April 3, 2006

Manliness.

I've been ignoring that book "Manliness" by Harvy C. Mansfield, but Christina Hoff Sommers is writing about it -- in the Weekly Standard -- so I'm going to pay some attention:
After almost 40 years of feminist agitation and gender-neutral pronouns, it is still men who are far more likely than women to run for political office, start companies, file for patents, and blow things up. Men continue to tell most of the jokes and write the vast majority of editorials and letters to editors.
(And blogs.)
And--fatal to the dreams of feminists who long for social androgyny--men have hardly budged from their unwillingness to do an equal share of housework or childcare. Moreover, women seem to like manly men: "Manliness is still around, and we still find it attractive," says Mansfield.
We? Harvey's a guy. And while I'm here, let me say that the arithmetic on the housework sharing question is always screwy. There is no whole from which to figure out what half is. If you think an hour a day is the right total and your partner thinks an hour a week is the right total, how much does he need to do to avoid the charge that he hasn't done his share?

Skipping way ahead in the article (past a long section on philosophy that I won't try to summarize):
What would Mansfield have us do?...

First of all, he thinks we should clearly distinguish between the public realm and private life. In public we should pursue, as best we can, a policy of gender neutrality. He firmly believes that the law should guarantee equal opportunity to men and women. However, "our expectations should be that men will grasp the opportunity more readily and more wholeheartedly than women."

Though he mentions it only in passing, it follows from his position that our schools should be more respectful and accepting of male spiritedness; they must stop trying to feminize boys. A healthy society should not war against human nature. It should, he says, "reemploy masculinity." That means it has to civilize it and give it things to do. No civilization can achieve greatness if it does not allow room for obstreperous males.

In the private sphere, his advice is vivé la difference! A woman should not expect a manly man to be as committed to domesticity as she is; nor should she assume that he is as emotionally adept as her female friends. Manly men are romantic rather than sensitive. They need a lot of help from females to ascend to the higher ethical levels of manhood, and Mansfield urges women to encourage them in ways respectful of their male pride.
A classic feminist question is why must it be women's job to make men good? One answer is that men will be so horribly bad if we don't.

ADDED: I hate when I have to get out my sledgehammer, but some hotheads writing about me elsewhere don't get my sarcasm. I heartily resist the notion that it is women's work to make men good.

83 comments:

Dave said...

Sommers: "Men continue to tell most of the jokes..."

And yet Sarah Silverman is the only comedian I find remotely funny. Perhaps because she's easy on the eyes...

37383938393839383938383 said...

Sarah Silverman isn't funny. She is, however, manly-looking.

Women are not responsible for making men good. But if women are going to impose their own conception of good onto men, then they have an obligation to explain what this conception of the good is, because, as far as I can tell, men aren't telepaths. If a woman can't communicate her conception of the good to someone whom she is judging by it, then it is her fault that person is not living up to her uncommunicated expectations.

A much easier answer to this question is to ask why women think their conception of the good is better than any man's conception of the good and why any man must necessarily have to entertain any woman's conception of the good as though it is necessarily better than his own.

Maybe some women aren't listened to because what they have to say isn't worthwhile. Why anyone would presume s/he has anything worthwhile to offer (other than access to his/her genitalia) simply because of his/her gender is beyond me. I guess I find the premise of that classical feminist question to be stupid.

I'm also sick of writing his/her and s/he. I hope Mansfield's book changes that.

Gerry said...

It is comments or "questions" like these that make me absolutely dismissive of "feminists":

"A classic feminist question is why must it be women's job to make men good? One answer is that men will be so horribly bad if we don't."

Imagine the reaction if a similar but different construct was used from the other side. "A masculinist question is why it must be a man's job to make women tough. One answer is that women will be so horribly wimpy if we don't."

Good lord, is it so hard to grasp that both men and women can make each other better, and that the answer to "why should it be our job" is that it is everyone's job to try to make the world a better place? If a woman can make a man a better person, great! If a man can make a woman better, great! If a man or woman says "that's not my job", then that person is well within his or her rights, but the world would be a much worse place if that person's views were the norm.

37383938393839383938383 said...

The problem Gerry, is that you have all these women crusaders on a crusade to change men who are perfectly fine as they are. The result is a continual buzzing of harrassment day-in and day-out that bleeds life of its beauty. I think the problem is that these female chauvinists have good intentions, and so are entirely oblivious to the harm they are causing in the world. They make the world a worse place for the majority of men, and we shouldn't validate their delusional perspective by presuming that men are naturally bad and need improvement. Maybe women are inherently bad because they are always seeking to improve men who are just fine the way they are.

Dale B said...

A classic feminist question is why must it be women's job to make men good? One answer is that men will be so horribly bad if we don't.

I guess it depends on how you define "horribly bad". The PC thought seems to be that men are responsible for all that's bad in the world, war, famine, slavery, oppression, and everything else. This has been going on for a long time and if something could be done I think that it would already have been done.

If you mean when am I going to deal with the new motorcycle shock absorber that's on the floor under the dining room table; well, when I get around to it. Maybe next month? For now it's out of the way and I know where to find it when I get around to installing it.

If you think that you can train me to not do such things, well you could try and you might very well succeed. Is it worth the effort? Beats me.

In the mean time, if you want that shock to be someplace else, tell me where it should go and I'll put it there. Or, you put it there and let me know where it is.

Goesh said...

My mother made us boys clean the whole upstairs of the house on a regular basis - dusting, mopping,waxing floors, cleaning the bathroom and of course we always made our beds and picked up after ourselves. She taught us how to do laundry and fold clothes, cook, do dishes and how to mend clothes and sew on buttons. She told us she didn't want us living like pigs when we were on our own and said we would have to help out around the house when we were married. She was a large woman and would post herself close to the bottom of the stairs when it was cleaning day for us boys. There there was no way any of us could rush around her and make our way outside. If we could get by her and outside, we could stay there all day if necessary without eating and sacrifice the noon meal knowing she would do the upstairs. We were willing for that trade-off but we never succeeded. We tried to gang rush her one time but she held onto the bannister with one hand and leaned in against us and prevailed. The stairs were narrow and she was large and powerful.

