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Posted by on Jul 12, 2012 in Guest Contributor, Society | 22 comments

A “Radical” Voice

It’s sad that Glen Poole, featured in the following TED video, is considered radical:

In the meantime, here’s more statistics no one wants to talk about.

As the father of two young boys, I am tired of living in a world that marginalizes, demeans, and dismisses these issues–when it doesn’t outright demonize or mock those who bring them up.

There is nothing radical here except the radical notion that men are human beings.

(This item cross-posted to Dean’s World.)

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • Dr. J

    Dean, your posts on this subject cite some provocative statistics, without a clear “ask”. Are you wanting a simple acknowledgment that men are often victims of domestic violence and agreement that’s a bad thing? I think you’ve gotten it, even from Roro. Are you wanting to open man-friendly support centers, or to pressure existing centers to admit men? It feels like you’re in the same zone as OWS: in possession of a cause, but lacking a list of demands.

  • I’m increasingly trying to avoid participating in comments here, responding, defending, whatever. Reporting and raising awareness is my only interest. The issues here are about far more than domestic violence; I suggest watching the video which goes into a good deal more than that one topic, although it is one important topic.

    The first step in change is acknowledging that there is a problem.

  • I probably should have said, raising awareness, consciousness raising if you will, is the only “ask” I have. But here are a couple of links you might find handy:

    http://ncfm.org/

    http://dahmw.org/

    And of course Glen Poole’s own site:

    http://brightonmanplan.wordpress.com/

  • roro80

    *sigh*

    There are a number of misleading things in this speech, and there’s a ton that’s just flat-out wrong on Poole’s website.

    I’d love, for example, to see how the statistics noted have changed over time as men and women have gained more social equality. For example, Poole discusses the life-expectancy of men vs women. It should first be disclosed that females of every major animal group with the exception of birds — like, all of them that have two genders — outlive their male counterparts. There are also lots of societal reasons that contribute to the higher deathrate among men — war, higher incidence of alcoholism and drug use, higher injury rate, for example. Women used to die of childbirth, which in this country, they basically do not anymore. Men still die of war and smoking and drinking and fighting with each other. Programs that work toward ending drinking and violence are primarily targeted at men. Poole’s website seems to think that because they technically service both genders, they don’t count as money and resources going into men’s issues, even if a vast majority of those served are men. (“funding for women’s projects in the city receive nearly THIRTEEN HUNDRED times more funding than men’s projects”). This is just one example. Furthermore, as women have gained rights and equality, has the gap in life expectancy become worse or better?

    There is nothing in anything I just said that “marginalizes, demeans [or] dismisses” these problems. I might demean or mock how the website owner and the author of the piece blatantly mislead the reader, but that is different than demeaning or dismissing the problems that exist.

    And of course, as I’ve said on almost all the MRA articles posted by this OP, if solving the problems of gender inequality is actually the goal here, I’d think that the MRAs would want to work hand-in-hand with feminists, who have a long list of “ask”, and who have been fighting against the problems that cause and result from gender disparity and discrimination for 100 years now. Seeing as the articles here and on every MRA site I’ve ever seen does exactly the opposite, I have a hard time trusting that any of the arguments are being made in good faith.

  • davidpsummers

    It should first be disclosed that females of every major animal group with the exception of birds — like, all of them that have two genders — outlive their male counterparts. There are also lots of societal reasons that contribute to the higher deathrate among men — war, higher incidence of alcoholism and drug use, higher injury rate, for example.

    This is certainly true. It shows how the issue is more “complex” than the many who cite this statistic acknowledges. I mean, you can make the cast that more men dying in war is due to sexism, but the involves stopping and really looking into the issue.

    The thing is, regarding our thread on a previous post, I feel the same way about the fact that women in video games are so consistently made to be attractive. The fact is that male characters are also abnormally attractive. Women do feel more pressure to be attractive, but to understand that you have really look into the issue.

    And that gets back to the point I’ve been making. Broadsides against this or that as “bad” or “good” don’t do much really look into an issue, but these days it is really the only way anything ever gets “discussed”.

  • roro80

    Well, yes david, it is complex. I don’t see anything on this or other threads that just focuses on categorizing things as bad or good. I don’t see where you’re getting that.

