04 April 11
A few people unfriending you on Facebook because they disagree with your belief or religiously motivated statements, is not persecution.
A billboard proclaiming that your god doesn't exist, that atheists can be happy, or that separation of church and state is a good idea, is not persecution. It's not even an insult. I've yet to see a billboard stating that your ideas should be made illegal, or that religious belief should bar you from political office, or claiming that you are evil and should suffer eternal damnation.
Making laws to give other people the same rights you already enjoy, or repealing laws which take them away, is not persecution. Nor does it 'weaken' those rights. It strengthens them. When all enjoy them, all will defend them.
Someone proclaiming, or – shock-horror! – enjoying, a sexuality other than your own, is not persecution.
Making critical replies to a statement you make on the internet or in any other public forum, is not persecution. If you don't want people to examine and critique your words, don't hang them out for display.
Someone having a belief-system other than your own, is not persecution.
Examining a religion or a religious tract in a critical or sceptical manner, is not persecution. It is common sense.
Not allowing you to deny your children decent medical care on 'religious' grounds, is not persecution. Want to inflict disease, pain and misery on yourself? Fine. Go ahead. Just don't expect to be allowed to inflict the same on a minor, merely because they happen to share some of your genes.
Telling you that you're not allowed to persecute others, is not persecution.
Asking for extraordinary evidence when presented with extraordinary claims, is not persecution.
Claiming that your church receives undeserved tax-breaks, is not persecution. It is a statement of fact.
Teaching children that the world is older than your Bumper Book Of Fairytales claims it is, is not persecution.
Someone, somewhere, having fun doing something that you don't like, is not persecution.
Pointing out inconsistencies in your belief system, when you have publically promoted that belief-system, is not persecution.
Not treating your beliefs as a holy Get Out Of Jail Free card, able to excuse any action you claim to be 'religious' in nature, is not persecution.
Any statement of fact, not matter how much it disagrees with your creed or how uncomfortable, lonely or unimportant it makes you feel, is not persecution.
Being tortured, imprisoned, harassed, bullied, vilified or treated as less than equal, by any government, organisation, law or tax-system, on the grounds of one's skin-colour, gender, belief (or lack of belief), sexuality or political stance is persecution.
12 April 11
It was fifty years ago today,
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play that Yuri Gagarin took that first Giant Leap. We've been to the moon, abandoned the moon, sent probes beyond the solar sytem, and yet we now couldn't get a human being past Low Earth Orbit if we wanted to!
Still, just for today, I'll settle for knowing we've done any of it at all…
15 April 11
Mostly, this is just an excuse for trying out the emedding of a YouTube playlist. You should see two more videos play automatically, after the first one finishes.
For those of a strange and sinister foreign dispstion, I shoud mention that there really were such public-information films made in Britain during the '40s and '50s, and these skits on them really aren't that exaggerated (well, apart from the 'conjugal unpleasantness' one). It also struck me that many fundies still think in much the same way, fifty to sixty years later. If only they realised that their views are so akin to comedy!
18 April 11
Although I did once struggle through an old KJ, I can't exactly say that I know the Bible. I certainly couldn't quote much of it, and even the bits I do know, I couldn't tell you what chapter and verse they are, nor even, for the most part, what book. So I couldn't actually tell you where in the Bible the commandment "Love thy neighbour as thyself," for instance, actually appears.
Well some quick googling found me this page, where it appears, with slight variations, nine times. None of them appear to contain any qualifiers. That is, none continue: "unless thy neighbour…", which would be news to anyone who naïvely took their impression of the phrase from the attitudes of Christians, who you'd think would know at least the parts that deal with Jesus's teachings much better than this humble, unbibled atheist does.
So, anyway, I decided to compile a list of qualifiers that one would expect to find in the Bible, if one deduced them from the actual words and attitudes of Christians themselves. In fairness, I should point out that no single believer is likely to hold all of the views I've listed. But then, seeing as they're effectively putting words into the mouth of their messiah that he never seems to have uttered, while claiming that they follow his teachings faithfully, it's kind of hard to know what they believe. Surely, you'd think, surely a phrase, nay, a law uttered by Christ himself (oh, sorry, Himself), would be followed strictly by all who style themselves 'Christians'; after all, he's (Nuts to it. It's a common noun. Deal with it.) the most important speaker in the whole damn book! Surely, you'd think, surely they would at least agree on a simple instruction that is uttered by Jesus and which such important figures as Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul felt the need to stress. Felt that need several times, I might add, almost as if they really, really, really wanted it adhered to. This is one holy-moley important law, you'd think. Best not transgress this one!
