A Response to Sloth – Introduction
A bunch of months ago I penned a response (originally mostly on Facebook) to this article by Janet Bloomfield. The Facebook comment wasn’t originally intended to be a developed blog post but got (poorly, I’ll admit) transformed into such after I saw so many of my friends (many of whom who were feminists) “like” the comment on Facebook. So I figured it was something worth preserving and putting on here.
Now, I guess it isn’t exactly clear that it was a Facebook post (unless you looked at the tags at the bottom of the post) so that’s on me. I should’ve made it clear that I wasn’t intending it as some sort of detailed response to Bloomfield’s article. Rather, it was just a sporadic line of comments on her assertions. Some of which I found specious and others I found downright unlikely (strong words of condemnation, I know!).
Recently, a user by the name of “Sloth” (appropriate name since I run the site AbolishWork.com) decided to take issue with my (again, admittedly) half-baked response.
Here, I’ll try to emulate one of my favorite anarchists, Benjamin Tucker, and enumerate various points or claims that Sloth makes and respond in turn. And perhaps also in the spirit of Tucker, I won’t address everything but instead I’ll try to stay on topic and stray from going too far afield.
A Response to Sloth – The Response
They start by saying:
Interesting viewpoint, but if I’m honest, this feels badly written(1), poorly cited(2) and a classic case of flat out denial of an argument(3) rather than a fair cross examination of the content(4).
(1) I’ve hopefully clarified by now, but my apologies nonetheless. That’s on me for not making it clear that this wasn’t supposed to be well written. Just a 1:1 Facebook comment I made that was originally fairly casual.
(2) But which citations or lack of citations make it so? Sloth, throughout their response seems to be unsure feminists oppose things like the draft or what feminist organizations do so. Meanwhile they chide me for not referencing her discussion points and cross reference them. But why didn’t they do the same for the claims about the feminists and the draft?
Here’s a few things I found:
- Why Using “The Draft” as a Weapon Against a Feminist is Ignorant
- Do most feminists believe women should be drafted in the event of a major war? Do you?
- NOW’s position on It
- The Draft Doesn’t Prove Feminism Wrong
- The Feminist Objection to Women in Combat
Also, in this case I’m against equality and I think rightfully so. Why would I support women dying for the nation-state in the same way that men die? I think that’d funge pretty hard against my anarchism.
It may go without saying but I also think it’s wrong that selective service only targets men. On the other hand, it also seems as late as 2007 that if a draft were to be instituted (which I and many other feminists would oppose as I’ve shown) it’d include women.
So the draft isn’t really a “legal privilege” that women have anymore in practice.
I’m also puzzled why the original article doesn’t deserve this same criticism as I point to it a few times in my own response:
But again, no compelling evidence is given (besides, again, a fairly sketchy looking site that doesn’t seem to contain much information pertinent to the previous assertions).
I don’t see the statistic they link anywhere.
Even if women had these five legal rights that doesn’t necessitate that they have overall more rights than men do. That’s a much larger claim that needs a lot more backing through empirical research, legal analysis, etc.
(3) As for flat out denial, going back to the draft for a second I said:
No argument here. The draft is a barbaric system of privileging traditional concepts of masculinity and what it means to be a man over individual’s rights and liberties. All things most feminists seem to oppose.
If my post could be summarized as “flat out denial” then wouldn’t I have argued this point as well?
Now, maybe I’m guilty of nitpicking but it seems unfair to claim or make it appear as if all I did was deny the article’s claims. That isn’t actually what happened though. For the most part, sure, I was denying the claims or at the very least trying to inject some serious skepticism. But I don’t think I was unfairly dismissive either. If I was, I’ll try to correct that now.
And as we’ll shortly see I’m only now arguing harder against the claim about the draft because I actually did further research on the subject (via just “feminism draft”) because of your response!
Originally, I was actually a lot more sympathetic to this claim and what it was trying to argue. Now, I still am sympathetic to the claim and think it has some merit and deserves discussion for sure. But it isn’t the kill-switch MRAs and other folks seem to think it is against feminism. Nor is it hardly the solid point I originally thought it was.
Now on to the bulk of of Sloth’s points:
1) Genital Integrity
1) Genital integrity – You completely missed the point Janet made. (1) She wasn’t arguing about abortion in her first comment, she was arguing about the legal rights of women having some legal protection and potential recourse against FGM enshrined in law, whereas circumcision in boys does not. (2)
(1) Well, actually, Bloomfield was using a particular to argue for a general. That is, she was alleging that women have the legal right to not be genitally mutilated and therefore they have a general genital integrity that men do not have. What I was arguing against was the general claim about genital integrity and not the particular one about male circumcision.