    Sure, when a woman makes an hours-long series on the facets of sexist tropes in gaming culture, and a bunch of gamer dudes say “nuh-UH!” and photoshop male parts onto pictures of her face — well, yeah, that’s not a very complicated conversation. But the point is that such conversations are so common because sexism is not something lots of guys like to talk about. They got what they wanted from it — a total shutting down of the discussion, plus an extra “screw you” for bringing up a problem in the culture we love.

    However, I find it really odd that you say that this level of discourse is all that ever happens. More complex discussions happen all over, every day. Not here too often, as most of the recent TMV articles on sexism in general have been about how men are oppressed and feminists are to blame and are a hate group. It’s hard to start a real conversation with such a falsehood. Occasionally Jill will put up something really interesting, but usually those get minimal comments.

  • davidpsummers

    roro80 says:
    July 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Well, yes david, it is complex. I don’t see anything on this or other threads that just focuses on categorizing things as bad or good. I don’t see where you’re getting that.

    Sure, when a woman makes an hours-long series on the facets of sexist tropes in gaming culture, and a bunch of gamer dudes say “nuh-UH!” and photoshop male parts onto pictures of her face — well, yeah, that’s not a very complicated conversation. But the point is that such conversations are so common because sexism is not something lots of guys like to talk about. They got what they wanted from it — a total shutting down of the discussion, plus an extra “screw you” for bringing up a problem in the culture we love.

    However, I find it really odd that you say that this level of discourse is all that ever happens. More complex discussions happen all over, every day. Not here too often, as most of the recent TMV articles on sexism in general have been about how men are oppressed and feminists are to blame and are a hate group. It’s hard to start a real conversation with such a falsehood. Occasionally Jill will put up something really interesting, but usually those get minimal comments.

    Well, all I can say is that I didn’t any discussion/comparison to how men are portrayed in the same culture, or how genders are attracted to different things, or where the line is on trying to use gender attraction in culture, etc.

    And yes, some of the responses to her were uncalled for and did nothing to further discussion, but that just means the problem is how both sides discuss things, not that there isn’t a problem.

  • The video and article at A Voice for Men left me with several unanswered questions. It’s not really news that women can be violent to men, but not all violence is created equal. Are we talking about slaps? Kicks? Broken bones? Homicide?

    How many men are admitted to hospitals every year because of serious injuries inflicted by a woman? How many women? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would be very surprised if the number were anywhere near equal.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women are a lot more likely to be murdered by a spouse or intimate partner than the other way around.

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm

    This homicide data shows us that “intimate partner” violence is a much bigger problem for women than for men.

    Battered women’s shelters came about because so many abused women literally have no where to go. Often they have become isolated. They have no access to money or a car; they have been cut off from friends and family. Is the same true of abused men? I’ve never seen data on this, but one suspects not. If not, what’s the point of building abused men’s shelters? If they have access to money and a car, they can leave using their own resources.

    That said, I certainly would support some kind of public awareness campaign to encourage men to leave abusive relationships or to speak up if they are being abused. I would support giving such mean easy access to counseling services. I would support giving men legal protection if they can demonstrate they are in genuine danger..

  • roro80

    Well gosh, david, if you’re not going to remember the previous post correctly, I’m not sure how I can counter your assertions. The woman was asking for money to do a large project on the portrayal of women in gaming culture, which she had broken down into 5 categories, and each of which was going to have a 20 minute section of its own. For that she got a huge backlash from the male gaming community in the form of a misogynistic sh*tstorm. That was the topic. I don’t see how you can look at that and say that both sides have a problem.

    To the point of your post though, the reason men weren’t discussed are (a) that wasn’t the topic of her project, and (b) a two-minute brainstorm of the most popular/typical game characters of the last 20 years shows a huge, wide variety of male characters. Some of them are laughably burly and beefy. Some of them are chubby Italian plumbers, whatever Link was in Zelda, car theifs, a huge variety of male animals, wizards, trolls, real sports stars, and unseen first-person-shooters or drivers with male voices. For the women in those same games, we’ve got princess you don’t see until the end, princess you don’t see until the end (again), prosititutes the main character can rape for points, non-existant, non-existant, non-existant, and billboard decorations on the race course. And, again, whenever you do get a female character that you can choose to be the fighter/warrior/quester/whatever, she’s got huge, popping-out boobs and is wearing next to nothing. In other words: she’s not there to give an option for a gender-appropriate character to women gamers, she’s there to give eye candy to male gamers. This is decidedly not the case for the burly beefy dudes in video games, which, again, are mostly directed at a young male audience, not a female audience.

