Monthly Archives: August 2014

A reply to Why I Don’t Identify as a Feminist. Part One.


This is a reply to Godless Cranium’s post in reply to me, found here, on the topic of being uncomfortable with the term “feminism.” My initial post can be found here.

This is a monster of a reply, and it took a while to write. Then the editing was delayed for a few days. However, I am now done and will be posting the entirety of the post over the next few days in five parts (I suggest waiting until all 5 posts are published before finalizing a reply).

This is not by any means a conclusive article on the topic of feminism and why you should take up the mantel, but I did do my best to reply to each of Godless Cranium’s questions and concerns he brought up so far with Feminism. So let’s get started:

Also please recognize that I’m not in the business of clear cut answers, and neither is reality. These are complicated issues and, if you cherry pick, you can come to just about any conclusion, so, to those reading, make sure to look at the sources I link to critically. Ask questions to me or others if you’re not sure what’s being talked about

The first point brought up by Godless Cranium is a big one. The idea that not only is feminism a restrictive term in and of itself, limiting the movement to only the feminine, and that the restrictions are seen in the movement in the form of feminists only helping women. In doing so, he quoted a line from my original post: “For one, men don’t have as many serious life affecting issues facing them as women do.”

Now let me make myself as clear as possible, particularly since that sentence was very poorly worded: as a man, and as a feminist and humanist, I’m not meaning to say that men don’t face much of the same problems that women do, including the serious issues of abuse, harassment, and rape, I’m saying men don’t receive the brunt of these issues. I talking about the things the average man faces verse the average woman, not the absolute number of different types of bad things that that can happen to a given person.

Bad things happen to people, and how those thing effect people is not something that is easy to quantify, and is certainly not something to ignore. Ever. Doesn’t matter your gender, regardless what that gender might be.

But with that said, I think Godless Cranium should be in full agreement that women do face the brunt of many of these issues, as almost immediately after quoting me he pulled up these statistics from the National (USA) Crime Victimization Survey, which I will quote here”

“Last year the National Crime Victimization Survey turned up a remarkable statistic. In asking 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence, the survey uncovered that 38 percent of incidents were against men. The number seemed so high that it prompted researcher Lara Stemple to call the Bureau of Justice Statistics to see if it maybe it had made a mistake, or changed its terminology. After all, in years past men had accounted for somewhere between 5 and 14 percent of rape and sexual violence victims.”

And:

“Men and boys are often the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In fact, in the U.S., about 10% of all victims are male.” Godless Cranium

Since I was never arguing that men don’t get raped (society makes joke about don’t drop the soap all the time, and there have been many case of boys being sexually assaulted by teachers, priests, and, coaches. Plus domestic abuse effects all demographics to some degree). What I see in this post is that somewhere between 62% and 95% of people sexually assaulted, including those raped, are women. That is a clear and unambiguous majority (I should note we and, more worryingly: the stats, are completely ignoring people who do not fit in the gender categories of men or women, it is important that we do not ignore them).

Why is this important to point out? Because, if we are treating the cases of men overall equally, that is showing equal deference to both sides of the issue, then we are indeed showing undue preference to men since they are overall less impacted. I’m saying we should give proportional aid, equal roughly to the need.

And we do need to attend to both sexes (and those gender non-conforming and genderless people). Godless Cranium helps me illustrate this point by explaining how, when he was repeatedly assaulted by a women, the authorities did absolutely nothing and, in fact, laughed at him rather than doing their job. This a utterly deplorable and I thank Godless Cranium for being so open about his experiences. Openly discussing these issues are one of the best ways for us to make changes.

Now, let me point you, dear readers, to some of what commonly happens to women who are raped. Trigger warning: rape.

Understand that these are difficult to read. I’ll be giving a sort of detailed free-run through them below for those who want to know, but don’t have the stomach or the necessary feels to get through the following onslaught. No shame if you can’t get though some of these: this is a hard topic to face head on.

http://thecurvature.com/2010/06/04/rape-victims-tell-of-mistreatmet-by-the-nypd/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/nyregion/03rape.html?pagewanted=1&ref=nyregion&_r=0

http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/11/how-i-became-a-rape-victim/

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/14/2777431/maryville-missouri-rape/

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/23/i-am-a-false-rape-allegation-statistic/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html

http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/05/lawyer_claims_7th_grade_sexual.html

