Bean Sprouts:

..The Freshest Off-Season Vegetable:
(c) 2015, Davd

Unless you’re eating asparagus and fiddleheads, or are brave enough to cook young dandelion greens, early June is still winter in the average Canadian kitchen. In old fashioned farm culture, this time of year—spring outdoors but no fresh vegetables yet—was called the Hungry Gap. Today, it’s possible to go to a store and buy “fresh” vegetables trucked (more rarely, flown) in from far to the south where it’s been growing season for weeks already—but the prices?—the prices are a powerful incentive to grow your own.

I don’t recall vegetables costing half or more as much, per kilo, as meat, back in the 1960s when i began regularly cooking for myself. Today, vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, even cauliflower, can cost more than basic meat like pork chops, smoked pork shoulder, chicken, and the sale prices for round and “sirloin tip” beef roasts and steaks.

We have an incentive, gentlemen, to figure out ways to produce fresh vegetables earlier—preferably, all winter.

In the second blog in this series, i named the four staple Canadian winter vegetables: Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and turnips. (Perhaps i should also have named beets and parsnips. I like beets, but parsnips don’t really seem that much fun to eat—to me. If you enjoy them, don’t let me stop you.) Those are the vegetables that can be found, fairly often, for a dollar to $1.55 per kilo [45-70 cents per pound]… and usually half that price or less for potatoes, which are intermediate between a vegetable in the usual sense, and a “complex carbohydrate” food (most of which, in Canada, are grains: Barley, maize, rye, and wheat, especially. Potatoes contain much more water per weight than grains; and so, usually cost significantly less per kilo than grain.)

Life could get pretty dull if those were all there was to eat, though. No wonder people overheated their kitchens in July and August and September canning tomatoes and applesauce, beans and plums and relishes, pickling beets and cucumbers, and did all the work of making sauerkraut… back 50 years ago and earlier.

Today, spinach and tomatoes tend to be frozen rather than canned, at home; and to cost ten times what they cost when i started cooking, in stores; while fresh vegetables more tender than cabbage—meaning much more tender than roots—can cost as much as meat, and sometimes 50% to 100% more than meat.

Bell peppers were advertised this past winter for three dollars per pound—the same price i paid for a beef roast to bake in the oven the same month, and 60% more than the best price i paid this year—after the price of pork went up—for pork chops. Green and yellow snap beans were advertised for $2—$3+ per pound last summer—in season, yet. To get a fresh vegetable for just over one dollar per kilo—between 50 and 60 cents per pound—reliably all winter? Gentlemen, it’s worth a little bit of work, to have a fresh vegetable you can produce in a glass jar in your own kitchen for that cost.

Its name is mung bean sprouts. Its taste is a little like fresh snap beans in the summer, and refreshingly different from all the staple winter vegetables. Add it to cabbage or kale (or broccoli or cauliflower) a carrot cut fine, and some onion, and you have the usual vegetables for stir-frying with chicken, ham, unsmoked pork, even beef. You can make a simple sauce of vegetable oil, sugar, and soy sauce; and have steamed bean sprouts as a winter salad. You can substitute chive blossom vinegar for the soy in that salad dressing and have two kinds of bean sprout salad. You can eat hot steamed sprouts with a bit of soy or chive blossom vinegar, as a vegetable with almost any meal. And if you want a meatless meal that’s protein balanced—try stir-frying sprouts, cabbage or broccoli, and thin carrot strips, seasoned with soy sauce, and eating them with rice. Steamed sprouts with rice and soy sauce are also good… and barley is almost as good as rice with both.

(There are many other ways to eat them, i’m sure, in books you can find at the library. I make chive blossom vinegar, so i find that stir-frying, two salads, and occasionally the hot steamed form, are ways enough for me to use the bean sprouts i make.)

Mung beans are sold at most bulk food stores, by now. The “Bulk Barn” outlet in Miramichi sold them for $4.35 per kilo* this past winter, which is a little higher than the 2013 price. They are quite small, about the size of a ‘fat’ pinhead; and a dull olive-green colour that reminds me of military vehicles. I’ve never cooked them unsprouted; but once sprouted, they really diversify the off-season vegetable supply.

At $4.35 per kilo, i’d consider them an expensive vegetable—but that’s their price in dry form. In sprouted form, they cost a lot less.

Last October, i measured 100g of mung beans into a jar [with a mesh lid] and added water. Five days later, the sprouts weighed 375 grams (to the nearest 25) The beans had cost me $4.35 per kilo (ignoring the 10% Seniors’ and Student’s Discount, no sales tax because they are a foodstuff). Dividing 4.35 by 3.75 [the multiple by which the weight had increased], the cost of the sprouts, per kilo [not per pound!] worked out to $1.16—that’s about 53 cents per pound. I’ve seen even cabbage and turnips priced at a dollar and more per pound in big name grocery stores “off special.”

At $4.35 per kilo, then, mung beans can be made into sprouts that cost about the same price as cabbages and turnips “on special”, and less than one-fifth the price of those three dollar bell peppers. What’s more, you can make them when you want them, without driving anywhere to buy anything.

You start with a glass jar that has a perforated or mesh lid. I bought my first mesh lids, made to fit wide-mouth canning jars, at a yard sale; and later i actually found one near high tide line on a beach. If you don’t easily spot those lids to buy and your high tide line doesn’t have any, you can take any size lid—the larger the better up to “wide mouth”, i’d say—and perforate it with a drill or a nail. My guess is that the easiest way to proceed would be to put the metal lid, top side down, on a piece of scrap lumber, and drive a nail through it at least 20 times, scattering the holes about the surface of the lid with plenty of them near the edge all-’round. 40 holes probably wouldn’t be too many.

I’d use a 1-litre pickle jar probably, because i fairly often buy pickles on sale, and have several empty jars around the kitchen. Most one litre jars with fairly wide mouths will do. If the lid is made of plastic, drill holes through it rather than punching holes with a nail.

Put a half inch [1,3 cm] deep layer of dry mung beans in the bottom of the jar. Add enough warm water to cover them two or three times high—a couple inches [5 cm] of water seems about right for the first, long soak. Cover the jar with the perforated lid, put it somewhere they’ll stay warm but not get really hot, and leave them for 5-10 hours.

When the beans have soaked for 5-10 hours, drain them (the water that drains off is good for watering house plants—or the summer vegetable plants you’re starting in the sun porch, if it’s spring.) Let the jar drip until the drops come one second apart, or more slowly. (I air-dry dishes when i wash them, so i tend to put the jars of mung beans on that dish drying rack, to drain.) Then stand the jar right side up and let the beans have some air—at least half an hour of air time, as an estimate, and up to 12 hours. Then add warm water again, to definitely cover the beans, and this time, let them soak for 5-15 minutes; then drain them as before.

Ideally, water and drain the sprouting beans every hour or so, when you’re not in bed. As a minimum, water and drain at least twice a day—and between waterings, keep them warmish—18 to 25 or even 28, but below 30 Celsius, meaning about 65-80 Fahrenheit. Be sure they drain well, so that all the sprouting beans get air time as well as water time. When they’re under water, they soak up some of it; and then when they have air between them, they use some of that water, to grow.

How big to sprout them before you use them? That’s “a matter of taste”. I’d say let the rootlet that is forming from the bean, get to be at least half an inch, but not much more than an inch long. If the sprout starts forming bean leaves, that’s a little too far along—but they’ll still be usable. You can store bean sprouts in the ‘fridge for a few days (and they don’t need watering and draining while they’re fridged—in fact, it might hurt them. Beans like warm conditions for sprouting.)

What i usually do is begin cooking with my sprouts when the rootlets reach half to three-quarters of an inch long (1.3 to 2 cm). The main ways i use them are steamed until they brighten, and then used in a salad as described above, with grain [also as described above], or put raw into stir-fry mixtures (the sprouts are usually added to the wok or pan, last). Cook them until they brighten … and enjoy.

I’ve tried sprouting soybeans, because i read somewhere that they have a better protein content than mung beans—but they didn’t sprout well for me. Untreated alfalfa seeds will make good sprouts, but they are expensive and harder to find in stores; and the mesh of the lids for sprouting them must be quite fine, or the seeds will drain away with the water. Me, i stick with mung beans, which are more available, less expensive, and easier to handle.

The sprouts taste different than beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnips [or parsnips]—and in my ‘umble opinion, they taste good. They have a pleasant crunch but are easier to chew than cabbage or any root vegetable, Winter (and springtime) meals just won’t be as boring with bean sprouts added to your vegetable collection.

____ _ ____

* They posted that price as 44 cents per 100 grams, for the same reason grocers post meat and produce prices by the pound—because the smaller numbers apparently influence some shoppers to buy. I translate all prices by weight, into kilo prices, for clearer comparison.


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If The Genders Be Reversed:

… a Test for Equal Treatment
(c) 2012,* Davd, lightly edited 2014, 2015

Even when we know intuitively or from reading that something “is so” or “isn’t so”, it helps to have a measure, or at least an indicator of the fact. When arguing over gender [in]equality, a good indicator is all-the-more needed, because one side’s intuitions aren’t likely to be honoured by the opposition. Here’s a test, an indicator if you prefer that word, for Gender Equality: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Methinks it will unmask most Feminist claims that “gender equality” requires giving more to women; and become a valuable tool for men seeking fair (equal-opportunity) treatment. A few examples may help readers see how to apply this “Gender-Reversal test”; using double standards of violence, accusation, sexual consent, and child custody that should all be familiar to most men.

Gerry and Leslie are names given to both boys and girls. Suppose there is a domestic fight involving the heterosexual couple Gerry and Leslie. Each is being equally violent. The police want to break up the fight, and the power they have available to use, is arrest. Who will the police arrest and take away to jail?

I’d be willing to bet—if i could be assured of a true answer—that as you read this, most of you who answered, thought or said “him”. I might lose a few bets, but i’d win many more—and there would probably be many who wouldn’t answer, just because you didn’t know which one of them was the male…

.. and “him” is the correct answer.

When i talked with people involved with law-enforcement, from criminal lawyers to pastors who counsel inmates and Salvation Army officers, in 2010 and 2011; they agreed that with equal violence on both sides, the male will be arrested 90% or more of the time anyone is arrested. (I live in Canada and arrests are not mandatory, or weren’t until very recently.)

This is especially unfair if—as seems more likely than not—equal violence on both sides, means the man is restraining himself more than the woman is restraining herself! The poor man is fighting back just enough to defend himself—and he’s the one that gets hauled off to jail?

If instead of male and female, the categories involved were “Native” and “white” and both combatants were of the same gender, such systematic favouritism would be called “racism” and would be forbidden by law.

This stereotypical example is almost comical, but it is no joke. I begin with it because it is an obvious, extreme negative answer to the “Gender-Reversal1 test” question: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If they would not be the same, there is inequality. Think about that: If there were gender-equality in the legal treatment of domestic fights, as many women as men would be hauled off to jail, when police responded to he-she battles with equal violence on both sides. Obviously, that’s not true: Women are privileged—privileged to do violence to men they live with.

To stay with violence as subject-matter for two more examples, let’s consider pre-pubertal children and opposite-sex pairs of adults who do not “have a sexual relationship.”

About 60 years ago, my boyhood playmates and i would occasionally get kicked-in-the-shins, hard, by a girl who then danced away chanting “Can’t hit a gir-rul, can’t hit a gir-rul”. Many parents discouraged their daughters from this kind of aggression (some mothers seemed to believe that such aggression was a legitimate way for girls to respond to merely verbal insults); but boys who fought-back after being attacked were generally punished more harshly than girls who attacked. I have not seen this happen lately; but then, old men hanging around playgrounds are sometimes treated as potential “perverts”, so i am “prudently intimidated” from going to observe where i might most likely see it.

Can you even imagine a boy aged 8-10 kicking a girl of the same age in-the-shins, hard, and dancing away chanting “Can’t hit a bow-ee, can’t hit a bow-ee”?

The double standard of childhood verbal insulting was less clear, but again, favoured girls.

That small-child double standard i experienced, existed at a time when most girls expected to grow up to be housewives and mothers. Those were the Diefenbaker-Eisenhower years; and the girls who kicked me in the shins represented the first “Baby Boomers” and their older sisters. Many of their mothers had waited through World War II to be able to marry and have children. (In the 1950s, having children outside marriage was shameful.) The daughters saw mothers and housewives as positive examples partly because most of those older mothers2 were very glad to be stay-home mothers rather than Depression girls or spinsters, and wartime workers, such as they had been before marriage.

“The protection of the home” was then the normal milieu of women and girls; adventure and violence were male business to which only a small fraction of women aspired3. Most homes were protected, not only by the law and the Police, but first and foremost by a husband-father. If the home protected a few female privileges, they were plausibly “balanced” by men’s greater access to the wider world, and by the practice, then common, of brides vowing to obey their husbands.

Today, girls and women still have their privileges, including the privilege of violence without the violent response that same-sex violence often provokes—but men’s privileges are gone.

For a third example of violence between the sexes, let’s be conventionally old-fashioned, and recall a “standard movie scene”, which can happen in ordinary life, of a woman slapping a man’s face, hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning her virtue [sexual or otherwise], or showing affection in a way she finds offensive. Men were and are expected to take such violence without complaint, much less even think of hitting back… though few if any men would dare slap another man in like manner unless he were inviting a fight4. If a man who a woman slapped were to call the Police, and if they both told the exact truth about the incident, she would be vanishingly unlikely to be arrested, far less punished as a criminal. Few if any men would be fool enough to try dialling 9-1-1 because a woman slapped their faces, even several times, no matter how hard.

Now imagine that a man slaps a woman’s face, only half-hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning his virtue, or showing affection in a way he finds offencive. She can call the Police, and if they both tell the exact truth about the incident, he is rather likely to be arrested and punished as a criminal.

There is a Double Standard of violence displayed in each of these three examples: Women’s acts of violence against men are tolerated when, if the genders were reversed, the same acts would be punished with vigour and severity.

The obvious, logical test for gender equality, to repeat, is: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? For violence, the answer is often, perhaps always, no. The sexes are not equal; women and girls are privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s violence against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; and-or boys’ and men’s violence against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Men have the moral right to demand that, in the name of “Gender equality”.

Now on to a very non-violent kind of Double Standard: Accusation:
Over 20 years ago now, i criticized something a woman had done and she responded with “Why do you hate us?” It wasn’t logical, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t fair—but because she was a she and i was a he, she got away with it. If she had criticized me the same way—complained, for instance, that i had made her wait two hours after saying i’d show up at a particular time—and i had replied, “Why do you hate us?”—do you think i would have got away with it? If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same?

