. I believe it would make things worse for the actual people who live in alternative families if the term were taken away from them out of some sort of philosophical/political insistence that everyone "should" be willing to pretend it is actually "normal" and therefor not worthy of any distinguishing term.  
That's why I wanted to discuss that point, why I didn't just accept you interjection and move on. I believe what you said would have a negative impact on people, and I think that matters.

And frankly, I don't think its really ok to come to a conclusion and then be close-minded about it when its an issue that actually effects people, potentially for the worse.  Values should be had with conviction. Conclusions should not. The stakes are too high. That's why, despite how much I have learned, and how much thought I have already put into topics of race and gender and sexuality and society, I always listen to you when you speak. I always consider what you are saying. Because I know you are intelligent, I know you have different knowledge and different experiences than me, and that makes you a resource. That's how I continue to learn and grow and refine my understanding.
But I don't feel that that respect is returned. You keep projecting it as something I am doing, but I really feel like the reason these things turn from discussions to arguments between us is that you (think that) you KNOW you are right, and you are no longer open or available to considering any other option or possibility or perspective. Then you become exclusively concerned with being heard and understood, and, since you already have the one correct truth, it is pointless and a waste of your time to really listen or consider anything I'm saying. It becomes an argument because you switch from our usual conversation mode to lecturing me mode, any time the topic is one you feel personally. It doesn't even seem to occur to you that I may feel it just as personally, for the same or similar reasons, and have applied logic and come to a different conclusion - because if you have the one true answer, I must not have done one of those things, or else I would already agree with you. All this stuff is way to complex to claim you can simply take facts, apply a logical filter, and one correct answer will filter through. Logic doesn't apply to social science the way it applied to natural science.
If you were actually open to learning and revising and improving your understanding, then you wouldn't object to holes being poked in your arguments.  The only reason that would be a problem is if you wanted to cling to whatever conclusion you have already come to, whether it is right or wrong. I mean, we aren't talking about me finding tiny irrelevant technicalities to quibble with. I am not creating holes. If I see one, I call it out. If there are none there, I don't try to make one up. When I'm listening to you, I'm not just waiting and listening and trying to find something to argue with, anymore than you deliberately wanted to derail my story about camp with your interjection that "alternative family" was a bad term to use... 


[To a good friend who had just sent an article by Dan Savage on misogyny]

I've been debating whether or not to write about this recently
I guess I will - it'd be as much writing to respond to you, and then more people will get to see it
short summary - I think there is another from of misogyny in this whole discussion, one much deeper and insidious, and one which is held at least, if not more, strongly, by the side that is opposed to misogyny.  It has to do with the unconscious assumption that females are inherently victims, which frames literally every discussion on feminism, harassment, and violence
I've written about this before (including my longest and most potentially controversial blog post ever), but I keep adding to and refining it as I read and hear more.
Here's my summary I wrote before about the Isla Vista killings that spurred the latest round of outraged internet activists:

Alright, so I finally caught up on the latest infotainment that passes for relevant news.

How is it that people miss that the majority of his victims were male?

What an incredibly appropriate analogy, for the "feminist" misogyny I've been trying to point out the past couple years: the belief, even in the face of contrary evidence, that women are inherently victims, that women are weak and helpless and need protection.
You see it in the persistent belief that it is dangerous for a woman to walk alone at night in bad neighborhood - even though statistics say men are at significantly greater risk of attack by stranger.
You see it in the persistent myth of date rape drugs - even though 99% of suspected roofies turn out to be nothing but self-inflicted alcohol ingestion.
You see it in the extremely different reactions (and sometimes even laws) in sex with a minor depending on which gender was the older and which the younger.
You see it in rape laws (and statistic gathering) that defines the word rape as penetration, which automatically means a female forcing a male is a lesser (or no) crime.
You see it in claims that "society doesn't value women" - while we ignore that men are expected (and often legally required) to go to war and die for society, while women are not only not forced to, but aren't even allowed to.

And then here, when twice as many men are murdered as women, and we all agree to pretend that it exemplifies violence against women. Um, huh?

I'm not denying that sexism or oppression exists. But the trope of woman as victim is not at all helpful in countering them. In fact, it is deeply counter-productive.
You want to end rape? Fuck giving the power to perpetrators, with the slogan "no means no". How about "fight back!" as a slogan? The overwhelming majority of attempted rapes where the intended victim fights back with maximum violence, the rape does not occur. But most don't fight back, because women are taught all their lives that they are weak and defenseless, that they are naturally victims.
It's bullshit.
You are no more a victim than you allow yourself to be. The laws have been changed.
Don't wait for men to give you what you deserve, fucking take it.

