The “Women’s Privilege Pledge?”:

Just What Part of Equal Protection Don’t You Understand?

(c) 2013, Davd

“Once upon a time, not so very long ago,” in many kingdoms by the sea, the landlocked Swiss Confederation1 (and after 1790, the Republics of France and the USA), men and women had different “spheres of life”. Women’s sphere was domestic; men’s, the world-of-outside-work—and of danger and adventure. Among farmers especially, they overlapped; but the sex difference was in the same direction if smaller. Women could range beyond the domestic sphere, though few seemed to want to; my own paternal grandmother was a respected Pentecostal preacher. Those who did enter “men’s work” also entered in some measure into the risks and dangers of that sphere. Women were protected from violence, not absolutely but much, much better than men—by sequestration.

Today, women in Canada have become aviators2, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, combat soldiers, professionals of all types, provincial premiers3—and for over sixty years, the Head of State has been a woman, with the probability that in future, that Crown will be worn more years by women than by men.4 To grant the protections of sequestration to all women today, is probably impossible; to grant them in principle is to set a double standard of protection—much the same one that left so many empty seats on the Titanic’s lifeboats, that even if all the 154 women and children who were lost, had been loaded into the boats, there would have remained 250-300 more places for men. The crew was so damnably jealous to keep men from entering lifeboats, that more than 250 men died for no good reason at all (yes, i’m taking care not to say that dying to let a woman live is always or even usually a good-enough reason. “Let the youngest be saved first”, for instance, makes more sense to me.)

Such excess zeal can also be found in the “White Ribbon Pledge”, which is cleverly worded to evoke misplaced chivalry. It is one reason i stayed home on December 6th5. That Feminist-declared “National Day of Rememberance [re] Violence Against Women” implicitly claims that violence against men is less bad… as does the “White Ribbon Pledge”. (If December 6th were a “… Day of Reflection for the Minimization of Violence Against Human Beings”, that i could support.) As long as the elimination of violence from human society is very far from practical possibility; the “White Ribbon Pledge” not to tolerate violence against women [sometimes, “women and girls”6] claims impractically great privilege for female human beings and conversely, denigrates men and boys.

Just for instance, a man signing that “White Ribbon Pledge” promises [implicitly] not to defend himself if attacked violently by a woman or girl. (See this post for the common childhood example.) Strictly read, he even promises not to defend his children by force if they are attacked violently by a woman or girl. What if Sonia Blanchette’s “ex”—or anyone—had shown up just as she was starting to kill their children7? Wouldn’t he want “to condone or commit” some (disciplined) violence to stop the killing? The “White Ribbon Pledge” is absurdly extreme.

Why not write a pledge, “to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards any human being”? If it is possible to carry out that pledge, then a pledge that protects only women and girls, not only declares female privilege, but tolerates violence to men and boys. Are Feminists visibly abandoning “gender equality” for privilege? Do women wish to bless violence against men? It seems some prominent Feminists do bless violence against men, and that might be one reason for the wording of the “pledge”…
… but beyond and separately from that, the elimination of violence from society would require a very different society than what Canada, the USA, Europe [and Arabia, China, etc etc] have today.

Law enforcement is based on violence. As Peter Berger wrote in Invitation to Sociology, even a financial investigation or a traffic ticket depends ultimately on the availability of police who can enforce it—meaning, by force. I doubt even five percent of the police, male and female, now working, would be willing to vow never to use violence while doing their work enforcing the laws. (I doubt they would be willing to vow never to use violence when the suspects against whom they were enforcing the laws, be female, either.) I even doubt that anyone who trusts the police, even “mostly”, would want them to renounce all violence, or even all violence against females.

If the subject be violence-against-women, the question be not “how to eliminate it”, because until women completely quit violence themselves [which i doubt will happen], eliminating is too extreme. The questions, in an age of “gender equality” in access to work, education, and public life, include how to replace violence with something better, for men and women…

… and include also, how much violence can be replaced? Our laws are enforced most often by intimidation, rarely by incentive; and the intimidation is ultimately based in the availability of police violence: It would be a good idea to work for a legal system based more on incentive and less on threat of punishment; it would also be a long, hard job, and vanishingly unlikely to achieve an absolute-zero rate of violence.

Canadian as well as US soldiers have been wounded and killed in war in this decade; a majority of those killed and of those wounded were men, but a few were women. Reducing violence, and finding the most appropriate rules for stating the desired “optimal minimum” of violence in social life, is a good objective—and will be a very difficult one to pursue, much less achieve.