For accusing the opposite-sex of hate, the answer between 1980 and 2010, was almost always no. The sexes were not equal; women and girls were [and apparently still are] privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s [untrue] accusations against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; or boys’ and men’s accusations against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Sexual Freedom”:
If women’s privileges to do violence to men without suffering consequences, are hold-overs from when women were usually sheltered in the home, their present-day sexual privileges constitute reversals of the restrictions that sheltered women were supposed to accept “back then.” In the 1950s, there was said to be a double standard of sexual freedom: Men were considered to have more license to “screw around” than women. Since 19-sixty-somewhen, the “conventional wisdom” says, women have had about the same license as men—but is there perhaps a different double standard emerging?

Suppose a different Gerry and a different Leslie meet at a party. Alcohol is freely available. They get quite intoxicated and “have sex” by mutual agreement. Next morning both regret their mutual decision to “do it”. Who is guilty of what?

Again, as in the violence examples, “he” is deemed guilty in legal systems influenced by Feminism. Specifically, by a crime-reporting re-definition recently promulgated by the famous United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, he is guilty of raping her (though as yet, most US State laws differ from this recent redefinition.) This is not a logical attribution of guilt; it is ideological5 It blames men for consensual sexual relations between intoxicated partners—and in so doing, nearly reverses the Double Standard of the mid-20th Century. If the genders were reversed, obviously, the outcome would not be the same: Women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, women must reach equal probability of being found guilty of rape [and other sexual misconduct] in such non-violent encounters, either by reducing the number of men deemed guilty or increasing the number of women.

Someone from another intelligent species, free of the influences of Feminism (and of other earthly ideologies), would probably say that Gerry and Leslie are both and equally guilty of lack of discipline with respect to alcoholic beverages. The event wasn’t a rape at all—and the regrets should be directed at the face in the mirror, not the sex-partner.

For the final example of this little essay, let me refer to the subject that is most painful for many men: Child custody and fatherhood. If in the case of conflict involving equal violence, the poltically correct answer to “who will be punished” is he; in the case of conflict in court over custody of children, involving equal merit, the politically correct answer to “who will be given the children” is she. If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Obviously not. The sexes are not equal; women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, men must reach equal probability of winning custody.

One way to effect gender equality in child custody, would be to give each parent custody of same-sex children. There is much to be said for such a rule: Children do grow up; and boys become men while girls become women. Much of our social learning involves imitation. Boys, therefore, have more need of men than women as “role models”; while girls have more need of women than men.

Such a simple rule can also be attacked as “too crude”. A wise judge, whether in a courtroom, a family circle, a tribal circle, or the gates of Paradise, might well take into consideration the moral conduct of both parents and what kind of precepts each would offer for guidance, and what examples for imitation. A good father might raise even a girl, better than a bad mother. An athletic father might raise a child with athletic talent, even a girl, better than a “couch potato” mother.

The test remains the same: If the genders[of the parents] were reversed, would the outcome be the same? When child custody decisions reach equality by that standard, children as well as fathers will benefit.

All the above examples, turn out to show women and girls to be privileged over men and boys. If we were to consider publicly funded education, women and girls would be seen to be privileged there as well. It is difficult in the second decade of the 21st Century, to find an aspect of social life in Europe and North America, that exhibits male privilege,6 but banally easy to find examples of female privilege. The “Gender-Reversal test” looks to be a powerful way to bring that excess of female privilege to wide public attention.

My purpose in writing is not to “say the last word” on the subject. (These days, as two generations ago, women usually claim the last word.) My purpose is to invite and encourage men, and women who truly value gender-equality, to take up the Gender-Reversal test, and apply it often.

If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If not, how shall we fix the situation so that male and female humans have the equality of opportunities that led many men to support “women’s liberation” fifty years ago? I recall my own first reaction to that phrase, “women’s liberation”, was “Why not? I value liberation for people, and women are people.”

Of couse, my intention was that both sexes would benefit—that liberating women would further liberate men, rather than alter men’s condition in the direction of confinement and slavery. More recently, i have become convinced that total liberation of any population, in an interdependent milieu, necessarily entails the abuse of others with which it shares the space. The “Gender-Reversal test” may yet help us move things toward what mutual liberation is practicable, and equal opportunity.

If not, then “society”, in failing such an important test, may be on the way to flunking out completely.


* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in February 2012, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2012”; though a very few more recent hyperlinks have been added, the text itself does not take account of more recent events or writings. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.

1. Some readers may be inclined to “quibble”, that the word gender should read sex. However, “sex reversal” can have a connotation of “sex-change”; so idiomatically, “gender-reversal” seems preferable.

2. (Older relative to the age of their daughters)

3. A rather small minority of men aspired to violence, perhaps a majority, to adventure. But during World War II, the Korean War, and to some extent in Vietnam, many American and a few Canadian men were sent to do violence for reasons quite outside their natures.

4. One formulation of “Chivalry” states that a man who slaps another, often with an empty glove, is challenging the man slapped to a duel to the death.

5. The re-definition specifies that rape constitutes “penetration without consent”, and that one who is intoxicated cannot lawfully consent. The male genital organ “sticks out” while the female genital organ is inside the body outline, and thus the word “penetration” specifies that females who initiate intercourse, do not commit rape however drunk or unwilling the man with whom they copulate—indeed, a man on whom a drunken woman forces intercourse, could be defined to have raped her. (A woman could, by this tendentious “definition”, commit rape by “goosing” a man (or another woman) with her thumb, a trowel handle, etc..)

6. Two examples did occur to me: Senior executive office in business and politics, and competitive spectator sports. Elite leaders and elite “commercial athletes” are mostly male. (The easiest explanation of this, is the “flatter distribution curve” of male than of female ability.) Top leadership and big-league sports are both elite-only “areas of work”, to which ordinary men and women cannot realistically aspire—and if male predominance there reflects a larger number of men of extremely high [and extremely low] capability, then it may well derive from fair competition for the top spots, and not from any gender inequality of opportunity.

I do not regard military service as a privilege—it is more nearly a burdensome obligation, and obviously carries a far higher risk of death and maiming, than any work voluntarily taken up or sought by a majority of women.


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Vegetable Stock:

..Some Trimmings are Too Good to Just Compost:
(c) 2015, Davd

Carrot tops and tails, onion layers that are starting to dry and too tough to feed to people, herb stems and turnip peelings — can seriously improve the flavour of your next rice or bean dish, soup, sauce or gravy—and that’s only the beginning.

As you advance from being a so-so cook to being one whose contributions are sought after at potlucks, whose dinner invitations are valued even if nobody special will be there (or because the somebody special who is there is you—the cook); one of the skills you need to add to the ordinary recipe book and can opener stuff, is making stock. Stock is the liquid that results when food which is safe, but too scruffy to put on anyone’s dinner plate, is boiled in water to extract its flavour and some of the minerals—even vitamins—it can contribute. Many chefs make stock from bones and trimmings of meat and fish; and it’s a skill worth learning. This blog will present the simpler skill of making vegetable stock.

Chefs who make meat stock, include vegetables and usually herbs in the water. Naturally, the vegetables and herbs they use, are the ones whose looks are least presentable to the customers, such as a carrot, onion, or turnip that was cut by the shovel or fork that harvested it. If the skins of root vegetables are clean enough (of chemicals as well as of dirt) they may be put in the stockpot instead of whole vegetables, or to reduce the number needed.

Most home kitchens don’t process enough bones to make bone stock—except perhaps for the holiday turkeys and hams that many people do cook at home. Some of you reading this probably have boiled the bone and trimmings from a ham or a turkey in a big pot to make what you might have called stock, or broth, or soup base. If you included some herbs and perhaps things like celery leaves and trimmings, doing that doubtless made a better soup.

For “most of the time” when you don’t have bones to boil for their flavour and perhaps that of scraps of meat clinging to those bones, you can still make stock—from vegetables and herbs.

The last few days of April, i cooked white rice using vegetable stock instead of water, added some salted wild mushrooms—and that rice with mushrooms, plus a few early chives, made a delicious grain dish to go with a small steak. Plain white rice would not have tasted nearly as good… and the stock was made from turnip peelings, cabbage, carrot and onion trimmings, second-class oregano and liveche*. All those vegetables and herbs can be grown in Maritime Canada.

The process of making stock is simple: Collect clean vegetable trimmings (they do not have to be as clean as they would be to eat them raw—boiling sterilizes—but the taste of dirt is not what you want! nor is pesticide residue.) Use trimmings from more than one vegetable: Try to have at least three different vegetable flavours in every batch of stock, and generally, the more the better. Vegetables that are very closely related (such as broccoli, cabbage ,and cauliflower) should preferably be counted as one flavour.

Turnips, especially the “yellow” or “Swede” ones, make for good stock: I don’t know exactly why, but stock with turnip peels and trimmings does seem to have a “well rounded flavour”—as will what you cook with it. When you peel clean turnips, save the peelings. Freeze them even, if there are so many that they would go beyond balance with the other vegetables and herbs if put all in one batch. Then when you don’t have turnip peelings around, grab some from that bag in the freezer. Same for celery if you buy it—don’t throw out the trimmings if they’re clean enough for the stockpot. (Few places in Canada can grow celery easily, but most people in Canada live where liveche* will grow.) Carrots seldom need peeling, but the tops and tails are valuable for stock—don’t throw them out either.

Growing your own culinary herbs, especially chives, liveche*, oregano, sage, and savory, will provide you with leftover stems and second-class leaves that will improve the stock you make. Tarragon and thyme are harder to grow; tarragon is good in stock to be used with fish or poultry, and OK with beef and pork and vegetarian foods; thyme gives “strength” to stock for anything that’s not cooked sweet… as does oregano, which for me, is easier to grow. Parsley is good with most anything that’s not cooked sweet, and especially good with seafood… but if you have liveche or celery in your stockpot already, you don’t need the parsley; add a little if you have plenty and the stock will be used with seafood.

If you make your own beer and wine, as i’ve done for a few decades, then you’ll be rinsing the bottles soon after they are emptied, for re-use. Rinse them into a jar, and use that “beer and wine dregs” as part of the water with which you make stock (or all of it, if you’ve many empty bottles and few trimmings, as might be the case after guests have come for dinner, if your vegetables came from a store already trimmed, or on New Year’s Day.) Malt, hops, and wine flavours diversify and improve stock. (If one of your guests left half a glass of wine or beer go flat, you can put that in the stockpot, too—boiling sterilizes—but don’t put spoiled beer or wine there unless you know for sure its flavour will help and not hurt the overall mixture.)

Generally, fruit (sweet) and vegetable (salty or savoury) flavours don’t mix as well as fruits with fruits and vegetables with vegetables. Table wine is an exception; it goes with both. (Botanically, tomatoes are fruit, but in kitchen categories, they’re vegetables. Cucumbers are also called fruits botanically—but i wouldn’t put them in a stockpot. Large numbers of extra cucumbers can be made into a few different good pickles and relishes.) The rule seems to be “Salty with salty and sweet with sweet.”)

When you’ve collected a decent volume of vegetable trimmings and herb stems [or just surplus herbs], put it loosely into a good sized cooking pot, cover with water, usually to about twice the depth of the layer of trimmings, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes—and the stock is done. Next, let it cool, then pour it into a jar [put a lid on it] and refrigerate. If you’ve plenty of time and a place to leave the pot, let the vegetables in it drain a few minutes and pour that last little bit of stock into the jar, too. Then toss the boiled-out vegetable pieces into the small bucket under the sink where you collect compostables. They’ll still contribute that way as well.

When you boil vegetables for the table, the water in which they were boiled can then be made into stock. If you steam vegetables like bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots or cabbage, a few bits of herb and vegetable peels and trimmings in the steaming water, will make it into stock while the carrots, cabbage, etc. are being cooked. The steaming basket separates the scruffy looking flavourings from the nice vegetables that will actually be served, which means you needn’t make the stock in two stages.

After you’ve made several batches of stock, you’ll begin developing an intuitive sense of what flavours will go well together, and what stock mixtures will make the best liquid for what uses. Meanwhile, don’t worry. Stock made “at random” will virtually always improve gravies, sauces, soups, beans [and peas and lentils], and grain, when you use it to replace cooking water.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? More flavour in the sauce or the soup or gravy or grain, is a good thing. Now you know how professional cooks do it… the easier way, anyhow.

_ _ _ _ _

* Liveche (Levisticum officinale) is a tall, perennial relative of celery with a richer, stronger taste than celery itself. The leaves dry well hung in bunches in a shady place (I prefer the woodshed) and can be used instead of celery in sauces, soups and stuffings. It is probably the most desirable herb of all for making stock, though chives, thyme and oregano are also very good.


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Second Class Like Me[n]:

… To What Extent is the Predicament Ours, 55 Years Later?
Essay Review of John Howard Griffin, 1960. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
cited in the pocket sized Signet edition, New York, “New American Library”, 1961.
(review (c) 2015, Davd

On the back cover of the pocket edition, in red, in the biggest type on the page, appear the very words with which i summarized my—and men’s—predicament when reviewing Nathanson and Young’s Legalizing Misandry, in my first Everyman posting of this year: SECOND CLASS CITIZEN. John Howard Griffin, a “white” novelist, darkened his skin in five days [pp 11-17—numbers in [] refer to page numbers in Black Like Me] and then went about the Old South as a Negro: He was able to see, hear, and report the experience of both races, as the same man; and his Negro experience was of second class citizenship—or worse [47].

Reading his account, i can’t say whether men’s situation in 2015 is better or worse, legally and bureaucratically, than “the Negro John Griffin’s” situation was 55 years ago, shortly before President Obama was born1. He chose to become “Negro”2 in the US South, including the most notoriously “segregationist” parts of the South, for his experience. From unhappy experiences in the 1980s, i decided not to return to the “Canadian Lakehead” whose Feminism (by the testimony of Prairie and European Feminists, shortly before i left) was more man-hating than in most places. So my experience of misandry—since leaving “the Lakehead”, anyway—is less extreme relative to North American misandry overall, than his relative experience of racism in Black Like Me.

What this review will compare are patterns of legal and bureaucratic discrimination, more than how strongly individual attitudes manifest themselves today or any time recently.

It is significant, something to keep in mind during these comparisons, that the sexes are more different than the races.