Here’s that short form based on the personal accounts from above, recognize that these are not exclusive to women, though, that said, these sorts of events are far, far too common:

A women is raped, generally by a friend or acquaintance, sometimes by force, sometimes via drugs or alcohol, and other times by emotional or social (power dynamics of one form or another) manipulation. The victim, if they choose to go to the authorities, which many avoid (for often very sensible reasons), are generally forced to wait for a long time to speak with an officer (police will often ignore their duties, it doesn’t matter who you are. My grandfather was a police officer for decades and he’d agree with me), they may need to ask repeatedly for access to a rape kit, which then has a good chance of never being processed in the US.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116945/rape-kits-backlog-joe-biden-announces-35-million-reopen-cases

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/thousands-of-rape-kits-wait-to-be-tested/

If the woman is not knowledgeable about the process, or has a support person come along with them, then she will often be bullied away or ignored all together until she leaves. Thankfully there are rape victim advocate programs in existence. Should you or someone you know need help, such as to go to the authorities about rape or recovering from an attack, contacting one of the below groups is in their best interest. This isn’t an all inclusive list, make sure to look for local help if you can:

http://www.victimsfirst.gc.ca/index.html

http://www.rvap.org/home/

http://www.rapevictimadvocates.org/

http://www.uiowa.edu/~rvap/

https://app.volunteer2.com/Public/Organization/19b375b9-5141-45a8-98b5-4148d6546922

When questioned, women are often blamed by police officers for being raped (not always, but victim blaming is perpetrated by people with badges too). Often being asked questions, which lead the victim from the lines of “what happened” to “what did you fail to do that lead to you getting yourself raped?” or “what did you do the egg on the perpetrator?”

Aside:

Rape is sexual intercourse forced upon one or more people against their consent. You can never want to be raped: that is an oxymoron.

Then, if cops do end up investigating the case, the woman will often then face death threats, victim blaming, community shaming (for being raped, or for talking about it), and face character assassination, often losing their job, dropping out of school, and, sadly, friends and sometimes family will take the word of the perpetrator over the victim to the point of pushing the victim away all together. And hope you’re not the victim of a college football player:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/20/1751831/rape-football-victim/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/malik-richmond_n_5669903.html

I could link to dozens more, but this sort of research get depressing fast, and I’m sure if you look you’ll have no difficulty finding more yourself.

Now, to be fair, the USA is a strange place and, because of the rampant amount of rapes in prison, there is more reported male rape in the USA then reported female. This statistic is solely found in the US prison system, but it is very real, and, fortunately, there is some work being done to curb it. Though certainly not enough:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knXHUQ2A1J4

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov%2Fcrt%2Fabout%2Fspl%2Fdocuments%2Ftutwiler_findings_1-17-14.pdf&ei=XDfxU57oIoPioASuvIHQBg&usg=AFQjCNH3LsNybfiL_gY1K5PxSf108OIXvQ&sig2=r7beYnyZ182w6A3oOAqhSA&bvm=bv.73231344,d.cGU&cad=rja

Though back to my earlier point. Women, overall, receive the brunt of assault in the world. As well, if we work on fixing the negative conceptions surrounding female rape victims, by fixing the way in which rape is dealt with by authorizes, then it will be easier to help men, since then you’ll (ideally) only be fighting against the false notions that men can’t be raped, and that only weak men can get raped, (Begin Sarcasm) because, in regards to rape, power dynamics other than brute strength can’t exist, and women can’t possibly be physically stronger than men (End Sarcasm).

These are all false, but so are converse myths that women are always weaker than men, that rape can only happen when a man forces himself (emotional, economic, and social manipulation are not deemed “real” rape by many) on a woman, and that men are not allowed to have emotions and are never allowed to be weak.

The interesting thing is when you tackle these issues, particularly about the basically non-existent physical and mental differences between men and women (a video with a shit ton of citations here) you see many of the fundamental problem leading to rape break down. When society no longer thinks that women are weak, and meant to serve men and their children (above all else and always), and when we recognize men as emotional beings which are more that the social narratives would have us believe.

When we start breaking down those false but powerful narratives then we can really take care of the problems.

Part 2.

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Can We Understand Different Belief Systems?


I have been pondering a question today and I wanted to put it out to all of you: Can you truly understand someone who doesn’t believe what you believe if you’ve never shared that belief? Can you even if you have shared that belief?

