More Seen than Recognized:

Essay review of Vincent, Norah, 2006.
Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man.
New York: Viking Penguin.
(c) 2016, Davd

I first chose to review this book because i was writing a review of John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. Griffin’s experience as an “American Negro” man in 1959 seemed to me to show some patterns of “intergroup conflict” which were rare between the sexes when Griffin wrote, but are common today. A book by a woman who spent longer functioning socially as a man, than Griffin spent as Negro, invited reading. Griffin had done a valuable, quality job; if Norah Vincent did as well, she might help clarify the extent to which the sexes today are divided and unequal.

Already, in that review, i had noticed that the sexes are more different than the races; and Self Made Man confirmed this. It also confirmed, not beyond all doubt but to the extent Vincent’s adventure and her book could, that men are more candid and women are more guileful; and that women who are dating, expect too much of men, especially relative to what they have to offer in return. Vincent’s acknowledgements that she has brothers and is Lesbian indicate that she most likely has philios but not eros love for men: She brought a sympathetic tendency to the groups of men she met. Still, she spent an unknown fraction of her year and a half, disguised as a man; while Griffin became Negro.

The cover photographs on the two paperback books are telling: We see John Howard Griffin from behind, walking down a hallway of sorts between stone columns and a wall, an ordinary, fairly tall Negro man. On the back cover we see his “white” and dark faces, half in light and half in shadow, the white from abaft the beam, the dark from an angle to the bow, with an ordinary pleasant sort of look on it—again, an ordinary Negro man. Norah Vincent’s cover photographs, both on the front, are of herself as a Lesbian woman and disguised as an ordinary-looking man—except [s]he is looking straight at the camera, implicitly straight at the reader, “making contact” in both of them. Griffin’s photographs don’t do that… and as Vincent’s book tells us, urban men don’t normally do that1.

Vincent’s observations on how women can be insincere, deceptive, condescending …; contrast with her observations of men accepting her with easy-going candor; and the contrast, plus her specific reports of women’s dissembling, add up to a confession of men’s merit. In general she, like Susan Pinker (2008)—and like my grandmother the Pentecostal preacher, and my sister2—gets my salute for honesty; but also my wish that Vincent had been more profound and organized (as Griffin and Grandmother, Kid Sis to some extent, were).

Beyond Self Made Man being an acknowledgment of men’s virtues that cannot plausibly be self serving, Vincent’s report of “the American man’s condition” is worth serious reflection, in context of Vincent’s Last Words in this book: “… I am fortunate, proud, free, and glad in every way to be a woman.” [287]. This book is a report on the condition of men from someone who was a woman for comparison3 … successfully “disguised as a man.”

Partial Synopsis:

Norah Vincent is a tall, articulate, Lesbian woman, “a nationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times” [inside front cover]. who lived in New York City’s “Hell’s Kitchen” [p, 175] as the book was written. She joined a men’s bowling league, went to strip clubs with some fellow bowlers, dated via local bars where pickups were part of the reason for going, and via the Internet, took a 6-week retreat at a monastery, worked as a door-to-door salesman, and finally, joined a “men’s group” and attended its retreat. In total, she states, she passed for a man “in five separate states, in three different regions of the United States.” [18]

As she arrived for the first time to join the bowling league, she experienced a man-to-man greeting for the first time, and was very positively impressed [25-26].

When [Jim, the team captain] whom I’d never met before shook my hand he gave me something real. He included me. But most of the women I’d ever shaken hands with or even hugged had held something back, as if we were in constant competition with each other, or secretly suspicious, knowing it but not knowing it, and going through the motions all the same4. In my view bra burning hadn’t changed that much.

Next I met Alan. His greeting matched Jim’s. It had a pronounced positive force behind it, a presumption of goodwill that seemed to treat me as a buddy from the start, no questions asked, unless or until I proved otherwise.” [26]

Men’s default attitude toward other men newly met, is friendly, she reports; women’s toward other women, less trustful and more calculating.

Once warmly introduced, the men greeted her much less effusively than other women would have done, which for a woman, took some getting used to; but “Everything was out and aboveboard, never more, never less than what was on anyone’s mind. If they were pissed at you, you’d know it. These gruff greetings were indicative of nothing so much as fatigue and appropriate male distance. … they were coming from long, wearying workdays ….” [30]

She tested their racial attitudes by asking, after a negative TV comment on a black quarterback, “Do you think McNabb deserves to be where he is?” They didn’t get excited about the question as Vincent had expected they would:

… the conversation ended with a single comment from each. Yeah, he was doing a great job. … They were happy with his performance, on some nights very happy, and that was all that mattered. The policy debate over skin color wasn’t interesting to them, or relevant. They were rock bottom utilitarians. Either a guy was good and did what he was hired to do or he wasn’t, and that alone was the basis on which you judged his worth.” [31-32]

The men on her team—and even some men from other teams—made a supportive effort to improve her bowling game, which contrasted strongly with her experience as a woman competing with other women[43-45]; and she began to perceive the muted way—muted to her, anyhow—that men show emotion. Her first experience of it was when one of the other bowlers, not on her team, rolled a perfect game. Jim, her teammate whose turn it was to throw, didn’t step up to the line.

Then I noticed that all the other bowlers had sat down as well [except] the guy who was having the great game. I looked up at the board and saw that he’d had strikes in every frame, and now … he’d have to throw three strikes in a row … to earn a perfect score, and somehow everyone in that hall had felt the moment of grace descend and had bowed out accordingly. Everyone, of course, except me.

It was a beautiful moment, totally still and reverent, a bunch of guys instinctively paying their respects to the superior athleticism of another guy.

That guy stepped up to the line and threw his three strikes, one after the other, each one met by mounting applause… then on the final strike, an eruption, and every single guy in the room, including me, surrounded that player and moved in to shake his hand or pat him on the back. It was almost mystical, that telepathic intimacy and the communal joy that succeeded it, crystalline in its perfection. The moment said everything all at once about how tacitly attuned men are to each other, and how much of this women miss when they look from the outside in.” [47]

Still, she inferred that men are emotionally inhibited, including her bowling team, and i can’t imagine a logically sound route to the inference.

She came to enjoy her bowling night each week, in spite of her poor performance as a bowler; and i’m inclined to credit that to the candor and easy-going warmth, the lack of subversion and innuendo, that the men naturally gave “Ned” as they gave each other.

I skimmed rather than scanned the chapter titled “Sex”, in which she went to strip clubs. There is very much more to sex than that; and the overreaching chapter title indicates as the bowling accounts did not, that there is much to manhood and men’s lives that a Lesbian columnist in disguise, could not access. Strip bars are open to the public, the bedrooms of long-married couples are not… nor are the beds where people just falling in love, “make love” after falling into them.

Much as “Sex” is a far too inclusive title for chapter 3, “Love” is far too broad for chapter 4. “Dating” would have been more accurate, more descriptive.

Trying to meet women in bars while disguised as a man, taught her mainly how unpleasant rejection is:

I found myself thinking about rejection and how small it made me feel, and how small most men must feel under the weight of what women expect from them. I was an actor playing a role, but these women had gotten to me nevertheless. None of these interactions mattered. I had nothing real at stake. But still, I felt bad.” [99]

When she revealed to one group at a bar, that she was a woman in disguise,

Then, with startling quickness we all began chatting like hens. Their aloof facade fell away, … knowing i was a woman, to let me in. … Now they turned all the way around to face me….”
“As a woman, i was accepted. As a man I had been rejected yet again.
” [98]

Dating by way of Internet “introductions” brought “Ned” fewer and less painful rejections, and many dates: “… I made contact with almost all the women I dated via the Internet, and we usually exchanged a number of e-mails before we met.” [108]

The dates, however, were far less fun on average, than she had expected.

The women she dated wanted a confident take-control man who was also open, sensitive, and vulnerable [110-111]. Both Ned and Norah felt that was too much to ask: Being a “world bestriding colossus … [and] a sensitive new age guy at the same time is pretty well impossible.” [111] A very few such men might exist; millions of women want one. … and most are dissatisfied at best, if we can generalize from Vincent’s reports, when they meet less.

: “… while a man is expected to be modern, that is, to support feminism in all its particulars5, to see and treat women as equals in every respect, he is on the other hand often still expected to be traditional at the same time, to treat a lady as a lady, to lead the way and pick up the check.

Expectation, expectation, expectation. That was the leitmotif of Ned’s dating life, taking on the desirable manly persona or shrugging off its dreaded antithesis. Finding the right balance was maddening, and operating under the constant weight of so much political guilt was simply exhausting. Though, in the parlance of liberal politics, I had operated in my real life under the burden of being a doubly oppressed minority—a woman and a lesbian—and I had encountered the deprivations of that status, as a man, I operated under what I felt in these times to be the equally heavy burden of being a double majority, a white man.” [112]

Vincent did have some Lesbian indulgence with a few of her dates, (she does not specify what physically occurred [e.g. 114-123]) while other women she dated found Ned was not male enough for them: Too willowy, when many women wanted brawn.

As a Lesbian, Norah Vincent was attracted to women, playing the role of Ned, she found how much power that gave her/his dates:

And if you have never been sexually attracted to women, you will never quite understand the monumental power of female sexuality, except by proxy or in theory, nor will you quite know the immense advantage it gives us over men. As a lesbian, I knew something of this. But it is different between two women, more an engagement of equals, an exchange of something shared. As a man, I learned much more, and I learned it, I think, from an unexpectedly disadvantaged point of view.” [126]

Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, a momentary misogynist, which, I suppose was the best indicator that my experiment had worked. I saw my own sex from the other side, and I disliked women irrationally for a while because of it. I disliked their superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to choose or dash me with a fingertip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even the successes unbearably humiliating.” [127]

When I was Ned, women became a subspecies to blame, just as for those women, men had become the adversary in the wrong.” [128]

.. Women were supposed to fly already.6 And I held it harshly against them that they were so small and shitty and shortsighted as everybody else, including me. Ned saw that, and then I saw Ned seeing it, and then I saw myself. I guess that was the fascination of Ned. He was a mirror and a window and a prism all at the same time.7

But the truth was that for all the anger I felt … directed at the abstraction called men, I was most surprised to find nestled inside the confines of female heterosexuality a deep love and genuine attraction for real men.8 Not for women in men’s bodies, as the prejudicial me had thought.”[129]

Perhaps she discovered heterosexual women, as well as men, through her adventure.

The chapter that describes her six week retreat at a monastery, she titles “Life”, as if the bowlers, the women she dated, the men’s group members, were dead or alien.9 The real point of the chapter was to “to observe men living together in close quarters without women...”[132] and “know what happens when you take sex away.”[133] As with her other chapter titles, the word “Life” covers far more than the chapter’s content.

She “flew” into friendship with Br. Vergil10, who shared some of her interests in the arts, and was scolded by Fr. Jerome for “falling in love with him.” [139]. She admits that “in comportment, I wasn’t bothering to be very butch. I was being me, though purposely less demonstrative than I would have been as myself.

Still, even toned down, as a man, my hallmark female behaviors, my emotive temperament and even my word choice read as gay, or at the very least odd.”[144] She was pressured to act more masculine and less emotionally florid. No surprise there.

She noticed and reports, considerable affection among the monks, expressed with at least average masculine reserve… but with that reserve, she seems unable to be comfortable.

Revealing to the monks that she was a woman, she reports, improved acceptance and rapport.

For “Work”, she chose not a naturally male job like carpentry, logging, and garbage collection, but door-to-door sales, which is not necessarily masculine. Writing of it as a “balls-to-the-wall sales job in a testosterone soaked environment” may be merely her usual hyperbole applied to the facts of the specific job she found; but it is not factually true of door-to-door selling. Though she does report the imagery of her “Attitude Red Bull” choices as a macho pseudo-culture, there were women as well as men doing those sales “jobs.” She herself, as Ned, succeeded by easing into the sale, letting the customer ‘discover’ the merits of the coupon books she had to sell. [214-6]

One important thing i noticed in that “Work” chapter, was the effect of wearing a suit. Unlike most of the salesmen around her, she knew how to dress up, and doing it in men’s clothing was still stereotyped. The men’s dressing stereotypes were familiar to her; she had brothers and worked in a large city where hundreds of thousands of men dressed up… and she took her time preparing the Ned persona.

I was walking taller in my dress clothes” she writes. “I felt entitled to respect, to command it and get it in a way that Ned never had in slob clothes. … A suit is an impenetrable signifier of maleness … You see it, not him, and you bow to it.

I, in turn, responded to these shifts in expectation. For the first time in my journey as Ned I felt male privilege descend on me like an insulating cape, and all the male behaviors I had until then been so consciously trying to produce for my role, came to me suddenly without effort.

My voice moistened instinctively, loosening me into the pose of someone who doesn’t need to speak up to be heard. I spoke more slowly, and with what seemed to me to be an absurd authority, … ” [187]

Most of the other salesmen in the door-to-door enterprises where she worked, “were too hard up to afford a real suit and too tasteless to buy a presentable one. Not a single one of them had the slightest idea how to tie a tie. As a result, they all looked like the epitome of a cheap salesman.” [194] In comparison, Ned would have looked impressive.