[then he wrote a response, and then I responded to the response]

First of all, I don't really disagree with anything you said.  I make this disclaimer cause I know that sometimes the way I frame discussions comes across as argumentative.  I mean it more as dialogue - its just that the most interesting and useful revelations generally come from hashing out the details of conflict.  Where two people agree, there isn't much more to talk about.

so, that being said - when I spoke of the woman as victim meme, I wasn't referring specifically to violence or any specific thing.  It comes up everywhere that gender is an issue.  This most recently came up in a discussion of a case where two college students were both extremely drunk, had consensual sex, and a week later the female was convinced by a older school staff member to file rape charges against her partner.  Of course, this isn't particularly unusual, but in this particular case, she had told a friend, as well as texting another friend and the male partner her explicit intentions to have sex with him just minutes before hand.  So there was actual documented evidence of it.  There were also multiple witnesses, including older staff, who confirmed that he was drunk enough to meet the standards of unable to consent.  The police dropped the charges, but the college's standard was that a drunk person can not consent, (therefor her consent was invalid), and at the same time that being drunk does not remove responsibility to not commit sexual assault, and he was expelled from school.   By their own standards she was guilty of raping him, but pressing charges against her for it was never even a consideration by anyone involved.
And this is pretty much the default, everywhere.  If two people both voluntarily get drunk and have consensualsex, this is almost universally seen as the male statutory raping the female.  I could be mistaken, but I am fairly certain the grand total cases of a woman being convicted of having sex with a drunk man is zero.  Ever.  Which means either men never have heterosexual sex after drinking, or we (society) has never fully let go of the deep seated assumption that every sex act is one that a man does to a woman.
You see the same thing just in our language - you don't say that food "penetrates" your mouth, or a bird penetrating the hand is worth two penetrating the bush.  The word penetration means something forcing its way in where it doesn't belong: a needle penetrates the skin, a spy penetrates the castle's defences.  But there is absolutely no reason we couldn't frame the sex act as the female enveloping the male.
You can see this sexist assumption in the genre of femdom porm.  Instead of the dominate female tying the guy down, blindfold and gagging him, and riding him for her own enjoyment, she invariably dons a strap-on and gives him anal.  In other words, the actual physical act of "penetration" is taken as default interchangeable with "dominant".  But this comes from culture, not from biology.

I think when we start with that as the basis of understanding and framing sex itself, that the physical, biological reality automatically implies a dominance / submission relationship, that it is inherently him fucking her, literally everything else stems from that.  All the rest of our assumptions and beliefs, about gender relations, about violence, about porn, about prostitution, about harassment, about age of consent, about intoxicated consent, all of it has that underlying assumption as its basis, and I think it is just as influential in the beliefs and arguments of feminists as it is in the most misogynistic - possibly more; at least the guy who thinks women are evil succubi seductresses assigns them full agency!

So, yeah, long explanation to say I wasn't speaking specifically to rape victims.  I get what you are saying about instinct.
That part, about fighting back, is directed at anti-rape activists.  For many years (and probably still) many have actively, explicitly, discouraged women from fighting back on the grounds that they are more likely to get hurt.  This belief doesn't stem from statistics though, they clearly and consistently say that those who fight are both less likely to get raped AND less likely to get physically hurt.
I think the reason they don't want to promote that knowledge is that it conflicts with the story that rapists don't want sex as much as they are sadists who crave power.  They want to promote that idea because its easier to say "those people over there" are evil people, to frame it as good and evil, then it is to admit that humans are animals, we are driven by food sex safety and social contact and we all have the capacity to do hurtful things.  No different from how we universally revile Nazi's, even though the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram electroshock experiment taught us without a doubt that the same could happen anywhere, that the majority of any population will be "evil" under the right conditions.  The activists like to overlook, ignore, or explain away that rapists unconsciously target women who are ovulating, implying that there is an evolutionary force at work, or that by far the greatest drops in rape Nationwide (probably worldwide, but I don't have that data) occurred concurrently with the rise of porn (first in the 80s with the VCR, then again in the 00s with the internet), clearly implying that some form of sexual release dulls the desire.
Ugh, I am getting so off topic.  The topic is just so BIG!  

OK, my point was, "No means no" is disempowering.  It means that the potential rapist has the responsibility to choose not to act.  The victim's only power is verbal, and it is the potential rapist who is supposed to abide by it.  As troubling as that is, there is another side to it.  It is false.  In one survey some years back, more than half of college age women admitted to saying "no" when they really wanted to proceed.  Most said that it gave them plausible deniability, that it was a way to avoid slut shaming (not necessarily in those words).  A number explicitly said they wanted their (male) partner to ignore their words, because they enjoyed the idea of him over powering her, or being too lustful to control himself.  Of course no one wants to literally be raped - but the fantasy of it is extremely common among women, and many want to set conditions to make it seem/feel that way.  I know this both from reading, and from personal experience (which I found incredibly creepy, incidentally!).  But no one wants to admit it or talk about it.  I don't believe society can make any progress until it does.  Its like southern states trying to avoid teen sex by avoiding talking about it.  It doesn't work.  It makes it worse.  It doesn't matter how many times a college frat boy hears "no means no" from public service messages, if the message he's getting from his real life sex partners is "no is a yes that needs a little more convincing".  And sooner or later he's gonna encounter a woman who doesn't mean that, and that's when the problems occur.