The Postulant said...

If you think an hour a day is the right total and your partner thinks an hour a week is the right total, how much does he need to do to avoid the charge that he hasn't done his share?

Umm, no one told me there would be algebra.

Slocum said...

In the private sphere, his advice is vivé la difference! A woman should not expect a manly man to be as committed to domesticity as she is; nor should she assume that he is as emotionally adept as her female friends. Manly men are romantic rather than sensitive. They need a lot of help from females to ascend to the higher ethical levels of manhood, and Mansfield urges women to encourage them in ways respectful of their male pride.

Ugh. I find that men and women are a lot more interesting and varied than those stereotypes. And definitions are a problem. Males are not domestic? BS. Is building a deck not domestic? How about setting up a home theater? Hell, look at the way men outfit ice-fishing shanties (and set them up in little villages). Do adult women do anything as close to 'playing house' as that?

Ann Althouse said...

I hope people are reading the whole article. The answer I present for the "classic question" is taken from Mansfield. It's not the feminists who say women are needed to civilize men. It's the traditionalists!

Slocum said...

My mother made us boys clean the whole upstairs of the house on a regular basis - dusting, mopping,waxing floors, cleaning the bathroom and of course we always made our beds and picked up after ourselves.

And at my house, though my wife does more of the mopping & dusting, she is not very good about 'picking up'. When she goes out of town for a few days, I sometimes use the opportunity to get the kids to clear away their junk. And we have order for a little while.

37383938393839383938383 said...

I read the whole article, Ann. I'm making your comments thread sensationally fabulous, sister! Can't a man be catty?

David said...

If the women have the responsibility to make men better as a measure of some standard of "GOOD" then men have the responsibility to make women better as a measure of the same standard.

It is a joint enterprise as men and women civilize each other to make the relationship stronger as a couple.

Around our house there is "clean" and then there is "Girly-Girl" clean. Last night I cleaned the bathroom and, as usual, I am given thanks for my effort. The girls then clean it again with a more generous application of the Lysol I already used.

It doesn't say "clean" until they say it is "CLEAN"! OOOOH cooties!

I learned how to be domestic in boot camp, by the way!

word verification itkutcup;

What happens when men fail to appropriately clean anything!

Aspasia M. said...

This Prof has a very WASPy version of "manliness." Men aren't emotional, don't talk as much, aren't sensitive, don't show emotion, blah blah blah.

Yeah, whatever. In his world, I guess that's what he sees.

Bruce Hayden said...

Great article. Thanks Ann - this is why your blog is my favorite.

I had a lot to say here, until I did as Ann suggested, read the article. It makes a lot of sense to me, a male who has been struggling with gender roles for probably 40 years now. Not having sisters, I have found dealing with more masculine women easier, yet find the women attracted to me to be more feminine.

You can see the problem this attempt to gender neutralize society all over the place. One is in the medical field. The accrediting body for med schools grossly underestimated the need for physicians, partly by extrapolating male tendencies to the now half of med school student bodies that are female. And the specialities that are getting hit the worst are precisely those that thrive on masculinity the most - such as surgery. Far, far, fewer women want to spend the 24 hour shifts for 7 or so years of residency to get certified in these specialties, just to face being on-call for the rest of their careers.

Where is the balance in their lives? There isn't any, unless they have a sympathetic wife. I know one guy who is making in the mid 7 figures a year doing back surgery. He is in surgery from 8 a.m. to midnight two days a week, and sees patients from 8 a.m. until about 9 p.m. the other three. Plus, of course, being on-call, 24 hours a day. He does the surgery that other docs turn down as too risky, and can't turn down these patients because of his compassion for them, knowing that he is their best chance to, for example, ever walk again. How many women would walk in his shoes if given the chance (and money)? Not very many.

I see the difference to a very great extent as revolving around balance. Women seem to need it more, and provide it for their men. Many men seem to not need it as much, but then don't understand its lack in their lives, except as a hole that they can ignore.

Bruce Hayden said...

Obviously, levels of clean are averages between the two sexes - I do know couples where the guy is the neat freak. But they stand out because they aren't the norm.

I would suggest that women's fixation on cleanliness is a function of several different factors. First, women (on average) actually do see more dirt than men do. Something to do with better close-in vision, whereas men tend to have slightly better distance vision. Possibly due to different emphasis in type of work over the ages.

Secondly, there is the balance thing. Men are more likely to be directed elsewhere, and see cleaning as a distraction - something that needs to be done, but not of central importance.

Thirdly, there is the whole nesting thing. I, along with a lot of men, just don't have that nesting instinct that every female I have ever known over the age of 13 seems to have.

jinnmabe said...

If you think an hour a day is the right total and your partner thinks an hour a week is the right total, how much does he need to do to avoid the charge that he hasn't done his share?

Summing up my marriage in a few short sentences. Thanks, Ann.

Ron said...

Eh? Civilize men? Sorry, I'm too busy firing my MLRS battery to clear out the gophers in my yard,(my share of the housework) so I can't hear you...

Slocum said...

I would suggest that women's fixation on cleanliness is a function of several different factors. First, women (on average) actually do see more dirt than men do. Something to do with better close-in vision, whereas men tend to have slightly better distance vision.

Women are better at noticing is the theory? How do you explain, then, the common pattern of women not only not fixing things around the house, but not even noticing they need fixing? My wife once didn't notice a pedal coming loose on her bike until it fell off when she was riding it. And air in her tires? Misaligned or misaligned bits and pieces? Forget it.