She also reports, or was it concluded, that: “As a guy, I had to shed my sympathy for myself and the victim, and the appearance of weakness and need. People see weakness in a woman and they want to help. People see weakness in a man and they want to stamp it out.” [213]

That might have been true of “Ned”s specific door-to-door sales environment, where she also reports, success depended a little on the law of averages but much more on deceit: “... learning to lie better was what everyone who did well was really doing.” [217] It does her credit that she quit.

Rejection of the weak was false among the bowlers, who tried to help her improve Ned’s game. It was false among the monks. In the strip clubs and the men’s group, the question seems moot. She seems to report rejection of “Ned” as weak in the dating-bar scene, but not over the Internet. Perhaps most important, i didn’t notice Norah Vincent noticing that rejection of the weak is situational, and that in the all-male situations, it didn’t happen.

Discussion:

This book has told me more about women than about men—but with limited certainty because it is a “case study,” a one-woman report, and that of a columnist more than a book-length author. It has confirmed, and significantly, that men and men’s discourse are more candid, women and women’s discourse more florid and calculated.

Her bowling experience showed her that men are more accepting and dissemble far less than women; and that we have emotional perceptions and expression, but they are much less flamboyant.

In my reading, the bowling league was her best experience and her best performance as a guy… though she never did bowl well. It was evenings out with working class men who were unwinding from their jobs in candid, accepting, easy-going company; and that, she could provide and appreciate. It was really quite a lot like the Pygmy men in Turnbull’s The Forest People (1968), sitting and talking about the last hunt and the next, and about how to manage awkward social encounters. It was practical, it was mutually supportive, it was easy-going most of the time. I cannot “get” why Norah Vincent would rather be a woman [287], but i’ll allow it’s “just as well”, because that’s what she was born to be.

Her dating experiences confirm—not fully, they are one woman’s experience in disguise—some of the sense of needless antagonism that men have about early 21st Century relations between men and women.

They also summarize a separation of the sexes which, in fact, has been around longer than the 74+ years i have been alive: Men greet strange men willingly enough if the situation indicates peaceable rather than hostile intent, as “Ned” was greeted when he arrived at the bowling alley; but the women “Ned” tried to approach deemed strange men approaching them “only want one thing.”[97]. Had they been strange women, the suspicion might have been more comprehensive [cf. 25-26].

In a pickup bar, that’s close enough to true for practical purposes; in a library, hospital, or at a kiosk—it’s not; but still, chaperonage, modesry, and some separation of the sexes, are good things (cf. “Jim”s distraction when a very attractive woman is in his work space, p. 35).

The chapters on “Sex” [strip clubs] and “Work” [door-to-door sales]; fall far short of representing men’s overall experience. Strip clubs with or without lap dances, are a very small and biased sample of male sexuality, and door-to-door sales is a very biased sample of men’s work. What both are, is more accessible to a woman in disguise, than more representative sexual activities, and than jobs like say, carpentry, logging, and garbage collection.

Several other men have talked to me about sex, knowing i’m abstinent myself (and yes, we have been more matter-of-fact than florid in how we talked about sex.) The range of experience and even of “sex drive” is large, and a section on strip bars should not really be named “sex”.

Many other men have talked to me about work, and much of it is not for the willowy physique. If John Howard Griffin’s adventure could go anywhere in the “Negro” world of his time, that he could have gone if he had been born Negro; Vincent’s could not really go everywhere that a natural man could go. The sexes are more different than the races.

Norah Vincent’s writing is fluent, as we expect of a columnist. She uses nuance and qualification to avoid over-statement11 and she does so cleverly, so that many of her nuanced or qualified statements still seem assertive. She also indulges in over-statement = exaggeration which for all i know, might be normal woman-to-woman utterance.

It is evocative in ways i would find odd coming from a man12. I would not expect a man to write that bowling a perfect score was “crystalline in its perfection” [47]; nor “Small-shouldered guy sidles up to cute chicks with a canned line and a huge hole of obvious insecurity gaping in the middle of his chest” [94-5]. I’ve met many exceptions to the “every man” whose armor, she writes, “is borrowed and ten sizes too big, and beneath it he’s naked and insecure and hoping you won’t see.” [130, end of ch. 4]

With those words she evokes an image far more false than the men i know: Chefs Soren and Steve, Elders Art and Nelson, Farmers Stan, Pat, and Mark; Priests Laurence, Philip, Serge and Matt; Professors Bill, Louis, Pradip and Tapani, Sawyer Bernard, Welders Jeff, John, Louis and Smitty, men of several shades of tan and brown, several nationalities and languages, all wearing not armor but their working clothes13, and well fitted.

Perhaps she was thinking of the fictional little fellow she mentions on p. 271 who, as the Wizard of Oz, manipulated the levers that made special effects—in a children’s movie, not a real life. Perhaps she is saying that urban life is false for too many men, that for a man to be urban entails relentless pressure to be phony. Definitely, she contradicts her own statements of respect for “Jim”, “Alan”, “Paul”, some of the monks… at least. “Every man” is grievous exaggeration on p. 130; she reports in this very book that probably most men and at least a significant minority of us are authentic, humane, and worthy. Freed of misandry or even most of misandry, such men will be a solid majority.

I didn’t count the contradictions in Self Made Man, but there were at least a handful and perhaps dozens. To me, such contradictions imply a lack of discipline in the writing. More generally, absolute statements are false, as a course in probability taught me back around 1962.

The word disguised, like the concept of discipline, is important in comparing Self Made Man to Griffin’s Black Like Me. John Howard Griffin wrote that he became Negro: “… there is no such thing as a disguised white man, once the color won’t rub off. The black man is wholly a Negro, regardless of what he once may have been.” (Griffin, 1960: 6) Norah Vincent’s subtitle is One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. Black Like Me has more intensity, which i would guess results from three main causes: Discipline, immersion, and a novelist’s rather than a columnist’s approach to writing. Vincent, a columnist, seems to write more from a pursuit of pleasure and excitement; Griffin, a novelist, from a pursuit of “right” and knowledge.

Vincent’s impersonations spanned months longer than Griffin’s transformation; but except for a few days when he risked changing his skin color enough to alternate between “being white” and “being Negro”; John Howard Griffin’s six weeks were spent entirely as Negro, while Norah Vincent’s “passing back and forth between male and female—often going out in public as both a man and a woman in one day” seemed to indicate a much less complete immersion in the social and emotional life of men, than Griffin’s was in negritude.

Griffin’s background as a novelist led him to form, frame, and live a book-length story; he was used to readers who bought a book [codex], or borrowed it from a library, and had a much greater commitment to take care of it and to give it an hour or so before they might decide it was not worth finishing. Newspapers are stereotypically used to wrap the garbage; books stereotypically sit on shelves for years and are re-read occasionally, if only in part. I expect to put Self Made Man on a shelf and use it occasionally for reference; because Vincent seems to be writing honestly and there are few other sources for what i expect it to provide; but that will be despite rather than because of, its organization—and its cover photos.

The sexes are indeed more different than the races. It is long past time to cast aside the ambitions of a few bitter women in favor of the maternal and nurturant normality of millions more, and of the evident fact that most men, most of the time, will gladly respect women whose achievements have merit comparable to their own (Pinker, 2008).

No human beings can enjoy complete liberation without thereby abusing other human beings who must share with them, the inherently limited resources of Planet Earth.

No wonder Norah Vincent would rather be a woman: They’re the privileged sex, and her writing of “male privilege” shows she missed that important point even while describing it. Paradoxically, that could be taken to validate her observations of men’s good qualities, and our actually disadvantaged status as a “gender.”

Other References:

Anonymous, 2009. “Mothers commit vast majority of parental murders of children” VictimFeministCentral website, Tuesday, September 22,

Allemano, Peter, 2012. “The Bold, Independent Woman Of Today and the ‘Good’ Men and Boys in Her Life: A Sampling of Mainstream Media Representations” New Male Studies v.1 Issue 1: 31-51.

Bolles, Edmund Blair, 2011 “‘Project Nim. Reveals a Scientific Scandal”. Scientific American blog post, Jul 10

Deary, Ian J. et al, 2003. “Population differences in IQ at age 11: The Scottish Mental Survey 1932. Intelligence 32. cited by Pinker 2008:

Groth, Miles, 2012. Review of Baumeister, Roy F. 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press.New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 116-120. From the review: “… men do include the best among human beings, but they also include the worst. This has to do with biology and is seen in the greater presence of men as compared to women at the extremes of the so-called normal distribution: more geniuses and more mentally defective human beings among all males.” [118]

Griffin, John Howard, 1960. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Signet paperback, 1961.

Harris, T. George, 1972. “Some Idiot Raised the Ante” (an Editorial) Psychology Today V.5, #. 9 (February): 40

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2001. Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Pinker, Susan, 2008. The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap. [no city listed in flyleaf] Random House of Canada; New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turnbull, Colin M.1968. The Forest People. NY: Simon and Schuster paperback.

Wells, H. G. 1961: The Outline of History Book Club edition, vol, 2. Garden City, NY

Notes:

1. Perhaps one should add “in the United States in the early 21st Century,” because i for one am not sure that all men in all cultures, even if urban, might not look one another in the face to acknowledge rather than challenge—as rural and small town men have done in the Canada i know, even in this century.

This review is written with US rather than Canadian spelling; for consistency, given the several quoted passages and the convention of spelling words in their original language when quoting.

2. who, as Ralph Tomlinson wrote of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, deserved another thirty years of life

3. It is worth keeping in mind, still, that Norah Vincent is one person, as well as that she is a columnist, Lesbian, and tall (“Jim” she writes [p. 24]: , “was about five feet six, a good four inches shorter than I..”) What she reports has the extra credibility of a journalist’s authorship, but still, the limitations of a sample size of one or, in a common phrase, of a “case study.”

4. She elaborates on the previous page: “To me, women-to-woman introductions often seem fake and cold, full of limp gentility. I’ve seen a lot of women hug one another this way too, sometimes even women who’ve known each other for a long time and think of themselves as being good friends, They’re like two backward magnets pushed together by convention. Their arms and cheeks meet, and maybe the tops of their shoulders, but only briefly, the briefest time politeness will allow. It’s done out of habit and for appearances, a hollow, even resentful gesture bred into us and rarely felt.” [25]

5 … including misandry?

6 …an uncertain metaphor. She seems to mean “be immensely skilled emotionally”

7. Another metaphor i would not expect from a man [nor all women]; and i guess Shakespeare writing that Juliet is like the sun is comparably vague—but that’s theatre and Self Made Man is nonfiction. One can imagine what it might mean. One cannot work out by inference what it does mean.

8. The women who find that attraction natural, are the ones from whom we should draw the mothers of the next generations.

9. I deliberately do not call the “dancers” in the strip bars, nor the door-to-door sales[wo]men alive, nor dead; they were living a lie or lies, by her accounts. They were playing roles in which they may well not have believed, for money.

10. The names in the book are pseudonyms; i use the same ones Vincent did.

11. on p. 19 “… I can say with relative surety that …”

12. I’m more literal-minded than that, more concerned to be accurate, less willing to exaggerate. So are most men writers i read.

13 . Armor is, of course, the working clothing of a knight on horseback… a member of the medieval Ruling Classes of Europe.

 

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A Simple Salt-Salmon Pasta Salad

… Frugal Healthy Gourmet Summer Food
with Many Possible Variations

(c) 2016, Davd

The first bargain price this year for Pacific salmon “was on” while i was last in Edmonton, and i bought two fish—pink salmon, about four pounds each, dressed1, at the lowest price for quality fish i’ve found this year. They went straight from the car into the freezer.

Two good reasons for that, at least: I wasn’t about to cook them whole or cook big, easy-to-cut portions; so getting them at least nearly frozen would make butchering them, as i described in a blog last year, much easier. This is true of meat whether the species be beef, chicken, fish, pork, venison …. nearly-frozen meat is stiffer, and that makes cutting it accurately much easier.

Second, i intended to “raw salt” some of each fish. Freezing salmon for at least a day, is said to kill any parasites that could harm humans. Since fish put in a freezer will take some time to freeze to -18 [0 Fahrenheit], i make that two days: If a piece of fish was frozen for two or more days before i raw-salt [gravlaks] it, i consider it safe, salt it (about one part salt to 10 parts fish by weight is one rule; less will do if you will eat it quickly), add dill or tarragon, and put it in the refrigerator for two days to “cure”.

If it hasn’t been frozen, i salt it, add dill or tarragon, and put it in the freezer for at least two days; when it has come back out of the freezer and been in the regular fridge ’til it thaws, it’s ready to enjoy.

When i butchered the first salmon, i did make a rectangular package of “gravlaks”, salted about 1 part salt to ten of fish, which made the finished gravlaks firmer, less watery, than if it had been salted lightly.2 It still made good sandwiches on toasted rye bread (buttered lightly, with thin slices of onion) but had the salt proportion been 5%-8% instead of 10%, those sandwiches would have been more succulent… and still salty enough.