Anatomically and physiologically, a healthy middle-aged Native Canadian—or Kenyan, Hungarian, or Burmese—man is more like both David Cameron and David Suzuki than he is like his own sister. (One “obvious” result of this is that separation of clothing sales and public toilets by race is generally considered problematic; while the separation of clothing sales and public toilets by sex is generally considered normal3. Having to find different toilet rooms than women use, is not evidence of misandry. If women’s toilets are larger, more widely available, and-or of much better quality, that might be such evidence.)

Greater difference need not “mean” that there is more conflict between the sexes than the races; and a mere century, even a mere half century ago, the sexes were thought of as naturally complementary. For another obvious example, two women of different race, or two men of different race, cannot conceive a baby by having sexual relations. A total separation of the races would not entail the end of the species within a century. A total separation of the sexes, would. So the need for co-operation between the sexes, as well as the biological difference, is the greater.

When John Howard Griffin changed races, the conflict between races in the Southern United States was definitely greater than between the sexes. It is less obvious that it was greater than the conflict between the sexes in North America today… and more to the point of “second class citizen,” it is not clear that the legal and bureaucratic disadvantage imposed on Negroes then, was greater than the legal and bureaucratic disadvantage imposed on men today. The cultural disadvantage was greater where Griffin’s experience took place; whether it was all over the United States then, or in Canada, we cannot say.

The legal and public-treatment differences between full and second-class citizens do show some similarities when based on racial and on sex differences. “What’re you looking at me like that for?” [p 25] is not so different from a group of Feminist schoolgirls in Fredericton who, late in 2014, attacked school “dress codes” on the logically untenable grounds that restricting sexual displays by schoolgirls fostered a “rape culture.” They were not the only Feminists to insist that women should be free to display their sexuality and men, duty-bound to ignore the displays… which may have been demanding the impossible (Vincent, 2006: 35).

More similarities? “Affirmative Action” has produced a female majority among university students, and if now this artificiality leads women to feel superior and men to question our competence, those feelings are not evidence that men are actually inferior; rather, they show that victims of bias often blame themselves unfairly. Negro school children once felt inferior on similar grounds (Clark and Clark, 1947)

Still more similarities? Well, the male suicide rate is higher than the female, and the difference has been growing while laws and bureaucratic practices have grown more misandric. Page 7 is the first page of the body text of Black Like Me. It mentions with concern, “the rise in suicide tendency among Southern Negroes.”

On p. 75, Griffin reports (from the night he sat up reading a manuscript of The Magnolia Jungle by P. D. East) that State legislatures passed laws forbidding churches to hold racially integrated services, with fines for churches that did so; and applied tax money to support “white Citizens Councils”, whose avowed purposes included white supremacy. Nathanson and Young (2006: 293-99, 363, Appendix 12) indicate that tax funding is being applied to favor women and girls, including in schooling where they are already advantaged.

There are similarities enough to merit attention… but the sexes are more different than the races. Griffin reported that he became Negro; Vincent (2006) that she was disguised as a man.

John Howard Griffin began his project with some trepidation, but also a conviction, shared by the publisher and editor of Sepia, that it was worthwhile.4 His wife “unhesitatingly agreed that if I felt I must do this thing, then I must. She offered, as her part of the project, her willingness to lead, with our three children, the unsatisfactory family life of a household deprived of husband and father.” [p. 9] In 1960, that sacrifice was accepted as a sacrifice and the life of a fatherless family, unsatisfactory. In 2015??

He did not keep the project secret from the police, but met with FBI agents, one of whom said “As soon as they see you, you’ll be a Negro and that’s all they’ll ever want to know about you.” [10] Skin color was what mattered, the agent concluded—and that turned out to be the case: The sexes are more different than the races—but the very visible difference between dark brown and pale tan skin had immense social consequences in the Southern USA. When his skin became darker than the “White” range normally included, John Howard Griffin was a Negro—and was treated as such, and felt himself to be Negro.5

Darkening his skin proved medically feasible, though a bit risky—during the first several days he had regular blood tests to make sure his body tolerated the drug, one used to treat a disease named vitiligo. It was supported with sun-lamp rays… his body did tolerate it… and it worked. Griffin looked in the mirror and did not recognize himself. [11-15]

He had fortunately made some plans for the transition; and in particular, chose a Negro shoe shiner, Sterling Williams, a crippled veteran of World War I who talked intelligently with him before the color change, as his first personal link to the Negro community. When Griffin returned to the shoe stand as Negro, and explained what he had done, Williams laughed and took “delight at what I had done and delight that I should confide it to him.” [27]

Before he met Williams as a fellow Negro, though, he had spent a night and a morning among the New Orleans Negroes, as one of their race from out of town, staying at a hotel and eating “in segregation”. He was accepted on the basis of his skin color, and treated with kindness—except by one White woman he accidentally treated as an equal, fellow human being.

Though troubled at first by the poverty of New Orleans Negro life, Griffin fit in easily; he was welcomed on the bases of goodwill and skin color: “My first afternoon as a Negro was one of dragging hours and a certain contentment.” [32] He soon learned that the Dryades Street YMCA coffee shop was a meeting place for the city’s Negro leaders, and was readily accepted there based on his ability to share in an intelligent conversation—and his skin color.

One problem he and the local Negro leaders agreed about, should be familiar to men and men’s advocates: “Until we as a race can learn to rise together, we’ll never get anywhere. … have to be almost a mulatto, and have your hair conked and all slicked out and look like a Valentino. Then the Negroes will look up to you. … Isn’t that a pitiful hero-type?”

“And the white man knows that,” Mr. Davis said.

“Yes,” the cafe owner continued. “He utilizes this knowledge to flatter some of us, to tell us we’re above our people, not like most Negroes. …” [35]

Perhaps the reader can visualize some kinds of men who might be similarly flattered by Feminists. Those who blame “deadbeat Dads” who in fact are unemployed and discarded by ex-wives? Those who treat domestic violence as a men’s problem when good research (e.g. Grandin, Lupri, and Brinkerhoff, 1998, Lupri, 2004, Esmay et al, 2014, Corry, 2002) shows women attack men at least as often as the other way around?

Education was even more an area of white advantage, than it is of female advantage today: “Our people aren’t educated because they either can’t afford it or else they know education won’t earn them the jobs it would a white man.”6 … So a lot of them, without even understanding the cause, just give up.” [42] “They put us low, and then blame us for being down there and say that since we are low, we can’t deserve our rights.” … “Equal job opportunities,” Mr Gayle said. “That’s the answer to much of the tragedy of our young people.” [43] Who then would have forecast that equal job opportunities today, would be an improvement in the condition of men? (Nathanson and Young, 2006: ch 5)

“.. every informed man with whom I had spoken, in the intimate freedom of the colored bond, had acknowledged a double problem for the Negro. First, the discrimination against him. Second, and almost more grievous, his discrimination against himself, his contempt for the blackness that he associates with his suffering; his willingness to sabotage his fellow Negroes because they are part of the blackness he has found so painful.” [44; cf. Nathanson and Young, 2012, Clark and Clark, 1947]

We should remember that this is a middle-aged man born and reared “white”, new to Negro second-class standing, who writes. Young “Negroes” as diverse as Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, and Carl Rowan were “in the wings”, ready to translate Negro back into English and wear it proudly. But we should also remember that Clark and Clark (1947), a dozen years earlier, had documented the same devaluation of their race, of which Griffin writes, in studies of Negro schoolgirls. Five years after Brown v. Board of Education, the effects of that “landmark decision” were only beginning to be felt.

While Griffin was still in New Orleans the mood among Negroes turned to “bitterness and despair” when a Mississippi Grand Jury failed to indict any of the lynchers who murdered Mack Parker, even refusing to examine a FBI supplied dossier identifying them[49]. Louisiana Weekly wrote, “.. it has shamed the United States in the eyes of the world …” [49]

“No one outside the Negro community,” Griffin wrote, “could imagine the profound effect this action had in killing the Negro’s hope and breaking his morale.”[50]

Griffin next took a bus to Mississippi, the state where the lynching had happened. To pay his bus fare, he had to cash some traveler’s checks, and it was Saturday afternoon. He was refused in several New Orleans stores where he had spent money during the week—and finally, was able to cash them at a Catholic Book Store. [50-52].

At the bus station, the woman ticket seller and a white man sitting in the waiting room introduced him to the hate stare, “a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. … I felt like saying ‘What in God’s name are you doing to yourself?’” [53]

Arriving in Mississippi, he was warned to “watch yourself pretty close till you catch on. … you don’t even want to even look at a white woman. In fact, you look down at the ground or the other way. … If you pass by a picture show, and they’ve got women on the posters outside, don’t look at them either. … And you dress pretty well, if you walk past an alley, walk out in the middle of the street. Plenty of people here, white and colored, would knock you in the head if they thought you had money on you. If white boys holler at you, just keep walking. Don’t let them stop you and start asking you questions.” [60]

Hitchhiking toward Alabama, Griffin learned that the beaches, publicly funded, were closed to him. His one “white” daytime ride was from a young Northern man; but at night “Suddenly, I began getting rides. Men would pass you in daylight but pick you up at night. … All but two picked me up the way they would pick up a pornographic photograph or book—but this was verbal pornography. With a Negro, they figured they need give no semblance of self-respect or respectability. … All showed morbid curiosity about the sexual life of the Negro … into the depths of depravity.” [84-85]

But not all the white men who gave him a lift, were pornographically motivated. One in particular “enjoyed company, nothing more. … I could only conclude that his [guileless friendly] attitude came from an overwhelming love for his child [that] spilled over to all humanity .. [a huge] blessing .. to someone like me after having been exhausted .. by others this rainy Alabama night.” [92-93]

In Mobile, a mission preacher put Griffin up for the night, and again, the predicament of the Southern Negro dominated their talk. The next day Griffin went looking for work, and as in New Orleans “an important part of my day was spent looking for the basic things that all whites take for granted: A place to eat, or somewhere to find a drink of water, a rest room, somewhere to wash my hands.” [97]

One foreman told him plainly, “No use trying down here. We’re gradually getting you people weeded out from the better jobs…. We’re going to do our damnedest to drive every one of you out of the state. … with all this noise about equality, we just don’t want you people around. The only way we can keep you out of our schools and cafés is to make life so hard for you that you’ll get the hell out before equality comes.” [98]

“This attitude cropped up often,” Griffin continued, “.. walking the same streets as a Negro, I found no trace of the Mobile I formerly knew … the gracious Southerner, the wise Southerner, the kind Southerner was nowhere visible. … I concluded that, as in everything else, the atmosphere of a place is entirely different for Negro and white. The Negro sees and reacts differently not because he is Negro, but because he is suppressed. Fear dims even the sunlight.” [98-99]

In Montgomery, Alabama, he found more hope, and credited it to the work of Martin Luther King, senior and especially junior… and their associates. Yet when “On Sunday I made the experiment of dressing well and walking past some of the white churches just as services were over, in each instance as the women came through the church doors and saw me, the ‘spiritual bouquets’ changed to hostility. The transformation was grotesque” [117]

Next Griffin risked changing his skin color enough to alternate between “being white” and “being Negro.”

“I was the same man, whether black or white. Yet when I was white, I received the brotherly-love smiles and the privileges from whites and the hate stares or obsequiousness from the Negroes. And when I was a Negro, the whites judged me fit for the junk heap, while the Negroes treated me with great warmth.” [121-2]

Griffin’s assessment of the contrast was charitable: “…these [white] people were simply unaware of the situation with the Negroes who passed them on the street—there was not even the communication of intelligent awareness between them.” [120]

One place where Griffin’s experience was not of mutual suspicion and some hostility between the races, was a Trappist monastery near Conyers, Georgia. “The kind of man who would come to the Trappists,” the guest-master told him “comes here to be in an atmosphere of dedication to God. Such a man would hardly keep one eye on God and the other on the color of his neighbor’s skin.” [130]

In Atlanta, Griffin met different aspects of social change than in Montgomery, and was finally encouraged that the Negro predicament was soluble. He was heartened by the unity of the Negro community, by fair-minded newspapers (especially the Atlanta Constitution) and writers, and by a city administration sympathetic to fairness and equal opportunity. He met Negro financial leaders who had established banks and an insurance company, and as one of them, T. M. Alexander, said, “There is no big Me and little you. We must pool all our resources, material and mental, to gain the respect that will enable all of us to walk the streets with the dignity of American citizens.”

On December 14, about six weeks after first becoming Negro, “I resumed for the final time my white identity. I felt strangely sad to leave the world of the Negro after having shared it so long—almost as if I were fleeing my share of his pain and heartache.” [140, cf.156]. There was a lasting sense of brotherhood, of fellowship, in and from his experience, that Vincent (2006) never experienced in a much longer time disguised as a man: The sexes are more different than the races.

It was early the next year, 1960, as the winter turned to spring, that the story of Griffin’s weeks as a Negro—the FBI man had proven right—became public. He was interviewed on television by Paul Coates, Dave Garroway, Harry Golden, Radio-Television Française, and Mike Wallace. He was also threatened and hanged in effigy; but never actually attacked.

By June 19, as that spring was ending: “There were six thousand letters to date and only nine of them abusive. Many favorable letters came from Deep South states, from the whites. This confirmed my contention that the average Southern white is more properly disposed than he dares allow his neighbor to see, that he is more afraid of his fellow white racist than he is of the Negro.” [153] Yet though the great majority of those from whom he heard were favorable, the few so frightened Griffin’s parents that they sold their farm and moved to Mexico—a Métis nation7, interestingly. “We too were going,” he wrote, “because we had decided that it was too great an injustice to our children to remain.” [155]

As they cleaned his parents’ house for the new owners, John Howard Griffin’s helper, a Negro youth, showed an exaggerated notion of how many whites were racist—almost certainly because the racists were more audible and visible to him. “The Negro does not understand the white man any more than the white understands the Negro. I was dismayed to see the extent to which this [Negro] youth exaggerated—how could he do otherwise?—the feelings of the whites toward Negroes. He thought they all hated him.” [156] The extremists showed up more visibly and sounded off more loudly—it seems to be much the same with the sexes today, does it not?

55 years ago, as he wrote and published Black Like Me, Griffin realized, “I could have been a Jew in Germany, a Mexican in a number of states, or a member of any ‘inferior’ group. Only the details would have differed. The story would be the same.” [p. 5, “Preface”]. Perhaps he didn’t envision that his own male sex could become an “inferior” group. Substitute the sexes for the races, and we can read,

Though we lived side by side … communication between the two [sexes] had simply ceased to exist. Neither really knew what went on with those of the other [sex]. The [man] will not tell the [woman] the truth. He long ago learned that if he speaks a truth unpleasing to the [woman, she] will make life miserable for him.” [7-8]

Perhaps relations between the sexes have not got that bad8; but that substituted quotation does seem more true than false, for too many men; and over the 55 years since Black Like Me was published, it has been getting worse rather than better. Many men are afraid to tell women unwelcome truths—as many boys have been for all my seventy-plus years. Doubt that? Consider the sentence “How Dare You Talk Back to Your Mother?” (Teachers are usually more subtle than that sentence; but how many boys dare talk back to them?)