Thirdly, there is the whole nesting thing. I, along with a lot of men, just don't have that nesting instinct that every female I have ever known over the age of 13 seems to have.

I'll bet you do--or at least most men do when they have the chance to prepare 'a nest of their own' without being overruled. If you're looking for male nests, the living rooms and dining rooms are often the wrong place to look. Instead, check out the basement or the garage. Here's an example of 'male nesting' for you:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/homegarden/2002857067_tikibar11.html

37383938393839383938383 said...

I think the duty women have to men is to reject feminism.

AJ Lynch said...

Robert Jensen, the whackadoodle moonbat America-hating UT professor, co-wrote an oped in the Philly Inquirer yesterday on "manliness".

Bottom line according to Jensen is American men and America have too much of it. As if Jensen knows a thing about machismo.

me said...

"I think the duty women have to men is to reject feminism."

(retching sounds)

There are problems with over-feminization of schools. However, do people seriously argue that men are discriminated against in most workplaces (I agree they are in workplaces involving children -- due in part to both men and women that think men who work around children must have something wrong with them)? Then why are the vast majority of judges, lawmakers, engineers, partners in law firms, etc. men? Women drop out of these professions or don't joing them at all in order to raise families and clean their houses. I'm glad that today I can get a job at a law firm after graduating law school, unlike Sandra Day O'Connor. And what is wrong with writing "he or she"? I like my gender to be included in textbooks. If you don't like the constuction, you can use he in one sentence and she in the next.

If someone is in a fucntional relationship, neither party is trying to force the other to do anything. Its no one's business but my own and my boyfriends how we keep our apartment, who does the dishes, etc. etc. No one is telling us what do -- where are all these "women crusaders" "on a crusade to change men who are perfectly fine as they are . . . result[ing] [in] a continual buzzing of harrassment day-in and day-out that bleeds life of its beauty."? Give me an example. I don't see commercials on TV yelling at men to start cleaning up with Swiffer. I don't see women's magazines saying "Make your husband help!" -- instead they give tips on how to dust faster. I don't see women's marches on the streets outside going on a general housework strike. Where are these busybodies?

Abraham said...

Give me an example.

The one I hate the most is the Progressive TV ad with the guy watching sports. He did what she asked, he got some insurance quotes. But he apparently didn't check insurance quotes EXACTLY they way that SHE wants, so he has to immediately - in the middle of the game - do it again.

me said...

"The one I hate the most is the Progressive TV ad with the guy watching sports. He did what she asked, he got some insurance quotes. But he apparently didn't check insurance quotes EXACTLY they way that SHE wants, so he has to immediately - in the middle of the game - do it again."

I am going to guess that the CEO of Progressive is a man, and that the head of the advertising group who approved that ad is also a man. I could be wrong, but statistics would say I'm right. I still don't see any "women busybodies" -- I see a company enforcing stereotypes about men and women to gain commericial advantage. She's apparently too lazy and stupid to get the car insurance quotes herself, so he has to give up his preferred leisure activity of watching sports to go help her.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bearbee said...

Goesh said... We tried to gang rush her one time but she held onto the bannister with one hand and leaned in against us and prevailed. The stairs were narrow and she was large and powerful.

You made that this up. Maybe you are a writer.....it sounds too much like a 'Malcolm in the Middle' episode.

Anyway it had me howling with laughter.

37383938393839383938383 said...

I like my gender to be included in textbooks. If you don't like the constuction, you can use he in one sentence and she in the next.

Why should one be included in a textbook unless it is relevant to teaching the content? Einstein would be relevant in a physics textbook because he was a physicist. If there are no notable female physicists relevant to a particular topic in a physics textbook, none should be mentioned. The reason these awkward constructions are used is political: because female chauvinist crusaders complain. But the "solution" is usually political too: the "he" is always attributed to a criminal or a deviant or a warmonger and the "she" always an enlightened go-getter. Including "she" in textbooks just opens textbooks up to propaganda. And it is one of the reasons boys read less than girls, according to recent studies.

Give an example of a female on a crusade making fanatical statements in public that annoys men? YOU. Look at your comments on this blog.

And I shouldn't have to use "she" at all if I don't want to. That is the problem. You want to impose rules of grammar on me for political reasons that have nothing to do with grammar. The third person singular in English is he; in other languages it is she; in no case does the synonmy of the third person singular with a particular gender prove that the nation whose official language it is is a patriarchy or matriarchy. Why should I structure the way that I speak -- a matter of fundamental freedom more important than killing babies, by the way -- just because you say so? I don't even know you. You don't have a right to control how I think and how I speak and what I learn just because you have ovaries. That is offensive. I can use she in every other sentence. Please. Why don't you write "Men are better than women" every other sentence and see how that makes you feel.

I would also note that your contention that what goes on in your home between you and your boyfriend is private and nobody's business sounds eeriely familiar to what men who beat their wives say to the police. Since you have such problems with how language is constructed, I will point out that "boyfriend" does not mean "male who is my property and chained to my bed".

I am going to guess that the CEO of Progressive is a man, and that the head of the advertising group who approved that ad is also a man. I could be wrong, but statistics would say I'm right.

I doubt you have a degree in statistics, but if you do, you probably complained that your statistics textbook wasn't written by Andrea Dworkin. I think you have proven my contention that there are crazy women crusaders out there who have nothing better to do but ruin a man's day. Not to mention that statistics bear out that male-bashing is rampant on television, one of the reasons why young males, generally, don't watch network TV. Ever seen a sitcome these days? The men are so dumb on there and the women are so smart and always right that the audience being catered to, well, it ain't Harvey Mansfield.

jinnmabe said...

FWIW, I always hated that Progressive commercial too. It's so, what's the word, ridiculous. It's so inconsiderate and and unflattering to both the man and the woman. That is not a healthy marriage.

