Thursday, 29 November 2012

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tomorrow Is International Men’s Day

This article, "13 Reasons It Is Unlucky To Be Male", originally appeared on Men’s Health Australia

November 19 is International Men’s Day: a time to promote male role models; to celebrate men’s contributions to society; to focus on men’s health and well being; to highlight discrimination against males; and to improve gender relations and promote gender equality.

As someone who wants both my son and my daughter to flourish across all areas of life, I am frequently reminded that our society and media do a particularly poor job of highlighting and addressing areas in which males face disadvantage. Thankfully we have women’s offices, ministries and NGOs working tirelessly to improve the areas in which women still fare poorly. This is not the case for men.

We seem to have a cultural blind spot around men and gender politics. When a man has a problem, it is frequently seen as his own fault, whereas women’s problems are more often attributed to others or to society. For example, we hear that men are to blame for their own poor health (“men don’t go to the doctor”), whereas young women’s high levels of eating disorders are blamed upon the cultural pressure to be thin.

The portrayals of men in modern day media are often negative – as violent murderers, wife bashers, sexual abusers, deadbeat dads, and bumbling idiots – even though, in reality, only a small proportion of men act out these roles and behaviours. This compounds the lack of compassion for men’s issues.

Our society often assumes that ‘men have it good’ and only women carry the burden of gender-based disadvantage. The evidence strongly contradicts this. Here are 13 areas in which men and boys need our help. I would ask that you picture an important male in your life as you read them – be it your son, brother, husband, best mate or father. Many thanks to Glen Poole from the Men’s Network in England for the idea for this article.

1) If we want everyone to live longer, healthier lives, we must address the appalling state of men’s health. Males have much higher illness, injury and death rates and die almost five years earlier than females, yet public research funding for male health is less than one-third of that for female health. National health expenditure is one third higher for females than for males. The problem is not that resources have preferentially gone to women, but that health service provision has been less than adequate at identifying and addressing the health needs of males. Health services in many instances serve women and children well but men poorly, in terms of access, availability, suitability of service delivery environments and service delivery methods (men are greeted and treated from a female model of service delivery). Health promotion messages aimed at males are poorly targeted and often demeaning or derogatory. Until 2010 Australia had no male health policy or longitudinal national male health study.

2) The health of boys also needs attention. After the first year of life boys have a death rate 35 percent higher than girls. In all areas of health status (death, disability, handicap and illness), boys fare worse than girls. Generally, more boys than girls have mental health problems, including conduct disorder, disruptive or antisocial behaviors. Young boys are the predominant reported victims of physical violence, emotional abuse and neglect from adults and carers. There is no secondary school testicular cancer self-examination component of sexual health education for boys despite the fact that incidence rates of testicular cancer for males aged 15 to 39 are more than double the rates of cervical cancer in females of the same age group. Up to one in seven boys experiences child sexual assault before the age of 16.

3) The male suicide rate is a national disgrace. 1,814 males killed themselves in 2010: more than the entire road toll. Divorced men are three times as likely to commit suicide as any other group.

4) Men are raised to be disposable. We socialise boys to take more risks and place a lesser value on their health and safety so that men will take on the dangerous but essential jobs: firefighting, logging, heavy trucking, construction, mining and the military. In a gender-equitable society we would raise both our sons and daughters to share this work. In Australia however, the most deadly, dangerous, unhealthy and risky work is carried out overwhelmingly by males, and the highest occupational health risks, mortality rates and disability levels are experienced by poorer men. More than twice as many males as females experience work-related injuries and illnesses, and over ninety percent of work-related deaths are males. Australia also remains a signatory to the international convention exempting “able bodied males” between 18 and 45 from the ban on forced labour. We hear a lot about the “glass ceiling” when it comes to women’s employment but very little about the “glass cellar” when it comes to men’s.

5) Men are more likely to be homeless. Males are one third more likely to be homeless compared to females, and twice as likely to be sleeping rough (homeless).

