Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Feminist Ideas vs Fieldwork

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the largest anti-abuse network in the United States, and this organization does real "field work" helping victims of rape, abuse, and incest. If there is an expert on these problems, RAINN is certainly on the list of candidates; these people are out in the field doing real work helping real victims.

I mention this because earlier this year (2014), RAINN released a report to the White House with specific recommendations for how to reduce the number of rapes on college campuses. This is important because it provides us with an opportunity to perform an experiment: if the mainstream feminist perspective on rape is correct, then we should expect RAINN's recommendations to emphasize things like combating rape culture and reworking masculinity, which many feminists have insisted are the major underlying causes of rape.

However, not only does the RAINN report not recommend addressing rape culture and masculinity, it specifically denounces focusing on these topics as tactics to reduce the number of rapes on campus.

"In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime. 

While that may seem an obvious point, it has tended to get lost in recent debates. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions."

Source: https://rainn.org/images/03-2014/WH-Task-Force-RAINN-Recommendations.pdf

And just like creationists who are confronted with biologists who actually work in the field, many feminist bloggers dismissed these experts, claiming that RAINN just doesn't understand feminism, or isn't looking at the problem correctly.



A similar situation arose when Erin Pizzey opened the first battered women's shelter in the UK in 1971. She soon discovered that many of the women at her shelter were just as violent as their husbands, and that a lot of domestic violence was reciprocal, and some feminists at the time reacted violently and hatefully when she voiced those observations. Again, feminists were at odds with a field worker.

This is what I mean when I say that I disagree with feminist ideas: while I support the goal of gender equality, I disagree with their models of reality (e.g. rape culture) and with the solutions these models present, as, it seems, RAINN also does.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Subverting the Presumption of Innocence

There is a very common political tactic that many different groups of people use to get around laws they don't like, and that tactic is to introduce a new law, which is related to the law they don't like and wish to subvert, which uses terms that, while they sound perfectly reasonable on their face, are so broad and vague that they can be (and are intended to be) interpreted in ways that undermine the law these people don't like. I will call this tactic "political subversion". And yes, I am aware that "subversion" is already a political term which means something different, but bear with me here.

Examples of Political Subversion

As many astute American secularists and atheists may know, the intelligent design movement, having been denied the right to inject their pseudo-scientific ideas into science classrooms in 2005, has since changed tactics to writing bills that simply wish to keep science "open" and to "encourage critical thinking". Taken at face value, this sounds very reasonable and downright obvious, but the problem is that it opens the door for teachers to, as the saying goes, "teach the controversy" and introduce non-science into science classrooms... all in the interest of doing good science, of course.

For example, there was a bill in Tennessee back in 2012 that claimed to want to protect science and ensure that students develop critical thinking skills. However, if you read the bill's text, and if you follow the Intelligent Design movement, it's obvious that this is simply an attempt to wedge anti-science into science classrooms by using broad terms that, again, sound great, but will be interpreted beyond what most people think they mean. Back in 2012, I made a video criticizing this bill.

Bill text: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Bill/SB0893.pdf

For more examples of these kinds of subversive science-related legislation, visit the National Center for Science Education's website; they heavily report and document these kinds of bills that seek to broaden and subvert science education.

You must first get behind someone before you can stab them in the back.

But this tactic doesn't only happen with regard to science education; it also shows up when talking about the right to an abortion, freedom of (and from) religion, and increasingly commonly, when certain feminists talk about rape victims in a court setting. As with science subversion, they use vaguely-worded legislation to undermine laws they don't like.

Victims and Political Subversion

I bring this up because an amendment to the Illinois Constitution (Article I, section 8.1) called "Crime Victims' Rights" recently passed, which appears to be an attempt at political subversion: it reaffirms things that people already agree with (the rights of the accuser), but it uses broad and undefined terms to do so, which leaves room to go above and beyond what most people think this bill is saying. I implicate feminism in this post because the bill's text is reminiscent of some current feminist talking points.

This Illinois amendment includes, among other things, the following addition to the first stated right of victims. The addition is underlined below.

(1) The right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy and to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice process. 

While this seems like a good idea that any reasonable person should support, the words, "harassment", "intimidation", and "abuse" are never actually defined in this amendment, which means that a wide variety of things may be banned from the criminal justice process as being "harassing" or "intimidating" to the victim, and that is where my concern begins. Specifically, my concern is that the necessary process of checking the victim's story will be labeled as "harassment" and "intimidating to the victim", and this process may be performed less rigorously or even eliminated altogether.

This would leave the courts no choice but to always believe the alleged victim (because remember, checking their story is abusive and intimidating), and the courts would be de facto forced to operate by "guilty until proven innocent", stripping the defendant of their right to the presumption of innocence. And what do you know, it turns out that many influential feminists have written in favor of exactly this in cases of rape and sexual assault, as I noted in this past blog post. On top of that, Sweden is actually considering adopting such a policy as law.