Re: women being valued - that wasn't what I was saying.  I was saying no individual is valued by "society".  In the big picture we are all expendable.  When people say society doesn't value women, the fact of specifying, of saying it that way, implies that society does value men, so that's where I point out that every able bodied man is potential cannon fodder as soon as a country or kingdom is threatened.  Men are expected to work at jobs they hate for the vast majority of hours they are awake in their lifetime to take care of their families - it was always a source of social stigma if they didn't, but now that we have the means it is legally enforced.  Just as easily as one can say (as they often do) that women are just "valued" for their role in making and raising babies, so too could you assert that men are only valued for their role in impregnating women and providing for offspring.  After all, at least as many women want children and grandchildren than men do.  Ultimately, there is no society without both sexes, not only existing, but meeting and coupling up.  "Society" doesn't care about individual stuff like happiness or equality.  It just is.  Its a collection of millions of individuals, with their own self-interests - and half of them are female.  
Going back to that "meeting and coupling up" part - one thing I've noticed / learned recently is that while many people are actively concerned with tempering hetero male aggression in seeking sex partners (buying free drinks with a plan, being generally manipulative, hitting on coworkers in the workplace, catcalling on the street, persistence in any context in the face of initial rejection) there isn't any effort to temper hetero female submissive behavior.  What is seen as overly aggressive is just a point on a scale of assertive.  There is no universal standard, and what one finds offensive or harassing another finds flattering or seductive.  And the majority of women, even feminists and activists, still expect the man to be assertive.  They expect him to ask her out, to move for the first kiss, to be dominate in bed.  And no one seems to see the correlation.  If men all stopped being assertive, and women don't start, then no one hooks up at all, and in a few decades there are no more humans.  As long as being assertive is the only way for sex to happen, men are going to keep doing it, and as long as that is the expectation and standard there are going to be some individuals who take things too far, who cross the blurred lines and get a little close to the dark side of the grey area.

On a mostly unrelated note: I don't subscribe to the common notion that only people who are within a particular group can have useful insight into that group.  I strongly oppose it.  I will always listen to a white person's thoughts on race relations.  I would never try to shut them up on the grounds that they haven't personally experienced what they are talking about.  That's an ad hominem argument.  The same statement made by a person of different demographics is either valid or not valid.  It doesn't become more or less accurate or profound or reasonable because of the speaker.  I think that's a bullshit cop-out that people who are wrong use to try to gain credibility.  I find that argument used almost exclusively along side righteous-indignation, and I believe that the mere feeling of righteous-indignation is a strong sign that a person is being highly biased and subjective, and has closed themself off to considering contradictory evidence.  The feeling of self-righteous indignation is the most extreme manifestation of the back-fire effect - it is the mind's defense against evidence that challenge the roots of an ideology that a person has adopted so completely that it has become a part of their own personal identity.  
I think when a person accept that argument used against them (i.e. "its not my place"), it stems from a combination of internalized guilt (by association) and sympathy for the strength of feeling being expressed by the person saying it to them.  But the strength of emotion has exactly zero correlation with likelihood of accuracy, and I think addressing hard issues often has to mean hurting people's feelings.

That said, I totally acknowledge your point about taking the reality of emotion into account in order to maximize effectiveness.
I try to take that into account, to an extent, and what I say in the moment in person with a person who is going through something is different from what I will say in a theoretical political conversation.  As far as what I write in my blog, I'm not good at being manipulative, and since nobody at all is saying some of the stuff I'm saying, or even anything similar, I feel like my best role is to just put the ideas out there, direct and complete as possible.  Many people will be offended, and/or will ignore it.  Hell, most won't read it to begin with.  And maybe now and then someone open-minded will stumble across it, and even if they don't accept it at first, maybe the seeds have been planted, and maybe they will look at things differently, if only a little.  That's the most I dream of accomplishing.  I have gotten a comment that I have completely changed someone's view on capitalism.  I am getting more and more hits from google from the keywords "femdom" and "feminism".  And occasionally people even read all 5 parts of my essay on societies perception of rape and its implications for societies view of female agency.  I don't know who, and no one comments, but I can see in the back-end data that some people read it to the end.  The people who would object most strongly would never read to the end, and if they did I'd be getting hate mail.  So I think I may well be influencing people, even though my style is direct and harsh and unapologetic.  

But don't get me wrong - your words gave me pause.  I need to remember and keep in mind, and tweak where I can, to stay direct but be less harsh, to acknowledge emotions, in all their illogical power.  Its hard to do, and reminders are good for me.

lastly - for future reference: if you get me started on a topic, sometimes I write really long emails.   

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