Now, in hindsight, perhaps that wasn’t the right thing to do, I’m not sure. But I definitely got Bloomfield’s point about FGM vs. circumcision. I just wanted to respond to that by saying something to the effect of, “Well it doesn’t seem like women have much genital integrity either if we look at abortion clinics nationwide…”.
I also want to make it clear that I oppose circumcision and see it as a serious issue that needs more attention with all circles, including feminism.
Regardless, if women’s genital integrity is wrapped up in how easily they can access abortions (and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be) then I think my point stands against the general notion put forth. That is that women have better “genital integrity” than men, legally speaking.
(2) But if we want to focus on the particular then it certainly seems true to me that male circumcision isn’t taken as seriously as FGM. And that while FGM is outlawed and looked down with scorn the same can’t be as strongly said for circumcision, sadly. And further, I agree that’s a problem but would point Sloth and others to the fact that many other feminists do as well* and would like that to change. Just because women has privileges that a man does not doesn’t entail that a feminist must support said privilege or isn’t a good tool to dismantle such unfairness.
Hopefully Bloomfield can work together with feminists on that issue.
2) The Draft
The draft – Fair enough, but I’d like citations as to feminists who oppose the draft and to what evidence there is that feminists (including ideally organisations) are actually opposing this at all, or even suggesting (in the name of equality) that women should also sign up for the draft.
In my haste to make a minor point earlier I preempted this point. That’s poor form on my part, sorry. But either way I hope I answered these points (at least for the most part) earlier.
3) Women Have The Right to Choose Parenthood
3) I’m surprised that you’re happy to accept the comments over the draft without question or citations but you insist on citations regarding rights to parenthood.(1) Frankly this just feels like a nebulous point that you’re reaching to shift the blame, especially since she did provide a source to back her claim on parental rights.(2) The rest of the points she made are salient and even as a non-US citizen it took me seconds to cross reference her discussion points and find that they are accurate.
(1) Well of course I accepted the point about the draft and not the points about parenthood. The law about Selective Service is fairly common knowledge in the US (which, I suspect but do not know for sure, is why Sloth may have been surprised since they are a non-US citizen). So I had no real reason to argue that it was unfair, discriminatory, etc.
But as other sources I’ve cited have said, feminism isn’t reducible to a concern about equality. I don’t particularly want unjust institutions or institutions that seem to solely exist to perpetuate the US government to be more “equal”. And especially as an anarchist that isn’t exactly on the top of my to-do list.
I agree with some feminists that having more women in the military fights sexist sterotypes but consider the fact that we could (conceivably) have gladiator tournaments and have women and men both invited. This could, in theory, knock down common tropes about women (they’re weak, they need to take care of the family, etc.) but what good does knocking those tropes do if it results in those same women dead? It just seems like a self-defeating process to me.
(2) Okay, first, I want to make it clear that just citing a source doesn’t mean anything inherently. I could cite Fox News on the issue of racism and you’d probably be (justly) suspect of this source given Fox News’s well known conservative bias on these issues. I’m not even saying they’re necessarily wrong but just that I wouldn’t blame anyone for cross-referencing my source with something they trusted a bit more.
Second, the source from Paternity Fraud is itself heavily un-sourced, mostly self-referential (I have this same problem with EveryDayFeminism, so I’m not even being biased here) and seems very amateurish in design overall as a site. And to be blunt the site in general just looks…unprofessional. Which gives it the appearance of unreliability.
And I know I don’t have a ton of leg to stand on here myself but hey, I’m not purporting to be anything but an anarchist blogger. The paternity site is (seemingly) purporting to be the site for learning about paternity fraud (which, as immoral as paternity fraud is, much like false rape allegations (yes I’m going there) are actually very uncommon).
Now, the Paternity site itself only uses one case to make a much larger general claim (this seems like a running trend…) and relies on common intuitions about money to claim that everyone involved (the mother, the court, etc.) is just consumed by the profit motive. But there’s no source or real reasoning given for the idea that monetary incentives are the primary influence for how these decisions are reached.
It also treats mothers rather unfairly by painting them as being more concerned about money than someone they think is their child. A strong claim like that should at least have a bit of evidence behind it more than just isolated cases. Is this a statistically significant pattern? It’s wrong and it’s awful when it happens at all but how often are we talking here? The site makes it seem like a pandemic when the statistics hardly seem to back it up.