This, I think, is a compelling reason to oppose this amendment to the Illinois constitution. especially when you consider that victims are already entitled to "fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy".

That being said, if there is evidence that victims of crimes face serious problems that are require more than "fairness and respect", I might change my mind about this proposed amendment. Furthermore, if the words "harassment", "intimidation", and "abuse" were strictly defined such that they did not interfere with the necessary criminal justice process, again, I might change my mind about this amendment.

However, as this amendment is written, it raises a red flag that strongly suggests an ulterior motive to undermine the rights of the accused, much like the red flags for subverting science education, abortion rights, and freedom of religion in other bills.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Feminism vs. Responsibility

I’ve noticed a common, underlying theme of many feminist ideas and publications, and it’s a theme that I wasn’t convinced existed, despite the assurance of a few anti-feminists here and there. However, after spending more time in the midst of feminists (both online and in real life), this theme has become more and more pronounced, and I see it very clearly now.

This theme within many feminist ideas and publications is an appeal to pity in order to reject women’s personal responsibility…. which means what, exactly?

An appeal to pity is a type of logical fallacy in which the arguer attempts to convince you that her conclusion is correct by appealing to your sense of pity (for her, for the people in question, etc.), and in the case of feminists’ use of this fallacy, the conclusion they want you to accept is that women are powerless to fix whatever is causing their suffering: women don’t need to do anything, rather, men (or the society they control (patriarchy)) need to make the change, and we are supposed to just agree with the women who make this argument because they are suffering (appeal to pity). The story basically goes, “If women are suffering, then it's not their fault at all, and thus, there’s nothing they can do to fix their situation. Instead, other people (men) are the ones who need to do something about it.”

To illustrate how appeal to pity is used to reject personal responsibility in a general case, here is an analogous situation. Imagine I get into a car crash, and as a result, I become paralyzed from the neck down. As I'm lying in the hospital, I tell you that the car crash wasn’t my fault, and I beg you to believe me because I’ve been horribly maimed. Are you really going to look at me, as I lie in a hospital bed with tubes down my throat, and tell me that this is my fault? Of course not! But does that mean it wasn't my fault? Of course not!

While you may be extremely sympathetic to my current situation, your feelings of pity are irrelevant as to whether or not the car crash was my fault. However, it is very tempting to succumb to your feelings of pity and to simply agree with me.

"Broken collar bone? Awesome! Now it's not my fault!"

You can also see how this fallacy arises in a formal argument structure.

1. I was involved in a car crash.
2. The car crash left me permanently disabled.
3. Therefore, the car crash was not my fault. 

As you can see, P1 and P2 have nothing to do with the conclusion, except that P2 makes you feel pity, which kind of does make you want to agree with the arguer’s conclusion. Hence, the fallacy is called “appeal to pity”.

Many feminists do the same thing in order to remove women’s personal responsibility when talking about the following topics, and they often place the responsibility on men instead. Their justification? Women are victims, therefore, there's nothing they can/should do about it. In fact, if you listen to these feminists, it seems like there is absolutely nothing that women can do to improve their situation, and yet they persist that their brand of feminism is empowering to women.


This is one of the most popular talking points of many feminists right now: the pressure girls feel to conform to the standard of beauty, the criticism girls get for how they look, etc. Now, why does this happen? Well, anyone who’s been through school, or better yet, studied this occurrence, will tell you that the primary perpetrators of slut-shaming and of criticizing women based on how they look and act are, in fact, other women. And, as the linked article explains, not because society hates women. 

If a girl puts on different makeup, wears new shoes, and gets her hair done, it’s other girls who notice and critique her, not men. In fact, boyfriends (stereo)typically get scolded for exactly that: not noticing that their girlfriends altered their appearance in some subtle way. But guess who gets blamed for making girls feel bad about their appearances? Men; men get blamed for what women do to each other. 

And of course there are all those fashion magazines that tell women to lose weight and which make women feel bad by putting photoshopped women on the cover. But who writes these magazines? Not men, women. And who are these magazines written for? Not men, women. The people who have the power to make this change are women: women can stop buying them, and women can stop writing them. But once again, it's easier to blame men for being attracted to healthy-looking women with phenotypes that indicate good genes.

Men hate women's bodies, but is it men, or women?

Open this image in a new tab to see it more clearly.

“But you don’t understand: women are the victims! Are you really going to tell me that women are victims because of other women?”

Yes, yes I am. Maybe these feminists could organize a workshop on “healthy femininity” to work out what’s wrong with women, rather than telling men to rethink their masculinity, or shaming them for something they are not guilty of doing.

Now I'm not saying that these issues of body image are not problems "because it's just in-fighting among women", I'm just saying that you cannot reasonably blame men for these issues. Unless, of course, you wish to blame men for being attracted to phenotypes that indicate good genes, good health, and high estrogen levels.