As for women telling men the truth, consider “Mommy’s Little Secret” (Abraham, 2002). Men are routinely told lies about whether they sired their wives’ children, “in the child’s interest,” “in the interests of maintaining family peace,” or because legally in Canada, “The developing [unborn] baby is considered part of the mother and the results of [paternity] tests therefore belong to her.” The unborn baby is all hers, none his: If the laws are consistent, doesn’t that mean he is not liable for child support? (In fact, is he liable? William Marotta was., and for bad reasons which Barbara Kay has summarized.)

Griffin probably was told more of the truth—about how little he could have and use as “Negro” of the public facilities that had been open to him as “white”, for instance—and as for civil rights, how much of “civil rights” has a man who is required to pay support for three children who are not his (Morgan Wise, in the State of Texas [Abraham, 2002])? It seems fair enough as of what we know now, to use “Second Class Citizen” for Griffin’s experience in 1959-60 and for ours today.

On the other hand, who then was calling Negroes “privileged”? I never heard the likes of that in 1955-65; but i do hear and read claims that men are privileged when in fact, legally and bureaucratically, we are systematically disadvantaged in Canada and the US.

American Negroes had been in their predicament for centuries as slaves and not quite one century as all free citizens, when Griffin walked the Old South with dark skin. Things were improving, but slowly—more slowly than their accomplishments to date merited. Men today, are newly into a similar predicament; a century and a half century ago, there was a rough balance between men’s and women’s privileges, one that reflected women’s reproductive role and motivation and men’s advantages at skilled large muscle work. A few years ago, it seemed men’s predicament was steadily worsening; now, perhaps, the worst has arrived and there is occasion for hope things will next improve… but at age 72, i don’t expect to live long enough to have equal legal rights9 and equally good official treatment, compared with a woman of my age.

On pp. 48-50, Stirling Williams reads angrily the Louisiana Weekly‘s comments that the failure of a Mississippi Grand Jury to indict lynchers “has shamed the United States in the eyes of the world …” [49] Misandry is very plausibly an important root cause of widespread contempt for the West today, especially among Muslims. It is even plausible that some of the Western young men who have joined the most violent Muslim sects10, may be motivated significantly by shame at being second class citizens in their home countries.

Misandry needn’t be universal to be powerfully damaging. It is worthwhile remembering that most of the letters John Howard Griffin received after going public, were favorable—but his parents, and his own household, were driven from Texas to Mexico, because “we had decided that it was too great an injustice to our children to remain”[155]. A hostile minority and an indifferent majority of their fellow “whites” had driven them out of the United States of America. Likewise, in “gender relations” today, a hostile minority and an indifferent11 majority of women, have silenced millions of men; and driven many men who would welcome a marriage such as John Howard Griffin had then, to avoid marriage as it is now. They have made “whether to expat” a valid question in men’s rights discourse12.

Those morbid white Southerners who projected sexual excess onto Negroes in general and Griffin the hitchhiker in particular, were a “self selected sample,” and we cannot guess from his experience what fraction of Southern white men they represent; it is bad enough that they felt at liberty to harass Negro men that way, at all. Bad enough also, that some fraction of women this decade, feel at liberty to praise Lorena Bobbitt and Valerie Solanas. Bad enough that some Fredericton schoolgirls claimed the privilege to flaunt their sexuality and claimed to impose on the boys, the entire burden of ignoring that display until invited otherwise. (CBC Radio News, November 18 and December 8, 2014.) Total liberation of any population, in an interdependent milieu, necessarily entails the abuse of others with which it shares the space.

That’s worth repeating, because so many people (especially female North American people, these days) claim to deserve “total freedom”: Complete liberation of any population, in an interdependent milieu, necessarily entails the abuse of others with which it shares the space. Fairness entails all parties, all subcultures, taking something less than total liberation; and making each group’s limits about equally restricting, is about as fair as things can get. We accept that principle in traffic laws, in urban “zoning”, in demanding that smoking be done away from those who might be allergic to or even annoyed by tobacco smoke, and in the old saying that “your right to wave your arms ends safely short of my nose”. We used to demand modesty in dressing for work and school—and we’d be wise to do so again—because immodesty is distracting (cf. Vincent, 2006: 35) and there can be no moral right to distract others from their proper, useful tasks short of rare, sudden, unexpected needs to protect health and safety.

If Legalizing Misandry is a difficult read, Black Like Me is an easy one. It may disturb you emotionally, but you won’t be searching through tens of pages of footnotes for a source citation.

If this book is not in your library, and “English” is widely read among your local population, then (unless it was built in the past 50 years) the library has failed you: When the book was new, funding was more abundant than it is today; and there has not been reason since to discard it. If you have a good library, in an Anglophone region, that library shouls have this book. I suggest you go check it out, soon, if you haven’t read it yet or might like to re-read it—partly to remind the librarian to keep it. If some other man, or a woman with a heart for equality, has checked it out, put your name down to check it out after it comes back.

Read it. Look at the experiences Griffin recounts. Consider how they do and don’t parallel our experiences as men in the second decade of the 21st Century. With luck, your experiences won’t be as extreme—Griffin deliberately chose the Deep South, and Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia within the South. From what i’ve seen and from what Nathanson and Young presented in Legalizing Misandry, there will be parallels, not perfect but strong enough
to be eerie.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, why do you kill the prophets who were sent to save you? asked Jesus (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34); we could likewise ask why so many Civil Rights activists were killed by a USA whose coins prominently bore the word Liberty. We could ask, Ottawa, Ottawa, why did you hang Louis Riél?—and we could could ask the same question of today. The Feminists could ask themselves about Earl Silverman, Tom Ball, about why they do not take the initiative to punish or change false accusers .. about the Titanic, .. and for two generations and longer, why are the extremists more heard? why are those who are well disposed toward the other race and the other sex, so silent, then and now?

There is evidence scattered through John Griffin’s book, of Whites willing but afraid to treat Negroes equally… of intimidation of a majority of half decent, half indifferent whites by the [estimated small] minority of serious racists. Plausibly, a similar distribution exists as among North American women. Just as plausibly, many of those who are half decent and half indifferent, let the misandric take the lead because they do benefit from their privilege.

So La Diabla—and i use the female version because Nathanson and Young (2006) have made a good case that “ideological Feminists”, much more than any other political ‘force’, have lobbied this situation into existence—has got laws deeming men privileged when if either sex be, it be women; men believing that women hate us, and women believing (or at least acting like they believe) that we are abusive and misogynist.

Some are and some ain’t; and in parallel to what Griffin wrote in 1960, it seems most likely that most women are not so much hostile, as unwilling to offend the “leading ideologues” who are… and not eager, either, to let go of their privileges.

Needs fixing, that does.

Some Other References:

Abraham, Carolyn 2002. “Mommy’s Little Secret.” Toronto: The Globe and Mail December 14. Print Edition, Page F1

CBCRadioNews, 2014, November 18, December 8 “Fredericton youth Feminists” expect boys to totally ignore girls’ sexual displays. (Be they able to ..?) I find the modesty arguments far more plausible….

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.

Corry, Charles E., 2002. “Domestic Violence Against Men.” Colorado Springs, USA: Equal Justice Foundation

Esmay, Dean et alia, 2014. “The Facts about Male Discrimination” Updated June 16, accessed September 7.

Grandin, Elaine, Eugen Lupri, Merlin B. Brinkerhoff, 1998.”Couple Violence and Psychological Distress” Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol. 89, No. 1, (Jan-Feb) p. 43-47

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

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

Nathanson, Paul and Katherine K. Young, 2012. “Misandry and Emptiness: Masculine Identity in a Toxic Cultural Environment” New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 4-18

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.

Rowan, Carl T., 1991. Breaking Barriers: A Memoir. Boston, Toronto, London: Little, Brown &co.

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

Vincent, Norah, 2006. Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. New York: Viking Penguin.


1. Culturally, methinks, the sexes differ too much, and are too  interdependent, to assess the question

2. Plainly, Negro is Black in Spanish and Portugese; and white was not the actual, usual color of Griffin’s skin, nor of any ordinary European’s skin. Both words are loosely used in ordinary colloquial “English”… and they were, still are, heavily loaded with unreasonable attitudes—but much less so today than then.

This review is written with US rather than Canadian spelling because of the importance of “color” in the text, and the convention of spelling such words in their original language when quoting.

3. Switching the “Men” and “Women” signs on toilets in university classroom buildings early in the term, was a common prank when i was a student. Those who had used the building before, went in the doors they habitually used; those who were new to the building went in by the signs, so embarrassment was maximum when there were comparable numbers of new and old students.

4. Why would a man deliberately take on a second class identity? The author’s name, methinks, tells us something of his motivation. John Howard was the founder, if any one person was, of the prisoner’s rights and rehabilitation movement. (I was a member of the board of the John Howard Society of Thunder Bay, when i was a professor at Lakehead University. Both the original Howard and the Griffin who wrote this book, have my profound sympathy. As has Louis Riél, who did the right thing and was hanged for it.)

5. Norah Vincent, in a contrasting revelation, writes in Self Made Man that she never did feel herself to be male—she was aware throughout her year-and-a-half that she was impersonating, or as the subtitle of her book says, “disguised as a man.”

Griffin’s experience was not of disguise but of transformation: “… 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.” [16]

6. It might be worthwhile adding, that today, unlike in 1959-1960, a generic university education hasn’t much value as a ticket to middle class jobs. Boys who go to trade school and do well are likely to earn as much as girls—or boys—who get Arts degrees; and often tradesmen earn more.

7. Mestizo is the Spanish way of writing Métis.

8. Griffin writes “the Negro is treated not even as a second-class citizen, but as a tenth class one.” [47] And in fact, the treatment he got varied from person to person, much as men today get treated with different amounts of respect and humanity by different women.

I can personally attest that i dared not tell unwelcome truth to some women i have “been close to”, to such extent that a psychiatrist advised me quite seriously not to remarry, and to prefer the company of other men.

9. Specifically, i expect that a woman could falsely accuse me of violence (perhaps also “sexual harassment,” but i may be getting rather old for that one) and be better believed than if the genders were reversed. It would be impressively rapid social change, if a man’s and a woman’s accusation, if a man’s and a woman’s word in a “he said—she said” case with no witnesses, were taken at equal value before i die.

10. including “the Islamic State” that beheads Western men who oppose it, and kidnaps and enslaves non-Muslim women.

11. Perhaps “indifferent” is too kind, to many white Southerners then and many women now. There are benefits to be had from privilege even when one does not claim it is rightful, if one has that privilege anyway. There are large numbers of women today, as there were of white Southerners then, who have better jobs than they would have under equal opportunity conditions. Employers especially and the buying public more generally, benefit from the exploitation of workers who, because of discrimination, are paid less than they would be if they were in the other race or the other sex.

12. I am not sure if can still be reached, but the date embedded in it indicates recent serious discussion of relocation from the US (and Canada) to less-Feminist countries. Correspondents who might prefer i not name them, have indeed left.

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Knitting Rhymes with Sitting:

..When Real Men Can Enjoy Knitting and Why Women Knit More than We Do:
(c) 2015, Davd

I was sitting in my bed mending a glove, resting after supper, when it occurred to me that i rather enjoy mending socks and gloves and torn work clothes, especially on a cold winter morning while the woodstove warms the cabin, or a cold winter evening when i figure things will get through the night without another fire, but it’s too cold to sit still at my desk.

Fishermen are skilled, hard workers—and they mend their nets fairly often. When Jesus first met two of his disciples, James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; they were in their boat mending nets.(Matthew 4:21, Mark 1:19). Now, fishermen’s nets are large, bulky, and often smell fishy, so i would not expect the men to mend them sitting in bed—or even indoors—but plainly, mending is men’s work as well as women’s. What i sat in bed mending, had been through the laundry.

I was wearing a pair of fingerless gloves that i knit myself, 30-40 years ago, and a sleeping cap that i also knit myself, back then; and it was uh, rather obvious to me that i hadn’t knit anything in the past 25 years. Now knitting is really quite a lot like mending, only less fussy—it’s actually a little more enjoyable, as i remember. So why do i mend for an hour or two a week, at least in winter, but not knit? Because there’s so much mending to do, and reading in bed, that lately i never get to where i really feel like i have time for knitting.

Obviously, things were different 25-50 years ago—so how were they different?

I was a professor then, that’s how. Being a professor, i had to go to meetings—hours of meetings per week—at many of which meetings i had bleep all to actually do. I was commanded to attend, and there was maybe a minute or less in an average 1-2 hour meeting, that i actively “participated”. I was at the meeting obeying Orders From Above: All Such-and-such were Required to Attend. Plus which, i got to talk briefly with colleagues i didn’t see much of anywhere else, before and after.

Sitting in those meetings—and teaching classes, and preparing classes, and doing research—i didn’t wear-out my socks and gloves much, or tear my work clothes. As a professor i generated a lot less mending and i had a lot more sit-still time. Plus which, a knitting project—say, a toque or a pair of mittens in the making—is much easier to carry into a meeting than sixteen assorted socks in need of darning and seven colours of yarn with which to mend them.

I knit mittens, scarves, and toques for myself and my children, in those meetings—plain in design, usually with a couple of harmoniously contrasting stripes. One toque i have still is a fairly dark brown with two medium yellow stripes, as are the matching mittens. The fingerless gloves are brick red with yellow stripes. In a box near the kitchen door, i have a navy blue toque with red stripes, and matching mittens. Not bad after twenty-five years or more—though i freely admit that i wear them mainly while sitting around and “to town,” where they don’t get worn down by heavy work..

Once in a while, back in those professor years, i’d knit while i sat with my youngest children, as they went to sleep—so i could be there with them in case they had something to ask me or tell me. At ages 2-5, maybe a little younger than two, children like that kind of fatherly presence. By age ten, maybe one or two evenings a week, by fifteen maybe not at all… partly because the older they get, the more they can read in bed.

Then, a couple years before i turned 50, i became a herb-gardener so i could be a better single father. Much more wear and tear on the work clothes, much less occasion to wear nice clothes, and almost no meetings at all to sit through. That’s when i quit knitting, not suddenly but gradually within a year. It wasn’t that knitting had lost its appeal—it was still a little more enjoyable than mending and a lot more enjoyable than for instance, doing “paperwork”—but that i had much less must-sit-still working time, and mending (plus some sit-still gardening tasks and some [ahem] paperwork) claimed all of that.