Not that it has anything to do with this topic, necessarily.

Ann Althouse said...

First, on the subject of he/she in writing. I favor using the traditional "he." It's a simple convention that is needed for elegant writing. It's distracting to call attention to pronouns and to intrude a political debate where it isn't the subject under discussion. I resent the notion that women are so sensitive that they need to be buttered up constantly.

Second, on the subject of feminizing men. This is a separate problem, distinct from Mansfield's point which is that there is a negative aspect of manliness that needs to be whipped into a constructive form -- civilized -- through connection with women. This is a traditionalist argument. The idea isn't to make them feminine, but to use their masculinity to support a family and be productive, rather than to go around making havoc. By the same token, women are supposed to be connected to men, not to "toughen" them, but to bring their feminine strengths into caring for others (rather than simply indulging ourselves).

This traditionalist argument is tied to an argument against homosexuality that is based on the concern that if men only ally with other men, they will miss out on some needed civilizing. (It's also a reason, though you don't hear it much anymore, to be opposed to pornography and masturbation.)

37383938393839383938383 said...

Oh, well, that traditionalist argument sounds so harmonious and pleasant the way you state it, Ann. It sounds much better than the battle of the sexes we've got going on today.

Balfegor said...

And what is wrong with writing "he or she"? I like my gender to be included in textbooks. If you don't like the constuction, you can use he in one sentence and she in the next.

I am not sure if it is a convention in any area of legal writing, but I know in at least one of my law books, the author clearly used a generic "she." It sent me into giggles every time I read it. It's not nearly as funny if it's actually a formal convention (legal writing often seems full of bizarre conventions) but I don't think it is (leastways, I have not noticed it in any legal material I have read since law school).

Aspasia M. said...

"I think the duty women have to men is to reject feminism."

(retching sounds)


Give me an example. I don't see commercials on TV yelling at men to start cleaning up with Swiffer. I don't see women's magazines saying "Make your husband help!"

Oh, this cracked me up!

Both my husband and I are rather casual about cleaning, unless company is coming to visit.

My response to the whole "women must civilize men.":

That's the job of his parents, not his future partner. I want a man, not a boy.
--------

RE: grammer.

Many women self-identify with he/him pronouns. In addition, many girls will identify with the main fictional character, despite the gender of that character.

I think many boys/men don't easily identify with female characters. That must be a very different reading experience.

I've used both he and she when writing non-fiction. But I rarely use he/she because it looks rather awkward.

Aspasia M. said...

I would also note that your contention that what goes on in your home between you and your boyfriend is private and nobody's business sounds eeriely familiar to what men who beat their wives say to the police. Since you have such problems with how language is constructed, I will point out that "boyfriend" does not mean "male who is my property and chained to my bed".


Critical Observer,

I don't know why what me said is freaking you out so much. I think this conversation is fun and kind of silly. You seem to be taking it very seriously.

(I don't know what's going on with the man chained to the bed. But I would like to know if he's hot.)

I have this absurd vision of the police rushing into a house to stop a wife from nagging her husband about dusting.

"You need to Dust more." says the wife.

"Honey, if you don't stop bugging me, I'm going to call the police!"

Aspasia M. said...

critical observer,

Oh. I just looked at your profile.

You have a preoccupation with "femdoms"???

Maybe your blog persona is a parody?

37383938393839383938383 said...

See! The politics of personal destruction! Feminazis strike again!

Aspasia M. said...

Critical Observer,

I'm assuming your blog persona is a big PoMO joke.

Thank Goodness. I was getting worried.

me said...

Thanks for getting my back geoduck. :)

To all:

On the use of "he or she" -- I was not advocating putting fake female physicists in textbooks and taking Einstein out. I was simply pointing out that it makes logical sense to use both pronouns when you're addressing both sexes. Back in the day, only men went to to law school, so it made sense to use "he" in every sentence. Now, women are there in equal numbers -- I think it makes sense to use "she" about half the time. Maybe I'm oversensitive and wrong. But, Balfegor, what does make it so funny when the norm is "she" instead of "he"?

Critical Observer: I almost didn't respond to your post seriously b/c I thought it might be a joke . . . obviously I need to listen to my instincts on these matters. :)

Balfegor said...

But, Balfegor, what does make it so funny when the norm is "she" instead of "he"?

Because it is so transparently remedial. It is funny, because one can imagine some legal writer away in his office, reflecting with pleasure on how he stuck it to the Man! How he struck a Whorfian blow for gender equality! And also because it is such a trivial thing (generic "he" in English, in French, etc.) yet people get awfully hung up on it. Angels on the head of a pin.

37383938393839383938383 said...

My posts are quite serious, and I do think you are a feminazi. My profile is a joke, however.

Wade_Garrett said...

This might not be directly on point, but I'd like to refer back to some anecdotal evidence I have about gender roles. Almost all of the single women I know say that they are just looking for a nice guy, who will be as much of a friend as a lover, but they always end up hitting on/flirting with traditionally macho guys. There's more than one way to be macho, and my female friends don't always hit on the same type of man, but still, they're not dating the senstive type they almost always SAY they want to date.

As for men dating women, I think the old adage that "men marry down" might be going away. Almost all of my friends are in securities/business, law, or medicine, or else in professional school in one of those fields. None of them are dating waitresses, secretaries, or anything like that. A few are dating teachers, which is a traditional job for a woman, but very much a demanding, career-oriented profession in its own right. My female friends would probably PREFER to marry a guy with a lot of money, but a couple of my good friends in the law school are engaged to police officers -- macho, tough guys with, realistically, lower earning potential than themselves. This is all just anecdotal, but I would say that the old stereotypes for men are growing less and less true, while women my age are starting to prefer masculine guys over higher-earning guys. Then again, a 26 year old police officer today is probably more sensitive and so forth than they would have been 30 or 40 years ago.

David said...