I’ve heard enough feminists talk about this that I’ve decided to talk about it here. This is the idea that if two people have sex, even when they are equally drunk, then the woman is a rape victim, and the man is a rapist, and it usually goes like this:

Not, "too drunk to consent," just, "drunk".

It’s funny how, when two equally drunk people have sex, these feminists declare the woman to be free from responsibility for it, saying that the man should have known she was too drunk. However, if someone decided to drive drunk after her equally drunk friends told her to, everyone would say (as our courts do) that the driver is at fault, despite the presence of her equally drunk friends "who should have known that she was too drunk to consent drive." It is understood that when you are drunk, and you choose to do something, even at the pressure of your drunk peers, you are responsible for you.

Once again, these feminists reject women’s personal responsibility. 


Even the simplest and most brain-dead obvious ways of reducing your risk of being sexually assaulted are decried by many feminists. There’s nothing more offensive than telling a woman not to walk through the bad part of town alone at night to reduce her risk of being raped… buuuut if you tell her not to wear a solid red t-shirt in the bad parts of LA, well, that’s just obvious and you should already know that. Idiot. 

Now, as I explained in a past blog post, I understand that most rapes happen between people who know each other, and the perpetrators are normally people who you should be able to trust. Furthermore, most of the time it is not the “dark alley”, “stranger in the bushes” scenario, and thus, in most cases of rape, there really is nothing the rape victim did that was as obviously dangerous; it is usually not comparable to wearing a solid red t-shirt in LA.

However, even in those few cases where the victim did do something stupid (like go to a party at a well-known rape frat), many feminists still insist that the victim had absolutely no power to reduce her chances of being raped, and advising women (or rather, everyone) to avoid bad neighborhoods is offensive…. even though this advice would actually reduce the number of rape victims.

This creates an interesting paradox: these feminists claim they want to see fewer women raped, but it sounds like they’re actually willing to see MORE women raped, just so long as those women don’t get blamed for it at all. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to not be raped. Please don’t force women to become rape martyrs in exchange for freedom from any responsibility.


This follows a similar vein as the previous topic, and although the sentiment expressed below is less common in feminist circles than those presented above, the level of blatant disregard for women’s agency in this instance was too astounding for me to ignore.

Now, the underlying idea is one that I can appreciate and agree with: you should be free to dress yourself how you want. However, these women then go on to pretend that we already live in this ideal world, and they act shocked that dressing provocatively... well, provokes people. 

“I know the way I dress is kind of provocative, 
but it doesn't mean I should have to deal with it.”

In a perfect world, appearances wouldn't matter, but failing to acknowledge even a basic level of self-awareness in the real world is simply childish and it ignores your own agency. A comparable situation might be if a man went into a business interview wearing a polo shirt and slacks, and then complained about being seen as "unprofessional".

In fact, my barber has told stories of men who have gotten their long hair cut and their beards trimmed, and then these men are amazed by how differently people treat them. Suddenly, people address them as "sir", hold the door for them, and take them seriously. It's quite amazing, and it illustrates the fact that this is something that everyone has to deal with.

Ideally, it wouldn't matter what you wear (or how you keep your hair and beard), but quite frankly, you're an idiot if you ignore the reality that it
does matter to at least a basic extent. 

Once again, we have a case of, "I'm a victim, therefore, it's not my fault."


During the civil rights movement in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. got people organized for change; he didn't sit around complaining about the "white culture", demonizing white people, and assuring his supporters that black people were helpless victims.

Women have agency and responsibility, but many feminists are trying to take away women’s agency and turn them into victim objects with no power at all. Women are stronger and smarter than these feminists think. Women can improve their situation, they can think for themselves, and they can do it without blaming the men around them or asking men to be strong and independent for women

In the old days, it was believed that women couldn't make rational choices without the guidance of men. Nowadays, it is believed that women can't make rational choices without the guidance of feminists. I maintain that women are rational, they can make their own choices, they can deal with real-world problems in a rational way, and they can empower themselves. 

Victim Blaming

The term "victim blaming" is tossed around a lot, but it's rare that you hear more about it other than assertions that it's bad thing, without much of an explanation as to what exactly is meant by "victim blaming", or what is meant by the word "victim", or what in what contexts this phrase applies. As such, this post will be my analysis of the phrase's meaning, as well as where it can be applied.

First, let's define the word "victim". I am well aware that often times, two people are harming each other reciprocally, and in those situations it is nearly impossible to say that one person is “THE victim” and the other person is “THE perpetrator”, so for the sake of simplicity, I will talk about “the victim” as a person who was wronged, but who was minding their own business and not messing with other people. This will keep the analysis relatively simple, and this appears to be what many people mean when they say that someone is a "victim" of another person, although the degree to which there might have been reciprocity should be always be questioned, as it does change things quite a bit.