6) If we want everyone to live lives free from violence, we must address violence against men. The overwhelming burden of disease from violence worldwide is born by males. Men make up three-quarters of suicides, two-thirds of homicides and three-quarters of war-related deaths. In Australia, young men are three times as likely as young women to be victims of violence, however, there are no public health campaigns to address this serious issue. Men make up one third of victims of family violence, however there are barely any support services for these men, nor treatment services for abusive women. Some argue that because men are most often assaulted by other men, the violence they experience is somehow less important. However, it shouldn’t matter who the perpetrator is. Talking about the gender of the perpetrator diverts the conversation away from addressing the needs and experiences of male victims of violence. We don’t trivialise the experience of lesbian victims of domestic violence in this way by saying “but lesbians are most often assaulted by other lesbians.”

7) If we want to give every child the best possible start in life, we must look at the way schools are failing boys. Fifty percent more Australian females than males graduate from our universities each year. In NSW, the difference between boys’ and girls’ average Tertiary Admission Rank is almost 20 percent. Boys have significantly lower levels of achievement in literacy than girls, are significantly more disengaged with schooling, and drop out more often. They report significantly less positive experiences of schooling in terms of enjoyment of school, perceived curriculum usefulness and teacher responsiveness. Boys are subject to more disciplinary actions during schooling, are more likely to participate in subsequent delinquent behaviours, alcohol and substance abuse, and during adolescence, are 4–5 times more likely than girls to suffer from depression and commit suicide. Boys are nine times more likely to be referred to pediatricians for behavioral problems, including Attention-Deficit Disorder.

8) There is a critical lack of male teachers. The proportion of male teachers is at a record low and continues to fall. In 2011 just 30 percent of all full-time equivalent teachers were male: 19.3 percent in primary schools and 41.8 percent in secondary schools. Males make up 2 percent of preschool teachers and 4 percent of childcare workers. The lack of male teachers may be a strong factor behind the high dropout and low achievement rates of boys. With so few male role models and mentors it’s no wonder that boys disengage.

9) If we want to ensure that every child has the best possible relationship with both parents, we must remove the barriers separating fathers from their children. Fathers are removed from their children against their will and through no fault of their own. The majority of fathers are not granted reasonable access after contested legal proceedings costing thousands of dollars. Many fathers are advised not to proceed with custody applications in the first place. False accusations of domestic violence or child abuse are not infrequent in attempts to ensure custody of the children. Non-custodial parents, usually fathers, are then subjected to a system that forces them to pay “child support” without any system to make sure the money they pay for the benefit of their children is actually used for such. The system then refuses to enforce their ability to see their own children and the children’s ability to see their parent. Parental alienation, whereby children are taught to dislike or fear the non-custodial parent is also not uncommon.

10) There is an epidemic of fatherlessness. Of the five million children in 2009–10, 864,000 (17 percent) lived away from their father. Of these children, 48 percent saw their father at least once per fortnight, while 24 percent rarely saw their father (less than once per year or never). Almost half never stayed overnight with their father. In 2009–10, there were 366,030 non-resident fathers. Research from the USA shows that violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, teen pregnancy and suicide all correlate more strongly to fatherlessness than to any other factor. The majority of prisoners, juvenile detention inmates, high school dropouts, pregnant teenagers, adolescent murderers, and rapists all come from fatherless homes. The connection is so strong that controlling for fatherlessness erases the relationships between race and crime and between low income and crime.

11) If we want parents to be the best they can be, we must do more to support fatherhood. Until the 1970s dads weren’t allowed to be present at the birth of their own children. Since then the role of the Australian father has changed from sole breadwinner to sharing the hands-on parenting and earning roles with his partner. Fathers are more likely than ever to require time off work to look after their children’s needs but government legislation and workplace cultures haven’t followed suit. Men are still expected to put in long hours and not take time off for family responsibilities. Women may sometimes find it hard to find an employer that gives them the job flexibility to care for their young children, but most men find it almost impossible. Discrimination complaints by men because of their parental status have more than doubled in the past decade. The current inequitable parental leave schemes, favouring mothers, reinforce fathers in the traditional ‘breadwinner’ role rather than supporting them as being ‘hands-on’ dads (which the research shows gives better outcomes for children). Many fathers feel excluded by staff and services that appear to be focused solely upon the needs of mothers. Ante-natal courses for new fathers are currently run at only a handful of hospitals despite the fact that up to 10 percent of first-time dads suffer post-natal depression and in most cases their symptoms go untreated.