I just signed my yearly acknowledgement that I understand my responsibilities under the EEOC as it is interpreted by committee of non-white males who enforce the regulations.

Seems I can be fired immediately if I:

1. Say anything that offends anybody;
2. Fail to report anything I overhear that could offend anybody for any reason even if I don't find it personally offensive;
3. Never, ever, close the door when having a meeting with a female even if there are windows.

Of particular interest to me is my supposed status of being a quasi victim because I am a veteran.

I wish it were so that what you do in the privacy of your bedroom is your own businees. Most of the women I know tell everything to their female friends right down to the last detail. It starts when you date and the guy is the topic of conversation as the girls caucus in the girls restroom.

White guys can jump!

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think that it is quite correct to say that it is women's role to domesticate men, but rather, that they are the only ones who have historically been able to do so.

Without pair bonding, males tend to end up running in juvenile packs, terrorizing all around them. This is true in many African-American communities today, as it is with mice and rats.

Aspasia M. said...

My posts are quite serious, and I do think you are a feminazi.

Cool. Do I get to be a feminazi too? (I do wonder what me said that freaked you out. It sounded like she has a happy relationship with her boyfriend.)


Almost all of the single women I know say that they are just looking for a nice guy, who will be as much of a friend as a lover, but they always end up hitting on/flirting with traditionally macho guys.

Mr. Geoduck is a nice guy and the greatest husband in the world! (TM)

Anyways - There are a bunch of women looking for nice, honorable, kind men.

To all the nice men out there: keep looking - you'll find someone great!

My father always told me the most important thing about a person is their capacity for kindness. I agree with him.

Aspasia M. said...

I wish it were so that what you do in the privacy of your bedroom is your own businees. Most of the women I know tell everything to their female friends right down to the last detail.

Whoa! Really? Wow. I'm a young women and I can tell you - my crowd doesn't do this! I can't imagine...really?

I cannot believe the things that I'm learning on blogs. You all are corrupting me.

jinnmabe said...

My ConLaw professor talked about "she" every time we talked about the powers of the President. It became a little jarring, because he'd use "he" once, and then for the rest of the class period, use "she." Not that a woman can't be President, or won't be, very soon, but up to this point there hasn't been a woman president. In connection with some of his other statements, it seemed very much that he was trying to strike a blow, so to speak. Then again, he also said "the Comress Clause."

Michael Farris said...

"First, on the subject of he/she in writing. I favor using the traditional "he." It's a simple convention that is needed for elegant writing."

Actually, the _real_ traditional generic pronoun in English is 'they', "generic he" was a latter conscious attempt to impose 'logic' on the language (dead tree sources I don't have access to at the moment). Language Log addresses this from time to time.

On women 'taming' men. If it's all up to the women, the parents haven't done their job. Not all pair-bonded young men run in packs, mainly ones who are neglected (or over-indulged by their mothers) do. Also, young men who see little chance for success no matter what they do tend toward a gang mentality.

I do think many practices curtailing young womens' freedom has the ultimate goal of using them as a bargaining chip with young men. (Preventing them from having access to sex unless they tow the line).

Theorizing (and about to offend everybody) I'd say a society can be permissive in questions of overall conduct of children and teenagers or be permissive in matters of sexual conduct (starting in the mid to late teens) but not both. (Being permissive in neither area is also a feasible option).

Bruce Hayden said...

Michael Farris

I am not sure if you got my previous post backwards or I did, but my suggestion was that it was pair bonding that kept many young men from running in juvenile packs, and not the other way around. I also don't think that it is necessarily neglect that sends boys in this direction absent the bonding, but that that may be of some importance.

There comes a time when most mothers lose control of their sons. For me, it was in my early teens. I realized this one day when my mother lost her temper with me and was beating on my chest ineffectually. Luckily for all concerned, my father could still intimidate me into my 20s, and by then, I was over the hump.

That is where the pair bonding and the sex comes in. For many guys, it is only through conditioning sex and paternity on pair bonding that they civilize.

Note that pair bonding comes into play here at two levels. First, adult men can control juvenile males far better than the boys' mothers can. The guys (like me) who had fathers (or othe male superiors) strongly in their lives are kept out of the juvenile male packs, and, this happens most often if the parents' pair bond is intact. And, secondly, mates can do this by conditioning sex and paternity on pair bonding.

As noted earlier, this is all missing in a large part of the African-American community today, as well as in parts of lower (economic) white communities. Mothers raise boys without fathers in the house, and then the boys consider it masculine to father children by multiple women out of wedlock, resulting in further cycles of this. It is considered weak and unmasculine to let women tell them what to do.

Yes, not all guys are like this - these are only IMHO trends, based on averages. But there is enough of this happening that it has a destructive affect on civilized society when it becomes commonplace.

Michael Farris said...

It was a typo, I intended "not all unpair-bonded", that is, "not all who aren't pair-bonded".

I'd say there are lots of ways besides early matrimony of keeping young men from socially harmful behavior:
Locking them up with books for hours on end every day (the east asian way),
Formal rites of initiation (the content of which is 'life isn't about you - get over yourself already'),
Putting them work,
Channeling them into military service,
Some kinds of religious observance, etc etc etc
Often these overlap, military service can serve as an initiation, rites of passage usually have religious overtones and sometimes societies have more than one way (for those who slip through the cracks of the preferred way).

It's when a culture/society can't utilize any of those that things go badly.

Balfegor said...

Actually, the _real_ traditional generic pronoun in English is 'they', "generic he" was a latter conscious attempt to impose 'logic' on the language (dead tree sources I don't have access to at the moment). Language Log addresses this from time to time.

Well, okay, and you can make the case (as linguists occasionally do) that the traditional form of "ask" is "axen." Or "aksen" or "acsian." That doesn't actually make it the traditional form -- the tradition is normative and consciously structured, in the Strunk and White sense, and is not merely a rote matter of "this form is older!" Nor does that reflect all idiolects of English. Many of us were raised speaking "he" generically. Many others were raised speaking generic "they."