Now we can begin the analysis. I'd like to start by first clarifying what I'm NOT saying: I'm not saying that a criminal’s guilt is dependent on how easy it was to commit the crime. In other words, I'm not saying that a perpetrator's moral responsibility is at all mitigated by how easy their victim made their job. E.g. just because you left your car unlocked in a big city, that doesn't make a carjacker any less of a carjacker.

However, in hard, practical terms, the fact remains that it is a good idea to lock your car in a big city; in general, it is a good idea to take simple precautions against what other people might do to you or your property. Once again, in the event that you don’t take these precautions, the perpetrator isn't any less of a scumbag. However, it is very reasonable to say that you, as a reasonable person, should have known that this could happen, and it will benefit you to behave differently in the future. As an extreme example: you should know better than to leave all your money in an open box in your front yard.

And this gets into my central idea, which I will call, “reasonable prediction”. Reasonable prediction is the ability, which all adults can be expected to have, to make general predictions about your safety in future situations. That is, people can be expected to understand basic safety precautions like not cutting toward yourself, not driving drunk, locking up your bike, and not leaving all your money in an open box in your front yard. Should people be morally required to do these things? No, but is it a good idea that is in your best interest? Absolutely.

In order to further iron out exactly what is a "reasonable prediction", here are some scenarios where each successive instance of victimization is more reasonable to predict and avoid.

1. You are walking outside, you get struck by a small meteor, and you are either injured or killed.
- Your victimization was not a reasonable thing to have predicted. Who could possibly have predicted that? How could you have possibly "known better"?

2. You leave your bike locked with an uncuttable U-lock through its frame on a bike rack, but it gets stolen anyway somehow.
- Your victimization was not a reasonable thing to have predicted: if you were told that your U-lock needed to be plasma cut to be broken (as many of these U-locks claim), then it is very reasonable to expect your bike to not get stolen.

3. You are walking down the train tracks, and you get hit by a train.
- Your victimization was, I would say, more unpredictable than predictable, but it comes very close to sitting on the fence. It is fairly reasonable to assume that you would hear or see the train coming, even if that's not how it turned out. Maybe you should know better than to walk down the train tracks, but surely you would hear the train if it were coming.

4. You leave your bike unlocked on a city bike rack, and it gets stolen.
- Your victimization was a fairly reasonable thing to predict: it happens all the time to unlocked bikes; you see it everywhere, and it's not much of a burden to lock it up.

5. You are walking down the train tracks with earphones blasting, and you get hit by a train (this did actually happen to someone).
- Your victimization was a very reasonable thing to predict: you should know that trains run on train tracks, you should know there is a 50% chance the train will be behind you, and you should know that loud earphones block the only sensory input that would alert you to the train if it were behind you. Granted, most people wouldn’t lay it out in such bare terms in their minds, but everyone can be expected to understand why it's a bad idea to walk down the train tracks with your music turned way up. That is a very reasonable prediction, and thus, I claim that it is very reasonable to expect someone to not do this; call this "victim blaming" if you want, but I think this type of "victim blaming" is reasonable.

Now that we understand the model of "reasonable prediction", let's apply this idea to the case of rape. As it turns out, most rapes occur between people who know each other, where the victim would say something like, “I thought I could trust them”, and thus, it was not reasonable to predict your rape. Hence, for most instances of rape, it appears that it is not a case where “you should have known better”, and thus, reprimanding rape victims appears to be only rarely warranted.

However, this conclusion in the case of rape (i.e. that the victim is completely innocent) seems to have been greatly over-generalized to all kinds of victim-perpetrator situations, and it has generated a kind of knee-jerk reaction where people automatically declare that, “victims are completely innocent!”, which I think is misguided. A person can be morally innocent but still contribute to their victimization by failing to think about their future: these are two different dimensions to a victim-perpetrator situation. This is not a zero-sum game, but two dimensions of what each person should have done: a moral dimension, and a practical dimension.

Clearly, if you leave all your money in an open box in your front yard, you're an idiot. While you may be the victim of theft, and while you are not morally responsible like the thief is, you are by no means "innocent": you should have known better, and I think it is very fair to, in some sense, "blame" you for losing all your money.

One final note: I am fully aware that if someone tells you they have been victimized (by rape, theft, assault, etc.) it is completely counterproductive to say, “Well, did you do anything stupid?” That doesn't help very much, and it will probably make the person feel even worse. However, individuals should be self-aware and understand that their actions have consequences, and if someone leaves their money in an open box in front of their house, they should have the wherewithal to introspect and say, “Could I have prevented this with a reasonable precaution?” Maybe the answer is no, maybe the answer is yes. Either way, we should all be rational enough to ask ourselves this question, and not simply declare that because we are victims, we are therefore powerless.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Explaining the Year-Long Suit Experiment

An Australian news anchor recently announced that he had been wearing the same dark-blue suit for a year during his broadcasts, and no one noticed or commented on it. This lack of a reaction to his unchanging suit, he concluded, is because of sexism: people comment on what female hosts wear, but not male hosts, even when male hosts wear the exact same thing for an entire YEAR (something that female hosts could not get away with). He, and many people who have heard of his experiment, have concluded that nobody noticed because we're all just that sexist.