If i sat with one of the two youngest boys while he went to sleep or did his homework, i had plenty of mending to do, and he didn’t mind if it was less tidy than knitting.

I don’t miss the knitting experience, really, but neither do i regret it. It was definitely better than nothing at all. I’ve seen pictures of cowboys knitting, sitting on their horses, and to me that makes sense. What a cowboy does, for many, many of his working hours, is ride slowly or even sit still, watching the herd and watching for possible trouble. A knitting project is easy to carry along, a miscellany of sock mending wouldn’t be1. Apart from the horse he sits on, he’s a lot like a professor in a meeting where his chance of having anything to contribute is very small.

(Yes, he’s outdoors … but unlike most outdoor work, his watching the herd is quiet; and he works in climate areas where rain isn’t that common.)

Women have traditionally done more sitting and watching than men; and knitting is easy work to add to sitting and watching.. (If women counted knitting in that old saw “a woman’s work is never done”, that should have been back before factory knit sweaters and scarves and such were cheaply available2. Cowboys and professors know that knitting is work to be done when you have to wait and maybe keep watch, but it’s not active work with a deadline for finishing it.)

Actually, it’s a lot like whittling, without the knife (which was OK in Grandpa’s time but might be Politically Incorrect today) and the shavings, which are actually clean enough, but might not be Nice to leave in a conference room.

Knitting, like cooking and gardening and many other sorts of work, is neither men’s nor women’s work by nature. It suits people of either sex who have to “sit around” for long intervals of time. There are aspects of gardening that are men’s, much as women’s smaller fingers are beter suited to those kinds of knitting that require very fine yarn.  That said, a man’s hands can knit most ordinary yarn; if he has to sit for long intervals he’s better off knitting than doing nothing, and i still enjoy my sleeping cap and fingerless gloves more than similar items i might have bought.

A man blessed with more active work should not sneer at him—even if he’s knitting in a meeting room rather than on a horse.



1. A cowboy has to be ready to take quick, vigorous action, so whittling might not be so safe as in a meeting.

2. On my bedroom shelves, which i can see from where i sit while mending in bed, are three hand knit sweaters and seven machine knit sweaters. Two of the hand knit ones belonged to my father when he was alive. I haven’t worn some of them in a year; i doubt i’ll live long enough to wear half of them out.


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What Glass Ceiling?

… Ability and Motivation, not Opportunity, are What’s Unequal:
(c) 2015, Davd

 Two things especially, legitimately determine success: Ability and application [or in two syllables each, talent and hard work]. I don’t know anyone, literally not anyone, who seriously says either talent or hard work, should not be rewarded.

The “Glass Ceiling” concept, is a prettified claim that women who have the talent and do the hard work, don’t get to the top as often, as readily, as men who have the same talent and work equally hard. I haven’t believed that claim, because: My own grandmother succeeded as a Pentecostal preacher, and my mother hadn’t completed a Bachelor’s degree but got paid on the Master’s degree scale teaching in a vocational school. The CEO of General Motors is presently a woman, as is the German Chancellor who leads the European Union in confronting the Ukrainian predicament. The President of M.I.T was a woman the last time i looked. So there are women at the top, and there are women rewarded at least in proportion to their credentials.

There are more men at the top—why? More talent? Not on average, perhaps, but yes, at the top. More hard work? Same story: yes, when it comes to extreme effort on the job. We should keep in mind that the “Glass Ceiling” concept refers to the top positions, not to overall averages.

Men and women average about 100 in IQ. When i was a student, i was taught that this is deliberate: The psychometricians choose the questions and the scoring formulae, so that the sexes will average the same. It’s in variability that the sexes differ.

Pinker (2008: 13, citing Deary et al, 2003, and several other sources) summarizes this way:

Even though the two sexes are well matched in most areas, including intelligence, there are fewer women than men at the extreme ends of the normal distribution. Men are simply more variable. Their ‘means,’ or the average scores for the group, are roughly the same as those for women, but their individual scores are scattered more widely. So there are more very stupid men and more very smart men, more extremely lazy ones and more willing to kill themselves with work.

Groth (2012), and Baumeister (2011), whose book he reviews, concur. This is an aspect of human nature that has been “found” by psychological research, and replicated repeatedly. It can be treated as a fact of human nature.

It is to access to “the top” that the Glass Ceiling concept is addressed. The variability difference phenomenon indicates that at the top of the ability distribution, there are many more men than women. Ergo, if top success fairly rewards top ability—there should be many more men at the top…

… unless, of course, women work longer and harder.

In fact, Pinker reports, the reverse is true: It’s men who work longer and harder on average, at least among those of high ability. Her third chapter [pp. 62-91] contains several interview statements by educated women, that they were not disadvantaged and may have been advantaged. Again on pp. 92-97, she reports that women she interviewed got extra help to achieve senior management rank… but many chose to have more family time, … in particular, caring for ill or newborn, family members, rather than work as senior management are expected to do. On p. 124, she writes: “Even with the dramatic changes in customs, laws, and social expectations over the past four decades, there are aspects of women’s work preferences that are likely to stay the same—for example, a desire to stay in a position that accommodates family, or to find work that exploits a talent for connecting with people.”

Her sixth chapter [157-182] reports that the “glass ceiling” is more chosen than suffered. Women don’t like the single minded commitment that work at the top, requires.

On p. 159, she writes: “A study of Harvard law graduates found that women were more likely than men to be hired at elite firms, but ten years later only a quarter of the women had stayed on to become partners (meanwhile, half the men did.)” “Greedy” jobs, as she terms them, repel more women than men; while those who stay become machoid, hiding heart attacks and cancer diagnoses.

So fewer women are at the top in ability, and fewer are single-minded in application of their talents. The “top” jobs that the Glass Ceiling concept claims women are denied, call for—very high ability and single-minded application. More men have both, than women—many rather than a few more.

Rather than a glass ceiling, there are two sex differences, working to put far more men than women in “top jobs.” It is not against women, but in favour of extremely high ability and application, that the biases work, and they are biases built into competitive, capitalist society.

This blog could end there; but it’s worth mentioning a few more facts. One is boringly obvious: All men are mortal. (I believe all women are also; but a woman recently claimed otherwise*.) The fruits of success are things that, in an old phrase “you can’t take with you”. As one who believes that death is a transition rather than nothingness, i seek to live a good story, not pile up a huge fortune. A “Top Job” isn’t necessarily a best choice; the World’s values can be misguided—as i regard present-day misandry to be—so while i regard Einstein’s Top Job as basically good, despite later misuses of his findings by others; i haven’t much sympathy for those that get rich selling Junk Food.

Another “fact” is the tendency, emphasized by Pinker, for men to combine very high ability in one aspect of mental life, with handicaps—ability levels well below average—in others; while women are more likely to be high in all abilities, average in all, or low in all.

“On the one hand” such a combination of high and low abilities, leaves many men with clearer guidance as to what sort of work to do: Work your strength and not your weakness. In contrast, a woman with several strengths, must choose; while a man with one, has his path set clear before him.

“On the other hand”, a man with but one or two strengths loses less than a woman—or a man—with many, in taking up a “greedy job”. He has fewer ways to use his time “strongly”. Single-minded application comes more naturally to a man with few but great talents, than to a woman with many. Pinker didn’t seem to notice this particular cause-effect possibility.

(It’s worth mentioning, finally, that some men have multiple talents—a smaller fraction of all men, if Dre. Pinker has got these patterns right, than women with multiple talents are of all women, but still a large number of men. So it’s not a one-sex predicament. )

But these are asides—I hope they will be instructive asides for some readers—and the main point is about gender and opportunity. Women have not, on the best evidence i have lately seen, been held back, or down, from top jobs in law, business, or wherever. Many women have chosen to have more diverse, emotionally fuller lives. Many more men than women are to be found at the top of the ability distributions (and at the bottom, where few notice.) The glass ceiling belongs with the luminiferous ether (in which many physicists once believed, before living memory) and phlogiston, a similarly obsolete but once widely believed concept from chemistry—among theoretical concepts that proved needless: They neither have any necessary part in the cause-effect patterns behind reality; nor, it turns out, do they even exist.


Baumeister, 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press.

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

Groth, Miles 2012. Review of Roy F. Baumeister, 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press. New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 116-120.

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.


* “we just let you think we are” she said over the telephone; i don’t know her name, but had business with the business where she works. Perhaps this was a joke, perhaps an expression of some Pagan religion of which i am relatively ignorant.


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This One’s for the Birds

… specifically, for the Swallows—Indicators of Ecological [un]Health
and the Need for Men’s Work:

(draft) 2015, Davd

On the second full day of calendar Spring, with snow falling and 4-6 inches of the stuff predicted before the storm has moved on, i wistfully remembered the small and beautiful birds that mark the approach of summer. Swallows are a very indicative family of birds, and today they, like the forests and cultivated lands whose health they indicate, are victims of industrial style “economic development”. I’ve been mentioning birds generally and swallows specifically, as indicative of ecological health, for a couple years now, to visitors who come to my prayer garden and people i meet in context of ecology and economics—and i think it’s time to begin saying it more publicly.

Everyone who i’ve talked with about swallows, enjoys watching them fly. They are perhaps the most graceful animals in the air—gulls will stand comparison, and geese on migration; while most other birds look clumsy compared to them—and the swallows dance and dart for hours each day, unlike robins and wrens and chickadees who fly perhaps a few minutes total in a day. Their graceful swift flight is their livelihood: They eat flying insects.

The best thing swallows do for us, even better than beautify our skies, is eat insects. Flying insects are nearly all of their food. Persuade a few pairs of swallows to nest in your yard, and you’ll enjoy being outdoors relatively free from mosquito and blackfly bites.

I have been putting up a few birdhouses of the size and design my friends say are suitable for swallows, each year, and each spring a very few swallows come and “check them out”, but so far, none have nested in them. The neighbours tell me that’s because the open area around my house is fairly small, and the hirondelles, as they call them in Acadian French, prefer larger openings. The houses i put up are OK, they say, but the hirondelles are so few, that none choose my mere two acres of opening.

Back in the Old Days, they say, there were ten to a hundred times as many hirondelles as there are this decade. Back then, two, three, surely at least one, of my birdhouses would be occupied—and those lovely aerial acrobats would be making the place much more pleasant to be outdoors during blackfly and mosquito season. There’s plenty of food, in the form of flying insects, for at least five times the number of swallows that we see around here in the summer.

I asked if there were fewer blackflies and mosquitoes back then. Sad, sort of rueful smiles. They, like most rural people, know some ecology in the form of folklore.

So why are the hirondelles so few? Their answer was good folk ecology—it’s the poison they spray on the clearcuts, and on young stands of balsam fir when the budworms have a population surge (Bailey and Benneworth, 1978, warned about the ill effects of that), and on the blueberry fields for which “the Crown” has granted hundreds and hundreds of acres, to an American-owned Nova Scotia enterprise. The poison doesn’t always kill the insects immediately, and it gets into insect species that aren’t its target; and so the swallows, innocently eating flying insects—get poisoned, “and all this for a few dozen low paid jobs.” I’m reporting what neighbours have told me; they may not have it exactly precisely accurate, but i believe they do have the main cause of so few swallows, and they are telling me fairly how little humanity is getting from killing these most beautiful and helpful birds.

Are there other ways than poisons and huge machines? Definitely! Ecoforestry has been a known alternative for two generations at least (Hammond, 1997, Martin, 2008, Pilarski, 1993, Wilkinson, 1996-7). It could be called a refinement of traditional woodland management: Cut the inferior trees, especially if they are crowded, wait to take the best until they start to fail or show signs they soon will, “make every cut an improvement cut”1 … or in another common ecoforestry slogan, “leave the forest better [in terms of prospects for growth in the next several years] than you found it.”

Ecoforestry works: Merve Wilkinson, on Vancouver Island, cut more timber from his 70 acres in fifty years, than was there originally; and at the end of that time, more timber remained than was there originally. Had the land been “clearcut” at the beginning of that 50 years, much less timber—and of lower quality—than was there originally, would have “grown back” by the end of those 50 years. (Wilkinson, 1996-7). Pilarski, reporting on the “Goebel-Jackson Tree Farm”, states that “… they can rotate the volume of timber in their forest in 30 years while maintaining a complete, fully-stocked forest. If the land were clearcut, it would take at least 100 years to grow the same volume.”[p. 249]

The hirondelles flying and nesting above Merve Wilkinson’s land had nothing to fear from poisoned insects. They worked to keep insect populations in check, and their work, combined with Merve’s selection logging practices, left no “need” for poisons. As best we can tell, the same basic techniques, the ecoforestry approach, will work about as well in Laurentian and Acadian forests—with, of course, different timber species growing at their different normal rates. There are some indications from Nova Scotia that it does (Miller, 2008).

Beautiful to watch, beneficial to humans and to ecosystems, the swallows ought to be the symbol and an important measure of our care of the land and what it grows. I’ve never met a rural human being who didn’t enjoy the beauty of their flight, or the fact that they can keep down the numbers of blackflies and mosquitoes. To restore their numbers to normal, takes basically the removal of heavy industrial machinery and chemicals and their replacement with old fashioned manual labour, refined with some recent tools and ecological science.

That manual labour is naturally men’s work: Men’s large muscles, especially in the arms and upper body, are much more powerful and accurate than women’s2.. Women’s anatomy is determined more by pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation (as it rightly should be for the good of wee children); men’s, by many thousands of years of skilled manual work from hunting and fishing to logging and plowing with animals.

If we men do our part to replace the chemicals and machinery with skilled heavy labour, then the swallows can do theirs without being poisoned, and the fields and forests can provide them with a more consistent supply of healthier insect food. Politically, that means putting the care of the land in the hands of good men rather than the torn up tracks of machines and the short run Profit Motives and bureaucracies which value money too much and workingmen, too little. And since public opinion can appreciate the beauty of swallows more easily than the science of ecology—let the swallows be our mascots, ecoforestry’s and sustainability’s totem animals. Their eating habits deserve it.

If you read and speak French as well as English, i hope that the next time you go to any kind of political arena where “development” is proposed that risks degrading the region ecologically, you will take a few friends along and stomp the floor chanting hi-ron-delle[s]! hi-ron-delle[s]! (Quand retournent hi-ron-delles?—and other short slogans that will fit the rhythm. Unfortunately for political activism in English, the word “swallow” is harder to shout in good chanting rhythms.. at least that i’ve noticed. Some of you Anglophones reading this—show me how it can be done?)