I ask this because of the difference between empathy and sympathy. If, say, someone loses a parent, and you have also lost a parent, you can empathize with them. You’ve gone through what they’re going through. You have a common understanding as a result. But if you’ve never lost a parent you can’t empathize with them. You can sympathize, but you can’t empathize. Sympathy is to feel bad for them or their situation, or you can offer some level of emotional support. So, if you can sympathize, if you know that what happened is bad but you’ve never dealt with it, can you truly understand what the person is going though? Can sympathy create understanding?


My Coming Week Will be a Busy One


I will be getting back into my Bible review posts in September. I am swamped with some other projects right now, so I don’t have time to worry about that series. I’ll also be putting the Mere Christianity review on hold. I doubt I’ll really be posting anything for the next week and a bit.

But Withteeth is currently working on a series of posts about feminism which should be posted soon. And when he’s done with that he’ll get back to his GMO series. As such, there should be some interesting reads coming.


Very Inspiring Blogger Award


Merigold at versusblurb.wordpress.com has nominated Withteeth and I for the One Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Though I suppose in our case it would be two very inspiring bloggers ;). Thank you, Merigold, for the recognition. We both appreciate it.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.

2. Mention the rules. Enjoy 😛

3. Nominate who you think should receive this award and let them know on their sites.

4. Tell the blogging world something they don’t know about you.

Our nominees:

brainbullets.wordpress.com

thinkdreamdo.wordpress.com

adegrandis.wordpress.com

godlesscranium.com

amusingnonsense.wordpress.com

About us:

Withteeth is dysgraphic. His words don’t always come out in writing as he intends. It is a disability related to dyslexia.

Hessian collects books and movies. I have enough books to fill a small library.

We have two cats, Benvolio and Mazy. Benny likes to climb the curtains. Mazy is allergic to chicken.


The Thinking Atheist and Mental Illness


Earlier today I listened to The Thinking Atheist’s latest podcast, which was on mental illness. It was a wonderful podcast, as usual, and brought up some points that I feel are worth discussing. JT Eberhard, Michaelyn Eberhard, Jeremiah Beene, and Dr. Darrel Ray were the guest speakers on the show.

I think one of the most important points made on the podcast was that mental illness isn’t rational. Someone with a mental illness can’t simply rationalize their way out of it. Trust me, I’ve tried. They talked about how sometimes skeptics can be too hard on people with mental illness because of their preference for all things rational. They don’t understand that it’s not possible for a mentally ill person to rationalize their way through it. I’ve said before: it’s not possible for people to be rational all of the time, but many people think it is possible and they hold people that they view as irrational to be beneath them. This is a problem because you don’t see your own biases, but it’s also a problem because you risk doing great psychological damage to another person. Yes, mental illness isn’t rational, but that doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t hold rationality in high regard and doesn’t fight hard to be as rational as possible. I have to be more aware of my irrationalities than most people because I have a mental illness. I can’t afford to ignore them.

For those of you out there who have never experienced mental illness, I feel that the above point can’t be expressed enough. Mental illness isn’t rational, so don’t tell someone with a mental illness to just rationalize their way out of it. It’s like telling someone to dig their way to China with a tea spoon. It won’t happen. If you know someone who needs help, walk them through it. Sometimes that’s the only way things will get dealt with. And don’t judge anyone to harshly because of their irrationality where their mental illness is concerned. It’s not their fault. They didn’t ask to be mentally ill, and they have enough to deal with already.

I think JT Eberhard said it best: “It may be nothing to you, but it’s life or death to us.” Too many people with mental illness commit suicide. Too many do themselves physical harm. It’s easy enough to brush off their words when you know it’s irrational, but, at the end of the day, you aren’t the one who may go home and kill themself. The podcasters mentioned that people don’t kill themselves when they’re at their lowest. They don’t have the motivation. It’s when they are coming up that they kill themselves. When they seem to be getting better. This is a sad fact of mental illness.

I’ve never been in a position where killing myself seemed worth it, but I do know about the highs and the lows. It’s very true: when I’m at my lowest, I can’t do anything. I freeze because everything just seems too intense. I don’t feel capable of accomplishing anything, so I can’t even try. It’s not that I don’t want to try, it’s that I can’t. My brain won’t let me. But when I’m coming up, when I can act, but everything still feels too hard, That’s when I could see myself self-harming (were it ever to get that bad). This is very common with many different mental illnesses.

Here is the link to the podcast if anyone is interested: http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/


1000 followers!