The two standard ways to eat salt-and-dilled salmon are sandwiches on rye bread, and with boiled new potatoes. Here i had some salmon that was firmer and saltier than ideal for those uses.

I also had pasta, of course, and fresh chives in the garden. A few days ago, i took some cold cooked spaghetti, added salt-fish cut in pieces about 3-4 mm [1/8″] thick and 2 cm [3/4″] square, olive oil, and chives cut 3-8 mm [1/8″—1/3″] long. Before adding the fish, chives, and olive oil, i cut the cooked spaghetti—and cooked spaghetti is quite easy to cut with an ordinary table knife or a sharp one, if you use a fork or spoon against which to cut—to about an inch long [2-3 cm]. this made the “pasta salad” that resulted, easy to eat with a medium-sized spoon3 and not that difficult with a salad fork.

Delicious, it was. Methinks the olive oil gave it just enough olive flavour to round out the fish, chive, and pasta. I wouldn’t use canola or corn or soybean oil with this technique, though i do use them to make mayonnaise. I would try this salad with smoked salmon, kipper-smoked but not Digby hard-smoked herring, maybe even canned tuna.

This is a technique, not a recipe: Vary the cut of the pieces if fish, if you like; try sweet onion, or onion greens, instead of chives; try rotini / fusilli or short-cut linguine as the pasta. I doubt spaghettini would work as well, or penne, as pasta shapes. Elbow macaroni, i don’t know—like penne, it is hollow and the air space might affect the enjoyment of the whole.

Pink salmon has a medium-light but definitely salmon taste; Eastern brook trout, especially those that go to sea in the Atlantic or Gulf of St. Lawrence, will have a quite similar strength of flavor. Salted or smoked coho or chinook salmon should be good in this salad; sockeye might be better canned or as leftover baked fish, than smoked or salted, because it has the strongest flavor of the Pacific salmon species and much stronger than Atlantic. salmon.

Smoked meat and hard salami might also be good. Other sausages? There are very many, i won’t try to go over them. If you have been following along with these Food blogs, and trying half or more of the techniques, or if you’re an experienced “scratch cook”, you probably have the cook’s imagination to go through many variations and possibilities.

You could try adding sweet peppers in season, different kinds of pickles, olives green or ripe, … and the enjoyment will vary with what meat you use, how much olive oil, … the possibilities number at least in the thousands. A good working rule is to try any new variation in small amount and when you don’t have guests to impress.

Traditionally, salt-fish [gravlaks] is eaten with boiled new potatoes or rye bread, a film of butter or  good margarine, and onion. (If you use bulb onion rather than greens or chives, slice very thin.) This techique gives you a third quite different way to enjoy it, using ingredients you probably have around the kitchen most of the time (while many kitchens won’t routinely contain rye bread or new potatoes.)

Salmon is wonderful, healthy food. Especially wild salmon.  Even salted, it’s healthy in this salad, because the saltiness of the fish replaces the added salt pasta salads usually get.

Pasta (from durum wheat, said one M.D. quite emphatically) is also healthy food, much more so than say, white rice. It’s a good thing to have more ways to enjoy pasta, and this technique is open to thousands of possible variations.

Bon appetit!

Notes:

1. “guts removed” in plain language. Go ahead and visualize a dead fish wearing doll clothes, if you like, for a laugh…

2. Light salting is OK for fish that will be eaten within a few days; 1:10 salted fish will keep longer in the ‘fridge.

3. A teaspoon is rather too small for eating pasta salad; the spoons i use for cereal and soup are about two teaspoons in size. That’s what i ate with, especially since olive oil was included.

 

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From White Supremacy to Female Supremacy?

The Status of Canadian Men and Families Compared to the Former Plight of Afro-America
(c) 20161; Davd Martin, PhD

The “Moynihan report” was controversial from its publication. Cited as
Anonymous, 1965. The Negro2 Family: The Case for National Action. United States Government Printing Office.
..this centimetre-thick paperback book was written (as acknowledged by the US Department of Labor website, 2010) by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, previously co-author with respected American sociologists and later US Senator from New York.

The purpose of the ‘Moynihan report’ was to urge that:

The policy of the United States is to bring the Negro American to full and equal sharing in the responsibilities and rewards of citizenship. To this end, the programs of the Federal government bearing on this objective shall be designed to have the effect, directly or indirectly, of enhancing the stability and resources of the Negro American family.

The chief problem Moynihan saw in [we would now write Afro-American] families was a tendency toward fatherless, matriarchal household structure. That tendency has spread to society in general, arguably more-so in Canada than in the United States. Given the concerns the report expressed about the effect of family structure on individual accomplishment and societal well-being, we might ask if society in general is now worse off for the change.

However, Moynihan also included a “morally neutral social science disclaimer” typical of the 1960s, in the report, which disclaimer could be read to imply that the ill effects of a substantially matriarchal family structure which he described in 1965, would be remedied by making matriarchy common throughout “society”.

“There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement.  However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages to begin with, is operating on another.” [ch IV, near the beginning]

Moynihan continues,

This is the present situation of the Negro. Ours is a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs. The arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it. A subculture, such as that of the Negro American, in which this is not the pattern, is placed at a distinct disadvantage.

We might also ask whether the spread of matriarchy has done net good rather than harm.

These two hypotheses, which cannot both be true, are implied by different parts of “the Moynihan report”, and perhaps time did indeed tell which of them be valid.

During the 50 years since the original “Moynihan report” was published on paper, the matriarchal tendencies it deplored have become much commoner among “non-Afro-American” families; and perhaps especially among the families of “subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Windsor”: It seems that the dominance of women and girls in the most-Anglophone, most-British-in-ancestry, and most-Monarchist parts of the British Commonwealth, is greater than that in the United States and much of Continental Europe (though some anecdotal reports could be heard to indicate that in Sweden and Finland, women rule in as great a percentage of households as in Canada.)

The change was not necessarily away from patriarchy, though. Patriarchy may have prevailed in Moynihan’s social class but not in those below it.

From my own observations during the 1950s and 1960s, and reading during the 1960s, i would say that Moynihan exaggerated the extent of post-World-War II patriarchy in working class American households3, and that the median and modal distribution of power in American marriages was very close to equality. Though husbands did exercise some ritual headship, much of it was more courtly than real (for example, driving the car when they were in one together, and opening doors and waiting for their wives to pass through first.) In public affairs, and among those of highest status, male leadership was indeed the norm. Since 1965, the power of women both in public and in private has increased, and that of men has declined.

Today Canada is not “a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs” nor one in which “the arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it;” rather the reverse. It is more advantageous to be born a girl in Canada today, than to be born a boy; and that has been the case for at least a generation. Much rhetoric between 1965 and the present extolled gender equality; but the actual social change has been from near-equality or modest female dominance in the home, and male dominance in the workplace, to[ward] female dominance in both spheres4.

Looking at changes in Canadian family law and family statistics since 1965, one might plausibly conclude that Feminists, reading “the Moynihan report”, chose a very different action plan than Moynihan, a high-status Irish-American man, proposed; and that rather than accepting Moynihan’s goal of making the men more prominent in Afro-American family life, they set out to make women more prominent, and men much less, in “non-Afro-American” family life.

Looking at the legal and ‘educational’ treatment of men today, at marital [in]stability and the proportions of single-parent [family?] households, one might conclude that Moynihan failed and the Feminists prevailed—and not only in the US, but even more in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, perhaps also the U.K. In Canada today, with women a strong majority among university students and entrants to the professions, with women advantaged by criminal and “family” law (Nathanson and Young, 2006, reviewed here; Brown, 2013; cf. Martin, 2011), it is more accurate to say, “Canada is a society which presumes female leadership in private and public affairs; the arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it” .. than to say that male leadership is presumed and facilitated5.

(Might it be relevant that during the intervening years, and for more than a decade before 1965, the Head of State of all these “British Commonwealth” states, has been a woman who, by customary British Royal usage, is explicitly styled as superior to her husband?6 It does seem to be a truism that the arrangements of the elite are to some extent aped by the middle and even sometimes the lower classes; it has been the case that Canadian and “Commonwealth” ritual has treated Her Majesty Elizabeth II as somehow better than all other people; and what little reference to the Royal Family i myself have read, seems to indicate that Her Majesty’s son Charles, rather than being strengthened as Her heir, has been deprecated. One should probably not infer from this that Her Majesty is a principal influence; but one might well infer that being so deferential7 to a woman of regal bearing, for over half a century, and seeing the men of her family dominated by her, has had some effect.)

Today, i perceive Canadian family life to be more like the “Negro” family life Moynihan sought to change, than it is like “White” family life in 1965.8 Moynihan wrote, “Almost One-Fourth of Negro Families are Headed by Females”, what is the proportion today in Canada? Men are a decided minority among university students and entrants to the professions, and their rate of representation is falling. As it is advantageous today and has been advantageous all this 21st century, to be born a girl rather than a boy in the Nice countries… so it was advantageous in the first two thirds of the 20th Century, to be born “white” rather than “Negro”. Only in the treatment of Afro-Americans before Brown v. Board of Education, and possibly the Canadian “Residential School” scandal, can i find parallel within the common-law tradition before 1965, to the treatment of male Canadians today in criminal and “family” law9.

In the Afro-American case, false stereotypes of inequality were believed for generations: “Negroes” were believed to be inherently lazier, of lower intelligence, more violent and criminal; one main task of “the Moynihan report” was to show that differences which might be taken as proof of these stereotypes were better understood to result from discrimination, than to represent inherent differences between races. It is entirely plausible that, if legal gender discrimination is accepted for a generation, most Canadians born after 1990 would come to believe that men are inherently inferior to women in much the same ways as “Negroes” were once held inferior to “whites”: For instance, Clark and Clark (1947) found that Afro-American children downgraded their own race in conformity to prevailing cultural biases.

There appears to be a systematic effort to stereotype men along lines eerily similar to those followed by racist stereotypes of “Negroes” in the early 20th Century. As Jeremy Swanson (2009-2010; cf. Nathanson and Young, 2006, Martin, 2015) has detailed but not yet systematically tabulated, men are often treated as guilty until proved innocent by mass media and police, and sometimes by courts of law; while women are treated as innocent until proved guilty and often excused for homicides of husbands or “lovers” if they testify that the victim threatened them—even if that testimony is not corroborated by a neutral witness or strong physical evidence. Considering the temptation to perjury entailed in a risk of criminal conviction, this practice falls far short of the quality of logic normal to Canadian and Common Law; but it parallels rather well the treatment of “Negro Americans,” and especially of male “Negro Americans,” before 1954 (and for some years afterwards in parts of “the Old South”.)

Comparing the status of Canadian men with some past racial prejudices in a neighbouring country, we can readily see that conventional stereotypes about gender relations left over from the time of “the Moynihan report” are no longer valid and should be corrected. Specifically:

As the disadvantaged gender, men can benefit from less-defensive, more honest “strategy-and-tactics”:

  • we should adopt gender equality as a criterion, but perhaps not as a goal11.
  • we should refute and even scorn the misuse of gender equality by Feminists seeking to increase their privilege, years after they reached and passed equality in treatment12;
  • we should look to the U. S. Civil Rights Movement for models we can adopt or adapt;
  • we should also look at the Feminist actions of 1966-2006 for models we can adopt or adapt13;

([these two lists are not necessarily complete; additions are invited)

We might benefit if we adopt a label for ourselves other than merely “[e.g Canadian, Kiwi, American, …] men”; and a case could be made for ironically calling ourselves eunuchs—but many readers might miss the subtle point. More plainly and affirmatively, if one were to ask, what shall we men call ourselves in analogy to “Negro”? the symmetrical treatment would be a mirror image of translating Negro into Black: We could translate man into Spanish: Hombre. In Spanish speaking countries, the phrase “muy hombre” is a compliment. The rhetorical meaning of taking a foreign word would be somewhat comparable to Afro-American men discarding a foreign word for the plain English “Black”, and also implicitly claim the respect hombre connotes [and “negro” did not in 1965].

Functionally, adopting a [sobriquet] would:

  • acknowledge that we are now subject to systematic and oppressive discrimination;
  • imply that the discrimination is wrong and we do not accept it;
  • show sympathy and solidarity with the Afro-American men who led the Civil Rights movement, but in a way different enough that we are not offending them by using a word they consider to be theirs to employ or not [as Nigger and Negro have become].

— and also show solidarity with Hispanic Americans, who are perhaps the nearest US ethnic analogue to the Canadian Métis.14

The “Moynihan Report”s portrayal of matriarchy seems well worth re-reading in context of today’s marriage laws and differential criminal law enforcement by gender—and of today’s female prevalence in education which, combined with pro-female-biased criminal and family law, leaves us the disadvantaged gender—and to an extent women haven’t been disadvantaged in more than a century, perhaps many centuries. That portrayal also invites a test of the merits of matriarchy, as implied above.