But let’s back up to Bloomfield’s assertions and say (as Sloth does) that they are accurate. Which claims exactly did Sloth find true upon cross-evaluation and what did Sloth find that supported them? Sloth links things further down in their post but doesn’t seem to link anything here. I’ll presume this was an error on their part but in any case would appreciate seeing what they found.
In summary, yes, paternity fraud seems to be legal but it also seems to be very rare and if you’re trying to prove that women have more rights than men maybe it’s not the best evidence to use even if you’re right.
4) Women Assumed Caregivers
4) Women assumed caregivers – In the first instance, I would point out that before the Tender Years Doctrine came into effect, custody of the children was typically awarded to the father of the relationship who was most likely the primary breadwinner in the family dynamic and able to financially support the children.(1) I’d also point out that the NOW’s (National Organisation of Women) history regarding joint custody and child care is incredibly shady, which I’m sure if you wish to verify for yourself, you can.(2)
(1) Well the father was more than likely the primary breadwinner in the family dynamic because of the time period and culture that existed then. I don’t see why Sloth is glossing over the obvious historical facts. In any case why does it matter that it went to the fathers before?
It’s also worth pointing out that the Tender Years Doctrine (which swung to the opposite extreme of going to the mothers too much as far as I can tell but am not exactly sure) was formally abolished by the end of the 20th century in the US and has since been replaced by the Best Interests Doctrine. Father’s rights movements claim that the doctrine still unfairly privileges mother’s in custody battles (as you can see in that fairly unbalanced Wiki article I just linked).
I’ve seen a fairly good study that I’ll link here that seems to point otherwise. Though admittedly it’s a bit out of date and is limited in range, sadly.
(2) In terms of NOW and their positions on joint custody and child care, I found this and I guess I just have mixed thoughts about it. I’ll try to get into that a little bit but really, my main concern isn’t defending mainstream liberal feminist organizations. Hopefully that was already clear though.
Either way, here’s a few of the stances I totally understand:
* In families where there is a high level of conflict between the mother and father, joint custody arrangements are harmful to children, placing them in the middle of ongoing bickering and a stressful, unstable environment with no escape.
* Where there is domestic violence, joint custody/shared parenting arrangements are NEVER appropriate.
* Increased father involvement does not necessarily result in positive outcomes for children. This involvement by the father will have positive consequences only when it is the arrangement of choice for the particular family and when there is a relatively cooperative and low conflict relationship between the parents.
This stuff I’m more shaky on, especially due to the lack of citations, sources, etc.
* Joint Custody bills have been designed to establish rights without responsibilities. Joint custody facilitates using the children to maintain access to a former partner and ongoing control of their life. Father’s rights groups continue to push for this legislation in spite of the body of evidence that in the majority of cases, joint custody is not in the best interest of the children.
And a lot of the other stuff I’m wishy-washy on too. Though I hardly see much “shady” about any of these positions per se’. I can see why they’re troubling but that’s mostly because a lack of citations, at least for me.
I agree, at any rate, that mandatory joint custody could be extremely unfair to the child involved as well as other people involved. Perhaps joint custody should be encouraged more or should be sought more often (I don’t have the data on this stuff, sorry) but I don’t think one rule fits all type deals is going to help anyone on average.
I’ve found a few other links too about NOW’s tracklist. I think the only shadyness I see is their lack of citations and then the Father’s Rights movements subsequent lack of citations. It’s super frustrating as it just makes it a conjecture-fest that doesn’t appear to take us anywhere past a “nu-uh!” debate.
So that’s most of my opinion on NOW and custody battles. I just did a cursory look and I think I side more with NOW than the Father’s Rights movement (surprise?) but both of them seem like mud-slingers to some extent too due to lack of data.
I shrug and move on.
5) Unwanted, coercive sex as rape
5) Unwanted, coercive sex as rape – Once again I don’t believe you’ve actually taken the time to examine the argument fully.(1) Examine the CDC report from 2010 – Table 2.1, Lifetime and 12 month Prevalence of Sexual Violence tables and you will see it clearly reports 1.27 million women “forced penetration” and 1.27 million men forced to penetrate in the table below (2.2).(2) I would link it for you but I don’t know how to do that properly here.