Gender difference? People must be sexist.

However, I believe this lack of comments was not because of sexism; I think it was caused by the following facts.

1. Most suits look very similar, especially when you're ~10 feet away, and especially when you're seeing it through your TV screen, so would anyone really notice if he had changed suits? It would have looked very similar anyway.

2. Adding to 1: people fully expect newsmen to wear some kind of dark suit every day, because that's basically the only formal wear for men. So why would anyone notice this man's lack of variety? If anything, the audience expects him to wear the same suit every day.

3. He changed his tie regularly. This is important not only because the tie is usually the most unique part of a suit, but also because it distracts the audience from the rest of his outfit. These kinds of distractions can make a person miss some very obvious things. (see the first video link below). This experiment would have been more significant if he had worn the same bright tie every day.

4. The human mind is surprisingly bad at distinguishing little details from one moment to the next (see the second video link below); usually our brains just remember the gist of what we saw, such as "a dark suit".

Additionally, smaller details (like changing from one dark suit jacket to another dark suit jacket) are less likely to be noticed, and, following point 2, are less likely to be cared about even if noticed.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY 

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBoMjORwA-4 

These videos were produced by Daniel Simons, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

These facts explain the results of the year-long suit experiment better than sexism, but the fact that so many people believe their knee-jerk reactions is concerning to me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

An Open Letter to Privileged Women

A while ago, I was in a debate with some self-proclaimed feminists (you can be the judge of whether or not they were "true feminists"), and within the first few exchanges, I was told that I just need to shut up and agree with them because I'm not a woman and therefore I can't possibly understand my opponent's arguments. Not just their experiences, but anything they were arguing for at all. Specifically, I was linked to the following article, which basically explains why men are not allowed to disagree with feminists.


So based on this article, it seems there is a very straightforward method to gain support for men's issues as well, or really, for any issue regarding one group of people, but let's look at a hypothetical men's issue. This method has exactly two steps:

1. Take a men's issue, real or fake, it doesn't matter, and assert that men are suffering.

2. If a woman disagrees with anything you've said that is related to that issue (your analysis, your proposed solution, etc), just say the following phrases to shut her up:

-- "Women don't understand what it's like to be men in this situation, so you can't possibly have any insights into this subject."

--  "I am so traumatized and defeated and weak that I cannot even bear to explain the problem to other people anymore. I can't even give you a link to someone else who's explained it."

-- "Personal testimony from a handful of men is all the evidence you need that this is a serious issue, and not just a hyped victim complex bolstered by attention-seeking people on tumblr avoiceformen.com."

-- "Any questions you raise about my analysis of the situation or my proposed solution are simply interesting little thought experiments to you, which trivializes the suffering we men experience, so you need to shut up and just agree with us because you're a woman. If we say we're victims, then we are. And if we propose a solution that you disagree with, you need to shut up."

And if a man disagrees with you, just remember that he's been brainwashed by all the women in his life who want to keep him as a disposable provider. We should both pity him and belittle him for disagreeing with us.

Do you see how silly all of this is?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I am not a feminist

I would like to explain why I do not call myself a feminist in two points, the first one being my primary reason, and the second being more supplementary.

My primary reason for not being a feminist is that I don't agree with the ideas, models, and theories that many/most feminists espouse (that is, feminist theory). I don't think that models like "patriarchy" and "rape culture" accurately describe the world we live in, nor do they make good predictions or offer good solutions.

Now, feminists will argue that the definition of feminism is nothing more than the desire for gender equality, so if I desire gender equality, that makes me a feminist. Right? Well, maybe in a technical sense, but in practice, does anyone seriously believe that I would be welcome in any feminist community given what I said in the previous paragraph? This, I think, is clear evidence that there is more to "feminism" than the simple desire for equality.

It is for this reason that I don't call myself a feminist: I don't agree with the methods and ideologies by which many feminists try to achieve this goal, such as patriarchy theory, rape culture, ideas about male entitlement (although there are self-proclaimed "individualist feminists" who disagree with these methods, such as Wendy McElroy). While I support gender equality, I don't find myself supporting the route that feminists would have use take to get there, and so I do not call myself a feminist.

Allow me to elaborate on this distinction between a group's goals and its methods. What I mean is that there are multiple ways to solve a problem, and while two people may want to solve the same problem (such as inequalities of gender), they may have two different ways of modeling the problem, which, in turn, present different methods for solving it. That being said, while I support the goal of gender equality, I disagree with the theories and methods that many modern feminists espouse (some of my specific disagreements are listed later in this essay).