12) Males lack reproductive rights. Upon becoming pregnant, a woman can choose to have the baby, have an abortion or put the baby up for adoption. A man has no legal right to choose whether to become a father or even to be notified that he has become a father, even if the pregnancy came about via deception (e.g. by falsely claiming to be on the pill or utilizing discarded or stored semen). Men also lack the range of contraceptive options available to women.

13) We need to do more to protect baby boys from infant circumcision. Each year almost 25,000 boys under the age of four are subjected to painful, sometimes dangerous and life altering surgery without their consent or medical cause. All six major medical societies of Australia have declared that circumcision of newborn males should not be routinely performed. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has expressed concern that neonatal circumcision may violate human rights. In their statement the ACP disclosed the traumatic nature of circumcision, recommending that parents should be given more complete facts about the procedure. Circumcision has serious risks including infection, hemorrhage, scarring, shock, penile disfigurement, penile amputation, and even occasional death. The complication rate for this unnecessary procedure is estimated to be 2-10 percent. Three Australian states and two territories have laws that protect little girls from this sort of procedure but there exists nothing to protect little boys.

Gender equity is not a zero-sum game: this International Men’s Day, let us remember that looking after men and boys does not take anything away from women and girls. If we want to create a world where each child can grow to fulfill their greatest potential, we must care equally about the needs and human rights of both genders.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

As a Radical Feminist, I Believe . . .

Been following the always entertaining proclamations of Integralmath over on YouTube, & this recent one on the practically boundless imbecility of radical feminists is no different. Obviously I am ideologically opposed to his (admittedly well-reasoned) defence of the shaving of the punanis, but on everything else I must say it's all I can do to keep from whooping my encouragement & giggling with girlish glee.

Roll clip!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day

In addition to the obvious - the 32 million human beings blown to pieces or mutilated during World War One, almost all male - I would like to, if I may, put forth a couple more things to keep in mind on this day of recollection.

One is that as many as 9 out of 10 British men who died in the trenches did not have the vote. Due to age, class, & property restrictions, the great majority of those who died didn't even have the right to put a cross in the ballot box of the country sending them to their deaths. 'Men' as a group got the vote the same year the majority of women got the vote: 1918, the year the men left alive came home from the war. It's good to remember that universal suffrage only came about because those men, with more undeniable righteousness than perhaps any other cause in history, demanded it, & to not have granted it might well have ended in revolution, & the abolition of the monarchy, as had so recently happened in Russia. It's wise, too, to remember that the enfranchisement of women came in only on the coat-tails of that, & that the war-work at home by women was stated as its justification - the suffragettes, universally seen as hysterical terrorists at the time, had little or nothing to do with the extension of the vote to women, & indeed their violent actions almost certainly put back that inevitability several years.

It's good to remember that all women - & men - alive in Britain today can thank those men, who fought & died, for the right we have to vote.

Now could also be a time for us to remember the universality of male disposability. In every age, in every nation, it is now, & always has been, the men & the boys who are sacrificed in their hundreds, thousands or millions on behalf of the women & children back home. For the good of all others, the young & the old:

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,

Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,

And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
-Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Letter To A Future Daughter-In-Law

Great state-of-the-nation address from Suz, a name I'd seen around for awhile but have only just now got round to checking out her fine blog, Shining Pearls Of Something:

A letter to a future daughter-in-law, possibly my own:

A few years from now, you’re probably going to want to marry my son.  Perhaps you already do; he’s kind of hot and his potential is quite obvious, if I do say so myself.  He’s only 20, handsome and well-built, and when he lets his hair grow long, it’s thick and wavy.  He has his father’s beautiful eyes, and my dimples look much better on him than they ever did on me.  He’s also a U.S. Marine; he has finished his deployment and doesn’t expect to go overseas again, so he’s preparing to begin earning college credits.  I don’t hover, so I’m not sure which major he’s chosen – engineering or actuarial science.  He surfs, rides a motorcycle and a mountain bike, hikes, and maintains a classic car.  Pretty much everybody likes him or loves him, and respects him.  Girls hit on him regularly.