I guess this will have to do (it’s not ideal but it does have the screen shots):
Janet does also point out the problem with the current legal definition of rape in the USA. It requires penetration of the mouth, anus or vagina by a digit, object or genitals (paraphrased). The problem with the current definition is that it does not, cannot count forced to penetrate or forcible coercion by the same measure. Although it’s considered a bit of a technicality, the reality is that those 1.27 million men “forced to penetrate” I mentioned will not be counted in official rape statistics because of the definition. Which means advocacy groups who want to argue a point about male/female rape will be present skewed statistics.(4)
You can also find that proposed revisions to this law to include female perpetrators of rape was opposed by women’s rights advocates and feminists:
(1) Once again, Sloth doesn’t actually argue how or why they think that. They just sort of assert it and quickly move on to the study. A study by the way I explicitly say I can’t find:
I don’t see the statistic they link anywhere.
So of course I didn’t take the time to examine the argument fully. I couldn’t even find the evidence for the argument to begin with. And that was using Bloomfield’s own links and general descriptions and trying to Google it. I am trying right now to do the same thing and am still having trouble. The problem is that the link they cite just sends me to the general CDC site and they didn’t tell me which year the study they were citing it was or anything else.
I thought I was pretty clear about that but hopefully that clarifies more why I may have not examined it as fully as Sloth may have wanted me to.
And before we get into the rest of this response I also want to point out that the FBI’s definition used to not count male rape at all and we have the feminist organization Feminist Majority Foundation to thank for the change in the definition that does make it count. It’s still not enough (as you and others who are self-described feminists note) but it’s a step in the right direction at least. Hopefully we can both agree there.
(2) Comparing the lifetime and 12 month categories seems a bit disingenuous. That’s been covered elsewhere* though and I don’t know that I have a solid understanding of the data, the multitude of interpretations and so on going on here.
For whatever it’s worth: I agree that “made to penetrate” is an awkward category and that it makes sense to include it as a subcategory as rape. The fact that men aren’t treated seriously when they’re raped is a larger issue of rape culture and is similar to women.
For example, when Shia Labeouf claimed he was raped there were definitely those who dismissed his claim. I remember being on Facebook and coming by it and seeing the posts and being really disgusted. It’s awful that people will dismiss the fact that men get raped and I hope we as a society can learn to take rape more seriously. Not just for the sake of women but men, non-binary folks and anyone else.
I agree that men don’t have the same recourse as women do in terms of rape but then the recourse for women generally isn’t too promising either in my reading. So I’m not sure how much that’s actually saying for anything.
(3) Oh boy…this is a long one.
I’m gonna just flat out ignore most of the following post because a lot of it is highly tangential to our discussion and would require me to make this response ten times longer than it already is. Besides, you didn’t link it for its contents (I think?) but rather for the fact that it had screenshots. So I’ll just respond to that.
Like I said, I don’t have much to say about the statistics or many conclusions I’ve drawn from it. Believe me, I’ve tried to pour over the data and see what is right and what’s wrong and it’s hard for me to reach a hard conclusion on the matter. I apologize if that’s not a very satisfying answer.
My intuition though is that there’s a mishandling on the folks who are trying to claim men are raped to equal or similar levels to females. But I’d also counsel conclusions drawn either way (from the feminist side or whatever else) from one study* more generally.
(4) The point about skewed statistics is fair enough and I’d like to see some recalculations myself.
(5) First off, we can just as easily find feminist groups pushing for more inclusion for men under definitions of rape as I sourced above.
Second, the article is odd because…why are we going from America to Jerusalem all of the sudden?
Third, and finally, the article itself is very poorly sourced. What feminist groups? Names? Names of leaders? Were these decisions unanimous within these organizations? Details man, details!
But I’ll get them on my own or try at least…
Okay…I still can’t find much, but here’s a neat response to this anyhow. Sorry, don’t have too much to say about this either. I don’t think it’s fair to compare US groups to Israeli groups and in general my purview is much more US-centric. That’s my fault for sure but I guess I’m also just interested in keeping this conversation local. If that doesn’t work for you, I apologize.
Let’s get to the final section.
Women Have More Rights Than Men(?)
6) Women have more rights than men – fallacy point. She has simply demonstrated five areas in law where women receive preferential treatment over men.(1) All things being equal and all assumptions that all other laws (such as fraud, criminal damage, theft, arson, murder, etc) are equally fair to men and women, women still end up with five areas of law where their treatment is preferential to those of men. As an individual opposing the argument that women receive preferential treatment in law, it is entirely up to you to provide evidence to the contrary, which you have not done.(2)
Overall, I find your arguments against the relevant article to be tenuous at best.