There are multiple ways to get to a destination, with some trade-offs.

As an analogy, imagine two people living in an ancient, primitive, agrarian society, and their society has a problem: the rains have become less frequent, and as a result, there aren't enough crops to feed everyone. Now, both of these people want to solve this problem, but they have two different strategies. One person wants to pray to the rain god to fix the problem, while the other wants to implement a water regulation and irrigation system to fix the problem. While they both have the same admirable goal, their methods are a different story, and I would side with the second person over the first, just like how I side with non-feminists over feminists: not because of the goals, but because of the methods.

Furthermore, I am amazed by how strongly people assert that feminism is the only method for solving gender inequalities (which I analyzed here), and by their accompanying claim that, if you are not a feminist, then you must not care about gender equality, so you're a sexist. Or, if it is clear from the start that you do care about gender equality, then you're already a feminist, and it's contradictory to say you're not.

In the same way that Christians will assert their exclusive claim to the word "moral", many feminists similarly assert their exclusive claim to the phrase "gender equality", and I find those two claims equally ridiculous.

My specific disagreements with feminist ideas are listed below. This is just a list, not a full justification of each point: that's what the rest of this blog is for, and I will link to my justifications as they come out.

-- I don't think that gender is socially constructed.
-- I disagree with the model of "rape culture" as being accurate for the western world.
-- I disagree with the model of "patriarchy" as feminists associate it with traditional gender roles.
-- I disagree with laws proposed by Feminists, such as affirmative consent.
-- I disagree with the solutions proposed by these models, such as "teach men not to rape".
-- Legal paternal surrender

Furthermore, feminists often ignore serious men's issues. Or, if they are confronted with these issues and asked why they aren't working for gender equality on those fronts, they say, "Yeah, those are problems too, and we're working on them too... somehow". Examples include:

-- Unequal prison sentences
-- Male circumcision
-- The fact that most suicides are men, yet somehow we live a society that's set up for the benefit of men. I guess men are just really bad at being oppressors.
-- Men being falsely accused of rape, child abuse, and domestic violence.

Now, I should be clear: I don't support all the goals that many modern feminists do either, and that's also a big contributor to my non-feminism. Some of my future blogs posts will talk about those instances as well. However, I think my disagreement with feminist theories and methods required more explanation.

My second reason for not being a feminist is that I'm sick of being demonized for being male by feminists.

-- "Men can stop rape" / "Teach men not to rape".
-- Men/masculinity is predisposed toward rape.
-- General assertions that men are why women have problems.
-- Outright rationalizing of "man-hating".

In general, I find it incredibly prejudiced and insulting when feminists demonize men as a group. But hey, two can play that game. Here are some ways in which women are bad and need to fix themselves as a collectively guilty group:

>> Women are (100%?) of false rape accusers; all women need to address this problem, even if they've done nothing wrong; it's part of their toxic self-identities as women.

You know what the problem is? All women. Right?

>> White women are more likely to commit violent offenses and simple assaults than women of other races. White women, y'all need to get your collective shit together! It's on you!

Source: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/wo.pdf

>> Women are the primary perpetrators of slut shaming and socially attacking other women. Women, get your collective shit together! It's on you! Even if you don't do that shit, you probably encourage it somehow, so it's your problem even if you think you have no part in it. Your self-identity as female is toxic and it's your job to fix yourself.

Source: http://www.bustle.com/articles/7721-study-says-women-evolved-to-be-gossipy-backstabbing-rivals

Maybe we should put signs on college campuses that say things like:

ChickTip: Remember not to be a backstabbing bitch to that girl who’s prettier than you.
ChickTip: Remember not to falsely accuse someone of rape.
WhiteChickTip: Remember to stop being so violent.

Oh, are these ChickTips offensive? Yes they are! So why is it okay to demonize men this way?

Sucks to have your entire gender demonized, doesn't it?


As I stated in the beginning, my main disagreement with feminism is the first topic (feminist theories and tactics), and the remaining disagreement is supplementary, but I hope it's now more understandable why I don't call myself a feminist.

The Problems with Affirmative Consent

California recently passed a bill (SB 967) that requires colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model for addressing and defining sexual assaults and rapes on campus in order to receive state funding, and quite frankly, this bill is disastrous. In this bill, "affirmative consent" is defined as:

“...affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”

Now this sounds like a great idea, and as far as individual people goes, it is a good idea: it's a good idea to know what your partner wants or doesn't want in a sexual encounter. However, affirmative consent laws are not good ideas, for the reasons given below. 

1. ACLs remove the presumption of innocence

“When bill co-author Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) was asked how an innocent person is to prove he or she indeed received consent, Lowenthal said, “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.””

“How can an innocent person prove their innocence?” (Which is a horrible question to have to ask in the first place)
I have no idea; let’s experiment with peoples’ futures.”