Michael Farris said...

Singular 'they' is pretty universal, I can't imagine that many speakers never use it. It's not traditionally been _cultivated_ but I think it's far preferable to any of the alternatives, ymmv.

Balfegor said...

Singular 'they' is pretty universal, I can't imagine that many speakers never use it.

I was raised speaking generic "he." I use generic "they" on occasion, too, but it's usually a conscious choice brought on by the awkwardness of "he or she." On the other hand, my formative linguistic influences were all non-native English speakers speaking English, so maybe it's just me.

But again, this has no direct bearing on the "tradition" in English -- it's a linguist's attempt to project his own normative views on language and language change onto a markedly different prescriptivist framework. There are many other elements of English -- e.g. "ain't" or "gotten" -- that are widespread, and possibly used by a majority of English speakers, at least when they speak in the casual register, that are nevertheless excluded from what we understand as the tradition of formal, rectified, standardised English.

bearbee said...

1. Say anything that offends anybody;

Should keep the company human resources department busy. Who arbitrates what offends? And make sure to make no enemies.

2. Fail to report anything I overhear that could offend anybody for any reason even if I don't find it personally offensive;

A company policy in the best Stalinist-Maoist tradition.

So in order to best protect oneself fingers are pointed and everything is reported regardless of the significance.

I cannot believe any company legal department would sanction such a thing....ugh!!!!

3. Never, ever, close the door when having a meeting with a female even if there are windows.

I hope you are not a doctor, lawyer or that you work for the CIA. It could prove difficult to do your job.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Cool. Do I get to be a feminazi too?

No, feminazis have the basic decency to take seriously those with whom they disagree. You are simply a rude and juvenile person, regardless of gender. "They" should civilize you.

Aspasia M. said...

No, feminazis have the basic decency to take seriously those with whom they disagree.

What'd you expect me to think with the Femdom profile? And you made a crack about someone's boyfriend being chained to the bed. (I still don't understand where that came from.)

And you compared a wife nagging about cleaning to someone calling 911 for domestic violence. It sounded like you were implying that husbands should call 911 to protect themselves from wives who wanted them to clean the house.

By that time, I was confused. You sounded like a parody. I try to take people in good faith. But your posts were pretty wack-a-doodle.

37383938393839383938383 said...

And you compared a wife nagging about cleaning to someone calling 911 for domestic violence.

I did no such thing. I compared the tone and language of a female chauvinist to the tone and language of male chauvinists. That is what the "crack" referred to, which was apparent to everyone else reading the thread. Neither I nor any of them, I bet, think coercion is justified if it is a woman coercing a man and if the method of coercion does not result in a broken bone: coercion is coercion. Obviously, being a female chauvinist, you don't think women should be held accountable for their disrespect of men. It shows in your posts. It is probably the reason you went to look at my profile in the first place: to find something with which to tar my credibility.

Notices I didn't (until now) mention any of the foul and deviant hobbies listed on your profile, which you will probably race to delete so as to neutralize my accusation. You have nothing to say in reply to the substance of what I said, so you attack me personally. You are a childish shrew.

Aspasia M. said...

Neither I nor any of them, I bet, think coercion is justified if it is a woman coercing a man and if the method of coercion does not result in a broken bone: coercion is coercion.

You were responding to me who was talking about dusting!

Let's revisit what provoked your response. The commenter me said:

If someone is in a fucntional relationship, neither party is trying to force the other to do anything. Its no one's business but my own and my boyfriends how we keep our apartment, who does the dishes, etc. etc. No one is telling us what do -- where are all these "women crusaders" "on a crusade to change men who are perfectly fine as they are . . . result[ing] [in] a continual buzzing of harrassment day-in and day-out that bleeds life of its beauty."? Give me an example. I don't see commercials on TV yelling at men to start cleaning up with Swiffer. I don't see women's magazines saying "Make your husband help!" -- instead they give tips on how to dust faster. I don't see women's marches on the streets outside going on a general housework strike. Where are these busybodies?

????? Then you start talking about 911 calls? About the Swifer? Cleaning pots and pans? And you tell the commenter that her boyfriend is chained to the bed? That's why I looked at your profile. I thought your answer was so wierd I wanted to see if you were a paraody.

Obviously, being a female chauvinist, you don't think women should be held accountable for their disrespect of men. It shows in your posts. It is probably the reason you went to look at my profile in the first place: to find something with which to tar my credibility.

But you're a woman according to your profile. So if I disrespect you, what in the world does that have to do with the male gender? You can't quote one thing I said that disrespects men.

Notices I didn't (until now) mention any of the foul and deviant hobbies listed on your profile, which you will probably race to delete so as to neutralize my accusation.

Oh, this is just sad. Many people on this list have already looked at my profile, so they know that my interests include reading genre fiction, cats, and trying to finish a dissertation.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Then you start talking about 911 calls? About the Swifer? Cleaning pots and pans? And you tell the commenter that her boyfriend is chained to the bed?

I never said any of those things. I never said anything about 911 or a Swifer or cleaning pots and pans. I certainly never made any comments about dusting. You are clearly delusional. You have proven my point about delusional but well-intentioned female crsuaders. And I notice you HAVE cleaned up your profile just like I said you would.

37383938393839383938383 said...

But you're a woman according to your profile.

And I already stated -- and you already know --that my profile is fake and my comments are serious. I am a man. You have disrespected me on this blog because I am a man: you should act like a civilized human being and apologize.

Aspasia M. said...

Hmmm...I wasn't sure you were a man - but now we know. I wonder when you decided you were "disrespected?"

Clearly this "discussion" has jumped the shark.