Anyway, here's my little list:
Thou shalt love thy neighbour unless:
Obviously those damned printers chopped off the end of the sentence. Nine times. We should love our neighbours, it seems, as long as they're carbon-copies of ourselves.
19 April 11
21 April 11
23 April 11
I wasn't going to do this. Really, I wasn't. But I did. Here's part three. I missed one somewhere along the way, but reading it back, there's nothing new in the way of content. Just the same logical castles-in-the-sky with no attempt to show a reality-based foundation. But anyway, this is in response to Mr Hubbo's latest post.
Newcomers to this (or those who're wondering what the hell the subtitle means) might want to read Part One, and Part Two, which is just below Part One on the linked page.
Before Mr Hubbo starts, I want to say that I'd like to see some definitions of words used below. Specifically:
'Intangible', which I've seen used to mean 'a bit vague', 'not obviously physical', 'untouchable', 'non-trivial, yet unassessable' (as in 'intangible benefits'), as well as several other meanings loosely defined as 'hard to define'. You appear to be defining it as 'non-physical'.
'Soul'. You claim to be arguing for its existence, yet never quite get around to telling us what, or where, it is.
'Supernatural'. By my understanding, this word means 'outside nature'. Is this your definition also, and if so, how do you propose that something supernatural can affect nature from the outiside? Oh, and it would be nice to see some words on just what 'outside nature' actually means.
That said, I'll hand over to Mr Hubbo:
As we wrap up the series of arguments, we get to my own argument. I haven't really heard this one posited anywhere else, and so I tentatively step out on my own here. I am honest enough with myself to admit that there may be holes in this argument that could come to light. If any of the four arguments bears attack, this one is probably it.
I think they all bear attack, but we'll let that slide. What's this 'my own argument', though? Paradoxically, looking through your four posts, the only link I can find to an actual source is in this very post, yet you seem to be saying that the other three weren't based on your own work. Nothing wrong with that, but citing your sources, generally with a link, is considered polite.
Now that I've tipped off any skeptics to lick their chops, let me explain the main point of the argument, give the hypothetical syllogism for the logic of the argument, then give the supporting evidence.
The main point of the argument is this: intangible concepts, such as ideas, words, emotions, moral characteristics, etc. cannot be reasonably shown to have material origins. The intangible soul, described plainly by theists and more specifically Christian theists, is the best explanation for the origin of intangible concepts.
On the contrary, these things can be shown, by anyone with access to Google, to have a neurological basis. I made that search in order to find an easily accessible quote, rather than a formal treatment of the subject, but spending a while reading several of the found pages convinces me that this is pretty non-contraversial stuff. I even searched for 'biological' rather than 'neurological', in order to show that you don't have to be too precise in your search-terms, yet can still find meaningful search-results. It's mainstream, well-evidenced science. Oh and I found the easily-understood quote I was looking for, too:
Modern neuroscience has proven that all mental processes start with the firing of neurones in the brain – and that this activity is itself caused by preceeding firings and sensory input. In other words, modern brain scanning techniques and scientific experiments have proven that our mental life is constructed out of physical events in the brain, and nothing more.
The logical argument is this:
- If intangible concepts exist, then the best explanation for the origin of these concepts is the soul.
- Intangible concepts exist.
- Therefore, the best explanation for the origin of these concepts is the soul.
I may be wrong, but you seem to be using the word 'intangible' rather narrowly. You seem to be defining it as 'non-physical', rather than the more general 'not obviously physical', in that you use it to denote something immaterial that can't be observed, and has to be deduced from the effects it causes, so must (you argue) have a non-physical origin; the Cheshire-cat grin on the face of a person newly in love, or that good old surface-to-atheist missile, morals, which would seem to me to be a sublclass of emotional responses, though made more complicated by their being subject to ideological training. Still, not really much different, at basis, from any other emotional reaction, for all the height and noble achetecture of the pedestal they're placed on.
Now the only objections to the second condition in the argument might come from the New Age movement, where some believe that our entire existence is illusory. I can't really respond to that objection without going into all of the fundamental flaws with an illusory existence, so I'm going to put that possible objection aside and focus on the biggest potential problem with the argument: that the best explanation for the origin of intangible concepts is the soul.
Some of the New Age movement might believe this. Proabably do. The name is a grab-all for all sorts of weird and fringe beliefs. While this is a slight digression, I can't find any flaws in that argument. If the illusion is good enough, how would we know it was an illusion? The problem with the 'theory' is that, just like any other supernatural 'explanation', it doesn't allow any investigation. I see no tangible difference between it and Mr Hubbo's supernatural creator.