It’s not men, nor women, nor especially children, who have devastated the populations of swallows. It’s heavy machinery and chemical poisons that have done it—and the human guilt belongs to those who have too willingly benefited from those “short cuts to production.” If we and our precursors had done the manual labour all along, if the land had been held by villages3 rather than controlled by corporations following the short run Profit Motive, and bureaucracies whose rules don’t seem to know any ecology (e.g Goldman, 1970), our forests would be far better, our food would be cleaner and more nutritious, and our skies would have twice, five times, maybe even more than ten times as many of these beautiful insect eaters.

Political leaders, bureaucracies, and “businesses” who aren’t for the birds, are not worth as much as the swallows themselves.

a few of the many References:

Bailey, Chris, and Neal Benneworth 1978 “Why aerial spraying against spruce budworms should be banned in the Maritimes.” Science Forum 9 (June) 8-11

Catton, William R., Jr. 1980 Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Urbana, London, and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Paperback 1982

duDoward, Robert [1995] Invited Address, The Business of Good Forestry conference. University of Vicoria, BC: Nov. 15. The Haida Nation has been able to sell wood that conventional practice would burn for good prices, and is using BC Forest Renewal money to restore salmon streams bad logging made “extinct”.

Gilles, Jere Lee, and Keith Jamgaard (1981) “Overgrazing in pastoral areas” Sociologia Ruralis XXI: 2: 129-141. & (COMMON ownership may facilitate ecological management because the social norms in traditional management constitute an efficient collective strategy.)

Goldman, Marshall I. (1970) “From Lake Erie to Lake Baikal; from Los Angeles to Tbilisi: The convergence of environmental disruption.” Science 170 (3953): 37-42

Hammond, Herb, [1997] “Why is Ecologically Responsible Forest Use Necessary?”. #4 in in Drengsson, Alan, and Taylor, Duncan, eds., Ecoforestry: The Art and Science of Sustainable Forest Use. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

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

Martin, Davd, 2003 ”Make Every Cut an Improvement Cut” Review of Mitch Lansky, ed., 2002, Low-Impact Forestry: Forestry as if the Future Mattered (Hallowell, Maine: Maine Environmental Policy Institute) Ecoforestry 18:1 (Spring) 39-40

Martin, Davd, 2008 “Three Cardinal Eco-Virtues” Ecoforestry 21:36-41.

Miller, Tom, 2008. “The Potential of the Acadian Forest and How we get it back” Ecoforestry 21:1&2 (Winter-Spring)

Pilarski, Michael, Editor (1994) Restoration Forestry. Durango, CO: Kivaki Press.

Pilarski, Michael, (1994b) “The Goebel-Jackson Tree Farm” pp 249-250 in Restoration Forestry. Durango, CO: Kivaki Press.

Pilarski, Michael, (1994c) “A Synopsis of some Restoration Forestry Practices and Principles”. pp 32-42 in Restoration Forestry. Durango, CO: Kivaki Press.

Vincent, Norah, 2006. Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. New York: Viking Penguin.

Westman, Walter E 1977 “How much are nature’s services worth?” Science 197 (2 September) 960-964.

Wilkinson, Mervyn, 1996-1997. Personal interviews at “Wildwood”.

Wittbecker, Alan E.[1997] ” Forest Practices Related to Forest Ecosystem Productivity”. #2 in Drengsson, Alan, and Taylor, Duncan, eds., Ecoforestry: The Art and Science of Sustainable Forest Use. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers

Woodwell, G. M. (1970) “Effects of pollution on the structure and physiology of ecosystems.” Science 168 (24 April) 429-43

YLE-TV [Finnish state television network] 1989 Tehometsänhoito. Documentary on forest management aired January 1, 1989.


1. That was the title of my review of Mitch Lansky’s [2002] Low-Impact Forestry: Forestry as if the Future Mattered.

2. Lenski, Lenski, and Nolan (1991: 105) report US Army physical strength tests “indicate that, on average, women have 42 percent less upper-body strength than men and that only 3 percent of women can perform ‘very heavy’ tasks compared to 80 percent of men.” When she decided to “pass as a man” for a year, Norah Vincent (2006) went to a body-building trainer to build up her arms and shoulders to what would be normal for a man of her height.

3. Gilles and Jamgaard (1981) found that contrary to there being any “tragedy of the commons”, common ownership tends to facilitate ecological management because the social norms in traditional management constitute an efficient collective strategy..


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They Really Don’t Know?

…Or Are They Going to Give Some Back?
Women’s Day Paraders Call for Equality:

(c) 2015, Davd

Sunday was International Women’s Day again, and CBC Radio News reported that women in the big parade in New York City are demanding equality. Magnanimous of them, if they know what they are saying.

To reach equality in university attendance, they’ll have to make room for more boys [or young men if you prefer to say it that way].

To reach equality in the lower grades of school, they’ll have to adapt the teaching techniques more toward boys’ ways of learning. Sit still and do what you’re told—the standard classroom teaching style—is more amenable to the girls than to the boys. Pinker (2008) wrote,
“Teachers have incorporated a norm for classroom behavior that reflects the behavior of normal girls. As a result, boys who are rambunctious—although still within the normal range for the behavior of boys—may be perceived as having a behavior problem and referred for further evaluation.” [p. 44, quoting one Sally Shaywitz]

To reach equality in child custody, fathers should receive custody 5-10 times as often as they do now. The best way to achieve that, would be for parents to stay married. Which in turn, would entail a lot less adultery, less promiscuity, less STD spread… I’m definitely in favour of that!

“Equal pay” is more complicated. Men on average, are willing to work longer hours and to accept working conditions that are hard on the rest of their lives. For this, they are understandably paid more. Women tend to choose less-highly paid, less “greedy” jobs—choose them. (Pinker, pp. 70-71, 92-97) The best evidence i have lately found, states that for equal work in quality and quantity, women are paid as well, or sometimes a little better. I sympathize with women who prefer overall life quality to stressful “greedy” jobs; i’ve been there, as a single father.

Nathanson and Young (2006) have made an immense compilation of men’s legal and bureaucratic disadvantages in Canada and the USA. I’ve included some of their findings in my review, earlier this year. The whole book is well worth reading if you have the time. Inequality of citizenship favours women already.

Equality of the sexes—let’s do! Boys and fathers especially will benefit—and because they will, so will society at large.


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.


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..The name may be silly; the tea is delicious:
(c) 2015, Davd

I like iced tea with citrus and some sugar; and it turns out i like hot tea with the same. What i don’t like in the way of tea, is soaking a two cup tea bag in one cup of hot water until the result is enough to tan the inside of your mouth. In fact, i’ve discovered, a good two cup tea bag can make two litres [a little more than two US quarts] of tastier, healthier tea… along with some dried orange peel and a Vitamin C tablet, that is.

I use “King Cole” brand tea for this technique; it is an Atlantic Canadian favourite. Of the name brands of regular [black] tea, it seems to me to be the best. If you can’t get “King Cole” or know you prefer a different brand, use your favourite.. but don’t use generic cheapest-price tea unless you actually prefer it to the name brands, for flavour. When one bag makes two litres of tea and costs maybe a nickel, who needs to save a penny on two litres of tea?

The orange peel should be dried. When i eat oranges, i peel them first (rather than quarter them and suck the fruit off the peels). The peel, i then cut into small strips an eighth of an inch wide, [3mm, or about the width of a paper match], or a bit narrower; and up to an inch long. I put these tidy looking strips of orange peel on a plate (a metal pie plate does a good job and won’t break) in a warm place to dry (meaning, not near the shower but rather near the woodstove or a heat register.) When they are good and dry, i put the strips in jars (pint canning jars, for instance, or the ones that commercial pasta sauce comes in.)

While the two litres of water are heating to a boil, i add abut a teaspoon of that dried orange peel, get out one of those “two cup” tea bags, and a pair of thin kitchen tongs—the ones i use are just over a quarter inch wide [but less than a centimetre], and seven inches long, made of stainless steel. The tongs help work the tea bag through the boiling-hot water quickly, which may be essential to this technique.

When the water is at a lively boil, shut off the power or the gas (if it’s on a woodstove, the heat of the stove shouldn’t be so much as to keep the water boiling once you begin to stir.) Hold the bag with the tongs so that the grip end is just over half way across—meaning the tongs block the water flow to only one of the four sides of the bag. Work the bag back and forth fairly slowly, and with the lid off, the water will stop boiling. I give it about a dozen back-and-forth strokes, then rotate the bag one quarter turn and grab it again, and repeat the dozen strokes. When i’ve rotated the bag all the way ’round, meaning gripped it from each of its four sides in turn, the water is a good brown tea colour… all two litres of it, from one bag.

Then i put the lid back on the pot, and put the pot somewhere to cool. Usually, that’s an electric stove element that hasn’t been “ON” recently. If you’re going to put it on a counter top or varnished table that might not take boiling heat, put a board between the pot and the surface.

After a half hour or so, he tea will be cool enough not to break glass. Pour am inch or two of tea into a one or two litre jar (I use pickle jars, washed and de-labeled) and add a half-gram [500 mg] Vitamin C tablet. (For some reason, Vitamin C costs three or four times as much in powder form, as in tablets; so in addition to getting a pre-measured amount, you’ll save a little money.) Stand the jar, with the lid on, next to the pot with the rest of the tea, until the tablet breaks down and mostly has dissolved. Then swirl the jar to finish dissolving the vitamin, take the tea bag out of the pot, squeeze the tea that’s in it, and add the tea from the jar. I usually pour some tea from the pot into the jar and back, to be sure all the vitamin gets into the main pot.

Next, add four rounded soupspoons of sugar, and about one level soupspoon more. Three rounded tablespoons, or nine rounded teaspoons, should be about the same amount. Stir the pot, but don’t expect the sugar to fully dissolve right away. Put the spoon down near the pot, or trap the handle under the pot’s lid, and come back in half an hour or an hour to stir again. Maybe you’ll have to come back more than once, depending on room temperatures.

Once the sugar is dissolved, pour the tea into a two-litre jar or two one-litre jars, and if you’re not going to use it soon, put in the fridge. It seems to keep well in a fridge, for at least a week.

This tea is good hot or cold. The Vitamin C is acidic, and gives it the same tang that lemon juice would, while being even better for your nutrition. The orange peel gives a citrus taste that i actually prefer to lemon. And for maybe 15 cents, you’ve made two litres of a beverage that would cost you dollars to buy ready made.

These directions will make a fairly good approximation to what i make, but spoon sizes and how high the sugar rounds aren’t totally uniform, and this is your tea now, not mine… so taste it and if you think it should have more sugar or less, more stirring of the bag when it goes into the boiling water, or less—adjust the technique to your liking.

The least satisfying thing about it, frankly, is the pun for a name. At home, i call it “my special tea”, but that’s even more awkward as a title.

So give it a better name… write to replies at this domain if you have one to offer..


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43 Years Later, The Implications are Clearer

Essay Review  of Morgan, Elaine, 1972. The Descent of Woman:
(London: Souvenir Press)
c) 2015, Davd

(from the dust jacket) Elaine Morgan was born in the South Wales Mining Valley; she was awarded an exhibition to Oxford where she took a degree in English. After a successful entry in a Television Play competition, she became a professional script writer of plays, series and documentaries. This is her first book.

The subject of human evolution has gone quiet recently, and that’s unfortunate. It ought to be one of several perspectives from which we can view the human predicament. Most complex problems are better understood from several different perspectives; so that among them all, we can see the whole fairly well. (“The Blind Men and the Elephant” is a simple, wry folk story about this point.)

Part of the human predicament (I did not say all of it), is the “battle of the sexes”, which has become much more acrimonious, much more like warfare than it was when this book was published and i was young.

The “intellectual position” Ms. Morgan takes combines Darwinian evolution and gynocentrism—the placement of women at the centre of things. She complains of androcentrism, which she defines as “(male-centred[ness])” [p. 9]—in other words, the mirror image of gynocentrism. In the first five pages of the book [7-11] she criticizes androcentrism but doesn’t really say straight out that she is being gynocentric. She says it clearly, though, at the end of the first chapter: “It is time to approach the whole thing again right from the beginning: this time from the distaff side, and along a totally different route.

The “totally different route” she takes in picturing human evolution, is to the seashore, where she postulates, following Sir Alistair Hardy (1960), that pre-human apes spent the dry, hot twelve million years of the Pliocene. Her gynocentric perspective on that possible littoral interval in human history includes some aspects of infant nurture especially, which gynocentrism makes it easier to notice: So let the reader please observe: I am not rejecting gynocentrism per se; rather, i see some merit in its use,  especially when balanced with androcentrism.

For context, i should mention another important part of the human predicament—ecological scarcity—that is quite distinct from the “battle of the sexes”; and was much less publicly prominent when The Descent of Woman was published, than it is now. The abundance-with-growth expectation, the expectation that each generation will be more affluent than their parents, that were hallmarks of the Industrial Revolution, went false sometime in the second half of the last century. Remember ecological scarcity when you listen to financial or political forecasts and promises: If they are based on any kind of assumption that young or even middle-aged people today can expect to live better than their parents’ generation—they are falsehoods at best; and if the forecasters “know or ought to have known” that affluence is not a trend any longer, then it becomes reasonable to call them lies.

I was more sympathetic to The Descent of Woman the first time i read it, in the 1970s, and ecological scarcity may be one ground for my sympathy being less today. The uses that Feminists have made of gynocentrism—and of misplaced chivalry—since then, are more important, for two reasons. First, some things Morgan advocated are now in practice, and the way they are practised is not humane to my sex. Second, i notice on this second reading, the onerous meaning of demands she made, that i might have treated as rhetoric deserving tolerance, on the first.

Forty-three years after publication, Morgan herself still reads like a strongly gynocentric writer, but not like a man-hater. The description of the book, on that dust jacket, is excessively laudatory and Feminist-triumphalist, and too keen for conflict; but Elaine Morgan herself seems less so; she evidently likes men. However, it would be misleading to say this book seeks equality. Women’s advancement, yes; removal of inequalities that favour men, yes; but equal social and political power for the two sexes—not from my reading, in today’s context, and especially of how the book concludes.