In his ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’ that “There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement,” Moynihan presented an hypothesis to the effect that consistency of family structure across ethnic groups was important but the difference between patriarchy, matriarchy, and gender-equality was not15. In summarizing statistics on education, employment, income, and social disorganization generally, Moynihan presented an implicit hypothesis to the effect that matriarchal, fatherless families were cruelly disadvantaged. Both hypotheses cannot be true together. Canadian family changes since “the Moynihan report” appeared, if their consequences can be identified, may indicate which hypothesis is more true:

  • Has shifting social leadership toward female predominance and family leadership toward matriarchy done overall societal good?
  • Has it done overall societal harm?
  • Or, has societal well-being remained effectively unchanged, with women now clearly better off than men?—that is, have women gained and men lost, in close-to-identical amounts?

Moynihan entitled his “report”: … The Case for National Action. The national action was not taken; instead, the matriarchal bias he deplored has become more general. How has social well-being changed over the same span of time, and how much of the change is best understood as the consequence of increasing matriarchy? This is a subject well worth the attention of sociologists, psychologists, and criminologists, and might well contain many good thesis topics for graduate students. (It is also a subject where research design must be especially wary of potential biases.)

The results i have noticed, refute Moynihan’s ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’: The past 45 years have shown us some special reasons “why a society in which males are [equal or] dominant in family relationships16 is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement”—have they not? Children are less well off. Moral standards have declined, and the declines in honesty, respect and charity are in my humble opinion, comparably and perhaps more harmful than the declines in sexual restraint.17 Men have lost common-law rights whose value cannot be measured in mere money. Millions of foetuses who could have become healthy, happy children and then socially contributing adults have died for the convenience of adult women, many of whom may wish in old age that they had children to come by and help out.

The refutation is not absolute; there can be many kinds of egalitarian, many kinds of matriarchal, and many kinds of patriarchal family structures; our experience has compared one largely egalitarian and two significantly matriarchal examples. It does indicate that matriarchy wastes men and boys contributory potential more than an egalitarian system with a few patriarchal bits, wastes women’s.

Our family and moral declines have parallels, perhaps to some extent consequences, in the huge increases in the importance of and in respect for Islam since 1965. Mainstream Islam is not harshly patriarchal; it is patriarchal in some ways, and usually gently, as mainstream Christianity was when the world was more Christian than anything else.

We cannot go back and re-live the last 45 years, to see if forming a gently patriarchal or keeping a balanced gender-egalitarian Canadian [Australian, Kiwi, US, …] society might put us in better stead today than our present predicament; but we can and should compare today’s conditions with those of 1965. From what i have lately heard and read about crime and addiction rates among the young, from what Moynihan wrote and i knew from other sources by the time he wrote, about the effects of fatherlessness on school performance and social pathology; from the criminological truism that men who go to prison don’t have fathers they can honour…

… “It is putting it mildly” when i doubt that the changes we have seen, were optimal or even desirable; and conclude that the ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’ was in error.

It is time “and past due”, for men to formulate a vision of the future that is better than matriarchy.

References:

Anonymous, 1965. The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Bakke, Edward Wight, 1940 Citizens Without Work. New Haven: Yale University Press. Cited in the above.

“Consider the fact that relief investigators or case workers are normally women and deal with the housewife. Already suffering a loss in prestige and authority in the family because of his failure to be the chief bread winner, the male head of the family feels deeply this obvious transfer of planning for the family’s well being to two women, one of them an outsider. His role is reduced to that of errand boy to and from the relief office. [212]

“Having observed our families under conditions of unemployment with no public help, or with that help coming from direct [sic] and from work relief, we are convinced that after the exhaustion of self produced resources, work relief is the only type of assistance which can restore the strained bonds of family relationship in a way which promises the continued functioning of that family in meeting the responsibilities imposed upon it by our culture.” [224]

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

CBC News, 2010. Reports of the State visit of Her Majesty Elizabeth II to Canada and New York City. June-July.

CBC News, 2010b [July 20]. Report of a decrease in the Canadian crime rate with discussion by a criminologist [whose last name began with S…] indicating that ageing was an important, probably the main cause of the decrease.

Clark, Kenneth B., and Mamie P. Clark, 1947 “Racial identification and preference in Negro children.” In T. M. Newcomb and E. L. Hartley, eds., Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston. [A classic for showing that black children preferred white dolls and downgraded their own race—in conformity to prevailing cultural biases. Probably would not be replicated today if repeated, due to social change.]

Glazer, Nathan 1964. “Negroes and Jews: The Challenge to Pluralism,” Commentary, December, pp. 29-34.

Grant, George, 1969. Technology and Empire. Toronto: Anansi. “The weight of tradition carries on in an established university for several generations, with the result that the curriculum may reflect the ideas of a class which is no longer dominant outside its walls.” [115]

Griffin, John Howard, 1961. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin hardcover; NYC: Signet paperback.

London Daily Mail, June 25, 2010 “Student cleared rape emerges second man committed suicide falsely accused [by] woman” By Chris Brook. Circulated by Jeremy Swanson, FRA.

Lupri, Eugen, 2004. “Institutional Resistance to Acknowledging Intimate Male Abuse”, Paper presented at the Counter-Roundtable Conference on Domestic Violence, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, May 7

Mandela, Nelson, 1994. Long Walk to Freedom. New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co.

Martin, Davd, 2011. “The ‘Status of Men in A Woman’s World’: Educational, Legal, and Demographic Realities vs. Social Inertia, 2011”. Everyman.ca website, published April.

Martin, Davd, 2015. “Men’s Rights Amputation: Essay review of Nathanson, and Young, 2006 cited below. Everyman.ca website,published January,

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Pettigrew, Thomas F., 1964. A Profile of the Negro American. Princeton, New Jersey: Van Nostrand.

“The Negro wife in this situation can easily become disgusted with her financially dependent husband, and her rejection of him further alienates the male from family life. Embittered by their experiences with men, many Negro mothers often act to perpetuate the mother centered pattern by taking a greater interest in their daughters than their sons.” [16]

Rustin, Bayard 1965. “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement,” Commentary, February.

Swanson, Jeremy, 2009-2010. E-mail anecdotes numbering in the hundreds, of cases of [1] differential law enforcement by gender; [2] differential reporting of criminal charges by gender; [3] differential treatment of divorcing spouses by gender.

United States Department of Labor website, accessed 2010.

United States Supreme Court, 1954. Brown. V. Board of Education, decision.

Yohannan, K P, 2001. Revolution in World Missions. Carrolton, TX: gfa books (the publishing part of Rev. Yohannan’s organization, Gospel for Asia. This book is cited not as a classic nor unusually authoritative reference, but as an ordinarily credible one from a disciplined and successful source—which book happened to be in my library.)

Notes:

1. This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in August 2011, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2011” for the most part, though several more recent citations and hyperlinks have been added.

2. As those who read Spanish or Portugese recognize already, “Negro” is simply “Black” in a different language. In the mid-20th Century it was deemed more polite to say “Negro” than “Black”; the custom has since changed at the initiative of Afro-American activists: They said they wanted “Black” in English, and we non-Afro folks, from Aboriginals to Euros to Asians, generally went along with that wish.

3. In the 1960s i resided in the United States and earned my Ph.D. There. In 1971 i moved to Canada and have lived here since, excepting one year in Finland. I noticed no significant difference between Canadian and US family power balance either on arrival or in anecdotes from people in both countries; but that might be affected by the specific places i lived.

4. In the professional end bureaucratic workplaces of 2010, there is female dominance among the young and male dominance among the old. Since the old inevitably retire and die and the young inevitably replace them, and since the schoolchildren of today seem to be continuing the girls-above-boys patterns that brought about female dominance among professional entrants today, the pattern is set toward a Canada [and a US, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe] where women dominate the non-manual work world as well as most households. (In mid-2016, most Canadian bureaucracies are staffed by two-thirds or more women, one-third or fewer men.)

5. Female and male dominance, like “matriarchy” and “patriarchy”, are matters of degree, not matters of “kind”. More formally, they are continuous variables, not dichotomies [nor trichotomies, etc.]—hence, “more accurate”.

6… and to a greater degree than her father the King was styled superior to her mother the Queen: Her husband is titled Prince Consort, not King; while the title of the wife of a British King, is Queen.

7. It is a criminal offence [cf felony in US usage] to startle the Queen, a New Brunswick lawyer told me.

8. I don’t have the data i would need to compare Aboriginal or Asian ethnic groups in the same way; and in 1965 Moynihan had similar difficulties. If any reader should have such data, i hope he’ll start writing them up.

9. Apartheid might be adduced. I do not know those old long-replaced laws as well as i know the US “segregation” and Canadian Residential School stories; and i am not sure if South Africa should be considered part of the common-law tradition in the way the United States is. It should perhaps be stressed that i refer not to the harshest days of “Jim Crow” in the Southern US, but to school segregation, and generally to discrimination as experienced in the northern and western US between 1945-1965, as analogous to men’s legal disadvantages in Canada today.

10. The ‘totem poles’ of the Northwest Coast of North America are not idols and they are not worshipped, I perceive them to be used analogously to Orthodox ikons, but am not informed fully enough of Wakesian practice to say for sure. Carved wooden idols are worshipped in parts of Asia (Yohannan, 2001: 58)

11. Why not a goal? I have seen indications, as yet not enough for me to form a conclusion [much less write-up formally], that women in power misuse that power and mistreat other women as well as men, to a greater extent than do men in power. It may be that in a decade to a generation from now, if these indications are confirmed, that a predominance of men in holding some forms of power, will prove to be the wisest political arrangement. That said, using gender equality as a criterion remains worth while: If men should return to dominance, it ought to be with good cause and good and documented reason. We have now seen in both race and gender relations, the baleful effects of selfish political oppression.

12. Gender equality “on balance”, with women advantaged in the domestic sphere and men in paid employment, may have existed in working-class Canada and “white America” well before 1965.

13. The difference between “look to” and “look at” is intentional. Afro-American men are our brothers in spirit [and for some, brothers or at least cousins in genealogy as well] while Feminist activists seeking still-more-preferential treatment while already advantaged, are our oppressors. We can learn from our oppressors, as for instance many believe the founders of the State of Israel learned from the Wehrmacht of World War II; but we should do so more warily than from our fellows—as the State of Israel has perhaps to some degree, failed to do, resulting in greater hostility from the Muslim world, than was needful.

14. As there are at least two Hispanic subcultures in the United States (e.g. Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban) so there are at least two Métis subcultures in Canada (e.g Prairie, Acadian, rural-Québecois). Métis in Spanish is, of course, mestizo.

15. Since such disclaimers were conventional in social science in the 1960s, one cannot tell if Moynihan believed what he wrote or simply “genuflected” to a custom of his time and line of work.

16. Oddly, “the Moynihan report” hardly mentions gender equality; yet my observations of dozens of marriages and households from 1955-1980 indicated to me that rough gender equality was commoner than matriarchal or patriarchal household organization—and thus, the median as well as the modal form in working and middle class Canada and USA. We should not despise nor avoid equality! We should neither mis-label arrangements that are to our disadvantage, as equal.

It might be worth mentioning, that declines in the crime rate and particularly the rates of some violent crimes, should not be “credited” to Gun Control nor to the degradation of men—but to ageing. It has long been a criminological truism that crime generally and violent crime especially is far commoner among the young than the old; and that the effect of long prison sentences in reducing recidivism is largely due to ageing. (At the extreme, of course, the recidivism rate among those who die in prison, is zero.) Canada’s population has grown noticeably older since 1965; and in accord with the ageing hypothesis, Canada’s crime rate has fallen (CBC News, 2010b).

17. That is not to minimize the declines in sexual restraint: When prostitutes become “sex trade workers”, real trades are denigrated through no fault of theirs; when sexually transmitted diseases become common, public health in general suffers. It is to say that privileging the least moral of women to lie and drive innocent men to suicide (London Daily Mail, June 25, 2010), and then protecting their identity so future victims cannot be forewarned, represents moral decline comparable to that which marked the last years of the Roman Empire.

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Millions of Poor Old Men …

… Can We Teamwork Our Way Out of Poverty?
(c) 2016, Davd

A man is poor who does not have assured basic subsistence—Food, clothing, and shelter—plus a decent extra amount for mischance. I call myself poor because i do not own a home1, either individually or as one of a solidary group2 … and i do not have enough money to buy one in any place in this region, where an old, old man can live alone without a car. I have an address and a roof over my head, but not a secure home given the possible frailties of old age.

My grandfather was between rich and poor when he was my age (closer to poor, and retired, as i am now). He owned his own home without debt, and had income enough to pay his expenses. His house was located near enough to public transit, that he could get where he needed to go without driving (though at 74, he still drove.) He was far from rich, but he was not poor as i am poor.

His house stood on a city lot, with a small front lawn, a garage, two apple trees, a cherry tree, and an apricot tree. A small garden grew more strawberries than any other crop. He made cider and provided his daughter with cherries to make pies and jam. A modest railroad pension enabled him to pay his taxes and utility bills, buy groceries, fuel his car and furnace, and have a little something left over for fun.

What he had that i lack, were the soundness of his house (he built it; i didn’t build the house i’s camping in), the availability of transit if he became unable to drive, the established fruit trees, and the garage. I probably have more savings, even adjusted for the far lower value of dollars today than when he was my age, but those savings won’t buy me a house equivalent to his, with the access to transit and the food growing trees, that he had.