And I've already discussed his second condition, in non-New Age terms, to boot.
For our purposes, I'm only going to take the argument far enough as to suppose the inference to the best explanation of soul. I think the logic would follow that the best explanation for the existence of soul is that it is created by God and instilled in us from birth, but that is not the goal of this post. If there is an objection at this level, perhaps we will address it in the comments. But I tend to believe that the greater number of possible objections will come in the initial step, rather than this second level. So let's stick to the top level and reason it out first, then work our way down if necessary.
I certainly do have a large objection to this. The existence of cars doesn't imply the existence of huge semi-automated factories. For all we know, as an outside observer, each car may be hand-made by its owner. It may be passed down through generations or thrown away at the end of the owner's life. It may be that small batches of them are made by hand by an artisan whose sole purpose in life is to provide cars for her immediate community. Or, of course, they might be made in huge semi-automated factories, but we have no way of deducing that from the mere existence of cars. So how foolish would we be to speculate on the existence and nature of car-factories, if we only had the vague possibility that cars might exist? Likewise, I see no reason to connect a putative soul to an equally putative god, unless we build that connection into the definition from the get-go. Which is kind of sneaking the supernatural in through the back door again, isn't it?
So, as you say, let's stick to the soul, for now.
Now, the basis for the argument is rooted in taxonomy and genetics, with the simple scientific belief that something that originates from something else must contain the markers of its predecessors. A baby deer, for instance, will gather its genetic code from its parents. And deer are classified with other animals that have similar features into one family or genus, or phylum, etc., so the taxonomy tree is completed.
Now if we apply the same scientific method to intangible concepts,
[Insert sound effect of screeching brakes…]
Aren't you the person who recently cast out the scientific method? I quote:
The scientific method is flawed because it rules out hypotheses from the outset. I touched on this in the last article, but I will be more than happy to embrace the scientific method when it is not based on MN [methodological naturalism]. Until then, it lacks credibility, because all ideas are allowed, as long as they're not supernatural. That's a stacked deck.
Having our cake and eating it, again? Anyway, where were we…?
Now if we apply the same scientific method to intangible concepts, they must be similar to the thing from which they originate, right? So when we look for where intangible concepts come from, ought not that thing also be intangible? For where else in science or nature do we see something tangible produce something intangible? There is no evidence of this anywhere in science, so if we apply the same scientific method used to explain taxonomy and genetics, which point to the furthering of species, it makes sense that the origin of intangible concepts is itself intangible.
If we follow this reasoning, then an 'intangible' like love could never produce a 'tangible' grin on our lover's face. An 'intangible' moral could never cause a person to make a 'tangible' jump into a river, at risk to his own life, to save a drowning person. You can't have this both ways. If something has to be intangible to cause, or originate, an intangible, then you need to explain how the second-generation intangible then goes on to originate a tangible, or if you accept that it can, why the reverse can't be true. A metaphysical 2nd law of thermodynamics, perhaps? If so, prove it. Again, this closely parallels your supernatural creator, who, if he is actually 'outside nature', cannot be conceived of as able to affect anything 'inside nature'.
Furthermore, please explain why scientific methodology, which attempts to explain nataural processes, has to apply to, or can be used to explain the origin of, something you claim is of supernatural origin. Especially, you need to justify your example of genetic code being passed down the generations. How does this apply, other than as a metaphor? And if it is a metaphor, then all you've done is made an assertion that there's a parallel, with no attempt to show why you believe it to exist. You've either not thought this through or you've ommited a step or three when showing your reasoning.
Now this raises a dilemma for the materialist. The materialist would say that such things as soul do not exist, and that things like emotions, words, ideas, come from the brain. But how do you explain the origin of such concepts in the brain using the scientific basis we've already discussed? The second issue with the brain being responsible for these is that the brain is not a creating entity, but rather a processing entity.
A man meets his lover for lunch. The sight of him approaching the table sets off a neurological chain-reaction, evoked by memories of previous encounters, makes him happy and shows itself as a grin. How is this not a process? It even explains the dying down of that initial reaction, as meeting with his lover becomes a more day-to-day part of his life, and the brain damps down the reaction from 'red-alert' to 'condition-green'. And the relationship either fades away or turns into the less earth-shattering but more comfortable shared life and friendship that characterises most long-term happy marriages and such. It's still more than mere friendship (though there's nothing 'mere' about even that relationship), but it's no longer the emotion-swamping experience it once was. Which is probably a wise move on evolution's part, or we'd never get anything done.