With the subject of violence-against-women, naturally belongs the subject be violence-by-women, The most recent Canadian examples are probably Sonia Blanchette, named repeatedly late last year on CBC Radio news and charged with first degree murder in the deaths of her three children, and Nicole Doucet, who undertook to hire her husband killed.

Two other examples from earlier years are important because prominent Feminists have extolled what they did as desiderata: Lorena Bobbitt and Valerie Solanas, perpetrators; Valerie Solanas, advocate of women’s violence against men. There are others; those two got “brought to my attention” quite often. But imagine a man had said and done something analogous—not only would Feminists condemn him, men-in-general would also. It is our way as men to discipline such violence as we commit, and employ it with restraint; and men who misuse violence are not blessed: Gentlemen, the moral high ground is ours.

From that high ground, let’s reframe the question: How much can violence against men be reduced, with good rather than harmful overall social consequences? Most men i know would like to minimize drunken brawls, bullying, and whacks upside the head with cast-iron frying pans (this last being stereotypically, a way women attack men rather than a way men attack anyone8). Few would like to limit police dealing with serious criminals to saying “Now you be nice!” (Even fewer would like to be police who are so limited. Peter Berger also wrote in Invitation to Sociology, that while British “bobbies” did not carry guns routinely, they could be issued them if the situation seemed to warrant.)

The “White Ribbon Pledge” promises more than a Common-Law legal system (or any other legal system about which i know enough to assess) can deliver. Its wording treats men as legitimate targets of violence “by omission.” Any man endorsing it is a fool—or at least, has been fooled. A woman endorsing it might be a fool, a scoundrel, a sexist—but not egalitarian.

The short answer to any effort to promote a biased pledge like that is “I want equal protection for both sexes.” If the situation has confrontational aspects, one might well add “Why don’t you?

If you get an answer that’s a dispute—an effort to justify a privilege of violence for women—make note of it. There’s a virtual certainty it’s inconsistent with any notion that Feminism promotes “gender equality”.

Notes:

1. The usual way to open many European [including English] folk-tales, of course, was “Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in a kingdom by the sea.” Take a look at the map of Europe [including England], as of any time in the past 200 or more years, and you’ll find that most kingdoms do include some sea-coast. The Confederation Helvetica [the name that gives Switzerland the code CH] is one of the very few European states that has no seacoast—and no history of being ruled by a monarch, since the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden began the Confederation in 1273 (Wells, The Outline of History, 1961: 628.)

2. It may be worth mentioning that Amelia Earhart, who was lost and presumed crashed and drowned while attempting to fly around the world in a fairly small airplane, might have survived had she been better skilled at navigation and Morse code. It seems anyway, that present-day women aviators are trained fully.

3. As of February 2013, the premiers of Alberta, “British Columbia”, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Quebec are women. Those provinces include the three largest, and both “petro-powerhouses”.

4. This follows “doubly”, given the new rule that the firstborn is heir to the Throne regardless of sex, from the simple fact that women live longer on-average. First, a Queen will on-average live to a greater age than a King. Second, a Queen following a King will take the throne at a younger age than a King following a Queen. Her current Majesty became Queen in her twenties; her mother lived past the age of 100; her son Charles is approaching retirement age and is fairly likely never to become King. (I am aware of some claims that elite families produce more sons than daughters, which would affect and perhaps cancel this lifespan-based inference; but have not seen convincing evidence of the claims.)

5. On December 6th, Canadian Feminists hold ‘events’ by various names, to remember a multiple murder in Montreal as if it had been a massacre, which it wasn’t; and pressure men and legislators to support, among other things, the “White Ribbon Pledge”. If there had been a Finnish Independence Day event nearby, or a group of men had agreed to hold a demonstration or vigil promoting equal treatment, either would have been good reason to “go out”, and i said so to one member of a prospective men’s group in Miramichi—but no event materialized. I am ready to confront those who nag men to “sign the White Ribbon Pledge”; but i prefer to do so in the company of sympathetic men. (see e.g. Genesis, ch. 39, and www.cotwa.org .)

6. When i searched duckduck for a “white ribbon pledge” example, New Zealand returned “to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards women”; a Wisconsin site returned “I pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women and girls.” Those two examples made me aware that there is no single definitive text.

7. CBC Radio News, 6 December 2012, 6AM and 8AM, reported Ms. Blanchette had just been charged with first degree murder in the deaths of their three children.

8. I still recall a remark made by a woman about my weight, not much below my height, and at least ten years younger, sitting at a table in an Anglican Church with coffee and tea in front of us, around the turn of the century. She stated plainly that if her husband ever did something that really outraged her, she would kill him in his sleep with a frying pan. “He’s got to sleep sometime”, she emphasized.

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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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