Wow! Thanks to all our followers new and old. Neither of us thought we would reach a 1000 followers so soon!


Mere Christianity Part 6


Okay, let’s try this again. I am now on chapter 5, “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy,” in C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

At the beginning of this chapter, C.S. Lewis explains that he was trying to avoid religion up until now. That he was discussing philosophy and Christianity hadn’t been assumed yet. However, it is very clear that he was presupposing Christianity all along. Lewis supports his earlier argument by stating “We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made.” He just finished saying that he isn’t talking about the God of the Bible, then he talks in such a way that the only possible meaning could be the God of the Bible. Who else uses capitol “H” to write “he” when it’s not in the beginning of the sentence but believers when they refer to their deity? And how is the universe evidence of a creator? The universe can only be evidence of the existence of the universe. We need evidence that it couldn’t have come about without a creator before we have evidence that it was created.

He goes on to say of the universe “If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place).” What does he mean by “the universe is beautiful”? Does he mean visually? Because I’d agree, but it’s not beautiful the way a painting is. A painting is beautiful in an abstract copy kind of way. It isn’t quite like the original: you can see elements of the painter in the painting. The universe is more solid. It’s real. Sometimes what you see in it is beautiful, other times it’s boring. We can’t even see the real beauty without satellites and telescopes. That doesn’t sound like a creation to me. That sounds like something that we can at times find aesthetically pleasing. How does the danger in the universe suggest that God is not friend to humans? For one, most of the dangers don’t even affect us. Many we don’t even know about. And, for another, we can’t make any comment on what the universe says about the nature of it’s creator until we know that there is a creator.

C.S. Lewis hasn’t even attempted to offer any proof that there is a creator, I guess we’re just supposed to take his word for it, but he goes on to give the second thing that he believes can only come from a creator: “The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put in our minds.” Assuming this Moral Law thing did exist, how does it prove God? Or even suggest any sort of a conscious entity behind it? This is another presupposition. Before you can assume that morals mean God, you must first provide evidence that suggests that morals can’t exist without a creator. Lewis hasn’t done this.

Lewis goes on to say of morality “from this second bit of evidence we conclude that the Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct-in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.” We still don’t have the evidence necessary to suggest that there is a causer behind our assumed Moral Law, so how can he then say that this shows that the causer is good?

Lewis then criticizes those of us who question his god: “And it is no use either saying that if there is a God of that sort-an impersonal absolute goodness- then you do not like Him and are not going to bother about Him. For the trouble is that one part of you is on His side and really agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation.” It’s not clear here who he’s criticizing though. Is he suggesting that atheists merely don’t like God? Or is he criticizing certain Christians who don’t think that God is an impersonal absolute goodness? What would an impersonal absolute goodness god even look like? Because, according to the Bible and every Christian I’ve ever met, God is very personal. After all, he talks to people, helps them, and interacts with them. Of course, if this were true (today), it could be tested. But people still claim that they interact with God on a personal level. God is also not absolute in a good portion of the Bible. He even admits to over reacting at times. That doesn’t sound like absolute goodness to me. Though the definition of good is “that which is morally right,” so, if God created morality, how can he be anything but good? At least if we define everything he does as necessarily moral as a result. Or if he follows all of his own rules. And how can he say that everybody is on God’s side? Isn’t that presumptuous? It seems to me that some people would prefer it if exploitation was perfectly acceptable. Look at Wall Street, or pay-day loan places.

Lewis goes on to state that “we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do.” What reason do we have to believe that this creator of absolute morality hates us? What do we do that’s so terrible? Is this absolute goodness unable to accept imperfection and mistakes? Don’t we consider forgiveness to be part of morality? Or can we be moral and never forgive? Is hate moral? I fail to see how Lewis’s claim makes any sense. He then claims “If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all of our efforts are in the long run hopeless.” How? Where is his evidence that hope and success require a creator of some sort? This is another presupposition. Hope can be had without need of a god, Lewis just wouldn’t have listened to anybody who told him as much.

Lewis finishes his “non-Christian” bit by saying “He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies.” Why do we need an ally? What do we need an ally from? And how did we make ourselves his enemies? This sounds very paranoid to me. Very much “the end of the world is neigh.”

Lewis then begins to discuss things from a Christian perspective. Unfortunately, this bit isn’t very meaningful because he presupposed the Christian God from the beginning.


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