I’ll be surprised if he ever marries though.  You see, his plan is to wait until he’s at least thirty, therefore he will spend the next decade meeting, dating, working with, and probably sleeping with, the product of 60 years of American feminism.  I’m pretty sure he won’t find many women worth considering for marriage.  How about we look at it from his perspective, m’kay?  Here’s what he sees:

Half of you have been raised without your fathers, yet only a few of your fathers deserved to be kicked out of your lives; you were raised by the women who kicked your fathers out, and perhaps a string of stepdads and “uncles.”  And those women, your mothers, taught you their values by example.  Not an auspicious start.  Most of the rest of you were raised by fathers who knew damn well that if they displeased your mothers, they too could be kicked out of your lives according to your mothers’ whims.  They knew full well who had the REAL power in the family; they quietly accepted that “mother knows best.”

You were raised in a culture that permits, even encourages, women and girls to always push for more.  Not necessarily to do more or earn more, but to demand more and to expect more.  You were punished far less severely for your transgressions than were your male peers.  Indeed your female peers egged you on to be even naughtier, and to be defiant about it.  It’s Grrrl Power, after all!  The boys of your acquaintance were expected to give in to your shenanigans and your shit tests, and those who didn’t were labeled “problem children” and medicated.  A boy’s best bet was to shut up and grovel, and maybe win your approval.  They sure weren’t allowed to go around offending the Special Snowflakes now, were they? 

You were raised in a Disney Princess Culture, where every girl is entitled to her Prince Charming.  And if she can’t find one, she has the Grrrl Power to kiss any old frog and transform him into a Prince.  You were raised to be a slut, at least through your twenties. Go to College. Establish a Career. Don’t get married until your late twenties or early thirties, but DO NOT, under any circumstances, repress your sexuality.  Your foremothers fought hard for your right to be promiscuous with no consequences;  don’t you dare let their efforts go to waste.  And since you’re not looking for a husband, there’s no need to sleep with only “good” men, is there?  ‘Cuz badboyz are hawt!  And nice guys are boring.  Additionally, you have plenty of time to ride the best cocks you can find; thanks to modern medicine, you can get pregnant after menopause if you want, so there’s no hurry.  You are expected to waste your youth and your beauty on hot guys who treat you like shit, then give your leftovers to the guy you’ll promise to love, honor and cherish for the rest of your life.  Wow, how lucky is he!

My son looks around and he sees bitchy, arrogant, malicious women.  He sees spoiled greedy women.  He sees financially irresponsible women.  He sees lazy undisciplined women.  (Yes, even in the military; they had to lower the standards so more women could “serve.”)  He sees overweight women wearing unflattering clothes that display muffin tops and rolls of fat, who drool over his biceps while telling him that “looks aren’t important.”  He sees slutty women who dress to attract men, sleep with the “hot” ones, and denigrate the rest by calling them “creepy.”  He sees “competitive” professional women, whose primary tool for getting ahead is the threat of sexual harassment lawsuits. He sees demanding women who expect men to bow and scrape for the privilege of a smile.  He sees utterly irrational women whose “self-esteem ” is obscenely disproportionate to their proven worth.  He sees women who expect romantic dates and expensive gifts, yet have absolutely nothing of value to contribute to a relationship.  He sees women who flirt with their hopeful, geeky JustFriends, barely enough to keep them on a string while simultaneously panting after Alpha Hotties, then run crying back to those JustFriends after being pumped and dumped by said Hotties, “Oh, why can’t more men be nice like you?”  (Answer: if they were, no woman would fuck them.)

