Friday, April 24, 2015

Why I'm Not A Feminist, Pt. 3: The Power of Names

Today, I want to discuss with you the power of names and naming rights.  To understand the power of names, we first need to understand what a name is.  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a name is:
1 a : a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing
   b: a word or symbol used in logic to designate an entity
2 a descriptive often disparaging epithet <called him names>
3 a : reputation <gave the town a bad name>
   b : an illustrious record : fame <made a name for himself in golf>
   c : a person or thing with a reputation
4 family, clan
5 appearance as opposed to reality <a friend in name only>
6 one referred to by a name <praise his holy name>
Such simple words for such a complex idea.  Names are more than simple words; names are how we interpret the world around us.  Helen Keller learns to speak when she understood the hand movements where the name of water.  In ancient times, the Egyptian god Ptah created things by naming them.  In science, naming rights reflect who either thought up an idea first or who implemented an idea first/the best.   Neil DeGrasse Tyson does a phenomenal job explaining how we interpret history through naming rights.

Fairy tales such as Rumpelstiltskin show how knowing a person's name gives you a power over them (or at least that's what we used to believe).  Today, people name their children to connect future generations with past generations (through the use of familial names), or to reflect a parent's wishes or dreams for their progeny (e.g. naming a child 'Lucifer' because you want him to be beautiful and able to think for himself), or to remember their culture heritage.  Studies show that men with feminine sounding names have more peer problems in school; that people with unusual names have a harder time getting hired.

What does this have to do with feminism?

The name 'feminism' is a word used in logic to designate an idea.  The word appears around 1851 with the meaning 'the quality of being female' or 'the state of being feminine'.  In the early 1900s, 'feminism' took on new meaning with the women's suffrage movement, now denoting a social theory or political movement that states we need to remove legal and social restrictions on women to allow them equality to men.

Over time, the word 'feminism' changed definitions as women's rights moved forward.   Women now have rights that at one point were reserved for men, such as the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to an education, the right to work, ...  Socially, women shed previous restrictions on clothing, mannerisms, sexual behaviors, reproductive rights, hairstyles, hair colors, ornamentation (e.g. jewelry, tattoos, piercings,...), career choices,... I think it's safe to say that the majority of legal and social restrictions have been removed.

This begs the question:  what does feminism mean today?

Some women claim that feminism still refers to gaining equality between the genders.  But we already for words for that - egalitarianism or equalitarianism.  These names sound like movements for equality, whereas 'feminism' sounds like a movement only for women.

Some women claim that feminism refers to a movement dedicated to protecting women from domestic violence or intimate personal violence (IPV), rape, and harassment.  But IPV, rape, and harassment are not female problems; these are crimes committed by woman and men against men and women.  The name 'feminism' not only sounds like a movement especially to help women in these situations, but also ignores or belittles the half where men are also victims.

Some women claim that feminism refers to a movement aimed to equalize wages and promotions
between the genders.  There are several problems with this definition.  First, this feminism assumes that women choose the workplace over the home, and that more money and titles are required for happiness or fulfillment.  It overlooks the happiness of either stay-at-home moms, or women who consciously choose to balance their careers needs with their family needs.  Personally, I do not believe that money is the end-all, be-all of life.

Second, we already have a term for people gaining promotions and raises due to their personal contributions - meritocracy.  Turning again to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, meritocracy means a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement.

Third, men and women are not equal in their natural talents.  For example, women tend to multi-task better than men; men have better hand-eye coordination that women.  Scientists use fMRIs to determine if someone has a male or female brain.  These differences mean that certain jobs will come more naturally to either women or men and will therefore lend themselves to the preferred gender better.  It's not a function of society, but of who we are.  In these cases, equality doesn't mean the same number of men and women; equality means the same opportunities presented to men and women.

Yet feminism seems to ignore these problem; the name suggests that women deserves more money and more promotions simply because they are women.

These definitions of feminism leads to another power of names - reputation.  Feminism gained a negative reputation along its history as more and more people see the movement as dedicated to obtaining special privileges for women.  The name itself leads to this reputation, since the focus of the word is "feminine" and not "equal".

Personally, I consider myself an equalitarian who believes in meritocracy.

The question now is - who are you?  And who are these feminists?  Do they really want equality?  Or do they want special privileges?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I'm Not A Feminist, Pt. 2: Rape

Third wave feminists rants and rails against rape, painting a picture of a world dominated by sexually-perverted men who rape women as a means to establish their power and control.   They claim that our society propagates a "rape culture" where it's okay for a man to do what he wants with a woman.  There are even some feminists who claim that #YesAllWomen have been raped.

Let's address their concerns one at a time.

The world is filled with men rape women as a means to establish their power and control.