The reasons he was not poor were that he had spent his wages wisely when he was working, had built his own house—and had not suffered divorce3—but also, that housing cost less relative to wages, and so, social efficiency was less important then than it is now.

It i were a monk in a monastery, with my same income, i would not be poor. My income, in a monastery, would pay the cost of my subsistence at least three, probably more than five times over. The explanation is more the social efficiency of their group ownership of their home, and their co-operative operating of that home, than of the “religious” reasons they became monks.

Those monks are doing something right, and we non-monks should learn what it is and, (whether or not we give more of our waking hours to religious rituals than to any one thing else, as so many monks do); we should apply the genius that makes their cloisters such good and such efficient homes.

Many poor old men could become “non poor” by teaming up and owning housing together. That’s my goal, and unless you are rich or happily married [a condition that a much larger percentage of men enjoyed in Grandfather’s time, than now], you might benefit from making it yours4.

There is a contact page on this website you can use to write in and tell me about your interest, or how you’re doing this kind of household, if you like. This is a much rarer idea than it ought to be, and sharing thoughts and experience should be good for its development. (Some men might meet via exchanging ideas and sharing interest, who become friends enough to form up a household together, this way, and i can’t forecast about that in advance.)

I should mention, that younger men can also benefit from sharing housing and living like brothers. With a shared house and car (maybe a car and a van or pickup), life will cost more for four men than it costs one man alone, but a lot less per man: Four, five, maybe six men, can live co-operatively on little or no more money per year than two of you would spend living alone. Six to ten, can live co-operatively on little or no more money per year than three of you would spend living alone.

Which means less, hopefully no financial pressure to take a miserable job or live with a woman who really isn’t a good match for you. Wouldn’t you be better off, if living with a woman was an option that only the best women could make appealing?

Grandfather became poor shortly after the age of 80, with no significant change in his house nor his income, when he somehow became unable to look after himself living alone—at least, that’s what i was told. I was a university student by then, living too far away to visit him often, so i no longer had the regular observation of his living habits and techniques that i had when i was a schoolboy.

(When i had those regular observations of his living habits and techniques, i can still recall and report some 60 years later, he did all the chores he needed to do. His house was cluttered with books and magazines, with tools and a few unfinished projects—but his bed, kitchen, bathroom and reading chair were clean enough to be livable, and he operated them and himself competently. I watched him cook and less often, do laundry. I didn’t watch him bathe, but i saw him go to and from his bath. And i bother to write that i did, because cluttered houses are often shamed as filthy or unhealthy—which Granps’ house was not.)

If Grandfather had lived in a household of “intentional brothers”, he might not have been sent to what is now called a “care facility” shortly after 80; his share of the work might have remained adequate, in that more efficient situation, to keep him there until (like all mortal men) he died.

Living with buddies like brothers, won’t make you live forever. From what I’ve seen of very old monks and Hutterites, it probably will make your old age happier. It might well make middle age or young manhood happier, too.

If financial stress is unpleasant (as it is for most of us,) and you are not wealthy, it very likely will be a better life than “living alone”, or with a woman that’s less than excellent for you.

Notes:

1. I do own a wee small house, or some might call it a cabin, which i bought for roughly the market price of the lot it stands on (you could say, for almost nothing) to live in for the spring and summer—while i work toward the house sharing “intentional brotherhood” this blog advocates. It is not a place where an old man can live “alone”, who cannot drive; and my sense of “home” is not solitary; so i call it “camp” rather than “home.”

I should perhaps note that while it seems demographically obvious that there are millions of poor old Anglophone men on Earth, given a strict definition of what a secure home is; the Canadian total might turn out to be in the hundreds of thousands, and less than one million.

2. A co-operative embodying in law, a family or group of good friends; or the monks who live together in a monastery, would be examples of a solidary group, as would the usually larger population of a Hutterite community.

3. 60 years ago, few men suffered divorce if they were at all decent in how they treated their wives. (Likewise, few women suffered divorce if they were at all decent in how they treated their husbands, Today, from what i hear and read, few women suffer divorce if they are at all decent in how they treat their husbands; but men may well suffer divorce even if they are quite decent in how they treat their wives.)

4. To women reading this “posting”: I encourage you to organize parallel households of women. The social efficiency advantages ought to be very similar. There are cloisters of nuns who seem to get along well enough, just as do cloisters of monks.

 

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The Good Fathers Do

…time for a Father’s Day Resolution?
(c) 2016, Davd

Father’s Day this year, i plan to be with one of my sons, and his sons… and a few other relatives. One of the grandsons has a birthday this week, and that will get some attention, but the grandson’s “main party” will be on Saturday. It’s not that different, the day i expect, from Father’s Days when i was a grandson and my father and grandfather were honoured.

Sadly, it is much less common than it was 60-70 years ago. When i was the boy rather than the middle generation father or [now] the grandfather, most children had fathers who lived under the same roof with them, who they saw every day, who assigned them chores to do, and often worked with them; he took them to church, out fishing, to the circus or a ballgame… even to libraries and museums.

In those years, Father’s Day was a Sunday when the father in the household got priority, and also put some effort into making the day fun for the rest of the household, especially the children. It was a variation on, not a departure from, normal family life.

Now, too many households are fatherless… and not to be nice where that might conflict with the truth, there will be a significant number where a man who doesn’t get to father the children day-to-day, is put through a “Father’s Day” routine that unlike the Father’s Days i remember, is a departure from rather than a variation on normal family life. It may sometimes be better than nothing; it is much less than fatherhood…

… and fatherhood is where men and their children thrive. Children with fathers do better, achieve more, do and suffer less harm, than fatherless children; and Hancock [2007] gave several statistical specifics, with citations to sources of that and what were then recent years;1 i last accessed his article this week.

Instead of giving women incentives to leave marriages and deny children the benefit of their fathers, “society” should be giving women (and men) incentives to be monogamous and faithful. Separating fathers and children should be ordered only when a wrongdoing2 has been proven3. For that matter, marriage promises should be taken seriously when made! and applications to break them other than “for grievous fault” should not be rewarded financially nor with the care of any children involved.

(For clarification: In stating the case for fatherhood, for fathers living with their children day-to-day, i am not trying to extol the “nuclear family” pattern that was also common in my boyhood years. The ideal family household should have three generations present, sometimes four, and a total of ten or more members. It was the convenience of employers and “labour mobility”, not family well being, that nuclear family housing served.)

A father is a man who rears the children he has sired. In North America and most or all of Europe, those children normally all have the same mother (where “normally” is based on the “normal” promises of lifelong marriage, which were mostly kept in my boyhood years but today, are not kept by even half the couples who say them.)

If a man rears children he did not sire, he is a stepfather. Step-fathering is an honourable, even noble work; and the fact he has less in common genetically with those children than he would have if he had sired them, makes the job a bit more difficult. Being biologically close facilitates understanding one another.

If a man has sired children but does not rear them, he isn’t fathering; and “sire” is probably the best word to use to describe his relationship to those children. It is also the usual word for the male progenitor in animal breeding. Those sires often get for their human owners, a “stud fee,” and never to my knowledge is a bovine, canine, equine, porcine, … sire or its owner required to pay any equivalent of “child support”.

The notion that a human sire should pay “child support” might make sense if that sire married, or promised to marry, the mother, and then wasn’t faithful to his word. It might make sense if a mother’s whole working strength went to caring for and rearing children and their sires could expect to benefit from those children when they are grown. It makes precious little sense when the mother has a good job and the sire has no fatherly relationship to the children.

When the sire’s relationship to the children is limited to having got their mother pregnant, Ian Fleming, in a James Bond story set in Japan, provided a name more accurate than anything implying fatherhood: “cock tax”.  Barbara Kay was more polite in writing about the Marotta case, in which a man who provided sperm to enable one of a Lesbian couple to become pregnant was then ordered to pay support for the resulting child, but she made much the same point: The State, rather than support a single or Lesbian mother, will require the sire to do so, however little of a father he may be.

No fair. Which is to say, “cock tax” is not fair if a man promised a woman no support and provided only sperm.

Maybe Mr. Marotta should have collected a Stud Fee. Maybe many readers who think of helping a woman get pregnant, or worry that a woman will make a deliberate contraceptive “mistake” and do so, should say during the process leading up to intercourse, that they charge a Stud Fee. Which is not to approve breeding children as if they were calves or piglets. Maybe calves and piglets grow up well enough without fathers… and maybe we don’t want children treated like cattle and pigs.

Children—even puppies (Mowat, 1963)—do better when they have fathers.

Mere sires are not fathers… and apart from the misuse of Child Support orders, that’s not good for society. Fatherless children don’t do as well, statistically, as children with fathers. Hancock [2007, cf. Millar, 2009] has been mentioned; Brown [2013] concurs.

Fatherhood, what’s more, seems as natural to humans—and wolves (Mowat, 1963)—as motherhood, eating, and sleeping. Fathers separated from their children miss them. Children separated from their fathers miss them. Children who have the benefit—and enjoyment—of fathers in their lives, do better. The safest place for children, in general, is with their natural fathers4.

Fathers are not perfect—nor are mothers, nor children. If the nuclear family left children worse off for lack of grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin and other extended family relationships, the fatherless family leaves them still worse off. Larger families seem to make individual members’ imperfections less damaging. Restoring fatherhood, and for that matter extended family relationships, will do far more good than harm.

The least we should aim to do, is have more children living with their fathers, fewer children fatherless, a year from now.

References:

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Hancock, Kerry Dale, Jr. 2007. “Children Without Fathers: Statistics,”

Kay, Barbara, 2014. “State Supports Mothers Who Want The Child But Not The Costs” National Post.

Kruk, Edward (2008). “Child Custody, Access and Parental Responsibility: The Search for a Just and Equitable Standard.” Father Involvement Research Alliance, University of Guelph.

Millar, Paul, 2009. The Best Interests of Children: An Evidence-Based Approach, University of Toronto Press.

Mowat, Farley, 1963. Never Cry Wolf. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Notes: follow in most html displays

1. Hancock reports that:
‣ 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) — 5 times the average.
‣ 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes — 32 times the average.
‣ 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes — 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
‣ 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes —14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
‣ 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes — 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
‣ 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes — 10 times the average. (Rainbows for All God’s Children)
The citations are his, most likely to sources from 2005-2007 or shortly earlier.

2… by the father …

3. Perhaps a further condition for demonstrated risk might be added, if good replicated research showed that risk of serious harm to children could be accurately forecast. Statistics show that men other than fathers, even mothers, are a significantly greater danger to children than their fathers. The say-so of a woman who is vexed with or weary of something in her marriage or cohabitation, should be treated as more likely showing her own inadequacies.

4. There is, one should perhaps admit in anticipation of dispute, a minority of men who aren’t fit to be fathers. Likewise, a minority of women aren’t fit to be mothers. Best if those unfit to be parents, are identified before they reach sexual maturity, and either persuaded to abstain from sex, or if that persuasion is not likely to succeed, perhaps even sterilized. It’s not as if Planet Earth were underpopulated with humans.

 

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Patriarchy and Social Class

… The Correlation, the Apex Fallacy, and the Value of Fathers:
(c) 2016, Davd

As i review and edit this reflection, it’s about half way between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. More money was spent, more fuss was made about Mother’s Day, this year and every earlier year this century, than was [will soon be] made about Father’s Day of the same year. Indeed, i doubt that the most active Father’s Day so far this century, economically or in time spent on celebrating it, was as big as the least active Mother’s Day.

That ought to be understood as indicative of the relative predominance of matriarchy and patriarchy in Canada, the USA, the rest of the “modern European, Commonwealth, and American societies.”1

Patriarchy is an important form of family organization, but it is not dominant today in “Western developed countries,” nor was it predominant in Western agricultural societies before the mechanized Industrial Revolution. References back to a patriarchal past are mistaken at best—one suspects that if ideological Feminists are as intelligent as they claim to be, likely many of those references are fraudulent, in the sense that the speakers and writers making them know, or ought to know, that they are false.

Where patriarchy is commonly found, anthropology and sociology tell us, men gain their dominance by strength at work, or military force. Patriarchy is common in:
‣ the ruling classes of agricultural societies, who rule by military force (Lenski, Lenski and Nolan, 1991, ch 7, esp pp 185-9, 195-6, 200)
‣ herding societies (Lenski, Lenski and Nolan, 1991: 206: “The basic economic activity in these societies is men’s work. In this respect they stand in sharp contrast to horticultural societies, where women often play the dominant role in subsistence activities.”)
‣ and the land-tilling families of agricultural societies where the work of ploughing is very demanding and neither women nor boys can do it reliably (Harris, 1969: 217-8, 328-331)

All these “kinds of patriarchs” control productive activity by their strength: The ruling classes of agrarian societies by large scale land ownership that began by military force; and the herdsmen and ploughmen by hard practical subsistence work. Looking at the principal work men do in modern industrial societies, you would not find a majority, nor even a large minority, doing herding, plowing hard ground with animals, holding huge estates farmed by tenants, nor dominating by military force2.