From the National Institute of Health: "The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. It is the major information-processing center of the body. The spinal cord conducts sensory information (information from the body) from the peripheral nervous system to the brain. After processing its many sensory inputs, the brain initiates motor outputs (coordinated mechanical responses) that are appropriate to the sensory input it receives. The spinal cord then carries this motor information from the brain through the PNS to various locations in the body (such as muscles and glands)." (emphasis mine) So the only initiation done by the brain is in response to a sensory input; it does not create anything by itself. Think about it this way—the eye processes light and sends information to the brain to tell you what you are looking at. But the eye did not create the light, it merely processed and necessitated a response. The brain is the same way.
Now the materialist would say, "Well words evolved just like other natural things. Similar grunts were processed by the brain and became associated with things, and over time they developed into words and that's how we got language." While that is entirely possible, this explanation does nothing for other intangible things like morality and emotions.
So why did you mention language? Words aren't even intangible—by definition (as you seem to be defining it), anything is tangible which impacts upon the senses. Last I checked, hearing was a sense.
The evidence for this is fairly rational—think of an emotion like love. Say your kid wanders into traffic. As a parent, you rescue them and can either hug them tightly or give them a swat on the rear for doing that. Both things are done out of love, but it is expressed different ways. The brain shouldn't by nature process two opposite reactions to the same instance and arrive at the same conclusion, because the output must be appropriate to the input (i.e. my parent is inflicting pain, therefore she does not love me, versus my parent holds me tight and kisses me, therefore she loves me).
I don't remember ever, as a child, thinking that a spank was done through love. My brain interpreted it as 'Pain/What caused the pain?/Mum whacking me/Why?/Because I did something wrong'. Over time, I learned to shortcut the thought-process to 'Doing something wrong ends in pain', and at that very young age, my definition of 'wrong' would have been 'something that leads to punishment; avoid it'. Eventually, of course, I learned that 'doing something wrong' could be subdivided into 'doing something dangerous, and therefore foolhardy', and 'things that are naughty, nasty, likely to make people look on me as someone they wouldn't want to know, or just, rather inexcplicably not done'. That second set eventually became 'Illegal Or Immoral, Or It Makes You Fat.' The fear of punishment probably saved my life, though, so that I could get old enough to learn those distinctions.
It's worth noting that I, like all other children, learned not to do certain things, not because of any god-given moral instruction, but because of the much more empirically evidenced Wrath Of Mum. It do seem a little strange that this sense of absolute morals we keep getting told is imparted by God, has to be learned from our parents. And unfair too, if we consider that the child then suffers, through no fault of their own, from any bad teaching inflicted by the parent. But then, these are people who don't find the concept of original sin to be morally corrupt, so I suppose accepting the punishment of kids for their parents' mistakes is, if you'll forgive the expression, child's play.
So for these intangible concepts, we need an entity that creates and generates them, rather than a responsive entity like the brain. Based on the taxonomy and genetics explanation above, it makes most sense that this entity also be intangible. So what is an intangible creative entity? Well, supernaturalism (and more specifically theism) has long posited the existence of such an entity called soul, by which things are created innately in us and our brain initiates motor outputs in response to express these things. Existence of soul would also mean that things like language, morality and emotions have been ingrained in us since the beginning of time, and while they have adapted due to different natural environments, they have always been present in one form or another.
For these intangible concepts, which you haven't yet managed to show are intangible…
Given the quite clear fact that these are actually neurological processes, not 'intangible concepts', why do we need to posit any 'intangible responsible entity'? Why not just go with the much evidenced science?
Supernaturalism, and especially theism, has posited many things. People returning from the dead, gods, talking animals, original sin, and much more. Oddly, there doesn't seem to be any evidence, beyond ancient collections of myths, that these things ever happened.
Claiming that the myths of a minor bonze/iron-age kingdom, layered upon with first to fourth century interpretations and revisions, should be preferred over hard-won empirical evidence, especially in a case like that of neurological processes, where the science isn't even cutting-edge or controversial is, quite frankly, indefensible. Positing a supernatural entity that you can't show any evidence for as the solution to every puzzle in the path of science, isn't much better. And, to put it bluntly, doing the second as a nice, friendly-looking opener for the first, is worse than either.