This statement is false, an exaggeration that spreads fear and misinformation.  First, in 2010 only  1.1% of women reported being raped.  That is not a large number, definitely not dominating and definitely not something you need to worry about.  Secondly, in 2010 1.1% of men reported being raped. That's right - women raped men as much as men raped women. Rape is not a female problem; it's a societal problem. The biggest difference between men and women getting raped is that we as a society either ignore men as victims or make fun of them for "letting" themselves get raped. Women have rape crisis centers, rape hotlines, specific laws designed to assist female rape victims; our emergency rooms even have special procedures that they follow to document a rape while caring for the female victim as best as they can.

Our society propagates a "rape culture" where it's okay for a man to do what he wants with a woman.

I think an important question at this point is how do you define "rape culture".  According to Wikipedia:
Rape culture is a concept within feminist theory in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.

Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of some forms of sexual violence.
Sadly, we do have a rape culture because feminists trivialize the rape of men, deny that men are raped, and refuse to acknowledge the harm done to men.

Does this mean we don't have a rape culture for women?  I think that society has changed over the past twenty years, acknowledging it is not okay for a man to rape a woman and that it is not a woman's fault.  But we haven't even gotten around to acknowledge that male rape is a problem.

#YesAllWomen have been raped.

No, not all women have been raped.  I am insulted to think that women out there are attempting to include me as a rape victim when I have never been raped.  That degrades the pain and suffering of women who have been assaulted, burying them in the masses with a casual "it happens to everyone".

Truthfully, the number of women being raped has declined over the years, partially due to social pressures and partially due to educating men and woman on how to handle sexual situations.  There have been several successful campaign to teach men communicate with women to avoid a rape scenario, commonly labeled teaching men not to rape.  I find that particular title offensive to men because of the underlying assumption that every man will rape unless you teach him not to.  But we don't have any teach women not to rape campaigns, and most feminist take offense if you even mention the idea.  Because to acknowledge the need for such a campaign also acknowledge that male rape is a problem, and they don't want to do that.  It makes rape a better feminist topic if men don't get raped.

This is reason two why I'm not a feminist.  I know that rape is a social problem, not a female or male problem.  And we need to treat it as such.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why I'm Not A Feminist, Pt. 1: Domestic Violence

Third wave feminism - a term that encompasses the latest trend of feminism and its attendant "battles".  I find myself shaking my head at this movement, because I see woman spouting rhetoric about equality while in reality asking for special treatment.   It's not good enough that woman now have the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to choose her career, even the right to choose what to do when she's pregnant.  No, now society needs to treat every woman like a special snowflake.  Nowhere is this more apparent than Twitter.

The hash tag #YesAllWomen has made the rounds at Twitter, a multitude of third wave feminists haranguing readers with trite messages about domestic violence, rape, harassment, and wages.

The level of arrogance in these tweets astounds me.  There seems to be some base assumptions:
  • that most men sexually harass or rape women
  • that society encourages such behavior
  • that men don't work or don't work hard enough to earn their income
  • that all men are responsible for the behavior of those who commit violent acts
It's almost unconscionable, how all men are being portrayed as evil and all women as victims.  Someone actually have to make a hash tag #NotAllMen to combat the attitudes found within the #YesAllWomen tweets.

Today, I am ignoring all the ranting about rape, harassment, and wages.  I will cover those topics next week.  Today, though, I want to discuss domestic violence, otherwise known as intimate partner violence (IPV).

 If a woman becomes a victim of IPV, she has several options.  There are at least 2,000 shelters for her to turn to, found from a plethora of websites.  There are several hotlines for her to call to get the same information, as well as programs to help her obtain housing, legal advice, clothes, furniture, and whatever else she needs to get out of her abusive relationship and start over.  She can even show up at a fire station or police station, and receive help finding a shelter.

But if a man is a victim of IPV...  I want you to try something.  Go to Google and search for "find a women's shelter".  The search returned a list of women's shelters in my area, all of them for women who are victims of domestic violence.  

Now search for "find a men's shelter".  Go on, I'll wait.

This search brings up information about homeless shelters.  There is not a single hit for helping a man who has been abused.  Not one.

You might think that we don't need men's shelters, but according to the CDC, in 2011 more men were victims of IPV than women.  Yes, you read that correctly.  About 5,365,000 men were victims of IPV, while only 4,741,000 women were victims of IPV.

This is not a singular phenomena either.  Unless you define "domestic violence" as being violence against women (which some people do), then men make up anywhere between 40% and 55% of domestic violence victims in the United States alone.

But women have society backing them and protecting them.  Women have the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 that provides funding to investigate and prosecute violence against women.  Where is Violence Against Men Act?

Society doesn't even see violence against men as a problem sometimes.  Watch this video to see how people react differently when a man versus a woman gets publicly bullied.

You see, society tries to protect a woman from abuse, but laughs at a man who suffers from virtually the same abuse.

In terms of domestic violence, I am definitely not a feminist because this is not a women's issue.  It's not a men's issue.  It's a societal issue, and it's past time to treat men with the same respect that we treat women.