Look around you ladies.  You see the very same women, don’t you?  Most of you are these women.  You think this is normal and acceptable, because “everybody does it.”  It’s not.

There’s something you should know about my son and his peers.  They’re not gay, they’re not lazy, they’re not stupid, they’re not unambitious, and they’re not weak. They’ve merely figured you out.  They know you don’t give a rat’s ass about them, and you see them as nothing but providers and fantasy sex objects.  They are wise to the game and they’re done playing by your rules.
They have the same job titles as you and they take home the same pay, but they work longer hours and they do harder work; they know that their productivity is why employers can afford to hire you to sit at a desk and shuffle papers.   They know that if two drunken people have sex and both regret it in the morning, only one of them is a “rapist.”  They know that “My Body/My Choice” actually means"My Body/My Choice/Your Wallet."  They know that the minute they sign a marriage license, everything they own is yours, but nothing you own is theirs (except your debts) and you can walk away with cash and prizes, at any time, for any reason.  Or for no reason at all. 

They’re calling Bullshit.

A few years from now, you’ll begin asking yourself, “Where have all the good men gone?”  You’ll look down your noses at all those guys playing video games and living like frat boys in cheap apartments, and you’ll know that they could do “so much better” for themselves.  You’ll shake your heads in wonder at their “immaturity,” or their “wasted potential.”  Here’s a little secret.  (Yep.  A few men are immature and weak – they’ve had the masculinity abused or medicated out of them by their single mothers and grandmothers) but most of them?

They no longer give a rat’s ass about YOU. 

That’s right.  They don’t need to work hard and earn a good living.  They have no intention of fathering and supporting any children, and no desire whatsoever earn your approval.  You go buy your own four bedroom colonial in just the right subdivision!  That’s what Grrrl Power is for, isn’t it?  Many of these men will go so far as to quit their jobs as soon as they begin to “earn a good living.”  They don’t want to earn enough money to pay taxes.  They don’t want to pay the salaries of millions of useless (and mostly female) government employees, and they don’t want to pay for the personal choices of “Empowered Women.” They refuse to feed your Beast.  And you, and your church, and your government can’t cajole them or shame them into giving a shit.  Men are dropping out, Ladies.  Chivalry has died of blunt force trauma, in a beatdown administered by Grrrl Power.  Your mothers, your grandmothers, your schools, your family courts, your sociology professors, have all spent the last two generations telling men that they are unnecessary and unwelcome.  And now they’re leaving.  (Oh sure, they’ll be glad to fuck you while you’re young and hot, aaaand then they’ll move on to younger and hotter sluts.)

This is the gift that feminism has given to you – Independence.  Scary, lonely, bitter, potentially impoverished Independence.  For yourselves and for any children you may have.   Most of you won’t blame feminism though; you’ll blame Male Privilege (which doesn’t exist.)  You’ll blame The Patriarchy (which always gave women a far better deal than it gave men.)  You will stamp your feet, flip your hair, and blame anything except the single cultural force that has devoted itself to suppressing and controlling masculinity.  And you’ll go home alone every night to your cats, your Facebook Friends, and your vibrator.  I sure hope that’s what you want.
                                                                                                   A Mom

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Freddie Starr Hysteria Ate My Humanity

I'm really feeling much too depressed about the state of the world to write today but still feel I ought to say something, however little, about this night of the long knives Britain is going through right now. Earlier today I passed by a newspaper headline barking:

"Comic Freddie Starr was arrested today by police probing the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.

Starr, 69, was held on suspicion of sex offences after Karin Ward, 52, claimed he groped her following a 1974 BBC show when she was 14."

In a world of genocide, war, murder, political cover-ups, oil spills & corporate greed, this is what gets put on the front page. This is what the people most urgently need to hear, need to be made aware of?

Let me fix that headline for you:


Jesus Henrietta Christ. For that they can arrest you & send police in to search your house? THIRTY SEVEN YEARS LATER? Even if this did happen - & let's say it did, though there is of course no evidence for it - why wait THIRTY SEVEN YEARS for your day in the sun? Thirty seven years before taking the newspaper money & destroying the life of a pensioner? For what? What has this accomplished?