Patriarchy is not and was not the default form of family organization, then; rather, it has been normal to upper classes who dominated (or came to dominate) by military force, and to subsistence circumstances which depended especially on the strength and manual skill of grown men.

Indeed, Harris writes that matriarchy predominates in some other circumstances: “Where matrilocality prevails … women tend to take control of the entire domestic sphere of life. Husbands become more like visitors than permanent residents and divorce is frequent …” (Harris, 1989: 319.) Campaigning for re-election in 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama advised a husband he met casually in a diner to “just do whatever she tells you to.” That’s rather the opposite of a patriarchal style of advice.

It seems that as an old professor told me, decades ago, the lower one’s social class, the less patriarchal one’s family life. The fact that Henry VIII was quite patriarchal, for instance; does not imply that the peasant cultivators who grew his food were also patriarchal. Likewise for other rulers: Crankshaw (1966: 9) refers to Imperial Russian peasants as “submitting to the absolute rule of the babushka, the grandmother ….” (rather than to that of their wives.)

The fact that the Hebrews—the twelve-tribe Nation of Israel that went out from Egypt and some years later, conquered what is now the State of Israel—were largely a herding society when their Holy Scriptures (“the Old Testament”) were written, has likely made patriarchy appear more prevalent in the fairly distant past, than was actually the case. So has the fact that histories are usually written by scribes for the benefit of the ruling class of their time and place.

(Islam, which honours those Hebrew Scriptures as precursor to the Qu’ran, is usually regarded as patriarchal, but it is not extremely so: One of the often quoted sayings of Muhammad teaches respect and care for mothers before fathers:
A man came to Prophet Muhammad and asked him: “Oh Messenger of God, who rightfully deserves the best treatment from me? “Your mother,” replied the Prophet. “Who is next?” asked the man. “Your mother,” said the Prophet. “Who comes next?” the man asked again. “Your mother,” replied the Prophet. “Who is after that? insisted the man. “Your father,” said the Prophet.”3)

So why do many Feminists seem to echo complaints about “the patriarchy” if patriarchy itself exists largely among ruling classes, plus herdsmen and a few ploughmen whose work demands especially much muscular strength and co-ordination? If patriarchy is actually uncommon, something from the culture around us must be making it much more apparent than it is real.

What that old professor told me, some years back, was also stated: “The power of men in households and local activities is correlated with social class”. In the “Ruling Class”—royalty, nobles with titles like Baron, Count, Duke, King, Lord, Marquis, and Prince, and a few without titles such as top bureaucrats who influence them, Presidents, Prime Ministers and at least some of their “cabinets”—patriarchy has been normal—but not absolute4.)

Between the ruling class—and some American scholars at least, would deny that there are classes in their society, referring instead to a more fluid “status” ranking system—and the lowest, the prevalence of patriarchy declines as one goes downward. In the “lower class”—people who barely earn enough to feed, clothe, and house themselves adequately, people dependent on “Social Assistance” to survive, etc.—matriarchy prevails and there are few if any patriarchal households. Many lower-class households are fatherless and this has been the case for decades, though it seems to have become worse in the past generation’s time.

Such was the situation in the third quarter of the last century: The higher the social class, the higher the percentage of patriarchy and male dominance. Today, the situation is confounded by a drastic increase in fatherless households—millions of households are matriarchal because the mother is the only parent—and by Feminist success at lobbying gynocentrism into laws and bureaucratic practices.

Patriarchy is probably as rare today, in Europe and North America, as it ever has been; and specifically, upper-middle class households are probably less patriarchal than they were historically or would be if the sexes had equal opportunity… but that has not ended the complaints about patriarchy. Why not?

Why, if patriarchy itself exists largely among ruling classes, plus a few herdsmen and ploughmen whose work demands especially much muscular strength and co-ordination; do many women seem to believe complaints about “the patriarchy”? I do not read minds, but perhaps i can read some indications from the psychology of what gets noticed.

Let’s consider the Apex Fallacy, a phenomenon that has been fairly widely mentioned when women noticing men is the subject; but has a parallel of sorts when men noticing women is involved.

Suppose a random sample of women were photographed and the photographs presented to a random sample of men, which men were asked to rate the photographs as [for instance] Great – Good – Average – Plain – and Ugly looking. If significantly more average looking women were rated Plain, than rated Good; and more generally, if women were rated so that the average rating came out on the low side of Average– then there is an Apex Fallacy of sorts in how men notice women’s looks
and nobody much is surprised, eh?

It’s easy for many readers to believe there’s an Apex Fallacy in how men notice women’s “looks”. The same fallacy applies to how women notice patriarchy. The most impressive men get far more attention, relative to their fraction of the population. than others do… and they are much more likely to be dominant in their relationships, than the less impressive men who women notice much less.

To sum up: Patriarchy exists, but it is much less common than parental equality or matriarchy. It has traditionally been most common in ruling classes, both in the sense that a majority of ruling class households were patriarchal, and in the sense that a larger fraction of ruling class households were patriarchal than households below that class: “As one goes down the class ladder” fewer and fewer households are patriarchal, until virtually no “lower class households” are patriarchal while a great majority are matriarchal.

Feminist political influence has enjoyed much success, and that success has operated to increase matriarchy and decrease patriarchy (Nathanson and Young, 2006; cf. Brown, 2013.)

As the Apex Fallacy describes, the highest social classes are most noticed, and notice decreases “monotonically” with social class. Thus, even though matriarchy is much more common than patriarchy as a proportion of all present day households, patriarchy seems to get more notice.

We could draw a few different conclusions from all this: First, we could infer that patriarchy is a good thing indeed!—from the fact that patriarchal households and individuals enjoy higher social standing.5

Second, we could infer that complaints about patriarchy are ill founded for at least two reasons: Matriarchy is more common, and patriarchy is associated with greater success.

Third, we could look again, more sympathetically, at the notion that fatherlessness is a serious social problem. There’s an old criminological truism, that a Father’s Day card won’t find a buyer in prison: Many fatherless men go to prison and most men with good fathers, don’t. Hancock (2007) posted similar statistics for drug abuse, school failure, sexual violence, homelessness, and suicide with source citations6; while Scheffler and Naus (1999) found, in more positive language, that “fatherly affirmation [was] positively associated with [young women’s] self-esteem and negatively associated with fear of intimacy.” Increasing the proportion of fatherless families by giving mothers incentives to divorce, is a destructive social policy. It should be stopped, and years ago.

Patriarchy isn’t the answer to all our social problems—nor is it a threat. More important than complaining about Patriarchy, when it is actually rare; strengthening fatherhood is an important corrective for many of those social problems! A reduction in matriarchy, and especially a reduction in fatherlessness, would do much good.

References:

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Crankshaw, Edward, 1966. Khrushchev: A Career. New York: Viking Press

Hancock, Kerry Dale Jr, 2007. “Children Without Fathers: Statistics”  Accessed May 29, 2016.
http://fallenfathers.blogspot.ca/2007_03_01_archive.html.

Harris, Marvin, 1989. Our Kind. NY: Harper and Row.

Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski, and Patrick Nolan, 1991. Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Scheffler, Tanya S., and Peter J. Naus, 1999. “The Relationship Between Fatherly Affirmation and a Woman’s Self-Esteem, Fear of Intimacy, Comfort With Womanhood And Comfort With Sexuality”. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 8(1) Spring, 39-45

St. Estephe, Robert, 2012 “Setting the record straight on the men’s rights movement.” A Voice for Men website, February 20,.

Setting the record straight on the men’s rights movement

Wells, H. G. 1949: The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man. Book Club edition, vol, 1

Notes:

1. I’m deliberately leaving out of consideration, the industrial Asian societies. I don’t know how patriarchal Japan, China, Korea, etc., are today… and what i read about them 30-50 years ago wasn’t an adequate basis for generalizing to their whole populations… (nor is Asia the focus of the patriarchy controversies i have read.)

2. Domination by military force, is inherently something a minority do to a majority.

3. We should perhaps remember that Muhammad, unlike most modern Muslims and law-abiding Canadian men, had many wives (e.g. Wells, 1949: 607-8); when a man has many wives, it would seem “understandable” if his children are closer to their mothers than to him.

4. For more than six decades—for the whole lifetime of a large majority of people alive today—England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Scotland (plus a few colonies) have been reigned-over by a woman. On the first day of spring, 2014, the Premiers of Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Québec, whose populations total well over half of all Canada and likely over three-quarters, were all women. (Those of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario still are.)

5. This could be a correlation—causation fallacy; but then again, it very well might not be.

6. Hancock reports that:
‣ 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) — 5 times the average.
‣ 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes — 32 times the average.
‣ 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes — 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
‣ 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
‣ 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes — 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
‣ 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes — 10 times the average. (Rainbows for All God’s Children)
The citations are his, most likely to sources from 2005-2007 or shortly earlier.

 

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Stick to the Truth on Mother’s Day

It might make for silly jokes—and better family relationships.
(c) 2016, Davd

What would Mother’s Day be like if everyone told the truth, the whole truth1, and nothing but the truth?

Visualizing such a Mother’s Day, this year, one can imagine some silly comedy—or pathos. For Instance2:

‣ “Billy, I’d rather have gin-and-tonic than white wine with my dinner. You’re driving, so you shouldn’t drink wine anyway.”

‣ (from a young boy) “Why isn’t Dad here?” or “I want to go fishing!”

‣ (from an adult child) “Mum, your make-up looks too thick.”

‣ “Melanie, why can’t you put your home office in the basement and give me that room so I can be with my grandchildren every day?”

‣ “Jessica, that boy Rocky you’ve been going around with seems to have some really questionable friends. I think you’re playing with fire and I think you should stop.”

All of which things can be said on other days of the year; but are related to “honouring Mother”. Should Jessica break up with Rocky in deference to Mother’s advice? Maybe so—we can’t tell for sure from Mother’s concern.

Should Melanie’s mother be moved into her home? That depends on much more than Mother’s wishes; it especially depends on what Mother can contribute to Melanie and the grandchildren, and how willing she is to contribute as well as enjoy.

Should Billy abstain from wine with his dinner because he will be driving Mother home from the restaurant? I’d tend to agree he should—at least, someone in the group should—and that further implies, that people who enjoy wine with meals, even beer, should either have a Designated [abstinent] Driver, or take a cab home… or attend a restaurant within walking distance… or cook well and eat at home.

Should Billy’s Mother be allowed gin instead of wine with her dinner? Yes—unless she “has a drinking problem.”

Combining those two inferences about Billy and his Mother, we can see that taking her to dinner at a restaurant, while very much something many Mothers want for Mother’s Day, is a sacrifice for Billy: He doesn’t get the kind of meal he wants because he will be driving [and Canadian driving laws are very strict on blood alcohol allowance].

Perhaps giving up Rocky would be a bigger sacrifice for Jessica, and moving Mother into her home, a still bigger one for Melanie—or perhaps those sacrifices would have more than equal compensating advantages.

My main point is that truth is better than Nice manners. It may be less comfortable at the telling, but living a lie is much worse.

In telling Billy to abstain from the wine he wants with his dinner, Mother is exposing the sacrificial aspect of “dinner out with Mommy.” In telling Jessica to separate herself from Rocky, Mother is directing both their attention to a question of danger—and unless Mother is quite mistaken in her observations, it’s one that should be examined.

In asking to share Melanie’s house, Mother is claiming the joys of grand-mothering. Can she welcome the work that goes with that? If so, Melanie and the grandchildren might benefit. Mother’s cost of living will be less than if she lives alone in an apartment. The children will get to see two adults working out their differences and enjoying their common interests. Melanie might get free time to work, study, even vacation, with a competent adult the children know and enjoy still at home with them.

Working through the uncomfortable aspects of sharing the truth, ought to pay off for most relationships. Mother’s Day happens to be one occasion which most of us must somehow confront, when there is a commercial alternative to truth: “Pay For Ritual”, we might call it. Buy flowers, buy greeting cards, take Mother to a restaurant, give her a gym membership [which most Mothers would rather not have] or a “gift card” which amounts to money with a restriction on where it may be spent. (Greeting cards especially give adult children the option of giving Nicely dishonest praise in the form of a card written by a stranger. The actual truth is “finessed.”)

As for motivation to finesse rather than tell it like it is, CBC reports that polls show “six in ten Canadians who celebrate the holiday find some aspect of it stressful.” Commercial advertising promotes Mother’s Day for money’s sake, and in the process, pressures children whose Mothers are less than good, to pretend.

To what extent i can on this small website, I’m pushing back: Tell the truth. If you have a great Mother, that should be easy. If you have a mediocre Mother, tell the good stuff, but feel free to include the not-so-good as well. (I suspect the son or daughter who said Mother’s make-up was too thick, was factually correct.)

What Mothers most want on Mother’s Day, is quality family time. That’s far easier to accomplish on a truthful basis2.

Notes:

The sad, unstated part of this speculative exercise, has been the assumption that no Mother and no adult child, was “married and living with spouse.” Unmarried is the modal state of Canadian adults these days, which is not to say it be preferable to marriage faithfully kept. I assumed unmarried adults here, mainly to keep this blog short and its analyses, simple… not to denigrate lifelong marriage.