Morgan writes well—as does Ardrey, who also worked as a playwright before publishing a book on human origins1. She employs “scenaria” (my choice of term, not hers) whose style apparently derives from her playwright experience. For example, on pp. 22-25, she describes the efforts of an adult female pre-human to survive on the Pliocene African savannah, emphasizing the greater vulnerability of females to predation. In this scenario and several others, gynocentrism is working well for her, and for understanding human origins. Her point that a direct early Pliocene transformation from arboreal fuit eater to terrestrial carnivore (or even omnivore) was impossible in the time available, is quite credible… not proven, but believable … and thus supports her adoption and extension of the Hardy littoral theory as a more plausible alternative.

In another scenario [34-39], she argues that pendulous breasts and long hair well serve the needs of infants… in an aquatic environment. In still another, she describes how the glare of an aquatic environment might induce a primate species to learn to frown [47-49], emphasizing the infant’s need to locate its mother. So the scenaria, likely a playwright’s technique adapted to theorizing about human origins, can work well—but they are speculative (as are theories generally, before testing), and they are not guaranteed to be valid.

The book states its main theme several times, perhaps most explicitly on p. 153: “The theme of this book has been to suggest that a surprisingly large number of the differences between ourselves and our nearest zoological relatives may be explained by postulating that after initially evolving as a land-dwelling mammal, we returned to the sea and became aquatic.” (I write “littoral2” so as to group our ancestors ecologically with the beavers and otters rather than the dolphins, whales, or even seals. Whales and dolphins never come ashore. Seals come ashore to whelp. These species cannot walk. Otters and beavers rear their young on ground situated to as to combine land and water to protect themselves; they can walk. Pre-humans were far indeed, on Morgan’s and fossil evidence, from being able to bear and nurse their infants in the open sea.)

Its second theme is gynocentrism, the placement of women at the centre of things, which in Morgan’s use is more than a means to understanding. Morgan has ill to say of the mirror-image concept of androcentrism, the placement of men at the centre; but neither of the two is evil nor wrong in itself. Imposing androcentrism on women, who are naturally gynocentric, is at least “a wrong of sorts” and in some circumstances can be a serious wrong. Conversely, imposing gynocentrism on men, who are naturally androcentric, is at least “a wrong of sorts” and in some circumstances can be a serious wrong.3 When i first read this book in the 1970s, androcentrism was still more prevalent in “serious writing” than gynocentrism (though mainly because of its prevalence in works published in the first two-thirds of the 20th Century and secondarily because of its prevalence in works published in previous centuries.)

The themes are combined early, on p. 10: “One of these days an evolutionist is going to strike a palm against his large-domed head and cry: ‘Of course! We assumed the first human being was a man!’” Which utterance is not all-wrong; so much as it is far too individualistic. The first human being never was: Populations evolve, not individuals. Adam and Eve, if our species evolved as Morgan accepts, are both legendary metaphors. The first presence of humanity was a human group, not an individual. More than one sociologist taught me in the 1960s, the decade before The Descent of Woman was published, that it is impossible to be human in isolation: Humanity is a social condition.

Elaine Morgan, however, is not writing sociology. Her main contribution is to emphasize and develop the littoral theory; her valuable and productive use of gynocentrism, is to look at the implications of pregnancy and infant nurture for evolution. If “obvious” means much, it is “obvious” that a look at the implications of pregnancy and infant nurture for evolution is by nature gynocentric. Plausibly, it is more natural for a woman than for a man to take that look. It is also, we should not forget, infantocentric: The merit of gynocentrism in her work derives mainly from women’s reproductive biology and functioning.

Like Elaine Morgan, i took special notice of the “littoral theory of the Pliocene” in human evolution when i first met it. I spent more happy hours of my boyhood in the inter-tidal and shallow sub-tidal waters of the Pacific Ocean and its many bays, than anywhere else4. (Second and third most were with my grandfather, and gardening. .. which categories did overlap.) When i read Morgan’s littoral explanation for where pre-humanity spent the Pliocene, in the 1970s and again this year, i did so with sympathy formed long before she published.

Gynocentrism is not required for a good examination of the littoral theory—indeed, Hardy was male—but it directs attention to the practical problems of infant care in waist-deep water; “it has something to add.” Having added that important focus on infancy and reproduction, Morgan goes on to address violence, sexuality and eros, with lesser results.

Her “rape scenario” for the transition to front copulation [78-86] is entangled with her assumptions that [1] pre-humans had well developed appeasement gestures to which response was automatic, and [2] pre-humans did not copulate in the water. Neither of these is as well established on other evidence, as the littoral theory she adapted from Hardy (1960). Front copulation could quite plausibly have evolved from “funning around” rather than by force—even if there were appeasement gestures available and they copulated on land. Funning around in the water, and-or lack of appeasement gestures, could make it downright likely.

Given the playfulness of aquatic mammals [66] it might more likely be that those pre-humans, especially the females, found playful ways to enjoy their bodies pleasure responses; which modern humans call sexual but an oestrous species might not… and that those came to include front copulation as well as “breast play”, fancy kissing, earlobe kissing and fondling, …. I write, especially the females, because today it is the females of our species who spend much more time and money “looking sexy” with parts of their bodies that have nothing to with oestrus and take no part in copulation.

I doubt her claim that no other mammal females are ever “mated against their will” but do not have a handy exception to name. Suppose it were true, which it might possibly be if all other mammal females experience [o]estrus. Among most primates, as Morgan points out, copulation is brief and little fuss is made over it. Its trigger is [o]estrus, the female “presents” and during [o]estrus, “against her will” is nonsense… by the definition of [o]estrus. If there is no other mammal that lacks [o]estrus, that may be why other mammal females were mated only when they wish to be—because [o]estrus causes both the female wish and the male participation. A female in heat decides not whether to copulate but with whom—if even that.

A female without [o]estrus, must decide whether, and like male bonding (see below). the decision to copulate is not all-or-none, rather quantitative. Women and even men have sometimes copulated with great eagerness, but other times with the attitude “well, OK, if you want to that much…”. Feminism has taken Morgan’s “rape scenario” and other writers’ antipathy to heterosexual men, and extended the definition of rape beyond forcible copulation with violence, to include even intoxication and “morning after regret.” In another essay, i have criticized the use of all-or-none categorization on the gradated phenomenon of sexual consent.

I didn’t read much in this book, about the human female spending far more time and money on looking sexy, than the male spends5—much of the game is at her initiative; and in modern form, that initiative is less clear, less efficient than [o]estrus.

I don’t know how the ancestors of the cetaceans—the whales and dolphins—managed the transition; nor the ancestors of the sirenians; but Morgan reports, as do others, that they have done so, and copulate front-to front with mutual desire… which furnishes a handy transition to the related subject of orgasm.

We cannot be sure, until they are subjected to operational study such as Masters and Johnson performed on humans, that either sex of these big-brained sea mammals actually enjoys the pleasures of orgasm… and likewise for other mammals. Morgan, reasonably, supposed that most female mammals enjoy orgasm; more recent studies indicate that some seldom do. Abraham (2002) quotes Frances Burton, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, as reporting that female monkeys rarely experience orgasm when copulating “because the males did not engage them for long enough periods.”

Orgasm in most species [perhaps including birds as well as mammals] might be a rather ordinary pleasure when it occurs. Inviting and performing copulation, in most mammal species, is the routine consequence of [o]estrus; and as Morgan notes, a typical non-human primate copulation is brief [100] and ‘lower’ mammals “make far less fuss about everything than we do.”[95] Ergo, the absence of showy emotion implies neither the absence nor the presence of orgasm. But perhaps both sexes of [o]estral mammals enjoy orgasm less than “modern civilized” humans have been telling one another we ought to do … routine activity, routine reward.

Morgan’s ‘take on the human male’, overall, is sympathetic and basically friendly, but also subtly condescending. He is a worker, helping to keep society going; he is often helpful personally but also often confused, and stigmatized by her rape scenario for front copulation… and then, Ms. Morgan mistakenly states that male bonding depends on violence [227-32], a claim that will get some helpful androcentric attention in the Discussion.

At the end of the book, Ms. Morgan advocates three objectives for the women’s movement: “First, as for any other ex-subject population, greater self-respect.6

“Second, economic independence, because until every woman feels confident that she can at need support herself we will never eradicate the male suspicion that when we say ‘I want love. I want a permanent relationship,’ we really mean ‘I want a meal ticket. I want you to work and support me for the rest of my life.’ It needn’t mean, for everybody, the end of the division of labour family. [272]

“Third, the certainty of having no more children than she wants, and none at all if she doesn’t want any.” [273] Morgan makes plain that this entails “free abortion on demand” [274], and thus claims for women the power to deem any foetus they find inconvenient as non-human. That is an ancient temptation, which all three great Abrahamic faiths condemn; it will reappear in the discussion.

In 1972, when The Descent of Woman was published, Canada’s largest province in population, in which i then lived and worked, still held to the legal condemnation of adultery; so that for instance, an adulterous woman could not claim financial support if her husband divorced her. (The idea that a man might claim financial support if his wife divorced him, was “weird” in those years, and the man would likely be stereotyped as a “gigolo”; but conversely, a man who divorced a faithful wife or gave her cause for divorce—and in those years cause meant serious wrongdoing, such as adultery, violent assault, or grievous cruelty, not mere failure to keep her haaaapppy all the time—was normally ordered to continue supporting her financially.) The sex-role balance worked to her advantage in some ways, to his in others; and until some time in the latter 20th Century, the balance was considered to be fair and beneficial to both sexes. We have not yet found another mutually accepted balance.


It is well worth while remembering that Ms. Morgan’s main point is about a 10-12 million year Pliocene littoral phase in human evolution. She marshals evidence—quotations, citations, references—of enough quality and quantity, that i could regard her representation of pre-human Pliocene evolution as ‘default’: Whoever argues for a different Pliocene scenario has at least a prima facie burden of proof to bear, and more likely, a burden of proof on the preponderance of the evidence. Early in 2015, this book seems to present a convincing preponderance of the evidence which i have not seen outdone in the intervening 43 years… for a littoral explanation of the Pliocene disappearance of pre-humans from the fossil record.

In “making that case”, Morgan makes good use of gynocentrism—and infantocentrism. She reports that tiny babies can indeed learn to swim safely on their own [34-5, quoting Anthony Storr], and using her scenaria, that pendulous rather than hemispherical breasts and women’s long hair provide infants with better handholds [38-9]. (Men, she argues, can go bald with relatively little ill effect because when infants need those handholds, they also need mother’s milk.)

Morgan is eloquent in depicting the predicaments of pre-human apes male and female; and fair-minded in depicting those of the males—if her scenaria be valid. She is not so eloquent in presenting the gradual nature of evolution; often, she doesn’t bother, or is it, doesn’t try? but instead writes evocative scenaria (no great surprise from a playwright.) There are alternative scenaria, such as the development of frontal copulation from mutually consenting erotic playfulness rather than by force. There are scientific difficulties with some of her scenaria, of which the gradual and the group rather than individual nature of evolution are arguably most important, to be resolved.

Having made Hardy’s point about a littoral transformation, and enriched it by attention to motherhood and infancy, she addresses human sexuality (seeing it as strained), and then propounds a Feminist agenda which is less onerous than some described by Nathanson and Young (2001, 2006), but goes beyond the equality of the sexes and well on toward female dominance.

Sex first, then politics: I infer from what i read this decade that women’s “Liberation” to be promiscuous has failed to increase women’s total sexual satisfaction. Perhaps, to quote a popular aphorism of the latter 20th Century, “Less is More”: Monogamy and modesty may well turn out to be more pleasurable norms!

If sexual behaviour today, is indeed an area of human life where conflict and distress are far more likely than not, to result; then Morgan has made a strong case for the general principle behind the old Roman Catholic doctrines which prevailed under Pope Pius XII, when i was a boy7: Sex is licit within marriage and for procreation; promiscuity is wrong, as is divorce. I doubt that was her objective, especially doubt that it was her major objective—but if she is telling us that sex-for-fun is very likely to produce distress instead, i suggest to her and those who hold today’s Feminist double standard, that sex-for-procreation will both serve procreation and, because expectations are not overly high as to the fun, might please both partners more because of its relative pleasance.

Eros by “hook up” is a source of much pleasure for many people despite its flaws—but so is alcoholic drink, which all Islam and a significant part of Christianity forbid, and so are many ‘recreational drugs’ more dangerous than ethyl alcohol, which drugs most legal systems somehow criminalize. Perhaps the liberation even of women should not include total erotic freedom. Perhaps cosmetics and sexy clothing of all kinds, should be taxed as alcoholic drink is taxed—and not at American, British, Canadian, or French but at Finnish rates. Finnish tax policy, when i spent a sabbatical year there, was intended to discourage consumption and also to fund all medical and other State costs which could be attributed to drinking. Cigarettes were similarly taxed. Methinks there be merit in similarly taxing cosmetics and sexy clothing, and using the proceeds to help prevent national budget deficits and even pay down the public debt.

I will not go on toward St. Jerome’s condemnation of non-procreative sex within marriage, as many in the Roman church did in the 1950s. St. Paul’s directions to married couples seem more sensible and few even among Christians would call Paul a libertine. I support the conservative Christian position held by many churches, that divorce should not be easy, rather a dire remedy for grievous wrongdoing (e.g. C.S. Lewis, 1952); that abortion and adultery are always sinful and often evil, that virginity at marriage is better than “being experienced”, and that both spouses should seek to please the other as well as themselves.

Morgan’s criticisms of “male bonding” as a part of human nature show an important failing of gynocentrism used by itself. She, as a proudly female human being, has never experienced male bonding. I as a man who was a boy, have: There be much i could report, beyond what Morgan has discerned and inferred from what she has read and what she has seen on screens.

The point with which to begin, i believe, is that male bonding is more a “quantitative variable” than it is a yea-or-nay condition like virginity and even more, pregnancy; like being or not being Jewish, Muslim or Sikh8. I was very strongly bonded with my “Granps”, rather strongly with my childhood pals Billy, Jeff, and Johnny, moderately so with my science-brat friends in Grades 10-12. But as an example of bonding sans violence, involving larger numbers, and widely known as a type, i could name the Boy Scout troop i went hiking and camping with, in between age 6-10 with Billy, Jeff, and Johnny, and the science nerd group at ages 15-17.

I recall waking up to snowfall in a tent some 35 miles south of my parents’ home, one December morning when i could quite as easily have waked up in bed in a heated room. We were not going out to fight anyone—we were there to refine our outdoor skills. Our Scoutmaster was a young man studying to be a schoolteacher, and he liked the outdoor part of “Scouting” much more than the parade-ground-like “meetings”. That troop, and Johnny and Scoutmaster Lynn Roper, have much to do with my comfort in moving from the city to the countryside—something that seems far more difficult than moving from rural life into the city.