As a thought-experiment, why not try this: Imagine if, in 1974, a 55-year old unemployed plumber in Hollywood walked into a newspaper office & told them "40 years ago Mae West once pinched my arse & wouldn't take no for an answer". Would that be front page news? Should that be front page news? Should someone in 1974 have gone searched that old lady's house & then put her in jail?

There's so much that needs to be said about this whole phenomenon, about the paedophilia hysteria that has gripped our society ever since feminism rose to its present position of power & influence in the 1980s. What the TV show Brasseye termed "Paedogeddon" really kicked off around then, with the utterly insane witchhunts in places like Bakersfield & Great Neck in the USA, & then the UK & the rest of the west. People didn't think like this before then. People didn't see child abusers lurking behind every bush. Playgrounds didn't have to have iron fences around them, & men sat by themselves in the park were not being primarily noted as potential threats.

So much, too, to say about the demonization of male sexuality (the penultimate aim of the paedophilia hysteria) & the way we as a society moved from Victorian prudery - the Christian hatred of the body & demonization of all sex - straight into the feminist age, where only male sexuality is demonized & all women encouraged - rewarded, even - to think of themselves as victims in all sexual encounters. And of the breaking apart of community, family, love & togetherness in this age of the nanny state (the ultimate aim of the paedophilia hysteria) but whatever explanations I can try to give seem to me so obvious & in any sane world worth talking to, unnecessary.  


I've written elsewhere about the wild variance in the age of consent across the centuries & nations:
In Spain the age of consent is 13. Does this mean the Spanish people are a race of evil paedophiles? In Albania & Austria the age is 14, Germany too. And Hungary. And Italy. And Portugal. In Greece it's 15. In some parts of America it's as high as 18, though a hundred years or so ago it was as low as 12. In Mexico it's still 12. In Britain it used to be 12, way back in the day but was lowered to 10 in the 16th century...

Which of these is correct? Lined up like that, doesn't it become obvious that none of them are? And that, in fact, none of them could be?

The legality of sex is fluid, malleable. But in our search for truth, our personal morality has to be above the laws of the day. Just because something's against The Law doesn't mean, in the greater scheme of things, that it's wrong. And just because something's legal doesn't make it good & beneficial. Wouldn't it be better to simply accept that different people mature sexually at different speeds? Would it not be the most sensible & humane thing to try have that acknowledged to some degree in the eyes of the law?
On the cover of that newspaper there's a photo of the two of them together back in 1974, & yes she looks young but she doesn't look a child. And he looks pretty damn hot, I thought. Virile & handsome & young. Like a rock star. Why does that not get factored into the equation?

It makes me think of all the rock stars of the 1970's, with all those 16 year old (if that) groupies hanging off their cocks. Back then they were all at it - Santa Maria, that's why most of them got into rock'n'roll in the first place - & it was seen by anyone under 40 as something good & healthy, something wild & natural & free from the untruthful, hypocritical mores of society, much like rock & roll itself. When did the hardwired male desire for young, fertile women become a bad thing? And why?

Well, I guess I've already answered both of those.

Who is next to be dragged to the stocks? David Bowie? Brian Eno? Iggy Pop? Where does it end? Will gangs of vigilantes dig up Jimi Hendrix's headstone & grind that into dust too? How does any witch hunt end? I guess it stops when it gets so ridiculous that it can't sustain the credulity of the masses any longer. When farmyard animals get accused of witchcraft & 5-year old boys of communist leanings or sexual harassment. Hopefully then the herd moves onto something else. Someone else gets put in the stocks. But by then, of course, all the damage has been done, & can never be undone. And we move on. And we learnt nothing.

This world has gotten so bovine & stupid & cruel. I see every gathering of people now as only two meetings away from a lynch mob. And if you want to tell me that it has always been this way, then yes, perhaps it has. But I'm old & I'm tired, & I don't want to be a part of it anymore.

Further reading: 
a polyamorous addendum