1. Maybe the whole truth would sometimes take too long to state—as can also be the case “on the witness stand”—the intention is that what is said be not only factually true, but also representative of the “whole truth.”

2. these are made-up stories, [as also are Alice in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and most Nobel Prize winning novels, but these are far, far shorter]

3. Another important basis for quality family time, is modest expectations. If one or more members of the group expect better than they can have while treating the rest equally well—then a very important truth step toward quality time, is identifying the excessive expectations; which identifying needs to be followed by making them more humble.

 

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Taxing Visual Sexual Harassment:

..Instead of Spending Money Fighting Vice, Government Can Collect Some
(c) 2016, Davd

It’s the last week before tax returns are due in Canada. The Federal and Alberta governments recently introduced deficit budgets. A good time, methinks, to identify an opportunity to raise tax revenues, reduce sexual harassment, and help workplaces be more work friendly, all together.

Suppose men and women were socially equal. I’m not saying that’s so—there are many recent books and articles showing that women are privileged when compared to men. One of the more recent was published on the AVfM website and concluded, “As a woman advantaged by feminist policies who has seen highly qualified men consistently passed over in hiring competitions, experienced the knee-jerk misandry of feminist colleagues, and witnessed the shaming of young men in university classrooms past and present …” But if we were legally and socially equal to women—what might we notice about women’s behaviour, that constitutes sexual harassment?

“Slut Walks”, for instance. Women parading their sexuality at the general public—and at the same time demanding “don’t respond to our sexual display until you are explicitly invited to respond—and if we’re intoxicated, don’t respond even if we ask you to.” If that ain’t sexual harassment, what in Hell is it?

(It sure ain’t Heaven… the religions that have something to say about Heaven also demand modesty of women as well as of men. I don’t know a lot about Islamic Sharia law, for instance, but it does demand modesty!—and i would rather live with Sharia modesty standards than with some of today’s distracting public displays of the sexuality of women.)

If i weren’t retired, but still on the job [or doing gigs] i would rather modesty prevailed in my workplace; i am there to work, not flirt and not gawk—nor even put effort into not gawking at some woman’s display of her sexuality. Likewise for showing off sexuality in schools—it’s a good reason for all-boy and all-girl schools, and there are others, such as the fact that boys learn better moving around and humming, but girls don’t seem to.

There’s one right and proper place for a woman (or marriageable girl) to display her sexuality—in the company of her husband or betrothed, when she wants to take some sexual action.1 The rest of the time and the rest of the places, including all public places—modesty is more appropriate—usually far more appropriate.

If you read advertising in the “flyers” and newspapers2, you can regularly see “displays of sexuality” used to sell clothing, cosmetics, even furniture and motor vehicles… and the sexuality of women is shown far more often than that of men. What good such distraction? Wouldn’t it be better for the public, if the advertising paid attention to the merits of the merchandise?

Then there are also ads for cosmetics (as distinct from antibacterial ointments, hand lotion, shampoo, and athlete’s-foot medicine) and some clothing, which products don’t really have much merit beyond “displays of sexuality” Lipstick and mascara are sold to make women look more sexually attractive, not to protect them from the weather. Much the same applies to “sexy” clothing and shoes. And there, is an opportunity for any government that is looking for more tax income… as those of Alberta and Canada should be.

Finland, a frugal society and nation-state which really values efficiency, has long taxed alcoholic drink and tobacco products very heavily. The taxes are set to cover all the costs of treating illnesses that result from “drinking” and smoking respectively—plus an extra percentage to make sure that they do cover the costs, in case some costs were missed. (A physician practising there, told me so.) Since in Finland, as in Canada, most medical treatment is paid for by government, the costs are fairly easy to calculate. Since “drinking” and smoking are generally considered to be vices, it’s mighty hard for people to complain about high taxes on them.

Now that the leading Feminists have made a vice out of male sexuality, dressing or using cosmetics so as to attract or even distract men sexually, amounts to incitement to vice—and from a male point of view, it constitutes sexual harassment to show it off when she doesn’t want to get it on. With governments complaining about how difficult it is to collect enough taxes—well obviously! Tax cosmetics and sexy apparel like those efficient, prudent Finns tax alcoholic drink and tobacco.

Don’t be shy, either, Ms. Tax Collector: Take up to 100% of what would otherwise be the retail price, or maybe even 200%. These things are not necessities. If the cosmetics and sexy clothing still sell well, no sin in taxing them even more. (Tax sexy men’s clothing, and men’s cosmetics, too—but you won’t find even half, probably more like a tenth or less as much, to tax. More men buy plain underwear and more women buy show-off bras. Women have many more pairs of shoes, goes the folklore—especially high heels—but men have more work boots.)

(No fair taxing jock straps [any more than plain-Jane bras that are really for comfort and support]—but padded jock straps, if they exist—those you can tax.)

Women do not need to show off their sexuality. I’ve been friends with several nuns, two especially, and while they were obviously female, they were just as obviously modest: No distraction from the proper work of our friendships. I liked that modesty.

Neither women nor men need to drink wine and gin and whisky, nor smoke cigarettes; those who chose to, are fair game for the Tax Collector. So are women [and fewer men] who want to spend money on showing off their sexuality.

The fact that cosmetics and sexy clothing are much more women’s than men’s indulgences, ought to tell those “Leading Feminists” something: Many women want to tease men sexually. To me, that teasing is a vice as surely as smoking big fat stinky cigars or drinking more than the one or two beers that are recommended by the Canada Food Guide: It’s fair game for Tax Collectors looking for more revenue.

If Government should tax the sexuali-teasing vice down to a wee fraction of its present extent—good for Government. Good for men who can pay attention to their work rather than being distracted. Good also, for the productivity of workers in mixed sex workplaces—and thereby, for social efficiency. Good for marital and cohabiting fidelity.

Bad for sexuality show-offs? Not really; it is the showing off that is bad. Good for them, in a moral sense, to tax them into modesty; and also evidence that in showing off, they are oriented away from goodness… as are drunkards and cigarette smokers in Finland and elsewhere.

As i wrote about intimidation, punishment is effective in reducing the frequency of behaviour. Punishing unwanted behaviours, can be an effective (and philosophically “reasonable”) way to discourage them. Sexual showing-off ought to be unwanted in the offices, schools, and workplaces of Canada and any other really developed society, and anywhere else that the show off is not minded to welcome responses to the show.

Taxing bad conduct, and especially the vices, is an old reliable social intervention technique, whose application to cosmetics and sexy shoes and clothing is long overdue.

Notes:

1. Maybe some [partial] display is also appropriate when “mate selection” is taking place.

2. I watch so little television that i should not comment on its advertising. I would guess that sexuality is over-used on that medium also.

 

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Alcohol, Cannabis, and Tobacco

…Six Decades of Changing Acceptance and State Control
(c) 2016, Davd

This blog is a “backgrounder” for the news of this decade and the young 21st century—news about changes in the relative acceptance and condemnation of recreational drugs. The drugs on which i will focus are alcohol in the form of alcoholic drinks; cannabinol in the form of marijuana; caffeine in the form of coffee [and to a lesser extent, tea and cocoa]; and nicotine in the form of tobacco smoking. I plan to follow it with a shorter one about the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, the [relatively] heavy condemnation of alcohol and tobacco, and the ho-hum acceptance of caffeine (and its related xanthines theophylline and theobromine1.)

Looking back to the 1950s, a decade we identify with post-World-War prosperity and the Baby Boom, we can see a time when cigarettes were socially approved, alcohol tolerated as an accepted and sometimes beneficial vice (as caffeine typically is tolerated and accepted today), and marijuana condemned strongly. Since 1916 and since 1950, alcohol “has seen both good and bad press” with some decrease in toleration, cannabis has gradually received better acceptance, and tobacco (especially commercial cigarettes) has been increasingly condemned.

“The 1950s” were the first decade in which i read magazine and newspaper articles on such subjects; and i can report back that far from personal experience. As a schoolboy in the 1950s, i rode frequently in a cigarette smoke filled car—my parents were both regular cigarette smokers—and read advertising for cigarettes that praised their effect in resisting overweight. Second-hand smoke was not a public concern, nor was the connection between smoking and cancer. Cigars were associated with the wealthy (but seldom with wealthy women) and also with “tough guys”; while pipes were associated with scholars and seafarers: Popeye the Sailor and many stereotypes of the professor, smoked pipes rather than cigarettes or cigars.

Alcoholic drink was accepted as a social vice, with “cocktails” and mixed drinks of distilled liquor with fruit juice and “soda pop” being more usual than wine. Beer was widely accepted by and for Northern European and working class men, wine was something stereotyped for gourmets, “ethnics” from southern Europe, drunkards, and some artistic and intellectual types. Home beer and wine making were lawful but rare. Driving a car with less than .15% blood alcohol content was entirely legal in most states and provinces, and “driving under the influence” was a traffic offence, not a crime. The main medical concern associated with alcoholic drink, was cirrhosis of the liver; and that was something for drunkards, but not normal people, to worry about. (It was also recognized that men, and even some women, might become much more likely to fight and behave offensively “when drinking.”)

During the late 20th Century, evidence began to accumulate that red wine in particular, and perhaps all fermented alcoholic beverages to some extent, helped combat atherosclerosis and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Some stories seemed to indicate that alcohol itself scoured deposits from the walls of blood vessels; but the strongest attention went to resveritrol, a compound found especially in red wine. Over more or less the same span of time, evidence began to accumulate that alcohol itself was a risk factor for cancer. Even more recently, the harmful effects of alcohol on the unborn became widely known and pregnant women were warned not to “drink,” or to strictly limit their consumption.

Alcoholic drink is less accepted now than it was 60 years ago, overall; but not as condemned as cigarette smoking—except for drivers. Driving motor vehicles2 is legal only with less than .05% blood alcohol (one third the previous toleration criterion) and driving with more than .08% is a criminal offense in Canada. If there were to be a behavioural study of driving safety, it would doubtless show that in some circumstances, many drivers can be safe with levels of blood alcohol content which are criminal under the law… but the law is written in absolute terms, as are most laws3.

Apart from the resurgence of Islam, which religion forbids alcoholic drink, i cannot point to any good reason why alcoholic beverages and those who drink them, are so widely shamed. It is true that there are millions of people worldwide who should abstain totally from alcohol; but there are also millions who should abstain totally from fava beans, grapefruit, peanuts, and several other foods that are safe and healthy for the majority of the population. My assessment is that we need to recognize that while some people must abstain to be safe, more people can often make good and even beneficial use of alcoholic drinks, and to varying degrees depending on their individual physiological make-ups.

Cannabis was nearly always referred to as marijuana in the 1950s, and was criminalized. It was known to be used especially by jazz musicians; and “artistic types” more generally were known to include a significant minority of “reefer smokers.” Its effects were exaggerated in many published stories; and it was often said to lead to cocaine, morphine, and heroin addiction. (There was a statistical association between marijuana use and the later use of such “hard drugs”; but today, that association would be attributed to a willingness to break the law for fun—teenagers and young adults willing to smoke marijuana even though it was illegal, were also more willing than average to try drugs that were even more condemned.)

Despite criminalization, marijuana was widely used in the “hippie years” of the 1970s and late 1960s, and the attitude of most Canadians and “Americans” born after 1960, probably after 1955, was that “pot” or “weed”, as they usually called it, was about as safe as alcohol and tobacco, and for many, more fun. As the oldest, most condemning members of the populations died, and the younger, more accepting became adults and then parents and teachers and professionals more generally, the punishment of cannabis became restricted almost entirely to those who dealt in it for profit. Gradually, self-medication and then some formal medical research showed that cannabis did have therapeutic value for some illnesses and handicaps.

Cannabis today, is far more positively viewed than it was 60 years ago. “Medical marijuana” is now an accepted phrase, and its benefits for people suffering chronic pain and PTSD, especially, are widely recognized. Indeed, while there are some recent general media articles saying that alcoholic drink has no health benefits to offer, one in March, there are others affirming that for some people, marijuana does offer health benefits. One could fairly say that the two are more or less equally harmful, and while some are better off enjoying [or self-medicating with] alcohol, others are better off using cannabis… and one should do so apophatically, because our knowledge of their effects on the different physiologies of different people, is still far from complete.

Coffee and tea have meanwhile been accepted more or less the same degree, in more or less the same way, for the 65 years or so that i have been reading the news. Caffeine is by far the best known of the xanthines; and its concentration in coffee, combined with the way we make that beverage compared with how tea and cocoa are made, make coffee a much stronger beverage in terms of drug impact, than the others. These xanthine beverages can have negative effects—coffee especially, because it packs a stronger dose per volume—and they can have positive effects, for the health of people who drink them. Caffeine seems to help delay dementia, for instance (CBC News, 2007). More important, perhaps, it helps people stay awake and alert at work and when driving—it does others than the user, more net good than harm, from what we know now and have recently known.

While it would be foolish to say that coffee—or tea, or cocoa, or yerba maté—is always good for all or even most people, it seems far more likely than not, that these drinks will continue to enjoy a generally positive acceptance even by those whose philosophy or religion4 forbids them to use xanthines.