    You can talk about the lack of quality in the conversation, but it doesn’t seem like you’re paying attention to either the realities of gaming culture nor the conversations going on about it, even the fairly simple ones here on TMV.

  • davidpsummers

    Well gosh, david, if you’re not going to remember the previous post correctly, I’m not sure how I can counter your assertions. The woman was asking for money to do a large project on the portrayal of women in gaming culture, which she had broken down into 5 categories, and each of which was going to have a 20 minute section of its own.

    And if you look at what she was going to do, it was, for example, to catalog what she felt as women being portrayed as sex objects (subjective and she an exercise in counting what fit her assumptions) and had no comparison to anything that might serve as a control (such as how men are potrayed). I guess we will have to disagree on that, but I didn’t see any prospect that it would really look into the issue. And, to me broader point, this is all to typical of how we expect to do things these days.

    For that she got a huge backlash from the male gaming community in the form of a misogynistic sh*tstorm.

    Well, aside from the issue of characterizing “the male gaming community” by what only some do (a form of stereotyping in itself), I have agreed that such responses are wrong. They, except as fodder for attacks on the group as a whole, say very little about the issue as a whole or its complexities.

    That was the topic. I don’t see how you can look at that and say that both sides have a problem.

    That was the topic of the post. I was making a derivative point about the debate. But I’ve made it a number of times and I don’t think this discussion is getting anywhere, so I guess we will have to just disagree.

    To the point of your post though

    That wasn’t really the point of my post, but I don’t think we are going to get any further on it.

    the reason men weren’t discussed are (a) that wasn’t the topic of her project

    And I felt the point of her project did, in fact, ignore the complexities of the issues, which is why what she is planning on doing is relevant.

    , and (b) a two-minute brainstorm of the most popular/typical game characters of the last 20 years shows a huge, wide variety of male characters.

    Well, I you look for differences you see differences. If you look for similarities, you see similarities. So few people try to do anything else.

    I’m going to leave it here because we are going in circles. For the record, I think there is some gender bias in video games (there almost has to be, given how differently the sexes see things and how pervasive sex is in our culture) and how much of this is “sexism”, how much is simply how powerful the human sex drive is, would be useful area for a thoughtful discussion beyond “its sexist” vs. “no it isn’t”.

  • Dr. J

    Of course there’s gender bias in video games, just as in other media. Some are designed for and marketed to men, some to women, and some to both. A survey of male-oriented ones will probably turn up a good list of elements that women dislike, and vice-versa. So what?

  • roro80

    “So what?”

    Women would like to be able to play games that are more interesting than My Little Pony without being gobsmacked with sexism that is not only reinforced by the portrayal of women in games but vehemently thrown at us by other players. You either put up with the sexism, the constant rape talk and bullying, the lack of having any decent character choices, or you just don’t play.

    There are very, very few games marketed to women. There is a small market for tween and kid girls’ games, but basically as far as in-depth games with strong production values, exciting and unique game play, good plots, etc, you’re looking at marketing toward men, almost exclusively.

    Good lord, does anyone else here even game? Within the gamer community, even the worst offenders know and freely admit that everything is male-centric. It’s just that they don’t see any problem with that. As Dean put in his previous article, lots of male gamers consider it a world where they don’t have to “deal” with women. No, there are not similar problems in the depiction of men, and no, there aren’t a bunch of games marketed toward women.

  • Dr. J

    Roro, I don’t know who the “gamer community” is, but the games at popcap or bigfish or greenapple definitely skew female and are part of a $2 billion market. And plenty of big-budget offerings like swtor are as gender-neutral as one could ask for (though a game that’s all about killing things is never going to appeal equally to both genders).

    It looks to me like game publishers are building what they think there’s a market for. If you think there’s an under-served market out there, why not write something for it?