Again, this poses a huge problem for the materialist, and more specifically for the evolutionist, because it would then make evolution the least plausible explanation for the existence of life. If language has existed from the outset, then humanity has existed from the outset, and did not evolve from some other life form.
So I feel like there's a compelling case here that the existence of soul is the best explanation for intangible concepts. To make a reasonable objection, one must first tear down all of the arguments I've made here and provide positive evidence for the best alternative. I welcome your questions and objections.
Based on a false equivalency between a science that you've elsewhere claimed to forswear, and a concept of intangibility that you haven't attempted to rigorously define—and have applied to processes that don't appear to be intangible—you've decided that an equally unevidenced 'soul', for which you've provided no real definition, must be responsible for these 'intangibilities'.
The only problem this materialist had was in following the road of logic through this post. Several times, I had to leap huge chasms where the reasoning either hadn't been shown, or didn't actually exist, which would have connected one concept to another.
I suppose one would find this compelling if one presupposed non-physical 'intangible' processes, intangible souls, and intangible creators to create those souls. Confirmation bias might lead the uncritical reader to feel that this leant some philosophical, if not scientific, support to their beliefs. To anyone looking at it critically, however, it falls apart like a papier-mâché satellite on re-entry.
"and provide positive evidence for the best alternative."
I don't see why I should. It's you that's making a claim for the existence of something, not me. And failing miserably to provide anything approaching logic, let alone evidence. Still, if you insist… Go back to the top of this article and click the link to the Google search. Follow a few results, and read them, rather than skimming them for argument-points. You might just learn something.
It seems to me that all arguments for the existence of a god, of whatever creed, fall into the same category. They all, at basis, say "We don't know the reason for, or origin of X," or "The evidence-based explanation for X doesn't agree with this book we've had in the family for 2,000 years, and that makes us feel uncomfortable," and then go on to cite god as the only explanation. Morals: God made them. Dinosaur fossils: God made them. The universe: God made it. The flagellum: God made it. The list goes on like the Duracell rabbit. Every time scientific research pauses at some momentarily intractable problem, someone somewhere will jump up and cite it as proof that… yes, you guessed: God did it. Irreducable complexity is the latest in the series of arguments for a creator, all of which, when stripped of the verbiage, say "I don't know how X came to be as it is. Therefore goddidit."
Plagues: godditit. Except we can now explain illness without the need of a god.
Storms: godditit. Except we can now explain how weather happens without need of a god.
Eclipses, the Sun rising, the Sun setting, springs, comets, epilepsy, tides, the phases of the moon, cot-death, the seasons, the auraura, even the lack of snakes in Ireland (via an intermediary), virtually anything you can think of was once explained by 'goddidit', or more often 'godsdidit'. Do you not see a trend here, Mr Hubbo?
Creationists and fundamentalists in particular, seem to crave certainty, even at the risk of being wrong. I don't fully know why. Probably there's a host of reasons. Unwillingness to give up on an explanation that they were raised from the cradle to believe in—at the cost of eternal punishment, no less—seems to be a major influence on the more literalist followers. I can see that it would be scarey, I really can. And the stronger one believes in that punishment, the more awful becomes the perceived price of allowing anything to crack the shell of belief. Even, I suspect, to the point of convincing oneself that evidence has no meaning. To admit, even to oneself, the faintest possibility that one might be wrong is to open the door to suffering beyond description. To them, Pascal's Wager makes perfect logical sense. To allow the slightest doubt is to risk all. Talk about your classic Catch 22 situation! There's a big scarey man in the sky who'll send them to Hell for just thinking that he may not exist, but at the same time doesn't provide any really convincing evidence that he does exist, thereby giving the believer nothing to stave off any doubts, but he will punish doubters… And all the time, the pastor, the congregation, the family and all the friends—indeed, often the terms 'friends' and 'congregation' are synonymous; there is no one to turn to, to discuss doubts with—are reinforcing the message: 'Belief or hell. Belief or hell'. For any doubter, belief must, I'd think, become hell, until they either leave, possibly with their entire life in tatters, families no longer speaking to them, 'friends' abandoning them, or convince themselves back to full belief, bury their doubts, and settle back into the only life they've ever known, one of the circle, one of the saved, one of the chosen few.
They call this imaginary Sword Of Damocles 'divine mercy'. I call it institutionalised paranoia.
24 April 11
24 April 11
Christopher Jefferies, the man who underwent what can only be described as a process of demonisation at the hands of the media, after his tenant was found murdered—a process that started even before he was arrested (he was later let go without charge)—merely, apparently, for having the temerity to be a bit unusual, is suing six national newspapers for libel and invasion of privacy. Personally, I hope he takes them to the cleaners.