Originally I though we were joking, and then I realized you were serious. In the end, I still don't understand what your point was, except that the commenter me upset you.

If you would like to engage ideas, I'm happy to do so. If not, have a nice day.

37383938393839383938383 said...

I think I put forth a number of worthwhile ideas, given that other commenters discussed them! You did nothing but attack the content of my joke profile and mischaracterize the content of my posts, because you're a nutball.

37383938393839383938383 said...

In the end, I still don't understand what your point was, except that the commenter me upset you.

You know, I would call this attempt to paint me as emotionally unstable because of my gender "sexist", but you'd just find some way to twist it into making me look "weird" -- nevermind the fact feminists have made claims like this against men for years. Thanks for being a disrespectful hypocrite.

Aspasia M. said...

For the record:

Me said:

If someone is in a fucntional relationship, neither party is trying to force the other to do anything. Its no one's business but my own and my boyfriends how we keep our apartment, who does the dishes, etc. etc. No one is telling us what do -- where are all these "women crusaders" "on a crusade to change men who are perfectly fine as they are . . . result[ing] [in] a continual buzzing of harrassment day-in and day-out that bleeds life of its beauty."? Give me an example. I don't see commercials on TV yelling at men to start cleaning up with Swiffer. I don't see women's magazines saying "Make your husband help!" -- instead they give tips on how to dust faster. I don't see women's marches on the streets outside going on a general housework strike. Where are these busybodies?

to summarize the commenter me:

In a functional relationship the two people divide up the cleaning the way they wish. It's nobody else's buisness the way the cleaning is divided between me and her boyfriend.

But Critical Observer responsded as follows:

I would also note that your contention that what goes on in your home between you and your boyfriend is private and nobody's business sounds eeriely familiar to what men who beat their wives say to the police. Since you have such problems with how language is constructed, I will point out that "boyfriend" does not mean "male who is my property and chained to my bed".

Summary of Critical Observer: I am comparing dividing up chores to men who beat their wives.

I really don't get what is going on with the bondage sentence. I thought you were joking. Chained to the bed?!?

Aspasia M. said...

I am happy to take you seriously.

Would you like to get this back on track?

Aspasia M. said...

For the record:

Mr. Geoduck is still the best husband in the world. (TM) And he thinks this discussion is really funny.

Now I need to go and cook dinner.

37383938393839383938383 said...

What you have taken out of context is that part of the discussion was about language and symbols, e.g., he/she in textbooks and the Progressive ad. The tone of that commenter and her statement -- what goes on in my house is my business -- does sound like the private/public distinction that male chauvinists often make. Only she was making it to shut down a guy who was complaining about what he saw as a female chauvinist commercial -- that Progressive ad -- and a guy -- me -- who thinks that the he/she imposition on language can be oppressive and advance female chauvinism. The point was that her tone and dismissivsness and wilingness to reduce the comments of others into caricatures, much like yours, serves only to further female chauvinism. You are only proving the point. At no point did I say domestic violence is good. I pointed out that oppression cannot be justified by language. I spoke of chains to evoke SLAVERY, i.e., OPPRESSION, not kinky sexual practices. You insisted on interpreting it that way because you are a sesixt femal chauvinist who thinks MALE = SEX. Stop objectifying me, you sexist. I am a person.

me said...

Geoduck, how was dinner? Personally I am enjoying NOT cooking and NOT dusting right now . . . and my bf is currently asleep, although not chained to the bed (should I invest in some of those fake leopard print type handcuffs? I think I'd prefer to be the one chained though). Critical Observer IS being facetious, think of him as the Stephen Colbert of the anti-feminist movement (note I did not say men's rights movement -- I think men's studies, etc. have some very good points, and they are not anti-feminist but pro-studying how society influences men, which I think is an overlooked and very intersting topic).

Aspasia M. said...

Hmmm...My parmesan chicken is baking.



What you have taken out of context is that part of the discussion was about language and symbols, e.g., he/she in textbooks and the Progressive ad. The tone of that commenter and her statement -- what goes on in my house is my business -- does sound like the private/public distinction that male chauvinists often make. Only she was making it to shut down a guy who was complaining about what he saw as a female chauvinist commercial -- that Progressive ad -- and a guy -- me -- who thinks that the he/she imposition on language can be oppressive and advance female chauvinism. The point was that her tone and dismissivsness and wilingness to reduce the comments of others into caricatures, much like yours, serves only to further female chauvinism. You are only proving the point. At no point did I say domestic violence is good. I pointed out that oppression cannot be justified by language. I spoke of chains to evoke SLAVERY, i.e., OPPRESSION, not kinky sexual practices. You insisted on interpreting it that way because you are a sesixt femal chauvinist who thinks MALE = SEX. Stop objectifying me, you sexist. I am a person.

1) I don't care what pronoun people use, as long as one does not use a plurl when it is grammatically incorrect.

I think you misconstrued what me wrote in terms of sentence construction. She suggested that a person could, if they so chose, alternate pronouns so they would not use the awkward he/she construction. I didn't see her say that one must use a certain pronoun.

2) Of course the state should get involved if there is violence in a relationship, no matter which gender is doing the violence. Me was talking specifically about chore distribution between adults in a functional relationship.

Do you think other people should be involved in those decisions if the relationship is functional?

3) I never thought you said that domestic violence was ok.

4) Why is Me's boyfriend enslaved or oppressed? You've lost me here.

37383938393839383938383 said...

although not chained to the bed (should I invest in some of those fake leopard print type handcuffs? I think I'd prefer to be the one chained though). Critical Observer IS being facetious,

See? I make a serious point about how my straightforward points have been taken out of context and sexualized BECAUSE OF MY GENDER, and the response is to further sexualize my comments and treat me like a joke or a sex object. This is literally what men used to do to women in the 1950s to belittle them. This is exactly what I mean when I say "female chauvinism". You are both SEXISTS. It is obvious if you just look.