Since the 1950s, most of the news about cigarette smoking “has been bad”. First came research showing cigarettes to be a major cause of lung cancer, and to a lesser extent of other cancers. More recently, the dangers of exposure to “second hand smoke” have been documented. Pipe and cigar smoking have been found to be risk factors for mouth cancers but not significantly for lung cancer, because the smoke from these forms of tobacco is seldom inhaled deeply.

I myself have smoked, but seldom: If there are people who only use alcoholic drink on ceremonial occasions, i similarly use pipes and cigars: The passing of a pipe is a fellowship ritual among many North American aboriginal groups, including Métis; and having a cigar together is a less sacred fellowship ritual among some men of many ethnicities. (The last time i recall smoking two cigars in the same day, was over 25 years ago, as i was leaving Thunder Bay for the West. I had lunch with a Scots friend and dinner with a Bengali friend, and each meal ended with cigars.)

There are many people, most of them non-smokers, who find the odor of cigarette smoke offensive; and fairly many who also dislike cigar smoke and the smoke from some kinds of pipe tobacco. While smoking was relatively fashionable, these people tended to accept that their dislikes were “a matter of personal taste”; more recently, many have shamed smoking as anti-alcohol elements have shamed alcoholic drink.

In the case of alcoholic drink, the greatest danger to others comes from driving motor vehicles; in the case of tobacco smoke, the greatest danger comes from being in the “second hand” smoke. So while those who indulge in alcoholic drink are forbidden to “drive”, those who indulge in tobacco smoke are forced to go away from the general company of non-smokers.

In 2016, tobacco smoking is generally condemned as dangerous to oneself and [to a lesser extent] to those around one; and as a smelly, disgusting habit. Smoking in a motor vehicle where children are present, or in a public venue, is illegal, though some bars and pubs are allowed to have smoking sections. Cigar and pipe smoking are less condemned as disgusting, perhaps because of the peculiar places where they are common; but they are equally illegal in most public places and in vehicles containing children. “Smoking” is seen as a vice with no virtuous side effects, by most Americans and Canadians.

Alcoholic drink is condemned by Islam, by some smaller religions and some sects of Christianity, and its use by drivers is so severely limited that many prudent users refuse to drive if they have had even one bottle of beer [or equivalent]. At the same time, it is known to have some beneficial effects (e.g. Madrigal, 2008) at least for some people, and is honoured as an aesthetic enhancement to fine food. Its status is ambiguous and contentious.

Cannabis is becoming accepted to a comparable extent with alcoholic drinks. Some condemn it, but they are a shrinking minority; it is now widely acknowledged to have beneficial effects on some people; and few now believe it is addictive or leads to “hard drug addiction” Given that it is intoxicating, it would be logical to develop restrictions on its use analogous to those applied to alcoholic drink, but i have not yet seen such restrictions added to the law; and given that it is often deeply inhaled, it would be logical to anticipate dangers analogous to those which have been found for cigarette smoking.

Finally, coffee continues to be accepted as a relatively safe vice which can be claimed for a virtue when one will be driving or doing work requiring alertness. (Tea and cocoa can be treated as weaker forms of coffee for most assessment purposes, so far as we now know.) Its effects are “pro-social” in the sense that they are generally agreed to “do more good than harm” to others than the user. Its value to the present and following discussions, is as a pleasant, mind-affecting vice that has not been shamed—as the other three all have, for at least some of the past 65 years.

References:

CBC News, 2007, “3 coffees a day keep memory loss at bay for older women: study.” August 7

Madrigal, Alexis, 2008. “Red Wine Drug Shows Proof That It Combats Aging” Wired, August 08

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2001. Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Notes:

1. Theophylline is the caffeine analogue that is in tea; theobromine, in cocoa and some processed chocolate. For the sake of simplicity and familiarity, i will usually refer simply to caffeine.

2. Few people travel by horse drawn carriage any longer; indeed, few did in the 1950s. One wonders if driving a horse drawn vehicle would—or should—be condemned. Rural folklore includes the saying “horses know their way home”; and a drunken person or group could probably get in a carriage, tell the horse to head home, and let the horse do the driving… safely.

Bicycling while intoxicated is illegal in some places but not uniformly; and my best guess as to why, is that a bicyclist can do far less damage to others than someone driving a car or larger motor vehicle.

3. Individuals vary in the extent to which alcohol impairs their thinking and perception; and driving circumstances vary in the amount of perceptual skill and quick thinking they require. I do not know how the legal criteria for temporary loss of permission to drive [.05%] and criminal impairment [.08] were chosen; but two influences were doubtless involved: [1] The lobbying of anti-alcohol organizations, and aggrieved friends of persons injured and killed by impaired drivers; and [2] the assessment, whether impressionistic or scientific, of police, prosecutors, and judges, as to what alcohol content nearly everyone who can drive at all, can “carry” safely.

The law, by criminalizing a physiological state rather than a level of incompetence, punishes some competent drivers; it partakes of the mentality: “Don’t think—do what you are told!” This is often the case with laws which are applied to large numbers of people who are strangers to the enforcement officers.

4. Mormonism is the example best known in Western Canada and the Western USA.

 

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Intimidation:

…Not the Way to Motivate Good Men
(c) 2016, Davd.

As Nathanson and Young [2006] have detailed and i have summarized in my review, as Brown (2013) has further detailed for “family law”, much Feminist success in “changing society” has been achieved through the Law.

It is unfortunate for both men and women, that the Law is nearly always enforced rather than working by way of encouragement. Punishment is the main means by which men (and less often, women) are compelled by the Law to do good, or at least, to do “the will of Her Majesty”, which will is largely generated not by the Person of the Crown but by legislatures and judges1. When the Law is enforced, rather than conformed to voluntarily—that means that some people, anyway, don’t agree with the Law.

When “some people who don’t agree with the Law” are thieves or fraudsters, and the great majority of the people do agree with the Laws that make fraud and theft criminal; enforcement is consistent with the predominant public will… and also, reasonable psychologically.

Psychological research has been studying the effects of reward and punishment for decades; and it is rather well established, that punishment is far more effective in stopping behaviour than in promoting it, in reducing than increasing its frequency or prevalence. Punishing unwanted behaviours, can be an effective (and philosophically “reasonable”) way to discourage assault, fraud, theft, and spitting on the sidewalk. Reward, as one might guess, is more effective in encouraging (enhancing, increasing) desired behaviour.

The reason is reasonable: Punishment motivates avoidance; reward motivates repetition. If “the Law” punishes fraud and theft, the simple way to avoid that punishment is to avoid defrauding and stealing. Same goes for spitting on the sidewalk2. There are still thieves and fraudsters, but fewer than there would be if no laws were enforced against theft and fraud; sometimes sidewalks get spit upon, but less often than if it were not punished; and rewarding not doing those things, would be less effective than punishing doing them.

When we want more of behaviour we consider good, in contrast, rewarding it is the more effective “way to go”. Consider persuading Little Jane to eat her spinach: The usual tactic is approximately, “When you’ve finished your spinach, Jane, then you may have some dessert.” Sometimes access to a favourite toy, or the playground, will serve. Punishing not eating the spinach is uh, much less effective… and today, might be considered child abuse.

The troubles with law, often arise from trying to promote behaviour with punishment. Suppose Little Jane has grown up, and met a young man at a party, and got pregnant. She wants to keep the baby and have the young man support her, and the baby; but she doesn’t want to live with him. The Law will approve her choices (Brown, 2013, Nathanson and Young, 2006, Shackleton, 1999). But how will it motivate the young man, who is vanishingly unlikely to accept Jane’s choices?

He might perhaps accept supporting Jane and the baby in a traditional, lifetime monogamous marriage—but those are no longer supported by Canadian civil law. He might even accept paying partial support if he has some fatherly connection to the child—but though that idea exists in principle, it is very unlikely indeed to be enforced; Shackleton (1999) wrote, “We have ever more punitive enforcement of child support, but no enforcement at all for access by fathers to their children.” Brown (2013: 2, 52, 53, 130 et passim) agrees. So if Jane demands support and refuses to share parenting, and the Law enforces her will, against and overpowering his lack of consent, how will the Law enforce?

By punishment and threat of punishment, “that’s how.” The Law is vanishingly unlikely to offer the young man any incentives to pay Jane the money she demands. As the psychological research learned, the young man—much like a laboratory rat—will have an incentive to avoid the punishment, not to do Jane’s wishes. Doing Jane’s wishes gives him basically nothing—except avoidance of punishment—and it costs him plenty. If he can avoid punishment in some way that overall, leaves him happier or less miserable than paying Jane what she wants, it will be psychologically normal for him to do that instead of paying.

One way to avoid paying is to relocate to a state that does not enforce Canadian child support orders. Or perhaps he will stop working in the regular economy—take up crime as a way to support himself, or work “under the table”, or a bit more nobly, join a monastery. (Actually, joining a foreign monastery might be a promising strategy. Many foreign states would be reluctant to force a young monk to return to Canada to be the cash cow for a single mother—especially if she won’t allow him to father.) Probably there are some other ways of avoidance.

Notice the young man remains intimidated—in the sense that he fears Canadian governments. The Law has succeeded in frightening him—out of the conventional, productive economy and into crime, “underground” work, or a foreign state.

Canada winds up looking like a bully picking on a young man so as to avoid paying child support from State funds. Canadian economic output and tax receipts are less than if the young man had been a father in either marriage or a shared parenting regime. And other young men who hear about the case, will be rational if they respond by becoming afraid of women they don’t know well… rather as one might teach a child to be afraid of strangers.

Only a small fraction of strangers are dangerous to children; but we teach children to fear strangers generally—as many men, in response to the misandric changes in law over the past few decades, are learning to fear women generally3. Whether a small or medium sized fraction of women will actually exploit the privileges available to them in law and public administration, many women definitely have done. Now, as children learn to fear strangers most of whom could be trusted, because they do not know which are and are not worthy of trust; so men are learning to fear women strangers many of whom could be trusted, because we do not know which are and are not worthy of trust.

Feminism has achieved immense success, which Shackleton (1999) attributed to the power of shame in a world where women have more moral authority than men, and Murrow attributes to “maternalism”. However, that success is now maintained by intimidation, more than by shame; men in a state of true shame would suffer and pay; and today, men ordered to pay support and denied fatherhood, tend instead to feel abused by the Law.

Gynocentric lawmaking—and Murrow would say, the politics of begging for the votes of women over 50—has punished millions of men, but has not made as many millions of women happier. Counting only women, the polls seem to show no increase, and more than one poll shows a decrease, in women’s happiness (Koster, 2009). Counting both sexes, the decrease in happiness is probably rather greater—with a hint that men who have avoided marriage are happier than either men who married, or women, on average.

Feminist law making, enforced by intimidation, has failed to make either sex happier—with the possible exception of men who go their own way.4

Time for an Androcentric Law Reform Commission? Quite plausibly—if the law shifts back from gynocentrism to[ward] balance, there seems a very good chance men will accept it better.

Even more, it seems time for a major Law Reform away from using punishment to try to motivate doing things—what punishment motivates, is not doing things. If women want men’s support for motherhood—or anything—to increase, intimidation is the wrong approach.

References:

Bailey,William C., David Martin, and Louis N. Gray, 1972 “On punishment and crime [Chiricos and Waldo]: Some methodological comment.’ Social Problems (Fall) 284-28

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Koster, Olinka, 2009. “Women are more unhappy despite 40 years of feminism, claims study.” Daily Mail Online, 1 June.

Martin, J. David, and Louis N. Gray, 1969 “Punishment and deterrence: Another analysis of Gibbs’ data” Social Science Quarterly 50 (September) 389-395

Murrow, David, 2015. “Our New Moral Framework.” Church for Men website, September.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Shackleton, David, 1995. “The War Against Men”. Everyman, Issue #28 (Nov-Dec)

Shackleton, David, 1999. “Feminism Exposed: Our blindness to feminine evil”. Everyman, Issue #35 (Jan/Feb)

Notes:

1. The phrase, “the will of Her Majesty”, is still worth repeating sometimes; because it reminds us that the Law is often imposed: If and when it represents what the people actually want, what’s to impose?

2. Assault is a more emotional activity than fraud, spitting on the sidewalk, or theft; so the threat of punishment is not always a good deterrent. There are more factors involved, too: The more quickly the punishment follows the act, the more effective it is; and certainty of punishment is more effective than severity. (Martin and Gray, 1969; Bailey, Martin and Gray, 1972)`

3. A parallel “fear” exists relative to strangers passing one’s car in a large public parking lot. Most passing strangers are worthy of trust—they won’t break into an unlocked car. A small fraction will break in and steal—so not knowing if one of that fraction will pass by while we are away from the car—we lock it.

4. Old-fashioned conditioning psychology “sees” this outcome as quite reasonable. To repeat: Punishment is a good way to suppress unwanted behaviour, and a very poor way to get others to do specific things you want from them. Intimidation can drive men out of the economy, even out of the country, better than it can make them be Nice.

 

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