But what with this being a high-profile case and all, and seeing that the man, over the space of a few weeks, probably made more front-page headlines than the prime minister, typng his name, along with the word 'libel', into a news search on Google would, you'd think, make the results page light up like a knocking-shop when the fleet comes in, right?
Now, I'm not particularly au fait with the laws covering this, but I suppose it's reasonable to assume that the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mail and Daily Record are forbidden to comment on it, given that they're the ones being sued. The apparent silence from other quarters, though, seems inexplicably deafening. The Guardian reported it, and the Independent, along with, oddly, the Mail's sister-rag, the Metro, but that seems to be all, as far as the online versions go at least. All the other results I've found are blogs, plus a couple of purely online newsagencies. A general search using just his name still pulls up, on the top results page, more items having to do with his arrest, bail and general 'weirdness'—stories that are now several months old—than articles covering his very recently announced intention to sue a large number of national daily newspapers.
Now, pardon me for wandering into what's possibly tin-foil hat territory, but the phrase 'conspiracy of silence' springs readily to mind. Okay, five national tabloids might not be free to speak, and the Times results might be skewed and/or hidden by their paywall, but the only rational reason I can think of for every other daily not giving the story the prominence it deserves, is some sort of show of solidarity. After all, 'freedom of the press' means 'freedom to make shit up, smear anyone they like and ruin lives without any semblance of fair play or balanced (let alone factual) reporting', right? Wouldn't want to give high priority to a story that might show the consequences of their assumed right to print any old shite they feel like. And, of course, it might be them, the next time around…
09 May 11
This is in reply to an article I was invited to read by the author, Quiet Riot Girl (henceforth 'QRG'). I would have replied right there, but, well I ended up doing a full-on fisking, and it's way too long for a comments board. So I put it here instead. QRG's part is in blockquotes.
[I must take this opportunity/self-indulgent half-excuse to link to this rather good cover of Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize, by Quiet Riot. Much better than Oasis's, though still not a patch on the original.]
Right, if we're all sitting comfortably, let us begin the beguine. Here's Quiet Riot Girl:
So here is my rationale for why I oppose ALL and EVERY FEMINIST THEORY. If you are a feminist but do not subscribe to any of these assumptions/beliefs, then let me know. But I expect there is not one feminist who doesn't broadly speaking accept these tenets:
1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.
Not sure what's meant by 'hold power' here. If the implication is that feminists believe that men hold most of the political and/or business-management power, I'd say QRG is at least twenty years out of date if we read this as a complete, unqualified, statement. There certainly is such an imbalance, but that seems to be changing as each generation sees more women entering these fields, and the earlier generations work their way to the top. While I'd hesitate to say that no feminists espouse this view (every movement has its fringe-nutters), certainly no mainstream feminist I've come across has made such an unqualified claim in years. And, by the way, if she's saying that such an imbalance no longer exists, then she's actually endorsing feminism. The feminist movement is the reason we do have female politicians and business managers.
If the implication is that the claim is made that men hold power in the more subtle sense of being privileged by mostly unconscious societal norms, I'd say that it's certainly true. Of which, more later.
2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that 'men' hold power over 'women')
'Binary' would certainly be the obvious choice of word, being that it implies only two alternatives, and there are, indeed, only two genders. And it's perfectly obvious that there are such differences. Men are more likely to be tech-heads, women are more likely to watch romantic films. It's noticeable that female SF authors are more likely to write introspective novels that explore emotion, while male authors are more likely to write hard, science/tech-driven SF. The list goes on. How much of that is societally driven, and how much is innate biological hard-wiring — or, in the more likely case of it being a mixture of the two, what the proportions of the mixture are — is up for debate; but to claim that the differences don't exist would seem to be flying in the face of the evidence.
3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as 'fact', men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as 'rape culture' and 'patriarchy' and 'violence against women and girls' and 'the male gaze' and 'objectification' rely on making out men are not decent people, in general, as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) 'norm' of dominant masculinity.
Again with the generalisations. Apart from the aforementioned fringe-nutters, I'd like to know who these mainstream feminists are, who 'demonise' men. Certainly none that I've ever met. I'm going to break the rest of this paragraph into sections.
Rape culture surely does exist. To claim otherwise in the face of stories like this, to pluck one example of many, would seem crazy.
Students and staff at Osgoode Hall Law School are demanding an apology and explanation from the Toronto Police Service after one of their officers suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a "slut."