We went camping in all weather, we built bridges of logs thinned from the woods on his or a kinsman’s acreage, we learned teamwork and confidence, and we never went to war—we didn’t even go hunting. From that troop, as from my fellow science nerds and from Granps and the old Finlanders near Thunder Bay and in Finland proper, i learned that men bond by sharing hard co-operative work and a little adversity. Violence is not a requisite.

What Morgan wrote, then, is mistaken at best:
Homo sapiens … living the moderate and mainly co-operative life to be expected of cousins of the hedonic apes. Almost all men spend most of their lives in this way. Most men spend all of their lives in this way.
“But because all our governance is based on male bonding, and male bonding on at best a low-powered rumbling of aggression, accompanied by the hallucinatory visions which keep that vision alive9, we are constantly in danger …” [229]

There is no need for aggression: My Scouting experience shows it false in that co-operative effort, combined with a little challenge and maybe even adversity, can bond boys and men without aggression. So also says much pioneer history.

The conduct of Lincoln and Grant in the American Civil War, show us more about that falsehood:

Abraham Lincoln was a wartime President if ever there was one. When his side won the war, he said, as President, With malice toward none, with charity to all, let us bind up the wounds of this nation … Lincoln’s successor as President and his best general during the war, Ulysses Grant, in accepting the Confederate surrender, said, “Tell your men to keep their horses. They will need them for spring plowing.” Real Men fight, when we must, to win and not to destroy.

It seems Morgan was telling us that politics selects for the worst in men, rather than the best. Lincoln’s and Grant’s examples tell us otherwise. (It might be worth mentioning at this point, that it was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who ordered troops to storm the Sikh Golden Temple, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who chose military action rather than appeal to the UN, over the Falklands.) My Scouting experience tells us that male bonding is not about aggression inherently—though it can make a group of men more effective if aggression be required.

The New England town meeting, the pow-wow, voyageur teamwork, the circles of direct democracy in general, are not based on aggression, and it rarely occurs there. Indeed, while it rarely occurs in direct democracy, very large states these days have huge numbers of police whatever the sex of their leaders. Over-centralization would seem on the facts, to be a far more dangerous cause of violence in social control, than testosterone.

And the reason i can identify these errors of Morgan’s, these merits of men and of local direct democracy, is—androcentrism. As Morgan’s gynocentric perspective helped her examine the merits of littoral evolution and especially the infantocentric aspects, and her being a woman very likely made it much easier for her to do than for a man; so conversely, as a man, i could take a better formed androcentric perspective and recall, and observe in history10, the human goodness and fellowship of male bonding as well as its independence from aggression.

It might also be that Morgan, despite her later publication of a book praising rural life (Morgan, 1977), was somewhat too bureaucratic in this one. On p. 252, she writes a picture of a specialized child rearing space analogous to an office, concluding that a mother who had such a work site (as compared to an office worker husband)
might then begin to feel her job was as important as his—which God knows it is—and needs at least as much special equipment, and benefits at least as much from regular contact with others employed on the same task. If she had a mind free to concentrate on it, she might even rediscover that this job is far more rewarding and creative than most, and that young children are even more fascinating to watch than otters, and that a juvenile cluster is less clinging than an isolated tot, and that when her attention isn’t on a thousand other things [the child] doesn’t have to kick up hell to get a piece of it.

The points Morgan asserts about children and their nurture appear more valid than any inference that an office-analogue is the way to apply them to child rearing. Methinks it is worth while examining that analogy and its implications for job work as well as for childrearing. In an office, there are efficiency criteria; and the number of workers hired, and their skills, is set so that they are nearly always busy at something useful. One or two children is not an ideal number for their development, as Morgan’s reference to “a juvenile cluster” acknowledges. Neither will one or two children keep one mother busy in the way that a well designed and staffed office will keep its workers busy. There ought to be a more efficient and satisfying way to rear children, than a suburban nuclear family house.

But children are not office work: Paperwork never needs to be fed, doesn’t fight each other nor spill crayons all over the floor, and can be set aside for a long time without getting sick or stinking up its pants.

The optimum setting for childrearing is neither an office-analogue nor a nuclear family house. The traditional “stem family” living on a farm is much closer, for more reasons than just time efficiency:

  • The rural environment is safer and healthier for the children.

  • The parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other kin are much better informed about the children, their playmates, and their activities, than in a city or suburb.

  • There are 3-10 adults instead of one or two, to do the work; and once the child is weaned [s]he can potentially choose which of those adults will teach her or him what skills. There are few skills that some family member or neighbour cannot transmit, until the child’s age is up into the double digits.

  • The adults can usually combine childrearing with other work, which gives the children a better picture of adult work life and makes more effective use of adult time.

  • The mother—and father—can take time away from childrearing without abandoning the children to strangers.

  • The children can begin to do useful, valued work at an early age, in small amounts, and develop the healthy attitudes toward work that come from seeing it appreciated when well done.

“It takes a village to raise a child”, goes an oft-quoted African maxim. A large rural family is far closer to the merits of that village than is either a pseudo-office “child care facility” or a nuclear-“family” house or apartment. Put a few other large rural families within walking distance, and arguably, you have the ideal child rearing environment. Shouldn’t children have the best we can give them?

Children should not be born in the shadow of easy abortion.

Morgan demands that every woman enjoy “… the certainty of having no more children than she wants, and none at all if she doesn’t want any.” [273] and specifies “free abortion on demand” [274] as part of this certainty. But such certainty, from business to health to weather, is more than humanity has in life generally—to demand it is to demand super-human power or privilege. The three great Abrahamic faiths condemn such hubris as extreme evil: It was the Evil One11, lying, who said “… in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, which Islam honours, as well as Christianity and Judaism.). Instead of becoming as gods, the legendary story continues, Adam and Eve became ashamed. In early 2015, few Feminists have got so far as to know how much shame they are due.

As worded, Morgan’s demand could logically encompass infanticide, could logically encompass a mother selling her children into slavery if she ceased to want them after they were born… and as worded, even without the father’s consent. In 1972, there was more harmony and less conflict between the sexes, divorce and adultery were still shameful, and these implications did not so readily suggest themselves.

Your right to wave your arms about ends short of striking my face, if we are even close to equals; and so also the ‘right’ of women to control reproduction ends short of taking men out of reproduction decisions, if the equality of the sexes is any better than a vicious lie. A woman whose pregnancy begins in a drunken episode with a sailor whose nationality, even, she does not know; and who is far off on she knows not what sea when she finds out she is pregnant; may be forgiven, excused, even condoned, for deciding how to proceed without contacting the man… so long as she does not seek to make him pay her money.12. (The drunken episode definitely does her some discredit, though; and the foetus is still a distinct human body from her own. Morgan’s demand for easy abortion has been widely echoed since; but deeming a foetus not to be human, or not distinct from its mother, does not make that “deem” factually so—any more than deeming dark skinned slaves not to be human in the 18th Century, made them a different species.)

A woman whose pregnancy begins in marriage, whose husband is indeed the sire, if and as she disregards his concerns and wishes, claims a qualitative superiority over him which exceeds any superiority Western men claimed over women in this century or the last. She also claims the whip hand.

Men are not dimwits nor monsters, as Morgan agrees apart from her errors about “male bonding.” Indeed, we refer to monstrous conduct by a small minority of men as “inhuman.” We tend to love children by our nature—philios, not eros—and to suffer when they die or are kidnapped away. To guarantee a woman shall have no more children than she wants, given that wants can change with time, is to give her powers far beyond “human
rights”—and to deny human rights to children and men.

If ecological limits were not yet much noticed in 1972, perhaps also, the limited sum of “human rights” was not much noticed. A mother’s rights to her children, especially in case of divorce, are limited by what rights father and indeed the children themselves have. Today mothers have nearly all the legal rights (Nathanson and Young, 2006: ch 6); while fathers, sires, and children have few.

A pregnant woman’s right to abortion is limited by the foetus’s right to survive, as well as by the sire’s rights where he has any. Canadian law deems the foetus not to be a human being; which is biologically false. Feminists call that “a woman’s control over her own body.” Christian doctrine calls it evil, and as best i recall, so do Judaism and Islam.

A father’s right to his children, children’s rights to fatherly nurture and wisdom, conflict with a mother’s “right” to divorce and take the children with her13. Easy divorce has brought about increased conflict and left children worse-off. We would have been better off keeping with the Christian principle that marriage is for life and divorce, a remedy only for the grievously wronged… and yes, that means that neither women nor men “can have it all.” (The old Christian marriage ceremonies often included the words, “forsaking all others.” It is one of many paradoxes, that on average, those who did forsake all others and seek to make the best of the promises they made, turned out happier on average than those who pursued cheap thrills.)

Feminism claimed, in the latter decades of the 20th Century, that women could and should “have it all.” Few admit, even today, that “rights” can conflict; and that giving anyone all the rights to which she might have some plausible claim, that supporting the fullest development of women’s potentials, entails giving much less to men and even to children, entails even homicide in the light of the biological facts that a foetus is human and an individual. The very notion that women can or should “have it all,” once we realize that men and children cannot have it all also, nor anything close; goes beyond mere gynocentrism to gynarchy, and selfish gynarchy at that.

This “Feminist classic” did not read as misandric in the 1970s when i first read it. Today, some of its claims and demands clearly are being read and used in support of misandry and the subtle abuse of children, especially via removing fathers from their lives. It is still possible to believe Elaine Morgan meant well, that she liked men as long as they let women have the last word on the things that mattered to women. It is no longer reasonable to believe that if she meant well, things have turned out as she meant. They have turned out misandric, as an earlier book review (and even more, the Nathanson-Young book it summarized) detailed. Her final line, “Come on in—the water’s lovely” reads very false if as an assurance that men, even children, would benefit from or enjoy the Feminist agenda.


Other References:

Abraham, Carolyn 2002. “Mommy’s Little Secret.” Toronto: The Globe and Mail, December 14. Print Edition, Page F1

Hardy, Sir Alistair C. 1960 “Was Man More Aquatic In The Past?” New Scientist 7: 642-645

Lewis, C.S. 1952. Mere Christianity. NYC: MacMillan paperback.

Morgan, Elaine 1977. Falling Apart: The Rise and Decline of Urban Civilization. NYC: Stein and Day; London, UK: Sphere Books

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.

Thatcher, Virginia S. and Alexander McQueen, eds. 1971. The Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. Chicago: Consolidated Book Publishers.

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



1. Robert Ardrey was also a playwright, but his major [at the University of Chicago] was in the natural sciences.

2. The ‘littoral zone’ is the intertidal zone (Thatcher and McQueen, 497)

3. In logic, a converse is not necessarily valid. Politically, if a converse is invalid, then the two types or conditions are inherently, rightly, and properly unequal, and significantly so. Requiring men to be or even act gynocentric, amounts to oppression and-or to a declaration that men are a second sex that is vastly inferior to the first.

4. ..and yes, that’s a criticism of the way publicly funded schooling treated bright boys (and bright girls, but they could take it better) in the mid-20th Century. I did not enjoy school—yet if the school system had been biased in favour of boys, i ought to have enjoyed school! .. and if i had, school would have much out-counted tidelands first and second class, in numbers of happy hours—the hours i spent in school far exceeded those i was allowed to spend in the salt waters of the Pacific. I would also have been bilingual, trilingual, and-or very familiar with the calculus and other “advanced math” when i left Grade 12.

5. It seems safe to infer that women spend far more on “looking sexy,” from the fact that far more is spent on “looking sexy” advertising directed to women, than on such advertising directed to men. Advertising is published with the hope of profit, and where profits are less, so is advertising. On p. 269, Morgan does say, “it takes two to make a woman into a sex object: at the time of going to press most women are highly flattered to be so regarded, and would be insulted if their efforts to look sexy weren’t rewarded by precisely this ‘tribute’.”

6. 43 years later, “Beta” men are the subject population, as the Marotta case recently illustrated. How to increase our self-respect?

7. My parents were not Roman Catholic. Many of my neighbours were, and so i learned much Roman Catholic doctrine “as a fellow Christian of another church.” I agreed with monogamy and lifelong fidelity but did not condemn contraception as Rome did at that time. (As i write this, i have been entirely abstinent from erotic pleasuring for over ten years… without such strong legal incentives. I am simply following Christian doctrines to which i have assented.)

8. Christianity is not so yea-or-nay, all-or-none, as these faiths—though it is easy enough to read the words of Jesus in the Gospels to say that it ought to be. Most Christian ‘churches’ accept members who merely attend once a month as well as those who strive to live the Faith ahead of all other concerns and especially ahead of Worldly success. I should also note, that i have a few “Jewish” friends and correspondents who are not actively following the faith commonly called Judaism; and Wells (1961: 497) writes “of an Omayyad Caliph, Walid II (743-744), who mocked at the Koran, ate pork, drank wine, and did not pray.” (The brevity of his reign may indicate that many seriously devout Muslims still lived.)

9. Morgan seems biased toward perceiving men as preferring destruction—and if i take a default perspective of “gender-equality”, i might say ‘women do as well, but are destructive in different patterns’. Kali, the Hindu goddess portrayed as a personification of vengeance, is female.

10. The “Christmas Truce” on the first December 24-25 of World War I, is another important example.

11. “The Evil One” is too often portrayed as male. Spirits have no gender, no sex. We can quite plausibly envision the Evil One’s guise as that of a sly older woman giving crone’s advice to innocent ignorant Eve….

12. Barbara Kay has pointed out in a newspaper column on the Marotta case, as others have said in other contexts, that “… the state has no problem with lesbians having children via a syringe. What it does have a problem with is paying for that child to be raised if she can’t or won’t. The state will exploit any angle to ensure that somebody else – almost invariably the father if they can get hold of him – pays the child support. The state does not care if the man never intended to be a father, as in this case, or if he was tricked into being a father …” and in the Marotta case and some others, “father” is less accurate than “sire”. (Perhaps men who do not wish to be fathers, should start charging Stud Fees?)

13. Easy divorce with presumptive mother custody of children, did not get into my notes on this book, and since those notes were made in 2014, the obvious inference is that Morgan did not address the subject specifically, that it would have been noticed and noted if she had. Divorce with presumptive mother custody of children, has been used as a whip by many women in more recent years; but in 1972, divorce was shameful and so was adultery; today, neither is in secular Canada. Morgan’s generally positive attitude toward men, plus the persistence to that time of a cultural negative attitude toward divorce and “unwed motherhood”, may well have left the subject outside her concerns when she wrote this book.


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