Under the affirmative consent model, falsely accused people will become falsely convicted people, unless they happened to videotape the encounter.

However, I am not only concerned for the college students who will be wrongly punished; I am also concerned that this may become the stepping stone for our legal system to adopt this model as well, which would be a tremendous violation of human rights: the complete reversal of innocent until proven guilty.

Indeed, several feminist writers have argued for this exact kind of shift: always believe the victim in a legal setting and reverse the burden of proof, including:

Jessica Valenti 

"Swedish rape laws ... go much further than U.S. laws do, and we should look to them as a potential model for our own legislation. In fact, some activists and legal experts in Sweden want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn't give it."

Linda Brookover - "Defining Rape", page 178

Brookover argues that the accused should have the burden of proving his innocence.

Susan Caringella - "Addressing Rape Reform in Law and Practice"

"It is high time to give victims a fair shake, to dismantle the zealous over-protections for men accused of this crime, which have been buoyed up by the myths about false accusations, ulterior motives, and so on, commonly embraced when rape charges are levied."

The writer of "Another Feminist Blog"
"The bottom line is that nobody bears the burden of convincing you their rape “really happened.” It is beyond noxious to think that as second or third parties we could sit back and judge the veracity of those claims, or that we should. When someone speaks about their experiences we listen. Period."

These are just some top-picks; if you go to Google and search for words like "feminism" "burden of proof" "innocent until proven guilty", you'll find a large population of feminists who want to reverse innocent until proven guilty. 

2. ACLs demand an unreasonably low standard of evidence for colleges

SB 967 requires that colleges adopt a low standard of evidence for determining if a sexual misconduct claim is true; it’s the same standard of evidence that the courts use in civil cases (which deal with things as heinous and life-changing as contract disputes).

“In evaluating sexual misconduct claims, SB 967 calls for schools to apply a “preponderance of evidence” standard, similar to Title IX. It’s a lower standard of proof, used in civil cases, instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” bar used in criminal trials.”

While colleges are not courts and cannot send “convicted” students to jail, expulsion as a sex offender can essentially bar them from higher education because other colleges won’t take them. This deserves a higher standard of evidence than what is used to settle contract disputes.

3. ACLs outlaw many consensual sexual encounters

Feminists and liberals in general (the latter of which I call myself) will point fingers at conservatives for their attempts to regulate what kind of sex people can and can't have, but when it comes to ACLs, those same feminists seem perfectly happy to outlaw certain ways of having sex. Why do I say this? Well, part of the law reads as follows, and it clearly outlaws sex in which both parties are not loud and active:

"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."

Well what if two people simply enjoy quiet sex, where the man "does all the work" and the woman enjoys just lying there? In this situation, the man didn't ask the woman if she consented during that time; she was silent and compliant, which does not indicate consent. Is that rape? According to the affirmative consent model, it is. Or, if the woman is doing all the work, and the man is silent and compliant, is she a rapist? According to the affirmative consent model, she is. ACLs lead us to conclude that unless you happen to enjoy loud, active sex, you are a rapist or a rape victim. This effectively outlaws many sexual activities that regular, consenting adults enjoy.

4. People give ambiguous signals, and what actually happened is often unclear (very important)

At “The Amazing Meeting” or TAM in 2014, Doctor Carol Tavris gave a talk called, “Who’s Lying, Who’s Self-Justifying?” in which she talks about awkward sexual encounters in college, which are often claimed to be instances of rape. In her talk, she explains how these situations arise, and in doing so, she explains why the affirmative consent model is absolutely horrible, even going so far as to specifically call out the state of California for proposing it.

Her talk is linked here, and the key time intervals are listed below.


24:42 - 25:36 -- People say “no” to mean many different things, even to indicate consent.
29:10 - 30:18 -- People do a “dance of ambiguity” to spare each other’s feelings.
30:18 - 31:20 -- A common signal of consent, AND of non-consent, is not doing anything.
33:41 - 33:55 -- Some women drink alcohol to create plausible deniability about their consent in case someone accuses them of being a slut; they intentionally blur the line.
34:35 - 37:05 -- Cognitive dissonance can create false memories about sexual encounters.
38:37 - 40:17 -- Dr. Tavris specifically denounces affirmative consent laws for the above reasons.

On a related note: some people have claimed that the song “Blurred Lines” promotes rape culture by saying that it’s okay to assume a woman wants sex. However, if that song means anything, it is explaining Tavris’s exact thoughts on the subject of sex: it’s saying, “Look, it’s okay to want sex. Drop this ‘good girl’ routine, stop saying ‘no’ to mean ‘yes’, and stop creating all these gray areas (or blurred lines) for me to interpret (or misinterpret), and just do what you want to do instead of beating around the bush.” Just a side thought. 