In my own lifetime, a high-court judge has stated that all a woman need do to prevent rape is to keep her legs closed. I've seen statements aplenty to the effect that rape by a husband isn't actually rape. More examples are available to anyone with the ability to use Google. I suggest the search-term 'rape apology', as a starting point. And most arguments about rape only address the normal, skewed perception of rape as an attack by a stranger. The fact is that most rapes are committed by an acquaintance, and are not only massively unreported by the media, but are often excused away as not being 'actual' rape at all or, in even more horrific cases, quietly hushed up by institutions who place their own reputations ahead of the victim's suffering. Here's a particularly nasty example of the latter.
On the following Monday, it was arranged that I would meet with the dean of students, Robert Canevari. Still smarting from the pain, I arrived at the appointed time and told him what had happened to me at the Phi Kappa Psi house. He looked at me, nonplussed.
"Are you sure you didn't have sex with this man and you don't want to admit that you aren't a 'good girl'?"
"No, that's not what I am saying. I am saying I was raped."
The dean told me, when I asked, that the Charlottesville police could not be called as the fraternity house fell under "university jurisdiction" and that I should make my report to them. But not before he volunteered to have me transferred to another school because of my "distress". I said no. I had always said no.
Nothing ever came of the investigation by the university police. I was the one calling them, always greeted with a terse, "Someone will call you back." No one ever did…
Name me one other violent crime where the victim could appear, covered in bruises, and have it implied that the act was consensual; where the victim would be outright lied to about police jurisdiction, in order to protect reputations. I've seen anecdotal evidence that this is not the isolated incident we'd all like it to be, either. And frankly, I really don't feel, right now, like wading through any cesspools of news stories to verify those anecdotes. The reader is free to do so if they want to. I suggest having strong drink readily to hand.
I realise that I've spent a lot of wordage on the issue of rape culture, but mostly that's because I think anyone denying its existence is, frankly, living in a dream world. And as it pertains to gender inequalities, just imagine that the boot was on the other foot, that the most prevalent type of rape was committed by women against men. I venture to suggest that laws covering every aspect of it would have existed since time immemorial, that they would probably be so old, their origins so lost in antiquity, that no debate would seem possible. They would be so ingrained in our culture that they would seem as instinctive as the prohibition against cannibalism.
Which I assume means what I would call male privilege. I started on a list of obvious examples, then realised that someone, somewhere, had probably already done it. I was right. Some people might quibble one or two of the items (I've added a couple of qualifiers of my own, in square brackets), but if anyone managed to quibble the whole lot, I'd not only be surprised, but I'd be very sceptical of the quibbles, and would suspect the quibbler of working to an agenda, to boot. Anyway, copied by permission from the above-linked site, I give you (inspired, I am obliged — and happy — to point out, by this work on white privilege, by Professor Peggy McIntosh):
The Male Privilege Checklist
I'd like to add one, not so much a privilege as an observation from personal experience. A man calling himself a feminist is likely to receive — at the very least — some odd looks, if not derision. The unavoidable conclusion is that, as many people see it, 'only' a woman could possibly be interested in women's rights. Which, I think, says something about the relative importance of those rights, in many people's view, at least at an unconscious level. Not only are they not considered a 'normal' thing for a man to express strong feelings about, but the 'normal' man, who wouldn't give them too much thought, is considered to have more important issues to hand than 'mere' women's rights. I exaggerate slightly for effect. Only slightly though.
(On the original list, several of the points have links, which I've not bothered reproducing, which lead to more information. Readers wishing for clarification of particular points are encouraged to head over there and check them out.)
I'll skip lightly past the other specific examples QRG gives, as this is already becoming overlong. I'll be happy to talk about them in comments or a later post, if anyone insists. Which brings us to (in order to save you from scrolling back up):
To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) 'norm' of dominant masculinity.
Well, speaking as a man, I'd expect a woman to prove her worth too. That's just a statement that we all judge each other as to relative worth. And, given that the traditional norm is one of assumed male superiority, I'd fully expect any woman to judge a man, at least partly, on how equally he's willing to treat her. I would judge a woman as to her suitability as a friend, lover, wife, whatever, on how she's likely to treat me. Why should she not have the same right to judge me? The only difference is that there is no societal norm which would lead me to scrutinise especially closely her willingness to treat me as an equal. Were the positions reversed, damned right I'd watch for signs regarding that.