  • roro80

    Oh, you got me with BeJeweled. My husband works for a mobile gaming company that targets tween girls. Yes, it exists. No, it’s not the big money-makers, not the complex games that adults like to play. It’s the wasting-time-on-the-bus games. Star Wars has essentially no women in it at all, so while it doesn’t have giant booby ladies, it can hardly be called gender neutral. There’s no reason why long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away would have the same sexism we see here on Earth. Hell, the Clone Wars cartoon series does a pretty good job, so why not the game?

    I don’t go write and market and sell and maintain games because that’s not what I do. What sort of question is that? If I’m upset about a lack of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, why don’t I just go and be a CEO? Poof! Look, I’m a CEO! If I think there’s a glass ceiling, why don’t I just go run for president? Maybe it’s a lack of my own personal bootstraps that has caused all the problems with sexism everywhere. Jesus, Dr J.

  • roro80

    And what I think is often missed here is that women don’t actually want to live and play in different/separate worlds as men. We just want to be treated like actual people in the one(s) that already exist. It’s not that women don’t want to play games with fighting or shooting — not true at all! We just don’t want to be portrayed as naked boobs, be entirely unrepresented, or be the object being rescued. Women ostensibly like interactive and role-playing games as much as men, but give us some good strong female characters to work with, and don’t tell us you’re going to rape us or that we don’t belong on your mission because we’re women. DinerDash and DrawSomething are great, but we like complicated game play and awesome graphics and sitting on our couch holding a controller, too.

  • Dr. J

    I don’t know what fraction of swtor players are female, but if it’s small I wouldn’t be surprised. And if you agree that it doesn’t feature nearly-naked booby ladies needing rescuing, how do you explain the gender ratio? Personally my guess is that despite your experience, the shooting drives many women elsewhere.

  • roro80

    Zero women characters, which i’ve already mentioned, plus that whole thing I’ve been talking about for two threads now, which is that the gaming culture is generally hostile to women. Lots of potential gaming women decided a long time ago, or recently, that they weren’t going to stick around, meaning there are fewer women overall who game. That’s how cultures work over time.

  • Dr. J

    In swtor? There are hundreds of women characters.

  • roro80

    I Mixed tor up with force unleashed. The rest still holds.

  • Rcoutme

    Roro: maybe you are looking at the wrong games? I play (due to disability and thus not able to often play rtg) strategy games such as Heroes of Might and Magic and Civilization. Although Civ has no ‘real’ characters, HOMM definitely does. Those are both male and female. The females are not universally portrayed as sex objects to be rescued. In point of fact, the most recent iteration portrayed two of five siblings as female. Both kicked a** and both were great characters to play!

    Meanwhile, let us remember that males are much, much more activity oriented while females are much, much more literary oriented (not sexism, just reality–thus one of the complaints about current education being against boys, since it focuses so much on reading and listening). Thus: where are the romance novels for men? What? You think that all their literature is in the likes of Playboy and Hustler? Yeah. Because they are more visually oriented sexually (on the whole, obviously exceptions exist).

    Why not also ask why it is that men and boys are endowed with testicles or complain that women are the only gender capable of bearing children? Some things are different. I am not defending abuses of such differences (the abomination of equal work, unequal pay is something that all people should be ashamed of). I am saying, however, that noticing that video games that incorporate action seem to be oriented to young males…that really is not much of a revelation. If you keep looking, you will notice that curtains are generally marketed to women–not men.

  • roro80

    I think it’s pretty tough to tell what is inherent in gendered behavior and what is mostly learned, rcoutme. Testicles are obviously inherent, but liking romance novels vs porn is much less definite. It’s pretty well established that buying/enjoying porn and sexuality in general are very very strongly discouraged among women and girls, whereas reading and romance are encouraged. The opposite might be said for men. Lots of women who figure out that sexuality isn’t evil or dirty do end up liking and consuming pornography.

    So I’m not really buying it as a difference as inherent as having particular parts. There might be some natural difference, but we as a society gender every behavior from such an early age – punishing that which does not confirm and rewarding that which does – that it’s pretty hard to tell.

  • roro80

    And shouldn’t it be obvious why curtains are marketed to women?

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