More recently, a woman wrote an article explaining how she found herself in a kind of awkward, semi-consensual, sexual encounter, which fits perfectly with Tavris’s general description, and which is hardly comparable to rape; it's just what happens to young, sexually-active people who are unsure of what they want or of what they are getting into. It's about testing your limits and exploring your sexuality, but sure, let's make it a crime.
Source: http://totalsororitymove.com/is-it-possible-that-there-is-something-in-between-consensual-sex-and-rape-and-that-it-happens-to-almost-every-girl-out-there/


Based on Tavris’s analysis, and the story linked above, it appears that the cause of the awkward  college hookups that affirmative consent laws are meant to eliminate (which many feminists insist are rapes)
 is peoples’ lack of awareness of how their minds work and what they desire in these situations, not a lack of legal structure or rules or "toxic masculinity".

Just like any other human heuristic, the solution for dealing with these awkward, quasi-consensual hookups to become aware of the things Tavris noted that we naturally want to do (such as spare others' feelings or create plausible deniability for ourselves), not to legally require people to act differently. Just because an action is a good idea for individuals to perform, that doesn't mean it is a good action to require by law. The same could be said of cheating on your spouse, or seeing through the diffusion of responsibility: while there are good ways for individuals to deal with these situations, it is very clear that these situations would not benefit from having legal force, just as affirmative consent laws will not benefit sexually active people. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Feminism is not the only perspective

Today I would like to draw attention to, and challenge, the idea that feminist theories, and a feminist perspective, are the only way to frame gender issues. Many of you have probably heard phrases like the one pictured below. Something along the lines of, "I need feminism because [insert problem here]."

However, the argument being made in statements like these is a poor one, and it creates what you could call a “false mono-chotomy”: it only gives you one choice (feminism) when that is not actually the only choice.

To see this fallacy more clearly, we can simply use this same argument structure in a different context. For example:

“I need supply-side economics because the economy is doing poorly!”

In this instance, the fallacy is much easier to see. In response to this argument, an observant person would probably say, “but what about demand-side economics? What about any other economic models?"

Generally speaking, you cannot simply declare that there is only one way to solve a problem, or that your way is the best way: you need to justify that claim. When feminists say “I need feminism because (gender issue exists)”, they are doing the same thing as the hypothetical supply-side economist: they are just declaring that it’s my way or the highway.

To see this fallacious argument explained in a more rigorous manner, continue reading.

First, let’s look at a bad argument for supply-side economics as the solution to fixing the economy.

Argument E1
P1. The economy is doing poorly, and we need to improve it.
P2. Therefore, we should adopt the theories of supply-side economics.

This argument is not a valid argument: it does not explain how the conclusion follows from the premises. In order for this to be a valid argument, we would need to add a premise, creating Argument E2.

Argument E2
P1. The economy is doing poorly, and we need to improve it.
P2. Adopting the theories of supply-side economics is the best way to improve the economy.
P3. Therefore, we should adopt the theories of supply-side economics.

This is now a valid argument: the conclusion follows from the premises. However, in order to make this argument sound, the arguer must now justify the premise (P2) which states that supply-side economics is the solution; or, in more specific terms, that the theories of supply-side economics are the only model of the world that will allow us to determine the best course of action to fix the problem. It is in this premise (P2) that the debates about economic theories take place among politicians and economists: which model is the most accurate to the real world and will give us the best solution? In this discussion, we acknowledge that there are multiple economic theories that purport to model the world correctly, and which, by that token, will provide the best solutions to economic problems.

Now let’s talk about feminism instead of economics. An argument similar to E1 is often made for feminism, and this argument is written below as F1.

Argument F1
P1. There is an inequality between men and women which we need to fix.
P2. Therefore, we should adopt the theories of feminism.

Once again, there is a missing premise, whose absence makes the argument invalid. A valid form of this argument we will call F2. However, the argument usually given by feminists is F1, when it should at least be F2.

Argument F2
P1. There is an inequality between men and women which we need to fix.
P2. Adopting the theories of feminism is the best way to fix that inequality.
P3. Therefore, we should adopt the theories of feminism.

And once again, we find ourselves requiring some justification for P2 in order to make the argument sound. However, when it comes to feminism, the discussion of P2 is slightly different from that of P2 in economics. When it comes to feminism, many people find it hard to believe that P2 could be false. Indeed, many feminists flatly deny that there are other ways to frame issues of gender, and they insist that if you don’t adopt feminist theories, then not only will you never solve the problem, but you probably don’t even care about the problem at all.

“You’re not a feminist? Don't you care about women?!”
“You’re not a supply-side economist? Don't you care about the economy?!”

Using economic issues as an analogous situation, we can see how ridiculous it is to insist that feminist theories are the answer to gender issues. In the blog posts to come, I will explain some of the ways in which I view gender issues such that there is a solution for current inequalities, or I will simply present a more accurate analysis of these problems that differs from feminist theories.