4) The focus on men's power over women in 'patriarchal' society ignores other divisions between people and is essentially, 'heteronormative'. It makes out the division between heterosexual (cis) men and (cis) women is the one that is dominant in society, and the one that is most important for feminist analysis/critique. So feminist theorists such as bell hooks and Julia Serano and Beverly Skeggs, even when they are referring to other divisions such as ethnicity, class and transgender identities, are still relying on the reification of the man v woman binary to support all their arguments about gender.
Nice strawman. Feminists aren't saying that no other forms of privilege/discrimination exist. They're merely concentrating on one particular form. And most of the vocal feminists I've ever met, by the way, have been vocal about other equality issues as well. By analogy you're saying that because slavery exists, we shouldn't fight against racism, or because influenza exists, we shouldn't try to cure chickenpox. Poppycock.
5) Feminism does not allow for these above challenges to be made to it without it having a hissy fit or banning its critics from websites/fora or saying 'but you don't understand' or 'feminism is not monolithic'. Feminism cannot stand up to critique.
I'm pretty new to feminism as an online discussion, so I can't comment on QRG's treatment on feminist message boards (if, indeed, she's talking about her own experiences). If my experience of what happens to Christian trolls, and why it happens, on atheist boards is analogous, though, QRG would go down a notch or three in my estimation. Keeping this under advisement for now. I've personally seen no evidence of trollishness.
6) Feminism is based on self-interest. The adoption of a feminist analysis of women in society is presented by feminists as in women's interests. This is why feminists are able to look with contempt and/or pity on non-feminist women. As if they are somehow not valuing themselves as women and as people. But making a whole political ideology out of self-interest of a particular group in society, is, in my opinion, conservative and selfish. When feminists mock people who ask about men's discrimination with their 'whatabouttehmenz' taunt, they are mocking women who think and care about others, and men who think about and care about each other and themselves. So feminism expects women to be selfish and men to be self-less. And people who do not or will not fit into the binary, to not exist at all.
I have never met a woman who wasn't, to some degree, a feminist, even if not a vocal, capital-F Feminist. To take an extreme example, some women are perfectly happy — and fair enough, if they are — to take the traditional role of subservient home-maker, to varying degrees, but would still balk at being beaten up by their husband. Given that such behaviour has only relatively recently been treated as a crime, and that it's still referred to as 'domestic violence', rather than what it is; assault and battery, or whatever it's called in the country you happen to live in, I'd say that it's still being treated, at least in the popular view, as a lesser crime when committed in the home than when committed by a stranger in the street. So yes, the happily stay-at-home 'traditional' wife is still a feminist.
And what's wrong with self-interest? Does anyone believe that Martin Luther King didn't have self-interest in the black civil-rights movement, or Gandhi in the campaign for a free India?
'Self-interest' ≠ 'inherently bad'.
Oh, and you're tacitly assuming that all feminists are female. See above.
QRG, do you honestly believe that, even fifty years ago, you would have had unbridled access to a computer and the internet, had they existed? I'm pretty confident that it would have been considered 'too technical for women' by most husbands, fathers and brothers, and most women would have actually agreed, or at least would have kept quiet rather than rock the boat. Ironically, you would also have probably been the most likely person in the family to use one in a professional capacity, purely in word-processor mode, as the job of 'secretary' would be 'women's work', and apart from rare exceptions, probably the best work that most women could aspire to, to boot. Yet you claim that the work of feminists who have gained you the right to post your blog, have made it seem unthinkable that you couldn't post your blog, is unneeded.
It seems that many people, even many women, are happy to accept the equalities that feminists have won them over the years; votes, equal pay (at least in law, though traditional women's work still mostly pays less than tradtional men's work), the rights to file for divorce, to own property, to expect to be free from violence, and to the protection of the law when it does occur, the right not to be treated as a 'slut' for having been raped, or to not be locked up in what amounts to penal servitude for having a child outside wedlock (and to pour salt on the wound, this would often follow a pregnancy due to a rape that would have seen her branded as a slut). They accept all these things, some of which only changed within my memory (I'm in my mid-40s), and some of which are still very much works-in-progress, yet still claim that they don't live in a male-dominated society, as if attitudes which persisted for thousands of years have been washed away in a couple of decades. They act as if the rights that women now enjoy, which men have always enjoyed, haven't been fought for by feminists; or that the job is now done, and that there is no longer a need for feminists. They stand on the shoulders of giants — giants who have raised them almost to ground level — yet proclaim the giants to be wrong-headed. They enjoy the fruits of a long struggle, whilst opposing those who continue that struggle. I confess, this puzzles the hell out of me.