Worse, "me" has no right -- no right whatsoever to tell men how they should think. "You're acceptable if you're men's studies, but you're unacceptable if you're antifeminist." Who are you to tell any man how to think? Get over yourself. Men have a right to choice.

I am not kidding. And I do not care about your sexual habits or preferences. I am not a sex object.

37383938393839383938383 said...

I think you misconstrued what me wrote in terms of sentence construction.

I think you misconstrued the entire thread. So I won't answer your questions, whose premises rely on that misconstruction.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Me was talking specifically about chore distribution between adults in a functional relationship.

And racists always have lots of black friends.

Aspasia M. said...

I'm assuming that we've resolved the discussion about gender and linguistics?

I cannot identify those quotes in your last post. Are they quotes or are you summarizing somebody's position?

My husband wants to know if this is an exercise in absurdism?

Aspasia M. said...

And racists always have lots of black friends.

Again, I don't know where you're going with this.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Ooh, is your husband going to beat me up? Or maybe it lends credence to your assertion that my straightforward points are "absurd" because man agrees with you. Thanks for playing with offensive gender stereotypes, again. The only thing that has been resolved is that you're an unrepentant sexist. Your husband, if he actually exists, needs his consciousness raised.

37383938393839383938383 said...

As for the quotes you cannot identify: "although not chained to the bed (should I invest in some of those fake leopard print type handcuffs? I think I'd prefer to be the one chained though). Critical Observer IS being facetious," comes straight out of "me"'s post.

Good night.

Aspasia M. said...

oh my. What an absurd turn to the conversation.

Well, I did attempt to save it.

Ciao and Buena Notte, everyone.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Filthy sexist.

amba said...

our expectations should be that men will grasp the opportunity more readily and more wholeheartedly than women.

I just think that's because all the motivations line up for men. If a man is ambitious and successful, he's also going to get laid, and have children. For a woman the ambition (which I regard as "spiritual" in the broad - no pun, no pun! -- sense and therefore genderless) is just as genuine but does not line up so well with the other motivations, which pull in another direction. "Vector analysis" thus makes men's motivation more single and stronger, since all motives point in the same direction.

This is already beginning to change to the extent that at least some accomplished men seek to mate with accomplished women. The consuming pull of motherhood is a vector that is not so easily accomodated with ambition. I wish I'd weighed in earlier on this thread because I'd like to hear what Ann, who has two sons, thinks about that -- about how it was to reconcile, or compromise, or combine those two vectors of motivation.

amba said...

criticalobserver:

I once helped Bert Stern, the pioneering advertising photographer who took some of the best-known pictures of Marilyn Monroe, put together a narrative text for his book of those pictures, "The Last Sitting."

I'll never forget one thing Bert said to me:

"Women were more fun before they were people."

amba said...

One more word for criticalobserver:

When I was a child there were so few as to be effectively no female senators, judges, pilots, etc. It still thrills me to my core when I hear some old gent on TV who is now obliged to say "The senator . . . he or she, the astronaut . . . he or she." I'm talking about something much deeper than political correctness -- I'm talking about inclusion in the whole human adventure, not just providing and servicing the bodies.

If you think that makes me a hag feminist please read this first. And if you're going to say I'm putting down "providing and servicing the bodies," which is so very noble and necessary -- without it nothing else happens -- I'd simply say, "Necessary but not sufficient."

I should note that "he or she's" and "s/hes" annoy me in writing too. So dutiful and cumbersome. When writing myself, I'll resolve it in different ways -- including using generic "he" -- depending on the context.

BTW there's some good smart stuff here by Bruce Hayden and Michael Farris. It's really interesting to say that restrictions on young women's (sexual) conduct are ultimately aimed at young men! Of course, they were also designed to prevent out of wedlock births back when a) there was no effective birth control, no legal abortion and b) such a child would have had no economic means of support because i.) many jobs weren't open to women and ii.) the state didn't step in with either welfare or child care.

37383938393839383938383 said...

It still thrills me to my core when I hear some old gent on TV who is now obliged to say "The senator . . . he or she, the astronaut . . . he or she."

That is oppression. Take a look at the First Amendment. It applies to men too.

amba said...

No, Critical, consensus and courtesy are not oppression. The gent on TV is free to say "He." And if anyone noticed and minded, the worst they could do, if he was a politician, was not vote for him, which is not oppression. (Unless oppression is people using their freedom to vote a way YOU don't like.) I think most people in that situation speak as they do out of a combination of political calculation and acceptance of a fait accompli: senators and astronauts now ARE "he or she."

I would agree with you that speech codes on campus ARE oppression. Firing a commentator for making an obnoxious comment about some protected group bothers me, too. It's like kowtowing over the Muslim cartoons. Everybody's sensitivites should be equally fair game. That's not what I'm talking about. I am free to be thrilled when someone in that context is either calculating or gracious enough to include my gender in the world of adventure and accomplishment. You are free to hate it and be disgusted by it. But "oppression" it's not.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Actually, I was refering to your "thrill" at seeing someone coerced into saying "he or she"; your "thrill" at seeing an older "gent" coerced is why I called it oppression. Oppression isn't just coercion; oppression exists where there is an oppressor-class getting its sadistic jollies out of your subordination. That you are thrilled that a "gent" is forced to say what you want him to sounds to me like you enjoy oppressing men. You can try to spin that around into making me into some masculinist nutball if you like, but I was pointing out that your misandrist sadism was repulsive and indicative of what you REALLY think, oppressor.

37383938393839383938383 said...

It's funny that when I call the feminist assult on language oppressive, oh no, it is courtesy, but didn't feminists claim that the phallocentrism of the language was oppressive? I see. It is only oppression when men do it to women. But when women do it to men and get a thrill out of it, then it's all fun and games. Hypocrite.

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