(1)Actually, as I’ve quoted earlier, Bloomfield explicitly states early in her article:
I have yet to meet a single feminist who was not completely astonished to discover that not only do women have equal rights to men, they actually have more rights than men. Most feminists will backpedal when confronted with that reality and try to justify why they are deserving of more rights than men, but the stark fact remains that in 2014, women do indeed have more rights than men. (emphasis, besides “more”, is mine)
So it’s not a fallacy point to say that Bloomfield doesn’t actually prove her general point. Hell, she hardly proves her particular points. Most of the points she tries to prove that do have merit were mostly found through me doing pretty heavy independent research or at least not really being able to use Bloomfield’s own links to her advantage.
To wrap-up things:
1 Women don’t really have a general right to genital integrity that men don’t
2. If a draft were instated women would be sent too
3. Women should have the right to choose whether a living being resides in them or not. I am not sure how I feel about doing it without notifying the father (though there’s no link for this) but the Safe Haven laws make sense to me while we’re at it. I agree paternity fraud is a bad thing but it’s also a very very infrequent thing and thus isn’t a very good example to tout for women having more rights.
4. Legally and explicitly they don’t and haven’t for a long time. Now, whether it works out that way, the study I cited doesn’t seem to point towards that but again it had limited scope and is a bit old now (also, the “Man of One Study” applies to me as well of course) so I admit it’s not the strongest evidence. If you’ve got contrary studies or whatever, I’m all ears.
5. Men have the right to call it sexual assault and not rape which is wrong. But it isn’t as if calling something sexual assault is nothing. It’s not enough and I agree we should push for more legal equality though.
(2) Probably because that wasn’t too formal of a response but hopefully this does ya a little better, Sloth.
Post Script: Can Women Have More Rights than Men?
A part of the conversation here is whether, as a self-described feminist (that’s not my own article but the sort of feminism I identify with), I can even admit that women have more privileges than men. This is more of a meta topic within the discussion but I wanna traverse it just for a second because I think it’s appropriate to tackle as well.
I just want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with discussing whether women have more privileges than men or talking about when they do. It’d be impossible (even in the society we live in) that women wouldn’t have some things over men. Sexism hurts everyone and it can certainly work against both genders and especially trans folks who sadly get put to the side in these studies and discussions.
That said a rich white women (say Hillary Clinton) is gonna have a lot over someone who is male, black and lives in a poor neighborhood. There’s a lot of identities, social expectations and institutional forces involved in this comparison and it’s perhaps a bit too much to make the point but that’s precisely why I picked it. Because if we ignored a lot of the context you could easily just say I’m saying a woman is more privileged than a man.
“But wait!”, you may say, “How can that be? Doesn’t feminism say that we live in a patriarchical society?”
Of course! But that doesn’t mean that women who conform to patriarchal norms aren’t rewarded. I mean, isn’t that kind of the name of the game in some sense? That women conform to their ascribed social expectations and thus are going to be treated better? If a girl who is going to prom decides to wear a slightly revealing dress she is often asked to go back home and change. Why? Because the men might lose control of themselves!
And not to sound like a contrarian here but Jesus the sexism here against men is fucking appalling. The way that some so-called MRAs talk about men or Hell, just how men talk about themselves can be disgusting. That we’re just “simple people who need a beer and a hot woman and then we’re fine”. Fuck having feelings or having some emotional and intellectual depth! Even some men say this about themselves and see nothing wrong with it!
Now, women can do something similar where they say women are just interested in fashion and being a good housewife or something (sorry, I don’t have as much experience with this).
Regardless though, my point is that to the extent that we conform to the expectations of the ruling class (which, yes, is still largely made up of white men) we’re going to come out a bit more privileged. That’s not the only way of course and sometimes it’ll come from misguided so-called “progressive” movements or tactics that legislate the state to achieve equality. I disagree with that on several levels and often think it’ll create cultural blowback more than it’ll help. But I definitely understand the impulse to do so at any rate.
Bloomfield is right to point out double standards that men have to deal with in society through the state but often these sorts of things come off as more of a game for “oppression points”. Or the article is actually about how bad feminists (or feminism) is while arguing totally tangential points to that (related but not tightly knit in other words).
And look, I’m not a “perfect” feminist. Hell, if you’re as good as how many classics in the feminist lexicon you have read then I’m a downright terrible feminist. But I always try to improve my feminism and make it as consistent with my values of autonomy, equality and solidarity . Hopefully this article helps that process but I can’t be sure if I don’t keep trying to learn and of course, without the feedback of others.
So thanks for your time, Sloth and anyone else.